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What are the mechanics of the Cortex/Leverage system? Why do you like the system?

Wednesday Boy

The Nerd WhoFell to Earth
I've heard people praise the Leverage/Cortex system as a fun RPG but I can't find any previews on their website or information about the system and its strengths. If anyone has any information and opinions about it I'd love to hear them. Thanks!!

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Good: Fast, evocative, easy to play.

Bad: It's far too easy to fail at tasks that are supposed to be easy.

Ugly: The Mastermind role is a very unclear one. What Nate actually rolls in the show is his grifter trait most of the time.

Wednesday Boy

The Nerd WhoFell to Earth
Thanks for the reply!

Is there a concise way to describe how the rules work? i.e., is it a class system with skill ranks like d20, are dice allocated to skills and actions are resolved by trying to hit a TN like WEG Star Wars, etc.

And is there anything unique about the system that makes you say, "I want to play this campaign using the Cortex system instead of Fate, d20, d6, etc."

Or if anyone knows of where I could find an official quickstart rules or something similar, please let me know! Thanks again!

1 skill dice, 1 role dice. Both range from d4 to d12 (you have one of each to allocate between the roles of grifter, hitter, hacker, mastermind, thief for the roles). Roll the two to roll over a target number or in an opposed contest. Add Fate style stunts.

Props add more dice but only the highest two count, and you get complications for each 1 you roll. (You can pull d6s out of thin air but this rather stacks up the complications).

The major bad guy gets stats of 2d12 and 2d4. The d12s are wide ranging ("Small town police chief" or the like) and the whole point of the con is to maneuver him into rolling 2d4 as his stats.

Fate's the nearest competitor but dice pools have their advantage - as does making them self-limiting. And Cortex having an attribute/skill split allows you to use the show's roles as actual stats. Nothing major between the Fate and Cortex systems other than that Fate characters are more consistent and buckets of dice are fun (and having them as self-limiting is very nice). d20 is right out IMO.

Cam Banks

Shoot me an email at cam AT margaretweis DOT com and I'll see if I can help you out. :)

Cortex Plus changes with each game we develop with it, as I've come to believe that a license or genre should have the system designed toward it, rather than the other way around. So Leverage is fast, with characters that are hyper-competent (they really don't "fail" that often), while Smallville rewards investment and replicates TV ensemble shows with dramatic interplay between the main characters.

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying's going to be a lot more comic book, so it's closer to Leverage than Smallville, but really not like either of them.


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