Today will wrap up my review of Character Options 2 for the Numenera system/setting by Monte Cook Games! Today’s section is on the new organizations on offer, and what they can bring to the table for the Ninth World and other Cypher System games.
There are already several organizations in the Ninth World; the Angulan Knights, the Convergence, the Order of Truth, and others. However, this section bring some new and interesting things to the table. Not the least is the interaction between these new factions and those that already exist, and the additional examples for GMs looking to make their own organizations.
First up is the Cabal of Whispers, which is right up front as the shadowy mercantile organization that the core book for Numenera suggests probably shouldn’t exist, since the world is deeply strange and dangerous, with people rarely straying beyond their village. I imagine this organization exists for GMs who want a less provincial play style, since it posits a network of spies, merchants, and rogue nanos looking to empower themselves and the Eledemer house in Charmonde. Backed by a pair of siblings who secretly control both the House and the Cabal, they can serve as excellent villains for a campaign built around intrigue and inverstigation, or as the benefactors to a group of players looking to make a serious profit as they play.
The Conflux is an organization you’ll likely tap if you’re using the Into The Deep supplement for the game, as they’re an organization designed with the oceanic depths n mind. Largely altruistic in nature and seeing themselves as scholars and explorers, the members of this group can serve as allies and patrons to PC groups just beginning to explore the depths of the oceans; their home city is an undersea habitat named Morenel, which can itself serve as a base of operations for PCs. Membership can permit players to gain a special form of Armor that blocks Intellect damage, as well, making membership valuable for anyone willing to sacrifice the tier skill slot.
The celestial counterpart to the Conflux are the Moonwreckers, an organization dedicated to breaking the bonds of gravity and escaping into space. Some have already achieved that goal, individually, but collectively they have yet to achieve their goal. They’re based near the Beanstalk, understandably believing that the past-world artifact is a means of reaching space. Given that it’s a space elevator, they’re right. They can make an interesting non-hostile adversary group for PCs using the Into The Night supplement, or the players can join them for several benefits – trading artifacts in for other ones uncovered in their explorations, gaining access to leads collected by the master lorekeeper of the group on anything related to space travel, and training in a skill to use spacecraft (or, at the GM’s discretion, any craft which propel themselves in a fashion that spacecraft might.)
The Schism is a handy wildcard group if you’re using the Ninth World Guidebook’s information on the Gaians and playing around with the plotline where the Steadfast is organizing to march on them. In a timeline with the Schism, the Convergence is allying with the Gaians, likely to try to learn about and exploit their knowledge. The Schism is composed of former members of the Convergence who are unhappy that their former allies chose to side with what they see as enemies of the Steadfast; while not allies to any group in the Steadfast, they serve as an enemy-of-my-enemy for the Order of Truth and any groups dedicated to fighting the Gaians or the Convergence. Members who give up a skill slot gain access to the group’s sanctum, which provides room and board, access to other members, and the ability to exchange regular cyphers for ones that can summon the group’s special killers to hunt a given target by scent.
There are other organizations, but they remain for readers to discover; I’ve only skipped a couple. Most of them can serve as PC allies, antagonists, and patrons, and their interactions with one another and the other organizations in other Numenera sourcebooks can be the basis for entire campaigns of intrigue and clandestine struggles. Few of the groups are overt about their nature, after all!
All in all, I give the book seven tentacles out of eight; I’d have been happier without the Vralkans getting mentioned, but it is what it is. I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Numenera.