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Decrypting the Cypher System Part 5 (Prep and Run)

Gnome Stew - 2 September 2015 - 12:21am

When we last left off, I had prepped for a fantasy horror campaign with the cypher system rules. This time around, I prepped a session, invited over a group of friends with a variety of levels of experience with RPGs, made characters and ran a game.

Session prep took the form of loose half page descriptions of four locations that were likely to be important to the session as well as names and descriptions of characters likely found in those locations, a few miscellaneous notes, and stats for two new opponents. All together, the prep took around two hours, most of which was spent hemming and hawing over if the scenario prior to the characters’ arrival made any sense (and fixing it when it didn’t), randomly generating names*, and researching were-hyenas. The cypher system easily delivers on it’s promise to just get out of the way and let you run your game. Most mechanical issues (skill challenges, many NPCs, mook level adversaries) are expressed as just a single number. More important elements can be expressed as a single number as well, but can also be expanded as much or as little as you choose. Here are some examples from my notes:

-With some calming, someone remembers everyone on the ranch has been on edge but doesn’t know why (int 3)

-With some healing skill, the symptoms are indicative of great trauma in the chest cavity. (His heart and lungs have been torn to shreds) (int 3)

Hyena                       Level 2(target # 6)

6 hps. does 2hp damage


Were-Hyena (Chiemeka Dalitso)                Level 5 (target # 15)

Health: 15 points

Damage inflicted: 5 points

Movement: Short

Modification: Attacks and defends as level 6, senses as level 7

Combat: most attacks have half effect. Following has full: magic, silver, attacks coated in disbous (an orange wolfsbane like flower) or wolfsbane

Were Hyenas are distracted by burnt offerings

Were Hyenas have a gaze attack that mesmerizes


Before the session I printed out a few pages from the rule book on each Type that players might choose, and a listing of Descriptors and Foci. There are too many descriptors and foci to print all of them, so we just pulled up the ones that looked interesting then printed the ones they chose. Character creation didn’t take a lot of time, but I’m not sure sheets were all filled out perfectly. If we have another session, I’ll have to go back over everyone’s sheet and check that everything is in order. This was due to the fact that none of us had used the system before more than any issue with the system. We ended up with a well rounded group with a mix of Types and with a wide variety of Descriptors and Foci. We had:

  • A Mad Wizard who Siphons Power
  • A Hideous Druid who Bears a Halo of Fire
  • A Charming Bard who Entertains
  • A Mechanical Warrior who Imbues Homonculi
  • A Stealthy Cleric who Sees Beyond

Running the session was a simple affair. I had prepped the right material, but more importantly, unanticipated actions and questions were easy to resolve. For example, with the elements I had put into place, I had anticipated the most likely outcome was a pitched battle with the were-hyena and his minions, but the PCs instead figured out his human identity and negotiated peace with him. This was simple to adjudicate, as the default difficulty for unspecified actions is simply equal to the target’s level. I had some problems with setting difficulties and with knowing what was a reasonable challenge for the PCs and how many challenges made a good session, but those are the kind of things that you hone with practice with a system and there is some advice on the topic in the GMing chapter of the book. I also feel like I need to re-read some of the optional rules I used just to make sure I had them correct.

I do however, feel that character creation would have gone much more smoothly with a utility to choose Descriptors, Types, and Foci, that a lot of shuffling of papers would have been eliminated with ability cards (This may impact the above concerns as well. Players may use a lot more points from their pool when finding their abilities isn’t as difficult.), that genre flavored cypher cards would have been useful, and an official GM’s screen would have been preferable to my homemade version. All of these are things I could make myself, though not without a considerable outlay of time and not with professional quality. These extras aren’t essential, but they will certainly be welcome at my table when they arrive, either from Monte Cook Games, or from the fan base.

So, in the end, would I say this game lives up to it’s promises and would I recommend it to others? Yes on both counts. The game is simple and easy to run while being mechanically sturdy, the prep times involved are low, and there are myriad options available. While I feel the system will truly come into it’s own once all the extras are in place, I doubt it will take long for them to be put into place. The fan base has already made similar resources for prior games that use the cypher system, and they seem like too valuable add-on products for Monte Cook Games to not make them.


