Numenera Site Creation

For interest, this is the system I’m using to create adventure sites for Numenera when all else fails. It is the system I used to create Thaeling Lake (and yes, there were some parts they didn’t get to. I’m not going to detail them because they might go back).

  1. Roll 1d6+6, Draw this many circles on a sheet of paper in a symmetrical pattern. Label them A, B, C etc.

 

  1. Decide where the entrance is (usually Node A, but doesn’t have to be).

 

  1. Links: Check each node, including the last one. Roll d6

 

  1. None (dead end)
  2. To the next letter in sequence
  3. To the next two letters in sequence
  4. To the next but one letter in sequence
  5. To the next two letters in sequence and to the one four nodes ahead (wrap-around the letter sequence)*
  6. To a side node (create a new one and letter it) ** and to the next one in sequence.

 

* This link is concealed in some way and needs a key, or puzzle solving or other test to open it.

** This will be a special encounter area. If a ‘6’ is rolled again during Link Generation, roll again; on 1-3 the side node is this one; 4-6 it is a new one.

 

  1. For each Node, roll 1d6 for contents
  2. Something weird
  3. Something strange
  4. Creature
  5. Creature and Loot
  6. Puzzle / Trap
  7. Empty

 

  1. List each Node, and then fill in the blanks. Use Mythic, Story Dice etc. for inspiration.

 

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Example:

I’m going to create a small Adventure site that can be dropped in anywhere.

  1. Roll 1d6+6 for Nodes, get 7. Lay then out and label them A to G

* Overall theme – each node is a bubble floating inside a large protoplasm. Links occur when the bubbles touch and it is possible to pass between the cell walls.

Entrance is into Node A. I’ve decided that this was a fiendish trap encountered somewhere out in The Beyond. The PC’s have to escape the creature; the longer they stay inside it the more damage they take from acidic secretions. I’ll decide the exact time and damage once the area is finished.

Now to establish the links. Roll for each Node. As I’ve already decided that this is a trap, the entrance into A is one-way. The exit will be in Node G (I don’t have to decide this in advance but in this case I have.)

A: Roll 4: To next but one. [A] link to [C]

B: Roll 5. To the next two letters in sequence and to the one four nodes ahead (wrap-around the letter sequence). Link to [C] and [D] and to [F]. The link to [F] needs a test to open it.

C: Roll 1. None (i.e. No further Links)

D: Roll 5. To the next two letters in sequence and to the one four nodes ahead (wrap-around the letter sequence). Link to [E] and [F] and to [A]. The link to [A] needs a test to open it.

E: Roll 5. To the next two letters in sequence and to the one four nodes ahead (wrap-around the letter sequence. Link to [F] and [G] and to [B]. The link to [B] needs a test to open it.

F: Roll 3. To next two. Link to G and A.

G: Roll 1: None (i.e. No further Links)

Looking at the final map, it makes sense to remove the F – A link.

[I wanted to post a picture but I can’t find out how to do it. Perhaps someone out there more computer literate could enlighten me?]

However, if you draw out the map and links, immediately it can be seen that there are various routes to the escape.

A-C-B-D-E-G

A-C-B-F-G (solving a puzzle)

A-C-B-E-G (solving a puzzle)

A-D-E-G (solving a puzzle)

A-D-F-G (solving two puzzles

Now, let’s see what’s at each node. REM: Numenera is NOT about fighting creatures and getting XP; it’s about encountering the world as a whole.

As I’ve already decided this take place inside a protoplasmic thingy; most encounters should be squishy, slimy, acidic, repulsive etc. Colours are probably white, leprous white or a sickly yellow; all shot through with blood-streaked filaments.

A: Roll 4: Creature & Loot

B: Roll 4: Creature & Loot

C: Roll 6: Empty

D: Roll 3: Creature

E: Roll 4: Creature & Loot

F: Roll 6: Empty

G: Roll 5: Puzzle (escape)

Now let’s pad it out.

