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.