In the Optional Rules section of the core book there is a section on modifying abilities. A selection of it reads:

For any Intellect ability with a specific range, you can increase the range by using more mental energy. If you spend 1 additional Intellect point, you can change the range by one step—either from short to long, or from long to 500 feet (152 m). You can’t increase a range beyond 500 feet by spending more points...


...A player can make a special roll to modify the range, area, or other aspects of an ability. The roll is always modified by the stat it’s normally based on. The GM sets the difficulty for the roll based on the degree of modification. Like any roll, the player can use Effort, skill, and assets to reduce the difficulty. Generally, the difficulty falls into one of three categories:

  • Impossible (modifying an ability to accomplish an effect that has nothing to do with its description or intent)

  • Formidable(modifying an ability to do something similar to the description or intent, but changing its nature)

  • Difficult (modifying an ability to do something within the spirit and general idea of the ability)

(Numenara, core book pg. 114)

I have a player who has been using the Far Step esotery while spending one more from their Int pool to be able to move 500 ft in a single round regularly. I had been letting this go on but it has caused issues and upon rereading the rules I believe the second paragraph is relevant and they would need to make an Int check (difficult) every time they wanted to make use of this rule, they however believe that this is only require if they wanted to modify the esotery in a more involved way such as using it on another character instead of themselves.

My question is whether or not this roll needs to be made for all modifications or only ones that affect more than range or duration.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I only included some of the text of the rule as I've seen hesitation to add large blocks of rules in other questions. I tried including only what seem to be the relevant aspects of it, but I can add more if it is required. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 10, 2017 at 0:08

1 Answer 1


You're the GM and your call is final. But as-written, I lean strongly toward it doesn't need a roll.

First, the beginning of that same sections says:

In some cases, it simply costs more points to use the ability in a new way. In other cases, more challenges are involved.

It also says:

For any Intellect ability with a specifc range, you can increase the range by using more mental energy.

Later in the section it discusses things requiring rolls, and specifies those rolls, whereas it never specifies a roll in the section in stepping up range or duration.

So I think the intent is clear: no roll needed.

Now, later in the section, in the part you quoted, it says:

A player can make a special roll to modify the range, area, or other aspects of an ability.

But, all of the examples given expand the power more than just a bump in range. And, as Szega pointed out, this second quote doesn't limit to Intellect abilities.

So, for Intellect abilities, only a point expenditure is needed. The section on duration says you can only spend a single point, so it's probably not unreasonable to extend that to range as well.

Another possible interpretation is you can spend a point to do it automatically, or roll to do it. But rolling would be another action, so it'd be less useful in combat.

I looked in the other games to see if they were clearer. The section seems to be cut and pasted in each, and the text appears identical.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It is that wrinkle that is the point of contention. The thing that mainly has me thinking the other side of it is that the section seems to imply this rule should be a special case to do something, whereas someone could just increased the cost of the ability by one or two and just uses the 500' range or hour duration every turn, which to me seems against the spirit of the rule. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 10, 2017 at 5:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree that those are options. I would also note that spending points for range/duration is limited to INT abilities, but rolling for it does not seem to be. \$\endgroup\$
    – Szega
    Sep 10, 2017 at 9:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, yes. Good point. Will edit. \$\endgroup\$
    – Longspeak
    Sep 10, 2017 at 13:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Edited. Also made the answer more definite after rereading the section, with a new quote to support the conclusion. \$\endgroup\$
    – Longspeak
    Sep 10, 2017 at 14:12

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