Eclipsing Cypher, A.K.A. Douglas Ramsey

Cypher / Douglas Ramsey is a bit awkward: his original power was to be able to understand, read, and (if humanly possible) communicate in, any form of language that he could perceive. If something “spoke” by means of color-changing skin patches he was out of luck on the “speaking” part. If something communicated by means of modulated X-rays and “wrote” by subtly altering the internal structure of crystals on a scale too small for human senses to pick up, Cypher was out of luck. Still, he could readily crack codes, read ancient alien instructions, interpret body language well enough to outplay professional gamblers, and so on. It was still a pretty handy power – just not a combat-oriented one. Given that he was otherwise a perfectly normal teenage nerd, this was a bit of a problem on a superhero team. Thus he was often partnered with Warlock, who turned into a battle suit for him – an effective combination since Warlock had the power, but Douglas had the willingness to fight.

Later on his power got expanded; he was enormously good with computers. This was actually quite a leap; being able to read computer code, or even being able to understand the meanings of the individual instructions, does not automatically give you the ability to read twenty million lines of code and figure out how all its parts interact in moments, just as our current ability to read the human genome does not let us do it instantly or tell us how all of its components interact.

Personally, I’ll blame this on his mild Transmode Virus infection.

Even better, he could apparently program at that speed too – the equivalent of picking up the complete works of Mark Twain when you’ve never seen them before, spending a couple of seconds ruffling the pages, and then producing a thousand pages of detailed analysis and criticism of those works in a few seconds. At least he was still limited by how fast he could input code – at least unless Warlock set up a neural interface for him and bypassed that little problem.

Then, of course, he died – but like so many other superheroes he eventually came back better than ever.

According to the wikis, these days it’s “Everything is Language. I am Language. I am Everything!” Everything he sees is now interpreted into information, and everything is language to him. He apparently no longer needs help to interface with devices and computers, can monitor large numbers of channels and voices at the same time, can read the information flow from various devices, and can instantly create personal languages that only he and the intended target understand and which easily convey his true intent. There’s also apparently some ability to work with magic as well – although I don’t know if that’s just because he’s good with words and rituals or because symbols, gestures, incantations, and so on are all simply ways of communicating your intent to the universe and he can speak that “language” too. Still, at least there’s nothing about him having any great capacity for handling magical power, which presumably helps keep him from becoming an instantaneous grand master of all magic.

Unfortunately, I haven’t actually seen the character since his resurrection – and so I can’t tell just what all that really translates to in terms of abilities, so this will be kind of speculative. On the other hand, THIS build is more recent, so I’ll be using it as a basis.


Level Four Linguist, Martial Artist, and Magical Dabbler

Four Color Package (24 CP):

  • This includes Superheroic Physics, Superheroic Durability, Superheroic Build, Rapid Recovery, Minor Conventions (Ready for Inspection, Comics Code, It’s Sufficient, Heroic Will, Heroic Rally, Coincidental Catch, Heroic Health, and a Minor Benefit (see below).

Pathfinder Package Deal (Free).

Pathfinder Human (Free)

Basic Attributes: Str 8 (+2 Enh +4 Eq = 14), Int 16 (+2 Enh +4 Eq = 22), Wis 16 (+2 Enh = 18), Con 14 (+2 Human = 16), Dex 11 (+4 Eq = 15), Cha 11 (+2 Enh +1 Level = 14)


  • Skill Boosters: Upgrade Human Fast Learner to +2 SP/Level (3 CP), Adept (Deception, Expertise (Computers), Persuasion, and Speak Language, 6 CP).
  • Available Skill Points (Level Four): 42 (Int Mod x 7) +14 (Fast Learner) = 56 SP.
  • Purchased Skills: Acrobatics 3 (+2 Dex = +5), Athletics 3 (+2 Str = +5), Deception 6* (+2 Cha +8), Expertise (Computers) 6* (+6 Int = +12), Expertise (Occult) 6 (+6 Int = +12), Insight 2 (+6), Investigation 7 (+6 Int = +13), Martial Art (Hapkido) +7 (+6 Int = +13), Perception 6 (+10), Persuasion 6* (+8), Speak Language 6* (speaks 12 languages), Stealth 2 (+2 Dex = +4), Technology 4 (+6 Int = +10), and Vehicles 2 (+2 Dex = +4). 54 SP total.
    • *Half cost due to Adept
    • +3 Specialties: Expertise (Occult)/Asgard and Expertise (Computers)/Programming (2 SP total)
    • Hapkido Techniques Known: Strike, Attacks 2, Defenses 1, Improved Critical, Mind Like Moon, and Improved Trip.

