Tag Archive: The Strange

Aug 28 2017

Cypher Speak Episode 17: Cypher Friends at Gen Con

Warning: this is rambly, and there is a minor SPOILER for the Predation adventure Cawdor Complex at 15:44-16:00.

Troy & Darcy just returned from Gen Con and break down their experiences (Cypher & otherwise) while still slightly beset by the tail end of bronchitis, con crud, and eclipse madness.

The major reveal was Numenera 2: Discovery and Destiny! It’s not quite a new edition, but a shine-up and expansion of the core game experience into two corebooks. Numenera Discovery will serve much the same purpose as the existing corebook, but Numenera Destiny will bring tools to your table to facilitate community building, crafting, and not just looking back on the wonders of the past, but creating a world worthy of the “Ninth World” title. Also, everything is forwards compatible! We’re really excited. More to come!

Torment: Tides of Numenera – the Explorer’s Guide went home with the silver ENnie award for Best Cover Art – it’s an amazing piece by  Chang Yuan.



Did you go to Gen Con? Play any Cypher System games? Will you be coming next year?

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

Thanks for all the support so far!

May 29 2017

Cypher Speak Episode 11: Level Up Your XP

CS-blank-250x250-webThe most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious

-Albert Einstein.

Darcy & Troy discuss the many uses of XP in the Cypher System, from the usual things like re-rolls & tiering up to things like adding narrative flavor, modifying Numenera, establishing NPC contacts or houses, and more.

Short-term Benefits:

  • The Cypher System Rulebook lists the following ideas for short-term benefits:
    • 1 XP: Re-roll any die roll, Decline a GM Intrusion
    • 2 XP: Gain training in a very focused skill, Gain short term use of an item or ability
  • Our other ideas:
    • 1 XP: Narrative flavor for a single scene
      • The shopkeeper has a tell that allows you to negotiate a better price.
      • You just happen to have a crowbar in your bag for opening this chest.
      • Modify the way a cypher works, staying with the original use of the device, but stretching it a little bit.
      • There is particular lighting in this warehouse fight that makes your character look really cool
    • 2 XP: Narrative flavor that lasts a bit longer
      • Characters are able to modify or add a new ability to an artifact, perhaps with a drawback kor additional depletion effects.
      • Recruit a friendly NPC that will help out the group for a short period of time, or is an expert in a specific field.
      • A temporary safe house.

Long-term Benefits:

  • The Cypher System Rulebook lists the following ideas for long-term benefits:
    • Familiarity: +1 to the die roll of a given task
    • Contact: Someone helpful to the party that can assist them over a period of time.
    • Home: A residence to call home.
    • Title: A title
    • Wealth: Characters come into some money
    • Artifact: Create an artifact
  • Some of our ideas:
    • Long-term benefits should have a long and impactful effect on your campaign.
      • Allow players to bring in someone from their backstory as a contact.
      • Modify an existing artifact to have additional properties. Sort of a legacy weapon feel, so you have an item that grows with you.
      • That creature you formed a bond with permanently becomes your companion animal.
      • Your tinkering with that device/piece of Numenera allows you to permanently have a Google Glass-like HUD that tells you some extra information of things you look like (Horizon Zero Dawn’s scan ability, for instance)
    • Refunds. If players invest in a long-term benefit and for some reason it’s not applicable anymore, you should consider refunding the XP they invested, or some portion of it.
      • Maybe the contact did work out. Maybe the Title became hollow, Maybe the GM burned your home to the ground. If for whatever reason something you invested 3 XP in no longer has value, or is taken away, think about softening the blow with additional XP. These types of things should be GM Intrusions at least, and Troy would consider giving a bonus XP to the affected player.


How do you use your XP in a Cypher System Game?  Let us know your thoughts!

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

Thanks for all the support so far!

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!

Mar 06 2017

Cypher Speak Episode 5: The Great Estate

Hello Dear Listeners, we’re back!

