In support of the recent Kickstarter campaign by Monte Cook Games to release three new exciting campaign books for The Cypher System, we decided to write a small piece on our experiences with this system so far!
How did we come to The Cypher System?
As a group of RPGers, we bring an expectedly diverse set of backgrounds and tastes to our gaming table. Add into that mix the viewers and supporters we bring into our games every week and you’ve got a whole lot of needs to meet. Streaming over 100 hours a month, however, has allowed us to get pretty good at thinking on our feet, rolling with the punches, and keeping the fun flowing.
When we first introduced The Cypher System to our community we were excited by two things: the evocative Numenera campaign setting and the story-driven game mechanics. Being able to satiate our love for both fantasy landscapes and sci-fi technology in one session was simply brilliant. Following that up with a set of game mechanics that rewarded and encouraged shared player-GM story telling was, for our eager group, a perfect fit. Add the open potential of the CSR to that, and we were hooked!
We’ve now run two full seasons of Numenera and are in the thick of a sci-fi exploration campaign (Solace) using the CSR. All this totals well over 50 hours of streamed and Youtube-archived sessions to date. We are also excitedly planning sequel seasons to both Numenera campaigns for this summer, along with a 1720s London Superheroes game using the CSR! This is just to say that, as both individual gamers and as a streaming show and a community, we’ve found a truly wonderful system.
We wish the folks at Monte Cook Games all the very best with their Kickstarter to expand The Cypher System even further! We look forward to adding all three of these expanded campaign books to our collection and our shows, and we thank you for your f*cking awesome game!
What we have to say about The Cypher System!
Will (Player/GM, Bossman – EncounterRoleplay)
First, it’s the ease of play. The Cypher System is simple, elegant, and makes it easy to run games and keep the story flowing. Second, I love the low learning curve for beginners. We see loads of viewers in chat who say that they’ve never played an RPG and they’re tuning into our show to learn how. Being able to get them familiar with the mechanics so quickly allows them to fall in love with our stories and these games in the span of minutes. Thirdly, and a bit more personally, I love the random nature of Cyphers! It’s great to always have new things for your character to use and play with other than just their familiar powers and abilities. Fourthly (and, I suppose, fifthly), the game settings for The Cypher System are incredible. While I haven’t tried The Strange yet, if it’s anything nearly as immersive and beautifully detailed as Numenera then it’ll be another brilliant world for gamers.
Cord (Player/GM, Visuals – EncounterRoleplay)
I love the rules-light aspect, where you don’t need to worry about the mechanics to let you tell a great story. It’s the players’ game along with the GM’s, where rules aren’t the topic of the session but plot progression and character choices are. It’s the perfect system to integrate into any setting. Solace (my custom sci-fi CSR game) was adapted from Stars Without Number, with some of the same lore and features of the galaxy – factions, dog-fighting, etc.. In The Cypher System, the complications around rules have been washed away. I’m in love and I recommend this system to anyone that has a story to tell.
Mitch (Player/GM, Writer – EncounterRoleplay)
I love the balance this game strikes between accessibility and depth. In addition to the benefits of being relatively rules-light (accessibility, pacing, story-driven, etc.) The Cypher System also pays careful attention to its numbers. As more often a GM than a PC, I cannot praise highly enough the ease of improvisation in this system – and not just because of how quickly you can stat up monsters/NPCs based on their level. The subtle intuition behind The Cypher System’s “Target Numbers” (Difficulty Rating x3) says it all. Rather than your DCs climbing a flat 5% ladder from 1-20, they move in margins of x3, or 15%. That means I don’t have to waste time dwelling on whether this cliff is 5% more or less difficult to climb than another, and my players will really notice it when they expend effort to reduce a difficulty by one step. In The Cypher System, the numbered mechanics only matter if they matter to the story, and that’s saying something.
Josh (Player/GM – EncounterRoleplay)
The most interesting thing about The Cypher System is spending points from your pools to lower difficulties. It’s the Devil’s Bargain where you can make this task easier but at the cost of bringing yourself closer to exhaustion and even death. As a player, I love having this much control over the outcomes of my character’s actions.
Mike (Player – Fellow Streamer)
The format of “I’m a [BLANK], [BLANK], who [BLANKs]” stands to reinforce as well as enhance an aspect of character building that has always been there behind the scenes. Any character you make, in any roleplaying game, could fit into that sentence, and The Cypher System seems to reward that by giving the player unique combat and role-play options for each blank. That, combined with the sheer volume of different options to fill those blanks, makes for some pretty awesome and hilarious combinations!
Garreth (Viewer – Channel Moderator)
The Cypher System screams flexibility. That’s particularly useful for the type of games on EncounterRoleplay, or for any group with really creative players. The XP system is also fantastic, both for the GM keeping a game on track and encouraging “the rule of cool.”
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