Announcing Wearing the Cape: The RPG.

SJG6017Not the game system I’ll be using.

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.

17 thoughts on “Announcing Wearing the Cape: The RPG.

  1. That is excellent news! Cortex+ is, in my totally objective und unbiased opinion, simply the best superhero system for emulating comic-book type action.

    Though I think that something like Smallville’s value- and relationship-based system would work extremely well for a game based on your novels, due to how important Hope’s evolving personality and her relationships are.

  2. This is great news! I’ve actually ran a Mutants and Masterminds game in the WtC universe for my group. Have you given any thought to a conversion to M and M if the sourcebook is successful? Regardless, my group would be happy to play test, we have one GM and three players, 2 of which have experience with Cortex Plus.

  3. I spent several months playing Marvel Heroic Role playing on a weekly basis. Our consensus was that while the system is good but the rules suffer from a sever lack of clarity. Several of us read the whole thing multiple times and we where still left confused about various details.

    And when it came to looking something up at the table, that was just an exercise in frustration. I don’t think we ever successfully resolved a rules question at the table. Someone always has to go and re read between sessions and answer the question next week.

    As long as the final product includes references back to real world units it should be easy to adapt it for other dice mechanics.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience–the core system will be based more on Cortex’ Action Roleplaying than the Marvel rules, but I have been reading MSR for reference and I’ve seen what you mean about lack of clarity. I’ve read many RPG rules, and I still found myself confused about some things. I’m not sure of how much from MSR will be applied to WtC:RPG, but if you don’t mind I’d like to know what issues confused you. But rest assured that while I won’t be using a lot of hard measurements, there will be sufficient comparisons regarding speeds, weight, damage, etc., to do eyeball conversions of the WtC heroes.

      1. Unfortunatly Margret Weis has changed forum software so all of my old posts about rules questions are gone. But going from memory. We expirence some confusion working out how Resources and Recovery worked. I also remember that buried in there somewhere is a one line rule about using shields or armour or something like that. I don’t remember where it is now but I remember noticing it on my third or fourth read through of the rules.

        In general I’d say look in the index, anything that has five seperate page references is probably not well explained.

      2. I was re-reading my copy of MHR after your announcement, and I’m glad to hear you’re going to be including “crunchier” ranks and measures. My group comes from a HERO and M and M background as opposed to Gurps but we were still used to a high level of detail and “what do you mean character A is as strong as character B” was something heard more than a few times during our game.

      3. Don’t get too excited; there is not going to be a lot of measuring going on. I am doing two things, though. First, I’m increasing the “granularity” of the system by adding multi-dice.

        “Multi-Dice: superhumans have access to multi-dice, two dice treated as one die when used as Attempt Dice and Effect Dice to create higher values. They are always indicated by + signs. Examples are D8+D6 and D12+D8. (And we suggest getting several dice of different colors so you can designate pairs as multi-dice without confusion.)”

        This means the top level for a power is D12+D12, rather than just D12 (which is now the peak of human ability). Superhuman Strength is a lot more nuanced than just Superhuman Strength D10 and Godlike Strength D12. I also intend to include descriptive comparisons with the powers; for example, D12+D8 is A-Class Strength, enough for the hero to pick up a bus and throw a military jeep. D12+10 is High A-Class Strength, enough to pick up a tank or punch through it’s armor. That kind of thing.

      4. With D12+D12 presumably being “Ultra Class”? I’m glad you’re assigning in-universe classifications along with the increased granularity, modeling a character like the Green Man would be difficult in any system but that will go a long way to helping. Looking forward to seeing it!

      1. Most definetly keep them. Having Milestones give each player something unique to aim for. And it does has an impact on decision making during scenes. When we where playing the Civil war event my character was a witch with a thing against machines, so naturlaly I took the milestone about destroying SHIELD hardware and followed through on hitting it several times.

      2. Good to hear. It’s something I can see might be confusing to players who are used to more traditional ways of getting XP, but it certainly looks like it would encourage roleplaying. I’ve been tracking MWP’s Firefly RPG teasers, which feature the latest Cortex Plus Action System, and they don’t seem to have it–but they haven’t even talked about experience yet.

  4. Are you familiar with the Brave New World system? Origins of heroes in Wearing The Cape are similar to that universe.

      1. The mechanics is similar to The Savage Worlds system. The history, which isn’t fully explained in the main source book, but in a supplement, is that there is extra-dimensional alien DNA in humans, and near death experience trigger the DNA to transcend the person into having super powers. I recommend it for reading source material, but feel that Savage Worlds (Necessary Evil) is a better game system.

      2. I may have to pick up the history sourcebook; I haven’t played a pencil-and-dice RPG in years, but I collect fascinating RPG books–I’ve got Legend of the Five Rings RPG (3rd Edition) several of its supplementary books just because the setting is awesome.

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