Cypher Shadowrun Totems, Fetishes, and Talismans

So here we are again readers Totems, Fetishes and Talismans! The long-awaited adaptation of Shadowrun inspired Foci Magic in the Cypher system. Long awaited, so long awaited one of my awesome gamers took up the task of tackling most of the work. He took the foundations built on the new version of cybernetics found Here and built a solid set of options for magic items in Cypherrun.  So if you like the following be sure to give my good friend Nick (@Negeta76 over on Twitter) a thank you because if it was not for him we likely would be just starting not finishing this blog. So, let’s take a deeper look at what Shadowrun style magic in the Cypher System.


It should be noted that in Shadowrun magical gear is called “foci”. With the term “Focus” existing as a keyword in the Cypher System, it is important to separate the two so that we can minimize any confusion. So in the Cypher System, Shadowrun Foci are classified as “Magical Gear” and further divided into three groups. These Groups are.

  • Fetishes– Items that can summon spirit animals or grant single-use abilities.
  • Talismans– Act as power Assets tied to specific skills or powers.
  • Totems– These powerful Magic Items give access Tier Powers or Power Shifts

Limits of Magic

For balance with cybernetics, it was determined that only characters who have taken Adept or the Magic Flavor are able to unlock the magical potential of these items. Additionally, to keep the balance both ways in Cypher Shadowrun the same item limits apply to Magic as they do Cybernetics.

One difference between magic items and cybernetics is that a player must bind themselves to their magic item. Given time a player can shift their bond to other magic items that they own or find, but this takes time and they must adhere to the Item limit rules for bonded items detailed below.

Cybernetics Limits

1 Major, 2 Standard, 3 minor

Magic Item Limits

1 Totem, 2 Talismans, 3 Fetishes

Further, if you are playing a concept that might have both magic and cybernetics the only requirement that you must meet is adhering to the Type or Flavor of Adept or Magic. The mixing of magic and cybernetics is a costly one in Shadowrun. Installing cybernetics costs Essence in Shadowrun. To represent this in Cypher System if you meet the requirements to access magic items and chose to install cybernetics. You lose access PERMANENTLY to whatever analogous slot that you have taken. Make these choices with the knowledge that there is no going back.

To be clear Magic Item Slots lost due to Essence loss can NEVER be restored.

  • Each Minor cybernetic implant PERMANENTLY removes access to one Fetish Slot.
  • Each Standard cybernetic implant PERMANENTLY removes access to one Talisman Slot.
  • A Major cybernetic implant PERMANENTLY removes access to the use of  Totems.

Also, the power that a player gains through Magic Items has diminishing returns. The more often a player attempts to call on their power over the course of a day the more difficult the check becomes.

Item Level

Fetishes, Talismans, and Totmes much like artifacts and Cyphers each have an Item Level. In the case of Magic Items, the level of an item is tied directly to the power level of the summoned spirit or Tier associated with the ability the Item is mimicking. This was done for balancing factors and if wanted to play a high power game from the jump. You could forgo this. But I think in the interests of game balance this is a good rule of thumb.

Fetish Level

  • Level 2 Items = Tier 1 & 2 Ability or Spirts
  • Level 4 Items = Tier 3 & 4 Ability or Spirts
  • Level 6 Items = Tier 5 & 6 Ability or Spirts

Item Level Restrictions

Magic Items of Higher Tier than the Player cannot be bound with until they reach the same Tier as the item.

Control Checks

Any time that a character wishes to activate a Magic Item he must make a Control Check 999d438d5ab66f7dac4303ded84dad01 summonto activate the power of the Magic Item or gain control over the Summoned Spirit. When a spirit is summoned the spirits appear in at an immediate distance to the item they are bonded with and may act immediately. The Spirit will behave as instructed by the player who is bound to the magic item as long as the character succeeds in their control check.  Once Summoned and Controlled the spirits will remain until Dismissed or Destroyed.


Nick chooses to summon a Level 2 Earth Spirit. The check needed to summon and control the Earth spirit is a Rank 2 check. On the third round of combat, the Spirit is destroyed. With combat still going Nick chooses to resummon the spirt. The difficulty increases by 2 requiring a Level 4 check to summon and control the Earth Spirit again. When the combat ends Nick can choose to dismiss the spirit or retain control until the end of the scene.

If Nick decides later in the adventure so summon the Earth Spirit yet again this check would now be a Level 6 Control Check.

In this same example if Nick was summoning a Level 6 Fetish Spirit the check after the above example would be a 10.  
Level 6 CC to activate + 2 to resummon in combat, Lastly an additional +2 if he decided to summon it later in the adventure. 

If a Spirit is Dismissed it returns to its plane of existence until called again. Likewise, if the Spirit is destroyed it is only its Material body that is lost and can be resummoned. At the end of a Scene if the Spirit has not been dismissed or destroyed the player. They may choose to attempt another Control Check to force the Spirit to remain for an additional scene.

Loss of Control

If a player makes a control check and the result is a fail, the summon breaks free.  A free summon has the preference to attack those that have damaged it or the conjurer that failed to control it.  

