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Castlecruncher

Using Miniatures with Genesys

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Hello folks,

So I've been thinking for a while about using the basic Genesys system in conjunction with miniatures on a grid or terrain-field. The idea first formed when I planned on doing a Lord of the Rings game with a friend of mine using my collection of LotR miniatures, and it's only grown since.

The easy part is figuring out how to play Genesys using miniatures, while the trickier part is finding some way to do almost a mini-wargame that uses the basic Genesys mechanics (Skills, the Dice, Advantage/Disadvantage, etc.). As it stands I've mostly figured out the former, while the latter could perhaps use some work--which is why I figured I'd stop by the forums and see what others think on the idea. So, here's what I have so far:

Using Miniatures in Genesys

Using miniatures as character tokens, a la the Star Wars beginner sets, is rather straight forward--distances are designed arbitrarily and the models are only vague representations of where characters are. They can easily be used without any rules.

Taking things a step further, we can tune Genesys to suit miniatures by converting range-bands into measurements. Each bands represents an equal measurement, somewhere between 4" and 6" (for reference, let's assume out measurement is 6"). So, Engaged would be adjacent/base-to-base, Short is 6", Medium is 12", Long is 18", and Extreme is 24". Anything past Extreme is generally still just Extreme, but if it starts getting absurd the GM can rule that it's just too far.

The two basic types of tabletop you can use are terrain-based boards and grid-maps. Grids are fairly easy to work with, since everything is all pre-measured and such--there's not much room for argument as to where you can move and such, except maybe the whole 'diagonal move' question (either it costs 1" or every other diagonal costs 2"). A regular tabletop, with a ruler and such, requires a bit more finesse, and likely lends itself more to arbitrary decisions, preferably in favor of the players. I'll write mostly for terrain-based boards rather than grids, as grids are far more regular.

When a character moves, they get to move 6" wherever they please. Generally, if a model can get about 1/2" aways from another model, they're close enough to count as Engaged (on a grid, they just need to be adjacent). To account for Engagement with multiple characters (like a Minion group or several PCs), a model is considered engaged with any model it is adjacent/base-to-base with, as well as any models adjacent/base-to-base with that model. For example, if models A and B are both touching model C, but not each other, they are considered Engaged. Conversely, if model A is touching B, B is touching C, and C is touching D, then A and D are not Engaged (no Conga-lines of Engagement, basically).

For combat purposes, if ever you're up against a 'mob' (like a big cluster of Minions), then you can re-position about 1-inch with any attack you make, remaining in contact with the engagement. This is usually used when you kill an enemy, as you "pile in" to fill the gaps and remain Engaged. As usual, you may leave an Engagement at any time with a Movement, free of penalty.

Models are also free to pass through any other model, including enemy models in an Engagement, unless the GM specifically declares otherwise--the sort of comparison to this in RPG terms would be whether or not you're free to dash down a corridor filled with six enemies. Some GMs will just let you barrel through, while others will require a Skill Check of some sort, while other (less fun) GMs will just prohibit it entirely.

Other than that, it's all mostly just visual story-telling. The rest of the rules work exactly as in the game, and Advantages and Disadvantages and the like are used as to narrative effect. You can use tokens to represent dropped weapons or markers to show environmental effects that arise, but overall it's just a lot of basic intuition. Cover and line-of-sight are generally pretty straight forward, and of course the GM is there to give the final word on what counts as what (e.g. "That's heavy cover, that's dangerous terrain and requires a check to cross, eh, I'll let you move an extra couple of inches, it's close enough"). The end-word here is "Fun," and the models are just here to help out.

Doing Battles with Genesys

So I've basically got the whole "Using miniatures in Genesys" idea down, as it's mostly just a visual aid with some little rules that can be fudged as necessary to fit the game. My other idea, essentially creating a mini-wargame with Genesys, is a bit trickier.

All of the rules above apply the same, except that the players should agree before hand on anything that might call for a GM call. Ranges are more hard-set--the range-bands are used only to determine how many inches a weapon can shoot or a person can move, and from there you rely on the inches rather than any sense of bands. The players might agree to allow for a character to pile-in to Engaged with a model if they're less than an inch away or some such, but it should be made clear at the get-go. Essentially just take all of the rules above and make them set in stone rather than loose guidelines.

The harder part is deciding the cost of characters, as well as deciding which Skills and Characteristics and such to use. As far as cost is concerned, giving each player a limit of XP and Credits to spend seems straight-forward, though there's the question of base-cost (maybe 100 XP? 150? 200? Maybe just require both teams have equal numbers?). Skills can probably be limited to Combat Skills, Leadership, Medicine and Mechanics (for healing), Athletics, maybe Cool and Vigilance for Initiative, and any others that seem sensible. Characteristics would be limited to what makes sense, likely Brawn, Agility, and Intelligence (to cover all non-physical Skills).

