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by John S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/15/2018 18:50:49

One of my favorite purchases from recent memory. I bought the PDF, just to read it because the reviews said it would generate new ideas, then after a half day consuming all this book had to offer I went and got the POD. Without a doubt what is presented here is presented in such a unique perspective that you can't help but feel your head begin to split with all the ideas this book is going to generate. This is truly a top notch book that goes beyond most other books in its worldbuilding and ideas. I'm happy to have found this book, and I have to applaud the authors for their work. I wish more books were as brilliant as this one.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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by Richard B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/17/2017 20:24:40

Quick Review Buy this game, it's at the very least I source of different ideas, and maybe you'll also get a lot more out of it, like I have.

Detailed Review Do RPG mechanics sometimes get in the way of game flow, or even box-in peoples’ creativity? I’ve come across this line of questions on many occasions. The typical debate comes down to agreeing that rules abstraction is required, which I don’t fully agree with, but look at how most games leave character psychology to the players with no rules needed to track character mood or stress. For example, I am not a fan of the cyberspace/hacking design used in many RPGs. I’ve been working on a game for years in which I am using computer language structure as a part of my vast magic system, so I decided to do a search on RPG + hacking, to see if anyone had recently made some interesting mechanics. I was pleased to quickly find something new: Cryptomancer. After a few minutes of reading about Cryptomancer I genuinely paused to absorb what I considered to be a genius approach to handling hacking in an RPG; to focus on the reality of hacking, not to reduce the idea down to a few simple dice rolls, or worse. Within moments I had a multitude of ideas racing through my mind, plus the bonus that old designs were being influenced. I quickly contacted various friends to discuss the game, and to find out whether they knew anything else about it. Whilst waiting for replies I read a review, checked out some Reddit posts, and then decided to buy the PDF. The PDF is a whopping 430 detailed filled pages, so it is very great value at $10. The layout fits the theme of the game, as does the artwork, which I think helps to drive the theme home by keeping drawings stark, and utilises grey-scale to help with the mood. The same art style is used throughout, helping with the book’s consistency. I love the front cover, besides it being beautiful, it really helps to highlight one of the special things about this game: Shards. Shards allow a user to connect to other shards that originate from the same original larger shard, this collection forms a Shardnet. There is also a vast network called the Shardscape, which is akin to the Internet. I think these concepts are well explained, and are novice friendly. All throughout the book more details are continuously added, allowing a reader to build-up layers of understanding about how the Shards influence everything, from a few individuals interacting to the international scale. The game does not use an encryption skill, or a Shard skill. Some people may be concerned that this would affect game flow, or be too confusing for new players, but the book introduces the shard concepts carefully, with some great examples about different types of encryption. I think this is a wonderful example of proving that RPG mechanics are not always needed. Just present ideas for players and let them explore them.

System & Setting These days there are so many different RPG systems and settings that I’d be quite surprised if a game could be called unique, but I do believe that there are still ways to stand out, and niches to explore. Cryptomancer’s focus on data security, encryption, social engineering, along with some different spells and items, brings this game close to being called unique. Interestingly the game setting is introduced as Tolkienesque. I think this was a good design decision. For people that don’t play RPGs, they are likely to have heard of Tolkien’s work, and maybe even Dungeons & Dragons. Given how much new information the game presents, reducing the products overall learning curve makes sense. I think this decision also adds another benefit, allowing experienced gamers to understand how this approach to hacking fits in settings they are familiar with. The setting is not a direct copy of Middle Earth or the Forgotten Realms, and the differences are due to the shift in the Elf, Dwarf, and Human cultures in response to Shards and the magic of Cryptomancy. Thus there is something new, even if the foundation is familiar. I adore R. Talsorian’s Cyberpunk RPG, despite the brutal skill system. The cyberpunk genre in general has dominated a big chunk of my life. I also like Shadowrun; I’m not one of those people that cannot like both. Some of the games of Mage: the Ascension I’ve ran have had the player characters (PCs) being members of the Technocracy, including some fun sessions of just playing Hit Marks. I was asked by one player whether Cryptomancer’s Internet-like Shardscape is just the Matrix/Cyberspace with a twist? I explained that both in setting, but crucially mechanically, Cryptomancer is doing things quite differently, that it is about the players learning how to exploit systems, and how to protect their own. So although Shadowrun already exists, with its fantasy races and cyberpunk themes, that Cryptomancer's differences translate to changing how a player approaches the game, as well as them possibly learning something new. The book highlights the idea of adding the Shards and Cryptomancy to other settings, which is the main reason I was interested in the book. I did read the setting information, because I felt it would help my understanding of the ramifications of Shards and Cryptomancy, and from this I could determine how best to implement the ideas in to my own setting. I also liked what I read of the setting, and I am planning on running some sessions in the game’s setting.

