Welcome to the first episode of series 43, everyone! This series we welcome Cam Banks to discuss his game, Cortex Prime, an RPG Toolkit for creating ANY game you want! We talk game design, working with a “generic” game, and start making our characters!
Welcome to the first episode of series 43, everyone! This series we welcome Cam Banks to discuss his game, Cortex Prime, an RPG Toolkit for creating ANY game you want! We talk game design, working with a “generic” game, and start making our characters!
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Cam Banks (Designer) @boymonster
Character Creation Cast:
Amelia Antrim 0:01
Welcome to series 43. Everyone, sincere apologies for how late this is coming out. I had some surgery this week, and Ryan is in the middle of selling his house and packing up to move into a different house. We always try our best to get everything out on time. But sometimes life is just life. So on that note, I want to be upfront. Please note that it may continue this way just for a couple of weeks, as Ryan navigates his home slash sayla slash move. And I have surgery on my other hand later this month. So, you know, we're gonna do our best obviously, to get everything out to you on time, but sometimes, you know, it is what it is. We we take making the show really seriously. Just making it part not obviously, like, you know, anything we do on the show, but making it we we are also just people, you know, with houses and wrists. So your patience is appreciated announcements. It is officially international podcast month. Ryan usually has a ton of stuff to say about that. And about all of the great shows that will be out this month, but he did not give me any specific notes about it. So, you know, you get what you get, which is unfortunately, life kept me too frazzled to really participate. But I know that there are a ton of amazing folks who worked on projects for this month, you can go to international podcast month.com or at pod month on Twitter to learn more. There pinch tweet right now has links to all the different places that you can find episodes, we can put a link to that in the show notes and to the website. So you can find everything there. There's not a lot else to tell you right now. But you can hear more of my lovely voice after the episode when I do our call to action. For now, please enjoy this episode and this series, which I think might have reached the ultimate Ryan and Emilia energy. So enjoy.
Ryan Boelter 2:52
Welcome to Character Creation Cast a show where we discuss and create characters The best part of role playing games with guests using their favorite systems. I one of your hosts Ryan and this episode my co host Amelia and I are excited to welcome cam banks designer of the game we are covering this series cortex prime, a modular RPG toolkit
Amelia Antrim 3:14
cam Welcome to Character Creation Cast. We are very excited that you are joining us today. I'm really excited to be here. Thanks for inviting me on. Do you want to tell us a little bit more about yourself about the projects that you're working on and where people can find you online?
Cam Banks 3:29
Yep, I am a New Zealand game designer. I did live in the United States for 22 years so I have stuck myself with the accent or a hybrid of New Zealand and American so no one no one believes me anymore where I'm from. I just sound like this so you can find me online on twitter at boy monster and on Instagram at rusty sell sold. I'm also on numerous discord and other websites showing up to annoy people about cortex prime whenever I can. My current project where we're developing at fandom tabletop is Tales of xillia. The dragon prints role playing game. We're all very excited by upcoming projects include the legends of grayskull Masters of the Universe role playing game and other things we can't talk about.
Amelia Antrim 4:18
secret. Oh, that sounds awesome. That's a lot of cool stuff as it is though. Yeah. It keeps me busy.
Ryan Boelter 4:25
That's Yeah. Yeah,
Amelia Antrim 4:27
it's like not a small list of things to work.
Ryan Boelter 4:31
Well, let's go ahead and get into this. And we'll start by discussing what this game is all about
Marie-Claire Segues 4:36
what's in a game?
Amelia Antrim 4:37
Usually we ask what sort of setting the game uses obviously cortex prime does not use a setting or at least not start out with one. So it's a bit different. Can you give us the elevator pitch for this game?
Cam Banks 4:53
Yeah, I spoke and I had to think about this when I was working on it. So the what I came up with was that it's a true multi genre modular role playing toolkit system, which sounds like a lot of words for big box of Lego that you can throw together and make RPGs out of. That's awesome.
Ryan Boelter 5:15
Well, what sort of tools then we do, we need to actually play this game or or create characters in this game?
Cam Banks 5:21
Well, to play the game, you're going to need a lot of dice so many days, all the dice, you can take any dice you have, and throw the D 20s. out because we don't use those. Oh, wonderful.
Amelia Antrim 5:33
So most of the dice actually rolling
Ryan Boelter 5:37
us have had their time that is true.
Cam Banks 5:40
Over Now, many other games use the 20s. And we love them and that is fine. You also will need some plot point tokens. These can be coins or beads, or have often use poker chips, other kinds of things. These are to track your plot points, which are like beanies, or fate points, or anything else you've probably seen in other games, and highly recommend something to keep notes on. For sure, we actually add fandom tabletop had been trying to develop these games as simultaneous launch digital and analog. So everything that we come out with, it's gonna have online tools, as well as the standard physical books that you'll find in stores and other places.
Ryan Boelter 6:27
Oh, very nice.
Amelia Antrim 6:28
That's really nice. Because I know increasingly, I shouldn't say increasingly, almost entirely in the last four ish years, I have only played online other than at conventions. And then obviously, in the last two years, only online, nobody goes anywhere anymore. And it's frustrating, because there are a lot of games that are very specifically like you have to be here in person to do all of this passing of the things and you know, like, Well, I think that those are really cool mechanics. Um, most of my friends live far away. So even if the COVID was not a thing, those are people that I only see, like twice a year. So I want the ability to be able to play online and do those things with people that I love that are far away.
Ryan Boelter 7:13
Yeah, it's nice that you make it easier. When I got the book, the digital version, I was surprised to see the the web page interface for the book. And I thought it was fantastic. To be able to have all the hyperlinks and everything there and, and to be able to navigate the book through through a web interface, which I don't think I've seen before. Outside of maybe like role 20 with
Amelia Antrim 7:40
MDM for burn bright. But even that isn't like the same kind of searchable, right thing that this is what the downloads like wait in the in the book and everything too, which is really nice.
