Numenera Character Creation Basics
Creating characters in Numenera is meant to be quick and easy (with options and customizable detail for those who like to tinker). It’s built, in fact, like constructing a sentence that describes your character. In prior articles, I have mentioned that each character has a type, a descriptor, and a focus. The sentence looks like this:
I am a [descriptor] [type] who [focus].
In other words, descriptor is an adjective, type is a noun, and focus is a verb. So you might say, “I am a tough glaive who controls beasts.” Or perhaps “I am a clever nano who consorts with the dead.” Or even, “I am a graceful jack who explores dark places.” This means that foci always have interestingly constructed names like, “Commands Mental Powers,” or “Wields Gravity Itself.” It’s odd at first, but once you’re used to it, it’s fun.
Even though type is in the middle of our sentence, you start there. Because the noun is the anchor of the sentence, right? As I’ve stated earlier, there are only three types: glaives, nanos, and jacks. Your type gives a basis for what your stats will be, and what you’re initially trained in and good at. Your type also helps determine your background and starting equipment.
Descriptors are pretty straightforward. There will be a dozen or so, and they just tell you something about your character’s talents, personality, or particular way of doing things. They might be something straightforward like “strong” or something a bit more nuanced like “sneaky.” These provide a few skills and things of that nature, and perhaps modify your stats and starting equipm. Descriptors also help define how you got involved with the other PCs and got to the point where you start your first adventure.
Foci are numerous, and really define your character, making it something really special. Some of these are like professions or areas training, making it clear that your character is a leader, a weapons master, or a rugged wilderness wandering. Others, however, are almost like superpowers, like wielding fire or creating illusions. Foci are some of the best expressions of the numenera in the game, and might arise from the use of nanotechnology, genetic experimentation, mutations, or any of a number of other sources. Foci grant your character new, specific, and unique abilities. They also present you with a way to have a special link with one or more of the other PCs in your game.
Those are the “three choices” of character creation. Once you’ve got an idea of what they are, it’s pretty fast. I’ve watched someone create a Numenera character in about 5 minutes. The three choices basically determine everything about your character–although as I said, those that like to tinker will have a lot of customizing options if you’re into that. In future articles, I’ll give you an overview of stats and how they work (it’s likely pretty different than what you’re used to), skills and abilities, and more.