Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Review: Cortex Role Playing System

Cortex System Role Playing Game MWP1019 pub. by margaret weis productions www.mwp.com 8 ½ x 11” perfect bound softcover w. B&W interiors. 160 pages. MSRP $29.99.

Gameplay 8 Written by Jamie Chambers, the Cortex system uses a game engine derived from some of the company’s other RPGs. Their Serenity and Sovereign Stone RPGs come to mind as the game uses an attribute/skill roll against a difficulty number to resolve outcomes. In fact the system is also very similar to Savage Worlds/Deadlands, in that a character’s competence in an ability or skill is indicated by the size of the dice assigned. A d6 is considered average while a d12 is at the far end of the scale. Unlike Deadlands, ability and skills levels can advance beyond d12 through adding a third dice to the roll.

Presentation—5 Cortex’ cover feature what looks like a brain cell as the focus, with the name clearly visible on both front and back covers as well as the spine. The back cover gives a pretty good job of describing the game but no indication it’s based on MWP’s Firefly system. There’s a good 2 page TOC and a one page index and tables, lots of tables. Art is pretty sparse and serves mainly to break up text and a good chapter on gamemastering. No adventure, but there are three campaign settings included ones based on Margaret Weiss’ Star of the Guardians and one on Michael Williams’ Arcady novels. It would have been nice to have these mentioned on the back cover for additional name recognition. Additionally, MWP offers a free PDF of Cortex to purchasers and this is prominently mentioned on the cover and title page.