Why P’n’P Numenera Makes Me Interested In Torment

I’m looking forward to inXile’s Torment: Tides of Numenera, like nearly everyone else who works at RPS. The difference is that I never played Planescape: Torment, the game Tides aims to spiritually succeed. Instead my interest comes from the other end of its name, since I’ve been playing Numenera, the Monte Cook pen-and-paper RPG that gives this new game its setting and some of its mechanics.

I’m a recent visitor to the shores of pen-and-paper, and I’m currently playing two games that form an interesting contrast. The first is Dungeons & Dragons, which I’m playing with Jim and John. It is among the most obvious inspirations for all kinds of videogames, and it’s been interesting learning its systems this past year. We play 4th edition – I’ve no idea how it compares to the others – but it’s fast, combat-heavy, and has an awful lot of numbers.

Numenera has considerably fewer numbers and focuses much more on shared storytelling. Perhaps most significantly, any player can attempt any task and have a chance at succeeding – skills simply reduce the cost to the player making the attempt, by making the task easier. In our interview with him, Torment design lead Adam Heine described the system like this:

Say the ancient ruins you’re exploring are trapped by a complicated prior world detonator. To disable this thing would be a difficulty 6 task, which on the Numenera scale is very hard – an untrained character could only succeed about 15% of the time. Training in any skills that apply will lower this difficulty up to two steps per applicable skill. So someone specialized in, say, Lore: Machinery would attempt the task as a difficult 4, with a 45% change of succeeding.

Additionally, there’s the concept of Effort, where you can spend points from the appropriate Stat Pool (in this case, Speed) to lower the difficulty even further. An untrained character of a high enough level could spend points to use 4 levels of Effort, reducing the difficulty to 2 and giving themselves an 85% chance of success. And if our specialized character did the same thing, they’d reduce the difficulty to 0. When this happens, the task automatically succeeds—no roll is made and there is no chance for critical failure.

This would seem to make skills less important because anyone can try anything and have a shot at succeeding, but in practice the maths still make you want to rely on whichever of you has a particular talent for persuasion, glaives or manipulating the world’s de facto “magical” items, which are called Numenera. In the videogame, it should mean that Torment allows you to make extreme character builds, without the devs needing to fear that players will block too much of the game off for themselves or end up crippled.

I should briefly explain the setting itself, because it’s part of the reason why the game is so interesting. Numenera is set on an unrecognisable earth millions of years in the future. There have been nine civilisations between now and then, and it’s suggested that at least one of them was not human. The world is therefore covered with strange artifacts – ancient machines, essentially – which no person understands how to make and few people understand how to use. This idea has at least one obvious source, in the Arthur C. Clarke quote published at the front of the game’s source book: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

In practice what this means is that you might find a Numenera item in the world, and it might function an awful lot like a gun, but it won’t be called a “gun” because that word won’t exist in this time, and it’s likely that whatever ammo you find with it will be all the ammo you’ll ever have for it.

It also means the Numenera can offer a lot of variety. I used a landmine to blow up a future-cow, so we could get its meat to eat. I snapped a person’s neck and then swallowed an invisibility pill in an attempt to escape. I now have some sort of Wiki Ear device that can whisper information into my brain. We ride around on a low-flying vehicle, visiting backwater villages and rural traders and resisting the urge to use our matter-consumer to solve all our problems. In the new Torment, I’m hoping this translates to a vast array of problem-solving and combat tools.

Skill systems and lore and combat and items are all great, clean things to convert into videogame-land for Tides of Numenera, but there are one or two other parts of the pen-and-paper Numenera that I’m enjoying, which I haven’t explored enough because I’m new to roleplaying, and which I think are probably a much harder fit for something running on a computer.

The first is GM intrusions. At any point, the GM can decide to step into the story and say, hey, this thing you’re doing? It just got a whole lot harder because that ladder you’re on just broke.

