New Cortex Prime Rules Menu

Last year I produced a rules menu for the Cortex Prime RPG system – a breakdown of all the variant rules modules used by the game, in an digestible format, that GMs could print off and tick through to build their own personal ruleset. Since then, there have been two more versions of the beta released, so I’ve produced a new version of the rules menu to keep up with the changes.

Click here to get the latest version! Continue reading

Cortex Prime Module Headers

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. Continue reading

Mini-Review: Leverage Roleplaying Game

The first mini-review I ever wrote, Smallville, was published a year after the game went out of print, because that’s how behind the curve I am. Margaret Weis haven’t produced new Leverage content for years, but the Cortex system is alive and kicking, with a new design studio at the helm, a successful Kickstarter, and a resourceful fan community (including yours truly). As 2017 ends, nostalgia moves me to re-examine where the seeds of Cortex Prime were first planted, and in a way, this blog too. Seven years later, Leverage still holds up. Continue reading

Cortex Prime Rules Menu

EDIT 13/08/18: Since this is quickly becoming one of my most popular blog posts, I should direct readers to the fact that I have now produced a more up-to-date version of this menu, which accounts for the changes made in successive iterations of beta. Enjoy!

Full disclosure, I’m not usually a fan of modular roleplaying game systems. Providing a hacker’s guide for an otherwise complete ruleset is one thing, but a game that requires players to assemble it themselves before they can start play is often hard to distinguish from something unfinished. I was pondering this whilst reviewing the latest Cortex Prime beta recently, and arrived at a conclusion: for Cortex Prime to be a really excellent release for me, it would need to produce a really solid and exciting core un-modified system, or it would need to be modular in a way that roleplaying games have never been before.

This rules menu is my attempt to contribute to the latter. Continue reading

Fate is a Movie, Cortex Prime is TV

So my plans to develop a turbo-accelerated version of my accelerated character creation for Smallville have taken a back seat. After the last post, I had an opportunity to review the latest beta for Cortex Prime, and that’s where my heads at now. I might return to it, but at the moment it feels more rewarding to be seeing the future, than designing content for a game that went out of print four and a half years ago. Continue reading

Speed Character Creation for Smallville RPG

I recently started running a 1-v-1 game of Smallville with my girlfriend, as she’s considering adapting Cortex Plus Drama for her own upcoming campaign. It’s an interesting challenge, taking a game that’s so clearly designed to generate momentum from the interactions of a player party (the campaign villain is usually a PC), and trying to make it fit to our quite specific requirements. It’s also been a challenge relearning all the things I didn’t like about the game when I tried it the first time: the impenetrable layout, inconsistent rulings, and seemingly limitless ways in which the game’s Plot Points can and cannot be spent. If it wasn’t for Stephen Morffew’s comprehensive Plot Point exchange chart, I think I’d be lost entirely.

Sitting snugly in the centre of my love/hate Venn diagram is the relationship map Smallville uses to form the basis of its “Pathways” character creation. Continue reading

How to Run a Bad Leverage Game

Back in my university days when I pretended I was going to be a screenwriter, I read some useful advice about getting your work reviewed and edited by someone else: when someone suggests that a part of your writing has a problem, they are usually right. When someone suggests a fix to that problem, they are usually wrong.

The other day I ran a one-off game of the Leverage RPG. It was… well, it wasn’t exactly terrible, but it was weirdly uneven, and my players were far from satisfied. We discussed the game afterwards, and the prevailing view of the players was that the game system had problems which had accounted for our mediocre experience, in spite of our determined efforts to have fun.

But I don’t think I agree that Leverage is a bad game. Continue reading