CORE Micro - Ready To Hack

Tod's picture

It's fast and fun, designed to spur collaboration in character-based emergent stories, and it's built to be hacked.

CORE Micro is the system that lies at the heart of "DayTrippers," but it's been stripped all the way down to its essentials and written with skinning/hacking in mind.

You'll find the current version here:

Published under the Creative Commons Attribution License, you are free to use or modify these rules within your own work, commercial or not, simply by crediting me and the CORE system. I'll even help you promote it! If you decide to publish a hack, feel free to contact me and I'll send you a DOC or ODT version for easier editing.

CORE Micro - ready to hack
Tod's picture

Stat your world in no time.
Expand your options in realtime.

A collaborative narrative RPG system that's fast, fertile, and easily skinned for any setting.

CORE produces emergent stories that are character-driven, dynamic and unpredictable, with very few rules to learn. No Hit Points. No Damage Rolls. Pure Story and Excitement. CORE is built for skinning and hacking, allowing you to quickly stat up your fictional world and bring it to the table for unforgettable collaborative play.

  • FAST & EASY d6 pool system with only one mechanic
  • Choose your favorite Character Generation approach: Point-buy, Templates, or Roll the Dice
  • LifeShapers provide backgrounds & motivators for PCs
  • Progressive characters change as they develop
  • Action Resolution is collaborative & interpretive, with a range of dramatic outcomes for every roll
  • Skin the system to bring your world to life!

"The system is narration-based with mechanics that practically melt away."
- Jesse Pyne, Monster Hunt Cast

"A flexible system. It balances story and rules, and it's easy to pick up and play."
- Shawn Koch, author of 'Liquid Hitler'

"A fun, minimalist rules set that doesn't get in the way of good story telling."
- John Haremza, Legends of Tabletop

DeReel's picture

It's simple, with a bit of simulation leading to a lot of narration. For a hack, I hesitate between a "mental transfer" seed, or a "power team vs factions". Or maybe both !

Tod's picture

Currently I and some friends are working on a "Supernatural" hack, a "Post-Apoc Monster Hunters" hack, and a "Time-Traveling Pizza Wizard" hack.
I am excited to see what you and others come up with!

Tod's picture

I know, I know.

I started this Reddit thread to spread the word about CORE, and right away I run into a verbose gentleman who doesn't get it. :-)

But it gave me a chance to elucidate some of what it means when your game is a "hybrid" of traditional and narrativist techniques, so perhaps it will be useful for people who come along later.

You are of course welcome to join in, AMA, or relate your own experiences/ideas.

DeReel's picture

... so I'll carry on the discussion on this forum.

The verbose gentleman is right that the system lacks something for the GM. Also, 1 GM is 1 GM too many. That's why I intend to make my skin of the system mission-based.

with plot cards. (1)

Also, I'll add an alien setting of the week random generator and a questionnaire for the players to colour it. (2)

I'll concentrate on psionics (interacting with personal bonds) (3) and quasi random gadgets à la Q (4). Gadgets and psionics will be the main attraction : localized, one-shots, impactful and colourful. When to use them will be the big memorable choice for each mission.

With players in command, I need to find a way to keep silliness in check. The institutional frame needs careful calibration. (5)

That's 5 tasks. The rest is cutting out parts : Rank = 1 all purpose stat, Drives =LifeShapers, Assets = Skills, Gear, Fame, etc. No situational modifiers, no hirelings problematic.

I'll be on holydays next week and hope a .doc will be ready soon.

Tod's picture

DeReel, that sounds amazing. I am excited to see what you come up with!

PS/BTW: The thing called "CORE Micro" is a precursor, and an SRD. That's why no GM tools or essays. It is the most bare-boned, stripped-down, essay-less version of "CORE", which is (of course) a WIP. Eventually there will be a "CORE Complete" book, and I'm thinking this book will include not only my own expanded sections, essays, GM tools, etc, but also a set of appendixes including all the best CORE-based shit other people have produced in their own hacks and skins. A "CORE Omnibus", perhaps.

Tod's picture

Done? Already? Got any GM advice?
You've created a lot of fascinating stuff here - but I'm having difficulty figuring out how to run it!

DeReel's picture

That's because you expect to find a RPG when it's a storytelling card game.
Mission cards are played like Once upon a time and shaping the theme is like Lovecraftesque had a baby with Dixit. It's not really a RPG in that by RAW, nobody has a clear exclusive authority on anything.
I edited to make sure card use is clearer.
Now complete with printable cards and play mats.

TLD;DR : Cards and tables are GM guidance in the form of prompts and leads.

Tod's picture

Ok, I can buy that. I'm getting the hang of it now that I've read it a few times. So when it comes to action resolution rolls, your Rank is basically the number of dice you use for all rolls, and you can add dice for various things.

