Review: The Strange in Translation Character Options

With the gloomy weather here today it was nice to have something new read over while drinking my coffee this morning. So lets dive in and take a quick look at The Strange in Translation Character Options.

The Strange In Translation Character Options
Writer/Designer Bruce R. Cordell
Developer Monte Cook
Creative Director Shanna Germain
Editor and Proofreader Ray Vallese
Cover Artist Matt Stawicki
Graphic Designer Bear Weiter
Artists Jacob Atienza, Marco Caradonna, Nicholas Cloister, Sam Cullum,,
David Hueso, Baldi Konijn, Guido Kuip, Brandon Leach, Eric Lofgren, Grzegorz Pedrycz,
Mike Perry, John Petersen, Michael Phillippi, Roberto Pitturru, Joe Slucher, Lee Smith,
Matt Stawicki, Cyril Terpent, Cory Trego-Erdner, Tiffany Turrill, Shane Tyree, Cathy Wilkins
Monte Cook Games Editorial Board Scott C. Bourgeois, David Wilson Brown, Eric Coates, Gareth
Hodges, Jeremy Land, Laura Wilkinson, Marina Wold, George Ziets
Page Count: 97
PDF Cost: $9.99

So the newest book in the Strange is now out. I picked it up this morning and started to pick my way through the content. This did not turn out to be the best choice of reading material to drink my morning coffee with. Many pages into the book I had a committed the party foul of cold coffee.
One of the best things about the Cypher system in general is the Foci and descriptors that make each of the character stand alone and unique in the world. Unlike other RPG’s  that become bloated with class after class until they all begin to look the same. Foci and Descriptors have the opposite effect, They further define the character that we play in the game. While maintaining the core concepts of the Type. This is really the beauty of the system.

So what are you getting when you pick up this book. First off your getting a ton of bang for your buck. Anyone that has seen the Numenera Character Options already has some idea of what you will be finding on the pages within. The first section gives you some new options and ability’s for each Charter Type and for each Tier. Giving you more flexibility for your builds. There are some good options here but this is definitely not the core of this book. As it only takes up 9 pages of content. Each class is given two or more new abilities they can pick up at each Tier. Most Tiers have 3 or more new powers. This should add a good bit of flexibility to your games.

Of each of the classes My favorite moves would be.
Vectors Tier 5 move Take Command.
Where the vector can issue commands to his ally’s and if they listen they lower the difficulty to hit and deal more damage.
Paradox Tier 3 ability  Down the Rabbit Hole
Allowing the Paradox to make a pocket dimension for the party to rest in for up to 12 hours.
Spinners Tier 1 Twist Erase Memories
Just plain wicked !

From here we move on Descriptors. If you felt your Strange game or Numenera game needed more of these. This is the book for you. There are nearly twenty new Descriptors in the Character options book and not all are positive. And some of these would be good for more gritty setting games of the Strange. My personal Favorite Descriptors are Addicted, Paranoid and Slacker. Something about them just makes me smile. It’s nice to see more negative descriptors in games. This is good for gritty and grim games of the Strange and the upcoming Cypher System.

And then we get to the bulk of the book.  Over 70 pages and Dozens of Foci. The list is impressive, with the Foci from this book you more than double the number of Foci that you get in the core book alone!  Everything from super hero style Foci to full on Cyberpunk Foci cyborgs! There are some real options out there now for your recursion’s.
My top picks.

Wears an Iron Suit.
Yup you guessed it SUPERS!

Builds Robots
Great for a Supers recursion or a cyberpunk style setting !

Casts Spells
This might be my favorite Foci in the book.

Is a Cyborg
Room for so many great options here !

But there are so very many awesome ones to pick from. I barely hit the tip of the iceberg here. This book will provide you with a huge variety of things to last you well through the upcoming Kickstarter for the Cypher system and beyond !

Lastly but in no way least is the art. I love the people who MCG has been pulling in to do the art for their games. There is just something about it that makes the Cypher system stand out and have a very unique feel. I always enjoy flipping through the art in all of their products. It helps set the stage for your mind.

The big pro here is this book is Packed with Content and great art. As far as the PDF goes everything is hyper linked so you can zip around the PDF at lighting speed as your move from one thing you like to the next. The whole book is also done in MCG games now standard and tell-tale Sidebar format. This makes GM’s and players lives alike much easier. on a personal note I also think it makes the book just plain nicer to look at. Also because I know that the book has sidebars with important content listed and page numbers noted for me to be aware of. It has become second nature to go back and check the highlighted bits after I finish a page and before I move on.

The only Con I have with this product falls to the end of the PDF. We get three full pages of awesome PC portrait art. But why would this be a con you ask ? Because up until now they had said that In Translation was going to have rules for running games beyond Tier Six. I can only guess that the three pages of art were slotted where these rules were going to be in the book. As rules for advancing beyond Tier six are nowhere to be found in this book.
And I image we will see those rules in the upcoming Cypher System Core book.
( EDIT: In my eager child like joy to get to all of the Foci presents that Bruce left for you and me. It seems I completely! missed the giant purple box on page 29 with the brief explanation of how to handle raising your character up beyond 6th Tier!) Thank  you Bruce for not only looking at my blog but personally and politely pointing it out to me! 

Would I recommend it:
This book is going to be a huge boost to all of your Cypher System games. So much of this product can be used in both The Strange and in Numeneara that there is really no reason not to add this product to your collection.
I highly recommend it.

Where can I get a copy ? 
Click the Image below or take this link HERE



  1. Thanks for the good review. I may need to pick up the PDF and see what kind of cool ideas it has in it. I love things that help define characters and make them stand out!


    • There were so many Foci and descriptors in that product alone it was staggering. If this is but a sample of what will come with the Cypher System we are going to be so blown away!


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