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Old Apr 28th, 2023, 09:08 AM
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The Cypher System here on RPGx

Hello, hello!!~
Welcome to the Cypher Community board here on RPGx! The goal with this page is to walk a trail blazed by Imveros for Shadowrun and Roekahs for PbtA, in bringing attention to this wonderful system.

Here you can find other members who might be interested in Cypher to discuss various topics such as: its many settings, interesting character concepts/encounters, and any possible games either on-going or in the near future. Or that is the goal at least!


What is Cypher System?

I spotted this question asked in a recent ad here on the site. I felt it best to cover this for anyone unaware.

The Cypher System is a d20 game engine designed to fit almost any campaign or genre you might wish to play within. It is a narrative-focused system with a high degree of flexibility to allow Game Masters (GMs) and Players to unleash their creativity. There isn't a whole lot of mechanical "crunch" to the game as its attention is on the narrative, not the clicky-clack rocks. As pretty as they often tend to be.

It is also a very GM-friendly system that offloads almost all dice rolls onto the players. This grants the GM freedom to focus on what is going on and how the story is unfolding over what rules are to be enforced according to the dice.

Within the Cypher System, characters are built from the concept up. By answering a simple sentence: "I am a(n) [adjective][noun] who [verbs]" you can quickly select the components that make your character unique and tailor-fit to the concept you had in mind.



The settings/genre of Cypher

Most popular ttrpgs are found within High Fantasy settings, and such can be said about Cypher as well... sort of. The CSRD covers a handful of genres for one to dive into such as Space Operas, Sci-fi adventures, Horror, Superheroes, Post-apocalyptic worlds, and more.

MCG also has a handful of official settings and/or sourcebooks to purchase to help you with some of the more popular genres.
Here are some of the published books and what they're about:
  • Numenera - A mix of sci-fi and fantasy in this official setting from MCG. Its game system is slightly different from Cypher - mostly because Cypher was created using the bones of Numenera. Its definitely worth looking into, however as it is utterly fascinating!
  • Claim the Sky, Unmasked, and The Origin - These are all superhero-themed books. Claim the Sky is a source book while Unmasked and the Origin act more like setting books.
  • The Stars are Fire - A sourcebook for creating a Space Opera sort of game
  • Stay Alive! and The Darkest House - Horror Genre with the first being more of a source book and guide on how to run a horror game. The latter being more of a setting that, really, can be used with any system.
  • Predation - Its futuristic technology and dinosaurs! I've been very very tempted to get this and run it myself.
  • The Strange - Set in modern day Earth, a few have discovered the power to dive into the settings virtually any story, film, or novel. There they would deal with the character(s) who might have become self-aware and are trying to deviate from the media to handle their own agendas!

It bears mentioning as well that a third-party publish who has frequently helped the site during the annual mental drive now makes Cypher stuff!~ Underground Oracle had decided back in January to shift from publishing 5e content to exclusively making Cypher settings and adventures to play within!

Also, for any horror fans out there; the popular podcast "Old Gods of Appalachia" (aka "Old Gods" or OGoA) also has a setting supplement that launched on kickstarter last year and should be out soon!


Question time!

Quote:
~~Note: This area will fill with question as they come in~~
---
For the readers at home:
PLAYERS!~ What would take for you to give Cypher a shot?
Genres? Specific settings? Certain GMs - or just GMs in general?

My Forever GMs!!~ What would it take for you to run Cypher here on the site?
Resources? Sheets? - because, thanks to Hafrogman, we have those now!~ Just general interest in the system?
---


Do you have any settings that you would be interested in trying Cypher within? Do you have any character concepts you just could never fit into other gaming systems you would love to try?

Currently there are a small handful of games on the site running Cypher. Most recent one was Sprite's Hotshots game. I am currently running a Numenera game where the players accidentally destroyed an alien outpost by turning on Nyan-cat music. Yes, you read that right. I have some other games brewing that might be coming up here soon

I am also running six concurrent trials to see if we can get a Cypher queue opened up for NPSG!


