Basic newb question about cypher use

I have read the rules on cyphers but I'm having trouble figuring out something really basic. All cyphers have a level, and using a cypher requires an action... usually intellect based.

But is the action to use a cypher a test against its level? Or is it a test against the base "action" (i.e. throwing, swinging, drinking, eating, etc)?

If I have a level 5 Nevermind that's in the form of a pill, do I swallow it then make a level 5 difficulty roll for it to take effect? Or is it automatic because "swallowing a pill" is a level 0 difficulty task?

If instead it's an ingestible liquid and I pour it in someone's drink, do I have to make an intellect roll to have it work, and then they make an intellect defense roll to avoid its effect?


  • Your basic Intellect vs Cypher Level roll is mostly for identification.  Whether you can see that the thing in question is a cypher, oddity, interesting bauble or something of that nature, possibly figuring out what it will do, and how to use it without hurting yourself. 
    Unidentified pills, ingestible liquids or injectors, things that you are willing to use on yourself without identifying first will work regardless of identification, no roll is really necessary.   Hand held or some other "action needed" items that you have not identified first, and are attempting to use on someone else you need to roll for if for no other reason than to make sure you have the business end pointed in the right direction.  Unless you are just trying to bean your target with the item ,then it's just a "to Hit" roll.  It is up to your GM or you (if that's the case), whether or not you can use the item without an identification roll, such as when the item has a large and obvious activation button.  My players use throwable detonations all the time without knowing what they will do first, usually with disastrous and hilarious results.
    Once the item has been identified, any other roll needed is indeed for the action; such as throwing, aiming, using the imbued power and so on.  Unless the text in the book about the item states otherwise. 
    One of my players had a handful of unidentified pills that they and the other players had been collecting throughout the adventure.  Since at the time, they were in a safe-ish spot she took them all "just to see what would happen".  No rolls were needed, except a cypher malfunction roll because of how many there were.
    As for poisoning someone with an ingestible liquid cypher the only roll needed would be a Might roll to resist the effects and that would be against the Cypher Level.  Since the target doesn't/wouldn't know the cypher liquid is in their drink, an Intellect roll before drinking it would do no good.  Identifying the strange taste afterward (if they survived) would require an Intellect roll vs Cypher Level though.  The user would not need to make a roll, nor need to know what the liquid is (or does) in order to pour it in to said drink. 
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