Alternatively you could play with a full set of Skills, and just use far more narrative missions and the like that will call for Skill checks--maybe use a random chart to determine which Skills can be used to activate a given Objective, or have a GM design missions for the Players to run through with their parties to try and compete for. This would probably be the most fun (in my mind, at least), but also the least regular, and would be less like a skirmish game and more like a particularly combat-oriented RPG with players having multiple characters.

Closing Thoughts

So that's where I'm at with my silly little idea. Still messy, but I only really need to understand it well enough to explain to other players or do little battles against myself (I've never been much for competitive games against others, so these rules are mostly for personal use when I want to have my models duke it out on my desk but can't be bothered with other rules systems out there). Let me know if you have any thought, criticisms, or ideas. I can't imagine there are overly many people interested in making a full on wargame out of Genesys, but maybe some folks might find this all useful for using models in their own games, such as for introducing new players with pretty boards and models or using your old models from before you switched systems.

 

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I've always loved the flexibility of roleplaying gaming itself- the fact it can be anything from pure theatre of the mind where it's all spoken, to miniature/tabletop based where you map out the adventure and figures/ other props help bring it to life, to more recent options such as Roll 20 where you present it with digital visualisations through to full on costumed RPG (I've enjoyed the first three types frequently but haven't gone down the LARP route myself- I did do a megagame which was a mix of boardgame and RPG elements but not in costume, though some participants were, which had the excitement of meaning you really felt the pressures of events and how to react to them as they unfolded.)

 

Genesys is a great all- purpose system as it's flexible enough to adapt to whatever you need it to be.

 

I'm definitely coming at it with a tabletop RPG mindset as that's one of the ways I'll most likely use it as I'm developing ideas based on and using the Terrinoth games, especially Descent, but I also plan on running some of my completed modules in Roll 20 - it's a great app for playing digitally and online. For other GM's the aim is to design my modules so they can run them in any delivery format including the examples mentioned.

 

What I love about the world of RPG gaming is it gets you a lot out of one hobby- so many aspects and creative angles from storytelling to painting and scenery ideas if you go the tabletop route to character and plot development, it almost feels a bit hollywood at times- designing RPG adventures is a bit like thinking up an epic movie! As a creative person I just love how much you can do with RPG- it becomes your own, you're not just playing a game someone else designed with all the limits that has- you're taking it wherever your mind takes it, and as with all story creation the best buzz is when you find out the bits of the story even you didn't know at first! Like starting a jigsaw only you don't know what the finished picture will look like just yet.

 

I'm only just getting started with my journey into Genesys and I'm already enjoying all its creative sparks.

 

As for any tabletop use another tip I'd add is the complexity can be what you want- Genesys is designed for avoiding minutiae such as precisely measuring everything common to tabletop wargames and the like, but there's nothing to stop you- if it's what you and your gaming group want- adding in any such complexity you do require, so your finished setting and setup can be anything from ultra-lite to ultra-heavy. Likewise you can stick closely to Genesys' narrative nature or move away from that if you want more rigid rules based battle systems running alongside the narrative RPG side (for this type of setup, especially the wargame route, you may be looking at Genesys plus whichever other game systems suit in some sort of combo- tricky to make work but if done well and it worked it could be interesting.) Perhaps the thing to do would be after getting down the non-Genesys bits to look at how you can bring back some of the Genesys bits to these, i.e. you've got these new mechanics but can you make Genesys's narrative nature the dominating force, to keep the spirit of what Genesys is as a narrative system. Thus you recombine the creative, narrative aspect of Genesys with the more clinical, prescribed aspects of that which you've added to it so that the latter doesn't strangle and stifle the former.

 

A good balance could make for a very good game experience of this nature.

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the beauty of the system is that you can be abstract and it still works, the second you stop worrying about the exact placement of people and jusf "eyeball" the range the more it frees you up from being a slave to absolute positions. Its supposed to be a cinematic system that your dice rolls roll out a section of a scene as it happens on a screen, so this is the way I try to imagine it. That being said there is nothing stopping you using a hex grid or whatever to map it all out , if that helps the GM and the players, this more than most RPGs is your game that you can be as specific or abstract as you like. 

I like the freedom of just saying , " we 'll call it medium range " and unless the player has a good narrative reason as to why not it's medium range. Relative positions between 3 or more points can get a little screwy though, but its still doable. 

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On 12/31/2018 at 4:12 PM, syrath said:

the beauty of the system is that you can be abstract and it still works, the second you stop worrying about the exact placement of people and jusf "eyeball" the range the more it frees you up from being a slave to absolute positions. Its supposed to be a cinematic system that your dice rolls roll out a section of a scene as it happens on a screen, so this is the way I try to imagine it. That being said there is nothing stopping you using a hex grid or whatever to map it all out , if that helps the GM and the players, this more than most RPGs is your game that you can be as specific or abstract as you like. 

I like the freedom of just saying , " we 'll call it medium range " and unless the player has a good narrative reason as to why not it's medium range. Relative positions between 3 or more points can get a little screwy though, but its still doable. 

