I am back with another preview of an upcoming segment of Strange Encounters. I will be discussing the use of 13th Age backgrounds in Cypher System games. In 13th Age characters do not have specific skills. Instead, they invest points in backgrounds. For example, instead of having a "streetwise" skill, a character may have a backgrounds as a member in a thieves guild. Characters invest in these backgrounds and can then invoke them (as if they were skills) in situations where the background is relevant to whether the player can accomplish a task. The former guild member can invoke this background to suggest that he can case the new town to identify guild sign, find the right people to ask questions, etc. This provides many more storytelling options (and flexibility) than an nondescript skill roll. It also encourages players to connect their characters to the game world, build their own history, etc.
For an overview of how this works, see this blog from Pelgrane Press.
I will discuss how to adapt this to the Cypher system soon -- with a more detailed discussion to follow on this blog.