The First World: remnants from "our" time

So I get that a billion years is, in fact, a long time from now. The core rulebook explicitly makes it clear that whether our civilization, or the one that comes after us, is the First World is unclear. So everyone expects that absolutely nothing recognizable from our time will be present in the Ninth World.

However, the Ninth World is if anything a place where the impossible is made possible. I think anything recognizable from our world should only be used maybe twice a campaign, or only once if you're feeling particularly conservative. We already have a few things: humans look like humans now. The octopi civilization. A hook in the core book talking about an actual horse (and not a Ninth World horse) being unfrozen from an ancient tomb.

What else do you think could still be around in a recognizable form from our world ("our" world referring to anything that we in the 21st century would recognize, not necessarily actual physical artifacts from now)? Something I had in mind is, at the ending of a campaign arc, the group finds the Voyager Golden Record. Not a copy or a duplicate. The original Golden Record, recovered from one of the Voyager spacecrafts. How were they recovered in the vast gulf of space? Who recovered them, and why? Who knows. I dunno, I think nothing would be more powerful than humans, a billion years from now, seeing the images, hearing the sounds, the music, from an era that seems so impossibly distant but at the same time familiar.

I sometimes hear disappointment from people saying Numenera takes place a billion years in the future, where nothing from our time will remain. Why have it set on Earth if it's in a world that's completely unrecognizable and has no links to our world? Personally, I like that there's pretty much nothing from our world in the Ninth World beyond small hints (like, again, recognizable human forms).

But for me, nothing would be so mysterious and weird than having a simple golden disk provide the last link in the entire universe between the Ninth World and the primordial times of the 21st century. In-character it would at best be a great find from one of the past civilizations. Out of character I'd probably be applauding the GM.


  • It's an interesting idea.  I definitely think that if you were going to do something like this, it should be the focus of the campaign and should only be done once.  E.g. figuring out the mystery of the golden record would be the goal/culmination of the entire campaign.

    Personally, I would never do this in my game.  I think it undermines the vast amount of time involved.  Very few things last a billion years, and those that do are almost exclusively on a cosmic scale.  Most people have a really hard time conceptualizing a billion years, and having something from our day show up just undermines what understanding there may be.

    For me, the fact there is nothing "recognizable" from our world in the Ninth World is a huge part of the draw, mystique and flavor of the setting.  I'm no more bothered by there not being anything from our time/world as I'm bothered by there being no reference to our world in Star Wars (which, as Jim Ryan pointed out in his latest blogcast, could very well take place in our universe a long time ago in a galaxy far away).

    Personally, I prefer to view the Ninth World as an alien world (from our perspective) where there are occasionally eerie similarities to things we're familiar with today, but when you dig beneath the surface of these similarities, the apparent similarity is only superficial and not real--it really has no connection to our world at all, the apparent connection is an illusion.

    I think what you suggest could be done, but it would be exceedingly difficult to do well.  You'd have to show the players in a million ways that this is a different world an incomprehensible amount of time in the future, and such an occurence (e.g. the golden record) is "impossible" and therefore a great mystery to solve.  And even if pulled off, may lead to a misperception among your players.

    Just my $0.02.
  • The way I see it is this, whether or not we are the first world, the first world would know about stuff we have and would likely produce replicas and museum exhibits and such. Then the world after them and the world after them. Can anything we have right now survive being copied nine+ times and still seem familiar? Hard to say, we have artifacts from the cave-dudes had but thats only 10-20,000 years ago. Are the copies we have made any good? The golden record might of been reclaimed and copies made of it and put into museums throughout the universe, built and stored with superior technologies that would allow it to go the distance of 10^9 years.

    The other thing is that we are told that some of the worlds had extra-dimensional and chronological technology, is it impossible to think that they might have come back to 2014? If you do include a modern day segment, describe it only in terms of how a ninth worlder would see it, see if your players figure it out.
  • The nine worlds were not necessarily continuous, one to another (in fact, we don't even know for sure there were nine). There may have been time periods of millions or hundreds of millions of years between them where there were either no humans on Earth or they reverted to a primitive level of technology and culture.  So I don't think that we can assume that things were carried over from one world to the next at all (although you certainly could in your particular Ninth World if you wanted).

    A civilization existing even ONE million years is beyond our conception.  All of human history up to this point is barely a fraction of a million years.
  • my players might stumble across a perfectly preserved big ben in a stasis field.
  • I thought it might be cool to use the Ark of the Covenant or the Holy Grail in my campaign. Maybe even Excalibur.
  • Obviously it seems like the idea I presented is extremely unappealing :
  • I did this in my game but I did not want any of the past "things" to be physical in nature.  The remnants of the past were digital transmissions of various voices (recordings of people speaking into answering machines actually). This energy was captured by a Geneomancer that used these transmissions as "template souls" for a clone/mutant army he was creating for the Aeon Priests to fight in their crusade.

    Essentially 21st century folks were waking up (as it was their voices that had been captured) in bodies that looked a lot like the bodies in the Avatar movie. I used minis from Vor: The Maelstrom (Zykhee Faction) to represent these on the tabletop. It flowed very well and enabled the party to take the role of the "normal" guys with these billion years "souls" that were out-of-place/ out-of-time/and out-of-body.

