One of the things that I’ve always liked about the old James Bond RPG rules set, and to a lesser extent Cortex, is that the quality of the success translates into how well damage is rendered on an opponent. In the JB:007 game, the quality result is checked against the damage class of the weapon and there’s the damage done. In Cortex, the quality of the result gives you basic damage — 1/2 in stun and 1/2 in wound, but then there’s the additional roll of the weapon’s damage — this can give anything from a disappointing 1 up to the max of the die in wound.
It’s the one issue in Cortex’s combat mechanics that has always bugged me. Bang! I do 3S and 3W on my .45 pistol with a d6W and….oh. One. The second bit of random chance just seems to fly against the point of the basic damage based on quality. Granted, an extraordinary success lends the attacker certain benefits if the target doesn’t make their endurance test (or in the case of mooks, I just call it an incapacitate.)
I have two suggestions to improve the way combat is handled in Cortex:
1) Weapons and damage — In the case of damage, I suggest the player be allowed to “take the average” — if a pistol has a d6W (and most do), the weapon normally does three. With an extraordinary success, it does the max for the die, in this example six. (Ex. Ted (d6 Agility+d4 Guns with a result of 10) shoots Steve (dodging with a d6 Agility and d6 Athletics with a disappointing 7 result.) He does 1 stun from basic damage, and 4 wound. Had he gotten an extraordinary (say, Steve only got a 3), it would have been 4 stun, 9 wound.
This should speed combat and reduce some of the chance of combat. I would still allow them to roll damage if they were feeling lucky, but it might be a good option for the GM running a big, complex fight to cut down on rolling and paperwork.
2) Always roll Endurance when taking a hit. Sometimes, you get hit and while it doesn’t do any real physical damage, it knocks the snot out of you. I like to have the players test against Endurance equal to an injury they sustain in combat. They took 2 stun, 2 wound? Beat a 4, otherwise be stunned for a number of rounds equal to how much to missed. On an extraordinary success, stick to the rules on pg. 94 of the Cortex core book — wounds start d2 Bleeding per turn of strenuous activity or 10 minutes otherwise; stun and you’re knocked out; basic damage, you’ve taken some kind of debilitating injury.
As always, feel free to completely ignore these suggestions.