For those that have played the Serenity rpg or Battle Star Galactica these rules are pretty much identical, providing some added enhancements as far as cybernetics, magic, and psionics as well as full details of how to use this system in sci-fi, modern day, and fantasy settings.
While owners of the Serenity rpg or BSG game at first glance have little real need for this book, they will find at the back several pages of text providing stats for common everyday animals, and even more fantastical creatres from aliens to demons, carnivorous plants and gryphons, making it much easier to portray stats for the mulititude of flora and fauna adventures encounter in their Serenity or BSG adventures.
Anyone else wishing to adapt their favorite setting to cortex rules can't go wrong with this purchase. There's also a expanded gear listing section for a variety of tech levels, making it much easier to appropriately outfit characters. As a bonus it also provides the outline of three lightly detailed example campaign settings of different eras:
Star of the Guardians (Based on the excellent novels by Margaret Weis which I'd definitely recommend to any lover of sci-fi) is a sci-fi type of setting that gives a fresh and exciting take on gritty yet fantastic space adventure and gives some good examples of how to keep such a setting interesting and engaging to the players.
Trace, is a modern day/ near future campaign setting revolving around a squad of police officers assigned to the Tactical Response Anti-Criminal Enforcement squad. This setting is meant to replicate the police drama and action seen in movies such as Lethal Weapon and tv series like The Shield, and provides some good examples of how to adapt the cortex system to modern day and a good bare bones frame of a police station with key npc's.
Arcady (based on the novels by Michael Williams) Is a gothic fantasy setting outline dealing with the borderlines between reality and dreams. While a little bit bizarre compared to more "generic" fantasy settings it's a rather refreshing take on a fantasy world (and the books are a great read for fans of such) and the cortex system is once again shown with good examples of how to adopt it to a fantasy setting with minimal effort.
This book goes even farther to provide at the end several solid pages of npc examples, from police officers, and the average Joe to priests and tribal's; even going so far as to stat out psychics, commando's, mad scientists, and psycho killers.
All of this content is sorely lacking in art work compared to other releases such as Serenity and BSG, having over all very little beyond a few scattered B&W character pics and assorted solid black silhouettes, (is it that hard to give us a pic instead of a outline?) with text easily making up 95% or more of the book.
Granted this is a pre-release version so the final press release will probably (hopefully) ship with a lot more pics to it's name, and given that final release will be provided free to buyers of this version I'm withholding final judgment until I see the finished product.
For all of this content there is a price, which seems to me to be extremely inflated, (even at $21.99 let alone the original asking price of $29.99!) especially for a pre-release book with very little artwork.
For the price given I was expecting more in the art category, and definitely more in the clarifications of vehicle combat/design rather than a mere 1 1/6 pages it received.
Still, given this purchase comes with the promise of a free download of the finished product which will hopefully be worth the money, I'm not going to hold the higher than expected price tag too strongly against the product. (although for just this and no finished product download I would pay maybe $6-$8)
Quality of text: Extremely Satisfied
Quality & Amount of Artwork: Very Disappointed
Value for price: Satisfied