Margaret Weis Productions Leaves RPG Publishing

Margaret Weis ProductionsFollowing last week’s announcement by Monica Valintinelli, Margaret Weis Productions announced they were retiring from the roleplaying games, saying that Cam Banks, a former MWP employee and lead developer of several Cortex Plus products, has acquired the license to both Cortex Plus and Cortex Classic game systems. MWP has stated that Margaret Weis wishes to focus on novel and film projects.

Cam Banks has created Magic Vacuum, a new design studio, for developing projects based on the Cortex game systems as well as his own projects, some of which are currently on his patreon page. Development and crowdfunding for new core rulebooks are planned for 2017 “and beyond”. Cortex Plus games that Cam has developed include Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, Smallville, and Leverage. Nearly all of the Cortex games MWP published were based on existing IP, such as Supernatural, Battlestar Galactica, and Firefly.

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Margaret Weis ProductionsThis afternoon, Monica Valentinelli, the project lead for Margaret Weis Productions’ Firefly line and developer for their upcoming Cortex Plus Action corebook, announced she is no longer working for MWP. Her partner and publishing director for OneBookShelf, Matt McElroy, also announced that he will neither be developing the Cortex Plus Heroic corebook nor managing the Kickstarter campaign for the two books. “If MWP does go forward with those books they will be under different leadership,” McElroy posted on’s forums.

In March, MWP announced they would be going to Kickstarter for a campaign to produce generic Cortex Plus Action and Cortex Plus Heroic Roleplaying rulebooks. Originally described as coming during Spring of 2016, the campaign has yet to be launched. The MWP website was revamped in the past few months with a focus on novels; the announcement of the Kickstarter campaign is no longer on the website.

As to roleplaying games, only the generic Cortex Classic book and the Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide are offered, although the entire Firefly line is available on DriveThruRPG. When asked in August if there were any more Firefly supplements coming from MWP, McElroy responded, “Firefly was always a limited license.”

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Cortex Plus Community Created ContentMonte Cook Games and Margaret Weis Productions are joining Wizards of the Coast in offering hosted licenses for third-party publishing. Like WOTC with the Dungeon Masters Guild for Dungeons & Dragons, the two companies are working with DriveThruRPG to set up special online storefronts, launching this spring, where anyone will be able to upload and offer for sale digital products that make use of the Cypher and Cortex roleplaying game systems.

A hosted license—where an open game license is tied to the use of a publisher-sponsored marketplace—allows a publisher to collect royalties on related sales and to provide some degree of oversight.

Cypher-System-Logo-BlackIn the case of the Dungeon Masters Guild, the license also provides for broader use of the original publisher’s intellectual property (such as campaign settings). However, whether such expanded access will apply to either the Cypher System Creator Program or the Cortex Plus Creator Studio, remains to be seen.

Margaret Weis Productions’ announcement did state that the new program would replace existing arrangements for Cortex Plus Fan Product and Cortex Plus Official Licensed Products.

Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide

Cortex Hacker's GuideCortex Plus is the basic system underlying Margaret Weis Productions’ newer RPGs, Marvel Herioc Roleplaying, Leverage, and Smallville. The Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide is a sampling—albeit a large sampling—of guides, optional rules, settings, and sample scenarios for the system.

Some of the specific sections included in the book are: “How to Hack Cortex Plus”, “Hacking Stress”, “The Kingdom as a Character”, “Vampville”, “Episodes at the End of Time”, and “Fantasy Heroic Roleplaying”.

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First off, scheduled for release next month is Margaret Weis Productions’ Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Basic Game. Derived from the Cortex Plus RPG system, the game is currently available for preorder.

In March we get Marvel Avengers Slap Shot Bowling from Giant Tree House:

and Marvel Avengers card games, Go Fish, Crazy 8s, and War, from Glowfly Games:

JAKKS Pacific yesterday announced its own licensing arrangement with Marvel, based on which the company will produce Marvel Super Hero Squad plush toys. The plushies will be good for cuddling, as well as unlocking content in Marvel’s online trading card game at JAKKS also plans to launch in the spring “innovative ‘Skill & Action’ based games that encourage active, physical play based on popular Marvel super heroes.”

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