Risk & Mechanics The game is focused on the PCs being on the run from the settings main adversaries, the Risk Eaters. These powerful mages monitor the world using Dwarven decisions engines to predict dangers to the world, and in particular to the social systems in place, so they can dispatch agents to deal with problems before they get out of hand. The party has a Risk rating, which goes up as the party do things that affect the world, especially if the PCs are not careful in covering their tracks. Whilst the Risk Eaters are an inevitable enemy, with a combination of luck and care a party could keep the threat at bay for a long-time. At this point I think I should mention the system mechanics, I’m only introducing skill checks since they tie in to the Risk rating, a percentage score. In Cryptomancer any skill check always uses a pool of 5 dice. When a character makes a skill check, their skill rating is used as the basis of the dice pool, adding a d10 for each skill point. If they have less than 5, then they add the remaining dice with d6s to take the dice pool to 5; the d6s are known as Fate Dice. For example: a character making an Acrobatics check has an Agility of 5, then they roll 5d10, but if their Agility was 3, then roll would be 3d10+2d6. For a trivial action the target on the dice is 4+, for challenging a 6+ and a tough check is an 8+. Add up each dice that successfully hits the target, but deduct a success for any botch. A botch on a d10 is a roll of 1, and on a d6 (fate dice) any roll of a 1 or a 2; fate is dangerous to rely upon! For example: continuing on from the Agility of 3 with a challenging target of 6, the player rolls 3d10+2d6. For this example the dice result is d10(6, 1, 3) + d6(2, 6), meaning d10(successes of 1, -1, 0) + d6(-1, 1) for a total of 0 successes. With 1 success an action is successful, whilst 3 successes means it is a dramatic success. Likewise if the pool total is -1 then it is a clear failure, whilst -2 means a dramatic failure. A player can choose to Defy Fate, which will raise the party’s Risk rating by 1 for each botch removed from a dice result, so a buying off a result of -2 will raise the Risk rating by 2. I particularly like this part of the system, and how it all fits together. I think it does several interconnected things:

  1. Keeps things simple, which is particularly good for inexperienced players
  2. I’ve met many veteran gamers who dislike having large dice pools.
  3. It results in an interesting bell curve. I am not keen on systems that have no bell curve due to rolling a single dice, ‘they have unnatural fate’. I’ll expand on this semi-joke, but important point, another time ;-) I do play and enjoy D20, Cyberpunk, etc., it’s just I prefer using several dice since they give reliable averages.
  4. Players have a choice, often they are about deciding between short-term vs long-term issues. There are other games that use fate systems like Warhammer, or Deadlands chit system, etc. This system’s Fate linked to Risk is like a Doomsday Clock.
  5. The mechanics help to keep the game’s theme, the gravitas of long-term risk to the party, which just builds, and builds. Our world has become increasingly obsessed with risk over the last few decades, now more than ever, people strive to manage risk, which is an understandable thing, but when obsessed over … Hacking systems is a common part of RPGs, so there is nothing stopping a group from tweaking the Risk Eaters from being a bit like Cthulhu crossed with 1984, to a lesser threat. Be careful to avoid turning the Risk Eaters from a Cthulhu like threat to something more akin to Hello Kitty.

Downtime I love a good Downtime system. As a Play-By-Mail fan, I typically see downtime as something major, and equal to everything else in a tabletop game. Downtime is a great chance for strategising, as well as a good place to highlight whether the PCs have things to discuss; I’ve had downtime lead to whole sessions of PCs discussing things that have been bugging them, and working out major plot points. Downtime can be thought of as a break in the weather, the calm before the next storm. There are plenty of things in the Cryptomancer Downtime system to think about, and for people like me that love this this often ignored part of role-playing, I am sure you will enjoy the options, and maybe you’ll hack your own.

