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jameson (ST)

[Review] In Strange Aeons: Lovecraftian Numenera

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jameson (ST)    61

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In Strange Aeons: Lovecraftian Numenera

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Vitals: Published By Monte Cook Games • 12 pages • $2.99 • full color PDF

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"That is not dead which can eternal lie,

And with strange aeons even death may die."

- H.P. Lovecraft, The Nameless City

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What’s In It?

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Split into three parts In Strange Aeons provides tools to partially or fully re-skin Numenera into a far flung future of the Cthulhu Mythos. New player character descriptors, new creatures, and discussion on how to incorporate the themes and motifs of Lovecraft’s works into Numenera are detailed within.

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Part 1: Bringing Lovecraft to the Ninth World

Four pages in length, this section details how to tune Numenera in such a way as to evoke the themes and motifs of Lovecraft. Discussion of how the magic and alien gods of the Cthulhu mythos can be reinterpreted as advanced sciences possessed by alien beings whose personal power is seen as godlike, and how the Numenera theme of discover can be twisted toward the horrific, are included. Likewise there is extensive advice on how to run horror games both in a general sense and specific to Numenera.

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Part 2: Lovecraftian Descriptors and Skins

This section is two pages long and includes two new character Descriptors, Mad and Doomed, for your games. Both Descriptors help to evoke the flavor of Lovecraft’s characters and prose, while affording mechanical ways to bring about the aspects of the often insane or ill-fated characters therein. Also included are suggestions for ways to re-skin current Numenera creatures to better fit into a Lovecraft inspired game. The skins are all fairly simple modifications that take advantage of adjectives and aspects commonly used by Lovecraft such as ‘unnameable’ or ‘non-Euclidian’. These also include small mechanical alterations to help fit the skin’s theme, such as adding to a creature’s level for a specific subset of tasks, or increasing its health or other capabilities.

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Part 3: Lovecraftian Creatures

These four pages are given to presenting write ups of four of Lovecraft’s more iconic creatures including shoggoths, and deep ones. Each is given a full page including short descriptions, suggested GM Intrusions, notes, fully detailed stat blocks with special attacks or actions and the like.

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Closing Thoughts

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In Strange Aeons provides a well thoughts out guide to hacking Numenera to work in Cthulhu and Lovecraftian horror into you game, adding the themes of horror, madness, unknowable alien knowledge and power, and the like to the game’s primary themes of discovery and advanced technology. Sprinkled throughout are quotations direct from various works of Lovecraft that help to establish the tone, themes, and flavor of the materials; several new pieces of artwork as well as a new list of recommended reading (and watching) help to cement these themes as well. Overall the product feels like a good value for your $3, and should be useful for almost any GM looking to add “Cthulhu-esque” to the list of adjectives describing their Numenera game.

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Rating: 90%, a fine addition to Numenera (and one supposes any Cypher system game) for hacking some elder horrors and Cthulhu inspired madness into your game.

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jameson (ST)    61

Follow up: I think the big thing that was missing from this, and the reason I didn't give it a higher score, was the last of example Cthulhuesque/Lovecraftian oddities, cyphers, and artifacts. Even if no new cypher or artifact effects were introduced some examples of thematic forms/appearances would have been a nice addition.

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Thanks for the review! I was smacked with a setting idea for the Cypher system yesterday and it was nice to see that there were books like this out there. I doubt I can get license to officially publish my idea if I completely flesh it out, but it might make an appearance on the boards here in a while (as in months to years, I'm full up on games right now and still need to learn the ins and outs of the Cypher system before I can do the crunchy side of the idea).

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jameson (ST)    61

I would imagine that the Glimmers line might continue to be used for these kinds of minor hacks where they fit into Numenera, and likewise I would wager that when The Strange sees print next year there will be something similar for it, doing similar things (though as I mention, I am certain I could use this entire PDF with The Strange to run a Call of Cthulhu type game).

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My idea would be a new base setting, not a hack on top of Numenera or The Strange, at least from what I've read of both so far. I wonder if they will do licensing ala Savage Worlds, or would even consider taking look at a submission? Hrm...

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jameson (ST)    61

There is a licensing program of some kind in place. Mostly I have seen people releasing add-ons like adventures and new Descriptors or Foci, but I don't know the specifics of the program's details/limits and such. It's possible that they might be willing to licence something bigger, but I would imagine that a full game might be an entirely different beast.

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