Numenera: Adventures in the Ninth World

fireinthedust

Explorer
Let's crack it open and get a discussion going on this.

I'm thinking about getting the Mrs to try her hand at GMing it, and I'm wondering if there's a good beginner adventure either the one in the book or else a D&D adventure we can "Science up" and stick somewhere in the Ninth World.

What would be a good module for her to do that for?


I'm loving the setting, and can't wait to get cracking on a game.

So far it's easy enough for the dice (rate an obstacle from 1 to 10, multiply it by 3 for the d20 DC (1=3, 2=6, 3=9, 4=12, etc, 10 = 30), then roll a d20 and try to beat that; if you're skilled at something, lower the DC by 1 (or 3: so a 6=18 would now be a 5=15)). There's no derrived numbers to look up or complex mini-systems beyond that. Means focus on story, I like that.
 

Isida Kep'Tukari

Community Supporter
The GMing style encouraged in Numenera is very close to the way I've been DMing for years. The encouragement to "let the PCs do that," and "it's not cheating, it's awesome," and "NPCs are just numbers and whatever you can imagine; it doesn't matter if there's no rule for what they do" is very refreshing.

For a recent game (3.5) I ran, I had this villain that was going around capturing and swapping souls of creatures, creating these creepy hybrid creatures. For the first encounter, I busted out Green Ronin's Advanced Bestiary (a template book) and carefully found and applied appropriate templates. I worked on those two monsters for an hour or so, as they were quick and easy templates.

The fight lasted less than half that time.

When I did the final battle, I said, "screw templates" and just adjusted things on the fly. Infinitely easier, the players never knew, and I rarely had to slow down to compare notes. As long as things felt cool, that was all that really mattered. Numenera gives me the permission that is sometimes discouraged in some 3.5-esque play - namely, that you should be able to break your monsters and NPCs down and reverse engineer them, that you should be able to know where every bonus comes from. Numenera says, "Give them a difficulty, make them sound weird and cool, aaaaand go."

I love it for that. I also love a system that says, "Your first tier characters are pretty awesome already." It lets people write those cool backstories that, as a 1st level D&D character you as a DM would say, "How have you managed to travel the length and breadth of the kingdom, join the Kingsguard, and slain a dragon as a 1st level character?" In Numenera, you can. You can also start out as a lycanthrope. Damn few d20 systems let you do THAT. The XP system lets you change and modify little things about your character on the fly, the skills system is open, and the whole feel of the game is even more... cooperative than D&D, in a way.

I am seriously looking forward to sinking my teeth into this game. :D
 

dm4hire

Explorer
It's freeformed enough on the GM side that you could actually play without one per say; each player taking turns in the GM seat, making the game a truly collaborative story.
 

Jhaelen

Villager
When I did the final battle, I said, "screw templates" and just adjusted things on the fly. Infinitely easier, the players never knew, and I rarely had to slow down to compare notes. As long as things felt cool, that was all that really mattered. Numenera gives me the permission that is sometimes discouraged in some 3.5-esque play - namely, that you should be able to break your monsters and NPCs down and reverse engineer them, that you should be able to know where every bonus comes from. Numenera says, "Give them a difficulty, make them sound weird and cool, aaaaand go."
So, ... it's basically just like 4e?
 

Isida Kep'Tukari

Community Supporter
So, ... it's basically just like 4e?
Speak not to me of 4e. My experiences with that scarred me for life. Combat took forever. Skill challenges took forever. I tried with a couple different DMs, both times ended in exasperation. 4e filled me with frustration. Numenera fills me with excitement.
 

dm4hire

Explorer
Numenera is nothing like 4e, not even close. It reminds me a lot of Alternity with the step method. The only difference being instead of changing your dice pool you change the target number. People are also accustom to rating things on a 1-10 scale which helps a lot.

So what really happens is we change how we perceive the difficulty on that scale. Same goes for monsters since they fall into that scale. Monster X rates a five, but thanks to what I know and have on me it is actually a three. Figure target number and roll the die.

4e or even other d20 games are not that flexible.
 

