Showing posts with label cortex. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cortex. Show all posts

Saturday, August 16, 2014

#RPGaDAY Day 16, Game you wish you owned

#RPGaDAY Day 16, Game you wish you owned

Following up on yesterday.  I wish I had kept my copy of the Supernatural RPG.


I lost track of watching the show and I was not playing the game at the time so I sold my core book.

Of course I almost immediately regretted it and picked up the PDF.  But I would like to have a copy of this book.  Actually I would like one that is updated to the latest seasons.

The other game I wished I owned is one I wished existed and I wish I could write.


I personally think it would be a blast.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Supernatural & Smallville

One of the BEST games I have ever played at Gen Con was a Supernatural/Buffy/Charmed mash up.  Characters were characters from the various shows and the system was the Buffy Unisystem game.  There was another version of it that was run the night before using the Supernatural version of Cortex.

It was a lot of fun.

So it is kinda sad to note that Margaret Weis Productions is closing shop on two of their popular game lines, Supernatural & Smallville.

It's not a surprise really, licenses like this come and go all the time.  But you only have to the end of this month to get books from either system.

I spent a lot of time with Cortex over the last few years.  You can follow those insights (and baseless opinions) here, http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/search/label/cortex

Supernatural is closer to the original cortex rules and more similar to Unisystem.  So close in fact it is pretty easy to use ideas from one game in the other. Willow and Tara (and Vampire Tara) converted rather nicely I thought.

Smallville is the first of the "Cortex Plus" games.  The conversions here are more concept based than actually crunching numbers.

In both cases these are fun games and if you haven't picked them up this is your last chance.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I Don't Want No Civil War....

But this one is pretty cool.


MWP has their next Marvel Heroic Roleplaying book out and it covers the big Marvel Civil War arc.

Now, I'll be honest I didn't care for the Civil War story.  But this book does look cool and it adds more heroes for your game.

The books come in two flavors.
The Essentials edition just covers the new material.
The Premium Edition includes the Essentials plus the material from the Basic Game.

I grabbed the Essentials.  But I'll pick through the Premium if it has material updated from the Basic game.

While I didn't care for the story in Civil War it did give us one of the best Cap and Spidey panels in existence.



Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Batwoman: Marvel Heroic Role-Playing

Note: Here is my next post for the YAM Magazine LBGT Blogathon.  I am going to go over some of my favorite characters from TV, Books, and Movies and talk about how to use them in various games.

In some cases I'll also talk about why I picked the characters I did and why I paired them with the game I did.

Today I want to focus on a character I absolutely adore, but have not devoted many posts too.  The Kate Kane Batwoman.

Batwoman: Marvel Heroic Role-Playing

Batwoman is one of the more interesting characters to come out of DC's 52 comic from a few years back.  52 is also notable for giving us a new Question, Black Adam kind of sympathetic, and making Booster Gold actually kinda cool.  But it was Batwoman that made her debut here and the character has been crazy popular ever since.

This is not the old, original Bat-woman, set up only as a romance interest for Batman.  No. Not this one.

Kate Kane, is a rich heiress. A socialite. A member of the family that "owns everything else in Gotham that Bruce Wayne doesn't". But all of that is a façade.  Kate Kane is a lot of things. She is a daughter, once was a sister. She is soldier, she is openly gay and she it the Batwoman.

As an openly gay character in the comics Kate received a ton of publicity, and not just because of that, but because she was a "Bat".  The Batman family is royalty in the comics biz.  Do anything that close to the Batman and no matter what it is, it will be noticed.

While Kate of "52" seemed to be a somewhat closeted "lipstick" lesbian, Kate of the "Batwoman" series (one of DC's best selling female lead books) isn't.  She is openly out, she has tattoos, she is a former Army cadet with a promising career ahead of her till "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".  I talked about her backgroud a lot in my review of Elegy a while back.

One of the things I enjoy about this book is that her sexuality is part of person, not there to attract or tantalize readers. Look at the cover for the upcoming Batwoman #0.  Yes, she is very attractive, and yes you about about to get a boot to your face.  Kate is a soldier, first and always.

I choose to stat her up in Marvel Heroic Role-Playing for the same reasons I often choose this game. It is because it is a great comic-book game and a great tool for role-playing interpersonal drama.  Kate is great character and there is a lot going on in her life.  Her new relationship with Maggie Sawyer and her old relationship with Renee Montoya. Her strained relationship with her father.  Her significance to the Cult of Crime (who alternately want to worship her or sacrifice her).  Her relationships with the rest of the Bat family and here working with the D.E.O.  All of this stuff combines to make great character driven drama.  You could not for example simply replace Batwoman with Batman or Batgirl in these stories.   The are different stories.  In many cases Batgirl is too smart to get mixed up in same sort of cases and the Batman would punch out the bad guys and threaten everyone else.  Kate is not as strong as Bruce, or as smart as Barbara.  So she has to be more dedicated and more tenacious.

Here she is, in her Marvel Heroic Role-Playing format.


The Batwoman

"The bat they shine in the sky... civilians think it's a call for help. The bad guys think it's warning. But it's more than that. It's something higher. It's a call to arms... I've found my way to serve."

Name: Batwoman
ID: Katherine "Kate" Kane (secret)
Affiliations: Solo d10, Buddy d8, Team d6 (Currently she is solo, she has worked with father and Flamebird before. She is best though when she has someone to work with, even if she prefers to be alone)

Distinctions:
Found my Way to Serve - Kate sees herself as a soldier in a war against crime. She applies all her discipline and training to this service.
Out Lesbian - while not out as Batwoman, this does affect her mental attitude. She had to stay true to herself, even if it meant costing her everything she had worked for.
Rich Heiress - what Kate does costs a lot of money. Also her "role" as the rich heiress is a good cover.

Power Sets
Next Level Training d8
Kate sees herself as soldier still, this is the next level of training for her.
Enhanced Senses d8
Enhanced Reflexes d8
Enhanced Stamina d8
Speed d6

SFX: Effort.  Spend 1pp to up a die in NLT power.
SFX: Second Wind. Before using a NLT Power move physical stress to Doom Pool and step Power up +1
SFX: Immunity. Spend 1 pp to ignore stress, trauma or complications of a physical nature.
Limit: Exhausted.

Uniform of the Bat d8
This is not a costume for Kate. It is her uniform, the ideals she believes in.  And the boots do not have heals on them!
Gadgets/Utility Belt d8
Body Armor d8
Batarangs (attack) d8
Swingline d8

SFX: Focus
SFX: Area Attack. Target multiple opponents
Limit: Gear


Specialties 
Acrobatics Expert d8
Crime Expert d8
Military Expert d8
Menace Expert d8
Combat Master d10

Milestones
"I'm a Goddamned Solider!"
1xp when you first enter a mission.
3xp when your loyalties to those you serve with are called into question
10xp when you must abandon your loyalties for the sake of the mission or visa-versa.

