Explorers Wanted

A weekly Numenera Actual Play podcast about exploration, intrigue, and friendship.

Player Intrusion #1: Numenera with Stace Babcock

A key feature of Numenera is the GM Intrusion. With this mechanic, the GM offers a player an XP point to allow the GM to intrude on the current scene – in a way that often leads to more complications for the party. In that spirit, we include a segment called Player Intrusions in each episode. A Player Intrusion is a topic that a player would offer listeners an XP to check out.

In Episode 1 (air date April 8, 2020), Stace Babcock chose to speak about Numenera. This blog post expands on her comments.

Why do I enjoy Numenera so much? It’s a question I’m glad I had the chance to answer in our first-ever podcast episode. I came up with two compelling reasons: the sense of wonder inherent in the Ninth World and the Cypher System itself.

A Numenera Nerd is Born

My first experience with Numenera was the CRPG Torment: Tides of Numenera. My favorite moment in that game, despite my many playthroughs, was immediately causing my own death in the opening scene. It surprised me, made me laugh, and I was hooked. My experiences with this game led me to sign up for a Numenera one-shot at a con, run by none other than our estimable GM, Daniel Andrlik.

A Childlike Sense of Wonder

That’s how I was drawn in, but what keeps me coming back is the sense of wonder. The world is wacky, strange, and thrives on the unexpected. It truly reminds me of when I was a wee, little proto-nerd, reading The Castle in the Attic and The Chronicles of Narnia. Remember the monopods from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader? They blew my mind then, but they would be a tame addition to the world of Numenera.

Numenera is also a departure from the eurocentric fantasy settings I grew up with. Dropping into a medieval fantasy setting is familiar, tropey, and comfortable, and those can all be good things. But for me, Numenera brings back that childlike sense of wonder that I’ve lost (for the most part) with standard medieval or even science fiction settings.

The Super Simple Cypher System

The setting is great, but so is the Cypher System. It’s about as simple as you can get. The only dice the players need are a d20 and a d6. The GM needs no dice at all. Amazing, right? Especially given the depth of the system.

As a result, the focus stays largely on the world and on the players rather than on the mechanics. Combat is snappy, interactions are streamlined. There’s a lot of room left for roleplaying with a system like this.

Thanks to an incredible setting and amazing system, Numenera drew me in and never let me go. And here I am, years later, podcasting Numenera at the masses.

Earn Your XP

Are you ready to explore the Ninth World? Check out these excellent resources to help you get started:

How to Play Numenera by Monte Cook Games (YouTube)
Numenera Starter Set by Monte Cook Games
Explorers Wanted, our actual play Numenera podcast

Coming soon: Player Intrusion #2: Pets with Alex Finn