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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

Cam Banks

Explorer
Cortex uses opposed rolls by default, it's one of the things that makes the system work the way it does. It doesn't really slow things down. Most of the time a 5e combat takes much longer than its equivalent in Cortex, because the rolls in Cortex generally cover a lot more or handle a lot more than the many swings and misses of d20+bonus vs AC in 5e. It can certainly look like there's a lot going on, but all we're doing is rolling dice and adding two numbers. Sometimes you fiddle with the dice. The rules are pretty smooth, play-wise.

It's even easier when you have those fancy digital characters and dice to do much of the work for you. :)

Cheers,
Cam
 

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Aaron L

Hero
Abso-FREAKING-lutely!

My love of Fantasy and Sci-Fi and D&D are all tied in together with my early love of Masters of the Universe. It is a wonderful Weird Fiction seting, mixing magic and superscience, with laser blasters and dragons and space travel and an evil skull-faced wizard who has a legion of robotic soldiers
 

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.
Actually, it also has distinctions (see p 10 & 33), Assets, and Complications (p 10).

Every released-by-MWP CortexPlus game I've seen¹ used distinctions and at least 2 other ratings as default minima, with gear of some kind often adding a fourth. So, in all flavors, you're rolling at least 3 dice — and one of them is either a d4 or a d8, as those are the options for distinction.

¹: Smallville, Leverage, MHRP, Firefly, and the preview for Dragon Brigade, as well as the hackers guide's core approaches.
 

My family loves that show too. I was wondering if this RPG would work as well for She-Ra. I didn’t watch the original shows, so I don’t know how similar they are.
They have multiple crossover episodes, similar tone, but She-Ra emphasising female leads.

Unless the guys doing it are seriously retrogressive¹, it should do both equally well.

I'll note that She-Ra's writers sometimes produced more nuanced content than He-Man's.

-=-=-=-=-=-
¹: Cam's one of the more woke-culture-embracing folks I've encountered online, so that's extremely unlikely.
 

Aldarc

Legend
That is an excellent point, unfortunately, I prefer games with hit points and generally won't run games without them. This could be the exception though.
"Life points" are discussed as an option in the Cortex Prime handbook that went out to backers (p. 43 for those who have the pdf).
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Is that my cue? I saw these images on the Cortex Discord of one of the player characters:

Affinities/Attributes:
Machines, Magic, Might, Mind, Mischief, Mobility, Mystery

Distinctions:

Abilities? SFX:

Assets:


Having now looked into Cortex, I think I much happier to use Fate Accelerated since it appears to do the same thing with less complexity than the effect die and hitches of Cortex do.

Approaches - Aspects - Stunts - Modes do they same thing as the Cortext structure does especially as the Affinities easily substitute for Approaches.

I also think that Fates four actions and adverb system and simpler dice roles makes for better play in MoTU.
 




Having now looked into Cortex, I think I much happier to use Fate Accelerated since it appears to do the same thing with less complexity than the effect die and hitches of Cortex do.

Approaches - Aspects - Stunts - Modes do they same thing as the Cortext structure does especially as the Affinities easily substitute for Approaches.

I also think that Fates four actions and adverb system and simpler dice roles makes for better play in MoTU.
Except that FAE doesn't do the same thing.

FAE doesn't have a mechanic for a roll to inherently trigger a compel or a declaration of a new complication for the active party; Cortex does.
FAE does have a mechanic for adding complications - the damage process - and for aspects (in lieu of damage) but it's only when they're the recipient of an action, or before their attack roll.

FAE's result space on a roll is:
1. Success with margin
2. Success with margin & FP spend(s) to tag aspects
3. Tie
4. tie with FP spend(s)
3. Success at other cost if the GM offers
4. Simple failure

None of these grant Fate Points, either.

Cortex's result space on a roll: (all
1a Active succeedswith effect rating without complications, target fails with complications
1b Active succeeds without complications, target fails without complications
2a Active succeeds with complications, target fails with complications
2b Active succeeds with complications, target fails without complications
3a Active fails without complications, target succeeds with complications
3b Active fails without complications, target succeeds without complications
4a tie (GM call if allowed on a given roll), no complications for either
4b tie (GM call if allowed on a given roll), Complications for the initiator
4c tie (GM call if allowed on a given roll), complications for the responder
4d tie (GM call if allowed on a given roll), complications for both.

