Disclaimer: This pdf was graciously given to me for the purposes of review by Ryan Chaddock Games. All opinions within the review are my own.
Three months ago, I reviewed Echoes of the Prior Worlds by Ryan Chaddock Games (RCG). I was surprised with how much I enjoyed it: its take on Numenera, and how much it focused on the part of Numenera that I enjoyed most, exploration. RCG has returned to the themes of Echoes with their new release, The Skyscrape.
The Skyscrape Review
The Skyscrape is a 56-page pdf that is available on Drivethrurpg.com (for $3.00 at the time of this post). RCG has settled into a great format for their pdfs, developing a unifying style and layout that is very professional and easy to digest. There are three creatures in the book that are not blocked out in callout boxes like the rest, but this is a minor fix that can be addressed in an update. Just be prepared to find these stat blocks nested within the description text of their location.
The focus of this pdf is discovery – specifically the exploration of a floating Numenera city known as the Skyscrape. RCG returns to the Points of Discovery adventure design that they introduced in Echoes. Each area of the Skyscrape has seven discovery points, and players earn XP by exploring these locations. It is a great framework for setting up Numenera adventures and helps reinforce the differences between Numenera and traditional RPGs. In fact, the Skyscrape could be looked at as a dungeon crawl that focuses on the exploration rather than the monster slaying.
Chapter 1 – Ascension
Before the adventures, the Skyscrape gives three new descriptors and foci. Players can now craft Erudite, Impervious, or Voracious characters who Decipher Signs and Symbols, Remove Barriers, or Repair Ancient Devices. RCG continues to provide descriptors that are different from what have been presented in other books. For example, Erudite characters are masters of a single field of knowledge to the exclusion of all others, and Impervious allows characters to be resistant to the toxins and chemicals found throughout the ruins of the Ninth World.
The foci, like those found in Echoes, are discovery-based. Of all of them, I feel like Repairs Ancient Devices has the most broad application, but RCG does pepper the others with Tier abilities that are more applicable outside of the scope of the foci. For example, Deciphers Signs and Symbols gives the ability to identify Numenera without a roll, and Removes Barriers allows character to carry an extra Cypher, as long as it is a travel cypher or one that allows the character to bypass an obstacle.
Chapters 2 – 7 – The Skyscrape
The majority of this book covers the sections of the Skyscrape. The floating city serves six location-based adventure sites. Each site gives a skeleton adventure within a section of the site, totaling seven pre-defined locations for the players to explore. Each section has a map, of which the seven locations account for less than 25% of the area. RCG gives you a great taste of each of the city’s zones, but you can flesh each one out into a much larger adventure.
Within each chapter are new monsters, puzzles, and artifacts. RCG does a great job of giving each area its own unique challenges and tone. We also receive 100 new oddities, which are always a welcomed addition to Numenera games.
Chapter 8 – Skyscrape Cyphers
36 Cyphers round out this supplement. Like their other books, RCG formats these Cyphers in an easy to print-and-use card format. The Cyphers are themed for the Skyscrape environment, but I did not see any that could not be useful elsewhere, and they are a satisfying blend of the bizarre and beneficial.
The Skyscape is a great deal for $3. RCG packs a lot into their books. This one has 3 Descriptors, 3 Foci, 100 oddities, 15 monsters, 5 artifacts, 36 Cyphers, and six adventure frameworks. Personally, I would run the Skyscrape as a reoccurring location. The PCs, having traveled there once, continually leave and return as the campaign unfolds, allowing the Skyscrape to evolve with gameplay. It also would serve as a fantastical location for a contained story-arc, where the PCs crawl through the dungeon in the sky.
As a final update, you can now order Echoes of the Prior Worlds in hardcopy! I am hoping that Celestial Wisdom, Whisper Campaigns, and Angels & Ashes soon get the same treatment!