Monday, August 31, 2020

My Cypher Warrior is nerfed, the myth

 By Christopher Robin Negelein

Did it again, wasting my time of the socials when I could be showing my peeps the love. 

EN World gave me a byline (under my EN World handle of Von Ether) for the upcoming teaser of something Numenera converted into 5e.

Not surprising, there was some old anti-Cypher chestnuts bandied about. The biggest one was the "Cypher Warriors are nerfed because they have to use Might as hit points AND ability points." 

You can check out the whole thread, but I also reposted my reply to that myth below.

OP: Right, but dipping into your Might pool to do special stuff still comes at the cost of your basic "hp" while the other 2 archetypes don't have to worry about it. The fact that Edge reduces the effect and that it's not as bad at higher level is cool, but it still is a basic issue and seems like a fundamental flaw in a system which is theoretically pretty basic.

Just to ensure that we are working off the same knowledge base:
* A Cypher PC's hit points are the sum of all attribute pools together, Might+Speed+Intellect. Taken in that order for physical combat as you gather some exhaustion penalties as each pool goes to zero. (You get bruised, then you lose your reflexes and then you can't think straight)
* In psychic combat, it comes off Intellect first, then Speed, then Might. (You can't concentrate, then you lose your reflexes and then you get nose bleeds and then aneurysms*.) So there's some titfortat on mental combat as well. But the common "Warriors are nerfed" misconception hasn't been leveled at Adepts.
*To reinforce that disconnect -- In physical combat, you use Speed Defense and take Might Damage, for attacks like poison or disease, your use Might Defense and take Speed Damage. For psychic combat, you use Intellect Defense and take Intellect Damage, yet there's not much of a "Adepts are nerfed" complaint going around. Even on the Cypher Unlimited discord that has 1,600 members on it.
* You only die at zero, which after going three pools, is hard to reach in a Cypher game. Most combats, like 5e, go on for only like 5 or 6 rounds.
*If your Edge makes an ability free, you can use it even if your Might pool is depleted. So at Tier 1, all of your Might abilities (Control the Field, Thrust, Bash) are always your command. Same goes at Tier 2 and etc. I'd hazard to say it was planned that way.
*Even the exhausted warrior can do extraordinary things (double damage with Effort) with a good Recovery (1 action) roll. But you have to choose between that or spreading out your recovery points to refill other pools to avoid your exhaustion penalties. For my taste, that tactical choice is a feature, not a bug.

OP: I really don't mind extraordinary things drawing on a limited resource or being tied into one system but i think the way it was handled felt sort of half-tweaked. If everything really did draw from single pool, that would be little more fair across the 3 archetypes, but what you wind up with is a Might character not really being able to tap into Intellect and Speed in many cases, while the Intellect and Speed immediately benefits from their chosen pool AND the Might pool. You could have resource management and have a single system without making it as lopsided.

It may seem that way on paper, but it's not that way in practice. Through my numerous Numenera demos and four Cypher campaigns (1 all the way to Tier 6, one to Tier 3 two at Tier 4 -- for the uninitiated, Cypher/Numenera has only 6 "Tiers" instead of 20 levels) it has been very different.

Usually people first pick an Explorer for the versatility but then someone breaks down and tries the Fighter and the reaction -- usually -- is Holy spit! what did I just see?!?

One PCs nickname was ONE-PUNCH DWARF!, all caps and exclamation point included. So my four years of Cypher gaming is at odds with this assessment.

OP: I think people who are experienced and mechanics-conscious are going to be more likely to notice mechanical issues instead of just focusing on character concepts and open roleplay. This is basically the same thing that happens in DnD when new stuff comes out. The mechanics guys will recognize that the beast master ranger is underpowered while the person who loves dogs will just be excited to have a dog, not noticing or caring that the option is subpar. Nether way is badwrongfun, but there's no reason we can't aim to have something balanced for those who care about mechanics and flavorful for those just want to jump into roleplay.

I'd be more inclined to agree with this if I haven't been told for over 10 years that Savage Worlds has "bad" math, is too swingy to be good, and is "unplayable" because a very lucky, lucky goblin might be able to kill a Legendary PC. All from people who felt they were "experienced and mechanics-conscious." Yet, I've had fun running Savage Worlds for years and evidently the half a million dollar Kickstarter with over 5k supporters just might agree.

My assessment of newbs picking it up faster is that they don't have to shift from another paradigm where certain assumptions get red flagged for being different. (But yeah, when it comes to D&D the beast master was off.) As analogy, the benchmarks for a good cubist painting are not going match the same benchmarks for a good impressionist painting.

I'm not saying that Cypher is perfect (I'm looking at you Escape Artist from the Explorer) or the holy grail of gaming. But I've seen that "Cypher Warrior is nerfed" is a myth through weekly play, year in and year out.

It ranks right up there with "You have to shoehorn cyphers into every Cypher campaign," to which I respond, "Not every session of Dungeons and Dragons has to have dungeons or dragons in it."

If you want further data points, please join the Cypher Unlimited Discord and ask questions there. Probably the kindest and most passionate gamers you'll find there. Heck, we even say "Good morning" to each other almost every day. It's virtually virtual family in there. 

So if you are a Cyfan, feel free to keep these points in your back pocket when you see this myth in the wild.

* I think the Psychic damage order go Intellect, Might and then Speed, but honestly, it not a deal breaker either way. 

Go, Ganza! Go. 

 I'm open to bribes for more Cypher stuff! You can do a one-timer at , or regularly via this Patreon. Regardless, I'm still working on Solar Sails, a fantastical world of SPELLs that's JAMMERed with all sorts of the fantastical. 

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Ganza Gaming Twitter @ChrisRNegelein


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