The Numenera Limited License: Looking Back and Ahead

One of the great things about gaming is the investment gamers make in their characters, campaigns, and sometimes game systems. I’m not just talking about laying out the cash at your FLGS here–I’m talking about emotional and creative investment. The time and energy we pour into our favorite games.

When I was a youthful gamer, lo those many (many, many) moons ago, an enterprising GM who wanted to pretty up his adventure was probably limited to graph paper and typewriters–hardly the stuff of pros–and for most of us, distributing a product was virtually impossible. But in this day and age a lot of gamers have the skills and equipment (and sometimes even the time) to give their ideas true professional treatment. And in some cases to turn them into actual products. Knowing this, and knowing how incredibly creative Numenera fans can be, we established the Numenera Limited License shortly after the game’s release last year. The NLL lets anyone with an idea and a bit of passion produce products for Numenera.

Since then, a lot of great products have been released. Just a sampling of these titles includes:

  • Whisper Campaigns, by Ryan Chaddock Games: Political adventure and dangerous intrigue among the nobles and knights of the Ninth World.
  • Beyond The Edge: Buried Burden, by​ ​Fabio Passamonti: A scenario comes complete with dangerous creatures, detailed adventure locations, and imaginative, full color art and maps.
  • Races of Karexus, Volume I​,​ by Jacon DC Ross: A book detailing two new playable races, two new Foci, six new Descriptors, and many more extras inside a new game world that can be dropped into an existing campaign.
  • The Mechanical Bard: A Numenera Anthology, from Ninth Realm Publishing (various authors): Fiction from the Ninth World as unearthed by the wandering Mechanical Bard.
  • Numenera Plush: Seskii and Flying Elchin, by​ ​Monica Marlowe: For when you need a faithful companion at your gaming table, the only licensed Numenera Plush available.

And that’s just from among those that have come out already–many more products have been put under license, but haven’t yet been released.

There’s no doubt the NLL has been really popular. Wildly popular, at least compared to our initial expectations. In fact, we are now receiving NLL requests faster than it’s possible to process them–particularly when we’re trying to put out a few products ourselves. (Perhaps you’ve heard of a little thing called The Strange.)

We’ve learned a lot over the NLL’s first nine months. We’ve taken those lessons and made some revisions to the NLL itself. Some of these revisions tighten the requirements a bit–a slight raising of the bar that may make the NLL a bit more manageable for us. Other revisions add clarity to issues that weren’t well-enough defined in the original license. And others simply help clarify our relationship with licensees.

And there’s more to come! Some NLL products are approaching the limits set by the license, so we’re looking at ways to extend the NLL for products successful enough to warrant it. And, of course, The Strange is just around the figurative corner. We’re already looking ahead toward a similar license for The Strange. This thing’s got legs!

We think the changes we’ve made improve the NLL’s future and help ensure that the creative, interesting ideas that spring from the minds of Numenera fans can continue to make their way into products we can all enjoy!

Charles Ryan
Charles Ryan

Charles M. Ryan has written or contributed to titles in nearly every class of tabletop game—board games, card games, trading card games, miniature games, and roleplaying games—over a 25-year career in the game industry. He has also served as the global brand manager for Dungeons & Dragons and headed up the marketing department at the UK’s Esdevium Games, one of the world’s largest game distributors. He is the Chief Operating Officer at Monte Cook Games.