Continuing with detailing things that might go into the theoretical Numenera campaign, we have today two potentially significant NPCs for the campaign – the girl turned nanotech nightmare known as the Eye Man and the agent of the Convergence, Iamol the Blessed.
The Eye-Man, in its current state, is a swollen mass of vaguely humanoid flesh that slowly moves around the abandoned bauble mines, the creature’s reddened skin interrupted by numerous eyes that blink and stare, none of them quite alike. Most appear human, although some have decidedly strange pupil shapes or iris colors. There doesn’t seem to be any pattern to how the eyes are placed, but each of them has 1-3 holographic images flickering around it; some are recognizable, such as the occasional flash of the state called She or the terrain around the Amber Fort, while others are completely alien, with complex swirling fractal shapes abounding.
The Eye-Man poses no threat if not attacked or impeded, slowly continuing to wander the mines in search of something it can’t seem to find, occasionally stopping in place and twitching as if several conflicting movement impulses are affecting it at once. At all times it keeps up a quiet muttering tone that seems to be a mixture of Truth and several other languages, some of which have the distorted sound of a human voicebox trying to produce decidedly alien phenomes.
Motive: To appease the Fort AI
Environment: Guran Bauble Mines
Damage Inflicted: Two attacks per round; one is a physical bashing attack that deals 5 Might damage, the other is a holographic storm that inflicts 2 Intellect damage to anyone within a short distance
Armor: 1, due to the confusing holographic flickering
Modifications: Perception of threats as level 1 due to constant influx of data; makes Intellect attack as a level 7.
Combat: Attempting to fight the Eye-Man might well be an exercise in futility, as the creature is infected with nanites under the control of the Fort AI that continually attempt to modify and upgrade it toward a state that the original creature – a young woman named Lusil – simply can’t be warped into. As such, Might and Speed damage dealt to the creature is repaired with alarming swiftness, letting it regenerate up to 5 health every round, as well as rendering it functionally immune to poisons and drugs.
The Eye-Man doesn’t respond to threats or attacks until it gets hurt, at which point the muttering it continually emits rises into a shriek somewhere between that of a terrified young woman and a modem trying to connect to another system, swinging at aggressors with swollen fists until they retreat from view or the Eye-Man is slain. Each round, it also emits a massive pulse of swirling, confusing fractal patterns that strain the eyes and disrupt the thoughts of those who see it, dealing Intellect damage in the process.
The most effective method for defeating the Eye-Man is by dealing Intellect damage to it, which actually attacks the nanite infestation and, after 50 points of Intellect damage are dealt, releases the Fort AI’s hold over the creature, allowing the stress-fractured personality of Lusil to re-emerge. At this point, regular healing efforts, particular those involving genetic therapy and tissue reconstruction, will be able to restore the young woman’s form to wholeness, but she’ll need healed of her mental damage to return to lucidity.
Interaction: At baseline, the Eye-Man is simply a puzzling entity that lives in the bauble mines, difficult to fight and almost impossible to kill. If freed from the nanite infestation and restored to health and lucidity, however, Lusil is a tremendous wellspring of information on the dangers and mysteries of the Amber Fort.
While still infested, players who listen to the muttering will hear the creature sliding in and out of Truth, with the understandable parts sounding like a mix of fearful pleading by someone and monotone status updates from a computer system attempting to reboot and continually failing.
Use: The first encounter with the Eye-Man should happen while the players are attempting to track the neurovorg in the bauble mines; the creature can often be found near the corpses of the other young women who went missing at the same time as Lusil, the holes bored into their now-empty skulls a testament to their ends at the hands of the neurovorg. Investigation by players skilled with the numenera should reveal the nanite infestation and the possibility of recovering the creature it was made from, once they hear the ‘pleading’ part of the muttering.
Once rescued and restored, Lusil allows players to make knowledge and lore checks about the Amber Fort as if specialized in all relevant skills as long as she’s consulted about the topic.
Loot: If completely slain, players can harvest 1D6 disgustingly fleshy cyphers from the remains.
Iamol the Blessed
Iamol looks as if he’s only in his late twenties, in the prime of his youth and health. In truth, the man is a deceptive and sly nano who is over a century in age, his youthful vitality maintained by his alliance with the neurovorg that typically dwells in his basement. He farms the local crossel berries, quietly augmenting them with his knowledge of the numenera to ensure that his crops turn out larger, more birghtly colored, and more powerful in terms of both flavor and stimulation than those of others in the town.
He maintains an act of being slightly slow and easily baffled by the world around him, insisting that his crossels must grow so well because the ‘Gods of the Sphere’ have blessed him. Those who happen across him when he’s applying his chemical supplements to the plants join the wild animals he catches in feeding the neurovorg’s appetite, adding to the mystery of things that go missing around Guran.
His primary reason for being in Guran is the discovery of the Amber Fort and the way into the depths of the structure, which he hopes will yield enough secrets of the numenera for his to surpass his superiors and become a Magus of the Convergence in his own right.
Motive: To amass knowledge of the numenera and power
Damage Inflicted: Melee attacks inflict 7 damage as he uses an incredibly sharp electrified blade artifact that causes all Speed actions to be modified by one level to the detriment of those struck; he also has an artifact that permits him to fire rays of crackling blue-black gravitational energy that deal 3 crushing damage to up to three targets at long range each round.
Movement: Long, due to hidden internal augmentations
Combat: If forced into a fight, Iamol will attempt to cut down anyone near him as quickly as possible, reserving the gravity beams for those who try to flee in different directions. His internal augmentations allow him to move quickly from target to target, and he’ll focus on whoever seems likely to harm him the most, until someone tries to flee, at which point he’ll run the victim down. His primary motivation in combat is to silence anyone who might reveal him; if anyone gets away, his crossel fields will go up in flames, his house burn to ashes, and Iamol will soon become the boogeyman of the region, kidnapping travelers and stragglers to feed his neurovorg ally at hidden redoubts through the area around the Amber Fort.
Use: Iamol’s primary use is to be a link to both the Amber Fort, the town’s missing people, and the Converge itself. He should remain undiscovered until the players are around Tier 3-4, at which point they can pursue his defeat to end the threat of both him and the neurovorg once and for all.
Next time, we’ll look at some cyphers and artifacts specifically for this campaign.