At this point the players have two choices. You can either run with it, perform some deft dice rolls, and come out of the scenario with a cool story and an extra bit of XP. Alternatively you can spend one of your XP points to say, “Nah, sod off GM, that doesn’t happen – this does.” In which case it didn’t happen or you simply write your own immediate solution. This is a neat bit of communal storytelling that has you negotiating your own experience, and it’s the kind of thing pen-and-paper is obviously perfect for and videogames, with all their art assets and so on, are obviously not.

The other bit is that you can also spend a bit of your XP in order to write a part of your character’s backstory. When we blew up the future-cows – called Aneen, by the way – we wanted to make sure we got a good haul of meat afterwards. I spent an experience point to tell a short story about an uncle of my character being a butcher, and how I would help him in his shop as a boy and therefore picked up some basic butchering skills. Hey presto, a belly full of Aneen meat with enough to trade to a caravan we encountered later that day.

This is the sort of stuff that D&D, in my admittedly limited experience, doesn’t allow for. This is the sort of stuff that makes Numenera really exciting to play and a powerful tool for storytelling. It’s the reason I’m interested in Torment: Tides of Numenera but precisely the kind of thing I think the game will struggle to represent.

I’m not sure if they’ll try. There is at least one new system we know about in the game – the Tides system, explained in its original Kickstarter pitch. It tracks the decisions you make throughout the game and assigns them possible motivations, crafting an alignment system but one designed to be more nuanced than simply dark side/light side. How it works in practice, or whether its expressive and responsible capabilities make up for the power of the pen, I have no idea.

But I suspect the game will have to chart its own path, and I imagine that’s why it’s not a Numenera game alone. People seem to like Planescape: Torment, yeah?

62 Comments

  1. Caelyn Ellis says:

    I hadn’t heard of Numenera before the Kickstarter, but having read the core book and played a few sessions, it’s the main reason I’m looking forward to Torment. And I have played Planescape: Torment.

  2. welverin says:

    Just because there aren’t rules for things like your butcher story in D&D doesn’t mean you can’t do it, you just have to be open to it as players (and the GM).

    That’d just be role-playing and creating back story in game.

    • aliksy says:

      SYSTEM MATTERS.

      System guides players and shapes the game. It sets expectations for the players (especially new people joining the group). Saying “oh you can just ignore the rules or add your own” is stupid.

      • Arglebargle says:

        The original D&D was so poorly written that you absolutely had to do ‘design on the fly’, because so much wasn’t covered. You can make a convincing argument that this lead to a surge of game designers, because anyone who played had to do it.

      • Traipse says:

        Just have to echo aliksy on this: it is absolutely the case that system matters. The design of the system changes the type of stories you’re encouraged to play. It’s possible to play a game of complicated court intrigue in D&D 4E, sure… but the tools it gives you aren’t designed to do, so at a certain point you’re either reduced to hammering your nails in with the butt-end of your screwdriver, or building yourself a hammer. Either way, you’d be a lot better off if you just started off with a good hammer.

    • blimey says:

      Yeah, experienced GM’s would mess around with player characters, it’s immensely fun when they do it. I don’t think the article is attacking DnD, it’s just highlighting some praise for the Numenera system. In there, those intrusions are baked in and part of the system, it encourages even the inexperienced GM’s to improvise and throw in intrusions. That’s the beauty of it, even inexperienced GM’s would pull more advanced improvisation, that’s a pretty smart design.

    • malkav11 says:

      That’s not D&D allowing for it, that’s your group deciding to break from the D&D rules system and play your own variant. Which is fine, and can be lots of fun, but isn’t really something that should be attributed to D&D as written. (And at some point, if you’re making enough breaks from the Rules as Written, you may want to see if there’s another game system out there that does the stuff you’re wanting to do intrinsically.)

  3. harrylime says:

    i `m currently reading the viriconium stories by m. john harrison and ive been wondering if the developers of numenera havent taken some inspirations from the books. The setting with its long dead civilizations (called afternoon cultures) leaving behind all sorts of gadgets seems very familiar, though i guess its hardly unique in syfy of fantasy. Any way long story short if someone likes the numenara setting he can do worse than checking out the viriconium stuff (link to amazon.de), and yeah looking forward to the game, going by what little we `ve seen so far it sure looks promising.