My Past Haunts Me
1xp when you first interact with your Father, Cousin Bette/Flamebird or something to do with your sister.
3xp when a member of the Cult of Crime recognizes you as the Twice Named Daughter of Caine
10 xp  when you have to defeat Alice to accomplish the mission, or abandon the mission to save your Father or Cousin.


Compared to my Unisystem build I think this is rather nice.
I have done other builds for MHRP as well:


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Marvel HRP links

Quick one today.
Found some links for various builds for the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game.

The Lost of Files of Marvel is just link after link of tons of builds.
That 70's Game also has a few, but in particular are his build builds of Zatanna, Fire and Ice from the DC world.

And only quasi-related, Tim Marchman over at the Wall Street Journal wants to know why comics aren't doing better than they are.  Actually he has a pretty good idea.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Willow and Tara: Marvel Heroic Roleplaying

I am still playing around a bit with Marvel Heroic Roleplaying now that I have seen it out in the stores.  Saw a copy at my local Barnes & Nobel last night in fact.  I thought this might be appropriate for today.

"Willow and Tara" by David Reynolds

Willow and Tara in the Marvelverse
I have to admit, that anytime I think about the girls in a super hero universe I always think of it in terms of DC.  But the roleplaying and character development aspects of MHR are too good to ignore.
I have already done up my two DC go-to characters Zatanna and Justice with this system.  And I have stated up Willow and Tara in one other version of Cortex in the past.

For the girls in this universe I'll start with the assumptions that the events in my previous games, The Dragon and The Phoenix and Season of the Witch happened.  In fact even though this game was not part of the original plan it would work fine as part of the Generation HEX season I started and never finished.


Name: Willow
ID: Willow D. Rosenberg (public)
Age: 32 (2012)
Base of Operations: Boston, MA

Affiliations: Solo d8, Buddy d10, Team d6  (Willow in highschool was certainly more Team, but this is an older Willow)

Distinctions:
Bad Ass Wicca
Technophile
Quick to Anger

Power Sets
Sorcery d10
Magical Spells d10, Blast d10, Senses (magical) d10, Teleport d10, Telekinesis d10
Limit: Conscious Effort
SFX: Versatile
SFX: Area Attack

Anamchara d10  (Willow and Tara can combine their powers)
"I will always find you." (Telepathy) d8,  "I am you know...yours" (Combine) d10
Limit: Distance/focus
SFX: Multipower
SFX: Boost

Specialties 
Mystic d10
Tech d10
Cosmic d8
Science d8

Milestones
Magic
1xp You uncover some plot that is magical in nature.
3xp You discover some new magical tome or artifact.
10xp You defeat the main villain without magic.

Anger
1xp When you loose your temper
3xp When someone you are helping takes trauma
10 xp When your anger threatens the world, or saves it.

Willow in "Generation HEX" is one of the most power spell casters in the world.  But her own issues surrounding her anger still plague her.  She has turned to magic as a means of not just obtaining control over her situation, but of herself.  She is slowly getting there.


Name: Tara
ID: Tara A. Maclay (public)
Age: 33 (2012)
Base of Operations: Boston, MA

Affiliations: Solo d6, Buddy d10, Team d8  (Tara does best with Willow or in a group)

Distinctions:
Witchy Woman
Loyal
"Tara hide your magic" - Tara is a deep, quiet, well of magical power, but she has been told her whole life to hide it.

Power Sets
Sorcery d10
Magical Spells d10, Blast d8, Senses (magical) d10, Telekinesis d10
Limit: Conscious Effort
SFX: Versatile
SFX: Healing

Anamchara d10  (Willow and Tara can combine their powers)
"I will always find you." (Telepathy) d8,  "I am you know...yours" (Combine) d10
Limit: Distance/focus
SFX: Multipower
SFX: Boost

Specialties 
Mystic d10
Psych d10
Cosmic d8
Science d8

Milestones
Magic
1xp You uncover some plot that is magical in nature.
3xp You discover some new magical tome or artifact.
10xp You defeat the main villain without magic.

Soulmates
1xp When you or Willow are dragged into a problem together
3xp When someone uses you to get to Willow or visa-versa
10 xp When you have to work together after being apart to stop the threat

Tara is more self-actualized than Willow is.  She knows and accepts the dangers and responsibilities of her power.  What she is most afraid of is loosing Willow; either to death or darkness.   In my games the girls have seen many alternate realities, any reality without a Tara in it results in Willow turning evil and destroying things.

Willow and Tara have a lot of linked powers and milestones, as to be expected given their lives together.

To follow along with the Generation HEX plot ideas, they are living in Boston teaching at a school that has a lot of magical kids enrolled.  In my game they would of course know of Zatanna and I would still have to say they are not up to her power level on their own, combined though they could give Zee a run for her money. Not that they would mind you, Tara is a HUGE fan of Zatanna, I have this on authority.

Of course this would also be a good episode to have the girl visit the wilds of Canada and check out the Cave of Cool.


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Zatannurday: Marvel Heroic Roleplaying

Continuing my exploration of the new Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game. So here is everyone's favorite Sorceress Supreme, it's Saturday it must be Zatanna!

We worked this the same night as Justice.  Again, I am happy with this build and see it as a nice compliment to the DCA/M&M3 stats.   Both have a place in my world.

Name: Zatanna
ID: Zatanna Zatara (public)

Affiliations: Solo d10, Buddy d8, Team d6 (Zee is not a team player, but she has teamed up with John Constantine, Hawkman and Batman)

Distinctions:
Most Power Magician in the World (she is. And all the supernatural baddies know it too)
Celebrity in the Spotlight (Everyone knows who she is and she likes that)
Shades of Grey (Zee sees more grey than most Supers, even ones in the Marvel-verse)

Power Sets
Magic/Sorcery d12
Magical Spells d12, Blast d10, Senses (magical) d10, Teleport d10
Limit: Must be spoken backwards
SFX: Tantric Healing (can reduce stress)
SFX: Area Attack

Specialties 
Mystic d10 (pretty much knows it all)
Cosmic d10
Menace d8
Psych d8

Milestones
"Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic"
1xp You uncover some plot that is magical in nature.
3xp You discover some new magical tome or artifact.
10xp You defeat the main villain without magic.

Daddy Issues
1xp You meet someone from your father's past.
3xp You take trauma from one of your father's old enemies or friends.
10 xp You must send your father's soul back to the afterlife to defeat the bad guy.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Justice: Marvel Heroic Roleplaying

Earlier this week I mentioned I spent some time over the last month with Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.  One of the first characters I though about was my paragon character "Justice".

The great thing about Justice is I have a great grasp on who this character is, what motivates her and what she wants to be.  So a game like MHR is really a good fit.  Plus is gives me the chance to compare her "Marvel" universe counterpart with her "DC Universe" counterpart.

