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Making My First Numenera Character

For the last few weeks, I’ve been reading the Numenera core rulebook. This is one of a number of RPG books I’ve bought in PDF in the last year, often at sale prices from drivethrurpg.com or via Bundles of Holding, and I’m slowly working my way through reading them. I don’t think I’ll get the chance to play or run Numenera any time soon, so thought I’d create a character.

One of the cool concepts behind Numenera is how your descriptor (the adjective that describes your character),  type (character class), and focus (what your character is all about) combine into a sentence like this:

Rafiq is a mystical (descriptor) nano (type) who explores dark places (focus)

So if another player asks you to tell her about your character, you’ve got this sentence to sum him or her up. Very neat.

Each of these three elements gives your character some abilities as you’d expect:

The nano is the Ninth World’s equivalent of a wizard or sorcerer, so Rafiq knows about the numenera – relics of past worlds that can be found while adventuring – and gets to use esoteries – magic-like special abilities that fit in with Numenera’s science fantasy setting. I picked Ward which gives Rafiq +1 armour – handy as I don’t think he’ll be wearing any – and Onslaught which allows him to attack an enemy he can see with either a ray of force or a mental blast.

Being a nano also determines Rafiq’s stats. There are only three in Numenera – Might, Speed and Intellect. Each has a starting value and I get 6 points to divide between them. Rafiq has 9 Might, 11 Speed and 14 Intellect. I also choose a nano connection for Rafiq – he studied at a school infamous for its dark, brooding instructors and graduates. He’s not going to be a jolly soul.

The Mystical descriptor gives Rafiq +2 Intellect, bringing his pool to 16, and gives him another esotery – Hedge Magic – pretty similar to prestidigitation in D&D. He can also sense “magic” around him but his moody, introspective nature makes it hard for him to make friends – tasks involving charming and persuading others are one step harder. Rafiq’s descriptor adds to his background too – I decide a dream has guided me to wherever the first adventure starts.

Each PC's focus is meant be what’s unique about him, so there shouldn’t be another PC who Explores Dark Places in Rafiq’s party. His focus makes Rafiq’s esoteries dark – almost silent, and any visual effects are shadowy. Cool. He’s trained in climbing, balancing and jumping, as well as searching and listening, and gets some bonus gear including an explorer’s pack. Handy for anyone who likes poking around in dangerous ancient ruins. I need to choose another PC as a former adventuring partner and Rafiq will get +1 to die rolls when the two of them collaborate on a task or attack the same foe.



Rafiq is obviously going to wear a black, hooded cloak over dark clothes; I choose a rapier as his weapon. He also gets three cyphers and two oddities from his type and descriptor. Cyphers are very cool one-use items, bits of ancient tech that can be found in ruins and other locales throughout the Ninth World. Rafiq can only bear three of them at any one time – the game activley encourages players to use these, rather than hoarding them.

Rafiq has a psychic communique (a metallic disk on his forehead which allows him to send a one off, one way telepathic message of up to ten words to anyone he knows), a temporal viewer (a wristband which shows, in sounds and images, events that took place at the current location up to a year ago), and a visual displacement device (a belt which projects holographic images to confuse attackers).

Oddities are like 5e’s trinkets, interesting little items that don’t have game effects. Rafiq has a lightning bug in a glass globe and a rose made of nigh-indestructible glass. Maybe he’ll find a use for these items on his adventures, or will be able to trade them with someone?

And that’s it. Character creation was fun and straightforward, and I’ve ended up with an interesting PC with some nice background elements to think about and a handful of cool abilities and one-shot items to use in the game. I've still not got my head round Numenera's rules system, but making a character has certainly got me excited about the game.

So, when do I get to play him? ;)

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