Writing & Design Overall I really like the writing style. I think it does a wonderful job of introducing concepts and overall the book has clear explanations. As there is so much being covered, not just the classic tabletop RPG aspects, but also encryption/security explanations, the book could be accused of being a bit much for some. I think it is fair to say that the book is not perfect (what is?), so I don’t want to give the impression I think Cryptomancy is the exception. I think a valid criticism could be a lack of rules being repeated, or some more rules summaries, and maybe more things could be in the index. I suspect this was an intentional decision mostly down to the issue of preventing an already large book becoming even bigger. Many design reasons are explained, which I appreciate, and I think this also helps with explaining a topic, by providing extra context. I don’t believe that these design explanations were defensive in nature, or so numerous that they distract from the game explanation, so I am sure most readers will appreciate their inclusion.

Sheets Whilst reading comments on the game I was intrigued that the character sheet had been highlighted as being something that was a bit different, complex even. For me, the character sheet is well designed, having a distinctive attribute & skill section, has sections for core character points of interest and utilises white space well. Cryptomancer also has a system for Safehouses, a good place for the party to carry out downtime. Safehouses have their own sheets to help keep track of things, and given the likely lifestyle of the PCs, it is a rare place of safety for them, and something else for them to care about. The sheet is quite detailed, but has been laid out well, utilising space and boxes well to help differentiate information.

Summary I think the game succeeds in its goal of spreading understanding of encryption and cybersecurity to the RPG community, and maybe vice versa. Whether a player is new or an experienced role-player, there is definitely something in this game for everyone; that is a rare thing, and thus Cryptomancer is something I highly recommend. Additionally there is a free expansion book: Code and Dagger, and with Code and Dagger vol. 2 on the way, this game’s value keeps increasing.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
by Michael M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/18/2016 16:06:05

I recently have had some chances to play Cryptomancer from the player perspective and I've grown to like it. Cryptomancer is essentially a cross of cryptosecurity and dark fantasy. It has a simplistic character creation system and with a good GM, can generate some awsome epics. If you are looking for something that feels llike White Wolf with fate dice, you will like Cryptomancer.

CHARACTER CREATION Character creation is simple. You come up with the character's concept, appearance and personality qualities to flesh out what makes your character tick. Then you set your Wits/Resolve/Speed/Power stat array through either answering a series of questions, or just setting them to how you want (each stat starts out at 6, but a +2/-2 exchange can be done to beef one stat to 8 while bringing another one to 4). The 4/6/8 represent your typical Difficulty Class, and in the case of your base stats, they represent your defense against different types of attacks (Speed makes you good at dodging, Power makes you good at parrying, etc)This base value is then broken down into two numbers to represent how well your skills for that stat are. These two numbers have to add up to your base stat.

Example: Jack has a speed 8, and to represent his general 'nimblyness' he has 4 Agility and 4 Dexterity.

Once you've gotten your stats down, you get your trademark weapon/armor and misc. equipment/loot/consumables. With trademarked weapons/armor, its your chance to add in flavor to your gear.

Example: Jack has a knife with a symbol of a Griffin on one side of the blade and the acronym "KPBTS' on the pommel.

The final point of character creation is the Talents and Spells. You get starting points which are used to buy talents (passives that allow you to ignore botches depending on th skill check and event going on) and spells (from resurrections, to kill balls, to even summoning ghosts to torment people like a jerk)

System Cryptomancer is largely narrative based. Dice rolling is done with 5 dice, with D10s being rolled to represent your skill point allocation and D6s being rolled to make up for times you have less than 5 for the skill. The difficulty is the same 4/6/8 set by either the GM or the defense of the target you are rolling against. For the D6s you need to get a 6 to count that as a success. On the other side, a 1 on the D10 or 1-2 on the D6 counts as a botch and negate any successes from the other dice. Your goal is to get atleast 1 success, with each additional success generating more flavor and opening up additional options (depending on how the GM takes it).

Example: Jack is attempting to to jump across a large chasm. He has 4 agility, so he would roll 4D10s and a D6. DM rules that its a challenging skill check, 6. He gets 1, 1, 1, 5 from his D10s and a 4 on his D6. He does not suceed.

