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That cover art is verrry nice.
The entire book is gorgeous. Keiran Yanner's is lead artist and all of the art in the book has a degree of consistency of style and quality you don't often see. Beyond the art, the rest of the book is well crafted as well...the graphic design is top notch.
What "system" does this use?
Numenera is a new system designed by Monte Cook. The core mechanic does involve a d20 and a target number, but that's pretty much where any similarities to the d20 system end. GMs never even roll dice in Numenera. It's a really interesting and innovative game. I'm looking forward to diving into it more now that I've just received my hardcopy.
I'm torn about Numenera at the moment - I was part of the Kickstarter, and I really like some parts of it, but not others....
* I just don't get the core mechanic. Trying to work out which end/side/at which point to add the modifiers and edges and pools etc did my head in. I wish there were more examples broken down....
And why does the "Carries a Quiver" Character Focus have that crazy schtick where you possibly shoot your friend? It's just seems so arbitrary that some Connections are positive and others negative. Homebrew time....
* I'm not at all a fan of the Ninth World as a setting, though I am a gonzo, Gamma-World-from-the-first-edition grognard - I had hoped for a relatively simple system that I could divorce from the setting and introduce some non-RPGers to RPGs with. But when I look at the character sheet, monumentally beautiful work of art that it is, I shudder.
* I do like the three basic Character types - but I sorely need to understand the system a bit better and play it so I can tinker up some Focuses and Descriptors that I like. I'm hoping/guessing more are in the pipeline from Monte
* Apart from that, I'm very impressed by the art. It is a truly beautiful PDF, and I can't wait until the book arrives. The creativity is awesome - though I don't like much of the Ninth WOrld it is kinda created to be a sort of kitchen sink of setting ideas that you can dispense of or add to depending on the kind of milieu you want.
* I do like the fiction I have read. It reminds me of MAR Baker's Man of Gold or Flamesong from his Tekumel setting, or Terry Dowling's Wormwood stuff.
I like the idea behind this. The DM never rolls dice, well, almost never. That takes away some of the adversarial elements that can spring up between DM and players, leaving a more story oriented atmosphere. And as Papa above pointed out, if you really don't like something you have no control over you can always spend an XP to avoid it.
Basically, a rules-lite system with a very interesting background. If you have a good DM it could be a great game to play. Of course if you have a bad DM it doesn't matter what system you use, you're doomed anyway....
Either way, its definitely worth a look.