Cypher System Rulebook Review - The GM's Toybox

Cypher System Rulebook Review - The GM's Toybox

The Cypher System Rulebook refines Numenera and The Strange's gameplay for any setting your GM can dream up.

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...color me intrigued.

I've never heard of any of the things you're talking about but I'm sick of paying for D&D Insider when my group gets to meet up only once or twice every few months.

As a GM, my greatest strength is my creativity and my greatest weakness has always been understanding the rules. This sounds promising...

I'm (re)writing my homemade cyberpunk game at the moment, I'll need to give these rules a look. It didn't work with the Apocalypse World engine, but maybe something with a bit more meaty rules will be robust while still allowing for the narrative gameplay my players want. On the other hand, stuff like Cyphers will have to go; I've never been a fan of one-time 'I Win' buttons, especially in something like cyberpunk that rewards careful planning.

Is there a reason for the typo in the title that I missed?

PH3NOmenon:
Is there a reason for the typo in the title that I missed?

Clumsy, clumsy, fingers. It's been fixed, thanks.

It would seem RP rules streamlining is the thing right now. Good, I always hated how combat, one of the most dynamic and exiting activities, is reduced to a slog by having base attack of 3 with a +2 sword with which I'm proficient (+2 attack, +1 damage) and now roll the dice and see how you stand compared to your targets equally lengthy defence stats.

I even went so far as to create my own rules in which I refuse to use dice, a coin toss solves it all! A d2 if you want.

Fanghawk:
Fill in the blanks. "I am a _______ _______ who _______s."

Seriously. That's it. You've pretty much made your character.

So they removed allocating stat points, chosing a background, chosing fighting moves/esoteries/tricks, chosing starting equipment, chosing initial link to starting adventure, and (optionally) chosing an origin for special powers?

BareHope:

Fanghawk:
Fill in the blanks. "I am a _______ _______ who _______s."

Seriously. That's it. You've pretty much made your character.

So they removed allocating stat points, chosing a background, chosing fighting moves/esoteries/tricks, chosing starting equipment, chosing initial link to starting adventure, and (optionally) chosing an origin for special powers?

They're here, but heavily streamlined.

For example, there are no skill points: You're either trained in a skill (-1 difficulty) or specialized in a skill (-2). Your attribute stats are pre-determined, and then you have a few extra points to spend.

Everything else is on a trait-specific lists, depending on how you filled in those blanks. So if you picked the "Warrior" type, it limits your starting equipment, provides a table to roll for your starting link, and gives you a condensed list of fighting abilities to choose from.

If we want to be pedantic, you're still "picking" most of the above. But compared to rolling stats from scratch, going through a huge master list of feats/abilities, and making sure you meet all requirements, this is much quicker, like ticking off a checklist. In most systems, my group might as well dedicate an entire session just to chargen, but here we made our characters and completed an entire adventure in one night.

Thank you for the review!

I will take a look at this gaming system, sounds pretty neat so far :)

Thunderous Cacophony:
I'm (re)writing my homemade cyberpunk game at the moment, I'll need to give these rules a look. It didn't work with the Apocalypse World engine, but maybe something with a bit more meaty rules will be robust while still allowing for the narrative gameplay my players want. On the other hand, stuff like Cyphers will have to go; I've never been a fan of one-time 'I Win' buttons, especially in something like cyberpunk that rewards careful planning.

In a cyberpunk game, Cyphers might work really well if they aren't random, but are expensive items you could purchase on the black market/loot from powerful enemies. Maybe make them one-use nanite devices you equip onto any augmented hardware (which would also explain why characters can only carry a limited number of them at any time).

Fanghawk:

BareHope:

Fanghawk:
Fill in the blanks. "I am a _______ _______ who _______s."

Seriously. That's it. You've pretty much made your character.

So they removed allocating stat points, chosing a background, chosing fighting moves/esoteries/tricks, chosing starting equipment, chosing initial link to starting adventure, and (optionally) chosing an origin for special powers?

They're here, but heavily streamlined.

For example, there are no skill points: You're either trained in a skill (-1 difficulty) or specialized in a skill (-2). Your attribute stats are pre-determined, and then you have a few extra points to spend.

Everything else is on a trait-specific lists, depending on how you filled in those blanks. So if you picked the "Warrior" type, it limits your starting equipment, provides a table to roll for your starting link, and gives you a condensed list of fighting abilities to choose from.

If we want to be pedantic, you're still "picking" most of the above. But compared to rolling stats from scratch, going through a huge master list of feats/abilities, and making sure you meet all requirements, this is much quicker, like ticking off a checklist. In most systems, my group might as well dedicate an entire session just to chargen, but here we made our characters and completed an entire adventure in one night.

Cool, thanks for the info.

How is it balance-wise? Numenera still had the very 90ies-style problem of wizard (nano) > warrior (glaive), with high-tier-powers of nanos including teleportation, weather control, or moving mountains, while glaives just got attacks that hit a little bit harder.

BareHope:
Cool, thanks for the info.

How is it balance-wise? Numenera still had the very 90ies-style problem of wizard (nano) > warrior (glaive), with high-tier-powers of nanos including teleportation, weather control, or moving mountains, while glaives just got attacks that hit a little bit harder.

If you're using the classes as is, than Adepts (your wizard/psychic class) would have a bigger range than Warriors, although they can only draw on so many abilities per tier. But the nice thing is you can use flavors to customize each class.

For example, a Warrior can take a Magic flavor, replacing some abilities with spells. By the same token, you could give an Adept a Combat flavor, so they're more robust at melee combat. It's very easy to tweak a class if you're not happy with how it plays, or need to adapt it for a particular setting.

Of course when all else fails, Cyphers can be used by all classes, so there's always room to experiment with those.

 

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