Mass Effect Starships for the Cypher System
Important Stuff first!
Firstly the Cypher System is property of Monte Cook Games.
The Mass Effect Trilogy is property of Bioware.
Go check out the Mass Effect Wikia!
Spoilers for the Mass Effect Trilogy follow.

SSV Normandy SR-1                 Level 4(12)me_normandy1

A prototype vessel which was conceived as a cooperative venture between the Earth Alliance and Turien Hierarchy, the Normandy was designed as a deep scout ship, utilising a unique drive core and stealth technology to gather information on enemy assets.  

Type: Systems Alliance Space Vehicle Stealth Reconnaissance Frigate-1, Normandy Class.

Bridge Crew: 1 Pilot Station, 1 Co-pilot station.

Weapon Systems: 3 (Two Offensive, One Hybrid Defence/Offence)
Javelin Disruptor Torpedoes. Forward 180 degree arc.
These torpedoes create a powerful resonating mass effect field that is capable of ripping its target into shreds.
Spinal Magnetic Accelerator Cannon. Forward 45 degree arc.
Utilises electromagnetic energy and mass effect fields to fire a ferrous slug at relativistic speeds.
GARDIAN Laser Network. 360 degree sphere, short range.
General ARea Defense Integration Anti-spacecraft Network. An array of point defence laser turrets primarily designed for projectile and fighter acquisition. Provides a one Step Asset to Ranged Attacks versus fighter craft. At close range the GARDIAN system can be used against other warships.
Read the rest of this entry »

A Cypher System Sci-Fi Story Hook

Important Stuff first!
Firstly the Cypher System is property of Monte Cook Games.
The PC game “I-War” which inspired this post was created by Particle Systems.
Additional credit to the site for the CNV-301s tech specs.


“Would you dig up my grave?”
-Captain Jefferson Clay, Deceased.

A seemingly derelict ship of unknown origin drifts aimlessly through space. Without running lights it is a virtual black body floating in the blackness between stars.

Getting the Player Characters involved.
In deep space the PCs own space faring vessel collides with the Dreadnought, leaving their craft crippled. Their only chance for survival is to board the Dreadnought and see if they can salvage components for some vital systems.
2. Down on their luck the PCs are working for an organisation that is responsible for keeping the space shipping lanes clear of hazards. The Dreadnought has drifted into high traffic shipping lanes, becoming a priority issue for clearance.
3. A used spaceship salesman offers the PCs a fantastic deal on a mysterious vessel of unknown origin. He currently has a mercenary group guarding the ships current coordinates. No known previous owners, no history, no strings attached.

Whats really going on?
The spaceship in question is the Commonwealth Navy Vessel 301 Corvette Dreadnought. By itself this isn’t anything terribly remarkable, except for one important fact. The Dreadnought is in the wrong dimension. A one in a million fluctuation of its Faster Than Light drive while undergoing a regular maintenance overhaul sent it careening across space time to it’s current location. There are no crew aboard. At least…not in the conventional sense.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mass Effect Firearms in the Cypher System

Important Stuff first!
Firstly the Cypher System is property of Monte Cook Games.
The Mass Effect Trilogy is property of Bioware.
Go check out the Mass Effect Wikia!


“I’m here to put hyper-velocity rounds through the heads of bad guys.”
-Commander Shepard in conversation with Ashley Williams.

To avoid confusion…
The Cypher System classifies weapons in three categories. Light, Medium and Heavy. Pistols fall into the Light weapon category due to their size and ease of use, despite being named Heavy in the Mass Effect universe.

Future Firearms.
Mass Effect firearms utilise a dense internal block of metal as their ammunition, shaving off pellets or shards and firing them using a mass accelerator field. This produces a lot of excess heat which is compensated by Thermal Clips. Each clip enables a weapon to be fired a number of times before it is ejected, red hot, to be replaced by a fresh one. A weapon without a Thermal Clip cannot function.



M-3 Predator Heavy Pistol
Light Weapon. Thermal Clip Capacity: 12. Range: Long.
The M-3 is a rugged no frills sidearm field tested in countless battlefield scenarios.

Read the rest of this entry »

Geth in the Cypher System.

Important Stuff first!
Firstly the Cypher System is property of Monte Cook Games.
The Mass Effect Trilogy is property of Bioware.
Go check out the Mass Effect Wikia!

