Adventures in Random Roleplay: Cypher System Edition – Part 4 – Nano Nano

Welcome back, dice fondlers! We’ve built two Jacks and two Glaives for Numenera so far. This week, that leaves us building a pair of Nanos. You may recall that we’ve attempted this once before with my cats intervening to keep these lovely characters from you. Let’s dive in and see what my furred friends wanted to deny you fine folks so badly last time.

Nano Character Sentences

Following the pattern we’ve started, we’ll roll up our Descriptor and Focus. That’s right; twelve Descriptors and twenty-eight Foci. We’ll plug those numbers into our online random number generator of choice and see what we get…

This week, our two characters are:

  • Character #1 is a Rugged Nano who Hunts With Great Skill
  • Character #2 is a Clever Nano who Rides The Lightning

This pair is one of our most diverse sets yet. Nanos have bonuses to Intellect, which in Numenera is used for social situations, magic, and simply being smart. In this situation, we don’t just have characters with one small change— our first Nano is angling at what sounds to be a classic ranger while our second is like a combination of Loki and Thor, being a clever lightning wielder.

Nano Abilities & Talents

As a Nano, we get some default Abilities (same as we did for both Jacks and Glaives) and we still have choices to make. Let’s see what we have on their table of backstory connections. With a pair of rolls coming up 6 and 4, we find out that our Hunter Nano saved an Abhuman brute in their travels who still owes them a favor. Our Lightning Nano, on the other hand, owes money to a number of people around town and doesn’t have the funds to pay off the debts.

Just like our last characters, Nanos have three potential sources for their abilities. In our case, our Hunter Nano is delving deep into Forbidden Knowledge, while our Lightning Nano’s talents are Psionic mind powers. Remember, these are the source of their Foci powers, only of their Type.

Armor, Weaponry, & Skills

As you might expect, our Nanos are different than either the Jacks or Glaves before them. They can only use light weapons without penalty— if they try to use a medium weapon, the difficulty increases by one step. Heavy weapons increase difficulty by two steps. Nanos are trained, however, in the use and identification of Numenera. They are also expert cypher users, able to carry three cyphers at once.

Where our Jacks had Tricks of the Trade and Glaives had Fighting Moves, Nanos have their Esoteries. These are ways they can tap into the inherent Numenera to reshape the world around them. Our Hunter Nano has Push and Scan, both of which cost two intellect points to activate. Push allows our Hunter Nano to psychically shove an object their size or smaller that is within short range. Scan lets them analyze a 10-foot cube and all objects or creatures within that space. They learn how powerful or dangerous any of the creatures are, as well as any information about matter or energy that the GM feels are pertinent. Note that this doesn’t mean the Nano immediately knows how these items work or interact together— only what they are. Meanwhile, our Lightning Nano has Hedge Magic, which costs one intellect point, and the Ward ability. See our previous article about Jacks for more details on Hedge Magic. Suffice it to say, it’s an all-purpose shenanigans ability. Ward, though, gives our Nano an always-on energy field that gives them +1 to their Armor.

Basic Stats

That’s right! It’s time for stats.

  • If you guessed that we’d get basic clothing, you’re realizing that the makers of Numenera didn’t want characters to start naked. They start with one weapon, 4 shins, a book about the Numenera, three Cyphers, and an Oddity. Just like before, we’ll determine our Cyphers and Oddities later. Let’s move on to base stats.
  • They start with a Might Pool of 7, a Speed Pool of 9, and an Intellect Pool of 12.
  • They have an Intellect Edge of 1; the others start at 0.
  • They also have an Effort stat of 1.
  • Finally, our characters both have 6 bonus points to add to their pools for Might, Speed, or Intellect, but we’ll put those in our back pocket until after we see what our Descriptor and Foci do.

Nano Descriptors

Now, for our Descriptors, we have a Rugged Hunter Nano and a Clever Lightning Nano.

We’ll cover Rugged first. Being Rugged gives our Nano training in all tasks concerning climbing, jumping, running, and swimming. They are also trained in all tasks involving training, riding, or placating natural animals. Further, they’re trained in all tasks involving identifying or using natural plants. On the negative, they completely lack social graces, preferring animals to people. Any task involving etiquette, persuasion, charm, or deception increases difficulty by one step. They also get to start with an explorer’s pack. Finally, their link to the adventure is that one of the other characters convinced them this adventure would be in their best interest.

