The Idealizer - A Numenera Adventure for Two GMs

Last week I posted about the two GM and six to twelve player Numenera adventure I put together and ran with Troy Pichelman. This week I'm bringing you all of the notes, encounters, character sheets, and table tents that we used to run the game. If any of you run this, or put something together that's inspired by it, tell me about it. I'm really curious to see if anyone gives this a shot, and I'd be more than happy to answer questions and chat about it if anyone wants to.

You can download The Idealizer to get all of the character sheets, table tents, and text. You can also read through it here.

The Idealizer

A Numenera adventure for two GMs and six to twelve players. Created by Dave Hanlon and Troy Pichelman.

Running The Idealizer with two GMs

This adventure is going to be different than most other adventures you may have read through in the past. We put this adventure together with the intent of having two game masters and two groups. The two groups represent two different versions of the same characters, and they are from different dimensions. During the course of the adventure, characters will be swapped, the groups will get mixed together, and they will ultimately face a difficult (or not so difficult) decision.

We recommend having at least six players, and topping out at twelve. You’re also going to need another game master with whom you can work with. At times you’re going to be running the game together, so it’s good to have an understanding of who will be running what.

This adventure will be broken out into two sections which will be referred to by their appropriate group. One group will be the flawed characters who are kind of dysfunctional; this group is referred to as the Flawed Group. The other group is the better version of those characters and are referred to as the Ideal Group. At times during the adventure the groups will interact. Those interactions will be noted and located in their own section of the adventure.

We’ve structured this like the Instant Adventures, but with far less detail. Our GMing style is to roll with what the players are into, and make difficulties up as we go along. We’ve used the structure here to guide things along, and the Dimensional Shifts as the events we need to get to.  

Setting up the Groups

Split your players up randomly into two groups. Send one of your groups to their room, then have the other group select their characters. The characters that are selected are the characters that will be available for the other group to choose from.

For example, you split your six players up into two groups of three then have the Ideal Group select their characters. If they choose Bird Staco, Veland, and Xyzzy, then those are the only characters the Flawed Group will be able to choose from.

Dealing with an Odd Number of Players

If you have an odd number of players, there’s an easy solution for you. Split the groups up randomly, then have the group with the extra player select their character first. Those will determine the characters the other group can choose from, as normal. The character that is not selected will then be dead for the small group. When somebody notices that their dead friend is alive just tell the group that the character had died on one of their previous adventures and let them fill in the details.

Table Tents and Character Portraits

The table tents have character portraits on them, as do the character sheets. This is specifically to help players assume that their characters look the same as their counterparts in the other group. When you start doing the dimensional shifts this visual cue will help the players roll with the change rather than getting hung up on it and getting paranoid.

The Flawed Group Adventure

Brief Summary

An ancient facility is activated and begins replacing the characters with better copies of themselves from another dimension.

Details

The Idealizer is an ancient facility from a previous world that has a very peculiar function. It is able to comb through countless parallel dimensions, locate someone’s perfect version in one of them, then bring that perfect version into this reality and replace the flawed version. Over the millennia the facility has fallen into disrepair, though it is still functional.

The group found their way into the bowels of the facility and one of them managed to activate it. The Idealization process was started and the adventure picks up with the group realizing that things are beginning to activate around them. There is a massively powerful creature stalking them through the facility, and they witness its power in another dimension. This threat should sufficiently motivate any group interested in self-preservation to find their way out of the complex.

The flawed group will make their way through the abandoned complex via maintenance tunnels, or empty corridors. On their way through one of their members will change subtly. They will also get ahold of information that helps them understand the purpose of the facility.

Eventually, the flawed group will encounter their ideal group in a security room. Once the groups activate the security protocols they will be able to exit and enter an escape pod. Once half of the group enters the pod it will jettison and potentially leave the groups mixed.

On their escape pod the mixed Flawed Group will meet Hebd, a Jack who has been trapped in the facility for a long time. Hebd is more than happy to talk with the group, but if there are any pairs together in the group he will be rather apprehensive. Before the pod ride comes to an end, Hebd will produce an artifact he has been using to avoid the creature in the facility. If he isn’t stopped he will activate the artifact and slip into another dimension, though he will eventually get pulled back to this one.

The escape pod takes the group to a security scanning room where a Dimensional Husk created by Hebds from other dimensions is waiting for them. This is a mostly mindless creature and will attack the party.

Once through the security room, the Flawed Group will once again be reunited with the rest of the characters. This final room is the last defense against allowing paradoxes to escape the facility. There is a capsule in the middle of the room that is large enough for one person to enter. Once inside, the capsule will scan the person to make sure releasing him or her won’t allow a paradox to leave. If the scan succeeds a button will light up which will complete the process and teleport the person out while their copy will begin to fade away.

Salient Points

  • The Idealizer is working on replacing the Flawed Group PCs with the Idealized Group PCs.

  • Hebd can provide the PCs with information about the facility if they need it.

  • The creature shows up to keep the PCs moving forward. Don’t have the creature fight, use it as a GM Intrustion to have bad things happen.

  • The facility in this dimension looks like an abandoned high tech structure.

The Ideal Group

Brief Summary

The PCs are exploring an ancient ruin when they start running into copies of themselves.

