By Kevin Ohannessian
The successful launches of the “Numenera” RPG from Monte Cook and the “Torment: Tides of Numenera” computer RPG from inXile provide examples of niche fandoms supporting the creators and games they love.
Monte Cook is a veteran of roleplaying games, having worked on the Planescape setting for the second edition of “Dungeons and Dragons.” He also worked on the 3rd ed. rules of “D&D,” before leaving to make his own games. He launched several, notably the “Ptolus” campaign setting from 2006 and it’s massive 672-page book. Over those years, Monte grew a following for his intelligent, detailed, and wonderfully strange work. So when he decided to launch another new game, this time he could turn to Kickstarter to fund it. Last September, with a goal of $20k, he raised over half a million dollars. Fans of his work gave Monte the money he need to publish “Numenera.”
Fast forward to this month. A game company called inXile Entertainment launched a Kickstarter of their own, “Torment: Tides of Numenera.” Asking for a hefty $900k, the game raised $1.5m on its first day and is now up to $2.5m after a week. The game is a spiritual successor to 1999’s “Planescape: Torment,” considered to be one of the finest computer RPGs. In the original “Torment,” you played as the Nameless One, a scarred immortal with amnesia. You travel through various strange planes of existence with unique party members–a talking skull, an angelic succubus, a malfunctioning robot, for example–seeking to learn why you lost your memory, why you are immortal, who you are, and who keeps trying to kill you. The game is known for its theme, “What can change the nature of a man?”
Some of the original creators of “Planescape: Torment,” based on the D&D campaign partially created by Monte Cook, decided to work with Monte on a spiritual sequel based in his new world of “Numenera.” Fans of old school computer RPGs, with overhead perspectives for their graphics and a penchant for long conversation with characters, flocked to the new “Torment” game. They were looking for a new RPG with that same depth of character and mature philosophy. If the details on the new “Torment’s” website are any indication, it looks like they will finally get that.
And none of this is possible without Kickstarter. With fans having a direct line to their favorite creators, RPG books that may not ever be published can become huge successes–Monte may not have found a traditional publisher willing to take a chance on a new “science fantasy” world that was not “D&D.” And computer RPGs with a style straight out of the 90s and a story more rich than some films, would not get the go ahead with a budget in the millions if it wasn’t for fans directly handing their money over. With Kickstarter, consumers of niche RPGs can finally get what they have been waiting for.