1s rolled do not need to be taken as complications; the players can refuse the PP and the complication... Any player can pay for NPC complications.

Cortex Plus DOES inherit from Fate the declarative value of Plot Points, and the tagging process, but not the post-roll spends to trigger more values into the pool. Some abilities do allow rerolling the pool, rerolling 1's rolled, and so forth.

Default uses for FP:
tag an aspect
reroll the dice
make a narrative declaration
Make a compel

Default uses for PP
Tag an extra of any particular type of die (first die is free from each category, typically)
Force complications on the GM's opportunities (1's)
Narrative Declaration
Create an asset from something that should be in the setting.

They overlap in what they do, but they don't do the same things.
 

stadi

Explorer
...

Cortex's result space on a roll: (all
1a Active succeedswith effect rating without complications, target fails with complications
1b Active succeeds without complications, target fails without complications
2a Active succeeds with complications, target fails with complications
2b Active succeeds with complications, target fails without complications
3a Active fails without complications, target succeeds with complications
3b Active fails without complications, target succeeds without complications
4a tie (GM call if allowed on a given roll), no complications for either
4b tie (GM call if allowed on a given roll), Complications for the initiator
4c tie (GM call if allowed on a given roll), complications for the responder
4d tie (GM call if allowed on a given roll), complications for both.

...

Ok, I'll guess I'll play this with Savage Worlds or 5E (I'll still get this for the lore and the pictures). This is exactly what I'm NOT looking for in games. That's why I probably don't play narrative games. I played both Fate and 2d20 once and both were really bad experiences (you could argue whether 2d20 is narrative, but that's not the point).

I don't want a roll tell me that there are complications. That's the GMs role. It should be something that's related to the story, when the story needs it, and not when a roll tells you something happened. You still have the critical fails and critical successes for unplanned happenings.

The more I know of this game / Cortex, the more complicated / clunky it seems. Yes, there are probably options and house rules that you can use, but then you have Savage Worlds (or one's favorite all purpose game) that's better suited.
 

pemerton

Legend
I don't want a roll tell me that there are complications. That's the GMs role. It should be something that's related to the story, when the story needs it, and not when a roll tells you something happened. You still have the critical fails and critical successes for unplanned happenings.

The more I know of this game / Cortex, the more complicated / clunky it seems.
Cortex+ is (in my view) less complicated/clunky than a system like 5e D&D. It is more complicated than a system like Cthulhu Dark or Prince Valiant.

@aramis erak's long chart is basically right for the MHRP/Cortex+ Heroic version I'm familiar with, but doesn't set out the decision procedure for the various outcomes - eg for an active player to succeed with complication, the GM has to either have an established SFX at work on the opposition s/he is managing, or to spend a resource that creates that complication. (Eg if you punch a fire giant, you might get a burned hand even though you knocked it down.)

The story can sometimes be used to mean the fiction. In Cortex+ everything flows from the fiction.

The story can sometimes be used to mean the pre-esetablished plot. Cortex+, at least as I have experienced it, doesn't work well with such a thing. The game is heavily scene-based, and the GM has a lot of authority in establishing the starting state of scenes. But the players have a lot of capacity to establish outcomes which (as they cumulate) yield the plot. Eg it is quite feasible in Cortex+ Heroic to start a scene with the PCs all prisoners in their enemy's castle - much moreso than in (say) D&D - but only if the previous scene ended one way rather than another. And the GM doesn't have unilateral control over that ending.

In my (non-LotR) fantasy Cortex+ game, for instance, the PCs all got teleported to the middle of the dungeon, but only because they were confronting a Crypt Thing and I built up 2d12 in the Doom Pool, and so spent it to end the scene with the Crypt Thing teleporting them away (this was how I modelled its ability as found in various versions of D&D - I'm familiar with the old Fiend Folio version). When - after wandering lost for a bit - the PCs met some dark elves (GM-framed scene), one of them was able to trick the elves out of their gold and escape with it to the surface while the other PCs were left to fight there way out. Mechanically, this involved creating complications on a NPC and establishing assets (such as the gold in his possession), and was the result of player of that PC playing his PC as he wanted to within the rules of the system.

