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First Edition

A Generic System That Let's the Dice Help Tell the Story

A New(er) Generic System, With Unique Dice [ edit ]

Genesys was first released in 2016 ... although it was based off of Fantasy Flight Game's Star Wars RPG (2012).  Despite being much newer than either GURPS or Savage Worlds, Gensys has still managed to rank in the top 200 systems on RPG Geek, with an average rating of roughly 8/10.

The game's core is fairly standard: Genesys characters have six stats, a species or "archetype" (race), and a "career" (class).  They also have skills and talents (similar to feats/edges/advantages in other systems), and they can purchase all of these using their starting experience points.

The Narrative Dice System [ edit ]

But while it's core may be familiar, the main way Genesys distinguishes itself is by not using ordinary numeric polyhedral dice.  Instead, the game uses "Genesys RPG Dice" ... which are really just ordinary d6s, d8s, and d12s, but with special symbols instead of numbers.  These symbols can add potential plot elements to every roll, with each one rolled providing a new opportunity to introduce an unexpected twist in the story. 

The dice are arranged into two pools, of positive and negative dice.  Positive dice come from the character (based on their skill), while the GM adds negative dice to the roll, based on how challenging the task is.  Dice on both sides contain both success/failure symbols, but also  other symbols which add an "advantage" (good) or "threat" (bad) to the roll's outcome. 

A player rolls their combined pool, and if they have more combined successes than failures they succeed (with a greater margin indicating greater success).  Threats and advantages cancel each other out: if any advantages remain, the character can spend them to improve the success somehow (eg. make a hit into a critical hit), but if any threats remain, the GM determines what separate negative consequence occurs.

While it is possible to play Genesys using regular dice, and consult a table on every roll, doing so will greatly slow play, so each player (and the GM) will want their own set of dice.  Fortunately they aren't too expensive, selling for between $10-$15, and there are also phone apps which can "roll" virtually.

Better With A Supported Setting [ edit ]

If we're being honest, Genesys is really less of a true universal system; it's more like a set of core rules, which other Fantasy Flight RPGs such as Star Wars: Edge of the Empire or Legend of the Five Rings (ie. Asian fantasy) have used as a basis.  But both of those systems also have setting-specific rules ... again suggesting that the core Genesys rules are more of an RPG-making toolkit, than a true playable ruleset for any setting.

If you aren't playing either of those games, you won't find a ton of supporting products.  There are three settings books, which describe the worlds of other FFG games (Runewars, Keyforge and Android). There's also an expanded player's guide, a GM screen, and  ... that's it.

If you just check FFG's products page, you'll see that Genesys itself isn't even on the page: it's relegated to a separate "Other Games" page, below eleven other FFG lines (although two of those are Star Wars and L5R).  But while FFG may not be supporting the game very heavily, some of the system's big fans have created their own (freee) content.  Perhaps the best example of this is the popular Genesys implementation of the Avatar: the Last Airbender franchise, Avatar: the Second Age.

If You Like the Narrative Dice, Genesys Can Be Adapted [ edit ]

Ultimately, because it has so little supporting material, Genesys is a system that works best with an established setting, such as Star Wars, Legend of the Five Rings, or the (fan-made) Avatar: the Second Age.

But if there isn't a product (fan-made or official) for your desired setting, Genesys is still viable.  Your only resource will be the core Genesys rule book (and expanded player's guide), but that might be just fine: although you'll have to do a bit more "leg work" yourself, you'll have a flexible system to support you.

If you are a fan of the system, and it's unique narrative dice, having to do a little more preparation work to set your campaign up will be a small price to pay.