Adventures In Random Roleplay: Cypher System Edition – Part 2 – A Martial Class? More Like Independent Study

Welcome back, dice fondlers! Last week, we gave you a brief introduction to the two Cypher System games, Numenera and The Strange. This week, we’ll be focusing on creating two Glaive characters for Numenera. We already touched on the idea of Cypher System’s character sentence, where our character is an [adjective] [noun] who [verb].

Basic Numenera Character Creation

First, we’re going to dive in Numenera and make a six-character party consisting of two Glaives, two Nanos, and two Jacks (nouns). We’ll choose our adjectives (Descriptor) and verbs (Foci) at random. We’ll also run our Fighting Moves through the random number generator. Finally, we’ll make sure to use the handy tables provided for our characters’ starting cyphers and oddity. The two things we won’t determine randomly are the placement of our six starting Pool bonus points and our weapons/armor. While our character ought to come out highly flavorful using all the different tables, we do still want them to be playable with whatever powers we happen to roll. With that established, let’s get started.

Glaive Character Sentences

To begin, let’s roll up our Descriptor and Focus. The core book has twelve Descriptors and twenty-eight Foci. That should give us plenty of variety. Plugging in our 1d12 and 1d28 into a dice roller website gives us two sentences for our Glaives:

  • Character #1 is a Charming Glaive who Fuses Flesh and Steel
  • Character #2 is a Graceful Glaive who Talks To Machines

With our sentences down, we’re already starting to see the place where our characters are deviating from each other. While they are both, ostensibly, physical warrior types, one is a charismatic cyborg and the other is, aside from being graceful, able to talk to machines. Let’s start digging deeper.

Glaive Abilities & Talents

As a Glaive, we get some default Abilities as part of the package, as well as having a few choices. To start, we get a table of twenty potential character backstory hooks. Two quick rolls later and we have a cyborg who meets weekly to enjoy rare tobacco with a friend of theirs, while we find that our machine-speaker is a local hero who rescued a family from a house fire.

We also roll one-in-three to find the source of both characters’ Glaive talents. Our cyborg’s battle techniques come from intense training, while our machine-speaker’s physical prowess is inborn. They may be a genetic anomaly, an aberration, a mutation, but their talents are innate, not the result of training or augmentation.

Armor & Weaponry

Both Glaives are trained in all armor (they can wear any type of armor and have any Might or Speed costs reduced by 2), trained with all weapons (they don’t face any restrictions on what weapons they can use), are Trained in a movement skill, and know two Fighting Moves. (As a side note, there is a difference between trained and Trained. Some abilities that allow the use of armor or weapons may have the word “trained” in them. However, when I say a character is “Trained” in a skill, that means that when they perform a task using that skill, they reduce the Difficulty by one step.) A quick roll gives our cyborg Training in jumping, and our machine-speaker Training in swimming. With multiple Fighting Moves to choose from, we’ll randomize these as well. Choosing randomly from the five, our cyborg gains the Bash ability (1 Might point to do less damage but stun an opponent for a round) and the No Need For Weapons ability, which lets their Unarmed attacks count as Medium instead of Light weapons. Our machine-speaker gets the Thrust ability (1 Might point to increase damage with sharp weapons) and the No Need For Armor ability, granting them Training in speed defense.

Basic Stats

Now, on to their stats. Being a Glaive also gets us basic clothing, our choice of Light or Medium armor, our choice of either two weapons or one weapon and a shield, 5 shins (The 9th World’s currency), an explorer’s pack, two Cyphers, and an Oddity. The Cyphers are often chosen by the GM, but we’ll use the tables this time. However, we’ll postpone those for now, and we’ll roll at the very end of character creation to see what Cyphers and Oddity we have.

Our characters both get some base stats for being Glaives.

  • They start with a Might Pool of 11, a Speed Pool of 10, and an Intellect Pool of 7.
  • They have a Might Edge of 1, a Speed Edge of 1, and an Intellect Edge of 0.
  • They also have an Effort stat of 2 and can carry two Cyphers at a time.
    • To simplify— our Pools are both our health and a resource to make tasks easier. Edges are an always-on discount we apply any time we have to spend points from our Pools. This includes special abilities or spending points from our Pools to lower the difficulty of a roll.
    • Our Effort stat is how many Levels of Difficulty we can shift a task at one time.
    • Cyphers are cool leftover gadgets from the previous worlds that we may or may not be using correctly in order to do amazing things. The catch is that Cyphers are only good for one use. Thankfully, we’ll be finding them constantly in-game.
  • Finally, our characters both have six bonus points to add to their Might, Speed, or Intellect Pools, but we’ll put those in our back pocket until after we see what our Descriptor and Foci do for them before making any decisions.

Glaive Descriptors

For our Descriptors, let’s remember that our cyborg is Charming, while our machine-speaker is Graceful. So what do those words actually mean in game terms? Well, for being Charming, our cyborg gets an additional 10 starting shins for having just collected on a debt or run a small hustle. They have a +2 to their Intellect Pool. They are considered Trained in social interactions and all Abilities that influence the minds of others. They also have an important contact of some note that they’ll flesh out with the GM. However, they do have two Inabilities (the reverse of Trained skills, Inabilities make a roll one step harder rather than easier) they have to deal with. First, they have an Inability for studying and retaining information. Second, they have an Inability regarding their Willpower and resisting others. Finally, we have another small list of possible inter-party character hooks. It seems our cyborg owed one of the party members a favor and is accompanying them on this adventure to fulfill that favor.

