Descriptors – the ‘adjective’ part of the one-sentence character description at the heart of an Cypher System character – come in a wide range of flavors and effects. They can be positive – things like Charming, Fast, Intelligent, Perceptive, or Tough – negative – such as Craven, Doomed, Impulsive, Mad, or Tongue-Tied – or simple flavorful – Exiled, Jovial, Mystical, or Weird. All of them have statistical impacts that help define the way your character is unique in contrast to a ‘basic’ version of whatever Type you choose.
Descriptors can impact whether you have training or an inability with a kind of skill, modify your stat pools to some degree, grant some small but helpful ability or a lasting effect the GM can use to invoke to bring your character into problematic situations, grant extra equipment or remove resources, and – perhaps most importantly – suggest ways to tie your character to the initial events of a game session or campaign.
As such, it might be helpful to touch on a few additional Descriptors (and modified versions of the core book ones) that are particular to the lands of Wraeclast. Modified descriptors are Doomed, Exiled, Spiritual, and Weird; additional ones are Cursed, Forgotten, Outcast, Pious, and Touched. As you might expect, given the cursed nature of the world these are helping describe, each one has downsides to go along with the benefits they offer.
Modified descriptors will just have their differences from the core versions noted, while new ones will be detailed in full.
You’re condemned and you know it. You were born under an ill sign, touched with dark powers and fated to come to an ill end of some kind. Your entire life has been lived under this cloud, leaving you waiting for the other shoe to drop. Of course, there’s always the danger that the curse doesn’t mandate a bad end for you, personally, but for those who’ll have to deal with what you may become.
Fatalistic Reserve – You gain a +2 bonus to your Might Pool.
Dark Lore – You are trained in religious knowledge, history, and knowledge related to Virtue Gems and magic.
Inability – Your resignation makes you slow to react to threats; all initiative and Speed Defense rolls are modified by one level to your detriment.
Condemned Fate – Every other time the GM uses an Intrusion on you, you gain one XP to give away to someone else, but none for yourself. You are allowed to spend XP to refuse the intrusion still.
Burdened – Your curse takes precedence over all other ills against you; any time something attempts to place a long-term negative effect on you, rolls involved in it are modified one level in your favor.
Cosmetic Effect: You have some visible mark or item you can’t be rid of that signifies your curse.
Inability – Effects that would grant you a lasting benefit have all their rolls modified one level to your detriment.
Voices – You hear the call of the closest voices of death; you can spend a minute studying a choice ahead of you to sense which one has the stronger taste of doom about it (in game terms, the GM gives you a vague idea about what way ahead of you leads to the highest-level opponents.)
Bond of Wraeclast – You are trained in all tasks related to Virtue Gems.
Your exile included a condemnation from the Arch Inquisitor himself, commanding that your name be struck from all records and that all who knew you must never speak of you again. Your deeds are gone, your past erased, your course wrenched from the path that fate had laid in for it. Even the auguries of your birth no longer apply to you.
Flexible – You gain +2 to a Pool of your choice.
Raw Talent – Your newfound freedom has forced you to become better at looking after yourself. You become trained in running, jumping, and survival.
Inability – Being wrenched out of the world has wrenched it from you, as well; everything outside your life since the condemnation is a blur. Any rolls involving lore and history not directly related to you is modified by two steps to your detriment.
Your crimes, whatever they were, are the stuff of whispered legend; where others were condemned to exile or cursed to be forgotten, you have been cast out. In the eyes of those who once knew you, you are no longer human – no longer anything but a terrible beast, a danger to all around you. Perhaps the crimes you were cast out for were true, perhaps not; it doesn’t matter. On the cursed shores of Wraeclast, you have no choice but to become what you have been accused of being, if you want to live to see another day.
Enduring – Add +2 to each Pool.
Survivor – You are trained in all survival skills.
Outcast’s Mark – All social skill are modified by two levels to your detriment.
Fallen Virtue – All tasks involving resisting temptation are modified by one level to your detriment.
Hunted – Even in Wraeclast, your past haunts you. Someone has followed you to these cursed shores, or another exile has decided you are too dangerous to let live. GM Intrusions involving you will sometimes involve this foe’s appearance, or at least indirectly be the work of their hands. If another player is also Outcast, this may be the same foe or two different ones who may work together or be at odds.
Even in Wraeclast there is grace and glory, and you know that you have been touched by it. Whether you came here voluntarily to see to the needs of the exiles or you were unjustly exiled by rivals jealous of your blessed state, you are one of the few that the land’s stain cannot tarnish. Of course, this makes you a magnet for the corrupt minds that linger in the darkest parts of the continent, as your grace is a burning light to them.
Piety – Add +4 to your Intellect Pool.
Purity – You are wholly unable to use any item of Vaal origin, as the corrupt nature of it burns you.
Sanctity – Any attempt to deceive others is modified by one level to your detriment.
Sacred Ward – The blessed nature of your being gives you +1 Armor.
Spirit-Talker – You are trained in all social interactions with ghosts and other spiritual beings, including the strange things raised by the Vaal.
While not exactly stained by the curse of Wraeclast, since you woke up on the beach there’s something not quite right about the way your mind works. You know you think differently than others, but whether or not you try to hide that fact is up to you. It does give you some small advantages on these shores, even if you’ve got a hard time trying to understand the concerns of other exiles.
Flexible Mind – Add +2 to your Intellect Pool.
Distracted – You have trouble picking up cues of danger; initiative rolls are modified one step to your detriment.
Scrambled Thoughts – All skills related to knowledge are modified one step to your detriment, as you can’t collect your thoughts into a form that you can express.
Altered Insight – You are considered trained in all perception actions.
Causeless Effect – You have trouble connecting effects to causes at times; whenever a GM Intrusion would be triggered by something you directly did, you can’t spend XP to refuse it. You do gain XP as normal, however.
Rather than an affinity for the supernatural, you are attuned to the presence of the Vaal; replace all mentions of the supernatural with Vaal.
Gemling – You are considered trained with all Virtue Gems and Vaal items.
Next time we visit Exile’s Cypher, we’ll start looking at Foci, seeing what existing ones will work in Wraeclast, which need tweaked, which need removed, and what new Foci might be available.