Author's assorted snivelin's and drivelin's
FREE! Tips & Trix
Whut dun started it all...
Sental - Lava Lamp Farms (External LINK)
The Stone Pool - The Beyond Crypt
Branj Inli - Not your ideal neighbours (External LINK)
Lightening Stacks (Ruminating on Them)
Machinetown - Isn't she just a Hootenanny! (Ruminating)
The Slung Tenements and Rises - We're All Just Hangin' Around (and Ruminating yet again)
What in Tarnation?
Getting around on the Machine
Shield Hull - Under the Hood?
South Aspect - Shield Room - Level 1 - Under the Pyramid
South Aspect - Shield Room - Level 2 - What's that Smell?
South Aspect - Shield Room - Level 3 - It's all about Command and Control, but mostly control!
South Aspect - Shield Room - Level 4 - Who knew cartoons were so deadly?
South Aspect - Shield Rooms - Levels 5-7 - Remember those guts we talked about?
South Aspect - Shield Rooms - Level 8 - Shield Accelerators - Is it me or is it HOT in here?
Ad Hoc Rescue
Letter From The Basement
Vision from the Void
Raytog - A Rather Od-Fellow
That Ghoul - Utta
Buggin' Out - Who Brought the Repellent?
Keem - She is the Nalurus, Coo-coo-c'choob
Dormun Thut - Convergence Candidate
Capo Emryn Dagos - Skiye Sails
IF YOU ARE A GM OF NUMENERA, PLEASE PROCEED. PLAYERS, DO YOURSELF A FAVOUR, TELL YOUR GM ABOUT THIS PAGE THEN GO FIND ENTERTAINMENT IN A PYTHARON RUBAR MARKET, I KNOW YOUR TYPE!!!
Each plot hook, NPC, section or
article is intended to be presented as one typed page, more or less.
That way you can read it in small bite-sized chunks, the same way I
conceived of it. I will gather it all together as my timeline regresses.
The first mention of “The Empty Machine” will usually be capitalized. Follow on text will frequently refer to “the machine”, the two terms are interchangeable.
Some gender references are specific and some are gender neutral, based on my rendition of The Empty Machine for my campaign. As with anything presented, please feel to change it to meet the needs of your game, your group and respective style of play. And remember, always play in style!
I will frequently refer to the machine in the female gender, as is normal with vessels in modern parlance. If it offends you, change it or grow some Flesh Pups. I'm good with classic naval terminology and tradition.
I generally try to keep to the proper English (UK) usage of words, where possible, as per my upbringing or lack of education. Expect words such as Armour as opposed to Armor, or metres vice meters, unless I refer directly to rules as written in the style of the Numenera corebook. It's only English after all, but from which side of the Atlantic?
Last but not least! Please give credit where credit is due.
The Empty Machine is not my Intellectual Property (IP), I'm only
filling in some of the blanks left behind by the fun folks at Monte Cook
Games, LLC. Disclaimers and Rights to follow. And special thanks to my players for railroading me into this... ;-)
- Don F.
Once upon a time (I know, all stories seem to start that way) I had the crew find an oddity. It is a palm-sized red dimpled stone that happens to issue random broadcast from somewhere else in the aether or the datasphere, depending on their world view. This is one of the means I use to feed leads, future plot hooks and general information and weirdness to my players once per game session. Broadcasting originates from an individual know only as Vaux, an Informed Jack who Tells Tales.
A generous GM might issue a group GMI, awarding players one XP apiece for taking the 8-10 minutes to learn more about the Ninth World. Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more!
I have also allowed the use of oddities, cyphers and artifacts, especially things like a laser pointer and otherwise useless lenses to provide hints as to the construction and extra-dimensional nature inherent to all or parts of the machine. Make some use of those oddities and give them sudden meaning.
My players had it in mind that they want to go to and explore The Empty Machine in the northwestern expanse of the Plains of Kataru in The Ninth World. Since I had a two weekend break between sessions I thought let's put some effort into this.
I created a spreadsheet with generic descriptions of a variety of structures one might find in a ruin or vessel (External Link). It can be used as a springboard or cheat sheet from which to detail ruins or similar high-tech complexes in your game.
I planned to make use of this hand-in-hand with Monte Cook's Numenera Glimmer - Injecting the Weird, but did not use that Glimmer as a reference in producing the spreadsheet. Some inspiration was taken from reading the Numenera core book and and Technology Compendium.
The resulting spreadsheet was my
take how I would describe the inner and outer portions of The Empty Machine. Please feel free to interpret anything
provide as you see fit and re-engineer it to the needs of your game
and style of play.
Design of the spreadsheet was driven by a few factors, such as the description in the corebook for The Empty Machine. There is ample there to work with and I had to make a few assumptions:
There is no reasonable way to
physically map in detail the ruin that is THE EMPTY MACHINE and all of its intertwined and
indescribable shapes. All sorts of passive but undetectable
technology might fold spaces, therefore random and abstract mapping
is probably easiest and easily explained away by the Numenera. (Refer to Numenera: Weird Discoveries on how to map out non-linear adventure spaces).
The Empty Machine is a busy place, with waves of inhabitants changing the landscape within and around the ruin on a continuing basis (read up on the Mongol hordes). It is never completely empty.
Even if it was a massive space ship, orbital station or some other construct, it is now in fact a massive arcology-like structure or similar style residential complex, quite likely with some semi-permanent to permanent habitation in the immediate vicinity surrounding the ruin itself.
Drawing out the described ruin it is evident, at least to myself, that The Empty Machine is a flattened or streamline cube or flattened rectangle standing on point edge in the middle of the plains. If you drew an 800x800 foot square surface and embedded about 200 feet of one point underground, you would have The Empty Machine.
How wide is the ruin? I have it as being about 200 feet thick, but then again, maybe it is a cube that optically appears to be thinner in depth, no matter which azimuth it is viewed from?
What structures survived below ground level, or is it an inaccessible mangle of metal and other remnants? I personally have my own ideas.
There is nothing that is immediately
obvious to scavenged from the structure in terms of cyphers,
artifacts or even discoveries, at least not easily scavenged from the machine itself, but that does not account for visitors and inhabitants. That
said, this is the game of Numenera, it will not be boring and should
definitely be weird.
