Cypher Cybermagic

A key feature of Dark Sun Future, as seen in the sections for Pathfinder and DnD 5e, is the Cybermage.  In those systems, it’s a class unto itself taken from the Wizard.  Since there are no classes in Cypher, Cybermagic will instead fall into the realm of an artifact, or Cypher’s version of an artifact.  It’ll be a “growing” artifact, or one that gains tiers as you do.

Cyber-Deck and Implants

First things first, you have to have the implants.  This is Cerebral Processor (basic cybernetic) and neural augments in your arms from shoulders to fingers, both sides.  These augments link to the Cerebral Processor, which in turn links to your Cyber-deck.  The spell apps in your Deck send information to the Cerebral Processor which makes your hands and arms move in the correct fashion for somatic components for the spell to work.  Additionally, the command words for the spell appear in an AR (augmented reality) HUD before your eyes telling you when and how to say the words as your arms and fingers are moving.  Thus, you cast as spell.

Going through the surgery to implant the Cerebral Processor and the neural augments is the same as installing a Cerebral Processor and 2 replacement arms (see Cybernetics rules).  However, you do not gain the benefits from the replacement arms as you’re not fully replacing the arms.  They just have the same Constitution Cost (CC).

Now, any schmoe on the street can get these.  The real deal is when you get your Cyber-Deck (or your Deck for short).

Your Cyber-Deck and You

Once you have your implants, it’s time to get your Deck.  These aren’t exactly common, but they can be found.  So as a note to Players and GMs, this can either be an adventure itself, or the Player can start with one having gained it in their background.  Still, don’t go handing these out like regular Cyphers.  They are artifacts after all, just slightly more accessible artifacts.

As you can see, since anyone can get the cybernetics and after acquire the Deck, any player of any Type-Description-Focus can use this and be a Cybermage.  And this is fine, but again they are Artifacts so distribute them wisely.

Cyber-Deck Improvement

All Cyber-Decks start at Tier 1.  A Cybermage’s Deck (we’ll call them that because regardless of their build with this they are now a Cybermage) cannot be higher than their own tier.  So a tier 2 character can only have a tier 2 Cyber-Deck and cannot raise it to tier 3 until they themselves are tier 3.

Like many other things, it takes 4 experience points to raise your Cyber-Deck 1 tier.  It’s like an additional step in your Advancement Track, but not required to actually raise your own tier, that remains the same.  But as mentioned, you cannot raise the tier of your Deck until you raise your own.

Your Deck cannot hold a spell of a tier higher than itself, i.e.  you cannot have a tier 3 spell in a tier 1 or tier 2 Deck.  To get that tier 3 spell in there, your Deck needs to be tier 3.

Loading Your Cyber-Deck

Once you obtain your Cyber-Deck, it automatically connects to a spell-sharing site separate from the public Internet.  The Cyber-Deck itself is and can resemble any other hand-held, internet accessible device and can access the public internet as well as this spell-sharing site.  The spell-sharing site has a wide array of spells that allow you to easily access spells from tier 1 through 4.  Tier 5 and 6 spells require more digging.  No one knows who maintains this site and many hackers, both mundane and magic-enhanced, have tried to access the back-end of the site to find out more, but were never able to break through the site’s supernaturally superior defenses and firewalls.

The site, affectionately called You-Spell though the site has no actual name or title, has a pay-as-you-go access system in place.  Much like similar sites (both in our world and Athas), you set up an account, set up payment method, and then buy what you want and/or what your Deck can handle.  Because of the ubiquity of cloud-storage, most other devices in Athas don’t need to worry about storage space, and in the case of you Deck this is also true.  However, it’s the Deck’s processing power (or its tier) that keeps it from casting “higher level” spells.  So, you can have as many spells of the appropriate tier stored in you Deck at any time.  You can also download on the fly, provided the spell is of an appropriate tier, as an action on your turn (if in combat), but it does take your whole turn to find and download the spell.  On your next turn, the spell will be available.

Here’s the pricing model for You-Spell.

Spell Tier
Spell Price
Tier 1 100 cal
Tier 2 200 cal
Tier 3 500 cal
Tier 4 1000 cal
Tier 5 N/A
Tier 6 N/A

Using Your Spell-Deck

Casting a spell from your Deck is like casting any other spell.  Or in Cypher terms, using a special ability which the spell basically is.  Once you use a spell from your Deck, it is deleted and you’ll need to buy the spell again.  I mean, the mysterious owner(s)/site-manager(s) of the site need the funds to maintain it, right?

