Roger mentioned a possible future outing with FFG Star Wars/Genesys in the CoC edition discussion topic and I thought I’d start a topic for discussion of experiences with the system.
Edge of Empire worked well for my group and I think there were three factors that mitigated the stated concern about GM fatigue:
Comfort with the Star Wars setting - with seven movies (I’ll see Last Jedi tomorrow, leave it) there’s a pretty good set of ideas already staged for Edge of Empire. Something breaks and one character now has to be a mechanic in the middle of a firefight while shouting one-liners at the rest of the party for breaking things. Also Star Wars is so tied into the pulp tradition that dramatic setbacks with no real cost outside of the immediate scene feel more natural. Thinking ahead to trying fantasy with Genesys, if Fafrhd drops Greywand into a volcano, he just grabs another sword and calls it Greywand after the fight is over. Heck, back on Star Wars Luke gets a hand cut off and a bit later, new hand.
We had to invent both good and bad items - as the GM handing out suffering that slows down play stops being fun pretty quick. Not as quick as for the players but eventually. I actively tried to cultivate “could this be appropriate” from the table. If a player idea for a despair gets the table energy up all the better. If a player idea for advantage elicited energetic approval I rolled with it.
There are simple options for the players to elect. Sometimes you just say “hand the next PC in line a blue/black die" or give back some strain. I am not normally a GM screen guy but I found the screen a big help for this system to have the legend of results and menu of advantage/threat standard results handy. If it took more than two beats for an idea to arrive I put a finger on the menu and let the auxiliary brain do the thinking.
I do like playing this as Star Wars. Genesys has not made a persuasive universal argument to me and I have not picked it up to read yet, although I expect I will. In summary I think they have a fun setting specific system and that setting has deep enough roots in pulp adventure that it will be functional up and down that tree.
The impression I’ve got so far, which is hearing other people talking about it rather than playing it myself, is that Genesys might be an effective competitor for Savage Worlds (which I don’t despise, but I’m not a fan of it either, mostly because of the way everything seems to come down to bennies and stun-locks) – in the medium-complexity pulpy game-space, rather than the long grass of mostly-realistic GURPS where I tend to live, or something lightweight like The Cthulhu Hack.
I think the only game with “unusual” dice (assuming you can call polyhedra “usual”) I’ve enjoyed has been Fudge. There’s always the suspicion that the designer is being different purely for the sake of it, rather than the special dice offering a genuine benefit.
Well, yeah, at more than £1 per die they’re clearly making a profit on the things.
I’m generally not a fan of “roll a bunch of dice and count how many successes you get” systems because the probabilities are usually messed up (more game designers should employ statisticians, not to mention technical writers) but I’ll give it a go…
When I was explaining it to my players it seemed helpful to refer to a hand of dice like a hand of cards. Passing blue dice or upgrades of green dice to yellow dice among the players felt a bit more like partners passing cards from hand to hand for a play.
The abilities that let players discard black dice in particular were hard to remember and we had to set up some 3x5 cards for reminders.
So we played more of this last night. I’m loving the setting and I think the basic system is fun, but I’m a little baffled as to what the opposing dice add to the game. Functionally, the results you’re getting are: success (+/- advantage), failure (+/- advantage), triumph or despair - I don’t really understand what the benefit of using opposing dice is, compared to a fixed ‘this is a medium action, you need two successes’ mechanic.
Effectively, it’s a success-based system, which is not exactly new - I think Shadowrun may have been amongst the first to use this style of ‘roll 1d6, on a 5 or 6 you get a success’ mechanic. I do feel that fixed targets would be quicker to work out, with perhaps one extra ‘wild dice’ (like in the d6 Star Wars system) that determines whether you got advantage or disadvantage. Mechanically, having opposing dice slows the game down (as everyone works out what has cancelled out what), adds an extra and possibly unnecessary degree of unpredictability - maybe without the unpredictability this creates, there’s less need for triumph and despair?
The older cynical me feels that this is basically just a way to sell more dice, especially given that the Star Wars dice are different from the Genesys dice. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see more setting-specific dice coming on the market.
That said, the younger less cynical me is enjoying rolling coloured dice and working out what I end up with, so maybe I should listen to this younger fella first. I am really enjoying Mark’s game, and the system works nicely enough, it just feels rather gimmicky and unstreamlined - very far from unplayable, but perhaps not as new, exciting or innovative as it appears to be.
I’m quite liking the mechanics so far. It’s another of those systems like 7th Sea which wants to put success/failure entirely in the hands of the players – the GM can set the difficulty, but there’s no way of saying “roll and see how well you do” – but I think it’ll run faster once we’ve got a handle on the silly symbols.
At some point I’ll work up a probability table… oh, wait, someone’s done that. Article:
After another session tonight, I think it’s starting to make sense. Definitely less broken than Savage Worlds, in that all bonuses will increase your odds of good stuff happening, and all penalties lower the odds. (Which you’d think would be fairly basic, but both Savage Worlds and original World of Darkness got this wrong.) In effect there’s a bell curve going on, because adding dice when the probabilities of success are moderate seems to have a greatersmaller absolute effect on your chance of success than adding them on the low or high ends. (Yes, I have written a command-line program to calculate this. Because Roger.)
I’m not a complete convert, but I’ve got to the point that I might give serious consideration to running this some time when I want a light action-based system. (And hey, all the Whartsons now have a set of dice.)