Custom Species for My Personal Setting; Review and Assistance, Please!

Hi all! I’m designing an urban fantasy setting, and I’m making a bunch of species for people to play as. Because the various species are all at different power levels, I’ve also created a Tier system (although a different name suggestion is welcome :slight_smile: !) to help balance species with different levels of base strengths.

I could use some help ensuring that the species are relatively balanced. These aren’t the species that will end up in the setting, but they’re the initial wave. Here’s the tier system as it exists now:

Species Tier
The species that inhabit Aryyna are incredibly varied, and many are noticeably more powerful than humans. While on the global scale, this disparity is made up for by humanity’s vast numbers, in a personal encounter, a human requires a significant amount of training and expertise to compete with an eladrin in any meaningful way.

To reflect this, each species is given a tier, representing the overall strength of their innate abilities. When beginning a game, the Game Master should inform the players what tier will be used for the game. Only species of the indicated tier or lower are available. If a character’s species is a lower tier than that of the game, they gain 50 experience points after character creation for each step down the ladder they are. Additionally, if a character’s species is two or more tiers below the game’s rating, they may train their starting skills one rank higher than normal.

For example, a human is part of the Standard tier, so in a Heroic-level game, they would gain an additional 150 experience points to spend after their starting experience. An eladrin character in the same campaign would only gain 50 additional experience points, as eladrin are in the Paragon tier, only one step down from Heroic.

The tiers are as follows:

  • 1: Standard
  • 2: Expert
  • 3: Paragon
  • 4: Heroic

As a side note, an assumption I made is that extra XP from being a lower tier than another PC is worth slightly more than a species’ extra starting XP. The reasoning is that, with, say, 100 extra XP, that’s not just extra skill ranks and talents that you get, but it’s also a foundation for higher-level talents sooner after character creation. +100 xp, for instance, can get you all the way up to your first Tier 4 talent, meaning you’re only 75 xp away from a Dedication. A species that starts in the Paragon tier might start with an extra point in a charactertistic, but they’ll be 175 xp away from that first Dedication, or nearly double.

This is mostly to say that the total abilities of a species above Standard tier may not add to exactly +50 or +100 over, but I gave a little bit more wiggle room because of the head start on climbing the various ladders that lower-tier species get. That assumption may be wrong and if so please let me know! But that’s why there may be a slight inconsistency there.

Without further ado, the first several species!

Brawn (2) Agility (3) Intellect (2) Cunning (2) Willpower (2) Presence (2)

  • Starting Wound Threshold: 10 + Brawn
  • Starting Strain Threshold: 11 + Willpower
  • Starting Experience: 100
  • Starting Skills: A demi-ladri starts with one rank in either Negotiation or Deception. The character may not increase Negotiation or Deception higher than rank 2 during character creation.
  • Elven Reflexes: After making an Agility-based check, a demi-ladri may suffer any number of strain to remove an equal number of [T] from the results, or may suffer 3 strain to remove a [D] from the results.
  • Heightened Senses: A demi-ladri removes 2 Setback dice from all Perception and Vigilance checks.
  • Glamour: As a maneuver, a demi-ladri may create an illusion to alter her appearance. This effect can make the demi-ladri appear however she wishes, including masking gear she is carrying up to her Encumbrance, as long as she does not change Silhouette. A character that believes that the demi-ladri may not be what she appears to be may attempt a Perception or Vigilance vs. Deception check to see through the glamour.