So, come chat! Stop on by and talk about your dreams and ideas! I would love to get to know those of us who are in this growing community as well as invite newcomers in with open arms!~


Resources!Resource block!
  • Official Monte Cook Games site! {LINK}
  • Official CSRD from MCG {LINK} note: its sort of a messy document.
  • The best fan-site for the CSRD I've encountered yet, "Old Gus' Cypher System Reference Document" - seriously, its amazing. {Link}
  • Our friends over at Underground Oracle, who now publish Cypher stuff {LINK}
  • ItsaVerb's Cypher in a Nutshell {LINK}
  • Retry's Cypher Workshop {LINK}
  • The Cypher System subreddit {LINK}
  • {Future links go here~}
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Last edited by Retry; Apr 28th, 2023 at 11:58 AM.
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Old Apr 28th, 2023, 09:55 AM
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I am a delightful GM who appreciates the Cypher system.

+1 for the Cypher System and Monte Cook.

I am particularly fond of The Strange.
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Old Apr 28th, 2023, 10:03 AM
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Heeeyooo! Strange here!

I am a huge, HUGE fan of the Cypher system, which anyone whose spent enough time with me would know. It's my favorite system out of all systems for the very reasons listed: it's real simple to make a character and even easier to run!

I am very elated to see a resurgence of interest for Cypher on-site! I have seen a few Ads pop the last couple of months in the Games Looking for Players Thread! I am sad I couldn't apply to all of them, what with the need to sleep and do boring adult things, but I was lucky enough to trick some guy named Retry into letting me into his game with my jerk of an aeon priest, Vinter Kheen.

Surely he doesn't regret it one bit!

But yeah! I am down to see more games for the system. It truly is one of the more flexible systems out there, as it'll help you tell whatever story you'd like to run. The main Cypher Corebook breaks down the different ways you could utilize the system, mostly by referencing a variety of genres and what mechanics would click with them. Everything from Horror to Superhero to Historical Fiction is examined by the main book. Which I think is really nice to have in one place if you want to create your own setting.

That said Numenera is without a doubt my favorite setting that uses the Cypher system. Its beautifully weird. It's tailored made for the joy of exploration, discovering something that's been laying dormant more than a millenia, and just stumbling into situations that are almost otherwordly. Like nyan cat!

I haven't had a chance to run any Cypher setting since my return to the site two years and sum odd months ago. But that's going to change soon! Because I am REALLY looking forward to The Old Gods of Appalachia book that's coming out over summer. I backed the Kickstarter for it last year, and I am getting all the goodies, so I have every intention of running it on-site with the unlucky few who have volunteered to ride through that horrorfest with me.

And if that goes well, and I find myself with more free time, I do have a Numenera horror one-shot I'd love to put in GSP, just to try and inspire both a love for the system and spookier games.
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Last edited by Strangemund; Apr 28th, 2023 at 10:43 AM.
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Old Apr 28th, 2023, 12:09 PM
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I have seen a lot of praise for The Strange. I haven't had the time to dive in to it (yet), but its definitely on my radar!

Numenera has been such a treat to GM in since everything feels so wild, yet some how structured. The areas provided in the source books are only a fraction of the world and yet there is just so much to explore! I was completely sold, however, when it was covering all the different countries. Everything was so serious and mystical - then it details how a country leader is insane and listens to a shadow puppet of his hand for council. That little bit of silly in a sea of serious spoke volumes to me!

--

Currently I'm prepping to launch my own setting using the system. Once its up and running I plan to launch another public one-shot game to try and foster interest in the system. However, that is still a ways off.
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Old Apr 28th, 2023, 12:24 PM
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I've been curious about the system, and I hear a lot of good things about it that aren't too specific?

Like- I don't really know why it's good, just that it is.

What are the selling points of Cypher system as a GM or a player?
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Old Apr 28th, 2023, 01:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inuvash255 View Post
[...] I hear a lot of good things about it that aren't too specific?
I believe that is a cause if its primary selling-point: flexibility and customization!

