As those who know us are no doubt aware, we called our main game system the Genesis System, seemingly pulling from the biblical reference of a starting point. Which, to be utterly fair, isn’t entirely inaccurate. The Genesis System was born out of a need, and that need was for a die system that allowed for two things; player autonomy and rapid fire combat sequences.
Let me explain a little more adeptly; most die systems, and most games even, have a tendency to get into a nasty, cycling paradox. As the number of die required to represent the damage dealt to the enemy grows, so to must the opponent’s hit point pool. The end result is two-fold, however. One, the combat sequences take longer, because of the necessary addition and subtraction that must be done to confer the ‘damage’ dealt to the enemy. But this also has a nasty, and often unnoticed side effect.
Weapons are tools, like any other. Before I get too preachy on the subject, they are tools meant, ultimately, to kill an opponent. In the fictional, fantastical sense that we deal with them as gamers, a weapon needs to bear weight. So take those escalating calculations from before; they actually diminish the effectiveness of a weapon. The fights, as these variables increase, take longer and longer, thus removing the air of credibility from a combat sequence. And my basis for saying this?
Let’s look at a master sword fighter, for example. He knows very well that putting his blade in the right spot will bring any foe down to the ground, lifeless before his peerless skill. But do we really get that translation into a hard number system? Not from my experience. I’ve watched monsters take shots to the eyes, debilitating limb and extremity removals and the like and walk away nigh unscathed, ready to come screaming back at the player party for more. As a player, it was a jarring experience; my blow with my sword that disemboweled the beast’s guts should have been a death blow, but the numbers got in the way and said that he still had 20,000 points of health left, and my tactic was for naught.
So how do we, as a fledgling group, opt to respond? We have a mechanic for combat called ‘Tactical Striking’. We allow players to make use of solid choices, and turn their thoughts into direct victories over their foes. Dealing with a monster who can outrun your player party? A few crippling shots to his knees will slow it down, if not bring it to the floor completely. Is there a war-form Lycanthrope who has just torn into the healer, but left his motor cortex exposed to a blow? Take advantage of his arrogance and sever that head; even if that target is a higher rated enemy, that’s bad enough to ruin anyone’s day, regardless of a fictional ‘hit point pool’.
Genesis is a system driven by common sense, and this means that most of what we do relies very heavily on the player’s ability to think, act, and outsmart the Game Master. But it gives us the two goals that we started out with when creating our system; every weapon system is entirely lethal and every combat will have the players on the edge of their seats. Because everything the player can do, the Game Master can do too.
Game on and throw those 20’s!