Genre: Fantasy

The Fantasy Genre starts on page 252 of the Cypher System Rulebook (Red Cover, Copyright 2019 Monte Cook Games). Supplements to this system include Gods of the Fall by Bruce Cordell. Shotguns and Sorcery by Matt Forbeck from Full Moon Enterprises.  Mortal Fantasy by Christopher Robin Negelien from Ganza Gaming. Supplements coming soon from Monte Cook Games are Godforsaken and even Ptolus is being ported to the Cypher System. 

One of the things that makes Fantasy unique in the Cypher System is that unlike more traditional Fantasy RPG’s, you no longer gain experience (and thus, advancement) for killing things. There is no reward to ‘murder hobo’ or leap into combat for no reason.  This doesn’t mean that combat doesn’t happen, it simply isn’t what is rewarded. For a discussion of what IS rewarded and why, check out Josh’s blog post covering the subject here.

Most Fantasy settings usually involve swords, sorcery, nonhuman species (such as elves, dwarves, half-giants), and the epic struggle of Good versus Evil where heroes triumph in the end. Under Creating A Fantasy Setting on page 252 there are a series of questions that will help you begin planning out what your setting will look like. Running a Fantasy Game usually also means dealing with Magic and Magical Items. We discuss skinning cyphers and artifacts to fit different genres here.

Fantasy just like the section on Science Fiction has a list of types and focuses recommended. You can, as usual, just use them or you can mix and match to add a different flavor or feel to your Fantasy game.  Cypher is designed in very much a Lego fashion, for you to pick and choose the blocks that fit your game and then to let you assemble them as you wish.

Now for the breakdown and my steps on creating and running a Fantasy Game:

  1. Decide your supplements if any that you want to use, or if you want to mix and match. Each one brings something different to the table.
  2. Answer the questions on page 252, and probably add others, like how heroic do you want the game to be, or how commonplace is magic?
  3. Work with your players on the kind of story you want to tell together.  The Cypher System shines when it is a collaboration between a GM and the players.  If you work together to create the setting, not only will everyone’s expectations be met, you’ll find the setting going in new and interesting directions with unique stories to tell. 

OK.  You’ve got your players, you’ve got a plan, now where do you start? Here are three that I have started with in the past. You are also more than welcome to use adventures, adventure seeds, or even translate adventures from other games into the Cypher System for your campaign. Anthony Fernandez from the Cypher Unlimited team has done an excellent job with Keep on the Borderlands.

  1. The Bar Trope, a tavern, an inn, or even a drunk tank at the local jail. 
  2. Captured by the bad guys and have to work together to make a daring escape
  3. The players are traveling with a caravan, and get a call to arms at your local mercenary guild that needs help.

You love Fantasy.  We do too.  Most people playing role-playing games today cut their teeth on Fantasy.  We still love it.  This Genre was chosen by you for a reason. Your players want to play here for a reason.  Focus on that reason and let your love of the game shine. It will show in everything you do.

  • Joann Walles

Update 8/5/2020: Linked to post on Reskinning Cyphers and Artifacts

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