    • stonetoes says:

      I totally agree, I even thought about suggesting to the devs that they try to bring him in as a writer when they were doing the whole “stretch goals means guest writers” thing during the kickstarter. Harrison has some of the best prose I’ve ever read in a sci-fi book, especially in “Light”, which is a lot less dense than his earlier viriconium stuff. He’s very much worth checking out even if you’re not tickled by the numenera setting.

    • Tacroy says:

      I will admit I haven’t read Viriconium (yet), but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is more that they both share a common root – namely, Jack Vance’s Dying Earth.

      • Werthead says:

        Absolutely. THE DYING EARTH kicked off this whole ‘far future magic world’ setting which authors like Harrison utilised later on. The other major work in the subgenre is of course Gene Wolfe’s BOOK OF THE NEW SUN, and a more recent entry is Richard Morgan’s LAND FIT FOR HEROES trilogy.

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          Waltorious says:

          I just logged in to say that Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun is amazing and everyone should read it immediately.

          • Arglebargle says:

            What he said!

            I think the devs specifically mentioned Wolfe as an influence as well. Nice influence to have….

          • Cyren says:

            I just logged in to say that I recently purchased Gene Wolfe’s entire series and your comment has made me put away this book by Chomsky so that I can dive right in!

            Also, I can’t remember where he said it, but I’m pretty sure that Chris Avellone mentioned The Book of the New Sun as inspiration when developing Planescape: Torment

        • davidelrizzo says:

          Vance’s Dying Earth is absolutely the origin of future techno-magic ancient world stories. It was also the spawn of the D&D concept of forgetting spells after they are cast and having to memorize them again. Also Ion stones.

    • Blackcompany says:

      Mark Lawrence does this same setting very well indeed, if you can tolerate his protagonist. Jorg Ancrath is a hard first person read, however, because, well…frankly, he has no redeeming qualities. He’s a murderer – and worse – and pretty well revels in it. Despite this, however, the trilogy is entertaining and the setting absolutely amazing.

      Beware though, Prince of Thorns leads into a very grimdark trilogy. Its bloody, violent and full of unpleasant sorts but its very well written. I wouldn’t go any darker than this – and there are parts that are frankly hard to read – as I would allow a teen to read George Martin before Mark Lawrence, And I think if it went any longer than three books it would have been too much – a sentiment expressed by the author himself.

      On the whole though its worth reading if you can stomach it.

      • Tacroy says:

        I actually really appreciated that series, for having an actual asshole as the protagonist. Not many authors are willing to do that, and it makes his character arc so much more believable.

        It’s like Alex from A Clockwork Orange got put in to the Dying Earth, I highly recommend it.

      • Arglebargle says:

        Don’t spend my time with assholes like that, not likely to spend my time reading with assholes like that, no matter how cool the stories they may tell.

      • malkav11 says:

        I would argue that Jorg is a better person than you are giving him credit for (or, for that matter, than Jorg himself is willing to admit). But it’s certainly a dark, dark setting and he tries to give the appearance of being an utter bastard.

    • Danley says:

      Wow, both John Harrison and Gene Wolfe mentioned in the same thread. Two fantastic writers and world builders and couldn’t agree more to bring them on. Harrison in particular is active about new media, posting new stories on his blog and being generally active on social media. If he doesn’t get involved in this project I’d love to see him work on another.

      I’m not including CRPGs like Torment in this statement, but writing in games is particularly dreadful, as if they’re not even hiring established writers and either relying on their staff or looking for fresh faces on the cheap. Not that there aren’t good writers for hire, but why there aren’t more collaborations between people already writing books and video game projects, I just don’t know. Though movies and television are guilty of the same thing.

    • wererogue says:

      I know that the designers drew inspiration from a *lot* of places, and it’s very possible that Viriconium was one of them, although I don’t know that for sure.