Denizens of the machine (and
possibly other habitable ruins in the Ninth World) are not necessarily
as adventurous as the players and will only make use of the space
available to them for what they need, can make use
of or can reach with minimal effort. The ruins are not there for them
to explore any further, except for the rare intrepid few. The ruins
are full of stories, rumour, myth, legend and many more things, but
the denizens weight the utility of the ruin with the potential
threats they've heard lie within.
How you use what I've provided is up to you, but don't try to overwhelm yourself or other players with more detail than is required. A few basics, such as a shapes, size and a sensory detail that will stick out in the mind of the players or effect a possible encounter are all need to start, fill out the rest on the fly.
One facet of the machine, which makes it so difficult to fathom to most normal beings of the Ninth World, is the integral design of all control surfaces, networking, systems, etc. The vessel is constructed from hundreds to thousands of substrate layers of a bio-mechanical circuitry of ultra-dimensional design and materials. Closer examination at a microscopic or any higher level of resolution, of most any surface within the machine, will reveal intricate patterns and details progressing down into more advanced detail and smaller resolutions down to at least a quantum scale and possibly even deeper. This design allows various fundamental forces such as gravity, light, radiation and others, natural to our dimension and otherwise, to continue acting aboard the machine, many times in strange ways, even in an non-powered state. In most cases, explorers will need to clean away ages of compacted dust, grime and other detritus to even stand a chance to note these details. In addition, certain cyphers, oddities, other Numenera or esoteries may give explorers and researchers an asset or two in discerning the existence of these “traceries” embedded throughout the vessel. Knowledge of these traceries, as a minimum, is a requirement to start unlocking any of the mysteries the machine has yet to reveal.
Once adventurers have discerned the traceries and design parameters of at least one system or sub-system the vessel and successfully activated and operated it, they may opt to spend time researching (as specified by the GM) any new functionality of the vessel systems, and after passing the specified time, can optionally use any minor or major successes on a future task roll as a possible asset or two.
version of the machine is a compressed seed-ship/ark/arcology. I have yet to decide whether it was a
seed-ship carrying a packet of current Ninth World Human inhabitants
or something other and older. Regardless, it or it's original
designers and /inhabitants failed in deploying it as designed and
fashioned. This vessel, for lack of a better word, is one of the
semi-failed survivors of a global colonization effort. To the
immediately known canon of the Ninth World by this writer, it is
possible that a less fortunate sister vessel was the cause of the
White Crater (Ninth World Guidebook, pg.97) in The Frozen South. I of
course, leave that to the readers discretion.Globally, others are possible.
What of the original survivors of the machine? The eons and waves of scavengers and inhabitants have all but erased any signs or clues of the original occupants. Other than that, it is suspected, from the design and size of passages, portals and other fixtures within the machine, that it was designed primarily for human to slightly taller than human sized occupants.
At least one original inhabitant or survivor of the machine and it's eons old crash is still hibernating somewhere aboard it. Whether that entity has awoke in the past and then returned to it's slumber, is up to you? Of all the current tenants and creatures eking out a niche or finding security within the confines of the machine, it is the key adversary most any group should be concerned about, especially if they manage to activate any long dormant systems of sub-systems of the machine for which it has set trip-wires and alarms. This slumbering threat is none other than a lone Yfilk (Ninth World Guidebook, pg.249).
Within The Empty Machine, floors and ceilings that separate levels, where they exist, are referred to as DECKS. The standard distance between decks is 3 metres (10 feet) unless otherwise specified. Structures intended to separate or divide up areas on the same level, such as walls or dividers, are referred to as BULKHEADS. Rooms may be used interchangeably with the word CHAMBER depending on my visualization it's size or shape. Conduit, tunnels, ducts, vents, passages and pipes might be used interchangeably as well as doors, doorways, hatches, valves and portals. Feel free to use your own wording to describe any of these structures. Otherwise, feel free to download and use the following spreadsheet (External LINK). Gravity and other effects may change the description or perception of these, purposely adding confusing to descriptions for your players. Feel free to map the layout of the machine for them on scratch paper or give them the graphic I have provided. It's OK, sooner or later they'll figure it out. They are smart enough to play Numenera after all!
The machine also contains a multitude of areas referred to as SPACES,
these areas fill all the voids between the outer hull and the
underlying levels, between certain levels, even the few inches
(centimetres) to tens of feet (several metres) between chambers,
conduits and other substructures on a given level. These spaces might
be filled with metallic foams, some self-healing or not, rubbish or a
variety of other materials, least of which are dust, grime, grit, crud
or the remains of less fortunate creatures and explorers.
Occasionally, there are gaps and tears in the foam that allow passage
between differing structures on the machine. Most certainly, every
inch of these spaces has been crawled over or through by eons of
scavenging creatures exploring for their next meal or nesting place.
The Coccitan for instance, might be encountered on a regular basis.
Additionally, players may easily find themselves lost, falling and
wedged in these confined spaces or abraded by the metallic foam. Fear not! There are rules for that.
Gravity normal is assumed to be Ninth World gravity unless otherwise specified in the descriptive text for any level, room, chamber, passage, space, etc.
machine still has vestigial trans-dimensional technologies built into
her, in addition to residual energies stored here and there.
Alternatively, other trans-dimensional domains may impinge on select
parts of the machine. Things occasionally leak in, out and between other
worlds and dimensions. References in these instances where differing
realities overlap will be referred to as SPACE NORMAL or SPACE
TRANS-DIMENSIONAL. There is a good reason why the University of Doors
continues to use the machine as one of many training sites for their
students. How and when a GM chooses to use these alternate dimensions I leave to their capricious whims.
