As part of the Cortex Prime kickstarter going on now, I got access to an early draft of the System Reference Document that is part of what is getting produced. Now while it is both only a draft and a System Reference Document instead of the full base RPG rule set there are enough things that I did not fully understand, but there are also a couple of things that I found really fascinating.
I will start off by mentioning that my only experience with any of the iterations of the Cortex System is from the Serenity game many years ago which is covered in the SRD as a Cortex Classic game. I only played a session in a session or two of it, and it seemed like it was okay, but we only barely kicked the tires of it so to speak.
For this iteration it looks like it will be a dice pool game where the players roll at least two dice (with various options of adding extra dice to their pool) and adding the two highest values together (or more if you purchase more dice to add to the pool). This is compared to a difficulty that is randomly generated by the Game Moderator rolling two dice with the similar options to add more dice to the pool and to the dice that are picked to add together. All in all, this sounds interesting, but I am not sure how I feel it will work during play, but I am willing to give it a try.
Where I really had a difficult time understanding what was being talked about is the various rules about attributes with all of the different Variant Rule options that were presented. I think before I really understand this, I will have to see how each of the options is presented in a rule set which will hopefully happen in either the Core book or one of the various Spotlight Volumes that are getting produced as stretch goals.
Another thing that caught my eye was the Variant Rule for Plot Points called The Doom Pool. This was introduced to the Cortex System for the Marvel game that is out of print. This caught my eye because I liked the idea of a concrete indicator of how the stakes change as the players interact with the scenario. Right now, I am trying to come up with a way that I can appropriate this concept for my current preferred system Savage Worlds.
The last thing that caught my eye as something that I would like to make use of in the future is the Variant Rule for Pathways. This is similar to the setting/city creation rules found in a number of different Fate System games like Dresden File Accelerated Edition and Fate Core. This is something that you would only do at the beginning of a campaign, and it would certainly distribute the work of coming up with the world while insuring that the characters have relationships with each other and various things in the setting.
As a final note, I was definitely left with the impression after reading this that the game was much more of a narrative system than what I am used to. Almost like it was somewhere between the 7th Sea Second Edition game and Fate Core. I am not sure that it will end up only in that space, but it is where it seems to be now and something to be aware of if that concerns you.
Anyway, I am very excited to see what this project will end up producing and what stretch goals we get even though it is not scheduled for delivery until next year.