Ryan Boelter 7:51
Yeah, so that was really cool to see.
Cam Banks 7:53
Yeah, there's also our lucky people who want to, if they have only limited online ability, like if they can't be constantly looking for things on their phone or a laptop with a Wi Fi that we can you can download the PDF from that site to if you got the phone. So there's multiple ways for you to access it. That was a huge part of what we wanted to do going into it before launch. You know, we did not want anyone to have a problem in directing with the game.
Amelia Antrim 8:23
Yeah, I do think that that's nice. But it's both online. And like in a PDF, though, because I know there are times where like trying to pull a PDF up on my phone, and like sit there and scroll through it. And everything is really difficult, whereas a web page is almost easier sometimes. So it was nice to have both.
Ryan Boelter 8:39
Amelia Antrim 8:42
So cortex prime is a game, but it's also a toolkit for making your own game. We have noticed in a lot of cases that games despite being quote unquote, generic, they're still designed to tell certain kinds of stories or they work best on certain kinds of stories. Do you think that there are certain stories that cortex prime is best at?
Cam Banks 9:09
Yeah, I do. Actually. I think although you can bring a lot of tropes from various kinds of genres to it. One of the things that does tend to happen with cortex prime games is that they are very, I would say the word cinematic is often used a lot. But I think that inspired by media is a better way of doing it so they resemble or they kind of feel like you're on a TV show. You're you're part of a movies to style universe, or even visual media like comic books with which we do with Marvel horik. The emphasis is always on capturing that feeling of being an immediate franchise of some kind, right? So a lot of the words and terms we use, like scenes and beats and so forth have their origin in film. on TV, other kinds of media. I mean, you can have pretty gritty, dry, dark sorts of games with cortex prime as well as light hearted, you know, humorous ones. But they're all going to feel a little bit more like, we're adapting media as opposed to being like a, you know, like a war game with miniatures and things, which I think is.
Amelia Antrim 10:22
Yeah, I mean, I did notice I'm looking at, like, what the system has been used for in the past, and like older versions, and then of course, even the things that you mentioned, that they are all, like movie and TV property adaptations for a lot of a lot of the games that are kind of using this system as the base. So yeah, it works pretty well
Cam Banks 10:44
for that tends to be what licensed is out there. Honestly, if you go out to seek a license, that's going to be for a movie or TV or books or something. So yeah, that's that absolutely fit into the creation, according to the prime as it is now. So it does show a lot of the signs of its efforts earlier editions.
Ryan Boelter 11:04
Absolutely. So what makes cortex prime unique from other generic games or toolkits that are kind of out there?
Cam Banks 11:14
I think the big difference is that cortex prime has scaffolding in place to remove almost every kind of stat or trade or, or even rules procedure and replace it with something else. while still remaining, at the very heart of it. A dice pool game with DICE has traits. So there's a lot of that you can tell it to cortex prime, because of the way that we do things with plot points, and so on. But you can mod so much more in this game than you can another circle generic games, because those at least have, you know, much more detailed or robust, hard to it, where I'm, I'm of the sort of mindset that I can throw a lot of that out there. Yeah, and that that makes things a little bit different. You only had to look back at certain adaptations of things before to see that. In some cases, you couldn't really play a character from one cortex game in another cortex game, even though it may feel similar because all the rules were used in different ways. So yeah, I think that's, that makes it a lot different. It really is much more of a toolkit than it is a let's take both of these roles and make it work for this thing, which I think is even like the the ogtr, the 20, and so on. It always felt like d&d, even though you're playing in farscape, or whatever. Alright,
Amelia Antrim 12:41
that is a pet peeves that I have. I could talk about that for like hours and hours and hours. Not everything fits into d&d. Okay. That's true. I'm gonna talk a little bit about the history of this game, because this is this isn't cortex cortex prime. There already was a cortex and the cortex plus, right? Can you tell us a little bit about like, where cortex prime came from and how it came to be what it is now?
Cam Banks 13:09
Well, I think that we can call everything cortex to make it easier. But cortex prime while I mean, that's why I've had to try to get this down to the point where people don't have to use multiple different terms for things because it gets confusing. cortex prime is the is the current state of, of the system and the toolkit, and that's the book and everything else. But if you build something from it, it will be a cortex game, if that makes sense. So, yeah, cortex came originally from Well, it predates even the thing that it came from. There was a game called sovereign stone that was put out by sovereign press back in the 90s. And it was a fantasy world that was created by Tracy Hickman Margaret Weis, Larry Elmore, Don Perrin, and a few other folks, Lester Smith, they made a world that was fantasy and it was different. And then they used a system that had never been used before, which was all of the stats were rated with dice from D. fours, or even the twos all the way up to the 20th even in that case, and that was that was that kind of worked, okay, but one of the 20 system came along, they converted the whole thing over to D and D, and it became its own thing. It's just another deity sitting. In the meantime, Margaret's company decided that it wanted to license serenity, the movie, not Firefly, the TV show. Very complicated difference in licensing.
