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Release Monte Cook’s Numenera setting comes to 5e with Beneath the Monolith

Beneath the Monolith brings the setting of award-winning science-fantasy RPG Numenera to the Fifth Edition ruleset!

Take your wizard, ranger, and rogue to the Amber Monolith, across the Cloudcrystal Skyfields, and to other wonders of the Ninth World.

The Ninth World:
They say there have been eight worlds before ours. Eight times the people of this planet, over vast millennia, built their civilizations, reaching heights we cannot even fully imagine now. They spoke to the stars, reshaped the creatures of the world, and mastered form and essence. They built cities and machines that have since crumbled to dust, leaving only their barest remnants.

This is the Ninth World. The people of the prior worlds are gone—scattered, disappeared, or transcended. But their works remain, in the places and devices that still contain some germ of their original function. To the ignorant, these workings of the ancients are magic. But the wise know differently …
The Ninth World is the setting of Monte Cook’s multiple-award-winning Numenera RPG. Beneath the Monolith brings this critically acclaimed world to 5e. Explore the ruins of incomprehensible civilizations. Discover the numenera, ancient technologies so advanced that most people think they’re just magic. Encounter creatures weird, fierce, and dangerous. Open doors to new worlds and alternate dimensions. And, perhaps, unlock some of the mysteries of the prior worlds.

This is one of our most-requested releases—5e fans, come visit the Ninth World!

Beneath-the-Monolith-Cover.jpg


Our first 5e release, Arcana of the Ancients, will help you get the most of this book. It contains loads of cyphers, artifacts, creatures, and additional content that brings a Ninth World campaign to life, along with great advice and information on running weird science-fantasy games in 5e.
 

seankreynolds

Explorer
I'm a little burned out from 5e, so the idea of a new system and setting is enticing, but not exactly the learning curve of knowing the system.

Fortunately, I wrote this up (intending to make it a video, but never got around to it):

The Numenera Game System… In 60 Seconds

In Numenera there are three character types: Glaive, the warrior. Nano, the sorcerer. Jack, a mix of both.

You have three stat Pools: Might, Speed, and Intellect.

When you roll, you can spend points from these Pools to make a task easier. This is called "applying Effort." To make a climbing task easier, spend 3 Might points. To make a sneaking task easier, spend 3 Speed points.

If you are trained in a skill, attack, or defense, it automatically makes your roll easier.

Your character will have special abilities that cost points from your stat Pools, like a special melee attack that does extra damage and costs you 1 Might, or a psychic scan that reveals information and costs you 2 Intellect.

When you suffer damage, it comes from your Pools.

Resting restores points you've lost or spent.

Players make all rolls. If the character attacks a foe, the player rolls for the attack. If a foe attacks the character, the player rolls for defense.

That's it!
 
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Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
@seankreynolds I'll see if I can figure out the name of it, but I played it at Origins 2019, so it's been a while. I'll try to collect whatever information I can, but the only thing I really remember is the frustration at the whole experience and the hopelessness of a TPK that ended the entire group. (I may not remember the exact DR, but I do know that I couldn't harm the creature, nor could most of the other pregenerated characters). The adventure was kind of set up like a gladiator fight, if that helps.

Huh. TPK of a demo game sounds like someone wasn't running the game right...

Numenara isn't really an "opposition" game like the way some GMs run D&D (especially older versions).
 
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seankreynolds

Explorer
@seankreynolds I'll see if I can figure out the name of it, but I played it at Origins 2019, so it's been a while. I'll try to collect whatever information I can, but the only thing I really remember is the frustration at the whole experience and the hopelessness of a TPK that ended the entire group. (I may not remember the exact DR, but I do know that I couldn't harm the creature, nor could most of the other pregenerated characters). The adventure was kind of set up like a gladiator fight, if that helps.

I've investigated a bit and it sounds like you were playing part of a short adventure called Trailblazer Trials, and in that there are some fights against creatures with Armor 2 or Armor 3 (which is still significant, even though it isn't Armor 5). One solo creature is "the monstrosity," there's one big giant cragworm (kinda like a D&D purple worm), and some groups of scaly humanoids called chirogs. I can see how even that much Armor would be annoying to your poor Nano and their 2-damage light weapon. It sounds like there might have been some miscommunication or confusion about what your character was able to do--I think you might have been playing Marulas the Nano, one of the pregens included in the book, they have a knife and the Onslaught ability, and Onslaught definitely can be a physical bolt or a psychic (Armor-ignoring) blast, and Onslaught is the go-to ability for Nanos in combat, and would have been a good option whether you went force or psychic.

