On the Renegade Octopus blog, Kassil Roshah elegantly summarizes the premise of The Strange RPG from Monte Cook Games and explains who will like it. “In the earliest days of the universe there arose an alien civilization that quickly developed advanced technology, on the order of Kardashev IV or V — masters of the universe itself, who decided that the cosmos simply wasn’t sufficient for their purposes. They altered reality itself, creating the foundation of what we know today as dark energy; they designed it as a universe-wide computational network, which they could use for nearly any purpose they felt like. They’d upload themselves into the network, transfer across it to whatever world they wanted to visit, and literally ‘print’ a new body on the other end of the trip.

“Somewhere along the way in the billions of years since then, things have gone awry. This first civilization is gone entirely; perhaps ascending to a post-cosmological existence as a Type VI civilization, perhaps simply going extinct from boredom, perhaps destroyed by planetovores (we’ll get back to that terrifying word soon), perhaps something else unimaginable. The dark energy network remains, however, and has grown along with the universe itself — with a distinctly odd quirk.

“The network is so powerful a processing system that it can simulate microscopic segments of an actual universe, you see. Some worlds — those which have the good fortune to develop sapient life — are what get termed ‘Prime’ worlds — those whose collection of thinking, dreaming, creative minds seed the dark energy network with their creativity, giving birth to recursions — fictional worlds that generate from the ideas that take root in it. Most worlds only generate a few of these worlds from so-called fictional bleed, but Earth is special, with a vast number of fictive worlds in what gets called the Shoals of Earth. […]

“if you liked shows like The X-Files, Supernatural, Grimm, or Constantine, or similar types of books, The Strange is a game you’ll want to give a look. In the course of a single session it lets you go from a cop on the streets of Earth to a heroic knight in a high fantasy kingdom to a deep-space explorer in a sci-fi recursion. You can borrow shamelessly from your favorite pop culture and literature, because the recursions around Earth are literally made of these things. And you can even delve into the swirling fractal chaos of the Strange itself, exploring the universe that underpins the universe – and perhaps even explore alien worlds in the ‘real world’ in the process.” (Renegade Octopus):

http://renegadeoctopus.blogspot.com/2015/10/the-strange-why-to-play.html

18 thoughts on “On the Renegade Octopus blog, Kassil Roshah elegantly summarizes the premise of The Strange RPG from Monte Cook…

  1. < ![CDATA[Fandible has some nice podcast actual plays, though they're on the zany end of the spectrum while I think the game supports just as well a more serious Delta Green or X Files tone.]]>

  2. Mark Delsing You gather correctly! I’m almost too big a Cypher fan to be objective at this point. I’ve played it, run it at cons, demo’d it in game stores, etc, though less than I have for Numenera. As Scott Robinson was saying the other day, there seems to be a fairly even split for people who immediately grok and feel comfortable in Numenera vs Strange – the Strange felt a little more difficult to grasp for me at the start, but for me science fantasy weirdness was almost immediately comfortable. Other people find it the opposite.

    There’s a good amount of mechanical information about how to go to and from recursions, what changes, and what mechanically needs to be determined about a recursion (and when – for instance, since PCs get plopped into one part of the recursion, they don’t need to know a ton about where the edges of the recursion lie at the beginning). Seeing the MASSIVE number of recursions outlined in Worlds Numberless and Strange is really what let things click for me – I needed to learn by many examples, and that book does it so, so well. 

    One thing that threw me for a loop was what translating looked/felt like – I didn’t feel that I was super comfortable with the specifics of that at first, but looking in the corebook there’s a description right in the translation rules that I think I just totally missed. There’s still lots of room for elaboration on the specifics, but the basics are definitely there.

    It’s a solid game that I’ve had many players fall head over heels for, both from Pathfinder/D&D backgrounds and those players without any experience with RPGs. You really go from zero to sixty crazy fast, and the creativity that the mechanics allow for makes adventures crazy replayable for me as a GM and even for some players (who begged to be in more of my demos, which was super flattering!). It also supports a wide range of gaming styles (though it falls on the less-crunchy side of D&D 3.5 for instance) and tones. I’ve had really wacky zany adventures, really tense emotional moments, and this is the first game that I’ve seen fear in my players’ eyes during a boss battle.

    The GM Intrusions mechanic is something I port to many other games I run (like D&D) and I could go on all day about its utility in both the narrative, the tone, and table management (keeping people engaged). 

    Let me know if you have any questions!