For Issue 5 I spoke to my regular GM Greg, the guy likely to be the GM of any supers game I'll play in and my go to guy for Marvel questions, suggested an adventure where Kara travels to Madripoor.  Kara is there as part of a delegation with one of her law professors.  Her role here is of course to be quiet and learn.  Bet you know how that is going to turn out.

Since we are going to focus on the drama here Greg wanted to give her a love interest, one of the local criminals (whose name escapes me at the moment, but I think it was Wolverine's son).

So with out further ado, here is Justice.

Name: Justice
ID: Astra Kal-El / Astra Kent (secret)

Affiliations: Solo d10, Buddy d6, Team d8 (Kara is still trying to figure out who she is and she is doing that on her own.)

Distinctions: Uncompromising (sees the world in mostly black & white; good guys and bad guys)
Heroic Ambition (wants to be a hero)
Struggling with Identity (is she Amazon? Kryptonian? something new? How can she fit into a human world?)

Power Sets
Amazonian Heritage d10
Superhuman Strength d10, Superhuman Durability d10, Superhuman Stamina d10
Limit: Exausting
SFX: Multipower
SFX: Second Chance (reroll)
(she is still coming into her power)

Kryptonian Heritage d8
Superhuman Senses d8, Flight (subsonic) d8, Blast (heat vision) d8
Limit: Kryptonite - Shutdown
SFX: Second Wind (move power up to d10)
SFX: Invulnerable (spend 1pp)

Specialties 
Combat d10 (training from the Amazons and Bruce/Batman)
Cosmic d10
Crime d8
Science d8

Milestones
Just like Mom and Dad...
1xp You encounter someone that knew your father
3xp You defeat one of your father's or mother's old enemies.
10xp You join or leave a team that your parents were on.

"Justice will Prevail!"
1xp You save an innocent life
3xp You must make a choice between the Law and Justice
10 xp You choose to see justice done at the expense of your own personal happiness.
 

I think this describes her rather well to be honest.  And it is something I could use to help drive the character in any other Supers game she might be in.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My Month with Marvel



I have now had Marvel Heroic Roleplaying now for about a month.  I have read it. Re-read it. Watched games, read reviews and even detailed some characters.  Here are my thoughts.

First, I have to be honest, I am still and probably always be a DC fan foremost.  I "dabbled" in Marvel back in the 80's like others.  I enjoyed the X-Men, loved Spider-Man, enjoyed Doctor Strange and Ghost Rider...and that was about it.  I didn't have any dislike for Marvel, I just like DC better.
I enjoyed the old TSR Marvel game, but I also liked DC Heroes from Mayfair and Villains and Vigilantes.

Secondly, MHR is about as far away from the OSR as you can possibly get and still use the same set of dice.

Ok. So there are a lot of reviews out for this now, and there is really nothing new I can add to all of that.  Here is though less of a review and more of a bunch of my opinions and insights on the game.

The most notable feature of this game is there is nothing in the way of comparing ability to ability really.  Yes there are things like "combat expert" and there levels of that, but nothing along the lines of Strength vs. Strength  So there is no way to tell really who would win in an arm wrestling Thor or Thing.  But the deal is that this not something that is likely to happen UNLESS it was part of the plot, then the winner is decided by other things.

MHR is more of a game where the players are providing the framework.  You need to create your character with the other characters and players in mind.  Maybe not as much as Smallville or Leverage, but still.  It is also a game where the main drama is about heroes, not really supers.  It really is a "comic book" RPG, not a cartoon, supers or even super hero movie RPG. This game is about building characters, the relationships between them and the drama. Which, if you think about it, is kinda what Marvel Comics is about.

The game moves well from what I have seen in play and after working with your character you get the hang of the game quickly.

The book itself is great to look at, but I was expecting more to be honest.  Compare to Green Ronin's DC book.  The DCA is overflowing with art.  Everywhere.  MHR has art, but it seems to use it more sparingly.  Plus I swear it was the same characters over and over. I could easily name dozens of character I didn't see, but that is not the point, I would have liked some others.
I would have liked to Dr. Strange or some other magical/mystical types since that is my favorite part of any game and Marvel in particular. Strange at least is important enough that he should be included in the Basic rules.

Will I play this game?
That is really the only question right? Yes, I love to try it out with the right group. To me the right group would be people who are willing to invest in their characters and be able to "play the drama".  So yes, with the right group of people.

Still I might want to dual stat characters with MHR and some other traditional supers game, maybe even DCA/M&M3.

I'll be posting some characters here soon.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying

Well unless you have been living under a rock this last week the newest, hottest game on the market right now is Marvel Heroic Roleplaying from Margaret Weis Productions.



It is kinda-sorta billing itself as the spiritual heir to TSR's old Marvel Superheroes Game  (aka FASERIP).
The new book out is called "The Basic Game" , obviously meant to recall the "Basic Game" of MSH and there is even a forward from Jeff Grubb.  So MHR has a pedigree, of sorts, but how does it stack up to it's forefather?

Well...

I will be100% honest here.  The rules took me a bit of reading, re-reading, asking other players and spending some time on RPG Net to understand.  AND I Am still not 100% sure I got it right.

I have played around with Cortex+ before.  I like ti for what it is and I'll admit I was a little concerned when I heard that the Marvel Game was going to use Cortex+.  I like it for Smallville and Leverage where drama is important. I even suggested using it for a Modern Supernatural game, but I was not sold on it as a Supers game.

At this point I should point out that "Supers" might not be a good genre for this game.  After all, "Supers" is not even in the title at all and the assumption here that everyone has powers of some sort.

In many ways this game is exactly as my friend Greg describes as the "Antithesis of the OSR".
This game is about building characters, the relationships between them and the drama.  Which, if you think about it, is kinda what Marvel Comics is about.   Does it matter really what the Hulk's strength is?  No.  Just that he is really damn strong.  Can he pick up a tank and throw it?  Sure if the Watcher (the GM, I kinda like that) says he does then he does.  That simple.  If it is a challenge, say can he out punch The Thing or Thor, then that is a different matter.

I think back to a scene I remember reading years ago.  Spider-man teamed up with the Ghost Rider to catch a common foe.  They are obviously very different kinds of heroes and they have their own way of doing things.  The bad guy was actually not essential to the story, so much so that I can't even recall him.  But the issue was more about their contrasting styles and more about how Spidey was horrified when Ghost Rider used Hell Fire on a bad guy.    This sort of thing is perfect for these rules.

So I am going spend some time this week with this game and looking at the support information out there and how one can use this game.

My opinion of the game has gone up since I first picked it up.  So who knows where I'll be by this Friday.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

DriveThru RPG July Codes

It is that time again.

Here are the products you can get from DriveThru RPG for 20% off.

