Torment: Tides Of Numenera Class and Character Creation Guide

Glaive, Jack, or Nano: the choice seems simple, but what options you pick can radically change your Torment experience!

It's only been an 18-year wait, but we finally have a successor to the groundbreaking CRPG Planescape: Torment. It may be set in an entirely different universe and shifted from one tabletop RPG ruleset to another, but there's no doubt developer InXile absolutely nailed the feel of Torment in this spiritual sequel.

Culling out all the facial feature reconstruction and overly large list of racial options from bigger name RPGs, Tides Of Numenera instead focuses on how your character approaches problems and faces the extreme oddity of the Ninth World.

Choosing The Best Class in Tides of Numenera

In Planescape: Torment there were multiple ways to play, but it was clear there was one obviously intended path over the others. Playing a mage with all your points in Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma resulted in experiencing the largest portion of the game in a single playthrough.

Your first inclination may be to repeat that pattern and play a Nano with  Read Surface Thoughts – and that does offer some interesting insight into the game world – but it's not a strict necessity. Your first two companions will already be Nanos with high Intellect, and many of the game's early Skill tests require Might pools instead, so don't be afraid to put your points there in fear of losing out on dialog options. 

Keep in mind can easily raise your Speed and Intellect Pools by 1 point for free by talking to Aidan in Cliff's Edge and O in the Fifth Eye Tavern, so it may be worth it to save those points for other Stats.

The Jack class actually has the widest range of options for picking your starting Exploration Skill (used very frequently in dialog choices) and strikes a balance between the Glaive and Nano on the combat/magic front.

When picking your class, keep in mind only the Glaive can take medium or heavy weapon training at the beginning unless you utilize a specific Descriptor, so you'll want to stick to a light weapon if playing either a Jack or Nano to avoid the -15% inability penalty (marked by two red dots).

 A Glaive, Jack, and Nano

Numenera Character Creation

Following the segment where you try to make sense of why you are falling from a moon to the planet below, Tides Of Numenera has you actually play through character creation, moving through a world of shifting living metal while recalling past lives of the Changing God.

Each conversation segment features three clear-cut options: the route of Might (Glaive), Speed (Jack), or Intellect (Nano). The options are incredibly obvious: physically moving something or using intimidating threats, deception/guile and fast reflexes, and finally using brains over brawn or outright magical abilities.

The final conversation option at the mirror will determine your Descriptor (which can be manually changed later and are described below). Don't worry if you want to change your mind on the class either -- that too can be manually changed after the mirror segment as you select your Stat breakdown.

Keep in mind that the maximum for any starting Stat Pool is 11, typically achieved by bumping that Stat to 9 and then taking a Descriptor that bumps that Stat up by a further 2 points.

Echoing the rules-light tabletop Numenera RPG, your character's Exploration Skills are much more freeform than in many other role-playing experiences and are very self-explanatory. For instance, the Smashing Skill gives you a bonus to any tests or conversation options involving breaking things, and it could come up in just about any scenario involving that concept -- even ones you don't quite expect.

The only exceptions are Cypher Use, which lets you use additional cyphers beyond the normal maximum, Running, which lets you move further during a Crisis before or after attacking, and Endurance, which gives bonus Health.

Below we break down each class' Ability options and Exploration Skills available at character creation.

Choosing Might, Speed, or Intellect Options


Your jack-of-all-trades starts with the versatile Flex Skill, offering +1 training level in any Exploration Skill. After picking your Stats, you can then choose from an Ability and additional Exploration Skill.

Ability Choices:

  • Trained Without Armor -- bonus 10% to evasion and willpower while wearing light armor
  • Hedge Magic -- automatically succeed on the next Quick Fingers or Smashing task undertaken that day
  • Sucker Punch -- deals weapon damage + 3 and dazes the target if they already have a negative fettle applied
  • Infuse Weapon -- next attack deals damage of any type you choose
  • Practiced In Armor -- reduces Might and Speed costs associated with wearing armor

Exploration Skill Choices:

  • Anamnesis
  • Concentration
  • Cypher Use
  • Deception
  • Endurance
  • Healing
  • Intimidation
  • Lore Machinery
  • Lore Mystical
  • Lore Natural
  • Perception
  • Persuasion
  • Quick Fingers
  • Running
  • Smashing
  • Stealth

Picking the Jack


Your fighter class starts automatically with the Opportunist ability, which lets you end your turn prematurely but then make an attack with a bonus to hit anytime an enemy moves within range, as well as Practiced In Armor, which reduces Speed and Might penalties associated with wearing armor. 

Unlike the other two classes, a Glaive also chooses to be skilled in either medium or heavy weapons. After picking your Stats, you can then choose from an Ability and Exploration Skill.

