Sunday, May 20, 2018

Genesys Core - Session Four

I'm four sessions in to a Genesys Core game now, set in a fantasy world borrowing from Realms of Terrinoth and the copious resources over on the FFG forums.

Magic- Session four is demonstrating some interesting new learning hurdles for the game system. Notable among these are the magic system, which is very free-form, but also "menu driven" in that you pick your spell type (Attack, Barrier, Curse, etc.) and then add on to the base effect with a series of options that increase effect and difficulty. It's an interesting system, unless your group is very tired and unfocused....then things can slow down a bit (and yes, it seems like many of us were kind of tired and unfocused last night).

Right now in terms of the magic learning curve I have two players with mages who are picking it up nicely, one player who is behind the curve, and a GM who gets the concept but in reality isn't thinking quickly on his feet at the table when it comes to aiding in these calculations. Yaaaay for me.

The Dice- Interpreting the dice is getting much easier with practice. That said, I realized that I as GM sometimes like to reach for the dice to check an NPC's reaction to something players do. "Is this person stupid enough to believe X? Is this guy clever enough to realize Y?" And in Genesys it is simply quicker and easier to decide that as the GM rather than let fate call upon the dice, since the dice can make the GM spend thirty seconds staring at them, which is narrative flow time lost. I'm not entirely unconvinced this isn't stripping me of a bad habit, actually.

One thing I don't suggest if possible is to mix Star Wars dice with Genesys dice. The new player was using Star Wars dice but it was clear when we gave him Genesys dice this time that it threw him for a loop.

Initiative- the way this game handles initiative is fine, but I feel it needs refinement. Everyone rolls initiative, and the player group can essentially trade off their slots in the sequence to others. How this is done is described poorly in the rules, and has led to moments where I ask who goes next, and no one is sure who wants to go. I think I'm going to implement a "house protocol" where I tell the players they can hand off their initiative if they want, but I will otherwise call on them in sequence.

Battles- Combat remained interesting and dynamic, and we actually ran through roughly three major encounters for the evening, two of which ended up in battle. Gauging foes in Genesys can be a bit of a trick, though. Seven trolls using a doc I got from the forum proved to be a bad idea for a minor encounter, but it was easy to demote six of them from rivals to minions. That said, I find the damage/soak mechanic a bit weird at times. Spells have to get through soak, for example....unless you add an effect that lets them pierce soak. This leads to the counter intuitive result of a guy taking a lot of fire damage with the burn effect but it's okay because he had plat mail on so he only took a bit of it. I could rationalize it as the idea that most of the burn effect was splashed off on his plate, but in practicality I'm not sure getting doused in flames while wearing any medieval armor is a good idea.

There were a few rolls with a lot of density in the combat roll, but the players who are catching on quick were good at parting out the flow of data from the dice into their advantage effects, attacks, crits, threats, etc. This was good.

Overall, despite the muddy moments with the "rules to dice to narrative account of what is happening" process as relates to certain spells and effects attempted, I still was impressed that the system manages to help create a distinct evocation of storytelling that makes the adventure memorable. Very good plus there!

As a total aside, while I am really enjoying a "build from scratch" new world design for recent games, the Realms of Terrinoth book is a blast to read and a great setting. I even caved and picked up Descent 2nd Edition to play with my son, and am debating picking up some of the other board games. Well played, Fantasy Flight.

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