Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Nuts & Bolts #69 - Third System's a Charm

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The longest running campaign I played in (not counting play by post games) was a Palladium Fantasy game during college. One of my best friends ran it, and us players had a good time finding treasure, slaying beasts, and rescuing damsels. My current group contains that same GM and one of the players (now his wife), but the game has changed. We've bounced around in recent years, playing a lot of different things, but when the topic of maybe taking a dip back in the old stomping grounds of Palladium once more came up I balked. 

Still love the setting, but I the system hasn't aged well, least not in my eyes. We tried to make a go of it anyway, but it didn't last long. The mechanics just ... didn't feel good in play anymore. We adapted to a low powered Mutants & Masterminds, and ran through a huge story arc like that, but that didn't feel right. Jump to recently. We're trying to decide what to play next, and the topic of running out the last arc of that most recent Palladium game came up again. I suggested that we jump into the Cypher System (ah ha welcome to the point of this ramble!).

Why did we choose the Cypher System? Well, for starters, adaptation of the PCs was quick and easy. We looked at the prior versions of our characters and the types were a clear fit. My wizard would become an adept (or a nano since we decided to use Numenera Types for the sake of the GMs familiarity), and his wife's martial artist Kiesa was an easy pick warrior/glaive. Descriptors took a little bit of effort, Alek was pretty wizardly, and ultimately I settled on Mystical since that seemed the best fit. Meanwhile Kiesa had been very "ninja-y" so Stealthy was an easy pick. 

Lastly we came to Foci, which was both easy and tough. Kiesa was an unarmed fighter and there are a few options like Needs No Weapons or Masters Wuxia, the latter of which was determined the better pick. For Alek I found myself turning once more to Casts Spells, a focus I am familiar with from playing in +James August Walls Ardeyn set Fantasy game. It may not be my first choice to replay the same focus, but it gives me a chance to make different choices for spells to have ready and accompanying spells and skills from the Nano type.

On the GM's side Cypher is also ideal to run. I've written before about why I like the system, including the diceless GMing, and I've even created new descriptors, foci, and even settings. My freind Jim Walls has even converted a Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure to Cypher System with little apparent effort. The setting makes being a GM easy, and gives GMs the tools needed to be quick on their feet and easily run games with as much, or as little, planning as desired.

What's my point here? Well, as I indicated above, I am finding that the Cypher System works really well as a "generic" RPG system to fit to other settings. Up until now if you wanted to use Cypher you were either playing Numenera, The Strange, something homebrew or something adapted. None of those are poor choices by any means, but the missing option there were original settings designed specifically for use with the Cypher System Rulebook. Missing until now that is...

The World's of the Cypher System Kickstarter campaign started this past Monday. I'm writing this on Sunday afternoon, but I am willing to wager that is it funded and probably has hit a couple stretch goals by the time this goes to post. I don't have any insight into the settings being offered that isn't public record at this point, but if Numenera and The Strange are any indication they will be interesting, different, compelling, and exciting. Best of all they'll be written up with all of the fun stuff in the CSR in mind. I'm pretty excited for these settings, most of all for Unmasked the dark supers setting. If you've got any interest in the Cypher System and this Kickstarter check out the campaign page, the Cypher Live interview we did two weeks ago, and look for an upcoming episode of Cypher Live where we dive into the new rules of the CSR in a little more detail.