Genesys Book Cover from FFG

The Genesys of Fate

RPG Writing
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Genesys Book Cover from FFG
Genesys Book Cover from FFG

Introduction

So, my DM and I excitedly picked up the Genesys Roleplaying System which is Fantasy Flight Games’ (FFG) version of a generic system using their wonderful narrative dice. Our group has played a lot of their Star Wars system using narrative dice and it is amazing! This is one of the best systems I have ever played. 

As I was reading through the Genesys core book I was noticing some ‘aspects‘ (See what I did there?) of the Fate system in there and how well parts of Fate would lend itself as an addon layer to this system (or any RPG really) to really provide a powerful storytelling framework for the campaign and for roleplaying which Genesys and most other systems lack (at least the crunchy systems our group tends to play). 

The way Talents are purchased has a Fate’esque feel to it too, reminiscent to the Fate skill pyramid.

Using the Tools of Fate in your Genesys Powered Game

Author’s Note: Keep in mind, none of these ideas are tested. 

Here are my thoughts on using Fate to drive the storytelling and roleplaying parts of your Genesys game. FFG’s narrative dice systems have all of the crunch in them that you will ever want, so they will not really need any help there, but the system does lack the powerful game building, story telling, and character driven tools to move the campaign along and pull your players in. The Star Wars system has an extra tool or two that this one lacks, but that is an article for a different day and I am sure that their follow-up Genesys system books will provide many more tools. For now though, we can use the unparalleled storytelling power of Fate to drive you Genesys powered game forward.

We can do this in 3 primary areas:

  1. Game Creation
  2. Character Creation
  3. Story Point Economy

1. Game Creation

First, use all of the Fate Game Creation Process through my Campaign Creation Primer to help your group create and define your new game and to get your player’s buy-in and input. You will use all of the steps of the Game Creation Process, even steps 6 and 8 which can then be used to negotiate Genesys’ desired extra tools like skills, magic systems, races, etc. 

When you finish you will then have access to genre, campaign aspects (legacy, current, impending), organizations, places, and NPC’s all with conflict and descriptors too. These will provide the inspiration for the DM to create characters, places, etc and the players become invested which is a great thing! Later, you will also be able to invoke these with your Story Points. Ooooh! =O

2. Character Creation

Next, in the character creation process we will only use some Fatey slight-of-hand in one specific area, in Step 6: Determine Motivation (pg 46) where the players pick the 4 character background elements: Desire, Flaw, Fear, and Strength. Having only 4 lends itself very well to a Fate paradigm, especially when we can pull the fifth (high concept) from the class/race combo. All we do is say ‘Presto!’ and turn them into Character Aspects!!

We can put these ‘Motivations’ together using the Aspect creation advice for Character Aspects and then use the Aspect slots like Genesys recommends which would be a more powerfully character driven use of aspects or we could use a set of character aspects such as I suggest in my Character Creation Primer (steps 1, 2, and 4 of the long character creation process), which would provide a more balance of story and character drivers too. Both have great options and if done in a very descriptive manner like Fate’s aspects should be, then you should have great storytelling potential here. Now, with turning these background elements into aspects, it means that the GM and players can compel them by using their Story Points! =) 

Genesys Powered Character Aspects

  1. High concept (species, gender, career) + descriptors
  2. Flaw (Fate’s Trouble)
  3. Desire
  4. Fear
  5. Strength

General Fate Powered Aspects

  1. High concept (species, gender, career) + descriptors
  2. Trouble
  3. Unresolved Issue
  4. Something else (trait), maybe pull from above?
  5. Strength

3. Story Point Economy 

Prepping Your Story Points for Your Fateful Game

Now, instead of Fate Points, we have Genesys’ Story Points (pg 27 bottom) which bear a striking resemblance to Fate Points not only in look, but also in function. Because Genesys is a mechanics heavy game and we have the narrative dice system’s wonderful non-binary results, we do not need so many of these point thingy’s floating around, There are already plenty of uses for the Story Points too (which are reminiscent of Fate’s options ) so we really do not need to add much to integrate the use of Fate’s aspects in a Geneys powered game.

We will change one thing to start: the 1 Story Point per character should be given directly to the player to start instead of it going directly into the Player Pool. When they use this first one up it goes into the GM pool and then back and forth between the GM/Player pools as normal. This allows the players to have a little more awesome at the start and it starts to get the player attached to it so they will want more. This process would work either way, so which every works for you.

Now, in addition to the normal uses for Story Points, the GM/players will also be able to invoke the player aspects or the campaign aspects  too. =) This will also give the GM many more interesting opportunities to use the Story Points to drive the game forward and to complicate the game, especially with flaws, desires, and fears in the mix.

Using Story Points on Aspects

If the GM invokes a character aspect with one of their Story Points and the player accepts then the player would take the Story Point directly for their use. If the GM invokes a character aspect with one of their Story Points and the player refuses, then the player would take a Story Point from their individual pool (if there are any there) first or the player pool and move it over to the GM pool. The basics of a Fate Point economy works well here too!

As an option, perhaps we can add new Story Points to our respective pools if someone rolls two Despair (GMs) or Triumphs (players). We can do that by adding one more optional use of Triumphs or Despair: add one more Story Point to either the GM’s pool or the player’s pool respectively. Now, I am thinking the number (2) of Despairs/Triumphs should be set near the average max skill level of the PC’s. You do not want too many of these things going crazy in your game otherwise it will get out of control and throw you game balance out of whack.

Conclusion

Adding a few powerful pieces of Fate Technology to our Genesys game can take it to the next level. This way we get the best parts of the mechanical system of Genesys with the story and roleplaying power of Fate. Each set of mechanics doing what it does best. =)

Note: If any of you use this, please let me know what you think, if there are any problems, and if it works well that way we can fine tune this.

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James O'Neill
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http://www.ArionsHome.com

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