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Cortex Prime - What are your ideas for custom made systems?

DammitVictor

Druid of the Invisible Hand
I'm currently running a modified MHR game which replaces Affiliations with Values, and adds temporary Relationship dice as a Resource; the game premise is based on the eXiles, so the players are all from separate timelines, and they're working together in a different timeline each Mission. The Relationship Dice help them define their own timelines/backstories and give me a little bit of unearned player investment in the NPCs-- when they put the dice down, they immediately start working out justifications for why their character cares so much about the NPC.

I'm looking at my Cascade City setting as a potentional Cortex game, cribbing mechanics from Street Fighter: the Storytelling Game and Fight! the Fighting Game RPG to represent the "urban wuxia" genre: probably going to use Attributes (of some kind), definitely going to use SFRPG's Techniques for combat, trying to decide between Barbarians of Lemuria's Careers for non-combat skills or default back to MHR's Specialties (minus Combat and Acrobatics).
 

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ruemere

Adventurer
Just got my unlock code for Cortex Prime. The book is sitting at home, waiting until I return from work abroad, but Fandom has done an excellent job making a highly readable, navigable, and searchable on-line version of the the Cortex Handbook. I am very impressed with the system and its flexibility to build nearly any kind of game you would like to run. The rules can be as light or as crunch as you like. I don't think it will suffer from the GURPS problem (you can play any theme of game but it still feels like GURPS) but only time playing will tell.

I'm interested in reading about games other Cortex Prime fans are building or thinking of build.

[...]
My game started as Cavaliers of Mars (which is quite a similar system) but since evolved full-blown into a CortexPrime.
The original is about high adventure in retro-futuristic terraformed Mars. I moved from this concept to make it darker and closer to 1910s.

The PCs are agents of Lost-and-Found Bureau, a search-assess-and-contain team that deals with artifacts of previous eras.
They have an electric military truck and travel long winding roads to remote settlements, and act as first responders to various crises.

The catch here is that Illium, the place where the PCs hail from, has been governed for several hundreds of years by a junta made of officials who either inherit their posts through ties of blood or just do not seem to die at all (all of them wear masks so it's really hard to tell).*

A few links to campaign materials:
Basic Orientation Course for Gvmt Employees (Google Slides presentation)

Operation CARROT TOP (Google Slides presentation)

GUILLIAME GAVROCHE (A PC)

* For some reason, I have failed to attached a footnote. Anyway, here it is:
Military governs everything, but after a few hundred of years there are clans of blood related people who keep playing the same game.
It's like Mussolini's idealized version of Italy with lots of very, very dark stuff swept under the carpet.
So basically, you have clean streets, students attending universities, and those of decent position enjoying benefits of privileged life. At the same time, there are masses of lower social status who live from one day to another, who need to get by on scraps. Most people got jobs, but the pay below certain level is abysmally low.
 
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Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
Purchased a copy if this game last week. I played the original Cortex 1st edition when it came out.

Has anyone played this system in the last year? How was it?
 

ruemere

Adventurer
Purchased a copy if this game last week. I played the original Cortex 1st edition when it came out.

Has anyone played this system in the last year? How was it?

Due to Covid constraints, our campaigns slowed down to a crawl. Additionally, we're enjoying different systems right now.
That said, I would like to call your attention to Tales of Xadia (Tales of Xadia: The Dragon Prince Roleplaying Game uses an award-winning game system that’s quick to learn with considerable depth, capturing the spirit of this wondrous world.), fully realized licensed setting with fully playable quickstart, scenario and characters.

The basic CortexPrime rulebook presents minisettings, which is far from enough for someone who likes details. Tales of Xadia remedies that and provides great art.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Purchased a copy if this game last week. I played the original Cortex 1st edition when it came out.

Has anyone played this system in the last year? How was it?
When you say that you played "the original Cortex 1st edition when it came out," do you mean that original Savage Worlds-like Cortex system by Margaret Weis (i.e., Cortex Classic System, 2004) or the later updated version Cortex Plus (2004) by Cam Banks? The latter includes games like Smallville, Leverage, and Marvel Heroic Roleplaying. Cortex Prime is basically a more codified version of Cortex Plus.
 

Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
When you say that you played "the original Cortex 1st edition when it came out," do you mean that original Savage Worlds-like Cortex system by Margaret Weis (i.e., Cortex Classic System, 2004) or the later updated version Cortex Plus (2004) by Cam Banks? The latter includes games like Smallville, Leverage, and Marvel Heroic Roleplaying. Cortex Prime is basically a more codified version of Cortex Plus.
I played Cortex Classic in 2004.
I later became aware of Cortex Plus but never played.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I played Cortex Classic in 2004.
I later became aware of Cortex Plus but never played.
Okay, so Cortex Plus/Prime moves the game more from the traditional TTRPG towards the more narrative Fate. (There are even several Cortex Plus-Fate hybrid games out there.) I could see it working well for your solo play.

It's a fun, and highly versatile system/toolkit, which is both its strength and weakness. One of the most frequent questions, for example, on the Cortex Discord is "How do I do magic?" and the follow-up question is invariably "Depends. What do you want magic to do in your game?" This is a problem that I have in several of my own game that I sporadically work on.

There are games/settings that come pre-assembled: e.g., Hammerheads, Tales of Xadia (WIP), Legends of Greyskull (WIP), etc. But Cortex Prime is mostly a build-a-bear toolkit system where you pick a lot of the dials and knobs that you want for your game, which can be overwhelming, depending on how strong of a grasp you have on the sort of game you want to make/play.

All that said, I think that it's highly enjoyable because of how players engage the fiction of their characters and the situation by the process of assembling a dice pool. That is also what can make Cortex daunting when using the full breadth of tools available; you are effectively being asked, "What fictional elements or aspects do I want my players to being engaging as part of the core game play?" For example, a game using Attributes + Skills will feel different than a game that uses Values + Relationships or even Attributes + Values.
 


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