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Grading the Genesys System

How do you feel about the Genesys System?

  • I love it.

    Votes: 12 19.7%
  • It's pretty good.

    Votes: 6 9.8%
  • It's alright I guess.

    Votes: 18 29.5%
  • It's pretty bad.

    Votes: 3 4.9%
  • I hate it.

    Votes: 1 1.6%
  • I've never played it.

    Votes: 16 26.2%
  • I've never even heard of it.

    Votes: 5 8.2%

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He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
I like it enough, but would like a bit more experience with it. The funky dice are just normal dice and you can convert the symbols to numbers if it will make you feel better. Dice apps online can assist with this too. That said, I like the non-binary aspect of the narration that arises out of the dice. I do want more experience with it. I bought the Android resources but dont have anyone to play with. Probably wont change anytime soon.


I hovered in between "it's fine" and "it's bad". I went with "it's fine", if only because moreso than any other game I've played, Genesys requires buy-in from the players.

I've played with three groups in three campaigns with it: two Star Wars campaigns, and one "film reroll" of IT (the Stephen King novel).

All three groups were really excited at the beginning; the dice really do provide a cinematic flair to every roll (which, in my opinion, is the problem). For the first few sessions, the dice get a lot of love and praise. It starts to wear thin; the amount of detail that gets added to "one success, two advantage" slowly fades away until your players, tired, just say, "ah, I'm gonna give a boost dice to Jim."

From my perspective, it's pretty exhausting to run if your players aren't actively deciphering the dice results with you. My groups loved deciphering at first, but quickly tired of every single roll requiring a reading.

I fully recognize that I probably failed the system in some way, but I also felt like it didn't give me much support. Halfway through our last Genesys game (which was Star Wars), we all decided to switch over to Savage Worlds.

If I was going to give advice to a GM playing Genesys, here's what I'd say:
  • Don't roll unless you have to. I think where I failed is that we were just rolling dice too much. And when every roll is special, none of them are. I could've cut down my rolls by 50% and it probably would've been less exhausting.
  • Don't shoulder the burden of deciphering the dice alone. This is what broke me. Once my group(s) stopped being interested in deciphering the results, I was left alone to do so, which made every session exhausting.
I really wish I could've gotten Genesys to work, and the dice really do make great scenes, but I think the problem for me is that sometimes I just want a roll to be pass/fail.


I’ve played all three major variants of the system, and personally I enjoy WFRP 3e the most. Amongst other strengths, it helps with the dice interpretation issue greatly as every ability has its own custom set of advantages you can buy for that power, so you aren’t scrambling for constant free-form interpretations. I still have all of the WFRP 3e materials in storage and will run it again at some point.

aramis erak

With the announcement of the revised Star Trek Adventures, it would be a perfect time to grade the 2d20 system – but we’ve already done that. :) And so, instead, let’s go to a different galaxy, perhaps one far far away…

Have you played or run the Genesys system? First introduced with FFG’s Warhammer 3e game and subsequently in their Star Wars line of games, it has since been released as a standalone generic RPG for use in many genres. To that end, several campaign worlds were released for use with it.
I've run WFRP 3, All three Star Wars, and L5R 5. I've playtested for serveral supplements for Star Wars. I've got and have read the Genesys Core - which isn't the same as FFG Star Wars

In addition, the rules were incorporated into the fifth edition of the Legend of the Five Rings RPG.
L5R 5E is a very distant child. More different than the other three.

aramis erak

Detailed comparisons
  • Custom Dice, not counting the needed d10s for certain tables.
    • WFRP: 5 kinds of good dice, several bad dice. Certain good dice carry stress results.
    • FFG SW: 7 kinds of dice: 3 good, 3 bad, 1 Force
    • Genesys (The generic version): 6 kinds; 3 good, 3 bad, same odds as on the SW dice of same color/name.
    • L5R 5th: Two kinds: both good. Both have some faces with bad results.
  • Starting
  • Difficulty:
    • WFRP 3, SW, Genesys: a number of bad dice
    • L5R5: needed successes
  • Attributes
    • WFRP, SW, and Genesys: each skill linked to a specific attribute.
      • Attributes are traditional concepts.
    • L5R5: the 5 Rings are...
      • descriptors of approach, not of physical/mental capabilities
      • all skills can be used with all attributes; it's just about how one goes about it.
      • tied to thematic elements - both the Japanese traditional elements, and the books in Musashi's text, Book of 5 Rings
  • Roll Evaluation
    • WFRP, SW, Genesys:
      • cross cancel certain symbols,
      • Total the resulting 1-4 totals (Success or Failure, Advantage or Threat, WFRP stress, Triumph/Sigmar's Comet, Despair/(I forget the WFRP)
      • purchase adv/thr and tri/des results.
    • L5R5:
      • decide which dice to keep, minimum 1.
      • resolve explosions, if any.
        • If further explosive successes rolled, recurse.
        • If has strife, decide if keeping it or not.
      • resolve any kept strife
      • resolve success vs difficulty TN
      • resolve opportunity by purchasing.
  • Damage models
    • WFRP 3: hit points, when out, crits. Randomly dealt from deck. Stress, as well.
    • FFG SW, Genesys: Hit Points and Stress Points.
      • When HP hit 0, roll for crits. When Enemy rolls a Triumph, they can force a crit as well. dozens of results. Results of comparable complexity to most talents.
      • WHen stress hit zero, depending upon scene and cause, can be unconscious, embarrassed into silence or flight, or other "no longer effective in scene."
    • L5R5: Still two track, but strife track is not stun damage.
      • When HP hit zero, roll for crit. Only a handful of crits, which increase difficulty within the linked ring
      • When Strife hits 0, one pf
        • "Unmask" - a dishonorable outburst, resets strife track
        • go unconscious
        • collapse in exhaustion
      • crits all increase difficulty in various rings, and severe ones also impose more
  • Talents: Feat-like abilities
    • WFRP has many talents. Only a few per career.
    • SW Each career has 15 to 20, on a 4×5 grid, with specific paths through. About 4/5 of the total talents are mundane
    • Genesys: Each has a minimum level. Must always have fewer of level X than of level X-1. Duplicates must be taken at higher levels.
    • L5R5 - most are some form of supernatural; there are a robust number that aren't, but about 75% are.
The School System in L5R deserves some note:
It's quite different from the others career restrictions; it's a list of skills and powers, of which some must be taken to advance, it's far more varied than SW or WFRP. Two monks from the same monastery are able to look very different, or very much the same.

