Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Cypher System: 1P Player Cheat

Tomorrow kicks off my Cypher System month on the Gauntlet Hangouts. I’ll be running sessions of three different Cypher settings: Gods of the Fall, Predation, and Unmasked. It’s the first time I’ve run Cypher and I’m excited to give it a try. I’m using pre-gens for the Thursday games, but making up characters for our Sunday sessions of Unmasked. To orient myself (and the players) I crafted a one-page cheat sheet. It doesn’t cover everything, just the basics players might hit in a couple of sessions. I’ve also made a formatted pdf of it if you’re interested. Also check out the Cypher System Rules Primer available for free. NOTE: I've updated the pdf with a couple of additional details. 

  1. Declare your task.
  2. The GM assigns a difficulty, usually 1-10, and a stat (Might, Speed, Intellect). 
  3. You reduce that difficulty number (via skills, circumstances, effort)
  4. Multiply the final difficulty by 3.
  5. Roll that number or above on a d20.
As you can see, you’ll focus your work on step 3. So how can you lower difficulty?
  • Skill: if you have a related skill reduce difficulty by one step. If you’re “specialized” reduce it by 2 steps instead. If you have an Inability you increase it by 1. 
  • Assets: This catch-all includes equipment, aid, high ground, etc. This can at most reduce the difficulty by 2 steps. 
  • Effort: For every 3 points spent from the stat Pool, reduce the difficulty number by 1. Abilities modify this spend. 
If you reduce a difficulty to 0, you don’t have to roll.  If you have Edge with a stat, you reduce the cost of Effort and ability activation from that Pool by one. You also have an Effort rating based on your Tier. This shows how many times you may apply Effort to a single action.

Combat works the same. You roll both attack and defense; the GM never rolls in this fame. For initiative roll a d20 Speed roll. If you beat the NPC value, you go before them. Otherwise you go after. 

Weapons do set damage. A light weapon does 2 damage, but reduces difficulty by 1 step. A medium weapon does 4 damage. A heavy weapon does 6 and requires both hands. Armor subtracts straight from damage. 

When you roll a 19 and succeed, you get a minor effect. In combat that’s +3 damage, knockdown, or anything similar. If you roll a 20 and succeed, you get a major effect and regain any Effort you spent. A major effect in combat’s +4 damage or a similar effect. Outside of combat, major and minor effects let you do more and look cooler. 

In combat, a 17 adds +1 damage; an 18 adds +2. You may spend Effort to increase damage. One level of Effort (usually 3 points) does +3 damage. 

If you roll a one, the GM makes an Intrusion (see below) and doesn’t offer XP.

Damage is subtracted from the appropriate Pool, usually Might. When your first stat Pool gets reduced to 0, you are Impaired. It now costs an additional point to apply Effort. You don’t get major or minor effects from rolls when Impaired. If you take more damage apply it to the next Pool (Speed, then Intellect). 

If you’re Impaired and take enough damage to reduce another stat Pool to 0 you’re Debilitated. Can crawl around, but that’s it. If you take enough damage to reduce another Pool to 0 you die. 

To recover you Pool, rest. Roll 1d6+1 and divide the result among your Pools as you wish. Your first recovery each day takes an action. After that it requires an increasing amount of time (ten minutes, one hour, ten hours). 

At any time, the GM may introduce a complication called an Intrusion. This spotlight’s a particular character. Something happens, a task turns out to be more difficult, a job requires more resources, the place blows up. If you’re chosen, you must deal with the situation, but you get 2XP. Keep one and give another to another player. 

You may decline an intrusion, but this costs 1 XP. If you have no XP, you can’t refuse.

If you are planning, researching, or scout, scouting, you can spend 3 Intellect and an action to gain a single bit of special knowledge from the GM that you can count on with certainty.

Your characters may have abilities allowing enhancements to actions, bonuses, or new action types (like firing lasers from your eyes). If something costs points to activate it, reduce that cost by your character’s Edge with that stat Pool. Cyphers are one-shot items; you can only carry a limited number of these. 

At the end of a session, the GM awards each player 1-4 XP if they made any significant discoveries. Basically if you learned or found out anything cool or new you get XP. This can be about the plot, the world, themselves, etc. 10 gains you a benefit; four benefits raise your Tier. 

What other essential elements did I miss? I left off distance & action since they're basic and can be explained in a moment by the GM. Here I wanted concepts players might need to check back on. I'll revisit this after I've run some sessions to see what key bits I forgot.