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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."

 
Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


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Greatwyrm

Been here a while...
Has Cortex Prime been released?
Officially, no. There's a almost-final-draft version that has gone to Kickstarter backers. Laid out, art, the whole nine yards. It's playable right now, but I'm assuming they're doing a last editing pass and doing whatever needs to be done to make it ready for the printer.
 

BadEye

VP of Tabletop @Fandom | D&D Beyond/Cortex
Officially, no. There's a almost-final-draft version that has gone to Kickstarter backers. Laid out, art, the whole nine yards. It's playable right now, but I'm assuming they're doing a last editing pass and doing whatever needs to be done to make it ready for the printer.
It's actually at the printer now. We expect it to at least start getting out to backers towards the end of September. Available elsewhere after that. (As long as we don't run into any other pandemic-related delays with the printer.)
 

pemerton

Legend
I still not sure what effect dice do,
All outcomes of actions are rated as effects.

Eg if my action is to summon my magical power so I can use it to unleash a great sorcerious blast onto my enemy, then in mechanical terms I am attempting to create an Asset (Summoned Magical Energy) and, if I succeed in my action, I have created that asset rated at my effect die (in the fiction, imagine it like a panel from a Doctor Strange comic where a wizard is holding a ball of energy in his/her hands). When I then use my Mystical Blast power to attack my foe, I can add the Asset into my pool, which gives me a bigger pool as per my post above.

Suppose my Mysical Blast attack succeeds, then the outcome is also an effect die. In Marvel Heroic (again, I'm not sure about other Cortex variants) if that is stepped up above d12 then the opponent is taken out of hte conflict; otherwise it sits on the opponent as a "trait" which can then be incorporated into dice pools for actions taken against them (ie MHRP the way a debuff works is that it adds a bonus die to an opponent's pool). This means that having a d10 or d12 complication or injury is a bad thing, because all your opponents are getting to add that d10 or d12 to eir pools, even if they are otherwise fairly ordinary foes with abilities rated at d6 and d8.

In attrition-based conflict systems (eg D&D hit points) it often doesn't make sense to spend an action building up an augmentation for a future action, because the buff isn't worth not getting the chance to wear away some hp/life force/whatever. But MHRP isn't attrition-based. If a foe has (say) a d6 Grappled complication and then I succeed again in grappling them with a d10 effect die, the d6 complication is replaced by my d10. So my d10 is not more effective than it would have been if they had had no prior complication. (The exception to this: if the new effect is rated the same as or smaller than the existing effect then it steps that up: so if the opponent was under a d12 Grappled complication and then I successfully grapple with a d6 effect, that is enough to step the effect up above d12 which takes the opponent out of the scene - in this case I might narrate that I've completely immobilised them, or successfully applied choke-hold, or whatever lese makes sense in the fiction). This is why having d10s and d12s in pools is so useful from the point of view of generating effects, and also why spending a term to build up an asset so as to grow your next pool can make plenty of sense.

It also explains Sunsword's complaint:

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 can see what you mean here. It's not something we've experienced too much of, even in games with characters whose abilities are rated at d12, but I can see how it could happen especially eg if you've got multple d12 Strength or Weapon characters getting into a lot of melee-type fights against opponents with no Stamina-based SFX to shrug off those hits.

To keep replying to @Tonguez: because the system is not attrition based, a character with d12 Godlike Strength who succeeds on an action to punch someone can fairly easily have a d12 effect die which might (due to various factors, eg think back to how I statted up Glamdring for Gandalf) step up to d12+ which is an instant take-out (because take-out is based on effect rating, not attrition). This is what is happening in Sunsword's game which is making for boring conflicts.

Like I said just above, I personally haven't found this to be a big issue but I can see how it might happen with a particular group of characters in the right sort of conflicts. My general advice would be, at the start of a campaign, to not have PCs with d12 ratings. Let these be earned through play. Then the growth of those dice pools will correspond more to the growth of the campaign towards a resolution.