Setting Setting is one of the strongpoints of Cryptomancer. Basically they use psionic crystals are their 'internet'. Each member of society has their own crystal shard and can use it to send telepathic messages to other members in the party, they can use it to research on a 'shardnet' to find more information, and they can even encrypt/decrypt information. The party itself is usually composed of individuals on the run from what are called Risk Eaters. Essentially powerful assasins that are 'paid' to help eliminate potential societal risks. DMs can run the setting in a different way if they don't want to deal with the risk system.

Presentation I'm not completely well versed in cryptosecurity, but I can recognize some of the SQL and Terminal commands that dot the book. Very nice touch. The visuals are reminiscent of White wolf, more specifically Exalted (atleast to me), and the PDF chocks in at 430 pages. I haven't gotten my hands on the Hardback, but I plan to get my copy next month.

**Overall** I like it. It took a little bit of getting used to (I come from DnD and Pathfinder mostly), but so far what I have played I have enjoyed. As a narrative game, I definitely recommend Cryptomancer. The system is set up perfectly for players who like roleplay. 10/10 would encrypt again.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
by Dylan F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/01/2016 14:03:18

I approached this game with a slight hesitation, because this concept is so... different. I grew up playing DnD and other high fantasy games, and I grew up playing Shadowrun and other cyberpunk games. Both very different, both amazing in their own right. But, this is a game that combines some concepts from both. Aside from that, it's easy to pick up, easy to learn, easy to teach, and easy to play. If if I could give it more than 5 stars, I would.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/18/2016 22:28:34

Ten years since I last rolled a dice in an RPG, and this is the game that's finally lured me back. It takes a setting we all know - sword and sorcery fantansy - and adds a new layer that's smart, creative, and remarkably unique. No other game, that I'm aware of, takes concepts from infosec and cyberwarefare and integrates them more fully and thoughtfully into play. There are elements here of the old cyberpunk hacking and evasion games I cut my teeth on, but there's so much more to Crytpomancer than rolling your 'hacking' skill and hoping for the best. It requires, on a deep level, thinking and planning oriented around modern information security concepts and tradescraft. To my mind, that's what really makes Cryptomancer stand out - it presents a set of challenges that are fresh and unique, and requires solutions that are equally outside the traditional RPG box.

I'll add that the game also gives us a setting filled with tension, danger, and constant second-guessing. Artwork and writing are also excellent. A great buy, and I'm excited to have a reason to start gaming again.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
by Carsten H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/08/2016 17:08:48

Don't believe the blurb about this game.

This game is about authoritarian horror. Its main arc consists in a death spiral that makes Call of Cthulhu look like a carebear game. Before suffering an inevitable TPK at the hands of GM Mary Sue characters, your character may briefly struggle with a dice pool system that punishes him for the hubris of trying (that is how the books explains this,not me).

Forget "kill all the orks". The Combat system is of extreme lethality,and if you try to "kill all the orks", the game will only punish you for it by either having your character die in the lethal combat system, or advancing the the death spiral of the game because you did not adhere to what the game designer or you game master imagines as "operational security". Operational security means that of course that you should do only the most efficient means of advancing your employers cause. Even the slightest error will advance the death sprial.

Speaking of your employer: in this game you play the mercenary henchmen of the power interest groups. Take your pick of effete degenerates, cold calculating drug-peddlers and tyrannical bureaucrats.

There is really no good place for your character to be in this game. If you get a magic item that will your character allow to fly for one movement action it will turn your character into a cannibal. You can get a "safe house" in this game, but that is more bait: because of course it WILL be inevitably compromised and building this"safe house" is another opportunity for the GM to deliver the fun of failure with beatdown play on your characters. Basically any time a character in this game could gain anything there is immediatly advice for the GM on how to take it away or make it a liabilty.

As easy as it would the to give many more examples of this, but in the end this is about how this game is not telling potenial buyers it is a henchmen horror game where GM Mary Sues will kill you at the end.

I know that there are players who like horror games about flutile struggle. For the rest I cannot recommend this game.