* Since we’re touching on randomly generating names: I love the random name generator at, but hate the fact that it can only generate one at a time. Anyone have a suggestion of a generator that’s as or more robust, but allows generation of lists of names?

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Realityloop: Get ready for DrupalCon Barcelona Sprints and Mentoring

Planet Drupal - 1 September 2015 - 10:26pm
2 Sep Brian Gilbert

The Realityloop team have been contributing at DrupalCon sprints since 2010, mentoring at sprints since 2013, and I've personally been a lead mentor at sprints since DrupalCon Austin last year. To Realityloop the best way to help an open source project thrive is to contribute back and this is one of the ways that we do that.  The whole Realityloop whole team we be mentoring at DrupalCon Barcelona so we'd love to see you attending.

What is a Sprint?

A sprint is simply a get-together of people involved in a project to further a focused development of the project. In the DrupalCon context it's where we all get to sit in a room together and make Drupal better.

Come join us at the DrupalCon sprints

DrupalCon Barcelona is only a few weeks away, and as usual there will be a lot of sprinting happening around and during the event! 

If you are interested in contributing - and we'd love you to get involved - there are a lot of resources available. If you've never contributed in the past you shouldn't assume you don't have the skills to contribute. Many of the things being worked on need people with experience in things other than coding, such as; design, project management, writing documentation, dev ops, testing, user experience, marketing, or just helping hands. 

If you will be mentoring at the First Time Sprinters Workshop we really appreciate you giving your time to help get new people involved.

To all who contribute, open source projects thrive with contribution from their communities so by contributing you are changing the world and directly helping Drupal grow. For that we thank-you!

On the Internet

Check the Barcelona website for the sprint schedule and location information. Sprinting is generally happening all the time and at multiple locations, if you will be mentoring keep an eye on the BoF schedule for the mentoring and triaging sessions.

On the Drupal website you can also find a lot of information on ways to get involved in the Drupal project and core mentoring or how to set up a local Drupal development environment for the First Time Sprinters workshop, how to use the issue queue and tasks for new contributors.

During the conference

At the conference there will be a Core Mentoring booth in the Exhibit Hall (booth 100), It is staffed by mentor volunteers and if you have questions about getting involved, being mentored.. or becoming a mentor, or anything else related to contributing please pay us a visit we'll be happy to answer your questions.

On the Friday after a DrupalCon there is always an all-day sprint. The attendees of this sprint will typically be working on any one of Drupal core, contributed modules and themes, Drupal related project, and even itself.

    • First-Time Sprinter Workshop
      If this will be your first Drupal sprint or you need help setting up your computer, then the First-Time Sprinter Workshop in room 116 is especially for you. It is hed in the morning of the Friday sprint, and mentors will be on hand to help you get setup and learn about the various tools used for contributing. If you do not have a working Drupal 8 environment on your machine installed from the git repositry, please attend this workshop. The mentors at this workshop will be focused on getting you ready to contribute so you can spend the afternoon at the..
    • Mentored Core Sprint
      This is all day session is where new contributors can come to get mentored help. Mentors at the Mentored Core Sprint in room 115 will help you pair up with another new contributor or several contributors, find an issue or issues that you are interested in to work on together, and work through the process of contributing. All skill levels and roles are welcome. This is not a developer only event. If you don't yet have a Drupal 8 development environment installed via git then for your benefit it is suggested to attend the First-Time Sprinter workshop before coming to this room.
    • General Sprints
      Experienced contributors are encouraged to attend the all-day General Sprints in room 114. Typically contributors in this area form groups to work on key initiatives, or you can form your own.


A reminder to sprint leads, mentors and experienced contributors

Make some time before the conference begins to update your issues. If you have easier issues tag them as "Novice", and review your issues for missing tags, especially ones that less experienced contributors or non-developers can assist with. some of these might be; rerolls, manual testing, change notice updates, or documentation

The mentoring team will be triaging the issue queue throughout the week. If you are interested in helping please attend the related BoF to discuss and pick issues appropriate for the Friday sprint.

