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Thread: Non-starfleet crew campaign set during the Typhon Pact /The Fall books - help wanted

  1. #1
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    Non-starfleet crew campaign set during the Typhon Pact /The Fall books - help wanted

    Hi all,

    I've been lurking here for a few years and I thought re-starting my Trek RPG (using the MWP Cortex System) was a good point to actively join the community. Please be aware this thread will contain spoilers for the Destiny, Typhon Pact, and The Fall series’ of books.

    My players seem to have an allergic reaction to Starfleet so I've ended up with a crew of misfits and mercs that have setup a rather successful mercenary group in the post dominion war era (I'm loosely using the Typhon Pact/The Fall line of books as backdrop).

    As this isn't a completely fresh campaign the players are fairly well setup (they own a shipyard and half a dozen ships) so here is our cast, some of the names are ????? as the players in question still haven’t got away from using their own name, once I’ve got a character name out of them I’ll update this thread;

    Kaidon - Male, Hallanian, Smuggler/group leader – One older and one younger brother, one younger sister. Older brother is a Magren (operator) in the Orion Syndicate, younger brother is an officer in the Federation Merchant Marine, sister is a Lieutenant Junior Grade in Starfleet – currently assigned as a combat medic with Hazard team 26 (USS Exeter, Ambassador class, Tri-border area)
    James – Male, Lorillian, Ex-Fleet Tactical officer - eugen (a la Bashir) and trying to hide it
    Nihla/4 of 7 - Female, Ocampa, former borg Drone liberated from the collective by starfleet during the early days of the Borg War but was left Mute by her experiences, since the Caelar
    Stallen – Male, Romulan, disillusioned with the empire and failed to hide within the Federation (he was pretending to be a Vulcan, badly)
    Unpronouncable, refered to as Tripod alot of the time – Male(?), Hydran, mildly psychotic engineer
    Vex – Male, Takaran - professional merc
    Amarn – Male (?), Andorian - ex-federation marine, now professional thug
    Allied PC
    ????? – Male, Klingon midget (players description not mine), independent bounty hunter, owns a Raptor Class, trying to hide his past as he is a member of the house of Duras – the player in question works variable shifts so this character really doesn’t appear often, he is an ally of the group rather than part of it.

    As some of you may have noticed from the cast list I’ve included a few details from other Trek sources, mainly the ISC, Lyrians, Hydrans, and Mirak from the SFB/Starfleet Command Universe. I’ve brought the Lyrians and ISC in on the side of the Typhon Pact, and the Hydrans and Mirak on the side of the Khitomer Alliance.

    As I am picking up and old campaign the players are in the thick of it already. They are currently working within the Imperial Romulan State (IRS) as hired guns in the time period immediately around the formation of the Typhon Pact. They have just finished a mission where they were helping clear several Kelbonite mining colonies along the IRS/ISC border of ‘pirates’ – realy ISC and Gorn forces – and are now heading back to their operational base on Talvath.

    I’ll keep posting here as interesting things happen, if anyone has an idea post it here and I’ll put it in the melting pot. Any ideas I do use will get a full session write-up as they get used.

    Regards

    Matt
    Last edited by Matt_chinn; 01-05-2015 at 09:23 AM. Reason: updated character names

  2. #2
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    How does that "Every die but D20 plus one we made up" system work? I have the Serenity game book, but I've never played it. I understand the Cortex system is based on that.

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    Hi Owen,

    Yes the Cortex system is indeed the system originally used in the Serenity game, just a little more refined (it adds alot of extra rules in like those for psionics) though interestingly our group still prefers the Serentiy style talent system over the Cortex Systems dice driven talents.


    It works very well as long as everyone has a set of D4, D6, D8, D10, D12 - that way there are enough dice of each type around the table to deal with pretty much any roll called for. The system is great for GM's as NPC's can be thrown together in a few seconds if you get caught out, and we've all had a party or two that goes off of the planned route every so often. The combat system in Cortex is the bit that won me over though, as hitting better actually translates to a more damaging shot.

    From a Trek-Cortex perspective the system has a few nice features that make it quite good for the trek setting. The first is the built-in personal-vehicle-starship scaling system, being able to teach a new player how to do combat once and having it cover all three scales is brilliant (we have 2 essentually new players in our current group, and they have taken to this sysem alot faster than FFG's Dark Heresy). The second is related to the damage scale, between the three types of damage a weapon can deal (Stun, Basic, and Wound), and the three different scales the damage can be dealt at (personal, vehicle, starship), variable setting weapons can be handled very easily - and as the most common weapon in trek is the humble phaser there are alot of variable setting to go around.

    Without going into a full review the best thing I can suggest is giving the system a go, either for the Serenity setting or for pretty much an other Sci-Fi you care to think of - if you can find it there was a Battle Star Galactica version of Cortex as well.

    if you have any more questions let me know, and if there is enough interest I might write up the tweaks we've made to Cortex to make it "trek" and post it up here as well.

    Regards

    Matt

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt_chinn View Post
    Hi Owen,

    Yes the Cortex system is indeed the system originally used in the Serenity game, just a little more refined (it adds alot of extra rules in like those for psionics) though interestingly our group still prefers the Serentiy style talent system over the Cortex Systems dice driven talents.


