Today we’ll be continuing the review of Monte Cook Game’s upcoming sourcebook, Torment: Tides of Numenera—The Explorer’s Guide. Today we’ll be starting off on chapter 10, which concerns the eclectic selection of areas collectively referred to as Lower Garravia, and we’ll see how far we can get from there.
Lower Garravia is a catch-all for the bits of Greater garravia that have generally been ignored or left unclaimed for various reasons; but, with the advent of the era in which the sourcebook is set, eyes are now turning to those areas. Some are being regarded for the first time, while others are being considered anew.
The Lato’s Fall is one such area; great engineered clefts in the landscape, each a mile wide and likely at least as deep, they seem like they should have the waters of the Garravia Sound flowing into them. Instead, a mysterious substance that solidifies when warmed fills them; in the colder months, when the substance liquifies, all manner of strange things bubble to the surface, sometimes including living and very confused people. The economy of towns along them tends to rely on fishing the debris out with long poles and nets, selling any numenera to merchants in Sagus Cliffs.
The Great Library is the other place specifically called out in this short chapter; a large cube on top of a tall hill, it contains a much larger oval space full of gelatinous sacs that contain information. If you want to have players make a dangerous journey to find a place where the secrets they need are stored, the Great Library is a good spot for it; each infosac has a different key and relays the information it contains in a different way.
I was honestly expecting more out of Lower Garravia; at least one of those two-to-four-page spreads on a single town that flesh them out enough to make them viable bases of operation right out of the book. Instead we get just the two locations and then we’re off to the next chapter, on the region known as the Tempest Waste.
This looks to be like a fun place in all the wrong ways; it’s a lifeless, hellish wasteland wracked by storms, intensely hot, laced with the castoffs of prior worlds een more blatantly than most of the rest of the Ninth World. It’s a horrible place of crimson dirt and airborne grit, and would be of interest only to the most dedicated of numenera hunters if not for the legendary settlement that supposedly resides here.
Archopalasia did exist, at one point, sustained by a device called a vivifier; as is often the case, the numenera artifact doesn’t work quite the way the inhabitants believe it does, and each time they use it they come out just a little weaker than before, slowly sickening and failing. As such, what was once a shining metropolis of the wastes now houses fewer people than most aldeia of the Beyond. Given that the technology of the vivifier renders each old body into muck, it’s hardly a surprise that the new bodies are perpetually a little weaker. Perhaps, if transplanted someplace with better feedstock, the Vivifier might produce superior bodies instead – of course, it might also start creating a new Waste be depleting the environment to fuel itself.
Next up we have a list of organizations; there’s a fair bit more here than Gods of the Fall had on offer, and it’s a nicely eclectic selection. The Children of the Endless Gate believe that the spirit needs freed from the flesh and deal in murder toward that end; a cannibal cult that celebrates life by consuming it; cultists who worship the Bloom as a hungry god; a mendicant branch of the Order of Truth that’s a little off by the standards of those back in the Steadfast; and more beside. Each one comes with a benefit or two that can be picked up in place of the usual gains that occur across a given tier, and each has plenty of flavor to go with it.
That wraps up the Setting segment of the book! We’re on to the World segment, which is broken up into Numenera, Creatures, and NPCs. We get a set of 20 new cyphers, which includes exciting things like a globe of fluids extracted from the Bloom that act as an Intellect-damaging grenade, a set of chimes where one can be removed and the others act as if blown in the direction of the missing chime, a device that gives you insight to the weaknesses of the creatures around you, a shadowy device that sends the user into an extradimensional marketplace, returning with a pair of random cyphers, and a totemic device that can be powered up to emit the glare of a star, blinding everyone within long range if they look at it.
We get forty new artifacts, from the mundanely useful ones like an airskin for operating underwater, a fragment of the bloom that augment’s the user’s ability to accomplish pretty much anything, a small tin that turns into a shelter against inclement weather, armor that lets the wearer store extra cyphers, a Bloomflesh graft that serves as a permanent Speed asset, and a blade that completely ignores Armor due to its transdimensional properties. Delicious stuff.
That’s all for today; tomorrow we’ll look at the bestiary that comes with this sourcebook, and I’m definitely looking forward to it.