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Rudolf Ponomarev
Rudolf Ponomarev

The Ultimate Review of Cypher System RPG PDF 33



Cypher System RPG PDF 33: A Review




If you are looking for a flexible and versatile roleplaying game system that can handle any genre and setting, you might want to check out the Cypher System. And if you are already familiar with the Cypher System, you might want to get your hands on the latest version of its rulebook, PDF 33. In this article, we will review what the Cypher System is, what PDF 33 offers, and how to use it for your RPG campaigns.




cypher system rpg pdf 33



What is the Cypher System?




The Cypher System is a rules-light, narrative-focused, and player-driven RPG system created by Monte Cook Games. It was originally designed for their flagship games Numenera and The Strange, but it was later adapted to an unlimited range of campaigns and genres with the release of the first edition of the Cypher System Rulebook in 2015. The Cypher System is based on three core principles:


  • Story matters more than mechanics. The Cypher System encourages creativity, imagination, and collaboration over crunching numbers, memorizing rules, and optimizing builds. The rules are simple, intuitive, and easy to customize, leaving more room for roleplaying and storytelling.



  • Characters are the focus. The Cypher System allows players to create unique and interesting characters that are not defined by classes, levels, or skills. Instead, characters are described by sentences that capture their essence, personality, and abilities. Characters also have access to cyphers, which are one-use items or abilities that provide them with an edge in various situations.



  • GMs have it easy. The Cypher System reduces the workload and stress for GMs by streamlining the game preparation, adjudication, and improvisation. GMs do not need to roll dice, track hit points, or balance encounters. Instead, they can focus on crafting engaging scenarios, NPCs, and challenges that suit their players' interests and styles.



The core mechanics of the Cypher System




The Cypher System uses a simple and elegant mechanic for resolving actions and outcomes. Whenever a character attempts something that has a chance of failure or opposition, they make a task roll. A task roll is a d20 roll modified by various factors, such as:


  • Difficulty. Every task has a difficulty rating from 1 to 10, which determines the target number that the character needs to roll equal to or higher than on the d20. The target number is equal to the difficulty rating multiplied by three. For example, a difficulty 4 task has a target number of 12.



  • Effort. Characters can spend points from their pools, which represent their physical, mental, and social resources, to lower the difficulty of a task. This is called applying effort. Each level of effort reduces the difficulty by one step, up to a maximum of six steps. For example, a character can spend 3 points from their pool to apply one level of effort and reduce a difficulty 4 task to a difficulty 3 task, lowering the target number from 12 to 9.



  • Assets. Characters can also benefit from assets, which are external factors that help them with a task, such as tools, allies, or environmental conditions. Each asset reduces the difficulty by one step, up to a maximum of two steps. For example, a character can use a lockpick and a flashlight as assets to reduce a difficulty 4 task to a difficulty 2 task, lowering the target number from 12 to 6.



  • Skills. Characters can also have skills, which are areas of knowledge or expertise that they are trained or specialized in. Skills also reduce the difficulty by one or two steps, depending on the level of proficiency. For example, a character who is trained in lockpicking can reduce a difficulty 4 task to a difficulty 3 task, lowering the target number from 12 to 9.



The result of a task roll can be a success, a failure, or a special outcome. A success means that the character achieves their goal or overcomes the challenge. A failure means that the character fails or faces a complication. A special outcome occurs when the character rolls a natural 1, which triggers a GM intrusion, or a natural 19 or 20, which grants the character a minor effect or a major effect, respectively. A GM intrusion is an unexpected twist or setback that adds drama or humor to the situation, while a minor or major effect is an extra benefit or advantage that enhances the success.


The character creation process of the Cypher System




The Cypher System allows players to create characters that are not limited by predefined classes, levels, or skills. Instead, characters are defined by sentences that follow this format:


I am a [descriptor] [type] who [focus].


Each element of the sentence provides the character with different abilities, traits, and options. Let's take a look at each element in more detail.


The types, flavors, and descriptors of the Cypher System




The type is the most important element of the character sentence, as it determines the character's role, abilities, and pools. The Cypher System Rulebook offers four types to choose from:


  • Adept: Adepts are characters who use supernatural powers or esoteric knowledge to manipulate reality. They are similar to mages, psychics, or mutants in other games. Adepts have access to powers, which are special abilities that cost points from their pools to activate.



  • Explorer: Explorers are characters who are skilled at surviving and thriving in various environments and situations. They are similar to rogues, rangers, or investigators in other games. Explorers have access to exploits, which are special abilities that enhance their movement, perception, or interaction.



  • Speaker: Speakers are characters who use their charisma, wit, and influence to sway others and achieve their goals. They are similar to bards, diplomats, or leaders in other games. Speakers have access to tricks, which are special abilities that affect their communication, social skills, or attitude.



