Category Archives: Genesys

Games I’m excited about: Android – Shadow of the Beanstalk

Android: Shadow of the Beanstalk is a new and upcoming setting for FFG’s Genesys Roleplaying Game. Like Realms of Terrinoth it’s based on one of FFG’s preexisting IPs. While RoT was based on the fantasy setting explored in games like Runebound, Descent, or Runewars, this time we’ll get to visit the world of Android, and Android: Netrunner. It’s a near-future science fiction roleplaying game with cyberpunk and transhumanistic elements. And it’s the setting I’ve been waiting for ages now.

nad06_mainA while back they already released a coffee table book called The Worlds of Android, which gave an extensive overview of the setting, but lacked any game rules. I guess you could probably run a game set into the Android universe with the rules in the Genesys corebook alone, but more material is always welcome.

When FFG first announced Genesys many fans were hoping for an Android setting and indeed, one of the included example settings in the final book was in fact Android. The sample settings included in the core rulebook were of course just teasers. So what is the Android setting all about? Let me quote FFG’s product page:

In the not so-distant future, humanity has spread across the solar system, unlocked the frontiers of cyberspace, and created millions of intelligent androids in its own image. At the heart of this progress stands a ladder leading to the riches of the stars—the massive space elevator called the Beanstalk. And at its base sprawls the biggest, meanest, and most exciting city on Earth: New Angeles.

gns04_box_leftThe sourcebook’s 256 pages will include rules on character creation, new equipment and vehicles, game master advice, adversaries, and any information needed to successfully run a game set in New Angeles, the future Earth, or the solar system.

So why am I so excited about this? I love cyberpunk settings. Unfortunately most settings are deeply tied to the 1980s and often have a retro feel to them. This might have a certain charm, but sometimes you are looking for a more modern feel. Android definitely delivers on that front. I am also glad FFG decided to use their Genesys rules for an Android games. It’s easy to learn, simple and fast to run, but it has still enough depth for a long-time campaign.

What are your thoughts on Shadow of the Beanstalk? What other setting teased in the Genesys core rulebook are you excited about? Please share your thoughts below.

Realms of Terrinoth: Play Report

239561On Friday I finally had the chance to play in a Genesys game. My friend Sebastian ran an adventure set into the Realms of Terrinoth for us. Since it was meant as an introduction to both the mechanics and the setting, we decided to pick our characters from a list of well-known characters from the settings. Since I already played him several times in Descent, I picked Leoric of the Book, a somewhat arrogant mage who is on a forced sabbatical from the university of Greyhaven.

In the game our group of adventurers were on their way to Greyhaven, when we stumbled upon a group of bandits pillaging a farmhouse. After a very short exchange of unpleasantries and the casting of a very effective attack spell, the bandits surrendered and we got to explore the farmhouse. It turned out the inhabitants were killed. One victim had its neck broken, while the others had their blood drained. The only visible wounds were two small holes on their necks. Since we all failed our Lore roles miserably we made up the theory that someone must have used some kind of barbecue fork to skewer the victims. We then found tracks caused by a two-horsed carriage, which we followed until we came to a landslide which blocked the road. A guard told us about a detour we could take and also remembered a carriage going the same way, carrying at least one driver, a guard, and a female noble.

BarghestWe followed the trail until we reached a roadside inn. We quickly realized that a) the stablehand has been missing since the carriage arrived and b) that the carriage was about to leave again, which was surprising because people usually don’t travel at night. We then found out that the noble riding that carriage was from the house of Farrow from Nerrekhall, a town with a history of demon worship. Some patrons also heard strange noises and noticed a weird green light coming from the noble’s quarters. Immediately after the carriage left we searched the rooms and found – to no one’s surprise – the dead stablehand, killed in the same manner as the farmers.

A chase ensued and eventually we had to fight not only the noble which was quite proficient at magic, but also a couple of barghests. We barely survived but the horse-drawn carriage was able to escape. But we’ll get her next time!

genesys_roleplaying_dice_pack_2_

All of the players were already familiar with the mechanics since most of us have about thirty sessions of Edge of the Empire under our belts. The differences between the Genesys system and the mechanics used in FFG’s Star Wars line are pretty small. Reading the dice and interpreting results has pretty much become second nature to most of us.

I particularly enjoyed the magic system. It’s extremely versatile but still easy to use. Each type of magic (Arcana, Primal, Divine, etc.) has a number of basic spells (like Attack, Barrier, Heal, etc.) which can then be modified to one’s heart’s content. You can add various elemental effects, increase the range, affect additional targets, et cetera. Modifying spells usually adds to the difficulty of the casting roll, but there are magic items and talents who alleviate that issue. We mostly used the spells created for the characters, but the great potential of the system was obvious.

Overall our first session in Terrinoth went exceptionally well. The GM did a solid job even though he hasn’t worn the GM’s mantle that often before. Because of the usual scheduling issue we probably won’t get to play before next year, but I am already quite excited to continue our adventures!

I’ve got Genesys on my mind

239561After I decided to cancel my D&D game, one of the players immediately offered to run a “Realms of Terrinoth” game for us. “Realms of Terrinoth” is the first in the line of settings for Fantasy Flight Games’ Genesys Roleplaying System. Genesys is the generic variant of the system they’ve used for their Star Wars roleplaying game line. He followed my advice and opted to start things slow. We’ll use pregenerated characters for a one-shot, and if we all enjoy the game, we might continue to play.

In preparation of the Realms of Terrinoth game I studied the Genesys rules over the weekend, and the more I read, the more I got excited about the system. I’ve played Edge of the Empire for quite some time now, and even though I was skeptical at the beginning, I grew quite fond of the system. It’s not too complex and there are guidelines for creating your own adversaries, weapons and armor. The rules also give examples for various settings. It looks like it could be a homebrewer’s dream.

I have several setting outlines on my hard drive that I always wanted to develop further, but finding a fitting setting was often an issue. Sure, GURPS works with everything, but I find it too unwieldy. I’ve thought about the Cypher System, but I find it easier to design a setting tailored to this system than the other way around. Arion Games’ Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2nd Edition and its sci-fi counterpart Stellar Adventures are extremely easy to hack, but probably also a bit too light for anything more long-term. Genesys – in my humble opinion – hits a sweet spot between the narrative and the mechanics and is also a system a lot of my friends are already familiar with.

Since I am not in the GM’s seat at the moment, I can spend my time preparing a possible future game. Sometimes I just love preparing for a campaign, write up a setting, just for the fun of it. I still remember fondly the work I put into a Fallout conversion for Fudge. I only used it once, but it was so much fun! Three ideas I’ve had brewing for a while are

  1. A pseudo-victorian fantasy world with steampunk elements inspired by “Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura
  2. A UFO conspiracy game set into the 50s or 60s inspired by both “The Bureau: XCOM Declassified” and the short-lived TV series “Dark Skies
  3. A Cold War secret agent game inspired by “A Colder War” and “Laundry Files” by Charles Stross in which the horror of the atomic age meets the Cthulhu Mythos.

These are just three ideas from among countless others which have been simmering in my head for quite a while. I think the best thing I can do is just pick one and start working on it. I don’t think I need a 1000-paged campaign bible, but a dozens pages of notes and a few guidelines on how to make it work with Genesys should suffice. At this point I don’t mind if I never get to run it, I don’t mind if it’s not the most unique and creative thing I could come up with. I want to create something just for the heck of it – and not because I feel pressured because I have to run something next week.