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 Post subject: Cortex Rules: Anybody Using Them?
PostPosted: Sun May 02, 2010 8:31 am 
My group is thinking about switching to a new gaming system after playing the D20 System for years and Cortex caught my eye. Unfortunately, I don't have much time to study a new system and I was hoping that I could find a group that would allow me to sit in and see how the game is played. The setting isn't nearly as important as learning the rules so I would be up for just about anything.

If you are running a Cortex game and don't mind me sitting in, I would appreciate the chance. I will will try to work with your schedule and may even be willing to play if need be.

As a side note, I am a BSG, Serenity and Supernatural fan having all three series on DVD. :)


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Kobold
 
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 Post subject: Re: Cortex Rules: Anybody Using Them?
PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 8:14 pm 
I like the Cortex system. It's not my favorite system in the world, but it's good. If you're familiar with Savage Worlds they're VERY similar. I've only used it in the context of the Serenity game, but I've also read the BSG book, but I'm sure that it's quite adept for many a setting (there is also a generic Cortex system book available with no attached setting).

I don't have a game you can sit in on (sorry) but I can give you an endorsement of the engine if you like a nice midpoint between crunch and rules-lite.

As a side note, each of the books is quite well made. The rules of the Serenity book are written in such a way that you can basically hear Mal's voice in your head crystal clear. The only thing that stuck out in my mind was that obviously the rights they had to make the book changed somewhere in development from being just Serenity, to including the Firefly series, and it shows in a few minor areas, especially the stock NPC section of the book, where prominent characters of the series, mentioned by name elsewhere are just given a title, while relatively minor and insignificant characters from the movie get their names, pictures, and the whole nine yards. But that's just a nitpick :)

So even if you don't "study" a new system per se, they're worth perusing just because the books have a healthy dose of each show's respective flavor.


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 Post subject: Re: Cortex Rules: Anybody Using Them?
PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 11:13 pm 
I've actually read a sample of the Supernatural book and I didn't like the flavor text. I think the book was supposed to read as if Bobby Singer were telling the reader the rules but I found it distracting. The same thing happened when I tried to read the Buffy RPG where it read like a valley girl was explaining the rules in her diary. I had to stop because the mix of rules and flavor just wasn't working for me and it literally gave me a headache trying to sift through it. I guess I'm more of a "just the facts" kind of guy while reading the rulebook but totally get into character during the game, provided I'm having fun with it.

I have picked up a copy of the Cortex Rulebook without the flavor. I've only glanced over it so far but I am very surprised that the system doesn't offer rules for magic use. That seems like a huge oversight for a system that is supposed to work with any genre or setting.

Our group was originally talking about converting our D&D campaign to a new system but now we've switched gears and are leaning towards a more post-apocalyptic setting based loosely on the RIFTS universe. For this we're going to need a system that supports magic, high technology and a number of alien lifeforms. We want to get away from D20 because the combat is so slow at higher levels (We started falling asleep during a dragon fight that was supposed to be a random encounter that took 2 game sessions to complete.) and if I can find a good system in between crunch and rules lite, that would be great.


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 Post subject: Re: Cortex Rules: Anybody Using Them?
PostPosted: Wed May 05, 2010 4:36 pm 
Oh. Um, well then if you need magic, Cortex may not be for you as it merely only hints at how to do magic in the main book. Though if you like the rules, why not go to its first cousin, Savage Worlds? Or maybe GURPS? Or if you want to stay closer to what you have (i.e. staying d20 but a better implementation of it than D&D, imo), may I suggest FantasyCraft? Here is a review of FantasyCraft I wrote on another site way back when. I think that may get the job done for you.


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 Post subject: Re: Cortex Rules: Anybody Using Them?
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 12:42 pm 
Our group actually played SpyCraft 2.0 for awhile and I enjoyed the system well enough as the GC but it was too much for some of my players.

