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So, with Fantasy Flight Games releasing (who knows when) the Genesys system, I have already asked myself a few times- “Will this replace most systems for me?” The latest episode where I argued with my buddy Gary McCallum really got me thinking about it more. I can’t wait for this system to release! I mean, I love the narrative dice system since I first played their Star Wars games. And so many times my buddy Will and I had said “if only they had this in a fantasy setting”. Well, now we are about to have it!

I already know that the “make or break” scenario for me will be the magic system. I have a strong feeling that it will come close to how the Jedi work now in Star Wars, but I can’t say for sure. I already know it does Star Wars great, but will it be able to cover enough settings as well as Savage Worlds? This is the question I greatly want to know.

The pros of the system (basing it off of the current Star Wars games)-

  1. No hit point punching bags. Just a wound threshold that rarely goes up
  2. A sword is a sword is a sword. Now that sword your father handed down to you from his father can actually be used through your entire career! This is not a “you’re only as good as your gear” system.
  3. Success or failure with additional information. The dice help you and the whole group be more creative at the table for storytelling
  4. Abstract combat. I love the “don’t count squares” mentality in this system.
  5. Don’t have that skill? That’s cool. Try anything. Some are just better than others. (as a bit of an afterthought, I think most systems are this way these days)
  6. Group collaboration. I have never played a system before that had people come together so much to help describe all aspects of the story like this one. It actually promotes it! “Don’t tell me what my dice did” isn’t a part of this system at all. It is 100% “rule of cool”
  7. Character customization. I love how in this system you can just pick a little from this, pick a little from that and really make your character what you want it to be.

System Cons-

  1. Narrative dice. While this is one of the coolest points to the system, it is also one of it’s drawbacks. I have heard it many times and have done it myself. “Ok, you have 3 advantage left over. What do you want to do with them?”. “Ehh, I dunno. I’ve run out of ideas”
  2. Points of view. I have gotten into arguments over “No, that would be medium range”. “But it was short range for him just a minute ago”.

Now, I’m sure there’s a lot more I could put on the pros and cons side, but these are what’s coming to mind right now. Hey, It’s 2am in the morning and I’m writing this! I also really wonder how this system will handle investigation type games. I can’t say that I’ve really done that style in this system. I suppose time will tell.

What do you think, will Genesys become a good “go-to” system for all your adventuring needs?

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7 thoughts on “Genesys System

      1. I think he’s poking fun at you for your comment of “using Savage Worlds for running a Forgotten Realms setting didn’t like D&D. 😋

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  1. Ok, so first and foremost I will admit my biggest issue with that system when I was introduced to it is that it relies on classes and systems built around classes. That is a huge sticking point for me, so I do not think the system will ever be a “go-to” for me or players like myself.

    Now that the 800 lbs gorilla is pointed out I will say the narrative dice to me were fun but they feel like a crutch for unimaginative people and wimp GMs. Let us say you roll a hand full of dice that tell you that you got a success with a challenge or a despair and as such while the character in question succeeded something went wrong. Doesn’t sound like that is unique to me, I can achieve the same thing in any other system that allows GM interpretation of the dice so long as the GM has a spine. Dice are most often treated as a “pass or fail” system. This is again part of the tradition of games, it’s been passed along from game to game. Some games like PbtA allow for “Fail Forward” while others have a more gradient “Degrees of Success” style but the thing missing from nearly all of those has been a mechanic that enforces a negative when the dice show success, which is what the narrative dice give you. The problem is, that is being a weak GM and hiding behind a mechanic for the “mean and nasty” things that happen to characters.

    In Savage Worlds when you roll a check we all know that double 1’s is a critical failure, a 2 or 3 are failures, a 4-7 are success and an 8 or any multiple of 4 thereafter are raises. But what’s the difference between a 2 and a 22 narratively? That is left entirely up to the GM. A 2 might be the player succeeds but something bad happens while a 22 might be the player could have achieved that blind folded, on one foot, a hand tied behind their back, over a pit of lava, asleep. That said the ownus is on the GM and the players to make the narrative interesting.

    My challenge to you if you think the points above are what make the system better, try those things with other systems. Group collaboration can be applied to describing the results of any dice roll in any game. Abstract combat where you aren’t counting squares is not a difficult achievement even in the most tabletop dependent RPG since most of us have played theater of the mind at least once and done it by default in our heads. Etc. I challenge you to look at what you learned from that system as not being tied to the mechanics and instead be “best practices” you can use while playing any game. I think if you do that you will find you enjoy all the games more as a whole.

