Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Strange Impressions

Okay, so here's a fully-backed kickstarter that I'll throw my two cents in before it's finished it's pledge period:

The Strange is an RPG devised by veteran designer Bruce Cordell, co-designed by Monte Cook who's own Cypher System from Numenera will be doing the heavy-lifting in The Strange.

My initial thoughts were to jump on the bandwagon for another Cypher System-powered RPG (having missed my chance with Numenera), but after looking over the presented material and the kickstarter info I've come to a bit of a standstill:

Both the setting and the kickstarter are HUGE and somewhat bewildering. There are so many pledges, packages, and kit options (with more material to come from stretch goals) for a backer to choose from (the chart near the bottom simplifies it a bit), although the majority of them are out of my budget. I'm tentatively leaning towards the $80 BASIC STRANGER pledge (along with the current majority of backers) which would net me the corebook in print, all the books in electronic format, plus other perks; but I'm not prepared to lay down cash for this just yet; is this worth $80 + shipping when I can get the corebook at my FLGS when released for ~$60? I'd be much more inclined if it also included a physical copy of the Player's Guide. A lot of pledges aren't a great deal for the amount of money they're asking for, but this may change once more stretch goals have been reached.

If I choose to back The Strange I'll probably wait till its final hours before making my choice to view all the options, much like the option-bloated Call of Cthulhu - 7th Edition kickstarter at during its final countdown.

The designers have stated that results of the online quiz How Strange Are You? will determine the outcomes for special stretch goals. (Reminds me of something similar done in the Hillfolk kickstarter)

Apparently I am an Ardeyn Ally..?
The general theme behind The Strange is that your characters have the ability to travel between worlds (referred to as recursions) that may have different laws of reality. The setting presents three recursions: one based upon modern Earth, a fantasy world called Ardeyn, and an alien world called Ruk. It has also been hinted players can create their own recursions.

To me this pretty much sounds like four huge settings crammed into one book: you have their take on prime Earth, two for Ardeyn and Ruk, and one for the whole Strange multiverse thing. With such a grandiose theme I feel reticent, perhaps maybe intimidated, to back it right away. Personally, I like to back RPGs with a clear (don't mistake that for simple) setting that goes hand-in-hand with the system. The Strange sounds like the GM and perhaps the players have to wrap their heads around a multitude of settings/themes, and although I can see the Cypher system easily handling transitions between recursions well (arriving in a recursion changes the Focus of your character descriptor, I think cypher abilities change as well), I don't think I like the whole 'multiple worlds' concept. Too much juggling.

This probably harkens back why many multiple-genre/theme RPGs don't interest me as much as their basic counterparts. Here's an example: I like Fantasy; I like Cyberpunk; but put those two together (such as Shadowrun) and I'm less interested than if it was just one of those genres. Mind you I have yet to actually play Shadowrun, and I am sure I'd enjoy it as much as any other RPG, but I feel that certain themes from either genres become more diluted in hybrid genre RPGs. Another example would be: I like Cthulhu; I like Mecha; I don't really like CthulhuTech. Or any genre and Rifts; yikes.

This isn't always true though, I do like Deadlands, which is Western and Horror with a little Steampunk thrown in..

Anyway, at it's core The Strange's three 'vistas' makes me think "Do I want to do a Modern, a Fantasy, or a Sci-Fi-themed game?" and if so "Aside from the option for characters to traverse between these worlds, the multiverse trappings, and the Cypher system, what draws me to running my game in The Strange as opposed to d20 ModernPathfinder, or Eclipse Phase for example? Why?




These questions may seem minor to some, but they are pretty important to me in this stage. If anything The Strange certainly lives up to it's name. What does everyone else think so far of this game? Am I just confused?

What do you think of The Strange?