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Slot The Godfather Genesys — Game Review

[Let’s Study Genesys] Part 3: Combat Encounters

We’ll be taking a look at combat in Genesys. Given how the Narrative Dice Mechanics work, I imagine that combat in Genesys is meant to be a more streamlined, “cinematic” experience than those of other games.

But before that, I apparently overlooked a vital mechanic in the rules:

Story Points

In the game, there are two pools of Story Points. At the start of the session players add 1 Story Point to the player pool, and the GM adds 1 Story Point to the GM Pool.

Story Points are spent to gain a host of benefits, after which they are then transferred to the opposite pool. So if players spend a Story Point, it goes to the GM’s pool, and if a GM spends their Story Point, it goes to the Player Pool.

Story Points are used to:

  • Upgrade an ability die to a proficiency die for a skill check
  • Upgrade a difficulty die to a challenge die for an NPC’s skill check
  • Trigger special abilities and talents
  • Introduce facts and additional context into the narrative

It’s a neat mechanic that reminds me a lot of the Doom and Momentum Pools of the 2d20 system in Conan, though without the flip-flopping aspect to it.

Anyway, back to the combat rules! First off, let’s look at the general turn order:

Step 1: Determine Initiative

Initiative in Genesys can use 2 skills: Cool and Vigilance. Cool is used when characters are expecting combat, while Vigilance is used when the characters are thrown into an unexpected combat situation.

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To determine initiative each character rolls and ranks them in order of from highest number of success outcomes.

Step 2: Assign Initiative Slots

Once initiative order is determined, the GM notes which results are for the PCs and which are for NPCs. These become player character Initiative Slots and NPC Initiative Slots respectively.

Step 3: Participants Take Turns

Here’s when things get funky. Imagine that we have a strip of initiative slots based on the initiative rolls in Step 2. Starting from the top, players and GMs fill each slot one at a time with a character turn.

What this means that if the active slot is a player character Initiative Slot, the players decide among themselves who gets to act among those who haven’t taken an action yet this round.

Step 4: Round Ends

After all participants have taken an action the Round Ends, and effects that last until “end of round” might expire.

Step 5: Encounter Ends

If the conflict is resolved then the encounter ends, and abilities that reset or expire at the end of an encounter take place.


Each character gets one turn to act in a round, during their turn, they can perform:

  • Incidentals – activities that do not require complex focus and can often be done reflexively like speaking or dropping an item
  • Manuevers – less complex activities that do not merit a skill check like moving and aiming
  • Actions – important activities that merit attention and focus and require a skill check like attacking something, or hacking a computer

Range Bands

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Genesys sticks to the quick-and-cinematic formula by keeping the Ranges simple by using the concept of range bands rather than precise measurements.

Resolving An Attack

Attacks in Genesys are a standard skill check vs a set difficulty based on whether it’s melee or ranged. On a successful attack, each Success symbol rolled adds +1 Damage to the attack.

After checking for Successes, the player may then resolve any Advantage and Triumph symbols rolled in the attack. This can be used to alter a few circumstances.

The GM then resolves any Threat and Despair symbols to swing things in the Opponents favor, or cancelling out benefits that the player spent on in the prior step.


Finally damage is reduced by the target’s Soak value, and damage left over applied to the wound threshold. If the wound threshold is overcome, then the character is knocked out and incapacitated. They also immediately suffer one Critical Injury.

Critical Injuries are lasting forms of damage that can range from a temporary discomfort like being bowled over, to more dangerous situations like being crippled… or worse!

This is a basic rundown of the mechanics for Genesys in combat, of course there are a host of other smaller rules from Environmental Effects and additional combat modifiers but I didn’t want to spoil everything in the process of reviewing the book.

That said, the combat rules share some similarity with the 2d20 system used in Conan and Infinity, both of which I’ve reviewed on this blog before. This is a good thing in my mind, as my experience running those has given me some measure of confidence that Genesys can deliver on the promise of action.

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One thing I’m not too keen on would be the initiative system. I’ll run it as is on my first run through but I wouldn’t hesitate to just ditch the rolls and go directly to the 2d20 route of “All the players go in whatever order they decide, then the NPCs go.” just to cut down on bookkeeping.

The damage seems to be appropriate for pulp / action games where characters have a lot of luck on their side to stay among the living.

Overall, it looks like a clean and polished combat system with a host of options in a fight to give it just enough of a tactical crunch to satisfy those looking for it.

Next up, we’ll be taking a look at Social Encounters!

If you’d like to read along, you can get a PDF of the Genesys corebook from DriveThruRPG for only $19.95!

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