Also, remember that extended sprints actually start on the 19th September, so it would be great if you can find time to update things before then.

Moral of the story

If your attending a DrupalCon and not attending the Sprints, your really missing out on a quite large part of the DrupalCon experience just one of the reasons I would urge anyone interested to get involved and contribute.

You'll get to make a lot of new friends and help make Drupal a better project, learn to be a better coder if that is your interest, find smart people to collaborate with, grow your karma quotient, have a lot of fun and maybe even get on stage for a live code commit!

Even if you're not a coder, you can be confirming bug reports, testing patches, writing documentation, creating marketing or training materials, planning event logistics, or even organizing your own local code sprint or camp... and this is just a small selection of the stuff that you'll be able to do as a contributor. Come change the world!

drupal planet
Categories: Drupal

Enemy Attacks and Telegraphing - by Mike Stout Blogs - 1 September 2015 - 10:17pm
Best practices for letting the player know what questions your enemies are asking.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

We Should Patch Our Games - by Keith Burgun Blogs - 1 September 2015 - 10:17pm
In this article, Keith Burgun unpacks some of the complaints surrounding game patches, and explains why, despite the annoyances, patching our games beats the alternative.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Music Has The Right to Children - by Paul Kilduff-Taylor Blogs - 1 September 2015 - 10:17pm
I discuss some thoughts on music and what game design might be able to learn from it.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Quad-buffered stereoscopic 3D with Unity3D - by N Baron Blogs - 1 September 2015 - 10:17pm
This post will explain the steps I went through to enable stereoscopic 3D in Unity3D. Specifically, quad-buffer stereoscopic 3D (QBS3D) used to perform professional grade 3D effects. This journey starts in 2011 and conclude with the latest release 5.1.3.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Linux game development in 2015 - by Yanick Bourbeau Blogs - 1 September 2015 - 10:17pm
There are so many articles about how to do games using Windows with engines such as Unity and flipping art from assets stores. But really there are not many articles about alternative development processes such as building under Linux.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

5 ways to turbo-charge your LTV - by Mark Rosner Blogs - 1 September 2015 - 10:17pm
LTV, the lifetime value a customer, is one of the most important metrics for game developers to track. It is the ultimate benchmark of how your game is doing in terms of revenue. You can calculate LTV lots of ways, but this shares how you can increase it.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

This feels like a complete waste of time - by Pietro Polsinelli Blogs - 1 September 2015 - 10:17pm
Why playing some videogames leaves you with a sour taste, with the feeling of having wasted time and even that you have somehow debased yourself? I try to find game structural features that can be used to avoid such side effect.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

My Animation Pipeline for Political Party Animals - by Ryan Sumo Blogs - 1 September 2015 - 10:17pm
I go over my pipeline for making and animating characters using Photoshop and 2Dtoolkit in Unity.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Tools of Destruction: creating the perfect shooter firearm - by Michel Sabbagh Blogs - 1 September 2015 - 10:17pm
A guide on how to craft and design gaming firearms that truly evoke the feeling of power the player seeks from his/her overall experience.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Four Lessons That 30+ Years of Software Development Has Taught Me About Building Games - by Bjørn Furuknap Blogs - 1 September 2015 - 10:12pm
I recently left a long career doing corporate and business software development. In fact, I have written software professionally for more than 20 years now. During those years, I've learned a few valuable lessons that I'd like to share with you.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Commerce Shipping Cart Estimate

New Drupal Modules - 1 September 2015 - 1:30pm

Commerce Shipping Cart Estimate defines a form for estimating shipping charges in a block that can be placed on the shopping cart page. It requires customers to supply an administrative area and postal code and then returns the shipping services that may be available to that customer.

Since it is only adding partial data to the cart order's customer profiles, it may not be compatible with all shipping methods. Additionally, it only currently supports U.S. and Canadian state / province selection.