The standard level to successfully activate and use any extant systems, networks or apparatus within the machine is Level 7. The same can be said for detecting the fact that any of these Numenera even exist. Therefore, even for a Nano with the Scan esotery, in many instances skill and/or effort will be required to even stand a chance of detecting the existence of Numenera or their trace energies. Otherwise, more powerful Nanos, groups and other creatures would have exploited more of the remaining Numenera of the machine through past waves of exploration and colonization. Many, if not most of these systems, have been inadvertently damaged through scavenging or were purposely sabotaged. Hence the reason most of the machine and it's component systems will remain beyond the knowledge or understanding of most common Ninth World inhabitants, although it has not stopped them from trying to divine her secrets. Any initial attempts to repair these damaged or sabotaged systems will require a Level 8 Intellect, Numenera or related roll and most likely parts before attempting to use them at their normal levels. Activating and deactivating the majority of these systems is a routine task once repaired, powered, understood and the explorers possess the valid key(s) and know the appropriate interface locations, verbal cues and/or physical gestures. Getting the system to actually perform it's intended function remains a set level task (e.g. Level 7) regardless of the system being active and functional. Feel free to change these levels based on your own player tiers for your game.
(I originally designed the secrets of the machine to be discovered by fourth tier and higher characters, but you can always fudge the numbers for lower tier characters - Don).
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All shield rooms are numbered top down toward the core of the machine.
In space normal this appears to be nothing more than a square-sided pyramid-shaped room approximately 6 metres on a side (20 feet) peaking 4 metres (13 feet) at the apex. The lower straight walled section measures 1 metre in height. This chamber has not been breached or entered by any inhabitants of the Ninth World since the demise of the machine and is only accessible from the Shield Room – Level 2 (below) through a none too obvious thin metallic permeable membrane in the ceiling of that room (level 5 intellect or similar roll to detect).
Gravity normal is the floor of the room
(perpendicular to the Ninth World), heads pointing south. There is no
obvious lighting. Other than an ancient musty odour common to most tombs there is
nothing more to be observed in this room with regard to normal senses unless
one detects or activates the ancient navigation (level 7) or
observation and recording systems (level 5) in the room. Repairing or debugging these systems is level 8 and 6 respectively. All future tasks after detection and repair as per rules listed under THE WORKS.
Closer inspection, after brushing away the dust, reveals this chamber is layered with a
solidified organic looking shiny copper patina with patterns of 1 to
3 inch (2 to 10 cm) holes, seemingly arranged in constellations,
which number in the hundreds across each of the four panels of the
In the dark lower corner of the chamber lies the desiccated remains of a spherical creature with multiple tendrils. It is invisible until parts break off from its brittle form. Bumping into the remains will do this. Someone wandering about the room is eventually bound to do this. The hide covered skeletal shell of the head/body measures 1 metre (3 feet) across and has three beaks in radial symmetry around the base of it's body. The 20+ brittle tendrils connected to it's body measure up to 6 meters long (20 feet) and are clustered on either the top or the bottom of the of the creature (which is difficult to determine). Defiling the petrified inner remains of the alien corpse will lead to the discovery of a bracelet sized toroid or ring of iridescent synth of fine construction. Scanning turns up nothing other than it might best be described as an apparently non-functional oddity.
The toroid can best be thought of as a
crew ID tag and allows access to various areas or functions of the
vessel at GM discretion, provided that they are functioning. It might count as one asset when activating
or operating vessel systems, mysteriously activate systems of its own
accord or whatever else the GM feels is appropriate.
The toroid is required for use of this chamber. A very clever or skilled Nano with the aide of two or more adventurers experimentally parking digits such as fingers, fists and toes in various combinations of holes in the ceiling constellations could probably plot a course in the navigation system. Where would be anyone's guess. Tentacles would work even better if anyone is so equipped. Once both of the rooms systems are repaired they form an immersive environment from which to view a massive storehouse of cosmological data. A combined week of time, spent in immersion, for only one individual, will make that individual practiced (not trained or specialized) in the basics of celestial navigation, thereby incurring no negative modifiers when attempting to navigate this or many other space faring vessels they might come across in the future. The individual so instructed is not necessarily granted knowledge of the conditions, warnings or other details of said destinations.
Observation of this room in space trans-dimensional reveals previously describe functional details in visions, flashes of insight or dreams when subjected to scrutiny using appropriate oddities, esoteries or other Numenera. The remains of the creature leave a strong aura in this chamber. Many features and spaces within the machine may have multiple-dimensional disorders, possibly under different circumstances. Ample material here for GM Intrusions for PCs with sensitive personalities.
In space normal this is square 24 x 24 metre (80 x 80 feet) area measuring 3 metres (10 feet) in height. The walls were once a pristine white synth but are now steeped in various shades of ochre and sienna grime and dust. This room provides direct access to the Level 1 Shield Room above through a non-obvious thin permeable metallic membrane in the ceiling (level 5 intellect or similar roll to detect). This is opposite the corroded iris valve leading into this chamber from the Level 3 Shield Room below. Forcing the iris valve is a level 6 strength task and can only be conducted from positioning in gravity unless it is forced or blown open by other means, such as detonations.
In space trans-dimensional this room is packed floor-to-ceiling and even wall-to-wall with taught red, solidified but organic looking strands and membranes crisscrossing each other, forming a glassy maze of webs. Up to slightly larger than human sized creatures might delicately wind their way through this maze.The chamber in this state might have been explored by only a small handful of intrepid adventurers in the past (desiccated remains optional).
There is no gravity in
this room, effectively giving it a zero gravity environment (Numenera
Corebook, Pg. 98). Otherwise, maneuvering, combat or other tasks are offset by the confined space(s) provided by the red glassy strands
filling this chamber (in that other dimension) are readily available, giving ready hand, foot and body holds. When so configured, this space limits adventurers to using only small
hand held weapons and devices. There is barely perceptible dim red
glow emanating from the strands which confers a kind of night vision
on those entering the room, without them knowing it. This fact may be
more obvious to those with other types or modifications to their
vision (level 3 Intellect roll to notice).
In both states, aside from zero gravity, the most obvious sensation in the chamber is the all pervading acrid smell of Ozone (level 3), which is dense enough in this chamber to act as an inhaled poison and oxidizer (accelerant). Each minute in the chamber without proper air filtration or other protection requires a roll against each Might, Speed and Intellect or face the loss of one point from each pool for each respective failure. Most organic and synth-based clothing, armor, equipment and weapons may also require rolls against the the Ozone to survive degradation, also forming the basis for several possible GM intrusions. Flame and explosive effects are also double in this room including damage and range. There are warnings to this effect etched all over at microscopic to quantum levels, including at the entrances to this chamber, but will not be decipherable by most Ninth World standards. Regardless, PCs cannot complain they were not warned. Quick transit from one portal to the other, between the first and third levels of the shield rooms should pose no hazards to those transiting between them. The dangers posed by remaining the atmosphere in this chamber, after the first few seconds (one round) should be made obvious by the GM to those lingering, with warnings of eye, throat and lung irritation or burning sensations. Enterprising individuals might be able to capture some of this atmosphere for future use or experimentation.
