KeyForge Genesys Part 1: Character Creation

The upcoming release of KeyForge, Fantasy Flight Games‘ new Unique Card Game, has got me pretty excited. Since I was lucky enough to be given a couple of decks at GenCon for free, I’ve been introducing people to the game wherever I can, and even dropping by preview events for extra game time. November 15th is burned into my memory as the official release day, and I’m sure I’ll be picking up a deck or two in between playing a few more games.

This is the first time I’ve gotten into a card game since Pokémon 20 years ago, and a big part of it is the Unique format. I’m not willing to devote the time and money necessary to keep up with dominant metas, netdecking and everything else required to remain competitive in most card games; I’m definitely attracted to a game that doesn’t require me to do that, and indeed prevents my opponent from doing so.

But the setting is also a guilty pleasure. It’s mash-up of fantasy and science fiction tropes is silly, but in a way that feels faintly nostalgic – it reminds me of Warhammer 40K, swung to the complete opposite site of the grimdark scale. Being a roleplayer first and a card gamer second, it didn’t take long before I started imagining how to adapt KeyForge’s setting to a roleplaying game, and Fantasy Flight’s own Genesys system seemed a natural fit.

This is the first part in what I hope will be an ongoing series – we’re starting with character creation here, but some of the skills listed as favoured won’t be explained until a follow up post with the game’s skill list. It won’t go into too much detail about KeyForge itself – you can download the rulebook and read its setting section, if you like – and being a hack of Genesys it will assume familiarity with the Core rulebook. Note that all art has been sourced from the KeyForge game itself, based on what I could find online. If anyone gives this game a try, then definitely let me know how it goes!

 

KEYFORGE: NEW STARTING CHARACTER OPTIONS

When creating a character in Keyforge, you should choose a species in Step 2 of character creation rather than an archetype. In Step 3 of character creation, you should choose a House rather than a career.

The Houses of the Crucible are not governments or empires or anything quite so united – many of them are defined by their philosophy or outlook, which can be embraced by members of any species. Consequently, any species can choose to join any House in the Keyforge RPG, though the most common Houses for each species are listed in their profile below.

 

SPECIES: HUMAN

Though little of the culture of their homeworld now survives, humans have left their mark on most Houses on the Crucible. They show greater loyalty with other species who share their beliefs than to humans in other Houses, with whom they share only boring-coloured skin. Rugged, militant, and with a knack for communicating with outsiders bettered only by the archons, humans rarely ascend to positions of great leadership without leaving behind their frail bodies first, but are respected throughout the Crucible as dependable allies and resourceful agents.

House Sanctum has the greatest number of humans amongst their ranks, and their floating islands are a haven from the world below, where humans have a tendency to be bullied by tougher or craftier species. But a great many humans also seek knowledge, and a cybernetic upgrade, through the wisdom of House Logos, or quickly master the skills to flourish in a Shadows guild. Humans feel the call of the Untamed more than any other civilised species, and some have suggested a common ancestry between them and Niffle apes. It’s less common to find humans in other Houses, but not unheard of: meat-headed warriors, devoted cultists, and brain-washed infiltration agents have roles open to them in Brobnar, Dis and Mars respectively.

Brawn: 2
Agility: 2
Intellect: 2
Cunning: 2
Willpower: 2
Presence: 2

Wound Threshold: 10+Brawn
Strain Threshold: 10+Willpower

Starting Experience: 110

Special Ability: When using a Social skill against someone outside your House, human only upgrade the difficulty once instead of twice.

 

SPECIES: ELF

The elves of Svarr are a disreputable sort, notorious as liars, tricksters and thieves. Most elves would cheerfully acknowledge the accuracy of this stereotype, but it’s an incomplete picture – legends suggest that their retreat to the darkness was in fact an exile forced upon them, and few elves are selfish enough to endure this exile alone. Their dubious methods cover for their physical disadvantages, and make sure they are capable of protecting those closest to them from the worst of the Crucible’s dangers.

The Shadows are dominated by Svarr guilds, and most elves owe ultimate loyalty to that House, but it’s not uncommon for elves to act as spies and informants embedded in other Houses, especially House Sanctum. Sometimes those agents go rogue, ending up as double agents accepted into the House they were sent to infiltrate, further compounding the elven reputation for dodgy dealing and treachery.

