Cortex Fantasy Hack
Each character starts play with three distinctions that can be rolled as a if the distinction would help your character or at a if it would hinder your character. If you choose to roll your distinction as a you get a Plot Point for doing so.
Choose one distinction from each category (Wyrd, Purpose, and Quirk) for your character.
A character's Wyrd represents their unique spiritual essence and determines what nature of energies they are able to call forth from beyond the Realm of Men.
Chose one of the Wyrd Distinctions below.
Highlighted Skills: Each distinction in this category has Focus as one of it's highlighted skills. Choose two more highlighted skills that make sense to be associated with your character's Wyrd Distinction.
- Bonewight: Speakers for the dead, the Bonewight always carries with them a finger bone or other small piece of a favored ancestral corpse that they may consult with for counsel. If they have access to any piece of any corpse, they may focus on it and learn things that the person or creature knew in life.
- Note: Difficulty increases based on how long ago the dead thing passed. (The Bonewight's piece of ancestral corpse is always treated as a difficulty (plus any environmental difficulty or complications that might apply).
- Pick Bonewight if your concept is maybe a little bit darker, and you like the idea of being a necromantic rumormonger.
- Farseer: Oracles and seers, the Farseer's are able to see through the eyes of others. They cannot communicate with that other or force them to take any action or movement, but they see what the other sees. Targets beyond the Farseer's line of sight (unless in a precisely known location) resist with Scale.
- Pick Farseer if you like the idea of spying on folk unseen from a distance.
- Harbinger: If the Bonewight is the Speaker for the Dead, the Harbinger is the Bringer of Death. They can reach out with their invisible Wyrd and attack, hold, or otherwise interfere with any single creature or object within their line of sight.
- Pick Harbinger if mind over matter telekinetic Jedi abilities appeal.
- Mistweaver: The Mistweaver commands the primordial elements of fog and mist. They use their command of these elements primarily for concealment and illusion, cloaking areas in fog, altering its density and form to make it look as if things are moving within it, or opening odd channels that muffle or amplify sound - or change it altogether.
- Pick Mistweaver if you fancy shadowy concealment and wielding subtle visual and audible misdirection.
- Runespeaker: Runespeakers are the saboteurs of the supernatural world. They are able to trace invisible runes of fire and destruction on non-living matter. The Runespeaker must be able to physically touch whatever they are tracing the rune on to effectively do so. Runes activate on the end following turn. (At GM discretion, the player may select an activation time within 5 turns of setting the rune if they roll an extraordinary success).
- Pick Runespeaker if you want to downlow sneak in/sneak out and obliterate tactical targets.
- Wildwarden: Nature is red of tooth and claw, and the Wildwarden knows how to call those teeth and claws forth. Able to sense animals near to them, whether they can see them or not, the Wildwarden is able to communicate with them and get information from them. They also have the potential to convince the animal in question to act on their behalf if it would be in the animal's nature to do so. As a general rule, the Wildwarden can hold sway over a single large creature, two or three medium creatures, or a swarm of small/tiny creatures at one time.
- Pick Wildwarden if you want to to pied-piper/ranger-companion your way through the world.
- The Wyrdless: Some characters are born in the manner of folk throughout the wider world, with no access to their Wyrd, no way to reach beyond the Realm of Men. The Red Adepts, who hunt the Wyrded, are unable to sense the Wyrdless, and the null aura of the Wyrdless can mask other Wyrded gathered close to them from the Adepts' supernatural senses.
- Pick The Wyrdless if messing with the supernatural just doesn't much appeal to you.
Your character's Purpose Distinction should tell what motivates or drives them. Are they Insatiably Curious? Are they Always There in a Fight? Are they driven to Win Friends and Influence People? Do they Protect Others at All Costs? etc.
Choose one Role Distinction for your character.
Highlighted Skills: Choose three highlighted skills that make sense to be associated with your character's Role Distinction.
Your final Distinction should highlight something singularly unique about your character and tie it to what they do for a living. Are they an Awkward Acrobat? An Ornery Drifter? A Bastard Knife Thrower? Are they a Kind Hearted Servant? Or a Penny Pinching Soldier? Maybe they're a Big Tipping Gambler? etc. It can literally be just about anything that combines a unique character trait with what they spend most of their days doing.
Choose one Quirk Distinction for your character.
Highlighted Skills: Chose three highlighted skills that make sense to be associated with your character's Quirk Distinction.
Each distinction has potential SFX associated with it [as can Signature Assets, but not during chargen]. An SFX is something beyond the base Distinction that you can do that allows for a specific benefit in exchange for a specific cost. To start play, you may create one SFX for each of your Distinctions. Each SFX should have one benefit and require one cost. Below are a list of example Benefits and Costs.
Each SFX you create should conceptually fit the Distinction it is paired with.
