Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Strange, a first look

The Strange, the latest game from the game design superteam of Monte Cook and Bruce Cordell has been released and it is fantastic. Using the Cypher game system, first introduced in their previous game, Numenera, The Strange is the most recent imagining of the multi-genre role-playing game concept. Although it borrows much of its tone from the Dark Matter campaign setting for Alternity and d20 Modern, which Monte Cook developed in collaboration with Wolfgang Baur, The Strange really seems influenced by a much older game, TORG by West End Games.

The title of the game refers to an intergalactic transportation system originally created by a race of hyper-advanced aliens billions of years ago. Over the aeons, this technological marvel which we observe today as dark energy, decayed and became chaotic.  When humans or other sentient races interact with the Strange, pocket dimensions called recursions can form. Theses recursions often have different metaphysical foundations depending on the source of their creation. For example, fictional worlds based on the combined belief of large numbers of adherents can be formed, such as a world based on Greek mythology or a particularly popular work of fiction, such as the Cthulhu Mythos. Recursions based on these worlds would allow for whatever magic or alien science would be required to fully realize the details of such worlds. Sometimes these recursions pose a threat to earth and there are other things that reside in the Strange as well that are even more dangerous.

There are two major recursions detailed in the game, a magical fantasy realm of gods and heroes called Ardeyn and a weird science world of intrigue and alien technology called Ruk. Players can be natives of earth or either of these recursions and may travel among them. Numerous other smaller recursions are also described and gamemasters are free to create more using whatever fictional worlds inspire them. Admittedly, the results can get rather silly (i.e. one recursion is inhabited by puppets), but the possibilities are endless.


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