Notes on Version 1.1:
After more time than I expected, partly due to technical issues--I really am remarkably technologically inept for someone who writes about mad science--version 1.1 is finally complete. This certainly isn't a new edition, and now I feel a little foolish offering what is principally a better-edited version 1.0 after so long. I decided to release the new version, mostly, because my copy of the game had been diverging more and more from the reference everyone was using to email me questions, and things were getting confusing. If I had the ability--given that every third email or so introduces a new problem that I usually fix on the spot--I would release a new version every month or so, but given the amount of line-editing it takes to format a new edition, I don't have the time. (It's the indexes and page references that kill me; it takes three or more hours to correct those after each revision, and all attempts to produce automated indexing systems--which you would think would be simple, since we live in the damn future and everything--have met with failure.)
But enough impotent fury at the state of my technical competence. Revisions in version 1.1 can be divided into three categories (other than simple spelling corrections and so on): simplifications, removal or curtailing of problematical rules, and attempts at thematic enrichment.
Genius still feels a bit rough in spots, rigid and ornery where it could be fluid and sloppy where it should be well-defined. The rules for polymorphing and advanced mind control, among others, have never felt completely satisfactory to me, the problem compounded by high-rank wonders (4-5) lacking sufficient playtesting for me to shake out the problems. However, I've tried to unify some of the game's mechanics, removing fiddly minor rules that most groups would just forget anyway. Minor Mania expenditures tied to secondary rules got mostly hammered out, as they drove me crazy. I don't like keeping track of Mania in general, and would have gotten rid of such "points" if they didn't show up in all the other major templates; I never liked tracking Willpower, mojo points, and three types of Health for everyone moving around in my games. Hopefully version 1.1 will remove some of the minor nettles of Mania expenditure, which is really all we can hope for.
Let me preface my next comment by saying that most people who email me are interesting and engaging people whose enthusiasm is, seriously, the principle fuel by which my stray creative energies are turned into new Genius stuff. I especially appreciate people who have taken a hammer or a microscope to the rules, either to see what weird non-standards constructions they can make or just out of curiosity; games are meant to be played, and good play requires good playtesting. However, creating any game means you'll attract the CHUDs and bedwetting malcontents who seem to think annoying their Storyteller is how the game is won; after receiving reports from several Genius Storytellers about their problem players--and having a few of my own--I've worked to remove the rules around which problem players tend to cluster like buzzards around a sick donkey. Some were edited and simplified, and though I've tried to keep the rules flexible and dynamic, I apologize if necessity sometimes constrains imagination. Others were excised entirely; these were mostly a combination of "too complicated" and "easily exploited," and I didn't feel bad dumping them. Maybe they'll appear again in future supplements, once they've been playtested further. Others--observe the highly optional and the despised-by-this-designer-who-is-disgusted-he-even-needed-to-include-it Encumbrance rule--are basically sticks with which Storytellers may beat recalcitrant players; I apologize if their mere inclusion insults people who already know better. I also apologize if these harder rules remove certain interesting possibilities from play, but for every Mane Train (seriously, some guy somewhere is playing a train; that's awesome) there are a dozen nuisance-players slithering around the more exploitable sub-systems trying to ruin their Storyteller's games. I bow to the law of numbers.
Finally, I've attempted to add as many ideas as possible to those parts of the game that are not simple mechanics. Here and there I've added quotes (detritus from the Old World of Darkness; the new one seems less interested in following every header and sub-header with lyrics from My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult), mini-stories, and other bits of setting ephemera. I'm still not entirely pleased, of course--the Illuminated, in particular, have yet to jump off the page and dance for me, and other areas are imperfect or thematically inconsistent--but I've tried to plump the game up with useful and interesting ideas.
So those are the three chief motivations for revisions. Of course there are some areas where version 1.0's revisions were re-revised, as I vacillate between two mutually exclusive options, neither completely satisfactory, so 1.2 may see further shifts and fluxes. And of course not every rule or paragraph is as polished as I would like, let alone as playtested as a professional product would be. While I expect people to spot errors and inconsistencies with this version as with every other, I'm pleased with where Genius stands at the moment, and think version 1.1 offers a noticeable improvement over 1.0.
April 27th, 2010
Changes from Previous Editions:
Added a Merit (Science Hero) from the inchoate Player's Guide
Added simple "cybernetic limb" rules
Removed problematic "advanced mane" rules under Mane Merit
Got rid of miscellaneous and sundry "munchkin magnet" rules
Changed the Hermetic Order's subject
Reduced number of Skills required for Apokalypsi construction
Removed Mania cost for maintaining Scholarships
Adjusted fixed automata Size modifiers
Added "immortality" options for Exelixi 5
Standardized Epikrato "crowd control" time-penalties to correspond with other penalties
Added speed-of-light limitations for remote controls
Changed certain Academics rolls to Politics
Reduced time taken for probabilistic Apokalypsi calculation
Simplified Apokalypsi communication
Universalized "modifying wonders" rules
Reduced "pocket dimension" access cost
Added a ramming note. But not full-on ramming rules. If the pros aren't going to think through their crashing rules, neither am I.
Noted when Metaptropi transformations occur
Unified Havoc rules for intelligent wonders and intelligent manes
Clarified when "In Pill Form" wonders are rolled
Attempted universal limitations for various "adjusted Mania cost" rules
Made it explicit that Mania costs higher than a genius' per-turn expenditure can be paid over multiple turns.
Increased Skafoi cost for transformed fliers from 1 to 2
Added rules for orphan internalized wonders
Added quotes and "mini-stories" to Appendices
Added a secondary roll to adjudicate the nature of failure to produce a wonder, to make missing ingredients more common
Added an active sensor variable
Removed the "no cost" benefit of Syllabus-5; replaced it with an "activation" system
Clarified integral and combined wonders for certain sample wonders
Cleaned up immobilizing attack rules. Then cleaned them up again. And again a third time.
Adjusted dimensional shifting rules to reflect other game lines' rules. Replaced "Wall" with "Gauntlet."
Changed "Geist" to "Phantom" to prevent confusion with Geist: The Sin-Eaters
Math-checked sample wonders. Did not enjoy doing so.
Added more general rules for mental shielding
Changed thought-activated wonder requirement from Apokalypsi-4 to Apokalypsi-2
Adjusted Partridge Crown's favored Axioms
Fixed Beholden Number construction time ambiguity
Removed Brawl Skill from zombie in sample wonders list
Clarified that illusions can't turn things invisible
Fixed modifiers for Knockout Gas Gun in sample wonders list
Noted that most wonders of Exelixi cannot benefit from an adjusted Mania cost
Clarified Core Modifier's interaction with mechanical and biological upgrades
Simplified Skafoi multi-mode rules
Changed the cost for long-term consciousness transfer
Expanded applicable wonders for Nine Vertex Devils