Into the Streets with Cypher System

Last night saw the start of the Cypher System runner side of the Android game.  Taking things to Fantasy Flights universe is a fun way of bringing things alive.  Fun was the key word in that sentence.  It was a great night… once we got underway (a player needed to build a character and I had to deal with a work call).  I had to get this post out while it was fresh.  There are some great moments I want to highlight.

Ease of design

This system is brilliant to design in.  I come up with a premise for a game and make a few notes around the premise.  Add in a couple of NPC names and some difficulty numbers that will round out what I am attempting to convey.  I literally had a solid three to four hours play prepped and ready to go after around fifteen minutes of work.

Don’t know why I design…

I am a big proponent of learning as you play.  Cypher system strongly supports this style too.  All of the notes that I had made quickly became useless.  The players went in a completely different direction than I thought they would.  It was a brilliant direction and provided for some great play but my intricate reasoning for the premise went overlooked.  Which is great really – that is why I love GMing.

Cypher System proving strong

Last night really cemented for me how good this system is.  One of the players (an infiltrator of sorts) was trying to get into a building locked down by the New Angeles Police Department (NAPD).  The other player (a gun-toting concerned citizen) was outside the building waiting for it to all go wrong.  This pair had a connection where the gun toter always seemed to ruin the attempts of the other, but not in a conscious way.  The players were messing around and having a mock conversation like they were a bickering couple as the infiltrator was being questioned by Sergeant Dinkus for their legitimacy.  I was laughing along with the skit and while it was happening it came to me.  This was the perfect GM intrusion.  Slipping them some XP I told them the intrusion was the conversation they were having was actually happening!

It was hilarious.  The sergeant watching this unknown random in the building talking to his comms about how the person on the other end always ruins it while they are infiltrating things.  The save was just as hilarious. The player claimed that it was a crazy ex on the phone – and succeeded in getting past the sergeant.  This is one example of some brilliant intrusions that made the night.  Both the players took every intrusion also.  They both saw how it made the game more interesting to do so.

Still struggling to sneak in Cyphers

I am still unable to use Cyphers.  I just can’t seem to find the place to intersperse them.  If they are the key to this game I still haven’t even found the lock.  I will keep trying though.  Sooner or later I will crack it.


A short synopsis of what happened before I go.  I know there are players that wanted to be there last night who will want to hear what happened.  The players were contacted by a friend on Mars.  He had recommended them for a job protecting a girl who was a trideo star.

Mirror Mara

Mara is a media hotspot, completely wired to record every moment of her life.  These recordings were edited and presented in a half hour daily cast each day.  But someone hacked her archives and found that she had committed murder several days ago.  She had shot a  Tri-Maf boss in the middle of confusion in a nightclub.  Two days later someone leaked the footage.  Right now she had the NAPD and the Tri-Maf after her and they seemed to have access to her live footage 24/7.  The only reason she had not been caught was the five-minute delay of processing to assimilate all that data.

The players met the girl as she drove a van through the window of their favourite drinking hole.  Then they got her up on their hopper bikes (flying motorcycles).  The Tri-Maf found them next and there was a sky fight between a van and the bikes.  One of the players took an intrusion where they were knocked from their bike in mid-air.  Pure brilliance.  They gripped at a window in the van they had shot out just moments before and then tried to drag the driver out of the window!

The end destination of the night – the server room…

Making it back to the ground they were met by a reporter from NBN who wanted the scoop.  With only a five minute delay and the pressure building the players leapt into the reporter’s van and headed for the building with the Mirror Mara’s editor to shut down the server.  The infiltrator got in and managed to get the server shut down just as their location was about to be found by the detectives.  Being tasked to bring back the server by the detective the infiltrator placed a road flare in the machine with a magazine of bullets and made for a quick exit…  And that is where we left it.  It was a super fun game! Keep rolling 🙂


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  1. I was thinking about this on a drive home from dropping the kids off tonight. Some things came to mind. I had to go back and reread the book to make sure I was remembering things right, but I had some thoughts.

    One of my big problems with Numenera was the complete disconnect. I have to describe a nuclear rail gun without saying any of those words. I have to make some weird, off the wall stuff up or make–what, to many gamers, is standard sci-fi/fantasy fare–as something weird and alien.

    In a cyberpunk game, though, I don’t have to add that extra layer of mystery and Cyphers seem a lot more logical to me. From pop culture, I thought of a few things and checked against the rules as to whether they’d work or not. The only downside is, in many cases, explaining why someone can only hold so many could be difficult. Seems it would be much easier to explain, there are only so many they could get their hands on. I’m still thinking on that, but ideas would include a corp prototype, something designed by a street doc or slum tinkerer or rogue coder/engineer.

    Idea include:
    – The holographic disguise masks from Tek–well shown in the TV adaptations
    – A one shot code/backdoor executable
    – Fallout’s stimpaks and other drugs
    – Holy (cryogenic) grenade
    – A stealth suit or weapon with circuits that fry or (irreplaceable) power source is drained after a single use
    – Matrix or other style skill chips–once accessed, deleted and only able to be kept in cyber-RAM for a short period of time

    Granted these are concepts in theory, not in practice, so quite possibly things you’ve already considered and even tested. We live in a disposable society now, it’s hard to believe we’ll become less so in a cyberpunk style future, so many things designed to last for only use and need to be purchased again–total built in obsolescence.


    1. You have given me some good ideas to continue the quest. Broadened the resource pool. There are meant to be a healthy flow of them in a game though and that seems forced to me. It is my biggest challenge at the moment.


      1. This is very true.

        The other thing to remember are other intangibles–favor from a corp or street merc, one use credentials, etc.


        1. I have got those in the stuff I am writing up


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