The Cypher Conundrum

[dropcap]N[/dropcap]umenera has one of those rules systems that you wish all other games used. There is just something so good and elegant about Mr. Cook’s rules that it feels like truth. Numenera is not the first game to make me feel this way, though don’t ask me how I reconcile this in my head. Likely by not thinking too much about it.

I’ve already talked about what I love the most about the Cypher System, as Numenera’s ruleset it called. I stand by what I wrote and the intention with which I wrote it. When I read this blog post by Lex Starwalker I was confronted with an obstacle in the way of universal application of the Cypher System. It got me to thinking about how closely integrated Cyphers are to the system and that writing about it would make good copy for my blog.

So here we are.

Can You Take Cyphers Out of the Cypher System?

Spoiler alert: Yes, apparently. Also, I’ve been skimming my RSS feed a little too lightly as I completely missed that announcement. I found it when I googled “Cypher System” to confirm that was the correct term for the ruleset.

Cypher System Corebook art by John Petersen. Copyright 2014 Monte Cook Games, LLC

Cypher System Corebook art by John Petersen. Copyright 2014 Monte Cook Games, LLC

Interestingly the press release mentions that the book will include “genre-specific… cyphers.” I’m not sure how it will do that for all systems. Sci-fi can accommodate any number of single use technologies, as can fantasy. It’s almost like someone’s already combined the two. It’s the wide range between that interests me.

I think it’s pretty easy to remove cyphers from Numenera. They seem to be a bigger part of the setting than the rules. Or at least, my favorite bits of the rules are completely unaffected by them. It’s the descriptions and foci that will make the biggest difference. These are integral to character building in Numenera, Fortunately the full version of the quote I used in the preceding paragraph goes like this:

It will draw in part from content already published in Numeneraand The Strange, but tailor that content for play in different genres, and add hundreds of new genre-specific and genre-spanning types, descriptors, foci, creatures, cyphers, and rules elements. It will feature the incredible artwork and production values for which Monte Cook Games is becoming legendary.

– Charles Ryan, “Announcing the Cypher System Rulebook” http://www.montecookgames.com/

Sounds good to me, exactly how soon can you take my money?

Have you ever taken parts of one rules system and applied it to another? Do you think Numenera is great because of its rules or its settings? Leave a comment below or hit me up on Google+ or Twitter.


Artwork from Cypher System Corebook, © 2014 Monte Cook Games, LLC. Painted by John Petersen. Used without permission according to the Monte Cook Games Fan Use Policy.

Tyler Provick

Tyler Provick is a writer and a gamer that likes to combine his two interests and share them with the community.

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