Mutant Powers:

Language Acquisition:

  • Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect / only for “Speak Language” (3 CP).
  • Immunity / the time normally required to pick up a language with Enthusiast (Uncommon, Minor, Minor, 2 CP).

This was Cypher’s original mutant power. And no, it wasn’t very dramatic. Very convenient at times – if only because the writers kept throwing in some gratuitous translation problem to make having Cypher along relevant – but certainly not very exciting.

Transmode Augmentations:

With his body and central nervous system subtly augmented by transmode nanotech, Cypher became a near-ultimate programmer, orator, and code-breaker – and picked up enough subtle physical boosts to keep up with the rest of the New Mutants.

  • May buy equipment off the d20 Future lists. Immunity / normal limits on equipment availability (Very Common, Major, Great (for +4 Tech Levels over the usual PL4 base), Specialized and Corrupted / only for Innate Enchantment purposes, no weapons allowed (10 CP).
  • Innate “Enchantment” (12 CP):
    • +2 Enhancement Bonus to Str, Int, Wis, and Cha (5600 GP)
    • Comprehend Languages (2000 GP).
  • Transmorph Virus Infection (3000 GP)
    • Boost Armor (DC 18) with Reduced Defense V (-5 AC, -10 DC) Gravlight (+4 DC, Max Dex +1, Armor Check -2), Segmented I (-1 ACP, +2 DC), Increased Range of Motion III (+6 DC, +3 Max Dex). Net: +7 (-5 RD = +2 whether proficient or not) AC, Max Dex +4 (+1 GL +3 IRoM = +8) , ACP -3 (Gravlight -2, Segmented -1 = 0), +4 Eq Bonus to Str, +2 Reflex Saves, Speed +10 (100 GP).
    • Neural Computer Link with Universal Communicator and Satellite Datalink (600 GP). Computer Use and Research checks are free actions, send and receive audio, visual, and digital information.
    • Cellular Interceptor (250 GP). May listen in on cellular and other data communications.
    • Cybernetic Neuron Booster +4 Eq Bonus to Int (450 GP)
    • Cybernetic Artificial Twitchfire: +4 Eq Bonus to Dex (600 GP)
    • Cybernetic Reflex Wires (1000 GP): +4 Eq Bonus to Initiative, +2 Attacks of Opportunity.
  • Mana Powered Luck, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect (may “Take 60″) / only for Skills, only for language-related effects – persuasion, insight, computer programming, breaking codes, etc (6 CP).

Good News! If your game master is letting people get away with abusing social skills Douglas may not need any more abilities to rule the universe. If not, well, at least he’s a really persuasive speaker.

Resurrection and Transcendence:

With his resurrection and resulting (?) empowerment, Cypher has acquired the ability to see pretty much everything as a language – allowing him to gain massive insights into opponents and the flow of combat and (apparently) to learn some magic – although apparently the only spell that he’s actually demonstrated is basically “plane shift to the lower planes”, which has limited utility.

  • Mana-Powered Berserker with Controlled, Odinpower, Odinmight, and Enduring (21 CP): Specialized for Increased Effect: Provides Typed (Insight) bonuses, only against opponents whom he can see normally and whom have detectable body language to read. Provides a +8 Insight Bonus to AC, Attacks, Reflex Saves, and Initiative when applicable.
  • Inherent Spell with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized for Increased Effect (Base level of 6), Corrupted for Reduced Cost / ritual casting only, cannot be powered by Mana, may leave the caster owing favors to extradimensional entities. A level six “anyspell” effect that produces any clerical spell effect of up to level three (4 CP).
    • Additional Form of Inherent Magic (Spell Enhancement), Specialized and Corrupted / Ritual Only, only with Inherent Spell (above), only to bind effects into Power Words (2 CP).
    • Power Words, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / can only store his own spells from Inherent Spell, above, spells are released as standard actions rather than as move actions (6 CP).