This chamber comprises the bulk of the processing power (level 7) for the long range sensory systems of The Empty Machine. It is directly tied into the navigation and observation systems in the chamber above it (Level 1 Shield Room) and to the command and control area directly below it (Level 3 Shield Room). This system has not been corrupted by external sources but might (read as "optionally") be dormant, a machine intelligence and/or mad due to eons of sensory deprivation, almost as if something or someone purposely left the processor blind to the world around it. A seriously skilled Nano with a deep understanding of Numenera, machine intelligence or the conditions of madness might be able to help with long term recovery of the processor if communications can be established.
With the exception of other massive scale and deeply embedded sensors, most of the sensors on the vessels exterior have either been damaged beyond repair in the crash, inadvertently stripped from the ships exterior for other uses or decayed due to age and weathering. This effectively makes the vessel blind to the exterior environment, even if all internal systems were to be repaired and made operational. Otherwise, with internal sensors mostly intact, the system does detect a range of other forces and energies, such as gravity, density, neutrinos, and stranger things on varying scales.
This chamber is 48 x 48 metre (160 x 160 feet) square and 6 metres (10 feet) in height. The lower portion of this level is actually embedded within and part of the level 4 Shield Room. This mostly barren chamber is filled with 6 metre (10 foot) diameter circular patterns on the floors and opposing ceilings (decks). Nondescript metallic strips with hook mechanisms at each end run through the centers of each circle and appear to have once held something in place between decks. Some of these strips have been torn from their moorings. There is no particular pattern to the orientation of the circles and embedded strips.
Gravity “normal” in this room, is both the floor and ceiling. There is a thin transition layer or dead space of low to zero gravity starting around or just above the head height of a human (Numenera Corebook, Pg. 98). This means that there is a 1G normal gravity field extending about two metres up and down from the decks and a lower gravity boundary layer in the intervening two metres with a thin 1 metre (3 foot) layer at around the 3 metre (10 foot) transition zone.
Having pictured that, if you wish to add a bit of weird to the scene, there is always the option of having a layer of dust, refuse or anything else you can imagine floating about in an intermediate layer of zero gravity. Anything in the low gravity boundaries would eventually fall towards their respective floor or ceiling depending on mass, orientation and location within those layers. This does allow for the temporary parking of items or materials at about head height to arms length overhead with times ranging from one round to several minutes before items accelerate back toward the closest deck.
It is also possible to jump or vault up into the intermediate low/null gravity layer as a level 5 Speed task. Aside from the use of athletic skills, staves or pole-weapons may provide an asset to jump or vault as well. Maneuvering, combat and other physical tasks within the low-to-zero gravity boundaries are affected by the appropriate rules governing gravity (Numenera Corebook, pp.97-98). Combat or interactions within this boundary could be described, played out or visualized as wire-work scenes from the movies. Falling from the low gravity layer back to one of the decks causes one point of ambient damage on a failed Speed roll (level 5).
This room provides direct access to the Level 2 Shield Room above it through a non-functioning (corroded shut or gummed up) iris valve leading from this chamber. Forcing the valve is a level 6 strength task and can only be conducted from the ceiling gravity boundary or by the use of some other means of force.
Primary access to or from this level used to occur via one portal outline which is obviously visible against one
of the walls of this chamber. This solid portal, if repaired and
activated (level 8 for initial repair, level 7 to operate
thereafter), can lead to one of several other locales within the
machine, assuming the portals at the other locations have been
secured and repaired. Failing that, debugging the portal will provide
immediate access, by default, to the processor
core that surrounds the base of the Level 3 Shield Room, or more
precisely, to the remaining portion of the surrounding Level 4 Shield
Room. Initial access into these levels is possible through a thin passage
leading from the Shield Space through a fractured metallic foam channel to a buckled bulkhead in the corner.
This chamber was the key operations centre of the vessel and could be crewed by as little as four personnel and as many as 48 when it was functioning eons ago. It has been effectively destroyed due to the loss of all the custom control surfaces that where once anchored between the metallic strips. At most, repairs affected to the mechanisms that control the height and rotation of the circular platforms (level 5) would allow them to rotate and elevate up to one or two meters from their respective decks.
Recovery of one to four screens would provide varying levels of functionality.
Options: Vision of a past functional facility and Surfaces within domiciles to be found in Machinetown or farther abroad.
This area is 72 x 72 metre (237 x 237 feet) on a side and is 3 metres (10 feet) in height. It is a densely packed processor filling a corridor about 6 metres wide (20 feet) around the base of the main operations area described as the South Aspect – Level 3 Shield Room.
Gravity is not a consideration entering this space as anyone transitioning into it to explore or affect repairs to the processor will be transformed into a two dimensional entity (2D) within a 2D space. After entering this space the GM and players alike should haul out a scrap or two of paper and start drafting out stick figures, their actions and associated scenes for play. If your cartooning skills are really good, go for it. Transition into the 2D space from the repaired solid wall portal in the command and control center (Level 3 Shield Room) will appear as whatever colour of television static noise please you. Alternately, if using coloured paper, use that colour.
The residing intelligence in this processor (both level 7) has been wounded and has either buried or created a shell around itself in order to protect and preserve its life while awaiting rescue by a crew that is never coming. How the GM plans to present the story and populate the processor with regard to characters, locales, scenes, etc. I leave to them. Maybe story boarding a handful of scenes that leads to investigation, rescue and eventual reactivation of the intelligence.