I was excited about FantasyCraft when I first read about it but I was also excited about the Shatterpunk setting and the .... What was the Space Opera setting called? I forget. But while waiting, we all kind of lost interests in the system. The guys at Crafty seem nice enough, but their sporadic release dates leave something to be desired.

Regarding Cortex... I have been directed to a number of homebrew magic systems. Maybe one of them can help fill in the gaps. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Cortex Rules: Anybody Using Them?
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 6:00 pm 
Hopefully so. Like I said, Savage Worlds and Cortex are very similar so you may be able to turn to that to adapt something as well. I just didn't want you to rush out and get a Cortex core book and blame me when there was no magic in it ;)

The sci-fi game they're working on is called The Farthest Star, but that is still a long way off. There's a 3rd edition of Spycraft due up within a year, and there's been a ton of releases in the past year for FantasyCraft. I understand the impatience, as I am a devout fan and want them to release stuff faster too. But one thing to bear in mind is Crafty is only 2 writers and an artist. They do what they can, and they do amazing work.

FantasyCraft (and the upcoming Spycraft) address numerous issues with SC2.0. Spycraft is certainly not without faults, but they recognize that and I hope they make some positive changes, and FantasyCraft includes many improvements over SC. It's worth a look, especially if you used to be a Spycraft fan.

But if you find what you're looking for, pass it on :)


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 Post subject: Re: Cortex Rules: Anybody Using Them?
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 6:33 pm 
Hehe. I try not to get mad at people for wanting to help :)

What kind of improvements is Crafty talking about? Do you happen to have a link handy?

I did pick up the Cortex book but it was on sale at DriveThru for $9.99 so no big deal. I've also passed some information along to our GM to see what he thinks.

Ideally, I'm hoping to find a system that offers enough crunch to cover most situations but still allows for fluid storytelling and quick combat. It seems like we used to enjoy that back in the day but somewhere along the way after switching through multiple systems, it got lost along the way.

If I find something that works, I will most definitely pass it on. :)

Gaming History:
AD&D 1st Edition and 2nd Edition (Ugh. Thac0)(Played 1st Ed., DM'ed 2nd Ed.)
Marvel Super Heroes (Not crunchy enough)(Player, GM)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Very short lived and I don't remember much about the system. Was that Palladium?)(GM)
Heroes Unlimited (Short lived before we moved into RIFTS)(Player)
RIFTS (Overly crunchy and slow plus the disorganization between rules and setting were some of the worst I've ever seen)(Player, though I tried to help the GM convert RIFTS to D20 once. That was a huge mistake.)
Vampire and Werewolf (Hey does White Wolf have an apocalyptic setting?)(GM)
SpyCraft 2.0 (Overly crunchy and an attempt to remove some of the crunch resulted in disaster.)(GM)
D&D 3e (Suitable rules but combat is way too slow. And now we're looking for more Science Fiction.)(Player, GM)


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 Post subject: Re: Cortex Rules: Anybody Using Them?
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 9:04 pm 
Fair enough. :)

Here's a link to the Spycraft 3rd Edition forum. There aren't many posts in it yet, but Pat and Alex are very active on there and you'll find instances of them mentioning their plans for the system. But really, FantasyCraft gives you the best possible preview at the moment of what's to be expected from SC3, as FantasyCraft is the first game on the "MasterCraft" engine, and SC3 will be following suit. One thing to note is that SC3 is going back towards SC1's espionage centered roots, and away from SC2's d20 modern replacement vibe. They have stated that this is to allow greater focus on the multitude of spy movie and book types and less on the general stuff. This could be good or bad depending on your view (Personally I call it mostly a plus because 80% or more of what I use SC2 for is high-Espionage/Conspiracy games, but I will miss the extreme flexibility SC2 has).

Specifically, they talk about simplifying gear (which I'm sure you'll agree is one of the hardest parts of SC2 for a newbie. I've been using the game for years and it's still a bit of a stumbling block, tbh), as well as toning down the over-specialization of classes (at creation, you choose several non-class skills and MAKE them class skills, thus enabling a more rounded character who can fit your concept better). Like Spycraft, but unlike D&D, there are classes dedicated to conversation, and classes dedicated to knowledge/making things. It's a relatively recent announcement so details are still scarce, but it's one to keep your eye on perhaps.

