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A Short Primer on the Narrative Dice System

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May 25th, 2018
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  1. Part 1: The Dice
  3. Genesys employs the Narrative Dice System as its core mechanic. It uses six different dice, three good, three bad. They are visible in this picture:
  6. Boost and Setback dice (d6) typically represent small bonuses/maluses that can influence a roll.
  7. Ability and Difficulty dice (d8) are the bread and butter. These are used as the basic representation of a character's ability or the flat difficulty of a check. Difficulty in a static check ranks from 0-5 Difficulty dice.
  8. Proficiency and Challenge dice (d12) are greater augmentations of the Ability/Difficulty dice. These represent skill mastery, the result of a special ability, or - in the case of Challenge - a greatly significant obstacle or opposing mastery.
  10. Genesys is a dicepool system that runs on skill checks made using these specialty dice. Here is how you make a skill check:
  11. >Take the value of your skill and the value of your attached characteristic (core stat)
  12. >The larger number of the two is the number of Ability dice you start with
  13. >The smaller number is the number of Ability dice you upgrade to Proficiency dice (i.e. replace the Ability die with the Proficiency die)
  14. >For checks with a set difficulty, add anywhere from 0-5 Difficulty dice
  15. >If it's an opposed check, use the same steps as above but with Difficulty and Challenge dice, and add them to the pool
  16. >Add dice (typically Boost or Setback dice), upgrade any dice that need it, downgrade any dice that need it, and remove any dice if needed; a lot of these come from circumstances or talents or other abilities
  17. >Roll that shit
  18. >Determine the final net results and interpret them
  20. =======
  22. Part 2: The Symbols
  24. Genesys dice are covered in these six symbols shown in this picture:
  26. Here's the quick and dirty on what they mean.
  28. Success and Failure are the core pass/fail symbols. They cancel each other out. Get at least one Success overall, and the check is successful. The more net Successes you earn, the greater the magnitude; failure is just failure.
  30. Advantage and Threat are symbols that represent additonal bonuses and maluses that are strictly incidental to the check itself. They also cancel each other out. Gaining a net Advantage means that even if you fail the check, the GM gives you an "On the bright side..."
  32. Triumph and Despair are the rarest symbols, found only on the Proficiency and Challenge dice. They are effectively super-Advantages and super-Threats, in that they represent a major windfall or setback as a part of the check. They also count as Success/Failure symbols when determing a check's success, but their additional effects do NOT cancel each other out. You can pass a check, but the Despair symbol you roll means the GM gives you a "You made it, but you're still gonna have a bad day..."
  34. =======
  36. Part 3: A Sample Check
  38. To really hammer it home, here's a sample interpretation of how to read the results of a given skill check. This is taken from a previous thread in a sort of "roll improv workshop."
  40. >Setting:
  41. Fantasy
  42. >What caused the roll:
  43. A character makes an Athletics check to swim across a strong river to get to the other side
  44. >Final result (after tallying the symbols and cancelling where necessary)
  45. 0 Success
  46. 1 Advantage
  47. 1 Triumph
  48. 1 Despair
  50. Here is how that result was interpreted by another anon:
  52. >Failure
  53. Bad news: you couldn't ford the river and must retreat to your side.
  54. >1 Despair
  55. Worse news: In your attempt to ford the river, you were carried several hundred meters down river in the rapids. You bounced off a few rocks along the way. Take a few strain damage and a level of damage to your armor.
  56. >1 Triumph
  57. Good news, though: you've found a bend in the river that is much shallower and easier to cross. Plus, you're not dead and you didn't lose anything, so that has to count for something.
  58. >1 Advantage
  59. And for what it's worth, your unexpected trip down river was much faster than you thought, so the time you lost is minimal.
  61. =======
  63. Part 4: Conclusion
  65. That's the beating heart of Genesys's system. Everything across the whole of the system (Critical Injuries aside) hinges on these dice. Master them, and the whole system will shine.
  67. Also, a protip on introducing new players to the system:
  68. Walk them through the dice, and I mean seriously walk them through it. You have to get your players comfortable with the dice first and eventually involved in crafting the narrative as well, and that means helping to interpret the dice like you are. As mentioned in another thread, players getting involved in the dice makes it better for everyone. Feed them bit by bit with little questions ("You're got one Threat against you, meaning you've got a minor mishap to deal with. What do you think would happen to you?") and work from there.
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