Trail of the Dream Titans: Internal Playtesting for Numenera 2

The MCG team is hard at work revising the original Numenera corebook as well as writing an equally large brand-new companion volume. Together, these two corebooks—Discovery and Destiny—describe a world of ruins laid down over vast millennia. These are the remnants of now-vanished civilizations that once spoke to the stars, reshaped the creatures of the world, and mastered form and essence. These prior worlds built cities and machines that have since crumbled to dust, leaving only their barest remnants. Player characters explore the ruins of the past in order to craft a better future.

Deluxe slipcase set of Numenera Discovery & Numenera Destiny

With so much new and revised material in hand, it should be no surprise that playtesting is a vital component of design. In addition to our external playtests, we regularly hold two playtests a week in-house, drawing on all nine members of the MCG team as players and GMs.

For my part in the GM’s seat, I’ve run several scenarios. One was inspired by an amazing piece of art by Bruce Brenneise, featuring pyramidal entities striding across a star-lit plain. I dubbed them dream titans. I decided that for my playtest, the PCs needed investigate the interior of one of these behemoths to find special components—which we call iotum—that the nearby village of Umdera required to survive.

Illustration by Bruce Brenneise

In this case, I wanted to test the first draft of the salvage rules for iotum. What better place to look for weird iotum than inside a walking mountain?

Of course, as soon as I started writing Umdera for my internal playtest, I knew it had the potential to show up in the new setting material in Destiny. If it does, what follows is a sneak peek:

Umdera never stays put for more than a few years. The longest the elders recall the village ever staying in one place is ten years, and the briefest, just a few months. But short or long, the Thunder Season always comes. Then Umdera is disassembled by its residents and hauled on a series of wagons in the wake of shambling mountains.

Umderans call these shambling mountains “dream titans.”

The dream titans roam the flat lowland region, scarred and cut from who knows how many previous generations of titan activity. Where the vast hulks shamble, Umdera follows the one that leaves behind a trail of phosphorescent liquid. This is known as raw elixir.

Distilled elixir is the most valuable substance in Umdera. It is the predominant form of nutrition, as well as a source of spiritual enlightenment. Consuming elixir not only satisfies one’s need for food and water, but if taken in a concentrated form, provides wondrous dreams. These dreams are usually context, each seemingly different from the last. That doesn’t keep Umdera’s mysterious Night Speakers from interpreting them.

So that’s the background for my playtest adventure. The PCs, who are probably new to Umdera, are asked to help find special components that the village needs. The creature that hauls all the wagons of the disassembled community, which Umderans call a “terapede,” has fallen into disrepair. The Night Speakers say, based on the dreams they had after drinking concentrated elixir wine, that only special components gathered from inside the nearest dream titan can repair it. To that end, the PCs are dispatched to look. Up close, the titans move somewhat erratically; sometimes at the pace of a glacier; other times they rise up on strange legs and gallop. The sound is a painful thunder up close, accompanied by a sharp smell of something both familiar and impossible to describe.

Because this playtest adventure might become an actual adventure that’ll appear in Destiny, I won’t go into more detail. That’d spoil the adventure for everyone. And no one here likes spoilers. So, let’s wrap this up, what do you say? After all, we’ve got more playtesting to do.


Did you miss out on the Numenera 2 Kickstarter? Backerkit is now open, so for a limited time you can preorder the books and sweet add-ons!

Don’t miss out on one-of-a-kind swag like the Numenera Player’s Kit, with a personalized fold-up dice tray, All Rolled Up dice bag, and gorgeous bookbag sporting the new Numenera art.

For a treat for your creative mind or as a gift to a creative loved one, you can get a digital ticket to Shanna Germain’s Fiction Writing Seminar, offered in early 2018. With her schedule these days, there isn’t much time for her to teach classes as much as she’d like to–this might be your only chance to learn from her for a long while.

Simply place a preorder through Backerkit before the window closes on December 15th.

Bruce Cordell
Bruce Cordell

Bruce Cordell has written well over 100 roleplaying game products, including titles for four different editions of Dungeons & Dragons. He’s also penned nearly a dozen novels. Major credits at Monte Cook Games, where Bruce is a Senior Designer, include The Strange, the Ninth World Bestiary, and Strange Revelations, among many others.