Cyphers are one-use, cobbled-together bits of technology that characters frequently discover and use. Any time you come upon an old device, defeat an artificially enhanced or designed creature, or simply sift through the ruins of the past, you might scavenge a handful of new cyphers. In the Ninth World, cyphers are rarely used for their original, intended function, which is now unknowable. Something a character uses as a bomb might have been a power source for another device that has been rejiggered with some crossed wires. A vial of liquid might have been a nutrient solution for a biological experiment. For those exploring the Ninth World, cyphers are the most important aspect of the numenera.
Cyphers generally have cool powers that can heal, make attacks, or produce effects such as nullifying gravity or turning something invisible. However, it is important to remember that there is a limit on how many ciphers a person can carry because they are inherently unstable. Gather too many in close proximity and devastating effects can occur. Some people learn how to safely carry more cyphers as they develop skills and knowledge of cypher numenera.