Ideas for Cyphers

Hey Scoundrels.

If you’re part of band called the Déshérités, stop reading right here !

For real, stop !

Okay, my players recently realised they didn’t really interact with the Cyphers, whom they chose as an ally during crew creation. I take part of the blame, because I’m having trouble fleshing them out from the little we have in the books.

So I’m fishing for inspiration. Did you ever meet the Cyphers in your game ? What do they really do ? What’s their agenda ? What’s cool about them ?

Thanks in advance for any help here !

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I’ve only really used them as flavour when messages need delivering :stuck_out_tongue:

What did the players say when they picked them as allies?

After checking old notes and scratching the rubbles in my memory, something like :
“It would make sense for us, as subtle shadows, to have good relations with messengers ! And they’re the most likely to have given us our thief rigging upgrade. We probably did a mission for them and they let us keep some of the gear.”

… Yeah now that I say it like that, I’ll have to dig into that “mission they did for them”, it’s a great entry point. Thanks !

Do they sub-contract? Did messages get lost? Messangers captured or killed? Infiltrators in the Cyphers?! :scream_cat:

All of that, and… whom did they cross? After all, in Doskvol, the only way to climb higher is to step on someone else.

I always figured that if I needed to expand a little known faction into something bigger I would use the faction descriptions starting on page 286 as a template. You gave me an excuse to go through that exercise with the Cyphers. Below is my crack at it. It should be considered a draft and it might not fit everyone’s game. But I think it is a good method for fleshing out Factions.


Cyphers (II): The messenger guild of the city. Cyphers swear sacred oaths of secrecy—never revealing the contents of their messages or the identities of their clients—or so they claim.

Faction Clocks:
Deliver the message - 4 (reoccurring)
Extract Fellow Cypher from Bluecoat interrogation - 8

Turf: An Office in Charterhall on the canal (HQ), routes on canals and streets, the quickest way from here to there.

NPCs: Lamond (leader, professional, ethical, connected). Staven (master coder, genius, eccentric). Phin (fastest courier, confident, risk taker). Econe (in custody of Bluecoats and knows important secrets, proud, defiant)

Notable Assets: So many secrets of others, kept very secure. A trusted reputation by many Factions and Citizens. A large safe full of profits.

Quirks: The Cyphers take great pride in their professionalism and trust building with clients. They seem quirkily ethical yet will still code and deliver any message for the right price. Can smell a rat or a con artist from a mile away if those efforts are directed at them. Hate the Bluecoats and Inspectors for interrogating them for information on their clients or the contents of their messages.

Allies: Gondoliers, Cabbies, City Council, Citizens.

Enemies: Bluecoats, Inspectors, Ink Rakes

Situation: Econe is in custody of the Bluecoats and is being interrogated for knowledge and details of a crime. The Inspectors are involved because the crime is political in nature and may affect the City Council. The Cyphers are angry and insulted and even many others across Doskvoll find interrogating Cyphers controversial. The Ink Rakes are sensationalizing the situation to no one’s benefit except gossips and the sales of tabloid newspapers.

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Heya! My group is also friendly with the Cyphers. Here’s a score I ran if you want to borrow it!

Cavril of the Cyphers (slim, dark-haired, pox-scarred cheeks) asks you to meet her at an address in Six Towers as soon as possible, it’s urgent!

At the address, a pair of Spirit Wardens are inspecting a bloodstain on the street. They won’t bother you unless you act suspicious. Cavril is on the third floor of an abandoned building, where she has dragged the body of Zavzo, another Cypher. (If you’re playing with alchemical stuff a lot, she’s used Drift Oil to allow her to move the body of the much larger dead man).

She’s blocked the Deathseeker Crows in some fashion (I used a circle of magnesium sulfide, but use anything that works in your version of Duskvol). Zavzo was killed and three letters he was carrying were stolen; the Cyphers need the letters back to maintain their rep, and ideally would also like Zavzo avenged. Here’s what went down before your PCs showed up:

Zavzo picked up the letters at The Veil in Nightmarket and was cutting through Six Towers to deliver them in Charterhall. He was hit from behind by Dancer, one of the Wraiths, who killed him with a poisoned blade and stole the letters. The Wraiths have been hired to get blackmail material on Elstera Avrathi by one of her enemies, and they knew that Zavzo was carrying an incriminating letter. They’re now trying to get paid twice - they’re going to blackmail Avrathi themselves, and then sell the letter on to their original client.

Let your players use whatever information gathering works for them to piece it together - summon his ghost and quiz it, analyze the wound and trace the poison supplies (they’re rare), backtrack to The Veil and figure out who sent the letter, etc. Either way they should be able to find the Wraiths as the culprits (don’t make it too hard for them), at which point they need to decide which of the approaches they’re going to use and how they’re going to get the letters back. They have a little time to work, since the Wraiths are trying to get paid twice; the Wraiths are storing the letter in their lair in Silkshore while they work.

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Hey ! That’s excellent, a bit different from how we run scores (they don’t do investigations), but given that they have a somewhat tense relationship with the Wraiths, that’s good ! Thanks !

@Ends, I really like this. It gives me some fresh ideas. Thanks for sharing.