Movement in the Cypher System

On the way to Gen Con 2015, Matt and I talked about how to use the Cypher System in a dungeon crawl. We both really enjoy the diceless aspect of the game, and how easy it is to play. On the other hand, its use of distance is very fluid and not conducive to miniatures or tactics in dungeons.

What we decided to work out was how far a character could move based on their Speed Pool. Our calculations produced approximately 1 yard per Speed per round. Here’s the breakdown.

Maximum Speed Stat

Without using Cyphers, Artifacts, or any other outside effects, the highest Speed pool possible is by creating a Swift Warrior who Moves Like the Wind, then investing all bonus Pool points into Speed.

Bonus Total
Warrior Type base Speed 10 10
Bonus Points from Character Creation +6 16
Swift Descriptor +4 20
Moves Like the Wind Focus at Tier 1 +5 25
Moves Like the Wind Focus at Tier 2 +5 30
Moves Like the Wind Focus at Tier 5 +5 35
Tier 1 Advancement Bonus +4 39
Tier 2 Advancement Bonus +4 43
Tier 3 Advancement Bonus +4 47
Tier 4 Advancement Bonus +4 51
Tier 5 Advancement Bonus +4 55
Tier 6 Advancement Bonus +4 59

Usain Bolt – Fastest Man Alive

Using Usain Bolt, the fastest Olympian for the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m, as a benchmark for this level of Speed Stat, we are going to derive how fast he moves in a round (approximately 6 seconds).

Distance Time Speed
100m 9.58 sec 10.44 m/s
200m 19.19 sec 10.42 m/s
4x100m 36.84 sec 10.86 m/s
Average 10.6 m/s
Round 63.6 m/rd

Movement in a Round

We now know the maximum Speed Pool a character can attain ‘naturally’ and the fastest they can move in a short period of time. Taking these factors:

63.6 m/rd ÷ 59 spd/rd = 1.08 m/spd = 3.54 ft/spd

Considering that we don’t like decimals in calculating any RPG stats, and that there is also a Running Skill that is used to increase movement, we’ll call this 1 yard moved per Speed per round.

How to Use

From here, you have a character that has the potential to move almost 24 mph (38 kph) in a single round, without running!

That is insanely fast. How does this balance with the game, since such a character could outrun almost anything they are pitted against short of a car?

This version of Movement is tied directly to the Speed Pool. To start, make it Current Speed to determine Movement, so as the character’s Pool decreases, so does their maximum Movement. Next, sustaining this takes a lot of energy. Forcing the character to make Running Skill rolls each round beyond their Speed Edge, Effort, or Tier can also slow the character down. Finally, moving this fast requires complete concentration on the task, movement in a single direction, and a cool down afterwards. The character can be restricted to moving in one direction and a full round to slow down (at half their maximum Movement).


This sets characters to being equivalent to most d20 and similar tactical miniature games in mechanics. A base Speed 10 character would move 30 feet, much like your D&D medium-sized humanoid. It adds a degree of realism to it, as a character tires their Speed reduces and therefore their maximum distance. A few flaws to point out are that you are on the 1 Yard system, which can be a pain since we’re used to 5-foot squares. Also, if this is considered normal speed, you’re talking about 24 mph at Tier 6 as a character’s standard movement.

However, the design of this mechanic is for small dungeon rooms or hallways, and overall, it should provide a good house rule for those of us who want to take a favorite system to a favorite setting.

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About Mike G

Mike co-founded MAMS Gaming in 2012 to provide a great gaming experience for players and GMs at Gen Con. This has led to organizing GMs and networking to provide a great play experience.

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