In a recent post, I alluded to working on something really cool that I couldn’t really talk about yet. Well I now can… As long as I don’t go into details.
Earlier this year, Margaret Weis Production put a call out for submissions of hacks of the rules appearing in the Smallville and Leverage RPG. Called The Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide, it brings together many game designers contributing to the sheer fun of hacking a game engine that just begs for being tweaked with.
The Old School Job
As I mentioned on Twitter a few weeks ago, my submission for 2 such hacks were accepted. What started as a “Hey wouldn’t it be neat if…” comment dropped by Cam Banks (Leverage RPG co-designer) and Dave: The Game turned into a fully fledged obsession and 8 000 words of playtested material.
I wrote a series of Leverage variants aimed at recreating the classic feeling of dungeon crawling adventures. The first hack, dubbed “the Old School Job” introduces rules for creating fantasy characters and mechanics to recreate my favourite elements of old school gaming (ignoring what I never cared for). The second hack, provisionally called the Dungeon Fixer’s Guide, is basically a Gygaxian dungeon fantasy primer presented through the lens of the Cortex Plus system.
I also presented two more submissions. One is a combat system that embraces the “we each get to fight” aspect that Leverage didn’t do so well (or as entertainingly). Finally, taking a page from the excellent “job generator” from the Leverage book, I wrote a series of tables that generate, within minutes, a fully fledged dungeon quest. I’m VERY proud of that last one.
I won’t go into more details but I can tell you that everyone who played it so far liked it. My players want to start a campaign with the system, how’s that for feedback?
What I can do, is deliver an actual play report of last Sunday’s game, it will showcase what the hack can handle.
Var: Outcast ranger-acrobat possessing the power of befriending beasts.
Legodrtz Lolthklorian: Lofty Neutral grey elf (i.e. 1/2 Dark + 1/2 High) Arcane Sniper-Archer
Elvis the Swift: Chaotic Goo swashbuckling revivalist of the Church of the Holy Tentacle
Tue: Chill Neutral Zen monk of the Boot to the Head school
Valoooovia: Chaotic Horny Amazon psychic sex-mage
(Yes, you read that right)
The game started with establishing a bit of the PC’s past. Each player set a short scene that lead to a challenge. Players then attributed a distinction to the character based on what occured.
Tue: Under the tender heckling of a ranting Timothy Leary-like sensei, our Zen Warrior-Monk attempted his final challenge: walking on a tightrope over burning embers whose heat was blown up from below the firepit. While he did fall, he managed to walk the rest of the way on the coals, scarring his feet but leaving him otherwise unhurt. That earned him the “Cold Feet” distinction from the other players.
Valoooovia: At a yearly ceremony where the sex-sorceresses of the jungle temples choose mates from the surrounding tribes, Valoovia decided to take upon herself to console that one male who never, ever got picked, year in, year out. She was “successful” in that he volunteered to become one of the temple’s eunuch… if and only if Valoooovia did it. (Table cringe) That gave her the “Ball Breaker” distinction.
Legodrzt: Having once again angered his step-mom, the High-Queen-Spider-priestess of the Dark Elves, our trademark-dodging satire elf found himself fleeing the underworld. Chased by a bunch of really cool looking androgenic guards, he found himself at the edge of a narrow cliff. He failed jumping to the other side, falling to his apparent death. He awoke, unhurt, on a stone funeral bed, surrounded with valuable offerings. He grabbed some and went his way. That earned him the “Leap before you Look” distinction.
Var: Tracking a sleek, legendary panther, the ranger-acrobat found himself face-to-snout with it and only managed to trade blows (getting a bit bloodied) before it fled. While he lost it tracking it down a ravine, he found a funeral site, with a recently dead greyish elf, surrounded with valuables. He swiped some and went his way, quarry-less. That earned him the “Wounded Pride” distinction.
Elvis: Our neophyte priest summoned an aspect of the Great Old Tentacular One during a revival. As things went awry, and the enraptured cries of bliss of the newly converted turned to the screams and the sounds of crushed bones, he tried to slowly creep away. Stopped by a distracted guard, he used his silver tongue and a hefty serving of Chaotic Goo to slip out of that thorny situation, pocketing the guard’s pouch at the same time. That earned him the “Trust me, I know what I’m doing” distinction.
The adventure started in the grand city of Monte-Cookus, a sprawling megapolis so large that it’s almanac is almost 3 inches thick and weighs 6 lbs. Our protagonists got summoned by an old adventuring friends, who, following an unfortunate treasure distribution session, found himself wearing a cursed ring of lust. Never one to shy away from an opportunity, he rented-out one of Monte-Cookus’ innumerable “pay-by-the-month” temples and established “The Church of Ste-Luscious” (AKA the Holy House of Flesh).
He says it’s a tax write-off
He explained that he recently got chased out of the temple by some strange zombies whose skull and spine seemed to have been ripped out from the back. He escaped before getting hurt but he was ashamed to confess that he left a group of influent wives to fend for themselves within the confines of the temple. He asked the party to clear the temple of this threat.
Elvis: And what is to be our reward?
Pimp-Priest: Hmmmm, well there’s a sizable chunk of my monthly tithes in there, if you bring back my already late monthly rent you can keep the rest.
And so the adventure started…
In part 2: A Dark Heart, A sleazy real estate agent, spirit whores and tentacles with abandonment issues.