You Have The Power! New Masters of the Universe RPG!

Legends of Grayskull is an upcoming tabletop RPG based on the 1980s Masters of the Universe cartoon show.

motu_image.jpg


The game is being produced by Fandom (the owners of D&D Beyond) who announced a Dragon Prince RPG just a week ago. Like the latter, it will use the Cortex Prime system, which the company acquired from Margaret Weis Productions last year, and it's coming out in 2021, with public playtesting in advance of release. It's a 250-page hardcover book with pull-out maps.

"In the Legends of Grayskull tabletop roleplaying game, players can customize or create characters to overcome high-stakes challenges and find epic fun in Eternia, a world where magic meets technology. The experience brings together the core roleplaying game, a digital companion and toolset, a community content creation and sharing platform, and an organized play program that gives fans the opportunity to participate in a connected, living story with other players around the world."

 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


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It's kinda hard to argue that a character who can fly is useless when there is a "master of the universe" whose only power amounts to hyper-extending his neck.

Exactly...I got nothing. Kevin Smith, how the mighty have fallen...dont get me started on Mewes
 

pemerton

Legend
Cortex shares a bit of DNA with games like Fate, where there is more importance on things like character relationships, player input, complications, etc.
Like I posted upthread, my experience of Cortex+ is with the MHRP variant, including adapting ("hacking") it for fantasy.

PC relationships are not super-important mechanically in that version (but can be important for Milestones, which in D&D terms can be compared to Bonds or Ideals and which underpin the XP sysstem). But lots of fictional elements are created in the course of play including by player checks - it's not a "maps and notes" system like traditional D&D. And complications are certainly an important category of consequences, both mechanically and narratively.
 


Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Like I posted upthread, my experience of Cortex+ is with the MHRP variant, including adapting ("hacking") it for fantasy.

PC relationships are not super-important mechanically in that version (but can be important for Milestones, which in D&D terms can be compared to Bonds or Ideals and which underpin the XP sysstem). But lots of fictional elements are created in the course of play including by player checks - it's not a "maps and notes" system like traditional D&D. And complications are certainly an important category of consequences, both mechanically and narratively.

Ok Im familiar
with FATE so are Milestones and Distinctions similar to Aspects?
And SFX would be Stunts?

What Im not clear on is how the different dice work and what the in game effect of

so using your Gandalf write up if he was using Glamdring v Orcs he’d roll Combat Expert d8 + Galmdring d8 to test success and then for the effect would add Foe-hammer+d6?

what does stepping up mean and what effects?

also Doom Pool?
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
The new Netflix She-Ra is pretty awesome, and my roleplayer kids thought so as well. My little kid self remembers the 80s version. And I had kickstarted Cortex Prime because I was a fan of Cortex+ games like Marvel Heroic Roleplay - the best comic book (vs. superhero) game I've seen, and also the best at dealing with power disparities like Thor and Hawkeye on the same team and both feeling challenged and valuable.

So I guess I'm the target market. Success - I'll buy this. Excited even.

Cortex Prime is a "generic" system in a way that even GURPS or Hero System never attempted. In that you even determine what ability score analogs are right for your game. Much like many of the PbtA change them to fit the theme, style, and type of play they are focusing on, that's built into Cortex Prime. So the base system is almost like a meta-system, a toolbox for making your particular game tailored to exactly the experience you want, and without leftover cruft weighing it down from trying to be everything to everybody. I have all the kickstarter iterations, I'm really impressed with it. Cam Banks did a kick butt job.
 


pemerton

Legend
Ok Im familiar
with FATE so are Milestones and Distinctions similar to Aspects?
And SFX would be Stunts?
Distinctions are a bit like Aspects, yes. At least in the MHRP version (which is the one I know), Distinctions serve both as components of the dice pool (either at d8, or at d4 and earn a Plot Point) and also as targets of action. Eg if the scene includes a Buildings On Fire Scene Distinction, then to extinguish the fire the heroes need to eliminate that Distinction. In my fantasy games we've also used Scene Distinctions for more "metaphysical" elements like Pursued by Orcs (eliminate the Scene Distinction to evade the pursuers) or Uncertain of What to Do Next (when the ranger in our LotR game eliminated this he was able to set the group's goal for the next scene.

SFX are similar to stunts, yes (I say that without being any sort of Fate expert). Mostly they allow for dice pool manipulation of various sorts, or stepping up certain effects inflicted or avoiding/reducing certain incoming effects.

Milestones are different from anything I know of in Fate: they are descriptions of events that happen (eg give a team member advice or inflict trauma on a foe or lead the team into battle, etc) and when the character does that thing XP are earned. In practice - at least in my experience - what milestones do is create a player-side to the action, as the players look for ways to have their PCs achieve their milestones and earn XP - which runs alongside the GM side to the action, of the settings and foes etc. I think it emulates comics and a lot of other adventure fiction well, as the character drama and character arcs unfold somewhat independently of whatever the particular action is that is happening at a given moment.

