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A class as weird as its setting?

Straife Milton

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Trash Miner ! I'd like to see that as a functional class with a bunch of strange numenera-esque abilities.

I can see for economic viability that recognizable class tropes were available, but I still wish we saw some roles which had no analogue in DnD at all. Trash Miner as a viable numera adventuring class would be a humorous and yet accurate answer to my question, I think.
 

inoshiro

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Sure. I kinda expect the response to that criticism would be, "Well, all adventurers are trash miners. That's how they get their cyphers." But you're talking about a specific player character class.

The response, of course, is, "But TRASH MINERS!"

I'm too busy to attempt it myself, but here's a challenge: build a Trash Miner character class that fits the general level of power and abilities of the other basic classes for a new, beginner PC, using the Numenera/Cypher rules. I am honestly curious whether it could be done in a way that produces a viable adventurer class.

(I don't mean the pages of feats and feats, just enough to create a new PC of the class that could be played in a one-shot adventure or something and would (if played cleverly) survive more than ten minutes and do useful things for the group... as a test of the concept, and all. I mean, not just as a funnel character, like the various peasants of a DCC funnel or whatever.)

My suspicion is that it'd be much easier to hack together a Trash Miner class for some PbtA game where Trash Miners would make sense, than it would be designing a trash miner class for a more trad-type RPGs. (Which is how I think of Numenera, I realize... I suppose because it does have that D&D-like vibe to me.)
 

Straife Milton

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I went and read up on the spire and yeah, those sound like some weird classes, the sort of thing I'm talking about.
Weirdness in the player roles and abilities. that connects to the setting, that would be out of place in the Forgotten Realms in Shadowdale or whatever.

Trash Miner,I think, would be almost as ubiquitous as Fighter in DnD; Almost everyone in DnD fights, but not everyone specializes in it.

If you only read about the setting for Numenera without looking at the crunch and the rules and such, I doubt you'd ever expect it to be a traditional RPG with fantasy-recognizable classes. If you see it as a traditional rpg, then that's exactly the sort of thing I'm railing against. When I first heard about it, I expected player classes every bit as bizarre as the setting seems to be suggesting, not renamed tropes. But those tropes fine (especially since there's foci to add on to make them weirder), I suppose, but it wouldn't hurt for some very setting specific weird classes as well.
 

Extrakun

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If we're talking about settings other than Numenera, 13th Age in Glorantha has some classes tuned to some very distinctive elements of the setting, like the Eurmal Trickster (who goes way beyond a "Chaos Mage' in terms of mostly-favorable randomness) or Hell Mother.
And in core 13th Age, the Occultist is definitely weird -- perhaps the setting is not that weird, but still. There is only one Occultist in the whole of the world, and her spells essentially rewrite fate and time.
 

Tambourine

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Kieron Gillen's Die has a number of really cool classes that are in many ways riffs on classic D&D classes/roles but with a very out-there twist. Like the Neo who is some kind of Hacker-Rogue with cybernetics who summons their powers with faery gold (which vanishes after a day so they constantly have to get new faery gold), or the eight orders of Knights, each one driven by one particularly strong emotion that powers all their abilities (including their magic swords). Both feel like they could fit into the general vibe of Numenera.
 

inoshiro

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Trash Miner,I think, would be almost as ubiquitous as Fighter in DnD; Almost everyone in DnD fights, but not everyone specializes in it.
True. I mean, if I were running Numenera Trash Miners would be common, but I think it'd take a certain kind of group to have a player eager to play a Trash Miner PC, for the same reason most players wouldn't play a swineherd in D&D. :) But yeah, you're right that one would expect weirder classes—as opposed to something so D&D-esque—from just the setting material.

Although it makes sense and all, meaning it fits the setting and game's logic, I still find it funny there's a Mechanic class in Scum and Villainy, but I don't know that Mechanic PCs are "weird."

Some of the playbooks in Legacy: Life Among the Ruins (and especially the newer supplement/expansion) probably would qualify, if you consider playbooks "classes".

I suppose this question could be asked for races as well as classes.
I've seen cool stuff in the OSR-sphere. Hell, I even homebrewed some alternate races to replace demi-humans in the last OSR game I ran for a group.
 

Straife Milton

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The Trash Miner would no doubt have abilities that are nothing like, say, a real life dumpster diver or other mundane interpretations of the term.

