Friday, January 15, 2016

Numenera: Distinguishing Light Weapons

Numenera's weapon table has a number of 1-Shin weapons that are essentially the same as a Dagger or Knife, however their descriptions would suggest that they are used very differently. Given that all these weapons all cost the same each different type should have some tradeoffs in tactical options to make the differences meaningful.

After all in Numenera it's not unusual for a Dagger or Broadsword, or Greatsword to be shaped as a giant bladed circle or to be equipped with a T-handle or shaped an any number of exotic ways, it doesn't make it a different weapon for game-rule purposes.

Knife or Dagger: 

This is the baseline level of utility. A knife or Dagger can be used in Melee or thrown a short range. Other light weapons will sacrifice one or the other for different effects.

Punching Dagger: 

Punching daggers cannot be effectively thrown, however they are useful for those trained to fight unarmed. Any character with the Needs No Weapons ability or Needs No Weapons focus can use a Punching Dagger to give their unarmed attacks a Weapon Distinction (Numenera p.115). A typical Punching Dagger would provide the Stabbing distinction, while a "Bladed Hand" would make the attack "Slashing", and good-old-fashioned "Brass Knuckles" would be Crushing. The defensive bonus from a 'Reaching" weapon of this type would work well to represent Tonfa.

Sisk or Razor Ring

These throwing weapons lack a proper grip to hold in melee combat, however thrown correctly they have a "boomerang" effect if they miss the target by a narrow margin. A Razor ring or Sisk will return to the thrower and be caught if the roll missed by the target's level or less. If the weapon hits it does not return to the thrower.

Example: Thrown at a Level 2 guard, the weapon needs a roll of 6 or better to hit, on a 4 or 5 the weapon returns to the thrower, on a 1 -3 the weapon misses completely and has to be retrieved.
Thrown at a Level 3 Captain the weapon hits on a 9 or better, returns to the thrower on a 6 to 8, and misses completely on a 1-5.

Note: Yes with increased target difficulty means a greater chance of a "Boomerang Effect", however this simply reflects that with increased target difficulty is an increased possibility of ways to miss.

Suggested Weapon Intrusion: The thrower reaches out to catch the returning weapon, but the weapon strikes their hand. Thrower takes the weapon's damage (including any spent for effort) and cannot wield a weapon in that hand until they have been healed. Fighting from the "Off Hand" imparts a 1-step penalty to attacks.


The rapier is double the cost of the Dagger, however lacks the ability to be thrown. Rapiers are used with a fighting style that emphasizes defense and should be considered "Reaching" by default, in addition to whatever other distinctions they may have if any. (typically Slashing or Stabbing).


Like the Rapier this is also a "Reaching" weapon. It may also be "Entangling". An "Entangling" weapon may be used to inflict damage, or it may be used to "Stun" (Lose a turn) a creature with a level of the weapon's damage or less (attack roll required every round to maintain effect, miss means the target gets free and may act normally). Higher level creatures may be entangled by using effort to increase 'damage', however to maintain the effect Effort must be spent every turn.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Tier Zero Characters for Numenera

The idea of a Tier Zero character amused me one evening so I figured out how to 'backpedal' the level awards on a first tier character, and I figure in the right kind of game it could be an interesting idea. Also standard characters can optionally use the idea of a Tier Zero to flesh out their backgrounds, defining which abilities they had that drew the attention of their mentors starting the character down their path.

Tier Zero PCs for Numenera

It's possible to create PC's in the “Prelude” to their stories, before they make it to their First Tier. These characters are still significantly better than the 'average joe', but are significantly weaker than their First Tier counterparts. The character abilities are First-Tier abilities with the four “Character Advancement” XP awards removed. Tier Zero characters only have a Descriptor and a Type, they do not have a Focus (Focus abilities start at Tier 1), so are only described as “I am a (Adjective) (Noun)”. Upon achieving their first Tier the player selects the character's focus (a choice that marks their ascension to a fully-fledged “capital-A”Adventurer.)

Type guidelines for Tier Zero characters are below:

Tier Zero Glaive: A Tier Zero Glaive will have an Edge of one in either Might -or- Speed. One Fighting Move, no Physical Skill, is unable to apply Effort, and can only add 2 points to their starting stats instead of 6, and can only bear one Cypher

Tier Zero Nano: A Tier Zero Nano has no Edge in any stat, one Esotry, has no skill in the Numenera (except for the book they've been given to study as part of the Nano's standard equipment), Is unable to apply Effort, and only adds 2 points to their starting stats, and can bear two Cyphers

Tier Zero Jack: A Tier Zero Jack has no edge in any stat, one Trick of the Trade, loses their starting skill (but retains the Flex Skill ability), is unable to apply Effort, and only adds 2 points to their starting stats instead of 6, and can only bear one Cypher.

Abilities and starting equipment not mentioned above remains the same as for First Tier. Descriptors are unaffected by Tier Zero status.