In the Ninth World, the numenera is a term that refers to anything that seems supernatural and that comes from the prior ages of the Earth. This means devices, machines, vehicles, robots, computers, weapons, satellites, drugs, and so on. But it also means bioengineered creatures, cybernetic beings, and creatures brought here from alien worlds and dimensions. It also includes things that have been indirectly created by the science of the past— mutants and genetic accidents, the descendants of experiments, and so on. Lastly, it means ways in which Ninth World people have figured out how to use, manipulate, or master the products of the past, such as the nano’s use of esoteries and the so-called “nano spirits.
Although the comparison between “magic” and the numenera is worthwhile, taking it too far is likely a mistake. No one in the Ninth World “disbelieves” in the numenera. It’s all around them. It cannot be denied. And yet it’s still just as mysterious and strange, mostly because the numenera is varied and unpredictable to those who don’t understand it. There are people, however, who do understand it—at least to some degree. Not everyone merely scavenges numenera from ruins. Some study it, comprehend a bit of it, and then create their own.
Technology in the Ninth World can be categorized as cyphers, artifacts, oddities, and discoveries. When it comes to devices that characters are likely to carry and use, there are four types: scavenged, cobbled, bonded, and fashioned.
The most basic type of device is one pulled out of an ancient ruin. It was either a complete device found intact or a portion of another device, removed by a learned person, which can be used for a function all its own. The former might be a bracerlike device with touch-sensitive controls that the wearer can manipulate to create a powerful magnetic field around himself. The latter might be a viewscreen, taken from a vast machine, that by itself allows the user to see through an inch of normal matter.
The second most common type of device, a cobbled item, consists of at least two parts joined together to make a function possible. Let’s say a knowledgeable tinkerer takes a lens mechanism from one device and a control mechanism from a larger console and wires them together. Then she connects an old power supply that still functions and binds it all together with cord. In the end, she’s created a high-powered nightvision telescope and range finder.
Bonded items no longer look like something found in a trash heap. They are turned into objects that are beautiful or terrifying or whatever the craftsman wants. They are incorporated into other items. They are named. They might even come with written instructions on their use. In other words, cobbled or scavenged items are turned into unique pieces of tech that reflect the personality and intended use of their owner.
The rarest of the devices, but in some ways perhaps the most intriguing, fashioned devices are based on ancient technology but created by people of the Ninth World. Imagine a clave of Aeon Priests who study in an ancient laboratory for generations and finally recreate an “elixir” they discovered that speeds up wound closure and tissue knitting by an order of magnitude or more.