Additionally, if you wanted as a possible GM intrusion on a rolling a 1. The summoned creature only goes for the conjurer that failed to control it, ignoring others that attack it. At any point before the control check, the summoner can choose to release the creature. Released creatures will simply disappear before it takes its turn.

Bonding with Magic Items

Magic Items alow Adepts and Magic flavor players a bit of versatility similar to the “Casts Spells” focus. Players may unlock the powers and abilities contained in a Magic Item. They take the time to Bond with the Magic Item and are of the appropriate Tier. The length of time required to bond with an item varies. Players must also be of the of the same or higher Tier of the item to bond successfully.

Time Needed to Establish the Bond:

Fetishes:  These magic items can be bound within just 10 min.

Talismans: Talismans require 1 hour to bond with. 

Totems: These powerful magic item can only be rebound to a character once every 10 hours.

SPECIAL: A player may force the bonding with a Magic Item at the cost of 1Exp. Spirts will NEVER like this and it will prompt an immediate Control Check.


Now with the basics laid out next blog will give you some sample Magic Items. I hope you all find this useful. Comment below and let me know what you think


D&D collides with MTG? So that happened today.

So today WoTC did something that may have at the same time thrilled half the gaming world and Terrified the other. They Released a small 38 page PDF of called PLANE SHIFT:ZENDIKAR. Including within was a beautiful world and all that would have any real adventure drooling with anticipation.

That’s when the sense of wonder and potential dread begins to creep in. If this is widely well received. Might we be on the verge of a D&D cultural shift to MTG worlds in a bid to pull more gamers into the fold from the card flipping hobby?

Might the WoTC be testing the waters to finally forget the Forgotten Realms? Honestly, It might be just the breath of life that the company needs to firmly set it back on top of the industry.

What comes next ? We shall only see.


You can think of Plane Shift: Zendikar as a sort of supplement to The Art of Magic: The Gathering—Zendikar, designed to help you take the world details and story seeds contained in that book and turn them into an exciting D&D campaign. The easiest way to approach a D&D campaign set on Zendikar is to use the rules that D&D provides mostly as written: a druid on Zendikar might call on green mana and cast spells like giant growth, but she’s still just a druid in the D&D rules (perhaps casting giant insect).

Plane Shift: Zendikar was made using the fifth edition of the D&D rules. D&D is a flexible rules system designed to model any kind of fantasy world. The D&D magic system doesn’t involve five colors of mana or a ramping-up to your most powerful spells, but the goal isn’t to mirror the experience of playing Magic in your role-playing game. The point is to experience the worlds of Magic in a new way, through the lens of the D&D rules. All you really need is races for the characters, monsters for them to face, and some ideas to build a campaign.

You can read the whole release here.

Kickstarter Watch Spellbook Gaming Boxes

Well it looks like I came back to the fold just in time for some awesome Kickstarter news. No sooner do I sit town to take a look at KS and I find these lovely things. Spellbook Gaming Boxes. DAMN. I always seem to be on an eternal quest for the perfect game box. And here is another group that has likely hit a home run for their efforts.

e1216d3759867999dbc8dcd0f33dec04_originalThese boxes are simple useful and beautiful. I think best of all is the idea of foam inserts for further customization. I have my eye on these books for just that reason. I could make a box insert for each game that requires different tools of the trade.  A SW insert with space for Bennies, card box for my Cypher System Games, or a dice tray for D&D. These would also be a wonderful box for any Magic the Gathering Player. I love the idea of the versatility. As well as am surprised with the number of dice boxes I have made myself over the yeas I had not considered this myself.

The crafting looks simply lovely and this box is high on my to get list. Their Kickstarter is here and the project is already more than funded. Swing on by and give this project a look. I think you will be as impressed as I am by what they have to offer.

Spellbook Gaming Boxes


WOTC shutting down All forums.

That’s right today Wizards of the Coast announced they will be shutting down of their Forums. Anyone that has any content or wishes to archive anything from the forums has a few days to move because as of October 29 10 AM PT they will shut down their forums and delete them.  You can read the news HERE.

Thus far the reactions have been mixed from what I have seen. Many understand it, many would rather not see them go. With things like Redit and Enworld there are many other forums out there that the gaming community can gather in. But it just seems odd that with product as large as MTG and the constant influx of card releases that you would shut down that board as well.

We will see what they have planed. I for one did not use much in the way of either of their forums so I can not say that it affects me one way or the other.

MTG Adventure Generator?


I recently just saw a fellow blogger write about getting inspiration for adventures from a very odd place. So I just had to try it myself. Well what is this odd place you say. The suggestion was to draw 4 cards at random from MTG (Magic the Gathering) and from there build your plot. I thought how interestingly novel but it can’t really work can it ? So I gave it a go. And here is the result of my attempt. Now I imagine very often this will not result in anything you can work with but just pull another set and plug away. After all its inspiration you are looking for not the story itself. Give it a bit to sink in as well. I would think if in two or three minutes you can not come up with something then try again.
Now as I pulled my 4 cards the first card I drew was a Land. And then the Irony of that set me to thinking that from now on if I do this I will pull a Land and 4 cards at random. Giving me a the backdrop of the location. So here we go !
I used the Random card generator found HERE.
(You can find that post that started me down this rabbit hole Here.)

