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qcipher

Summoner's Game in Genesys

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I've been having an ongoing idea of a game involving summoned creatures as the theme and source of heroic abilities.  I'm a bit of an Anime fan and while I've seen several video games that use this concept effectively I haven't seen too many RPGs that do a deep dive into it.

 

The basics would be that you'd (ideally) want an even amount of PCs, and half would play normal people (we'll call them Summoners) and the other half would play the Summoned; creature, or creations, or technical forms that are summoned to help them.  I hesitate to say that they do their bidding, because that wouldn't have much appeal.  Ideally the Summoned would have plenty of motivations of their own.

 

I started thinking of several divisions, to make the Summoners and Summoned, distinct from each other.  I basically have 2 typical types of Summoners, the Newbie and the Amateur.  The Newbie would have just recently received their Summoned and are only just now starting to understand what it entails.  They are usually more skilled in other areas and often have slightly more powerful as well as willful Summoned.  The Amateur is someone rather trained in the whole business and so has more capabilities and an easier time with their Summoned, but with their experience they are less capable in real world skills, and their Summoned are a bit weaker and more docile.

 

From there comes the power source or simply Source.  They both derive their abilities from a thematic source and I came up with three that seem to be iconic enough, and with the proper game setting, could all be present.  The first would be magic, then steampunk, then high tech (which meshes quite well with how Genesys presented its initial book).  So a Summoner using Magic will also have a Summoned that is magic based, and the props and abilities will be magic; A Summoner could be a wizard or Alchemist who has a familiar that is his Summoned, and the Familiar then has additional powers.  While a Steampunk might have various inventions, and his Summoned could be like a patchwork golem.  For the Tech Summoner, they could be more like someone on the net with a highly advance Pad (or even an alien relic) and summons a silicon attack creature.  But basically the Source would determine their power's origins and the overall look and design of their Summoned.

 

From there the Summoned are classified as three types or forms (I actually had several in mind, but some like mount/vehicle just didn't seem like they might be fun to play).  The first is the Beast.  The Beast does not have to be an animal, but is a fast, agile, and vicious attacking creature.  A bit hard to control, it goes on the attack and is eager to get into the fight, either close or at range (usually has both capabilities, but is often better at one).  A Magic Beast could be literally be a vicious animal or hybrid/chimera.  A Steampunk might be an animal or humanoid, outfitted with weapons and claws attached to it, while a Tech Beast might be a glimmering humanoid made of living metal that forms the weapons it uses.

The next is a Familiar.  They are usually smaller, quick and wily, and their main strength lies in spell like abilities and powers.  They can often control the actions of others, move things with a gesture, as well as move itself in uncommon or unusual ways (like teleportation and flight).  They have both offensive and defensive capabilities but more often confound their opponents.  A Magic Familiar is usually a small creature or animal, with unusual traits; a tiny dragon, a talking cat, a moving puppet.  A Steampunk familiar will often be a muse of the Summoner, a humonculus (miniature person), an exotic animal, a clockwork creature.   A Tech Familiar runs the gamut of forms, it could be a floating, talking cube that emits light but has no seams or moving parts, a small alien looking creature, a high tech looking toy that continually transforms itself into different devices each that shoots a different ray or effect.

The last (for now) is the Golem.  Designed to be more of a bodyguard and close defender of the Summoner, the Golem has great strength and resilience.  A magic golem could be an animate statue, while a Steampunk could be a re-animated body, or clockwork giant.  A tech Golem could be a sleek android or monstrous alien creature.

What I had in mind balance wise, was that each Summoned had a different role and that the Summoned had more power than the Summoner, but the Summoned also were less versatile and skilled, and of course needed to be called upon to take part in things.  As for the scale between them I had in mind a kind of rock-paper-scissors relationship.  The Beast would beat the Familiar; it's speed and ferocity could get it past the Familiar's ability to confound opponents.  The Familiar would beat the Golem, the Familiar could easily immobilize or confuse the Golem and render it useless.  The Golem would defeat the Beast, the Golem's great durability would allow it to endure the Beast's attacks, and then its enhanced strength would ultimately crush the Beast.

Some of the challenges would be what the base character creation of the Summoned would be, the Summoner could be easy (even just using some of the standard human archetypes).  For the Summoned I might go with the same template, but then add certain bonuses that they get, using some of the Star Wars races could be a decent aid for this.  The actual Summoning would usually correspond to a typical Spell roll (but you'd roll a different skill that corresponds with your Source), and then maybe a table of benefits, that you could spend your successes and advantages on (as well as Disadvantages and the high end results too).  Similar to creating a spell, by spending these dice results you would add certain tags to your Summoned, so that each time you brought it up you could get different results.  Other challenges would be what each PC would do.  The Summoned could potentially be out of the action a lot, and then of course they're supposed to be a bit more powerful once they show up.  They're supposed to be a pair, but the dynamic has a lot of give and take.  I wouldn't want half the gaming group either uninvolved for long periods of time, or being completely overshadowed.  Half the fun though would be the relationship the Summoner and Summoned have; one shouldn't be the servant or slave of the other.

Still putting some thought into this, wanted to get some input perhaps on the theme of this as well as perhaps some advice on how to make it work.  I was initially going to make a bunch of powers and things for them, but using the Magic system, as well as adding Talents and even tags (that would normally be added on gear using HP) could be the best way to simulate the powers of the Summoned as well as the buffs that their Summoner can add to them.

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