Monday, August 31, 2020

Unlocking Cypher's XP


By Christoher Robin Negelein                                  Art:  Alpha Stock Images  

Right up front, i'm just stating these are optional rules and hacks. I don't find anything fundamentally wrong with the ways XP are used in Cypher, though at my table I do take the RAW option to split XP between Advances and other types of rewards and rerolls.  

If anything, these hacks are, again, bridges for those who come from years of playing RPGs and having certain expectations at the table they just can't shake loose. 

Get off my gaming mat!

One D&D enduring siren songs is seeing that your PCs could have 20 or 30 levels of play and thinking of all those years of gaming, like it is an unspoken promise. Like the old "being mad is doing the same thing agian and again and expecting results," GMs and players make plans for levels and levels of gaming that, frustrating, never happen. Gamer ADD, work schedules, family obligation often  bring the sudden death option to most campaigns. Which is why  WotC has designed D&D to be a two-year campaign since 3.5. 

Despite all this, some gamers look at Cyher's six levels and imagine that the game can only support a short campaign. But if you do the math, though, A Cypher game also lasts about two years (with an advancement coming in around every month,)

There have also been comments that long-term benefits seem less attractive since there is only one point difference between them and an advancement (which seems to be missing the point - pun intended.) Rolling into that my own personal habit of giving out XP like candy in game, wanting to give XP for every discovery or cool thing the players did instead of just one XP point. 

The tactic that seems answer most of these points, the perception of (an alleged) short campaign, making long-term benefits more "attractive" is to adjust their costs. To keep the numbers low, I arbitrarily picked the multiple of four. 

For example:

Immediate Benefits , Short/Medium Term Benefits, Long Term Benefits, Advancements

 4 XP, 8 XP, 12 XP, 16 XP

But that doesn't really change the ratio between long term benefits and advancements, so I increased the cost of advancements about 50%. 

Immediate Benefits , Short/Medium Term Benefits, Long Term Benefits, Advancements

4 XP, 8 XP, 12 XP,18 XP  ... And now since there is wiggle room, you can even take this step further if you want to incentivize one benefit over another. I personally like players getting rerolls since fudging dice behind the GM screen is not a thing in Cypher.  So why not make rerolls cheaper


Immediate Benefits , Short/Medium Term Benefits, Long Term Benefits, Advancements

2 XP, 8 XP, 12 XP, 18 XP ... But why did MCG (and also Pinnacle who's Savage Worlds also uses a very similar set up) make costs so cheap in the first place? To simplify the math and get it out of the way,  That's when I thought about how MCG has the cool XP token cards. For ease of play, The "1" XP card should represent the same cost as an immediate benefit. And yes, as some of you math wizards have figured out, this really turns your Immediate benefit into your base unit of XP at the table.

For example 

Immediate Benefits , Short/Medium Term Benefits, Long Term Benefits, Advancements

2 XP, 8 XP, 12 XP, 18 XP  ... would become

 Immediate Benefits , Short/Medium Term Benefits, Long Term Benefits

1 card, 4 cards, 6 cards ... And at the end of the session  each card would be worth 2 XP apiece to buy an Advance for 18 XP.  But I prefer a more elegant solution ... 


Immediate Benefits , Short/Medium Term Benefits, Long Term Benefits, Advancements 

1 card, 4 cards, 6 cards, 9 cards ... So by going the long way around -- along with using more XP tokens and less math for bookkeeping -- we've probably come to the smallest numbers we could manage to lengthen a Cypher campaign and keep the math minimal.  You have also made immediate and long-term term benefits more tempting to keep people focused on using XP at the table as compared to advancements which will have further economic consequences in slowing down the growth of characters. 

And if you wanted to further tweak the cost of benefits and advancements, I'd simply add or subtract to the card cost and leave the math alone.   As an apology for all that, I offer up a way to play around with XP, as a shared resource between characters during play with a lot less behind the scenes math. 

 Family XP pool.

The XP  earned in game for the campaign should be represented by physical tokens or cards while a spot on the table (or a container of some sort) is designated as the XP Pile location. 

When the player earns in-game XP, the tokens go into the XP Pile (including both tokens for accepting GM Intrusions.) 

Whenever a player wants to spend XP tokens and no one disagrees, they can take them out of the pile. In a game like Predation, a player can also nominate an XP spend for the companion they are portraying in the game. After the adventure is done, any tokens left over are evenly distributed among the group, rounded up. 

Either way these are fun spins and XP and if you use the them, drop me some feedback.


Go, Ganza! Go. 

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