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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!]
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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!]
Publisher 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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