Brawn: 1
Agility: 2
Intellect: 2
Cunning: 3
Willpower: 2
Presence: 2

Wound Threshold: 9+Brawn
Strain Threshold: 11+Willpower

Starting Experience: 90

Special Ability: When using the Melee skill, elves can choose to pair it with the Agility attribute instead of Brawn.

Nimble: When not wearing armour, elves have a melee and ranged defence of 1.

Dark Vision: Elves remove up to 2 Setback dice due to darkness when making skill checks.

 

SPECIES: MARTIAN

Relative newcomers to the Crucible, the Martians have made quite a name for themselves in short order, taking to imperialist conquest and subjugation with as much eagerness as they did before the Fall of Mars. Whilst their culture has changed little, their technology has benefited from experimentation with captured aember, bringing their militaristic ambitions all the closer to fruition. Though divided into two castes – the cloned multitudes of the Soldier caste, and the more individualistic Elders – all Martians share bulbous heads, green skin and limitless fervour.

Martians are incubated, engineered or otherwise raised with absolute loyalty to their homeworld – indeed, House Mars seldom permits other species to enter their ranks. But there are no status quos on the Crucible, and Martians in other Houses must surely exist. How many Elders have found their devotion to science lead them to total cybernetic transference in House Logos? How many Soldiers have defied cranial electro-correction, and sought refuge amongst the renegades of House Shadows? And how many more will turn away from Mars’ xenophobic isolation, as their people go from being the latest arrivals to more permanent residents of the Crucible?

Brawn: 1
Agility: 2
Intellect: 2
Cunning: 2
Willpower: 2
Presence: 2

Wound Threshold: 10+Brawn
Strain Threshold: 10+Willpower

Starting Experience: 100

Special Ability: During character creation, players must choose a caste for their Martian character. Elder Martians begin with an Intelligence of 3, and gain a free boost die on any social skill tests to influence Martian Soldiers. Martian Soldiers begin with an Agility of 3, and an extra 10 starting experience.

Strength in Numbers: On a skill test when a Martian is assisted by an ally, they may add an extra boost die to their pool.

 

SPECIES: GIANT

Tattooed, brightly haired, and above all, big, Giants tend to stand out wherever they go on the Crucible. Their intimidating physique lends them many advantages as thugs, mercenaries and extortionists, and whilst gentler spirits may feel moved to more peaceful pursuits, large numbers of Giants banded together tend to bring out each other’s loudest most brutal impulses.

House Brobnar values strength, and you don’t get much stronger than Giants, so it’s unsurprising that most Giants are drawn to their banner. But Giants are generally unfussy who they fight for, with some mercenaries fighting alongside other Houses for so long that they may feel more loyalty to their paymasters than their distant mountain-dwelling brethren. If those Houses can provide Giants with loud or destructive wargear to compliment their natural resilience, then so much the better!

Brawn: 3
Agility: 2
Intellect: 1
Cunning: 2
Willpower: 2
Presence: 2

Wound Threshold: 14+Brawn
Strain Threshold: 9+Willpower

Starting Experience: 90

Special Ability: Giants have a Silhouette of 2, and start with two ranks of Durable (reducing critical hit roles by 20, to a minimum of 01).

 

SPECIES: CYBORG

The Crucible can be a very dangerous place, and the loss of limbs (or heads) is an occupational hazard for those who chose to engage with those dangers. Thankfully, science has advanced sufficiently to furnish cybernetic prosthetics to replace lost body parts, superior in many ways to the biological tissue they replace. Some choose to take this to excess, and embark on full mechanical transference, leaving behind disease and death at the cost of their physical bodies.

Warriors of House Brobnar depend on cybernetics to recover from frequent battle injuries, and sometimes it’s difficult to tell where flesh ends and machine begins for the techno-demons of House Dis. But it is House Logos where the majority of cyborgs can be found, where transitioning to a machine state is not only encouraged, but revered. In Logos, the process of cyborgification is so complete that it is often impossible to tell what the original species of the patient might have been; all brilliant minds are welcomed to the pursuit of knowledge.

Brawn: 2
Agility: 2
Intellect: 3
Cunning: 2
Willpower: 2
Presence: 1

Wound Threshold: 10+Brawn
Strain Threshold: 11+Willpower

Starting Experience: 90

Special Ability: All Cyborgs gain one rank of Enduring, giving them +1 Soak.

