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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Genesys RPG impressions. Part 2: Characters.

Characters in Genesys are pretty straight forward. Characters seem to have enough depth mechanically without being overloaded with complexity. While the story elements the system tries to add with motivations feels really flimsy. But I would imagine it'll make more sense in the setting books. A setting specific motivation will make more sense than a generic one.

Characters have Six characteristics and four derived or secondary characteristics. The characteristics are your pool of dice that are rolled to attempt actions, while the secondary characteristics are mostly combat based akin to hit points, endurance, armor, and defense. Nothing really special here or customizable here. Abilities are mostly set based on a few choices.

Next is a list of skills separated into 6 catagories, with room to add more. Skills are where Genesys is different from most dice pool systems. Skills don't always add to the number of dice rolled but instead upgrade the dice rolled where they overlap with characteristics. Each upgrades one die per rank. So two in a Characteristic and three skill is rolling 3 die with two of them upgraded. Same the other way, two in a skill with a Characteristic of three is also rolling 3 dice with two upgraded. This to me is the biggest departure from most dice pool systems. This an aspect I have mixed feelings about. I think it's great that it keeps dice pools down. But really seems to throw things in the players favor making challenging them harder. As rolling many proficiency dice is pretty common, but they are most commonly opposed by difficulty dice alone. While the  proficiency dices counter part, the challenge die is only situational. Meaning at least for my reading rolling a triumph should be way easier than despair. Not to mention more advantage and success rolls per player roll.

Another level of character customization is talents. Talents are tiered from one through 5. Starting talents are assigned by those few choices at start, additional talents are purchased with experience, cost ascending with each Tier. To purchase each higher tier you must have more of the lower tier. So for example you can't but a tier 2 talent until you have at least 2 tier 1 talents. Some talents can be ranked by paying experience, so they expand taking up the next tier as well for more effect.

Talents seem pretty well balanced, but as with any game with edges/feats some will seem more useful than others. More than anything other aspect of Genesys characters I like talents. It's one of the few really customizable parts of Genesys. Many aspects of characters like Characteristics can only be raised with talents.

The next two aspects of Genesys characters is gear and magic. I plan to make separate post for those.

Genesys RPG impressions. Part 1: The Dice.

I've had some time to look over the Genesys RPG PDF. At some point I'll do a proper review, probably after I get the physical book. For now this is just my thoughts on a quick read. Also this is my impressions, it's my opinion of the game from my perspective.

This first installment I'll cover the dice. Genesys uses special dice made by the publisher. Genesys uses a dice pool rolling method mixed with "read the chicken bones" elements. I'm a fan of dice pool games, I'm not sure yet how I feel about negative/difficulty dice being added to the players side of the roll.
The rolling method is good and bad symbols cancel each other, and the net result is the outcome. It does it rather well, the only part of this I don't like is some of the dice sides having multiple symbols on a single side. This can slow players down from quickly seperating cancelled out sets to get the net result. Not badly, but it's less intuitive for a newcomer to the system. Also in dice pool systems I much prefer set difficulties, but I think I like players rolling difficulty more than opposed rolls.
Genesys dice separate degree of advantage and disadvantage from pass and fail. The idea is that good and bad can happen whether the player rolls a pass or fail. I still feel a bit mixed on this. I've never felt I needed the dice to tell me what part of the story I need to make more interesting. Any GM worth their salt could use degree of fail/success to do that if they really needed it.

The one difference I feel here between other pass/partial/fail games and Genesys is that Genesys is built around the dice. In other degree of success games the dice pivot the narrative. But could be replaced with any other pass/partial/fail mechanic because the narrative is hinged on the roll but not driven by it. Genesys on the other hand is reliant on more than just outcome, but also the number of different symbols on the dice, making the system inseparable from the narrative and mechanics. While the dice interpret elements of story they also don't get out of the way for the story like other fail forward style of games. Not good or bad, but it is a story game with crunch because of the dice.

Another element of the dice is the spending of rolled symbols. Players can on a success spend 'good things happen' symbols to trigger critical hits, special abilities, and effects. This is the element of the dice I like more than the "read the chicken bones" elements. This is the element of using Genesys dice that really seems fun to me, both as a GM who like to tinker, and as a GM who likes to see his players play around with meta gaming currency to pull off stunts and general badassery.

My final verdict on the dice in as follows:
Dice pool system: positive.
-Players rolling difficulties: mixed.
Reading the chicken bones: Not a fan.
Pass/partial/fail: mostly positive.
Rolled elements as meta-resources: love it.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Cortex Prime impressions of the SRD pt3

Another area of the SRD I find interesting is the options for Life points (hit points), and stress. Again Classic cortex has been included in the mix giving the option of hit points if a stress track just isn't your thing.

Once again I don't see why I should have to pick one. I could see playing with both. Life points for combat using cortex classic weapon damage codes or reading the effect die. While at the same time using effect die and stress for social and mental conflict.

I could see stress tracks being good for all kinds of tasks actually. Everything from picking a lock to fast talking a guard could be assigned a die code that is the amount of stress needed to complete a task. Each go at it adds stress towards completing the task.

Life points could be used the same way really, assign a difficulty total to tasks (between 8 and 24 for example). Subtract the number on the effect die (or effect die type if you perfer) from the Total. When the task points reach 0 you complete the task.

These options make weapons and health as abstract or as close to hard numbers as fits the setting or the groups taste. Again I find this level of customization really refreshing and fun.

Cortex Prime impressions of the SRD pt2

I'm reading heavenly into all the options in the Cortex SRD. My impressions part 1 is here. One of the things that jumps out at me is the ability to mix and match options. Prime looks to be very modular game allows for cherry picking of mechanics.

For example something I think would be great for lower level heroic games, like street level supers is mix heroic dice with doom pool. Allow the players to bank dice specifically to do things better (add to the total of rolls). While the GM gets dice to  make the bad guys a bigger threat, both without specifically raising the power level of the game. More or less normal people (although possibly highly skilled) pulling off heroic feats when they need them.

Characters turning a great success in one area into greater success in another, which I love. It feels to me like story momentum.

I came up with a variant as well, allow player to bank spoilers as hero dice, each banked spoiler becomes a banked d6 hero dice. GMs can set a limit to the number of hero dice that can be banked from a single roll if they fear the players would gain hero dice too fast.

I like the idea that it doesn't cost plot points when banking hero dice, it gives the player a way to take advantage of spoilers even when they are out of plot points. Then gives them (another) motivation to play their flaws and negative distinctions to come up with plot points to use the hero dice.

Initiative in Index card RPG.

I've had some time to think about some of the workings of ICRPG. Being a tinkerer at heart I can't help but want to come up with mat...