Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Ebooks to Paper

For several years, I purchased mostly ebooks and audiobooks (at least when it comes to fiction--I've always preferred my game books in print). But after seeing how much Batgirl continued to enjoy print books after being an early ebook supporter, too, I tried an analog paper book about 6 months ago. And you know what? It was magic.

Since then, I've stepped off the ebook revolution bus. I've been reading mostly paper novels, as I did before there was such a thing as ebooks; witness my already overflowing shelves, pictured above. Anyway, reading in analog has continued to be amazing. I recommend it. If you've found yourself reading less lately, try a paper novel for fifteen minutes. Nothing is quite so relaxing and stress deflating as reading a solid, physical book.

Of course, this is just one annecdotal report. It turns out, though, there is quite a bit of evidence behind the idea that reading paper books has advantages over e-reading.

(Aside: You know what goes great with paper novels? Light, my friends. Like this little clip-on book lamp. Instead of putting reading lamps behind the couch, behind my favorite chair, and next to the bed, I just clip the lamp to the book. I know, I know, lots of you already do this. I USED to do this years ago. But I got out of the habit; lost my old clip-on lamp. This is just a reminder to those of you, like me, who may have forgot some of the joy reading print can bring.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Kickstarter By The Numbers

87: the number of Kickstarter campaigns I've backed.

6: The number of Kickstarter campaigns I pledged that failed to fund (so I guess I didn't back those).

2: The number of Kickstarter campaigns I pledged that are still in their funding stage.

12: The number of Kickstarter campaigns I pledged that haven't yet reached their promised delivery date (or are within the 6 month grace period I give all KS rewards before I begin to seriously wonder).

67: The number of Kickstarter campaigns I backed that I should have received a reward for by now...

59: The number of Kickstarter campaigns I pledged out of 67 for which I DID receive the promised reward. Not bad, all things considered. The very first one I backed was Diaspora (which failed to deliver rewards), an open-source alternative to Facebook ;).

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Strange Revelations: Ten Instant Adventures for The Strange

(This blog was originally posted here by Charles Ryan.)

What’s the hardest part of running a roleplaying game? It has to be the preparation. You can’t just spontaneously say, “Let’s play a roleplaying game” unless someone’s already spent hours preparing an adventure for the group. But what if running a great game didn’t require any more effort for the game master than it does for the players? What if you could get up and running in—literally—just five minutes? Strange Revelations: Ten Instant Adventures for The Strange makes prepping for an RPG no more difficult or time consuming than setting up a board game, while showcasing the wonder and weirdness of the many recursions lying in the Shoals of Earth. This is a must-have for beginning and veteran GMs of The Strange.

These aren’t adventure seeds—they’re complete adventures in an innovative format that requires minimal prep. Run them as one-shots or drop them into your ongoing campaign when you don’t have time to prep your own adventures. You can even run them together as a campaign for months of effortless play!

Strange Revelations includes:
  • Ten adventures on Earth and across numerous recursions, complete with maps, NPCs, and all the details you expect. 
  • An innovative format for adventures: five minutes of prep gets you started, with no need to read pages and pages of text in advance. 
  • An escape from a post-apocalyptic cannibal wasteland, a horror-themed board game that exerts bizarre powers over its players, a medieval wardrobe that opens into a hellish realm, and much, much more. 
  • Great advice on running adventures with little or no prep. 
  • Beautiful, full-color Show ’Em illustrations to reveal to players during the adventures. 
  • Six pregenerated characters that get you playing in minutes. 
  • A handy rules cheat sheet to make things run even more smoothly.

Protect Earth from a malefic Lovecraftian entity. Search for salvage on a derelict spacecraft. Set off into the dark energy of the Strange itself to defend the Orb of Worlds. Strange Revelations is a must-have for beginning and veteran GMs of The Strange, and anyone who’d like to play RPGs as easily and spontaneously as board games!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Watch, Drink, Eat, Play

Since Strange Revelations is coming out soon, we thought we’d provide some suggestions for prepping these Instant Adventures to play with your friends or family over the holidays, or whenever. Those of us here in the US have a four-day weekend coming up, usually spent with family and friends—what better time for an RPG adventure or two?

