As always, there are a couple of considerations. The first is probably Spirit of the Century, which was my first exposure to the FATE system. When I first heard about it I was intrigued by the idea and the setting but when I read it I was blown away by the system. FATE remains, to this day, one of the most interesting and amazing system for playing absolutely any game. The other, and the one I’ll go with is Numenera.
So why Numenera?
I’ve reviewed numerous Numenera products on the site and it’s probably the most fun I’ve had running a game for quite a long time and so my feelings on it are pretty clear. Ultimately I expected it to be a fun game and I expected a great setting before I got it and it delivered but it wasn’t until I played it that I realised just how good the system is.
Reading Numenera the system, known as the Cypher system, it seems like a fairly simple and generic system designed to keep the flow of the game moving but it’s when you run it you realise that it’s so much more. The system is simple and easy enough to get to grips with that you can teach it in an a few minutes but it’s the flexibility that keeps it flowing quickly and easily. The Cypher system really shines when players come up with a really out of the box idea for resolving a puzzle or defeating an enemy in that almost anything is possible, with the right justification and enough imagination.
Crazy things happen in Numenera and it makes sense. When a player calls out a silly idea, you can intervene and make it happen which in turn rewards the players with XP and makes them feel involved in the narrative, inspiring them to become involved and making the whole experience a fantastic circle of imagination. It’s a game that empowers players and GM’s to be imaginative and creative and that’s hardwired into the way the system works.
Numenera was a surprise because I expected a fun game with a short life expectancy that I could run short term games in. What I got was a game that I could run a long term and full campaign with fully developed characters in a detailed world. Most games break at high levels because of powerful abilities, Numenera gives you them from the start and still manages to pose a challenge to the PC’s, so few games can manage that.
I could go on, probably endlessly, but I won’t. The game that surprised me the most was Numenera, I expected it to good but what I got was something that was really great.