Monday, December 18, 2017

Genesys Core RPG - A Spanky New Generic Universal Game System

Fantasy Flight Games has released Genesys Core, a new generic RPG available in both print and PDF. Genesys Core has it's roots in the Star Wars RPG, which uses symbol-based dice to resolve conflicts with a unique range of combinations. If you've played any of the three Star Wars games from FFG before then you've experienced the same basic game system.

Unlike Star Wars RPG, Genesys Core is designed to be a concise introduction to using the rules in a variety of game settings, with specific support in the cor rules for fantasy, modern, steampunk, space opera, hard(ish) SF and weird war gaming, with additional spot rules for genres such as pulp and horror. The intent is for FFG to publish future source books for their existing IPs such as Runescape and Android, which have until now been represented only within boardgames. These settings have a lot of thought and depth, so it's nice to see them get a chance to be explored from an RPG perspective.

For those of you wondering how this game works, here's the gist of it: you take some funny colored dice with some weird symbols, use a few basic formulae to combine them into a dice pool, and roll. Get more successes and you accomplish your task...more failures and you lose. If you also get some special dice in there you can get complications or perks to your success/failure. It's really very simple, and if you can get used to the non-number based dice it's also very easy. I admit, I ignored the Star Wars RPG for a long time because I didn't like the look of the dice, but now that I've learned the system via Genesys I kinda regret that snap judgement.

Here's what the dice look like:

Symbols identified include: Asteroid ships, explosion, solar hula hoop, cat's anus of failure,
painful wreathe, cat's butt trapped in painful wreathe
Members of my group have creative names for the symbols, but I find it easier to think of thedice by color, actually! The basic method of a skill check works like this: find the largest pool for attribute or skill. Add that many green dice. Find the lower pool (skill or attribute), replace that many green dice with yellow dice. Now add as many purple dice as the difficulty of the task. Roll.....if you get more success explosion symbols than failure implosion symbols, you succeed. Other dice are added due to specific conditionals, triggered by talents, assistance, or unusually beneficial or difficult circumstances, and their symbols can equate to "crits and fumbles" but with more room for story interpretation....and you can, for example, succeed at a task but still get a "fumble" marker which means you pull off the stunt but with complications in the story.

I'm going to be writing a lot more about this game soon, and I plan to run it as early as possible...I actually feel like Genesys may be the sort of generic system I've been waiting for for a long time now, with just the right level of depth and flex, but I need to try it out first.

Some Pros to the rules I've caught so far:

Nice skill system....not too large, not too small, just right
The setback and challenge dice add a lot of depth to your actions
The numeric range in the game is tight, but the depth of play appears to be wide
Designing gear, monsters and abilities for specific setting appears to work easily with some commonsense rules provided in the core book
The game design focuses on story-based play and far less on "level grind" gaming, so it appears on the surface to be great for innovative and unique 6-12 session long campaigns to explore such worlds, but the XP and talent system suggest long term campaigning is feasible, too

Cons I noticed so far:

It's more of a toolkit in the core book; you as GM will need to fill in gaps for your choice of setting, so not many "premade" materials to work with (yet)
The symbol-based dice mechanic may not be easy to get used to if you're not a visually-focused gamer
The system works well as a generic ruleset but maybe lacks specific flavor for unusual settings without work
The dice cost $15 a pack and you'll immediately realize you will want 4-6 packs for your table if you can't be sure your players will chip in
One genre, superheroes, gets a couple pages and doesn't feel as robust as I would expect it to be for the subject....I expect a future sourcebook would loom to flesh the genre out

I can readily see this being a great new generic system for fantasy, modern, horror and sci fi gaming. It clearly works well for steampunk, too. The magic system provided is short but extremely concise.....I will be keen to see what the inevitable sourcebooks offer to flesh these elements out.

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