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Numenera RPG studio takes a crack at super powers with Heroes of the Cypher System

Spandex sold separately.

Heroes of the Cypher System RPG artwork
Image credit: Monte Cook Games

Heroes of the Cypher System, the newest project from Numenera designer Monte Cook Games, provides players with two books featuring different approaches to the popular superhero genre, along with an introduction to the RPG’s core system.

The first book, Claim the Sky, contains the tools for players to create a new hero or recreate their favourite from comics and films. You can finally breathe life into that original character with a literal iron gullet who munches chilli peppers to breathe fire. Or, you can just make Wolverine again.

Additionally, the book will outline Boundless - a world much like ours, save for the existence of superpowers. Monte Cook explains that these powers have existed in Boundless “for generations” and thus been largely assimilated into daily life, which could lead to some interesting roleplay opportunities.

Heroes of the Cypher System RPG artwork
Image credit: Monte Cook Games

The second book, First Responders, drills down into the specific application of superpowers in emergency situations. More grounded in both the application of powers and stakes, it puts players in the shoes of an expanded team of specialists: firefighters, pilots, nurses, strategists, etc. Players change characters based on the needs of the situations, and their successes or failures affect the entire organisation, lending campaigns a feeling of collaborative effort.

The Heroes of the Cypher System Kickstarter campaign went live on November 10th and hit its original funding goal of $40,000 (£30,138) within two hours. A recent backer tier reward expanded First Responders, and Monte Cook has said the book will contain more scenarios, tools and information than originally planned.

For those new to the Cypher System, certain backer tiers will contain PDF or print versions of the core Cypher rulebook. First published in 2015, the genre-neutral system provides robust rules for adapting a range of material into a tabletop campaign. Monte Cook Games uses it as the engine in both the future-fantasy Numenera and dimension-hopping The Strange.

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Characters created in the Cypher system are “built with a three-part sentence”, as Monte Cook Games puts it on the Kickstarter page. That sentence informs each character, their abilities and provides hooks for relationships to others. For example, I would be “an Exhausted Journalist who Wrangles Words and Ideas”. That character then acquires and uses cyphers such as powers or spells. These change frequently, so don’t expect your Cypher character to remain static for long.

The Kickstarter for Heroes of the Cypher System runs through December 11th and is expected to arrive with backers next October, with specific shipping dates to be detailed later.

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Chase Carter avatar

Chase Carter


Chase is a freelance journalist and media critic. He enjoys the company of his two cats and always wants to hear more about that thing you love. Follow him on Twitter for photos of said cats and retweeted opinions from smarter folks.