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Upbeatdown

Arcana of the Ancients Kickstarter

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"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" is a relatively famous quote from author and writer Arthur C. Clarke, and it is that idea that is the very core of one of my favorite tabletop RPGs Numenera. Numenera is a science-fantasy tabletop RPG whose setting is about 1 billion years into Earth's future, called "The Ninth World" due to the fact that eight other civilizations have both risen and fallen in this Earth's history. Unlike your typical fantasy RPGs, Numenera's world is not actually operated by any form of magic. Instead, the world has undergone so many different advancements, some that stagnate through history and others lost to time. These incredibly advanced technologies are so advanced that they are nearly indistinguishable from actual magic, hence the opening quote. 

Numenera was created and designed by Monte Cook, who was one of the lead designers of Dungeons and Dragons' 3rd edition. He was meant to be one of the lead designers of 5th edition, but left Wizards of the Coast due to differences with the company. After getting into and playing Numenera for a while, its easy to see why. The design philosophies are very different compared to 5e, but in a way that I think suits the game very well. And though Numenera was very successful and relatively popular among TTRPG communities, it never could never reach the insurmountable popularity of D&D 5e.

So when I heard that Monte Cook and his team were planning on making a Numenera Sourcebook for 5e, I was beyond happy. Arcana of the Ancients is basically the world of Numenera but for D&D 5e. It will convert many of the game's mechanics, creatures, technologies, etc. into things usable with 5e's system. This may not seem like a big deal to people who don't know much about Numenera's setting or lore, but take my word for it. This is very exciting. 

Please check out the kickstarter and support it if it seems like something you'd enjoy. I have .pdf files of Numenera's core rule books that I can send/ link to anyone interested in taking a look at the game. Numenera is great and it's always going to get a hard recommendation from me.

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On 3/17/2019 at 1:37 PM, Upbeatdown said:

These incredibly advanced technologies are so advanced that they are nearly indistinguishable from actual magic, hence the opening quote. 

That kind of thinking reminds of the Shannara series of books, I thoroughly enjoy that kind of setting.

Curious though as D&D 3rd edition was heralded as one of the worst ones, and people are saying 5e is one of the best so I wonder what Cook's influence would look like in this game versus 5e. Do you have any examples of difference in design philosophy?

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That's weird. I was under the impression that it was 4th edition that everyone disliked. In fact, I'm pretty sure 3.5 edition and Pathfinder are two of the more popular TTRPGs other than 5th edition. Maybe I've had the wrong impression this whole time :classic_blink: I've never heard of those books, but if they have a similar type of world I'll definitely check them out.

It's kind of hard to point out the differences in design philosophies without explaining a ton of stuff. A big one is in regards to gameplay. Numenera uses the Cypher System, which is a gameplay format meant to be used for literally any type of setting or story you can come up with. Want run a tabletop game about space pirates fighting in a feudal setting with weapons from the bronze age but can't find a game made for that? Then you can use the Cypher System, which is intentionally made to be very flexible. If you're interested, you can read up more about the system here. You'll most likely find your examples there.

That system alone, which was designed by Monte Cook's company, is a pretty good indicator of those differences in design philosophies. It's wildly different from Wizard's 5th edition in a lot of ways.

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4 hours ago, Upbeatdown said:

In fact, I'm pretty sure 3.5 edition and Pathfinder are two of the more popular TTRPGs other than 5th edition.

Nevermind I'm an idiot. You're right. 4 is the shitty one. Go on...

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10 hours ago, Lupich said:

Go on...

Hmm, there isn't really much more to say. I guess one of the big differences is in the setting itself, but that's a given. Unlike a lot of 5e campaign books Numenera is written with sort of a vague shell of ideas that GMs are supposed to flesh out themselves. The entire idea of there being 8 past empires rising and falling is established, but not at all explained. It's up to the GM to explain those things in their own way. They can make that super relevant to their campaign or not even relevant at all. 

One of my favorite locations outlined in Numenera is a desert, and in that desert there is not sand but instead miles and miles of broken and jagged glass. The book doesn't tell you why or how this happened, you have to come up for it yourself. Presumably some incredible source of heat caused the sand to meld into a desert of glass that, over time, was shattered and broken to make the incredibly unforgiving terrain. But how, why, and when it happened isn't explained on purpose to encourage GMs to use the Numenera setting creatively.

I'll stop gushing about Numenera now. Who knows, if we get enough interest on here maybe I'll run something in the future.

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