May 15 2017

Cypher Speak Episode 10: Flavors Galore

CS-blank-250x250-webTaste the rainbow. Darcy & Troy deliciously discuss the character option mechanic “flavors,” introduced in the Cypher System Rulebook; how to use them, how to make new ones, and some of the coolest new ones we can think of.


  • Schtick: Packages of abilities you can select from instead of your Type abilities so that you flavor that Type a little differently.
  • In the Cypher System Rulebook (CSR) are four base Types: Warrior, Adept, Explorer, and Speaker, and five flavors with which to modify them:
    • Stealth, Tech, Magic, Combat, and Skills and Knowledge

Using Flavors:

  • Gamemaster makes custom types for the campaign, selecting type & flavor combinations for the players to choose from. There is a Campaign Design Sheet in the CSR that lets you write out your custom types and delineate suggested Foci and Descriptors that make sense for your setting, which is helpful to communicate to the players what kinds of stories you’re intending to help tell.
    • Cypher Harry Potter: Perhaps give all the Types a magic Flavor so everyone can use magic, but perhaps also some basic abilities like Onslaught – making some kind of magic shoot out of your want to hit things.
  • For players, anytime you get a Type ability (as an Advancement or as you Tier up), you can opt to choose off your Flavor list instead of your Type list. It’s never forced, but it’s an option!
  • Commitment Issues. It seems natural to be able to add a flavor later on if you’re starting from a “vanilla” or base Type. If you see your character turning more stealthy, this is a great way to easily support the character that emerges. Good for people who have trouble with commitment *cough* Darcy.

Creating Your Own Flavors:

  • Easiest way: Steal abilities from other Types of the same Tier, to easily keep the rough balance in line.
    • Lots to choose from, outside of the four base Types in the CSR!
      • 3 in the Numenera Corebook: glaive, nano, and jack
      • 2 additional Numenera Types in Character Options 2: glint and seeker
      • 3 Types in the Strange Corebook: vector, paradox, and spinner
      • 4 Types in the Gods of the Fall setting: champion, shaper, destroyer, and savior. These are all flavored Types from the CSR, so there are not really new abilities from which to steal. They are good examples of creative ways to remix Types, however!
      • More Types coming from the other Cypher System Worlds: Predation (releasing soon!) and Unmasked.
  • Second easiest way: Reskin abilities to fit your flavor. Turn Onslaught from a force blast into shooting a fire arrow. Where a Glint convinces someone to do something with the Complete Lunacy ability, but if you steal that ability for a Warrior, perhaps it is done via Intimidation, and perhaps is powered by points from the Might pool.
  • Beyond that, feel absolutely free to craft your own packages of abilities and skills to make the flavor you want. The above options are just the shortcuts 🙂

Our Ideas for Flavors:

  • Small: built for small creatures like Hobbitses! Perhaps bonuses to stealth, bonuses to hitting a bigger creature. Jeremy Land also wrote an excellent essay in CypherCaster Issue 4 talking about this exactly! Go buy it here, the whole issue is fabulous.
  • Mundane: This flavor removes everything that smacks of having a power, and replaces it with things we use in our everyday lives as everyday people. Perfect for sitcom storytelling. Onslaught became skinned as an ability where someone used jargon so overwhelmingly that the target gave in to the demands of the assailant.


  • FLAVORTOWN: “Flavortown is a game about community, competition, and American Myth.” Check out this amazing, quick micro RPG by Quinn Wilson called Flavortown, inspired by shows that involve a lone folk hero visiting diners and other establishments, accepting the dishes crafted by nervous artisans hoping to impress the fiery folk hero.
  • Conan the Salaryman: an inspiring mashup.
  • Jeremy Land’s wonderful essay, Races in a Cypher System Game, in the magazine CypherCaster Issue 4, tells you exactly how to use flavors to represent your species instead of taking the place of your adjective, so you can still be a Feisty Argonian Maid [Type] who Blushes Madly, or you can be a Bashful Lizard-person Warrior who Never Says Die.


  • Troy: Honing his storytelling craft through the Misdirected Mark episode 249 – Lay Down the Beat… Structure, which draws on the book Hamlet’s Hit Points by Robin D. Laws that ports screenwriting beat analysis techniques to roleplaying games.
  • Darcy: Cypher System’s supplement Expanded Worlds is out now! It doesn’t have new flavors, but it does give you some recipes for custom Type/Flavor combos you may want to try out for playing in the different genres the book lays out: Post-apocalyptic, Mythological, Fairy Tale, Childhood Adventure, Historical, Crime & Espionage, and Hard Science Fiction. A bunch of the Foci from this book are amaaaazing too – highly recommended. I immediately swapped out my Gods of the Fall Focus to “is Hunted by Moths” from this book!

Keep in touch & let us know your thoughts on the show or anything in the CypherSphere!

Thanks for all the support so far!

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