Long ago, that is, in May 2017, I pledged on Kickstarter my support to Cortex Prime: A Multi-Genre Modular Roleplaying Game. The estimated delivery date was April…2018. In the past year I have mostly forgotten about my pledge. In fact, I have mostly forgotten about RPGs in general as my hobby gaming has focused mostly on wargames and then family boardgames. However, the most recent update (March 2019) has stirred my imagination.
I readily admit I am not the usual RPG player. I tend to focus almost exclusively on science-fiction roleplaying and avoid fantasy like plague. I have dabbled a bit in modern RPGs and steampunk or similar settings but true sci-fi is where my heart is.
Over the years, I have also come to pay much more attention to game mechanics; in some ways mechanics wins out over settings for me. Thus, as I skimmed through the draft CORTEX PRIME GAME HANDBOOK I was reminded why I like the core mechanic used in CORTEX PRIME. For every test or contest, you assemble your dice pool and roll against the opposition pool. You choose which two dice will be your total while a third die is the effect die. Rolling a 1 is a spoiler; too many spoilers become a botch!
Like Genesys or Star Wars Roleplaying Game, winning a test or contest allows you to narrate the outcome. This narrative control is very important to me; I don’t want the GM to be the only one talking.
I have several played and studied several implementations of the Cortex System. I have seen it evolve from Cortex Classic in Serenity (2005) to Battlestar Galactica (2007) to Cortex Plus used by Smallville (2010) to Marvel Heroic Roleplaying (2012) to Firefly (2014). I have a love for each version (yes, even the soap operatic Smallville can teach aspiring GMs something). But I am ready for the next generation of CORTEX PRIME.
Deep inside, I am asking myself why I am anxious. After all, I have the very similar (and heavily narrative) Genesys, right? It was a bit of a disappointment, yes? At heart, I really enjoy the (somewhat unnarrative) Cepheus Engine RPG and especially The Clement Sector setting. Do I really expect CORTEX PRIME to be different?
Maybe. Hopefully I will find out for sure. This year.
Feature image CORTEX logo courtesy RPGGeek.com