Anyway, I'm sorry you had a bad experience playing Numenera. If you're willing to give it another try, I'll toot my own horn and say that I wrote our Free RPG Day quickstart/adventure for 2018, called Ashes of the Sea, and we've had a lot of really positive feedback about it (how it showcases the system and setting). You can download the PDF for free here: Ashes of the Sea FREE Numenera Quickstart Rules and Adventure - Monte Cook Games
 

Lord Mhoram

Adventurer
My first thought was that the GM thought that the level of the monster was it's armor.

I've recently discovered Numenera, and with a background with HERO ( you move the target not the die roll, and you flavor the attack the way you want, but mechanics are pretty much the same) as well as with some narrative time with Genesys & Fate (so the whole intrusion thing is second nature) - I find it easy peasy to pick up and play. I GMed my wife solo through the Vortex wtih only have spent about 8 hours having read the rules.

Just ordered the slipcase, and it likely going to be our go to game for a while.

I am interested in how the setting works under 5E, but I can't afford to buy them to check - more regular Numenera books to buy. :D
 


Von Ether

Adventurer
My first thought was that the GM thought that the level of the monster was it's armor.
...
I am interested in how the setting works under 5E, but I can't afford to buy them to check - more regular Numenera books to buy. :D

I'd have to agree that it sounds like the GM was confused somewhere.
 

I'm not sure why you think that. Just for the Arcana of the Ancients Kickstarter (which BTM is part of), we've posted status updates on June 5th, April 14th, Feb 25, Jan 15, Oct 18 2019, Aug 9 2019, July 15 2019, and Jun 19 2019. Other than the gap around the holidays, that's an update about every six weeks on the status of the books in the project.
He may have been referring to the frustrations around the Ptolus Kickstarter (which I backed again, after being a 3rd edition backer back in the day).

The stretch goals process wasn't fun, it was frustrating, and lots of people in the comments asked for clarity or voting for doors 1, 2 or 3 secret stretch goal method to be dropped entirely, and there was never any public acknowledgement of the concerns. If you go back and look, you'll see quite a few people worried that the secret stretch goal game meant that people didn't get options they might have wanted instead, as the "streets," "dungeon" and "spire" categories seemed to be less clearly delineated than backers thought.

It's obviously difficult-to-impossible to respond to every query individually, but when there's a ton of complaints about the same topic, the apparent decision to not respond to them was not awesome. It certainly made me think it might be better to just wait for books to be available on the retail market next time, if the Ptolus Kickstarter was indicative of how the company handles them, which some folks suggested was the case.
 

seankreynolds

Explorer
He may have been referring to the frustrations around the Ptolus Kickstarter (which I backed again, after being a 3rd edition backer back in the day).

I understand. The way the paths for stretch goals in the Ptolus campaign was definitely a new way of trying things—an experiment—and there are some kinks to be worked out.
 

Retreater

Legend
@seankreynolds thanks for the input. I will take a look at that starter adventure. It's definitely possible I just had a bad experience with the system. I don't like feeling that there's absolutely nothing I can do to help in an adventure (no matter how creatively I tried to play the character), and that's just the experience I had while demoing the system.
And sorry about poo-pooing on the 5e announcement. Like I said before, I think there's a lot to like about Numenera, even if my experience hasn't been amazing. (There's a reason I've tried it 6 times.)
 

Von Ether

Adventurer
@seankreynolds ... I don't like feeling that there's absolutely nothing I can do to help in an adventure (no matter how creatively I tried to play the character), and that's just the experience I had while demoing the system. ...

Again, not asking you to dive in a seventh time, but that feeling is the antithesis of what the Cypher System is about -- speaking as a fan and community content creator for the game.
 

Von Ether

Adventurer
@seankreynolds ...
And sorry about poo-pooing on the 5e announcement. Like I said before, I think there's a lot to like about Numenera, even if my experience hasn't been amazing. (There's a reason I've tried it 6 times.)

I think you have been upstanding in stating your opinion and patient in hearing a different viewpoint. Geez, if even 10% more of the Internet was like this thread, the world just might be in a better place.

If I could give you all the star, likes, etc. I would.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
Looks like 5E continues it's rapid pace of devouring the worlds...

Just kidding of course, if this supports MCG's other lines, good for everyone. I especially love the concepts behind Invisible Sun, and may use it to run a 5E Urban Arcana game.

On topic, does anyone who actually owns this book like it? I'm especially curious about races, isn't there a dolphin race in a mech suit?
 

Longspeak

Explorer
I Kickstarted this, and enjoyed reading Arcana of the Ancients. I've only glance through Beneath the Monolith so far, not needing the setting stuff, but...

When I first ran Numenera, I envisioned a world of magic, wonder, and spirits, which would slowly reveal to be Clarke's "Sufficiently Advanced Technology." But players envisioned... well... basically Gonzo right out of the gate.

I WANT to run this game as one of slow discovery. This KS may be the bridge I need to get that done.
 