Basically this combination allows Cypher to prepare up to five spells per day, with a maximum level of six. Unfortunately, he can only store up to (Constitution) levels of spells in total and will have trouble controlling any spell with a level of more than half his level rounded up – which is why his Plane Shift attempt took the group to Mephisto’s realm rather than Hela’s (rather than blaming it on the grand master of all languages making a blatant spelling mistake). In general, magic is something that Cypher can dabble in, rather than a major ability. In Marvel terms… he can recite the invocations of dimensional magic easily, he just has a pretty minimal aptitude for actually channeling their power – and so he has to gradually build up a few prepared effects.


  • +2 BAB, Corrupted/does not contribute to iterative attacks (8 CP).
  • Hit dice: 8 (L1d8, 4 CP) +9 (L2-4d4, 0 CP) +12 (Immortal Vigor) +18 (Con Mod x 6) = 47 HP (Mutants and Masterminds Toughness +8, 10 with Costume. Without Immortal Vigor he would be Toughness 6).
  • Saving Throws:
    • Fortitude +3 (Purchased, 9 CP) +3 (Con) +1 (Res) = +7
    • Reflex +2 (Purchased, 6 CP) +2 (Dex) +2 (Eq) +1 (Res) = +7
    • Will: +3 (Purchased, 9 CP) +4 (Wis) +1 (Res) = +9
  • Proficiencies: None.
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +2 (Dex) +3 (Armor) +1 (Martial Art) +8 (Insight) +2 (Shield) = 26 (31 versus ranged attacks).
  • Attacks:
    • Unarmed: +18 (+2 BAB +6 Int +2 Martial Art +8 Insight), Damage 1d4+6 (Int) Crit 19-20/x2, Improved Trip. (Mutants & Masterminds, Damage +4, Improved Critical, Improved Trip)
    • Karatends, Melee: +19 (+2 BAB +6 Int +2 Martial Art +8 Insight +1 Masterwork), Damage 1d4+6 (int) +1 (Brass Knuckles) base +4d6 Electrical, Crit 19-20/x2. (Mutants and Masterminds, Damage +8)
    • Karatends Range: +8 (+2 BAB +2 Dex +8 Insight -4 Nonprof), Damage 2d6 OR DC 18 Fort to avoid stun for 1d4 rounds with single target blast OR 3d6 slashing in a 10′ radius (“grenade”). (Mutants and Masterminds Damage +3 OR save to an individual target OR area damage +5).

Other Abilities:

  • Finesse: Substitutes (Int Mod) for (Str Mod) in melee combat (6 CP). This, of course, is a massive upgrade over the Mutants & Masterminds version.
  • Minor Favors (X-Teams) (3 CP).
  • Minor Privilege: Gets the standard X-man equipment package for free (3 CP).

Standard X-Man Equipment Package (13,000 GP):

  • Kevlar Reinforced Costume (“Leather Armor”, but 40 GP and only 5 pounds), Masterwork (+150 GP), +1 (+1000 GP), Amulet of Tears (2300 GP. This can provide up to +36 HP per day. Armor Crystal: a Lesser Iron Ward Diamond (2000 GP). This isn’t a big deal, but every little bit helps.
  • Advanced First Aid Kit / Healing Belt (750 GP).
  • “Pocket Secretary”/Hero Team Comlink: Satellite Smartphone with HUD and hands-free links (250 GP), Smartsearch (As per a Tome of Worldly Memory, 1500 GP), Intelligent (500 GP), Int, Wis, Chr all 10 (0 GP), 30′ senses, uses Message at will (1000 GP). Note that, since smartphones can talk anyway, there is no need to buy speech for it.
  • Reactive Contact Lenses / Raptors Mask (3500 GP).+5 to Spot (Perception), Immunity to being Blinded or Dazzled.
  • Utility Pouch: Keys, LED minilight, multitool, chalk, nylon ties, etc. All the little junk that pops up once in a blue moon (10 GP).
  • Opportunist: May make a Trick check to redirect an opponents attack to another adjacent target (6 CP).
  • Luck with +2 Bonus Uses (9 CP)

Point Costs:

  • Four-Color Package: 24 CP
  • Skill Boosters: 9 CP
  • Purchased Skill Points: 0 CP
  • Language Acquisition: 5 CP
  • Transmode Augmentations: 28 CP
  • Transcendent Powers: 33 CP
  • Base Attack Bonus: 2 CP
  • Hit Dice: 4 CP
  • Saving Throws: 24 CP
  • Other Abilities: 27 CP

Overall Point Costs: 156 CP

Available Character Points: 120 (Level Four Base) +10 (Disadvantages: History, Valuable (this kid can easily crack pretty much any computer encryption?), and Outcast (Undead Zombie Mutie!)) +18 (Human, L1, and L3 Feats) +8 (duties as a hero) = 156 CP

Remaining Details

  • Minor Four Color Ability: Immortal Vigor I (+12 + 2 x Con Mod) HP.

As a fourth level character Cypher is entitled to 6000 GP worth of gear – and he gets the X-Man package for free. That’s a dilemma because, while he doesn’t really seem to use a lot of gear, he already died once when a nut shot him with a basic pistol. Ergo I suspect that his friends would insist on a little extra protection even if he was silly enough to not get some on his own. Given that he’s on reasonably good terms with aliens, mages, and super-scientists, I’ll give him a pair of progress level six d20 Future weapons and a set of magic/ultratech/whatever defenses.

Karatends (Power Gloves): Set of two at 190 GP Each = 380 GP.

These are actually just a bit of “armor” (actually a buckler): with some built-in weapons that use the “compact” or “miniaturized” modifiers to fit them into a glove. That’s doesn’t make a lot of sense with the grenade launcher, but this IS a superhero setting and special effects are free. Sadly, Cypher isn’t actually proficient with the things (and so gets one less point of AC and a -4 to hit with the ranged weapon functions), but at least they give him

  • Buckler (+1 Shielf Bonus Proficient, +0 Nonproficient, ACP -1, DC 9) Improved Defense II (+3/+2 Shield Bonus Nonprof, +4 DC), Segmented (A.K.A Masterwork, ACP = 0, +2 DC), Compact (1 size smaller, +2 DC), Integrated Weapons x 3 (+3 DCs, buy weapons separately) (75 GP).
  • (Compact (1 Size Smaller, +2 DC) Electrified (+4d6 Electricity, +2 DC) Masterwork (+1 to Hit, +2 DC) Brass Knuckles (+1 “Unarmed” damage, DC 5) (7.5 GP).
  • G6-30 6-Shot Grenade Launcher (DC 14) (Miniature (+5 DC) (100 GP). Range Increment 70′ Feet, Single Shot. Fragmentation Grenade Loadout: 3d6 in a 10′ radius, six shots, (32.5 GP.)
  • Laser Pistol (2d8, 20 Shots, 40′ Increment, Purchase DC 17) Compact (+2,DC), Decreased Range (half range increment, -2 DC), Reduced Damage II (Reduce damage to 2d6, -4 DC), Heavy Stun Module (Fort DC 18, +6 DC) (75 GP).

The Karatends are presumed to have nifty special effects – some sort of plasma manipulation as opposed to simple physical stuff – but the game statistics are exactly the same. They aren’t really all that powerful compared to most superhero powers and weapons, but they do give Cypher just a bit of extra protection and some ranged options, however minor they are in superhero terms.

  • Lesser Crystal of Arrow Deflection: +5 AC versus Ranged Attacks (2500). After dying of a bullet to the chest once, who could pass this up?
  • +1 Vest of Resistance (1000 GP).
  • Miscellany – probably a car and some such – 2010 GP.

This is more than a bit of a stretch – but Cypher does have several plausible sources for exotic equipment, so why not?

Special Note: Cypher is probably still underage, given the length of time he spent being dead while his friends were growing up.

Cypher… is actually very good at punching people (even if he doesn’t do all THAT much damage in doing so) and is quite hard to hit – but he can be effectively crippled by smoke, dust, fog, being in the dark, or other visual impairments and his abilities make him a general support character, rather than a primary combatant. At least now he can be a general support character in combat as well as in investigation and negotiation.

One Response

  1. […] manufacturing base comes up in Cable’s build, building magical dabblers turns up in Cypher’s build, and superheroic Equipment Packages are discussed under […]

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