Ryan Boelter 14:40
Cam Banks 14:41
So certainly the movie was licensed and that was for that. During the chain was created this the cortex rules for that they didn't call them cortex at the time because that was just it was just the Ross cluster ad. And a lot of us worked on that. I was at the time mostly focused on dragon lands. While we're At my growth company but soon after we started branching out to other things. We did Battlestar Galactica, we got supernatural and I had more of a role in those as things went on until I was lead developer and lead designer for microwires Productions on the games. I think at the point where we acquired small villain Marvel Heroes, no small villain leverage, I decided that I wanted to change it from being cortex, which was more or less like it is, in this randian Battlestar Galactica very much kind of a, sort of like a cinematic unisystem savage worlds kind of standard game with, you know, the way it played, to just break it down into little bits and rebuild it for both those properties. So for Smallville, it was radically different it had relationships and values, as stat was very strange and dramatic and extremely focused on your playgroup being potentially not only the heroes, but also the villains, and you'll all work together and so on, because it was based on CW TV show. And then for leverage, I did the same thing, but it rebuilt it up for a heist kind of genre, the TV show leverage, john Rogers, and those folks at liquid entertainment really love that show. And that that sort of feel of of a kind of quick, high action, very simple kind of game, and but it still used cortex for that, too. So that version of the system that I was using was called cortex plus, where a lot of the things from cortex, the previous one, the classic cortex, we tossed out, we didn't use D tos anymore. We didn't add up all the dyes, we just added the two dice. And there are other things that came out of it that were that you see now in cortex prime that didn't actually exist part of it. So yeah, and then, after that few more games Bible hook was my my dream job I loved working on that property was amazing for the year and a half that we were publishing. And then, there was a bit of a period of time when it was Firefly, we finally got the license for Firefly, but not the license for sereni. So again, and that was the last game that was published by my otherwise productions. After that, Margaret, licensed out the whole shebang, all the rules, everything else to me minus any license property to create cortex prime and kick started back in 2017. I took forever to put it out. And in the meantime, I moved back to New Zealand. So it was even more interesting. When fandom bought all of cortex from Margaret. And they brought me on board as a creative director. And then we put the game out last year, and it was only uphill from there. wonderful, amazing. Track six success for for cortex.
Ryan Boelter 17:55
Very nice. So what was the jump from all those different types of genres and different gameplay styles, but using the same base system, kind of the inspiration to go into cortex prime as like a full toolkit?
Cam Banks 18:10
Yeah, a few people. Even back in the classic days, we put out a book called the cortex, prime rule system or something was more or less the the system as it was at the time with the license tripped out, and some conversations about how to make your own characters and things but it was still, you still use all the same steps, he still had the same skill list and so on wasn't likely had done much more than just take the license off it. People were asking in the hacking and modding the cortex plus games for their own stuff, you know, they were running Glee with Smallville, for example, they were doing RC comics from our Yeah, that that was a huge weird thing for me to see that being one of that convention. So but but that was the kind of inspiration for them, we put out a book of the cortex plus Hacker's Guide, which was just full of little hacks that people come up with and many settings and things. And when I got the license to do something with the rules after that, I thought I really want to bring everything together, not just all the plus games and all the rules and things but also even the classic stuff and kind of create this Uber version of it. And that's why I call it a cortex prime. It's the prime version of all of the stuff we've done and in the process had to iron out a lot of wrinkles and get a lot of help from my amazing here to Amanda Valentine to make it all coherent. And yeah, and the book itself now that it's been put out by fandom is absolutely gorgeous. I think the the art direction from Tina land Korea is next level, and we got a lot of amazing artists to make the whole book look really cool. Makes it easier to read. And not just a big dry textbook.
Amelia Antrim 19:53
Yeah, it's a it's an absolutely beautiful book. I think you got well I know Perfect. They got many any nominations for the art to
Cam Banks 20:05
the day? Yeah, that's right. We got six nominations for the book and one for the tails. I was at a primer, which isn't even the game yet. So I'm just looking forward to, to seeing how that plays out later.
Amelia Antrim 20:16
Yeah, no, I know, my kids are begging me to run that one, because we just finished watching all of Dragon prints. So I'm gonna have to, like, get good at it. And I want to ask though, what kinds of things did you have to think about in changing? You know, because this is, cortex has been a system for so long, when you finally sat down to do it as cortex prime as its only thing? Yeah. What kind of like updates and changes did you have to make just to kind of, I don't want to say comply isn't really the right word, but to like, stay in step with the things that have changed in the RPG community in that many years? Because, you know, like, we've we've moved away significantly in a lot of places from like a D 20. system. And just like the kinds of games that we want are very different.
Cam Banks 21:12
Yeah, no, that's absolutely true. And I'm, I'm always heavily influenced by especially the Indian small press publishing scene, I think that that people come up with some amazing ideas, a lot of the stuff that's encoded plus, that's now in prime, and stuff that is in prime now that wasn't even in there before, is inspiration. And I think we all do this as designers. I mean, there's folks who have inspired by the work I've done in the past, I've been inspired by work people have done in the past, we, we have that kind of collegial atmosphere, I think that goes on as long as you understand that none of us are trying to rip anyone else off. And it's, it's kind of like a love letter, sort of like inspiring thing than the feel is really good. And you still have to write this stuff, you can't just copy and paste things straight into your book. Otherwise, it's pretty obvious. But yeah, that's part of my feel of this is that I wanted to create a kind of like an avenue for people to bring their own content into cortex. And that was a huge deal, because the DIY and sort of small press indie publishers really want to do things with their own ideas. And sometimes they don't have the time or the interest in coming up with their own rule systems from scratch. I think it's why see so many people using d&d, even the old basic said stuff and things. It's just what they know, it's easy for them to do it, when they can go put out like, you know, some wacky module, or they can make a sort of cool air setting is based on something with the serial numbers filed off. And that's cool. And that was what I kind of wanted Kotex prime to be kind of like the lingua franca, I guess for a new bunch of people doing things their own way, while also adding back into the community. So if they make something cool, they can throw it into the cortex create a studio, which is the thing we have planned. And then although they will keep all of their own IP in their setting, and that's all there is. Anything that's rules wise that they make, they can contribute to the greater community who can then use that in their own stuff. So almost at the inverse of licenses, like you keep all that stuff. It's actually fiction and a narrative that's yours. And you can continue to make it yours. While you know, I just use this cool little break, I want you to have this little break. Why don't you play with it? Right?