Many of the changes are subtle, but they are, on the whole massive improvements over SC2, which is a system I already loved. *Shrug* Perhaps wait for a sale or something. But I'm sure you wouldn't be disappointed if you tried it. Oh, and here's the official page. There's a download available of a 14 page free preview. Might spark something for you. If you hold out for a month or two, they'll be releasing a second printing with errata and whatnot.

Gaming History:
AD&D 2nd Edition. It got me started, I have fond memories... I have no desire to ever play it again. ;) (Player, Really bad/noobish DM)
TMNT yes, it's Palladium. (Player)
D&D 3.0 (Player, DM)
Spycraft (Player, GC)
OWoD, specifically Vampire, Hunter, and Wraith. Yes, OWoD has an apocalypse book, that's how they rebooted it to NWoD. It's ok, but not my cup of tea. (Player)
Aftermath! VERRRRRY crunchy post-apocalypse game. Fun as hell once you get used to it. (GM)
D&D 3.5 (Player, DM)
HERO System (Player)
NWoD, specifically Vampire. Just joined a Hunter game last week. (Player)
Spycraft 2.0 (Player, GC)
Star Wars Saga Ed. (Player, was supposed to GM but the group never happened).
Serenity (GM for a brief time. Two of my players had to drop because of outside commitments, but fun while it lasted).
Aces and Eights. Also VERRRRY crunchy, this one a western. Also very fun once you got used to it. (GM)
Shadowrun (Player, only lasted one session)
D&D 4E (DM, Player currently semi-regularly)
FantasyCraft (GM)
Call of Cthulhu (Currently playing. Hate the system, love my group, so I endure.)
Legend of the Five Rings (Player)

Games I have but have never played but want to: Exalted 2nd Edition, Hellas, All Flesh Must Be Eaten, Dresden Files.

Sounds like we have somewhat similar game taste.


There's probably some others I've left off here. Whatever :P Growing up I had a large group of friends who RP'ed so I could constantly switch games and systems. It was nice. Then since I joined the military, a lot of the game switching was prompted by moving. Really, only D&D and Spycraft have truly endured with me over the years, but I always try to find new games, if only to find new ways to think about the same old problems, you know what I mean?


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 Post subject: Re: Cortex Rules: Anybody Using Them?
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 10:04 pm 
Ooh...umm... I don't know about the SC3 stuff. I like flexibility myself but I might check it out if I get the chance. :)

My SC campaign put the team to work for a clandestine military agency and sent out to investigate and contain super science / supernatural activity. What they didn't know was that most of their cases had actually been caused largely in part by the corporation they were working for. The company experiments were tearing rifts between dimensional barriers that allowed special units to travel beyond our realm, but in the process allowed alien lifeforms to enter our world. The company knew the risks of their experiments but the chance of discovery was far to great to simply dismiss so a Plan B (The Team) was set into motion to run damage control.

Eventually the team was going to be traveling to alternate realities and alien worlds but the campaign never got that far. It ended with members of the group leaving, and about a year later, the FOX show Fringe aired. Funny how things work out like that.

Now one of my oldest players is taking his turn as DM and I am retired. He has been running D&D for almost 2 years now and his story has been pretty good so far but we're ready to switch gears. Surprisingly enough, it was his idea to run with a post-apocalyptic setting but I have to admit it holds more interest for me now than the fantasy genre does. Once we find a system, I'm looking forward to running a fighter type. I doubt I will mess with magic much if at all, but our group has players that always run casters of one type or another. It's for them that I am looking for something that supports magic.

I've also GM'ed Mutants & Masterminds for a brief period and played in a single All Flesh Must Be Eaten game. It was okay but I couldn't really get into it. I think that was mostly due to the way it was thrown together though with the "here is your character, now roll for initiative" approach.


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