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Geneforge as a Pen & Paper RPG?


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Waterboy_Matt Waterboy_Matt

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Posted 08 December 2014 - 09:35 PM #1 Geneforge as a Pen & Paper RPG?

Hey all, I'm working on adapting Geneforge to tabletop for my friends and I. I'm surely not the only one around here who has taken on such a task, so I'm curious how others have gone about it, and how well it has worked for them. Are any other folks out there doing similar things with their gaming groups?

RIght now, I'm kludging through it with D&D 3.5 rules, and handling it as follows (behind a spoiler tag, because it's long):
Spoiler
I could probably do it cleaner with something like GURPS, but I'm not sufficiently familiar with it to feel like I can DM well with it yet.

So far, my players haven't run into most of this yet, as they're still baby Shapers working on their thesis defense at a Shaper academy, but I'm trying to hammer out some details ahead of time.

On Being a Conflict On Being a Conflict

Alorael

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Posted 11 December 2014 - 02:02 AM #2 Geneforge as a Pen & Paper RPG?

Ambitious, and kudos to you for recognizing that reinventing the wheel with new classes is a terrible rabbit hole to plunge down without a lot of forethought followed by a lot of work.

That said, while I am not a playtester, I foresee a few major problems. I'm going to start with a basic disagreement: I don't think essence is life force, at least not for those using it to shape. It's more like shapeable stuff, or capacity to shape and maintain stuff. It's a refillable resource, and shaping and killing or absorbing creations has no permanent cost.

1. Classically no one wants to play the cleric because of the heal-bot problem. Requiring a feat and spending XP to heal? Not going to be popular at all. Allow clerics as normal and just say they're the experts in healing craft.

2. Summoning has the same problem, especially since D&D summons are, especially early on, heavy on the cannon fodder and light on anything you'd keep around. You'd just be throwing away 100 XP on a badger. No one wants to do that, and no one's going to be unhappy as the under-leveled summoner. I think it might work better to allow those summoning with spells to use two slots instead of one and keep the summoned creature permanently, but those spell slots remain unusable as long as the summon is active. Like using essence. (Off the cuff, not playtested, might be broken, but at least palatable.)

3. Feats that mess with XP are probably a bad idea. Either they'll provide too much or they'll provide too little. They're a balance nightmare... and they're not fun. Feats should add fun to the game, and this is an entirely passive and extremely slow benefit. I think the idea with Shaper Tactics is to offset all that XP loss, but... no. And the Shaping skills are in the same boat.

4. Shaper Mutation is entirely vague and I'd be afraid to take it without rules. Self-shaping is the same, but again has a narrow margin between broken and useless.

5. Just rename the Craft <whatever> feats as Shape <whatever> and you're good.

I'd go with keeping it even simpler. Don't modify rules or make new feats. Keep everything as-is as much as possible. You need to do something about permanent summoning (and I suggested something above), but stick as close to base rules as possible.



From the thinking I've already put in, Arcana Unearthed/Evolved (not to be confuse with Unearthed Arcana) has always struck me as a better fit, mostly because of more flexible caster classes and different feats to inflect flavor. Permanent shaping isn't really a D&D forte, though, so it'll be some kind of stretch however you do it. And that's another set of rules you'd need to pay for and learn; probably not close enough to justify the costs.

—Alorael, who would go for pushing flavor more than careful adherence to the mechanics of Genforge. Just say anything not carefully shaped from an essence pool in a lab is unstable and won't last more than a short time, then leave such things to NPCs. It's not quite faithful to the Geneforge PCs, but you can keep the world working as expected and the D&D rules working too.

NaCl_Lily NaCl_Lily

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Posted 18 August 2016 - 09:59 AM #3 Geneforge as a Pen & Paper RPG?

I'm building it in GURPS right now, actually, for a retelling of the first game. I've drawn up a bit of a primer on Geneforge lore for my greenhorns in the party so they can have just enough to function.
Here's a link. https://docs.google....8W2W6Zc78/edit#
Any advice would be appreciated!

Agitproprioception Agitproprioception

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Posted 18 August 2016 - 10:48 AM #4 Geneforge as a Pen & Paper RPG?

I appreciate that Randomizer just linked you to this, but it is a 2 year old topic, and the identical discussion already exists here.  Locking this one, let's keep it in one place, thanks.
"I, for one, prefer to believe that the forums are dead and that Lilith, Slarty, and I are all ghosts haunting the forum." -- Triumph

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