System Neutral: Numenera with Kyle Decker

For episode 300 (!) we’re releasing a new project we’ve been working on, called System Neutral. For this project we’ve talked to GMs and players of other APs about our favorite game systems to talk about what we like, love, and could do without. 

We’re joined on this episode by Kyle from Quest Friends!, a Numenera Actual Play Podcast with friendship, family, and world-ending spiders. 

Beauty Flow by Kevin MacLeod

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GenCon Interview with Monte Cook about Numenera 2 and Invisible Sun

Covers for Numenera Discovery and Numenera Destiny

While we were at GenCon last week, we had the chance to sit down with Monte Cook and get some more details about Numenera and Invisible Sun. In this interview, he discusses what the three new character types in the forthcoming Destiny will look like and how they might interact with the types from the core book, whose new incarnation will be called Discovery. We also asked him about how the cards in Invisible Sun will be used and hear about some of the other new products MCG brought to the convention.

Official Numenera 2 Announcement

Image TM and © 2017 Monte Cook Games, LLC

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Numenera 2 Announcement from Monte Cook Games

Today at GenCon Monte Cook Games announced their next major product release, Numenera 2. Numenera 2 is composed of two new books, Discovery and Destiny. Discovery will be replacing the original corebook with some major changes to the character creation options. Destiny changes the focus of the game from exploring the past to building a better future. The books will be both backwards and forwards compatible with all existing Numenera releases, with the likely exception of the two Character Options books.

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Homebrew Monsters: Octopus Dragon and Mantis Dragon

A dragon-like sea creature with blue rings, and spikes and 4 legs ending in claw, four ending in tentacles

While the bestiaries for Numenera, The Strange, and Cypher System have plenty of wonderful creatures for your players to encounter, sometimes you see something you know your players need to encounter during their adventures.

A dragon-like sea creature with blue rings, and spikes and 4 legs ending in claw, four ending in tentacles

Octopus Dragon (Level 7)

While it bears little relation to the intelligent octopodes that reside in the deep, the Octopus Dragon was named for it’s resemblance to them. A cunning predator, the Octopus Dragon camouflages itself to match it’s surroundings and ambushes it’s prey. An Octopus Dragon can breath air, but prefers the ocean, where it’s a more effective hunter. Octopodes despise any association with these relatively mindless predators and will pay handsomely to anyone who brings evidence of a successful kill.

Motive: Hungers for flesh
Environment: Anywhere in the Ocean, Solitary
Health: 35
Damage Inflicted: 8 points
Modifications: Stealth as Level 9, Speed Defense as Level 6 due to size
Movement: Short
Combat: The Octopus Dragon can make two attacks in a round, a bite attack, a claw attack, and/or grabbing with it’s tentacles. The bite attack is venomous and requires a Might Defense roll if the attack succeeds. On a failed roll, the victim becomes respiratory muscles begin to seize up, and breathing becomes difficult. They take an additional 2 points of Intellect Damage (then Might, then Speed) each round as oxygen struggles to make it to their brain. To stop the progress of the venom, someone must pass a level 6 heal check, assisting with false respiration.
The tentacle attack prevents the Octopus Dragon from moving, but allows it to grab onto a target, increasing the difficulty of avoiding it’s bite or claws by two levels. To avoid being grabbed, the adventurer must succeed on a Might Defense roll, level 7.
Interaction: The Octopus Dragon is not intelligent like the Octopodes it resembles. It cannot be reasoned with. Patient predators, they use their superior camouflage abilities to blend in the with terrain and attack when prey draws near.
Use: When a party is investigating something on the sea floor or in a coral reef, the Octopus Dragon might be laying in wait. They are drawn to numenera, or semi-precious jewels, and will kill to add them to their hoard.
Loot: Like most dragons, the Octopus Dragon keeps a hoard, usually in a nearby cave. While typically composed of pearls and shells, adventurers may also find several oddities, 2d20 abadis, 2-3 cyphers or even an artifact in the hoard. If time is taken, a careful explorer might be able to extract enough venom for three uses from the mouth of the Octopus Dragon.
GM Intrusion: The PC fails to realize that the Octopus Dragon has another limb that has been camouflaged, and it now uses it to attack the PC.

A dragon like creature with front arms like a preying mantis, and dragonfly like wings

Mantis Dragon (Level 6)

With a silhouette that shocks with its very wrongness, the Mantis Dragon is an enormous hybrid that is as deadly as it is frighteningly alluring . With their ability to enthrall prey, Mantis Dragons typically wait until their targets are too close to even contemplate escape before capturing them with their hypnotic hum and fluttering of wings. Many an unlucky explorer has been ripped apart by a Mantis Dragon’s powerful forelegs, dumbly smiling all the while.

