GM Intrusions E65 - The Cypher System Rulebook

I have some Cypher System announcements for you today, including the announcement of the imminent Cypher System Rulebook and The Strange Bestiary. I also have a review of The Strange Player’s Guide, and in A&P I’ll talk about a brand new Strange creature—the Spine Tingler. Finally in Strange Encounters Agent Niehl discusses an optional rule for the Cypher System.

TM and © 2014 Monte Cook Games, LLC

TM and © 2014 Monte Cook Games, LLC

This episode of GM Intrusions has been archived and is available to Patrons of Starwalker Studios. You can listen to the episode on Patreon. You can also learn more about becoming a patron

Opening Segment

Welcome to Season 2!

More content focused on The Strange.

Even more content focused on the Cypher System overall.

Actual plays on YouTube.

Patron Hangout

Sunday, November 23 at 4pm EST. Tune in and watch live, or you can watch later on my YouTube Channel.

Find the link to watch posted on the GM Intrusions Google+ Community Page during the event.

GM Intrusions Patron Campaign

Now on YouTube!

Obsidian Monolith Actual Play

First Obsidian Monolith unedited Actual Play video is on YouTube. More will follow from session 8 on.

The Strange Bestiary coming soon!

Grab your free preview here.

Cypher Chronicles

Did you know you can subscribe to get MCG news by email? They’re now doing a Cypher Chronicles every week where they tell us what they’re up to. Great stuff. If you click the link to the article on the Cypher System Rulebook, you can sign up in the right margin of that page.

First 3rd party Cypher System game announced.

Called Shotguns & Sorcery, will be Kickstarted soon.

Under the Lens

Cypher System Rulebook Announced

You can read the announcement here.

1) Will the rules sections that have caused confusion in the community be edited for clarity? 

Eg. the discrepancies about whether optional advancement has to replace the skill advancement (page 24 vs page 112 of the Numenera corebook), the confusion with how Edge is applied to the total cost of an action, and whether or not you can use more than one type of Edge on an action.

2) About what percentage of the book will be new material and what percentage will be duplicated material from the books we already have?

I understand that some duplication is necessary and even desired. We want the full rules in the Numenera corebook, The Strange corebook, AND Cypher System Rulebook. However, it would be nice if those identical sections were revised and updated versions of those sections in previous products.

In this way, when there are rules discrepancies, The Strange would trump Numenera because it's a later printing, and The Cypher System Rulebook would trump The Strange for the same reason.

It would also be nice to provide a free pdf of these changes and errata on the MCG website for those who don't want to, or can't afford to, buy all three books.

I think the Cypher System Rulebook being a revised version of the rules would actually be a pretty strong selling point for the product. It would definitely add to my desire to buy it and the likelihood that I would.

For me personally, depending on the answers to these questions, this could either be really exciting or something I’m not interested in. I already have two copies of the rules, I don’t need a third identical copy.

I know hindsight is 20/20, but it would have really been nice to have this FIRST, and then had Numenera and The Strange be setting books. I realize probably not possible with Numenera, but they could’ve put this out before The Strange. Then, instead of a reprint of the rules (with no revisions) in The Strange we could have had:

  • More foci, especially recursion-specific foci. There are only 8 foci specific to Earth and 7 specific to Ruk. With a group of 4-6 players, choices for foci are extremely limited.
  • If we would have had a core cypher system rulebook and then Numenera and The Strange were supplemental game/system books, then we’d be more willing to buy Numenera as a supplement to The Strange for more foci, type abilities and descriptors.
  • We could have had more recursions provided, and more info for the recursions other than Ruk & Ardeyn.
  • We could have had more on the Strange itself.
  • We could have had actual full adventures (like in Numenera) as opposed to adventure seeds.
  • We could have had more creatures.

The Strange feels “light” compared to Numenera, mostly because it’s being spread out over more than three settings, which greatly dilutes choices when it comes to foci and creatures. It also dilutes the amount of information given on each setting. This could have been fixed by not reprinting the rules text from Numenera and instead putting out the Cypher System Rulebook first or concurrently.

However, when MCG did the Numenera Kickstarter, they had no idea how successful it would be. What started as a smaller black and white book became a much larger color book and entire product line. So obviously doing a CSRB at that time would’ve been premature.

However, with the success of the Numenera Kickstarter and product line and the amount of people wanting to do third party supplements for Numenera, I think the CSRB should’ve been the next step, then The Strange could have been a setting/game without the rules reprint, as described.

Chapters 1, 8, 19, 20 (with an added section on translation)

That’s 72 pages – we could’ve gotten quite a few foci or whatever

That’s 17% of the book.

This would have made The Strange feel more fleshed out.

Unfortunately I think this is just an issue of bad timing. I believe MCG when they say:

We first started thinking seriously about this idea back in the early days of working on The Strange. We knew the Cypher System was flexible, but we figured we’d have to do a fair amount of kitbashing to make it work properly with The Strange’s setting (or settings, as the case may be). As it turned out, we made virtually no changes to the core mechanics, and creatures and character abilities from one game pretty much work great in the other. We’ve played in-house campaigns in other settings using the Cypher System, and they’ve also required few modifications beyond adding new types, foci, descriptors, and other game-specific elements. The game system is really flexible.

I DO appreciate that they’ve decided to go this route as opposed to putting out more game lines. However I really wish they would have done this first, and waited another year for The Strange. This would’ve given the Numenera product line more time to get established, and it would’ve allowed them to put more Strange-specific material in that corebook. As it is, The Strange feels a little light and rushed to me (especially with the reprints) and another year of lead time would’ve helped with that as well.

Starwalker Review – The Strange Player’s Guide

Check out E03 for my review of the Numenera Player’s Guide. All that applies here.

I only have pdf, but I do have other paperback products like Character Options and The Devil’s Spine.

Good binding, high quality paper. My Devil’s Spine is still as good as new.

Full color.

93 pages + character sheet

$19.99 on the MCG store, $7.99 for the pdf

$16.12 on Amazon.com

Chapter 1 – How to Play The Strange

Chapter 2 – Creating Your Character

Chapter 3 – Type

Chapter 4 – Descriptor

Chapter 5 – Focus

Chapter 6 – Equipment

Chapter 7 – Translation

Pregen characters

Character creation walkthrough

character sheets

Reprint of chapters 1-7 and chapter 9 of the corebook

Bottom Line

If you’re a GM and have the corebook, don’t need this. Just a reprint.

However, if you want more copies of the rules at the table, this is cheaper than buying more corebooks.

If you’re a player and don’t plan on GMing, then this has pretty much everything you need. The biggest exception is cyphers and artifacts and the setting material. This is a great buy-in reduction for players.

If you’re a player and will or may GM, it’s up to you. May just save some money in the long run and buy the corebook, or if you’re not sure you’ll GM, you can get the player’s guide, and if you get the core later, you’ll have a copy of the rules to give out to players.

Antagonists & Protagonists – Spine Tingler

This is from the preview of The Strange Bestiary.

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