The Cypher System Rulebook on page 184 states:

If you wield a weapon that you have no experience with, the difficulty of making an attack with that weapon is increased by one step

That is pretty straightforward, but the Special Ability Practiced With Light Weapons on page 31 makes things a little ambiguous:

You can use light weapons without penalty. If you wield a medium weapon, increase the difficulty of the attack by one step. If you wield a heavy weapon, increase it by two steps.

So which of the two is correct? And what are the modifiers to apply for characters inexperienced on all weapons?


2 Answers 2


Looking at the (newly) revised Cypher System Rulebook, much of the ambiguity and apparent contradiction has been fixed.

Some definitions (p 207): - Inability: The opposite of trained — you’re hindered whenever you attempt a task that you have an inability in. If you also become trained in the task, the training and the inability cancel each other out and you become practiced - Practiced: The normal, unmodified ability to use a skill — not trained, specialized, or an inability. Your type determines what weapon skills you’re practiced in; if you aren’t practiced with a type of weapon, you have an inability in it. - Trained: Having a reasonable amount of skill in a task. Being trained eases the task. For example, if you are trained in climbing, all climbing tasks for you are eased. If you become very skilled at that task, you become specialized instead of trained. You do not need to be trained to attempt a task. - Specialized: Having an exceptional amount of skill in a task. Being specialized eases the task by two steps. So, if you are specialized in climbing, all your climbing tasks are eased by two steps.

With that out of the way, let's look specifically at Weapons.
From p 203: Not all characters are familiar with all weapons. Warriors know their way around most types, but Explorers prefer light or medium weapons, and Adepts and Speakers usually stick to light weapons. If you wield a weapon that you have no experience with, an attack with that weapon is hindered. Having experience with a weapon is called being practiced with the weapon.

So, not being practiced with a weapon class is effectively the same as having an inability in that class. (The description for Adepts actually spells this out. On page 25: "You have an inability with medium weapons and heavy weapons; your attacks with medium and heavy weapons are hindered."

As for the "extra" hinderance for being un-practiced with heavy weapons; I simply don't find that in the revised CSR. They fixed the glitch!


I cannot find any official ruling regarding the Cypher System, or the original (and identically worded) Numenera rules. Comparing with the updated rules found in Numenera: Discovery, I think the poorly expressed intent of the rule you quote was:

  1. All light weapons reduce difficulty by 1 step "because they are fast and easy to use." (Cypher Core P184)
  2. Weapons you are not practiced in increase difficulty by 1 step. (Cypher Core P 184)
  3. Therefore heavy weapons increase difficulty by two steps vs light weapons in the hands of an adept.

Now, this logic would also make medium weapons two steps more difficult than light weapons. However this seems to be their intent. This is further borne out by the clarified rules in Numenera: Discovery. For the Nano (which is Numenera's "Adept" class), it now says:

Weapons: You can use light weapons without penalty. You have an inability with medium weapons and heavy weapons; your attacks with medium and heavy weapons are hindered.

Hindrance can apply more than one step of penalty, but the rules state the penalty is only one level unless the text specifies otherwise. The listing for nano doesn't specify, so only one step for the hindrance

So, in your case, the Adept will increase the difficulty by 2 steps relative to light weapons for both medium and heavy weapons. A 1-step penalty for not being practiced, and forgoing the 1-step bonus a light weapon brings.

That said, I've never had to test this. I've never had a case where the nano of my group tried to use a heavy weapon.


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