Numenera: Mars

I figured I'd start a discussion with, what I think, is one of the obvious locals Numenera could expand to--but that may not be discussed in detail in the core.

It stands to reason that at some point in the previous 'Eight Worlds' Mars was terraformed. I'm not sure if Monte already has plans for this but I thought it may make an interesting topic to talk about before we get more specifics about the setting detail in the core book(s).

Something I think could be very interesting is that mars offers a chance to have had, perhaps, hundreds of millions of years of development completely independent of the earth.


Here are some basic premises i've considered for mars:


It could be the case that the 'Third World' terraformed mars. A collapse occurs and both civilizations crumble. Mars independently has it's own rises and falls. Maybe in the 'Fifth World' era is the first time humanity makes it back to Mars. There is some cross pollination at this point again.

This could allow for mars to conceive of themselves as not originating from earth but still have legends and depending on how that contact goes, certain feelings about earth.


Maybe terraforming of mars was tried early on but mostly abandoned (given the idea of transdimensional rifts and such it is conceivable that it would be easier to simply use somewhere other than mars rather than putting effort into making it habitable)

Enough of the terraforming was begun that as the sun heats up mars becomes a viable life giving planet on it's own and the bits of life left behind evolve independent of earth.

This would allow for a pretty alien mars with little attachment to earth, and a pretty variable timeline to fit the type of mars you want into your own campain.


Mars is extremely closely tied to earth. In this concept there is an easily accessible gateway, or portal, leading right to mars. Mars is more like another contenant than something truly foreign. It's evolved mostly parallel to earth since whichever era this gateway(s) were stabilized.


All of these premises can be taken in many different ways. Maybe mars was a garbage dump which now holds treasures, maybe the civilization over there is highly organized and militaristic serving as a foreign force intent on concurring. Maybe it's a paradise with resources beyond that of earth.

Has this been talked about anywhere?

What are your thoughts or ideas?



  • In our interview with him, in episode 3 of TF9W podcast, Monte did support your premise that past civilizations had traveled beyond our planet, perhaps even beyond our solar system.

    I like where this is going! more, more!
  • I really like the idea that there are space (and perhaps even time) travel methods.
    Even so I'd prefere not to force the Ninth World setting in a real references context. I mean, it may well be Mars, but why not just call it "The Eye of the Bloody Titan", leaving doubts that it can be something completely different?

    If there's one thing I realized from playtest sessions is that half of Numenera's fun often rely on discovering something that you do not know, and perhaps to understand how "that something" can be traced back to really existing stuff.

    E.g. is much more bizarre and weird describe an artifact like this: "A faint hum grabs your attention. Between the rusted corrugated metal sheeting you found a shell-like device, sparkling fires and making multiple voice signals. The thing occasionally sends flashes that suggest it once worked", than simply say: "Between the rusted corrugated metal sheeting you found what looks like an old radio, maybe from a previous era of the earth. The device does not work, and sends ringing weak"

  • Given that at least one of the previous "worlds" had the scientific knowledge and resources to alter the sun's developing intensity, I pretty much just assume that both Mars AND Venus are completely terraformed with blue oceans and vegetation covered continents.  Neither are inhabited by humans as we or the Ninth Worlders would recognize them, but different species long since descended from human ancestors millions of years ago.
  • I'm afraid that "used to be completely terraformed" is more likely - and you've just made me want to take my players there.
  • I didn't even think of Venus ^_^, that opens up even more possibilities. 
  • What if Mars used to be a bustling civilisation, slowly becoming more habitable as Earth heated up, and the reconditioning of the sun was the final killing blow in a conflict between the last gasps of Earth and Mars? 

    What if Earth didn't suck the sun back to where it is now immediately, but pulsed it low enough to freeze Mars in its tracks while keeping Earth barely viable?

    Then you have the potential for a whole planet of flash-frozen and thawed out relics of the past, and maybe, just maybe, a handful of massively up-teched Martians coming out of deep freeze and hell-bent on planet wide revenge.

