Cortex Prime: Urchins

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Distinctions are unique personal traits or tropes that set characters apart from one another beyond the pure mechanics.


Distinctions are valued at d8 by default. Chose one distinction that highlights your Urchin's unique Background, one that highlights a peculiar Quirk of the character, and one that highlights something unique about the sort of Sleeve the character is adept at.

Note: The Sleeve Distinction can only be used as a d4 when the character is not actually sleeved to a machine. This does not earn a free PP as normal. Sleeve SFX cannot be triggered while not sleeved to a machine.

Background Distinction d8[edit]

Urchins are orphans, forgotten and unseen, scraping by in the streets and sewers and stations of the verse. Despite sharing a similar fate with their fellows, however, each Urchin followed their own unique path to get where they are. Sample Backgrounds might include Core Royal, Kidnapped, Born in the Black, Stowaway, etc . . .

Quirk Distinction d8[edit]

Urchins are a hardy lot of survivors with their own bizarre coping mechanisms. Sample Quirks might include Obsessive Gum Chewer, Wears Clothes Backwards, Speaks in Rhyme, Kindness Tourettes, etc . . .

Sleeve Distinction d8[edit]

Each Urchin is bonded to a specific sleeve, a specific type of machine. That is a separate player choice and not a function of this distinction. Your sleeve distinction should define something unique about your character's sleeve beyond the basic role of that sleeve in the game. Sleeve Distinctions might include Sharpshooter, Can't Stop the Signal, Doc, Puddle Jumper, Don Juan de Mecha, etc

Note: As mentioned above, the Sleeve Distinction can only be used as a d4 when the character is not actually sleeved to a machine. This does not earn a free PP as normal. Sleeve SFX cannot be triggered while not sleeved to a machine.

Distinction SFX[edit]

Each of your three distinctions comes with the Hinder SFX active:

Check002.png Hinder: Sometimes your distinction works against you. Gain 1 plot point when you roll a D4a.png instead of a D8a.png

After that, each Urchin starts play with two more SFX related to their distinctions. Further Distinction SFX can be earned via character advancement.


Rather than measurable individual character attributes such as Physical | Mental | Social, Urchins uses Approaches, broad goals that an action is aimed at achieving. Infiltration approach is meant to insert the character into a given situation. Investigation approach is meant to learn something about a given situation. Sabotage approach is meant to fuck up a given situation.


Approaches default to d8 d8 d8

Players may instead choose to step up one d8 to d10 by stepping back one d8 to d6


Urchins are required to fill multiple roles in their daily struggle for survival, but as happens, each Urchin tends to develop more in certain roles, becoming top tier skilled in one, highly skilled in another, competent in most of the rest, and abysmally less competent at that one role that just eludes them.

Fixers repair, fabricate, and maintain stuff. Sometimes even people. | +1 Systems
Runners run messages, contraband, supplies, etc. | +1 Core
Scrappers get into it. They ain't met the fight they didn't like and often act as enforcers, skirmishers, etc. | +1 Hull
Skulkers like sneaking about, getting into places they weren't meant to get into. | +1 Systems
Trackers track shit down. They locate people, resources, and rumors. | +1 Systems
Tricksters are experts at misdirection and most tend to be very computer savvy. | +1 Systems


Assign one of the following dice to each role: d10 d8 d6 d6 d6 d4


Knacks are specific specialties under a given role that the Urchin is just a natural at. Starting knacks are worth an extra D6a.png to the roll it applies to but can be stepped up during chargen or advancement as outlined below.

Each player gets to assign two free knacks at D6a.png to their Character's D10a.png role.

Each player gets to assign one free knack at D6a.png to their Character's D8a.png role.

Each player gets to assign two additional knacks at D6a.png to any role rated D6a.png or higher or step up an existing knack (or two) at a one-for-one exchange rate.

Knacks cannot be assigned to a character's D4a.png role.

No knack can be stepped up higher than the dice value of the role it is assigned to.

Heirlooms and Keepsakes d6Arrow03.png[edit]

Each Urchin begins play with one Heirloom and one Keepsake.