      I *do* know for sure that Adventure Time is in that mix: link to twitter.com

  4. Fontan says:

    Sounds a bit like the way my friends and I play the World of Darkness. We find the Storytelling system to be very open to such narratives and it isn’t unusual for us to go long periods without dice rolls, just crafting the story together. Guess I should get a copy of Numenera.

  5. Al Bobo says:

    Planescape: Torment… Best rpg I’ve ever played. I got so captivated in it’s story that, before the end -fight, I grinded xp for hours and hours so that I could level cap my main character’s attributes and make him god-like being able to distribute divine punishment to everything that opposes him!
    I hope that I have to do that again in this Torment: numnum.

  6. Keran says:

    I’ve been interested in Numenera since the game was announced, and I’ve picked up the core book about… half a year ago? I fell in love with the setting. For the past three months I have been trying t get my lousy friends to play it, so far without access. Stupid busy working people…

  7. DrMcCoy says:

    I bought the Numenera PDFs. Still haven’t been able to play it, but I’m currently half-trying to get a group together (I’d probably GM).

    For any German speaking people here, there’s a crowdfunding campaign for the German translation of the Numenera core rulebook. The translation will be done by Mháire Stritter (who, IIRC, also did some Divinity: Original Sin beta testing with a RPS contributor?) and the publishing details will be handled by the Uhrwerk Verlag (who are already publishing popular roleplaying games in Germany).

  8. Yugie says:

    If anyone is interested in watching a bunch of people play a mini-campaign of p&p Numenera, Rollplay has completed their `playthrough’ of it. link to youtube.com

  9. mpOzelot says:

    Could you guys make a posdcast out of your play sessions? I would love that.

  10. Steve Catens says:

    I never played Planescape: Torment,

    Apologies, but there’s little excuse for this. It’s not like it was years ago when the game had disappeared from the retail landscape. It’s on sale for a pittance every other month at GOG. I don’t even revere the game as much as some do, but I just think you hemorrhage the ability to write with any authority on this subject when you lead with this. Especially when you seem to compare Numenera as a setting to vanilla DnD rather than to Planescape , which is also DnD, but a brilliant setting in many of the same ways you speak of Numenera.

    • Tacroy says:

      The game may cost a pittance of money, but I can understand someone not playing it because doing so properly extracts a large payment of time, which is not always readily available.

      • FriendlyFire says:

        Personally speaking I can also say that its intro sequence is a bit confusing and the combat is quite frankly dated and boring. I wanted to play through it, but with limited play time I didn’t feel like going through the combat in order to get to the dialogue.

      • malkav11 says:

        There are few videogames that are a better value for that time investment, though. At least if you care at all about story and worldbuilding.

        • Kitsunin says:

          I like characters, personally, and so many fantasy games put world first that I rarely enjoy them. The world is always full of so many rich details but I just don’t really care about that.

          It’s why I feel something like Embric of Wulfhammer Castle is so many leagues more enjoyable story-wise than any Dragon Age game. Why I liked Xanth novels far better than LotR. That’s just an opinion though, but I wish we saw more quirky, character focused RPGs.

          • malkav11 says:

            To each their own, I suppose. I think Bioware’s characters are one of the main reasons to play their games, especially stuff like Dragon Age II that’s otherwise frequently underwhelming, and Torment’s absolutely full of memorable characters.

            (Not that Torment was a Bioware game. I only bring them up because you mentioned Dragon Age.)

          • Kitsunin says:

            Yeah, I mean, the characters are good, often great, but they too often become almost nothing but vessels for gameplay, useless for anything but quips everywhere except the main story and the character’s own sub-plot. Then you’re constantly barraged by things to read with lore I couldn’t care less about, giving you experience points so you remember not to ignore them.

            Torment, I just couldn’t get past the gameplay, so this might not apply as much as I would expect.

            I just feel like in general, all the big titles favor world over characters. Its odd because I like western RPG gameplay better, but JRPG story better because of this. I guess a lot of it comes down to the gameplay style.