Now you ask, what of the villain(s) in this story? The answer lies in the sabotage of this system by another entity secreted away elsewhere in The Empty Machine. The processor was originally a trans-dimensional computing device, but sabotage and the subsequent sequestering of the intelligence has rendered it down to operating in 2D space. At present, there are one or more hostile 2D entities of the GMs choosing that are trapped and hunting within the computation spaces and algorithms that rule this processor. Suggestions include but are not limited to:
Devising your own creature, a viral or competing intelligence, or a custom NPC, which should be level 7 as a minimum in order to pose a threat to the intelligence/processor;
Angled Ones (Ninth World Guidebook, pg. 223);
Gemorrn (The Ninth World Bestiary, pg. 57) possibly as virtual remains of some former operations crew forced into this processor;
Jurulisk (The Ninth World Bestiary, pg. 69);
Two or more packs of Vapes (12+) that can attack by swarm (The Ninth World Bestiary, pg. 131); or
Weaponized Memes, possibly set and designed as traps (The Ninth World Bestiary, pg. 134)
The intelligence, if rescued, might possibly befriend and assist explorers delving further into the secrets of The Empty Machine, but due to limited functional or extant interfaces and sensor systems throughout the vessel can only aid them with one or two steps as assets, if the GM feels so inclined. Any other details about the intelligence, including abilities, health, sanity, motivations, etc., I leave to GM discretion.
Gravity in this area is mostly Ninth World normal. Exceptions might exist in specific sub-chambers, areas or devices at GM discretion. The lower part of levels 6 and 7 are covered in metres of ground level Drit. This is one instance of the shield rooms on this aspect of the machine where explorers may encounter the basement of the machine (See The Basement).
These levels are secondary processing for most every other function the vessel had when it was an operational entity, such as power regulation and transmission, pumps and plumbing, waste removal, lubrication, maintenance, etc. Most every thing or space left within this area has already been entered, crawled or picked over and/or defaced by eons worth of inhabitants, scavengers and other marauders. Everything on these levels can be treated as level 6 (armor 5) to damage or dismantle. Repair of these individual systems would be pointless with current Ninth World technology and knowledge.
It is possible but not probable that explorers or other intrepid souls might discover hitherto hidden panels, spaces or Numenera secreted away and awaiting eventual discovery. The few exceptions on these levels would be a handful of teleport and ultra-dimensional portals, some possibly remaining functional. Damaged portals follow the rules presented in Da Woiks. There may also be a requirement for the toroid security key from the Level 1 Shield Room to accept user access. The teleport portals could lead to a variety of other similar portals about the vessel, if they were operational. The ultra-dimensional portals generally lead to other realms of being that the vessel drew upon for weird energies or to dispose of physical and energy bi-products of the vessels operation. Most of the alternate dimensions would likely be hostile to life in the Ninth World.I
Any of a variety of inhabitants or encounters could be devised for these combined levels but you might keep them to a minimum to get explorers to move on to more interesting spaces and encounters within the machine. Suggested creature/occupants/encounters within the confines of this space include but are not limited to pests such as Laak, Pallone, Steel Spider, Varakith; Balikna, Bloodfeast Tick, Dribel, Flesh Pup, Kalyptien Crab, Llaric Scorpion ;
Other creatures, such as Cave Qui, Coccitan, Ellnoica, Erulian, Falling Maw, Gazer, Ishenizar, Memora; or
Strange trans-dimensional or ultra-terrestrial transients such as Abykos, Yellow Swarms, Dimensional Husks (possibly of former crew members, not all or any of them Human), The Kiprus, (MORE)
This level functions as the primary shield generation and distribution for this aspect of the vessel. It is approximately 168 x 168 metres (551 x 551 feet) on a side and 3 metres (10 feet) deep, extending in parts into the Level 7 Shield Room area above it and down into the Level 10 Core (South Aspect) just below it.
The area was once densely packed with all manner of technology used to activate, control and maintain extremely energetic reactions to power the vessels shields but has long since been stripped of any auxiliary systems which were valued as Numenera. Four overlapping accelerator rings, the resonance cavities around and between them and a smattering of the grid networks that feed the outer shield and hull are most of what remains after eons of scavenging.
Gravity .... Exceptions might exist in
specific sub-chambers or devices at GM discretion. The lower part of
this and adjacent levels is covered in metres of ground level Drit.
Deeper exploration below ground level and the drit will bring
explorers to the basement of the machine.
That's how it all begins. What proceeds next is left to the PCs. Some hapless NPC finds themself awkwardly trapped within the confines of a very tight space or chamber. Funny thing is, they were once human or something close to it. Now they are a Ninth World monster. Choose one from a long list, the bigger and the uglier the better.
How did they get trapped in the first place and what is their story? In Numenera you have lots of choices, you choose the harpoon and sharpen the barbs as you please. It is possible that the victim:
Pissed off or irritated a Nano or Arch-Nano of some renown. In trade for their stupidity, the offended, using esoteries, unique cyphers and/or artifacts, transformed the victim in situ (deserving or not) or teleported them to this location in addition to the transformation.
Purposely or accidentally activated some bit of Numenera, expecting a totally different effect than the one that they got. Then again, maybe they're the victim of a practical joke by so called friends, a nasty merchant or some other adversary.
Fell victim to a Numenera trap set up by slavers, hunters or some other demented group, where the victim is intended to become hunted for the thrill of it or perhaps captured to be placed on display in some zoo, sold to an exotics collection or maybe kept as a pet or servant. Someone or something is coming for them, probably sooner rather than later.
Was transformed by the Iron Wind, other strange energies circulating within the machine or by an ultra-terrestrial entity.
Failed their transformation back to their natural state after partaking of some Numenera-based otherworldly simulation that they activated or walked into unknowingly.
The scenarios listed above are only a hint at possibilities. Feel free to change them up or add to them as you wish.
The ruckus caused by the individual, and possibly the responding PCs will likely attract unwanted attention, which exists aplenty in The Empty Machine. What follows up while everyone figures out how to extract a massive beast from a too small cage could add to an already interesting session. You could easily use this elsewhere in the Ninth World, such as a crowded city, within the confines of another ancient ruin or relic, or possibly even from a cage in a slave market.
To add verisimilitude to the encounter, use a monstrous creature not typically associated with ample intelligence or social skills and place the victim in that body. In the long run there are good odds, even with the intelligence and the social skills, the physiology of the new body is going to drive the NPC toward whatever will eventually slake it's natural hunger, needs or desires.
I'll let you fill in the blanks.
