This is the first in a series of posts introducing The Strange. For more, keep your eye on www.montecookgames.com–we’ll post new articles every week throughout June, July, and into August!
The universe of normal matter is not all. A cosmos-sized artifact of dark energy was born billions of years ago in the Big Bang’s afterglow. This dark energy network hosts recursions: unique but limited worlds with their own laws of science and even magic, seeded into the network by human imagination, but nonetheless very real. The Strange is a place where fictional worlds become realities of their own.
Player characters are quickened, which means they are among the few on Earth aware of the Strange (the game, The Strange, is named after the dark energy network, the Strange). Quickened people are able to access the alternate realities connected to Earth. As a player, you know these worlds are often governed by rules of physics different than our own, including Mad Science or even Magic. You know they often hold riches—not just gold or jewels, but powerful objects called cyphers that can bend reality back on Earth. And you know they contain dangers unlike anything back home. Each recursion is a place of wonder, but traveling among the recursions risks drawing not only the attention of the creatures native to that recursion, but also the notice of vast entities that scuttle through the primordial reaches of the Strange like bloated spiders on a web: voracious planetovores that eat worlds—recursions and primes alike (primes are worlds of normal matter, like Earth).
Indeed, the Strange and its terrible threat is the answer to the question that plagues anyone wondering why there isn’t any evidence of alien life in the rest of the universe. That evidence is actually everywhere cosmologists look: it’s dark energy, and the near infinite network it hosts.
Major recursions include Ardeyn and Ruk. Ardeyn is a recursion where magic works, dragons live, and creatures that might as well be demigods exist. One such power of Ardeyn–the Betrayer–is determined to see Earth burn. Another recursion, called Ruk, operates under the laws of Mad Science, and it appears to be populated with Earthlings. Don’t be fooled. Ruk comes from someplace else in the universe and has been hiding for thousands of years—possibly much longer—among the recursions connected to Earth (sometimes called the Shoals of Earth).
Most other recursions in the Shoals were created through fictional leakage. These recursions contain aspects of popular fiction made manifest, which can be as unsettling as it sounds, especially when players encounter individuals like Merlin and Moriarty as living, fully conscious people who know as much or more about the Strange as the players.
The setting of The Strange follows Numenera’s lead. Along with a mix of big ideas, plots, and interesting NPCs and details, we also provide seasoned advice to help make the most of the setting for your game. All this while ensuring you have all the guidance you need to create fantastic experiences for your players.
When you play The Strange, you’ll discover streamlined, story-based mechanics that allow you to create the characters you truly want to play, open-ended gameplay with a strong narrative, and a focus on mystery and the unknown designed to fill players with a sense of wonder. The Strange presents new character types (fast-talking spinners, reality-altering paradoxes, and powerful and driven vectors), 50-some new creatures, an adventure, and many detailed recursions. In addition to all this, we provide rules for player characters to create entire recursions of their own. We hope you’ll agree that we’ve succeeded in creating something truly wonderful with The Strange.
This is the first in a series of articles introducing The Strange. You can read the next one here.