DriveThruRPG.com

The coupon code to get 20% off all these products (or just some if you prefer) is CoolJulySave2011.

And for one lucky person you can get a free copy of Smallville.

The contest for that will be simple.  Tell me your favorite super hero and how you would like to play them in a "Smallville" like game.  If you need some hints/help then look over the DTRPG site reviews and my own coverage on Smallville.
The post does not need to be long, but it should tell me why you want to play that character.
I'll choose the winner on based on what you post here.  Make sure I have a way to email you.
Deadline is Midnight Central Time, Friday July 15.  I'll pick a winner on Friday.

Good luck!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Reviews at DriveThru

Working on cleaning up some of my "to be reviewed" files on my flash drive.

Trollops Of Destiny
At $1.19 I was not expecting a lot. I did get a book of 7 NPCs that I could use in any fantasy/historical style game. With a bit of work I could use them in almost any game, so the utility seems to be pretty high. But the issue I have this (one of them anyway) is there is not really enough information here. There are background sketches and motivations. There is an idea of how each character compares to the commoners of the time (intelligence, skills, wealth) and presented in a way to aid conversions into any system. There are also some adventure hooks and use ideas.

But there are some issues I have with it. First the art, that is there, is not really related to the text. Some art of the women in question would be nice. And "Trollops". Really? Why not just women or Femme Fatales but Trollops? And I am not sure what the whole "Destiny" thing is about. I know these are supposed to be archetypes, but they are very close to being stereotypes.

At the end of the day, it's nine pages for under a buck and a quarter. I would have rather paid more and gotten more I think.
3 out of 5 stars

Dudes of Legend (Full Version)
Be Epic.

Semi-serious, but very much tongue-in-cheek, this started out as an joke that people really loved. Is it irony to use it seriously in a game or self-referential humor? Sometime to break through the cliche is to embrace it.

It is the source book on how we wish the guys at White Wolf really were.

Every White Wolf player cliche of the 90s and on is here, and not just presented, but embraced and loving brought to us as if it were the only True Way to play. What is so funny here is that the stats for everything seem rock solid. They really put some care and attention to this.

White Wolf's April Fools jokes are usually pretty good and this one is no exception.

Grab your katana, trenchcoat and this book and be the Epic Awesome Legend you are.
5 out of 5 Stars

Player Races: Dragon Men
Misfit Studios gives us another fantasy race for Savage Worlds. This time we have Dragonmen, humanoid dragons. The document is not large, but does exactly what it needs to do. Description of the race, point values as a race and ways to use them in your game.

Good product for the price.
5 out of 5 Stars

Forgotten Foes Clip Art 1
Forgotten Foes Clip Art 3
Forgotten Foes Clip Art 4
12-14 excellent pieces of art to use as monster or character art or use in your own products with included license. All are black and white, but have a feel about them like you are reading a high-end bestiary. What would be nice if someone came up with stats for these for their own games. These are more inline with the classic monster books of the 1980s. The quality is great and the monsters/characters are good fantasy fare.
Includes a PDF for easy viewing.
4 to 5 out of 5 Stars

The Northland Saga Part 1 - Veangeance of the Long Serpent, Swords and Wizardry Edition
The Northland Saga Part 1 - Veangeance of the Long Serpent, Pathfinder Edition
I picked this up because I am playing in a Pathfinder game called "The Northlands Group" (unrelated). I am glad I did since this is a very interesting little adventure for low-mid level characters. Combining different cultures (Eskimo, Viking/Norse and others) and working on the "Lot's of planets have a north" theory, this adventure can be easily dropped into any campaign world. Brought to us by Frog God Games, which is what was Necromancer Games, it has the same high quality layout and writing you would expect from Necromancer.

This adventure comes in both Pathfinder and Swords & Wizardry versions, but I did not see any loss of fidelity from one version or the other, just the mechanics have changed. The Pathfinder version is longer by 4 pages, but that is entirely due to stat blocks. It would be interesting to me anyway to hear how the playtests for the different versions went. Is there that much of a difference in playability. In any case this adventure is a very good example of how the game design can change in 3+ decades, but game play is still what matters.

Designed as part of Frog Gods new Northlands campaign setting it shows a lot of promise and certainly will be something I am going to want to pick up and use.
5 out of 5 Stars

Undefeatable: The Collected Feats Sourcebook (PFRPG)
The collected volumes of Undefeatable for d20/Pathfinder. 90+ pages of feats for all sorts of characters and situations.
A good resource to have. Nothing jumped out at me as particularly broken or munchkin, and I read many feats that were of the very useful sort. Some do seem to blur the line a bit between 3.x feat and 4e powers, but that is not a big deal to me.
4 out of 5 Stars

[PFRPG] Moon's Folly
I love little towns with a lot of mystery. I love weird, freaky cults and weird, freaky goings on. And I love material that I can use in any setting, especially my own.
So I snatched up Moon's Folly in a hurry.
So take a town, plant it near a pre-historic megalithic structure. Fill it full of humans, elves, fey and lycanthropes and all peacefully worshiping the Moon Goddess, add your PCs and I am sure something is going to happen. But in case you are at a loss for ideas, there are plenty in this book. Did I mention that there some lumberers wanting to cut down the forest for profit? Yeah they are there too.

Reminds me a bit of the Village of Hommlet, if Hommlet was in the Scottish Highlands surrounded by dryads.
There are plenty of other secrets and plenty of NPCs to keep a Game Master occupied.

The one thing it is missing though is some sort of threat the Characters can solve the old-fashioned way, with sense violence. Not a requirement mind you, but players do enjoy a good combat session. The Keep had the Caves of Chaos, Hommlet had the Temple of Elemental Evil and Moon's Folly could do with something similar.

All in all, an enjoyable work and a great starting place for a group of new adventurers.
4 out of 5 Stars

Tobyart 006
Tobyart 007
Tobyart 008
Tobyart 009
Tobyart 010
Good line art to use as a character portrait, stock image or even for your own publications.
The license is included and easy to understand
5 out of 5 Stars

Bill Coffin's Septimus
Bill Coffin's Magnum Opus Septimus is yours for the asking.
Using the D6 system you can now play in this far future setting of a dying empire and a huge Dyson's Sphere.

This book is the ultimate in expression of the D6 system. Everything you need to play for years is here. Like the characters, there is so much to uncover here that it would take a group years to run out of ideas. If you area fan of Dune, Foundation or of the D6 system, then this really is a must have.
4 out of 5 Stars

Arcane Flavor
Need more background for your wizards or a cool place for them visit? Then this is the book for you. Living in a world full of magic should make for some magical lands and people, Arcane Flavor present five such cultures. Easily added to any campaign world. Each city, culture or locale also comes with new powers, spells, feats or rituals that are common to that region (and no where else!)
Cailleath is a fey city like no other. It's people are a strange assortment for any world and getting stranger all the time! It is a magic cosmopolitan filled with wonders not possible anywhere else in the world, or worlds, given it's nature.
The Valok are nomadic peoples with their own stories and songs and these contain power.
The Merry-Bedlam Company stretches this idea even further with a large extended theater family whose original race is no longer clear.
Karxal is a arid nightmare of a land, all the more reason to find arcanists devoted to beauty.
And finally to strike fear into hearts of power mad wizards everywhere are The Ternion.

