Dark Sun Cypher system campaign log

playthrough

#1

Session 1 of Dark Sun in the Cypher system was a great success. We were down 2 players but had a surprise player with my friend’s fiancee showing. Good enough to start the campaign.

The characters are:
A lucky Thri-Kreen warrior who rides the lightning,
A human exiled explorer who controls beasts,
and a serene Eladrin adept who howls at the moon (by turning into an air drake for five nights per month)

They began in the slave pits of the Urik arena, put here for various crimes and are told by a relative of the Eladrin through the bars that she’s organized to get them out with a distraction during the fight, and have safe passage to the free city of Tyr, but their benefactor needs a favor from them.

The fight with 4 gladiators begins and while they take a bit to get going, the experimental initiative worked great - they could continue taking actions as a group until someone failed a roll, and the enemies would do the same until they succeeded a roll to defend themselves. Never had too many successes or failures.

After a grueling knock down drag out fight, they were victorious - but rescue wasn’t coming until the next round. They looked up, beleaguered, and see the massive tentacled Gaj goaded into the arena, psionically shrieking into their minds. They weren’t going to win this fight. Thankfully, after a close call with some tentacles an explosion rocked the stands followed by a cloud of green smoke as a rope ladder is thrown down to them. They escape in the confusion to meet their ticket to freedom.

Their benefactor is an elf merchant named Shirall, who wants them to steal an obsidian orb from the local sorcerer king’s private villa. They accept and go under cover of night, using the mage’s air drake form to distract the templars guarding the place while the others sneak in from the roof. The templars prostrate themselves before her draconic form, believing her to be their sorcerer king in his full glory, having never seen him in this form before. The nomad and gladiator enter through the roof and descend the rafters to reach the orb, held in the talons of a draconic hand statue. Stealing the orb triggers a psionic alarm that alerts the templars, but they are held back by the intimidating Drake.

The party escapes in moonlight with the orb, delivering it to Shirall. He takes them aboard his sand barge and they sail 3 days south to Tyr.

Overall it was a great first session. I learned that rolling in the Cypher system against a set difficulty is quite different to the room difficulty I used in ICRPG, they spend points to Lower difficulty rather than add to a d20 every roll, so suddenly those lower numbers are hit more often. I went a bit overboard on the enemies but it was good to learn from and I was glad that they circumvented the tower. I also need to hand out gate/doom points more liberally to keep things fun.

Next session: All Roads Lead to Tyr.


#2

Session 2
The party arrives in the free city of Tyr, and after having helped Shirall deliver his goods to the merchant’s quarter, he leads them to meet their benefactor. They are lead through more and more regal areas of the city until they are finally met with the Golden Tower, and find that the one who comissioned the theft of the sphere was none other than Tithian, the ex high templar of Kalak and currently crowned as the liberator of Tyr. He provides them sacks of coin for their service to him, and sends them off to his comrade Argis, who has work for them in the fields outside the city.

They meet Argis, a noble but one who doesn’t place himself above the others, and is working the land with those he is in charge of. He is perturbed at the news of the obsidian sphere being obtained by Tithian, but has other issues that require their help. Once they are sequestered in a quiet part of a nearby inn, he explains his plight: people of note have started to go missing from Tyr these last few months, most recently his partner Sadira, who assisted in the liberation of the city the previous year. He provides them a list of places his contacts have seen her before she disappeared, and requests that they search the city for her.

The list has several prominent businesses in the city, and as they search they find several clues, a contact she has in the Veiled Alliance, and proof that she has been seen entering the under-Tyr before disappearing. along the way they also find another party member, an impulsive drunk woman prone to breaking things.

They explore the Under-Tyr with her as their guide, and happen upon the Crimson Altar, an underground temple from a previous civilization guarded by cultists. the Eladrin is captured and taken to the cells beneath, while the remnants of the party storm the building while the guards are handling her. they make quick work of the cultists when they return, realizing they have draconic features and can breathe fire, among other elements. they save their Eladrin companion and follow the sounds of chanting upstairs to find that Sadira is soon to be sacrificed by the dragon-men for unknown reasons. there are several cultists like the ones they previously fought, a shaman, and a hulking dragon-man lit only by ritual candles.

Knowing they will have the most trouble with him, they pounce on the hulking one and immediately take him out, then focus their efforts on the shaman while their newest member sneaks up and frees Sadira, who displays her knowledge of defiling magic and drains the last remnant of the shaman’s life. The druid takes her drake form and blocks the entrance, while the rest dispatch the remaining cultists. At the end of the bloodbath they retreat back to the upper city and reunite Sadira with Argis, as well as obtain a future meeting with her Veiled Alliance contacts.

Having learned from my last session, I added a few adjustments to the system, starting with the difficulty which i feel will be in an excellent place once I actually start using the meta currency system I’ve introduced the players to over the last sessions for myself. The system effectively replaces XP, but allows them the same benefits such as immediate or permanent benefits (such as rerolls or gaining pool points) gained by spending points they get for accomplishing character goals, doing entertaining things, and rolling crits. Since these were rare in the last session, and they weren’t really using the immediate benefits, I was also inspired by EZ D6 to use it as a karma system, granting them one of these fate/doom points every time they fail a roll and don’t spend to reroll. This game is pretty fast so they don’t actually roll that much, so it keeps things fresh. Next session I’ll start using the Doom pool in earnest for the benefit of my own NPCs and crank the difficulty so they see the value of the meta currency.

Next session: Drums in the Jungle