In the Numenera Corebook, rules for expending XP (p112 in particular) state that one can spend 3 XP to obtain a long-term benefit, in particular to craft an artifact:

Artifact: The PC creates an artifact that has a power of his choosing. If the item is fairly simple, the GM can skip the crafting details and just say that after a period of time, the PC creates it. For an item that significantly alters gameplay—granting the character vast telepathic powers or giving him the ability to teleport at will—the GM might require difficult rolls, a considerable amount of time, and rare, hard-to-find components and materials

On the other hand, a few pages earlier (p109), the corebook states that when players find or are given an artifact, they should be awarded XP equal to the artifact level (minimum 1XP per player):

Artifacts: When the group gains an artifact, award XP equal to the artifact’s level and divide it among the PCs (minimum 1 XP for each character). Round down if necessary. For example, if four PCs discover a level 5 artifact, they each get 1 XP.

Now, one of my players chose the "Crafts Unique Objects" focus, and has told me he's very interested in crafting "a motorcycle". This would have to be an artifact, as I see it. It would take him some time to craft, and be difficult, since he's tier 1. But my question is about the interaction of these two rules. Should I take the 3 XP from him and then pass the resulting XP to the group? Should it work some other way? I didn't see anything in the focus (for tier 1) that would contradict this.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I asked the same on Google+. This bit there nailed it: "Giving the PCs XP for crafting an artifact they just spent XP to make doesn't make any sense and is over complicated, which Numenera is not." \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 15:42

2 Answers 2


Note in advance that there is no published reference to exactly how this should be treated (that I can find) - this is based purely on the otherwise published intent of the experience system of the game (and how I interpret it). Also note that the Numenera core rulebook as written does feature many ambiguous and seemingly unpolished rules, so are often open to different interpretations.

Discovery, not possession, leads to advancement

The core of Numenera's experience system is the idea that discovery leads to character advancement, thus finding artifacts, discovering secrets of past worlds, and similar forms of increasing knowledge leads to character advancement (as detailed on pages 108-109).

In comparison a player crafting a specific artifact of their own devising is not discovering something new, they are expending effort to create an item that they have considered and planned before beginning the creation process.

Discovery is also something that requires considerable time and toil from the players - just as they should not be awarded experience for walking into the nearest store and buying an artifact, they also should not be awarded experience for something they can do from the safety of a workshop.

Even for significantly powerful items that may require adventuring to obtain rare components, there may be some experience gain in the process, but the item itself is the reward the players are seeking, thus they should not directly gain experience from the creation of the artifact.

XP for nothing

Consider also how broken it would be for a player to craft a level 1 artifact of their own design, and everyone in the party thus gains 1XP. As stated on page 109 PCs gain a minimum of 1XP each for discovering an artifact, thus a level 1 artifact is still worth 1XP each (although the same section states to round down if necessary, so depending on your interpretation 3 players may earn nothing from discovering level 1 & 2 artifacts). Either way this would still become a very cheap form of advancement, but creates an otherwise bad gaming experience without the GM taking action to stop it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I personally interpret the spirit of the Ninth World to be "if you can design and build something new out of the remains of the past, you have also learned something". The XP gain would represent that. On the other hand, yes, it looks broken this way. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 12:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ The counter to that interpretation is that the character hasn't learned anything new, building the item purely from their existing knowledge and understanding. Now of course, the character may go on a quest to gain such knowledge, pick up and and experiment with any number of artifacts and cyphers, and naturally the discoveries they made during that process you'd reward XP for. If they wanted to spend that on creating an item, then great, but the creation is just the end result of an earlier process of discovery, not a discovery within itself. \$\endgroup\$
    – darkliquid
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 13:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @darkliquid your interpretation flies against the face of every single project I've started and completed. I always learn something, and most times learn a lot in the process. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 14:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ Perhaps learning nothing new was a bad choice of phrase there. I think the distinction here is that crafting something is a process, and while you may learn something therein, it's not act of discovery in the same was as unlocking the mysteries of a new, ancient device. Discovering penicillin for the first time is not the same is just culturing some penicillin, even though both may result in learning new things. There is always going to be some dissonance modelling XP both as raw experience and XP as currency, after all, players don't become 'less experienced' when it's spent. \$\endgroup\$
    – darkliquid
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 15:04

When the player initiates it, it definitely costs XP as according to p112; it's like gaining a new esotery or skill, but follows the rules for crafting on p107-108. The group does not gain XP in this way. For instance, p108 says,

If the tinkering results in a long-term benefit for the character - such as creating an artifact that she can use - the GM should require her to spend XP to make it.

This may seem like a big disadvantage for a character who Crafts Unique Objects, but the rolls starting at difficulties 7 are quite difficult to accomplish any other way. Note also that p112 mentions that it may require difficult "rolls", not just a single roll; feel free to make it take several or even months, require several scavenging missions, etc.

On the other hand, if the GM is initiating the discovery of an artifact, it does not cost the players any XP - distribute the XP as described on p109. (The GM should never force XP expenditure due to storyline decisions, only give the option to via GM intrusions or character advancements.) Because the players are making a discovery rather than asking for something specific, this is in the spirit of the game, and so should not cost them anything. This section is under the title of "Discovering New Things" - it doesn't apply for making them or requesting them of the GM.


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