What Im not clear on is how the different dice work

<snip>

what does stepping up mean and what effects?
To perform an action you build a pool - in MHRP that's one affiliation (solo, buddy or team), one Distinction, one power from each power set (if applicable), one specialty (if applicable - in D&D terms this is roughly the same as skills), any assets or resources that are applicable (roughly, these are gear or other situational benefits that have been built up through prior actions), any debuffs on the opponent (eg injuries or complications), and any bonus dice gained by spending plot points (eg to include a second specialty or second Distinction).

The player gets to add two dice to generate the roll total (extra dice can be added by spending points) and use another die as the effect. All checks are opposed, and so (unless you have an SFX that says otherwise) you only achieve your effect if you tie against or beat the opposition with your roll total.

Your effect depends on die size, not die roll - so having 10s and 12s in the pool is a big deal even if they roll poorly, as they give good effect dice. All effects are rated in dice, which are then applied as debuffs (stress, complications) or to step down other ratings (eg a d8 or greater effect will eliminate the typical Scene Distinction) or to create assets (which could be gear or a situational advantage or any other change in the fiction that benefits a character). I think this idea of rating everything in dice is mechanically different from Fate.

so using your Gandalf write up if he was using Glamdring v Orcs he’d roll Combat Expert d8 + Galmdring d8 to test success and then for the effect would add Foe-hammer+d6?
When Gandalf fights Orcs with Galmdring the pool might be d6 BUDDY (let's say he's fighting alongside Aragorn), d8 WIELDER OF THE FLAME OF ANOR (because when fighting servants of Sauron Gandalf's own power as a servant of Iluvatar comes to the fore), d8 for WEAPON plus d6 for the Foe-hammer SFX, and d8 for COMBAT EXPERT. He could also put in d8 for ENHANCED STRENGTH because that helps in a sword-fight against orcs.

So that would be a (pretty good) pool of 2d6+4d8. He could also use Servant of the Secret Fire to make the d8 from Enhanced Strength a d10 instead, with the risk that a failure will add a d8 to the Doom Pool.

If Gandalf succeeds (all checks are opposed - in this case it would be vs the orcs but if there's no active opposition then it's vs the Doom Pool) then one of his dice becomes an effect based on size and, because of Foe-hammer, would be stepped up by one (eg d8 to d10).

I think the other versions of the system use smaller pools than I'm used to from this MHRP version, but of participants in this thread @Aldarc is probably better placed to address that.

also Doom Pool?
This starts at 2 to 4 dice of size d6 to d10, depending on the scope and stakes of the drama as decided by the GM. In our LotR game it was 2d8. The Doom Pool grows over time, mostly by paying players Plot Points when they roll 1s, but in various other ways also (eg when a NPC uses a character Distinction at d4 rather than d8, which would earn a player a plot point, the GM instead gets to grow the Doom Pool).

These dice do three things: (1) they are the opposition for player rolls when there is no active opposition in the fiction; (2) they are a source of "points" for the GM to spend to activate SFX or add to the GM's pools, analogous to plot points for the players; (3) it serves a pacing function, especially because the GM can spend 2d12 from the Doom Pool (if they're there to be spent) to peremptorily end a scene.

Learning how to manage the Doom Pool is, at least in my view, the hardest thing and most important skill in refereeing this system. But I don't know if Cortex Prime or MotU will use this mechanic. Personally it's one I really like, although it has some quirks because of the multiple roles it plays. As I already said I don't have much Fate-fu, but I think a difference from Fate is that the GM doesn't have a limitless pool of aspects or opposition - the Doom Pool constrains this in interesting ways.
 

imagineGod

Legend

Distinctions are a bit like Aspects, yes. At least in the MHRP version (which is the one I know), Distinctions serve both as components of the dice pool (either at d8, or at d4 and earn a Plot Point) and also as targets of action. Eg if the scene includes a Buildings On Fire Scene Distinction, then to extinguish the fire the heroes need to eliminate that Distinction. In my fantasy games we've also used Scene Distinctions for more "metaphysical" elements like Pursued by Orcs (eliminate the Scene Distinction to evade the pursuers) or Uncertain of What to Do Next (when the ranger in our LotR game eliminated this he was able to set the group's goal for the next scene.

SFX are similar to stunts, yes (I say that without being any sort of Fate expert). Mostly they allow for dice pool manipulation of various sorts, or stepping up certain effects inflicted or avoiding/reducing certain incoming effects.

Milestones are different from anything I know of in Fate: they are descriptions of events that happen (eg give a team member advice or inflict trauma on a foe or lead the team into battle, etc) and when the character does that thing XP are earned. In practice - at least in my experience - what milestones do is create a player-side to the action, as the players look for ways to have their PCs achieve their milestones and earn XP - which runs alongside the GM side to the action, of the settings and foes etc. I think it emulates comics and a lot of other adventure fiction well, as the character drama and character arcs unfold somewhat independently of whatever the particular action is that is happening at a given moment.

To perform an action you build a pool - in MHRP that's one affiliation (solo, buddy or team), one Distinction, one power from each power set (if applicable), one specialty (if applicable - in D&D terms this is roughly the same as skills), any assets or resources that are applicable (roughly, these are gear or other situational benefits that have been built up through prior actions), any debuffs on the opponent (eg injuries or complications), and any bonus dice gained by spending plot points (eg to include a second specialty or second Distinction).

