AMA with Monte Cook (Numenera, D&D, Monte Cook Games, Malhavoc Press)

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Do me a solid apologize to Shanna, I meant to ask more questions during her AMA but life got in the way. I'm very excited about No Thank You Evil, I've been looking for my first RPG's for awhile now that I have spawn. How similar are the Cypher and NTYE systems, for example if for some reason I wanted by NTYE character to guest star in a Strange game, can that happen?
NTYE is very much Cypher simplified, which is saying a lot since it's already a simple system. NTYE would convert "up" fairly well, though. You'd have an extra stat called Awesome, that exists to enable you to better help your friends, which doesn't exist in The Strange, but you know, maybe it should. :)
I think I most enjoyed the insights into the culmination of your life's work that is the formation of MCG. Thanks again for volunteering your time to answer our questions.

1. I began developing a game system six years ago which is uncannily similar to the Cypher System (CS) in many baffling ways. That being said, its task resolution is also influenced heavily by the same in Apocalypse World. I understand that game mechanics themselves are generally unprotected by copyright or patent law, while the artistic expression thereof is. I also understand you are not a lawyer, but I think if anyone would have a firm idea of what should be my actual concerns as a developer, it would probably be you.

Given that:
(a) this would be my first step into professional game development, and
(b) my design goals and mechanics for gameplay I was developing, are satisfied for the most part by CS, and
(c) while my setting is certainly far different, there are thematic similarities to the Ninth World setting, and
(d) most, if not all, of the arguably-innovations I developed could probably be handled as Options in a CS-licensed product

Would I be wiser to seek licensing of the CS (instead of finishing my game system and giving credit where due)?

2. Now that games like Shotguns & Sorcery and Vurt are on their way, would it be fair to say that the floodgates are opening with regards to the full license option for CS?

3. Upon what factors do you place the most importance when making the decision to allow a full license of the CS?

4. Probably answered above, but could a small (or new) developer such as me ever hope to obtain that license?
1. I'd approach Charles Ryan at MCG in regards to the license. It's hard to get noticed in the world as a brand new creator, particularly if you're doing something similar to what someone else is doing but there's no direct link.

2. Not 100% sure what that means, but both of them have a full (not limited) license with us. Talk to Charles for more info.

3. Again, a Charles question.

4. Sure. It's certainly possible.

Really enjoyed meeting you and your team at GenCon and had a blast running Mastadon. I've run con games for several systems now, and it was the best designed one out of the ones I've done and a lot of fun. I particularly enjoyed the non-combat encounters that helped create the feeling of the environment for the players (left vague to avoid spoilers).

I have one rule clarification question I want to sneak in now that the CSR is out (and presumably is the most up to date version of the rules), and it concerns using powers after you've run out of points in your pool. The CSR refers to using points from other pools when damage exceeds the appropriate pool value (you take more damage than you have Might points and it rolls over into your Speed pool, for example), and says that only points from the appropriate pool can be used when an ability has a point cost.

When this question came up online, you indicated in a Google Plus post (copied at the end below) that a character can use Might points to power an esotery when she runs out of intellect points (follow the pool spend in order : Might, Speed, Intellect, Might, Speed). I was hoping this corner case rule would be clarified in the CSR (or as an optional rule), including what edge is used when you pull points from a different pool (Might edge when using Might to power an esotery or Intellect edge since it is an Intellect ability?).

With the benefit of another year of testing and playing, what is the "official" rule in this case and what edge would you apply?

Thanks much.

[Post copied from Google Plus question started by nolinquisitor: Monte Cook, May 21, 2014: "It's the intent of the rules that points come out of pools in a certain order of operation, but that as long you obey that order of operation, you can keep spending points. It's just like with damage: you lose points from your Might, and when you have no Might, they come from Speed, and when you have no Speed they come from Intellect.

This means that while yes, esotery power (and Effort associated with that power) comes from Intellect, if you have no Intellect, it comes from Strength. And if you have no Strength, it comes from Speed. So that means someone could indeed harm or even kill themselves by performing esoteries (or other abilities) over and over."]
The official rule is the rule as written in CSR. But as you can see from the answer you've copied, in my own games I do allow this. But there's NO edge when you do so, so it's really costly. This only really comes up with sort of "we've got to pull off this one last task or we're all going to die!" kind of situations. It's happened in a game I've run... maybe twice. Three times at the most. I'd hesitate to make it an official rule because it would get overused, I think.
Joining the party late:

1. Ever read any of the fan modules from your Arcana Unearthed stuff? Or any fan modules from any of your lines?
2. Any chance we'll see a book similar to Memories and Ghosts?
3. When's the next book after Of Aged Angels coming out?
1. Not really. I don't have time to go looking for that stuff. I can barely keep up with all the "official" stuff. I do like to see people's reports of how their game went posted on social media or whatever from time to time. It's gratifying to hear that people are having a good time.

2. No plans, but that would be really cool.

3. Well, WotC of course owns the Dark Matter property, so I guess you'd have to ask them. It is exciting that our latest Kickstarter includes the first Numenera novel, though. It's written by Shanna Germain. Who knows, maybe we'll reach a point where we release more...
Ironically, we've had a similar plot in our campaign: The party's paladin had a chance to join the Knights of the Dawn, but while training with the knight-aspirants in Tarsis, he discovered that one of them was actually a plant loyal to Empress Addares XXXIV, seeded there with the intention of getting into the Emperor of the Church's bodyguard so that he and his co-conspirator could betray the emperor.

By rooting out the assassins, he inadvertently chose a side, in the eyes of all three parties, which everyone will have to deal with in the coming adventures.

Thanks again for everything, including 3E, Ptolus, all your indie stuff and this AMA.
Awesome! Thanks for the kind words.
With that, I'm going to have to draw this to a close. It's been a lot of fun--lots of walks down memory lane--and lots of good questions. I really appreciate your time, and all the very kind words. Gamers are awesome.

I do hope you'll check out my new work. You can find that ongoing at and the Kickstarter for Into the Ninth World goes until the second week in September.

Thanks again, and have a great weekend.
Hey Kent! How's it going?

If memory serves, this all played into how I'd taken the G- and D- module series and turned them on their heads. The giants were manipulating the drow to rise up in the Underdark and foment trouble. All of that made Lolth vulnerable, and I think Vlondril ultimately wanted to take out Lolth.

Probably with the help of the Old Ones. I think she was a secret (?) cultist.

But it's been a while.
Doing well. Thanks for asking!

And thanks for the answer. It was a question that would cross my mind occasionally. :)


One question about D&D 5th edition: is there any plans yet to publish the books in Spanish? There is a whole community of players waiting for it. I even offer my services (even for free) to edit the books after all, I've been translating unofficially several AD&D handbooks to my friends prior the Internet age, when the books weren't available in every store.


Well, that was fun
Staff member
One question about D&D 5th edition: is there any plans yet to publish the books in Spanish? There is a whole community of players waiting for it. I even offer my services (even for free) to edit the books after all, I've been translating unofficially several AD&D handbooks to my friends prior the Internet age, when the books weren't available in every store.
Monte is at Monte Cook Games, not Wizards of the Coast. Plus the AMA ended ages ago. :)
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