[2 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thank you for the feedback! You are not the only customer who expressed concern about the game's thematic death spiral or how punishing it can seem. As a result, I have released a free expansion, providing rules for a more heroic / fair conclusion to a campaign that gives players the means to storm the Spire and defeat the Risk Eaters. You can download it as part of your Cryptomancer PDF purchase. It might not address all of your concerns, but at the end of the day, you've helped make the game better. Thanks again for your purchase and your candor. Cheers.
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/31/2016 01:41:14

This is one of the most kickass settings, and also serves as an excellent introduction to modern information security. It has the most realistic hacking of any RPG ever seen. Even when it comes to standard fantasy stuff, like fighting orcs and gnolls, it throws in twists and makes those enemies feel truly meaningful.

However, I'm only giving it 4 stars because of its rules system. The rules are like Old World of Darkness with added complexity, and therefore, will only appeal to people who honestly believe that the Old World of Darkness dice mechanics were great.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/27/2016 01:56:28

Cryptomancer is an excellent game! It relies less on raw numbers, like GURPS, and instead is a fun game that empowers players to find creative solutions.

If you are interested in breaking away from the drudgery of Pathfinder or D&D, give Cryptomancer a shot!

[5 of 5 Stars!]
by Matthew J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/17/2016 22:53:41

Cryptomancer is a fantasy setting where information and security networks and their manipulation thereof is a core concept. This will be a lengthy review so you may want to grab something to drink before we start. We will go over Setting, Mechanics, just what Cryptomancy really is, and lastly my honest opinion of the book and game itself. For those who are more interested in the games title, I recommend skipping right to the Cryptomancy section right away.

Setting: think of Shadowrun but in the middle ages meets Burn Notice meets Turn: Washington’s spies.

You have dwarves Clan halls that are cut deep into the ground with underground railways and tunnels connecting them throughout the land. The elves are kings of the forest and the forest is king of the land. This primordial forest is every growing threatening to swallow any human settlements that were hacked into it. Only the strongest of City-states can keep the forest at bay. Menacing all of these are Gnolls, Orcs, outside kingdoms and a myriad of threats at the game masters disposal.

Throughout it all the players play as characters that are hunted by the largest threat of all, The Risk Eaters. Who are a mysterious cabal that relies on great Dwarven Turing Machines that calculate risk of Armageddon. Right or wrong, this group will eliminate any and all that pose a threat to the status quo, even if that threat won't come to actualization for years, they make sure it never will. Only by finding a powerful Patron can they escape falling into the Risk Eaters clutches; but only temporarily at that. For the party must earn their keep and perform missions for their Patron least they displease them and are turned away or even as simple as protection withdrawn. The players are caught in a catch-22 as by performing these missions they may generate risk or the Risk Eaters tracking them down. The sloppier the job, the more reckless they are with security and leaving behind clues that they passed this way, the more risk generated until at some point Agents are dispatched to take care of the meddlesome characters once and for all.

With regards to the dwarves and their massive clan halls, imagine Italy in the time of Niccolò Machiavelli, constant plotting and assassinations. Paranoia is not only justified, but essential to survival. They are the best craftsmen in the world, but have gotten soft and worldly due to trade bringing in vast wealth. If only they could stop squabbling with their own kind over proprietary information and new mechanized designs that will corner the market and bring immeasurable wealth.

The Elves are masters of a jungle type landscape that grows unchecked except for human settlements or barren environments. They live in communal massive tree forts and interact peacefully with nature. Or at least they did until the discovery of the most important cash crop in Sphere history: SOMA. This miracle substance can be put to any use, be it spices, added to liquors, used as a key ingredient in magic potions, fuel for various dwarven inventions to it's most base use, as a highly addictive narcotic. Due to the production of this drug requiring vast amounts of land and resources and the unquenchable thirst the rest of the world has for it, our peace loving naturalistic Elves have become territorial expansionists, exploiting their own jungles to produce as much Soma as possible (destroying the forest along the way).

Humans live in city-states much akin to renaissance Italy or Greece. Occasionally a few may join together into a kingdom or band together into a coalition when faced with impending doom (Orc invasion, rival kingdom invasion, zombie outbreak! etc.), inevitably the kingdoms break apart back to rival city states once again.