You can make a spell “permanent” meaning it won’t delete after use by “hacking the spell”.  This is done with a Computer skill test at level 6 (18).  You can try multiple times, apply Effort, use any assets, etc. to bring the skill test level down per normal.  However, if you fail, the spell is deleted and you’ll need to purchase it again.  Once hacked, you can use that spell as many times as you want.

If your GM will allow and you started with a Cyber-Deck with the plans of this being your character concept, you can start with 1d6 hacked and installed spells.  Work with your GM to see if they’ll allow this option.

Since the spells basically give you the equivalent ability, you can apply Effort to them in both the casting and the damage (if the spell has damage).  Standard Effort rules apply.

Choosing Your Spells

The “spells” on You-Spell are the same as any spell-like special ability available to the Adept and Speaker Types.  Additionally, if there’s a Focus that has a spell-like special ability, e.g. the fire abilities from Bears a Halo of Fire or Masters Spells, those will be available too.  You can also choose from Magic Flavor, but those are usually taken from the Adept or Speaker list anyway.  Of course, this is only for those abilities up to Tier 4.

Now, this setting is taken from D&D (specifically 2e).  So you can “translate” any DnD spell you can find if there’s not an equivalent Cypher special ability.  This will take some doing, so work with your GM preferably ahead of time.  Here is a general Level-to-Tier “suggested” conversion chart.  The actual effects of the spell again needs to be sorted out with your GM.

DnD Spell Level
Cyper Tier
Levels 1-2 Tier 1
Levels 3-4 Tier 2
Level 5 Tier 3
Level 6 Tier 4
Level 7 Tier 5
Levels 8-9 Tier 6

Finding Powerful Spells

You-Spell has limits.  Whether those were imposed by its mysterious keepers or it’s a limitation of their hosting site, no one knows.  But people do know that there are those more powerful spells out there (the tier 5 and 6 spells).

Obviously the player will need to be of the appropriate tier and their Deck upgraded to that tier as well.  Since they should be seasoned adventurers at this point, finding these higher level spells should be its own adventure.  Here are some suggestions:

  • The spells are on a laptop owned by some high-level exec that is hording it for some unknown reason.  The player(s) will need to run some sort of heist to “relieve” that exec of his laptop.  Along with the spells, there might be some other information on there as well…
  • While in some sort of abandoned high-rise, haunted by the restless dead, some “dungeon” or underground ruin from Athas’ ancient past, the player comes across some “old” SD cards that have the higher tier spells on them.  Now they have to figure out how to get them off the SD cards and into their Deck.
  • Rumors abound of some “far-off” section of the Cyberplane that is inaccessible to average hackers and denizens of the Cyberplane.  Not one to back down from a challenge, the player decides to investigate.  There they find a whole “node” of some unknown Cybermage’s cache of powerful spells.  But that Cybermage is connected to that node and immediately knows that the player has accessed it.

Ultimately these spells need to be found.  It is entirely up to the GM’s imagination on how, where, and when you, the player, will find them.

The Price of Cybermagic

Historically, when the information age hit Athas, Cybermagic was developed to allow access to magic for the Masses.  Essentially, it’s Defiling, using cheats and shortcuts to gain the ability to cast a spell, by anyone.  Still, it’s not exactly Defiling and is slightly different.

Casting a spell from your Cyber-Deck is handled normally, as detailed above.  However, when you fail at a spell, that’s where the cost comes in.  If you attempt to cast a spell and do not make the appropriate roll for the difficulty level, then you Defile.  Exempt from this are spells with a “target”, or direct target spells such as the Adept tier 1 abilities Onslaught and Flash (one direct, one AOE).  In these cases, it could be that the spell just missed the target.  It “worked”; it didn’t hit.  You would need to roll a 1 in these cases for the Defilement to take effect.

Alternatively, you can actively choose to Defile.  In this case the difficulty level is automatically lowered by one and on success or failure you Defile.

Whether by accident or by choice, see the Defiling Rules, The more you Defile, actively or passively, the more you progress on the tiers defined in Defiling Rules.  If you don’t necessarily like the idea of Defiling or are against it outright, you can perform the “cleansing” ritual to cancel out any Defilement points you may have, but you can never Preserve while casting with your Deck.  If you have the ability to cast spells granted by your Type or Focus, you can cast those spells as Preserving (even if you’re a Cleric, Druid, Templar, etc).  That will remove the appropriate points per the Defiling/Preserving Rules.