Grading the Cortex Plus and Cortex Prime System

How do you feel about the Cortex Plus/Prime System?

  • I love it.

    Votes: 11 20.0%
  • It's pretty good.

    Votes: 11 20.0%
  • It's alright I guess.

    Votes: 5 9.1%
  • It's pretty bad.

    Votes: 2 3.6%
  • I hate it.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I've never played it.

    Votes: 24 43.6%
  • I've never even heard of it.

    Votes: 2 3.6%

Pretty sure that was to specifically model the Event format of the game, rather than to model the comic universe itself.
That actually makes a lot of sense. I came into MHR quite late, after it had already gone OOP, so I hadn't thought about it from the perspective of an actively supported play format.

Thanks!
 

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Thomas Shey

Legend
I also think it could be useful when you got the splitting-up-the-team moments, which were a little more practical in MHR than most supers games with any mechanical heft at all.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
In MHRP, iirc, the Affiliation (Solo/Buddy/Team) was a d10, d8, and d6. In my experience with the system, you don't "fall apart" with one d6 in the pool.

And I think its pretty defensible that some of those characters at least showed extra oomph in some arrangements. Contrast Wolverine (who was probably at his best solo) and Captain America (who could really shine with a full group). But as you said, it wasn't like they suddenly were helpless at the other end.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
And I think its pretty defensible that some of those characters at least showed extra oomph in some arrangements.

Yes. While someone suggested this was about the "Events" format, I find plenty of support for this in the comics themselves, and thought so as soon as I saw it in the system.

The real point, however, is that having this as a stat is... well, a little weird. It goes beyond describing how smart or strong a character is, and gets into their interaction dynamics as a stat!

That is where Cortex can shine, by giving the things that are idiosyncratic or important to genre very direct mechanical support.
 

ART!

Deluxe Unhuman
I fell in love with the Smallville rpg back when, and still love the way that version of Cortex is built: your motivation and relationships matter just as much in task resolution as your skills and powers.

I backed the Cortex Prime Kickstarter because of that, and although I think the core Cortex Prime book is hard to digest, I still come across some great, elegant Cortex Prime builds.
 

Kannik

Hero
All this has inspired/pushed me to (finally) do a quick and rough campaign seed write-up for our Broken Lands campaign! :) It includes how we use/handle magic, psionics, and other fantastical abilities in the setting. Characters use 4 Distinctions, Approaches, and Knacks (roles) as prime sets. There are also a few tweaks/hacks with scene Distinctions, Distinction Pushing, and Resources use.


(FWIW I've also got another rules hack (no setting) at my gaming page, though I think I will be revising it somewhat, hopefully soon.)
 

aramis erak

Legend
I find this sentence very difficult to parse.

Cortex Prime is a toolkit. Whether it supports/enforces genre depends on how you've applied that toolkit. If you build your game based on traditional stats (Str, Dex Con, Int, Wis Chr, or the like) and typical fantasy skills, you won't get much enforcement, no. If you build a game based on the genre patterns, then you get genre enforcement and support.

A great example is Marvel Heroic RP - where you have a stat for how the character works Solo, Duo, or as a part of a larger team. That's enforcing something seen in the comics genre.
That isn't a trope I recognize as being a genre trope of Marvel as I've experienced it. And not a universal trope, either.
I do see it in the DC TV Arrowverse... Especially Ollie and Thea.
But I'm not much of a Supers comic-book reader; my exposure to supers is mostly movies and TV. And a narrow subset of comics that my orthodontist kept up to date on in his office in the late 70's and early 80's: Green Lantern, Green Arrow, and Spider Man. I prefer Marvel for movies, DC for TV...
I've also read as a kid some of the other brands' supers comics. (late 70's.) And Watchmen.
It's only been in DC where that trope seems strong.
 