You’ve heard of wine pairings? Well, these are similar. We provide some entertainment pairings, including movie, food, and drink, for each of the adventures in Strange Revelations. (Note: Though we suggest a movie “pairing” with each Strange Revelations adventure, we actually suggest watching the movie ahead of the game or afterward, or, if you must, in the background with the sound completely off.)

Cannibal Wasteland

Movie Pairing: Mad Max: Fury Road
Drink Pairing: Rad on the Rocks
Snack Pairing: Twinkies (fresh even after the apocalypse)

A Shadow out of Innsmouth

Movie Pairing: In the Mouth of Madness
Drink Pairing: Fever Dream Punch
Snack Pairing: Gummy worms

Starfall in Ardeyn

Movie Pairing: Stardust
Drink Pairing: Fallen Angel
Snack Pairing: Angel Food Cake
To see the other pairing suggestions, head over to the main blog article, which this is a snippet of, here: http://www.montecookgames.com/your-game-strange-revelations-pairings/

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Lucca Games in Italy


Batgirl and I are headed to Italy for Lucca Comics and Games Festival! I'll be a guest of Wyrd Edizioni, Italian partner who is launching The Strange— The Anomaly, the Italian edition of The Strange! I'll also be accepting the Best Italian RPG Game of 2015 for Numenera, which was translated into Italian and released last year. A virtuous circle, eh?

 I may update this post with pictures as they become available.

For now, though, I leave you with this wonderful boxed version of The Strange :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

PAX Prime 2015

MCG is going to PAX in Seattle! Come see us in room 209. We'll have two, 2-hour long demo games going all day, every day, so come by and sign up for some RPG fun! In addition, I'll be signing in room 209 with Monte Cook & Shanna Germain at the following times:

Friday 1-3
Saturday 12-2
Sunday 12-2

Finally, I'll be around at other times, too, along with Charles Ryan and Torah Cottrill to talk about cool, geeky things (including, of course, Numenera, The Strange, and the Cypher System). So come say hello! 

(If you see Torah, she might just be cosplaying a character from the Numenera Character Options book who Consorts with the Dead, or your favorite Estate Lead Operative, Katherine Manners.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Worlds Numberless and Strange

I put a lot into this book. I hope you like Worlds Numberless and Strange, available here!

Witch covens battle in the mammoth city of Halloween. Nazis struggle to master mythological relics in the Eleventh Reich. T. rexes hunt hominids on the tropical island of Mesozoica, while skyships fend off pirates and predators in the tempestuous cloud seas of Seishin Shore.

In The Strange, recursions—limited pocket dimensions with their own laws of reality—are seeded from human fiction and mythology. A recursor might discover Atlantis, Oz, the Victorian London of Sherlock Holmes, or places even more bizarre and perilous. Worlds Numberless and Strange takes you to dozens of new recursions, where supervillains, dinosaurs, space troopers, killer robots, gods, and other dangers guard wonders and treasures few people on Earth have ever seen!

Worlds Numberless and Strange includes: Nearly 70 new recursions Expanded information on locations, plots, and NPCs of Ardeyn and Ruk Plenty of new artifacts, adventure hooks, and other intriguing details The Implausible Geographical Society, a new secret organization of explorers New creatures for game masters New character options for players, including foci like Inks Spells on Skin and Quells Undead Tips on incorporating your favorite fiction and game worlds into The Strange.

Worlds Numberless and Strange 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Richter Scale for Earthquakes Retired in 1970s

To say an earthquake measures 5.0 (or whatever) on the Richter Scale is incorrect (I just found out, while researching a cypher ability for The Strange RPG). The Richter Scale was retired in 1970! Now its the Moment Magnitude Scale, and you'd just say that an earthquake has a magnitude of 5 (or whatever). 

Apparently, a magnitude 32 quake was detected once. Not on Earth though; it was a *starquake* detected on December 27, 2004 from the ultracompact stellar corpse (magnetar) SGR 1806-20. The quake, which occurred 50,000 light years from Earth, released gamma rays equivalent to 1036 kW in intensity. Had it occurred within a distance of 10 light years from Earth, the quake would have possibly triggered a mass extinction

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Strange Character Generator Is Live

Hello, players of The Strange!

