Dark-Sun: Cypher System
This game is intended to create stories set in the classic AD&D 2nd Edition campaign setting Dark-Sun, using Monte Cook’s Cypher System. For those of you unfamiliar with either one or the other, this is intended to familiarize and excite you.
The Dark-Sun setting came out in 1991 and was a kind of “post-apocolyptic” fantasy setting. Magic was a dangerous force, so dangerous in fact that a group of genocidal sorcerers brought the entire planet to near environment ruin during a series of so called “cleansing wars”, designed to rid the world of all non-humans. The cleansing wars ended with the imprisonment of their chief orchestrator at the hands of his champions, and the creation of The Dragon of Tyr.
Everyone left standing after all this happened was profoundly changed. The holocaust of the cleansing wars left most of the planet a dry, brutal wasteland. The remaining champions have established themselves as all-powerful, immortal Sorcerer-Kings.
The elves, dwarves, and halflings who survived have adapted .
Dwarves are entirely hairless and have a supernatural drive to accomplish difficult tasks.
Elves are duplicitous desert nomads who can run 50 miles a day.
Halflings live in whats left of the world’s forests, devouring all intruders and making weapons from their bones.
Blood is cheaper than water, its kill or be killed under the dark sun of Athas.
I first became acquainted with The Cypher System while playing a game called Numenera, and immediately saw its potential for use in other settings. Now that the Cypher System Rule Book is out, I have had a much simpler time adapting the system to a multitude of game ideas and premises. The Basics of the System are
Instead of Race or Class, you have a “character sentence”. This comes in the form of Character Name is a Adjective Noun who Verb Phrase
The Attributes are Might, Speed, and Intellect. They are represented by Pools of points that you can spend to use special abilities (like spells, combat moves, etc) or expend Effort
Each of these attributes can have an Edge, which is a value that decreases the points you spend from a given pool. More on this later.
You, the player, roll all dice.
There are really only 2 dice you will roll. a d20 for all task resolutions, and occasionally the GM will ask you to role a d6.
All game-tasks exists on a difficulty of 1-10, this is called the task’s Difficulty Rating
the Difficulty Rating is used to determine the Target Number. The number you have to roll equal or higher to on a d20. Simply multiply the Difficulty Rating by 3.
Difficulty Rating 1-Target Number 3, Difficulty Rating 10-Target Number 30
How can I roll 30 on a 20 sided die? By the principle of reductive aptitude. Simply, reductive aptitude is the opposite of additive aptitude. Instead of getting increasingly greater bonuses on die rolls, the target number becomes lesser.
How it really works.
So, if the group wants to climb a wall, the GM can say “okay, this is a pretty average wall. It’s made of mud bricks, so there are lots of cracks and seams to serve as hand holds, and there are no environment factors that would make this more difficult, so it’s a difficulty 3 task.”
A difficulty 3 task has a target number of 9. That means that with no additional help, and without trying too hard, the group members have a little better than a 50/50 chance of scaling the wall.
Let’s say one of the character is trained in climbing as a skill. That training serves to reduce the difficulty of any climbing task they undertake by one step. In this instance, reducing the difficulty from 3, to 2. That means the character only has to roll higher than 6 to scale the wall.
Now, no self-respecting adventurer goes anywhere without at least 50 feet of rope, am I right? So, if that character who is trained in climbing wanted to use a rope to help them climb the wall, that would count as an Asset. An Asset is anything that you can use to help accomplish a task, and it reduces the Difficulty Rating of that task by one step.
Now climbing that wall is only a difficulty 1, the character has to roll higher than 3, piece of cake!
Okay, but lets say the party is scaling this wall because they are being pursued by a horde of angry gith, and they don’t have much time or room for failure. The character trained in climbing, using rope, expends effort and reduces the difficulty by one step further. Difficulty 0, no roll is required, so the character just climbs the wall. Once atop they secure the rope and the others climb up. They aren’t trained in climbing, but the rope provides one asset and our lead climber can provide another. It’s only difficult 1 to climb this wall and escape the gith!
If this is unclear, or unnecessary, I apologize.
So anyway, this whole game is a merger of Dark-Sun with Cypher System. There are certain new rules that have been written for this game. Rules regarding elements of the 2nd edition Dark-Sun setting that were so unique as to require creation of Cypher System rules. Things like Defiling Magic, Dehydration, Weapons of Non-Metal Quality etc
To get started creating a character, check out subsequent articles