-- Doug's Dungeon - Genesys: Making Bender
Hey all. I hope you had a good Christmas and New Years! I know I did when I caught Jack unboxing a bunch of stuff in the store and forced him to sell me this:
I know what you’re thinking: someone didn’t hit spell check on the bible 2018 edition. But what you’re really seeing is a new role-playing format released by board game titan Fantasy Flight Games. It operates just like Dungeons and Dragons, with a fair amount of differences and a bunch of custom dice (because hey, if you’re going to jump into the RPG market, you want to find a way to sell more dice, right?). Though clunky to learn at first, the ‘narrative dice’ system replaces a lot of dice rolling sequences into a single roll of many dice, with various outcomes. The book covers a lot of topics, yet remains vague enough to be applied to any game’s genre. From fantasy all the way to modern day and space operas, Genesys has you covered.
But instead of listing off all the rules, I thought we could just sit down and make a character to show off the systems of the game. Since I refuse to use my imagination, I’m just going to make Bender from Futurama. This character will exist in any sci-fi or space opera setting, and even fantasy if you get the Game Master drunk enough. First off, we need a blank character sheet:
We can fill in the top part straight away:
Species/Archetype and Career replace the race/class system other games use. Here we will use the example space opera race ‘Robot’, combined with the career ‘Scoundrel’. Sure, he’s a bending unit, but the only time he puts effort into anything is when he’s stealing. Race in Genesys defines your starting stats and experience to spend. Unlike games where players reach new ‘levels’, here we simply spend experience as we earn it on skills and talents (more on those later). You also earn XP not by encounter, but by game session. Neat. Your characteristics and skills determine the number and quality of positive dice you roll for checks and combat. Robots are designed for specific tasks, thus our starting characteristics are all at 1, but with 175 experience points to dish out.
The scoundrel career assigns specific skills to be cheaper (aka easier to learn) experience-wise, and gives us some starting ranks in those. I’ve picked Skullduggery, Streetwise and Deception because he’s kind of a dick, and Charm because of that one time he had a sex-change to cheat in the fembot robolympics and subsequently seduced and married Soap-opera star Calculon. Since we are a robot, we have a racial ability to get more free ranks in our other career skills. But I’ve worked with my hypothetical GM to change that to a free rank in a custom skill unique to my robot: Bending. Genesys allows room for custom skills to be made, and with any luck, the points I’m going to dump into it should pay off in the campaign. Hopefully there are a lot of things for Bender to bend.
All right, time to spend all of this starting experience. We will look at our characteristics first, since they cannot be upgraded with XP alone after creation, and will require an incredible investment to do so. Each increase in one of these numbers requires spending XP equal to the next number up times 10. Bender is particularly strong as a bending unit, as evidenced by the episode where Fry and Leela become superheroes using a mystery strength-enhancing ointment. Bender joins the team without needing it, so I want to give him a Brawn of 3. This means spending 20XP to go to 2 brawn, and 30 to go to 3. That’s 50XP down the drain already. I also want to boost his Cunning to 3, which makes him more adept at deceptions and heists. I think we can stop there since we’re down to 75XP to spend.
Now we can spend XP to buff up our skills. Each rank we want to buy costs the next rank up number times 5 (plus another 5 if it’s not a career skill). So grabbing our second rank in skullduggery, deception and streetwise will cost us 10XP a piece.Grabbing a second in Bending will be 10 more, since I argued to the pretend GM that a robot’s sole purpose is a career skill. I also want to put a point into the combat skill Brawl, since Bender does need to punch a guy and run away from time to time. Because it isn’t a career skill, that’s 10 more points from gryffindor Bender.
An example use of these numbers are let’s say… stealing money from Amy’s purse. We make a check using our skullduggery skill, tied to the cunning attribute. Cunning is highest, so we add 3 green ability dice to roll (these only have positive values). We then replace two of them with two proficiency dice to represent our two ranks in skullduggery. The GM determines this task is easy because Amy is easily distracted and loose with her money, so they add a single purple difficulty dice to the mix (only bad values). Then we roll and tally up. With this dice setup, we are more than likely to score a few bucks off our co-worker.
After all that, we have 25XP left for talents. The bulk of a character’s “abilities” come from this extensive list and is bound by the following rules: Each talent costs 5XP times the value of it’s tier, and you must have more talents in a given tier than in the next one up. Trust me, when you look at the layout of the talent page it sorta makes sense. The first talent I’ll pick up is Toughened, which increases Bender’s Wound threshold (read: hit points) by two. This talent is repeatable, so I’ll be picking up it’s tier two upgrade in a sec. This is because Bender is a tough bot made out of, according to him (episode reference included thanks to some dude on the internet called Valorum):
40% Zinc (1ACV13).
40% Titanium (2ACV03).
30% Iron (3ACV22), presumably mixed with osmium, (3ACV17).
40% Dolomite (4ACV07).
40% Lead (video game).
40% empty (s07e09)
40% back (s7e21 Assie come back)
0.04% Nickel impurity - (3ACV17 - A Pharaoh to Remember)
But before I pick up tier two Toughened, I need a second tier one talent. I’ll pick Duelist, which boosts his decent combat prowess one-on-one, at the expense of getting hilariously dog-piled by lots of dudes. With two tier 1 talents bought and one tier 2, that’s 5 + 5 + 10 XP down. For a final spend, I’ll grab Clever Retort to reflect his well-written wit.
Finally, we determine Bender’s Wound and Strain thresholds. Think of the former as Hitpoints and the latter as ‘mental’ hitpoints. Genesys has created a way of breaking social encounters down into a form of combat, where opposing parties berate eachother’s will to argue into submission. Like marriage. Bender grabs a cool 17 wound threshold from his high Brawn and toughness talents. However his willpower is 1, leading to a middling 11 Strain threshold. In addition to this, Bender’s lack of armour leads to defense stats of 0, making him an easy target to hit. Damaging him, however, is a more harsh affair with his innate 1 ‘soak’ value for being a Robot. This will reduce all damage he recieves by 1.
That’s it for mechanics. As for the role-playing side, we can fill out some personality quirks on the page 2 of the character sheet. These help us to get into character and perform actions that, while suboptimal for gameplay, make for the real stories. So we will fill it out like so:
Aaaaaand we’re done! All I need to do is find a group that’s running a game where sentient robots are a thing, and I can join in with my copyrighted character! Genesys shows a lot of promise as an RPG system, though it faces steep and entrenched competition. The edge it may have is the ‘story point’ system, where players can make subtle changes to the narrative as if they were mini Game Masters. Though not world shattering, these can help prevent players from feeling helpless and reduce the punishment of not asking enough or the right questions when needed to succeed. I myself can’t wait to get a game going, and have been brewing a space-opera setting to explore.
I haven't written much, since I’m the lazy kind of GM who just tries to stay one session of content ahead of the players. THEY’D BETTER SPACE-GO INTO THE SPACE-CAVE LIKE THEY SPACE-SAID THEY’D SPACE-DO LAST SPACE-WEEK.
I'm an avid lover of all things table top. I also have a growing collection of board games which inspire me to create my own. I put my loud and expressive personality to good use as a dungeon master for my friends, having run many campaigns through 4th and 5th edition D&D.
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