[Let’s Study Numenera] Part 6: The Numenera

Posted: August 20, 2013 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Let's Study, Numenera, Roleplaying Games
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Numenera is the term that the far science-fantasy future calls the seemingly magical technologies of the civilizations that have come before it. These can be anything from odd baubles that do weird and seemingly trivial things, to useful devices and bizarre artifacts that can do the impossible.

Discussions about the Numenera start off with a quick rundown of the various categories of technology, such as those Scavenged, Cobbled, Bonded and finally Fashioned, to describe their state of refinement from being freshly dug up from some hole or ruin to ones manufactured in the Ninth World.

Cyphers are one-use objects in the world of Numenera. These are the more common sort of discovery that many of the player characters will run into. These can be anything from pills and medicines to grenades. Cyphers are classified as internal, wearable and usable.

What follows is a fairly thorough list of various Cyphers, starting with fairly simple ones such as Adhesion Clamps that come in the form of a pair of gloves that can be used to climb any surface, to more complex things like a Teleporter.

Artifacts on the other hand are devices that have more staying power. These can be tools and weapons which have multiple uses (as long as they have ammunition) as far as the user is concerned. Artifacts also have strange quirks that might act up now and then when the GM decides to do so to make things interesting.

An example of an artifact would be a Battlesuit, which is essentially power armor that has a self-contained internal atmosphere. Needless to say Artifacts are very valuable in Numenera.

Oddities and Discoveries form the strangest of the three types as they are pretty much random objects which have strange properties that are often poorly understood. They don’t seem to have any mechanica benefits but can still be used for trading or ornamental purposes. Occasionally these might seem like just useless junk, but there’s always the possibility that the Oddity might be more than what it appears.

Numenera forms the backbone of the game, and it’s easy to see how the sense of wonder in the shines through. Amusingly I can see the game go in all sorts of directions from creepy to downright comical depending on what items the party finds and works with. This way you can swing to anything from Adventure Time to Dead Space with just a minor tweak.


  1. Haxar says:

    I do like the rules for generating numenera gadgets, I hope we get more options in future. Also like to point out option 36 on the oddities table: “Bag that contains dice, each with a different number of sides”. Hmm that sounds somewhat familiar…

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