If we try to imagine a very advanced civilization like the fallen ones of Numenera's past, it can be a bit difficult to imagine jobs and role (classes) that have no connection to real life or fantasy rpgs. But they probably existed.
 

inoshiro

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The Trash Miner would no doubt have abilities that are nothing like, say, a real life dumpster diver or other mundane interpretations of the term.
That's true, though I feel like a lot of them would fall under the rubric of those undefined "skills" mentioned on page 25:
  • bragaining/trading
  • wilderness survival
  • rapid excavation skills/gear
  • navigating ruins
Of course, I figure there are other skills a Trash Miner would have, like:
  • detecting the presence of cyphers/artifacts
  • deactivating cyphers/artifacts
  • figuring out the function of cyphers/artifacts
But I feel like probably all three of those (a) run counter to the way cyphers are constructed in the game (mysterious, littering the landscape, but treasure-like) and (b) could work as Nano skills, if they aren't already on the Nano list.

Well, and (c) I imagine your average Trash Miner who who wanders off into the wilds while lacking the kinds of skills offered by official character classes probably has a very short life expectancy.

So I figure the Numenera fan might point out that we're conflating in-game occupation or character archetype with OOC game-rulesy stuff like "character class".

(Sort of like people arriving at an AD&D game for the first time in 1991 might have said, "Wait, why aren't there 'witch' characters in this game?" and being told, "Well, if you want a witch, it's fine, just roll up a Magic-User and play it like a witch." And maybe a more creative GM might write up a few unique "witch" spells or homebrew a subclass or just make a slightly different spell list for "witch" characters that better suits the flavor the player is looking for.)

To which I'd say, "Sure, that works, but it's not that weird." This, of course, is presupposing people want weird for its own sake. Not everyone does, though I get a kick out of it, and I imagine the counterargument goes something like, "Well, this way, the degree of weirdness among character classes is up to the group to set."

It also reminds me of something I learned from a very smart writer at a workshop years ago. We were trying to figure out why this story with a brilliantly weird, biopunk setting with very weird characters and a very convoluted heist plot had lost every one of us about halfway through, and finally the instructor said, "Everything is weird. It's too much." I think she made an analogy where, if you're cooking, you don't include equal amounts of spicy, sour, salty, and sweet, because that would be too much of everything. If you're making your setting weird, it can pay to make your characters (and their relationships and problems) somewhat more relatable and "normal," and to keep your plot on the simpler side. If you're going with a super convoluted heist plot, then you might make the setting less alien and include less of the characters' emotional arcs. That, basically, "imbalance" is a form of balance when it comes to accessibility of imaginary worlds.

I mean, I don't find the Numenera setting that "weird," but a lot of people seem to, so it might be the classes were simplified on purpose. In OSR games, the worldbuilding is so sketched in that the weird classes "pop" more and, in some sense, do the worldbuilding. But in a book with 100 pages of setting material, a raft of weird classes might just be enough to make a lot of prospective players bounce?

In any case, I'm curious: can you think of any other prospective new "character classes" that the Numenera setting ought to have, that can't be played as a variant of one of the three available PC classes?

If we try to imagine a very advanced civilization like the fallen ones of Numenera's past, it can be a bit difficult to imagine jobs and role (classes) that have no connection to real life or fantasy rpgs. But they probably existed.
Oh, sure, though I'd imagine they were wiped out by the collapse that precedes the (current) Ninth World, and the rebuilding/rediscovery of that past hasn't hit the point where those kinds of jobs can really exist again yet. (I mean, if climate change wiped out industrial civilization, you're right that those communities would probably have people who repair electronics, and who practice medicine salvaged from textbooks, and so on. But I'd expect not to see sysadmins and orchestra conductors and psychotherapists in the makeshift communities that formed in the ruins.)

When you look at the system and setting of Numenera and that of Legacy: Life Among the Ruins side by side, it becomes pretty evident that the weirdness of the former games setting is aimed toward building an adventurer's baffling wonderland, and there's not so much interest in the idea of recovering actionable lost knowledge as in exploring a weird imaginary world on the timescale of an individual character. (Look at Legacy's mechanics for jumping forward in time through that long, slow process of rebuilding (or just building).

(Oh, mentioning Legacy: Life Among the Ruins above reminds me: that game does have some of what I imagine you'd consider suitably "weird" playbooks—the game's equivalent of race/class combos.)
 

Straife Milton

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Maybe the cyphers had psychotherapists and dreams had conductors. It's hard to say, but fun to imagine, if the 8th world really is supposed to be beyond understanding. I got the feeling that the "8th world" was stranger than, say, the Enterprise.
 
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