Torment: Tides of Numenera Post-funding Update #28: PoE Tech Licensed, Inventory

A new update has gone live for Torment: Tides of Numenera, meaty as we've grown to expect, which contains some info on the game's inventory and loot systems, and the news that inXile is licensing Obsidian's tech solutions for pre-rendered environments that they're currently utilizing on Pillars of Eternity. We'll have to wait at least a couple of weeks for a teaser of inXile's own, likely more alien-looking, pre-rendered areas, but in the meantime here's the word on loot:


Inventory and Loot are interdependent, and one of our primary goals across both systems is to ensure that your decisions about what you will and will not carry are interesting ones. Specifically, the average player should be able to carry all the stuff she needs and still loot a single area without having to worry about her carry limit (though you might still run afoul of the cypher limit, which is a topic for another discussion).

The carry limit will matter when you need to decide what to sell and what to keep. It may also matter if you're hoarding things, but in Torment, you won't be carting 100 mundane short swords back and forth just to make a few extra shins (verisimilitude is important, but we're not sure it's that important). Loot should always be interesting and usable. There are a few kinds of loot you can find, in order from least to most special, they are:

1. Mundane Items: Anything Ninth Worlders can easily make or find (anything from swords and lockpicks to glowglobes, synth armor, and sprayflesh (the Ninth World equivalent of a healing potion)).
2. Oddities: Pieces of the numenera that are strange, but rarely useful: a silver ball that perpetually drips perfume, a synth mug that keeps whatever you put in it warm, or a button that, when pressed, sends you back exactly 1 second in the past.
3. Cyphers: One-shot, highly useful pieces of the numenera (you'll find a lot of these).
4. Artifacts: Like cyphers, but they can be reused and can often be cobbled together with other things to make new devices. These also include the components and power sources used in the crafting system.

Loot drops whether from a dead NPC, a locked chest, or something else entirely will be pseudo-randomly generated (though not purely random, and major, unique items will almost always be intentionally placed). Each of the above loot types has a weighted chance of appearing in a given drop based on a few things: how far you are in the game; what type of loot drop it is (more on that in a second); whether the drop is Poor, Average, or Rich; and other customizations from the area designer. The result will be balanced loot drops that feel right for the area or NPCs that dropped them, while keeping new playthroughs interesting with new or different items each time.

There are also two different types of loot drops. Unlike most fantasy settings, Numenera's magic items (oddities, cyphers, and artifacts) aren't usually lying around in a treasure trove. They might be, but Numenera is about discovery, and often the player is actually scavenging and cobbling these things together himself. In Torment, we abstract that with two kinds of drops: Ninth World Loot Drops and Scavenged Loot Drops.

Ninth World Loot Drops are the stuff that's just lying around for the player to pick up. It might be from an NPC's pack, locked in a chest, or bought from a merchant. The key criteria here is that someone in the Ninth World must have left it there.

Scavenged Drops, on the other hand, are loot directly from the prior worlds, untouched by any Ninth Worlder. They might be parts you find in an old machine, or items scavenged from a pile of rubble that's millennia old. You won't find short swords and steel greaves in a scavenged drop. You'll always find the good stuff.

But the good stuff isn't just sitting there waiting for you to use it. An explorer wouldn't find a gravity-nullifying suspensor belt just lying around in an old machine. Rather he'd grab an electromagnetic thingamabob that, when hooked to another doohicky, somehow nullifies gravity. Then he'd attach that to a piece of metal or leather something that can serve as a belt and voila: suspensor belt. The way we handle that in Tormentis to make scavenging a Difficult Task (specifically, an Intellect-based task for which certain Lore skills apply).

It's not a very difficult task basic scavenging tasks will succeed 75% of the time, and a character who's trained in Lore, or who uses a little Effort, will succeed at basic scavenging tasks pretty much all the time. But there will be those rare, difficult scavenging tasks that require specialization, or a lot of Effort, and the player can decide (after seeing the item in the looting interface) whether it's worth the risk or not.

The resulting whole will be choices that matter, as well as the sense of mystery and discovery that make Numenera special.