So I’ve made no secret of my desire to eventually develop or sponsor a roleplaying game book using the Post-Event setting of the Wearing the Cape stories. Because of course I wasn’t just a sci-fi/fantasy fan and rabid comic book reader in my younger days (a description that, other than “rabid” is still strangely accurate…), I was also a hard core RPG fan. I played Dungeons and Dragons, Runequest, Hero, Champions, Metamorphosis Alpha, Gamma World, Villains and Vigilantes, The Palladium RPG, and of course GURPS in its many incarnations, and read many many more. It did something to my head, because when I sat down to write Wearing the Cape my mind started spitting out character stats like I was gearing up for a new campaign.
Well, the day has come.
After shopping around, I have decided to build Wearing the Cape: The Roleplaying Game around a game system some of my readers may have heard of: Cortex Plus. An open-license game engine, CP is owned by Margaret Weis Productions, the company responsible for many of today’s media-event RPGs, including Serenity, Supernatural, Smallville, Leverage, and, most importantly, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.
The good news; queries to MWP have been positively received. The bad news; now I’m committed to a proposal. The best news; I am now seeking playtesters (and yes, any readers who see this post can apply).
Why Cortex Plus?
First, it is open source; I don’t need to invent a new game engine, and it has already proven its superhero credentials (Marvel Heroic Roleplaying won awards). Second, with the MHP, Cortex Plus showed that it is both capable of fast and fun playing and able to effectively describe superheroes with hugely different power levels within its very simple system. After all, it had to fit both Hawkeye and Thor!
Ironically, MHR won a major award and lost the Marvel contract the same year…
I will admit, this is quite an adjustment for me. Anyone who is familiar with GURPS (The Generic Universal Roleplaying System) will understand when I say that I’m used to “crunchy” rules. The Cortex Plus system, on the other hand, is very freeform, more storytelling with dice involved than lots of rules and precise descriptions. But because the basic system is so, well, basic, it is eminently hackable; all of the above-mentioned games modify it extensively to make it fit the very different styles of the TV series they represent. WtC:RPG will be no different. For example, here is Astra as a Cortex Plus character (with my own specific system hacks).
Strengths: Physical d6, Mental d8, Social, d10.
Distinctions: Protector of the Innocent, Nice Enough But Completely Unintimidating, Little Miss Sunshine. (d4 +1pp, or d8)
Power Sets: Atlas Type
A Class Strength (d12+d8).
A Class Durability (d12+d8), SFX: Take the hit (Spend 1 PP to take the injury intended for a nearby ally or bystander).
A Class Stamina (d12+d8). SFX: Second Wind. SFX: Fight On (You continue to fight if Incapacitated. Each turn you do so, you must spent one Plot Point and step your Trauma up by one die, and your opponent will still use your Stress Dice).
A Class Injury Tolerance (d12+d8)
Supersonic Flight (d12+d6). SFX: Final Strike (Step up or double power die for one action, taking Injury equal to original die).
Superhuman Senses (d12+6). Telescopic/Microscopic Vision, analytical sense of smell.
Vulcan Armor (Durability d12+8). Limitation: Does not protect from Area Attacks or Aimed Attacks.
Ajax’ Maul (Weapon/Attack Power d12+d6). Malleus may be thrown for a ranged attack. Limitation: Expended, must recover after throwing. Limitation: Cannot pull her punch.
Skills: Combat/Unarmed, Competent (d6); Combat/Melee Weapons, Competent (d6); Flying, Competent (d6); Athletics, Competent (d6).
Stress: Injury (physical) d12+8, Strain (mental) d12, Wear (emotional) d12.
And there you have it: little Hope Corrigan in a few easy lines, simple to reference, no charts required and ready to play with a handful of dice.
So, what kind of production time are we talking about? Well, I’m hoping to have a playtestable system ready by the end of November, and I do have a “local” gaming group already committed to helping me kick the tires and test-drive it. I’m looking for interior artists and a graphics artist capable of doing the layout. When finished, Wearing the Cape: The Roleplaying Game will be available in PDF format and as a quality print edition (price unknown at this time), a complete stand-alone game filled with stats for the characters introduced in the books and everything WtC fans need to play the Sentinels or run their own CAI superteams or get really strange.
Beyond that? Well, Cortex Plus is open source, and as the owner of all rights to Wearing the Cape I can always let others play in my sandbox. Fun is for sharing, after all.