Monte Cook Games Announces Cypher System Open License

Monte Cook Games, the tabletop development studio behind many successful crowdfunding projects, have announced Cypher System Open License, allowing anyone to use their RPG system to create.

Published: June 7, 2022 3:05 PM /


A warrior on the back of a monster stabbing at flying lizards with a spear

A certain generation of tabletop players are familiar with Monte Cook Games. Monte Cook contributed extensively to the lore and rules of Dungeons and Dragons, including certain prewritten adventures and supplements regarding the great lich Vecna before eventually starting his own TTRPG studio. Said studio has developed their share of original material like the science fantasy setting of Numenara, as well as multiple crowdfunding projects. Now, they are giving more tools to TTRPG developers with the announcement of the Cypher System Open License.

What Is The Cypher System Open License?

For those not aware, an open game license is where publishers and independent developers can duplicate content found in a TTRPG's core gameplay systems. This is usually provided as part of a reference document which shows can and can't be freely duplicated. Said content includes character generation, core game rules, optional and variant rules, creatures, cyphers, items, artifacts, and more. Normally, the use of such material is dependent on licensing fees and a formal contract between the holders of the game system and the developers in question, but an open game license (OGL) is available to all who want to use it. For example, Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition has a 5e OGL, which has lead to a lot of creative projects built on their foundation, including Monte Cook Games' own cosmic fantasy adventure: Path of the Planebreaker.

The announcement for the Cypher System Open License came from a post on Monte Cook Games' website. As the name implies, this open license will allow developers and publishers to freely use Monte Cook Games' Cypher TTRPG rules system for their own creative projects going forward. The Cypher system is characterized by its ease of use, narrative focus, and flexibility. This is demonstrated by how the system is used as the basis for the island-based coastal adventure RPG Tidal Blades, the superhero RPG Claim The Skies, and a TTRPG adaptation of the horror anthology podcast series Old Gods of Appalachia.

Publishers are invited to capitalize on the commercial success of the Cypher System (as evidenced by nearly $3 million in Kickstarter funding this year alone, as well as ten years of Monte Cook Games products) and make the most of its amazing flexibility, ease of play, narrative focus, and fun gameplay as they bring their creativity to life. Open licensees will be able to create adventures, settings, supplements, and even entire, self-contained games using the Cypher System, and to modify, change, and add to the Cypher System rules as best serves their vision.

What Games Will Be Using The Cypher System Open License?

In addition to the Cypher System Open License's announcement, Monte Cook Games revealed several upcoming projects that will be taking advantage of these new resources. These projects include the following:

  • Mystery Flesh Pit National Park RPG: A self-contained cosmic horror RPG about a Texas roadside attraction with a dark unsettling secret. It will be coming to Kickstarter in 2023.
  • GM Roulette: A party game where you and your friends can have a TTRPG experience even if the GM hasn't prepped anything. It plays in three hours or less. It will be coming to Kickstarter later this year.
  • Blood and Chrome: A cyberpunk sourcebook and setting depicting a dystopian near future New Orleans. This is an expansion on Marlowe House's Cypher Burst materials. The project will be coming to Kickstarter later this summer and has a newsletter sign-up link here.

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Ever since he was small, Tyler Chancey has had a deep, abiding love for video games and a tendency to think and overanalyze everything he enjoyed. This… More about Tyler