Dwarves, Elves and Humans do all live together in all three of the above settings. Most of the times peaceably, but how do the humans look at their elven neighbors when a nearby Elven Kingdom is looking to invade. Racism will inevitably rear its ugly head but it is up the player to decide how much of a role it plays in their world. Warning: there are no maps of the world. In fact there is no set setting, just like D&D. This game is more about flavor and bare bones mechanics. My advice is to take a setting you like and adjust/adapt/convert as needed. This game might just be a new twist that brings life back into your old favorites.

Mechanics The mechanics are very straightforward and allow for ease of play. Think world of darkness, Savage worlds, etc. You have core abilities that represent your ability to resist harm, be it physical, mental, social, magical. A subset beneath each of these are two characteristics, you get to divide your points from the above to the two below. Think L5r for a slightly similar comparison. Each of these subset characteristics are linked to skills that allow you to interact with the world. Your character is allowed to obtain talents which may make you better at certain skills in certain situations or when wielding certain weapons akin to feats but much similar in that they usually allow you to ignore a botch, don't know what a botch is? We're getting to it; I told you this would be long.

To succeed in a skill roll first the GM has to determine the difficulty, three levels are available, trivial, challenging, and lastly Tough. Say you want to jump from rooftop to rooftop. Your character has a core ability Speed of 6 (which is average with 4 being low and 8 being highest you can start with). Of your Speed of 6, you have the two subset characteristics Agility and Dexterity both at 3 (since they need to add up to their core Ability). To figure out which characteristic you would use to make the jump, each has a list of common skills associated with it for reference on the character sheets. We see that both acrobatics and athletics fall under Agility so we will go with Agility for our roll. Does it matter if its acrobatics or athletics? YES, but only if you have a talent, again we are getting there. Say the roof is close, it's trivial difficulty, you need a 4 or higher on your d10s roll to gain a success. In crytomancer you always roll FIVE dice. Characteristic dice are ten sided (d10), the rest are FATE dice that are six sided (D6). In our above example, we have a 3 Agility which is used for the acrobatics skill, so our hero would roll 3d10 + 2d6. If our hero had only an Agility of 1, then it would be 1d10 + 4d6. If we get FATE dice why even bother with characteristic dice at all? Because FATE dice only succeed on a 6 and create a BOTCH on a 1 or 2. Which on the characteristic dice of d10, you need only a 4+ to generate a success while a BOTCH occurs only on a 1. Characteristic dice are our friend. Back to Talents, say during character generation you wanted to make a roof-hopping hero. You could take a talent that allows to you take any a botch during acrobatic skill rolls only. Why is this good? Because each BOTCH takes away a SUCCESS. 1 Success is needed to pass a skill test, while 3 or more success result in an exceptional success, but negative successes (multiple botches with no successes to wipe out) result in exceptional failures. Lastly if the roofs were very far apart, the difficulty might be challenging and you'd need to roll 6+ on your characteristic d10 dice (still need a 6 for FATE dice), and if its an impossible jump then you may need 8+ for a TOUGH difficulty. If a guard was shooting an arrow at our hero as he scampers across the rooftops in our example, the guard would use his Fired Missile Skill under his DEX characteristic of 3, so 3d10 + 2d6 to try to hit our hero whose SPEED is 6, a challenging difficulty so the guard would need 6+ on his d10 rolls.

If all this math is getting to you, it can be simplified into Botches (1), trivial success (4-5), challenging success, (6-7) and tough successes (8-10) on characteristic d10 dice. And either Botch (1-2), Tough Success (6) or nothing (3-5) on FATE d6 dice. Combat is lethal with damage equaling the # of successes you roll + weapon modifier. Combat in Cryptomancer is like life in this world, nasty, brutish and short.

Cryptomancy and Shards: What makes this game different than any other fantasy hack and slash game? Well you're about to find out. In this world anyone with patience and an instructor can learn magic. One of the most ubiquitous forms of magic is crytomancy. After you pen a letter to a friend you hold you hand over it, say a key phrase out loud and viola, you've encrypted the scroll. Only people who know the key phrase will see the key phrase in their minds eye and then the scroll will unlock and make sense to the reader. However if you've spoken it out loud in a bar or within hearing of your maid whose a spy, or you picked something that is easily guessed or has been heard before (such as your dogs name backwards), enemy agents may be able to read your correspondence and once they realize you are on the run from the Risk Eaters, they will soon inform on you for the reward. GM's encourage players to actually say code phrases out loud in real life to practice good security.

