member, 33 posts
Sat 9 May 2020
at 19:11
The Strange / Cypher System
So, I was going through my gaming books and I came across my copy of "The Strange" from Monte Cook.  I bought it several years ago and thought it was really interesting but I've never actually played it.  It uses the Cypher System (the same ruleset used by Numenera and other Monte Cook games).

I'm thinking that I'd like to run a game in this setting later this Summer.  Before I start really digging into it I just want to take the temperature here and see if there are any players that might be willing to give it a go.

Here's some quick game background from Monte's website:


Beneath the orbits and atoms of our natural universe lies a network of dark energy. Those who have learned to access and navigate this chaotic sea have discovered an almost endless set of “recursions” in the shoals of our Earth: Worlds with their own laws of reality, reflected from human experience or imagination, given form in the swirling Chaosphere of the Strange. Worlds teeming with life, with discovery, with incredible treasures, and with sudden death.

Worlds sometimes jealous of our own.

The secret plunder of these worlds draws the brave, the daring, and the unscrupulous—and it draws dangerous enemies from these recursions back to our Earth.

And slowly but inexorably, it draws the attention of beings from beyond Earth’s shoals—beings of unfathomable power and evil from the unknown reaches of. . .

The Strange

The Cypher System, the game system that powers The Strange, is easy for beginners to learn, but it offers additional complexity for those who want it. Character creation involves making three basic choices, which together say something about the character. It follows the popular Numenera format of “I’m a blank blank who blanks,” with each blank being filled in with a word or phrase that describes your character both thematically and mechanically, because the choices you make tie directly to character stats and abilities. So your PC might be a Clever spinner who Solves Mysteries, a Strong vector who Channels Sinfire, or a Lucky paradox who Practices Soul Sorcery. Those phrases don’t just sound cool, they also directly determine what your character can do in the game!


The Strange has three basic character types:

Vectors are the muscle of setting. Vectors use persistent force to accomplish their goals and overcome whatever problem faces them. Vectors can wear armor and wield massive weapons, or they can fight with light weapons—including the fists, elbows, and knees—without armor so they can move quickly. But vectors aren’t about combat, strictly. They’re about action. They are the kind of people who get things done.

Paradoxes are the mad scientists, the sorcerers, and those who break the rules of reality. Whether using science, the power of the mind, spells, or something else entirely, a paradox is not bound by what others believe to be true. These characters tap into the Strange itself in ways that other characters do not.

Spinners are striking individuals, and possess a personality that allows them to spin tales, spin lies, or spin a version of the truth that makes others see things in a whole new way. If anyone is going to make a friend of an enemy, bluff their way into a high security compound, or mislead a world-devouring planetovore, it’s a spinner.


After selecting your type, you choose a descriptor, such as Appealing, Fast, Sharp-Eyed, Brash, Skeptical, or Strange. A descriptor flavors everything your character does.


Finally, you choose a focus. However, your focus changes based on the nature of the recursion you translate yourself to. On Earth, you might have a focus like Works the System, or Is Licensed to Carry, but on Ardeyn your character adapts to that world’s reality and its rules. So now your focus is Slays Dragons or Abides in Stone. On Ruk, you might take on Metamorphosizes or Regenerates Tissue or even something subtler, like Infiltrates.

Type and descriptor, then, become your character’s core. Even while equipment, abilities, and appearance change from recursion to recursion, that core identity remains the same. This means that focus is less your identity and more how you interact with the world—whichever world it is—around you.

Type, descriptor, and focus together shape your character, providing not only abilities and skills but also possibilities for interesting backgrounds and unique bonds with the other player characters. In other words, at every step of the way, the story is as important as the mechanics.
 member, 291 posts
Sun 10 May 2020
at 05:49
The Strange / Cypher System
I find the backstory and lore of The Strange really fascinating. I'd be up for a game of it.
Jack Starkiller
 member, 85 posts
Sun 10 May 2020
at 16:58
The Strange / Cypher System
I have played Cypher and Numenara.  I have The Strange, but have not read through yet.  I enjoy the system and think the simplicity of it is so much better for pbp.  I would love to play.
Isida KepTukari
 member, 346 posts
 Elegant! Arrogant! Smart!
Wed 13 May 2020
at 03:07
The Strange / Cypher System
I have played and run The Strange, and I love it to pieces, so I would definitely be up for a game!
 member, 63 posts
Thu 14 May 2020
at 14:57
The Strange / Cypher System
Hi!  Thanks for replying to my thread.  I'm very interested.  I've GMed Numenera for a few dozen sessions but understand the Cypher system very well.

I'd be interested in playing a non-Earth native, as well, if you'd allow.
 member, 36 posts
Fri 15 May 2020
at 00:34
The Strange / Cypher System
A few more thoughts about the campaign.

I'm not a huge fan of the "fictional leakage" concept from the core book where TV shows, movies and the like can somehow be translated into actual alternate realities in the Dark Energy Network.