The product has good layout and everything is very clear to read. The art is also good.

The rules are 4th Edition, but there is enough background here that it would be good for any game.
5 out of 5 Stars

Smallville High School Yearbook
An excellent source book to use with Smallville focused on the what really is the core concept of the show; Clark in High School. As expected the layout and art is top notch, this is a fantastic looking book. I love the whole "Yearbook" motif, very clever.

In you play Smallville, then this is a must have.
If you play any other game based in or around a High School then this is also a great resource to have on hand for character development. I loved the idea of the cliques and think I see a bit of the "Leverage" design philosophy in this game as well. In the end it makes for a much cool game.

Very much worth the download.
5 out of 5 Stars

[PFRPG] The Genius Guide to Fire Magic
Every group has one. I have had several. That wizard that is a complete pyro. It makes sense, fire causes a lot of damage, cleans up dungeons and the preferred weapon against most undead. Now the Super Genius' have given us this useful tome.

Tons of fire magic (including a new one, Steam) and ways to use your fire based spells and spellcasters. I got this one for my sun and his "Fire Wizard" so I am going to be getting a lot of use out of this one.
5 out of 5 Stars

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Leverage RPG is now out

The new Leverage RPG from MWP is now out in PDF.

http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product_info.php?products_id=85727&affiliate_id=10748

Like Smallville and other games from MWP, this uses a variant of the Cortex rule system.  The system in Leverage is a streamline version designed to focus on what Leverage the TV show does best, crime and con games.  So there is not the complexity of character building as you see in Smallville.

What is most interesting about this is that it really opens up the system to different types of play.  You are no longer "killing things and taking their stuff", you are pulling a con...and taking their stuff.

What appealed to me right away is that with some tweaks you could run any type of Law and Order or CSI style game right away.  Given the proliferation of these types of shows that would have some appeal.

So far I like the rules quite a bit even though I know nothing of the show it is based on.  I do miss the classic skills listing though.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cortex, Part 6 - Final Thoughts

I have spent some time with Cortex and Cortex Plus.  I like the games, they are a nice mix of elements I enjoy in games.  Cortex does not give me anything new, say over Unisystem or Savage Worlds, but it is a nice presentation of ideas in a different way.  Cortex Plus is new and has a very interesting element to it.  Character creation though takes a long time and is typically only suited for groups who know who and what their characters are about already.  Sometimes you want to discover these things in game.

I will discussing Cortex Plus more as I move over to super-hero games.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cortex, Part 5 - Cortex ++

So I am continuing to spend some quality time with Cortex and Cortex Plus.    One thing though has become very apparent; the only proper way to build a character in Cortex Plus is in a group.  You need the input of others in order to determine what it is your character will do.  This is a cool thing, but doesn't work well in all situations.  For example, me working by myself to stat up some characters on my own in far more work.

When putting together the cast for The Hallows, one thing became very obvious.  Rachel is the star of the show, the others support her.  This is perfect for a book, a less than perfect situation for a game like Smallville.  While playing some D&D with my boys this weekend I thought it would also be cool to try the Cortex Plus system with their D&D 3.0 characters.  They could tell me how they all reacted to each other, how their actions played on each other and what their goals were.  Not bad for an 11 and 7 year old.  This got me thinking.

Could you apply this system of social interaction to any game?

I think the answer here is yes.  The other question is, would you want too?  This one depends on your group.
For most of the D&D-like games I am in, I am thinking not.  But certainly I could see doing this in a Unisystem game (Unisystem Plus?) and I know some of the people on the Cartoon Action Hour yahoo list are discussing this very idea.  But as it turns out there is a game that is absolutely PERFECT for this.

Cortex.

Cortex in it's classic version (BSG, Supernatural) is a great game as I have mentioned in the past.  It is lacking something though to separate it away from the likes of Unisystem and Savage Worlds.  Cortex Plus is a great system that does some very different things, but sometimes that high level of social interaction between characters needs to take a back seat to beating the crap out of some monsters.  The two systems share a base and they have many of the same design elements in place.  What they need then is to be merged.  This gives you the best of both worlds.

Cortex ++ ("Cortex Plus Plus", like C++) combines the best of both games into a cohesive whole.  It has the same base character development as Supernatural or the Core, along with the added Social Development dynamic of Cortex Plus.   Some of the points might need to be tweaked a bit, ad this would make the character sheet a minimum of 2 pages.  But it is something I would like to see and try out.  Players would start with a concept, stat out their characters per the points given by the GM (basic stats only) and then everyone would come together for the first session to work out the details and the social interactions.

This would provide multiple levels of play and interaction.

I want to provide some write-ups this week of some characters both as Cortex Plus characters and as Cortex ++ characters just to see how it would work.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cortex, Part 4 - Building your Cast

The Smallville version of Cortex Plus has an excellently detailed character creation method.  If you , like me, love to develop characters  for a game then this a very cool thing.  The trouble is though you really need a good idea who your characters are, what the game is going to be and how the Players will work together.  This is great for 99% of the groups out there, but for me, trying this out by myself, it will take some more work.
So I have to play the part of both player and GM for this.  Come up with the world, the setting and the characters.

I am going to have to cheat then.

I need a world and a cast.  I want to use five characters since I like the way dynamic would work, and I like the visual appeal for the diagrams.  Here is the diagram I am going to use.



So here are my choices.

"Sunnydale"
A Season 5 game set in a similar, but not quite the same, cast in a similar town.
Characters would be Willow, Tara, Buffy, Xander and Anya.  Focus on the relationships.  Maybe even have Xander sleep with Buffy once just stir the shit a bit.

"The Hallows"
Using the characters from Kim Harrison's Hallows/Rachel Morgan series. I would pretty much run it as is.  This one actually has a lot of potential.  The main cast has five characters, and all have very complicated relationships that range from utter loathing to love to love/hate.  So I would include Rachel, Ivy, Jenks, Trent and Algaliarept.

Yeah I like that.  I think I'll use The Hallows characters.  Plus it gives me a nice collection of supernaturals to deal with: a witch, a vampire, a pixie, an elf and a demon.  Sounds like fun.  Here is my new chart then.


