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).
- Roll 1d6+6, Draw this many circles on a sheet of paper in a symmetrical pattern. Label them A, B, C etc.
- Decide where the entrance is (usually Node A, but doesn’t have to be).
- Links: Check each node, including the last one. Roll d6
- None (dead end)
- To the next letter in sequence
- To the next two letters in sequence
- To the next but one letter in sequence
- To the next two letters in sequence and to the one four nodes ahead (wrap-around the letter sequence)*
- 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.
- For each Node, roll 1d6 for contents
- Something weird
- Something strange
- Creature and Loot
- Puzzle / Trap
- List each Node, and then fill in the blanks. Use Mythic, Story Dice etc. for inspiration.
I’m going to create a small Adventure site that can be dropped in anywhere.
- 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-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.
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]
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]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.