Jhaelen

Villager
Numenera is nothing like 4e, not even close.
Well, the part I quoted definitely reminded me of 4e.
Speak not to me of 4e. My experiences with that scarred me for life. Combat took forever. Skill challenges took forever. I tried with a couple different DMs, both times ended in exasperation. 4e filled me with frustration. Numenera fills me with excitement.
I've often read about combat taking forever for some groups in 4e. Luckily that never happened in our games (yet). Perhaps it's because we only started playing several years after it was first released, so we already knew how to avoid the grind.
Skill challenges taking forever, though, I think that's the first time I'm seeing that complaint. I have no idea what must have been going on in a game for that to happen.

Anyway, I definitely hope that with Numenera the initial excitement won't turn into frustration once you've played it for a while. Myself, I'm quite sceptical about it. What I've read about its mechanics so far didn't exactly convince me (quite unlike some of the things I've read about 13th age). The biggest plus for Numenera, imho, is the setting, which feels rather fresh.
 

dm4hire

Explorer
I don't think it will turn into frustration if only because it is such an easy game to change. You have that core mechanic that is even more streamlined than True20 in that you are not constantly trying to figure out what all needs to be added in. At most you make two or three adjustments to the difficulty and then the player rolls.

The real problem is perspective and that will be what decides how a player handles it. I can sit down and play any d20 game without batting an eye for the most part. Sit me down at a Warhammer game and I don't like it. I don't even want to wrap my head around it no matter what edition, same goes for HARP or Rolemaster. They aren't hard, it's just that I don't like the mechanics and therefore make it harder out of disparagement.

I agree 13th Age is oiled well also, but then it is also similar to 4e/3e so again you're calling on familiarity. That will be, and I think so far it has, why it is the more popular of the two. They took 13th down the path people want to go down. Monte pretty much decided to go off grid and people can follow if they want.
 

pindercarl

Villager
The biggest plus for Numenera, imho, is the setting, which feels rather fresh.
The system aside, what about the setting? Everything I've seen about Numenera suggests that the setting is very original, but each unique element distances the players and the GM from any common reference points. How much "studying" is required by the GM to get things going? There's not much worse than playing in a setting for a while and then having to retcon your campaign because you misunderstood a key element early on.
 

CAFRedblade

Explorer
The thing regarding the setting is that almost anything from medieval style sword and sorcery to high tech monstrosity can and should be used. This allows a great amount of freedom to pull ideas in from multiple sources for use. If you can think of it, one of the previous eight ages could have created it and left if behind, or someone now could be developing it based on older tech.

Want demons and angels, 'spells' that rip through dimensions can exist. Want a space adventure, place a lost space-faring ship for the PC's to find, or teleport them to a docking station with the last vessel still up and running.

The idea is to keep things weird and wonderful for the players. You can make some generic references to modern day items for comparison, but then ensure that you go one step further to twist their expectations.
 
The thing regarding the setting is that almost anything from medieval style sword and sorcery to high tech monstrosity can and should be used. This allows a great amount of freedom to pull ideas in from multiple sources for use. If you can think of it, one of the previous eight ages could have created it and left if behind, or someone now could be developing it based on older tech.

Want demons and angels, 'spells' that rip through dimensions can exist. Want a space adventure, place a lost space-faring ship for the PC's to find, or teleport them to a docking station with the last vessel still up and running.

The idea is to keep things weird and wonderful for the players. You can make some generic references to modern day items for comparison, but then ensure that you go one step further to twist their expectations.
This sounds fantastic.

What do you, or anyone who has experience with Numenera, think of its potential for online play? Is it streamlined enough for, say, a skype call?
 

CAFRedblade

Explorer
This sounds fantastic.

What do you, or anyone who has experience with Numenera, think of its potential for online play? Is it streamlined enough for, say, a skype call?
I'd say yes, there are posts on Google Plus about people running Hangouts with Numenara. GM's don't need to roll dice, as the players are the ones to attempt to bypass thresholds to hit, dodge or perform other actions.

Either as long as you have faith in the players dice reporting skills, or run an online dice roller program you should be fine.

The GM's are there to guide the story and interleave the players actions. I'd say it's very friendly to online Skype or G+ Hangout gaming.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
Just bought the PDF a few days ago, and after a cursory reading I'm really digging it. As a fan of 4e, I'm highly pleased by the number of critical features it shares with 4e. As someone who enjoys playing and running a variety of games I'm extremely pleased by its different focus.

