Additional Rules

This is a page for additional rules that will be frequently needed by players, but aren't included in the Player's Guide. However, we still humbly ask that you spend a little cash to pick up the Numenera Rulebook in PDF and support Monte Cook Publishing who made this game possible!


When an attack strikes a character, it usually means the character takes damage.

An attack against a PC subtracts points from one of the character's stat Pools — usually the Might Pool. Whenever an attack simply says it deals "damage" without specifying the type, it means Might damage, which is by far the most common type. Intellect damage, which is usually the result of a mental attack, is always labeled as Intellect damage. Speed damage is often a physical attack, but attacks that deal Speed damage are fairly rare.

NPCs don't have stat Pools. Instead, they have a characteristic called health. When an NPC takes damage of any kind, the amount is subtracted from its health. Unless described otherwise, an NPC's health is always equal to its target number. Some NPCs might have special reactions to or defenses against attacks that would normally deal Speed damage or Intellect damage, but unless the NPC's description specifically explains this, assume that all damage is subtracted from the NPC's health.

Objects are like NPCs: they have health instead of stat Pools.

Damage is always a specific amount determined by the attack. For example, a slash with a broadsword deals 4 points of damage. A Kinfolk's Onslaught force blast deals 4 points of damage. Often, there are ways for the attacker to increase the damage. For example, a PC can apply Effort to deal 3 additional points of damage, and rolling a natural 17 on the attack roll deals 1 additional point of damage.


Pieces of equipment and special abilities protect a character from damage by giving him Armor. Each time a character takes damage, subtract his Armor value from the damage before reducing his stat Pool or health. For example, if a Human with 2 Armor is hit by a sword that deals 4 points of damage, the Human takes only 2 points of damage (4 minus 2 from his Armor). If Armor reduces the incoming damage to 0 or lower, the character takes no damage from the attack. For example, the Human's 2 Armor protects him from all physical attacks that deal 1 or 2 points of damage.

The most common way to get Armor is to wear physical armor, such as a leather coat, heavy animal hides, or metal plates. All physical armor comes in one of three categories: light, medium, or heavy. Light armor gives the wearer 1 point of Armor, medium gives 2 points of Armor, and heavy gives 3 points of Armor.

When you see the word "Armor" capitalized in the game rules (other than as the name of a special ability), it refers to your Armor characteristic — the number you subtract from incoming damage. When you see the lowercase word "armor," it refers to any physical armor you might wear.

Other effects can add to a character's Armor. If a character is wearing chainmail (2 points of Armor) and has an ability that covers him in a protective sheen of ice (1 point of Armor), his total is 3 Armor. If he also has a fetish that creates a force field (1 point of Armor), his total is 4 Armor.

Some types of damage ignore physical armor. Attacks that specifically deal Speed damage or Intellect damage ignore Armor; the creature takes the listed amount of damage without any reduction from Armor. Ambient damage (see below) usually ignores Armor as well.

A creature may have a special bonus to Armor against certain kinds of attacks. For example, a protective suit made of a sturdy, fire-resistant material might normally give its wearer 1 point of Armor but count as 3 points of Armor against fire attacks. An artifact worn as a helmet might add 2 points of Armor only against mental attacks.

Ambient Damage

Some kinds of damage aren't direct attacks against a creature, but they indirectly affect everything in the area. Most of these are environmental effects such as winter cold, high temperatures, or background radiation. Damage from these kinds of sources is called ambient damage. Physical armor usually doesn't protect against ambient damage, though a well-insulated suit of armor can protect against cold weather.

Damage From Hazards

Attacks aren't the only way to inflict damage on a character. Experiences such as falling from a great height, being burned in a fire, and spending time in severe weather also deal damage. Although no list of potential hazards could be comprehensive, the table below includes common examples.

