Numenera Roleplaying Game: Core Book

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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.

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Beautiful book, loved setting, simple system

*****

Granted, all those three things in title are subjective, but I try to explain them :P

Book is seriously really gorgeous. Granted, I do have only pdf, but I do have drooled after numenera books in store :'( Dem shiny. Even with pdf you get nice art and good layout. Lot of effort has been put to book's shininess I say.

Setting is... Well, I can't sell it good enough. I'd guess I'd recommend checking out upcoming Torment: Tides of Numenera game's teaser? The setting is really really alien and bizarre. Its kinda scary, kinda beautiful and full of wonderful bizarre stuff. Like, the even the world itself is impossible, the game takes place on earth after time during which sun should have died out and supercontinent game takes on place is larger than landmass of earth should allow. And thats not even getting into critters in the world... Its really mysterious setting I'd say.

What I can say is that I love the setting even if I think I can't do it justice. If there is anything bad about it, its that I think for gm it might be really hard to tell story in place were everything is... Weird.

Now on simpleness of the system... Well, reason why I believe it to be simple system is that its been only system I managed to learn through with one reading <_< With all other systems I keep forgetting rules even in the game. It helps that all tasks you do are done with same type of roll and instead of counting bonuses from your skill to your dice, the skills lower goal number you need. So less math that way, if you are specialized in something and you are trying to do difficulty rating 7 task, it becomes difficulty rating 5 task instead.

Even the character creation is easy, you pick class, descriptor and foci and thats it. Okay, granted, you pick a skill and allocate stats as well, but there are only three stats and they don't involve math. And skills can be anything you want as longs its not too broad category, so just pick something you wannabe good at. Much less steps than in other games I have played or read book of...

If there is anything bad about the system... Well, since the game is so simple, I'd think combat could potentially get little bit boring if players are like "I stab the monster/I do this" without flair. The game is rather narrative/story telling suited so if players are more interested in numbers than in rping, I could see it not being for them.

Anyway, I own a lot of different books and Numenera is among my favourites, I'd recommend checking it out, but if you are unsure then get pdf version of it first.


Stay Away!!!

*( )( )( )( )

Read the Corebook and the rules system is very complex...needlessly so.

The Core mechanics works this way...The GM assigns a task a difficulty level ranged 0 thru 10. You than multiple by that by 3 to get the TN (I have no idea of why this step is involved? Why not just have it 1 thru 30?). The player than rolls a d20...with option not to add a bonus to his roll but ways to reduce the difficulty...yeah a bonus is actually a minus. I have not see anything this anti-intuitive since early D&D with Combat Matrix and THAC0.

The character gen system is okay...nothing really new...they just think it is new.

It is also very GM TELLS THE STORY time type game.

The world is good and looks interesting.

But dump the crappy system and run the world using anything else.


The future of GMing is here and it is the Cypher System

*****

I picked up Numenera about 2 months ago because I'm a big fan of Monte Cook's work. His concepts are hyper imaginative and embody outside the box thinking. He didn't disappoint with Numenera. How to describe the premis of the game? Picture a cool combination of fantasy and hard sci fi with a touch of Gamma World and Thundarr thrown in. That really doesn't do the ninth world where the game takes place justice but you get the idea. I'll break my review into a GM perspective and a players perspective.

I've been GMing for over 25 years (mostly D&D and Pathfinder) and Numenera is a GM's dream come true. The elegant, streamlined Cypher System that powers Numenera takes the focus off number crunching and on weaving an engaging story with your players. I don't know about you, but as I've gotten older and busier, I just don't have the hours needed to stat out new monsters and NPCs just to see them taken down in a couple of rounds by a few lucky rolls. My players are also getting tired of long, complex fights that are more math than adventuring. In the Cypher System, a GM can literally stat out a monster or NPC in less than a minute. I'm not exaggerating. As a GM, I find this system incredibly liberating. With Numenera, I get to focus on building a flexible, fun and interactive adventure that is shaped as much or more by my players than by me. No railroading players necessary with this game!

My players jumped on the Numenera band wagon after one session. That's all it took us to wrap our heads around the rules. No steep learning curve here. Players can create their character in minutes by choosing a descriptor (swift, mutant, etc), type(a glaive-think fighter type, nano-like a techno wizard/psionic type, and a jack - good at a variety of areas) and focus (fuses flesh and metal, exists partially out of phase, wields to weapons, etc.). While simple, the character creation system allows for a wide degree if character individualization. Two of my players both wanted to play jacks who fuse flesh with metal and both toons are very different.

Numenera also has a lot of support products either out or in the pipeline. I ran one of the adventures included in the core book and the first half of Vortex and they were both great introductions to the game. A bestiary that adds to the monsters already included in the corebook and a equipment book are in the pipeline. Monte Cook has also teamed up with Bruce Cordell on a new game that is 100% compatible with Numenera. It is called The Strange and is currently blowing through stretch goal after stretch goal on Kickstarter.

