Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Nuts & Bolts #91 - Hacking the Cypher System - All About that Base

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Three experience isn't much. It's less than a character advancement, but it's just the right amount for a lot of cool long-term benefits; like a home base. Of course there's precious little information in the CSR (page 222) for the "Home" long term benefit. It states that it is a "full-time residence" and "should be a secure place" but little more than that.

One assumes that most games, most GMs will have little reason to have that home be anything other than permanent (though it need not be if players aren't careful). But while a permanent home and safe haven is a useful boon, it may lack a little bit of the punch that some players want for an XP investment. As a result I've been considering additional boons and upgrades that one could add to such a home to both deepen the gameplay utility and also enhance the role play options.

Home is Where You Hang Your Hat

It's entirely reasonable that being at home should provide some passive benefits purely by virtue of being familiar and comfortable. A reasonable benefit of this comfort could be to make recovery rolls slightly faster, say 25%, making a night's rest take only 8 hours rather than 10 hours. This bonus should apply to the owner(s) of the home, but not to guests.
As an aside, the 10 hour "night's sleep" recovery came from Numenera which has longer days (28 hours), should a Cypher GM feel free to adjust this length for a more standard 24 hour day? Discuss.
Your home is also secure enough to store things in. These could be cyphers, artifacts, or regular equipment. I think the GM should honor this safety unless they use a GM Intrusion and doing so should really be related to the story; it would make sense for a villain to break into the hero's home and steal a powerful item, but that should be an earned story beat and not just "while you were out for moo shu somebody broke into your house and robbed you" kind of elements.

New Additions

At the base cost of 3 XP a home should be big enough for a single person's bedroom plus an appropriate amount of living space. If multiple characters want to invest in a home the cost to double the living space should be 2XP per doubling. Therefore a team of 3 characters could invest a total of 7 XP for a home big enough for 4 bedrooms and living space to match. In this way a group could afford a large home together, or a single character may pay to house multiple NPCs or allow themselves the luxury of space for guests.

Expanding the Rec Room

A comfortable and familiar bed is the least of things a home can offer. Defense, workshops, training areas, and the like should all be theoretically possible upgrades to a base home. For 2 XP a character or group can upgrade the capabilities of their home. This can cover most anything so an exhaustive list isn't possible but some ideas are:

  • Comfort (allows guests to receive the comfort bonus on recovery rolls reducing time by 25%)
  • Defense (grants an asset to all actions and defenses made when defending the home)
    • can be upgraded to "Well Defended" (or similar) to grant 2 assets
  • Hanger/Garage/Docks/Stables/etc (facilities for routine maintenance of associated craft type, can be bought multiple times for multiple types of vehicles)
  • Workshop (Smithy/Woodworking shop/Chemistry lab/Electrical lab/etc) (grants an asset for the crafting and repairs tasks associated with the workshop type)
    • can up upgraded to "Well Equipped" to grant 2 assets
  • Recreation Facilities (grants a +2 bonus to recovery rolls)
  • Medical Facilities (grants an asset for all medical tasks and treatment attempts, decreases recovery roll time by an additional 25%)
  • Barracks (can house up to 50 hirelings)
  • Armory (can safely house all manner of weaponry)
  • Vault (10'x10' vault can safely and/or securely store whatever is inside)
  • Power Generation (sufficient in size to power the home)
  • Hidden Location (ideal for a secret base or a backup home/bolthole/safehouse)
These upgrades may also be a good way to have GMs who use a more quantitative based money/loot system to get players to spend their money or loot. 

These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. A fantasy world may have a robust system of magic that allows for teleportation circles and even magic to allow the inside of a home to be larger than the outside or fully extra-planar or extra-dimensional. A high tech science fiction setting may allow players to have a large space vessel as a home, capable of  transporting them from world to world, or facilities for cloning the dead and transferring brain recordings to the clone, creating a form of immortality. 

The sky's the limit (possibly literally). Do your players buy homes? Do you think you'd use these simple rules to allow players to construct powerful home bases and facilities?

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