The Focus is the verb part of the one-sentence summary of a character that sits at the heart of the Cypher System; in adapting it to fit the setting presented in Path of Exile, we’re going to have to remove some Foci, change others, and add a few. Given that this could be said to be the meat of the conversion, from a player’s perspective, this will like be a series of posts on the subject, along with a look at the ‘flavors’ offered and how they might fit in. We’ll start by looking at the list for those Foci that simply don’t belong in the dark fantasy world depicted in Wraeclast.
Battles Robots and Builds Robots are clearly out of place in this, although you could make an argument to convert the latter to something like ‘Crafts Golems’ or the like. For the purposes of this conversion, however, we’ll just mark them both off – the undead, wild beasts, and other exiles amply fill out the options for potential minions, and the undead should satisfy people who want something clearly artificial as a servant.
Calculates the Incalculable, at first glance, sounds like something that might not belong here, but what it describes isn’t against the nature of the setting; a character of incredible intelligence has an obvious reason for being exiled, when their intellect results in them noticing flaws between the rhetoric of the Holy Church and the behavior of those who serve it.
Conducts Weird Science, on the other hand, has too much of a modern/sci-fi flavor to really fit; we’ll revisit it as one we can revise to make it ‘Conducts Strange Sorcery’ for people who want a half-mad arcane savant, as the other options along that vein are more controlled than the way this focus feels.
Fuses Flesh and Steel and Fuses Mind and Machine are both out; the fantasic setting doesn’t really half half-constructs aside from a few Vaal-era abominations that are dangerous as much for their absolute madness as for their power, and the bias is toward magic that destroys those who treat it as a science, rather than forms of science that can make magic safer.
Interprets the Law is out simply because, in Wraeclast, the only law is that of survival; likewise, the desolate nature of thing discards Is Idolized by Millions, while the fantasy setting sets Is Licensed to Carry aside. On the other hand, Metes Out Justice remains because the search for justice is a thing that exists even when there is no law to describe it.
Operates Undercover is out; it implies a form of society exists that Wraeclast just lacks. Pilots Starcraft is out for obvious reasons, as are Talks to Machines, Travels Through Time, Works the Back Alleys, and Works the System. Of those, the only one that could be argued in favor of is Works the Back Alleys, but the Stealth flavor covers it well enough that no need really exists for a thief-like Focus.
The last one that we could easily discard, Would Rather Be Reading, will remain – stories of this kind are full of the irreverent scholar who learned things and asked questions that those in charge of dogma would prefer remain unknown and unasked. This kind of like scholar-hero can make quite an interesting experience, and easily fills a role for the kind of person who likes to be a clever supporting-role tactician kind of character.
Some other Foci will need modified, even if they seem to fit just fine at first glance; we’ll cover those in the next Exile’s Cypher post.