I own the Core Discovery book and a Player's guide. Both make brief mention of using Iotum in crafting and abilities for player Types/Foci. I assume this is some resource detailed in the Destiny core book.

Is this something I am able to hand wave for simplicity, or use a simplified version- without disrupting gameplay/balance? or does this require detailed knowledge on how it works for said types and abilities?


3 Answers 3


I don't have the books to really cite my sources (they're owned by my DM). But essentially Iotum is the building blocks to craft non-mundane items. The abilities to do such are given in the Wright type. There's another type that scavenges for it, but I do not remember its name (We're just using the Wright type in my Cypher game).

There's a process in acquiring Iota, which is essentially a scavenging check against the machine's level. That level changes depending on if the player is looking for a specific ingredient. Then, if I remember correctly (have only done this twice) a d100 is rolled and the resulting Iota is found if specific ingredients are not the goal.

But what can one build with Iota, you may ask? Well, the new Numenara books have a rather extensive list of weapons, tools, and vehicles. Each has a list of ingredients required to make it. Part of the Wright's progression is acquiring blueprints for the creation of such items.

Iota can also be used as a weapon, like overloading a Lithium-ion battery and exploding it. Though, some characters/players would view that as a waste of a resource.


Iotum is a cypher system shorthand for "special ingredients." According to this Monte Cook Games page it covers a broad range of salvage items, including "responsive synth, pliable metal, quantium, psiranium, and lots more." One could easily claim that iotum is just another name for handwavium, or takes the same place in the game as "material components" in D&D -- a convenient way for the GM to limit or increase availability of certain game mechanics to the player characters.


I am uncertain if it's good practice to "accept" your own answers- so I won't, I will just be posting this for reference. After some research into the Destiny I've discovered the following details. Please note that even though I have some experience in play with Discovery I have had Zero experience with the Wright, Delve, or building processes described in Destiny. I will be comparing my finding against the basic crafting rules found in the Num 1st edition book / Discovery book.

P. 111-120 Iotum Details. With the exception of the lowest level of Iotums (Io), Iotums are effectively treated as very specific Cyphers- the book even says how some Iotum effectively function the same, many with their own unique effects (Except basic Io, which only functions as material or currency)- however the main feature being that they are mostly used as crafting materials.

To craft an artifact, cypher, or installation you (generally) require an Iotum equal than what you are attempting to construct, plus a bunch of lower level ones. Note greater or better Iotums can not be used as substitutes as there are special rules and abilities for doing just that. Cyphers by and large follow the same crafting rules in the Discovery book. (Generally) requiring an Iotum of each level up to the level of the Cypher or thing you are crafting.

Artifact and Installation plans follow some pattern I was unable to follow, requiring several-several different Iotums of various levels (Totaling in levels anywhere between x6 to x15 to level of the object your are crafting).

Parts/Unit: A crafting currency/expense used in addition to Iotums. Largely unimportant as it's just a way to ensure a PC has some basic building material on hand, and isn't pulling Synth-I-beams out of thin air.

Plans: Destiny puts heavy emphasis on needing to know Plans or obtain plan-seeds before a PC can build something-Numeneria. So much so that whole abilities are dedicated to simply learning two-three plans. Plans are simple a list of required materials, parts, and Iotum a PC needs to create something. All object do require plans, from complex super-structures to simple forks, but the book does describe that simple plans can just be communicated through word of mouth so a PCs isn't wasting character abilities to learn how to make a spoon.

Salvaging Iotum Process: The act of actually finding Iotum in Numeneraian laced areas. You can look for very specific Iotum, or find random ones. This is a little too complex to sum up. Uses a lot of charts. If someone is interested in this part I do suggest buying the book.

Re-purposing: You can also obtain Iotum by breaking down an artifacts or cyphers to acquire an Iotum of lower level, difficulty task equal to the object. Probably the simplest method in obtaining random Iotum.

P. 124 Side bar REPAIR

The rules for repair provided in Numenera Discovery are an abstracted version of the repair rules here. If the PCs are using only Discovery, they can stick with those rules. But if they’re using Wrights and numenera crafting rules from Numenera Destiny, you should also use the repair rules provided here. Training in crafting numenera eases tasks related to repairing numenera objects and structures


If a crafter doesn’t have all the correct iotum a plan calls for, a substitution can be attempted, as long as the substituted iotum is at least equal to the level of the missing iotum and is provided in equal units. Substituting a component hinders the crafting task, unless the substituted iotum has a special quality that allows it to be substituted. For example, if substituting bio-circuitry for responsive synth, the assessed crafting difficulty remains unchanged. Generally speaking, only one type of iotum substitution can be attempted in any given crafting numenera task.


If a PC is looking to play a Delve or Explores-Yesterday Foci, you can probably stream line things by just keeping an assortment of various leveled "unnamed Iotums" in their inventory, since unlike a Wright they only require those to fuel abilities. One might even just have them exhaunted Cyphers instead of Iotum if that would be easier.

If a PC is looking to play a Wright or Builds-For-Tomorrow Foci character. Well, I'm not sure how they'd go about play without at least reading and understanding all of the rules, since alot of what a Wright can do affects all aspects of the building process from Salvaging to Time-to-construct.

This is not an in-depth overview of my findings, please feel free to correct any inaccuracies.


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