The Cypher System, Jeff Noon’s Vurt, and the RPG of the Future

This is a guest post by Logan Decker. Logan is Editor at Ravendesk Games, the publisher bringing the Vurt RPG to life. Vurt will be powered by the Cypher System.

It took several arduous years for Ravendesk Games to secure the rights to create a tabletop RPG based on Jeff Noon’s hallucinatory novels that began with Vurt in 1993 (for which Noon won the Arthur C. Clarke Award). But in retrospect, the timing couldn’t have been better for us, because it was throughout those years that the Cypher System grew into being and developed its following, which provided us with a ruleset that was flexible and adaptable enough to encompass the literally infinite worlds and dreamscapes of Noon’s cyberpunk classic.

The novels are set in the squalid, crime-ridden streets of Manchester, England of the future, in a culture of cheap, disposable, and ubiquitous technology that permeates our cities, our lives, and our bodies. This technology includes manufactured feathers that, once ingested, allow you to travel alone or in groups to imagined worlds collectively known as the Vurt—worlds that are as real a place as any once you’re inside them, and just as dangerous.

environment 3

Noon’s prescient novels anticipated a world where lives are lived as much if not more in these conjured virtual worlds as the ones in which we were born, and that the borders between the two might not always be as clear as we’d expect—and that generations of biohacking, interbreeding between species, and shifting personas inside and outside of the Vurt would have the same effect on our identities. The potential for fans of roleplaying games in this gritty and dangerous universe of conjured worlds and hybridized characters is obvious. It wasn’t until we had our first taste of the Cypher System, however, that we understood how we could enable GMs and players to transition to far more diverse environments that would be difficult and cumbersome to break down into the units of any other system, whether they’re exploring classic fantasy and sci-fi scenarios, or finding a kidnapped child through her dreams via a bootleg feather, or waking up a completely different person without knowing if you’re actually awake or dreaming.

character 2

The Cypher System is what enables Vurt: The Tabletop Roleplaying Game to emphasize roleplaying, storytelling, and experiences instead of management and rules, as well as unique characters instead of stale tropes. (And it’s because of this emphasis that Jeff Noon himself will be contributing original scenarios and fiction for the game.)

environment 1

We’re grateful to have passed our funding goal for Vurt: The Tabletop Roleplaying Game on Kickstarter last week. Now our sights are set on stretch goals for two additional campaigns as well as one of our meatiest goals: the Vurt Crafting Companion (check out this update post to see how the Cypher System enables us to employ crafting in a way that isn’t merely cosmetic, but a dynamic interface between GM and PC creativity).

We see Vurt: The Tabletop Roleplaying game as a way to truly explore the capabilities of Monte Cook’s Cypher System, and we’d love to bring you aboard our Kickstarter campaign so you can be among the first to enjoy the game. But even if you don’t want to commit to backing just yet, feel free to follow our public updates on Kickstarter, keep up with news on our  Facebook and Twitter feeds, or email us with your questions and we’ll be glad to answer them. Thanks, Kittlings!

raptorheadshotLogan Decker was previously Editor-in-Chief of PC Gamer Magazine and is now Editorial Director at Dialect Inc. His passions for science fiction, games, and squirrels continues unabated on his Twitter feed.


Check out Vurt on Kickstarter. The campaign ends on Thursday, September 10th.


environment 2

Charles Ryan
Charles Ryan

Charles M. Ryan has written or contributed to titles in nearly every class of tabletop game—board games, card games, trading card games, miniature games, and roleplaying games—over a 25-year career in the game industry. He has also served as the global brand manager for Dungeons & Dragons and headed up the marketing department at the UK’s Esdevium Games, one of the world’s largest game distributors. He is the Chief Operating Officer at Monte Cook Games.