15 September 2017 | Genesys

Craft Your Character

Learn How to Create a Character in the Genesys Roleplaying System


The  Genesys Roleplaying System is one of the most versatile and adaptable roleplaying systems ever, putting you in the shoes of characters from any setting you can imagine. From a gritty battlefield to the far-flung fantastical future, the setting is in your hands. But how do you go about creating a character that feels unique to your setting, deeply personal to you in a game that’s all-encompassing? Luckily, today, Genesys Designer Sam Stewart is taking us step by step through the process of character creation, giving us a glimpse into one of the most robust mechanisms in the Genesys Roleplaying System.

Your First Steps

Sam Stewart: Character generation in Genesys is simple and straightforward, consisting of seven basic steps. Let’s take a look at each of them. 

Step 1: Create Your Character’s Background

Once you’ve got a basic concept in mind, your first step is inventing a background for your character. After all, to develop who your character is, you need to know where they come from! 

Your character’s background is going to depend a lot on what kind of setting you’re using for your game. So we kept the process very free-form, and simply ask you some questions during this step. You don’t have to answer them all (or any of them), but they give you a good starting point when working out your character’s history.

Step 2: Select an Archetype or Species

This step is where you decide whether your character is a plucky human, a sneaky elf, or a raging cat-monster from the Sigma Stellar Cluster. This choice is important both because it defines a lot about your character’s personality and life, and also establishes a base for the characteristics and other attributes that define your character mechanically. 

Needless to say, your choices are going to depend a lot on what setting in which you’re playing. Fantasy and space opera settings are often going to have tons of fantastical non-human options to choose from, while in a modern day setting, you and your friends are just going to be playing humans. 

So for the core system, we provide four different archetypes of humans for you to use when building your character. The first is the brawny laborer. This archetype focuses on being strong and tough, though they have less mental fortitude than other archetypes. The second is the brilliant intellectual, who is as smart as the laborer is strong, but trades some toughness to do so. The charming aristocrat is a smooth social operator who is a little less physically strong than the others, but otherwise eminently capable. Finally, the average human is a very balanced archetype who is probably the most customizable of the bunch.

Different settings may introduce other archetypes or species which can add to this list, or even replace it. But before we move on, one of the most interesting things about the different archetypes and species is that most start the game with some sort of unique ability that further defines them. Let’s look at two examples:

The average human has Ready For Anything. Once per session, they can take a Story Point from the game master’s pool and add it to the player’s pool. Though this seems like a pretty minor ability, Genesys has a lot of powerful abilities fueled by Story Points. This ability ensures the character can always use them at the critical moment. 

The laborer has Tough As Nails. Once per session, they can spend a Story Point immediately after suffering a Critical Injury, see the result, and then count the result as the weakest Critical Injury instead. Since Critical Injuries are what kills, maims, or hampers your characters, this ability ensures that the laborer keeps going when everyone else gives up.

Step 3: Choose a Career

Careers are what your character does in the game world. They may be literal jobs (such as a character whose career is Soldier and is a member of a military organization) or they may define your character’s role in society (such as a Socialite character who is a member of a noble house). 

Careers provide your character with career skills. In Genesys, a character can buy ranks in any skill you like. However, career skills are skills that are cheaper for your character to advance than other, non-career skills. This means that careers tend to guide your character’s development, but they don’t lock it into a pre-set mold. 

We provide two types of careers in Genesys. The first are general, role-based careers that are suitable for any setting. The second type are some examples of setting-based careers that only fit into a few different settings. After all, you’d seldom see a Starship Captain in a steampunk setting, any more than you’d see a Wizard in a modern or futuristic setting (unless you’re running an urban fantasy game, of course).

Our list of setting-based careers isn’t exhaustive. The intent is to cover some of the most interesting choices, while providing a starting point if you want to create your own careers. 

Step 4: Investing Experience Points

Every character starts with a budget of experience points, and this is where you’re going to get the chance to spend them. This is where you get to flesh your character out, mechanically. 

Experience can be spent to improve your character’s characteristics, buy ranks in skills, and purchase talents. We’ll talk more about some of the talents and skills you can find in Genesys later.

Step 5: Determining Derived Attributes

This is a bookkeeping step. Based on your choices in the previous steps, you’re going to calculate your character’s wound and strain thresholds (how many wounds and strain they can stuff before they’re incapacitated), their defense (how hard they are to hit), and their soak value (how much damage they can shrug off). 

Step 6: Determine Character Motivation

Motivations are a big part of characters in Genesys. Not only do they guide you in roleplaying your character, they can also have a major impact in how your character interacts with others. Playing to one of a character’s Motivations can make it a lot easier to convince a character to do something. Likewise, working against a Motivation can make things a lot harder! 

There are four types of Motivation; Desire, Fear, Strength, and Flaw, and your character has one of each. Your character may fear commitment and have a bad habit of lying to people. However, they can rely on their strongly idealistic nature to help them find their true desire, a sense of belonging with others. 

We’ve provided some general examples of each type of Motivation, but there’s nothing stopping you from inventing your own! In the end, we wanted Motivations to serve as the thing your character is working towards and the thing they run away from, and their greatest strengths and weaknesses that may help or hinder that goal. As long as your own Motivations fall into those categories, your character should work just fine.

Step 7: Choose Gear, Appearance, and Personality

And so we finally reach the last step in character creation. As with Step 1, this step is more focused on narrative and descriptive choices than mechanical ones. The one exception is purchasing starting gear. Your character gets 500 currency that they can use to buy personal items. What they can buy depends on the setting you’re playing in, of course.

So there you have it; how to create a character in Genesys in seven easy steps!

Craft Your Story

With a firm understanding of how to create your character, you are well on your way to starting your adventure in the many worlds of Genesys.

Start your journey by pre-ordering Genesys (GNS01) from your local retailer or from the Fantasy Flight Games website here

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