I love it when I receive books in the mail. I have an Amazon Wish list setup so that people who use TDO Mini Forms can show their appreciation and send me a book. So a book shaped parcel in the post doesn’t surprise me. I fill up with a sense of glee and excitement about what someone send me (the last time it was this excellent Dinosaur popup book). So when I found the parcel in the doorway as I got home, I wasn’t surprised.
It was only later, when I realised it wasn’t from Amazon, I got a bit perplexed. The package was from Leisure Games who sell roleplaying games. I had to take a moment, because I was quite proud of myself that I had not used my credit card in months and had cleared any debt left on it. For a moment I got a little worried, did someone go a little bit further than just my Amazon Wish List? I opened it and it was a copy of Noumenon, a game I was planning to get. A roleplaying game about some really weird, Philip K. Dick kind of stuff. For a brief moment it was quite disconcerting. But once I saw the receipt I realised that it was part of an order I had made last year, and were only now sending me a copy.
Certainly it was a fitting way to start Noumenon. I really like it. A strange game where players play Sarcophagi, humanoid-insects that were once human but no longer remember who they were. They wake up in the Silhouette Rouge, guided by the voice of Logos (the voice of the Universe). The Silhouette Rouge is a house with a fixed number of rooms. Some of the rooms are described by a short story, a little abstract and strange. Some are precise. I found myself swallowing this surreal metaphorical setting with joy. However it’s not a book I’d let my young daughter flick through: insects, blood, monsters and metaphors do not, a batgirl, make.
The system is elegant and, from my reading, appears delightful. I love when games keep in theme and break from the traditional approach. Instead of dice, you use dominoes, which have their own mythos about them. I love how they are used encourages the player group to work together.
It’s not specifically horror, a genre I like but am not enthused by. I can’t picture long-term stories and games based on horror themes. Great for short once-off, creepy stuff. Noumenon has horror, but it’s not specifically about horror except as a mechanism for change. I keep thinking of Don’t Rest Your Head, which is explicitly a horror game but one also set in a mad abstract world. Don’t Rest Your Head drives the players and their characters into madness. Noumenon allows the characters to explore and journey through the horrors like a dream that flows from nightmare to dream to eventual waking. A difference of taste.
My only problem really is I don’t think I could get my group to play it. They’d just look at me, with those, “you’re not serious are you?” faces. But then sometimes they surprise me. And surprises are good, like mysterious books in the post.