ELADRIN (Paragon)
Brawn (2) Agility (3) Intellect (2) Cunning (3) Willpower (2) Presence (3)

  • Starting Wound Threshold: 10 + Brawn
  • Starting Strain Threshold: 12 + Willpower
  • Starting Experience: 100
  • Starting Skills: An eladrin starts with one rank in Negotiation and one rank in a Willcrafting skill of your choice. They may make checks using that Willcrafting skill without possessing the Willcrafting talent. The character may not increase these skills higher than rank 3 during character creation.
  • Elven Grace: After making an Agility-based check, an eladrin may suffer any number of strain to remove an equal number of [T] from the results, or may suffer 3 strain to remove a [D] from the results. They only suffer 1 strain when taking an additional maneuver during their turn.
  • Heightened Senses: An eladrin removes 2 Setback dice from and adds a Boost die to all Perception and Vigilance checks.
  • Faetouched: An eladrin adds a Boost die to all checks made regarding fae, the fae world, and fae laws. However, an eladrin adds [FF] to all checks regarding spirits and the spirit world.
  • Glamour: As a maneuver, an eladrin may create an illusion to alter her appearance. This effect can make the eladrin appear however she wishes, including masking gear she is carrying up to her Encumbrance threshold, as long as she does not change Silhouette. A character that believes that the eladrin may not be what she appears to be may attempt a Perception or Vigilance vs. Deception check to see through the glamour.

HUMAN (Standard)
Brawn (2) Agility (2) Intellect (2) Cunning (2) Willpower (2) Presence (2)

  • Starting Wound Threshold: 10 + Brawn
  • Starting Strain Threshold: 10 + Willpower
  • Starting Experience: 110
  • Starting Skills: A human starts with one rank in each of two different non-career skills. These skills may not be increased higher than rank 2 during character creation.
  • Ready for Anything: Once per session as an out-of-turn incidental, you my move one Fate Point from the Game Master’s pool to the player’s pool.

Brawn (2) Agility (2) Intellect (2) Cunning (2) Willpower (2) Presence (3)

  • Starting Wound Threshold: 11 + Brawn
  • Starting Strain Threshold: 11 + Willpower
  • Starting Experience: 110
  • Starting Skills: A Mauna-blooded starts with one rank in each of two different skills. These skills may not be increased higher than rank 2 during character creation.
  • Spark of Greatness: The character selects one characteristic to be a radiant characteristic. Whenever the character spends a Fate Point to augment a check using the chosen characteristic, every [R] generated by the roll adds 1 additional Ability die to the pool. The character may choose to spend a Fate Point after making a roll to add this effect, if desired.
  • Touch of the Divine: Select 1 Spark ability available to Mauna characters. The character gains that Spark ability and 1 Facet of their choice that they can use as if their rank in the associated Spark skill was 1.

A couple notes: I can probably find another minor species ability to add to humans if needed, to increase the basic power level a bit. Also, I’m debating moving the Glamour ability to a talent for the demi-ladri. As they’re half-elves, they can use that ability, but it would make sense if they need to spend more effort to learn it.

Likewise, there are going to be several species-specific talents for each species, although I haven’t made them yet.

Also, I have background writeups to go with each of these statblocks if anyone would like them, but my guess is most won’t care :stuck_out_tongue: .

Thanks for any help!

I don’t play Genesys, so I may be off track with some of this. These suggestions come from logical extrapolation and from my experiences in the SWRPG.

Ready for Anything: I don’t really think this makes sense, as all the human players can just flip one of the GM’s Fate Points immediately upon the game start. There’s literally no reason to wait, unless the GM doesn’t have any to flip (in which case you flip it back immediately following someone using it).

A paragon with +3 Characteristic points seems excessive to me. With 100 starting XP, that can easily net them a build of 443322, assuming they can take a +10 bonus like you can in the SWRPG.
For contrast, a Human with a starting build of 333322 would need 2 Dedication to get to the same powerlevel, which would take 350 XP dedicated entirely to talents (if I understand Genesys correctly). They only get a bonus of 100.
So they’re 250XP away from parity as far as Characteristics go. While yes, they do get some talents for it, their usual rolls will be significantly less likely to succeed, and they’ll be far less generally skilled.

I don’t know if this is something you’re making up, or if this is precedented in the RAW, but the power level seems incredibly skewed, and the start is weird. Either you’re a very powerful, but unexperienced character, or a not-very-powerful but experienced character, who still isn’t as good as the powerful unexperienced character.