  • Warrior: Warriors are characters who excel at combat and physical challenges. They are similar to fighters, barbarians, or soldiers in other games. Warriors have access to moves, which are special abilities that improve their offense, defense, or tactics.



In addition to the four types, the Cypher System Rulebook also offers four flavors, which are optional modifications that can be applied to any type. Flavors allow players to customize their characters further by adding abilities from other types or genres. The four flavors are:


  • Arcane: Arcane flavor adds abilities that involve magic, spells, or rituals.



  • Skill: Skill flavor adds abilities that involve training, expertise, or knowledge.



  • Stealth: Stealth flavor adds abilities that involve sneaking, hiding, or ambushing.



Technology: Technology flavor adds abilities that involve gadgets, devices, or inventions.


The descriptor is the second element of the character sentence, and it provides the character with a personality trait, a background, or a physical characteristic that sets them apart from others. The descriptor also modifies the character's pools, skills, abilities, or equipment. The Cypher System Rulebook offers dozens of descriptors to choose from, such as:


  • Charming: Charming characters are likable, persuasive, and charismatic. They have an advantage in social situations and can easily make friends or allies.



  • Clever: Clever characters are smart, cunning, and resourceful. They have an advantage in solving problems, finding clues, or devising plans.



  • Graceful: Graceful characters are agile, elegant, and coordinated. They have an advantage in movement, balance, or acrobatics.



  • Mechanical: Mechanical characters are enhanced by cybernetics, implants, or prosthetics. They have an advantage in using or resisting technology.



  • Mystical: Mystical characters are attuned to the supernatural, the occult, or the unknown. They have an advantage in using or resisting powers.



  • Rugged: Rugged characters are tough, resilient, and hardy. They have an advantage in enduring hardships, surviving dangers, or recovering from injuries.



  • Stealthy: Stealthy characters are sneaky, quiet, and hidden. They have an advantage in avoiding detection, infiltrating locations, or surprising enemies.



  • Vengeful: Vengeful characters are driven by a grudge, a vendetta, or a cause. They have an advantage in pursuing their targets, fighting their foes, or overcoming their obstacles.



The focus is the third and final element of the character sentence, and it provides the character with a special ability, a unique talent, or a distinctive feature that defines their role or niche in the game. The focus also grants the character additional skills, abilities, equipment, or connections. The Cypher System Rulebook offers hundreds of foci to choose from, such as:


  • Bears a Halo of Fire: Characters who bear a halo of fire can create and manipulate flames with their minds. They can use fire as a weapon, a defense, or a tool.



  • Commands Mental Powers: Characters who command mental powers can use their minds to affect themselves or others. They can use telepathy, telekinesis, mind control, or other psychic abilities.



  • Crafts Unique Objects: Characters who craft unique objects can create and use devices that defy conventional science or logic. They can use cyphers, artifacts, automatons, or other inventions.



  • Employs Magnetism: Characters who employ magnetism can manipulate metal and electricity with their bodies. They can use magnetism to attract, repel, levitate, or electrify objects or creatures.



  • Fights With Panache: Characters who fight with panache can use their style, flair, and finesse to overcome their enemies. They can use taunts, tricks, maneuvers, or stunts to gain an edge in combat.



animals, weather, or terrain to their advantage.


  • Needs No Weapon: Characters who need no weapon can use their fists, feet, or body as lethal weapons. They can use martial arts, wrestling, or brawling to defeat their opponents.



  • Rides the Lightning: Characters who ride the lightning can harness and unleash the power of lightning. They can use lightning to move, attack, defend, or stun.



  • Wields Two Weapons at Once: Characters who wield two weapons at once can fight with a weapon in each hand. They can use their speed, skill, and coordination to strike with both weapons simultaneously or alternately.



By combining these three elements, players can create characters that are unique, interesting, and fun to play. For example, a character could be a charming warrior who fights with panache, a clever adept who commands mental powers, a graceful explorer who rides the lightning, a mechanical speaker who crafts unique objects, a mystical warrior who bears a halo of fire, a rugged adept who lives in the wilderness, a stealthy explorer who needs no weapon, or a vengeful speaker who wields two weapons at once.


What is PDF 33?




PDF 33 is the latest version of the Cypher System Rulebook, which was released in 2019 as a revised and updated edition of the original rulebook from 2015. PDF 33 is not a new edition of the Cypher System, but rather an improvement and expansion of the existing system. PDF 33 is compatible with all the previous Cypher System products, such as Numenera, The Strange, Predation, Gods of the Fall, Unmasked, and others. PDF 33 is also available as a hardcover book or a digital download from Monte Cook Games' website.


