[Modification] Alternate stat system

Right now, in Cypher System, the following stats are present: Might, Speed and Intellect. It's not bad per se, but it seems really focused on the physical aspect of the game, while bundling together the intellectual and social side. Because of that, in campaigns focused less on combat, and more on discovery and interactions, Intellect stat becomes quite versatile, possibly to the point of no-brainer choice when it comes to Pool/Edge increase.

Instead, I'd like to propose an alternate stat system, to an extend inspired by another roleplaying system.


The core three stats would be PhysicalIntellectual and Social. Obviously, it comes with important differences in various situations. For example, in Cypher System you can run a marathon (depleting Speed pool) and have no trouble dealing heartfelt roundhouse kicks (depleting Might pool), while in suggested alternative all that running makes one so tired they can't really do strong kicking. At the same time, in alternate system one can sit and do some crossword or sudoku solving (depleting Intellectual pool) having just suffered through unpleasant social encounter (depleting Social pool); in Cypher System, such encounter makes one too tired for any puzzle solving.


Among these stats, there would be dominantauxiliary and inferior stat. The dominant stat would have the highest base pool, while the inferior stat would have the lowest base pool. The stats would be determined by the character Type.

Additionally, each stat comes with 3 areas:
  • Physical: Might (applying physical strength), Agility (acrobatics, dodging etc.), Fortitude (resisting attacks, poison etc.)
  • Intellectual: Memory (recollection of learnt facts), Analysis (reasoning and guessing), Concentration (resisting mental effects) 
  • Social: Charisma (making specific impressions, usually favourable), Empathy (recognizing others emotions and motives), Will (resisting manipulation and charms)
Among these areas, the player may choose their strengths and weaknesses. A strength decreases the difficulty of related challenges by one point, while a weakness increases the difficulty instead (like inability does now). There is only one degree of strength/weakness; you can't be double-empathetic or double-forgetful, for example. Strengths and weaknesses are applied independently from more specific skills.

I have yet to decide how strengths/weaknesses are chosen. One thing I considered was choosing one strength from dominant stat areas, and one weakness from inferior stat areas. In a more generous variation player can choose to strengths from dominant areas, one strength from auxiliary areas and one weakness from non-dominant areas.

Perhaps the most natural way in Cypher System would be having one strength and weakness determined by Descriptor, and one other strength by Focus. If descriptor and focus give the same strength, the character might choose any other area related to the same stat (e.g. excess Charisma can be exchanged for Empathy or Will, but not Analysis or Might). Also, the player cannot choose a Focus whose strength is the same as descriptor's weakness. Strengths and weaknesses could replace one initial skill and inability of descriptor, as well as one skill of focus.

A thing to keep in mind is that strengths and weaknesses affect the game balance to an extent, especially since they are applied independently from trained/specialised skills (thus, a properly specialised character can perform Impossible tasks more easily). At the same time, combats might become more challenging with only one Physical pool available.

Thoughts? Anyone feels like trying out the alternate stats?
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