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So I've recently run across an inconsistency that I am trying to reconcile with the rules. There is a wide variety of modifications for creatures for defense, including but not limited to:

  • Defends as Level X (Due to size and speed among other reasons) Discovery p223 under modifications, Discovery p227 Caffa
  • Speed Defense as Level X (Due to size and speed, among other reasons) Discovery p228
  • Might Defense as Level X Bestiary3 p98 Entelodont
  • Intellect Defense as Level X Discovery p238
  • Mental Defense as Level X Bestiary3 p110
  • Attacks and makes Might defense rolls as level 7; Speed defense as level 8 (in part thanks to shield). Bestiary1 p140
  • Speed defense as level 4. All defenses against heat as level 2. Bestiary3 p73

Descriptions of various defense actions are under the Action: Defend heading (Destiny 119), which specifically states that these rules are for PCs, as NPCs are treated differently.

My main question is when a player chooses a might as the pool for a melee action, is that a might defense action for the NPC? Or do the PC rules for defense work for NPCs the same way? Is Speed defense as level X essentially saying physical attacks? Why the inconsistency between Intellect defense and mental defense?

This leads to some very interesting questions, like why does a Caffa adult have the modification: In tight spaces, defends as level 3 due to their ability to maneuver and dodge in unexpected ways.

Why does it get a blanket Defense boost instead of just a speed defense boost?

If a might based glaive is indeed making might attacks, then for large high level monsters that player is at a great disadvantage. for example RUMBLING DASIPELT level 7, but speed defence as level 3! That's essentially a 4 level easment for speed defense tasks, and if a might based glaive is making might defense attacks then they are really losing out.

Example: A nano using onslaught, it has two modes, a mindslice and a physical beam of force. It's an intellect action since it costs 1 Int to use.

Is is succeptable to Intellect Defense as X since it's an intellect action? Or only when it's the mental mindslice?

Is it succeptable to Speed Defense as X? but only when it's the physical? But it's a intellect action?

Is it only succeptable to mental defenses when it's in the mental mode?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you perhaps cite the book and page number for some of the stat modifications you listed at the top? It would be helpful to get context. \$\endgroup\$ – JMR Mar 6 at 21:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JMR I added page numbers and more references. \$\endgroup\$ – herrozerro Mar 6 at 21:28
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The rules in Numenera don't have much in terms of specific guidance, which is kind of Cypher System in a nut-shell.

First things first. You can find this set of descriptors on pg. 33 of Discovery (Just as a random sidebar for some reason. I love my Numenera books but the layouts can leave something to be desired. Emphasis is mine):

Might defense: Used for resisting poison, disease, and anything else that can be overcome with strength and health.

Speed defense: Used for dodging attacks and escaping danger. This is by far the most commonly used defense task.

Intellect defense: Used for fending off mental attacks or anything that might affect or influence one’s mind.

Here's Discovery pg. 113 on modifiers in combat (emphasis mine once more):

ATTACK MODIFIERS AND SPECIAL SITUATIONS

In combat situations, many modifiers might come into play. The GM is at liberty to assess whatever modifiers they think are appropriate to the situation (that’s their role in the game). Often the modifier is applied as a step in difficulty. So if a situation hinders attacks, then if a PC attacks a nonplayer character (NPC), the difficulty for the attack roll is increased by one step, and if an NPC attacks a PC, the difficulty of the defense roll is decreased by one step. This is because players make all rolls, whether they are attacking or defending—NPCs never make attack or defense rolls. When in doubt, if it seems like it should be harder to attack in a situation, the difficulty of the attack rolls increases by one step. If it seems like attacks should gain an advantage or be easier in some way, the difficulty of the defense rolls increases by one step.

Basically, "you decide which modifiers apply and when." So lets look over the specific examples you provided as potential situations.


If a might based glaive is indeed making might attacks, then for large high level monsters that player is at a great disadvantage. for example RUMBLING DASIPELT level 7, but speed defence as level 3! That's essentially a 4 level easment for speed defense tasks, and if a might based glaive is making might defense attacks then they are really losing out.

Generally at our table the rule of thumb is "defense is made with speed unless there is some specific reason it shouldn't be." Think of it as the player rolling for their ability to hit the target versus the target's ability to avoid that attack. This can include blocking the damage. From Discovery pg. 337:

A successful Speed defense roll might mean dodging, blocking with a weapon, or ducking behind a pillar.

Therefore, I would rule that the might based glaive benefits from the Rumbling Dasipelt's low speed just the same as any other character. The dice roll is asking "Can I hit this thing?" And the answer is probably yes because the thing is big and easy to hit.

Example: A nano using onslaught, it has two modes, a mindslice and a physical beam of force. It's an intellect action since it costs 1 Int to use.

Is is succeptable to Intellect Defense as X since it's an intellect action? Or only when it's the mental mindslice?

Is it succeptable to Speed Defense as X? but only when it's the physical? But it's a intellect action?

So with all the above in mind, if the player wants to use onslaught as a physical beam of energy that is being shot at a target, it is a normal speed defense task. The idea is your nano is trying to hit the target with the beam. So your Rumbling Dasipelt from above would defend against it with lvl 3 speed same as it defended against the glaive's attack.

On the other hand, the mindslice is not a physical attack, the player is assaulting the target's mind. This would then be an intellect defense and it would defend against that attack as lvl 7. As the GM, you might decide that a Rumbling Dasipelt isn't that smart, and so makes intellect defense at a lower level. Cypher is very open to that kind of "just makes sense" fudging. Or, you might decide that ignoring the Dasipelt's 2 armor through using onslaught this way is enough of a benefit that it warrants the higher difficulty. It's up to you. Cypher's design philosophy is explicitly that the GM has the power and is encouraged to make those decisions when they think it's appropriate.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with you in general, though the sidebar on page 33 the first paragraph says that PCs make these defense task rolls. I think what you are saying is the intent of the rules, it's just strange that there is such inconsistency. For example, there are creatures with Intellect Defense modifications and ones with Mental Defense modifications. There are creatures with a flat defense as X due to size, and some with specifically Speed Defense due to size. \$\endgroup\$ – herrozerro Mar 7 at 17:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @herrozerro I get that. I enjoy Numenera's loose approach to rules but, yeah, is it too much to ask that they at least use consistent verbiage? I would advise taking a very generalist approach to rules inconsistencies, assuming that, without other evidence, it probably just means what it 'seems' to mean. So a 'mental' defense is probably just an intellect defense. If players generally defend with speed, so do monsters, and so on. \$\endgroup\$ – JMR Mar 7 at 18:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, should add: "There are creatures with a flat defense as X due to size" I'd argue this is likely because the writer's assumption here was that defense is done with speed. \$\endgroup\$ – JMR Mar 7 at 18:34

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