    Maybe that's what the Jagged Dream really is.
  • @Delta

    That's a neat idea, i wasn't even thinking about the potential implications of, some methods of, stabilizing earths habitat on the other planets in the solar system. It would spike hostilities, could even do something where there is a machine that is functioning to maintain that effect and the martians want to destroy it
  • I'm picturing some kind of Martian jungle that's maintained by clouds of nanites from a previous world's attempt to terraform the planet. When the sun goes down all of the animals/vegetation gets flash frozen only to be restored by the nanites the next day.
  • If you seach on terraformed mars you can find some great maps. 
  • Notes in regards to Mars being made habitable:

    1) Gravity - you'd probably find massive structures that alter gravity around Mars to make the surface gravity higher so that it holds on to more than just a thin shell of gas. The same gravitational generators might also be able to project a focal lens to concentrate the sun's light on the planet, keeping it warmer.

    2) Tectonics - without plate tectonics or equivalent superscience solutions, you'll also lose atmosphere by way of weathering as the rocks bond with CO2. So a previous world would have done something about this - perhaps the interior of Mars has a tiny rift to the corona of a star, letting just enough energy seep through from the stellar side to keep the mantle of the planet hot. If the surface of Mars didn't crack into plates the way that Earth has them, we'd see the volcanic structures towering even higher than before - Mons Olympus might potentially reach beyond the edge of the thickened atmosphere.

    3) Axial tilt - Mars as it stands today wobbles rather dramatically over the course of millions of years in response to the tiny gravitational tugs of other planets. While the solution to point #1 might also solve this point, it's far more interesting to theorize that a Moon-like body was moved into orbit or constructed in orbit around Mars, providing the same stabilizing influence that the Moon does for Earth.

    Venus, on the other hand, would need the acid stripped from the atmosphere, carbon dioxide dramatically bound, some kind of solar screen put in place to shield it from the sunlight, and the rampant vulcanism the surface suffers would need to be damped down.

    Of course, an even more interesting solution for the heating/cooling of the two planets would be for a prior world to have adjusted their orbits to put them each 120 degrees around the sun from the Earth, in stable Lagrange positions, matched in orbital velocity and path. You'd get three near-sister worlds, allowing for factors like their mass disparities and adding in artificial or transplanted moons.
  • To borrow some great concepts from the Eclipse Phase RPG, Venus could be home to ancient, massive aerostats, entire cities that float in the Venusian atmosphere. Long abandoned by their previous occupants, some may have drifted off-course and deeper into the dangerous atmosphere, become near-unreachable dungeon crawls.

  • Great idea on Venus! I have been playing around / thinking about nearby celestial bodies as well, and cribbed the following from the GURPs New Sun book plus a few thoughts of my own (very brief, just outlines so far):

    The Moon – “Nule” – forest-covered, with a breathable atmosphere. There is no known human population, but some skywatchers report seeing thru their powerful telescopes what must be herds of animals moving thru the treed plains and valleys.

    Mars – “Verthandi” – mostly arid and unlivable, with some a network of terraformed fertile canal-zones w local atmospheres (1% of the planet's surface is thus treated). There may be cities and roads in these zones but their inhabitants are unknown.

    Venus – “Skuld” – terraformed, once-civilized, now abandoned. This planet is feared and spoken of as a curse

    Mercury – the planet is gone, but occupying its orbit is an invisible/out-of-phase, dormant, planet-sized ship of unknown construction, called “Abaddon” by a few hyper-aware expert astronomers.


  • In my game the moon is fully Terraformed with oceans, clouds and a faster rotation--the works.  Lights can been seen, as if from cities The moon was moved closer so it appears about 80% larger and what appears to be strange storms can be seen lacing through the Lunar sky from Earth at times. Venus and Mars are also Terraformed--but the players are unaware of this-- a few with eyes to the sky may realize this in my world. There are several very large orbital habitats around earth and the other planets. The Terraformed worlds and many of the habitats have gates to access them dotted around my world.

    I like the Abaddon idea!!!....that gets me thinking---hmmm!!!