Ability Choices:

  • Unfailing Precision -- 10% bonus to critical hit chance with attacks
  • Skill With Defense -- 10% bonus to Evasion and Willpower
  • Taunt -- forces one target to attack you instead of any companions
  • Hook -- snare a target and pull them towards you during a Crisis

Exploration Skill Choices:

  • Endurance
  • Running
  • Quick Fingers
  • Smashing

Picking the Glaive


Your spellcasting class begins with the Onslaught ability, an incredibly versatile medium range attack that lets you choose the type of damage to overcome resistance. More importantly, it also gets the Anamnesis Skill for free, offering a bonus to any task involving remembering previous experiences of the Changing God.

Ability Choices:

  • Scan Thoughts -- surface thoughts of NPCs will appear during dialog
  • Resourceful -- gain bonus training level to Cypher Use Skill
  • Innvervate -- remove all negative fettles and heal 6 Heatlh
  • Adaptation -- gain bonus to armor and resistance for 3 rounds
  • Quantum Step -- teleport an ally a medium distance during a Crisis

Exploration Skill Choices:

  • Lore Machinery
  • Lore Mystical
  • Lore Natural

Choosing Nano Exploration Skills

Character Descriptor

Finally, your Descriptor choice (which is the same list for all classes) offers a bonus to certain skills and stats while applying a penalty to others.

Your Descriptor will have already been chosen based on the dialog options at the mirror, but here you can change it if you don't like the specific bonuses and penalties you received.

Keep in mind what Exploration Skill you chose when picking your Descriptor, as you may want to go with a Descriptor that gives you a bonus Skill rather than raising the level of an existing Skill. You can even gain the normally Glaive-only heavy weapons ability with the Wrathful Descriptor.

Your Descriptor can also lower a Skill below the unskilled rank to the inability rank, which gives a 15% penalty to attempting anything associated with the Skill.

  • Cautious -- bonus to Perception and Stealth, penalty to Initative
  • Charming -- bonus to Persuasion and Deception, penalty to Willpower and Intellect
  • Clever -- bonus to Intellect, Deception, and Willpower, penalty to Lore Mystical and Lore Machinery
  • Graceful -- bonus to Speed and Quick Fingers, penalty to Smashing
  • Intelligence -- bonus to Intellect and Anamnesis, penalty to Concentration
  • Learned -- bonus to Intellect, Lore Natural, Lore Machinery, and Healing, penalty to Persuasion and Deception
  • Mechanical -- bonus to Lore Machinery and Concentration, penalty to Deception
  • Mystical -- bonus to Cypher Use and Lore Mystical, penalty to Intimidation
  • Observant -- bonus to Perception and Concentration, penalty to Running 
  • Rugged -- bonus to Endurance, Lore Natural, and Resistance, penalty to Lore Machinery and Deception
  • Slick -- bonus to Persuasion and Quick Fingers, penalty to Endurance
  • Stealthy -- bonus to Light Weapons, Stealth, and Deception, penalty to Initiative and Running
  • Strong -- bonus to Might, Intimidation, and Endurance, penalty to Quick Fingers and Intellect
  • Strong-Willed -- bonus to Willpower, Concentration, and Intimidation, penalty to Lore Machinery and Perception
  • Swift -- bonus to Speed and Running, penalty to Stealth
  • Tough -- bonus to Armor, Resistance, and Endurance, penalty to Evasion 
  • Wrathful -- bonus to Heavy Weapons, Intimidation, and Smashing, penalty to Concentration and Stealth

Picking a Descriptor

Focus in Tides of Numenera

There is one additional aspect of character creation that isn't actually chosen until you've explored some of the Sagus Cliffs area and leveled up the first time: picking a Focus.

Your Focus option will be a more detailed description like Brandishes A Silver Tongue, Breathes Shadow, or Masters Defense, but will change based on your class and dominant Tide.

When you reach this point of the game, your main consideration is whether you want a Focus that provides a combat focused option, like Counterattack, or prefer something that makes more dialog options available, like Natural Charisma.

 Choosing a Focus

With all your base options chosen, you are now ready to explore the Ninth World! Let us know: what class did you pick, and what Exploration Skills and Descriptors do you like best?

Featured Contributor

Ty splits his time between writing horror fiction and writing about video games. After 25 years of gaming, Ty can firmly say that gaming peaked with Planescape Torment, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a soft spot for games like Baldur's Gate, Fallout: New Vegas, Bioshock Infinite, and Horizon: Zero Dawn. He has previously written for GamerU and MetalUnderground. He also writes for PortalMonkey covering gaming laptops and peripherals.

Published Feb. 28th 2017

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