Ryan Boelter 23:36
That's very cool.
Amelia Antrim 23:38
I will I know that, you know, on the one shot at work, the careers call podcast just switched to be using cortex prime for their system, they were using a version of fate accelerated last season. And they just switched to use cortex this season because they felt like it had a little bit more of a little bit more of those building blocks for them to work with. So it's only a couple episodes so far, but I'm excited to see how it works for them compared to using something else. So I'm very excited.
Cam Banks 24:07
It's worth noting, too, I think that I go way back with a lot of these people. I mean, I was a part of the same kind of small community of folks that included Fred Hicks and Rob Donahue and and those folks who worked on fate, and we're all friends. And the reason some things look similar, I think in the long run, there's a they also worked on some of the games I made back in the context plus day so you see them unleveraged the same way Josh Roby worked on Smallville, and they're they've done some things in this sense, then that sort of draw on the same ideas at small overhead. I think the key to that is that we think similarly about games, we love things about games that we all have in common. And so you'll see a lot of that come out and think that's a thing that's quite common. I think if you have communities who sort of kitbash your ideas and throwing things around, you'll see similar ideas come out of them. That's what I think is wonderful about game design in general.
Amelia Antrim 25:03
Yeah, I think that there's, you know, there are certain like concepts that we all kind of grab from. But like, if the three of us sat down and played a game, and then which to each go make our own game, what we pulled from that original one would be different, you know, based on like, what we want our own games to do. So I think that, you know, a lot of us pull from that same sort of like pile of concepts, we just take away different things. And so you can kind of see where stuff starts to branch off and become its own thing. But like, we're all we're all still working in that same, you know, like that same bucket of Lego pieces. We've just grabbed different ones, you know. But yeah, you can see where a lot of things, it's cool to watch the evolution of games, because you can see where it's where those things came from. And it's just fun to watch people make new things out of them all
Ryan Boelter 25:53
the time. Absolutely. So this is the part that we talk about, like basic terms and concepts, usually, for the games that we need to kind of understand before we get into character creation. Yeah. There's, there's a lot of pieces to cortex, right. So we put that we put down a preliminary list of things that we could talk about. But I think I just want to ask you, in general, like, Is there anything that that's just different that we might need to know before we dive into a mashing together around system? And then creating characters? Or is it something that we can kind of get a hold of as we go through the process?
Cam Banks 26:42
I think you'll get things as they go along. I mean, the the most intimidating thing about this book probably is walking out and going well, which things do I pick to go into my game? Do I pick all of them? And if I do, what will that look like? And the answer is a mess. I like to tell people, and sometimes there's two ways of doing this, go completely hog wild and crazy. And then chop off the bits that don't work anymore. or start with the familiar and the comfortable and add things on that may be interesting to you. And the latter is most likely the way that most people should go. Although, if you're anything like my wife, who just goes completely out to the fringe of land of weirdness first and then comes slowly back. Because that's just what she does. I think that a basic term or concept we wanted to really nail down first is this idea of traits. And they are what every other game would call ability scores, or stats, or faith or anything else, anything in the game that's rated with a die. So in the dice go from default to the 12. And the important thing about the rating is that the doesn't always reflect strength or potency, or, or effectiveness necessarily, but how important or significant that trait is compared to other traits like, so if I haven't the 12, and something. Normally, I'm probably better than that thing, or stronger or faster, or whatever. But I'm also more likely to be using it because it's my signature aspect of my characters. It's my way spotlight, I guess you could call it. So hide hide the ratings mean, there will be more useful for me to succeed in the game. But they're also where the cameras most focused on me. And the defaults are going to be the areas which I'm going to have a lot of trouble. And I think either either my character doesn't care about them as much, or they're deliberately low because I want to get in trouble with them. And because of the way the system works is you'll probably find out rolling ones on your dice, bring you problems that bring you complications or other kinds of things. And but they also give you plot points to spend later on. So you kind of don't want to always be using your best dice because you want to earn plot points to succeed later with doing awesome stuff.
Ryan Boelter 29:11
Okay, that makes sense. All right. So I would also say here, let's make some people but we have to make a system first, right?
Cam Banks 29:21
Well, I think a good idea would be to sort of come up with something that you two want to make characters in what kind of game we're even talking about. And when I asked that question, usually I tell folks to look at, you know, this big list of, of genres and ideas that we've got in the, in the game things prime settings, I believe the setting stuff is and I helpfully broke down everything that I could think of. And I said pick three and add cortex to it, which in this case, you could do pick two, I think it'll be perfectly fine.
Ryan Boelter 30:00
Oh, interesting. So, so I'm looking at the the pick three and add cortex to a page, which is 128 in the book. And there's a lot of good genre categories here. Now. running theme lately, apparently is, I'm really big into magical girls. And Amelia is really big into the necromancy and blood magic sort of stuff.
Amelia Antrim 30:30
Lately as if it hasn't been going on,
Ryan Boelter 30:32
because it's been from the beginning. That's been kind of a pattern lately.
Amelia Antrim 30:37
It's been getting worse.
Ryan Boelter 30:40
So I'm seeing like, like magical girls is a subsection of superheroes, right? Mm hmm. And then necromancy, blood magic type stuff would be probably high fantasy. Um, and really, we could throw High School in there at the same time, right? Just to throw complete the genre, I guess you could say, Sure.
Cam Banks 31:04
You might even say it's part of the dark fantasy, actually, because of the whole focus on on it. I mean, what I'm hearing from you have something like a version of, I don't know, like Death Note, but with more, more magic in it necessarily. Maybe not in the same modern day setting. Right. So you're talking about magical girls, and necromancy. But when and how is it? So like? That's the question. I'll ask you.
