What is the numenera?

From the AMA pile, Surface rfl says:

In a recent interview, among lots of superb stuff (great companions concepts! can we call the ball of goo... Ballte? Goolte? no? ..damn...), - ive noticed this line:

- "Magic" in Numenera is performed by tapping into the ubiquitous numenera around you--even in the air and the dirt--and using it to reshape the world. -

I know thats most likely a convenient background lore explanation explanation and i dont expect "magic" to be realistically explained, but im curious when it comes to the setting... what exactly does this "ubiquitous numenera" mean?
Did you refer to various technological remnants of previous epochs like cyphers, artifacts and other actual numenera that the player will find, or maybe some kind of more microscopic nano machines saturation... or is it something else?
Im asking because so far ive gotten use to thinking about numenera as small objects basically, and any still functioning or malfunctioning rogue nano machines as something exactly specified, like the Iron Wind, for example.


Yes to all of the above.

So a brief recap for those unfamiliar: the setting of Numenera and Torment is Earth one billion years in the future, known as the Ninth World. A billion years is as far removed from us as we are removed from being single-celled organisms. In those epochs, a number of great civilizations have risen and then disappeared into obscurity, each one orders of magnitude more advanced than all but the wackiest science fiction could even imagine.

The people of the Ninth World, however, are at approximately medieval technology levels, but they live among the debris and leftovers of a billion years of civilizations. Of course there are no books or other degradable things still lying around, but there are massive monuments made of metals nobody recognizes, giant crystals floating in the sky, mutated descendants of bioengineered creatures, automated military constructs following orders that don't make sense anymore, and other weirder things that have withstood time.

The Ninth Worlders don't understand how to make any of this stuff, but they know enough to cobble together useful artifacts from what they find.

To (finally) get to the question, "this stuff" is the numenera, but it doesn't just mean sci-fi devices you find lying around (you actually don't find sci-fi devices lying around much, but have to cobble your own). It also means the invisible forces still in the air. It means the datasphere that some civilization built around the planet -- the one that can be accessed if you know what you're doing (not that you'll understand what you find) and beams the occasional strange vision (known as glimmers) into people's heads at random. It means the creatures that look like they stepped out of a horror film. It means the dirt itself, which has been worked, refined, manufactured, or grown and then ground back into soil by time.

Although we do frequently use "numenera" to refer to the items and devices you will find in Torment, it really is ubiquitous and can be used by the clever or knowledgeable in infinite ways.


Got a question? Ask me anything.


Angela Brown said...

I'm not a gamer, but I think I actually understood that answer :-)

Matthew MacNish said...

Hooray for Science-Fantasy!

Anonymous said...

I think they would have to avoid clearly recognizable artifacts, at least from 21st century eyes.

But there are some esoteric theories of quantum mechanics like the Dirac Sea that when applications are formed from it, still seem very magickal.

A key concept in relativity or various particle theories is relative perspectives. Depending on one's perspective relate to the phenomenon, it changes the phenomenon, such as red vs blue shifts. But seen another way, that's the same as Willing something into existence. If a person becomes an Observer in the Dirac Sea, and what they observe can become the same as their Will, then essentially their Will is made into reality. Much as a sorcerer is said to command powers by will and imagination alone.

Quantum Entanglement can also produce soul bonds, if higher dimension constructs are made out of the concept of love.

The cultures on Planet earth that has had several decades combining science with fantasy, had come up with a load of interesting concepts on this plane.

Western civilization has recently begin splicing together different genres. It will be interesting to see what people produce and how far their imaginations can extend.

elfman5150 said...

This game sounds fantastic! While I was reading this I couldn't help but think of the Kingkiller Chronicles a bit, and the connection Kvote and others have to different 'elements.' I'll be buying this game as soon as it becomes available. Finally a game that is different from the other sci-fi/fantasy stuff.

Surface Reflection said...

Good explanation.

mudd1 said...

If the game includes higher dimensions made of love and other Captain Planet-y stuff or blatant misunderstandings of what an "observer" is in quantum mechanics, I'm gonna ragequit.