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.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Review: Martian Fluxx

Martian Fluxx pub. by Looney Labs. 100 card deck plus instructions. MRSP $16

Gameplay--Martian Fluxx, as you might guess, is a Martian themed version of Looney Labs popular Fluxx game. This version is packaged in the 3 3/4 x 5" box that Looney has gone to with their releases since Zombie Fluxx, which makes them easier to display and find on the shelf. The backs of the decks are still the same, meaning this deck can get shuffled together with any of the other Fluxx decks, though the card assortment means you'd need to shuffle in the Creepers, Goals and Keeper cards to keep the deck playable. Most of the Creepers are Pathetic Humans, while the Goals are such things as Take Me to Your Leader and Martian Chess, with Keepers such as The Mothership and Martian Chess.

There are two new cards in the game: The Meta Rule and the Ungoal. The Meta Rule is a rule card that plays along the Basic Rules card and stays in play the entire game. Once the players agree to put it in play at the start of the game, it can't be removed by an Action card or a New Rule. If the Ungoal is drawn and put into play, once its conditions are met, the game ends with no winner. Since its conditions specify Martian Fluxx cards, it won't be used except in games where other Martian Fluxx Cards are also used.

Salability--Martian Fluxx doesn't have the "cool" factor of zombies and and, for whatever reason, zombies are currently cool, nor does it have the name recognition of Monty Python. MF will sell because, hey it's Fluxx, but I don't expect to see it doing the numbers of either Monty Python Fluxx or Zombie Fluxx. Looney Labs does have a demo kit available which gives you posters and sell sheets, as well as a demo deck and a dozen promo cards to hand out to purchasers or demo players.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Review: Fleets of the Three Galaxies

Rifts Dimension Book 13: Fleets of the Three Galaxies published by Palladium Books PAL 873. Softcover 128 pages. MSRP $16.95

A sourcebook for the Risfs RPG, FTG presents the most powerful fleets in the Galaxies, along with ships, key figures, problems. Mainly useful if you are running a space based Rifts game or doing something with the battle between demons and Deevils in the Minion War series of Rifts supplements.