    Below is one of the minis we used...I painted it along time ago and had a photographer friend take a pic of it...

  • This is an amazing idea. Does anyone happen to know if there is a recording of the audio on the Voyager Golden Record? Excalibur is a great idea, what if it was a Cypher all long(Which could explain how it has survived over a billion years. It very well could be the most powerful Cypher on the planet)? What Cypher properties would it have from the book?

    The armor of Achilles and Beowulf, Srivatsa, the shield of Vishnu, Sword of Attila the Hun, Joan of Arc's sword, Thor's Hammer Mjölnir.

    Maybe they are original Cyphers created by extraterrestrial Life, I might get a little X-Files with this to tell the truth. I've always loved that show and would enjoy paying homage to it.

    Here is a list of mythological artifacts of earth,
  • Funny you should ask about the Golden Record's audio. NASA just uploaded it to Soundcloud. golden record
  • So the Golden record is pretty much recordings of salutations in many different languages. It's nice to have the original recordings to use in the game. I see most people are arguing way to much logic in a science fiction slash fantasy game. What floats my boat, these recordings being around. Could the Aeon Priest have one of the few remaining copies of the Golden Record locked up? Maybe they only have a fraction of the recordings in a different format other than vinyl? Maybe Voyager is nearby, anyone having flashbacks to Star Trek the motion picture? Maybe that is a stupid idea.
  • edited August 2015
    That is a great article covering Quatz Glass as a very real possibility for storing data long term. If the glass can last 300 million years, who to say if in that time frame someone discovers a way to make quartz glass or a different material last beyond 300 million years.

    So no physical objects from our time would be around, but most likely there would be plenty of data to read and or listen to, but then it becomes a question of if a Ninth Worlder can figure out how to access this data.

    I'm visualizing the Voyager Record etched into a Quartz Glass Disc.

    Anyways it provides food for thought.
  • Agreed. I don't believe you'd find ANY physical remnants of "this" world. Think about how much trouble we have just preserving things from 2500 years ago, and everything that happens during that time for a civilization. I actually tend to view most cyphers and artifacts as probably be remnants of the 8th world, and in between for the most part.

    Data is a totally different story though. That's the whole thing about the "datasphere." Easily hundreds of millions of years of information there. Just no good "interface" to filter and use it. Pieces are corrupt or overwritten, etc.
  • I agree that a billion years would render most objects unrecognizable, but there are ways around this.
    I think the technology level of some of the past Worlds is advanced enough to justify anything. If the idea of a contemporary object showing up in your game appeals to you and you think it would appeal to your players, go for it.

    * Someone could have activated an artifact or cypher that pulls an ancient object through time, skipping over the billions of years (maybe a Volkswagen Beetle).

    * Someone could have an unexplained psychic connection to the past. They see a modern object in their dreams and whenever they close their eyes. To try to hold on to their sanity, they recreate the modern object in the Ninth World to better understand it (maybe a Nazi flag).

    * Late in our time or early in the next world, a self repairing technology is developed and either an item keeps renewing itself or nanobots keep repairing something (maybe a statue of a modern historical figure which bears an uncanny resemblance to a PC)

  • I think one of the best things anyone can do for their Numenera campaign is to throw some doubt on the Eight Civilizations Theory and the age of the world. Present alternate theories with possible evidence to back it up. In my game a minority group within the Order of Truth believes the Ninth World was created when 8 parallel worlds converged during a dimensional cataclysm. So in this case the players could find 21st century stuff, but it is from a parallel version of the Earth.

    Also, the fact that parallel worlds and possibly even time travel exist make having 21st century stuff show up more plausible.
  • You know what, I love your parallel universe idea. Using time travel, parallel universe , and quite possibly mix in Excursions from The Strange as a way to bring back modern day items. Heck, I would even give notion to Numenera Players crossing over into modern Earth somehow. MMM, tasty.
  • In a game of the weird and impossible, I think this is a great idea, and is well within the possibility of the "rules". If you as a GM want to have Big Ben in stasis or what have you( I, personally ,love the idea), then you are allowed to do so. Make up a reason that satisfies, you, because often the players never know the origins of these 9th world wonders. Perhaps, some inhabitants of the 4th world were time miners, and one of the the lesser throw away hauls of a unknown alien intelligence just happened to be said afformentioned clock tower, but it had been locked away in the equivalent of the creatures safety deposit box of time nuggets. What other treasures would be within, displaced from time?

    Just because the golden record couldn't really be there, doesn't mean you or I as GM can't create a good reason to put it there. That is part of science fiction, we find the way, before science can;)
  • I was originally thinkng there would be Zero remnants from world one. I still may think it, however with that story of the 350TB Data Crystal made from Nanetic Glass, that is supposed to last for billions of years. Perhaps there may be a find or a remnent of the world we live in today or maybe a remnet froma time in the near future. But no one direction CD's
  • Yaknow, there are all the conspiracy theories that say we in this (first?) world have been visited by aliens, maybe what ever you need to uncover those mysteries (big ben, the golden disk or what have you) has been preserved off world.
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