UPDATE 2024: Well, guess what! MCG launched a Cypher System character builder! It's not quite as recursive as the original character builder for The Strange, but it'll prove a fabulous start for creating your character, using different instances for when your character visits alternate recursions on the Dark Energy Network where planetovores roam. Check it out!

UPDATE 2019: Our online character sheet resource for The Strange has translated into a recursion we can't currently reach.

Why? This is probably not 100% accurate, so take it with a grain of salt. My understanding is that the code base was aging. Rather than keeping up a buggy and perhaps an insecure site, and one that wasn't getting enough use to justify the expense of a re-design, it was determined that the best option was to decommission it.

These days, I'd suggest just using a form-fillable Cypher System character sheet and the books you want to draw from, downloadable and free here: https://www.montecookgames.com/store/product/cypher-system-character-and-campaign-sheets/

You can also download a free version of The Strange character sheet specifically, though I'm afraid it's not form-fillable, though certainly easily printed: https://www.montecookgames.com/store/product/the-strange-character-sheet/

As you may recall, one of the early stretch goals we reached during the Kickstarter campaign for The Strange was an online character generator. We’re super excited to announce that it’s now live! You can find it at:


You can now build, maintain, advance, translate, and print characters for The Strange quickly and easily. You can create and save as many characters as you like, and it’s completely free of charge for all fans of The Strange. Check it out!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Strange Character Options (In Translation) for Numenera

I described how to use Numenera Character options for The Strange a few weeks ago to illustrate how major Cypher System elements are compatible between different games. Now, In Translation (The Strange Character Options) has gone on sale...

You know what’s next, right? Yep. Not only does the new book provide a bounty of new foci, descriptors, and abilities for use in The Strange; you can use the foci and descriptors in your Numenera game.

So when you describe your character in your Numenera game in the sentence, “I’m a blank blank who blanks,” your answer could become, “I’m a Slacker jack who Is Idolized by Millions,” “I’m a Paranoid glaive who Goes Berserk,” or “I’m an Introverted nano who Aspires to Be Posthuman.” You get the idea. 

So here's some specific, pointed advice on using In Translation in your Numenera game:

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Both The Strange and Numenera rely on the Cypher System, and that means that a lot of the stuff made for one game works perfectly in the other. (For instance, here's how Numenera character foci might be sorted to work under the various laws of The Strange):

Although the games are different, their core mechanics are the same. Both rate tasks and difficulties from 1 to 10, and both have characters who use Effort, skills, and assets to reduce that difficulty, and both rely on the roll a d20 to see if those tasks come off successfully. The characters in each are described by a single sentence: I’m a blank blank who blanks (I’m a Mad paradox who Separates Mind from Body). Even many elements of the games are similar in a general sense. So although the types, creatures, cyphers, and most of the descriptors and foci are different from game to game, the form in which they are presented, and the way they fit into the game as a whole, is the same.

Which is a long way of saying you can use most of the descriptors and foci presented in Numenera Character Options in your game of The Strange. In many cases, only a few easily-made tweaks is enough to offer your players a particular focus or descriptor when they translate to a new recursion, and in some cases, even while they remain on Earth.

Find out more here :


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Using Props in your RPG Games

Do you use props in your tabletop RPG games?

I don’t always use props when I run an RPG because at their heart, tabletop RPGs are about evoking a world of imagination through the spoken (or written) word. That said, why make imagination do all the work? Descriptions can always be spiced up, anchored, and otherwise enhanced by something you provide your players that makes them feel more in touch with what you’re describing.

I’ll go further: you should consider adding some props to your game if you’re not already doing so. Props engage players in a new way, engage several senses at once, and make a game more memorable. If you already use props, you’ve probably already tried many of the props described below, and probably some I haven’t thought of. The thing to keep in mind about props in RPG games is this: use them judiciously, not constantly. If players come to expect a certain kind of prop because it’s what you always do, that moment of excitement for each new prop reveal becomes less over time. The answer might just be in varying the kind of prop you use.

To my mind, props fall into the following categories.

Tabletop Prop Categories
Special Objects

I provide a few ideas (and anecdotal examples!) of props within each category over on the MCG Blog:http://www.montecookgames.com/using-props-in-rpg-games/

Monday, January 26, 2015

Not Really the "Tolkein Edit"

Thursday, January 22, 2015

My car is quiet, just the way I like it