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A: Globular chamber, floor and walls slightly sticky. Large fleshy, toothless mouth in wall, being picked apart by three floating machines.*

Machines (x3) Level 3 (9); HP 12, AF

Sloping tube down to [C].

* Mouth cannot speak but will try to persuade PC’s to be swallowed by it. Those who do so arrive in [D], unharmed. This is a one-way journey.

* If it dies then the A-D route ceases to exist. This does not alter the encounter in [D]

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B:

GM: This should be a fairly tough encounter as it is a major Node. Let’s roll on the table in the Bestiary and modify as needed. The roll gives a Quotien. Now for some tweaking.

An oval chamber, walls sickly white shot with tendrils of red. In the centre is a mass of gel spheres, enclosing a humanoid form. It has stunted limbs, no hands and a huge exposed brain with two purple eyes. A long stalk emerges from the roof of the chamber and plunges into the exposed head. The stalk connects to a huge, half-glimpsed dark mass floating outside the chamber wall.

Quotien: Level 7 (21); HP 21, Armour 2, Damage 7

* Delivers a massive mental blast to anyone entering the chamber (can strike multiple targets). Keeps doing this as is being controlled by the parasite feeding off it.

Parasite tentacle: Level 3 (9); HP 12.

Severing the tentacle causes it to withdraw and frees the Quotien. It has an unusual request. Now its hiding place has been found it needs a new one. It wants the PC’s to kill it; cut out part of its brain and throw it in the nearest river. It will not elaborate further on what will then happen. It the PC’s agree then the Quotien opens the passage in the walls to [F]. If they do not agree then it opens the passage to [E]

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C: Empty, a pleasant green colour. Many small fruit (like grapes) are piled around the floor; they are sweet and pleasant to eat.

> Eat too many and your skin turns bright green for the next 28 hours.

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D: Fleshy tube in wall; lair of 6 Tentacle Snakes

Snakes: Level 3 (9) + Po

Poison: Intellect (3) or entranced; walk to the tube (other end of creature from [A] and climb inside. Take 6 damage (ambient) from stomach acids. Test Intellect each Round to break the trance.

Rewards: Bits of indigestible material that have been ejected by the creature (shins, cyphers, bits of gear)

GM: Although the roll was for a creature only, it makes sense to put some stuff here.

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E: An ovoid chamber, passages exit 20’ above a roiling mass of yellow-white liquid. There is an acidic smell in the air and rivulets of yellow liquid dribble down the walls. The walls are rubbery and slightly flexible. The only way between the passages is to climb round (Level 3 (9)); one roll per passage moved. Intrusion: Fall into pool

Milk-Beast (Level 5 (15); HP 15; Armour 1. Large rounded bulk; milky-white. Huge sucking maw; spits globs of the liquid at a random target on the walls. Damage = 5 (non-lethal), Test Might vs. Level 5 or lose grip and fall into the pool.

Pool- Gloopy and thick; increase difficulty by 1 Level. Creature attacks with sucking maw (Damage 5).

Loot: Have something worth having be part-embedded in the rubbery wall, possibly needing more climbing tests to get to it.

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F: Empty, a pleasant purple colour. Many small fruit (like purple grapes) are piled around the floor; they are sweet and pleasant to eat.

> Eat too many and your skin turns bright purple permanently.

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G: Escape. Ovoid chamber, floor and walls sticky. Round closed sphincter at opposite end to entrance tubes.

* Acidic drops begin to rain down from the walls; 2 acid damage / round to all in the chamber.

The sphincter can be forced open by Might (Level 4 (12)) long enough for one person to pass through (one person/Round). It is a Level 5 (15) for the last person (as they have to hold it open and get through.)

Intrusion: A PC is stuck to a wall (Level 2 Might (6) to get free)

Exit is to a location of the GM’s choosing.

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Now I’ve created that (and it was rolled as above; none of it was ‘rolled to make it fit’), let’s go back and look at the time/damage I mentioned.

Based on the whole premise; 1 acid (ambient) damage per area entered seems reasonable.

