Metagame On – World and campaign building with Genesys

Genesys from Fantasy Flight Games is everything I’d hoped it to be, and more.

As I’ve described in a previous post, it’s a role-playing game for any setting making use of the trademarked Narrative Dice System to ensure dramatic, unpredictable and story-based gameplay.

It’s also the system I’m using to build my own world…

The core rulebook is a toolkit for that very purpose, and it’s an inspiring toolkit at that, with blueprints for equipment, skills, magic and more. The world I’m building is a modern-day urban fantasy affair, so I’ve already used the book as a launchpad to come up with unique skills and talents, some unique equipment, and a whole zodiac-based magic system.

So far, so good. With just a little bit more fleshing out of NPCs and the “X-Files meets Supernatural (via Buffy and Firefly)” setting, the campaign arc I have in mind would be good to go.

But my gaming magpie mind and an ambition to do a little bit more has inspired me to take this one a bit further…

Now I have a plot, antagonists and endgame sketched out, involving mysterious organisations (one already has a website) conspiracy theories and doomsday prophecies and the like. But the flexibility of Genesys, coupled with my love of boardgames like Descent and video games like X-Com got me thinking…

So I have been spending a lot of time working on the campaign’s metagame. The ‘moving parts’ of the world that the players’ actions (both successful and unsuccessful) will have an influence on. All with the added complications of conflicting goals, finite resources, and a race against the clock.

In general, and heavily inspired by X-Com, what I’ll be doing is splitting the campaign into “seasons”, with a finite number of available “missions” players can undertake in each. Missions will be of three distinct types (action, social and investigation), and the players won’t be able to complete all of them before the season ends.

Completing action missions will increase the available time left until the “doomsday” event takes place, buying the players breathing space and experience. Social missions will thwart some of the conspiracies running in the world, stopping key (largely negative) events taking place. Investigations will slowly reveal the truth of what the players are facing, making their final conflict a little bit less likely to be deadly…

Sadly for the players, they won’t be able to complete them all. They’ll be forced to tactically choose between them based on how well they are doing, whilst balancing the overall strategic goal of saving the world from certain doom. They’ll have to sacrifice potential rewards to ‘stop the clock’, or forego certain goals in order to uncover secrets they can use to their advantage. They’ll have to spin plates whilst juggling jelly on a tightrope…

Friend or foe? Or neither (or both)?

They’ll have another couple of difficult choices too. They’ll have a base of operations (likely some mobile stealth ship or similar), which they’ll be able to outfit and upgrade: but only if they use experience points they’d otherwise get to spend on developing their own characters.

And, in another nod to X-Com, I’ll be using Genesys’ “Story Point” pool as a form of currency the players can spend to fund research projects that will reward them with hi-tec gadgets and gizmos that’ll give them an edge in the missions to come… but only if they give up the opportunity to use the story points to give them situational advantages in the middle of missions.

In conclusion, I’m in the midst of some quite complex game design which will hopefully result in a metagame system that will add extra layers of enjoyment and depth for the players.

Either that, or it will stress the heck out of them…

…or, if I get things right, it’ll manage to do both.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *