Cortex Prime Mechanics
Player Characters

The prime sets in Tales of Cascade City are Virtues and Attributes.

The Five Virtues are based on the Confucian virtues expected of knights-errant in wuxia stories, and on the superheroic values from the Cortex Prime SRD.

They are:
  • Charity - Actions motivated by compassion and generosity toward strangers.
  • Loyalty - Actions motivated by love and/or obligation to specific people or institutions.
  • Recourse - Actions motivated by retaliation for injustices (or insults) committed by another.
  • Glory - Actions motivated by the desire for recognition, or for great accomplishments even if unknown.
  • Power - Actions motivated by the desire for wealth, authority, or self-improvement.

Each Virtue has a Statement associated with it that refines the character's relationship with that Virtue.

Whenever a character attempts something especially difficult or dangerous that is perfectly aligned with the Statement of the Virtue they are rolling, they may double their Virtue for that roll or add a d8 to their pool, player's choice. This championing their Virtue. Make a record of the number of times you champion each Virtue.

Whenever a character attempts an action that directly contradicts any of their Statements (regardless of the Virtue they are rolling), they add a d4 to their roll. This is called challenging their Virtue. Make a record of the number of times you challenge each Virtue.

Championing and Challenging Virtues leads to characters possibly changing their Statements, changing the ratings of their Virtues... and contributing to character advancement somehow.

The Attributes are the very traditional RPG way we describe a character's physical and mental capabilities.

They are:
  • Physique - physical strength and endurance
  • Agility - reflexes and motor control
  • Intellect - logic, memory, and perception
  • Self-Discipline - self control, resistance to outside influences, concentration
  • Conviction - self-confidence, charisma, and motivating willpower

Attributes are boring. Moving on.

The main optional set is Distinctions. Distinctions function similarly to Distinctions in other Cortex games except that they also include much of a character's talents-- they double as Skills/Specialties, and players may choose up to two Distinctions for each dice pool without spending a Plot Point.

(So the ideal dice pool is Value + Attribute + Distinction 1 + Distinction 2)

Distinctions also double as Power Sets, even though most Distinctions will not have any powers. Each Distinction has its own SFX and Limits.

Unlike other heroic Cortex games, Powers are rarely rolled in die pools. Power ratings are normally used to modify the effects of their associated SFX, and to give guidelines on what characters with that power are capable of.

The final optional "sets" are Weapon and Momentum.

Weapon functions almost exactly like Cortex Prime, except that a Weapon's rating also inflicts extra Stress: if the attack deals greater Stress than the rating, the opponent takes the weapon's rating as a second hit. If the attack deals less than the weapon's rating, step it up by one.

Finally, there's Momentum. Momentum is a temporary resource used only in combat, that allows characters to enhance their attacks and defenses, and to perform various special maneuvers in combat. Generally, a Move has a minimum die rating before it can be performed. Special Moves step Momentum back, while Super Moves consume it entirely.

When a player rolls an offensive action or a reaction against an offensive action in combat, they keep a second Effect Die for Momentum. Definition of "offensive action" shall be discussed at the table. Most Complications should qualify, and some Advantages.

On a successful attack or offensive combat maneuver:
  • If the Momentum Effect Die is bigger than Momentum, replace Momentum.
  • If the Momentum Effect Die is smaller than Momentum, step Momentum up.

On a failed attack (or a successful reaction) if the Momentum Effect Die is bigger than Momentum, step Momentum up.
FaerieGodfather Games

Stress works more like Fate Stress: it's still measured in dice, but if you take a d10 Stress and then a d6 Stress, you mark off the d10 and the d6 instead of stepping up to d12.

And you get more. You start with one of each die-- d4, d6, d8, d10, and d12-- in Physical and Mental Stress.

You get an extra die of Physical Stress of each size up to your rating in Physique and the Regeneration Power, if you have it.

You get an extra die of Mental Stress of each size up to your rating in Conviction and the Rejuvenation Power, if you have it.

Opponents can use your highest Stress die in opposed die pools against you.

Taken Out works normally, but I'm still working on Trauma.

Recovery Actions are tricky.

Basically... choose a Virtue that motivates your character to get back into the action right now.

If you're recovering Physical Stress, roll Physique. If you're recovering Mental Stress, roll Conviction.