Not all the details are there yet.  Obviously I want to detail the relationships more.
So obvious ones first, Ivy LOVES Rachel, but Rachel doesn't feel the same way.  Jenks is the business partner of Ivy and Rachel, and is Rachel's best friend.  Algaliarept has alternately wanted to kill, bed, kill and now teach Rachel.  He has also bent sent to kill Trent and Trent and Rachel both thought the other summoned him.  Al has a lot of Power, Trent does too.  Rachel finds often that Power gets her into trouble.

I'll need to get into more detail of course.

More later.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cortex, Part 3 - Cortex Plus


So everything I have told you is wrong. Or rather, everything I have told so far about Cortex is fine, but it does not cover what is going on in the newest Cortex game, Smallville.




Now a few things to get out of the way first and foremost. I have never watched Smallville really. I saw an episode way back when because it had some witches in it and it was when Clark learned he was vulnerable to magic, and I tried to catch the Zatanna episode, but my DVR took a nap and it didn't happen. So I can't judge this game on the merits of how well or not it emulates its source. What I can so though is judge it on how well it emulates young adult drama, with a supernatural/paranormal/super twist. In that case we could be talking about almost any show on WB/UPN/CW, and many of the ones on Fox too.

So what is the deal with Smallville anyway?

Well the biggest thing is the character development which according to the book will take your first session. Now let me pause here a bit. I loves me some character creation. I have pages of character notes on D&D characters and that is not counting what I have on characters for other systems. So I can dig this sort of interactive character development, but will everyone else? This feels rather indie for a mainstream license. I am going to roll with it all the same and see what it does for me. Granted my doing it will be a tad artificial since it will be just me at the moment.

Now this new interactive character development does pose one issue; you need to have a really good idea of what you want your series to do and who is going to be in it. This is the same issue that Cartoon Action Hour has; it might make a pick-up game a bit harder to do.

So how is it different? Well. There are no abilities or skills. How much stronger is Clark than Chloe? Don't know. Is Lex smarter than Brainiac? No idea. But it doesn't matter either. Clark and Chloe are not going to be arm wrestling and Lex and Brainiac are not going to be playing Trivial Pursuit against each other. But what we do have is how do Clark's actions affect Chloe, or Lois, or Lex. How can he do what he feels is right. So instead of Attribute + Skill +/- Assets we have Drives (Values + Relationships) + Assets. You are still using the Step Die methods from the previous version of Cortex, just in a new way.

So what are these? Well Drives are what motivate you or your character. The first set are called Values. Thes are Duty, Glory, Justice, Love, Power and Truth. Each of these gets a die and a defining statement. If we go with the idea of setting a game in a theoretical "Season 5" (the default power level) then we can provide some examples. So I could look at my witches in a theoretical show called "Sunnydale" and it's Season 5. Willow would have Power at d12 with the text, "I need to be able to control the chaos around me." Tara would have Power say at d6 or d8 with the text "Power is a responsibility and one that can't be ignored." It's kind of a neat way of looking at your characters really. These Values then tell you why you are motivated to do what you do. So Willow would seek out a dangerous occult text, but Tara would caution against it.

We have Drives in Values and they affect your Relationships. The player characters are called Leads and the NPCs are "features" (though I like Guest Stars better) and how they relate to each other, friend, enemy and lover alike, are called Relationships. These are mutable obviously. These are also ranked with a die and description. So between Willow and Tara we can write "in love with". So on Willow's sheet I write under Relationships "d12 TARA is my soulmate." and similarly on Tara's "D12 WILLOW is my soulmate". Since it is Season 5 I could even write on Willow's sheet, "d8 XANDER is my best friend" or "d4 I don't like ANYA". It is bit freeform at this point since it is just me. Relationships work out best when discussed with the other players. It looks like the die value's don't have to be equal, so Clark has a d10 listed for Chloe in the book, but Chloe has a d12 for Clark. This matches reality really; not all relationships are equal.

Relationships can be with other Leads or Features (PCs and NPCs). You also can have Resources, people or things you can call on to do things.

Assets are the closest to what you could describe as "Powers" or "Qualities". In my quick read over of the rules these seemed to be the most similar to Classic Cortex. Clark has things like Super-Strength and the like. But these again are more descriptive and are not a measure of his strength per se but rather a measurement of what using his Super-Strength means to the show and to the characters around him. If an asset is not here then adding one is not too difficult really. I could see an asset like Megan Maclay's Spellbook (Magical Artifact), with the text "add d8 to Trouble to use a new spell" or bit of occult knowledge as the case may be.

All of this though is designed around the interpersonal relationships the character have with each other. It is an interesting focus for a game to be honest, and one that leads itself to certain level of tinkering. Think about it for a bit, you could take any group of characters and provide a "Cortex Plus" sheet for them as well. They would have their powers, skills and other details in Assets and then you focus on the interpersonal dynamics.

I think I should try this out. Plus a game like this needs to be tried in order to get the proper feel.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Willow & Tara: Cortex (Cortex Part 2)

So I am going to pull out my iconic witches again because I want to test out the magic system Cortex presently has and work through my Unisystem conversions.




Following up from yesterday's post, I decided that what Cortex does rather well is "normal people in an abnormal world" thing, with Supernatural being my Cortex game of choice for this.  This is something that Savage Worlds (out of the box) does well too, but Cortex does it a bit better in my opinion.

Let me begin with the conversions. Some of this is very similar to the Savage Worlds conversions I had done a bit back.  So I'll re-include those numbers again.

Basic Conversions
Conversions between the two systems are surprisingly easy. I say surprising, it isn't really since I feel both games appeal to the same kind of gamer and similar kinds of game worlds. Both games assume normal humans (at least at their core) and a small set of skills.

Attributes and Skills
Conversions here could not be easier. Attributes are roughly the same. Strength = Strength, Dexterity = Agility, Constitution = Vitality, Intelligence = Intelligence, Willpower = Willpower and Perception = Alertness. Even the ranges are roughly the same. 1 = d2, 2=d4, 3=d6, 4=d8, 5=d10 and 6=d12, with the proper human mins and maxs lining up. Cortex even assumes the human average to be about d6, similar to Unisystem's 3. With the point buy systems Cortex's Veteran is roughly equal then Experienced Heroes in many Unisystem games. Life points are calculated differently, so I would stick to the system used in each game rather than a full conversion between the two.

From the Unisystem perspective the lowest human score is a 1, but most heroes will have a minimum of 2 in their Attributes. For Cortex that is a d2 (rarely used in my experience) and the d4.  Again, on par with Savage Worlds. This give us this:

Unisystem        Savage Worlds  Cortex      
1 d4-1 d2
2 d4 d4
3 d6 d6
4 d8 d8
5 d10 d10
6 d12 d12
7 d12+1 d12+d2
8 d12+2 d12+d4
9 d12+3 d12+d6

Success are easier in Cortex, but Cortex is scaled more like d20.  So an "Easy" Difficulty needs a 3 (which can still be botched if you roll all "1"s.)  The scaling is similar to Unisystem's Success levels, so in practice I would often adjudicate them the same way.
Cinematic Unisystem has Drama Points, Cortex has Plot Points, and they have similar uses.