  3. < ![CDATA[Mark Delsing You gather correctly! I'm almost too big a Cypher fan to be objective at this point. I've played it, run it at cons, demo'd it in game stores, etc, though less than I have for Numenera. As Scott Robinson was saying the other day, there seems to be a fairly even split for people who immediately grok and feel comfortable in Numenera vs Strange - the Strange felt a little more difficult to grasp for me at the start, but for me science fantasy weirdness was almost immediately comfortable. Other people find it the opposite. There's a good amount of mechanical information about how to go to and from recursions, what changes, and what mechanically needs to be determined about a recursion (and when - for instance, since PCs get plopped into one part of the recursion, they don't need to know a ton about where the edges of the recursion lie at the beginning). Seeing the MASSIVE number of recursions outlined in Worlds Numberless and Strange is really what let things click for me - I needed to learn by many examples, and that book does it so, so well.  One thing that threw me for a loop was what translating looked/felt like - I didn't feel that I was super comfortable with the specifics of that at first, but looking in the corebook there's a description right in the translation rules that I think I just totally missed. There's still lots of room for elaboration on the specifics, but the basics are definitely there. It's a solid game that I've had many players fall head over heels for, both from Pathfinder/D&D backgrounds and those players without any experience with RPGs. You really go from zero to sixty crazy fast, and the creativity that the mechanics allow for makes adventures crazy replayable for me as a GM and even for some players (who begged to be in more of my demos, which was super flattering!). It also supports a wide range of gaming styles (though it falls on the less-crunchy side of D&D 3.5 for instance) and tones. I’ve had really wacky zany adventures, really tense emotional moments, and this is the first game that I’ve seen fear in my players’ eyes during a boss battle.
    The GM Intrusions mechanic is something I port to many other games I run (like D&D) and I could go on all day about its utility in both the narrative, the tone, and table management (keeping people engaged). 
    Let me know if you have any questions!]]>

  4. Darcy Ross Great run-down! Thank you.

    So, what do you (i.e., the players) end up doing the most in a Strange scenario? Lots of fights/encounters? Problem-solving? Interacting with NPCs? It seems like the default assumption is that there will be a mission of some sort. Is that right?

  5. < ![CDATA[Darcy Ross Great run-down! Thank you. So, what do you (i.e., the players) end up doing the most in a Strange scenario? Lots of fights/encounters? Problem-solving? Interacting with NPCs? It seems like the default assumption is that there will be a mission of some sort. Is that right?]]>

  6. Mark Delsing In keeping with the mission-based nature of the adventures they’ve released so far (which is largely convenient for running demos and getting campaigns started), there’s often a lot of problem-solving/investigation, chatting with NPCs, chatting with eachother (character start out with bonds of some sort usually and that has always been a huge source of fun in-game), and combat sprinkled about (often with some options to avoid it). If you’re mission is to hunt down some hostile entity from another recursion, there’s often a big fight at the end of a one-shot, but players can do all sorts of insane things to prepare for it, bluff their way around aspects of it, trick enemies, etc. It never, ever goes down the same way twice.

    James August Walls has an awesome series of blog posts from a campaign he ran that you should check out, though his was also tied to the mission-based Estate.  http://ilive4crits.blogspot.com/2015/01/under-strange-suns-session-1-sherlock.html

    I wish I had more resources that detail setups that don’t use the mission-based approach – the Fandible podcast deviates pretty far from it, and maybe James will know others. One cool framework to use would be to start characters on a recursion (or several) and have them gain sentience and meet up on Earth or something 🙂

    The Halloween-themed free adventure from their series of Strange Instant-Adventures book is actually non-mission based and sounds like a blast – you can download it for free on their website: https://www.montecookgames.com/store/product/strange-revelations/

  7. < ![CDATA[Mark Delsing In keeping with the mission-based nature of the adventures they've released so far (which is largely convenient for running demos and getting campaigns started), there's often a lot of problem-solving/investigation, chatting with NPCs, chatting with eachother (character start out with bonds of some sort usually and that has always been a huge source of fun in-game), and combat sprinkled about (often with some options to avoid it). If you're mission is to hunt down some hostile entity from another recursion, there's often a big fight at the end of a one-shot, but players can do all sorts of insane things to prepare for it, bluff their way around aspects of it, trick enemies, etc. It never, ever goes down the same way twice. James August Walls has an awesome series of blog posts from a campaign he ran that you should check out, though his was also tied to the mission-based Estate.  http://ilive4crits.blogspot.com/2015/01/under-strange-suns-session-1-sherlock.html
    I wish I had more resources that detail setups that don’t use the mission-based approach – the Fandible podcast deviates pretty far from it, and maybe James will know others. One cool framework to use would be to start characters on a recursion (or several) and have them gain sentience and meet up on Earth or something 🙂
    The Halloween-themed free adventure from their series of Strange Instant-Adventures book is actually non-mission based and sounds like a blast – you can download it for free on their website: 
    https://www.montecookgames.com/store/product/strange-revelations/]]>