At its core, the system is meant to be bent and molded to fit the genre that you wish to play. This leads to a lot of vague rulings that offer a foundation for a group to make a ruling upon that match their agreed upon style. Mostly because, what might work for "Daring Space Opera" might not fully work for "Low-magic Fantasy."

For a GM: you don't have to worry about mechanics as much or even dice rolling. The players handle it. You just detail what is going on and let them know if they need to make a roll or not. Also, character growth is not accumulated by what they kill. Instead its cultivated through exploration and dealing with unexpected twists in the narrative (known as "GM Intrusions"). You don't need to "balance" battles at all - although you certainly don't want to throw a planet-devouring god at the group immediately. You can view combat much like a movie where the party must use their wit and skills to navigate around a powerful presence. Not just surround it and swing wildly until one side is dead. This means you can cook up whatever sounds the most interesting for the story and run with it.

For pbp GMs: the system also handles range and speed in a vague fashion that makes theater of the mind play much easier. A PCs distance to a target is either Immediate/Short/Long/Very Long. This has been a personal plus for me while running them. I often lost a lot of time while DM'ing dnd5e trying to properly map out distance traveled, AoEs, and deciphering what a Player meant so I don't hold up the game.


For players: Character creation is pretty easy. It is also just as flexible as the system so you have a better chance to match the concept you have in your head. Many times I've cooked up a fun concept only to realize I have to change some key components to properly fit the mechanics of the game.

There isn't a whole lot of 'crunch' to the game. You roll only 1d20 after declaring what (if anything) is aiding you in the task at hand, and go from there. The things aiding you are known as assets and reduce the Target Number (TN) that you need to beat. Although a nat 1 is always bad, but a nat Combat only17-18 and 19-20 are always good and bring with them added bonuses.

There are also very powerful items you find in gameplay called 'Cyphers.' These are consumable objects that can easily change the tides of a situation and are designed to be used frequently and not hoarded. They're quite fun to watch in action.


---

I will state openly that I know the system isn't for everyone. From what I've witnessed, those who like a lot of structure in their rules tend not to be a very big fan. Or those who want to do a lot of number crunching with their rolls to see big numbers appear.
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Old Apr 28th, 2023, 01:36 PM
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I think of Cypher as operating in a middle ground between games like D&D and Pathfinder on one end, and more narrative games like those Powered by the Apocalypse on the other. If the former feel too focused on numbers or combat, Cypher offers simpler math and a wide variety of abilities that don't boil down to different ways to reduce enemy HP to zero. If the latter feel too constrained in character customization or genre, Cypher offers a toolkit that can produce a wide variety of characters in widely varying genres.
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Old Apr 28th, 2023, 01:46 PM
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Adding on to Retry's sales pitch, I find it rewards individuality within a party without sacrifing party cooperation.

For example, you could have three Warriors in a party, but there will always be something that YOU could do specifically that the others cannot. Sure, all of you can swing a big weapon, or lift a wagon, but you may be able to cast fire from your fingertips, speak with animals, or transform into a beast during a full moon.

And that's one of the bigger selling points for players in the system is the creation of a Focus. Its all part of the character creation process. The [verb] part of the sentence that Retry mentioned in his first post. It gives a lot of weight to concept building for characters, and giving you a chance to feel like you stand out amongst your party, without feeling like you are fighting for a chance to show-off.

Additionally, it heavily encourages character connections within a group, offering advice on how to apply backstory points on how each PC met/how they feel about another, and even provides mechanics where you can decrease the difficulties of tasks just by helping.
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Old Apr 28th, 2023, 03:31 PM
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Sounds like the perfect system for an idea I have. It will be a while before I'm ready to run something, but my interest is piqued.
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Old Apr 28th, 2023, 07:42 PM
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I'm a more recent convert to Cypher myself. Technically, I've only played a few posts of one of the aforementioned NPSG trials, but I've been doing a lot of reading. And of course, building the sheet got me a little bit of a deep dive into some of the mechanics.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Inuvash255 View Post
What are the selling points of Cypher system as a GM or a player?
I actually remember being decidedly unimpressed with the first generation of Numenera books when they came out. A friend of mine backed the original Kickstarter and brought them to game one night for us all to look at. At that point I felt the character options felt far too restrictive.

