Today it looks like I’ll be wrapping up my review of Torment: Tides of Numenera—The Explorer’s Guide; it’s been a fun book to skim through, and there’s been quite a bit that I’ve deliberately skipped so that readers who pick the book up have plenty of cool surprises left. Today, I’ll be heading into the bestiary section of the book, skimming a couple of creatures and NPCs, before finishing up with the Player Options portion of the book. The latter includes a tabletop rendition of the Tides from which Torment: Tides of Numenera draws its name.
While there are only five new creatures, they’re nothing to sneeze at; the Corpuscular Maw is a mobile fragment of the Bloom that can be thought of as the ‘native life’ of the Bloom. They’re partly predatory creatures the patrol the Bloom’s depths and partly remote manipulators for the Bloom itself. At level 6, they’re not a joke.
Crystalvores are essentially crystal-wearing hermit crabs, with all the attendant deep weird of Numenera attached. They’re somewhat territorial and defensive, with a ‘death throes’ ability that involves causing their crystal shell to explode. They’re not very strong, but a swarm of them should certainly be a deterrent to any PCs who want to go charging through where they’re gathered.
All of the creatures listed capture the sense of strange flavor that exemplifies Numenera to me. They’re strange, a bit creepy, and unique enough that I can appreciate each one individually without it being “Oh good, yet another species of elf/type of goblinoid/giant beast.” I really do prefer bestiaries that offer that diversity of existence.
The NPCs section covers major NPCs from the Torment: Tides of Numenera game; each of them gets a page or two of information, giving a description, their personality, a history, and their equipment. The sidebar lists their stats, making it clear that while these are important characters in the region of Greater Garravia, they don’t violate the simple rules of Numenera in the process. They cover an eclectic assortment of personalities, ranging from former Aeon Priests to castoffs of the Changing God who feel called to heroism. A good assortment of individual to draw from as local color, all told!
The next section is player options, including new descriptors – such as Bloomborn, Castoff, Cautious, and Slick – new Foci, such as Breathes Shadow and Speaks With A Silver Tongue, and more. There are new racial options for playing one of the aquatic Ghibra, as well. The lattermost is definitely interesting, as they get bonus damage, universally telepathy, and natural training at horticultural pursuits.
The Tides are the new mechanic of the sourcebook; built using the same concepts as the video game versions, they serve as a kind of alignment system – but not in a way as simple as good and evil or order against chaos. There are five of them, each named after a color while embodying concepts. Blue is the Tide of reason and knowledge, wisdom and spiritual insight; Red is, fittingly enough for the cultural aspects of the writers, the color of passion, emotional, action, and zeal; Indigo is justice, compromise, and the concept of a ‘greater good’ existing; Gold might seem like a ‘good’ Tide, as it embodies charity, sacrifice, and empathy, but it doesn’t care who you’re helping or why, just that you are; and Silver is the Tide of admiration, fame, and power.
There’s a chart showing the Tides, their concepts, what increases them for a character, and some example actions; each character’s tidal affinity is determined when they increase to a new Tie based on what Tidal Affinity they’ve increased the most. This Affinity can impact characters in a variety of ways; a NPC with a Red Tide affinity will respond better to a PC whose Affinity is also Red, essentially giving them a free asset on interactions, while a Silver Tide Affinity may cause the PC to be something of a celebrity, making it easier for them to get into high-profile venues and talk to important people. An Indigo PC might be asked to arbitrate a dispute due to their reputation for fairness, or a Blue might be given access to library archives as a respected scholar and teacher.
And that essentially finishes things up! There’s a section on slang for the region right after the section on Tides, but that’s fun for you to discover.
All told, I’d give this sourcebook an almost perfect rating; let’s call it 7.5 tentacles out of 8, shall we? If you want a copy, you can go pick it up right here; at the time of writing it’s still a pre-order, and doing so will nab you a sweet deal with a free PDF to go with the print book!
Iadece, numenera hunters!