    • Hauskamies says:

      I really like the setting, the atmosphere and the dialogue but what I can’t seem to get past is the archaic UI. It’s so confusing and hard to do anything with it. Combined with the not so good combat it feels like a pain to do anything that isn’t talking to people.

  11. tanstaafl says:

    I managed to convince my group to try Numenera and it has since become our go-to game. The system is fast and clean and you spend a lot less time on the rules and a lot more time on playing. Definitely hoping Tides of Numenera manages to capture the spirit of the setting.

  12. thekelvingreen says:

    This is the sort of stuff that D&D, in my admittedly limited experience, doesn’t allow for.

    The new fifth edition has some nods to this sort of thing and the older versions were loose enough to allow it without supporting it, in a sort of “the rules don’t say you can’t do it” approach, as welverin suggests above.

    13th Age on the other hand is full of mechanics that support such storytelling and while it isn’t D&D as such it is a very close cousin. It has many similarities to D&D4 so your group may enjoy it; I hated D&D4 but even so 13th Age is my favourite D&D-like game.

    I haven’t played the proper version of Numenera yet, but one of my group has bought everything for it so we hope to give it a try in the new year.

    • asmodemus says:

      Well first edition explicitly tells the DM to change whatever they see fit for the betterment of the game. 4th edition is my least liked version of the game where everything devolved to a table top minis fighting game and one that I found particularly slow and grindy. Other people’s milage may vary of course.

      • Arglebargle says:

        D&D 4th edition was more of a tabletop/MMO influenced rules set. Lots of folks didn’t care for the changes, but it was the most well organized of all the D&D editions, which were otherwise mostly encumbered with haphazard and murky design. Haven’t checked out 5th ed yet, so maybe they evolved up?

        • Supahewok says:

          I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: 4e D&D is not a roleplaying game. It’s a small-scale tactical wargame with (only encouraged, not required) role playing elements. It is a fine game, just not a fine ROLEPLAYING game. So much of the mechanics surround combat that anything else feels light in comparison. As someone above said, you couldn’t play a game of courtroom intrigue very well with it, or sail a ship through a storm, or infiltrate a prison camp to free a high value hostage. It simply wasn’t made with roleplaying as the primary goal. I won’t descend into speculation as to the whys of it. At least, not here. Time and place.

          I don’t have the books for it (it’s on my wish list of P&P RPGs), but what I’ve read here and elsewhere indicate that Numenera is a much better example of a roleplaying game. Since Graham is new at the hobby, I would encourage him to stick with it, and to not be afraid to explore other systems. More games are like Numenera than 4e D&D (even other editions of D&D!), although many are not as well-designed as I hear Numenera is.

          If I had to recommend a particular system of D&D, I’d recommend the new 5th ed. My favorite is 2nd, but it is old and antiquated, not well-suited for newcomers. 3.5e and Pathfinder are alright, but are very bloated with extra rules and books. 5e takes my favorite bits of 2e, 3.5e, and even 4e (as I said, it’s a good wargame at least), and streamlined them into a pretty tight system that has you choose some background character info from the start that is a good base for role playing, yet as you grow more comfortable in the hobby you can make up your own background. I think the new Advantage/Disadvantage system could use some tweaking, but in the about 18 hours I’ve played of it so far it has worked extremely well at maintaining the feel of extra modifiers without the time and effort required calculating and making sure you have them in order. A very neat, well organized game. I highly recommend that the RPS chums check it out at their earliest convenience.

          • Arglebargle says:

            Thanks for that! Oddly enough, I’d agree that 2nd edition was the most interesting of the D&D versions. Had the most good convolution. May give 5th edition a looksee.