Inspiration: A D&D game I played in a long time ago...
Esteemed members of the Order, anyone looking at it long enough, pondering philosophically, and in a right frame of mind, will realize there is more to the Empty Machine than what is seen above ground. The machine has been in it's final resting place since time immemorial. Time so long, it has no history of how it came to be. It is only known as or thought to be a relic of one of the previous worlds. Time has erased most obvious vestiges of a crash. A compact mound or berm, composed of drit and rocky strata, encompasses the impact point with the ground, but has far worn away from the original remains of the eons old impact.
If one were to look more closely, but further afield, there are other signs from the original impact that show up within a few days walk of the machine, in all directions, and at many key radial intersects (please see my enclosures). Strange energies were possibly released during the impact, in addition to causing a large seismic event causing rents and tears in the regional fabric of the terrain. Further study is required of the region immediate to the Empty Machine and funding and additional investigators from the Order would be required to conduct more thorough inquiries of at least a half dozen suspect or know events and locales. It is estimated that there are at least that many more unreported instances, as a minimum.
Further to that, observation and computation of the masses and angles involved in the current leaning arrangement of the Empty Machine, combined with the surficial and sub-surface geology in which the machine is embedded, would also seem to indicate that it should not be standing on it's own, especially after all this time. The fact that there has been no perceptible movement or settling of the machine in context to it's immediate surrounds, not even a micro-fenn, even after 20+ years of measurements, is profoundly exhilarating to ponder. It is my recommendation again that we make a concerted effort to discover the source of this marvel!
Random sample drill cores from a confined, yet secure location within the bowels of the machine indicates anywhere from 5 to 20 fenns depth of extremely compacted drit and refuse, some of which may have value to our esteemed archaeological colleague Bemen Rooth. Initial measurements and estimates of the core samples indicate tens of thousands of years of drit deposits and follow on habitation at the lower levels by waves of inhabitants over the same period. These cores samples and our associated notes have been forwarded by a trusted agent and should reach Qi within a few weeks time. In the conduct of all coring tasks, something has thwarted our efforts to drill any deeper, in fact damaging our drills, indicating a substance harder and or denser than the rest of the Empty Machine hull or inner structures. A mystery that must be delved into more deeply in the near future. Again, I stress, further funding, acquisition of a discreet manpower pool, and a cover story will have to be considered before we proceed to the next phase of research.
I pray that you are well and your endeavours always bear fruit,
Aeon Borena of the Orange Order
Order of Truth, Numenera Corebook, page 222
Empty Machine, The Ninth World Bestiary, page 184 and the entirety of this document
(Offered up to the Delusional (Mad) Nano who Explores Dark Places in my ongoing campaign. I issue him at least one fit of reverie as an automatic GMI every game session in order to feed his mangled neurons. Is it a hint to the possible origins and demise of The Empty Machine? Maybe...)
A glimpse of silvery thread in the void of night.
Standing against the cold pinpoint stars.
Sun glancing off mufti-faceted surfaces, a gem perhaps.
A slow lazy arc around and towards it,
Seeing now that it is not alone, it is one of many.
Fiery slivers plunging into the well.
Buffeting plumes of sun-tainted fury shed and fall behind, be these angels or demons?
The hood of blue tinted horizon rising up all around.
Musing, angels do not spout flames, they seem more like demons.
Approaching, the dark and massive orb tugs, harder now.
Diving, light bending demons, trace out the lands below.
Knowing this place, having imagined, maybe even dreamed of it in deep moments of reverie.
The demons scare away the night, waters, plains, valleys and mountains all cascade in warm hues.
Like tongues of flame casting light and shadow about camp.
The fires descend from the void, following, following.
Sudden darkness, another void, except for the thunder rumbling through the night air.
The sliver followed has found purchase in barren soil, now scorched.
Traces of lightening and stranger energies escape her domain.
Like a dying mother spider, laying the first strands of a web.
Arcing into the sky and around all these foreign lands in random rainbow hues.
She expires, giving up the last of her cold glowing heart.
Feeding her children, eggs purchased, all about the rain-soaked and windswept plain.
Her black, ashen, angular shell slouched precariously.
You return to the conscious world...
Entering Machinetown the first thing one notes is the wholesome odours of brewing breads, liquors and other homey products. In fact these scents are misleading and are anything but home-brewed or baked goods. The Empty Machine ends up being the perfect place for an enterprising Odlark to set up shop and build it's Grup vats, as the machine is a ready source for the bulk of parts and materials required to assemble a sizable Grup vat operation.
Raytog “Ray” Odlark - Town Proprietor
Ray is a massive caterpillar like alien entity, an Odlark (The Ninth World Bestiary, pg. 95), that has set up shop with it's Grup vats at the hub of what is now called Machinetown, the large trading town on the south side of The Empty Machine. Ray has many specialist in it's employ and is rarely if ever seen by anyone or in public. It has set up permanent residence in it's laboratory-warehouse centered between the Grup vats and his business fronts in the center of Machinetown. Ray has an uncanny ability to know of persons that enter it's establishments that it would like to interview, either for information or to contract for hire. Ray is motivated by three key things:
a) expanding the production capacity and capability of it's Grup vat reservoirs through the acquisition of more Numenera. Duplicate or related technologies are preferred but not absolutely essential. Artifacts, with multiple uses or charges, are especially of interest as they may be disassembled by the Grup vats and produce new Numenera products in record time;
b) acquisition of any other information or knowledge that will help keep Ray at the top of the local and regional trading and information chain.
c) maintaining control (read as law and order) over the sometimes rambunctious populace, both semi-permanent and transient, of Machinetown The intent is to foster a continually improving reputation among Peregrins, traders and others traveling The Beyond. Ray controls the local populace and visitors with a velvet lined iron gauntlet through it's “Vigil”, essentially a thug-based constabulary (Level 3, Armour 1, Medium Bludgeons). The vigil can be found roaming about, singularly as eyes and ears, or on patrol in pairs. The vigil can readily assemble a total of up to 2 dozen to meet specific needs, such as quelling a brawl, when required.
Two of Ray's key storefront establishments are “The Coterie”, a specialized trading post of sorts attached to the south side of the Grup vats and “Rangio Berra”, a bar/lounge or fair proportions that offers quality food and drink at a fair price, situated on the west side of the vats.