The following material will contain Spoilers for the Mass Effect Trilogy.
This is a fan created exploration of one of my favourite RPG systems with one of my favourite Sci-fi franchises.
Further information on most of the rules used here can be found in the Cypher System Rulebook.

A Cold Universe.
The are many obstacles and dangers in the Mass Effect universe however none appear to be more numerous and persistent than the Geth. Initially created by the Quarians as a servitor race, they were eventually granted the ability to network together in order to be a more efficient workforce. This proved to be the Quarians downfall as each Geth added to the network increased each individuals processing power and cognitive abilities, leading to the rise of true Artificial Intelligence. The Geth threw off the shackles of their masters in a bloody rebellion that burns across the stars even today.

Geth are a race of synthetic creatures who utilise cybernetic technology. While wholly artificial in nature, their synthetic muscle tissue and tech has been successfully bonded to organic lifeforms in the past, leading to terrifying hybrid creatures. I present to you the lowly Husk, the dependable Geth Trooper and the nightmarish Geth Hopper, for use in the Cypher System.

Husk: Level 2 (6)
“Oh God. They’re still alive!”
-Kaiden Alenko, witnessing Husks for the first time on Eden Prime in Mass Effect.Cornucopia_-_huskathon

Read the rest of this entry »

Mass Effect in the Cypher System


Important Stuff first!
Firstly the Cypher System is property of Monte Cook Games.
The Mass Effect Trilogy is property of Bioware.

This is a fan created exploration of one of my favourite RPG systems with one of my favourite Sci-fi franchises.

First the crunch, then the fluff! This represents my vision of Commander Shepard of the Mass Effect Trilogy as the Vanguard class, as rendered in the Cypher System. Further information on most of the rules used here can be found in the Cypher System Rulebook.

Commander Shepard, a Brash Explorer (Magic Flavour) who Never Says Die 

Name: Shepard

Background: You served in the military with honour.

Career: Vanguard

Might Pool: 13         Edge: 1

Speed Pool: 13         Edge: 0

Intellect Pool: 10    Edge: 0

Tier: 1

Effort: 1

Recovery: 1d6+1

Cypher Use: 2

Bold, Practised with Light and Medium Weapons, Practised in Armour, Endurance, Biotic Charge (1 Intellect)*, Surging Confidence (1 Might), Rapid Recovery, Push on Through (2 Might).

Initiative (Trained)

N7 Armour (Medium Armour), Katana I Shotgun (medium ranged weapon), M3 Predator Pistol (light ranged weapon). Weapon and Armour Mods**.

Read the rest of this entry »


Shadows of the Apt is a book series by Adrian Tchaikovsky that features a civilisation of human like beings who express aspects of insectoid life in their physiology. Before I go any further I heartily recommend you pick up ‘Shadows of the Apt’ Book 1: “An Empire in Black and Gold.” This post will contain mild spoilers for the first two books.

The Kinden, as these beings are called, all have a connection to an Ancestor Spirit which grants them an Ancestor Art specific to their breed. Certain races are also Apt, incapable of harnessing the magical arts but able to grasp technological concepts such as clockwork and engineering. Conversely the Inapt have access to magic and mysticism but cannot understand how simple devices like locks function. They understand that a locked door cannot open, but they cannot envisage how such a device works, even if someone explained it to them.

I thought this would be interesting to try and convert into Cypher System Descriptors. To begin with, I’ll be taking a look at the Beetle, Mantis and Wasp Kinden.

Apt races cannot take any character option related to magic. Inapt races cannot take any character options relating to technology. Shadows of the Apt is largely fantasy based, with aspects of Steampunk.


Beetle Kinden
Beetle Kinden are usually a short, stocky, hardy folk, given to great industry and artifice.

Beetle Kinden are an Apt race.
Choose One Skill: Chemistry, Lockpicking, Machinery, Metalworking, Physics, Piloting, Repairing, History. You are Trained in this skill.

Beetle Kinden have a +2 bonus to their Might Pool.

Ancestor Art:
Most Beetle Kinden are able to anchor themselves firmly through their hands and feet. They are trained in Climbing.

Beetle Kinden are also very resilient to poison. They are considered Trained in Might Defense.

In extremely rare cases, some Beetle Kinden have been blessed with Flight*. Even rarer than this is the ability to see in the dark.

Link to Starting Adventure
 Your latest attempt at a flying machine crashed spectacularly nearby and you asked the party for help.
2) You freed an Inapt party member from unjust imprisonment by melting their shackles with a chemical compound or by picking the locks.
3)  You owe a fellow party member a debt as one of your inventions destroyed one of their prize possessions.
4) You’ve been hired by a party member to complete some sort of great work of artifice.


