Descriptors in Numenera

Descriptors in Numenera

Image by Storn A. Cook – Storn Art
Image by Storn A. Cook – Storn Art

I have Numenera Descriptors on my mind at the moment.

Time for a boring Numenera post, largely intended for personal reference – if that’s OK with the two other people who read this blog.

The basic Numenera character has a sort of concept defined in a single sentence made from a few selective components.

I am an descriptor/adjective character type/noun who focus/verbs

You have the option of choosing the descriptors and foci from lists in the core book, but space and the desire for expansion means that options run on the finite side. You have 12 official descriptors, for example, but you have the chance to create your own or seek out those defined by others.

When I ran my first session of Numenera on Monday, I think some found the narrow choices of Descriptors confining. I would have liked to have had the confidence to support other options and create something off the cuff. When a player suggested they’d like Mischievous, it would have been brilliant if I’d said, “Well, that’s a good idea… how about we work out the particulars? So, how do you see this description shaping your character’s perspective and motivations?”. Something like that.

I’m looking to flex my Descriptor creating muscles (before moving on to the more complex and imaginative Foci, that I won’t touch upon for the moment – but give the examples of ‘Bears a Halo of Fire’ and ‘Fights with Panache’). With the idea of creating new options, I wanted to get a grasp of what exists already.

So, I compiled a short list. Numenera has a fair few fans out there and so various options have been considered – although, I’m open to tweaking them if I don’t agree with the interpretation.

I cite the source, as appropriate. In each case, I give an inkling of the focus of the Descriptor by stating the basic bonus providing – whether to Intellect (i), Might (m), Speed (s), Armour (a), Damage (d) or others (where variable or no specific bonus).

Numenera Core Book

  • Charmed (2i)
  • Clever (2i)
  • Graceful (2s)
  • Intelligent (2i)
  • Learned (2i)
  • Mystical/Mechanical (2i)
  • Rugged (-)
  • Stealthy (2s)
  • Strong (4m)
  • Strong-Willed (4i)
  • Swift (4s)
  • Tough (1a)

In Strange Aeons

  • Mad (4i)
  • Doomed (2s)

Celestial Wisdom: The Datasphere

  • Blessed (2m)
  • Cybernetic (2m)
  • Ghostly (2s)
  • Handy (2i)
  • Inquisitive (2s)
  • Zealous (2i)

Echoes of the Prior Worlds

  • Grizzled (4m)
  • Intrepid (2s)

Writers’ Block blog

  • Calculating (2i)
  • Feral (2m)
  • Vicious (1d)

The Ninth World – Numenera Fan community

  • Ambidextrous (2s)
  • Analytical (2i)
  • Blessed (-2s)
  • Blue Murden (0)
  • Cenobite (2i/1m/1s)
  • Clumsy (2m)
  • Compassionate (2i)
  • Creative (4i)
  • Dangerous (2s)
  • Daring (2m)
  • Delusional (-)
  • Enchanting (2i)
  • Eremite (1i/1m/1s)
  • Famous (2i)
  • Gelid (-)
  • Hedonistic (2m)
  • Helpful (2i)
  • Honorable (2i)
  • Horologist (2i)
  • Informed (2i)
  • Intuitive (2s)
  • Jinxed (2m)
  • Lucky (2s)
  • Mischievous (2i)
  • Mysterious (2low)
  • Naïve (2s)
  • Outcast (2m)
  • Passionate (2i)
  • Relaxed (2i)
  • Scarred (2i)
  • Shrewd (2i)
  • Shy (2s)
  • Spiteful (-2i)
  • Tvaroth (vary)
  • Unstable (2high)
  • Vagrant (2s)
  • Vulgarine (-)
  • Wealthy (2i)
  • Wise (2i)
  • Zen (vary)

Ninth World Hub – Numenera Fan community

My current list of Descriptors to compile has come from a desire to use archaic or less common words, delving into little used adjectives. In each case, I’m deciding on alignment for bonus, without committing to anything:

  • Roughshod (m – something to do with spiky bits, lose objects, poorly organised yet always with something on hand for a task)
  • Ambodexter (s – untrustworthy, tending to go one way or other without warning, a derogatory word for ambidexters)
  • Contumelious (i – insulting, scornful, rude)
  • Excogigative (i – study intently in order to grasp or comprehend, devise, invent)
  • Septentrional (? – from the north… perhaps with some experience or lineage from the Gaian cause)
  • Hugger-mugger (s – secret or clandestine)
  • Equipollent (? – equivalent, equal in power, logically deducible)
  • Sanguinolent (m – tinged with blood, not sure what angle to take on this yet… but bleeds easy might be a way to go, or prone to rage)

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