Details

The group is exploring the depths of an ancient ruined temple that has fallen into disrepair. Deep in the facility they find a large device that one of the activates that seems to cause things to start falling apart. They escape into the tunnels under the temple.

In the tunnels under the temple the group might encounter robots, or perhaps swim through a strange wall of water. Eventually they get to a room filled with mirrors that don’t reflect, but rather provide glimpses of themselves in other dimensions.

Strange things start happening as the group realizes one of them has changed slightly, though it’s hard to determine why.

Eventually, the ideal group will encounter their flawed group in a security room. Once the groups activate the security protocols they will be able to exit and enter an escape pod. Once half of the group enters the pod it will jettison and potentially leave the groups mixed.

The tram ride is cut short as it crashes at a broken part of the tracks. The group has to traverse a chasm the ruined tracks used to span. Strange creatures harry them as they try to make their way to safety.

Once through the ruined chasm, the Ideal Group will once again be reunited with the rest of the characters. This final room is the last defense against allowing paradoxes to escape the facility. There is a capsule in the middle of the room that is large enough for one person to enter. Once inside, the capsule will scan the person to make sure releasing him or her won’t allow a paradox to leave. If the scan succeeds a button will light up which will complete the process and teleport the person out while their copy will begin to fade away.

Salient Points

  • The Idealizer is working on replacing the Flawed Group PCs with the Idealized Group PCs.
  • The PCs get a glimpse of other dimensions in the mirror room.
  • The facility in this dimension looks like an ancient broken down temple carved from stone.

Dimensional Shifts

These events are what make The Idealizer tick. At various points during the adventure the groups are going to get mixed together. Things start out slowly, with just a single character getting swapped between the groups. After that, the groups will get put together and subsequently split up. These dimensional shifts require a bit of coordination between the GMs running the games, but we’ve put recommendations as to how to time the shifts. We also found that sending a quick text message was an easy way to prepare the other GM for a shift.

  • 30 minutes – Do Dimensional Shift 1 when both groups are out of the opening room.
  • 90 minutes – Have Dimensional Shift 2 happen at about the half way point of the game.
  • 120 - 150 minutes – About 45 minutes or so after Dimensional Shift 2, have Dimensional Shift 3 happen. This is going to wrap the game up, and you’ll probably want around 30-45 minutes for the final scene.

Dimensional Shift 1

Once both groups have gotten out of the first room you should have this shift happen. This is a very simple shift, and nothing terribly strange should be noticed by either group. The GMs should select one of the characters and have the players playing that character in each room switch.

The key to making this work is to tell the characters they don’t really notice anything different. The characters look nearly identical, though some of their equipment might change slightly. The characters may act differently, but that will come out in roleplaying. Give the players time to investigate this if they are interested, but make sure you get them moving. If they seem to be getting too hung up on the switch have some disassemblers show up, or the creature that’s chasing after the Flawed Group.

Dimensional Shift 2

At about the half way point you’re going to have the groups get together. They’re both going to stumble into the same room. It’s not terribly important how they got there, and you can have the weirdness of the facility cause them both to enter from the same door. Groups will usually find this shift pretty entertaining. Encourage them to talk and discuss what’s happened. You can generally just sit back while they players talk about what’s been happening.

Once the excitement starts to die down you should tell the players what’s going on. There’s a door leading out of the room, but it’s not open. There’s a control panel that can open it, but it’s locked out. The nanos will probably get started on this problem. Once the device is activated the door will open and there will be a hazy field in the entryway. The field does nothing, but it makes most people cautious. Through the doorway is a cylindrical room that has six seats inside, each with its own harness. Once half of the group has gone through the doorway, the door will close and reopen to an identical looking room, but the characters who went in will be gone. Send those characters out and they can continue on with their adventure. Once the rest of the group hops on you can move into the Tram Ride encounter.

The result here is that both groups could be totally different. It makes for an interesting series of encounters as the players learn about how the characters are different from one another.

Dimensional Shift 3

This is the final encounter of the adventure. The groups will be reunited here, and enter the room in a manner similar to Dimensional Shift 2.

This room contains the final defense against letting multiple copies of someone get out. Doing so would lead to the creation of paradoxes, which the facility is setup to handle, but the outside world would not be able to.

The room is full of devices that look to be long dead and in disrepair. There is a capsule in the center of the room that is made of an extremely hard and translucent synth material. The capsule is round and large enough that one adult human could stand within it without problems. It extends from floor to ceiling and the only notable features are an exterior handle fixed to what looks like the faint outline of a door and a button on the interior that would be at about chest height.

If the capsule is unoccupied it opens easily. While occupied the seam of the door and the handle itself melt away and a handle on the interior appears and the button becomes opaque and milky white. Pressing the button will teleport the occupant out of the facility, but only if their copy has not already done so. If a copy presses the button the door will reappear and open so they may exit back into the room. Once one of the copies of a character is teleported out the other version will start to fade out of existence. If that fading character attempts to press the button it will do nothing.

If the groups need some more information here, instructions could appear on the door which read:

“Close door and press button to complete normalization process”

It is also really helpful to come out and tell the players what this room is here for. If the nanos decide to investigate the devices here and get a really good roll telling them that this room prevents paradoxes from escaping is great. Going even further and telling them that the facility considers pairs of characters to be paradoxes and it will only let one leave is also really helpful. The players have to make a big choice here, so give them enough information so they understand what’s happening.

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