Tuesday, August 4, 2015

On Being A Game Master: The Cypher System

My history with the Cypher System has been filled with ups and downs.  But last night, while running a one shot, the ups reached pretty high.

Two of my players in my DnD 5E game couldn't make it, so I suggested to the other three players that
we do a one shot of Numenera using the phenomenal Weird Discoveries.

I made pre-gens and handed them out, with only two people there we proceeded to play and gave them an overview of the system.  We were about to begin when my third player showed up.  I gave a quick rundown and then printed out The Alexandrian's excellent Numenera System Cheat Sheet.

My third player, we'll call him Kurt, has been playing DnD with us for close to a year.  He faces some significant challenges dealing with speech, focus, and mood and is in his early twenties.  In his time playing DnD with us, he's very enthusiastic, a bit goofy, but still finds much of the D20 system's moving parts a bit of a mystery.

However, last night, within a few minutes of my brief overview and looking over the Cheat Sheet, he was off and running.  Filled with ideas, questions, and vivid actions.

I was astonished.

You see, this would be my fourth time running Numenera and the first two times were...unexpectedly rough.  Sadly, I went into those games with some biases from my experience in running games and mades some changes, like increasing Effort and starting at Tier 3, that combined with my inability to articulate the system, that left me cold on the game.

However, after having some great discussion with two kind and generous Cypher GM's, I came away convinced to run the game as written and trust my players to handle it.  

And boy has that worked out.

Kurt is a very kind and well meaning person and he picked up this game in a matter of heartbeats and before my very eyes became an enthusiastic and active keystone in the game.  He went from offering an occasional one-liner to a driving force in the game.  

And it had nothing to do with me.

Thank you Monte Cook Games.  Thank you for these tools.
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