An Afternoon With Torment: Tides of Numenera's DM

Eurogamer has published a report based on a one-off tabletop session that Christian Donland and Robert Purchese played with inXile's Colin McComb as a GM at EGX Rezzed. It might not quite be indicative of how Torment: Tides of Numenera will turn out, then, but perhaps it's indicative of McComb's approach to his role as creative director on it:

He is a perfect DM, and not just because he looks like Michael Keaton cast in the role of Professor Hugo Strange. McComb clearly loves Numenera and knows it inside out, but what really elevates him is his ability to describe and shape a story as if he, too, is witnessing it unfold for the first time. To a certain extent he is, of course: before we meet, he delivers a speaker session at Rezzed in which he says that Numenera is providing the basis for a video game that is as reactive to player choices as it is deep and filled with glorious incident. Beyond that, though, he simply has that rare ability to sweep people up in a narrative - and to appear swept up along with them.

Numenera offers him a lot to work with, and if you're after an insight into the forthcoming video game, here's the stuff you'll want to know. The world of Numenera is Earth, but Earth a billion years in the future. Many civilisations have risen from the soil to rule the planet since the present day, and a lot of these civilisations were not human. Some of them have reached the stars. Some of them have reached beyond, gaining the power to manipulate entire solar systems and build huge chunks of architecture out there in the galaxy. Some of them have reached beyond that even, twisting time and exploring different dimensions, creating empires that span the universe.

You will not play any of these illustrious heroes. What would be the fun of that? Instead, you'll be a lowly old human idiot, recently re-emerging on the scene and landed in a world that now exists at a medieval level of sophistication. This world is still riddled with the relics of the last billion years, technological trinkets that, to lean on Clarke's third law, the surviving humans will struggle to distinguish from magic. These trinkets are the Numenera: ancient, horribly advanced gadgets that could be just about anything. Weapons, vehicle components, obscure torture devices. They're loot, the acquisition of each one offering both a new way of playing, and a reason to play in the first place.