Meet the Psychedelic Astronaut in Moon Rises Cypher System Live Play
Moon Rises is Nerdarchy’s brand new live play series of Monte Cook Games’ Cypher System! Set in the science fantasy post apocalypse of our own Earth, the heroes must help the charismatic leader Unic Hopebringer in reclaiming Manhattan to rebuild it as New Manhattan. We interviewed the cast of Moon Rises to get some insights into their characters, the world and the TTRPG system breathing mechanical life into this alien yet familiar world. Today, we’re sitting down with the player behind the ancient astronaut with a psychic twist!
Cypher System live play
Please introduce yourself and your new character
“I’m Nerditor Doug, content director for Nerdarchy and I’m super excited to play Grigg Skjellerup, a psychedelic astronaut. In game terms he is a Resilient Technology Adept who Separates Mind From Body.
The image of an astronaut in a spacesuit popped into my mind when I first started thinking about a character. Poking around on Pinterest (an awesome place for RPG inspiration!) I found a bunch of cool spacesuit illustrations and it became a springboard for everything else.
Grigg might not be in outer space but he is first and foremost an explorer of the unknown. His spacesuit keeps him safe from the outside world while at the same time he can interact with the world in ways no one else can because of his emerging psychic powers. There’s several mysterious things about Grigg, some even he isn’t aware of himself! I think those circumstances and his curiosity will put him into some interesting scenarios.”
The new campaign is a Cypher System campaign. What are your thoughts on the system?
“I bounced off of Cypher System a few times in the past. From a purely analytical perspective the rulebook if I’m honest misses the mark in a few ways and the rules come across unnecessarily noodly in some respects so initially my enthusiasm was pretty low.
After grasping more about how Cypher System works I can totally understand the appeal for Nerdarchist Dave as Game Master. I also appreciate how versatile it can be for gameplay structure since it does not present any particular aspect of RPG play as a conflict resolution or advancement mechanic. In other words it doesn’t feel like combat holds any more water than social interactions or exploration, to put it in 5E D&D terms. Characters could progress through an entire campaign without even a whiff of violent confrontation and still experience dangers, perils and threats to their wellbeing and success.”
What role does Grigg fill in the party?
“Grigg is by far the oldest character in the group but despite or perhaps because of this his sense of wonder and curiosity begins very high. I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll say he understands a tremendous amount about the world but in a very specialized manner.
For our campaign I hope Grigg’s strange perspective and weird abilities open new pathways for the party and reveal deeper mysteries of a more cerebral nature along with methods to explore them further. During our session zero I checked with the other players to make sure it was okay for Grigg to have no interest in combat. He doesn’t even carry any weapons or have any attack powers. If violence rears its ugly head he would look for a way to circumvent the problem or aid his friends in a way that doesn’t put him into the fracas.”
Everyone needs a pastime. When Grigg isn’t actively pursuing danger and mayhem, what does he do for fun?
“Here again I want to avoid spoilers — including from my fellow players (Grigg has secrets!). I’ll say this. Grigg’s primary motivation is reaching the source of a signal transmission only he detects, although he’s not in a huge rush.
Aside from this goal Grigg is fascinated by his inextricable ability to project his mind out of his body so he spends a great deal of time exploring the limits of his mind in the same way he once explored outer space as an astronaut. I guess that makes him a psychonaut? Because he remains inside a sealed spacesuit at all times, it’s unclear when he inhabits his body or not.”
If Grigg were playing a game of Humans & Households, what type of character would he be? (Who would Grigg be in our modern day and age? What would that look like?)
“I don’t suppose this is too much of a spoiler since it’s the basis for Grigg’s backstory, abilities and everything else tying him to the campaign. Grigg actually is from our own modern times. He was a Danish astronaut aboard a research ship studying comets. That’s as much as I’ll reveal about Grigg.”
Where did your character live prior to adventuring?
“Grigg lived in Paris, France and worked for the European Space Agency there. Since awakening in 2075 he has not been to Europe but time and global destruction have erased any compulsion to return there.”
