Practices Philosophy

Published January 4, 2014 by


You are a student of knowledge, virtue, and free will. Practicing philosophy is not strictly for hermits, they can make a living as a judge of law, city magistrate, or be a self sustaining hermit. Of all the character types Jacks are best suited to philosophy due to their unusual aptitude for a little of everything, giving them a wider range of topics to argue over. 

Chances are you will not recognize a philosopher right away – a philosopher who seeks out adventure often does her best to appear unassuming, giving them ample time for observation and undisturbed thought.


GM Intrusion: An argument falls apart, becoming a mess of confusion and unintended consequences! Make an intellect defense test against your level or be dazed.


Pick another PC to have a rapport with. While in your presence they have a +1 bonus to intellect actions in social situations, having learned by experience in argument with you.

Additional Equipment:

You have an oddity that draws Venn diagrams given to you by your teacher. Some examples are: three dimensional holographic spheres which can be moved together and apart, when correctly described it prints a piece of paper (when incorrectly described it makes an irritating noise), using a piece of rock you can draw (only perfect circles) on any rock or wood surface in two different colors, the images appear in the users head silently.

Minor Effect Suggestions:
You may begin an argument with your target immediately.
Major Effect Suggestions:
The PC names a philosopher and receives one intellect point up to their maximum. The PC does not receive one intellect point for repeating the name of a philosopher.
Tier 1:


For each academic or social skill you are specialized in add a +1 bonus when starting Arguments. Enabler.

You have a +1 asset when taking intellect defense actions in response to actions or abilities the target of your argument uses against you.

Argument (3 Intellect)

You engage a person or entity in an argument on the nature of free will and ethics and they become distracted. If you can see and understand (through telepathy, hearing, display monitor, etc…) a target you may engage that target in argument. . If successful, the target is shaken next round, making all actions one step more difficult for the target. Free Sustain. You may be in a number of arguments equal to your Tier.

Tier 2:

Conclusion (2 Intellect)

The target(s) of your argument makes an intellect defense test. If they fail they are stunned and can take no actions for one round. This ends the argument. Action.

Free Will

You know that free will is determined by one of three motivating sources. Choose one of the following motivators, the Mind (Intelligence),  the Spirit (Speed), or the Body (Strength) to reflect the strength of your free will, increase the stats edge by 1, and make a note. Enabler.

Tier 3:

The Art of War

You are trained in Might and Speed defense actions.

Show Some Respect!

The target of your argument may not move any distance away from you by choice. Enabler.

Applied Philosophy

A philosopher helping another player with an action reduces that actions difficulty by one, in addition to the normal benefits of helping. A player with an action inability may not be helped. Enabler.

Tier 4:

Speculation (5 Intellect)

The target of your argument may not take intellect actions. Sustain: (1 Intellect). Action.

Speaking from your Diagram

The oddity you start with can be used by your connection or student to start arguments for you. If they succeed you may use argument abilities against that target. You may be in a number of arguments equal to your Tier.

Tier 5:

Thesis (5 Intellect)

Planting your feet you concentrate years of focused thinking into a statement so profound any one listening can’t help but want to talk to you for one hour. Anyone targeted by Thesis makes an intellect defense roll with a difficulty equal to your Tier. On a success they ignore the effects of Thesis. This ability can be used in combat. This ability can not be used on the same target(s) more than once a day. Action.

Litany of Will

If your motivating stat (chosen in Tier 2: Free Will) pool is reduced to zero you ignore all remaining damage. Instead add one to the pool. Litany of Will will only apply to one source of damage. You may only avoid death with the litany of will from one source every round. Enabler.

Tier 6:

Doubt Faith (25 Intellect)

The target of your argument will experience an existential crisis of faith in their own beliefs, their life choices. This effect is beneficial to the benefit of the PC. Some examples. A hostile bandit reforms and becomes a vigilante fighting for justice. You calm an angry mob, gaining students in the process. Action.

This action has a difficulty of 8 (Heroic) against crowds.

Fan Base (5 Intellect)

In major cities, you can attract a fan of your works and thinking. When you have at least one fan you gain 10 mental armor. Fans may provide helpful local knowledge or provide small favor at the discretion of your DM. The character may only create one fan base in one city once a week.

School of Thought (6 Intellect) The intellect is lost permanently.

You have come to a conclusion, or a thesis, theoretical and practical in it’s implication and scope. Through your works, words, or deeds, you found an organization. This organization must start small, and, will require regular involvement on the character’s part. The organization will function as an other organizations will. Your organization must have a guiding principle, tenets, and an organization structure. Your organization can be political in scope, a new religion, or, a militant group. Work with the DM on the details. Your character may benefit from the organization but the relationship of the character to the organization and the time and effort of the character should be considered carefully by the DM.

Your character may only found one organization at a time, if the organization ceases to be for any reasons the character may found a new organization.

  • David’s Perspective

    I have a question. Should Imprint be considered an Enabler? I listed it as active.

    Opinions desired. Would Invitation be better as a mandatory event? You become a tier 6 character who practices philosophy, you must go get a disciple… you must keep getting disciples until you successfully keep one alive for a year? I can’t decide if it would be one hell of a subplot for a player character, or just hell for the player.

    • ThomasJefferson

      If I was being honest, and I gave a very quick run down, I’d say this looks a little overpowered. The intellect edge connection thing is pretty strong considering most connections provide no mechanical benefit. Then we have an enabler (Reasoning) and an active ability (Argument). This is just tier one, compared to other tiers at this level it seems a little strong.

      On the other hand, I really like the idea of a philosopher character. I’d love to have a Wise Glaive who Practices Philosophy and play as a Warrior Poet.

      • David’s Perspective

        Hmm. I viewed it as a supportive ability.I have been considering dropping the modifier bonus or changing it to the next action taken against the target (only once and only the first time making the argument). Comparing it to the fire focus, the Tier 1 philosophy active does no damage where the Halo of Fire ability does two damage and adds two armor.

        I’m glad you like the idea. I’ve edited it a little bit. One thing I decided I liked a lot was the student requirement at Tier 6, to off set any sort of ideas about how awesome this focus is. It has a complicated obligation that shows up towards the end of character progression.

        I didn’t have a specific goal in mind when I started, just a collection of notes and a sort of support / controller pretense. I didn’t want to get over involved in philosophy types, or the complex nature of a subject which is based on lots and lots of thinking. Very interesting in a scholastic setting, not as much in an adventure setting.

        • David’s Perspective

          Long story short. I’m open to suggestions.

      • David’s Perspective

        I made some changes to the following Tiers, 5 and 6.
        I cleaned up Thesis and I clarified how Imprints work on 5.
        I really changed the 6 tier Student stuff … I may never really feel finished with that. I love it as a concept but I’m not sure sure I like it for fun. But I’ve made it a littler simpler (I hope) and a bit of a challenge. Also tossed in a way for a PC to start an organization though, so that’s neat.

      • David’s Perspective

        I cleaned up the fifth tier student nonsense. I’m not sure I’ll ever be totally satisfied with Tier 6. But I like the idea of starting an organization, and kind of having a mechanic for new organizations. The arbitrary decision for 10 students and 1000 shins fells a little classic D&D and I like that but I’m not sure it’s right for Numenera. I mostly did it as a way to introduce a complex end goal for the character (starting a school and getting a minimum bonus of 10 mental armor).