Terror in the Cypher System

The horror mechanics suggested in the Cypher System are well and good in a heroic sort of way. But what if you want the players to be concerned for their very sanity? What if the terror that they experience has the opportunity to suck away their very souls? I want my game to treat the horror it presents with a certain gravity.  I want my horror campaign to be Lovecraftian in nature.  As such I am presenting here the rules that I am putting in place for my game in Cypher system.  It introduces the terror mechanic.

Existing Mechanics

The existing pushes in the Cypher System look at making bad things happen more.  This is great in a slasher style horror where the antagonist shows up more and seemingly out of nowhere.  It increases the free intrusions a GM gets as the game goes on.  You roll a 1, the GM gets a free intrusion and the next free one happens on a 1 or 2.  This just continues to escalate, which lends itself to a certain type of horror.  But it is not the horror that I want to emulate.  I want horror that can drive a character completely mad.  For those of you familiar with the Dead Space game, look at Isaac in the first Dead Space.  Did the rest of the games actually happen or were they just delusions of Isaac after that first game?

Dead Space
One of the greatest horror games of all time

Eternal Madness

So I am introducing the Terror attribute.  When a player is faced with a discovery or situation that would drive someone mad they make a Terror Test with a difficulty based on the situation.  If they succeed their mind rationalises the event and they maintain their sanity and if they fail their Terror statistic goes up by one.  So what does Terror do?  Here are the rules.

Terror Attribute Rules

  • If your current Intellect pool is less than or equal to your Terror attribute then all speed and intellect difficulty numbers are increased by one;
  • When your Terror attribute is equal to half your maximum Intellect pool all speed and intellect difficulty numbers are increased by one;
  • If your Terror attribute is ever equal to or greater than your maximum Intellect pool the character goes irrevocably mad and becomes an NPC;
  • All difficulty number increases are cumulative.

Only extended rest and recuperation involving professional therapists/counsellors/psychologists will ever reduce the Terror attribute.  The amount reduced is up to the Games Master of the game.

There you have it.  A short, sharp rules addition that I hope will be of use to some Cypher gamers out there.  They are straight forward, easy to remember and hopefully balanced.  Let me know what you think and keep rolling!

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