Motive: Hungers for flesh
Environment: Grasslands, temperate and tropical climates, Solitary
Health: 28
Damage Inflicted: 6
Modifications: Stealth as Level 7, Perception as Level 7
Movement: Short, Long when flying
Combat: The Mantis Dragon has powerful forelegs that it uses to clasp and cut apart it’s prey. Once grasped in the strong forelegs, it’s a difficulty 8 Might Defense roll to escape. The Mantis Dragon does an additional 2 points of damage each round once it has a creature in it’s clutches.
The Mantis Dragon frequently mesmerizes it’s prays with it’s wings. As an action, the Mantis Dragon may spread it’s wings and move towards it’s prey in a slow rhythmic motion, emitting a low hum. Each creature in line of sight must make a Level 6 Intellect Defense roll or become mesmerized by the patterns in it’s wings and the sound it makes. On a failure, the targets are stunned and unable to take actions until the Mantis Dragon ceases it’s dance, or they suffer harm from an attack.
The Mantis Dragon can also bite it’s prey, though it’s preferred attack is to crush a victim in it’s forelegs.
Interaction: Mantis Dragons are predators, and cannot be reasoned with.
Use: The Mantis Dragon, blends into the surrounding environment, rather then tracking it’s prey. The party might venture into its territory and it sees a chance for a meal, or hunters in the region have reported the Mantis Dragon as a threat on their ability to hunt for food for their families.
Loot: Mantis Dragons hide their hoards well, and it will take some time to discover it’s location. The hoard typically consists of 2d20 shins, several oddities, and 2-3 cyphers, taken from previous meals.
GM Intrusion: While an adventurer is in its clasp, the Mantis Dragon takes to the air, and drops them. The adventurer has moments to try to stop their fall.

Images from Gomalemo on Tumblr

Review: The Sun Below- Sleeping Lady, A Numenera supplement and campaign

The Sun Below: Sleeping Lady is a Numenera supplement produced by Dread Unicorn Games and written by John WS Marvin. It continues to develop an entirely new location in the Ninth World, an underground tunnel system that has yet to be fully explored or understood. Along with the new location, bestiary, foci, descriptors, and Numenera, there is a short campaign to run for your players that introduces and delves deep into this new location.

Cover of the book, shows three ladies standing over a desert

A great deal of the set up of this game deals with characters and locations that were introduced in a previous supplement – The Sun Below: A City on Edge. However, running that scenario is not necessary for running Sleeping Lady, alternate introductions are given and the adventure is careful to assume that you might not have prior knowledge.

One thing I think is great in this adventure is that they have it set up to run for charactersA screesnshot of the rules on modifying difficulties of any level. Monster stats are modified by the level of the party, so that the GM doesn’t have to put a lot of work into sorting out altering the difficulty of an encounter themselves. There are also instructions on building up crowds of minions, called mooks here, to swarm up on your characters. They provide different ways to create your mooks so that they can last just a little longer. I really like the way they developed this idea for Numenera and think it would be great to adapt to my own games.

A dancing woman with yellow skinThe adventure begins with the party getting a plea to help save the city of Bursang, part of The Sun Below. However, the situation is more complicated then has yet been realized, and the fate of the Ninth World will end up in the hands of the party. This is a nice and neat campaign, and there are several possible ways for the PCs to try to save the world. The easily modifiable levels of difficulty come in handy with this, as neither you as the GM or the creators of the scenario can predict in what order the party will choose to attack.

I think the creativity in a lot of points of this book is great. For instance, one artifact, The Mind Sword, causes the user to laugh evil when they hit on a roll above 17. Adding quirks like this to artifacts really personalizes them to your character and can introduce great reoccurring jokes and character traits.

The supplement seems to be intended for new GMs, as there is some handholding A mass of tentacles, eyes, and mouthsas you read through it for want to do as a GM. I think this can be great, especially for GMs who are unsure of themselves. The layout is in the same style as the other Numenera books, which makes it easy to recognize when they’re pointing out things like GM intrusions. There are some points were it is a little harder to follow, but for the most part flows very smoothly. There is a lot more art then I was expecting, and it really illustrates the creatures and characters you meet throughout the adventure well.

Sleeping Lady is a great campaign to pick up and run for your party, and is easy to use for the GM. I like several concepts that it introduces, such as quirks on artifacts and mooks for swarming fights. It is available on DriveThruRPG for $7.99. You can also visit Dread Unicorn’s website for more information on their supplements and materials.

*The Redacted Files received a free copy of this supplement for review purposes.

Review: Into the Night, a Numenera Supplement

Cover of Into the Night, features a man in front of a vortex with his hands on controls

Into the Night is a new setting book from Monte Cook Games for Numenera. It focuses on expanding the world to outer space, and what terrors and wonders lie out there for the Ninth Worlders to discover.

Cover of Into the Night, features a man in front of a vortex with his hands on controls

It is a 160 page book, with the first section (about 35 pages) focusing on how to reach beyond earth and the bodies near enough to Earth for initial discovery and other exploration. The second section (about 45 pages) looks at the other planets in our Solar System. The third section (about 60 pages) looks at threats and places that adventurers can explore outside of our solar system. The book closes with 20 pages of new creatures to encounter. Throughout the book are new story seeds, cyphers, and artifacts.

