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An anthology of ways to use Cortex Plus from MWP's award-winning Leverage & Smallville RPGs: hacks, settings, and options!

HACKER'S GUIDE HISTORY

For years, fans have enjoyed games powered by Margaret Weis Productions’ award-winning Cortex Plus system. From the embroiled teenaged drama powered by Smallville to the high-tech heist hijinks of Leverage, and the comic book action of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, the community has embraced these games and made them their own. Many have taken the rules from each licensed game and adapted them to a wide variety of settings, genres, and play styles.

In the spring of 2010, MWP sent out a call to its growing community for the best “hacks” of the Cortex Plus system. They asked creators, amateurs, and professionals alike to share new mechanics, settings, and entirely new games from the bones of existing games. Over 20 different authors contributed their own ideas to the project, which was dubbed the Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide.

Timing, as they say, is everything. The massive undertaking of creating the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game forced MWP to put the Hacker’s Guide on the backburner. That is, until today.

MWP wants to put a little twist on how they produce the Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide. They also want to say a big thank you to those that have already contributed to the book, and have been so patient while waiting for it see the light of day. Enter Kickstarter. By supporting this project, you will also be supporting all the creatives (authors, designers, developers, editors – past, present and future) who contribute to it. How’s that you ask? Simple. After costs are subtracted, creatives will receive half of all net profits, divided up amongst each individual based on how much they contributed to the book.

This is your first chance to get the Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide, show some love to several talented creatives, and help support MWP in the additional development for the final product and, possibly, extended product.

WHAT YOU’LL GET

The Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide is a collection of articles and essays for use with either Cortex Plus Drama (as seen in the Smallville Roleplaying Game) or Cortex Plus Action (as seen in the Leverage Roleplaying Game.) In order to best take advantage of the guide, you’ll want to own either or both of these games, though many articles are neutral to whichever Cortex Plus game you favor.

The following benefits come with pledging:

  • Receive a copy of the book, in PDF or both PDF and printed forms, by supporting at one of the levels listed.
  • We’re offering bonuses for Cortex Plus/MWP fans, budding game designers, and those who want a professionally-run Cortex Plus game and party.
  • Just so you don’t wait too long, anyone supporting the book at ($10) or above will receive a preview draft copy shortly after the Kickstarter ends. You won’t have to wait for the books to be printed or new content to be developed in order to get a glimpse of the book.
  • You’ll be supporting the authors who each had something new and unique to add to Cortex Plus. The more support they get, the more they get back from you!
  • You’ll also be helping us make the book even more awesome with all the additional content we’ll generate via our stretch goals.

STRETCH GOALS

Our basic goal is just enough to break even on printing, editing, layout, etc.

UNLOCKED AT $20,000: we’ll add art to the book, at least one new piece per article, and generally make the book snazzier.

UNLOCKED AT $25,000: we’ll add an ENTIRELY NEW section: A fully-playable hack for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying called “Fantasy Heroic Roleplaying” that adapts the system to high action fantasy adventure in the style of the world’s most popular roleplaying game.

UNLOCKED AT $30,000, we’ll DOUBLE the amount of content for Fantasy Heroic Roleplaying, adding more monsters, more player options, and more tables for GMs.

UNLOCKED AT $35,000, we’ll create a new section for a “generic” version of Cortex Plus Drama called "Dramatic Roleplaying," adaptable to whatever setting you choose, perfect for any Cortex Plus hacker’s use.

UNLOCKED AT $40,000 or above, we’ll create a new section for a "generic" version of Cortex Plus Action called "Action Roleplaying," adaptable to whatever setting you choose, perfect for any Cortex Plus hacker's use.

ADD-ONS

Backers at any $10 backer level or above can increase their pledge by the following amount in order to receive

  • Extra Hacker's Guide ($15 domestic, $20 international): Receive a second printed copy of the Cortex Plus Hacker's Guide, so you have one to give to a friend. (This add-on is only available if you're already receiving a printed copy of the Hacker's Guide. Please, limit 1 extra copy.)
  • Leverage Companions ($20): Receive all 10 of the Leverage Companions in PDF. At the close of the campaign, along with any other PDFs you're receiving, we'll send you the ones currently released, and the new ones as they come out.
  • Brigadier ($30 domestic, $35 international): In addition to whatever other printed materials you'll receive, you'll also receive a copy of Shadow Raiders, the first Dragon Brigade novel by Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes, signed by Margaret herself. Additionally, we'll send you The Affair of the Orb, a novella by Chris Pierson set in the world of Dragon Brigade, and a tie-in Dragon Brigade RPG mini-adventure (both in PDF) as soon as it's released.
  • Leverage Core Book Hardcover ($30 domestic, $35 international): Your very own copy of the hardcover of the Leverage RPG, the basis for the Cortex Plus Action system.

Just increase your pledge by the listed amount, and when the Kickstarter closes, when we send surveys, we'll ask which of the add-ons you pledged for.