Categories: Drupal

ECK CTools

New Drupal Modules - 1 September 2015 - 9:13am

Provides CTools integration for ECK and entities created via ECK.

Categories: Drupal


New Drupal Modules - 1 September 2015 - 8:20am

Lenses allow you to view, edit, or create content while only being shown a particular subset of its fields.

When you look at or edit a piece of content through a lens, you only see the parts of it you are interested in, allowing you to focus on a particular task at hand.

Categories: Drupal

Zoocha Blog: Local .htaccess environment conditionals, HTTPS example

Planet Drupal - 1 September 2015 - 7:41am
Platform DevelopmentWeb Development

Adapted from a post by the Nerdary  that basically deals with the problem of having .htaccess files that are different on your local and other environments.

This example deals with the headache of https and not wanting your local environment to automatically redirect to HTTPS. I am only posting the relevant code that sets up the environment variable.

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c> RewriteEngine on ### SET UP ENVIORNMENTS ###   # Default environment is master ### RewriteRule .* - [E=ENVIRONMENT:master]   # Environment is set to develop if the server names ends in RewriteCond %{SERVER_NAME}$ RewriteRule .* - [E=ENVIRONMENT:develop] ## END SET UP ENVIRONMENTS ### # Redirect HTTP to HTTPS only if environment is master RewriteCond %{ENV:ENVIRONMENT} master RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off RewriteCond %{HTTP:X-Forwarded-Proto} !https RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301] </IfModule>

Another cool thing about this is that we've also created a new $_SERVER['ENVIRONMENT'] variable that we can access in php. 


Categories: Drupal

Red Crackle: Dependency Injection

Planet Drupal - 1 September 2015 - 7:06am
If you are starting to learn about Drupal 8, you must have come across a term called "Dependency Injection". If you are wondering what it means, then this is the post you should read. Through examples, you will learn why dependency injection is useful for decoupling the code as well as unit testing effectively.
Categories: Drupal


New Drupal Modules - 1 September 2015 - 6:11am

This module provides a WYSIWYG plugin for inputing the Ooyala videos inside a text area, and a input filter to display it when the text area is rendered.

Categories: Drupal

Wuinfo: Avoid Using the node_load_multiple API Function

Planet Drupal - 1 September 2015 - 5:26am

In a large website with many nodes, stop using the node_load_multiple function. It potentially limits the site growing.

According to the document: "This function should be used whenever you need to load more than one node from the database." But, I want to say that we should avoid using this function as this open the door to system crash in the future.

I had written a blog before Design a Drupal website with a million nodes in mind. I had used this function as an example. It is true that node_load_multiple function enhance the performance. But, it comes with a price. When we load thousands of node into the memory, it exhausts the web server memory instantly. Then we get this infamous message: "Fatal error: Allowed memory size of 268435456 bytes exhausted (tried to allocate XYZ bytes) in ...".

This issue brought me to an attention when I am reading the code done by one of the well-known Drupal shops. In one of the recently launched high-profile project, the function is used to load all the show nodes in the system. It sounds to be troublesome to me at the beginning. We can not load all nodes if we are not sure how many it will be? Where there are a small amount of node in the system, that is fine. But if it is for a system there are over hundred thousand nodes, that is a big problem. As time goes by, we add more shows into the system; The utility function needs more memory to handle it. The physical memory limits the ability to add infinity show nodes into the system.

What is the best way to handle this situation? Avoid using the node_load_multiple function. If we have to use the node_load_multiple, limit the number of the node for node_load_multiple to load.

Categories: Drupal

CMS Updater

New Drupal Modules - 1 September 2015 - 4:52am

CMS Updater module helps you to keep your Drupal site secure at all times.
Right after a new Drupal core release is published, this is recognised by the CMS Updater Service, which in turn will update your Drupal system.

There is no need for intervention on your part – just check your mailbox from time to time, read your PDF update, and see if the automated updates have been successfully completed (or not).

Categories: Drupal
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