Source Damage Notes
Falling 1 point per 10 feet (3 m) fallen (ambient damage)
Minor fire 3 points per round (ambient damage) Torch
Major fire 6 points per round (ambient damage) Engulfed in flames; lava
Acid Splash 2 points per round (ambient damage)
Acid bath 6 points per round (ambient damage) Immersed in acid
Cold 1 point per round (ambient damage) Below freezing temperatures
Severe cold 3 points per round (ambient damage) Liquid nitrogen
Shock 1 point per round (ambient damage) Often involves losing next action
Electrocution 6 points per round (ambient damage) Often involves losing next action
Crush 3 points Object or creature falls on character
Huge crush 6 points Roof collapse; cave-in
Collision 6 points Large, fast object strikes character

The Effects of Taking Damage

When an NPC reaches 0 health, it is either dead or (if the attacker wishes it) incapacitated, meaning unconscious or beaten into submission.

When an object reaches 0 health, it is broken or otherwise destroyed.

As previously mentioned, damage from most sources is applied to a character's Might Pool. Otherwise, stat damage always reduces the Pool of the stat it affects.

If damage reduces a character's stat Pool to 0, any further damage to that stat (including excess damage from the attack that reduced the stat to 0) is applied to another stat Pool. Damage is applied to Pools in this order:

  1. Might (unless the Pool is 0)
  2. Speed (unless the Pool is 0)
  3. Intellect

Even if the damage is applied to another stat Pool, it still counts as its original type for the purpose of Armor and special abilities that affect damage. For example, if a Garou with 2 Armor is reduced to 0 Might and then is hit by a monster's claw for 3 points of damage, it still counts as Might damage, so his 2 Armor reduces the damage to 1 point, which then is applied to his Speed Pool. In other words, even though the Garou takes the damage from his Speed Pool, it doesn't ignore Armor like Speed damage normally would.

In addition to taking damage from their Might Pool, Speed Pool, or Intellect Pool, PCs also have a damage track. The damage track has four states (from best to worst): hale, impaired, debilitated, and dead. When one of a PC's stat Pools reaches 0, he moves one step down the damage track. Thus, if he is hale, he becomes impaired. If he is already impaired, he becomes debilitated. If he is already debilitated, he becomes dead.

Some effects can immediately shift a PC one or more steps on the damage track. These include rare poisons, attacks from Death spirits, and massive traumas (such as falls from very great heights, being run over by a speeding vehicle, and so on, as determined by the GM).

Some attacks, like venom from a serpent's bite, a Kinfolk's Stasis esotery, or the mind-controlling influence of a sarrak, have effects other than damage to a stat Pool or shifting the PC on the damage track. These attacks can cause unconsciousness, paralysis, and so on.

The Damage Track

Hale is the normal state for a character: all three stat Pools are at 1 or higher, and the PC has no penalties from harmful conditions. When a hale PC takes enough damage to reduce one of his stat Pools to 0, he becomes impaired. Note that a character whose stat pools are much lower than normal can still be hale.

Impaired is a wounded or injured state. When an impaired character applies Effort, it costs 1 extra point per level applied. For example, applying one level of Effort costs 4 points instead of 3, and applying two levels of Effort costs 7 points instead of 5.

An impaired character ignores minor and major effect results on his rolls, and he doesn't deal as much extra damage in combat with a special roll. In combat, a roll of 17 or higher deals only 1 additional point of damage.

When an impaired PC takes enough damage to reduce one of his stat Pools to 0, he becomes debilitated.

Debilitated is a critically injured state. A debilitated character may not take any actions other than to move (probably crawl) no more than an immediate distance. If a debilitated character's Speed Pool is 0, he can't move at all.

When a debilitated PC takes enough damage to reduce a stat Pool to 0, he is dead.

Dead is dead.

Recovering Points in a Pool

After losing or spending points in a Pool, you recover those points by resting. You can't increase a Pool past its maximum by resting — just back to its normal level. Any extra points gained go away with no effect. The amount of points you recover from a rest, and how long each rest takes, depends on how many times you have rested so far that day.

When you rest, make a recovery roll. To do this, roll 1d6 and add your tier. You recover that many points, and you can divide them among your stat Pools however you wish. For example, if your recovery roll is 4 and you've lost 4 points of Might and 2 points of Speed, you can recover 4 points of Might, or 2 points of Might and 2 points of Speed, or any other combination adding up to 4 points.

