I have a question concerning Edge in Numenera. I studied it from the beginning and still have problems understanding it. As long as Edge is 1 all is clear, but later it becomes complicated. For example, in the GM section there is an example wherein a 10 level task (6th tier with specialization and level 2 asset) and having Edge 6 we still need 7 points from pool to reduce task to 0. Now, given that Edge reduces the cost from every level of effort (not to mention lvl 6 Edge gives us 2 levels of Effort for free) or even not reducing after initial 2 levels of Effort, it just doesn't add up.

Has anyone cracked this mechanic and can give me an example of it, or even better a small table describing it?


3 Answers 3


Edge (p. 20) doesn't give you free levels and let you spend it to reduce the Effort spent. When the book says "Once a stat’s Edge reaches 3, you can apply one level of Effort for free," it just means that 3 Effort - 3 Edge = 0. That's what it means by "free". So, the reason your math isn't working is because you're applying Edge twice instead of once.

For completeness, here's the example on page 323 in detail. It's a 6th Tier specialist with a level 2 asset reducing a difficulty 10 to Routine (0) by spending 7 Effort. How that works is this:

First the 10 is reduced by two for specialisation, bringing it to 8. It's reduced by two for the asset, bringing it down to 6. To get it down to 0 requires spending Effort now, which requires 3 for the first step reduction and 2 Effort for every step after, so reducing difficulty 6 by 6 steps costs 3 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 = 13 Effort. With Edge 6 you can reduce the Effort required by 6, so 13 - 6 = 7 Effort required.

So the math works out, if Edge 6 is only counted once.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It might help to also call out that you can only use Edge for a single stat once per action, so if you divide up your Effort stat (to reduce attack difficulty, and increase damage), you can only apply Edge to one of those applications. Keep in mind, as well, that the amount of Edge you can apply to an action is bounded by your Effort levels: if you can only get two levels of Effort on an action, then having an Edge of 6 or more is not useful. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 1, 2013 at 13:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Viktor Not really. That would be extraneous information unrelated to the example or the problem at hand. Presumably the book can explain this all itself, unless someone comes here confused about that specifically. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 1, 2013 at 14:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ViktorHaag It looks like Shanna posted about Numenera Edge confusion and stated that you can add all the costs up and then subtract your total Edge; the intention of the rules was to not limit use of your Edge as a whole but to specify you can't use it multiple times in a single action. It's been a point of confusion for many folks (including myself) over time. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 18, 2014 at 20:40

trained = -1 to difficulty specialized = -2 to difficulty asset can reduce difficulty at most by -2 Edge is a stat pool and at 3 it becomes free 1xEffort

It's not Effort 13. That's how much you need to pay a stat for that Effort.

Edge 6 = Effort 2

3+2+2+2+2+2 is NOT Effort 13 but Stat X cost for Effort 6. If that was the case you could reduce Difficulty 10 (impossible) to trivial or nonexistent most of the time which defeats the purpose of difficulty levels.

Of course. P.87 Numenera Core Rulebook "It costs 3 points from a stat Pool to apply one level of Effort, and it costs 2 additional points for every level thereafter (so it costs 5 points for two levels of Effort, 7 points for three levels of Effort, and so on). A character must spend points from the same stat Pool as the type of task or roll—Might points for a Might roll, Speed points for a Speed roll, or Intellect points for an Intellect roll. Every character has a maximum level of Effort she can apply to a single task."

1 level of Effort decreases Difficulty by 1 step. 3 Edge of certain stat translates to 1 free Effort. So you can take 3 from Edge to get 1 Effort and then another from stat pool. If your Might Edge is 2, then for Might test you take 2 Might from Edge and 1 Might from Pool to have 1 level of Effort and 2 Might from Pool for each thereafter. You can use your Stat Edge only for Difficulty Levels of that stat. If you need Might Test and have Might Edge 0 and Speed Edge 3, you do not gain free effort for that test because it's not the stat associated with the test.

If Might Difficulty Level (pushing 2 ton boulder) is 10 (impossible) then a character who has Effort Cap of 3, 15 Might Pool, Might Edge 2, is specialized in pushing heavy stuff etc and has proper tools that count as an asset, and a friend who can give him a hand (further asset) will do the following. Put a lot of effort (3 levels) but also using edge: 1lvl Effort 2 Might Edge + 1 Might pool, 2 might pool, 2 might pool. DL goes from 10 to 7. He is specialized. DL goes from 7 to 5. Has proper tools and a friend to help (assets -2 to DL at MOST). DL goes from 5 to 3. Roll 9+ on D20 to succeed.

Even then with all that there is only 60% chance of success :) Page 15 Numenera Core Rulebook has it all covered. P.20-21 about Edge, Pool and Effort.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Okay. We are actually saying the same thing in our answers: if you look directly at how we calculate the example, our steps and math are identical. I was concerned for a moment that I'd gotten it wrong, so thank you for confirming my understanding. :) \$\endgroup\$ Mar 3, 2014 at 7:06

That's cool and all, but you didn't answer the part of the question asking how the numbers in the example on page 323 work out the way they do. – SevenSidedDie Feb 25 at 18:48

To answer this question, p323 reads:

A well-prepared, motivated sixth-tier character can do that even with a difficulty 10 task. Again, she won’t do it often (even with an Edge of 6, she’d have to spend 7 points from her Pool, and that’s assuming she’s specialized, and has 2 levels of asset), but it can happen if she’s really prepared for the task (being specialized and maxed out in asset opportunities reduces the difficulty by four more steps).

Difficulty 10 - 2 tiers (for asset opportunities) - 2 tiers (for specialized) = Difficulty 6.

So, to drop that to Difficulty 0 they would have to spend 6 Effort.

6 Effort = 3 points (for the first step) +2 points (for each additional step) = 13 points (3 + (5 x 2)). (See page 21)

13 points - 6 Edge = 7 points.

Thus, she would have to spend 7 points from her pool.


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