Heirloom: This is a hidden treasure from someone important to the Urchin from before they were orphaned, a gift from a parent or sibling or other relative or a piece of family property that the urchin managed to sneak away with. Urchins are jealous of their few treasures, knowing they might be taken at any moment. An urchin can use their Heirloom at d6 as normal. This indicates they are being careful to use the item in an understated fashion and avoiding notice. By taking or stepping up a complication, they can use their Heirloom at d8 instead.

If an Heirloom has active SFX these can only be triggered while using the item at d8
Heirlooms don't start with SFX, but may gain up to two via character advancement.
Limit: Heirlooms cannot be used sleeved.

Keepsake: This is a small memento, a gift from another urchin or a minor found treasure since they became an orphan. Keepsakes always function at d6

Keepsakes don't get SFX.
Limit: Keepsakes cannot be used sleeved.
Additional keepsakes can be created in play by spending XP on a character created asset and making it permanent.


An Urchin's sleeve is the type of machine they share an affinitive bond with. Types of sleeves typically mirror character Roles and the most advantageous bond will be with the sort of sleeve that matches a character's primary role, but it is not mandatory that a character be optimally paired with a machine.

Once chosen, a character's sleeve is set. They cannot sleeve with other types of machines and get the expected sleeving benefits. (See Worker Sleeve below for exception).

All Sleeves are roughly humanoid in shape/form.

Fixer Sleeves are typically equipped and programmed for physical repair jobs and mechanical sabotage. Systems is the primary mode for Fixer Sleeves.
Runner Sleeves are sleek and fast, often used for message deployment and dodgy scout missions. Core is the primary mode for Runner Sleeves.
Scrapper Sleeves are guardians, fighters, and active sabotage mechs. Hull is the primary mode for Scrapper Sleeves.
Skulker Sleeves are all about undetected infiltration, setting charges behind lines, etc. Systems is the primary mode for Skulker Sleeves.
Tracker Sleeves are equipped with sensitive apparatus for tracking and finding both elemental and energy trace and other signatures. Systems is the primary mode for Tracker Sleeves
Trickster Sleeves are typically designed for non-physical infiltrations and broad scale misdirection. Systems is the primary mode for Trickster Sleeves

Worker Sleeves are typically raw base model sleeves with no specialty capabilities. They are made to lift and carry and not much else. Any Urchin can jump and pilot a worker sleeve regardless of their specialty sleeve types. Worker sleeves do not have a primary mode. An Urchin piloting a sleeve other than their own treats that sleeve as a standard worker sleeve. It might have higher potential, but that Urchin can't coax those abilities forth.


Sleeve Modes[edit]

An Urchin's sleeve starts play with a rating of d6 in Core, Hull and Systems. The character's Primary Role will allow the player to step up one of these ratings one step. The player then gets to step up one mode of their choice. This can be the same mode that was already stepped up or a different one.

If a player wishes to do so, they may step down one of their d6 modes to d4 to step up another mode by one step. No mode may be stepped up past d12


Sleeve Stress[edit]

Outside of a sleeve, Urchins run on the basic consequence system used in the Cortex + version of the Firefly game, but in-sleeve the machine takes levels of stress to the various modes before it can be taken out. Modes rated d4 are taken out immediately on a successful targeting of that mode. Modes rated d6 can absorb a box of stress before being in danger of getting taken out. Modes rated d8 have two stress boxes. d10 modes have 3 stress boxes, and d12 modes have 4 stress boxes.

Note 1: If Systems mode is taken out, the sleeve can still operate blind as it were. If Core mode is taken out it effectively loses systems and cannot move. If Hull is taken out, Core cannot be used to propel the sleeve in any way, but life support is maintained and systems still function but may be limited in directionality based on how the hull was last oriented. The sleeve provides no significant protection otherwise once the hull is incapacitated.

Note 2: Characters can still avoid a sleeve mode being taken out by spending a PP and taking a narrative complication.

Sleeve Assets[edit]

Sleeve assets are equipment that Urchins secretly add to their sleeve. Sleeve assets always serve a specific purpose and often incorporate illegal tech. Each character begins with one Sleeve asset attached to their sleeve rated at d6

Sleeve assets can be stepped up to d8 via character advancement, and new assets can be gained by spending xp to make character generated assets permanent.

Limit: Sleeve Assets can only be used while the character is sleeved.


Pool/Bank PP; No Effect Dice; Hero Dice