I’ve been GMing Numenera for a little while now, but I’ve yet to play in any games in real life. However, I’m currently active in several Play-by-Post games on RPoL.net and RPG Crossing and I thought it might be interesting to share them. I wont bother going fully into the stats/skills/etc and will just highlight the more unusual aspects and the background info as you can look everything else up in the books.
Sylys – a Learned Glaive who Commands Mental Powers
Sylys has been trying to join the Order of truth for a long time. When he was young, a priest came to his village and showed them such wonders, not just through the magic of cyphers but through knowledge. She knew things, incredible, impossible things of the past and the future that left him in such awe it was almost impossible to go to sleep each night for all the ideas and wonder running instead his head. That’s why, late at night, he watched the priest dancing in the moonlight.
At least, he thought she was dancing, but soon he realised she was fighting, practicing a martial prowess he’d never seen before against an invisible assailant. He wanted to shout out, but he was too afraid. She fell at the hands of her attacker and he never forgave himself. She had been a plain, quiet woman, not exciting like the girls he had been becoming increasingly aware of, but her confidence, her joy in knowledge and her willingness to teach, it had changed something in him and now he was responsible for allowing that light to be extinguished.
For the early part of his life, Sylys was an angry young man consumed by guilt and vengeance. He trained hard, learning what he could about how best you use his fists and feet. He hunted for the invisible foe, but never found it, but his quest drove him to leave is village, abandon his friends and family and it eventually destroyed everything around him. His rage finally brought him under the wing of a group of psychic monks who trained not only their bodies, but also their minds to be weapons. What they could not see, they could sense in their minds.
What they taught him though, also allowed him to master himself and he learned to let go of his anger and forgave himself. He took to study, learning more about mental and martial arts and the world around him, deciding to make a new pledge. The world had lost a priest of the Order and was a worse place for it – he would take a pilgrimage, learn and grow and eventually earn a place among them so that he may take her place and fill the void she had left in the world. It wasn’t about atonement or revenge any more. It was about honouring her memory.
Due to his background, I took training in knowledge of detecting the invisible, knowledge of the Order of Truth and knowledge of the Numenera. I also specced him towards being an unarmed monk, with No Need for Weapons and Trained Without Armour. That said, he carried a greatsword and a bow, mostly for training though or large beasts where bare-fist fighting wouldn’t cut it. He also carried books, one on the Aeon priesthood and another on unexplored areas of the Ninth World.
This character didn’t last long because sadly the game died very quickly. However, a bunch of us from the game made friends and found ourselves together in a new game with new characters.
Carra Machirl – A Tough Nano who Employs Magnetism
Carra is a very headstrong young girl barely out of childhood. Short and stout with a long black braid of hair, Carra is a tomboy who dreads the idea of a future arranged marriage, but is tough enough not to complain about it if it’s for the good of the tribe. That’s why she’s always the first to volunteer for any mission, because she’s brave and tough and she’ll take any chance to prove it to anyone, so it annoys the hell out of her when she’s always told to let the grownups handle it. Now her birthday has gone and she’s technically a woman, she’s having none of that.
Carra’s attitude can sometimes make her a bit of a social pariah among the other young adults and children of the tribe, but Carra doesn’t care. She’s made friends with some of the mutants in the village, much to the disapproval of her parents who like most normal folk think young girls shouldn’t be hanging around such… ‘people’ if they can help it.
That said, Carra has two parents that love her and a bunch of friends her age, mostly from among the other social outcasts in school, etc. Her mother and father are both in the village guard, making sure the things in the woods stay in the woods and it’s their continued position as protectors that provides no small motivation to Carra’s need to prove herself as tough, even if she isn’t much of a physical fighter.
Carra has rapidly become one of my favourite characters to play. She’s a headstrong sixteen-year-old, doesn’t always think things through and so far has caused a bit of trouble in the game, but in a fun way. She’s a proactive character which I’m finding I am enjoying a lot more than some of the passive characters I’ve played in the past.
Crave – A Clever Nano who Works the Back Alleys
Crave is a pale, lithe man with lank, greasy dark hair that makes him perpetually look like he just escaped drowning. Apart from his slightly bedraggled appearance, he has a forgettable demeanor and blends into the background with his long, plain brown coat.