The Coterie is a front business for trading Numenera, oddities and other such trinkets, as well as unique or bulk quantities of salvage materiel from the Empty Machine or other nearby ruins. In trade they offer clientele prompt payment in shins or lesser valued, but “guaranteed reliable,” Grup vat-grown Numenera in trade for rarer and frequently less reliable Numenera. Supplies common to a general store can be found in a great many other stalls and booths within the primary market area immediately east of Ray's Grup vat operation. There is not enough profit in general mercantile for Ray to engage in it.
Rangio Berra is a large food and beverage establishment that caters to travelers of all sorts, notably, merchants, their retinue and guards, Peregrins, adventurers, slavers (they are merchants of a sort after all) and even more exotic patrons. The establishment promises a filling quality meal and drink at reasonable pricing and the custom goblets and platters are ever-full and refreshing for the duration of a typical sit down meal, thanks to the nanotechnology of the Grup vats used to manufacture the utensils and many of the menu items. Fresh grown or hunted food is also an option at a premium. It is the only establishment in Machinetown allowed to serve “intoxicating” beverages, from Grup vats or otherwise. The Vigil makes certain of this, confiscating (or impounding in the case of large merchant cargoes) any and all such beverages they become aware of while others are in the confines of Machinetown. On the west wall of the Rangio one can find a large library full of tomes and documents gathered from around and about. None of the documents may leave the confines of the Rangio. A day spent filtering through them and knowledge of appropriate language skills might provide a +1 asset to any one Beyond knowledge question.
The Ghoul “Utta” works in Ray's employ as a barkeep and recruiter at Rangio Berra, directly interfacing with Ray's potential clients or contractors. She is one of Ray's many barkeeps, but she holds sway and has his ear in all issues that really matter to Ray. Among Ghouls, Utta could be considered a leader... and rare beauty. She is not as repulsive looking or odoriferous as many other Ghouls that one would encounter in the wilds of The Beyond or elsewhere. She has all the abilities expected of a Ghoul as listed in The Bestiary with the exception that she has somewhat light adapted with all her years working in the “World Above.” She experiences only minor impairment when attempting tasks under the brightest of lights or direct sunlight (-1 modifier to all rolls).
When Utta takes an “interest” in a patron or other persons from the World Above she nicknames them “Sweetmeats.” It's not a threat, it's her term of endearment, although it may not seem like that when issued from between her razor sharp teeth. Teeth that have easily rendered bone into chips and dust.
Utta has her own agenda, mostly complementary to Ray's, of collecting information for her “Gune” (pronounciation: gyoon), which has a subterranean entrance within a few days walking distance from Machinetown. What the Gune's intent for all the information they collect is beyond the day-to-day knowledge or thoughts of dwellers in The Beyond.
Unbeknownst to Ray, Utta has secreted one sheaf of information among the shelves of his public library as a test of patron intelligence and curiosity. The singular sheaf might be noticed/found after each hour of thorough searching, and an undisclosed (to players) level 6 Intellect roll. Ask players what level of effort and what assets in their repertoire they wish to invest in this generic search. The parchment, once found, possibly folded or tucked between the pages of some nondescript tome, is in fact quite thick, a resilient sheaf of tanned humanoid flesh with encrypted instructions (requiring a separate level 5 Intellect roll and a few hours of effort to decipher) for summoning a member of the Gune and a map of some key terrain peculiarities within a few days travel of the machine. Use of esoteries or skills related to detecting or scanning Numenera will not work as assets in searching the book shelves, but medical, historical or related knowledge skills or appropriate Numenera assisted searches can be used as assets against such a search.
Utta is aware of the activities and guardians at the Stone Pool in the near outlying Beyond and is part of the broader efforts by regional Ghouls to circumvent their activities and to recover the remains of all humanoids that rightfully belong to the Gune, as per their ancient tradition and laws. Utta could readily be used as an intermediary, source of information or point of contact in dealings between the Gune and The Stone Pool.
Text about Coccitan, other insect life and possible options
Click here to edit text
(Pronouciation: Keym) How old she really is and how long she's been here? She does not recall, time has no meaning for her, living habitually in the darkness as she does. She has dark adapted visually from both her time within The Empty Machine and due to her prior stay in the Salt Mines of Queslin, possibly enhanced by her deformity. Keem is a lonely creature the size and mentality of Tween girl, and is in reality a Nalurus (The Ninth World Bestiary, pg. 90). She lives a hermetic existence in the bowels of The Empty Machine in a secure bulkhead support area in the spaces between the key structures of the machine, in proximity to the Slung Tenements on the lower southwest side of the machine. She is rarely disturbed by interlopers and is not likely to be discovered anytime soon in her dark little empire full of refuse and dolls.
Up until recently, she has fabricated all of her own “imaginary” friends by pinching other kids toys, bits of linens and clothing drying on lines and odd little bits scavenged from around the machine to make her own dolls. She talks with them frequently and can even mobilize one or two to follow her simple commands. The effect, coming upon her large collection of oddly trussed, positioned and deformed dolls is likely be unsettling, especially since she designs them all with emphasis on her own deformities. The unnatural parts, angles and designs on the dolls are harmless, when compared with her disease, but should forewarn any interlopers that this is a strange realm they are entering. Only recently has she befriended a boy that lives among the denizens of the tenements. He is new here and not at all like any of the others that live among the tenements.
She has subsisted all this time by sneaking and thieving about the Slung Tenements and Rises of the lower portions of The Empty Machine. Since the inhabitants of the tenements live on the exterior of The Empty Machine, they know that things go amiss, but generally do not attribute these issues to anyone or thing living within the machine. She has also been so brave as to raid Raytog's Grup vats, which she has turned to her own use lately, but only makes these forays on the darkest of nights, for fear of being caught and because of the anguish caused to her vision by venturing out in broad daylight.