I would expect this sort of system to support MotU hijinks pretty well, but it generates a lot of player-side input into the unfolding fiction.
 

Cortex+ is (in my view) less complicated/clunky than a system like 5e D&D. It is more complicated than a system like Cthulhu Dark or Prince Valiant.

@aramis erak's long chart is basically right for the MHRP/Cortex+ Heroic version I'm familiar with, but doesn't set out the decision procedure for the various outcomes - eg for an active player to succeed with complication, the GM has to either have an established SFX at work on the opposition s/he is managing, or to spend a resource that creates that complication. (Eg if you punch a fire giant, you might get a burned hand even though you knocked it down.)

The story can sometimes be used to mean the fiction. In Cortex+ everything flows from the fiction.
Same in FAE, which is why I didn't mention it - the two games are in similar design spaces and use similar playstyles. The major differences are in the outcome space and dice mechanics, and the base assumptions of the relationship between rolls and risk.

The same kind of thought process that goes into the Cortex Dice pool is very similar to that for selecting aspects to use.

Note also, I was basing my result space more on firefly than mhrp.

There's one other key difference: ranges of ratings vs ranges of results.
Fate -2 to +5 skill, -6 to +15 (counting 3 aspects, 1 personal, 1 scene, 1 target complication)

Cortex Plus - (nd means no die)
Firefly: d4/d8 distinction, d4···d12 attribute, d4···d12 skill, nd/d6 specialty, nd/d6/d8 asset, nd···d12 target complication
Leverage: d4/d8 distinction, d4···d12 attribute, d4···d12 role, nd/d6 asset, nd···d12 target complication
MHRP: d4/d8 distinction, d4···d12 affiliation, d4-d12 power set, nd···d12 second power, nd/d6···d12 skill, nd/d6 asset, nd···d12 target complication
Smallville: d4···d12 Value, d4···d12 Relationship, d4···d12 asset, nd···d12 target complication.

the dice scale runs nd/d4/d6/d8/d10/d12/>d12. A "≥d12" is essentially a KO.

In all, plot points can be used to tag additionals of any category.
But also, in all cases, the dice math is a result range of 0/2/4···24. Note that 1's are removed before finding the two dice for the pool, so the lowest countable die roll is 2 per die, and it's possible to have no dice left.
The effect (damage or complication inflicted) is d4 to d12 (Firefly and MHRP, it's whatever the biggest {most sides} die remaining is; Smallville, reroll the pool, and the highest rolling die is the size of the effect)
Note that leverage doesn't use effect dice. Firefly uses them a lot except for combat, where the default damage for combat is ≥d12; spend a PP to convert that incoming ≥12 to the effect die.
Complications from 1's can be d4 to ≥d12...
Leverage, Firefly, MHRP have options for beating the opposed roll by 5+ being a special success.

Fate is simpler to grasp, simpler to run, and less consistent in results. Due to the opposed rolls, up to 21 stress (I've personally inflicted 16 stress on an NPC as a player once, by picking a mode that they had no defense to). One axis of results: success/failure, but with more steps.

Cortex has more texture even in the simplest flavor (leverage), a wider range of outcomes (3 axis results: intended result, complication for active, complication for resisting). But this comes with extra complexity and longer resolution times. I find Cortex more fun than Fate, but that's a personal level.
 

Ok, I'll guess I'll play this with Savage Worlds or 5E (I'll still get this for the lore and the pictures).
Unlike 2d20, complications in Cortex need not be taken by players; taking them, however, is how you get the majority of your plot points, either way, dice in Cortex Plus return no value on a 1, either way. You get paid for taking the complications, but not punished for not taking them. (Fate, you get punished for rejecting compels, rewarded for taking them)

If you go with SW, you'll have directly compatible ratings.
I'm more likely to run SW settings with Cortex Plus (or Cortex Prime, when it hits shelves), for that reason; all that needs conversion then is the advantages and disadvantages, and adding distinctions.
 

pemerton

Legend
A couple of footnotes to @aramis erak's posts:

*In MHRP assets can range from d6 up to d12;

*There is another category of dice that can go into the pool, namely, Resources, which can be d6 or d8 (occasionally larger with SFX) which can be thought of as a special and cumulative category of persistent asset generated by spending a plot point at the appropriate time;

*It is possible to have two of the opponent's traits in the pool without having to pay for an extra die: one complication and one stress die - in mechanical terms this is one of the differences between stress (= "damage") and complications (= "debuff");

*When players roll 1s, these don't generate complications directly but rather let the GM pay the player plot points to grow the Doom Pool.

