2 October 2013

Numenera Second Impression, or, the Dead Trees vs the Electric Pixels

Today, at long last, I received my print copy of Monte Cook's new roleplaying game Numenera!

This was about two months after I got the PDF version (here's the blog of my first impressions). I must admit that was a good deal longer than I expected or hoped, considering I pre-ordered the game back in May and they had the release slated for August. But then again, pre-orderers (and Kickstarter backers) got access to the PDF for no additional cost and before the game's general release, so I guess that does somewhat balance it out. And I know this has been a very busy autumn for Monte Cook Games, which is still a relatively small company, what with the hugely successful Kickstarter campaign for this game and all.

But on to the book itself. I've written in the past about how I love good looking, sturdy RPG volumes. This is definitely one of those.

Browsing the PDF over the past couple months, I thought the game looked pretty good. Then I finally had the book in my hands, flipped through a few pages, and... there is just no comparison. I was actually quite surprised by how different the experience felt. These are all pages I've seen before, yet the pictures and decorations, even the text itself, seem to come alive in a way they never can on a cold, electronic screen. Oh, and there's even that new book smell!

I'm not saying it's, like, the best looking game of all time or anything. The aesthetic quality of RPG rulebooks these days is, by and large, pretty strong, I have to say. High end releases, as a rule, tend to be quality full colour hardback volumes. Game publishers put a lot of work in making their products look appealing (though of course there's also a lot of cheaper indie stuff out there, whose creators simply don't have the resources). Numenera, however, does not pale in comparison to my other favourite games, not by any means. The aesthetics coupled with a great setting and an innovative system definitely make it the book of the year for me. Of the decade? Time will tell...

There are purely practical considerations, as well, when thinking about print versus ebook. Being able to take in a whole two page spread at once, rather than scrolling through pages in a typical PDF viewer. Being able to quickly flip from one part to another. I just find it a much more pleasant experience, overall, and obviously less stressful for my eyes.

Bottom line, when it comes to RPG books—or almost any books, come to think of it—I still think print beats ebooks any day.

Now, I still haven't actually played the game, but preparation for a campaign has been under way for a little while. I expect I'll write more once I actually have some experience with it.

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