Shards, shards are what shattered vast empires into competing city states. Long ago dwarves realized that if they took certain large crystals and expertly cut them into shards, you now have fantasy silent walkie-talkies. Anyone holding a shard can think a message that will be resonate inside the shard he is holding along with any of its sister shards for a certain length of time. Anyone holding a matching shard can "read" these messages in his minds eye. Great asset for any spy network, but if one of the shards is intercepted, your communications may be jeopardized unless you used Cryptomancy to first encrypt your shard thought. See where we're going? It only goes deeper down the rabbit hole, but you'll need to purchase the game for more.

Lastly my honest opinion thoughts of the game:

I'm a fan, right away I see vast potential for this game and its system. The mechanics are straightforward once you understand them. It will not be like D&D where you have to keep track of multiple modifiers. Just from the GM saying the difficulty of the action you wish to undertake you will understand your chance of success right away. You can incorporate this setting with any other fantasy setting you wish. By making your players practice safe security out loud you add a new aspect to the game. It will help your players start to think tactically and strategically to accomplish their goals and tasks for their patron without causing undue notice from the authorities and witnesses that may report you to a secret Risk Eater agent. As you advance, there is a system of gaining experience as well as upgrading your safehouse. You can even gain access to deniable assets of cells, creating your own spy network and washing your hands of them when they fail at the tasks youve set them to perform. But beware your Patron may do the same with you!

Things I would like to see in the near future:

-A setting sourcebook, similar to how GreyHawk helped give image to the D&D setting. Although again it's easy to convert preexisting settings.

-A Grimoire, Amory and bestiary supplement would be nice. The rules to create your own spells, weapons and monsters are very straightforward and easy, but some GM's are not as creative as others.

If you're looking for a more cerebral game than a simple hack and slash dungeon crawl, you have found what you're looking for. This game takes paranoia to another level and rewards players who act accordingly. Buy it and enjoy!

[5 of 5 Stars!]
by Stephen D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/31/2016 22:02:05

Recipe for Cryptomancer:


  • 1 Part D&D (Dwarves and elves)
  • 2 Parts Blades in the Dark (complete projects to build up a base,)
  • 1 Part Lacuna (evade unstoppable agents who have infinite resources)
  • add smartphones and network spoofing

I love the Cryptomancer concept. It's a detailed take on the logical outcomes of magical communication (sending, scrying, golems, magic mouth, wizard eye, etc.)

It weighs in at 430 pages, but it's a fairly easy read: detailed, but not rules-heavy. The conflict resolution mechanics will take a little getting used to, but there aren't a ton of modifiers to look up for every situation, so gameplay should proceed quickly.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
by Alex B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/31/2016 10:44:51

Inventive, deep, and fun. At the heart of the game is the idea of encrypted comminication using "shards," and out of this spirals a world of magic and intrigue. With spells like "Dissemble" that encrypts a person's face, to "Mind Write" and "Shard Warp," the game is rife with potential for some mind-bending fun.

I helped to playtest the game while it was in development. Even in its earliest incarnations, it was a blast to play, but it got better and better. The game is essentially hacking with magic, and it's a lot of fun to see what sort of havoc you can create with the tools you have as a character. The spells, talents, drugs, safehouse improvements, cells, and equipment are all part of your character's toolkit, and the rules encourages you hack, explore, experiment, exploit.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
by Jeremy W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/31/2016 04:54:04

Where the hell did this come from?! I started reading this and just devoured it! I work in the I.T. industry and I can't love this world enough. The system is also a bit refreshing. Simple, yet with just enough complication to keep it interesting. The number of overly simplified systems that seem to crawl out of the woodwork tend to usually turn me off. Its nice to see a new system that doesn't shy away from adding a little extra mechanics to fill a need.

I'm still tearing through everything, but if you are on the fence about buying this..hop off the fence now and buy it.

Humans, Dwarves, and Elves have developed a communication system that spans distances. They've developed magics that encrypt different types of communication. It's like Shadowrun meets D&D. The system has no feels more open, and the rules are about as complex as Eden Studios (Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG, Angel, All flesh must be eaten, etc). The mechanics exist where a mechanism should. It doesn't try to force roleplaying (I'm not a fan of enforced social gateway systems). It leaves that for players to do on their own.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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