The first time you rest each day, it takes only a few seconds to catch your breath. If you rest this way in the middle of an encounter, it takes one action on your turn.

The second time you rest each day, you must rest ten minutes to make a recovery roll. The third time you rest each day, you must rest one hour to make a recovery roll. The fourth time you rest each day, you must rest ten hours to make a recovery roll (usually, this occurs when you sleep).

After that much rest, it's assumed to be a new day, so the next time you rest, it takes only a few seconds. The next rest takes ten minutes, then one hour, and so on, in a cycle. If you haven't rested yet that day and you take a lot of damage in a fight, you could rest a few seconds (regaining 1d6 points + 1 point per tier) and then immediately rest for ten minutes (regaining another 1d6 points + 1 point per tier). Thus, in one full day of doing nothing but resting, you could recover 4d6 points + 4 points per tier.

Each character chooses when to make recovery rolls. If a party of five explorers rests for ten minutes because two members want to make recovery rolls, the other characters don't have to make rolls at that time. Later in the day, those three can decide to rest for ten minutes and make recovery rolls.

Recovery Roll Rest Time Needed
First recovery roll One action
Second recovery roll Ten minutes
Third recovery roll One hour
Fourth recovery roll Ten hours

Restoring the Damage Track

Using points from a recovery roll to raise a stat Pool from 0 to 1 or higher also automatically moves the character up one step on the damage track.

If all of a PC's stat Pools are above 0 and the character has taken special damage that moved him down the damage track, he can use a recovery roll to move up one step on the damage track instead of recovering points. For example, a jack who is debilitated from a hit with a cell-disrupting numenera device can rest and move up to impaired rather than recover points in a Pool.

Special Damage

In the course of playing the game, characters face all manner of threats and dangers that can harm them in a variety of ways, only some of which are easily represented by points of damage.

Dazed and Stunned: Characters can be dazed when struck hard on the head, exposed to extremely loud sounds, or affected by a mental attack. When this happens, for the duration of the daze effect (usually one round), the difficulty of all tasks attempted by the character increases by one step. Similar but more severe attacks can stun characters. Stunned characters lose their turn (but can still defend against attacks normally).

Poison and Disease: When characters encounter poison — whether the venom of a serpent, a pinch of diabolis powder slipped into a flagon of ale, or blackroot oil applied to the tip of a dart — they make a Might defense roll to resist it. Failure to resist can result in points of damage, moving down the damage track, or a specific effect such as paralysis, unconsciousness, disability, or something stranger. For example, some numenera poisons affect the brain, making it impossible to say certain words, take certain actions, resist certain effects, or recover points to a stat Pool.

Diseases work like poisons, but their effect occurs every day, so the victim must make a Might defense roll each day or suffer the effects. Disease effects are as varied as poisons: points of damage, moving down the damage track, disability, and so on. Many diseases inflict damage that cannot be restored through conventional means.

Paralysis: Paralytic effects cause a character to drop to the ground, unable to move. Unless otherwise specified, the character can still take actions that require no physical movement.

Other Effects: Other special effects can render a character blind or deaf, unable to stand without falling over, or unable to breathe. Stranger effects might negate gravity for the character (or increase it a hundredfold), transport him to another place, render him out of phase, mutate his physical form, implant false memories or senses, alter the way his brain processes information, or inflame his nerves so he is in constant, excruciating pain. Each special effect must be handled on a case-by-case basis. The GM adjudicates how the character is affected and how the condition can be alleviated (if possible).

NPCs and Special Damage

The GM always has final say over what special damage will affect an NPC. Human NPCs usually react like characters, but the Ninth World has too many types of nonhuman creatures to categorize. For example, a tiny bit of venom is unlikely to hurt a gigantic cragworm, and it won't affect an automaton or an ultraterrestrial at all.

If an NPC is susceptible to an attack that would shift a character down the damage track, using that attack on the NPC usually renders it unconscious or dead. Alternatively, the GM could apply the debilitated condition to the NPC, with the same effect as it would have on a PC.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License