Does your character have any friends/family members/other key figures in their backstory?
“These questions are incredibly challenging to answer without revealing any secrets or spoilers! Everyone Grigg knew from his life as an astronaut is dead and gone. More immediately though we discussed during session zero how Grigg met another party member. While deep underwater seeking sensory deprivation to explore his mental abilities one of the other characters came across the inert spacesuit and snatched it, considering the ancient artifact a valuable salvage. We also discussed the possibility for Grigg to be an ancestor of another character. This sounds really neat to me and I’m excited to see how it plays out (especially considering one of Grigg’s mysterious secrets!).”
What does Grigg desire most? What are his ambitions?
“Grigg’s main goal is reaching the source of the signal and delivering a payload of data from his research mission. He’s not in any great hurry to do this, if only because the data and anyone who might have wanted it is long gone.
Other than this he enthusiastically pushes the boundaries of his mental powers both to understand them more and, as a scientist, uncover answers to whatever weird questions exist in the landscape of the mortal mind.”
Does Grigg have any secrets or weaknesses/flaws that you would be willing to share?
“Me? No, of course not. Seriously though Grigg’s story is one wrapped up in secrets! Some of these he does not even know. I’m really excited to see how these play out during our campaign.
One thing I made clear to the other players and Dave is not to consider his situation being confined to his spacesuit as a problem. The visual of an astronaut spacesuit started me down the path to developing this character and I simply want to imagine this character in the setting visually. Grigg does not bemoan or even acknowledge his situation. I suppose this could be exploited as a flaw for Dave, whether through GM Intrusion or simply roleplaying but I hope not.”
Many people put a piece of themselves into their TTRPG characters. What parts of yourself did you put into Grigg?
“I get a kick out of psychic phenomena like ESP, mental projection and all that sort of thing. Starting with the astronaut visual look I didn’t know where to go until flipping through the Focus section and coming across Separates Mind from Body. Right away I thought, yep. That’s the one.
I also enjoy obscure and trivial knowledge so I’m looking forward to anachronistic references during our games. Along the same lines it’s fun to learn new things and weave them into RPG experiences. Finding out about comet research and space exploration missions inspired quite a lot of Grigg’s backstory and it’ll help inform his perspective and choices.”
Having come fresh out of Those Bastards, what are your thoughts about this new campaign?
“Looking at the game setting from your character’s point of view and jumping into the experience feet first makes a tremendous impact. We’re all friends and trust each other, plus I feel like we all have similar boundaries anyway so I’m excited for the group dynamics to emerge. In Those Bastards! Megan masterfully managed our player agency and all these disparate elements came together in bits and bobs in a really fulfilling way. I am confident that’ll be the case in this new game too.
It’s also cool to play a new game and tell stories in a wildly different genre. Like Dave I grew up watching all the cornball shows and movies he’s throwing together. Honestly I’m most excited for him because I know how much he loves this sort of stuff so it’s great to participate.
I anticipate having huge amounts of fun playing a weird character in a zany setting with my friends. I’m super curious how everyone’s character turns out by the end and grateful for all the memorable moments we’ll create together.
And oh yeah! I’m stoked to get the new dice I ordered for this campaign! Life has been really great on a personal and professional level so I indulged and bought a set of frosted glass prism dice with an outer space motif. Cypher System only uses a d20, d6 and sometimes d10s so I created a custom set and hopefully it’ll arrive in time to face Grigg’s first difficulty!”
Thank you for sharing, Doug!
Are you excited for Moon Rises as much as we are? What are your thoughts on the setting, characters and other elements we’ve revealed so far? Have you ever played Cypher System, Numenera or other Monte Cook Games? Let us know your thoughts in the comments! You can tune in every Tuesday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern to watch the ongoing saga of Moon Rises at the Nerdarchy Live YouTube channel. Be sure to subscribe and hit the notification bell so you don’t miss the live play game or our other longform video content like daily and weekly live chats here.
Until next time, later, nerds!