Cortex does split off it's damage to Stun and Wound, round towards Stun.  This way a character can be knocked out or stunned in some cases.  I like the idea myself and it is a neat and simple way of doing things.  Not something I would use in Unisystem, but I might give it a try just to see.

Qualities, Drawbacks, Traits and Complications
Unisystem characters get Qualities and Drawbacks. Cortex characters get Traits and Complications; and they get a few of those. This is fine really when dealing with normal humans. In the core rules there are still a few to choose from and there are others in the other, licensed material cores. In this respect it is closer to Savage Worlds. All three games have some overlap here, but each has something here and there to offer the others. Demon Hunters and Supernatural can get a boost from the likes of Buffy, Angel and Ghosts of Albion, while Unisystem gamers can get a different feel for their games from Demon Hunters and Supernatural. Adding Battlestar Galactica to the mix extends this even more. Ghosts of Albion/Angel/Buffy, Supernatural and Demon Hunters all live under the same basic idea; the supernatural is real and you need to fight it, though they all differ in approach. Mixing the games up a bit would be perfect for that Urban Fantasy genre that is so popular these days, with a perfect balance of fluff and crunch and rules-lite cinematic fun. While conversions are easy, some would be harder to convert. For example, a Cortex Vampire costs d6, in Unisystem Vampires are 15 pts. Granted they are different sort of vampires. But something like a Slayer or Protector would cost quite a bit in Cortex, and for the current games they have not really appropriate. I'd have to go through all the Demon and Supernatural creation rules (in Angel and Ghosts respectively) to see if they would convert fine to Cortex.
There are not as many choices in Cortex as there are in Unisystem, but then again you are limited to how many you can have more in Cortex too.  So Qualities/Drawbacks don't always line up perfectly with Traits/Complications.

The Core book is straight forward and takes a lot of cues from Savage Worlds,  provide lots of crunch, some builds and almost no fluff.  That is fine by me really.  Makes the Core easy to read.  There are some sample "worlds" or campaigns (like you find in the True 20 book) to get you going.  IF you don't like those then there are all the other books they make.

I played Cortex for the first time a couple of Gen Con's ago and it is easy to learn on the fly, very fast and very fun.  The advantage it has over Unisystem is the more interesting (to me) probability curves of the different sized dice. d12+d6 is much more interesting than  d10 + some number + some other number.  Though even given that it still has not really replaced Cinematic Unisystem in my heart.

Willow and Tara
Ok for this time I am going to use the magic system as-is and see how things stack up. Normally I would stat them up the same year I was introduced to the game, in this case 2008.  But that puts WAY outside what Cortex could do in post "Season of the Witch" terms.  There are more details on my "seasons" here.  I think I'll still say 2008, but use slightly scaled back versions.  Parallel worlds.  Wibbly-wobbly and all.  Maybe this is the Willow and Tara that live in the same universe as Sam and Dean from Supernatural.

Tara A. Maclay
(circa 2008 game time)
Female; Age 28; Height: 5' 5"; Weight 125lbs

Agility: d4
Strength: d4
Vitality: d6
Alertness: d12 (*Tara is an empath, so I bumped this up to this level)
Intelligence:  d10
Willpower: d12

Life Points: 18
Initiative: d4 + d12
Endurance: d6 + d12
Resistance:  d6 + d6
Move: 15
Innate Def: d4
Dodge: d4 + d4

Traits
Allure d2
Animal Empathy d4
Contacts (Supernatural) d6
Enhanced Senses d10 (Empathy, The Sight) *In a Supernatural game I would make this Clairvoyant at d6 (I know not in the rules...)
Healer's Touch d2
Higher Education d6

Channeling Trait (Magic) d12 + d8
Telekinesis d12

Complications
Allergy, Shellfish d2
Erie Presence d2 (to supernaturals only)
Shy d6 (though by 2008 she has grown out of this)

Skills
Animals d6
- Riding d8
Artistry d6
- Writing d8
Athletics d4
Craft d6
- Cooking d8
Discipline d4
Drive d4
Influence d4
Knowledge d6
- Folklore d10
- Occult d12 + d6
- History d8
Medicine d4
Melee Weapons d4
Perception d6
Performance d6
- Dancing d8
- Singing d8
Science d6
- Social Sciences d10
Tech d6
Unarmed Combat d4

The magic trait is Magic.

Willow D. Rosenberg
(circa 2008 game time)
Female; Age 28; Height: 5' 3"; Weight 105lbs

Agility: d4
Strength: d4
Vitality: d6
Alertness: d10
Intelligence:  d12
Willpower: d12

Life Points: 18
Initiative: d4 + d10
Endurance: d6 + d12
Resistance:  d6 + d6
Move: 15
Innate Def: d4
Dodge: d4 + d4

Traits
Allure d4
Ambidexterity d2  
Attuned to Technology
Contacts (Supernatural, Business) d6
Enhanced Senses d10 (Lesser Sensing)
Head for Numbers d6
Talented (Computers) d6
Wealthy d8

Channeling Trait (Magic) d12 + d8
Telekinesis d12

Complications
Anger Issues d2 

Skills
Athletics dd
Craft d6
Discipline d2
Drive d4
Influence d6
Knowledge d6
- Occult d12 + d8
- History d8
Mechanic d6
Medicine d6
Melee Weapons d2
Perception d4
Science d6
- Biology d10
- Chemistry d12
Tech d6
- Computers d12 + d4
- Robotics d10  (though this would not work in a Supernatural game, in a Demon Hunters game though it would)
Unarmed Combat d4

The magic trait is Magic.

After building these I would like to give the out of the box version of the magic system a trial run again.  It would be interesting to see how everything fits together.    Stat wise I do like how they came out.  These are not starting characters and using the same ideas I used WAAAY back in the WitchCraft days I advanced them with points.  I am pleased with the results.

Of course to really try this out I have work up some more characters.  If I am going to do that then why not see how they all work together as a social group.  Sounds like the perfect time for Smallville and Cortex Plus.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Cortex, Part 1

I think it is high time I devoted some photons to Cortex.  In truth I already have with these posts:
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2009/06/supernatural-rpg.html
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2010/02/cortex-and-unisystem.html
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2010/02/magic-in-cortex-savage-worlds-and-witch.html
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2010/03/sympathy-for-succubus-part-2.html
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2010/07/savage-worlds.html (a little)
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2010/07/tale-of-two-supermen.html

I am going to talk about Cortex, or I guess what could now be described as "Classic Cortex".  The Cortex in Smallville and Leverage is something called "Cortex Plus".  There are more differences between Classic and Plus than there are between Classic Unisystem and Cinematic Unisystem or even between D&D 3.0 and 3.5. Enough that I want to detail them as separate systems.