The revised edition of the Cypher System Rulebook




The revised edition of the Cypher System Rulebook is the result of four years of feedback, playtesting, and refinement from Monte Cook Games and the Cypher System community. The revised edition incorporates many changes and additions that aim to make the Cypher System more accessible, flexible, and fun for both new and veteran players and GMs. Some of the main features of the revised edition are:


  • A new introduction and tutorial. The revised edition includes a new introduction that explains the core principles and concepts of the Cypher System in a clear and concise way. It also includes a tutorial that guides new players and GMs through the process of creating characters and running a game session.



  • A streamlined character creation process. The revised edition simplifies and clarifies the character creation process by providing more guidance, examples, and options for each element of the character sentence. It also introduces a new optional feature called tiers, which are milestones that allow characters to advance and gain new abilities as they progress in their adventures.



  • A revised type system. The revised edition revises and expands the four types (adept, explorer, speaker, and warrior) by adding more abilities, options, and customization for each type. It also introduces a new optional feature called flavors, which are modifications that can be applied to any type to add abilities from other types or genres.



  • A revised focus system. The revised edition revises and expands the focus system by adding more foci for each genre and setting, as well as more guidance on how to create or adapt foci for your own games. It also introduces a new optional feature called subtle cyphers, which are cyphers that are integrated into the character's focus instead of being separate items.



the cypher system by adding more cyphers for each genre and setting, as well as more guidance on how to create or use cyphers in your games. It also introduces a new optional feature called cypher limits, which are restrictions that limit the number or type of cyphers that characters can carry or use.


  • A revised task resolution system. The revised edition revises and expands the task resolution system by adding more examples, options, and variations for each factor that affects a task roll, such as difficulty, effort, assets, skills, and special outcomes. It also introduces a new optional feature called player intrusions, which are special outcomes that allow players to introduce twists or benefits to the situation by spending experience points.



  • A revised GM section. The revised edition revises and expands the GM section by adding more advice, tips, and tools for GMs to create and run engaging and fun games with the Cypher System. It also introduces a new optional feature called adventure seeds, which are short and simple ideas for scenarios, challenges, or hooks that GMs can use or expand for their games.



  • A revised genre section. The revised edition revises and expands the genre section by adding more information, options, and examples for each genre and setting that the Cypher System can support, such as fantasy, modern, science fiction, horror, and romance. It also introduces a new optional feature called genre modes, which are modifications that can be applied to the Cypher System rules to better suit the tone, style, or theme of a specific genre or setting.



The new features and changes of PDF 33




PDF 33 is the latest version of the revised edition of the Cypher System Rulebook, which was released in 2019 as a digital download from Monte Cook Games' website. PDF 33 is not a new edition of the Cypher System, but rather an update and improvement of the revised edition. PDF 33 incorporates many changes and additions that aim to make the Cypher System more consistent, clear, and complete for both new and veteran players and GMs. Some of the main features of PDF 33 are:


  • A new layout and design. PDF 33 features a new layout and design that makes the rulebook more readable, organized, and user-friendly. The rulebook has been divided into three parts: Characters, Rules, and Genres. Each part has been color-coded and numbered for easy reference. The rulebook also features more illustrations, tables, charts, sidebars, examples, and cross-references to enhance the presentation and comprehension of the rules.



  • A new index and glossary. PDF 33 features a new index and glossary that makes the rulebook more searchable and accessible. The index lists all the topics, terms, abilities, foci, cyphers, creatures, and items that appear in the rulebook, along with their page numbers. The glossary defines all the key terms and concepts that are used in the Cypher System rules.



and clarifications that were raised by the Cypher System community.


  • A new character sheet. PDF 33 features a new character sheet that makes the character creation and management more convenient and efficient. The character sheet has been redesigned and simplified to fit on one page, with sections for each element of the character sentence, pools, skills, abilities, equipment, cyphers, and notes. The character sheet also features a QR code that links to a digital version of the character sheet that can be filled out and saved online.



  • A new bonus content. PDF 33 features a new bonus content that makes the rulebook more valuable and comprehensive. The bonus content includes a new introduction by Monte Cook, a new foreword by Bruce R. Cordell, a new afterword by Sean K. Reynolds, a new appendix with additional rules and options for the Cypher System, and a new art gallery with all the illustrations from the rulebook.



The pros and cons of PDF 33




PDF 33 is a great product for anyone who wants to play or run games with the Cypher System. It offers many advantages and benefits over the previous versions of the rulebook, such as:


  • It is more accessible and user-friendly. PDF 33 makes the Cypher System rules easier to learn, teach, and reference, thanks to its improved layout, design, index, glossary, errata, FAQ, and character sheet. It also makes the Cypher System rules more adaptable and customizable, thanks to its optional features such as tiers, flavors, subtle cyphers, cypher limits, player intrusions, adventure seeds, and genre modes.



It is more flexible and versatile. PDF 33 makes the Cypher System rules suitable for any genre and setting, thanks to its expanded types, descriptors, foci, cyphers, creatures, items, and genre sections. It also makes the Cypher System rules compatible with all the previous Cypher System products, such as Numenera


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