Adventures In Random Roleplay: Cypher System Edition – Part 3 – Let’s Play A Game of Jacks

Welcome back, dice fondlers! Last week, we built two characters for the Cypher System— specifically, a pair of Glaives for the Numenera game world. This week, we’ll create a pair of Jacks, again stepping through our random options and seeing what weird combinations we come up with. We had originally planned on doing this article on Nanos, but, alas, my grim overlords (aka cats) decided to rewrite my open article draft into gibberish. Or at least harder to read gibberish. Taking the hint, I’ve jumped us over to making Jacks this week. We’ll circle back around to Nanos next week, cats willing.

Jack Character Sentences

Just like with the Glaives, we’ll roll up our Descriptor and Focus. As a reminder, we have twelve Descriptors and twenty-eight Foci. We’ll plug those numbers into our online random number generator of choice and see what we get. This week, our two characters are:

  • Character #1 is a Mystical Jack who Employs Magnetism
  • Character #2 is an Intelligent Jack who Controls Beasts

Already, these characters start to feel like entirely different beings. We know that Jacks are supposed to be the all-rounder characters in Numenera, and having one that uses magnetism and one that has animal powers definitely gives us a different feel than our cyborg and machine-speaker.

Jack Abilities & Talents

As a Jack, we get some default Abilities, just like we did for our Glaives, and we still have choices to make. Like Glaives, Jacks have their own table of potential backstory connections. Getting these rolls made quickly, we learn that our Magnetic Jack remembers very little of their past, a fact that has always struck them as strange. Meanwhile, our Beastmaster Jack has several expeditions wanting them to join because they seem like a promising member.

Our Jacks also have three sources for their talent origins. Our Magnetic Jack was Born Lucky; they are some sort of genetic anomaly whose entire existence seems to be warped around exceptional luck and innate ability. Conversely, our Beastmaster Jack is from the School of Hard Knocks— every bit of experience they have they’ve clawed out of life, kicking and screaming.

Armor, Weaponry, & Skills

Now, our Jacks have different starting abilities than our Glaives did. They’re practiced with light and medium weapons, but if they attempt to use a heavy weapon, they have to increase the difficulty by one step. However, not only are they trained in one skill of their choice, they have daily a Flex Skill they choose at the beginning of each day. Their Flex Skill can be any skill other than attack or defense and will count as a Trained skill for the rest of the day (Page 25 of the Numenera core book has a list of recommended skills). Players are encouraged to create skills that are different than these, but for our purposes, we’ll take two of these at random for our characters. Our Magnetic Jack is Trained in Persuasion, and our Beastmaster Jack is Trained in Geography.

Jacks also learn Tricks of the Trade. We’ll pick two options from the seven at random for each of our characters. Our Magnetic Jack gets Bash and Thrust, two abilities we’re familiar with from last week’s Glaives. Each cost one Might point with Bash causing one less damage than normal but stunning opponents, while Thrust inflicts one extra point of damage. Our Beastmaster Jack gets Hedge Magic and Trained Without Armor. We remember being Trained Without Armor means that we count as Trained in speed defense skills whenever we aren’t wearing armor. However, Hedge Magic is something new. It costs one Intellect point and allows us to do a variety of non-combat magical tricks.

Basic Stats

Next, you guessed it, stats.

  • Jacks Being a Glaive also gets us basic clothing, Light armor, either two weapons or one weapon and a shield, 8 shins, an explorer’s pack, a pack of light tools, two Cyphers, and an Oddity. Just like before, we’ll determine our Cyphers and Oddities later. Let’s move on to getting our characters their base stats as Jacks.
  • They start with a Might Pool of 10, a Speed Pool of 10, and an Intellect Pool of 10.
  • They get to choose one Edge to have at 1; the others start at 0.
  • They also have an Effort stat of 1 and can carry two Cyphers at a time.
  • 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.

Jack Descriptors

Now, for our Descriptors we have a Mystical Magnetic Jack and an Intelligent Beastmaster Jack, right?

Let’s start with Mystical. Being Mystical (Mystical/Mechanical is the actual Descriptor but a coin toss left us with Mystical) Jack means we have a +2 to our Intellect pool, as well as meaning that we are Trained in understanding and identifying the Numenera. Related to that skill, we have the ability to sense “magic”— or more accurately, detect Numenera in situations where it might not be obvious. As Mystical, our Magnetic Jack ALSO gains Hedge Magic. However, nothing is free, and our Mystical Jack has an Inability with any task involving Persuasion, Deception, or Charm. They just come across as too unnerving. Our Mystical Magnetic Jack also gets to start with an additional oddity. Finally, for their initial link to the adventure, a random roll out of four says that we were led to join this expedition by a dream we had.

