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Geneforge TTRPG

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Hello all,

I first played Geneforge many years ago and have since been wanting to run a Table Top Role Play Game in the setting. Recently I decided I would start to undertake that adventure, and have been building it in the GURPS 4th edition system. I was wondering if anyone else knows of a better system, if if anyone would be willing to help me create either a GURPS splat- or even an original system!

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This is an interesting idea.


In terms of gameplay for your TTRPG, I would suggest a World of Warcraft Boardgame kind of thing. The setting of Geneforge 2 would be ideal for this. Each player takes the role of one out of five factions (The Servants, The Barzites, The Takers, The Awakened and The Shaper Apprentice).

Each faction has a fixed set of goals they need to accomplish in order to wear off the impending Shaper Council invasion, which takes place after a number of turns has passed

(just as in the WoW BG; when the main boss hasn't been killed after ±30 turns have passed, PvP fights will take place to determine which faction wins the game).

Like, the Awakened have to complete the Barrier of the Wind in order to stand a chance against the Council, while the Servants player has to kill the Barzite player and the Takers player in order to prove the Shaper Council of their good intents. The Shaper Apprentice player has more of a neutral role; he/she determines which faction to help; what rewards to merit and the option to "return to the Council". This can end the game prematurely and determine a winner according to the goals each player has (or hasn't) accomplished. A faction may wish to kill the Shaper Apprentice player, when that faction finds the Apprentice's actions to be undesirable.


I would suggest to include a "random event card" system, with which players have a chance to acquire resources to complete their goals, gather troops to defend themselves, loot to tempt the Shaper Apprentice with, ...

Random mobs will be spread across the board, and a roll of the dice decides what enemies spawn. Combat is also done in a dice-roll system, just like any classic TTRPG :)


Lore is an important factor in the Geneforge Saga, so it would be a pity to not to include it in this game.

Players have the option to explore unique places, each with a special encounters, loot and pieces of lore. Lore can also be implemented as a gameplay mechanic, a "lore dice" can be added, which can determine the outcome of special encounters.


As for character progression: each player starts with a customizable character who can earn XP-points throughout the course of the game. After [number of xp points] have been aqcuired, the character gains a certain amount of skill points which can be invested in skills that can add more dices to your pool. Items can also have skill requirements; heavy armor requires a hefty amount of strength.


Let me know if you like this idea!


Btw, "NaCl Lily", did you mean Salty Lily with that?

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I like the idea, but it's not what I'm going for. As a test to see if the idea of a TTRPG (perhaps Pen and Paper RPG is more accurate) is viable, three players and myself are retelling the story of the first game. Each player is one of the three classes, and none of them have played the games. I, having played the whole series and having read the wiki to assist, am going to try to recreate that same experience as playing the game for the first time- learning the lore, finding out about the various factions, and all that- in the form of a P&P RPG. So far I have a rough document that contains some of the basic lore and a few of the mechanical aspects I intend to incorporate.


And yes, NaCl_Lily is my go-to handle.

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Need to limit them some way. I think someone in the other locked thread mentioned the idea of 'slots'. Sacrificing a spell slot to have a creation around sounds like a very good method to attempt balance. Especially since you can possibly manage slots creatively via levelup's or even via special in-game events by the DM if you think the balance is slightly off ("ohh, suddenly you find a geneforge. There is enough essence within to increase your number of creation slots by one. Do you use it or not?")


Lots of potential to balance things that way. And you can always punish a player that abuses them somehow. Creative punishments are fun, especially if you can 'encourage' a way to avoid the punishment by playing to the spirit of the rules. ("Since you are just using your creation slots to store an excessive number of spells instead of creations as intended your character begins to feel their essence control weakening. The number of slots they can have in future might decrease if they remain a pure mage")


I'd be a horrible DM. Never choose me. I'm far to liberal with throwing a spanner in the carefully crafted plans of the protagonists. (But never kill them. make them hold on by a thread and think there might be light at the end of the tunnel)

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Nah, I just use "essence slots" that are completely separate. Shapers are IMC (IMC= In my campaign) a wizard path, Guardians\warriors a fighter path, Agents are (unlike the game) a rogue path. Spell list is a modified druid list: No spells that summon things, very few necromancy stuff + some wizard spells.


Having creations does not affect the game's balance. Creations do not make the character stronger, they make the party stronger. That's not the same thing.

Effectively, creations make the party bigger, like more players do.

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Exactly the same way that adding more characters doesn't affect the game's balance. It doesn't make the character class stronger. It makes a bigger party.

Most TTRPGs will have a guide of "if you have X chars in the game put Y enemies of this difficulty." etc.


It's exactly the same as if the party hired some help to increase their numbers. Would that make a character class better than others? Would that affect game balance?

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Yes, but it's not affected by number of characters or character controlled NPCs. The extra party power can be ratified very easily: stack more numbers on the other side.


