Barbarism in the 9th World

So I've been reading up on my 9th world lore since I started GMing a Numenera game on Roll20 a few weeks back. Most of the setting is believable, though I still think a Billion years in the future is too far too matter. I mean, everything that takes place in Numenera could take place within only a few million years. Making it a Billion years seems to be a little ridiculous and only add complications that aren't necessary. Anyway, That's not even my real issue with the setting. My problem  is why hasn't advancements in civilization been made since man kind has re-appeared on earth? (I also think that the whole Re-appearing human thing is just poorly done too) If the Aeon priest are dedicated to the betterment of the community via the use of Numenera then what's keeping things Medieval exactly? Example, A numenera is finally discovered that replicates some food source. All you need then are some fliers to start shipping food to the rest of the world. Sure, there are some nasty things out there, but people seen to be able to travel in between towns still. Networks would be set up and the various fuctional Numenera would be used to rebuild civilization. What's exactly keeping Progress from being made? It seems to me if the Order of Truth had control over just a handful of extra ordinary Numenera then Society would move forward rapidly. Just look at the changes that the industrial age gave us.

See in something like The Book of the New Sun this is explained. Society is being kept in check, kept from progressing because that would only cause it's ultimate down fall. So the Cacogens (aliens) keep things Feudal until the time comes when society is prepared to advance.


  • That's not really a fair question.  Every GM is going to run their world as they see fit.  The books say that the overall society is medieval in general.  But not necessarily in the specifics.  Life in Lostrei is much different than society in Navarene and both of those are vastly different than life below the wall of ice or the Weal of Baz.  Without the ability to reliably communicate long distances those groups have been developing at different rates.  Navarene is still in a Feudal European stage whereas the Lostrei is struggling to maintain their highly advanced lifestyle.  The Weal is highly technological whereas the south of the wall could still be tribal in major parts of the country.

    Our world gained its advances through the use and discovery of our natural resources.  In the Ninth world all of those resources have been used up.  Ninth society is attempting to gain those advancements with the use of the numenera which are unreliable at best.  You won't find an iron mine anywhere in the ninth world but you will find numenera mines.  And at some point you have to stop and think is it really going to be worth the effort to teach the Seskii's astrophysics.  And that's what the people are attempting to do with the numenera, they are trying to grasp the concepts of quint-dimensional physics in relation to plotting courses through black/white hole wormholes when they have barely mastered the idea that you should be tipping your waiter 20%. 

    Think of everything that Arthur Dent went through when he found out his friend Ford Prefect was not actually from earth and then hitched his ride on the Vogon Construction ship. 

  • Thanks for the comment! I understand what your saying and it does make sense. Still, a few things are bothering me. I never meant that the Aeon Priest would try to teach anyone anything. I simply meant that a few Super Numenera and a few dozen fliers could start delivering goods around the world for almost no cost. Since some of these "super" Numenera can create clean water, create food out of thin air, or make plastic out of urine perhaps, whatever. The point is that as soon as one of  these devices were found a whole area of life would be solved for at least millions of people, but maybe not the entire planet. I understand that it wouldn't always work out and that people might even wage wars over these Special Numenera, but then again it seems like the steadfast is under decent control.

    Anyway, you brought up a whole different problem that's bugging me. Why exactly in a Billion years, not a million, but a Billion would we not have renewed resources again? Wouldn't several of those past worlds been ground into oil and other usable resources? See if it was only a million I'd go sure okay we ran out of oil, iron, whatever, but a billion years everything would of been reground a few times. For example, world 3 might be nothing but a giant mass of iron and oil after all those million years. Everything they'd ever used would of be ground back up by time.

    Still, you have a point. Today we still have 3rd world countries where people starve to death. So I suppose it isn't that hard to imagine. Then again, we don't have technology that can cure all illnesses, make food from air, or even clean the air from all the poison in it. I'd just imagine if we did we could find a way to utilize it for the greatest number of people. An example would be a large machine that you can walk into that cures all disease. If that existed I'd think that anyone who was sick would just make the dangerous trek to this great Mecca for a free cure. If we had a machine that made bread out of dirt that people would just travel yearly for 1 ton of free bread for their villages in the winter, etc. You see what I'm getting at I hope. I'm not saying they'd learn how any of the Numenera works themselves.
  • Its a matter of suspension-of-belief.  You have no problem with Star Wars' "A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away" right?  It's the same concept.  The time frame of a million years or a couple of billion years or even just fifteen minutes from now, is just a literary building technique.  It's purpose is to put you into a different mindset where all the other concepts of the game or book are believable.  

    As to those natural resources, if you say that they are there, then in your game they are and your players will have no choice to but to believe you.  The reintroduction of the new-humans is handled the same way.  Be it natural evolution, planet seeding, divine intervention/creation then that's how it is.  It was left deliberately vague in the text as to not offend any belief set held by the readers and to spark the imaginations of the GMs. 

    Your argument about stabilizing a region of the world by use of Numenra is probably correct.  It could be that's how you can interpret parts of the Steadfast.  Allowing them to flourish as they have.  But you are not taking in to account the greedy and xenophobic tendencies of humans in large groups as we know them.  For most people, if someone was to come to their door offering free food and medicine the cure all that ails you, they would be extremely skeptical of the others' intentions.  Some would probably make the trek to the for their yearly ton of bread but the others would still either want to take control of the source or be trying to replicate it at home as to not have to share.  I'm not saying that there is not true altruism even, in Numenera, but there is always someone that will be very wary of such intentions.

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