Tabletop Game / The Strange

Explore — Defend — Create

Earth isn't alone in the universe. It sits atop a network of dark energy, called the Strange. Uniquely gifted people, called the quickened, are able to translate themselves into the Strange and the recursions found there - pocket universes, sometimes modeled on fictional worlds, other times alien beyond imagining.

Aside from Earth itself, The Strange details two major recursions: Ardeyn, a fantasy setting with dragons and magic, and Ruk, a world of cybernetic and biological enhancements that began life as a refugee craft flying through the Strange itself.

The Strange is a Tabletop RPG about exploration and discovery. It uses the Cypher system, like its predecessor Numenera. There is even a crossover guide that allows you to blend the two games' settings and mechanics together.

Has a website.

You can find fanmade recursions here

This tabletop RPG provides examples of:

  • Alien Sky: Ardeyn and Ruk border on the Strange the way Earth borders on normal space. The view is... odd.
  • The Alternet: The All Song of Ruk, a biological data network that everyone taps into at a cellular level.
  • Animesque: The recursion of Atom Nocturne, which also features Psychic Powers.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Elandine, ruler of the Queendom of Hazurrium, stands at level 7, the highest of all NPCs in the Queendom.
  • Bazaar of the Bizarre: Crow Hollow, a recursion that plays host to the Glittering Market. It's run by the Beak Mafia, a group of humanoid crows who trade in coins carved from your life essence.
  • Benevolent Conspiracy: The Estate, an organisation secretly dedicated to protecting Earth from the threats of the Strange in the guise of a philanthropic institution.
  • Bio Punk: The recursion of Ruk, a mad bioengineer's dream world.
  • Circle of Standing Stones: Calandria's Storm Circle, two concentric circles of menhirs located in a clearing in the forest southwest of Telenbar in Ardeyn. The outer slabs are blank and the inner thirteen slabs are each heavily carved with runes that glorify specific aspects of a storm.
  • Cool Gate: Recursion gates, including translation gates (which reformat you into a suitable shape for your destination), inapposite gates (which do not), portal spheres, and fractal vortexes. Individual artifacts and cyphers can often create their own gates, with various properties.
  • Cosmic Retcon: Despite Ardeyn's recent creation to stop the invasion of Earth, the recursion has millennia of recorded history.
  • Dragon Hoard: The dragon Merid employs human agents who charter adventuring companies to explore distant parts of Ardeyn and enlarge her own hoard.
  • Earth Is the Center of the Universe: Earth has a unique connection to the Strange. In the Hadean aeon, a small piece of a defunct alien intergalactic transport system called Aleph collided with it. Later, the evolving sapient life on Earth triggered a residual function in the Aleph component. The component released a unique quantum field energy that had many repercussions, the main one being that the Earth became connected to the Strange in a way few, if any, other prime worlds ever were. Earth is a rare planet, in that it has generated hundreds of recursions through fictional leakage and hosts paradoxes, spinners and vectors.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Planetovores, who are mentioned in the Estate agent briefing at the beginning of the book. They have a variety of possible origins, but most seem interested in making a snack of the baryonic universe, one planet at a time.
  • Fallen Angel: When a qephilim loses its way completely, it becomes an animalistic savage that knows only anger and hunger. These fallen qephilim are known as sark.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: The setting as a whole, though individual recursions very definitely enforce their own physical laws and tropes, collectively called "context". Inapposite gates can be used to drop out-of-context items into another place, at the cost of rapid degradation. This is used in at least one case to bring a telepath to Earth. Her mind-reading gives her splitting headaches and runs the risk of killing her if she stays too long, but it's fantastic at rooting out moles in her employer's organization.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: The three character types: Vectors (action-oriented people with great strength, stamina and speed) are the Fighter; Paradoxes (people that bend the rules like mad scientists or sorcerers) are the Mage; Spinners (people that spin tales, lies or different versions of the truth to bluff and mislead) are the Thief.