          • malkav11 says:

            D&D started out as bolt-on rules for a miniatures wargame. If anything, 4E’s increased emphasis on that aspect of play is merely returning to D&D’s roots. And I would argue that no edition of D&D preceding it has much time or rules support for roleplaying either, and they all have a heavy emphasis on (increasingly tactical) combat. I can identify some changes in 4E I wouldn’t care for myself, and some good ideas in terms of making sure all the classes have interesting things to do in combat, but it frankly doesn’t strike me as a notable step forwards or back for the franchise. I’ve barely touched the 5E books so I don’t feel qualified to comment on it aside from noting that it seemed like they’d adapted a few nods towards story gaming innovations but it otherwise seemed pretty similar to what came before, for better or worse. Not similar to 4E specifically, mind. Just, y’know, all the usual D&Disms. Personally, I just don’t want that from my (tabletop) gaming anymore, but no doubt it’ll please the core audience. I’d sure love a faithful D&D rules adaptation from my computer gaming, though. And it’s really too bad nobody did a proper 4E game before the window of opportunity passed.

          • Fry says:

            From what I’ve read of the 5E DM guide, they put a lot of emphasis on “if you don’t like the stock rules, make up your own.” Probably the right direction to go given past efforts.

            Personally, I’m a fan of D&D 4E because tactical combat is mostly what I’m looking for. While I own the Numenera core book and love the setting, I’m not much of a fan of heavy role playing. Sitting around a table with a bunch of amateur thespians gets annoying fairly quickly.

        • theliel says:

          Let me get out my Edition Warrior Catchphrase book for you –
          AD&D is just Baby Chainmail and removes the Best Parts of the Game!
          2nd Edition removes all the challenge to cater to the Choose Your Own Adventure Crowd (Seriously, Dragon Letters were amazing for their snark)
          3rd Edition is just EverQuest on the table! (X edition is just a video game/MMO has been around since 1999 folks)
          4th Ed is WoW! Just a tactial Minis game! Grid Required, not like Pathfinder! (Ignoring that OD&D is a bolt on to Chainmail – doesn’t even have combat rules, tells you to reference the wargame and that 3.x assumed a table or that all ranges in AD&D are in inches)
          I’m not sure a good 5th ed one has come up. I think “Merles writes a Heartbreaker” is in the lead still.

  13. Golden Pantaloons says:

    The thing that’s interesting about Planescape: Torment is that as a D&D videogame, it’s okay. Most D&D videogames are better than Torment if you only look at the combat, mechanics, classes etc. The numbers.
    As a fantasy novel, Torment is well beyond the usual hack that makes up most of the fantasy genre. Almost every fantasy trope you can imagine is re-invented, twisted, or delivered in a way that surprises you.
    The attention to detail, especially when it comes do dialogue, both actual and descriptive, is excruitiating. The voice acting is limited, but what’s there is (mostly) brilliant.
    Everything about the game that’s related to dialogue and story just radiates quality in a way I’ve never seen since.

  14. aliksy says:

    Looked up Numenera, saw it uses d20s, interest dramatically dropped. I like dice pool so much more.

    • Traipse says:

      You rejected both the system and the setting because you don’t like the type of dice you roll for the resolution mechanics? Yeesh. That’s like deciding not to buy a great car because you don’t like the shape of the antenna.

      • malkav11 says:

        Sounds like more disliking the dice mechanic being employed – i.e., trying to meet a target number on a single die (in this case the d20) versus a dice pool system like White Wolf’s “roll your combined rating in d10s and see how many meet a target number”, or the One Roll Engine’s “roll your combined rating in d10s and see if any of them match and if so, how many and at what number?”.

        • Kitsunin says:

          At the end of the day it all comes down to simple probability though, but using multiple dice makes the math obfuscated (roll 4 d6, need 1 4+, what are those odds? High, I guess…), whereas a d20 is intuitive (need 16+, odds are obviously 5/20, 25%).

          • Darloth says:

            Taken in isolation, of course this is correct – but RPG systems are not played with isolated, random possibilities.

            How systems handle randomness differs a LOT when it comes to bonuses/penalties or character improvements. single d20 systems are very flat, for example. You know exactly how much +4 gets you (which is good!) but even if you have +4, +2 and another +2, you’re still only getting +8 and can just roll badly (let’s say you’re looking for 4 or over, and roll 3) and completely suck, despite all those bonuses…

            Die pool systems (since they follow a bell curve rather than a flat distribution) emphasise the benefit you get and the penalty you get from whatever situation you’re in, character specializations, equipment etc. It’s a lot harder to tell what +1 dice gets for you… but if you do have a lot of bonuses (say, double your pool of 8 to start with) you’re almost guaranteed to succeed now, rather than just halving the chance of failure.

