Our Numenera game officially started last night. We had eight players at the table, with two more people planning to join. So I failed miserably at not running another large game. I just ran the first adventure out of the main book, the Beale of Boregal to get a feel for the rule and the world. While not the greatest adventure Monte has written, I found at the end of the night, it captured the feeling of the Ninth World perfectly. Everyone one of my players enjoyed it and were talking about how weird the world was.
I also felt that the rules were amazing. I was able to easily handle the group size, and because I never needed to roll, I was able to focus on story and PC interaction. It was freeing. Numenera was such a great experience that I shelled out money for Monte Cook Games’ newest Kickstarter: The Strange. Go check it out. It uses the Cypher system and its setting is even more exciting than Numenera!
It also caused me to do something that I rarely do in games, which create a house-rule. I tend to screw up rules or rule on the fly far more. But last night I ‘fiated’ a ruling at the table to deal with wide gulf in play experience we have in the game, along with the large number of players. On one end of the spectrum we have a number of excited, experienced players who shoot from the hip and just announce what their character is doing. On the other end, we have a couple of new to gaming players who are naturally quieter and prefer to take a moment to think about the situations. The first group is highly entertaining, the second is highly effective.
The idea popped into my head due to is how XP is delivered in the Cypher System. The majority of it is given out by the GM due to his intrusion onto the story. And when one player gets an XP in this manner, he or she is given a second one to hand out to a fellow player for any justifiable reason. Players can bank XP for leveling or use it for a re-roll. With the chaos of 8 people at the table, there was a lot of “I do this” “No you don’t, I stop him” or “I break it” “Wait I have lockpicking”. Rather than have the players roll a speed check to see who gets their action first (a la Burning Wheel) or penalize the players who may be mulling an action over in their mind just because someone jumped the gun, I introduced Player Intrusion.
Player Intrusion – Once a player declares his action, by a definitive action statement, the only way to prevent that action from completion is for a player to intrude. To do this, the intruding player offers the acting player one of their XP, along with a reason for why the intruding player’s idea offers a better course of action or why it is better to wait for the group’s input. If the acting player accepts the XP, he agrees to the new action or accepts to wait with the possibility of being unable to complete the stated action except by general consensus. If they are committed to their initial action, the acting player must spend one of their XP to nullify the intrusion as if it were a GM intrusion, negating both points of XP. For speed of play sake, no more than on intrusion is allowed per roll.
This way, if two players are vying for an action, it forces one or both sides to consider how committed to the action they are. And it gives the more reserved players an opportunity to pause the action to have time to think.
I am slightly anxious to see how this works in practice, but I hope that it is fast enough to not slow down play yet effective enough to deal with this issue. Any thoughts or comments on the rule would be greatly appreciated.
Also, BWG reading has been put on hold as I continue to read up on Numenera, finish the Last Dark by Stephen Donaldson, and finish the 13th Age for review.