Torment: Tides of Numenera: A billion years in the making

It certainly feels like I’ve been waiting this long

With the ridiculously speedy success of inXile’s Kickstarter for Torment: Tides of Numenera, it’s only a matter of time until we’ll be diving into the role of the Last Cast-off, the title’s protagonist. I got up to speed on what we can expect from the setting and the story when I spoke with inXile’s Kevin Saunders and Colin McComb earlier this week, and you can see the full extent of the interview right now.

We chatted up quite the storm, so the rather intriguing premise and setting of the Ninth World may be a bit buried under a mountain of information. If you’re just interested in what the hell Numenera is all about, then I’ve got you covered here.

The Ninth World is Earth, a billion years in the future. Entire civilizations have built themselves up, crafting impossible technologies and great works, only to fall and crumble as time slowly trundled along. 

The current civilizations of the Ninth World are medieval in terms of technology and understanding. They exist as clusters of villages and settlements, not really aware of the billion years of history that led to them. 

Numenera creator, Dungeons & Dragons veteran, and Torment developer Monte Cook describes it as like living in 1000 AD. Societies are technologically limited, and most people lead fairly simple lives, yet hidden away is the detritus of ancient, incredibly advanced civilizations, from technology that came from other worlds, to twisted, monstrosities, genetically altered by science.

Creative lead Colin McComb went into more detail. “You dig up dirt, and you find gears. You enter an old building, and you discover that it’s some sort of ancient ruin that is being run by an AI that’s perhaps insane after all these years, and you’d call it a demon.”

The magic that exists in the Ninth World is simply long lost science, misunderstood. It’s Clarke’s third law in action. “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

In this realm exists a man, known as the Changing God, who discovered ancient tools which allowed him to escape the inevitability of death by casting his consciousness into other bodies. However, a side-effect that he was not aware of created a huge amount of suffering. When he left a shell for a new body, the shell would gain a new, fresh consciousness, but one that didn’t know its place in the world. This new individual would attract suffering wherever it went.

This suffering awakens an age-old guardian, the Angel of Entropy, who starts hunting down the Changing God and his shells. Torment’s protagonist is one of these shells, the last one. It comes into existence seeing his creator stalked by the Angel, and then plummets to the Earth, free to find its own path in the world.

Fraser Brown