So I backed the Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide on Kickstarter. I’ve got the preview PDF (which includes a bunch of nifty ideas, but not all of them). But I’m itching to be doing this hacking stuff now!
A few months ago (holy crap, has it been that long?) I ran our playgroup through a 1st level D&D 4e adventure in the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender. It was a lot of fun, and I think the story was pretty neat. As I delve deeper into Cortex Plus, it seems like an awesome way to impart the flavor of Avatar directly into the game, and I’d love to play the scenario again with the different mechanics.
So I’m just gonna start off with a lovely visual aid: the character sheet. If you’re already familiar with hacking Cortex Plus, you could probably just start playing with these pregens. Heck, I’ve even included a variation on the dice pool strip designed by @dazedsaveends to help out!
The mechanics and flow of the game are intended to be similar to Heroic Cortex Plus (exemplified by Marvel RPG) – you choose an effect die, there’s a persistent GM-managed dice pool (I call it “Trouble” instead of “Doom”), and stress/assets/stunts/complications/resources work like they do in Marvel. However, the basic dice pool traits (Elements and Specialties) are fixed lists, like in Leverage. I also combined Marvel’s Mental/Emotional stress tracks into “Social”.
I’m not sure yet if the unusually large lists for Elements and Specialties are completely right – we’ll see. Smallville’s Relationships and (technically) Marvel’s Specialties are just as large. In fact, I built the Specialty list out of an amalgam of D&D 4e’s skills, Marvel’s Specialties, and Edge of the Empire’s skills.
You’ll see on the pregens (at least as of this posting), that the Milestones are blank. Just haven’t figured them out yet. But! The idea is that they work like Smallville’s Distinctions during a 1-shot game (that is, they provide opportunities to gain extra Plot Points), and like Marvel’s Milestones during a campaign-length game (as an engine for XP advancement). I built each of the pregens with an average of d8 in their Elements, and d6 in their Specialties. Stepping a die up would consequently step another die down. I gave the Kyoshi Warrior four extra steps up to offset the impressive feats of the benders.
Each pregen also has three Talents. These are custom-built using the same general guidelines as Marvel’s SFX, but without the Powersets to hang the mechanics on. This is also the design-space that Leverage’s Signature Assets go into, if you were looking.
Well, I think that’s enough navel-gazing for now. Any thoughts, suggestions, critique? Don’t hold back – you can’t hurt my feelings.