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That isn't a trope I recognize as being a genre trope of Marvel as I've experienced it. And not a universal trope, either.
I'm not disagreeing with you - MHR's choice of Affiliations as a Prime trait still leaves me somewhat confused and unsatisfied - but there are a few potential inspirations for it beyond the Event format mentioned above. Some characters do seem better in Solo or Team roles with some consistency, and there are some Duo situations to look at. It's not just leader types, lone wolves, or people who really only show up in team books and haven't had a solo title in years, if ever.

Until relatively recently Spider-Man was notoriously not on teams, for ex, despite having tried out for a number of them over the years, including a very early stab at joining the FF (where he bounced partly because they didn't pay well enough, ie at all). But he also had his own Duo book (Marvel Team-Up) for years, working alongside "guest star of the month" heroes and he did okay with that. He'd be reasonably described as Solo d10/Duo d8/ Team d6 guy, at least in that long, long era. Similarly, the Thing is usually a FF team player, but he had a Duo book too (Marvel Two-In-One) with the same format, and his true solo outings are few and far between (although there have been some good ones more recently), in part because his basic-brick power set isn't terribly versatile. He'd justifiably be a Team d10/Duo d8/Solo d6, and maybe even a Team d8/Duo d10/Solo d6 during those periods when he was feuding with Reed and/or Johnny and Two-In-One was at its peak (the Pegasus Project Arc, perhaps).

On the DC side of things (which obviously wasn't a design consideration for MHR) Superman was the lead in a Duo book (DC Presents) for a fair while, and he usually tended to underperform there compared to Solo or JLA Team appearances. In practical terms that was because the writers needed to throttle him so the guest star had something meaningful to contribute, but it sets Clark up to be a Solo d10/Team d8/Duo d6 character. (Ollie Queen) Green Arrow and (Hal Jordan) Green Lantern shared a book for a few years under that title, although it's highly debatable whether they were actually a good Duo in it - and neither one of them seems sterling in JLA teams most of the time either, although some GLs and GAs are better at that than others. Hal and Ollie might be d8s across the board during the shared-book era, or even steal a trick from Sentinels and do something radical like d12 Solo and d6 in the other two slots.

Batman is all over the place, with some versions clearly being Solo first, sometimes with a Duo secondary when he's got a good relationship with whichever Robin is active, or when he's with a good guest in Brave & the Bold. Sometimes he wants nothing to do with Team stuff like JLA, other times he's effectively the vital planner/intel guy of the group, or he's the de factor head and most competent member of the JLI era or the Outsiders. And lately (if the last 20+ years counts as "lately") he's so vital to propping up DCs sales that his "Because I'm Batman" hypercompetence has quite often become a parody of itself. That "beat anyone with prep time" version might as well be a d12/d12/d12 spread, and probably decreases everyone else's die size by a step to look even better to boot. :)

So there are some examples I can think of, but yeah, the whole mechanic still feels kind of forced to me, too.
 

aramis erak

Legend
Until relatively recently Spider-Man was notoriously not on teams, for ex, despite having tried out for a number of them over the years, including a very early stab at joining the FF (where he bounced partly because they didn't pay well enough, ie at all). But he also had his own Duo book (Marvel Team-Up) for years, working alongside "guest star of the month" heroes and he did okay with that. He'd be reasonably described as Solo d10/Duo d8/ Team d6 guy, at least in that long, long era.
70's/early 80's TV Marvel cartoons, Spidey was perma-teamed with Iceman and Firestar. With additional guest heroes from time to time.
On the DC side of things (which obviously wasn't a design consideration for MHR)
I have reasons to suspect that DC was a relatively big influence - Between building off of the first Cortex Plus Smallville, and that Cam mentioned on Google Plus that MHRP would work just as well for DC... by design.
So there are some examples I can think of, but yeah, the whole mechanic still feels kind of forced to me, too.
The problems with supers as a genre are that it's not really one unified genre, and characters can exist in different ways at the same timeframe in different formats.
 

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