Interview with Bruce Cordell: The Strange Boxed Set
  • Bruce Cordell Interview for The Strange Boxed Set


    This past Tuesday, I got a bit of time with legendary game designer Bruce Cordell to talk about the Kickstarter for The Strange Boxed Set, which funded in its first day. Bruce tells us all about The Strange for those not familiar with it and explains what's in the box for those who are already fans.





    Darryl Mott: So just to catch everyone up, can you give the readers a quick overview of what The Strange is?

    Bruce Cordell: The Strange is a game I co-wrote with Monte Cook, based on a novel I had just started writing. (More on that later, maybe). Anyway... The Strange RPG is where stories, movies, myths, novels, and even comics and games come alive in limited alternate dimensions called recursions. Player characters explore these recursions, accumulate treasures and wonders, and defend the Earth from entities they discover who are jealous of—or want to consume—the real world. Recursions float in a medium that scientists call dark energy, but that PCs call the Strange. Sometimes, fictional characters and creatures in a recursion wake to the realization that they’re not real. Then they seek to break out of their limited dimensions and reach Earth. As do far more vast and completely alien creatures called planetovores that have been swimming in the Strange for who knows how many millions or billions of years.

    DM: Sounds vaguely like Last Action Hero, only with more thought put into it...

    BC: Well, I started writing the novel, a science fiction novel, to answer the question of Fermi's Paradox--in such an apparentely large universe, why no evidence of alien life? My answer was that we do see evidence of it, a vast artifact of energy we don't understand, the Strange.

    DM: Does The Strange tie into Numenera in any way?

    BC: It uses the same underlying game system, the Cypher System, with a few tweaks for the setting. But we don't directly tie the settings together, though people have done so, by playing Numenera as a recursion of the Strange, or as The Strange game setting existing in the past of Numenera.


    DM: Why did you decide to do a boxed set for The Strange?

    BC: One of the first questions we get asked at every convention is whether we're going to do a boxed set for The Strange like we did for Numenera. We weren't sure, but finally we asked fans of The Strange to let us know how much they'd like to see this. They responded enthusiastically. So we decided to go ahead and create a deluxe boxed edition. But there's more.

    It's also a way to test the public's desire for The Strange. By creating several levels, including the LIBRARY OF IMPOSSIBLE THINGS, we could see if people potentially completely new to The Strange were interested in getting involved. The LIBRARY level is the box plus ALL THE PDFs of every product we've ever done for The Strange, print, PDF, and card decks. A fan of The Strange might already have most of those. But someone new can pick up the box (with the base rules in a deluxe package) plus the entire line in one go. And so far, I'm very gratified to see that the LIBRARY OF IMPOSSIBLE THINGS level is proving popular.


    DM: I'll say I was glad to see a reward level for those who already own the books.

    BC: Right. If you just want a deluxe box, there's relatively inexpensive level ($20) to get it, devoid of the booklets and stretch goals unlocks as we move forward. I'm running point on this Kickstarter, which is the first time I've done so for MCG. So I'm monitoring the KS with an eye towards updates even as we conduct this interview. I was wondering if we were going to hit the next stretch goal as we talked; $2k away ☺

    DM: It seems to happen a lot in books and movies - "Buy the complete boxed set!" But I've been a fan from the start and bought them as they came out. "Well if you're that big a fan, you'll buy it again right?"

    BC: I think the real value here is how we grow the boxed edition to be far more than the standard core book material. Already we've added GM content to the GM Book, and added adventures to the Adventure Book, material that was in PDF-only format before, which will now be in print for the first time. Plus additional maps, art books, new art, and lots of other potential things (along the lines of how the Numenera deluxe boxed edition played out, with some changes here and there.) But on the other hand, yeah. If someone is satisfied with the books, they have no need for the box ☺

    DM: Or JUST the box so it looks pretty on the shelf on non-game nights.

    BC: Indeed!

    DM: You've currently got an estimated delivery listed of August 2017. Is that going to be firm or do you have stretch goals that may push that back?

    BC: We think pretty firm, at least for the base THE STRANGE BOX and LIBRARY OF IMPOSSIBLE THINGS. The ESTATE VAULT we have estimated to arrive later than that. We'd like to have this ready to go in time for Gen Con, thus the estimated August delivery date.


    DM: So you mentioned this was all started by a novel...

    BC: Myth of the Maker, which I finally finshed, years later! (last year!) We have a publisher for it-Angry Robot. Angry Robot is publishing it April in trade paperback and probably audio. Here's a link to the Amazon listing. Myth of the Maker essentially tells the founding story of the Strange's discovery by people on Earth, and how that almost ended in disaster.And might still.

    DM: Is Myth of the Maker included in any of the Kickstarter rewards?

    BC: A deluxe version of the novel was actually kickstarted in an earlier campaign, Worlds of the Cypher System. So it's not directly offered as a reward here, because that would be sort of like double jeopardy 😉

    DM: At the rate this Kickstarter is going, it looks like you'll hit at the very least the Art Book stretch goal before I get this interview published. Any teases you can give for other planned stretch goals?

    BC: Well, since you ask so nicely 😉 You can expect things like Strange notepads, completely new art for the covers of the books (rather than re-used art as we have mocked up), dice, maybe custom dice, a cloth map for Ardeyn (the epic fantasy recursion that's featured in the game), and much more.

    DM: Is there anything else you'd like the readers to know about The Strange or the Kickstarter specifically?

    BC: I want to say how much we appreciate those you who've supported us, and those of you who read this and decide to check out the campaign. Please pass this article around among your RPG-playing friends to let them know this is their chance to be Strange

    As stated, the Kickstarter for The Strange is fully funded with multiple backer levels including a $20 level to get the carboard slipcase for the three core books for those who already own them, $120 for all three booklets, a double-sided poster map, character creation handout, character sheet pad, signed art print, XP deck, and more depending on stretch goals (the next one is for custom dice), or $160 for all of the above plus complete a complere library of all PDF books for The Strange released so far. The campaign runs until Friday, March 17.
    Comments 5 Comments
    1. unknowable's Avatar
      unknowable -
      I absolutely love the strange and the kickstarter box set for numenera is one of the best value purchases around. Especially now that they offer decent shipping for those of us in Australia (from their EU shipping hub)
      This was a major sticking point for me in the past, Cost me as much as the pledge to get my Numenera box over :S

      But yeah, great game and amazing value if it goes down the same route.
    1. Arnwolf666's Avatar
      Arnwolf666 -
      Love Bruce Cordell, but I will not buy Boxed sets. They damage way too easily for me. Good luck I am certain it is a great product.
    1. Melfast -
      I really love The Strange. It's become my favorite game to run at conventions. Easy to prepare for as a GM, and it's really easy to convert your old game worlds/system to The Strange/Cypher System. I'm looking forward to running my players through the Warden in my next game, where I'm converting the Metamorphosis Alpha campaign to a recursion for The Strange. The Strange Box is an outstanding deal for someone new to The Strange or someone who only has a few of the supplements if you take the pledge level that gets you PDF of all The Strange products for $40 on top of The Strange Box -- I think that gets you 17 supplements, including several major expansions.
    1. spiggs18's Avatar
      spiggs18 -
      That's the beauty of the Cypher System. Its simplicity and ease of gameplay makes it the perfect system to run on the fly with little to no prep. It has quickly become my goto system for on the spot RP sessions.
    1. Melfast -
      Over 20 stretch goals down and five hours left to the kickstarter.
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