Priming the Pump: Cortex Prime Primer for Prime Umpires

PencilBoy99

Explorer
Thanks for the thread. However, I think picking the base sets is probably pretty straightforward. What looks challenging is managing the rest of the game. I'm on the hook as the GM for developing all of the things a PC might need on their character sheet (SFX), of which none are playtested (I'm just guessing that they're not over or underpowered). Also, for every non NPC thing (monster, npc), I have to completely develop everything from scratch, again not playtested. So unless I'm missing something it seems like the game (1) is a ton of work for the GM and (2) requires a lot of skill and system knowledge. This isn't a criticism of Cortex, I played and loved firefly.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Thanks for the thread. However, I think picking the base sets is probably pretty straightforward. What looks challenging is managing the rest of the game.
As someone who's played a ton of Cortex games, it'll be fine. You're psyching yourself out. It's nowhere near as problematic or as much work as you seem to think.
I'm on the hook as the GM for developing all of the things a PC might need on their character sheet (SFX), of which none are playtested (I'm just guessing that they're not over or underpowered).
That's the beauty of the system. You can't do much damage if you stick with the advice given in the book. Adding SFX to powers isn't going to break the game. If you find something is off, you can easily adjust it. Follow the guidelines from the book and you'll be fine.
Also, for every non NPC thing (monster, npc), I have to completely develop everything from scratch, again not playtested.
Cortex Prime is build on the idea of prime sets. You pick which sets to use for your game and go. All you have to do for NPCs is decide which dice between d6, d8, d10, and 12 fit that NPC for that skill, power, ability, relationship, etc. Unless you start dropping d20s on all your NPCs stats, you'll be fine.
So unless I'm missing something it seems like the game (1) is a ton of work for the GM and (2) requires a lot of skill and system knowledge.
Respectfully, you're missing something. Cortex Prime is a toolbox of toolboxes. You have to make some choices, sure. But once you do it's smooth to play and run.
This isn't a criticism of Cortex, I played and loved firefly.
So you already have some idea of how well it works.

I'd suggest starting there. You can build any of the older Cortex games with Prime. So rebuild Firefly and start playing. Change things as necessary from there.
 

PencilBoy99

Explorer
As someone who's played a ton of Cortex games, it'll be fine. You're psyching yourself out. It's nowhere near as problematic or as much work as you seem to think.

That's the beauty of the system. You can't do much damage if you stick with the advice given in the book. Adding SFX to powers isn't going to break the game. If you find something is off, you can easily adjust it. Follow the guidelines from the book and you'll be fine.

Cortex Prime is build on the idea of prime sets. You pick which sets to use for your game and go. All you have to do for NPCs is decide which dice between d6, d8, d10, and 12 fit that NPC for that skill, power, ability, relationship, etc. Unless you start dropping d20s on all your NPCs stats, you'll be fine.

Respectfully, you're missing something. Cortex Prime is a toolbox of toolboxes. You have to make some choices, sure. But once you do it's smooth to play and run.

So you already have some idea of how well it works.

I'd suggest starting there. You can build any of the older Cortex games with Prime. So rebuild Firefly and start playing. Change things as necessary from there.
I believe you 100%, I just don't see it. What if I instead paid you to build me a Cortex Prime equivalent of Fate Condensed, with the more traditional setup (skills) and a bunch of SFX for dummies (both normal and supernatural)!

What about NPC/antagonists? Not only is there not a book of them I could ever buy (because every cortex game would be different), but I have to build each one from scratch. Am I missing something? It's not like Cortex is like Cypher, where the NPC / monster is just a couple of numbers and a special effect I can pick from the list.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I believe you 100%, I just don't see it. What if I instead paid you to build me a Cortex Prime equivalent of Fate Condensed, with the more traditional setup (skills) and a bunch of SFX for dummies (both normal and supernatural)!
A user on Discord (angille) made a whole bunch of character sheets that she put up here, including a "default" one with skills as well as a Fate-style one. I found this helpful when grokking some possible prime traits for Cortex.

What about NPC/antagonists? Not only is there not a book of them I could ever buy (because every cortex game would be different), but I have to build each one from scratch. Am I missing something? It's not like Cortex is like Cypher, where the NPC / monster is just a couple of numbers and a special effect I can pick from the list.
Did you read the section in Cortex Prime on GMCs? If you are used to creating GMCs in Fate, it's much the same idea. Maybe give them some Aspects/Distinctions, maybe some traits, and/or some extra doo-dads they may have, select a difficulty, and you are mostly off to the races.
 