The Avian Shrine

Image (1)In the Mountains to the north a there is a secluded mining community. Each day the miners greet the sun knowing it could be the last time they see the sky above as they venture deep into the mine to dig out its riches. These are a simple people but deeply religious. And their religion is directed to the heavens above and all things that live there. So much so that they pulled crystals from the earth and fashioned a beautiful eagle with wings of crystal and placed it at the top of their church at the highest point of the city. They call this church the Avian Shrine.


30678Recently the regularly blessed town has fallen on hard times. The shrine has been vandalized and the great crystal eagle has had one of its crystal wings broken and taken. The city folk believe their hard times are due to the anger of their gods at the theft.  There have been several deaths in the mine over the years but now people are dying in town as well.  The Mayor and his council members are desperate for the Shrine to be repaired and the guilty brought to justice. The party is on the clock and with each day more miners go without the blessing of their gods fearful that they will not return from the depths. Time is of the essence and the Mayor and his lackeys will be breathing down the party’s neck for results every step of the way.
The Party only has a few clues to get them started. A file from a set of Thieves tools was left at the site as well as a few strands of red hair were caught in the claws of the Statue. And the body of one of the thieves that fell to their death from the church tower to the cobbled stones below. The Thieves Guild Is insistent that they had no involvement in the attempted theft of the priceless relic.

41GNZpmJ-hLBut it does know of a young rouge with red hair. Who runs with a crew of two others that might be behind the theft. Shortly after learning this, one of rouges behind the theft is found dead. But not before  being seen by several people babbling incoherently about being chased by monsters trying to kill him and eat him. His body is found decapitated in a dark ally. Clutching in his hand a key and a coin. The coin is a free drink coin from one of the taverns on the lower side of the city. The key unlocks the back room of the tap house of the same tavern. This is where the rest of the crew hideout between jobs.
The party arrives  just in time to encounter a robed shadowy figure slipping away. (The figure slips around the corner and activates invisibility and levitate on its next action)The figure was interrupted and was not able to finish his work. The body of the Thief left behind has had his brain removed. Leaving more questions than answers. If the players search the body they find in the corner of the room under the bed is a holy symbol worn by the priests of the Shrine. But there is a sign carved in the wall to the god of thieves in the room. Also in a loose floorboard they find the missing wing that was stolen.

MindslicerAs the party now begins to shift their eyes back to the church the High priest invites the players to sit with him and discuss the possible involvement of one of his members of the cloth. Even if the party did not disclose this information to anyone. He seems to already know why the party is here. He informs them that he has been conducting his own investigation and wold like to speak with them in private. If the party enters the meeting with suspicion he will immediately attack at the first hint of accusation of his involvement. If they sit and speak with him he will attack after they all have been seated. He will open with his Mind Blast and follow-up with confusion. From there he will Mind Blast every round it is refreshes. If pushed and death looks like a reality for him. The Mind Flayer will cast Wall of Force and leave out the closest window. Then cast invisibility and return to the mines where he came from.

ImageOver the next few days after everything is done if the party has survived and the Mind Flayer arcanist has been slain or chased away.  The mayor rewards the party with a purse of gold and the priests give gem of true seeing carved to look like the eye of an eagle as a reward for saving their flock and restoring their church to order.
In time it is pieced together that for some time now the miners were being preyed on by an Illithid . The Mind Flayer would kill miners and then hide the bodies making it appear to have been a mining accident with his ability to use Hallucinatory terrain. Having grown bold he ventured into the city and found the place the poor and homeless congregated at the church. Using Disguise self he took up the roll of the high priest. From the comfort of the church he would regularly feast on the homeless. Until one day he was seen as he was in his true form. Two thieves managed to get away. Thus everything that came to pass was because of the greed of man.

So do you like it ? Will you try it ? Pass it on !

This could just as easily be done for other settings like Numenera as well. Here is a brief example with the same cards.
Image (1)At the base of a mountain. There is a lost temple at the bottom of a lake.

30678The entrance to the temple is sealed behind the wings of a great crystal eagle. To gain entry one must find a way to make the great bird close its wings.

L41GNZpmJ-hLearning of the possible wealth that might be within a group of rouges steal or copy the location of the temple in hopes to reach the location before the party. The race is on.


MindslicerThe Temple is protected by a Mindslicer a great horned beast with Bladed bony arms.
Level 5 (15)
Motive: Protection/hunger
Armor: 5
Damage: 6 from its huge arm blades and 5 from gore attacks
Movement: long

ImageIf the explorers are able to make it into the depths of the temple they find a disk that glows and has numbers and symbols spiraling along its surface. Once a day the user may tap into the data sphere.

Artifact level 2
Depletion: 1 in 6