Elven Reflexes: I’m guessing you intentionally had one be S or A and the other be S and A, but I think this ability is a bit too powerful. The first is as good as (maybe slightly better than) adding a Boost to all Agility checks. The second is better than adding an Ability die (except 3/8 of the time, when it’s the same or the same number of symbols arrayed differently).
I’d suggest restricting it to a single particular skill at most, or giving them a similarly flavored, but different, ability entirely.

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Thanks, P-47! I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

I do understand the concern of power/vs. experience, but that’s sort-of the point. Although the intention is that the experience makes up for the lack of innate power, too, so if it’s not doing that yet, then I need to do some tweaking.

A couple starting points:
–The Ready for Anything ability is the standard ability for Humans in Genesys, so that’s not something I made up. Sure, the Human character could just pop it right at the start, I guess.
–There is no “+10 xp” option, so that’s not something to consider during builds.
–The Tier system is something I came up with myself, because of the vast difference in innate abilities of the species in the setting. The sole Heroic-tier species is dragons, who are the basically the entire point of playing in this setting, but making it “literally just dragons” is boring, and I didn’t want to cut out all the other interesting species options. It just needs tweaking.

So! Some adjustments based on your suggestions.
–If I were to give Humans another ability, one they could use by spending a Fate Point, would that help? I’m also thinking of giving them the Adaptable talent from the Padawan specialization as a human-only talent, at a reduced tier. Would that help?
–For the Elven Reflexes and Elven Grace abilities, if I replaced the extra symbols with something like Adaptable, i.e. “Spend a Fate Point to remove [D] or [T] equal to your Coordination ranks from an Agility-based check,” would that be better? It’s still being amazing at Agility-based stuff, but it’s not adding symbols? I’d need to run that by my eladrin-expert for this setting, but it’s an option that’s not adding symbols and has a cost.
–If I remove the bonus to Presence from the Eladrin and just have them be good at Agility and Cunning, would that be better? But that’s ~20-30 xp that needs to be added into their kit (unless you think their kit is already better than the +100 post-creation xp already allowed).
–A final thought: in the Terrinoth setting for Genesys, they introduced Heroic Abilities, basically Signature Abilities you design yourself, and you get points to upgrade your Heroic Ability for every 50 XP you gained after character creation. As this is a setting with magic and cool Extra stuff, I’d been toying with adding Heroic Abilities in. Would doing that help? That way, not only do Humans get +100 xp, they also innately get +2 free points towards their Heroic Ability over an Eladrin?

EDIT: Adding Heroic Abilities might also let me fix the lackluster aspect of Ready for Anything. I could change it to:

Hidden Potential: It costs one fewer Fate Point to activate your Heroic Ability.

So it normally costs 1, and with the right upgrade, it costs 0. That’s the same benefit (+1 Fate Point) normally, just in a specific circumstance. But if they buy the option to use their HA twice in a session, then it’s suddenly +2 free Fate Points per session.

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Yes. I think Adaptable is a good choice as a species ability or species-only talent, however it works in Genesys. Another option would be to say that once per session, a Human can spend 2 Fate Points on a single check, assuming that Genesys has the same restriction as the SWRPG.
I am generally skeptical of Fate/Destiny pool manipulating talents, I think it’s typically rather violative of the principle behind a Fate/Destiny pool.

Yes, that also sounds good. Another option would be perhaps to allow the character to suffer Strain equal to Threat/3 Strain for a Despair or something like that to remove the results.

I think dropping it so they only get +2 Characteristic points is a definite improvement. Part of the issue is that bonus XP is linear, but bonus Characteristic points are not. So you go +0, +1, +3, while only going +0, +50, +100.

Looking more at Elven Grace, only suffering one strain for a second maneuver is a really strong power, especially when they start with a higher ST already. Generally, when you see a species that gets a discount on extra maneuvers, they have a significantly lower ST. Besalisks, for example, have a starting ST of 7+Will (they get a second free maneuver).
I’d suggest dropping this ability, or, if not, lowering their Strain Threshold to 9.
Faetouched: Adds what to all checks? You’re missing something. Is FF Failure? Adding 2 Failure seems extreme, but maybe there’s a really good lore reason? I’d err on the side of Setback/Boost.