Moving onto our Clever Lightning Nano, they immediately gain a +2 to their intellect pool. They’re also trained in multiple skills. First, they’re trained in all interactions involving lies or trickery. They’re also trained in defense rolls to resist mental effects. Finally, they’re trained in assessing dangers, lies, quality, importance, function, and power. However, they’ve always had trouble with book-learning, and lore rolls are one step more difficult. They also start with 10 extra shins thanks to the clever shenanigans they get up to. For their link to the adventure, we roll a 3 – they talked their way into the adventure hoping to make some extra money. We can’t get a more fortuitous story-based roll than that!

Nano Foci

Two words down, one to go: Foci. Our Rugged Hunter Nano is up first. Under Hunts With Great Skill, we know that one other PC once saw us exhibit extraordinary mercy to our prey, which we hope they keep quiet about. We have a reputation to maintain. Our Hunter Nano also gains boots that help silence our movement, giving us a +1 bonus to any roll involving stealth. We also gain both Tracker and Stalker, we are trained in following and identifying tracks, as well as being trained in all types of movement, even those not covered by our Rugged Descriptor.

Meanwhile, our Lightning Nano has such a connection and friendship with one of other PCs that they can bring them along when they Ride The Lightning with higher Tier abilities like Bolt Rider or Electrical Flight. They also gain a bag of batteries and energy cells. Whenever they encounter a device whose batteries can deplete, there’s a 75% chance that their bag of batteries has an appropriate replacement. Handy, right? Also, any Esoteries they gain that would normally do force or other damage instead use electricity. This has no mechanical effect other than to change damage type. The GM may rule that it could start fires in the right situation. They also gain two abilities: Shock and Charge. Shock can either inflict 3 points of damage on the next creature touched or imbue a weapon with electricity to inflict an extra damage point for up to 10 minutes. It costs one intellect point to use. Charge lets our Nano charge up an artifact or another device (not a cypher) so that it gains another use. Charge costs one intellect point, plus a number of points equal to the level of the device.

Bonus Point Distribution & Optional Equipment

Do remember the next step? That’s right, now we’re going to go back and take a look at our stats and pass out those bonus points. We’ll also pick out our equipment.

For our Hunter Nano, let’s give them 1 point to their Might, 2 more to their Intellect, and 3 more to their Speed. We want the speed in order to take advantage of our sneaky boots and our movement abilities, and we’ll need all the intellect we can get to work around our social inadequacies.

As we only get one weapon to choose, we need to find the right one. Let’s take a dart thrower. As a light weapon, we won’t face any penalties and it operates at long range. Sounds like the perfect hunting tool to me!

Moving on to our Lightning Nano, we’ll give ourselves +2 to Intellect, Might, and Speed. We already have our bonus from Intelligent, so the total of +4 makes sure we have plenty of intellect points to power our multiple abilities. We also can’t forget that our Intellect Edge makes intellect abilities cost one less, so there’s no reason to neglect the pools we may need to spend Effort out of.

As far as equipment goes, we’ll give them a buzzer. We know they can use their Shock ability for close range combat— giving them a ranged weapon that they can imbue with Shock makes them more damage at range as well.

Cyphers & Oddities: So Extra

Did someone say cyphers and oddities? I did. It was me. I confess. So let’s plunder the random tables of bizarre archeotech and see what we get. Both of our Nanos get three cypher and one oddity, so we have plenty of goodies to pass out.

Our Hunter Nano starts with a Time Dilation (Offensive) unit. When activated, this device allows them to move at near instantaneous attack speeds, giving them a +2 to attacks for 28 hours. They also start with a Pressure Detonator that is essentially a mine-style explosive, and a tracer device that will track a target as long as they don’t cross out of the Hunter Nano’s current dimension. For their oddity, they start with a metallic jar that keeps any liquid inside at the exact temperature of when it was placed inside, permanently (it’s the ULTIMATE thermos).

Our Lightning Nano starts with a Gravity Nullifier, a device that will grant them levitation, and a cypher so powerful that it counts as two cyphers toward their limit: a comprehension graft. The graft, when attached, extends microfilaments into the subject’s brain and grants them the ability to understand one language they previously couldn’t— even if the subject has no language themselves. This effect is permanent on the creature it is applied to.

Half-Dozen Heroes

And with that, there were six. Now, next week, we’ll talk a bit about the types of adventures we can have and the wonders of the Ninth World. Believe me, this world is anything but your standard setting. Now, until we return next Friday, make sure to…



Written by: Jason A. Clark

Writer, Salesman, Cartographer of The Weird Realms In My Head

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