Review: Numenera Character Options 2, Part II

Today I’ll be picking up my review with the Descriptors section of Character Options 2 for the Numenera game system. Thanks again to Monte Cook Games for the chance to get a review copy of their creation!

First up we get a list of general descriptors; this is the largest list in this section, for good reason. I count twenty-five options in the sidebar here; with things like Abrasive, Devout, Extraterrestrial, Lonely, Polyglot, and Subterranean it ought to be a fairly wide range! We’ll start off with Abrasive; the description bills it as being for a person who tends to be blunt to the point of incidental cruelty, with no time or patience for polite society or things that waste your time. Abrasive characters seems to sum up pretty effectively as the character that kicks doors in rather than trying to pick the lock or charm the guard on the other side. They get extra Might, are trained in seeing through deceptions, have a couple free trained skills that involve getting things done faster, and an inability with pleasant social interactions.

Devout, in addition to being a descriptor for religious characters, is also for those who have a deep commitment to a philosophy or set of ideals. It adds to your Intellect and, once per day, lets you ignore a single level of detrimental modification on pretty much any action you take. This is a pretty handy ability to have, and literally represents your faith in your cause buoying you up to deal with the stress of the situation.

Extraterrestrial is a nice one; you’re literally a non-human visitor from a strange world, unique to the Ninth World. You have alien biology that grants you a Might bonus, training in three non-combat skills as part of what you’ve had to learn to survive on Earth, and Intellect Defense training. You have an inability in pleasant social interactions because you’re just that strange, even by the standards of the Ninth World’s inhabitants. I imagine some kind of humanoid amoebic mass or a writhing bunch of tentacles, maybe.

Lonely is an interesting one; while it looks like it might be purely negative at first, in practice it seems pretty stacked beneficially. You get a Might bonus, free training in four skills of your choice as ways you’ve passed the time, and an ability to distract and bother a creature by talking at it, leaving it unable to do anything but defend itself as long as you talk. Inabilities include an inability against mental attacks, climbing, jumping, swimming, and running. This kind of comes off as a blend of the 90s computer nerd and the mountainside hermit, really.

Polyglot is, as you might expect, focused on languages. With an Intellect bonus, free training in multiple languages and pleasant social interaction, and the ability to rapidly pick up a new language for free if you hang around people speaking it for a couple weeks, the descriptor is almost perfect for the Glint character type. The drawback is an inability with tasks requiring scientific understanding; the character is a talker and socializer, not a thinker or researcher.

Subterranean is the descriptor of choice for ruin divers; in much the same way that Polyglot is ideal for Glints, Subterranean is excellent for Seekers. With a bonus to Might, training in finding your way, avoiding being lost, climbing, and squeezing through tight spaces you’re well-set to deal with the half-collapsed passages of ancient ruins, maintenance passages choked with debris, and tilted structures sunk into the surface at weird angles. The only inability is that you’ve got a touch of agoraphobia, making your recovery checks less useful when you’re in the open. You also get a glowglobe, climbing pitons, and rope as bonus gear. Nothing to sneeze at here!

That’s going to be all for today; next time I’ll move onto the regional and racial descriptors, including why one regional option is something I regard as the lowest point of the Ninth World’s many offerings.

Review: Numenera Character Options 2, Part II

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