Saturday, March 14, 2015

7 Weird Book Formats for Ninth-World Biliophiles

Books figure heavily into the equipment of Ninth World heroes.  Most books are probably block- printed, hand-colored and leather-bound.  But what other kinds of codices could your Ninth Worlders have in their portable libraries? Here are seven types of books that blur the line between mundane gear and oddities, complete with suggestions for GMI's and additional benefits for players willing to spend a few XP:

1. A bio-engineered datapad from a recently fallen civilization full of useful (and sometimes not so useful) information. The pad is a living fungus that must be kept moist and protected from the sun to function properly.
-Players can spend XP to use the pad to access larger data systems or biological systems (fungal networks across great stretches of land, fungal symbiotes on large creatures, etc.), possibly accessing more relevant information.
-Game Master Intrusion: Proximity to certain data systems causes the device to shut down completely or release a cloud of data spores that communicate the character's presence to nearby plant, fungus or data-based creatures.

2. A cloud of nanites that analyze the numenera and give immediate sensory feedback to the person "reading" them.
-XP spend to gain additional levels of sensory input.
-GMI: Nano cloud creates sensory feedback which dazes the character for one round unless they perform a level 2 Might task.

3. A single thin sheet of material that can be rolled or folded like a sheet of parchment which contains a vast store of knowledge. This information can be accessed by swiping the surface of the sheet or searched via verbal (or mental) commands.
-XP spend to find a hidden page or section related to the subject of the book.
-GMI: The material freezes in the folded or rolled state, and requires some kind of re-start to open again.

4. A bio-engineered animal that has little mobility beyond riding on a character's shoulder, but can expound eloquently on subjects it's programed to understand or know about.
-XP spend to give the animal the ability to scout or deliver small objects.
-GMI: The animal begins a loud exposition at an inopportune time; the animal's programming suddenly turns it into a level 4 predator

5. A data-eidolon who constantly hovers and swirls about the character, whispering truths and half-truths about the subject in question.
-XP spend to ask a specific question to the eidolon about its area of expertise which will be answered truthfully.
-GMI: The eidolon is attacked by an abykos (Numenera, p.230)

6. A floating cranium without a jaw bone, shot through with tech (speakers, lenses in the eye sockets, wires clogging all available openings, etc.) that provides insight on a particular subject.  The skull may also provide opinions or crack wise, if you're into that sort of thing.
-XP: the skull can carry and use one cypher. (This is not a permanent ability; the player must spend one XP for every cypher the skull uses.)
-GMI: The skull suddenly remembers its past life and tries to recruit the players to help it take care of some unfinished business.

7. A hovering silver sphere that projects holographic scenes related to its area of expertise.
-XP: the holograms have sound and can be zoomed in or out to provide an amazing level of detail.
-GMI: The holograms are outdated, dangerously inaccurate, or are garbled in some way.

These "books" can also provide adventure hooks: Who knows what strange presence is lurking in the datasphere, eager to tell it's terrible secrets to anyone brave or foolish enough to listen? Is there a mossy palimpsest buried in your fungal datapad? Who is Jadreth, and why does the book-raven keep saying that he's awake? How would you use alternative books to weird-up your Numenera campaign?