Cypher System by Monte Cook Games: what do you think about it?

Aldarc

Legend
but that doesn't make the problems any less true for many people.
I'm neither denying nor defending this.

I suspect Ezekial is observing that there's a pretty obvious failure state there, and one that many GMs falling into it will not think is them making a malign decision, but where many players will see it very much that way. Some potentially useful tools are simply fraught.
I agree. I don't think that Cook intended this as a "screw over the player" mechanic; however, how Cook intended the mechanic is not the same as how it is received by groups.
 

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Thomas Shey

Legend
I'm neither denying nor defending this.

Didn't think you were; I was just springboarding off your post.

I agree. I don't think that Cook intended this as a "screw over the player" mechanic; however, how Cook intended the mechanic is not the same as how it is received by groups.

Yup. Frankly, many of the games I mentioned with with the combined experience/metacurrency structure in my post are otherwise well designed games, and still well thought of, so I'm assuming the designers just didn't see some of the issues that could arise with them (I'll charitably assume they didn't consider it unlikely to be a problem for anyone who wasn't a bad group, since ignorance is always a more charitable assumption than malice).
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
I agree. I don't think that Cook intended this as a "screw over the player" mechanic; however, how Cook intended the mechanic is not the same as how it is received by groups.
A gap between "this is how the designer wanted this mechanic to be used" and "this is what the mechanic's design actually encourages players to do" is one of the hallmarks of flawed game design. For all the bold assertions of pragmatism that come from amateur-designer DMs, there is a rather strange trend in TTRPG design to emphasize that designer intent should always be what matters most. That users who don't follow that--regardless of why they do so--are the ones at fault, not the design or designer. It's very frustrating.

In this case, the ideal is certainly that the DM should only be using Intrusions because they make the game better, and never do so when they wouldn't make the game better. Unfortunately, I find that a lot of DMs don't actually know how to do that, and indeed have a lot of mistaken but entrenched beliefs about what leads to better gaming. As was said earlier, the gap between "this is something the player explicitly opted into in advance" and "this is something the DM forces, and extracts a price if refused" is pretty big, and there's quite a bit of room for resentment or frustration even if the DM genuinely believes what they're doing is good.
 

Aldarc

Legend
IMHO, there is a great traditional-style game within the Cypher System, but it needs more than the polish-up that came with the "Revised" Cypher System. I have been hoping for more advancements of the Cypher System. Something that either evolves the system further* or leans heavily into the existing system, but the MCG feels like it is mostly treading water with the system.

* A stripped down basic version of Invisible Sun could've been that evolution, but that game is basically a dead end now.

I'm very confused here. First you say, in no uncertain terms, "the Risk Pool is also not your hit points." Yet then you say "the same pool you can use to modify difficulty through expenditures is also your health pool...." So...is the pool totally not hit points or is it truly actually hit points? This also doesn't seem to address any of the concerns regarding death spirals, as others have noted.
I would like to add one additional comment to your earlier post. I understand where the concern regarding death spirals is coming from, but I don't think it's the case per praxis. Yes, your Might/Speed/Intellect pools are effectively your HP, and yes, you expend points from those pools to power your abilities. There are a fair number of mitigators in the game for helping players manage those pools better: e.g., armor, edge, skill training/specialization, etc. I have run Numenera a fair amount, but I can scarcely recall a PC go into a death spiral in my games. It's possible, however, that if I ran another Cypher System game - e.g., Claim the Sky (superheroes), Predation, Stay Alive, Godforsaken, etc. - that this death spiral would be a greater risk or more pertinent part of play. However, in the the case of Numenera, I am genuinely struggling to think of a time a character went into a death spiral. I've probably seen way more downed players in 5e than in Numenera. If the game has a death spiral, it's not a particularly rapid death spiral.

I tried getting into Numenera three times since it came out, and each time I felt lost about what a GM is supposed to do with the game. Walk the giant world and encounter random weird stuff?
But I guess that's more an issue with the Numenera setting than the Cypher system mechanics.
Numenera is effectively a science-fantasy D&D setting that handwaves all the science that is supposedly behind the magic and history of the setting. Why PCs would adventure in the Ninth World is much the same reason why you would adventure in Greyhawk or Eberron.

That said, there is a better sense of the "whyfor" after the release of Numenera: Destiny & Discovery (aka Numenera 2). One of the major criticisms of "Numenera 1" was that it talked a lot about making a better future, but there was little to no support for that. Numenera 2 introduced new types focused on salvaging numenera, crafting/building with numenera, and leading communities, along with more robust crafting and community building rules.

So the obvious thing to do with Numenera's Ninth World nowadays is to put the characters in a settlement, present the settlement with some potential problems, and have the PCs explore, build, and interact with that Ninth World so that they can improve life in that settlement. But you can still run the game as mercenaries who are dungeon-delving ruins for "shins," artifacts, and other loot.
 
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I would like to add one additional comment to your earlier post. I understand where the concern regarding death spirals is coming from, but I don't think it's the case per praxis. Yes, your Might/Speed/Intellect pools are effectively your HP, and yes, you expend points from those pools to power your abilities. There are a fair number of mitigators in the game for helping players manage those pools better: e.g., armor, edge, skill training/specialization, etc. I have run Numenera a fair amount, but I can scarcely recall a PC go into a death spiral in my games. It's possible, however, that if I ran another Cypher System game - e.g., Claim the Sky (superheroes), Predation, Stay Alive, Godforsaken, etc. - that this death spiral would be a greater risk or more pertinent part of play. However, in the the case of Numenera, I am genuinely struggling to think of a time a character went into a death spiral. I've probably seen way more downed players in 5e than in Numenera. If the game has a death spiral, it's not a particularly rapid death spiral.
I was worried about death spirals as well when I first read through the game but in practice I never saw it happen either. I thought it would be especially brutal for Might based characters but in reality they worked fine. A point or two in their Might Edge and they could use many abilities for free. They could also spend speed and intellect points more freely for defensive purposes and save their Might for offensive actions.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I was worried about death spirals as well when I first read through the game but in practice I never saw it happen either. I thought it would be especially brutal for Might based characters but in reality they worked fine. A point or two in their Might Edge and they could use many abilities for free. They could also spend speed and intellect points more freely for defensive purposes and save their Might for offensive actions.
Plus, Might-based Glaives will likely also be wearing damage-reducing Armor, further insulating their Might pools.
 

Well, its not like this was a new problem when Numenera came out. The D6 System, Masterbook/TORG, the original DC Heroes game and others I'm probably forgetting took the approach of admixing experience and metacurrency, and the problems with it showed up in all of them. Cypher just does a more nuanced version of this, but that doesn't make the problems any less true for many people.
It goes all the way back to FASERIP, and the same issues apply there, except not so much because advancement wasn't really that much of a thing, particularly in the earliest version of Marvel where basically you just played as preexisting published heroes.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
It goes all the way back to FASERIP, and the same issues apply there, except not so much because advancement wasn't really that much of a thing, particularly in the earliest version of Marvel where basically you just played as preexisting published heroes.

I've seen an argument, which I find at least slightly plausible, that this was a roundabout way to ensure the relatively static nature of most comic books supers without hardcore forcing it. I'm still not sold it didn't have the same failure state, but if so it might have at least had more of a defensible purpose if so.
 

I've seen an argument, which I find at least slightly plausible, that this was a roundabout way to ensure the relatively static nature of most comic books supers without hardcore forcing it. I'm still not sold it didn't have the same failure state, but if so it might have at least had more of a defensible purpose if so.
Honestly, at the time, IIRC, it was thought of as an innovative and interesting part of the system. I don't know that it has ever been really heavily panned on that score. So, I think that proves that the idea isn't NECESSARILY flawed. I mean, Traveller also has an attribute-based damage system, though no meta-currency. There has never been an issue of death spirals there, but that's mostly due to the fact that gunshots generally kill/disable pretty quickly, and nobody bothers much with swords and such. Its all pretty context-dependent, a design pattern can be great in one game and suck in another.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Honestly, at the time, IIRC, it was thought of as an innovative and interesting part of the system. I don't know that it has ever been really heavily panned on that score. So, I think that proves that the idea isn't NECESSARILY flawed. I mean, Traveller also has an attribute-based damage system, though no meta-currency. There has never been an issue of death spirals there, but that's mostly due to the fact that gunshots generally kill/disable pretty quickly, and nobody bothers much with swords and such. Its all pretty context-dependent, a design pattern can be great in one game and suck in another.

Well, I'd argue part of that is the people most likely to find that element of MSH may well already have had other issues with it. Though its got some big fans, it wasn't like it was the only place that had failure states, and some were much more pointed given the genre it was representing.
 

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