Review: Numemera Character Options 2, Part I

So the review copy of Character Options 2 for the science fantasy Numenera system/setting is in my possession now; as such I can share the news with you all that I have, in fact, been asked to review it. I’ll be interspersing my review posts as we go with my other planned writing, but don’t expect it to take longer than the end of next week’s posting schedule to complete.

The production quality is what I’ve come to expect from Monte Cook Games; high-quality art and carefully handled layout give it a nice look. More than other sourcebooks for the various Cypher System games, this one apparently includes new Types as well as new Foci and Descriptors.

The layout is the Types first, occupying about 19 pages, followed by 23 pages for new Descriptors and 37 for the new Foci; a 9-page section of new Organizations follows this up. For those unfamiliar with the Cypher System, characters can be described by a short sentence: “I am a (Descriptor) (Type) who (Foci).” This could be a Tough Nano who Needs No Weapons, a Clever Jack who Works The Back Alleys, or a Charming Glaive who Works Miracles; the range of options already available is huge, and this book will be expanding on all three parts.

The two new Types will be familiar to people who’ve looked at the Cypher System book; the first, the Glint, looks to be an analogue of the Speaker in the CSR; the other is the Seeker, which gives a first-glance vibe of being similar to the Explorer from the CSR. These are honestly both welcome additions, as the original trio in Numenera pretty closely mimicked the traditional fantasy character classes.

The Glint is what might be referred to as a face character; they’re intended to focus on interaction outside of combat. With a focus on Intellect over Might or Speed, they’re definitely not likely to be combat hounds – although with the right choice of Descriptor and Focus a player could make a reasonably combat-capable Glint. Such a character might be a negotiator who goes into dangerous territory, or a merchant who travels the dangerous roads between villages.

Glint special abilities are called pronouncements; the majority by far require the Glint to be able to talk to the target of their ability. In addition to doing things like coaxing information out of people, fast talking them, or being sufficiently charming to make them like the character, Glints can also encourage allies to make some tasks easier, bring a beast companion or humanoid ally into the situation, or directly implant an ideal into someone they’re talking to. Glints, all in all, are somewhere between the kind of rogue that Robin Hood might have been and a near-sorcerer in charming others.

The other new type is the Seeker. This is a character dedicated to exploration, discovery, and curiosity. Seekers are scouts and hardy explorers, often the first to delve into an ancient ruin or the ones to organize an expedition to a mysterious structure on a desolate mountainside. Speed is their primary stat, with an even split on Might and Intellect; Seekers are definitely more inclined toward combat than Glints, even if they’re not as focused as a Glaive.

Seeker abilities are called Secrets, a reasonable thing for people who delve into the mysteries of the past; many of these revolve around knowledge, the secrets of the numenera, or survival against any number of dangers. At second tier, they can get a Secret that lets them amplify the power of a cypher they’re using, while at fourth they can gain the ability to automatically succeed at any task that they’re trained in as long as the difficulty is 4 or less. At fifth tier they can pick up the ability to augment the power of an artifact, permanently enhancing it by a level.

All in all, these two new Foci bring additional versatility to the table without needing to using Descriptors and Foci to hack one of the existing Types to suit. I kind of like the idea of playing a Seeker built to be as tough as possible, able to wade right into situations that would be horrific to anyone else and emerge unscathed.

That’s all for today! Next time we’ll be looking at the new Descriptors.

Review: Numemera Character Options 2, Part I

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