Implementing a pure version of the “Cypher” system in “Weirworld” make “Burden” as a mechanic problematic. To work around this issue with a minimum of bookkeeping, I made the following adjustments to the standard rules. Remember that these rules apply only to the “Weirworld” recursion and normal rules reassert themselves once the characters travel to a new recursion.
On Krollis cyphers are not physical objects and manifest themselves as motes of yellow-green light rising from the dead eyes of the recently deceased. A player may gather this light as an action into himself. Cyphers so gathered are now an intrinsic part of the player and cannot be traded, given away or otherwise exchanged. Only death makes the cyphers available. Though a player may use the cypher’s effect on another character. In all other respects the cypher performs as normal. Suppose you have “Gas Ammunition” as a cypher on Krollis and then used that cypher. Godlight flows from your hands forming crossbow bolts that explode into a gas on impact. Any cyphers brought from other recursions flow into their owner as “Burden.” Cyphers from outside Krollis and those gathered on Krollis automatically become physical objects upon leaving Krollis. At this point they may be exchanged/lost/stolen as normal.
“Burden” does limit player’s cypher trading/dropping, but it offers a seductive promise of power in return. Players may combine cyphers to increase their level! For example, a Paradox has three cyphers, a level 4 Sleep Inducer, a level 2 Intellect Booster and level 5 Glue. In the heat of battle, our player destroys his Glue cypher and transfers all five of those levels of power to the Sleep Inducer. The Sleep Inducer is a 1d6 cypher, so it has a theoretical maximum level of 6. Applying the five levels from the Glue boosts the cypher to six, its listed maximum and the remaining levels from the Glue are lost.
Wait! I hear the howling already from game masters screaming, ” No, it is too powerful! My players will crush my creatures and break my plots!” There is just one other addendum to cypher use on Krollis…
Godlight is a powerful thing of chaos and madness. To use a cypher (Godlight) on Krollis requires force of will or the Godlight uses you. Players must make intellect checks against the level of the cypher expended. Effort applies as does any appropriate skill/foci the game master allows.
For example, if a player activated a level 5 cypher, he would need to make a level 5 intellect check to avoid the price of Burden. Sadly, our hero only got a level 3 result. 5-3 = 2, so use the “2” result on the chart below.
To be clear: CYPHERS ALWAYS ACTIVATE, even if the player fails his intellect check. This chart is just the cost of using more power than your feeble mind can handle.
1. Stunned for 1 round
2. Stunned for 2 rounds
3. All remaining cyphers activate. Make intellect checks for each cypher. Apply all failure results to this table and effects are cumulative.
4. Blind for one hour.
5. Hear strange whispers for 24 hours. Disadvantaged at all intellect tasks.
6. Attack the nearest sentient being until either you or they are dead. Claim their Burden and then return to normal. This homicidal madness ends after one hour, even if no Burden is claimed.
7. For the next five minutes use the most efficient method available to end your miserable existence. Eat a gun, jump off a cliff, etc. No namby pamby suicide attempts either. If you have a doomsday device in your backpack, feel free to press the red button. Collateral damage is not your concern.
8. Gate Crawler. A nightmarish creature of tentacle and claw equal to the level of the cypher cast appears from a rip in the universe and seeks to devour all nearby lifeforms. Level = cypher used , Armor 2, HP 25. Yes, this is a high level creature, but running is always an option for the party. Besides it might be fun to let one loose in an enemy base if you have the courage to unleash one.
9. No visible impact, but the character has a new purpose in life: The acquisition of Burden by whatever means necessary. He will kill, lie and destroy without pity or remorse, though he might conceal this new purpose from the party to facilitate his goals. There is no such thing as “too far” for this character. Additionally, the player never rolls on this table again. Godlight serves him without question and he does not fear its power. He is now a Gatelord, a thing of horror and legend. This change is permanent and the character will not voluntarily leave Weirworld under any circumstances, though an elaborate quest for a powerful artifact might save this tainted character at the GM’s discretion.
See my final “spoiler” post in this series for more on the Gatelords and the true nature of Burden.
More tomorrow with some new foci for “The Strange.”
Trask, The Last Tyromancer