- Earn a Plot Point
- Step up a beneficial die (usually a Skill or Asset, like “step up Melee Combat”) for an action
- Double a beneficial die (usually a Skill or Asset, like “double Melee Combat”) for an action
- Step back a non-beneficial die (usually a Complication) for an action
- Introduce a non-dice related story detail (“I know how to find the resources we need…”)
- Rename a Complication to change its nature (“I’m not Sickened, I’m Angry”)
- Reroll a single die after a failed roll
- Create a Asset for the rest of the scene
- Spend a Plot Point (very common)
- Step back a beneficial die (usually an Attribute, Skill, or Asset) for the scene
- Choose to do something risky or complicated (“When you attack a red adept in front of their entourage...")
- Take or step up a broad Complication (like “Take or step up a Complication that represents your physical exhaustion”)
- Take a specific Complication (like “Take a Heat Exhaustion Complication” )
Choose one of the following configurations:
Your total should equal 32 regardless of which option you choose.
- Indicates actions/reactions of violence, force, or power
- Indicates actions/reactions of precision, finesse or care
- Indicates actions/reactions of insight, wit, or manipulation
- Indicates actions/reactions of presence, tenacity, or determination
For each instance a skill appears among your Highlighted Skills, raise that skill one die type. So, if a skill shows up once among your Highlighted Skills, it starts at . If a skill shows up twice among your Highlighted Skills, it starts at . And if a skill shows up three times among your Highlighted Skills, it starts at .
Running, jumping, climbing, swimming, etc
- Possible Specialties: Endurance, Racing, Holding Breath
Close-in fighting, unarmed or with hand held weapons.
- Possible Specialties: Sword, Dagger, Axe, Unarmed, Kicks, Combo Moves
Use of thrown (spear, dagger, hatchet), launched (sling, atlatl), or fired (bow, crossbow) weapons
- Possible Specialties: Crossbow, Javelin, Sling Stone, Long Range, Point Blank
Convincing others to think or act a certain way or perceive things differently than they did
- Possible Specialties: Statesman, Fear Monger, Conciliatory
Concentration. Used to resist Diplomacy and Intimidation.
- Possible Specialties: Mind Like a Steel Trap; Too Stupid to be Scared, Can't be Moved
Taking care of people's injuries or ailments, physical or psychological
- Possible Specialties: Field Aid, Herbalist, Back Alley Surgeon, Bedside Manner
Seeing behind the words or action presented to the intent behind them. Used to resist Diplomacy and Trickery
- Possible Specialties: Empathy, Fellow Trickster, Reason
Coercing someone through threat of force, real or imagined
- Possible Specialties: Build Like a Mountain, Barely Suppressed Rage, A Hint of Madness
The ability to suss out commonalities in unfamiliar languages, dialects, or writings with known tongues to gain new understanding
- Possible Specialties: Ancient Tongues, Dialects of the Empire, Glyphs and Runes
- Possible Specialties: Royal Etiquette, Heraldry, Mythology, Astrology, Numerology, Cultures of the Empire, History, Architecture, Famous Landmarks, Warcraft, Cooking, Poisoncraft, etc
Tampering with, setting, unsetting, jamming, or fixing locks, traps, and other machinery.
- Possible Specialties: Locksmith, Tinkerer, Trapper
Noticing things in your surroundings that might otherwise go unnoticed
- Possible Specialties: Eagle Eye, Nose for Trouble, Eidetic Memory
Acting, singing, playing an instrument, etc
- Possible Specialties: Lute Master, Virtuoso, A Thousand Faces
The art of going unseen and unheard
- Possible Specialties: Move Silently, Silent Step, Not an Item Out of Place
Tracking, covering your tracks, and foraging food, water, and supplies
- Possible Specialties: Streetcraft (urban Trailcraft), Desert Survival, Leave No Tracks
Deceiving or conning somebody, sleight of hand, feinting instead of attacking, etc
- Possible Specialties: Pickpocket, Misdirection, Forgeries
Reaching past the Realm of Men and manifesting effects from the Other Side [Must have a Wyrd Distinction to use this skill].
- Possible Specialties: A character's choice of Wyrd Specialty must fit with their Wyrd Distinction, so a Farseer might have the specialty Children that makes it easier to use their power on the young, or a Bonewight might have the specialty Creature that makes it easier for them to speak to dead animals, etc
Specialties and Signature Assets
Specialties represent unique focus or training in a narrow aspect of a given skill that grants an extra die to that specific skill in the right situation. For example, specializing in Dagger under Combat, Melee would grant a bonus die any time the character chose to fight using a dagger.
Unless they had a similar specialty under Combat, Ranged, however, the Dagger specialty for Melee would not apply to a thrown dagger.
Signature Assets are iconic things or concepts associated with a character, such as weapons, armor, a familiar, a unique bit of background that frequently benefits the character, etc. By way of example, King Arthur might have had the Signature Assets Excalibur and Raised by a Ruddy Mystic
Each character has 5 points to divide among Specialties and Signature Assets. These points spend as follows: