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Tell Me About the Cypher System

How do you feel about the Cypher game system, by Monte Cook Games?

  • I love it.

    Votes: 11 10.7%
  • It's pretty good.

    Votes: 16 15.5%
  • Meh, it's okay.

    Votes: 17 16.5%
  • It's pretty bad.

    Votes: 18 17.5%
  • I hate it.

    Votes: 3 2.9%
  • I've never played it.

    Votes: 36 35.0%
  • What's Cypher?

    Votes: 2 1.9%

Thomas Shey

I'm just going to mention a couple things I found dealbreakers, and not get into the weeds too much. Also, I want to make it clear I am specifically addressing the versions of the system in Numenera and The Strange, since those are the ones I've got.

1. In its graduated experience system, it ends up conflating metacurrancy and experience together. I've never seen a case where I thought this was a good idea, and here is no different.

2. It also baked together its effort system and its damage-taking system. I'm aware you can cook the books a couple ways to minimize the cost from the latter for using the former, but I still find it a pretty terrible idea, most specifically for its warrior types who are fueling effort off the same thing that a lot of (if not most) physical damage is going up against.

Less critical, but still not something I appreciated was the over-focus on the consumables embodied in the cyphers. That was odd but at least made some kind of setting-based sense in Numenera; I thought it made a lot less sense in The Strange, and would probably stand out like a sore thumb in some of the other settings its used for. The completely ad-hoc design of various Foci aren't exactly a virtue, either.

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B/X Known World
I loved most stuff about the system and really enjoyed the easy chart for making monsters and setting difficulties. I didn’t like it in play because you roll then stop to negotiate, add modifiers, spent whatever, and generally sort out the outcome of the roll in a prolonged sequence. A lot of people seem to dig it, but it wasn’t for me.

Web DM has a few videos on the system. The Reddit is fairly active and it’s talked about on RPG.net a fair amount.

aramis erak

I've read Numenera...
The Numenera setting is very reminiscent of The Dying Earth, IMO.
for me, the reasons I won't run it:
1) three attributes.
2) attributes as pool
3) silly class names
4) many other games with systems I resonate with more

Note that #2 is more profound since damage is also to attributes, and reduces the pool use as well... major death spiral potential.
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Limit Break Dancing (He/They)
Thanks for the feedback everyone. Looks like ENWorld gives the Cypher system a "C" grade...passing, but not exactly stellar.

This was fun! Maybe I'll do this again in the future, for other game systems.
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Limit Break Dancing (He/They)
Seems as though the people who like it really like it, and the people who don't really don't.
Yeah, I agree. Seems to be the nature of the beast (or the nature of the human. ;) ) I noticed that most "five-star" ratings on the Internet (Amazon, Yelp, etc.) end up being 5 stars or 1 star. I think objectivity is hard on a voluntary survey: anyone who's formed an opinion strong enough to merit responding to a survey is probably already on the far end of the love-hate spectrum.

It'd be interesting to see how other systems perform here on ENWorld...like D20 (5E) or Pathfinder (2E).
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Limit Break Dancing (He/They)
Looks like ENWorld is giving the Cypher System an overall grade of "C-plus" (GPA 2.33).

I'm not all that surprised; it's one of the newer systems. But it's got at least two things going for itself: it's the engine that drives a handful of successful games and Kickstarters, and it enjoys at least some association with the flagship D&D brand (it was written and developed by Monte Cook, who was one of the developers of 3rd Edition D&D).

OSR games are hot right now; I bet if Monte Cook Games were to develop and promote an OSR game that uses this system, and included some conversion notes for adapting SRD5.1 material to it, their GPA would improve by a full letter grade.

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