Well I will start off saying I am a gigantic fan of Numenera. So I scooped up this PDF in the blink of an eye. Because I have been chomping at the bit to get more info of what is going on in the rest of the Ninth World. Now there is a TON of stuff in this book; 256 pages in true Monte Cook fashion huge and packed to the gills with information. The cover draws you in right from the start with airships and the now Numenera style of odd structures in the distance. So let me start off by saying this is NOT a map of the rest of the known Ninth World. This is a guidebook not an Atlas. That said we do get our first view of the super continent that is the massive Ninth World. Earth has returned to a more Pangaea like state.
Numenera: Ninth World Guidebook
Writers/Designers Monte Cook and Shanna Germain
Additional Writing Bruce R. Cordell
Editor and Proofreader Ray Vallese
Cover Designer Sarah Robinson
Graphic Designer Bear Weiter
Samuel Araya, Milivoj Ćeran, chrom, Florian Devos, Dreamstime.com, Jason Engle, Erebus, Guido Kuip,Brandon Leach, Eric Lofgren, Patrick McEvoy, Brynn Metheney, John Petersen, Roberto Pitturru,Nick Russell, Matt Stawicki, Keith Thompson, Shane Tyree, Ben Wootten, Kieran Yanner
Cartographer Christopher West
Monte Cook Games Editorial Board
Scott C. Bourgeois, David Wilson Brown, Eric Coates, Gareth Hodges,
Jeremy Land, Laura Wilkinson, Marina Wold, George Ziets
To understand the Ninth world you first have to begin to understand the people that live in it. After reading this snip-it of the world, the people of Numenera became even that much more clear to me by comparison to the world I had imagined up until now.
Imagine being someone who has not only lived in a single place your whole life, but who has never seen pictures or videos of another town, city, weather pattern, or natural landscape, who doesn’t have the Internet or a cell phone, and who has never traveled in a plane, train, or car outside the place where you were born. The only interaction that you have is with people you grew up with, plus the occasional stranger who comes to town (and who is probably
surprised and confused by something that you think of as a normal part of your life, but which is actually a ritual or activity that is unique to your town or family).
This is the mindset of many Ninth World residents
The beginning of the book covers life in Numenera. Everything from time and the seasons to religion is briefly touched on. As well as what people of the world see when they look up into the night sky. Our Solar System and beyond. It is a nice touch to remind you that you ARE not on earth we know anymore. Also in this section we get our first glimpse at what it costs for most to live and work in the Ninth World. There is a page of wages and services costs. As well as the value of Numenera, Mounts and Vehicles. And my favorite a list of some random Aspects for Community’s that will help make them stand out apart from other towns your players may have been too.
Then we get into the setting, this takes up the lions share of the book as expected. Monte goes back and gives up much more detail on the Steadfast and the Beyond.
(I could easily dedicate an entire blog to each of these regions, but this is a overview of the guidebook.)
We lay our eyes over the Southern Wall and get a nice look at the Frozen South. Life goes on even here in the Ninth world in this frozen land. Right down to the domesticated Eurieg “Ice scuttlers” Lupine arachnid sled dogs, spiders with wolf heads that is. Monte your artists are sick and awesome. My players hate me for this, thank you in advance.
From here we are swept north to see the Lostrei. Where life moves at a slower pace and the people are not at all like the Steadfast makes them out to be. The Gaians are a deeply spiritual people with a vast trek of forest dominating much of their land.
Vralk the red kingdom lays to the north of the Clock of Kala. The red kingdom is a brutal hellish place. A rocky wasteland of ash and lava. The people of this part of the Ninth World are hardy survivors. If not they are dead. Everything from the environment to the creatures in Vralk can kill you. Not even in the gods do these people find solace. They worship The Red Gods. Who demand sacrifice and blood. So you either war to gather tokens for the gods or you cull your own people. The irony falls to the fact that the people of the Steadfast look to Lostrei as a threat of war when they should be looking here.
Rayskel Cays is an archipelago to the west of the steadfast. With five major islands and hundreds of tiny islands dotted all around them. This creates a mash of cultures and general economy and religion among the islands. Yet each is still separate and individual. The coolest part of this region in my mind is the Slavering Falls. In the center circular island chain is an under water waterfall. Now the Slathering Falls is a circular underwater waterfall. but it would look something like this.
The Land of the Dawn is the last region detailed in the Ninth World Guidebook but it is the largest. And it is also on the other end of the super continent some 8,000 miles away, yet because of recent events is now just a doorway away. The region has five more regions within it and is nearly as large as the Steadfast itself. But this land is not like the Steadfast. There is no word of truth here and not everyone is human. A whole new world without leaving your world is just a doorway away for your adventures to explore.
The Ninth World Guidebook wraps up with two more sections. Character Options and Creatures. There are several new Descriptors based on some of the new regions and a new Focus Lives on the Road. As for creatures, there are more than 25 new creatures from around the Ninth world to add to your game ranging from rank 2 to 8.
The pro’s on this one are off the charts. Few others match up with Monte Cook when it comes to laying out a guidebook. The style is undeniable with the well thought out sidebars and references to other books and points of interest that can be found there. Often in relation to what the reader is currently looking at or as a GM might be able to use in their games. At least for this reader its been a pleasure to crack open any of his books and read them.
There is a ton of content here enough to keep you and your players discovering things in the Ninth World for a long time if not years to come. Each of these locations are so well done I can see entire games run in these locations with the party never venturing beyond that region and still having an expansive game.
The last few pros fall into the life in Numenera section of the book. The simple cost of living and expense tables are a godsend to some players. It sets a scale for some where I have heard complaints in the past. There is no idea how much things cost in the world other then arms and armor. Not a big deal to me but others longed to know how much things would cost and wanted a bit more definition. Personally it was the section on the seasons and time that took the game to a bit more depth for me. Putting things in a new perspective when a farmer looks up to the moon and sees a green ring around it. These little things made me as a gamer feel more at home in the Ninth World now then I have been before.
The con’s on this are few and more then just nitpicks. The book was so well done that the only thing I found myself wanting when I was done was simply .. MORE! I wanted more locations and more of the continent uncovered for me to see. But that is just a testament to the awesome job that was done withing. If I had any other complaints it would be that I had hoped to see less reused art in the book.
Would I Recommend it ?
Highly. This has been one of my favorite reviews that I have sat down and done thus far. I may even come back and review each section in more detail in the days to come.