Crave has known ever since an early age that real power doesn’t come from physical strength, reputation, breeding or money. Real power is information. It was this knowledge that set Crave on the path of the Nano, delving into forbidden knowledge hoarded and hidden in the dark and learning it’s secrets. He spent many years, spying and manipulating things so he could continue his studies. Of course, one day his foray into the more esoteric arts resulted in a terrible accident and the locals of his usual haunts in the Black Riage made life a nuisance for him, branding him as a dangerous liability. As such, he decided to seek out “Iyene Who Knows”, a knowledge broker in Norou who may be able to make use of his talents or at least provide him with more knowledge of his own to trade with.
I like the idea of Crave, but I’ve found playing him he hasn’t been quite as enjoyable as I had thought. Mostly it’s because we’re in a more action orientated scenario at the moment and he is mostly a social manipulator so has felt a little impotent so far. He might make an interesting NPC in the game I run in future.
Milo – A Strong Jack who Rides the Lightning
Milo has been with running with a bad crowd since the beginning, mostly due to being raised by people of questionable morals as, more or less, an slave-come-thug. As a result, he is somewhat of a career criminal and is typically sent in when the more subtle approach fails to get results. Milo has a talent for breaking and hurting things, but in truth he doesn’t enjoy this life and he is smarter than he looks. In fact, he finds being used as a blunt instrument by his masters rather dull and uninteresting and further more, he doesn’t like hurting people, even if he is good at it. Luckily, his performance has earned him some slack on his proverbial leash and so he’s using it to get out and never come back. Sadly, owners rarely see things from a runaway slaves point of view.
I quite like Milo, I play him in an almost racist parody of a Eastern European stereotype. He reminds me a lot of Roman from GTA4 in his mannerisms and speech even though he looks like Mariusz Pudzianowski. He’s been fun to play, a bad guy through no fault of his own trying to be good.
Vesry Strenny – An Outcast Jack who Rolls the Dice
Vesry used to be a popular vagabond. A known mischief maker, layabout and lovable scamp, he was well-known is his village with a certain affection as a gambler and entertainer of sorts. That all ended one fateful day when he got into a game with some particularly nasty individuals that did not take too kindly to him. After stripping him of everything he owned in a series of games of chance, they offered him one final game. If he won, he would get everything he lost back. If not, they would take his daughter into slavery as payment.
When the village found out what he had done, they were horrified. His wife, bless her, had died during child birth but his family disowned him, they forever more had no son, no brother. He was outcast, driven out of the village with nothing but the few items he kept upon his person. For years, he drifted on the outskirts of civilisation, drinking himself into a stupor to drown out the combination of shame and self-pity, relying on the only skill he was ever good at, gambling, to feed himself. Eventually he found himself in a lot of trouble, his drunken escapades and the hateful glares of those who recognised him for the child-selling scum that he was driving him into riskier and more dangerous activities until the law finally caught up with him.
I’ve not yet actually played this character, and it’s the first one to use a third party descriptor and focus (both or which I happened to write). I have a good feeling about him though. generally I dislike playing the outcast, outsider because it makes being proactive harder and is oh so cliche. However, I think the circumstances of the game (we start in prison) and the heavily 50/50 chance-based focus makes for a fun combination. The gambling addict trying to atone for his sins by using the very skills that got him into this mess in the first place seems like a fun way to screw up!
Casey DeBraun – A [REDACTED]
Whilst exploring some ancient ruins in South America, Casey found herself caught in an ancient trap inside a burial chamber. The trap released a noxious gas, choking her into unconsciousness. When she awoke, almost a month had passed yet somehow she hadn’t starved to death whilst laying, comatose in that tomb and now things seemed strangely different…
While not strictly Numenera, I happened to get into a playtest game of The Strange, also by Monte Cook Games, which uses the same Cypher system on which Numenera is built. So far it’s early days but I’m enjoying it. Casey is a sort of Indiana Jones type girl, trained in archaeology but more interested in shooting things and now working in a security firm for hire as a guard. I don’t want to say any more due to NDAs, but so far I’m feeling really positive about The Strange and I can’t wait for it’s full release.