The player gets to add two dice to generate the roll total (extra dice can be added by spending points) and use another die as the effect. All checks are opposed, and so (unless you have an SFX that says otherwise) you only achieve your effect if you tie against or beat the opposition with your roll total.

Your effect depends on die size, not die roll - so having 10s and 12s in the pool is a big deal even if they roll poorly, as they give good effect dice. All effects are rated in dice, which are then applied as debuffs (stress, complications) or to step down other ratings (eg a d8 or greater effect will eliminate the typical Scene Distinction) or to create assets (which could be gear or a situational advantage or any other change in the fiction that benefits a character). I think this idea of rating everything in dice is mechanically different from Fate.

When Gandalf fights Orcs with Galmdring the pool might be d6 BUDDY (let's say he's fighting alongside Aragorn), d8 WIELDER OF THE FLAME OF ANOR (because when fighting servants of Sauron Gandalf's own power as a servant of Iluvatar comes to the fore), d8 for WEAPON plus d6 for the Foe-hammer SFX, and d8 for COMBAT EXPERT. He could also put in d8 for ENHANCED STRENGTH because that helps in a sword-fight against orcs.

So that would be a (pretty good) pool of 2d6+4d8. He could also use Servant of the Secret Fire to make the d8 from Enhanced Strength a d10 instead, with the risk that a failure will add a d8 to the Doom Pool.

If Gandalf succeeds (all checks are opposed - in this case it would be vs the orcs but if there's no active opposition then it's vs the Doom Pool) then one of his dice becomes an effect based on size and, because of Foe-hammer, would be stepped up by one (eg d8 to d10).

I think the other versions of the system use smaller pools than I'm used to from this MHRP version, but of participants in this thread @Aldarc is probably better placed to address that.

This starts at 2 to 4 dice of size d6 to d10, depending on the scope and stakes of the drama as decided by the GM. In our LotR game it was 2d8. The Doom Pool grows over time, mostly by paying players Plot Points when they roll 1s, but in various other ways also (eg when a NPC uses a character Distinction at d4 rather than d8, which would earn a player a plot point, the GM instead gets to grow the Doom Pool).

These dice do three things: (1) they are the opposition for player rolls when there is no active opposition in the fiction; (2) they are a source of "points" for the GM to spend to activate SFX or add to the GM's pools, analogous to plot points for the players; (3) it serves a pacing function, especially because the GM can spend 2d12 from the Doom Pool (if they're there to be spent) to peremptorily end a scene.

Learning how to manage the Doom Pool is, at least in my view, the hardest thing and most important skill in refereeing this system. But I don't know if Cortex Prime or MotU will use this mechanic. Personally it's one I really like, although it has some quirks because of the multiple roles it plays. As I already said I don't have much Fate-fu, but I think a difference from Fate is that the GM doesn't have a limitless pool of aspects or opposition - the Doom Pool constrains this in interesting ways.

Damn you wrote a lot of things about He-Man
 




Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
To perform an action you build a pool - in MHRP that's one affiliation (solo, buddy or team), one Distinction, one power from each power set (if applicable), one specialty (if applicable - in D&D terms this is roughly the same as skills), any assets or resources that are applicable (roughly, these are gear or other situational benefits that have been built up through prior actions), any debuffs on the opponent (eg injuries or complications), and any bonus dice gained by spending plot points (eg to include a second specialty or second Distinction).

I think the other versions of the system use smaller pools than I'm used to from this MHRP version, but of participants in this thread @Aldarc is probably better placed to address that.

In the Leverage Cortex+ game, the character has just Attribute and Role, as opposed to the Affiliation, Distinction, and possibly multiple Powers, seen in MHRP.
 



Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Has Cortex Prime been released?
Recent update from late July. Looks like it's moving along.

And @Cam Banks can probably add color and flavor to this discussion overall.
 

Sunsword

Adventurer
Your effect depends on die size, not die roll - so having 10s and 12s in the pool is a big deal even if they roll poorly, as they give good effect dice. All effects are rated in dice, which are then applied as debuffs (stress, complications) or to step down other ratings (eg a d8 or greater effect will eliminate the typical Scene Distinction) or to create assets (which could be gear or a situational advantage or any other change in the fiction that benefits a character). I think this idea of rating everything in dice is mechanically different from Fate.

This was the source of a good deal of frustration in the game I played in. Since Marvel characters can easily have a d12 conflicts ended quickly and were fairly boring. I'm not saying we were playing everything the right way but it did leave a sour taste in my mouth.

I will admit, however, I will still buy Legend of Grayskull.
 


Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Recent update from late July. Looks like it's moving along.

And @Cam Banks can probably add color and flavor to this discussion overall.

Yeah unfortunately that spotlight just confused me more - too much focus on fiddling dice AND I still not sure what effect dice do,

So if I have a d6 Effect does it mean I can create a weapon that is worth +d6
I probabaly need to see the dice rolls in action...
 

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