Numenera gameplay involves a simple d20 roll that determines success or failure for any kind of action. To avoid a lot of cumbersome math at the game table, there aren’t a lot of modifiers to this roll. Instead, skills and other assets reduce the difficulty of a task. More importantly, players can choose tasks to focus upon, using a limited resource called effort to further lower the difficulty of the actions really important to them.
Experience Points and Advancement
Characters earn XP when they make new, interesting discoveries (not from killing things, although combat is often necessary to make discoveries and accomplish missions). They also earn XP when the GM “intrudes” on the action of the game to introduce new complications. Lastly, players have the ability to award XP to other players for great ideas, useful actions, or other reasons.
XP can be spent to increase character abilities, or to affect events in the game (such as rerolling dice), gain short-term benefits or advance in levels.
Running the Game
The game has also been uniquely designed to make things easier on the GM. The goal is to decrease the amount of time the GM spends juggling game stats, and allow him to instead focus entirely on the story and the action at hand. Creatures, NPCs and situations are easy to make up entirely on the fly and even easier to run.
Of course, if you’re familiar with my work at all, you’ll know that I never like to make things easy, so rest assured that the Ninth World will be filled with incredible dangers and challenges, the likes of which players have never faced before.