Burst of Insight-Golarion without Pathfinder, part 4

Welcome back to Burst of Insight, I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday season and that your new year is starting on the right foot. Over the last several installments (Since mid-November) I’ve been chatting with you about Golarion without Pathfinder. Specifically adapting the setting to the Cypher and Genesys Systems. Much of the content has been a reflection of the content I’m compiling and designing for my own campaign endeavors. So while I believe my group would really enjoy Genesys I have significantly better buy-in for an extended campaign with the Cypher System. With that in mind, I’m going to narrow my focus this week to simply the Cypher System.

As I said in that first blog, we had narrowed our campaign choices down to Mummy’s Mask and Strange Aeons. I had the opportunity to play briefly in a Mummy’s Mask campaign and that minor exposure really peaked my curiosity for the rest of the story. Admittedly, I may have campaigned a little harder for Mummies Mask and since my players are really easy going about these things it looks like that’s the direction we’re likely to go.

So with the system and campaign selected, I figured I’d adapt the campaign traits to become Cypher abilities. Following the Pathfinder model of the traits being both minor and extra I decided PCs could select one of these abilities to round out their character. Now, in Pathfinder each character can choose 2 traits but I don’t feel converting every trait is necessary or desirable. Limiting it to just a single ability that ties the character closer to the themes of the AP seems more logical.

At this point, I did more of a conversion job taking the name and flavor text from each campaign trait directly, then designed a first-tier ability for each.

Cypher System Campaign Traits for Mummy’s Mask

The Campaign Traits are adapted from the Campaign Traits that appear in the Mummy’s Mask Player’s Guide. Copyright Paizo

 Blood of Pharaohs: Long ago, one of your ancestors ruled over the lands of Osirion. Although you are many generations removed and the line of descent is hard to prove, his or her blood still runs in your veins. Perhaps you may find some proof of your lineage in the tombs of Wati’s necropolis. You are trained in Osirion’s history and are fluent in Ancient Osiriani. Enabler.

Devotee of the Old Gods: Osirion has a history stretching back over 8,000 years, and the deities worshiped today in modern Osirion are not the same ones revered in Ancient Osirion’s heyday—deities with names like Anubis, Osiris, Ra, and Set, among others. Your family never lost the faith of your ancestors, however, and your devotion to one of the deities of Ancient Osirion has helped keep the memory of Osirion’s past alive—a past that still lingers on in the untouched necropolis of Wati. You are trained in Osrion’s history and the religions of Ancient Osirion. Enabler.

Foreign Opportunist: You’re not a native Osirian, but the opportunity to explore the tombs of Ancient Osirion—and “liberate” the treasures they hold—is too good to pass up. Whether or not you’re interested in the history of this land, you’re definitely interested in the wealth that’s lain hidden in dusty crypts for millennia—such as the tombs in the newly opened necropolis of Wati. You are trained in appraising the value of items this includes discovering any rumored properties of unique or storied items. Beware, you cannot always count on the veracity of legend and rumor. In addition, your contacts in the antiquities markets grant you an Asset when trading in the markets to get the best deal whether you are buying or selling. Enabler.

Ezren in the Big Finish Audio Production of Mummy’s Mask feels like he might have the Inquisitive Archaeologist trait. Image: Paizo.

Inquisitive Archaeologist: You have studied the architectural styles of nations throughout the Inner Sea region, but none have fascinated you like the architecture of Ancient Osirion. Hearing that the famed necropolis of Wati has finally been opened for exploration, you’ve come to that city to get firsthand experience with the lost secrets of Ancient Osirion’s master builders. You are trained in all tasks involving architecture and structural engineering. You are also trained in perception tasks involving the detection of concealed or secret doors in structures built in the style of Ancient Osirion. Enabler.

Mummy-Cursed (1 Intellect Point): One of your ancestors ran afoul of a mummy’s curse while exploring an ancient tomb. This curse was passed down to later generations of your family, but over time, your line has become more resistant to curses. You’ve come to Wati to explore its untouched necropolis, and while you hope you won’t have to face a real undead mummy, at least you have some defense if you do. For the next 10 minutes, the difficulty of all Intellect defense tasks is eased by one step. Enabler.

Resurrected: At some time in the recent past you died, but you were brought back to life—whether because of magic, a blessing of the gods, a destiny you have to fulfill, or perhaps it just wasn’t your time to die yet. Whatever the nature of your resurrection, your experience gave you a fascination with death, and you hope to find some insight into the nature of mortality by exploring the tombs of Wati’s famous necropolis. Once per day, when making a recovery roll you may roll twice and take the better result. You must choose to use this ability before making the recovery roll. Enabler.

Sphinx Riddler: You’ve always been fascinated with the ancient race of sphinxes, and are inspired by them to love puzzles and riddles and enjoy solving difficult dilemmas. Like so many others, you’ve come to Wati to explore its ancient necropolis, but you’ve also heard that sphinxes occasionally visit a sphinx-shaped ruin called Ubet’s Folly in the city—perhaps you’ll have the chance to meet and talk with a sphinx yourself! You are trained in tasks involving puzzles and riddles and are fluent in the language of sphinxes. Enabler.

Trap Finder: Forgotten dungeons and ancient tombs have always held an appeal for you, and you’ve never been able to resist the urge to delve into these lost sites in search of knowledge, treasure, or both. You may not have received any formal training in the roguish arts, but you’ve nonetheless become skilled at spotting and disabling hidden traps. The tombs of Wati’s necropolis, just opened for exploration, seem like the perfect place to put your skills to the test. You are trained in perception tasks and in tasks to disarm and remove traps. Enabler.

Undead Crusader (1 Intellect Point): You have dedicated your life to eradicating the scourge of the undead from Golarion. You have spent countless hours studying the different types of undead and have trained endlessly to learn the best ways to defeat them. If any undead creatures come out of the tombs of Wati’s necropolis, you’ll be ready for them! When you make an attack against an undead creature you inflict 1 additional point of damage. Action.

Wati Native: You were born and raised in the city of Wati, and you know its streets and secrets well. Although it’s frowned upon by the city’s authorities, you have sneaked into the necropolis on multiple occasions to wander its dusty, abandoned streets. Out of respect for the deceased, you’ve never actually entered one of the necropolis’s silent tombs, but you have no fear of what might lie inside. You are trained in resisting fear effects. In addition, you are trained in all knowledge tasks pertaining to the city of Wati. Enabler.


Normally, I don’t try for 1:1 parity going from system to system but for a small discrete set of options like this felt right. I’m not converting hundreds of spells or feats just a few relevant traits. This is an approach GMs and players could take with numerous different systems. In a Fate game, each of these traits could become an Aspect or stunt. In Genesys, each could be expanded into a Talent players could select or adapted into a single 5 or 10 XP species trait each character gains as a special bonus. The trick to getting this right is to look more to the destination system for guidance than the original source. The original source is good to flavor and feel but the mechanics need to be solidly a part of the destination system.

In two weeks we’ll conclude this series with a look at preparing and adapting an adventure.


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Top Image Credit: Infouad used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. Via Wikipedia.

Burst of Insight

Andrew Marlowe

placed in the Top 16 of RPG Superstar in 2012 and 2014, one of the few contestants to get that far in the competition twice. Since then, he has contributed to many Paizo and third party Pathfinder products, including one of the network’s favourite releases in the Pathfinder Player Companion line, the Dirty Tactics Toolbox. Every other Tuesday, he will be sharing his Burst of Insight, with design tips for would-be game designers from a decorated freelancer.