Posted on September 20, 2017
It was looking at all the Dusk City Outlaws stuff that got me occasionally looking at Kickstarter (still looking forward to playing that when it comes out) and then I stumbled across Rising Sun and plunked down the money for that.
And then at a low level I checked back every once in a while, funded the Pillars of Eternity II game and the Pathfinder game, but the more I heard about the Monte Cook Games releases through Kickstarter, the more I checked back and getting into Numenera has managed to happen just a few months before the Kickstarter for Numenera 2 got going.
PoE: 2 and Pathfinder are percolating away, and Rising Sun appears to be paying off, I’ll go get some coffee while you scroll to the bottom of the image:
I plunked down the money for Numenera 2, at the $120, two printed books, and of course is was funded within a few hours of the starting bell. So the pledge has already ballooned to a slipcase with extras, two poster maps and a settlement sourcebook and it’s only the second day.
MCG seems to have nailed the Kickstarter thing. They set their initial goal at $80,000 which I guess would be the cut-losses-and-run number if for some reason this project attracted zero interest. But they plan well for the successive goals to get busted and lay out attractive incentives to get going.
I think their last campaign showed their mastery of the process though. Anyone can make a super expensive RPG boxed set with lots of widgets and props and the like and if you’re smart enough to ask for the money up front, you might make a go of it. But for Invisible Sun, they took advantage of having a specific list of people running or playing the game and introduced the Directed Campaign – a campaign sent to the GM (I think I understand this correctly) whenever the GM wants to start and bolstered by additional props and materials mailed directly to both players and GM. Five what-appear-to-be brown paper packages are sent to the players of the campaign, with stuff in it that will help them complete the campaign. That’s some boutique Roleplaying Game experience right there.
The list of stuff for Invisible Sun is bonkers. Check it out here. It should be, for how much they were asking for it, but good for them for not just churning out more books. It looks like a fun setting, but I’m not getting into it just because I’m pretty certain that there is a Sting song of the same name. Let my spite hold my wallet in my pocket.
In between Invisible Sun (which alone of all the products is not a Cypher System game) and the original Numenera they released: The Strange, No Thank You, Evil! and a trio of Cypher System sourcebooks not connected to the Numenera or Strange settings… although everything is connected to The Strange, I guess.
The Strange is a multiverse setting where players can slip between various different fictional realms… because some weird space computer keeps generating universes based on the fictions humans come up with, like a God-like Holodeck gone wild. It’ll be big with those people who cannot – pathologically cannot – enjoy a thing without also imagining it crossed over with another thing. About 95% of the internet, from what I gather. And that’s fine.
No Thank You, Evil! is a roleplaying game for kids; not the reponsibility-avoiding, Peter Pan Syndrome, adult children you normally find around our gaming table, but actual children. This is a ballsy move because there’s a lot of reasons 8 year olds can’t play D&D and the easy solution that never really worked is to just dumb the game down. Instead of dumbing an existing game down, it seems like they’ve built the game from the ground up, using mechanisms that are likely to work better for kids. Technically I think it still counts as a Cypher System game as the game approximates towards full Cypher System as it gets more complex and the kids get older.
I was in the Source buying the Numenera rulebook last week and the big fella behind the counter’s face lit up when he saw that it was a Monte Cook game. He couldn’t say enough nice things about him – apparently he’s met him a few times, at the store and other places – and how much fun he is to watch as a GM at demonstrations of his games. In particular, said the Source guy, he’s fantastic GMing kids and bringing them into the game, whether they’re playing with other kids or with adults. That seems like that has to be a reasonably rare gift; to understand how to put on a good game so well that if if you have to take away big parts of what’s recognisable to adults as a roleplaying game, you can still present kids with the key components of what makes it a good time. And to be willing to do it.
The three sourcebooks – Gods of the Fall, Predation and Unmasked are all Cypher System incarnations. In Gods of the Fall, you’re demigods filling the power vacuum left when Heaven… collapsed? Exploded? Was simultaneously electrocuted like the royal family in the I-can’t-believe-I-paid-money-to-see-that-in-the-cinema-but-didn’t-see-Rogue-One-on-the-big-screen movie King Ralph.
Predation is a pre-apocalypse game: you play as the descendents of future scientists sent back in time to fix something in the Cretaceous period and now are just sitting around waiting for the asteroid to come and extinguish almost everything. Or trying to stop it. Or just making the most of it and riding through primordial jungles on their trained dinosaur buddies.
Unmasked is a Superhero game. I don’t think that needs too much more explanation.
Rather than coming up with a game and endlessly detailing the world with content (the TSR model) they seem more like they are expanding on games laterally, (more like a GURPS model) with the Cypher System. Probably more accurate to say that their going about things in a more Steve Jackson Games way, with tangentially linked products although their production values are combining everything that’s good about Paizo and Fantasy Flight. MCG has a pretty slick operation going and at this point, the process of arranging blocks of text from writers and corresponding art from artists must be a fairly well trod path. Combining that with the savvy they have in lining up stretch goals and delivering what they say they’re going to deliver, I’d recommend keeping an eye on MCG Kickstarters.
In finishing; I’m broke and always will be.