I have one mechanical concern: correct me if I'm wrong but it looks like the only way to get a +mod is to burn assets?

DeReel's picture

I am honoured that you would read it multiple times when it's not yet playtested. Thank you !
It's like you say in that you have to burn assets for a roll. There's no power, skill or gadget you can use twice in a Perilous action. I want asset burning to be a major choice and a colourful event. But you're right : I should say that the Asset is burned for rolls, but not for ordinary use. Keeping the narrative where it belongs instead of letting it spill. That simplifies things, and makes them look brighter. Thanks !

But it's not true that you add dice for "various things" : only for Rank and Specialty. See, Low rank is "volatility" and +1D makes the odds more stable, consistent, steady. That fits well with training and competency. The more dice you have the more you can build a plan to burn your assets and reach a specific difficulty level. I rest on Core levels to be an obstacle-springboard for narration. To reach that, I need players to take the goof out of their system first.

Maybe you had Drives in mind with the "various things" that add 1D. I changed the Drive effect from core : here it is score+1, just like an Asset. I wanted Drive to bring the impossible within reach, and score+1 does that. It's double-edged, because players can factor in their Drives, which is not exactly the spirit. Do you have an opinion about that ? I guess the answer is linked to why you made LifeShapers +1D.

And talking about that : using all the rolled dice hitched at first, then I saw it was going to be complex to read. But maybe you have thought of optional rules that would fit well with SpaceShifters. I don't know, like a floor score of x when rolling xD, or spending unused dice for potency of effect.

edit : the game now benefits from a Nasa-like free font and talented starter demo agents.

Tod's picture

@DeReel, I recently went back and reread SpaceShifters again, taking the time to put all the pieces together. I really like what you've done here. It's a refreshing new approach to the CORE mechanics and a welcome addition to the conceptual field of COREspace. My only wish is that it was written in a more straightforward way! As it is right now, it takes a bit of effort to understand. Do you plan on fleshing it out? Because I'd be happy to talk about getting it published!

ETA: Are you on MeWe? I have a little CORE community there.

DeReel's picture

Hello, I am constantly reworking my games, and this one sure is clunky. I think I can do a recto-verso A4 with the rules, with character sheets and tables on the side.

I am setting camp on itch, which gives me easy tools for that. I don't do social medias yet : it's a lot of work of a kind I don't enjoy.

Tod's picture

Quoting at length from DayTrippers...

Dr. Howard Belknap Barker, Professor Emeritus of SlipSpace Dynamics at the Western Academy of Intraspace Technology - that famous hall known by alumni as “The Ziggurat” - has championed a theory which proposes a radical vision of bi-causality in the relation between subjective and consensus realities at both interpersonal and intra-personal levels. On Barker’s view, there exists:

  • a world for every dream or nightmare ever had by Edgar Allan Poe
  • a world for the sum of all dreams and nightmares ever had by Edgar Allan Poe
  • a world for the conscious experience of the historical reality of Edgar Allan Poe
  • a world for the unconsciousness contents of the mind of Edgar Allan Poe, and
  • an "unfinished" world for every half-baked idea that ever arose in the mind of Edgar Allan Poe

In this much all conscious minds seem to be similar – i.e., there exists a whole set of Dream Worlds based on your personal dreams and your own consciousness, as well as mine, etc. But since Poe has affected so many people with ideas springing from his fertile mind, he has managed to spawn additional Dream Worlds corresponding to these deeply-imagined and oft-reiterated works. Thus we have:

  • a world for every story ever written by Edgar Allan Poe
  • a world for the gestalt sum of all stories ever written by Edgar Allan Poe
  • a world for the sum of all impressions ever drawn by all readers of all stories written by Edgar Allan Poe, and even
  • a world for the sum of all impressions ever drawn by all readers of all stories which have a similarity or connection to stories written by Edgar Allan Poe but weren't actually written by Edgar Allan Poe

Perhaps the most unsettling theories about Dream Worlds are those which point out – correctly – that we can’t prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that our own reality isn’t one of them.

Tod's picture

Hey @DeReel --
I'd really like to see "SpaceShifters" make it to print. Want to talk about that? Email me or hit me on Twitter @AsIfProds

DeReel's picture

Hi !
These hollydays have gone real fast. but I think I can have something ready for march without pressure.
I'll make the psionics pure colour, only, OSR-colour you can throw at monsters before dropping a lighter.
I'll keep the basic "volatile skills + gear bonus" because it works.
I need to focus on 3-4 themes to tuck the mission encounters neatly.
And with 3-4 days from the winter hollydays, I can gather some cool art and "done!"
(Notice how using the thread as a devlog is also a commitment to seat myself at that desk ;) )