Let’s jump to our Intelligent Beastmaster Jack. The Intelligent Descriptor also gets us +2 Intellect and gives us Training in a knowledge skill of our choice. We already have Geography, so let’s take Biology and fill in a little niche for ourselves. We are also considered Trained in any skill that requires us to remember things we’ve experienced personally, like knowing our favorite ruins like the back of our hand. Finally, for our 1-in-4 link to the adventure, we joined believing that the adventure would lead to interesting new discoveries.

Jack Foci

With those down, we can move on to the final part of the sentence. Let’s start with our Magnetic Jack. Under Employs Magnetism, we know that one other PC will have their personal items rattle and shake whenever we’re using our powers nearby. Our Magnetic Jack will receive the ability Move Metal, which costs one Intellect point. Once activated, our magnetism has a Might Pool of 10, a Might Edge of 1, and an Effort of 2, and we can use it to move or push against metal objects. A small item could be moved to anywhere within short range while a heavy object could be shifted about 10 feet. This power lacks the fine control to wield a weapon or move objects with much speed, so we probably can’t use it as a weapon. We also can’t use it on our own body.

Meanwhile, our Controls Beasts Jack functions a little differently for Foci. First, we gain three days worth of food for a beast companion, plus an appropriate harness or collar for such a creature. As an obvious second, we have a beast companion! This is a level-2 creature of our size or smaller that accompanies us and can follow instructions. We’ll work with our GM on the exact details, but the player of our Controls Beasts Jack will most likely be making the rolls for their companion. As a level-2 creature, it has 6 health, has a target number of 6, and deals points of damage. Should it die, we can take 1d6 days to seek out a new creature. There are eight total level-2 creatures in the core book, so we’ll choose our companion on a 1d8. We get a 6; a seskii. Seskii are scaled, knee-high hound-like creatures that grow organic crystals from their back and have bulbous ends on their tails.

Bonus Point Distribution & Optional Equipment

Do remember the next step? That’s right, now we’re going to go back and take a look at our stats and pass out those bonus points. We’ll also pick out our equipment.

For our Magnetic Jack, let’s give them 3 more points to their Might, 2 more to their Intellect, and 1 more to their Speed. Their combat abilities are all Might-based and they have both Employs Magnetism and Hedge Magic to use their Intellect.

For their armor, we’ll take a Leather Jerkin as they only get to choose light armor. This gives us +1 Armor point, but costs 1 Might per hour to wear and will reduce our Speed Pool by two for the duration we wear it. For weapons, we’ll choose both a close and long-range weapon seeing as our Magnetism isn’t good for fighting with. Let’s take a buzzer, a weapon that fires small saw blade disks for short-range combat, and a rapier for close combat.

Moving on to our Beastmaster Jack, we’ll give ourselves +2 to each Pool, just to stay well-rounded. We already have our bonus from Intelligent, so the +2 makes sure to give us plenty of Intellect to spread around while making sure we have points to spend when we get into a fight.

As far as equipment goes, we’ll give them hides and furs for their standard light armor, just to keep the theme going for their Controls Beasts Foci. However, they most likely go without so they can take advantage of their unarmored bonuses. For weapons, they’ll take a pair of daggers. Daggers are good for both close combat and short-range combat, as they can be thrown. For other targets far away, they’ll probably rely on their seskii to pin them down until they get there.

Cyphers & Oddities: So Extra

It’s time for our off the wall goodies! Our Magnetic Jack will get two cyphers and two oddities, while our Beastmaster Jack will get two cyphers and only one oddity. Our Magnetic Jack starts with a Temporal Viewer (a display that plays up to 10 minutes of a previously recorded event) and a Sonic Detonator (deafens all in the area when it explodes) for their cyphers. They also start with a glass orb that unceasingly drips perfumed water slowly, and a box that produces a 3-inch cube of a firm, gelatinous substance at the same time every day.
Meanwhile, the Beastmaster Jack starts with a Massive Electrical Discharge Detonator (an explosive that reaches 200 ft. in range) and a Heat Nodule (a crystal that can be attached to a weapon to cause an additional +2 heat damage for a full 28 hours) for their cyphers. For their oddity, they have a small square cage that puts whatever small animal that is put into it in stasis.

We Did It!

Alright, we’ve got two more characters down and we’re getting the hang of this, are we not? Next week, we’ll make a pair of Nanos and then start in on crafting adventures for this strange and wonderful world. Of course, in the meantime, you should all remember to…



Written by: Jason A. Clark

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

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