The Estate is one of the major earth organizations in The Strange. Darcy & Troy discuss the possibilities of what this organization can do for you players, and some of the nefarious ways it can cause headaches for them.



The CypherCast Podcast

The Strange Box Kickstarter

Torment: Tides of Numenera


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

Thanks for all the support so far!


Oct 18 2016

Cypher Speak Episode 4: Sherlock Holmes & the Case of the Missing Recursion Entry

CS-blank-250x250-web221B Baker Street – a mini-reality filled with danger and possibilities for your adventurers. Troy & Darcy discuss some of their favorite Strange recursions, and then explore how PCs might interact with this recursion, including cyphers and the twin icons Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty.

Worlds Numberless and Strange – Dozens of new recursions for the Strange, expanded information on Ardeyn and Ruk, cyphers, artifacts, adventure hooks, creatures, and foci, oh my! It’s one of Troy and my favorite resources.

The Paradox Room – Two short stories from the Strange, one featuring a creature that escaped a fantasy recursion and found the bounds of Earth physics to be unpalatable.

Strange Revelations – A book of 10 extremely varied Instant Adventures for the Strange, complete with fabulous “Show ‘Em” pieces of art, one of which is a game board that you play on during the adventure! These adventures can often be played in the Strange universe, where the recursions are fictional, or you could play straight-up Cypher System within the fiction of that recursion. I can’t recommend it enough.


  • Troy: Living 4 Crits play report of Strange Suns – a Dark Sun/Sherlock Holmes Strange mashup campaign
  • Darcy: Numenera Character Options 2 – new Types, Descriptors, Foci, and even expanded information on some of the factions in the Ninth World! Lush art, inspiring, and as always cross-compatible with any other Cypher System game you could want. There are WATER BENDERS in here, this is NOT a drill.

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

Thanks for all the support so far!

Oct 05 2016

Cypher Speak Episode 3: Cyphers & Settings

CS-blank-250x250-webCyphers: they might save your life, they might blow you up. Cyphers are frequently forgotten by players and GMs new to the Cypher System – some people find them superfluous. Troy & Darcy delve into what cyphers fundamentally are, share stories of how cyphers have changed their gameplay, and go into detail about what form and behavior cyphers may take across the vast number of settings you might use the Cypher System for.

This is a long episode – strap in and carefully holster your cyphers so that their mysterious energies don’t interact and bring about a singularity!

Detailed Shownotes: Coming to a theater near you! (Will be up within a day or two, thanks for the patience!)

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

Extreme Cyphers

Incantations – The Invisible Sun podcast

She’s a Super Geek

Thanks for all the support so far!

Aug 29 2016

Cypher Speak Episode 1: Pardon Our Intrusion

CS-credits-250x250-webDarcy & Troy explore the GM Intrusion, a core Cypher System storytelling mechanic, from both the player and gamemaster perspectives.

0:34 Artifact: Gamemaster (GM) Intrusion

  • Definition: A GM Intrusion is a mechanic in the Cypher System, where the GM creates a complication for a character, offering 2 experience points (XP), one to keep, and one to give to another player. The player can accept the Intrusion and the XP, or pay 1 XP to reject it.
  • 1:12 Numenera Glimmer Taking the Narrative by the Tail, which has great advice on GM Intrusions and some specific examples for Numenera
  • 1:27 Example GM Intrusions

