RogerBW's Blog

Genesys Core Rulebook (part 5, GM toolkit and conclusions) 22 October 2020

The final major section of the book is the GM's toolkit.

There's a continuing sense of tension here. FFG wants you to buy the official! setting book and adventures; the authors of this book want to tell you how you can make your own game the way you want it, and go into a remarkable level of detail about it.

First we have rule customisation: new skills (how broad they should be, how to avoid clashing with other skills, how to write the do and don't examples), how to make a new archetype that's more or less balanced with the existing ones (spending points out of the initial customisation allotment to buy things that everyone based on that template should have), how to make a new talent (including how often you can use it and what it costs), new equipment including armour and weapons (there's even a system that spits out a weapon cost based on what nifty abilities it has), and of course new adversaries from minions to nemeses. Mostly these are not so much formal design systems as collections of notes and advice: for example, a minion group with Soak more than 5 is unusually tough and will be hard to beat, so there should be some reason for it to be like that.

Going further we get a grab-bag of alternative rules: extra turns for nemeses (to balance them getting only one action while a PC group gets one per PC), letting skills float to different stats, ways to customise weapons and armour, magic (a fairly broad and improvisational system which I haven't tried), vehicle action including custom manoeuvres, and cinematic computer hacking.

The next chapter covers adventure construction: tones, story concepts, and individual encounters. There's not much about how to string encounters together, though; Robin's Laws and its plot webs would be a good companion here.

Finally, Tones are orthogonal to settings with their tropes, any of them theoretically applicable to any setting, and sometimes introduce some minor new rules: Horror has rules for fear effects (look here if you want to go Lovecraftian), Intrigue emphasises relationships and perceptions, Mystery is rather too short (GURPS Mysteries would be your friend here), Pulp introduces the Cliffhanger rule, Romance and Drama emphasise the interpersonal, and Superheroes emphasises moral codes. (Nothing about powers, though; if you wanted people throwing energy blasts you'd need to build them as Talents or something.)

So that's that. There are more books (the Expanded Player's Guide looks quite decent; and of course you can buy setting books for Terrinoth and Android and even gawdelpus Keyforge) but this is a book that goes out of its way to make it possible for the GM to build stuff that will more-or-less fit with what's already out there. Seen as a ready-to-run game it is of course a failure; seen as a generic system, in the same general space as GURPS or Fate Core, it's rather more interesting, and I'm enjoying running it.

Not profitable, though. FFG fired their entire role-playing department, and while I think in theory there's now a new publisher it's not clear that anyone has an editorial vision, and the supply of Genesys bits (dice, rulebook) has been pretty unreliable.

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See also:
Genesys Core Rulebook (part 1, initial thoughts)
Genesys Core Rulebook (part 2, mechanics and character generation)
Genesys Core Rulebook (part 3, combat and other tasks)
Genesys Core Rulebook (part 4, GM advice and settings)

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