My obsession with Cortex Prime shows no sign of abating. Since I put together the Cortex Prime Rules Menu last year, I’ve been playing more than ever – both as a GM (a one-player modern day, young adult, superhero thing with my girlfriend) and as a player (a high-concept, pretty gonzo, reformed supervillains game). In between games, I’ve been devouring the latest iteration of the SRD, and sending across bits of feedback to the designer. It’s safe to say I’ve caught the Cortex bug.
Throughout this process, I’ve insisted that Prime’s USP is surely its modularity – and since modular games are nothing particularly new, it has to be modular in a way no game has been before. When I finished the Rules Menu, I posited it as one part of a puzzle to make a do-it-yourself ruleset work in a way that was user-friendly for GMs, regardless of their modding experience. There would need to be advice in the game about which modules are suited to which games, and which modules go well or badly with each other, ideally in a consistent template format which would require restructuring the presentation of the rulebook entirely.
THIS IS WHAT I’VE PUT TOGETHER (click to view). It’s an intro for each rules module that categorises it, summarises it, suggests which games would justify the rule’s use and how it mixes with other modules.
It’s not finished – and not just because it doesn’t include the rules themselves (the SRD still has a somewhat limited release). I used the Rules Menu, with its hundred or so options, as the basis for these templates, but I’ve only completed about 50 of them. Mostly this is because it was a huge amount of work, and I wanted to see what the community’s appetite was for something like this, to see if that effort was justified. I’ve presented it to give an impression of what the entire document might look like, rather than just the first half. Consequently, you’ll find modules of all type and sub-type, but holes in the ruleset throughout.
The other thing that’s missing is the bit that comes at the start of each chapter, which advises how you go about deciding which modules to choose for your ruleset from a high-level perspective. The advice for the Characters chapter, for example, would advise to select four to six character traits, one kind of injury tracker, probably just one method of character advancement and character generation, and the addition of SFX and Trait Statements as appropriate. For now I’m just presenting the module headers, not the chapter headers.
Like I said, I based this off my Rules Menu… and the process of putting this together helped me to realise some of the ways in which the Rules Menu not quite perfect. In some places, it’s incomplete (it doesn’t have the option to spend a Plot Point to turn a personal Asset into a team Asset), it’s misleading (The Pile is not presented as a compulsory rule, but it should be) and it’s out-of-date (Skill Pyramids aren’t included, because they came in the last SRD, and the Menu hasn’t been updated since). So, still some work to do, but mostly it works fine. The dream would be to find a way to synch the headers up with the Rules Menu, so that by ticking options there, it can build your own rulebook, containing only the modules selected.
Hope someone else finds this useful!