Jacks, Nanos, and Glaives: Characters in Numenera

A Charming jack who Fuses Flesh and Steel

A Graceful glaive who Explores Dark Places

A Strong-Willed nano who Talks to Machines

The Numenera game system is simple and elegant, an excellent framework for great narrative roleplaying that also offers depth and richness for those who desire it. This starts with the character generation system. You build your character by making three choices: A type, a focus, and a descriptor. Those choices form a great descriptive sentence about your character: “I’m a [blank] [blank] who [blanks],” and they fill out the bulk of your character sheet; you make a few additional quick allocations and choose one or two abilities, and in five minutes you have a unique, well-rounded character.


Here are the three types of characters:

Your character type establishes many aspects of your pools, skills, and special abilities. After choosing your type, you pick from a number of descriptors like clever, tough, strong-willed, or mystical. Your descriptor adds additional capabilities or strengthens those you already have.

Finally you choose a focus, which really distinguishes your character. These can vary from crafting illusions to becoming a master of a single weapon, from wielding magnetism to being a great leader. Your focus not only further adds to your character’s capabilities, but also establishes some aspects of his or her background and relationships with other characters.


These three choices help shape your character, providing not only abilities and skills but also possibilities for interesting backgrounds and unique bonds with the other player characters. In other words, at every step of the way, the story is as important as the mechanics.

Next: Players Roll All the Dice: A Look at Gameplay