Daring Dungeon Dives: Genesys

Hail fellow, and well met! As always, it is I, your humble Dungeon Master, and I am back again after a more than substantial holiday hiatus with another RPG book review. This time, I’m here to give a little bit of insight into one of the most divisive role-playing games in recent memory, Fantasy Flight’s black sheep, Genesys.

First and foremost, a bit of background on Fantasy Flight’s current experience in the realm of role-playing. While definitely not the leading authority on dungeon crawlers, Fantasy Flight has thrown its hat in this ring alongside some of the heaviest hitters in the genre more than a couple times. They’re responsible for a couple relatively popular titles amongst aficionados of the role-playing shelf, not the least of which is the most in-depth Star Wars RPG to be found anywhere thus far. Genesys (itself released in late 2017) is FF’s  (in this dungeon master’s humble opinion) first major foray into the world of original role-playing content, and at a staggering 258 pages, Fantasy Flight has done their absolute best to craft an RPG that is rich in depth, and steeped in a creative aesthetic.

So, what is the verdict on Fantasy Flight’s magnum opus, role-player? Is it a breath of fresh air in a seemingly stagnant role-playing landscape, or is it just a bunch of unpolished hot air?

Genesys is interesting in its concept. It is intended to be a universally applicable RPG. It is billed as being the game for the creative game master. It posits that it can be used to run any game, in any setting. The book gives several wildly varied examples of possible games that can be run in this system (steampunk, superheroes, future dystopia etc). The book does not skimp on giving inspiration for the bright-eyed, creatively-inclined GM.

The game has a stripped down dice system that relies on Fantasy Flight’s narrative dice which uses symbols in place of numbers and is built with the interpretation of players and DM’s more in mind than anything else. The game is a far more loose, free form interpretation of role-playing, which can be refreshing after playing RPGs that can tend to get numbers and math intensive.

Picture from the Fantasy Flight website.

Another thing that Genesys has going for it; this book is gorgeous! Fantasy Flight has more than sold me, at least from an aesthetic standpoint, on the idea of an RPG built for the creative spirit. The book is built to look like blueprints and scratch paper, evoking the image of a sketchpad being used to craft an interesting world for players to explore. It sells its theme more than any other RPG currently in circulation.

There is one major complaint I have with Genesys, and it is, unfortunately, the complaint that most people have with the game; it is a very bare bones system.

Don’t misunderstand, at the core of things, Genesys seems a fun enough game to play, but it also seems to be built with an infantile (albeit creative) system that is eager to handhold newer players, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. It’s good to have a game that is friendlier to new players. As role-playing game fanatics sometimes seem to forget, the genre is intimidating to new eyes, and Genesys offers a system that is far friendlier than diving headlong into the number crunch gameplay of something like Pathfinder, or the strict bookkeeping of something like Shadowrun. Genesys finds a way to marry the themes of role-playing games, with a simplistic system that I think is probably the easiest to digest that I’ve seen in a long while.

Genesys is a game that I am not ashamed to say is one of the most refreshing takes on role-playing that I have seen in probably the past half a decade. The game is beautiful visually, and a breath of fresh air in a gaming landscape that has too often found itself only emulating the most successful amongst itself. So, if you’re in the market for a new role-player that takes perhaps a few more risks than the average, and embraces you to get creative with your worlds and adventures, Genesys is definitely worth the look. That’s all for this time folks. So a big thank you for reading from all the way in my dungeon in north Boise. Remember to keep an eye out for next time, when I’ll be tackling one of the most intimidating RPGs of all time, the 500-page behemoth that is Shadowrun. So until next time adventurers, keep your dice handy, and don’t forget your character sheets. Cheers!