Name: Numenera Character Options
Type: Player Options
Publisher: Monte Cook Games
System: Cypher System
Format: Softcover book
Size: 28cm x 21.8cm x 0.9cm
Rating: (4.0 / 5)
The Numenera Character Options book is a supplement for the Numenera Roleplaying game and is written by the games creator Monte Cook. It provides players with more options for Descriptors and Foci and also provides numerous further options for the various character types.
As with all of the Numenera products the book is full colour and lavishly illustrated with artwork on almost every page. The front cover depicts and action packed scene with two adventurers engaged in using their abilities. As this is Numenera the characters both look mostly human but, on closer inspection, can be seen to have traceries of neon light cousing through their bodies or biomechanical looking suits of armour. It’s a solid image that promises that the reader will find interesting and exciting new options inside.
The book is split into 7 sections-
- Character Type Options
- Optional and Additional Rules
- Character Portraits
The introduction runs to a couple of pages and just sets the scene for the book and how it can be used. Like all Numenera products the book has a sidebar that explains how the main rulebook will be referenced throughout the product. This is a feature that I particularly like as it makes cross referencing between books a whole lot easier.
The Character Type Options chapter provides additional abilities for the 3 Types (classes in the game), being Glaives, Jacks and Nanos. Essentially these are more powers are each of the various tiers of the game, new fighting moves for Glaives, new tricks of the trade for Jacks and new eateries for Nanos. There are several new options provided for each Tier of each Type, in some cases as many as 8 new abilities are listed and my party have found these to be a great supplement to the ones in the core book and Players Guide. The extra powers here allow for real versatility within the Types and so two people can play the same Type without treading on one another’s toes.
The Descriptors chapter is split into 3 sections, each with new Descriptors for a players to use with their characters. The first, General Descriptors, adds a further 24 Descriptors to those provided within the core book. They are of the same style and cover things such as Noble, Wealthy and Perceptive. This section also introduces negative descriptors, which provide an interesting alternative to the generic positive ones, and while they still provide bonuses and hindrances as normal they also provide great roleplaying opportunities and give the GM inspiration for intervention.
The second Descriptor section provides 13 Location based Descriptors that allow you to define your character by where they come from within the Kingdoms of the 9 World. This is a nice addition as one of the few things I struggle with in the game is the setting and, more specifically, the general societies that exist in it. Grounding a character within the setting helps players become more engaged in the world and that can only be a good thing.
The final Descriptor section provides another 6 races for players. As in the core book, playing a none human race (at least one that isn’t just cosmetically different from a human), replaces your character Descriptor with the race. While I don’t use the different races within my game, aside from a mutant, I like the diversity they provide because the 9th World should be full of weird and wonderful beings that range from ordinary human to extra-dimensional, mineral based, plant people. This section also includes new mutations for Mutant characters to utilise.
The next chapter covers Foci and it provides a further 25 Foci for your players to choose from and these are just as evocatively named as those in the core book with titles such as Travels through Time and Possesses a Shard of the Sun. Overall having more options to choose from simply expands what your players have to work with then trying to make up something that invokes their imagination and having an expanded Foci list really helps with that.
The additional and optional rules section is a little misleading as it doesn’t really provide many optional rules. Included are some basic details around character customisation and modifying abilities but the bulk of the chapter covers additional connections for the Foci from the core book. This is nice as it provides some additional ways that the party can be involved with each other before the campaign starts but, overall, I’d say this chapter if just filler.
The Character Portraits chapter provides, rather unsurprisingly, a series of images that players can use to depict or inspire their characters. There are 24 in all and the art is pretty good across all of them. Again, it’s not really a required section and feels a touch like filler but it’s useful for people who like to have a visual aid.
Finally comes the index, which is worth mentioning because it includes all the Descriptors, Foci and Types from this book and the core book and provides page references for them, giving you a single point of reference for the information. Like the sidebars throughout the book this is a very useful tool for players and GMs and cuts down on the time it takes to find something specific.
Overall this is a very solid book with a lot of great content. It’s well written, lavishly illustrated and the production values are high. There is a little bit of filler content, around 14 pages or so, but that’s not to say that you won’t get any use from it, only that it’s not really required and could have just as easily been added to the Numenera website. Monte Cook continues to impress me with his work on Numenera and it’s a game I will keep supporting for as long as it’s around. On a final note it’s worth pointing out that all of the Types, Foci and Descriptors in this book can also be used for The Strange, the other Cypher System game, with very little modification needed and, I expect, several will be usable with the Cypher System core book when it is released.