Wandering Monsters

In Numenera, the GM does not roll any dice; only the players do. If, as GM, you find yourself reaching for the dice, then it is time for a GM Intrusion. Therefore, some triggers are indicated.

* Anytime a Player rolls a ‘1’, in addition to any specific effect you may apply; they take 2 acid damage (ambient).

* If the Players damage the outer ‘skin’ then the damagers take 5 acid damage (ambient) and 1 Round later a large protoplasmic creature oozes in and repairs the damage. Creature is Level 5 (15); does not attack and only defends passively by enveloping and slowly digesting the attacker.

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I’ve used this system several times now; it does produce some surprising layouts which I don’t think I’d have got using conventional graph paper dungeon plotting.

 

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Thaeling Lake

The following morning (35th Pretor), the travellers prepared for their visit to the monastery. Suddenly, screams rang out from a woodcrafters hut near to the hall. The woodcrafter, a man named Crandor, was dead, bitten clean in two. A group of villagers gathered round as Galadiir, Sonny and Judson looked at the body. A heavy-set man pushed his way through the crowd. He called himself Vornal the Hunter and, once convinced of the traveller’s innocence, took a group of villagers off to hunt for the beast.

Galadiir went to see if Leema would let him see the baby; there was no trace of her of the child. No-one saw her go. There was some discussion as to whether she was responsible for the attacks but they narrowed it down after some discussion. The mysterious flashes of light or darkness that preceded an attack started after they visited the flying island (xref: The Hidden Price 14th – 20th Pretor). They must have brought something back with them. But what is it, and what is its motive in the attacks?

Possible the monks might have an answer, so they headed for the monastery entrance. They were met at the door by the monk they spoke to last night. He wore a blue robe and had tattooed, curved-up eyebrows. * He introduced himself as Frater Killian and welcomed them to Thaeling Monastery.

With little prompting, they left their weapons at the door and followed Frater Killian inside. The entrance hallway was blue and the air rippled, as if underwater. They went to a room where many blue robes of all sizes were hung.

“You are required to wear the Blue within the building.”

Also, at the rear of the room, stood several metal cages attached to a chain and pulley system leading up into the ceiling. Each was large enough for a single human-sized creature. When asked, Frater Killian simply said they were part of the function of the building. A flight of stairs led up to a series of small cells for the monks; each was wood-panelled and had a bed, a table and chair and a small chest. There was a window looking out over the lake; glassed but unopenable. **

“How many of you are there?” asked Galadiir. “Around 30” was the reply.

The next room was a kitchen / refectory, with large glass windows overlooking the lake. The monks obviously ate well, although with austerity.

“We rarely eat fish. We are the guardians of the spirit of the lake, who watches over the village. The spirit rewards the village with fine, fat samlon fish. The villagers in turn supply us with food, Yol meat and Dossi skrip.

At this point, Galadiir was distracted by a loud grinding and clanking coming from within the walls. He went over to listen; the wall was stone and thick; the sound came from behind it. After a short while it stopped.

“It is part of the function of the building. You’ll see”

The next floor was circular, tall windows showed that the floor was well out over the lake. In the centre of the room was a circular pool with many lit floating candles. They counted them; there were twenty-four, floating in lazy erratic patterns. Several blue-robed monks sat around the pool.

“There is one lit candle for every monk”, said Frater Killian quietly. “It only goes out when the monk dies.” ***

 

The steps up led to a sloping passage between two closed doors; Frater Killian didn’t pause at them and led them up into the Library. Book-lined shelves framed a large set of ornate double doors.

“We will wait here. The doors lead to the Hall of Judgement; there is some time to wait so you may make use of the library. Be advised; no book may leave the library.”