    It works very well as long as everyone has a set of D4, D6, D8, D10, D12 - that way there are enough dice of each type around the table to deal with pretty much any roll called for. The system is great for GM's as NPC's can be thrown together in a few seconds if you get caught out, and we've all had a party or two that goes off of the planned route every so often. The combat system in Cortex is the bit that won me over though, as hitting better actually translates to a more damaging shot.

    From a Trek-Cortex perspective the system has a few nice features that make it quite good for the trek setting. The first is the built-in personal-vehicle-starship scaling system, being able to teach a new player how to do combat once and having it cover all three scales is brilliant (we have 2 essentually new players in our current group, and they have taken to this sysem alot faster than FFG's Dark Heresy). The second is related to the damage scale, between the three types of damage a weapon can deal (Stun, Basic, and Wound), and the three different scales the damage can be dealt at (personal, vehicle, starship), variable setting weapons can be handled very easily - and as the most common weapon in trek is the humble phaser there are alot of variable setting to go around.

    Without going into a full review the best thing I can suggest is giving the system a go, either for the Serenity setting or for pretty much an other Sci-Fi you care to think of - if you can find it there was a Battle Star Galactica version of Cortex as well.

    if you have any more questions let me know, and if there is enough interest I might write up the tweaks we've made to Cortex to make it "trek" and post it up here as well.

    Regards

    Matt
    So, I hear they seem to have got rid of the D2, which was pretty cheesy to begin with. At least it's a system that was designed from the ground up for a science fiction setting, unlike trying to stuff SF into a fantasy system like D20, as they did with CODA. And giving the free-wheeling nature of the original setting, I'm guessing it would have lots of options for your Rough Riders.

  5. #5
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    There are plenty of character options in Cortex, almost too many.

    The Stats, Derived Stats, Skills, Assets, and Complications, give such a wide range of choice that I've not had any problem recreating all of the Trek races that I have needed so far.

    Regards

    Matt

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    Before Cortex came out, I adapted the Serenity system for a D&D style fantasy campaign. It worked great. No trouble at all building a crazy variety of player characters: humans, magicians, elves, halflings, giants, faeries, and a blind samurai cat-man. Yeah, it's a very flexible system.
    + &lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;<

    Blessed be the Lord my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight. Psalm 144:1

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    Hi Sarge,

    Yeh there seems to be little that the Serenity/Cortex system can't be adapted to.

    Any thoughts on missions, fun NPC's, or anything really, for my campaign would be greatly appreciated (from anyone )

    Regards

    Matt

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    Ok,

    So the campaign restarts tonight, at the moment I'm planning on having them start on the way back to there base on Talvath only to find that the system has been blockaded. Hopefully this should give them the opportunity to prove their worth to the IRS by finding a way through the blockade and helping lift it.

    Any other suggestions would be welcomed.

    Regards

    Matt

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    Have you had any ship combat? How are you handling shields as the serenity uiniverse doesn't use them.
    Duct tape is like The Force. It has a light side, a dark side, and it holds the universe together.

    - Carl Zwanzig


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    Hi IceGiant,

    Shields of all sizes (along with forcefields) were quite easy to work into Serenity.

    For shields I simply use them as another layer of armour that looses a point of protection for every hit they take, representing the slow wearing down of the shields that we see on the show.

    Forcefields tend to be used more as physical barriers so I give them a damage threshold that needs met by either a single shot, or by a group of characters intentionally cooridnating single shots from multiple sources.

    As for space combat, keeping it narrative as much as possible helps alot, but we managed to do a full scale fleet battle with 15+ ships involved with not real issues.

    Regards

    Matt

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    I'd actually did racial templates and statted up nearly all of the Trek ships for Cortex back on the old Cortex System RPG boards... need to see if I've got those lying around someplace...
    chris "mac" mccarver
    world's angriest creative mind

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mac417 View Post
    I'd actually did racial templates and statted up nearly all of the Trek ships for Cortex back on the old Cortex System RPG boards... need to see if I've got those lying around someplace...
    Hi Mac,

    If you can find them they would be really handy, at the moment my NPC stat line are a little basic to say the least.

    Regards

    Matt

  13. #13
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    Unfortunately, I may have to hack those together again from scratch... I posted those to the Cortex System RPG boards and even the Internet Wayback Machine failed me in terms of getting archived copies.
    chris "mac" mccarver
    world's angriest creative mind

  14. #14
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    First... Welcome to the forums Matt

    Second... I have not heard of any Cortex variant without the D2. But it is easy to roll, just having the lower half of any dice meaning 1 and the upper half meaning 2, so it is no different to all those system having a D3. It gives a smooth step progression from 0 to D12. D14, D16 and D18 would have been "weird dices" Cortex is a bit weird at first when increasing "die steps", so decreasing a D8 3 steps is a D2.

    But while they share name, producer, and dice mechanics, Cortex Classic (Serenity RPG among others) and Cortex+ (Leverage, Smallville, Marvel, Firefly) is two very different systems. It can lead to some very weird discussions, or awkward game sessions, if not specifying which one means

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    Hi Cpt Lundgren, thanks for the welcome

    The version of Cortex we are using is Cortex Classic, as presented in the Big Damn Heroes Handbook for Serenity RPG (so sort of half way between Cortex Classic and Cortex+). We still use the minor/major mechanic for Assets and Complications so its more Classic than Cortex+.

    On looking at the book again you are correct, the D2 is still present - it just gets so little use in our group I'd forgotten its in the game :O . I tend to use a coin for D2 rolls, but high/low or Odd/Even on a D-Something works just as well.

    Regards

    Matt

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