Amelia Antrim 31:30
Yeah. Huh. Oh, man, I haven't thought about death note in for our
Ryan Boelter 31:36
callback. Um, so So what superhero dark fantasy high school?
Amelia Antrim 31:41
Well, okay, so we did superheroes? Yeah, recently. So we should like, feel like maybe roll back.
Ryan Boelter 31:50
roll it back. Just a little bit.
Amelia Antrim 31:51
Just a little less super powered.
Ryan Boelter 31:53
Okay. Right. Like, we don't have to go full superpowers. Right. Right. Because you can, I'm imagining you throw like the superhero genre in there. And it's not like, okay, everybody's got superpowers. Unless you want it that way. Right. Right.
Cam Banks 32:11
I mean, agents have shields still superheroes kinda.
Ryan Boelter 32:14
Cam Banks 32:16
It's just that everybody who's on the team, mostly of them are just super spy people.
Ryan Boelter 32:21
Amelia Antrim 32:22
I mean, I think the big question here, Ryan. It's just like, What do you want? Like the mean? Because you can pull in as many other things as you want. I think the question is like, what is the big? Yeah.
Ryan Boelter 32:34
Just to target fantasy High School, then.
Cam Banks 32:36
That sounds pretty good. I mean, you can do Magical Girl stuff, because they are literally magical.
Ryan Boelter 32:42
Amelia Antrim 32:43
I mean, it has the word fantasy in it. So maybe they're just like, kind of golf now.
Ryan Boelter 32:49
To be expected, right. Right. optimistic Goths. So it'll be fine.
Amelia Antrim 32:54
Okay, you know, dark fantasy High School is gonna
Cam Banks 32:56
be that one token character who is not golf, and therefore sticks out?
Ryan Boelter 33:02
Amelia Antrim 33:03
Ryan Boelter 33:04
I'm sure I'm sure it will. Cool, dark fantasy high school. I love that a lot. So what's that? What's the next thing that we have to take care of now that we selected kind of our overall genres? What do we have to do to to solidify it?
Cam Banks 33:24
Well, the next thing that you do is you try to pick to at least two prime sets. And much like how we try and pick you know, one or two or two or more concepts to be the the sort of the genres of this mashup. We also want to pick out what the two core traits sets that you have in the game, whether it's skills and attributes, or powers and relationships or anything like that, that formed the basis of every dice pool that you put together. So anything you do, whether it's a test, or a contest, or anything else is going to involve you taking a dive from one prime state and a die from another prime state and adding together in a poll and rolling them. And then kind of makes a huge difference to your game, because you'll focus on which trade sets you want to use at the bid list we've got will also then determine kind of how the game feels. Yeah, if it's very skill heavy, it will feel like a game that has skills. And if it's all about values and relationships, it won't feel like that at all. Oh, that's really interesting.
Ryan Boelter 34:32
Because I think it feels like powers is kind of kind of defined both. Both of the things we're looking
Amelia Antrim 34:42
at like magic,
Ryan Boelter 34:45
right? Yeah, magic and the powers and magic transformations and magic abilities and stuff like that. So I think powers would be really interesting. But then if you want to add like some real good Magical Girl stuff, On top of that, like relationships would be really interesting, I think.
Amelia Antrim 35:04
Yeah, I was gonna say, like, just knowing us relationships has to be one of them. Like, that's, yeah, I don't really care. Relationships after you want.
Ryan Boelter 35:13
Yeah, so I think powers and relationships would be really interesting to kind of roll with. Yeah,
Cam Banks 35:18
I would also suggest something. And that is to consider the idea of having powers be something that is a prime set, but not the only other one. Look, the reason I bring that up is because if there's an occasion when you can't think of a power you have that would apply to a situation, you're stuck a bit. Oh, yeah. And so he can always think of a relationship because, you know, am I doing this for this person? Am I doing this against this person? Yeah, that's where you start? Yeah.
Ryan Boelter 35:48
Because, like, one of the big tropes of magical girls is, you don't have powers half the time. Mm hmm. Like, you can't have your powers until you transform basically. Right? Um, I wonder if like attributes and relationships would make sense for those, like, times when you're not when the powers don't apply?
Cam Banks 36:10
Yeah. I would also look at things like affiliations, which is often that's about, you know, what kind of situation Am I in that I do better at and the ones that I don't do well, at and affiliations come from? Marvel, Harajuku I first had them used where there was solo, buddy and team. And so when you were in a fuel by yourself, you use your solar die, if you within a team, you'd use your team die. And if you had one friend, it was the buddy die. And there's other ways you could look at this too, you could do it in terms of we've done one recently where we had caught the dungeon, the wild, and so forth as like place sort of types. And every time you were there, you would use the dye that was most, because you were affiliated with that specific kind of thing.
Ryan Boelter 37:01
Yeah. Yeah, that was really interesting.
Cam Banks 37:03
The other option is you could use values and one I've never really done anything with before, but I've always wanted to as using the seven deadly sins as your values, and you'd write them in that way. So that you'd have and this is in the actual rulebook on page 60. It's envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, slot and wrath. And you put your, you would have ratings on those. And then you decide from dice pool to dice pool? Am I being motivated here by being mad at them? Or am I being motivated by my envy? And
Amelia Antrim 37:36
okay, so I want to do that, because I was really listening to our Sentinel comics episode, Ryan, and he were talking about like, your infernal powers and stuff. And I was like, I want a magical girl team. That is the seven deadly sins. So like, I think that we should do that.
