Swallows the Transforming Draught – Focus [Cypher System]

Image by Comfreak

“I learned to recognize the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both….” -Dr. Henry Jekyll


The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a novella written by Robert Louis Stevenson and was first published in January of 1886. In brief, it is a story not of a virtuous man that becomes a monster, but of a man like any other who finds a way to freely become that monster that always existed just beneath his skin. The new focus below, Swallows the Transforming Draught, is intended to bring a measure of this tale Cypher System. Aside from the original novella, influences for this focus are taken from some of the works it inspired namely: 

  • BBC’s Jekyll (might be interesting to pair this focus with Absorbs Energy or Rides the Lightning in a dual focus game)
  • Marvel’s Incredible Hulk
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen(movie)

An updated version of this focus is now available as part of Literature & Legends: Gothic.

Swallows the Transforming Draught

You have always been a person of great virtue and had a desire to help improve the world of man. In your genius or hubris you sought a cure for a great disease. The low beast that writhes and flourishes in the darkness of man’s own heart. You failed in your goal, but you developed something wonderful and terrible. Freedom in a bottle.

Suggested Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Modern (if setting has a supernatural or super science element), Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction (soft), superheroes.

Connection: Choose one from the CSR list or one of the following:

  1. Pick one other PC. That character is aware of your double life and the potion that facilitates it. You are uncertain of what they intend to do with this information.
  2. Pick one other PC. That character is being treated by you for some malady that only the medicines you concoct seem to suppress. That character chooses the malady.
  3. Pick one other PC. That character was exposed to a very early prototype of your transformation formula, that you improperly disposed of, and that is the case of their special abilities. You are aware of this fact, but they may not be.
  4. Pick one other PC. That character has been hunting for your alter ego for a while. That character decides why and for how long.

Minor Effect Suggestions: Traces of potion in your system cause your vital organs to briefly shift. You gain an asset on your next Might defense roll.

Major Effect Suggestions: Your face writhes for an instant as if you were starting to transform. Foes within sight are dazed for one round upon seeing this gruesome occurrence.

Image by Jalyn Bryce

Tier 1: Drink, Doff, Assume (2 Intellect Points). You can combine ingredients you have on your person into a potion that changes you into an alter ego that is the manifestation of your id. This potion has no effect on creatures other than yourself and you are assumed to be able to acquire the necessary ingredients which have a negligible cost in any populated area. You can consume this potion as part of the action to create it.  Under the effects of the potion your general appearance, apparent age, voice, mannerisms, and even gender change granting you an asset on tasks to conceal your true identity. This transformation is always the same and lasts for 1 one hour or until you consume a second dose to reverse it. If unused, the potion loses its potency after one hour. Action.

Mix. You are trained in two of the following: alchemy, chemistry, herb-lore, healing, or pharmacology. Enabler.


Tier 2: Altered Priorities. The change caused by your use of your potion is now more than skin deep. When you transform into your alter ego, you can transfer up to 5 points from your Intellect Pool and add those points in any combination to your Might and Speed Pools. When the change ends you must subtract a total number of points from your Might and Speed Pools equal to the number you transferred from your Intellect pool (if this brings both of these Pools to 0, or if they are already 0, subtract the overflow from your Intellect Pool). Enabler


Tier 3: Better living Through Chemistry(CSR 113, CSC Conducts Weird Science T3 110)     or     Monstrous Potion. One of your attempts to enhance your transformation formula resulted in an interesting but potentially useful failure. As part of the action to use Drink, Doff, Assume you can augment the potion you create with additional reagents, altering its effects. Consuming this enhanced and unstable potion changes you into a version of your alter ego that is twisted and monstrous, but stronger. This alted transformation lasts for 1 minute. In addition to the effects of your transformation, while under the effects of this ability, you add 2 points each to your Might and Speed Pools, add +1 to Armor, and add +1 to your Might and Speed Edges. All intimidation tasks based on appearance you attempt are eased and all tasks related to pleasant social interaction are hindered. When the effects of this ability end, your Armor and Edges return to normal; and you subtract a number of points from your Might and Speed Pools equal to the number you gained (if this brings both of these Pools to 0, or of they are already 0, subtract the overflow from your Intellect Pool). In addition to the normal options for using Effort, you can choose to use Effort to increase the duration of this ability; each level of Effort used in this way adds one minute to the duration of this transformation. Enabler. 


Tier 4: False Face. You are trained in all tasks related to maintaining a secret identity. Enabler. 


Tier 5: Greatly Altered Priorities. The number of points that can be transferred from your Intellect by  Altered Priorities is now up to 10. Enabler


Tier 6: Greater Enhanced Potential (CSR 146)/ Self-Improvement (CSC 91)     or     Not Dead Yet(CSR 166, CSC Never Says Die T6 154): In the case of the CSC version ignore the text in parentheses unless you also have the ability it refers to.


GM Intrusions: Sometimes the transformation occurs or ends without the use of the potion. Ingredients become ruined and must be replaced. Someone finds out about the character’s double life.


CSC: Cypher System Core Rulebook

CSR: Cypher System Core Rulebook Revised

Ease: A decrease in a task’s difficulty, usually by one step. If something doesn’t say how many steps it eases a task, then it reduces the difficulty by one step. 

Hinder: An increase in a task’s difficulty, usually by one step. If something doesn’t say how many steps it hinders a task, then it increases the difficulty by one step.

Numenera and its logo are trademarks of Monte Cook Games, LLC in the U.S.A. and other countries. All Monte Cook Games characters and character names, and the distinctive likenesses thereof, are trademarks of Monte Cook Games, LLC. Content derived from Monte Cook Games publications is © 2013-2019 Monte Cook Games, LLC. (see Disclaimers)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s