Using Cypher System Rulebook as core of Numenera game

After finally deciding to buy the Cypher System Rulebook last month, I was surprised by just how much I really loved the updates to the game sytem itself. For simplicity's sake, I'm going to henceforth refer to the updated Cypher system as it appears in the new Rulebook, as well as the book itself, as the CSR.

While the heart of the game remains the same, new CSR updates many things small and great. Some changes are small, but welcome fine-tuning of minor gameplay elements. Other changes were pretty big, in that many more options are now offered to players, and it's accomplished without disrupting the balance and simplicity of the game.

This is mainly accomplished via the more developed Character Types. In Numenera, I always felt that the Glaive and Nano were mostly solid, but that the Jack didn't measure up to the flavor text. The Character Options supplement helped some, but he was still less the "Jack of All Trades" explorer-adventurer of the flavor text, amd more an awkward Glaive-Nano chimera. Then, I discovered the CSR Explorer Type.

The Explorer is the setting-neutral version of the Jack, and his breadth of options finally allows him to be what the Jack should've been, in my opinion. The Glaive and Nano are present, also, as is the Spinner from The Strange, all with setting-neutral names (Warrior, Adept and Speaker, respectively). The Types have been slightly rebalanced, and all have been given access to more options. (If your group is using all of the MCG materials as we are, you'll have quite the pool of options at your disposal.)

The addition of Flavors is icing on the cake, so to speak. It allows you to add a bit of "cross-class" flavor to your character, to use a common gaming term. You can select a few esoteries for your Glaive, or choose investigative skills to turn your Nano into a Sherlock Holmes of the Ninth World, or add some extra combat capabilties to your Speaker, and so on... This sytem was always pretty good at allowing a player to bring a character concept to life. Now, it just got even better. Flavors are awesome.

We have tweaked the CSR types a bit, keeping a couple core features from Numenera intact, including with the names, and are pretty excited to see the new characters in action. We may even have one of each Type in play. (Though mechanics are not the focus with the Cypher system, I am curious to see how the Speaker--not what we're calling it in Numenera-- interacts with the others, mechanically. It reminds me of the 4E D&D Warlord, in many ways.)

Is anyone else doing this? Is anyone essentially playing CSR while using Numenera as a setting and player options resource? I'd be interested in hearing how the experience has been for both the players and GM.


  • We are, Sort of. Once I picked up the Cypher System Core Book, my wife decided that she was going to take the rest of her tier advancements from the Explorer class rather than the Jack that she had been playing. So far it hasn't been a bad decision.
  • I'm definitely interested in answers to this- I've been debating picking up the book for a while now as I've dabbled with some ideas of using the Cypher system outside of Numenera, but if it's just better than Numenera then I might just go for it.
  • MaxterMynd, the Numenera Reddit community gets a bit more traffic, so I've posted there, also. I figured I'd share, since you're considering using CSR in your campaign. I expect to get more feedback there, in the days and weeks to come.
  • Stolentime, I liked specifically how many non-combat, non-esotery options were available for the explorer. Is it safe to assume these were the ones that caught your wife's eye?

    I have a Jack character in mind at present. Who knows if he will ever see the game table(?), but I never stop creating these characters, all the same. When I finally put him to paper (or iPad notepad) with some rules, I used the Explorer, and he had not a single esotery.

    I did kind of imagine him and his cohorts building around "Blackout" (Tier 2 esotery) and "Reveal" (Tier 2 Nano esotery) as one possible trick in the bag. Mostly, though, it's all non-combat, non-esotery abilities that appeal the most to me. In that way, the CSR was an awesome addition as a player. Every type similarly received awesome new options, in breadth if not content.

    As a GM, I like how it cleans up fiddly bits here and there that weren't as tidy as they could've been. I like how it added a wealth of options without unbalancing the game. If anything, it is better balanced, by giving the "non-caster" Types more abilities to balance the fact that they aren't moving mountains and shifting climates. I also appreciate how the CSR freed the system from the setting, allowing me to run other settings with this wonderful ruleset. Like many, I'd wanted this option, but didn't want to take on the task of unraveling the Cypher System and the Numenera Setting.
  • She's telling me that what drew her eye was the non-combat aspects and the fact that the explorer type seems to add the needed "well-roundedness" that the jack does not have.

    I personally think your best bet is to use the explorer, or the CSR classes in general, as flavors for their counterpart classes: Jack::Explorer; Nano::Speaker or Adept and Glaive::Warrior. If, that is, you want a more gritty feeling game. To keep them in a Ninth World feeling game you would lessen the CSR impact and keep more to the fantastical of a straight Numenera character. But saying that, I feel that using the CSR gives the characters a better chance at personal growth rather than just discovering a new aspect to their "power".
    My wife, specifically, likes the added skills and investigation abilities to make her healer-jack actually worth a s**t. And having names for her ideas that can avoid -as she calls it- the "Dreaded GM Eyebrow", when she comes up with something so far out of the box that I have to question it's application.

    I have found that the CSR classes to be most excellent for coming up with more mundane world and gritty based characters, abilities and concepts.

    I'm not on reddit is that community better? or just bigger?
  • The Reddit community is not better, in terms of quality posts or enjoyable conversations, but it has many active members. There is daily activity there, unlike here; so in that way only it's better.

    I agree pretty much all around with your above post. The well rounded capabilities of the Explorer, in comparison to the straight-jacket the Jack seems to wear, is exactly what I was referencing in my first post. The addition of the Speaker, in a developed form than its Strange version, is also something we welcome.

    We've tinkered quite a bit with the CSR types in order to preserve the Numenera flavor. The two systems are basically the same, so it's just as easy to say we've tinkered with Numenera to bring it in line with CSR in a few ways. The basic impact seems like it will be that the players will have more options at their disposal, and a few minor mechanics will be tidied up a bit.

    As I read the CSR more, and get a better grasp on I things, maybe I'll try implementing some other things. It already caused me to think of an obvious thing I'm surprised we'd never used before-- a non-physical cypher, such as code downloaded from the datasphere, an ancient machine or the like, directly into a characters mind. I think that would be a cool twist on the strange, one time special ability that the cyphers essentially are.
  • Thanks for the heads up jack! I'll see if I can head over there as well.

    Do you know if there's going to be a player's guide version of the csr? The big book seems a little pricy if I'm just after the alternate character creation rules.
  • I haven't heard of plans for anything of the sort, but that doesn't mean they won't do something like that down the road.

    Something like that would be great for cherry-picking options to drop into any existing game. It might be tricky starting a new non-Numenera or non-Strange game, though, since some of the most useful genre-specific rules would definitely not be included in a player's guide. For example, there are rules for simulating the super powers of super heroes without inflating stat pools. Those are in a GM section of the CSR. It's the same for the horror rules made for the horror genre.

    I switched over to PDFs for all of my gaming materials around the time Numenera debuted. I have the Numenera Corebook in hardcover and PDF, but I own everything else strictly in PDF. It's made things much less expensive, and much easier to store, transport and search. I know it may not be for everyone, but it's definitely a change I've been happy I made.

    Even the PDFs can be pricey, but drivethrurpg has frequent sales. You just have to keep an eye on the items you want to purchase. I have not paid full price for any of the non-Glimmer PDFs.
  • It's pretty Cheese-ball of me but, I just print out the PDFs and put them in a binder if I want a hard copy of the books. I'm kind of like Jack on this, I haven't bought a hard copy yet of my MCG products, nor any of them at full price. DrivethruRPG and their sales have been a life-and wallet-saver.
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