Disclaimer: This pdf was graciously given to me for the purposes of review by Ryan Chaddock Games. All opinions within the review are my own.
I was about to crash for the evening last night, when I received an email telling me that I had a review copy of a book called the Translation Codex waiting for me. I figured I would download it, flip through it and then head to bed. Three hours later, I finally made it.
Translation Codex – Review
One of my issues with The Strange, it is a small issue but from what I have seen a pervasive one, is that the core rule book spreads the setting a little thin. Earth, Ardyen, Ruk, and The Strange itself are major settings, and the book contains a number of other smaller recursions. They manage to cram a lot of information into the setting sections, but unlike Numenera whose setting enflamed my imagination, it was not until the adventures started coming out for it that I felt like I connected with The Strange. Another major part of this feeling of thinness is the foci. While there are 25 foci, this is 5 less than the Numenera core rule book, and they are not universally applicable.
Why am I bringing this up? It is a problem that Monte Cook Games already has a book in the works to resolve. It was an understandable issue due the nature of the setting and it doesn’t make The Strange unplayable. All of this is true, but it still makes The Strange somewhat constrained for now. However, Ryan Chaddock Games’ newest PDF is designed to address this problem.
The Translation Codex is a 142 page PDF, available for $5.00 from Drivethrurpg.com. This PDF contains 100 foci and 18 new recursion write ups. 100! The book separates the foci between 5 broad genres and 5 more niche ones. You can drop these foci into the current settings of The Strange, use them with the books provided settings, or mix and match them to create your own recursions.
The broad genres covered are: Low Fantasy, High Fantasy, Mad Science, Earth, and Psionics. The narrow ones are: Lovecraftian Horror, Mythic (Greco-Roman), Space, Strange, and Wild West. These are not just foci that expand upon the current core settings of The Strange. Low Fantasy covers your Song of Ice and Fire, low magic worlds. Mad Science and Psionics allow you to build an effective Super Hero recursion.
Each of the broad genres have fifteen foci, and the narrow ones possess five. As I read through them, I found ones that were spot on for their genres, as well as some creative surprises. For example, the High Fantasy section covers the standard Dungeons and Dragons tropes of: Cleric, Bard, Invoker, and Druid. It also has the Carries the Weight of Destiny foci, which allows your players to play a character on Campbell’s Hero’s Journey.
The Mad Science genre has a great side-kick foci Assists a Mad Genius as well as Plays with Portals, which I really want to play. Within the Earth genre, you find everything from action movie tropes, to professional athletes. The Space genre contains only 5 foci, but they are ripped from Star Trek, so this is a huge win. There is even a Red Shirt foci.
Excluding the obvious cross-use for a Numenera game, or the fact that you could use it to play in your own setting before the Cypher System Rulebook comes out, The Translation Codex provides a lot of meat for your Strange game. The foci are as useable with the recursions in the main book as they are useful in creating your own. It stands alone, and provides a much needed expansion for The Strange line. At .05 cents a foci, The Translation Codex is an amazing deal.