TENTATIVE TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • On Hacking by Rob Donoghue
  • Kingdom Management by Dave Bozarth
  • Starship for Hire by Dave Chalker
  • Random Feature Generation by Scott Cunningham
  • Mutant Ninja Animals by Steve Darlington
  • Vampires by Anders Gabrielsson
  • Backstabbing BFFs by Matthew Gardner
  • Ephemereality by Zachery Gaskins
  • Episodes at the End of Time by Jim Henley
  • Transhumanism by Dain Lybarger
  • Future Born in Pain by Tom Lynch
  • Hacking Stress by Ryan Macklin
  • The Old School Job by Philippe-Antoine Ménard
  • Time and Tactics by Adam Minnie
  • Cyberpunk Overdrive by James Ritter
  • Machine Shop by Josh Roby
  • One-Shots by Josh Roby
  • Junior Adventurer's Club by Elizabeth Shoemaker Sampat
  • Cursus Honorum: Roman Drama by Shreyas Sampat
  • Dramatic Fluency by Joel Shempert
  • Mechaville by Joel Shempert
  • Eternal City by Dennis Twigg
  • Roleplay Like You're On TV by Monica Valentinelli

(Exact order of articles in the final book TBD)

WHO WE ARE

This exciting project is the brainchild of Cam Banks, Creative Director at Margaret Weis Productions and lead designer of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying. Dave ("The Game") Chalker and Philippe-Antoine ("Chatty DM") Ménard have taken up the torch to get the project to the finish line. On top of their award-winning work as writers, game designers, and bloggers, their recent multidisciplinary work on various Marvel Heroic Roleplaying and other Cortex Plus game products make them ideal choices for making this great book a reality. They know the Cortex Plus RPG engine inside and out, have created many of their own hacks, and are passionate advocates of its barely tapped potential.

As the project evolves, new members will be added to the team and we’ll make sure to introduce them to you.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

While apparently simple in execution, this incremental project requires the input of a whole team of people to bring a final product of the highest possible grade. Once the project hits its minimal funding goal, the books’ content needs development to ensure Cortex Plus compatibility. It requires editing for consistency and writing quality. Layout and final proofreading are required to offer the best possible product. Combined with printing and distribution, all these production steps need to be closely orchestrated to minimize delays and deliver a book in the shortest amount of time possible.

The projects’ complexity rises as it hits further funding goals. Addition of new content provides new sets of challenges such as art commissioning, playtesting, design-development cycles and more complex layout to name but a few.

Fortunately, none of these challenges falls outside the skill set of the team that was assembled to work on this project. Experienced designers and developers are already onboard. A team of proven freelance professionals will join the project team as work on the book progresses.

We are aware that the biggest challenge is to deliver a book that falls within budget and gets delivered within a timeframe that meets the overall expectations of backers. That’s why we've established a methodical approach so we address all issues rapidly in ways that minimize delays and costs.

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    Supporter d4. Receive our thanks for helping making this book a reality. Also, get a free Plot Point from your GM if the book funds!

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    504 backers

    Digital d6. Receive a copy in PDF of the Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide, including all funded stretch goal material.

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    515 backers

    Print d8. Receive a printed copy of the Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide, plus a PDF, including all funded stretch goal material.

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    52 backers

    New Cortex Fan d8. Receive a printed copy of the Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide, plus a PDF, including all funded stretch goal material. PLUS receive PDF copies of the Smallville Roleplaying Game and Leverage Roleplaying Game.

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    Digital Everything Cortex Plus d10. Receive a PDF of the Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide including all funded stretch goal material. PLUS receive PDF copies of ALL of the following Cortex Plus game books: Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game, Smallville Roleplaying Game, Smallville: The Watchtower Report, Smallville High School Yearbook, Leverage Roleplaying Game, Leverage: Grifters & Masterminds, and Leverage: Hitters, Hackers & Thieves.

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    11 backers Limited (4 left of 15)

    Expert Player d10. Receive a printed copy of the Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide, plus a PDF, including all funded stretch goal material. PLUS play in an online game session expertly run by one of the Cortex Plus designers. Backers at this level will vote on which GM and system to play.

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    9 backers Limited (6 left of 15)

    Game Designer d10. Receive a printed copy of the Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide, plus a PDF, including all funded stretch goal material. PLUS receive a 1 hour personal online game design consultation by one of the Cortex Plus designers.

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    91 backers

    Everything Cortex Plus d10. Receive a printed copy of the Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide, plus a PDF, including all funded stretch goal material. PLUS receive PDF copies of ALL of the following Cortex Plus game books: Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game, Smallville Roleplaying Game, Smallville: The Watchtower Report, Smallville High School Yearbook, Leverage Roleplaying Game, Leverage: Grifters & Masterminds, and Leverage: Hitters, Hackers & Thieves.

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    Retailer d12. Receive 6 copies of the Cortex Plus Hacker’s guide to sell at your store, plus PDFs provided to anyone who buys them. (Brick and mortar retailers only please!)

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    Heroic Backer d12. Receive 6 copies of the Cortex Plus Hacker’s guide for use in your gaming group, plus if your make it to PAX East, Origins, or Gen Con with friends, one of the Cortex Plus designers will run a game for you, and we’ll provide a pizza lunch to go with it.

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Funding period

- (30 days)