One of the most rewarding aspects of running a role playing game like Numenera is crafting imaginative and unfamiliar elements of an adventure that help to further immerse players in the weird science-fantasy setting of the Ninth World.
Almost any facet of the game from the people, creatures to the locations can be as strange and as alien to the players as you want them to be since it’s expected for a world where a billion years have passed.
I’ve found in most of my games that the more strange and/or unfamiliar something is, the more immersed the players feel in the game.
A key component for my game to attain that type of immersion is culture.
I’ve written articles about the beautiful and oftentimes menacing jungles of Xenthropa, one of several locations for my Numenera campaign, The Paranoid Automaton. In addition to the mysterious nature of the creatures and “people” that inhabit the jungle, the different cultures of its denizens are just as bewildering.
Most who are curious (but not as brave) to get a glimpse of Xenthropa venture as far as Cygseca, an area composed of a large lake containing small islands and peninsulas that border Xenthropa and the Caecilian Jungle.
Cygseca has been one time or another a human settlement, abhuman settlement, trading post, garrison, battleground, and rumored dimensional port and processor.
Presently, the Adremorga’ Xorai, a group of red stone-like humanoids, are the main inhabitants of Cygseca and act as arbitrators (although they will only act for the benefit of Cygseca) and traders who only bargain through the exchange of rocks.
Stories have been passed down of adventurers laden with dazzling treasurers of cyphers and artifacts who barely escaped with their lives from Xenthropa only to be taken by a plague that could have been easily cured by the Adremorga’ Xorai if only the adventurers’ treasures would have been stone rather than metal.
And if you’re unlucky enough to be caught throwing or defacing a rock in the presence of the Adremorga’ Xorai, a banishment or worse is given.
Oddly enough, given the group’s harsh stance on its ideals, the Adremorga’ Xorai also act as caretakers of any life forms who lose their life in the nearby jungle.
At certain times when a being dies in Xenthropa, a single member of the Adremorga’ Xorai ventures into the jungle to retrieve the body (It is not known how the group knows of the death or where it happened). If it manages to survive and return the body, the deceased is buried deep within Cygseca’s soil.
After 1,000 beings are buried within the soil, an earthquake signals the arrival of a red stone obelisk which seemingly grows from the ground.
The obelisks now number in the hundreds and can be found along Cygseca’s lake, shores and islands and are of varying sizes with the smallest no larger than a flower, and the biggest towering 100 feet.
Along all the obelisks are symbols and writings of unknown origin.