A final thought/comment, building on the prevous paragraph: I think Cortex+ works better for short-to-medium length arcs (eg a few to maybe a dozen sessions) rather than years-long D&D style 1st-to-20th level campaigns.
 



Sunsword

Adventurer
It also explains Sunsword's complaint:

I can see what you mean here. It's not something we've experienced too much of, even in games with characters whose abilities are rated at d12, but I can see how it could happen especially eg if you've got multple d12 Strength or Weapon characters getting into a lot of melee-type fights against opponents with no Stamina-based SFX to shrug off those hits.

I know there is a Hacker's Guide to Cortex and the forthcoming Cortex Prime. I also remember started life as a fairly traditional game engine with the Sovereign Stone RPG. Does either the Hacker's Guide or Cortex Prime have options for traditional hit points?
 

pemerton

Legend
I know there is a Hacker's Guide to Cortex and the forthcoming Cortex Prime. I also remember started life as a fairly traditional game engine with the Sovereign Stone RPG. Does either the Hacker's Guide or Cortex Prime have options for traditional hit points?
I don't know about Cortex Prime. I haven't read all of the Hacker's Guide, but I think the answer is no.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I know there is a Hacker's Guide to Cortex and the forthcoming Cortex Prime. I also remember started life as a fairly traditional game engine with the Sovereign Stone RPG. Does either the Hacker's Guide or Cortex Prime have options for traditional hit points?
Not to my knowledge, but if you have a sense of what damage could be based on the die face of the Effect die, then I imagine that it would not be too difficult to extrapolate and/or experiment from there a good range of hit points for characters. However, Stress in Cortex (and Fate) tends to be less a pacing mechanic of tactical attrition as per HP and more a pacing mechanic of narrative fiction.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Eg if my action is to summon my magical power so I can use it to unleash a great sorcerious blast onto my enemy, then in mechanical terms I am attempting to create an Asset (Summoned Magical Energy) and, if I succeed in my action, I have created that asset rated at my effect die (in the fiction, imagine it like a panel from a Doctor Strange comic where a wizard is holding a ball of energy in his/her hands). When I then use my Mystical Blast power to attack my foe, I can add the Asset into my pool, which gives me a bigger pool as per my post above. Suppose my Mysical Blast attack succeeds, then the outcome is also an effect die. In Marvel Heroic (again, I'm not sure about other Cortex variants) if that is stepped up above d12 then the opponent is taken out of hte conflict; otherwise it sits on the opponent as a "trait" which can then be incorporated into dice pools for actions taken against them (ie MHRP the way a debuff works is that it adds a bonus die to an opponent's pool). This means that having a d10 or d12 complication or injury is a bad thing, because all your opponents are getting to add that d10 or d12 to eir pools, even if they are otherwise fairly ordinary foes with abilities rated at d6 and d8. In attrition-based conflict systems (eg D&D hit points) it often doesn't make sense to spend an action building up an augmentation for a future action, because the buff isn't worth not getting the chance to wear away some hp/life force/whatever. But MHRP isn't attrition-based. If a foe has (say) a d6 Grappled complication and then I succeed again in grappling them with a d10 effect die, the d6 complication is replaced by my d10. So my d10 is not more effective than it would have been if they had had no prior complication. (The exception to this: if the new effect is rated the same as or smaller than the existing effect then it steps that up: so if the opponent was under a d12 Grappled complication and then I successfully grapple with a d6 effect, that is enough to step the effect up above d12 which takes the opponent out of the scene - in this case I might narrate that I've completely immobilised them, or successfully applied choke-hold, or whatever lese makes sense in the fiction). This is why having d10s and d12s in pools is so useful from the point of view of generating effects, and also why spending a term to build up an asset so as to grow your next pool can make plenty of sense.

