Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Nuts & Bolts #92 - Hacking the Cypher System - Power Shifts (part 2)

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Back in July I had posted some thoughts on Power Shifts from the CSR. I even proposed a few new categories. Well, as often does I was busy sleeping when I woke up with a heck of an idea: Why not use specific power shifts as a way to build a different type of racial bonus? Instead of adding an extra descriptor, or building custom types, a GM could grant one or more specific shifts for a specific character type. Even a single shift is pretty significant, and for games that otherwise don't use them it would give a way for certain aspects of character to stand out.

  • In a fantasy genre game give Elves a Dexterity shift, Dwarves a Resilience shift, Orcs a Strength shift, and Humans a shift in either the Cypher Bearer or Effort shifts (found here). 
  • In a horror genre game where player can be monsters give each monster type a shift (maybe 2) that fit their core capabilities. Werewolves might gain a shift in Single Attack (tooth and claw), while Vampires may gain a Social shift (for alluring vampires) or Strength (for monstrous vampires)
  • In a Science fiction genre game you could give different shifts to different aliens, or if the game is humanocentric to different occupations/lifestyles. A Cyborg would likely gain Strength or Resilience, a character with Genemods might gain Dexterity or Intelligence, and normal folks might get the Cypher Bearer (I suspect that you'd see a lot more normal humans if a game where they could carry +3 more cyphers!).
If you prefer, these shifts could even be paired to a skill or pool boost or even a full descriptor depending on your own personal taste. I think that even a single shift could add the flavor and mechanical distinction that some players crave while doing so in a way the feels new and different. Elves with a racial dexterity shift are still graceful and quick but aren't pinned into being bow and longsword using fighter mages. Dwarves with a resilience shift are still tough, but need not be pigeonholed as brawny miners. 

There's a lot of room here and one shift in a game that doesn't otherwise use them won't break anything in the long run, but has real potential to grant a unique racial feel. 

What do you think? Would you consider using power shifts in place of a racial descriptor?