Ryan Boelter 37:55
That sounds really cool. Actually. Yeah, let's go ahead with that. So this will do what values and relationships and powers and relationship powers as well. Yeah, yeah, with powers kind of as a side set,
Cam Banks 38:11
you could even do and lens, this is just throwing this out there. Every single cortex game does have distinctions as well distinctions is one that's kind of automatic, because you have three of those. And they're all ready to date. But they also provide the elevator pitch for your character. Oh, in a little bit, like, you know, what are the three things about my character that if I told you what they were, you'd know, pretty much all about me? Yeah. So, you know, if you're looking to someone, if you sold someone, I am a Oh, what's a good example of Scarlet Witch? From the MCU? She could say I'm, you know, a war survivor. I am a student of student of chaos. And I am. Well, what else? I think it's something else that I used to have her as my basis for everything and now forgotten it. But you might find this familiar, if you've played a lot of faith, they seem similar to aspects of a difference
Ryan Boelter 39:16
definitely sounds that way. Right. The difference
Cam Banks 39:18
is that you in this game, they don't do the same thing necessarily. They can be used as a default instead of the eight and you get a plot point for doing it, which is kind of the equivalent of a compel, but it's, it's self self created. So, I would, I would say that in this case, you can also provide the idea of each of these three distinctions comes into a certain kind of category. So like for hammerheads, we have one which is what what was what was my life before? What is my personality trait or, and what is my approach to doing things and you can use those as sort of in spiration for coming up with what you do. Okay. So I think in this case, you could say, Okay, well, we're going to use this tension then it's magical build dark fantasy High School. One is, you know, what kind of what was my family? Like, you know, what's, what's the distinction based on my family and where I came from? Because it could be very different from from character, the character. One might be what is a? How do I, you know, go about doing things at school in life? And the third one could be, you know, what is my magical specialty slash Quirk, and then use that as the basis for power stuff. Okay.
Ryan Boelter 40:42
I can see that working very well.
Cam Banks 40:45
So where am I from? What's my approach to things? And then what is the source of my power? Okay,
Amelia Antrim 40:52
I wrote them all down and ready. thinking it through? Cool my notes.
Ryan Boelter 40:59
I got notes too. So okay. Good to go.
Amelia Antrim 41:02
Ryan Boelter 41:03
All right. Um, all right. I just wanted to make a note of the values of seven deadly sins. That sounds cool. Okay, so we've got some more building blocks put into it. What, what is next?
Cam Banks 41:23
Well, now we have to figure out if there's anything specific rules wise that you'd like to have fixed in game outside of characters. So the usual way of doing this is, by default, we will take it so that the game includes tests and contests as the way we resolve most things, you can change it to a more traditional action and reaction way of doing it, which I think is sometimes useful for people playing a lot more of the know techno thriller, sort of more procedural kind of thing where they don't really want to be as loosey goosey. But I think in this case, would would stick with a test and context that makes the most sense.
Ryan Boelter 42:05
Yeah, that makes sense. Okay,
Cam Banks 42:08
then, I know, there's not a lot of other things we want to worry about. At this point. I think he wants to consider what sort of what is it that people do in this game? What is it that they do? What's the game about?
Ryan Boelter 42:21
That's a good question.
Amelia Antrim 42:23
Yeah, I feel like that's on us your job?
Ryan Boelter 42:25
Yeah. Well, I mean, magical girl genre is all about surviving High School, and relationships with friends, while also trying to save the world. And usually, you're saving the world, outside of the eye of society, right? So like, all this weird stuff is happening to society. Nobody really acknowledges it after the fact.
Amelia Antrim 42:51
Right? It just goes back to normal. Just
Ryan Boelter 42:53
everything goes back to normal, and nobody talks about it. But then, you know, the next big bad comes along and you have to save the day again. Or there's like, oh, there's a new candy shop that showed up. And suddenly everybody's lifeforce is drained because they went to the candy shop that was owned by these bad guys that that are draining their energy for nefarious purposes.
Amelia Antrim 43:17
hate when that happens. I
Ryan Boelter 43:18
know. Sugar, it will get you every time. So yeah, I like a balancing the mundane and the the heroic. Yeah. is probably a big goal. And then also having utilizing those relationships in order to strengthen your resolve when fighting the enemy effectively.
Amelia Antrim 43:45
Yeah, I think the other thing too, is that like, those enemies need to be able to be like, larger than life, kind of. Yeah, like, you know, not like
Ryan Boelter 43:54
like, like, potentially world ending type enemies, right? Yeah. And usually a hierarchy, right. So there's like one big bad that really could take care of everything if they wanted to. But they always send their little minions to go first. And the minions always mess up. Because they're not strong enough. And then eventually the big bad steps in
Amelia Antrim 44:20
Ryan Boelter 44:21
Yeah, there's a big fight. So
Cam Banks 44:27
I think I know a good way of handling that. And that would be if you use the doom pool in this game. And you use it to reflect the growing sense of dread and worry and concern as building up. And that gets used in place of difficulty roles for the GM they rather do import whenever anyone's doing a test. And the more the bigger the doom pool gets, it ends up having a bunch of dice in it. And we roll that as a pool of dice and the bigger the doom pool gets, the more thing will get troubling for your heroes and characters.
Ryan Boelter 45:03
I love that
Cam Banks 45:04
the GM can spin dice out of the doom pool to summon basically or activate game moderator characters, which would this case be minions and things? So I think the GM could feel like, Okay, well, once the Doom was big enough, I'm going to start throwing things at the players and using it. And at the very end, it obviously will manifest itself as whatever bit better you want it to be.
Ryan Boelter 45:29
That's perfect. Absolutely.
Amelia Antrim 45:33
I like that. We're just saying things to you. And you're like, Okay, let's make that. We'll just say nonsense. And then you can tell us how to make it coherent.
Ryan Boelter 45:44
Always good. Absolutely.
Amelia Antrim 45:47
I don't know. So far. It's proof that like this can do anything because we can have it. Okay. Sorry. What else do we need to define?