*One thing the GM can spend Doom Pool dice on is to have an opposing effect die take effect even if it is in a losing pool;

*Characters have "limits" (anti-SFX) which in some cases allows the GM to spend a die from the Doom Pool to directly inflict a debuff - the most common of these is the "gear" limit, which allows spending a Doom Pool die to shut down the relevant power (eg Captain America's shield, Gandalf's sword Glamdring, perhaps He-Man's Sword of Power) until the player succeeds in an appropriate action to recover the shut-down power.​

In our play, the main thing the players spend their Plot Points on is not adding extra dice to their pool (although that happens occasionally, as aramis erak and I have explained MHRP pools already tend to have quite a few dice in them) but on adding extra dice to their total once the pool has been rolled.
 

In our play, the main thing the players spend their Plot Points on is not adding extra dice to their pool (although that happens occasionally, as aramis erak and I have explained MHRP pools already tend to have quite a few dice in them) but on adding extra dice to their total once the pool has been rolled.
that's specific to MHRP, not a general.

In Firefly, it's a bit more common to spend pp ion triggering special abilities tied to the distinctions or to signature assets... or converting the ≥d12 to the effect die in combats.

Likewise, Firefly and leverage have no equivalent to the doom pool.

It will be interesting to see if MOTU is difficulty as fixed numerical ratings, difficulty as a 2d pair, difficulty as opposed roll of NPC stats, difficulty as a doom pool...
Most have multiple forms (doom pool and NPC stats for MHRP, NPC Stats or Difficulty dice for Firefly, NPC stats for Leverage)
 

angille

Explorer
lol, I love how the answer to "gosh that's a lot of result types for a single roll" is "here's a wall of text explaining the heaviest version of Cortex so far" — seriously, watch the Legends of Grayskull livestream, find liveplays of Leverage and Firefly (which are the leaner Cortex variants) and see if it gels.

(I totally could have caught myself doing the same thing, so I'm not trying to be overcritical)

It will be interesting to see if MOTU is difficulty as fixed numerical ratings, difficulty as a 2d pair, difficulty as opposed roll of NPC stats, difficulty as a doom pool...
Most have multiple forms (doom pool and NPC stats for MHRP, NPC Stats or Difficulty dice for Firefly, NPC stats for Leverage)
in the livestream, Cam was rolling dice for opposition, and there was a doom pool (though it was called the "havoc pool"). the streamed game was a very early version, so playtesting might shift things around a bit.
 

lol, I love how the answer to "gosh that's a lot of result types for a single roll" is "here's a wall of text explaining the heaviest version of Cortex so far" —
Actually, no, it's not. I was describing Firefly, and noting a few differences of the others. Mechanically, because of the asymmetric nature of PP for players vs Doom Pool, MHR is more complex mechanically. Firefly is the middle; leverage is lighter. What little was released of Dragon Brigade was comparable to firefly.
in the livestream, Cam was rolling dice for opposition, and there was a doom pool (though it was called the "havoc pool"). the streamed game was a very early version, so playtesting might shift things around a bit.
I doubt it will change away from the Doom Pool- Cam's very fond of it.

Doom Pool/havoc pool.... it's the right choice IMO for the setting. GM PP works better in less over-the-top...
 

Fistos second cousin twice removed really?

Im not familair with the Cortext Prime system (because it looked too complex) anyone want to comment on the ‘fit’ to MoTU.

I diduse the old D20 MoTU document that was going around a while back...

D20 Masters Of The Universe?

Dude. Link. Please. Now. Prettypleasewithacherryontopplesseplesdepleaseplease...?
 

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