Longspeak

Explorer
First, I love that one of the game's writers comes in here to speak intelligently and reasonably about the game. If I wasn't already a fan, I'd be on the website, giving the products a look, just for the responsiveness.

One question about your 60 second synopsis...
The Numenera Game System… In 60 Seconds

In Numenera there are three character types: Glaive, the warrior. Nano, the sorcerer. Jack, a mix of both.

You have three stat Pools: Might, Speed, and Intellect.

When you roll, you can spend points from these Pools to make a task easier. This is called "applying Effort." To make a climbing task easier, spend 3 Might points. To make a sneaking task easier, spend 3 Speed points.

If you are trained in a skill, attack, or defense, it automatically makes your roll easier.

Your character will have special abilities that cost points from your stat Pools, like a special melee attack that does extra damage and costs you 1 Might, or a psychic scan that reveals information and costs you 2 Intellect.

When you suffer damage, it comes from your Pools.

Resting restores points you've lost or spent.

Players make all rolls. If the character attacks a foe, the player rolls for the attack. If a foe attacks the character, the player rolls for defense.

That's it!
You leave off discussion of Edges. I assume it's deliberate because of the complexity. But one thing I've notice in explaining the game to people, is Edges make the difference for a lot of people. "Wait... my hit points are also my resource for doing stuff? I dunno..." "Well, Edges reduce the cost, and can even make some things free, so you're not expending the resource to perform your feats." "Oh, okay. I'm back in!"


Regarding your kickstarters and the frustrations some people feel... I think back in the crazy, hazy days of 2013, updates were more frequent. As MCG has gotten busier (I think I am currently waiting on products from three different MCG Kickstarters), updates have gotten less frequent. Now, as far as I'm concerned, this is fine. MCG has proven over the last 7 years and... hold on... gonna count... 9 kickstarters I've backed, that products are gonna be delivered. More, MCG has always been responsive to my messages when there was a glitch (Thanks, Tammie!). BUT, I think the updates per project have become less frequent and that could be an issue for some people.

Regarding Fulfillment... Most KS I do, I goto backerkit or a similar service, enter my information, and then stuff just comes. So, having to go to MCG and "order" my books is an added step. I'm not arguing for or against that - there's pros and cons - but it IS an added step, which some people might find a bother.

Regarding Ptolus, yeah, it was different. I generally hope you go back to the old way of running KS. But it's not a deal-breaker, either, so if your next project is awesome (warning: only I get to decide what is awesome! :D ), then I'll be in, however the project is managed.

If I were to make an MCG complaint, the only thing I'd complain about is the short cycle between Cypher Core 1e and 2e, as well as the way 2e was marketed as an add-on for an unrelated product instead if its own KS. I still don't own 2e, because nothing has shown it to be different enough to justify the expense (and because I'm not playing or running anything using the core right now, just "vanilla" Numenera). I'd have liked to see 1e not tossed aside so readily, and to have had the chance to KS it separately from Your Best Game Ever.
 


seankreynolds

Explorer
First, I love that one of the game's writers comes in here to speak intelligently and reasonably about the game. If I wasn't already a fan, I'd be on the website, giving the products a look, just for the responsiveness.

Thanks. :)

One question about your 60 second synopsis...
You leave off discussion of Edges. I assume it's deliberate because of the complexity. But one thing I've notice in explaining the game to people, is Edges make the difference for a lot of people.

Fair. I actually left it out of the 60-second summary because I really did mean this to be a 60-second summary—I recorded that text as a video (with screenshots of parts of a character sheet) back in 2017 with the idea of posting it to YouTube as a reference. As written, I have to speak slightly fast, and adding more text would mean having to cut some text or speak even faster (and risk becoming too hard to understand me clearly). :)

There are several important rules (like Edge) I didn't include in the summary, like rerolling with XP, GM intrusions, and minor and major effects for high rolls on the d20. Most of those things are rules that work in the player's favor. "Oh, you rolled a 17, that's +1 damage!" Or "Natural 20, that means you get back the points you spent on that ability!" Or "So you're a Nano with an Intellect Edge of 1, that means your 1-point Onslaught is actually 0 points!" IOW, you probably don't need to know about Edge until you've made a few rolls.

But mostly it was the 60-second limitation. :)

Regarding your kickstarters and the frustrations some people feel... I think back in the crazy, hazy days of 2013, updates were more frequent. As MCG has gotten busier (I think I am currently waiting on products from three different MCG Kickstarters), updates have gotten less frequent. Now, as far as I'm concerned, this is fine. MCG has proven over the last 7 years and... hold on... gonna count... 9 kickstarters I've backed, that products are gonna be delivered. More, MCG has always been responsive to my messages when there was a glitch (Thanks, Tammie!). BUT, I think the updates per project have become less frequent and that could be an issue for some people.

Hmm, interesting. I haven't looked at all the data for that (Kickstarter doesn't have a toll to keep track of such things, so I'd have to do it manually), but it's worth thinking about.

Regarding Fulfillment... Most KS I do, I goto backerkit or a similar service, enter my information, and then stuff just comes. So, having to go to MCG and "order" my books is an added step. I'm not arguing for or against that - there's pros and cons - but it IS an added step, which some people might find a bother.

Fair. This policy/practice predates my time at MCG, so I don't know why we started doing it that way, but I wouldn't be surprised if one reason was "It'll take us 18 months to create all of these backer rewards, and we'd certainly have some people change addresses between now and then, and they might forget to update their info with us, and that means we'd send out some rewards to the wrong address." Yes, we could use BackerKit to handle the addresses (and people could update their shipping address there), but that still means there's a chance we'd send something to an old address because the backer forgot to change their info. I know the MCG coupon system is a bit of a hassle, but it does help prevent mis-addressed shipments. And we've added some tools and user-interface things to make the overall experience easier for backers. For example, a couple of years ago we set up the Accounts page on our store to have a Coupons tab that shows all of your unredeemed items (before that, people often lost track of what rewards they hadn't claimed), and recently we added an "add all unredeemed coupons to my cart" button so people can get caught up with one click. So we're definitely trying to make sure our backers get what need, while still minimizing extra customer service time, warehouse time, and losing items in the mail. Phew!

If I were to make an MCG complaint, the only thing I'd complain about is the short cycle between Cypher Core 1e and 2e, as well as the way 2e was marketed as an add-on for an unrelated product instead if its own KS. I still don't own 2e, because nothing has shown it to be different enough to justify the expense (and because I'm not playing or running anything using the core right now, just "vanilla" Numenera). I'd have liked to see 1e not tossed aside so readily, and to have had the chance to KS it separately from Your Best Game Ever.

Ehhh, I mean, the revised CSR came out four years after the original CSR, and we were very, very clear that the two books were so compatible that you wouldn't have to stop using the old one for the new one. You could have two players at the table, one with the original CSR and one with the revised CSR, and they'd be playing the same game, and probably even the same character sentence, and the two characters would be functionally identical. We deliberately made the changes in such a way so that (as you've done) people could be happy to stick with their existing book and not switch over to the new one. We didn't want people to think they HAD to switch to the new version in order to keep playing the game or keep using our newer books. (And the same goes for the Numenera corebook and Numenera Discovery, you don't need to make the switch; we think the new book/books have improvements in language and organization based on years of play and design, but you don't need to change just for that). IOW, it's not a new edition of the game, it's just a revision to the corebook with clearer language, cleaned-up character abilities (some of there were very similar or a little redundant), and more options.

As for the YBGE Kickstarter and the CSR being a part of that, here's the thing: We're a small company, and we don't have as large of a player base as larger or older game companies. The YBGE Kickstarter is a system-agnostic book by Monte, with writing contributions by a lot of people who work on other RPGs, and we hoped that it would bring new people into our part of RPGville and get them thinking about trying our game. So that's why the revised CSR is in there, along with the four "genre books" for CSR (The Stars Are Fire, Stay Alive, We Are All Mad Here, and Godforsaken); having them as part of YBGE meant that people who didn't play the Cypher System would take a look at our game. (And of course, as a backer you could just do YBGE and ignore the rest, if you wanted to.) Given that the YBGE Kickstarter hit $581k, it was definitely a success; I'd like to think the combination of YBGE, rCSR, and the four genre books as one Kickstarter did better than they would have as two separate Kickstarters. And finally (on this topic), building, promoting, and running a Kickstarter is a lot of work. Combining the two concepts (YBGE + rCSR) meant we we able to save a lot of time and effort, as compared to doing two separate Kickstarters.

So anyway, there were several big reasons why we did it that way, and IMO it worked out well. You are of course allowed to have a different opinion based on your needs, your bookshelf, and your campaign. :)
 

seankreynolds

Explorer
Are the characters on the cover the kid from Adventure Time and his mutable dog?

They are if you want them to be. :D (It wouldn't be the first time someone put a character/characters in their Numenera game who was from a prior era, such as from a time travel or hibernation-device error…)
 



Longspeak

Explorer
You earned it!


Fair. This policy/practice predates my time at MCG...
All good points. And like I said I wasn't arguing against it. More... noting that some people like fewer steps. Personally, I like being sure you have my address right, especially since I used to ship packages to my work address and then my work address burned down. It was good to be able to easily switch my address.


So anyway, there were several big reasons why we did it that way, and IMO it worked out well. You are of course allowed to have a different opinion based on your needs, your bookshelf, and your campaign. :)
Fair points. It just... didn't work out for me that time. Didn't keep me from backing the next things.
 

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