So, normally I try to keep this blog somewhat system ... neutral? But the fact is that I play a lot of Cypher System, and that's because I really enjoy it, and it is very very capable for the kind of play I like. So while I aim to continue bringing content that is useful for any RPG there will be stuff that is Cypher System specific, and maybe even stuff specific to other RPGs from time to time.
That said, this week I present a new Cypher System descriptor. It's a "racial" descriptor in that it makes some very specific changes to your character that makes them no longer "human" in a very tangible mechanical sense. Could I have approached this as a Focus instead? Yes, and no. The character I created this for is meant to be a spellslinger, that he is dead is color for the Casts Spells focus. Could I make a "Survived Past Death" focus that was all about playing a Ghost who is ghostly? Sure! And maybe I will sometime.
You have died, however your spirit has not left the mortal coil. Instead you, or someone else, has attached your soul to a relic of your former life. With time and effort you have learned how to create a mostly solid form out of ectoplasm that you can inhabit and through it you are able to interact with the world. It's not life, but it's not undeath either.
Beyond Life and Death - You are imbued with energy from beyond the grave, you get 4 additional points to divide among your stat Pools, but no pool may gain more than +2.
Earthly Relic - Your spirit is attached to some earthly relic of your former life. This could be a preserved portion of your former body, a phylactery, or some other item of significance to you in life. Regardless of the specifics your soul is bound to that item and returns to it when you “rest”. Your relic has 10 health and an armor rating of 2 if somebody tries to destroy it. Your soul is forever lost if your relic is destroyed while you are resting within it. If your relic is destroyed while you are inhabiting your ectoplasmic form you will feel its loss and need to create a new spirit anchor (a level 5 Intellect task).
Ectoplasmic form - As a spirit you cannot interact with the material realm without first creating an ectoplasmic body to give you substance. Because you are already dead your ectoplasmic form is immune to poison and disease, and has a natural resistance to damage equal to armor 1. It takes approximately 1 minute to form your ectoplasmic body.
Slowed Recovery - Because you are dead and inhabit a simulacrum of ectoplasm, you do not recover like a living being; your recoveries take longer than normal. Instead of having recovery times of 1 turn, 10 minutes, 1 hour, and ten hours, you recover using the following intervals: 10 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, and 10 hours. Ectoplasm recovers more predictably however so you treat any 1s rolled on a recovery roll as a 2.
Feel Nothing - Your ectoplasmic form does not have the physical senses of smell or touch and you have an inability with any tasks that require those senses. However you also do not feel pain as a living creature. Most physical wounds will not pain you unless dealt by spirit bane materials (such as salt, iron, a feline, etc, depending on your setting). While you are impaired on the damage track, you function as if you were hale. When you become debilitated, your ectoplasmic form is immediately destroyed (dropping any equipment it held or carried) and you are banished to your Earthly Relic to recover. Until you recover from being debilitated you can take no actions other than communicating with anybody who is touching your relic.
A Lifetime of Experience - You retain your memories of life, though some have become hazy when viewed through the veil of death. You are trained in one non-combat (attack, defense, or initiative) skill of your choice.
Of course not every setting or genre works to have ghostly PCs wandering around. This Descriptor could easily be relabeled as Holographic for a Science-Fiction game with the relic being instead some form of portable projector and CPU. The slowed recovery would work in such a case as a power system limit or possibly a need to accumulate "particles of hard light" or similar quasi-science. This probably wouldn't work in a straight up modern day game, but maybe somebody can think of something I cannot.
Please feel free to provide thoughts, opinions, feedback, and the like. Just keep it constructive and civil. If you like this please let me know and I may post more Descriptors and maybe even some Foci.