NPC: level 7 in knowledge or craft. ... What does it mean?

Ok, so I was reading of Quanon, the  super duper expert of numenera devices of Malevich. Now,  the description says: level 6, 7 in numenera's knowledge and crafting. What the hell? Pcs always roll,  if I find similar descriptions,  what they mean? The target of a level 7 is 21, so does it mean that the players roll to identify a numenera asking Quanon and  he has greater risk of fail than a level 2 apprentice? How do I use this info?  I'm sorry if the question seems trivial or stupid,  but I'm rather new to numenera (here in Italy it arrived jus a  couple of months ago.). Please help me :)


  • How you interpret the information provided in the book is ultimately up to you, but here is my take on it, sort of based on the six step, "How to Play Numenera" section on page 84 of the core rule book.

    In any character action that involves a NPC the first thing you need to determine is the NPC's role in the action, namely, whether their role is adversarial in nature or one of assistance. If the later then the NPC's level means little to the outcome of the character action. It is only when the nature of the interaction is one of conflict, between the PC and the NPC, does the level take on any meaning. This should be done as part of step 3.

    The fourth step has the player and the Gm determining if anything about the character, and here I would change the wording to be "all characters involved in the character action", can modify the difficulty up or down.

    The bold part of 'level 6, 7 in numenera’s knowledge and crafting' Should be interpreted as 'training in knowledge of numenera and of its crafting', and used as either a sort of anti-asset if the nature of the action is adversarial or, if it is one of assistance, in conjunction with the helping rules on page 101 of the core rule book.

    In your example of the PC's using Quanon's expertise to aid in identifying a numenera, an essentially helpful role, Quanon's expertise would modify the difficulty down one level for any PC that did not also have 'training in knowledge of numenera and of its crafting' or give the PC a +1 bonus to the roll if he did.

  • Thank you for the reply.  But even in this case, I'm a bit perplexed anyway.  I mean, if Quanon must identify a numenera, even if the pcs roll for him, how do I use his 7th level, since npc never use effort? Ok, it's up to me, but, while the numenera identification could be taken as "automatically recognize numenera o 7th level or lower", what about the knowledge? Honestly it seems ridiculous to me that a 7th level npc give the same aid of a 2nd or 3rd level one.  How can I make the difference really matter, in knowledge or similar tasks?
  • I read this as "the NPC automatically succeds at all tasks related with numenera’s knowledge and crafting of level 7 and lower."

    There's a table in corebook regarding knowledge:

    Difficulty Knowledge
    0 Common knowledge
    1 Simple knowledge
    3 Something a scholar probably knows
    5 Something even a scholar might not know
    7 Knowledge very few people possess
    10 Completely lost knowledge


    In this case, he is one of those "few people".
  • Good point,  thanks.  And now, what about  crafting?  It seems a bit too much let him automatically craft level 7 items or less. ..
  • I don't really see any problems here. He will succeed, but his services will cost a fortune. Plus materials. And don't forget, that crafting noncomon numenera items takes over a year... so let your players pay and wait a few years... if they want ;-)


  • Thanks for the ask and answer... I got to wondering this myself.
  • The book also says under NPC Allies (p.339) that NPC actions are, and I'm paraphrasing, entirely up to GM fiat. If the players bring a piece of the numenera to Quanon, it's up to the GM, not random chance, to determine if he can identify it, or is able to build something with it.

    In Numenera (or any Cypher game for that matter) Einstein was right: "God (read: the GM) does not play dice with the Universe".
  • I am thinking it would be used like this, say one of the PC's wanted to impress Malevich. They were knowledgeable in Numenera (say trained) and they had a ancient text on local Numenera they found in the ruins out side of town. To be able to pull out some piece of esoteric knowledge to impress him they would have to roll a 12 or better. Since he is level 7, - 2 for being trained and -1 for the ancient text brings the target number down to 4, hence 12. With a level of 7 (21) the common man or untrained would have little or no chance to impress him even with the ancient text.

    I would not use to determine what he can and can not are the GM just have him do what the story requires. Levels are really only used when the player is involved, either they are trying to effect NPC or the NPC is trying effect the Player, be it combat or social.
  • I would absolutely use it to determine what he can and can't do. Handwavy-fiat-GMing is a possibility, and sometimes you do want something to fall directly within (or outside of) the NPC's scope of knowledge just to move a story along, but these sorts of stats exist to give guidelines for when an NPC is an easy button and when PCs have to pound pavement. But, to me, that smacks of railroading and removing agency from both PCs and NPCs.

    As for saying that level is only used when PCs are involved; no. The sidebar on pg 98 covers this; "in Numenera, it doesn’t matter if something is a monster, a poison, or a gravity-dispelling ray. If it’s a higher level, it wins; if it’s a lower level, it loses."
    In this context, if a PC would have to roll vs a difficult 7 or less then he succeeds. Does he want to know what a piece of Numenera is? (Maybe the PCs are asking, maybe the PCs just happen to flash it in front of him.) Does he want to craft some piece of Numenera? etc. This isn't going to mean much in a direct contest with a PC, but if the NPC is a source of information it tells you what they'll be able to answer. As a crafter, it also tells you what the NPC would be able to create and how long it would take.
    There's another section lower on the page for combat between NPCs which can be expanded for a less deterministic version.
  • I always took at as referring to the crafting table in the corebook. Someone who is lv 5 in crafting can only craft basic numenera items like glowglobes. lv7 is they can craft actual numenera items. It has nothing to do with the lv of the item that will be created. That is determined by components you use.

    It is explicit that to create a lv 5 item you need a lv5 , lv4 lv 3 lv 2 and lv 1 component. similarly to create a lv 7 item you need a lv 7, lv 6 ......... etc etc. The lv an npc is at crafting is simply what they can craft not how good it will be. Just read page 106-7 of the corebook
Sign In or Register to comment.