That is where miniatures help. You place them about where they are and it becomes easy to judge how far from each target is

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Using a map with miniatures is fine. I do it and highly suggest it. As previously stated above and in other threads, it makes it simpler for everyone to quickly note the relations of characters to each other and the environment. Even with just a dry erase board and some tokens you can more easily place things as a referee without having to repeatedly describe where the back door to the inn is in relation to the bar, etc.

BUT, I would never place a grid over it. It's not needed. Yes some prefer it, but I would highly, highly suggest resisting the mechanics of other systems and playing without a grid to begin with. Don't try to shoe horn in a mechanic that the system plays fine without until you completely understand why you actually want the grid. If after understanding how its intended to be played, you still want the non-narrative grid tacked on, then there are several suggestions in these forums as some have already suggested above.

I personally wouldn't use it for this system, but have you considered using a range band/string instead of a map grid? I've played games where I used a home-made cord with distances marked along it which could be placed on the map and manipulated when moving miniatures or determining ranges. It might work as a middle ground between narrative and grid? Again not the intention of this narrative system, but it could be simpler then trying to impose a specialized grid system?

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I find myself in very strong agreement with @Sturn here. I 100% would suggest using a map, and minis. They can add so much to a game, even if they aren't required or high quality (rough sketch and dice as mini's works just fine). But would be very hard pressed to agree that using a grid of any sort with them. I've always found that a grid locks things down too much and is too precises for the strengths of genesys/swrpg. 

All that said, i could also be 100% wrong lol. As long as the people at the table are having fun, that is all that really matters. Even doing things an incorrect way, doesn't make it incorrect fun =P

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Lots of good responses, though it seems some people may have misunderstood what I was getting at a bit (perhaps I presented it poorly, oh well).

As far as actually playing the game, I've traditionally gone without any miniatures or terrain. When we get to combat, I usually grab a sheet of paper and draw the general lay of the land with little x's and o's to represent the PCs and other characters, and just say "roughly this much is a range band." As far as using miniatures in a game would go, I think I would still just stick to very general range bands, probably in roughly a consistent measurement (like perhaps 6").

I agree that, as far as playing an actual game of Genesys/SWRPG is concerned, a grid system is less than optimal, though is sometimes necessary depending on your setup (for example, using grid-based tiles to build a scene). In that case you can either ignore the grid (which in my experience is visually difficult--"I just want them to stay in the little boxes, dang it!"), or work with it, which is where I would defer to the little rules I outlined above.

So basically, I agree with just about all of you--the main reason I came up with the little rules I put above was so that I could create more regulated, non-RPG battles with miniatures using the dice and basic rules of Genesys (a bit silly, perhaps, but I like it), which I posted here in case anyone else ever felt the need to use similar such rules in their campaign, or to see if anyone had any ideas on how to come up with some non-RPG-based rules on how to arrange such miniatures battles with the Genesys system. Basically I was trying to take a beautiful narrative roleplaying system and butcher it into a mildly tactical miniatures skirmish game, and apparently I thought it best to present it as a way to run the RPG portion (I'm certain it could be done, but looking back I really can't imagine trying it myself with such specific rules).

That said, I do appreciate the points made so far--thank you all for your input, and don't feel shy if you have any other thoughts.

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18 hours ago, Castlecruncher said:

Lots of good responses, though it seems some people may have misunderstood what I was getting at a bit (perhaps I presented it poorly, oh well).

As far as actually playing the game, I've traditionally gone without any miniatures or terrain. When we get to combat, I usually grab a sheet of paper and draw the general lay of the land with little x's and o's to represent the PCs and other characters, and just say "roughly this much is a range band." As far as using miniatures in a game would go, I think I would still just stick to very general range bands, probably in roughly a consistent measurement (like perhaps 6").

I agree that, as far as playing an actual game of Genesys/SWRPG is concerned, a grid system is less than optimal, though is sometimes necessary depending on your setup (for example, using grid-based tiles to build a scene). In that case you can either ignore the grid (which in my experience is visually difficult--"I just want them to stay in the little boxes, dang it!"), or work with it, which is where I would defer to the little rules I outlined above.

So basically, I agree with just about all of you--the main reason I came up with the little rules I put above was so that I could create more regulated, non-RPG battles with miniatures using the dice and basic rules of Genesys (a bit silly, perhaps, but I like it), which I posted here in case anyone else ever felt the need to use similar such rules in their campaign, or to see if anyone had any ideas on how to come up with some non-RPG-based rules on how to arrange such miniatures battles with the Genesys system. Basically I was trying to take a beautiful narrative roleplaying system and butcher it into a mildly tactical miniatures skirmish game, and apparently I thought it best to present it as a way to run the RPG portion (I'm certain it could be done, but looking back I really can't imagine trying it myself with such specific rules).

That said, I do appreciate the points made so far--thank you all for your input, and don't feel shy if you have any other thoughts.

You would probably be better off doing a hack of Legion rather than trying to get Genesys to work for skirmish games...

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