Read the rest of this entry »



Disclaimer: This Descriptor assumes your campaign setting is covered in a considerable amount of water and has access to a considerable amount of scientific or magical wizardry. Cetaceans need support technology to function well in a party. This was inspired by Numenera: Into The Deep and the Blue Planet RPG.


   1. a mammal (such as a whale, dolphin, or porpoise) that lives in the ocean.

You are a sentient aqua-form, analogous to a dolphin or whale from Earth. You have either been genetically modified, cybernetically enhanced or your ancestors were uplifted from their normal existence some time in the distant past.

Dolphin Analogue

Quicksilver: +2 to your Speed Pool and +2 to your Intelligence Pool.

Agile: Trained in Initiative while in water.

Dive Deep: The Dolphin Analogue is capable of holding their breath underwater for up to twenty minutes.

Read the rest of this entry »


Over the few years or so there has been something of a renaissance in tabletop gaming. Here I’d like to highlight some of the systems, rules and mechanics that have really caught my eye recently.

Group Skill Challenges
I first encountered these as a concept in the always divisive Fourth Edition of Dungeons and Dragons. The basic concept is that the party need to make a series of successful skill checks in order to overcome an obstacle or defuse a dangerous situation before they generate too many failures. The Difficulty Class is set (which is the number you have to beat to succeed) and the players utilise whichever of their characters skills would be relevant for the situation.

This appeals to me on a couple of levels. Firstly it promotes teamwork from the party. In a similar vein, it might also utilise some rarely used skills that have been gathering metaphorical dust on someone’s character sheet. Take for example, forging your way through a dangerous dark forest. What skills could apply? The obvious choices are Nature, Tracking, Navigation and similar skills. Physical skills such as Endurance or Athletics. Less obvious choices might be History. Perhaps there was an ancient tale hidden in an old book that told of a safe path through the forest.

Skill Challenges open up a discussion on how the individual can contribute to the success of the group and give all characters a chance to shine. The other great thing is that this approach can work with virtually any D20 based system.

Read the rest of this entry »


“These go to eleven.” -Nigel, Spinal Tap

In the Cypher System, Horror Mode is an optional rule where GM Intrusions become more frequent on PC dice rolls, generating an atmosphere of tension and fear. After having a bit of a stream of consciousness on Twitter, I had a thought where this could be applied in different situations.
One of which was the idea of a group of hapless mercenaries, backed up by an array of entirely untested military technology, suddenly find these weapons are potentially more dangerous to their wielders than the enemy. The Horror Mode mechanic is only in effect when they fire their weapons, representing the unpredictable nature of their firearms.

Heinrich Von Tessmacher hefts his brand new Triple Barrelled Plasma Annihilator, sighting on a slime coated Tentacled Molester. He rolls his dice.

“You’ve rolled a 2. The power core has been forcibly ejected and you’ve just irradiated Dave.”

“Dave, roll on the Numenera Mutations table. No, the Harmful ones.”

In this specific example the Horror Mode GM Intrusions should ideally be linked to the function (or lack thereof) of the weird and wacky weapons the players are wielding. This is obviously for a less serious campaign, think something along the lines of the original Ghostbusters film, where they all had experimental nuclear particle accelerators strapped to their backs and weren’t *entirely* sure what they would do when they fired them. As a consequence, they got the job done, but not before a large number of innocent chandeliers, table settings and paintings got vaporised.

Whatever you do, don’t cross the streams.

The Cypher System Rulebook is available from Monte Cook Games

The picture above is from the film Doom

Blame it on the Boom Boom is a song by Black Stone Cherry 😀

The Finites

You’re a Time Bomb. Literally.

You wake up. There’s an unfamiliar tightness around your throat, a strong chemical after-taste on your tongue. With a shaky hand you press your fingers against your neck and find a segmented metal collar securely fastened there. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” says an unfamiliar tinny sounding voice. It takes a moment to realise that the voice is emanating from the collar itself.

They come from all walks of life. From the most dangerous criminal to the average citizen on the street. Abducted and pressed into service by a faceless organisation whose ultimate goal is unclear. They are charged with all manner of tasks, from petty theft to assassination. Refusal is never an option because of one important fact:

The Clock is Ticking.

Read the rest of this entry »