Cogent Playtest

As mentioned earlier on this blog Shadiversity and Jazza have released an Open Game RPG Framework called Cogent.

I recently was able to playtest it out with some friends. I also got to try out Owlbear Rodeo.

Thoughts on Owlbear

Overall, Owlbear is great . . . but not for dicepool systems. At least in its current state. It’s getting a overhaul in June though that I suspect will fix. Currently, it’s hard to subtract dice from the dice tray, making it difficult to use in a system where d6s will constantly be added or subtracted.

Given that Under a Hostile Sun is d20 based I think it would be super easy to play Hostile Sun on Owlbear, as well as FateCore and D&D games.

thoughts on Cogent

The rules system can be used across a wide variety of genres. My game session was a steampunk heist scenario. The unusual genre worked well in Cogent and shows the flexibility of the system.

The character creation is super streamlined. There are three attributes – Strength, Reflex and Intelligence. Strength allows you to shake off injuries, Reflex gives you better positioning in the turn order and Intelligence grants you more skill points. Each attribute also ads dice to rolls done with certain skills.

I am not used to there being so few base stats, but for Cogent’s streamlined style of play, it worked elegantly.

The part of the system I would most want to learn from when adapting to other systems would be how it handles turn order. Cogent stresses that in a fight all actions are happening at once. Thus, there is a Declaration Phase and a Resolution Phase. All characters from slowest Reflex to fastest Reflex declare their intentions for the round. This allows faster reflex characters to respond to the declarations of slower characters. Then the declarations are resolved from fastest to slowest, enabling high reflex characters to interrupt slower characters.

One of the systems simultaneous strengths and weaknesses is its vocation system. On one hand it allows a player very quickly to define a “character class” for any vocation they can think of. Furthermore, the vocation-assist system encourages players to creatively think how their vocation could give their character an edge in a given situation.

The problem is that assists are a separate roll, which means for some actions players will need to roll twice, with different sized dice pools. This can slow things down, especially since most players are used to getting an action resolution after a single d20 throw.

The system is easy to learn, players can learn most of it from the character sheet and a helpful GM. Overall though, if I wanted players to have unlimited “character class” options and infinite potential to customize actions to their characters’ training . . . .I would use the Fate Core System.

The aspects of Fate Core allow for fast and truly unique character creation and can resolve faster than assists. Still if for some reason you did not want to use Fate’s Aspect mechanics Cogent is a strong rule-lite general use RPG system.

In Summary

  • Clever combat system that emphasizes the fast nature of fights and encourages creativity. 👍
  • Can be used for a wide variety of genres. 👍
  • Streamlined character creation process. 👍
  • Easy for new players to learn. 👍
  • Infinite vocation possibilities. 👍
  • Encourages creative solutions to problems. 👍
  • Injuries impact characters. 👍
  • Magic not integrated by default. 🫤
  • Some players may prefer the more traditional 6-ish base stats, as opposed to just 3. 🫤
  • Assists require some actions to have two rolls before they resolve. 👎
  • Benefits of Cogent’s vocation system can be accomplished better by Fate’s Aspect mechanics. 👎

Upcoming for Hostile Sun

Around May 15 another 3-page adventure for Under a Hostile Sun will be released. This one will place the characters on a colony infected by a strange disease. Helpful Herbs will need to be collected and the mystery of the diseases’ origin will need to be solved.

Be sure to check it out. I am also starting to brainstorm a project currently entitled Against the Arcane that will adopt the Fueled by a Hostile Sun system for Fantasy play. Be sure to watch my for more.

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