3:12 Cyphers

  • 3:22 Troy: GM Intrusions from the GM Perspective
    • GM Intrusions force you to complicate the story in interesting ways
    • They act as a mechanical excuse to break the rules for good storytelling reasons
    • They encourage the GM to be thinking of interesting complications and to respond to player actions in interesting ways
    • The ability for players to reject the intrusion can communicate to the GM what your players like or dislike
    • Darcy’s Two Shins: Being on the lookout for good GM Intrusions can ensure you don’t get into a storytelling rut – you’re always looking for the next turn in the story
  • 7:30 Darcy: GM Intrusions from the Player Perspective
    • For first time players, GM Intrusions can come across as scary – Darcy often makes her first one silly or fairly benign, with the goal to communicate that GM Intrusions will be interesting, not always bad
    • Players look forward to these before long
    • GM Intrusions make failure fun for players. This can lead to more diverse roleplaying than you’d get if you were always trying to “win” the game. However, players sometimes go overboard and want to fail all the time
    • The distribution of XP on a GM Intrusion takes the sting/bummer out of the complication, keeps energy moving forward
    • The mechanic of giving 1 XP from a GM Intrusion to a fellow player reminds you to focus on the people around you, get out of your own character headspace. Promotes cooperation
    • GM Intrusions can manipulate the energy at the table. They can speed up a languishing conversation and refocus the table. They can also be used to bring player attention to something they’re about to miss – “there’s something cool here!”. Players still have the chance to ignore it, or pay the XP to say nothing bad happens
    • Troy’s Two Shins
      • Having something physical to signal a GM Intrusion to your players is really helpful to not break the flow of storytelling while still signaling to them. Generally, these are XP cards or tokens to represent the 2 XP being offered – Monte Cook Games has very nice decks for the Cypher System, Numenera, and the Strange.
      • Look to your players for ideas on GM Intrusions, especially when they roll a 1. They’ll be creative and invested in the idea.

14:01 Poddities

Cypher Speak Itunes Page

Aug 13 2016

Cypher Speak Episode 0: Weird Beginnings

CS-credits-250x250-webWelcome to episode zero of Cypher Speak. Darcy and Troy begin their quest to delve into all things related to Monte Cook Games: creators of the Cypher System, Numenera, the Strange, No Thank You Evil, and the upcoming Invisible Sun RPG. Every show will have an Artifact, which will be our major topic or question for that episode. Darcy and Troy will then throw Cyphers at that particular Artifact. These will be different perspectives or points of view that will be useful for unpacking or exploring the episode’s Artifact. Lastly will be the Poddities; these will be little shoutouts about something cool that Darcy and Troy have seen recently and want to share.

In this introduction episode, Darcy and Troy talk about the format of the podcast, and why they love the Cypher System so much.

Time Stamps

0:30 Artifacts: Introduction to Cypher Speak, Why We Love the Cypher System

2:03 Cyphers: Darcy & Troy’s favorite aspects of the Cypher System

11:22 Poddities

Nov 07 2013

Episode #87 – The Strange with Bruce Cordell

      1. Episode-87-The-Strange-with-Bruce-Cordell.mp3

The Strange with Bruce Cordell

The Strange

Hello Folks. Chris here and we’ve got a good one for you today. The Prophet of Carter Morrison is here to tell you all about The Strange. Who’s the prophet you ask? Why it’s Bruce Cordell and think the interview is quiet good. We also have the return of the Marks favorite ass chapper as Tony returns for the second You Know What Really Chaps My Ass segment. Mark is also absent as he chases down the Evil Hat of Fred Hicks. Man is that Hat Evil. Enjoy.

Sponsors for the Show – Seeley and Kanes, Evil Beagle, Level 99 Games

0:49 – Intro

1:27 – Watercooler

Kickstarter and the dangers of international shipping
The Evil Hat Street Team is now a thing.
MiniCon at UB is on November 9th – Gaming and relationships, Rm 114 Baldy Hall, 7pm – 8pm. Board Gaming to follow.
Post World Games update:
Torchbearer is available to purchase in print now.
The Firefly Cover has be revealed from Margret Wies Productions
Table Top – Halloween Episode
Level 99 Games – Power Play

Seeley and Kanes Comics

10:18 – Gameroom

Dungeon World
Cards Against Humanity
Blood Bowl the Video Game
Ticket to Ride on Android
D&D Encounters

13:06 – Lounge

Bruce Cordell and The Strange

Evil Beagle Games – Colossal Clash

54:44 – You Know What Really Chaps My Ass

1:01:11 – Geekery