Disclaimer: This PDF was graciously given to me by John Marvin for review. All opinions within the review are my own.
Thanks to the Monte Cook Games’ limited license, Cypher fans have been treated to a variety of third-party supplements. It is no surprise to anyone following this blog that I am a fan of Ryan Chaddock Games’ products, as well as Numenera in general. Metal Weave Games’ books (Ninth World Assassins & Naval Encounters) have been fantastic as well, setting the bar very high in my opinion for new Cypher supplements. So when the call went out for reviewers for a new Numenera adventure, I jumped at the chance.
The Sun Below: City on the Edge – Review
The Sun Below is a 66-page supplement by Dread Unicorn Games, available for purchase at DrivethruRPG.com. The first thing that stands out about this product is the formatting. The thing looks like a Numenera book. The call-outs, the boxes, and the layout all harkens back to the core book. Crammed into this book is a 41-page adventure, a 16-page bestiary, 2 cyphers, and 8 artifacts. And it contains rules for a new classification of creatures, Mooks. This simple addition of a way to turn any creature into cannon-fodder adds a lot of flexibility to Numenera’s already fluid combat system.
The Sun Below is a very, VERY weird adventure; in the science-fantasy landscape of Numenera, this is good thing. The introduction gives the GM a brief overview of the story as well as a number of character hooks to tie the group into the narrative right away. The adventure takes characters beneath the surface of the Ninth World to the realm of the Sun Below. There they encounter the decaying remnants of a dying empire. Various factions vie to influence the characters, seeing them as a wild card that could tip the balance of a stagnant ecosystem. Navigating the strange subterranean world and returning to their home is the focus of the adventure.
I have not seen an adventure this flexible in a while. First of all, it is scaled for all six character tiers. So no matter when you get The Sun Below, you can use it right away in your home game. Secondly, the structure of the scenario has more of a web structure than anything resembling a straight line. While the format takes a bit to absorb, each scene has a number of scenes that feed into it, as well as a number of scenes that it flows into.
The result is a published adventure which feels very much like how I plan my own games. Characters will have to take some initiative, but a savvy GM can seed the options for subsequent scenes, as well as have a pretty firm handle on where the players could go next.
The bestiary contains 16 new monsters. Most of them are given three sets of stats, allowing you to adjust for your characters’ tier. While the monsters are tied into the narrative of the Sun Below, they are all fantastic additions to any game. There are everything from floating heads sarcophagi, to ooze creatures, to automatons, and floating gas bags.
The Sun Below: City on the Edge is $7.99 at the time of this review and well worth the price. The flexibility you get from this supplement is staggering. The setting is weird and interesting, the adventure is flexible, and the creatures are inventive. There is enough material here to continue to bring your characters to the world below even after the main adventure has been completed. It is a worthy addition into the ranks of other stellar third party materials.
Next week I will post my review of Wits Alone, another third-party Numenera product. So stay tuned.