I purchased the Numenera Role-playing game by Monte Cook and have been slowly reading through it. This isn't really a review of the game but I find it to be an easy game to learn and it doesn't get bogged down in a bunch of crunchy or fiddly rules like most modern RPGs do these days. The core rule book is a hefty 400+ pages, but the rules mechanics including optional rules are only 30 pages. The rest cover character creation, equipment, game setting, and the bizarre technology called Numenera.
There are only 3 stats in the game, Might, Speed and Intellect. There are 3 "character classes", the Glaive (warrior-type), Nano (wizard-type) and Jack (a kind of rogue-type class with some abilities from the Glaive and Nano, plus their own tricks.) There is only one race, human. There are optional rules to play 2 alien-type races and also to play mutants.
Each character type starts with a set value in each of their stats, and you get 6 additional points to divide up among your stats. Each character chooses a Descriptor that defines the character even more (for example, Strong, or Charming, or Rugged) with bonuses to stats, skills, contacts, some hinderances and additional equipment. Then each character chooses a Focus, which is something that makes your character unique. These have some pretty gonzo powers associated with them, such as Bears a Halo of Fire, or Controls Gravity.
Characters advance and improve by earning XP to get to the next Tier (level) by purchasing four character benefits each of which cost 4XP. The benefits are: Increasing Capabilities (allocate 4 points among your stat pools), Moving Towards Perfection (add 1 to your Might Edge, Speed Edge or Intellect Edge. Edge is a value that decreases the cost of points spent from pools to do certain actions or use powers), Extra Effort (increase Effort score by 1. Effort allows you to reduce the difficulty of tasks by sending points from the pool associated with the task.) and Skills (allows you to become trained in a skill of your choice. If you are already trained in a skill, you may become specialized in it.). Once you advance to the next Tier, it opens up more options for your character to select new abilities and powers, in which to customize your character.
XP is earned by exploring places and discovering new things, not fighting monsters. I think that right there is very telling of the kind of game this is supposed to be. I'm sure people will quickly learn that if you can avoid a fight, you will be better off. It's kind of like OD&D where XP was rewarded by treasure and not killing monsters.
And combat in this game can get real nasty. Since your 'Hit Points' are directly tied to your stat pools, this becomes a resource you have to manage wisely. The same pools that you spend points from to make attacks are the same that take damage when you get injured. Once a pool is depleted to zero, you become Impaired and start taking penalties, when 2 pools are reduced to zero you are Debilitated and may not take any actions other than move. If your Speed pool is zero, you may not move. Once all Stat pools are reduced to zero, the character is Dead.
I have only just started to reading the setting information, which is called the Ninth World. The game takes place on Earth a billion years from now. In the span of that time, there have been 8 previous civilizations that have risen and fallen. Not all of these civilizations were of human origin and the the big mystery is what happened to the humans during this time and how they returned in the Ninth World. Nothing is known about these previous civilizations but their mark and existence is clearly evident in the world today by the remnants of their civilization in the form of the Numenera, the powerful alien technological artifacts left behind.
Reading this book has made me think about reviving my Weirdlands of Xhuul setting as being part of the Ninth World in a remote location in a region known as The Beyond. The setting is wide open for GM's to make up their own stuff. On the world map, there are map symbols for locations of towns, cities, ruins that are not labelled, so that GMs can detail those as they see fit.
This game might even serve as a game engine for even a Gamma World game quite easily.