Branu's Kiss, with a view of the creatures and plants living insideMany of the existing astronomical objects are ones we can find the analogues for today: the Moon is, well, the Moon, Naharrai is Mars, Urvanas is Venus. However, there are new objects as well, like Branu’s Kiss a globe of blue-green water that orbits between Earth and the Sun. Or Calram, a small object that orbits earth, but is full of beings that have greater tech then the Ninth Worlders enjoy. There’s also a pretty great derelict ship for you to explore.

Beyond our solar system lies more planets, galaxies, and strangeness to explore. These new worlds include some of their history, distinguishing characteristics, and all kinds of ideas to build your own story from. There are also ten more planets that have rudimentary descriptions, which I think are great to use, but also give you an idea on building your own new weird planets.

Each section on a location in this book includes a handy “Using –” panel, with around five plot hooks to pull characters into a situation in that location. I think there’s a lot within the text as well to establish your own ideas for why the adventurers should be here. There’s also information on ways to get there, which can be handy when all the places are light-years apart!

A space suit, emerging from a solid wall with an alien creature in it's broken faceplateI think there is a nice mix of new creatures, and the book also discusses how to re-skin other Numenera beasties to make them fit beyond Earth.

This book handily includes rules for combat between vessels – some of which was outlined in Worlds Numberless and Strange, but I think it is a valuable addition to Into the Night, especially when there’s always a risk your craft may be attacked by pirates. For ship to ship combat you first compare the levels of the ships, and if your ship is a higher level you have a reduction in the difficulty of actions involving the other ship. If it is lower, then the difficulty is increased. You still make attack and defense rolls, and things like ship weapons and coordination with other ships play into the difficulty as well. Specific maneuvers can also be accomplished by modifying the difficulty. There’s a lot going on to effect the roll, but I think the addition of ship to ship combat can make the game much more interesting.

One thing I found odd is a one place you can visit is called The Gloaming, which is also the name of the Vampire/Werewolf recursion in The Strange. Since the locations have nothing to do with one another, I think a different name would be more appropriate, even if in canon The Strange and Numenera aren’t connected.

One minor complaint I have with the book is the scattered nature of the new Numenera. It makes it a little more difficult to pull out a new artifact without them being gather in one place, and it also can make it difficult to find them again mid-play.

A blue man looks across a bleak landscape with low housesThe art in the book is gorgeous, and there is some variation in styles throughout, but I think this serves to give a view of the Ninth World and beyond from other eyes.

I think this book brings a lot into any Numenera game, and is full of great ideas of how to bring Space into your sessions. Into the Night is available from Monte Cook Games as a PDF ($14.99) and Hardback ($39.99). It’s also available from DriveThruRPG as a PDF. You should also look into the beautiful Nightcraft glimmer, which goes into even more detail about a vessel that can by used to traverse space (MCG Store | DriveThruRPG | $2.99).

Mysteries of the Ninth World 11: New Beginnings


In this episode we finish our journey through The Devil’s Spine, and begin on the next chapter for the group.

Featuring Aser, Ash, Landan, Megan, and Shaunna. Music by Kevin MacLeod, “Decisions” and Parks and Recreation, “The Pit”

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Numenera: Into the Ninth World Kickstarter

Monte Cook Games launched another Kickstarter today at 9 AM PST and managed to get full funding in one hour. This kickstarter is for supplements tone of our favorite games – Numenera. There are three planned books so far: Into the Night, which introduces space exploration; Into the Deep, which takes your group deep into the ocean; and Into the Outside, which allows you to explore other dimensions. You can get each book as PDFs or as hard copies, and higher pledges offer opportunities to playtest, meet the MCG team, and even participate in a game run by Monte Cook! Other book maybe added as stretch goals, and the campaign is already close to passing the third stretch goal announced. Besides the books, several pledge levels include a deck of artifact cards that a GM can use to let their game run smoother.

If you love Numenera, you should definitely be looking at what this kickstarter has to offer. If you’re curious to try, now is a great time to jump in! One pledge will offers a copy and PDF of the core book as well as an expansion of your choice. Be sure to visit the Kickstarter and see what you can get!

Mysteries of the Ninth World 8: That’s Where it’s Better, Down Where it’s Wetter


The party dives deep to find gharrolan, and are side-tracked by something else brewing on the ocean floor.

Featuring Aser, Ash, Landan, Megan, and Shaunna

Music by Kevin MacLeod, “Decisions”

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Mysteries of the Ninth World 7: Captain Morgan and the Pomegranate Beasts

blood barm
Our heroes head downriver to Harmuth in search of a substance needed to remove the parasites.
Music by Kevin MacLeod, “Decisions”

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