How did Keem end up living in The Empty Machine you ask? That is a good question with a heart rending story, if it is to be believed, and if you befriend her, and she relates it as she remembers. Keem escaped a carnival/creep show that stopped for a spell at the machine many years ago. She had been sold to the traveling creep show by the owners of the salt mines in Queslin. A child infected with this disease was in no way good for the salt business, causing the death of so many other child labourers in her creche. The owners of the mine terminated her line of the contract signed by her parents, ejecting her from the mines and selling her into yet another form of slavery. Her parents remained in Queslin as far as she knows. How she became infected in the confines of the salt mines of Queslin is a very interesting question? In fact, Keem might be one of so very few to claim to have survived and escaped the the mines of Queslin, but at what cost?
Her primary research interest is in mapping the subterranean channels created by the automatons known as Magmids. A breakthrough in this research would elevate her status and likely promote her into the Convergence, a lifelong dream!
As an adventurous teen from a tiny and nameless community at the foot hills of the Black Riage, which was within a few days reach of the Empty Sanctum, she came across a small portion of an ancient collapsed tunnel system that included broken parts of what she would later come to know as Magmids. With some small trepidation, but mostly in an attempt to elevate herself above a meaningless (to her) agrarian life, she brought her findings to the door of the Empty Sanctum and was immediately taken in as an assistant by Orro Rayil. She continues to search for answers to questions regarding Magmids and their machinations to this day.
The secured shed houses tight and austere sleeping and living arrangements for the team of three and a massive, yet questionable looking acoustic recording device that etches sound and possibly other energy recordings within blue gel filled spheres. Understanding and using this Numaneresque hunk of machinery requires specialized training and knowledge that only Dormun and a select few others may know. The only way Dormun might share any of this is if the Arm was removed from the equation and her life was at risk.
She keeps her theory about what the
tunnels are for and where they lead to herself and has not even
shared it with her master, at least not completely. She knows the
value of information control and her life.
Dormun Thut, level 3, Acoustic/Geology/Magmid expert as level 5
Convergence, Numenera Corebook, page 223
Magister Orro Rayil,
Arch-Nano, The Ninth World Bestiary, page 139
Assistant , level 2
The “Arm”, level 4 Thug, loyal to Orro Rayil, 1 Armor against all attack types, Damage 6, carries 3 Cyphers that would assist in escape or evasion
Magmids, The Ninth World Bestiary, page 79
Black Riage, Numenera Corebook, page 177
Empty Sanctum, Numenera Corebook, page 178
Traipsing amid the market and other less popular areas of Machinetown is an individual that blends into crowds or shadows with equal ease. This scout, of no small repute in Vralk, is known by their closest confidantes as Keir Reiz (pronounced: Key-r Reez). To the average populace in Machinetown or anywhere else beyond Vralk borders, it would not be certain if Keir was male, female or other, as Keir's face, clothes, armour and weapons regularly change, copying the patterns, textures, colours and fashions of the crowd. Even among Keir's confederates, because no Vralkan can truly say they have friends, there is no certainty as to what Keir is, gender-wise? Then again, when you are one of the most capable scout-assassins in Vralk, not a lot of people will question such a trifle, especially when the question can so readily be exchanged for your life.
Keir is not in Machinetown to kill anyone, not immediately at any rate. Neither is Keir alone. Keir is one of a handful of lead scouts for follow-on forays deep into the Beyond and the Steadfast. Traveling by cover of night, Keir is accompanied by a Mnetahsi scout-assassin of equal notoriety, Grott-tatak. At present, Grott camps in The Empty Machine, plumbing and scouring it's dark recesses and secrets during the day. It takes up position in a fracture on the hull plate, high on the upper face of the machine's hull, surveilling Machinetown and the surrounding plains during the evening hours. Only the most exceptional would ever notice.
Keir and Grott meet within the lower bowels of the machine at predesignated times and locations to exchange observations, notes and other findings before continuing on their mission, which in general, is scout everything and working at not being noticed. A wee bit challenging with a Mnetashi as a partner, but they manage. Their primary task, to conduct a full reconnaissance of The Empty Machine, the surrounding region and the route to it from Vralk and then beyond into the Steadfast. Why? Because war planners and strategists in Vralk believe that the machine is possibly one of the most defensible positions for a future logistics centre and staging site in the Beyond, before heading west through the mountain passes into the Steadfast.
Aside from their personal possessions, each of them has a few maps of specific locations along their route and a master map with details leading all the way back to Vralk. All are penned in foreign languages (Vralkan and Mnetashi) and are likely undecipherable to the average resident of the Beyond or Steadfast. Anyone with a military background recovering and viewing these maps will likely realize their ultimate purpose and value. Both Keir and Grott are avid users of cyphers and artifacts and are not bound by the typical Vralkan aversion to these devices.
Keir Reiz, level 7, armor 2, level 8 for all scouting, assassination, disguise and stealth rolls. Numenera as appropriate.
Mnethashi, Ninth World Guidebook, page 234
GM Intrusion: A fight or dealings with Keir and Grott might turn up an out of place letter or transcript. Maybe it is dropped when either/both Keir and/or Grott retreat from a fight. The GM could use Resitt Surga's missive to the Order of Truth (see Letter from the Basement). If that letter is used it is likely stained with blood and other dried bits of viscera. Otherwise, feel free to provide other material of your own design or choosing.
“Shins to be had aplenty in doin' trade booyo! Been doing it me whole life and bin getting richer by the turn! I Garrruuunteeee, me vessels be the safest, bestest and fastest!” So goes the start of any deal with Capo Emryn Dagos (pronounced: Ehm-rihn Dah-goss). The Capo is checking out The Empty Machine as a possible port of call and re-provisioning point for the largest and newest vessels of his fleet, known as Skiye Hauks. The area between Raytog's Grup vats and the base of the machine, nearest the Slung Tenements, would offer ideal refuge for his vessels to land, off-load and shelter until they are ready to re-provision and take on new cargo and passengers for destinations old, new, common and strange.
Emryn Dagos has just arrived in his personal
cabin-ship, with another one of his smaller guard ships shadowing.
Obviously, the Capo has to deal with Raytog and a variety of other
merchants and specialist to procure a general agreement and port
space, but hey, that's just business as usual. The other side of the
shin is that he wants a few tenements moved. And there's an extra rub
or two in that shin as well, many of the caravans that make the
machine a regular stop may be inclined to think they being pushed out
or doomed by the new competition. You know how it goes when the new
kids comes to town?
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