Now, moving on to our machine-speaker, we need to look at Graceful. Being Graceful grants that character +2 to their Speed Pool. They also count as Trained in coordination and keeping their balance, in physical performing arts, and in speed defense. You’ll note that this is their second time they’re marked as Trained in speed defense, so that makes their speed defenses Specialized. Specialized skills reduce Difficulty by two steps instead of one. For our random character hook here, our machine-speaker joined the party because he/she observed the party as being in danger, and, against their better judgment, wanted to help.

Glaive Foci

We come at last to our Foci. For our cyborg that’s the “Fuses Flesh With Steel” and for our machine-speaker that’s the “Talks To Machines”. We’ll start with Fuses Flesh With Steel. First off, when our party is complete, we’ll pick one other player character who knows that we’re part machine. If we decide that our character doesn’t hide their dual nature, that player character will know some other secret about our robotic components. Our cyborg also gains a set of light tools and parts to repair themselves. Moving on to our Tier 1 abilities, our cyborg gains Enhanced Body, which gives them a +1 Armor, +3 Might Pool, and a +3 Speed Pool. However, they also have Special Healing. After being injured, the final five points of damage cannot be healed by conventional means and must be repaired mechanically. Finally, rolling on the random table for the source of our Focus, we find that we were abducted by extraterrestrials and taught strange training and devotions that have slowly turned us part-machine.

Now, for our machine-speaker. Talks With Machines requires we pick one player character who always seems to have terrible luck with the machines we speak to. If he/she is next to one of the machines we are speaking with, it is considered one level lower than normal for any actions that would benefit us. Our machine-speaker also gains a small set of tools for their equipment. They also gain two Abilities. First, they have Machine Affinity, which considers them as Trained in all tasks involving electrical machines. Second, they have Distant Activation. If a machine that they understand the operation of is within short range and is not already either intelligent or connected to another intelligent being, our machine-speaker can spend a point of Intellect to activate that machine remotely. Finally, our machine-speaker’s roll on the source table tells us that they too were abducted by extraterrestrials, only they had experiments performed upon them that left them with this ability to understand machines.

Bonus Point Distribution & Optional Equipment

With all this information before us, let’s pick out some of our optional equipment and distribute those six bonus points for each of our Glaives, shall we? We’ll give our cyborg +2 Might, +1 Speed, and +3 Intellect. Our Charming Descriptor means we have the ability to take advantage of social situations so we’ll pad out our Intellect a bit in case we get into situations where we take Intellect damage or need to use Effort to sway someone to our side.

For their armor, we’ll take a set of Medium Armor (Beasthide sounds cool) as it gives us +2 Armor, and our Glaive training reduces the Might cost to zero and our Speed cost to only 1. Our cyborg hardly needs a weapon, but we’ll give them both a Heavy Crossbow and a Maul. That lets them have the option of both ranged and close-up heavy damage dealing if they can’t get the job done with their fists. Our machine-speaker we’ll give +1 Might, +1 Speed, and +4 Intellect to. It just happens that their Foci is powered by Intellect so it makes sense to even out their Pools a bit as well.

For their equipment choices, we’ll give them Leather Armor. As Light Armor, Leather Armor has no cost for our machine-speaker, just in case we’re worried about them needing to be armored. However, we’ll probably forgo Armor to keep our speed defense Specialization in place. For weapons, we’ll take a shield and spear. The spear lets us use our Thrust Ability which is handy. Our shield counts as an asset for speed defense actions, which means that we’ll be reducing the difficulty of speed defense actions by one MORE level for cases where we can use our shield.

Cyphers & Oddities: So Extra

Finally, we’re going to give either of our characters some goodies! We’re getting both their one-shot Cyphers and their quirky Oddities. Rolling on the random Cypher table gives our cyborg a Detonation Web and a Strength Booster. The Detonation Web creates a sticky explosion to trap targets, while the Strength Booster gives you a +1 Might Edge for an hour. The cyborg’s Oddity is a set of goggles that let them see perfectly through steam or smoke. Our machine-speaker however, gets a Poison Explosive that functions on a timer, as well as a Mag Shield. The Mag Shield, when activated, pushes metal away from themselves. Their Oddity is a small coin pouch that holds twice as much as it appears it should.

We Did It!

That’s it! We have two full characters ready to be named and played. While it may seem like a lot of information, we mainly just added Abilities to our character based on choices (or in our cases, a random number generator). Each step gave us a further look into the setting of The 9th World and our other party members. In the end, we have two characters who, in a different system, may have just been “fighters,” but here are a collection of quirks we can bring to life.

Next week, my dice clutching lovelies, we’ll be moving on to making our two Nanos, so make sure to come on back! In the meantime, remember to…



Written by: Jason A. Clark

Writer, Salesman, Cartographer of The Weird Realms In My Head

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