Implanted Wargear: Cyborgs may choose for any equipment to be implanted directly into their body or a mechanical appendage (of which they may have many!). Any implanted equipment cannot be dropped or disarmed without great effort, and may be drawn as a free action.

 

SPECIES: DEMON

Nightmarish fusions of metal and flesh dwell in the forgotten spaces between the worlds of the Crucible, hunting the surface dwellers and their aember deposits with equal enthusiasm. These demons do not possess the full emotional range of the truly living, and so employ cruel devices to harvest these feelings from others, driving their prey to excess so that they may feast on their pain, their lust and their darkest desires.

The dark pit these creatures slither from is known throughout the Crucible as Dis, and the ranks of House Dis swell with legions of the demonic. But some in other House have claimed to strike deals or bargains with these monsters, winning their dubious allegiance. Reports that the witches of House Untamed or the mechanists of House Logos have discovered the secret of “binding” these demons on a more permanent basis are dismissed by most as wishful thinking.

Brawn: 2
Agility: 2
Intellect: 2
Cunning: 2
Willpower: 3
Presence: 1

Wound Threshold: 10+Brawn
Strain Threshold: 10+Willpower

Starting Experience: 90

Special Ability: Being creatures of nightmare-in-the-flesh, Demons can spend a Story Point to force an adversary or mob to confront Fear – a Hard (3 difficulty) Discipline check which, if failed, Disorients that adversary for the rest of the encounter. Each adversary can only be targeted by this ability once per encounter.

The Harvest: Whenever you succeed on a skill check that inflicts wounds or strain, regain 1 strain.

 

SPECIES: SPIRIT

The Church of the Opened Eye teaches that physical bodies are merely vessels to contain our souls; vessels that can be transcended by the faithful, allowing them to depart the material plane. Though these spirits can exist as beings of pure energy, many choose to bind themselves to new bodies more suitable for their enlightened selves, that they might continue to interact with the physical world. The most powerful of these creatures, angels, can maintain material presence with will alone, and have more in common with the archons than with beings of flesh and blood.

The cybernetic suits of knightly armour employed by House Sanctum are the most favoured hosts for spirit-kind, and it within their ranks that the most organic beings have succeeded in spiritual ascension. But spirits, by virtue of having no physical form, enjoy freedom undreamed of by most sentients, and there is little to stop them binding with suitable containers fashioned by other Houses should they wish to. How exactly do the cyber-doctors of House Logos ensure that the entirely mechanical bodies of their leaders retain the sentience of their biological predecessors? Do the rumours of “possessed” acolytes in service of House Dis have more truth to them than many would expect? Perhaps House Sanctum does not have the monopoly on spiritual ascension its priesthood would like to believe…

Brawn: 2
Agility: 2
Intellect: 3
Cunning: 1
Willpower: 3
Presence: 2

Wound Threshold: 10+Brawn
Strain Threshold: 12+Willpower

Starting Experience: 90

Special Ability: All Spirits must spend their starting currency on either a combat suit or knightly plate to contain their spiritual form as a “Vessel”. This Vessel cannot be Damaged, but Spirits suffer Wounds and Critical Hits in the same way as normal characters, which tracks damage inflicted on the Vessel – if the Spirit is killed, it is assumed the trauma of the Vessel’s destruction banishes the Spirit as well.

A New Form: If a Spirit is forced, or chooses, to abandon its Vessel, it exists as a ghostly simulacra that can travel through obstacles freely, but cannot interact with the physical world in any way, and is only vaguely aware of its surroundings. It takes one day to prepare a new combat suit or knightly plate to act as a Vessel for a Spirit – upon entering the new Vessel, the Spirit heals all Wounds.

Unworldly: Spirits upgrade their roll once on any skill checks to resist the effects of fear, intimidation, or any other mental threats.

 

SPECIES: BEAST

From the unique blend of ecosystems combined on the Crucible, all manner of life can spring forth. With the administration of the faeries, and strange metamorphosing effect of aember, new animals and plants emerge that call no single world their home, but can flourish in the bizarre synthesis that characterises existence in this place. Many of them possess intelligence few “civilised” species would imagine, though there are some who recognise this spark of sentience, and even speak their language. These Beasts can be counted upon as allies, or even friends, to those who understand what motivates them… and who can make sure the food will keep on coming!

