Mythic Mortals: Learning from Numenera

Last time I talked about Dungeon World, and how influential it has been in my gaming experience. The other system that I’ve played the most, and enjoyed the most is Numenera, which uses the Cypher System. (which I’ve also written some supplements for!)NBG1

The cypher system has a lot of interesting things going from it, but the one that I’ve always been interested in is the idea of spending points from pools.

In Numenera, you have 3 different pools, or collections of points. Whenever you do something that relies on strength, then you spend points from your Strength pool. When you run out of Strength points, then you can’t do those actions any more. And when you run out of points completely, you die.

This type of gameplay means that you’re spending your health when you take a hit, or when you deal damage, cast a spell, or anything else. Everything comes from one pool, and players can choose how they want to preserve those pools. This gives players more meaningful choices about their actions, and they’ll have to be careful about whether they spend their points absorbing damage or dealing damage.

I wanted to harness that same kind of idea in my own game. My goal has been to keep everything about this game relegated to the cards. I don’t want my players to have to track health, mana, stats, or anything else. Everything comes from the cards.

The first version of the rules required a lot of tracking of different points, and it really slowed down the game. So I’ve tried to cut a lot of that out, keep things simple, and simply have the players main deck represent everything that they can do.

Whenever they attack, they draw cards to affect their stats, which determines how much damage they do, or if they hit at all.

Whenever players want to use a special ability, they spend cards to use that ability. Sometimes the cost of the abilities depends on what they are trying to do.

And most importantly, whenever players take damage, they spend cards equal to the damage taken.

The result is that players have about 50 hit points, 50 mana points, and 50 chances to make themselves stronger. How players split up and spend these points is completely up to them. It’s been so much fun fiddling and tweaking these mechanics.

The best compliment I’ve gotten so far is when I finished a playtest, and one of the players turned to me and said, “Aww! but I really wanted to use that ability! I spend the entire game working and maneuvering to that point.” After I heard that, I knew I had a fun formula that draws people in, and engages them.

You can check out what I currently have at the page for Mythic Mortals. There’s more to come, and it’s only in beta right now!