  • Global Warming: One policy that might be the result of Circle of Liberty manipulation is conservative opposition to climate policy, presumably in an effort to bring about long-term destabilisation of Earth governments as they're forced to deal with ever-accelerating global disasters.
  • God Is Dead: The Maker of Ardeyn is dead, killed by his friend, the Incarnation of War.
  • Heel–Race Turn: The humans of Ardeyn were originally servitors of Lotan that turned against him and joined the Maker.
  • Interdimensional Travel Device: Aside from the various types of gates, certain artifacts and cyphers provide the ability to translate between recursions, sometimes going to a specific spot within a given recursion.
  • It Only Works Once: Cyphers can bend or break the laws of reality wherever they're used, but they are defined as one-use items.
  • Magical Underpinnings of Reality: Not counting the baryonic universe (that is to say, Earth), no matter the weird rules of a given recursion, it's all caused by basically living inside a Precursor's universe-sized computer network.
  • Medieval Stasis: Enforced in recursions operating under Substandard Physics rules.
  • The Men in Black: The Office of Strategic Recursions, a secret government agency overseeing other groups. Their agents wear black suits and use reality-bending cyphers.
  • Morphic Resonance: People and items which translate between recursions will adopt suitable forms upon arrival.
  • The Multiverse: Prime worlds (like Earth), recursions, and the peculiar geography of the Strange itself, each with their own physical laws, inhabitants, and history.
  • Mystical Plague: The Sunflower Ziggurat's habitants are afflicted by a bizarre plague whose only cure is to leave the ziggurat itself. Whether the plague is an attack by the Betrayer or is the result of another malefic influence remains undiscovered.
  • Orphean Rescue: A possibility, if you die in Ardeyn. If you came through an inapposite gate, though, you don't have a soul to save from the underworld.
  • Our Angels Are Different:
    • In Ardeyn, the qephilim are a race descended from immortal angelic beings who served the Maker and his Incarnations. When the Betrayal occurred and the Incarnations failed, the qephilim became mortal.
    • In Starship Heinlein, the angels are no more than humans living on a generation ship that consider themselves holy. They have retained some semblance of the knowledge required to keep a starship operational, which they consider rituals of worship, not science. Angels each have a revelation, which they see as proof of their divine heritage but in truth are merely drones that provide owners with basic access to certain functions provided by the starship.
  • Our Souls Are Different: Living, thinking beings have souls... if they're in Ardeyn, or perhaps similar recursions.
  • Pocket Dimension: What most recursions effectively are. "Prime worlds", like Earth, are fully realized.
  • Portal Network: Different groups maintain their own network of gates, including one gate on a moving train that leads to a prison recursion.
  • Precursors: The alien race who created the Strange, then died off. It's stated that planetovores will make quick work of any civilization advanced enough to use the Strange at anything near its real potential.
  • Prison Dimension: The government maintains a recursion for prisoners, whose properties make it virtually impossible to enter or leave via the usual means.
  • Psychic Powers: One of the many power sources available to natives of the recursions.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Lotan, an evil god imprisoned within his own world-sized body by the Maker, who set the Incarnations to monitor the petrified shape, which came to be called Ardeyn. Should Lotan ever wake and shake off Ardeyn's soil and vegetation, the recursion would be utterly destroyed.
  • The Soulless: Most inhabitants of a recursion don't possess actual consciousness. Those with actual sentience and the ability to comprehend the Strange's existence are said to have "the spark".
  • Standard Fantasy Setting: The Sword Realms are the name for several connected recursions shaped by wizardry, hidden elvish enclaves, ambitious human kingdoms, rapacious dragons, barbarian outlanders, marauding orc tribes, trolls and mountain giants, half-forgotten deities, and amazing treasures of gold and magic.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Translation, gates, and more. There's half a dozen different ways to navigate the Strange.
  • Underwater City: The city of Juvanom, submerged under the central basin sea of Ardeyn.
  • Weather Manipulation: Calandria claims to be the Priest of Storms, and for a price, she will either quell a storm raging somewhere else in Ardeyn, or start one.