This is it, folks. This is the one I have been waiting for from this Kickstarter. And even before I give you the rest of the review, I’ll give you a hint. It does not disappoint. Bruce Cordell brings all the sciency weird goodness of Numenera to the table in his new book, Edge of the Sun, the third book from the latest Numenera Kickstarter, Liminal Shores (funded September 13, 2019). The last in a trilogy of books that began with Voices of the Datasphere and continued with Liminal Shore, Edge of the Sun takes us to the titular Star for some new experiences, some profound answers, and to help solve a desperate problem that threatens all of the Ninth World.
This 160 page book, like the others we have from Monte Cook Games is of excellent physical quality. Line consistency continues to be a hallmark of Monte Cook Games’ products and Bear Weiter does it well. The inks and pages are crisp and do not smear, ensuring that the product retains its quality through use. For me, the biggest draw for the artwork is the sense of scale. Everything here is big. The Engine is big, the Sun is big, some of the machines are big… And you are a very small person comparatively. The size difference is an interestingly overwhelming image and it lasted for me throughout my read of the book.
The first two chapters of the book are introductory summary, dealing with the Engine of the Gods and the environment at the edge of the Sun. There are several metric tons of meat for GMs here, and the Engine is as weird as the Ninth World itself but couched in a technological glory that will have science fiction fans rejoicing. There are a few really big answers here to some questions that have been plaguing Numenera players since the setting was released in 2013. Why hasn’t the Sun made Earth uninhabitable? What happened to Mercury? What the heck are some of those weird monsters we see in the core and sourcebooks? Also:
Power Armor Augmechs. We get to “jack in” or live pilot Augmechs (prepares to get his Numenera-Flavored Battletech feel on).
Part two, comprising chapters three through 6 deals with the setting of the edge of the Sun itself. Chapter three covers how to get there (and there are several ways). Chapter four covers the Engine of the Gods, the creatures that live there, and the strange interplay of societies that are found there. Chapter five deals with the area immediately around the sun that helps fuel the Engine, the Halo. And finally, Chapter six, like the second half of Jade Colossus, is a mapping engine to help a GM provide players with weird encounters and locales as they traverse the vast distances that make up this massive piece of prior world technological ingenuity.
Part three is where Cyphers and Artifacts are covered, along with a new chapter detailing specific, pre-built classes of Augmechs with the rules that allow a GM to build more. Several of the Cyphers and Artifacts in this book come with a conditional descriptor called “Prefers Extreme Sunlight”. These require the environmental atmosphere prevalent near the Sun to function well. Cyphers and Artifacts brought from Earth, however, may be more prone to failure due to the environmental and radiation changes. Augmechs utilize the Power Shift Mechanics as presented in the Revised Cypher System Rulebook, page 292 (with examples listed in the Edge of the Sun book on p. 89). Part four lists the creatures that can be found on the Engine, the Halo, and the Sun itself, as well as a couple of very important NPCs to the surrounding metaplot to this book.
Part five has two adventures. While in the past, these and other Monte Cook Games books have included adventures to help a GM start inside the setting presented in the book, this first adventure here, The Sun Doth Move, is different. It is much larger, comparatively (29 pages v. the standard 5-8). This adventure was designed to take approximately 8 sessions to complete, and is set up to provide XP progression with some increase in tier over the course of the adventure. Second, while this COULD be adjusted for low-tier characters, it is designed for high-tier characters or maybe upper mid-tier characters. There’s a lot of meat in this adventure as well, and the plot is exciting to me. The second is another unique adventure that has all the trappings of the movie Pacific Rim. I’ll leave it at that, but if you liked Jonathan Wright’s Mecha v. Kaiju, you’re going to love this.
I don’t say this very often, but I have absolutely no critiques of this book. It is exactly what I expected when I first heard about it during the Kickstarter. It is exactly what I hoped for, content-wise and even then, there were some pleasant surprises (one in the form of an intriguing tie-in with the previous book, Liminal Shore). I mean, I suppose I could always default to the standard “more”, but I can’t even do that anymore. My taste for “completely spelled out settings” in the vein of Forgotten Realms and such has faded since I first played Numenera. This one? It’s enough for me.
Edge of the Sun is the latest release from the Numenera Liminal Shores Kickstarter and wraps up a massive delve into some prior-World technology that started with Voices of the Datasphere and continued with Liminal Shore. We’ve still got content coming from that Kickstarter, so we’re not done yet, but for me, I’ve gotten my money’s worth. Monte Cook Games continues to bring the goods with quality product that contains quality content, and Edge of the Sun is no exception. This is one the vast majority of Numenera fans are going to want in their collection, and I highly recommend it. Happy gaming!
- Josh Walles