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Medieval Fantasy Numenera Advice

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Hey 'World,
I'm toying with the idea of running a medieval fantasy game with Numenera instead of Cypher System, since I already have the book.

What do first-time Numenera GMs need to know?

Does Numenera somehow break if the cyphers become magic items or innate abilities instead?

Do the NPCs re-skin into fantasy monsters well?
 

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Longspeak

Explorer
I think there's a flavor that runs throughout the book that you will have to make efforts to counter if you want a medieval fantasy game free of the super-tech overtones of Numenera. But mechanically, it would not be a huge issue.

The Standard Character of "I am a ________ ________ who ________s" would hold up fine. Perhaps you make a few fantasy race Destriptors, or perhaps you use the existing Descriptors and make the fantasy race a cosmetic change. There's no reason you could not also add a second descriptor just for the fantasy races, provided you're careful to balance them.

Change the Names of the Types. Or don't.

Most of the Foci would work as-is. Maybe a few mods to some of them.

Cyphers become potions and scrolls, and other one-use items. True magic items could use the artifact rules.

I don't think Numenera lends itself terribly well to this. But I do think it's doable.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Hey 'World,
I'm toying with the idea of running a medieval fantasy game with Numenera instead of Cypher System, since I already have the book.
Do you have the older version of the game (2013) or the newer one (i.e., Numenera: Destiny & Discovery from 2018)?

One of the more impactful changes that happens between the first version and the later versions of the Cypher system is the change to how armor penalties work. In "Numenera 1," armor provides a speed pool reduction while worn. In the Cypher System and "Numenera 2," so to speak, armor provides a penalty to spending Effort on Speed tasks. This is what armor proficiency offsets instead. Additional Speed Effort cost for armor:
  • Light Armor: 1
  • Medium Armor: 2
  • Heavy Armor: 3

That's probably one of the biggest changes between Numenera and later revisions in the Cypher System. So you may (or may not) want to adjust accordingly.

Also in the update to more recent version of Numenera, the Glaive was buffed and the Jack was moved into a more rogue-like direction. The game also added three new types: the Wright (engineer/artificer), the Delve (an explorer), and the Arkus (the social face).

What do first-time Numenera GMs need to know?
Complications from Intrusions should follow the fiction rather than simply an excuse for the GM to either being a "wang-rod" or railroad the players.

To keep players from hoarding cyphers, it's okay to give them out regularly to encourage their use. You can even have NPCs use them against PCs in order to show and not tell.

Does Numenera somehow break if the cyphers become magic items or innate abilities instead?
This is essentially what they are. Behind the veneer of it all, cyphers essentially came out of D&D style single-use scrolls, potions, alchemical concoctions, magic items, and the like.

Later Cypher books do provide alternative uses for cyphers, namely non-physical subtle cyphers (e.g., divine blessings, good fortune, supernatural powers, etc.).

Do the NPCs re-skin into fantasy monsters well?
Jein. Some creatures do seem pretty easy to re-skin into fantasy monsters, such as the goat-headed Margr. Others are meant to be fairly alien and weird ,which don't have clear analogues. However, NPC/creature generation for Numenera and the Cypher System is exceptionally easy. Pick a number between 0 to 10 for the challenge rating of the creature. That determines the creature's baseline damage and target number for attack and defense rolls, and the like, though you can adjust this as needed as well. So it is incredibly easy to improvise monsters based upon what you need.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Do you have the older version of the game (2013) or the newer one (i.e., Numenera: Destiny & Discovery from 2018)?
2013.
One of the more impactful changes that happens between the first version and the later versions of the Cypher system is the change to how armor penalties work. In "Numenera 1," armor provides a speed pool reduction while worn. In the Cypher System and "Numenera 2," so to speak, armor provides a penalty to spending Effort on Speed tasks. This is what armor proficiency offsets instead. Additional Speed Effort cost for armor:
  • Light Armor: 1
  • Medium Armor: 2
  • Heavy Armor: 3
Sounds like a significant one. I'll have to grasp the game a little firmer before I decide which version I like better.
Complications from Intrusions should follow the fiction rather than simply an excuse for the GM to either being a "wang-rod" or railroad the players.
I'm still re-reading, but aren't intrusions optional, besides the oops-I-rolled-a-1 intrusions? As in, PCs can ignore the intrusion if they turn down the XP? On that note, how are intrusions different from the GM just doing his job?
To keep players from hoarding cyphers, it's okay to give them out regularly to encourage their use. . .
It will be an interesting exercise to learn to give out magic items regularly 🤓
However, NPC/creature generation for Numenera and the Cypher System is exceptionally easy. Pick a number between 0 to 10 for the challenge rating of the creature. That determines the creature's baseline damage and target number for attack and defense rolls, and the like, though you can adjust this as needed as well. So it is incredibly easy to improvise monsters based upon what you need.
I was hoping this would be the case. It is a GM-friendly game that allows easy monster improvisation!
 

Aldarc

Legend
Okay. So the Glaive got a pretty decent change between editions. The new version gets rid of the choice of starting moves that add +1 Damage for 1 Might/Speed point: i.e., Bash, Pierce, and Thrust. People felt these were boring and mandatory. Instead Glaives at baseline get an additional choice of +1 damage to melee attacks or +1 damage to ranged attacks (no point cost). They then got some new options at that level to make up for removing three of the Tier 1 moves.

Sounds like a significant one. I'll have to grasp the game a little firmer before I decide which version I like better.
I generally prefer the new change, but it's your game.

I'm still re-reading, but aren't intrusions optional, besides the oops-I-rolled-a-1 intrusions? As in, PCs can ignore the intrusion if they turn down the XP? On that note, how are intrusions different from the GM just doing his job?
Players can't simply turn down the XP to ignore the Intrusion; they also have to spend 1 XP to turn down GM Intrusions.
 

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