aramis erak

I’ve played all three major variants of the system, and personally I enjoy WFRP 3e the most. Amongst other strengths, it helps with the dice interpretation issue greatly as every ability has its own custom set of advantages you can buy for that power, so you aren’t scrambling for constant free-form interpretations. I still have all of the WFRP 3e materials in storage and will run it again at some point.
THere are 4.
Technically, Star Wars isn't Genesys - Genesys is its own game, very close to Star Wars mechanically, except in character generation/experience.


Commenting on some tricks I used to manage dice interpretation ---

I know The Alexandrian was highly critical of the overall setup of the dice spread and interpretation. (You can go back and look at his playtesting from several years ago if you care).

And I can see his points to a degree, which is that there's no real guidance in the rules for interpretation. How exactly do you reconcile a Triumph and a Despair in the same result?

I'll admit that the RAW is . . . not what I'd do.

When we played, I houseruled several things.

One, I houseruled that a Triumph and Despair in the same roll cancel each other. Or, if anything, I convert it to a +1 advantage, under the idea that in Star Wars at least, the light side always holds more sway in the long run. A Triumph is always slightly more powerful than a Despair, even if both appear at the same time.

Two, I implemented something similar to Ironsworn's momentum rules to handle excess advantage. On any given roll, they can let it stand. Or, they can choose to "bank" advantage as momentum. If as a player I have 2 extra advantage, they can bank it as momentum instead of using it on the current roll.

If a player can bank up to 5 excess advantage, they can either introduce an additional green ability die or remove a purple challenge die from one roll later, and their momentum resets to zero. Likewise, if they can bank 10 advantage, they can burn it to introduce a yellow "upgraded" proficiency die to their roll, or remove an orange Challenge die from the roll.

I also basically allowed nearly any throw of the dice to pass their advantage on to another player. So if you roll two extra advantage, but you want to pass it off to the next player, you can hand over however much advantage to the next player's roll. You CANNOT bank momentum for another player; you can only bank momentum on your own rolls (but passing on your advantage gives another player a better chance to bank their own momentum).

So between the momentum houserule and the ability to pass on advantage, it added a nice little tactical decision layer that was fun for the players. They liked having a small but meaningful decision to make. I also houseruled that you CANNOT use momentum to activate weapon effects. Like, if you're short 1 advantage from activating a weapon quality, you can't burn momentum to get yourself over the hurdle. You can only use momentum to affect what's added or removed from the dice pool, not the result after the fact.

Third and finally, I houseruled that ANY Despair result removes ALL banked momentum from ALL players at the table. It adds a HUGE layer of tension to rolls and extra mechanical weight when as a GM I toss an orange challenge die to the table. This effect can only be canceled by rolling a Triumph in the same roll.

To offset some of this, I basically leaned pretty hard into making challenges greater on a per-encounter basis.

All in all it worked fantastically in play.


Deluxe Unhuman
I GMed SW:EotE for a while.

I found the design and use of the proprietary dice to be awkward, and I never got comfortable with it. I think most of my players got used to it, though.

Regarding the rest of the system, I'm surprised they didn't use the dice system throughout. Weapons could add one or more positive dice or positive results to an attack roll. Armor could be rated in terms of dice results it negates. Given infinite free time, I would just convert everything so all the numbers in the game are replaced by dice and dice results. Seems like a missed opportunity that they didn't take that approach, but I'm not going to criticize them for not doing it the way I want it to be.
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I'll have to back up @grimmgoose 's comments. Trying to read/interpret the dice results narratively is exhausting. I've since played it at a Con, just to see how an experienced GM handled it, and narrative resolution was definitely not the style used by the GM, or expected by the players, despite the rules' emphasis on the same.

I think @innerdude 's set of houserules would be a great way to handle things for most groups.

Outside of that, I really liked the "pooled initiative slots". A very interesting and effective twist. I also felt that the progression curve was kind of flat, but I'm also very used to "zero-to-hero" and that's definitely not what the system is geared towards.

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