Learn How to Develop a Setting in the Genesys Roleplaying System
The strength of the Genesys Core Rulebook lies in its flexibility—in its ability to pull worlds from your mind and give them life. Genesys doesn’t build a world for you, but it also doesn't expect you to create everything from scratch. Instead, it gives you the tools to craft a full and interesting world in a variety of genres. Today, designer Sam Stewart continues his in-depth look at Genesys by exploring the sample settings in the book, and how those settings can contribute to your own designs.
A Gateway to Infinite Worlds
Sam Stewart: This week we’re going to talk about the different settings we cover in the Genesys Core Rulebook.
As we’ve mentioned before, Genesys includes six settings in the core rulebook: fantasy, steampunk, weird war, modern day, science fiction, and space opera. We always knew settings were going to be an important part of Genesys. They’re what take our core ruleset and turn it from a framework into an actual game. However, as much as we wanted to dive wholly into our own settings, such as Android, Twilight Imperium, and Runebound, we recognized that if we wanted to cover even one of our settings properly, it would take a whole book to do so! (For a great example of this, see our Worlds of Android book.) We couldn’t give our settings the attention they deserved in the space we had, not without turning Genesys into an encyclopedia set.
Besides, our goal from the beginning was to make this book a toolkit—something that you can use to build your own settings for your own games. So with that firmly in mind, we decided to give an overview of each genre of settings. Although we certainly talk about our own worlds, they don’t dominate the book. Instead, we use them as examples of what a setting can be.
This section of the Genesys Core Rulebook starts out with a worksheet for creating your own settings, then rolls into our six basic settings. While these are not an exhaustive list of the settings you could create or play in with Genesys, we tried to come up with six diverse settings that show up a great deal in popular fiction. Since we couldn't cover everything, we definitely wanted to make sure we gave you a broad range of examples!
Each setting starts by breaking down its most common and recognizable tropes. We take some time to discuss the most common general aspects of the setting, to help guide you when you're creating your own setting (or maybe give you an idea of things to avoid if you want to make your setting unique)!
Let’s look at the fantasy setting, for example. Some of the most common tropes that come with a fantasy setting are some sort of magic, fighting monsters, going on quests, and the conflict between good and evil. We go into each of those points—why they are important to the game and the benefits of working them into your own setting. We also take some time to talk about the differences between the different fantasy sub-genres, such as high fantasy, sword and sorcery, low fantasy, and even contemporary or urban fantasy.
After we’re done discussing the broad strokes of a setting, we get into some of the rules specific to each setting. These rules include a list of setting-specific character options, setting-specific gear, and setting-specific adversaries. Now, this is by no means an exhaustive list! But we picked some of the most iconic items, species, and adversaries from our games and the settings in general, so that we can show you how Genesys would model them.
So for example, in our fantasy setting we provide three new species to choose from: the elf, the dwarf, and the orc. All three show up in a lot of fantasy settings, and we created profiles that match the most “stereotypical” versions of each.
Our fantasy weapons and items cover some of the basics you’d find in most medieval Europe-derived fantasy settings: swords, spears, shields, greataxes, bows, chainmail, thieves' tools, and torches, for example. Our goal wasn’t to create an exhaustive list, but to create a list of examples for you to draw on when you’re inventing your own gear. (You can do this using the “invent your own items” rules that we’ve also included in the book!) So while we present rules for winter clothing, you could easily adapt rules that remove Setback dice due to cold weather to remove Setback dice from hot weather, and have desert clothing instead.
Finally, we present a group of adversaries, ranging from basic animated skeletons to horrifying ogres. Again, we didn’t try to be exhaustive here, instead presenting a diverse collection of monsters that you can use with our “invent your own adversary” rules to create even more NPCs and creatures to populate your world.
What we ended up with is a section of the Genesys Core Rulebook that’s designed to support you when you're building your own fantasy setting (or any other setting) for your own adventures! It's our fervent hope that you can take the ideas you find here and run with them.
With a myriad of tools, Genesys not only helps you build your own adventures, but your own world in whatever way you see fit. Will you have your players embark on an epic fantasy adventure to slay a dragon? Or enlist in an advanced military academy dedicated to destroying an alien threat? The only limit is your imagination. How big can you dream?
Build your own world and pre-order the Genesys Core Rulebook (GNS01) and Dice Pack (GNS02) from your local retailer or from our website here!