As an alternative, I'm pondering the idea of recursions having been deliberately created sometime in the distant past by a mysterious group of "architects".  Something like Atrus and the D'ni from the Myst computer game series. These beings learned how to manipulate dark energy and the Strange but their hubris exceeded their skill and understanding.  As a result the realities that they created were all infected with one or more fatal flaws.  The sentient native inhabitants of these recursions began to fight back against the meddling of the outsiders and eventually learned to create recursions of their own as well as greater threats to reality.  These threats are now crossing the boundary to Earth and the heroes have to protect existence as we know it.  This isn't a fight that can be won alone however.  The PCs will have to enlist the aid of potential allies in other recursions and work to stabilize those realms to coordinate their efforts against the darkness.

I'd love any feedback on that generic metaplot as I continue to develop this campaign.
Jack Starkiller
 member, 86 posts
Fri 15 May 2020
at 17:03
The Strange / Cypher System
I am unfamiliar with Myst.   Down to the basics, the "architects" gave the ability to create recursions to however many of these initial recursions.  They are now creating them like crazy and it's getting to a point that there is so many they are bleeding over into Earth and attacking?

What happened to the Architects?
How many of the initial recursions rebelled and are able to create more?
About how long has this been happening?  How long have they had to load up the multiverse with alternate worlds?
Have any of them gotten good enough to the point they are getting rid of those fatal flaws?
Is Earth created by the Architects too?
Is it a full scale invasion of Earth or like a cold war, there are things here that shouldn't be.  Go find them!
Will you still be able to translate?
Would the missions be to go exterminate the other recursions, bring the architects back to power, or something else?
 member, 37 posts
Fri 15 May 2020
at 21:24
The Strange / Cypher System
Great questions!

This is still at an early stage but that helps me to think through the specifics of the game universe.  The PCs would have to discover a lot of the details concerning the existence/nature of the architects, the number of recursions and the recursion timeline during play.  The story would begin with the "first contact" between Earth and the beings from The Strange.

The PCs would certainly still have the ability to translate and they would have to travel to various recursions frequently.  Each mission would reveal circumstances and clues that would spur the heroes toward the next stage of their journey.  They would have a lot of flexibility to determine the best approach during each mission.

Regarding the Myst reference, the D'ni were a mysterious lost race of beings that had developed an ability (i.e. The Art) to create new worlds and then open portals to travel to them.  Each world was organized around a particular concept or foundational principle and the physical laws and appearance of the world (as well as the culture and beliefs of the inhabitants) grew out from that foundation.  Basically, the D'ni builder would establish the "seed" of the new reality and the world and its inhabitants grew and developed on their own.  However, the D'ni were arrogant and their creations always decayed and collapsed.  Efforts to correct a world's fundamental flaws always made things worse over time.  The living inhabitants of these worlds suffered as a result.  The D'ni were mortal but essentially had god-like powers over the worlds that they created.

Just to clarify, the proposed game would not be set in the Myst universe or feature the D'ni.  Those concepts just seemed to share some common DNA with The Strange and would be one of several sources of inspiration for building the campaign universe.
 member, 45 posts
Sat 16 May 2020
at 00:29
The Strange / Cypher System
If you guys are still gathering interest/players, I've been fascinated by the Strange (more than I have been drawn to Numenera) and have some very beginner understanding of the Cypher system. I certainly don't mind the fictional leakage concept getting jettisoned in favor of this "ancient architects" concept.
 member, 178 posts
Sat 16 May 2020
at 01:06
The Strange / Cypher System
Something like this lends well to different GMs telling stories in different Recursions, ones that play to their personal storytelling strengths; not unlike a 'round robin' sort of set-up.
 member, 38 posts
Sat 16 May 2020
at 03:33
The Strange / Cypher System
Sojobo, this is still in its infancy and it will be a month or two before I attempt to launch a game but you will certainly be welcome once we get started!

Witchdoctor, that’s a good idea and I would definitely be willing to consider adding some co-GMs later on if folks are interested.  Thanks for the input!
 member, 29 posts
 Numenera player
 Vampire player
Sat 23 May 2020
at 20:30
The Strange / Cypher System
I'm also interested in playing.  I am very familiar with Numenera and the Cypher System.  I have PDFs of The Strange and many of the other related sourcebooks, although I haven't had a chance to read them yet.  I have the new Cypher cook book in hardcopy, as well.

*core book

This message was last edited by the user at 11:24, Tue 26 May.

 member, 45 posts
Tue 26 May 2020
at 06:08
The Strange / Cypher System
Hi Larcen,

Thanks for your interest.  I'll definitely include you when I'm ready to launch this game!
 member, 1 post
Wed 3 Jun 2020
at 14:48
The Strange / Cypher System
In reply to cithindril (msg # 1):

This sounds really cool, but I’m not familiar with The Strange or Cypher System! Would preexisting knowledge be something required to participate?
 member, 47 posts
Wed 3 Jun 2020
at 15:30
The Strange / Cypher System
Hi...thanks for your interest!

Preexisting knowledge wouldn't necessarily be required.  I can help walk new players through the essential rules and assist with transforming character concepts into completed characters.

This message was last edited by a moderator, as it was against the ToU, at 16:12, Wed 03 June.

 member, 95 posts
Wed 3 Jun 2020
at 18:43
The Strange / Cypher System
I would like to have another go at the Strange if you are running a game