Cam Banks 45:58
I think that's probably it. For now, did you want any additional traits that that don't necessarily always get used, but would be helpful to use, like, one on ones I often think is helpful as resources, and skill or skill specialties, which is a kind of skill, but only gets us whenever it's appropriate. Those are both fun. The other thing is assets, signature assets. These are things that your character has as part of your, who you are and what you do, but they're not in innate, they're, like a medical staff or it's a suit of armor, or it's a friend of mine, who is always there doing things as a henchman or something. And having those will be fun, because then you can split your character creation stage, between if you're those if you want to load up on signature assets, you can have them, someone else might load up on specialties instead, because they kind of can be used in the similar fashion that only, you know, different ways.
Amelia Antrim 46:59
I mean, I kind of like that concept. Because I know Ryan, when when did come era, there were like a couple things that you had, like moves in the magical girl playbook that were very, like, you know, you can only use this like, once or twice or whatever. Yeah. But really defined the characters. You know, like, I think the mask playbook really. Whatever that one was, yeah, there was one or two that send it back to that. I was like, oh,
Cam Banks 47:28
oh, yeah, resources are fun, because they're kind of as a pool of dice that are spendable. And they will and use them up until they get refresh somehow. And you can kind of define them on your own terms, you could say that my resources is like 46 of necromantic. Magic. And whenever I'm using necromantic magic, I can take some time out and spend them. And if I spend them, the way it works is you can spend as many of them as you want. You roll them all together, and you pick the highest one and edit to your actual turtle not it's not part of your dice pool, it's on top of what you just rolled, so that she's potent. But if you roll more than than one, you're spinning them all and you don't get to keep all of them, right. So it's kind of a risk thing, right. So if you have 46, good risk, you might roll just one learning, you might get one, which will be terrible. It might roll to hoping to get for one of them to be higher than the other one, and so on. They can also be more than the success you could actually have pretty powerful resources as you if you had a long term game. And that way you could have you know, Master, I'm this my last year at dark fantasy High School and I've got details in my necromantic Palace. So watch out.
Ryan Boelter 48:48
Yep. Yeah, I
Amelia Antrim 48:50
do really like that. I like the idea of like, like a resource that I mean, I guess like is technically renewable, but like, you know, can sort of dwindle down, especially in relation to like, dark magic or something, which tends to be like somewhat draining.
Ryan Boelter 49:05
Yeah, it's very good for baltierra genres where, like the dark magic, it's draining. And then the like, the magical girl stuff is like getting extra oomph because you're pulling inspiration from your allies or, you know, whatever, right?
Amelia Antrim 49:22
But also like the idea too, that you are, you know, like, you can only spend so much time doing Magical Girl things because you're, you have to go back home and do your homework, right? Like, you can't just forever do this thing. Actually,
Cam Banks 49:36
I just thought of this idea that you have to spend time in the mundane world to refresh your magical powers would be a really cool way of doing it. So
Ryan Boelter 49:46
yeah, that would be Yeah,
Cam Banks 49:47
he had to play out a couple scenes of ordinary life in order for it to charge up
Ryan Boelter 49:53
like that a lot. Yep, let's do that. Cool. I
Cam Banks 49:56
think we've got everything you need to make some terribly. grief stricken young people?
Ryan Boelter 50:05
Absolutely. Let's see, well, then, now I can see it right? Shall we make some people?
Amelia Antrim 50:13
Let's make some people.
Ryan Boelter 50:14
Let's make some people. Let's make some people. All right. So now we've got this this wonderful base of a game here. What do we need to do first to make our people
Amelia Antrim 50:27
do any dice for Character Creation? Cast, you want to just roll them in annoy people is the way I like clean off everything that I sat down was like dice shipped.
Cam Banks 50:39
There are three forms of character creation described in the book, and there are only examples of how to do it, there's infinite ways you could decide to make characters because your game may want to be spent those points to make this or play through a sort of pre game kind of pathways sort of set up. Or even just, I want to take an archetype, like a playbook and spin a couple points and then make it mine. In this example, I don't think we have a pathway set up made because we just made this up. Now, we don't have archetypes. So I wasn't meant to suggest that we just go straight to a scratch build method, which is pretty easy. Yeah, might as well. So with that in mind, if you want to look at what we've decided on this, our prime traits, we went with various relationships, and distinctions. And then we're going to maybe put resources in there.
Ryan Boelter 51:36
Yep. We got a smattering of powers possibly.
Cam Banks 51:39
Yep. Because the To be honest, I think the resources might do the trick for powers, because that makes sense.
Amelia Antrim 51:46
Yeah, you can spend those student do powers
Cam Banks 51:48
be a lot more narrative about it too, if you want to. Yeah. So first of all, if you don't have values, you assign darts to them. And these values are the seven deadly sins. So I'll read them out again, for those of you who want to know what they are. So envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth, and wrath. Awesome. So with valleys, you're going to have D eights and three of them. Okay? And these six for the wrist.
Ryan Boelter 52:25
Now, Okay, perfect.
Cam Banks 52:26
And you can step various up by stepping others down. You can do that once, though. So you could step one of the eights up to a 10 by stepping one of the sets down to a four. Or you could stave the Ms. 8886666.
Ryan Boelter 52:45
Okay. And I guess it's worth noting, Cam. Feel free to create a character with us. because it'd be awesome I have a team of three doing this.
Cam Banks 52:56
I would do that have a my brain right now is focused on I can certainly talk about a character who we have who I could make up later if you really felt like it would be good, I'm sure.
Amelia Antrim 53:10
Okay, Ryan, what are you gonna? What are you gonna put your
Ryan Boelter 53:13
Cam Banks 53:16
First if you decided who your character is going to be before we even went any further though, right? What kind of character you thinking about?
