My Numenera Nano player was super excited about his future Tier 6 Type ability Traverse the Worlds. It is in fact so powerful that he had some reservations on how I would handle it as a GM.
“I just don’t see how you’re going to do it? I could instantly be anywhere!” he gasped.
Don’t worry my little world perambulating friend, as you will peregrinate worlds as no man decussated them before!
Here is how I’m gonna do it.
Let’s open up Discovery to page 43 and check what the fuss is about.
Traverse the Worlds
You instantaneously transmit yourself to another planet, dimension, plane, or level of reality. You must know that the destination exists; the GM will decide if you have enough information to confirm its existence and the level of difficulty to reach the destination…
Fabric of Reality
There are three limitations in total, but for prepping purposes I am only interested in two:
You must know that the destination exists;
…the GM will decide if you have enough information to confirm its existence and the level of difficulty to reach the destination.
So my player needs to know that the destination exists, and also have some information about it in order to try to crossbeam there.
There are two ways a player can get this knowledge required for the power to work.
- Character backstory
- Knowledge gained through play
Extracting Known Locations from Player’s Backstory
Locations could live on a character sheet, or come out of the blue in a case when a player uses their XP and buys themself one. Both might be problematic for the GM, as they could be anything.
“I traverse back to my parents’ house”
As a GM I mostly have no idea how a character’s backstory stuff looks, but it’s not my job to know that. It’s on a player to tell the table how it looks. There is a nifty technique on how to handle this, and it’s called the Flashback.
At the exact moment when a player character imagines her childhood home (in order to activate the ability), we metaphorically freeze time and delve into her mind…
“An image of your parents’ kitchen comes to life in your mind. You are 12 years old and are looking at your granny preparing you a breakfast. What do you do?”
During the flashback, I could guide the player through reliving this location. Go in as deeply as needed: Why do you remember this day in particular? What happened that day? Play it like a therapy session, and try to get some insight on how it looks at present, if possible. Is the location still the same at present day? Who might be there now?
In order not to bore other players, I could have them improv as characters from her memories, or as figments of her imagination. She might need to overcome these in order to create an accurate and vivid memory.
I can also use flashbacks when a player decides to prepare her mind meditating, prior to the translation. She might expend a recovery slot, at which point I can play out the flashback and get all the info I can, while also allowing the player to lower the teleport DC.
Locations Visited Through Play
Location knowledge gained through play is much easier to handle, as I know everything about them already. Have a list of all locations visited or learned, and add additional notes on what changed there in the meantime. Create a random table or two to get some ideas if you need to.
A Place Yet to Be
A player might do some active research on a new location during play, which may turn into an interesting adventure on its own. This research can also be done as a downtime activity, or out of game via chat.
With Great Power Comes Great Failure
Traverse the Worlds doesn’t mention what happens on a failed roll. I would adjudicate that a failure still produces the transferral but misses the destination by some distance, depending on the scale of the attempted traversal.
If the players are planet hopping and miss the DC by some margin, they jump to the neighboring planet or a moon instead. If the destination is a place on their current planet, they might miss it by a number of days walking, etc.
On a roll of 1, I would upscale the miss distance, so if they wanted to traverse to a faraway village, they are now on a random planet. If they were planet hopping they are now in a different dimension, etc…
TThis might be a little too harsh, so scale it down accordingly. Also, you can always rule that on a failed roll they don’t go anywhere, but rather just stand in a circle foolishly holding their hands together. It could be funny, but a bit boring. Players are Tier 6 at that point, they should get in some serious trouble for failed rolls!
GM Intrusion Ideas
One interesting direction to think about - once the characters appear on at a new location, what activity are they interrupting? They might show up in someone’s bedroom or bathroom and cause some awkward scenes. They may interrupt some important and tense negotiations. Or appear in the middle of a battle, or in a hazardous environment without the proper equipment.
Additional Numenera Materials
For materials on parallel worlds and dimensions I would grab Into the Outside and In Alternate Dimensions.
For planets there’s Into the Night, and for deep sea locations there’s Into the Deep.
For prior world ruins, Jade Colossus and Ruin Deck are perfect. For…wait a minute. Did MCG design this ability just so I would need to buy all the books?
Curse you, Monte Cook! Curse you! ::shakes fist::