PencilBoy99

Explorer
Did you read the section in Cortex Prime on GMCs? If you are used to creating GMCs in Fate, it's much the same idea. Maybe give them some Aspects/Distinctions, maybe some traits, and/or some extra doo-dads they may have, select a difficulty, and you are mostly off to the race
Has anyone built listings of extra do dads (sfx)?
 

timbannock

Adventurer
Has anyone built listings of extra do dads (sfx)?
There's a ton listed in the rulebook, about 10 times more in Tales of Xadia (check out the free Rules Primer at the ToX website if you don't want to splurge on the amazingly beautiful rulebook) and Google "Marvel Heroic datafiles" to get about a thousand more.

You'll have more SFX and example GMCs than you could ever possibly use.
 


Kannik

Hero
What about NPC/antagonists? Not only is there not a book of them I could ever buy (because every cortex game would be different), but I have to build each one from scratch. Am I missing something? It's not like Cortex is like Cypher, where the NPC / monster is just a couple of numbers and a special effect I can pick from the list.

Did you read the section in Cortex Prime on GMCs? If you are used to creating GMCs in Fate, it's much the same idea. Maybe give them some Aspects/Distinctions, maybe some traits, and/or some extra doo-dads they may have, select a difficulty, and you are mostly off to the races.
In my Cortex games I've yet to fully 'stat up' an NPC, instead leaning into the "difficulty or dice pool" way of things. If the players are acting against a minor to middle NPC in a non conflict scene, say to bribe a lackey to let them speak to the local boss, on the fly I think of what I know of the NPC and the situation as it has unfolded, and straight up setting a difficulty (easy, challenging, hard, etc)* with perhaps an asset thrown in if there is something unusual going on. If the NPC is involved in a conflict or contest, I can set their dice pool based on their level of threat and compared to the PCs's own pool (close to matching the pool for an even battle, and/or up or down from there). And the Boss rules make for an easy way to handle Major NPCs in conflicts. On the opposite end, you can throw in some Mobs to represent lower thugs/rabble, and it totally works to mix and match -- you can have a conflict with four regular NPCs (who use complications or a stress track), two Mobs (using the standard Mob rules), and a Boss, all acting individually in the Action Order and it all feels seamless.

Even more delightfully are the rules for Challenges from Tales of Xadia (https://www.talesofxadia.com/compen...he-game#ChallengesOvercomingExtendedObstacles). This can be used to frame all sorts of scenes, from environmental to procedural to extended tasks, but also for certain types of conflict, overcoming many minor or middling NPCs. (I just had a vision of using this for the classic movie/game trope of the PCs having to work their way up the criminal organization's multi-level headquarters, going up level by level to reach the top floor where they can face the masterminds... :) )

* - I introduced a new difficulty level I called "Routine" into our games, which is a d6 + d8, which is the baseline difficulty I now use for starting calibre characters.
 
Last edited:

Kannik

Hero
re: SFX, many of them are built very much the same way as they are in FATE, with the structure of:

  • In this limited situation, gain this bonus (often stepping up our doubling a trait)
  • Gain this bonus by shutting down or reducing this other ability/trait of yours
  • Put yourself in peril to gain a PP
  • Spend a PP to get this bonus

Sticking to these ones can work perfectly fine to learn the ropes. The only difference vis-a-vis Stunts here is that each SFX is tied to a Distinction or a Signature Asset, which I find helps enrich the flavour and further push the narrative.

Some examples from our games:

For an EMP arrow: When attacking or affecting electronic devices, spend 1PP to step up or double the effect die.

For a negotiator: When I inject myself into a situation I didn't create and try to defuse it, double Care.

For enduring hardship: When I have a Complication or Stress at a d10 or above, add or double the "Steely Survivor" Distinction to avoid being taken out.

For a mimic: When I am in direct opposition with someone, spend 1PP to gain the "Copycat" asset at a d8.

Also mimic: When I do the exact same thing as a friend before me, step up or double the Approach used.

For a digger: When I move earth, I can step up or double my Approach.


And here are a few that step outside of the confines from the formulas above, that get more narratively involved/creative:

For an explorer: As long as I walked somewhere, I can always retrace my steps.

For a percussive enthusiast: When I "don't have time for this", spend 1PP to jerry rig something to work... for now.

For a cloud headed person: When someone asks me a question (and, as usual, I'm not paying attention), spend 1PP to have the GM answer the question with unrelated but [probably] true and useful information.
 


Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top