Describe an action that shows how your character is speeding their own recovery-- physical training and meditation are always good choices-- and then pick two Distinctions that apply to it. This is a rare case where you get to roll Powers: Regeneration for Physical Stress, or Rejuvenation for Mental Stress.

Roll against your Stress + a difficulty set by the GM based on circumstances.

If you succeed:
  • Any dice less than your Effect Die go away.
  • Any dice equal to or greater than your Effect die get stepped back.

If you fail, any dice equal to or less than your Effect Die get stepped back.
FaerieGodfather Games

Sorcery - Characters who can cast spells must designate one of their Distinctions as a Magician Distinction and select the Sorcery power first. Sorcery actually gets rolled (with Self-Discipline and the Magician Distinction) to create magical Assets. There will be rules here.

Psychic - Psychic powers usually get attached to a Psychic Distinction. Psychic Distinctions cannot be Magician Distinctions, but there's nothing stopping people from having both.

Magic and Psionics are learned skills in Cascade City; anyone determined enough to develop them will be able to. As a general rule, the more powerful a martial artist is, the more magical they are, and the most powerful a magician is, the better a fighter they are-- but people who truly excel in both fields are very rare.

Powers are basically SFX. Most of them are modifiers for Magician Distinctions and Sorcery, reducing control costs for spells of that type. Die Ratings are much less powerful than in the SRD, usually, but d6 is substantially greater than human ability.

Blast - is always applied to a Sorcerous Distinction, and functions as a Special/Super Move. The die rating is the weapon rating of your blast when you use it in combat (which requires Momentum).

Durability - Double Physique when rolling to resist physical damage, including when you use it to "defend" against physical attacks whose rating does not exceed your Durability. If you fail, any Stress that is equal to or less than your Durability rating gets stepped back.

Movement - includes Leaping, Speed, and climbing vertical surfaces. Almost everyone has this.

Flight - slower than Movement.

Teleport - much shorter range, but doubles as a specialization for teleportation magic.

Psychic Powers must be attached to Psychic Distinctions. Both species of Martian, Belters, dragons, and many yokai are telepathic.

Telekinetic Control includes Telekinetic Blast, using the Blast rules above.

Precognition is separate from Senses, but includes the Spider-Sense SFX.

Reflexes doubles Agility in reactions and factors into initiative.

Resistance functions as Durability, but includes the Immunity SFX.

Senses is a common power in both standard and Psychic Distinctions. It doubles Intellect when trying to find or detect something, and influences initiative.

Regeneration (Stamina) doubles Physique when rolling for Physical Recovery. If the Effect Die is less than the Regeneration rating, replace it with Regeneration; otherwise, step it up by one.

Strength doubles Physique when rolling to do anything involving strength. If you attack with Physique, your attack against a Weapon Rating equal to your Strength, or steps up your weapon rating.

Crowdfighting adds its rating to any action/reaction in combat when outnumbered, and includes the Area Effect SFX, which is hard to acquire otherwise.
FaerieGodfather Games

Moves are how you use that juicy Momentum die. They add special effects to your attacks at the expense of stepping back or spending your Momentum.

Without using a Move or Power, you can step back Momentum for the following effects:
  • Add it to your die pool.
  • Keep an extra die of equal or lesser size for Effort.
  • Keep an extra Effect Die of equal or lesser size.

The Momentum Die is stepped back after the action resolves, so if your Momentum is a d8, you can add a d8 to your pool, keep an extra d8 for Effort, and keep an additional d8 Effect die, effectively spending it. You can't step it back further than d0.

A Move is a pre-packaged set of Power and SFX on a single action with a minimum Momentum Rating. If your Momentum meets the minimum, you can use a Special Move by stepping Momentum back, or a Super Move by spending it. Special Moves have a minimum Momentum of at least d6, and Super Moves have a minimum Momentum of at least d10.

Common SFX for Moves are:

Afflict - add a second effect die that inflicts a specific Complication, chosen at the time of attack (based on Move desc)
Area Attack - usually restricted to Super Moves
Momentum - include Momentum in the attack without stepping it back

Gonna need to add a lot to this list. A Special Move can have 1 Element for d4 Momentum, and each additional Element steps the die up to a maximum of 5 Elements at d12.

Drawbacks are negative Elements, that allow you to step back the Momentum requirement.
FaerieGodfather Games

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