Cortex has a generic book (pictured above) which is the core of the Cortex System. There are many licensed products that Margaret Weis Productions makes.  These include Supernatural, Serenity, Battlestar Galactica, and Demon Hunters. Smallville and Leverage use the new Cortex Plus system.

So what is Cortex?  Other than a system that seems to be doing a lot of TV shows?  Well I have described Cortex in the past as the love child of Unisystem and Savage Worlds.  The system is closer in feel to Unisystem and is a step-die system like Savage Worlds.

So unlike other reviews I want to hit some very specific things with Cortex.  These might sound a tad negative, but they are not really. I am just focusing on a few things here.  I do want to spend some time still talking about why I like this system.

Magic -  I have gone on about how Cortex needs a better magic system, and it does, but to be fair none of the licenses the Cortex currently has does anything near the magic you see in Buffy or Ghosts of Albion.  Supernatural and Demon Hunters, while they do have magic, are also not at that level.   I have toyed around with converting the magic system from Ghosts and even using the one from Witch Girls Adventures. While these are passable, I really think something new and excited is needed here.  For starters I would take what I learned for Ghosts and keep it simple.  I'd also want to split magic up into different types of magic.  Say like "Earth Magic" and "Diabolic", not just the descriptors I used in Ghosts, but separate "Skills", this would control the power levels some and keep things at that "human" power level that Cortex works well at.

What Book Do I Buy? - Interesting thing about Cortex.  I have never watched any of the shows they have games for.  BSG was good, but I lost interest.  Never watched Firefly (and no plans to start really).  I watched Supernatural and I loved it, but could never find the time in my days to watch the episodes I had recorded.  Same with Smallville and Leverage.  So I can't judge the books on how well they emulate their respective universes.  My gut feeling is that Supernatural is really, really damn close and so is Smallville.  But say you are new to Cortex, what should you buy?  Well...I guess I would start with, what show are you wanting to emulate?  I knew nothing of "Demon Hunters" till I signed up for it one Gen Con.  Cam Banks ran it and it was a blast!  The background is bit more silly that I normally take my modern/horror, but there is no reason at all you could not play it straight.  Supernatural is one of my favorite games presently as well.  It is a great game if you want to play normal human versus things that go bump in the night kind of game.  Actually, Supernatural is a GREAT game if you loved Chill.  If you want to play in outer space, well they have two games for that too.
Smallville, and from what I can tell Leverage, are different.  These games are for interpersonal relationships and drama, regardless of background.  Sure Clark can leap tall buildings in a single bound, but how is going to do if Lois starts filtering with him?  Some people don't like this kind of game, but personally (as a gamer and a designer) I find it fascinating! But I am getting ahead of myself...

Why do I need this if I have this? And this is a good question to ask.  Why would I play Cortex if I have Unisystem or Savage Worlds or True 20 or GURPS?   I think the answer here is people will play it because of the licenses.  This certainly worked great for  Buffy and Unisystem and it seems to working great for Cortex so far.  I think to get them to the next step is to have more products out for the "generic" rules that can be used with any book they sell.  Cortex Plus expands this and the system itself now becomes something of an interest above and beyond the license itself.  So say you are like me and you have Buffy, Chill, Ghosts of Albion, World of Darkness, Call of Cthulhu and Ghostbusters; what does Supernatural give you?  Well I guess that depends.  If you are a fan of the show then you have that.  The book is one of the nicest looking RPGs I have seen in a long time. Beyond that Supernatural is about normal people.  Characters in Ghosts of Albion are not normal.  Same is true for Buffy, CoC and World of Darkness.  Chill, like I mentioned, comes the closest, but Chill is a very old system now and there are parts that are showing that age.  Supernatural + the Cortex Core Rules gives you plenty on doing a "hunter" game or even a "survivor" game.

Why I Like Cortex
I will be honest, I like Cortex.  The math geek in me loves the step die progression and the fact that you have die + die/dice to get to a success.  While my love for Unisystem know no bounds, the d10 + numbers is a bit of flat outcome. I have talked about my fondness for Supernatural already and even in re-reads I still think it holds on well.  Here is how I feel about Cortex in general.
- The system is easy to learn.  Look, I have done my tenure with tables, insane formulas and dozens of subsystems.  I don't have to do that anymore.  If game wants my attention then it needs to be simple or have a good reason for the complexity.
- The game is improving. You can track Cortex's development through it's licensed games.  Yes there were some issues with earlier games, but now I feel they have a good handle on what they want to do and how to do it.
- Cortex has some great looking books.  I know that is not the end all be all, but a lot of work, care and effort goes into producing these books.  Supernatural and Smallville in particular are two of the best looking games I have seen in a while.  Minor quibble, not enough pictures of Lenore and Zatana respectively.
- Most importantly I feel it is a system that can do more than it currently has.  The core book is presented in a very "tool box" way and I'd like to try to build something with that.

I will do some Unisystem/Cortex conversions next and talk about magic and what Cortex Plus adds to the mix.

Links
http://www.margaretweis.com/
http://cortexsystemrpg.org/

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Tale of Two Supermen

I have stated here in the past my preference for DC Comics heroes over that of Marvel.  Don't get me wrong, I read the hell out of Spiderman and X-Men as a kid, and reading The Tomb of Dracula was one of the things that got me into horror full scale.
But I have always liked DC's heroes more.  To me they were always more heroic than their Marvel counterparts.  So it should come as no shock that I am MAJORLY geeking out since I have not just one, but two DC-based RPGs out now.

 

I have seen both games now and I like them for very different reasons.  DCA is of course the sibling to the new Mutants and Masterminds 3.  It has some changes from the previous editions, most of which I am thinking are needed.  Abilities are rated different, and there are some new ones.  But all in all I like it.  
Smallville is Cortex but it is VERY different than previous versions of Cortex.  This is both good and bad.  I like the character creation system and it appeals to my desire to create a detailed character.  I like that the system has been opened up to play all sorts of different kinds of games now.  I can completely see how Leverage will work now.

Plus I still have Icons and BASH to look over, a full Cortex review to do.

I'd like to do up a character that works in all these systems.  I think I have the perfect choice too.  A while back we re-started our supers game and the world was a mixture of DC and Marvel.  Basically DC was Golden and some Silver age and Marvel was Silver and some modern age.  We were doing post modern.  Well I had read "Kingdom Come" and it dealt with Supes, Batman and Wonder Woman in a new age.   The final scenes dealt with Batman discovering that Wonder Woman and Superman were going to have a baby.  I thought wow, how power would that character be?  Half Kryptonian, half Amazon and Batman as a godfather?  Yes.  So that was my character.  Details to follow.

All of this will have to wait till after Gen Con of course.
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