Life in the Ninth World
The life of a Ninth World human isn’t all that different from the life of a human around the year 1000 A.D. Farmers til fields, herders tend flocks, hunters and trappers provide meat and skins, weavers create clothing, woodworkers build furniture, authors write books, and so on. Meals are cooked over fires. Entertainment comes from a lute player, a group of singers, or perhaps comedic thespians.
The religions of the Ninth World are varied and many. With the exception of the Order of Truth’s quasireligious veneration of the past and the understanding its inhabitants had of the forces of the universe, no religion is widespread—they’re local affairs. An explorer coming to a new town or will find that inhabitants have their own specific gods and religions. Some of these are based in local myths and stories, while others are more grounded in reality—creatures or other weird aspects of the world are often explained using the trappings of religion. For example, a village might worship a machine intelligence left over from the prior worlds as a mysterious deity.
Language is a complex topic for a 21st-century reader trying to understand a civilization a billion years in the future. In a fantasy or pseudo-medieval setting, it’s typical for everyone to talk in a vaguely Shakespearean British manner. This style of speaking probably isn’t appropriate for Numenera. The Ninth World is filled with wrods that — while not strictly modern—aren’t medieval or Shakespearean either. The common languages are Truth and Shin talk, however there are about 500 other languages spoken throughout the ninth world.
Many people in the Ninth World cannot read. The Steadfast has an average literacy rate of about 50 percent. Although almost everyone can recognize a few written words of Truth, genuine literacy—the ability to read a contract or a book—is uncommon. Reading is more common in cities, where up to 70 percent of the population might be literate. In small towns and villages, the number is closer to 40 percent, and in very rural, isolated villages, it falls to 0 percent or less.
Overall, the climate is dry, and with a few exceptions (along the coast, for example), rain is uncommon and accompanies terrible storms. Rumors say that particularly harsh or strange storms are either the result of a harmful numenera effect or the slow degradation of a beneficial one. Either way, storms with dangerous winds, hail, and lightning grow more frequent each year. Other storms—still thankfully very rare—bring oily black rains that kill crops rather than nourish them, or weird magnetic fluctuations that bend matter and disrupt minds. But even these pale in comparison to the most terrifying weather effect in the Ninth World: the Iron Wind.