Thursday, December 7, 2017

What is Genesys?

So there's a new RPG hitting stores this week - Genesys.

No, not that one.

Not that one either - well, maybe her ...

Yeah. Wait - back to the game.

From the site:

The Genesys Roleplaying System allows you to create your own setting to roleplay in. Whether you're playing as a posse of outlaws in a weird west tale or an unlikely group of heroes fighting against the tyranny of a mad dictator in the far future, Genesys gives you all the tools to need to create your own personal playground.

So it's a "generic" RPG like Hero or GURPS or - maybe more widely known these days - Savage Worlds.

It uses special dice. It's from FFG and it's the "generic" version of their Star Wars system. Larger article here.

Of course it can't use the same !#@$@$ symbols as those dice:

They are similar, but still if you were playing in both games it might take a bit to switch "fonts" between the two.

Now I've run some sessions of their Star Wars for different people with different characters and I do like it as a different approach than d6 Star Wars or d20 Star Wars. If you don't like the Star Wars universe but are looking for a system that's "different" for another genre like fantasy or some other kind of cinematic adventure then this is worth a look.

  • Old schoolers may not like this system as much as you have a lot less natural control over things. Every roll of the dice can introduce unplanned complications both good and bad. You may have a fairly detailed plan for sneaking into the enemy base and then someone rolls really well or really badly and now you've stumbled across some hidden guards or broken some equipment or some other unexpected event that can throw things off. 
  • Those who like detailed tactical movement and combat may or may not like it. There is no grid and so no counting squares or hexes. There are quite a few options in combat but they are driven by what comes up on those dice. So if you like having a character "build" with hard set capabilities you may need to make some adjustments to expectations as many of your options will add a die to a roll or allow you to spend specific die results to trigger a new result. There are some of the traditional RPG "number bump" type options but less than you might expect. Combat is full of interesting choices but it's less crunchy and less predictable than in a level based game.
  • If you like "experiencing the story" as the big attraction of your game then you will likely love this system. The dice will send things in different directions and many character abilities key off of manipulating or responding to those dice. Interpreting the results is the heart of the game so if you are good at and enjoy coming up with interpretations on the fly then you will have a blast. 

Beyond the book itself you are going to need a few sets of the dice - I'd say 2 at a minimum. We have 4 sets on the table when we play here and we've never had to scramble/argue/fight for more with 3-5 players so I'd say that's plenty.

All that said I'm not in a huge rush to pick this up because I'm not sure what I would do with it. I think it's great for a pulp game and possibly a superhero game. Really any cinematic genre could be done well here. World War II commando missions, a good Western, 1800's world explorers/extraordinary gentlemen - I can see a lot of potential there.

At the risk of committing heresy, I think it could be great for a Star Trek game. There are a lot of character options for non-combat abilities from diplomacy to carousing to fixing things like a chief engineer. The dice results actually feel like some of those out-of-nowhere technobabble explanations or amazing stunts that resolve so many episodes. Being Star Wars it already has vehicle and ship combat rules and rules for psionic type powers for your Vulcans and Betazeds. Talking about it now this is probably the one option I really need to investigate and this new version might make it easier by removing the Star Wars elements for me.

So it's an interesting new option for doing your own thing with an RPG. It's a robust, interesting system that's no longer tied to a specific setting. If you're looking for something different, well, trust me it's very different, especially if you're used to d20 as your main game system.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Something New for Monday - DCC/MCC Scratch Off Character Sheets

As some of you probably know, the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG is a D&D type game that starts characters out a zero level as a standard assumption. Specifically, it starts each player out with 4 or so zero-level characters and pushes them into zero-level adventures where it's assumed a winnowing process takes place and you emerge with some 1st level characters from the carnage.

Speaking as someone who hated zero level characters in AD&D, despite multiple attempts by TSR to push them on us and multiple attempts by me to enjoy them - it's FANTASTIC!

The characters are 100% random creation from ability scores to background to gear. It's up to the player to give them a name and personality but the mechanical details are rolled. It's the absolute epitome of "develop in play" over "pages and pages of written background" and the interaction of the players as the adventure progresses is just flat-out amazing. Who leads? Who cowers at the back? Who's just trying to collect loot? Just one or two sessions gives you a gold mine of character history, tendencies, and overall personality.

Even as a huge fan of this approach it can take a little time to put together 20 characters - enter the scratch-off zero level character sheet! Now if I'm feeling some time pressure I can hand these out and say "go" and in a few minutes we will have our party and be ready to go!

The same system is present in the new Mutant Crawl Classics and they created scratch offs for those as well:

These also help in another scenario even if you prefer to let everyone roll their zeroes the original way: replacement characters! Assuming reinforcements are needed or a new player joins in you may not want to slow down the session to supervise someone rolling up a new PC or three - instead, just hand them a card and in a minute or two they are ready to run!

I think it's a genius idea. No, it wouldn't work with every RPG out there it works really well with this one and is one more tool to reinforce the flavor of this game.