Even the most intelligent Beasts have little in the form of ideology, and the name House Untamed exists mostly to recognise the natural instincts of these wild animals. But if tamed by someone of another House, their de facto loyalty to that House will persist as long as their loyalty to their tamer. So it is that Martian Hounds advance before their Soldiers ranks, cyber-beasts are unleashed by the biologists of House Logos, and dragons fly above the banners of House Brobnar.

Brawn: 1
Agility: 1
Intellect: 1
Cunning: 1
Willpower: 1
Presence: 1

Wound Threshold: 10+Brawn
Strain Threshold: 10+Willpower

Starting Experience: 200

Special Ability: In addition to starting with one rank in four of their eight House skills, Beasts start with one rank train in two of the following eight House skills: Athletics, Coordination, Perception, Resilience, Stealth, Vigilance, Brawl, Architecture. As normal, this cannot cause a character to start with more than two ranks in any skill. However, Beasts can never use any of the following skills, and automatically fail all tests associated with them: Mechanics, Piloting, Gunnery, Theory.

Barks and Growls: Whilst Beasts often understand more of what people are saying than you’d expect, they do not speak in a language that sentients can understand unless they possess the Witch talent – this usually prevents Beasts from using Social skills other than Coercion on non-Beasts. However, during character creation, choose another player character to be your Beast’s master/owner/life companion – your characters possess the means to communicate with each other, and if targeting one another with Social skills, ignore all House penalties.

Living Weapons: Beasts can only use the following equipment: Brawl weapons, Breath Weapon, Natural Armour, Wings.

 

CHARACTER CREATION STEP 3: CHOOSE A HOUSE

Each player character chooses one of the seven Houses below to command their allegiance and best capture their philosophical outlook. In addition to reflecting an important roleplay choice, this also determines what “favoured” skills that character possesses – these 8 skills are cheaper to advance with XP, and character start with 4 of them trained at rank 1 for free. No skill can be raised above rank 2 during character creation.

In addition, because the Crucible is home to such divergent life, its inhabitants often struggle to communicate with another – the ability to freely converse with all being a gift unique to the archons themselves. When using a House skill on a target that is not from your own House, upgrade the difficulty twice.

House Brobnar
The warlords of House Brobnar favour strength, volume and overwhelming force. They attract fighters of all kinds who are not burdened with a complicated mindset. House Brobnar’s favoured skills are Athletics, Cool, Resilience, Survival, Brawl, Gunnery, Melee and Coercion.

House Dis
The subterranean inhabitants of the dark hells of Dis have embraced their reputation as vicious monsters, springing to the surface world to wage war, steal aember, and to lead mortals astray. House Dis’ favoured skills are Discipline, Skulduggery, Stealth, Vigilance, Brawl, Architecture, Coercion and Deception.

House Logos
The Society of Logic and Reason pursues knowledge for its own sake, and actively seeks to recruit gifted minds to its cause, who will extend the boundaries of scientific achievement. House Logos’ favoured skills are Coordination, Discipline, Mechanics, Medicine, Gunnery, Ranged, Theory and Negotiation.

House Mars
The Martian Empire is a xenophobic war machine – it trains its soldiers to fight without relenting, to lead without doubt, and to violate the laws of physics without regard for the consequence. House Mars’ favoured skills are Mechanics, Perception, Piloting, Survival, Gunnery, Ranged, Theory and Leadership.

House Sanctum
The floating islands of the Sanctum are bound in compact between the theocrats and their flocks. Each has sworn to protect one another, and to harden body and mind against the coming trials. House Sanctum’s favoured skills are Medicine, Piloting, Resilience, Vigilance, Melee, Culture, Charm and Leadership.

House Shadows
Flourishing in the thieves guilds requires guile, quick wits and a flexible attitude to property ownership – and the Shadows rarely offer protection to anyone who can’t develop such skills quickly. House Shadows’ favoured skills are Coordination, Skulduggery, Stealth, Melee, Culture, Charm, Deception and Negotiation.

House Untamed
Beyond the shallow protection of “civilisation”, animals and sentients learn to trust their instincts if they want to survive. The law of the jungle dictates that those who live in the wilderness will be tough, canny hunters, or will perish. House Untamed’s favoured skills are Athletics, Cool, Medicine, Perception, Stealth, Survival, Brawl and Architecture.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s