The start of something special? Genesys

In the beginning was the book …

I’m a big fan of Fantasy Flight Games. King of the Ameritrash boardgaming world, their tabletop games are heavy on the thematics and the dice-rolling, and with Star Wars, Lord Of The Rings, Game Of Thrones and HP Lovecraft they have some of the largest IPs in the business.

Though they’re maybe best known for their boardgames, they also produce a line of Star Wars RPGs that are highly regarded for incorporating FF’s trademarked narrative dice, a unique set of polyhedral bones that are designed to take skill checks, combat rolls and the like beyond the simple binary “success” or “fail” and firmly into emergent fail-forward storytelling territory.

Thus it’s possible to succeed at something whilst still suffering a mutually-agreed plot complication, or fail at achieving a desired result but nevertheless manage to gain some unexpected advantage. Similar in a way to FATE but with tighter mechanics, FF’s narrative dice system is a clever, creative and collaborative concept that sets FF’s Star Wars system apart.

Riding the success of that wave comes Genesys. Again with more than a nod to FATE and other generic systems, Genesys is a complete RPG ruleset that’s designed to be used with any setting you can think of. High fantasy? Check. Sci-if? No problem. Superheroes? Yep. Space cheerleaders battling cosmic zombies? That too. In short, Genesys is intended to be adaptable to any genre, sub-genre or mishmash of genres you want.

Fail-forward narrative role-playing in the palm of your hand …
And it makes use of the same emerging narrative dice system as Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars games, resulting in a system that not only has infinite possibilities when it comes to the setting, but one where the gameplay is constantly adapting as well.

To me, this sounds like the perfect system. 2018 for me is going to be the Year of the Homebrew, where I move beyond running scripted adventures into settings and plots of my own devising (fear not Tyranny of Dragons players, I’m still going to run this one to the bitter end …).

Genesys sounds ideal for that. It comes with six sample settings in the rulebook — everything from high fantasy to steampunk — and with an interesting-sounding concept called ‘tones’ that allow you to add sub-genre tropes like horror or investigation to any setting. Couple that adaptability with the generic (and expandable) rules for magic, equipment, skills, social interaction and more, and it stands a chance of being that holy grail of game designers everywhere: the only RPG you’ll ever need…

I doubt for me it will be that. I love the mechanics and system-specific uniqueness of D&D, Starfinder and Call of Cthulhu, and I’m not going to leave them behind. But I have been on the lookout for a setting-agnostic game with emerging narrative gameplay, and Genesys looks like it hits the mark there.

Time will of course tell. I’ll be picking up the rulebook soon and organising a session sometime in the new year, so a more objective preview will follow in due course.

But for now, all I want for Christmas this year is an infinite number of worlds …

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