Numenera is a science fantasy roleplaying game set in the far distant future. Humanity lives amid the remnants of eight great civilizations that have risen and fallen on Earth. These are the people of the Ninth World. This new world is filled with remnants of all the former worlds: bits of nanotechnology, the dataweb threaded among still-orbiting satellites, bio-engineered creatures, and myriad strange and wondrous devices. These remnants have become known as the numenera.
Player characters explore this world of mystery and danger to find these leftover artifacts of the past, not to dwell upon the old ways, but to help forge their new destinies, utilizing the so-called “magic” of the past to create a promising future.
With the science fantasy setting, things are intentionally set up so that science fiction fans will enjoy the technology, and fantasy fans will enjoy the flavor of how it is handled, because as Arthur C. Clarke stated, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” As I have written previously, science fantasy allows for all sorts of wild, imaginative ideas. Making things vaguely post-apocalyptic ensures that the GM maintains as much control as he or she needs over the amount of crazy technology the PCs get their hands on. In other words, there’s a lot of wonderful stuff for characters to use, but they need to go on adventures to acquire it–they can’t buy it in the corner shop.
Numenera gameplay involves a simple d20 roll that determines success or failure for any kind of action. To avoid a lot of cumbersome math at the game table, there aren’t a lot of modifiers to this roll. Instead, skills and other assets reduce the difficulty of a task. More importantly, players can choose tasks to focus upon, using a limited resource called effort to further lower the difficulty of the actions really important to them.
Experience Points and Advancement
Characters earn XP when they make new, interesting discoveries (not from killing things, although combat is often necessary to make discoveries and accomplish missions). They also earn XP when the GM “intrudes” on the action of the game to introduce new complications. Lastly, players have the ability to award XP to other players for great ideas, useful actions, or other reasons.
XP can be spent to increase character abilities, or to affect events in the game (such as rerolling dice), gain short-term benefits or advance in levels.
NEXT STEP: noodle about creating your character.
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