Slaves of the Machine God is a highly anticipated Numenera book about to be released. We activated our Scan ability and analyzed the preview materials. Spoilers ahoy!
UPDATE: The book is now released. This review is based on a free preview that is available for download.
Table of Contents
Straight from the start, we can see that this book will have two parts that can be combined together into one grand campaign. The first one is called Relics of the Machine and is divided into 9 Chapters and the second one is called Amber Keep and is divided into 8 Acts (yes, the use of both “Chapters” and “Acts” is a deliberate choice by MCG).
From the introduction we learn that this split is intended, as Amber Keep will contain Destiny play, and as such will contain more downtime activities, whereas Relics of the Machine is a straight up Discovery style adventure.
A great touch here is that, although they can be played separately, there is a flowchart included that explains how to mesh the two together seamlessly, with additional callouts on time management and tier advancement.
This is immediately exciting and shows MCG’s intent to support both styles of gameplay, while still allowing you to pick it apart and choose one over the other. My brain is already melting.
The next spread shows pages 16 and 45 from chapters 1 and 3 and presents two assumingly major NPCs that might also be followers - Radius and Chord.
Radius has 3 “stages”, showing his character development across the adventure. Again I like what I see - this info is immediately helpful for GMs bringing this character to life. Further on we get callouts and details on how Radius and Chord react to each other and to some events depending on their motivations.
On this spread is the first of many “read aloud” paragraphs, which shows that they had beginner GMs in mind while writing this book.
Lastly, we see the Order of Healing and Guild of Purity mentioned, a hint that this book will weave Ninth World organizations into the narrative.
Looks like Bruce is in superb form, with MCG at the top of their game. My blood pressure is rising already.
Chapter 6: Expedition to Weal
We get a look at one location called Weal that is introduced toward the end of the Relics. Again we see a “read aloud” section that helps new GMs describe the place.
It seems that Weal is full of various kinds of not so friendly machines, and on page 65 there is a mention of a Weal Encounter Table, which generates social, communication and appearance aspects of machines encountered there. Old School stuff right there, I can see it being very helpful for bringing the place to life.
Act 6: The Kindness of Strangers
After the Weal spread we are thrust all the way towards the end of Act 6 of the Amber Keep part of the book, where we get a glimpse of Destiny play in action. There are some refugees seeking shelter in the Amber Keep, and players need to deal with both a looming threat and the internal strife within the Keep. Looks like a good mix of community play and adventuring, with just the right amount of details. We also learn about Radius’s disposition towards some potential PC decisions in a callout - again, great touch.
One notable section here is an example of overland travel of a few days, that showcases weird of the Ninth World in a nice, concise way.
Act 7: Meeting of Minds
For the last spread we get to see deals with another location called Medulla, a psychic colossal tree from another dimension. Truly fantastic location, weirdness galore.
I am very happy with what I saw in the preview. The promise of the book is sky high, but I have not one iota of a doubt that Bruce can pull this off, master crafter that he is.