Image from Pelgrane Press’s Bookhounds of London
I have had a busy gaming long weekend, running Numenera and TimeWatch at Concrete Cow and Bookhounds of London last night, for my local gaming group. Despite 8 hours gaming I have incited very little dice rolling and managed to get by on minimal prep, which works out fine for me.
I have found with many games that despite the mechanical need for dice, their appearance always seems to be far less frequent than I’d imagined. The story seems to take over and when the dice appear it always seems I’m suggesting it out of guilt. I feel like they’ve made the attempt to turn up for the game so they should get rolled.
In Gumshoe last night, we had a couple of dice rolls over a 2.5 hour game – and one of those rolls happened in the first few minutes, when a potential patron spontaneously and messily expired. It doesn’t feel wrong in Gumshoe for this to happen, because the game’s about clue, finding them, and pretty much managing it the whole time without needing to mess around with dice. On the other hand, players quite like rolling dice.
I ran my Numenera session to time yesterday. The group of numenera hunters, enthusiastic explorers and loyal Truth followers managed to find their way to the source of problems threatening Briary, and resolved it. That makes three sessions, with the first spent creating characters.
When I say I ran to time, I ran to a target more so. I had several encounters mapped out that never happened and have a structure that never made an appearance. I skipped the discovery of numenera and empowered players with the agency to get the game they desired.
Someone actually made a comment about not playing the GM’s adventure, or something along those lines. A moment of amusement around the idea that anyone would care to follow the GM’s plotline and make it easy! I never have anything of the sort in mind.
The comment came up when I mentioned my plans to run the very same adventure at Concrete Cow this weekend, along with a TimeWatch mission I have also run before. I think I mentioned that the time travel adventure never played the same way twice because the players never chose to do what I expected. Or maybe one of the players offered up the second comment.
I don’t think I ever run a game anymore with plans to get from A to Z, following a linear course between. I have a plotline, a few ideas and locations – but, I don’t strictly plan for anything to happen. I’m quite prepared to go with the flow.
Ran a game of Numenera last night with 6 characters (which is probably the upper limit, because it can get hard to give everyone the attention they deserve). It remained a fairly cerebral session of discussion, investigation, travel and planning – only a few dice rolls and no combat.
Correction: I actually managed this session with 7 people, as I forgot a late arrival. In total, I think we had a Glaive, two Jacks and four Nano.
The idea for the adventure came to me through a combination of reading Numenera source material – specifically the core rules and Ryan Chaddock’s excellent Celestial Wisdom – finding a picture of a frankly bizarre tree, and a roll of my newly acquired Rory’s Story Cubes. The rest just seemed to fall into place…
The party of adventurers involved comes from a larger pool of characters created with my gaming group – and the division of players this session meant we had far more Nano characters. Luckily, they haven’t engaged in any open conflict yet, though they no doubt expect some next session.
The group visited Jyrek in Thaemor, west of the Black Riage mountains. The fortress city has a small clave of Aeon Priests who reside in black stone blisters, adhered to the inside of the walls. Brother Point, the head of the clave, requested the assistance of the group – through one of their Order of Truth loyal members – to investigate worrying news from Briary, a settlement three days ride north-east. Briary has been troubled by phantoms, it would seem.
- Dr Who – 50th Anniversary CD Collection on Amazon UK
I have been listening to the CD that my wife kindly purchased me for Valentine’s Day. At the moment, I’m listening to the first of the four CDs included, specifically the music from the First Doctor’s tenure.
While the music doesn’t necessarily have the same rich orchestration of new Doctor Who, it does have a tremendous amount of character. The second track, Three Guitars Mood 2 could easily have been Susan’s Theme, like the character focussed musical motifs so common in new Who.
If you’ve been searching for background music when playing sessions of the Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space tabletop game, look no further. The first 21 tracks – of the 53 on the first disc – not only include the series theme from 1963, but also the dematerialisation and materialisation of the TARDIS.
I have Numenera Descriptors on my mind at the moment.
Time for a boring Numenera post, largely intended for personal reference – if that’s OK with the two other people who read this blog.
The basic Numenera character has a sort of concept defined in a single sentence made from a few selective components.
I am an descriptor/adjective character type/noun who focus/verbs
You have the option of choosing the descriptors and foci from lists in the core book, but space and the desire for expansion means that options run on the finite side. You have 12 official descriptors, for example, but you have the chance to create your own or seek out those defined by others.