But much more recently, the system came to my attention again in the form of the core Cypher System book, and this time it really worked for me. The two biggest additions being a fourth Type and Flavors are a semi-codified customization mechanism that let you swap out abilities from your Type in order to broaden your character's horizon's a little bit. For example, two of the included Flavors are Magic and Combat. So instead of just having to pick if you're a Warrior or an Adept, you could be a Warrior with a Magic Flavor (Eldritch Knight) or an Adept with a Combat Flavor (Bladesinger) as well.Flavors. These two things made the character creation process so much more flexible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wodine View Post
I am particularly fond of The Strange.
I must admit, trying to adapt the character sheet to handle The Strange has temporarily broken me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaigen View Post
I think of Cypher as operating in a middle ground between games like D&D and Pathfinder on one end, and more narrative games like those Powered by the Apocalypse on the other.
It's cool that someone else has made this same connection, as I often make the same comparison, but specifically for the superhero genre.

I see two main types of superhero games crop up on the boards. Mutants and Masterminds and Masks (PbtA), which make for two pretty extreme ends of the spectrum. M&M is entirely about points and crunch, while Masks is so fluffy that the rules don't bother even defining what your powers are.

Player: "Cool, I have something called 'Biokinesis'. What's that do?"
Game: "It literally doesn't matter."

I really think that Cypher makes a great superhero system, where it doesn't take several hours to design your character, but you still get to define your character partially by the cool things they can do.
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Old Apr 28th, 2023, 09:35 PM
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It's a system I've wanted to play for long time, but just haven't gotten into yet. I played a Numenara one-shot years and years ago and enjoyed it, but haven't played it since. I do have a number of books for Cypher system thanks to a HumbleBundle last(?) year, and hopefully get to use them. Can't say I've gotten into any of them in depth, since the opportunity to play hasn't come up, but I do like the variety of settings they've got.

Cypher
Predation
The Strange
Unmasked - Yes, the Jim Carrey movieThe Mask meets the Breakfast Club.
Gods of the Fall - Fantasy RPG where you play a new god in a dark age, after the heavens fell and killed all the old gods.
The Stars Are Fire

Also have the old Numnara corebook from that one-shot, but that's a tricky setting to get into. Definitely would like to get in the Old Gods of Appalachia when it comes out.
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Old Apr 28th, 2023, 10:22 PM
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Definitely would like to get in the Old Gods of Appalachia when it comes out.
I got the playtest for it, and ooh man, they nailed the vibe of the podcast perfectly! July can't come soon enough for its full release!
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Old Apr 29th, 2023, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Dark Asterisk View Post
Sounds like the perfect system for an idea I have. It will be a while before I'm ready to run something, but my interest is piqued.
I'm glad to hear that Dark Asterisk! Seeking a system for a game I've been brewing is what brought me to Cypher in the first place.

If you have any questions feel free to drop them here
I would recommend checking some of the links at the bottom of the first post. At the very least Old Gus' or ItsaVerbs' stuff.
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Old Apr 29th, 2023, 11:26 AM
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I'm probably going to buy a couple books and devour the information of the system.
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Old Apr 29th, 2023, 12:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hafrogman View Post
I see two main types of superhero games crop up on the boards. Mutants and Masterminds and Masks (PbtA), which make for two pretty extreme ends of the spectrum. M&M is entirely about points and crunch, while Masks is so fluffy that the rules don't bother even defining what your powers are.

Player: "Cool, I have something called 'Biokinesis'. What's that do?"
Game: "It literally doesn't matter."
I mean, considering the source material for the genre, it makes a lot of sense for the scope of a character's powers to be determined by vibes and whatever works for the stories the writers are trying to tell.
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