Arthur C Clarke’s “third law” is that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Numenera is a game about exploring this idea taken to its outer limit. A thousand years into the future, mankind explores beyond the solar system. Ten thousand years into the future, the galaxy has been largely settled. A hundred thousand years into the future, and humans are akin to gods. A million years into the future, they aren’t. A hundred million years into the future, and the Earth has risen out of the plane of the galaxy, and is subjected to powerful radiation.
Numenera takes place sometime after that. It is the world a billion years into the future. If the prior epochs of the Earth could be thought of almost as their own distinctive world, then Numenera takes place on the Ninth World.
The Ninth World Awaits
The world as we know it is gone, along with the previous eight. However, there are remains and remnants of the previous worlds, the numenera, that are still around. In fact, in some cases, that’s all that’s left. The Ninth World is covered in a layer of pulverized silicates known as drit. This substance comes not from the erosion of stone, but the erosion of plastic and steel. Buried within it are machines, massive, ancient, and completely incomprehensible. The Beanstalk stretches endlessly into the sky. Visitors claim that they feel a sense of lightness around it – which perhaps explains the floating rocks. Your cousin once had a drunk Aeon Priest tell him that it was the pathway to a castle in the sky. (That poor cousin was later killed when a Queb slithered out of its fighting pit. Turned out he was allergic to the normally mild venom. Who’d’ve guessed?)
Life in the Ninth World is hardscrabble and tough, because despite its ancestry, the Ninth World is very young. Writing isn’t terribly new but history is, as few people have bothered writing down the past. Thankfully, in the last few thousand years the Aeon Priests have taken it upon themselves to document their explorations. Civilization has started to develop in the Steadfast. Sometimes it even stretches to the Beyond, though rarely farther.
Who are you in this new world?
Perhaps you’re a glaive, taking up a massive sword and asserting your will upon the world with force. Maybe you’re a nano, investigating the mysteries of the numenera, and harnessing it to miraculous end. Or perhaps you’ve never settled on one thing, and are a jack-of-all-trades.
Perhaps you’re a human – but maybe you’ve mutated. Maybe you’re a visitant – one of the races still on Earth from previous worlds.
Whoever you are, you’ve got something in common with many other inhabitants of the Ninth World – you want to know what’s out there.