Yes, I think it might, though I think reducing Presence back to 2 does a better job of closing the gap.

Hmm, I’m not so sure. Sigs are pretty powerful, and being able to trigger it for no cost is a bit much I think. Partly because it means the players no longer have to be especially economical about their pool, and are going to be more willing to run it out rather than budgeting to make sure they have an ace in the hole. I think better not to reduce it, unless you just give them the normal upgrade for free or something (and that seems odd).

Spark of Greatness: I don’t know what R is, but guessing it’s like Triumph. Adding an additional Ability die after rolling seems odd, but I can see where you’re going with this. I’d suggest specifying that it’s a once per roll thing, you can’t add multiple dice with multiple Triumph. I definitely don’t think you should be able to flip a Destiny Point to add an Ability die after the fact.
One potential way to rewrite this ability would be to say that when flipping a Destiny Point, the player can elect to add an Ability die instead of upgrading. I like this since it adds a slight twist and gives the player more situational odds-twisting ability, and in some circumstances where the player would pass up an upgrade, the Ability die would be worth it.
Touch of the Divine: I know nothing about any of these mechanics and so cannot comment other than to say I cannot comment.

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Thanks again for helping out :slight_smile: .

On your idea of spending 2 Fate Points, I considered it, but I don’t really want to do that. Fate Points have a different thematic vibe in this setting, and being able to spend 2 on one check would kinda break that. I can absolutely add Adaptable as a Species-only talent. I’m thinking Tier 2 (so 10 xp cost).

I also like the change for Elven Grace, too, and my elf-expert agrees, so that change goes in, too! This also helps with your concerns about the reduce maneuver cost. That’s in there because the eladrin are very fast, and representing speed is very hard in Genesys. But making the other aspect of that ability also cost strain compensates. At least a little?

Did Feytouched not show up right? Darn it, the formatting here gets weird with the way I format symbols. It adds a Boost to fae stuff, and 2 Failures to spirit stuff. There is a very intrinsic lore reason for that: fae and spirit are opposites, so because eladrin are strongly aligned with the fae, they are very bad at understanding and dealing with spirits. The purpose of this ability is both to touch on that aspect, but also have an ability that nets “negative” cost - the penalty is worse than the benefit, and the two situations are equally as frequent.

I can see the issue with being able to trigger a Heroic without a cost. Heroics in Genesys aren’t nearly as powerful as they are in Star Wars, but they are pretty potent. I do like the idea that humans, despite being the “weakest” species, can, with training, pull out options that other species could never expect, even when all the odds are against them, but I can agree that does kind of break the spirit of the system a bit. Hmm…

And yes, R is Triumph. This ability is based on the “super-heroes” ability in the Genesys core book. If you gove your campaign the Supers theme, then each player gets two characteristics that, for each Triumph rolled on checks with that characteristic, you roll another Proficiency die in the pool. This one is limited in two ways: it costs a Fate Point, and it’s only adding an Ability die. The full dragons get the ability to add extra Proficiency dice, but it still costs a Fate Point.

The Spark abilities, espeically when limited to 1 rank in the associated skill, are equivalent to Tier 1 or Tier 2 talents (5 or 10 xp).

EDIT: My elfspert had the idea of making the eladrin “pick 2” of the three boosted characteristics. Would that work? It’s a bit more expensive than just “have these two,” because you can min-max with it a bit, but it’s certainly not as powerful as having all three.

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So the character can suffer Strain to remove Threat/Despair? Is there a limit on frequency?
I still think that the ST should be lowered a little bit though.

Okay, fair enough.

Okay, fair enough. I was unaware that that ability was precedented.

As far as I’m aware, that is unprecedented. Sub-species, each with a slightly different build, is precedented.
I think better to leave it at Agility and Cunning, and then the player can upgrade it. The only build option it prevents is Presence 5, but the player can still comfortably reach Presence 4 and still upgrade another characteristic.