    Love the mention of Eclipse Phase, one of my Fav RPGs--a number of things from that setting have found their way into my Numenera setting.
  • I like the idea of Mars still being a dead planet.  In my own stories, I have gone with the idea that mars was once a living planet long ago.  Whether this happened before the eight ages or during is up to you.  Anyway, mars died for some reason that was absolute.  Perhaps strange entities possessed everyone making all live on the planet hostile.  Perhaps the core radiates a poisonous energy that drains all life.  Perhaps strange defense mechanisms and grids destroy all movement on the surface.  Perhaps it's become a world ruled by hostile machines that seek the destruction of all non-artificial life.

    Whatever the reason, Mars is now a dead and hostile world.  It cannot support life, and any life that comes to Mars will face constant attack and hardship.  However, it is covered in the ruins of a great and ancient civilization.  Great cities and strange ruins cover the entire surface, and several portals to mars are known to exist in the world.  Those brave, and foolish enough to try can find great treasures buried in the dust of Mars.
  • Given the engineering that went in to adjusting the earths rotation and orbit, I would think that there should be nothing remotely recognisable about either Mars or Venus at this point. Also Venus would definitely need some kind of electromagnetic field generator as it doesn't produce it's own. I personally like to imagine a giant synth and metal ring in orbit, like an artificial version of Saturn's.

    The thing that bothers me is having the players travel somewhere and being "dude we're on mars; high five" I think PCs can get to mars, considering what is possible in the ninth world, but the characters wouldn't really know or care the way we might. It would simply be another "mysterious realm" and you would slowly reveal with hints and clues that they were in fact on mars. Even better to have the players take a few sessions to clue in.


  • Of course, an even more interesting solution for the heating/cooling of the two planets would be for a prior world to have adjusted their orbits to put them each 120 degrees around the sun from the Earth, in stable Lagrange positions, matched in orbital velocity and path. You’d get three near-sister worlds, allowing for factors like their mass disparities and adding in artificial or transplanted moons.
    Now that is how I see the solar system in the ninth world, completely alien to what we have now. The clear signs of staggering engineering capability on display, left to crumble as time takes its toll.
  • Burroughs' visions of Mars and Venus drop right into Numenera, even within the context of moving both into co-orbit with the Ninth World Earth as already suggested.

    This came to mind because the retro-clone "Warriors of the Red Planet" has tables in the back that compliment Numenera's random weirdness tables, and I've been looking at Bronze Age Miniatures...
  • Speculation from Astronomers this past week suggests that Mars would be short a moon by the Ninth World, at least as natural processes go.
  • Hi all,

    I imagined Naharrai as Mars, having experienced a period of terraforming and prosperity in the past (as stated above), returning to its current red wasteland because knowledge and technology got lost as the ages advanced. So, it would be a dying planet... perhaps it could be terraformed again?
  • Hi all,

    I imagined Naharrai as Mars, having experienced a period of terraforming and prosperity in the past (as stated above), returning to its current red wasteland because knowledge and technology got lost as the ages advanced. So, it would be a dying planet... perhaps it could be terraformed again?

    No need to imagine; Naharrai is the third current planet from the sun in the space sourcebook, and very much written as a Numenera edition of the Dying Mars of things like John Carter. It's Mars, terraformed at least once, long enough ago that the terraforming is slowly crumbling. It could probably be terraformed again, but it'd need knowledge and technology beyond any of the sapients currently alive; the ghru might have the knowledge in some of those machine brains, but not the initiative or technology.
  • Yeah, as Kassil said, Naharrai is definitely Mars. There's no ambiguity in the presentation.

    Of course, this thread was started long before "Into the Night" was released, so the earlier participants in the discussion would've known nothing about Naharrai.

    Real life took me away for a long while. Of late, I've been catching up. I find myself bouncing back and forth between the various supplements, reading several sections of each book, switching as I get a bit fatigued with an area or concept. Usually, when I later return to a section, it's fresh and interesting once more. I still have a bit to read in "Into the Night".

    I have to say, Numenera is an awesome setting. Earth is my favorite part. There is pretty much limitless potential on just the surface of the earth, and now we are soon to get an deep sea supplement. Should we wish to take our adventures elsewhere, though, we have awesome material like "Into the Night". What a great setting. The potential adventures are endless in this setting.
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