Monte came up with a couple of brilliant materials when he wrote Numenera. Strongglass, Azure Steel along with similarly weird and fantastic substances. I have compiled a list of made up materials that I have encountered in my years of playing TTRPG’s. All of these were made up by my friends and I over a long period of time for various games and systems, but I thought it would be worth it to put them all down into a comprehensive list for everybody to use and enjoy. I have only selected the ones that I think capture the weird nature of Numenera.
Animus Stone: Incredibly rare, animus stone is of an off-white color that catches the eye of most. When subjected to the constant attentions of a thinking being (talked to, thought about and held in close proximity) the stone will start to emit psychic signals and slowly “come to life”. This stone begins to mimic its owner, much like a child, and will rapidly acquire a personality of its own. Over the course of only a few months, it has been noted that animus stones can mature to a fully self-aware state. It is at this crucial mental point that the animus stone begins to be able to exert physical force on its environment. This usually leads to self destruction as the stone experiments with using force to move itself and be subsequently shattered by a surprise impact. But in the rare cases where it does survive this period it may begin to try and form a body of its own. It is theorized that Diruk’s evolved from stones very similar to these.
Crete: When water, broken up rocks, a dried mixture of clay, iron and bone are put together they make a semi-liquid substance that is called crete. After sitting for a little over a day, the semi-liquid mixture will harden into a solid mass in whatever shape it was left in. Crete can be manufactured quite easily, but is usually heavy. Used to pave roads, build simple buildings and even create art, this substance quite versatile.
Ebon Glass: A pitch black material similar in texture to normal glass, ebon glass is found in ruins of the prior worlds and is incredibly durable. That is not what it is usually employed for however. When a strong electric current is introduced in ebon glass that has been heated above room temperature, the glass become volatile and explodes with tremendous force. Used for clearing land, destroying an old building, or opening a stubborn lock, ebon glass is a versatile and relatively stable explosive substance.
Fire Thread: A pleasant material that was discovered by an experimenting nano several decades ago, this thread can be manufactured using a detailed formula of compressed air, an accelerant of choice and a mind numbing amount of time and reciting the “words of flame”. The process can take up to a month and yields about 10 feet of fire thread. The compressed air is laced with the accelerant and when the “words of flame” have been fully recited (the bulk of the process) without any errors, the air will form a thin stream of what appears to be actual flame. The material produced has an almost silky feel to it and emits a gentle warmth. Large amounts of fire thread have been woven together to make garments, sleeping provisions and other fantastic works.
Glow Iron: This soft metal is named after its most prominent feature, the green glow that emits at all times. Found in raw ore deposits deep under ground, this metal’s glow could be mistaken for a trick of the eye, but when held in a dark room the light is enough to see by. Glow iron is a strange material that is able to transmute any type of non-kinetic energy into a kind of “universal power”. The energy produced from glow iron can be used to power almost any device; so long as the power source is fed through the glow iron at the exact rate at which the device consumes power. Stranger still, those who work around this material have been noted to contract sickness’ at a much higher rate than normal.
Liquid Air: Usually found in the after-math of the Iron Wind, this substance can be inhaled by any creature requiring air as if it were the actual substance. The liquid form allows for easy, compact storage and can be used to provide a clean source of air in any environment. If this substance is ever boiled (exceedingly high temperature) it will evaporate into a high pitched whistle of sound.
Memory Dust: Found in small deposits of a dark-green dust, memory dust is hard to excavate properly and can be difficult to transport as the material can easily spill from unsealed containers. Memory dust is used mostly in construction due in most part to its ability to take on the shape of whatever it was “cast” into before hand. When “casting” memory dust, the user must apply a magnetic field and an electric current to the substance. When the memory dust has been cast properly, the electricity and magnetic field transform the dust into a synth-like material with rigidity. A simple jolt of electricity will revert the memory dust to its original form, while a further application of electricity will form the dust back into the shape it had been “cast” into before.
Mind Metal: Found in old ruins and in devices that rely on psychic communications, mind metal is an intense, electric blue color and is used primarily to relay and receive psychic signals. Noted for its uses in bridging the gap between organic and numenera interfaces, mind metal is highly sought after to create hands-free, instantaneous communication with numenera devices. Mind metal can degrade from exposure to extreme elements over huge amounts of time. When found in this degraded state, the metal is almost black with tinges of red in its coloring. Highly dangerous, this corrupted mind metal sends out a psychic “scream” to all living creatures near by that can drive them insane. The only way to reduce this “scream” is to lower the temperature of the metal in ice cold conditions. The scream is muted, but still jarring, and can only be fully silence by grinding the corrupted mind metal into a fine dust and then frozen. If ever smelted back together the mind metal’s “scream” is made even louder and more dangerous. Some have exploited this to create psychic weaponry of deadly potential.
Nether Cloth: An ethereal piece of fabric, nether cloth looks like a window to the night sky and tends to move even when no wind is passing through the space it occupies. One of the lesser known abilities possessed by the cloth (besides its looks) is its ability to create a opening in space between it another piece of nether cloth. This is achieved by immersing the separate pieces of cloth in a chemical solution that only a handful of people alive know how to create. Once the two pieces of fabric are linked, one may pass physical matter between the two separate cuts of cloth. If multiple pieces of nether cloth are joined together it is impossible to predict which of the others the matter will leave through when passed through the first piece of the cloth.
Living Metal: Appearing as polished bronze, living metal is capable of growing and repairing itself, much like an organic being. Found in both the ruins of the prior worlds and in natural deposits, this material is well known, but its robust characteristics. it should be noted that once living metal is smelted into a new shape it will hold that shape and heal any wounds it receives while in that shape. The healing process is not instantaneous, but it is rather quick taking less than a day to repair most levels of damage.
Shiver Steel: An uncommon find in the ninth world, shiver steel is a metallic substance with a blue, purple and black coloration scheme to it. Usually found at room temperatures, shiver steel has the unique property of being able to decrease in temperature indefinitely from its environment and then maintaining that new temperature. A bar of shiver steel that has been buried in arctic snows for an hour or so will be just as cold until it is brought back up to its melting point.
Sigil Glass: Appearing as normal glass, this insignificant piece of deterious from the prior worlds can be used to repair display screens, upload visual information and even project the “ghost-images (holograms)” found in many prior world visual numenera. Sigil glass is used heavily by those who wish to carry a certain amount of encoded information that can be accessed only through knowledge of the numenera.