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  2. I’ve had fun with many different systems. I’ve liked 3rd, 4th and 5th Ed. DnD, Savage Worlds, FATE and even Rolemaster. Currently, I GMing a FFG Star Wars campaign and my group loves it. I like the story telling aspect of the narrative dice system (NDS) and I really like how fast it plays. With the NDS, one spends a lot less time with their face in a book and more time pushing the story forward. That is the strength of it. Should NDS replace all other systems? I don’t think so. If you want a more robust magic system, play a system that supports it, more tactical, same. Disappointed in how a particular system handles “X”, there is a plethora of homebrewed “fixes” for just about anything. I guess my point is, don’t let a system dictate how you want to pretend with your friends.

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  3. It sounds to me like all of the Pros you indicated for FFSW are core design principles of Savage Worlds, especially number seven (Character Customization).

    I think the reason so many players and GMs feel all Savage Worlds characters are alike is because all players are alike. They build characters the same way. They create one-dimensional archetypes of genre tropes, instead of characters based on interesting and unique concepts. The seeming lack of diversity of characters falls squarely on unimaginative players and not the limitations of the system.

    A paint-by-numbers skill tree class-based character creation system does not engender ‘unique’ characters. It does enforce an illusion that the characters are different, but only by comparison to one another. If you restrict access to specific skills and abilities based on class and level, you obviously get different characters. The only problem is that it’s an artificially created illusion.

    Character customization in Savage Worlds comes down to building a character true to concept, instead of its perceived ‘effectiveness’ in the game. What I see far too often are players loading up on Fighting, Shooting and Notice skills despite concept. Shouldn’t a pirate have Boating, Swimming, and Climbing? Why would a hacker in a cyber-punk setting have higher skill dice in Fighting and Shooting than Knowledge (Computer)?

    It makes sense for a reporter or investigator to have Notice d6 or higher. So, why does every character in the group have the skill regardless of their concept? Because the player knows the GM constantly calls for Notice checks, and they don’t want to fail the roll. That’s metagaming, right? If the only challenge the GM seems to present the players are nails (attack and notice rolls), you build a hammer.

    In a recent game I’m running on Friday nights, I challenged our ‘face’/’social engineer’ to shift points he spent for d6 Fighting to Persuasion. He was hesitant to play a character with a 2 Parry (half Fighting +2) who could only make Unskilled Fighting checks. Then, I asked, “Why would an overconfident (he took that hindrance) fast talking faceman bother learning to fight when he can talk his way out of anything?” It was a hard pill to swallow, but the player eventually agreed.

    You can literally create any character you can imagine in Savage Worlds. The key word being imagine. It is up to the player to exert their imagination and creativity. The system doesn’t spoon-fed you choices to create the illusion that you built a unique character.

    Sorry if that got a little ranty.

    At the end of the day, we play the game system that works best for us. It doesn’t mean one system is better than another, or there will ever be ‘One True System’ for all roleplaying. If you feel Savage Worlds doesn’t do fantasy like D&D, it doesn’t mean Savage Worlds can’t do fantasy; it means you prefer D&D’s flavor of fantasy. You can’t blame Savage Worlds for not being Dungeons & Dragons anymore than your dog not being a cat. I mean, they are both four-legged furry pets with tails— but that doesn’t make them the same.

    It sounds to me like you are suffering from system (Savage Worlds) fatigue, Jamie. Get down with your Fantasy Flight Uber System. I predict you will arrive at the same saturation point you have with Savage Worlds with Genysis eventually. But, hey, rock out with your cock out! You do you.

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  4. Yeah, I’m really looking forward to this system. As one of the posters above pointed out, I’ve seen how this narrative system has made my other games (D&D, Hackmaster, Iron Kingdoms; Unleashed, The Black Hack, Savage Worlds, Starfinder, etc.) … better. I’ve become a better DM/GM/SM (Star Master? =) because of this system allowing me to say “yes, but …” with confidence. It was easier in the past to say no to players, but I’ve found over the last 2 1/2 years playing the Narrative Dice system for Star Wars that all the most fun comes when you say “yes, but …”. Let the players do what they want and just roll/role with it!

    I would add to the Pros portion of the system that there was very little prep needed when I was Star Mastering Star Wars. I had a rough outline/skeleton of an adventure and let my players run the show basically.

    Anyways, nice article Jamie and I look forward to playing this one with you, my friend!

    Chris

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