Highlights include:
  • The Setting - I'm not really a midevail history buff, and am extremely biased towards my more modern outlook on things like gender roles, rule of law, etc. I am however deeply interested in Cthulhu, science, technology, and exploration as a character motivation.
  • I love the way the character creation rules prompt you to develop connections to the setting, your fellow players' characters, and the initial action of the game.
  • Not having to roll dice as a GM and feeling in control of your fate as a player.
  • Rewards that are structured to reinforce the themes of the game.
  • Consistant meaningful resource management across all types of character. While Numenera focuses on operational play it does so in a consistant way so that glaives and nanos are not playing radically different games.
  • I love how ciphers and artifacts along with their limitations help to make managing resources game time agnostic, allowing me to run combat light games if I choose to.
  • XP and the tension between more immediate and long term benefits.
  • Solid adventure support right int the core rules.
  • Creature and NPC design: Taking what 4e started one step further. I love the idea of using GM intrusion for limited use abilities. I also love that the math is so simple I can do it in my head in 3-4 seconds. It feels like the focus really is on creating good adventure material.
  • The combination of descriptors, focuses and types. I really dig how you can combine this all together to make varied, interesting characters. I especially love how easy it is to create a sneaky assassin who happens to be a glaive or a more mystical jack, and it granting them abilities that will actually stay relevant throughout the course of play.
  • Assumed general capability. I like how despite each type being specialized everyone is capable of contributing outside their area of expertise in a meaningful way thanks to the way effort and pools work.

There are definitely some things in the game I could do without, but overall it seems like a resilient focused game that I will probably run in the near future. I still really like 4e for what it does well, but was surprised to find that Numenera also really seemed to gel with me for some of same and different reasons. Honestly it almost feels like AD&D, Burning Empires, and 4e were involved in a love triangle and we're not sure who the baby's father is. We'll see what actual play shows me.
 
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tangleknot

Explorer
I just built my first sample hero for numenra, gear and all.
It took me 15 minutes. Worried I made a mistake I then spent over an hour trying to figure out why I finished this character so fast... lol
My only fear of this game is getting this setting right. I mean its sort of a post-apocalyptic future/ steam punk, Tech/Fantasy world with a smidgen of Cathulu. Its just so very different.
 

Majoru Oakheart

Adventurer
I've ran 2 sessions now. It's going well so far. I think all my players and I are still getting used to the rules. I keep picking up a die to roll to hit almost every round of combat still before realizing I don't do that in Numenera.

It is a little weird wrapping my head around the rules and I've been a little more transparent with my group about how I'm using the rules and the decisions I make to help give them a better idea of how the system works.

I still love the setting a lot. I find that it's extremely open, anything goes nature is a little hard to make adventures for. I'm used to games being rather structured in what kind of adventures you have. There are so many different options that it hurts my head to start coming up with my own adventures. I will likely run at least a couple more adventures from the book before I even consider writing something myself.
 

Jhaelen

Villager
Just bought the PDF a few days ago, and after a cursory reading I'm really digging it. As a fan of 4e, I'm highly pleased by the number of critical features it shares with 4e.
[...]
Creature and NPC design: Taking what 4e started one step further.
Ha! So it is like 4e after all!

I'm getting the impression that some posters just keep denying it because they didn't like 4e and are trying to reconcile their conflicting emotions since they _do_ like Numenera.

It's okay folks - feel free to admit that not everything in 4e was bad ;)
 
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Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
Ha! So it is like 4e after all!

I'm getting the impression that some posters just keep denying it because they didn't like 4e and are trying to reconcile their conflicting emotions since they _do_ like Numenera.

It's okay folks - feel free to admit that not everything in 4e was bad ;)
There are subtle, but important distinctions that I feel make certain elements more palatable in their Numenera incarnation.

  • Ciphers place "Everyone has dailies" squarely in the fiction in a way that is much easier to handle for the metagame averse.
  • Numenera is not balanced on the level of the individual encounter, and encourages GMs to make rulings for special cases. Still the level of variance in any given arena of the game is fairly minor because Numenera PCs are more generalists than specialists. Extremely situational abilities are tied to a character's focus rather than type. It's more okay to deny the game's equivalent of sneak attack because it does not feature as prominently as it does for a 4e rogue for example.
 

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