Dead of Winter was the right game at the right time. Zombie mania and tabletop games were on the rise. The Crossroads system offered the hard narrative choices that make zombie stories such compelling drama. Add in some traitor mechanics and memorable characters and the game helped put Plaid Hat Games on the map. Four years later, the company revealed the next game using the Crossroads System. Gen7 takes the Crossroads system to the stars and uses it to propel a mystery that may involve the fate of the entire human race. We were lucky enough to get in a demo of the game at Gen Con and chat with the lead designer, Steve Nix.
Gen7 is set on a generational colony ship full of humans headed to a distant star. The space ark will supposedly take 13 generations to get to its destination. “The choice of the 7th generation was deliberate,” said Nix. “They are the first generation that don’t remember Earth or have any connections to home. They are not likely to see the finished colony world. They have to be entirely selfless and bridge the gap.”
Players set about placing worker to balance three main game elements: solving problems, advancing technology and resolving personal issues. Worker dice have to fix the things that keep breaking on the ship. Advancing technology gives the player merit points which give the players access to new cards that let them do cooler things. The personal issues reflect the Crossroads cards that get shuffled into the decks beyond the main plot. Each player chooses a character in their command whom they have a strong tie to. These characters bring the personal drama to the game.
“The players play the main characters, the heads of the departments that they can customize as they play,” said Nix. “The relationship cards are the B and C-level background characters whose stories reflect the struggles of the off-camera people.”
Gen7 is a legacy game meant to be played out over several sessions. Rather than painful choices in the moment, Nix adapted the Crossroads System to show how the consequences of choices shake out in the long run. Personal events trigger that shuffle in specific event cards to later episodes. When systems break, gathering resources becomes more difficult and sparks selfishness between officers. Nix said things never get quite as bad as Dead of Winter in PvP terms, but that some storylines will definitely have a tinge of BSG paranoia to them. Merit points not only unlock additional abilities but also let characters rank up and have more influence on the direction of the story. When the time comes for main storyline votes that help determine the next episode, higher ranking characters get more votes.
Even in the short demo we played at the con floor, we couldn’t help but speculate on the direction of where things were headed. The personal choices triggered by some characters seemed to bleed into the main story effortlessly and it was intriguing to see players engaging both as active participants in the game and as audience members reacting to twists in the main story. (Don’t worry, no spoilers here but Nix wouldn’t say just how many episodes in the branching storyline were going to be included in the game other than a lot.) The mystery of Gen7 is meant to play out over seven episodes, but even after just a few turns, we were hooked.
What legacy game are you most excited about? Tell us in the comments!
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Images Credits: Plaid Hat Games
Rob Wieland is an author, game designer and professional nerd. He’s worked on dozens of different tabletop games ranging from Star Wars and Firefly to his own creations like CAMELOT Trigger. He can be hired as a professional Dungeon Master for in-person or remote games. His Twitter is here. You can watch him livestream RPGs with the Theatre of the Mind Players here. His meat body can be found in scenic Milwaukee, WI.