Lastly, the corebook itself is a beautiful peice of work. The hardcover has great binding, high quality paper and includes awesome illustrations. What are you waiting for? Grab your battle axe and your phase disrupter and start exploring the mysteries of the ninth world! You won't be disappointed.



This looks really good!

I am intrigued, and as a composite setting of high and low tech, it might just work.

Where is the pdf though? I don't go for books anymore.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

There is a pdf that was available through the kickstarter. The pdf is available at drvie thru rpg. I'm not sure if the pdf will be available here.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

That cover art is verrry nice.

Liberty's Edge

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Callous Jack wrote:
That cover art is verrry nice.

The entire book is gorgeous. Keiran Yanner's is lead artist and all of the art in the book has a degree of consistency of style and quality you don't often see. Beyond the art, the rest of the book is well crafted as well...the graphic design is top notch.


I've read both this and the players guide. It's an excellent product that I support 100%.

Sovereign Court

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

What "system" does this use?


Numenera's own that Monte Cook designed. Pretty easy to learn and DM with imo.

Also the book is just beautiful! Got mine a couple weeks ago and he really went all out on the art.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Cylerist wrote:
What "system" does this use?

Numenera is a new system designed by Monte Cook. The core mechanic does involve a d20 and a target number, but that's pretty much where any similarities to the d20 system end. GMs never even roll dice in Numenera. It's a really interesting and innovative game. I'm looking forward to diving into it more now that I've just received my hardcopy.

EDIT: ninja'd!


I'm torn about Numenera at the moment - I was part of the Kickstarter, and I really like some parts of it, but not others....

* I just don't get the core mechanic. Trying to work out which end/side/at which point to add the modifiers and edges and pools etc did my head in. I wish there were more examples broken down....

And why does the "Carries a Quiver" Character Focus have that crazy schtick where you possibly shoot your friend? It's just seems so arbitrary that some Connections are positive and others negative. Homebrew time....

* I'm not at all a fan of the Ninth World as a setting, though I am a gonzo, Gamma-World-from-the-first-edition grognard - I had hoped for a relatively simple system that I could divorce from the setting and introduce some non-RPGers to RPGs with. But when I look at the character sheet, monumentally beautiful work of art that it is, I shudder.

* I do like the three basic Character types - but I sorely need to understand the system a bit better and play it so I can tinker up some Focuses and Descriptors that I like. I'm hoping/guessing more are in the pipeline from Monte

* Apart from that, I'm very impressed by the art. It is a truly beautiful PDF, and I can't wait until the book arrives. The creativity is awesome - though I don't like much of the Ninth WOrld it is kinda created to be a sort of kitchen sink of setting ideas that you can dispense of or add to depending on the kind of milieu you want.

* I do like the fiction I have read. It reminds me of MAR Baker's Man of Gold or Flamesong from his Tekumel setting, or Terry Dowling's Wormwood stuff.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

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Here is my video review of Numenera: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UXL_97hdtI


Nice review SKR. You have me interested in a game that I hadn't really given a lot of thought to. Thanks!

Oh, Oceanshieldwolf it brought Tekumel to mind for me too. Which might be a really cool setting for this game...


Here 2 XP for you. Now, rock fall, everybody dies.
You can't do that!!!!
Yes i can, is on page 57 of the core rulebook.


Dekalinder wrote:

Here 2 XP for you. Now, rock fall, everybody dies.

You can't do that!!!!
Yes i can, is on page 57 of the core rulebook.

I refuse the GM Intrusion. Here is 1 XP from my stack.


I like the idea behind this. The DM never rolls dice, well, almost never. That takes away some of the adversarial elements that can spring up between DM and players, leaving a more story oriented atmosphere. And as Papa above pointed out, if you really don't like something you have no control over you can always spend an XP to avoid it.

Basically, a rules-lite system with a very interesting background. If you have a good DM it could be a great game to play. Of course if you have a bad DM it doesn't matter what system you use, you're doomed anyway....

Either way, its definitely worth a look.


I am almost in complete agreement with John Kretzer's review. The system couches itself as rules-lite, but I found it incredibly confusing, and as John says - "anti-intuitive".

Just look at the character sheet. The mind boggles.

The one thing I disagree with John is where he says "the world is good and looks interesting". Umm, it is the biggest mish-mash of concepts I've seen since Golarion. I have absolutely no interest in the setting, and get nothing from it. I admit I liked some of the gameplay journals prior to the Kickstarter, and backed it on the basis of those, some yearning for a simpler game system for the odd occasion, and Kieran Yanner's concept art, of which none of the art I have seen since surpasses.

The "thing" that "does something" with "some other thing" concept for characters is needlessly straight-jacketing, which is surprising in a world where there is literally no end (or rhyme or reason, beyond "this is the Ninth World, the ninth version of any/everything! duhn duhn duhn!!!!) to the diversity.

