Numenera and electrical machines

Heya!

My group recently started playing Numenera, but when I created my character, I discovered something confusing. The "Talks To Machines" focus states that the character is trained in all tasks related to electrical machines, but wouldn't all electronics in the Ninth World be considered numenera?

My GM ruled that electrical machines are somewhat commonplace in the Ninth World, with only the more advanced nanotech and such considered numenera. I'm still a little unsure about it, so what do you guys think?

Comments

  • Personally, I would disagree with that GM. I think that "numenera" encompasses just about every form of technology beyond the ken of the average Medieval peasant. Further, I think use of the term "electronics" is more a matter of convenience than anything. I very much doubt you would ever find anything resembling modern 21st century electronics kicking around the 9th world. Electronic numenera would probably include things like zero-resistivity carbon nanotube transmission lines set in flexible, self-healing polymer substrates, and combination cooling/transmission systems of liquid semiconductor, and a bunch of other neat stuff engineers of today salivate over.

     

    This does, however, raise a fair conundrum. How do you distinguish between an "electronic" numenera and other categories?  Or, for that matter, how would you distinguish between a non-numenera electronic device and one that is numenera? The section on crafting divides numenera into at least four distinct categories: chemical, electrical, mechanical and transdimensional. If nothing else, this proves that at least some numenera are intended to be electronic. You could point this out to the GM, and then it would fall to him to decide which numenera were sufficiently "electronic" and which weren't.

     

    I, for one, would be a bit persnickety with regards to which numenera counted as "electronic" or otherwise. If the GM throws a raging automaton at you, or perhaps a "corridor" obstructed by grinding gears, he could say it counts as "mechanical" rather than "electronic." A ruined factory's machinery could be controlled by an organic computer, and any device that tampers with alternate dimensions is probably too far advanced for any human to "talk to" anyway. This also opens the door for some interesting GM intrusions: maybe the terminal you tried to hack was infected with a computer virus? Maybe the device has a tamper-proof failsafe, making it loudly and dramatically self-destruct?

     

    This is just what I'd do, however. Try and talk this stuff over with your GM, and maybe you can come up with some working agreement on when, where, and how your powers work.
  • Thanks for the reply!  I'm just wondering that if some numenera are electronic, wouldn't all tasks regarding their use be handled with the numenera skill, rather than the electronics skill? Of course, being trained in both could make you specialized in it, but my character is already specialized in numenera by taking the mystical/mechanical descriptor, and being a Nano.
  • Yeah, I think the different types of numenera skills are only there for crafting. The general "Numenera" skill that nanos all get is just for identifying and using them. Or at least, that's my take on it. I would think that just about any adventurer worth their salt is going to need to know some broad, practical knowledge on how to use numenera, but being able to actually craft them is another matter entirely, thus explaining the different skills. The "talks to machines" focus is a sort of exception, because presumably you could be talking to them without an intimate understanding of how they work. If you were specialized in Numenera, had the "talks to machines" focus, and had the skill Numenera (electronics), the GM might consider one or both of the latter to be assets when using the Numenera skill against electrical machines. When it comes to crafting an electrical device, however, you would need the Numenera (electronics) skill, and I'd probably count the "talks to machines" focus as an asset, but not your general Numenera skill. For greater clarity, I might distinguish a few skills thusly:

     

    Use Numenera: Replaces the "Numenera" skill that nanos get. This skill is for using and/or identifying numenera, and maybe repairing them in some cases, if the GM is feeling generous.

     

    Craft Numenera (x): Where "x" is chemical, mechanical, electrical, or transdimensional. Depending on the situation, I might consider this skill an asset when using "Use Numenera" on a corresponding device, but I would not consider "Use Numenera" an asset to crafting. After all, if you can craft something, it's assumed you already know how to use it.
     
    Henri Vuorenmaa said:
    Thanks for the reply!  I'm just wondering that if some numenera are electronic, wouldn't all tasks regarding their use be handled with the numenera skill, rather than the electronics skill? Of course, being trained in both could make you specialized in it, but my character is already specialized in numenera by taking the mystical/mechanical descriptor, and being a Nano.





  • I see. I'm gonna have to ask the GM about the crafting rules. Thanks again!
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