Ryan Boelter 53:22
Hmm, gosh, I have to be kind of the the optimistic one.
Amelia Antrim 53:28
Right, right. That's why I'm wondering. Exactly.
Ryan Boelter 53:32
Amelia Antrim 53:34
because I'm very comfortable with like, wrath, envy, pride. Like,
Ryan Boelter 53:38
I mean, that's very fitting for you, right?
Amelia Antrim 53:42
But I'm okay, like moving things to.
Ryan Boelter 53:49
So, I'm, I'm thinking, like, cuz, like, you think of the seven deadly sins, right? And you think, like, the, I guess the worst, quote unquote, traits of humanity, so to speak, right? Like having
Amelia Antrim 54:08
a really difficult time here.
Ryan Boelter 54:10
Amelia Antrim 54:14
My top three no problem and Ryan's like, Yeah, but what if, like, we weren't that bad, nice people, but
Ryan Boelter 54:19
I'm trying to think of like, what an optimist would would throw their their sell themselves into, like, of kind of like a driven sort of force. Um, so maybe, maybe greed might be one of them.
Amelia Antrim 54:37
Greed, pride. I think you could do gluttony pretty easily because, like, you know, like, I think of gluttony and I also think of like hedonism, and like, you know,
Cam Banks 54:46
and sloth is apathy and laziness. And so, you know, if they're an optimist, but they don't seem to care that much about, you know the world because I think it's all fine. Being a little bit of a Sort of rose colored glasses individual is, I would say sloths would fit into there too.
Ryan Boelter 55:05
That makes me
Amelia Antrim 55:06
also you could just be like, apathetic about being evil.
Ryan Boelter 55:10
Yeah, I mean, that's, that's very fair.
Amelia Antrim 55:13
Like, that's me.
Ryan Boelter 55:17
Yeah, we'll put it in slot, that's fine. Um, and if we step one down, we can step a D six to a D four. Correct.
Cam Banks 55:24
Is that right? Yep. Okay, and that will be good. Because in that sense, what that means for value is I'm really not into this. Whereas a detain is I'm all over this thing. Right? D eight is this is definitely on my radar. Okay, so I think that we're looking at terms of, am I gonna find myself more motivated by this thing than this other thing? And if it's a deforest, like, this is never gonna really motivate me at all. Mm hmm. And the reason you still have it in the game is because you may find yourself in a situation where it makes the most sense for that to be the reason why you would do something, but yeah. into it. Okay,
Ryan Boelter 56:07
that makes sense. I'm stuck between pushing wrath up to a DA or pushing one of my others to a D 10. And then stepping down and V to a D four. What are your other three again? The da it's that you already had? greed, pride and sloth.
Cam Banks 56:27
I'm fascinated by a character who has a detailed slop. Hmm,
Ryan Boelter 56:32
I think I can picture that. Okay. Yeah, we'll go with that determined slot. Because why not? I could just see this person being like, everything's gonna work out fine. It's just don't worry about it.
Amelia Antrim 56:47
Yeah. All right, I put a D in lust in wrath and pride.
Cam Banks 56:52
Lovely. You'd be the greatest person to have around your school.
Ryan Boelter 57:04
Amelia Antrim 57:07
you yeah, like that. I honestly don't know exactly where this episode leaves off. But I do know that the series goes some really great places, and I can't wait to hear the rest of it. cortex prime is a fascinating systems slash toolkits. And we really just scratched the surface of what it can do here. If you want to hear it played and you can always check out the careers call podcast here on the one shot network is a family friendly show. And they just switched to using cortex prime for their second season. Every month reminder that September is international podcast month. You can find more info at international podcast month comm or on their Twitter at pod month. Once again, a sincere thank you to all of you for being patient with us this week, and for the next few weeks. We absolutely would not love making this show nearly as much as we do. Without everyone listening and without the excellent and supportive interactions that we have with all of you. You absolutely make it worth it. So thank you, we love you. Stay safe drink water. Please get vaccinated if you can. And we will see you next week.
Amelia Antrim 58:39
Thank you for joining us for part one of this character creation series. We'll be back in part two picking up right where we left off.
Ryan Boelter 58:46
Character Creation Cast is a production of the one shot Podcast Network and can be found online at www dot Character Creation cast.com. head to the website to get more information on our hosts this show and even our press kit. Character Creation Cast can also be found on Twitter at Creation Cast or on our Discord server at discord dot Character Creation cast.com is one of your hosts Ryan Boelter and I can be found on twitter at Lord Neptune or online at Lord Neptune calm. Our other host Amelia Antrim can be found on twitter at ginger reckoning. Music for this episode is used with a Creative Commons license, or with permission from the podcast they originated from. Further information can be found within the show notes. Our main theme music is hero remix by Steve combs and it's used with a Creative Commons license. This podcast is owned by us under Creative Commons. This episode was edited by Ryan Boelter. Further information for the game systems used and today's guests can be found in the show notes. If you'd like to leave us a rating or review. We have links to various free music platforms out there including Apple podcasts in our show. notes. Also check the show notes for links to our other projects. Thanks for joining us. I remember we find that the best part of any role playing game is character creation. So go out there and create some amazing people. We will see you next time.
Amelia Antrim 1:00:32
Now we got a ransom show blurbs show blurbs show my show burps shall blurbs.
Ryan Boelter 1:00:40
Character Creation Cast is hosted by the one chat Podcast Network. If you enjoyed our show, visit one shot podcast comm where you will find other great shows like all my fantasy children.
Amelia Antrim 1:00:52
Each week, Aaron khata size and Jeff Stormer take a listener submitted prompt and using some of their favorite tabletop RPGs create an original fantasy character along the way they share laughs stories verbal hugs and populate a shared universe one story at a time
Transcribed by https://otter.ai