I was deeply, deeply unimpressed by Numenera, but obviously I am in the minority - it has metastasized into The Strange, and now the incredibly unfortunately named kids/family game also using the same (or tweaked?) Cypher System No Thank You, Evil.

See - I'm an equal opportunity critic. You may like it. Go back it. The art and graphic sensibility is literally the worst thing I've seen since I mistakenly made my way into the chocolate aisle at my local supermarket.

[EDIT] ]Huh. APparently I already said most of this upthread. Wow, I must really not like it. [/EDIT]


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

@Oceanshieldwolf: Yeah the world is a mish-mash...but I don't mind that much.

The problem I have with the system is it prides it self on originality...but really they just came up with new names for classes, archetypes, etc and call it new. I guess it might be OK for new players that 'need to be herded by GMs...but as a experience RPers I just found the whole system to be...condescending is the best word I can think of.

It is also I found the skill system to be lacking in consistency. When they first give the skills...there is a suggestive list of skills...but when you get to the Descriptor, Type, Focus it gives you strict choices of skills.


Lots game where the GM doesn't roll dice, or no gm at all.

I assuming JK has played pathfinder with its equally poor math system

The thing I dislike about Numenera is that most published mods are just dungeon crawls. Very disappointed

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm confused by your guys reaction, so I added my own review to show my viewpoint ._.

I'm just... Really baffled. Why do you think the system is complex? Its really really really simple... All tasks you roll for have difficulty rating and you need to roll higher than difficulty rating x 3. If you have skills that help with the task, difficulty rating is lowered.

Even effort is rather simple, you just spend points from stat pool to lower difficulty or do more damage..


I guess it's not the system's complexity making the problem, but rather not having experience how high to set the difficulty rating for any tasks.

You need to find the point where most characters are challenged, while the specialist (for the given situation) thinks 'piece of cake'. And that is sometimes hard to find in the heat of the moment, making it too easy or hard for anyone.

(Well, that's my problem anyway.)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
thenovalord wrote:

Lots game where the GM doesn't roll dice, or no gm at all.

I assuming JK has played pathfinder with its equally poor math system

The thing I dislike about Numenera is that most published mods are just dungeon crawls. Very disappointed

Yeah the GM sets a TN...player rolls a d20 and adds bonus to it...that is 'hard'.

Also note I said nothing about the GM not rolling dice...heck I pretty much have done that with D&D using the optional rules.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
CorvusMask wrote:

I'm confused by your guys reaction, so I added my own review to show my viewpoint ._.

I'm just... Really baffled. Why do you think the system is complex? Its really really really simple... All tasks you roll for have difficulty rating and you need to roll higher than difficulty rating x 3. If you have skills that help with the task, difficulty rating is lowered.

Even effort is rather simple, you just spend points from stat pool to lower difficulty or do more damage..

Um...why have the x 3 step at all involved? I don't mind complex...complexity often gives us depth(that is why I choose to play Pathfinder over D&D 5th ed). But it is needlessly complex. It has step involved that does not need to be there and really does not add anything in my opinion.

Not expecting to change your viewpoint...just trying to clear up your confusion.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

My guess on why difficulty rating has x3? Well, I'm can't say I'm right, but I'd guess its because its faster for gm to check "Okay, I think task is difficult so task is 4, but they are specialized on it, so task is 2 and they need to roll over 6" than "Okay, difficulty rating is 12, but they are specialized, so they need to... Umm... 6?" if difficulty rating was from 1-30 instead of 1-10 <_< Latter requires more counting in the head.

Like I said, I might be really wrong though, but thats my guess on logic behind it. Even if I'm right, I guess its possible to do it in even simpler way I haven't thought of.

Liberty's Edge

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John Kretzer wrote:

Um...why have the x 3 step at all involved? I don't mind complex...complexity often gives us depth(that is why I choose to play Pathfinder over D&D 5th ed). But it is needlessly complex. It has step involved that does not need to be there and really does not add anything in my opinion.

Not expecting to change your viewpoint...just trying to clear up your confusion.

There's a pretty simple reason for this:

Being able to say to yourself "How difficult is this on a scale of 1 to 10?" is very useful. It lets you peg difficulties pretty intuitively, and do so on the fly.

The game really wanted to use a d20, and doing so is useful for a few reasons...specific effects for high numbers being sufficiently rare, for example, as well as the 'we're used to rolling d20s' factor.

If you want to both have difficulties rated 1-10 (and particularly to have some be impossible without difficulty reducers) and also to roll a d20, some multiplication is necessary.

And really, given that dividing/multiplying by 3, and adding and subtracting one digit numbers (and way fewer of them than, say, Pathfinder) are pretty much all the math the game has...it just doesn't seem like that big a deal.


I guess my view is that however hard or simple the mechanic is, the expanation of the mechanic left me completely at a loss.

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