Tabletop Spotlight: Genesys RPG Core Rulebook
Fantasy Flight Games has a new core RPG system out now – Genesys has arrived!
Our Friends at Dragon’s Lair Comics & Fantasy brought over the new core rule book for the Genesys system and we took a good look at what makes this system special:
The Genesys Role Playing Game System isn’t exactly new – it’s very, very similar to the Star Wars system by all accounts. The main difference is that it’s very “generic” – but that is intentional. This book is the Core of a RPG system that could be the new GURPS or World of Darkness system (well, at least before it’s current version). At the same time, it’s got some very cool concepts that I think are applicable to just about any type of RPG.
Essentially, the Genesys system isn’t a single game – it’s the foundation for a limitless number of games. The core mechanics are all in the book, from character creation, to combat, to skill checks, to gear and equipment. At the same time, it’s all just a template for you to use to build your own story. Sure, the game has some suggestions but those are there to get the ball rolling. The GM and players are going to get to build their story and that’s one of the things I really liked about it.
The Genesys system uses custom dice that are nearly identical to the Star Wars RPG. These “Narrative Dice” are the real heart of the system and really what make this game different. As players face different challenges they will create a pool of dice. They will then roll that pool of dice and the GM will have to use those results to craft the result of the roll. Evan and I go over this in more detail in the video.
I really like the concept of the being able to “fail forward” or “succeed backwards” that the dice represent. I think it opens up some fantastic opportunities for story telling and narrative driven games. At the same time, if you’re more a “crunchy” gamer (ie you want more stats, skills, modifiers and a straight dice roll) this game might drive you a little crazy. This dice aren’t a simple binary Pass/Fail. They represent a range of possibilities. I think the concept is really cool, but it’s not without it’s down sides.
The biggest challenge with the dice is that it puts a lot of the story telling the backs of the GMs. The first couple of rolls for a new GM can feel like you’ve just learned to “read the runes” like a fortune teller. Depending on the sizes of the pool, it can be a bit complex. Now, I think with some practice and with preparation that challenge will be overcome. As a GM, you’ve really got to be confident in your ability to improvise situations on the fly and work with what the dice give you.
In many ways, it’s more complex than just running “an encounter” in a more traditional RPG. But that complexity also rewards you with some really cool story-telling opportunities. In reality, most challenges or skill checks are going to have 4 basic outcomes: Pass/Advantage, Fail/Advantage, Pass/Threat, Fail/Threat. As a GM you’ve got to be ready to handle all 4 and be prepared for what happens next. It’s a lot of work and we haven’t even added in the Triumph and Despair results.
Genesys also requires a lot of trust from your players, too. They also have to abide by the GM’s “interpretations” of the dice results. If you’re group is very strict and number-crunchy, this might cause problems. However, if you’re more a “free-spirit” gamer and are willing to go with the flow (and you trust the GM) this system can have some really amazing results.
Personally, I’m really excited to see what FFG does with this system. They have been dabbling in RPGs for a while now and this seems like a perfect chance for them to solidify their IPs into a codified system. I’d love to see what sourcebooks the have planned for Genesys. Imagine getting an Arkham Horror Files Sourcebook (YES PLEASE!) or a Legend of the Five Rings Sourcebook (yes, I know they have an RPG on the way that uses a different system already). Or what about an Android Universe Sourcebook?! The possibilities are all there and it seems odd that FFG wouldn’t want to pursue those options.
Overall, Genesys opens the door for some really great narrative driven adventures of the players design. If you’re looking for a new system to try out that is pretty open-ended and will let you create the game you’ve always wanted to play in then give Genesys a try! Heck, even if you are more a “crunchy” gamer you should try this system out just to stretch those narrative muscles. Who knows, you might end up really liking the freedom and the restrictions the dice give you! The Genesys core rules are out and available now – so go tell your OWN story!
Face down a dragon as a brave knight, hack into a corporate security system as an elite runner, set sail in your airship. Unlimited adventure awaits you in Genesys, a new roleplaying system designed for a variety of settings and limited only by your imagination.
The Genesys experience begins with the Genesys Core Rulebook, which features an explanation of the innovative narrative dice system and core mechanics of the game, an overview of five different settings in which to place campaigns, and advice for Game Masters to craft a myriad of adventures with unparalleled freedom.
Tell your story with Genesys!