It also explains Sunsword's complaint: I can see what you mean here. It's not something we've experienced too much of, even in games with characters whose abilities are rated at d12, but I can see how it could happen especially eg if you've got multple d12 Strength or Weapon characters getting into a lot of melee-type fights against opponents with no Stamina-based SFX to shrug off those hits. To keep replying to @Tonguez: because the system is not attrition based, a character with d12 Godlike Strength who succeeds on an action to punch someone can fairly easily have a d12 effect die which might (due to various factors, eg think back to how I statted up Glamdring for Gandalf) step up to d12+ which is an instant take-out (because take-out is based on effect rating, not attrition). This is what is happening in Sunsword's game which is making for boring conflicts.
Well. That clears it right up.

Back when I played He-Man, it was 100% role-playing. That seemed appropriate for a swordfighter who deemed a harness, buckler and loincloth to be appropriate armor, a prince in lavender tights (but no reporter/nerd glasses), a green tiger who became unrecognizable when it donned an 80-pound red helmet, a robot called - wait for it - Roboto, and an evil mastermind who was always defeated because brawn always beats strategy.
 

pemerton

Legend
Back when I played He-Man, it was 100% role-playing. That seemed appropriate for a swordfighter who deemed a harness, buckler and loincloth to be appropriate armor
This is something that Cortex does well. He-Man probably doesn't have a Durability attribute, but can build a defensive pool using other appropriate abilities, whether skill (eg Weapon, or Reflexes) and/or emotion/relationship (eg Must Rescue the Princess or whatever else is at stake in Masters of the Universe) and/or reputation/status (eg Indomitable Loincloth-wearing Hero). The details will depend on how this particular version of Cortex implements the general system framework.
 



pemerton

Legend
So, following @Aldarc's post, we can imagine He-Man having a high Affinity with Might, as well as an appropriate Distinction like Indomitable Loincloth-wearing Hero, and these - rather than any armour - will be what he uses to defend against physical threats.

Like I said, this is what Cortex does well.
 

Aldarc

Legend
So, following @Aldarc's post, we can imagine He-Man having a high Affinity with Might, as well as an appropriate Distinction like Indomitable Loincloth-wearing Hero, and these - rather than any armour - will be what he uses to defend against physical threats.

Like I said, this is what Cortex does well.
PC: "Can I use my Sword of Power as an asset to defend against the boulder that Beastman throws at me?"

Narrator: "How are you doing it?"

PC: "I try slicing it in half so that both halves go past me and Orko, who is behind me."

Narrator: "Sure, you can use the Sword of Power as an asset in your pool."
 

Please, do not laugh, but this was a thing in the 80s. Super cheesy and not channeling Masters of the Universe.

View attachment 124589


That movie was cheesy as hell indeed...and I loved it. Still do. Langella kills it as Skeletor. And, let's face it, Lundgren was not the worst choice for He-Man.

As for the game...I'll get it for the background but I think I'll use 5e instead (I can recommend Blades&Blasters for those who want sci-fi elements in their fantasy).
By the way...is there any place where one could get comprehensive info on Eternia etc.?
 

pemerton

Legend
PC: "Can I use my Sword of Power as an asset to defend against the boulder that Beastman throws at me?"

Narrator: "How are you doing it?"

PC: "I try slicing it in half so that both halves go past me and Orko, who is behind me."

Narrator: "Sure, you can use the Sword of Power as an asset in your pool."
This is something that Cortex+ has in common with HeroWars/Quest, and Maelstrom Storytelling, and maybe Fate (I don't know it well enough to be sure) and contrasts with 3E and maybe 5e: what is possible is worked out directly from the fiction, and is a necessary precursor to deploying the resolution mechanics.

Is it possible for the Sword of Power to cut a boulder in two? We can't answer that, as we would in 3E, by applying the damage mechanics and resistance mechanics and interaction-with-objects mechanics. Rather, the table (probably ed by the GM) makes a call, and then the resolution mechanics tell us whether or not it actually happens on this occasion.

This relies on having a good sense of the fiction. Clear images or stereotypes or similar help. This is why I think it's a good fit for Marvel Heroics, for LotR, and probably for MotU too!
 


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