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D&D: You Got Your Numenera In My 5th Edition

4 Minute Read
Feb 27 2019

The high-tech fantasy and otherworldly sci-fi mystery of Numenera are coming to 5th Edition, according to the latest from Monte Cook Games. Come check out Arcana of the Ancients.

The 9th World of Numenera is one we’ve talked about a few times here on BoLS. It’s a world one billion years into the future, full of impossibly advanced technology that has long since fallen into ruin and decay. Inspired by the works of Moebius and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, it’s a world of advanced ruins and almost feudal societies just crawling their way out of a dark age and trying to find their place in this world that has seen so many species and empires rise and fall and rise again. Taking its name from the eight civilizations that have come before (and the one that’s the “present” for the world of the game) the 9th World is full of wonder, ruin, and ripe for heroes.

Which also makes it ripe for adventure in any ruleset–but there’s a sort of exploring ruins and telling stories about adventurers in this world that lends itself incredibly well to the D&D Aesthetic of fast-paced combat and intriguing narrative. This, plus the streamlined rules of 5th Edition seem like a perfect fit for each other. So when Monte Cook Games announced Arcana of the Ancients, a 5th Edition setting book that brings the world of Numenera to a world of d20s and character classes.

via Monte Cook Games

There’s a lot of “Expedition to Barrier Peaks” at work in the announcement–with a nod to the classic adventure where a typical D&D party finds itself aboard a crashed alien space craft. Here players will find ruins of people who wielded power beyond comprehension–a world ancient even compared to the elves and dragons of the world.

Arcana of the Ancients will be your comprehensive guide to bringing science-fantasy into your 5th-edition campaign. This hefty, hardcover book will be filled with creatures, devices, character abilities, technologies, tips, advice, and adventure. All fully compatible with 5E.

Starting with a series of adventures that introduce the idea that there were previously unknown, incredibly ancient civilizations in the game world, the PCs themselves will discover first-hand the relics of a past so old that even the elves and the dragons know nothing of it. These ancient peoples wielded powers beyond comprehension, and the things they left behind harness those strange powers for the PCs to find and use—but they also present dangers and entirely new challenges. Once the secrets of the ancient past have been unlocked, weird new creatures and bizarre beings arise and only the greatest of present day champions will be able to defeat them—and only if they wield the arcana of the ancients.


But it’s more than just a series of adventures. You’ve got new rules and adventures in there, and rules for running a campaign set in Numenera–or if you don’t necessarily want to frame up a world that’s a billion years old, you could just as easily steal the high-tech mysteries of the Ninth World and set them much closer to the past. After all, an ancient empire might still have unknowable arcana. Why not have space dwarves or sci-fi kobolds who were once mighty and since degenerated into their diminutive forms at the height of their power? There’s a lot to dig into here:

What else might you do with Arcana of the Ancients? Advance (or create) your character with skills and abilities that take advantage of mysterious ancient technologies. Mystify your PCs with a one-off adventure that explores a crashed alien ship, an ancient high-tech outpost, or a portal to an amazingly advanced world. Convert the compelling Ninth World setting of Numenera to 5E and run adventures in a world replete with mysterious ancient works as powerful, unknowable, and weird as any magic. Build a new campaign world, or region within your setting, that includes ancient high technology as mysterious to your PCs as the magic they wield. Or simply use the many science-fantasy creatures, items, and abilities detailed in this book to give your campaign a new and interesting dimension.

Adventures, ways to integrate ancient civilizations into your campaign, new creatures, new items, new character abilities—Arcana of the Ancients will give you everything you need to integrate mysterious high-technology science fantasy into your game.

Sadly, this is one we’ll have to wait a little while for. The book has only been announced recently, and these days, if you’re a non-WotC/Paizo/FFG publisher that means running a Kickstarter–which is slated for a March launch, with a release date of “early 2020.”

Stay tuned for more news as this develops.


And as always, Happy Adventuring!

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