They settled down to do some research. Suddenly, Judson was stricken with an intense buzzing fuzziness in his head; (like an old FM radio tuned to a dead channel.) He realised he had experienced this before; on the road to Mulen when the Murden ambushed him. He crossed the room and the sensation passed. He picked a small book at random off the shelves. It was full of esoteric diagrams of rods, planes and cones all intersecting at impossible angles. Feeling his head beginning to hurt, he tossed the book to Galadiir, who became engrossed in it. The others paid no attention until Galadiir cried out and fell to the floor, bleeding from his eye sockets. Galadiir was left with a blinding headache and the knowledge that he knew a lot about something that was impossible to put into words that the human voice could survive. ****

After some time; a loud bell tolled. The doors opened and the monks and travellers made their way inside to a circular chamber over the centre of the lake; with tiered seating in a three-quarter circle. A spiral ramp leads up to a balcony over the entrance door. In the floor is a sliding hatch, currently shut. A semi-circular track bisects the room; passing over the floor hatch (immediately christened by the Players “The Moon Door.”) In the ceiling is a large silver globe

The bell tolled again and on the balcony appeared Frater Killian; an old man introduced as Cerulean Blue, Abbot and Head of the Order, and another monk wearing blue. The bell rang again and with a clanking of chains a cage came into the room and hung suspended over the Door. Inside the cage was a Murden. The Abbot spoke, in a surprisingly soft voice.

“Abhuman, you are charged by the authority of the Council of the Spheres with larceny, theft and highway robbery in the kingdom of Draolis. You will now be judged.” The sphere in the ceiling flashed brilliant white; then faded to a deep blue. The Moon Door slid open and the bottom of the cage fell open and the Murden dropped into the lake. With a clanking and grinding of gears the cage was hauled out and another came in, also containing a Murden.

“Abhuman, you are charged by the authority of the Council of the Spheres with larceny, theft and highway robbery in the kingdom of Draolis. You will now be judged.” The sphere in the ceiling flashed brilliant white; then faded to a deep blue. The Moon Door slid open and the bottom of the cage fell open and the Murden dropped into the lake.

“This sphere is some sort of judgement device”, whispered Galadiir to the others. He tried to get a better look at it, using his knowledge of the numenera. What he discovered astounded him.

“It’s nothing more than a glowglobe that can change colour!”

A third cage was brought in and a third Murden was dropped. The bell rang again to signal the end of the Judging. Galadiir turned to the monk next to him.

“What happens if someone is judged innocent?” The monk smiled at him. “It has never happened.”*****

Back in library they had a discussion. They resolved to use the library to find out some answers, then to get their gear and to get away from this place.

Galadiir looked for information about the “demon” that is stalking them. He found several references to something called a ‘Penumbra Fiend’ that lives in light and darkness. It lives only to feed and the more it feeds the stronger it gets.

Sonny was looking for information about why Leema conceived and gave birth within the space of a few weeks. All he found was a reference to a ‘Nibovian Wife’ whose sole instinct is to procreate.

Judson looked for information about his transformations into a Beast; he came from Navarene and there were several references to the Westwood and the Culova

In the prayer room, Galadiir observed that there were now only twenty-three lit candles floating in the pool. They thanked the monks; recovered their weapons and left the monastery. Sonny asked if he could keep the blue robe; the monk readily agreed and let him leave.

The following morning they loaded up their aneen and headed north, towards Kordech. Around mid-day they passed a large wagon heading south, escorted by a company of soldiers in Draolis livery. The wagon was a cage containing many prisoners. “Filth rounded up from the sewers of Kordech”, said one of the soldiers.

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GM:

A really good session with no combat, just good roleplaying. They have found out a lot of information; it’s now a case of interpreting it.

I have gone back to using the calendar I created as I have found I need to plan for some future events.

* I said “describe something unusual about this guy,” and this is what they came back with.

** Galadiir declared that his stronglass sword was from now on called “Window”.

*** This, of course, prompted the discussion along the lines of “so if I blow one out, the monk will die?” They didn’t test this theory out.

**** Absolutely no idea where this is going as yet.

***** About this point, they began to regret all the fish they had eaten.

 

Question: I’d appreciate some feedback on these write-ups. Are you enjoying reading them, would you like to see the full scenario published, am I being too long-winded in the write-ups?