            People like stuff for various reasons, but while correct it’s not useful to say it all just boils down to simple possibility. How things work changes the feel considerably.

          • AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

            I like ORE’s systems a lot better because you don’t have to set up a target goal, not even define whether or not this is a ‘hard’ or ‘very hard’ thing your character is trying to do, because since it looks at dice matches rather than a value you’re trying to beat, characters will naturally be more likely to succeed the more skill they have at that thing. I guess that’s much relevant for the DM than for the players, though.

        • theliel says:

          The ‘meat’ of the system has nothing to do with d20 though. You can use the same thing with a d6 and the 1-10 challenge scale (anything past 7 is impossible on the d20 same with d6) – Numenera is very much a return to Original D&D because it is a logistics game – XP is awarded for getting hosed or doing something – not killing monsters.

          Your points you can spend on effort are also your health – So do you spend them to succeed or do you try to save them for when it ‘really matters’ and/or when you get hit?

          The die mechanic is just there for when you actually have to roll, something our group considered a failure state.

      • Hedgeclipper says:

        Closer to saying you won’t buy a great car because you don’t like the handling – the way dice systems work do affect the feel of the game – if you want to say he should ignore all that for the other elements? Well there’s a whole discussion above about whether you should look for a different system if you’re using one that doesn’t suit what you want to do.

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          Phasma Felis says:

          The task resolution mechanic as a whole affects the feel of the game, yes. If you don’t like the resolution mechanic…well, it’s still pretty dumb to outright refuse to play a game solely because of that, but I can at least understand it.

          Refusing to play a game because you don’t like the number of sides on the die it uses is incomprehensible.

    • damoqles says:

      Honestly, the system is so lightweight it wouldn’t really matter if the rolling was made by custom rolling pins. The facts that you have control over the target number (by using Effort) and that you can try virtually anything even if you’re technically completely unskilled (well, chances are you at least heard of the thing or can make an educated guess – the game’s starting characters are already quite capable, experienced numenera hunters, not greenhorns), make the game much less dependent on the whimsy of that one dice roll alone. Also, there are different special effects and even player-dictated ramifications of rolls of 1, 17, 18, 19 and 20, so it’s not all that vanilla.

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      Phasma Felis says:

      Dice fetishists are the very worst kind of RP gamer.

  15. damoqles says:

    “Numenera is set on an unrecognisable earth millions of years in the future. There have been nine civilisations between now and then, and it’s suggested that at least one of them was not human.”

    More precisely, it’s one billion years into the future, and so the majority of those eight civs probably weren’t human. Humans got “reintroduced” to the world only a couple thousand years before the game is set (the reason and method is unknown) and have a mere 900 years worth of recorded history.

    • theliel says:

      There’s even people pointing out that the Sun shouldn’t be there (or at least close to nova) and wondering why the hell humans were re-introduced.

      It’s a neat setting that takes the best of D&D’s classic settings (FR & Greyhawk) but improves them immensely.

  16. theliel says:

    On a different tangent – Numenera is a better 5th Ed D&D than 5th Ed D&D if you want a return to ‘Old School’ logistics game/dungeon crawling that happens to recognize that ‘the dungeon’ is a metaphorical construct – it is simply a dangerous situation that cannot be easily escaped with significant constraints and obstacles.

    Numenera’s sister game The Strange tends to have The Dungeon be navigating conspiracies rather than literal dungeons but the mechanics are the same – spend vs. save. Specialization vs. Generalization.

    While it is true that ‘anyone can attempt anything’ it is also true that many ‘tough’ monsters and challenges simply cannot be completed by a non-specialist.

    It’s a damn good system though – for what it is.

  17. LordCrash says:

    What holds you off from playing Planescape Torment? The game is still sold on GOG… ;)