When I prepare encounters for my PCs I take into account NPCs they hire\control\summon.

The only slight problems I may encounter with a Shaper PC? If they start complaining about having to run their creations. And it hasn't happened so far.


At one current campaign, we have 4 characters, 2 creations. Nice and smooth, no hiccups at all, nobody complains. There was some interest when the Shaper dropped two creations out of the blue, and that's it. She's more life-crafter mentality BTW. Actually far more; on the other side of Life-crafters. She doesn't plan to ever absorb her creations, she will release them (creating an ecological situation by inserting new things in the Fauna) if she finds a way to make more powerful ones and she says her character will be very upset if they ever turn against her.


If anyone's interested to know more: We play Curse of Strahd. Yes. Creations in Ravenloft; It would be really uncomfortable for the Shaper once she people see her "pets". So far, she explains them as "something like wizard familiars; don't mind them".

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As I said: Does not affect the game balance at all; it's like hiring extra help or having more PCs on the table.


Those things absolutely do affect the game's balance, though. Like, a game can say that you should account for different party sizes in certain ways, but in practice many systems scale poorly if you go too far outside the expected number of characters, especially once you take into account the additional range of tactical options that larger groups allow for -- like, it's probably not such a big deal if combat in your games tends to shake out into mostly independent one-on-one or one-on-a-few fights for each character, but it becomes a big deal if characters start taking into account their relative positioning, forming defensive lines at chokepoints, trying to isolate and surround individual opponents and so on, because the viability of using those tactics at all is dependent on the number of combatants present. And if you want to look on the level of individual characters, a full-party heal or buff is more effective the larger the party is, so the power of support-focused characters is going to depend on party size; likewise, characters with access to AoE attacks will be able to hit more targets if you balance for increased party size by adding more enemies, which will increase their power relative to characters who are limited to attacking single targets. Plus, NPCs that are controlled by a single PC are effectively extensions of that PC (or to put it another way, they're both extensions of the same player), so I don't think you can call them equivalent to hired help anyway.

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You make some EXCELLENT points.

I 100% agree with the assessment that not all games scale well. Something comes to mind: "The game is balanced for 3-5 players" is a stapple on many products.


A few considerations:

- Everything you said about battle balance would apply to Creations \ Hired help. A henchman can also get caught in a fireball, or hold a choke point. As such, I don't see a particular reason to block Shaper characters.

- Creations are (in a way) an extension of the Shaper so it's actually better than giving the hired help to the player. ;)


But OK, you convinced me:

Party size affects game balance in a way.

(Still wouldn't stop me from using Shapers IMC, and nobody complains)


A few other considerations:

- OK it may affect game balance, but as heck I'm not running 4 extra NPCs in combat. I play games to have fun, not to get a headache.

I am comfortable with 3-4 NPCs\monsters in a fight. More than 6 and it becomes bothersome. One of the absolute worse battles I've played had me running 12 enemies.

- Increased party size IMO just needs a bit more experience by the DM.

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There are some "mechanics condensing" tactics that can help a DM deal with NPC-heavy combat. i.e. instead of rolling initiative 12 times for 12 orcs, just assume they have a roughly normal distribution and don't math it, just plop them down by hand.

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Yeah, I do that very often; I group them together in squads and play them as one equivalent megamonster and all. And even as squads, I mostly put "baddies" at one or two different initiatives and play them in a bunch.

Also, even at table, I use dice generators to handle multiple dice.

I guess it just boils down to: I don't like combat that much.

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I read some of your notes. They look good so far. One suggestion for system:

I like the idea, but it's not what I'm going for. As a test to see if the idea of a TTRPG (perhaps Pen and Paper RPG is more accurate) is viable, three players and myself are retelling the story of the first game.


Your idea of "retelling the story of the first game" is interesting, and makes me think of more narrative-based rulesets. I've had good experiences with Savage Worlds, which abstracts some skills for the sake of storytelling and has a more pulpy feel to it. Then there's Fate Core, which I like to think of as a collaborative storytelling system with enough rules to sate my D&D-raised ruleset. Each character is defined by a set of descriptive aspects. One, the high concept, is roughly equivalent to one's class or station in the world. "Servile sympathizer with a heart of gold." Then there's a trouble, something that often (but not necessarily) causes more harm than good: "Slave to the bottle." Then other aspects can flesh out character traits and relationships. Notably, you, the GM and other players should be able to invoke these positively (to gain a narrative or gameplay benefit) or negatively (to hopefully make the story more interesting and more true to the characters).


It's sounding like you're running good in GURPS, and I wish you luck.

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I've used FATE, and while I love it, it's not so good for a game that want mechanics. I feel like a GF game needs some level of structured mechanic just for the fact of if I want to remain truer to the game, the classes need to be a bit distinct. For that reason, I made class Templates so as to help the players, who are unfamiliar with the game, be led to play according to the class a bit more.It also helps me have more distinct creation builds. Thanks for the advice, though.

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