Reaching KatharSys - A Degenesis Rebirth Review
  • Reaching KatharSys - A Degenesis Rebirth Review


    Degenesis: Rebirth is the latest edition of a game whose lineage goes back to the early 2000s. Christian Günther and Marko Djurdjevic put together their primal punk universe of a post-apocalyptic Earth and with Sixmorevodka have put out this slick new edition. KatharSys is Book II of the Degenesis: Rebirth edition and holds all the mechanical information needed to be a protagonist (player) or game master in the universe of Degenesis.


    KatharSys

    KatharSys drops you right into discussion of the mechanics of Degenesis. The system will be familiar to most players who have played a few rpgs in their time. It uses an Attribute + Skill to determine the Action Number. The AN is the number of D6 that are rolled to try and succeed at an action. However, there is mechanical nuance to the system. For instance, if the AN is higher than 12, those extra dice are considered successes. The player does not ever roll more than 12 dice. Rolls are made against a static difficulty determined by the GM or by notations in published adventures. However, when Conflicts arise, the rolls are opposed and the highest number of successes wins. This highlights another mechanic: skills can be opposed by other skills, not necessarily the same skill used in the action.

    Example (from the book): INS + Empathy vs. PSY + Cunning

    On a roll of 4 - 6 the character gains a success, with the number of 6s determining Triggers. Triggers are a narrative adjacent mechanic that measure how well a character succeeds. Triggers cannot be generated by failed action rolls; only by successful ones. If more 1s are rolled than the player has successes on dice, then this is a Botch. Botches are an unpleasant occurrence of a failed action.

    Character

    Character Creation begins with a few pages dedicated to determining a campaign’s theme and how the characters are going to come together. Only then does the book move into specifics of character generation. A character has six attributes: Body (BOD), Agility (AGI), Charisma (CHA), Intellect (INT), Psyche (PSY), and Instinct (INS), each with six associated skills. These relationships determine the Action Numbers. As a player chooses their character’s Culture, Concept, and Cult the attributes and skills receive bonuses. The character can have any skills, but their Primal and Focus, as well as Faith and Willpower, require the player choose one or the other. If a player chooses Primal (INS + Primal) they cannot then choose Focus (INT + Focus). This choice determines maximum Ego Points, the character’s fortitude. Faith and Willpower determine how a character defends against mental attacks.

    Last Caress

    There is more to the character, with Backgrounds and Potentials to be chosen. Potentials appear to be limited by a character’s choice of clan, but there are paths of advancement within each clan that come with benefits and gear. Characters have a wide and deep customization through experience earned and role playing. Character creation dominates KatharSys, but the system is explained along the way. Chapters on combat and equipment are followed up by GM specific chapters dealing with adversaries and learning how to run a Degenesis game. The chapter on Burn stands out among them, describing the dangers and temptations of spore infestations that plague the Earth and mankind. Burn is an important aspect of the game that should not be ignored.

    Degenesis: Rebirth Book II, KatharSys is a splendid book. There is less art, but the art is more specific to characters and adversaries. Many of the rules have a small summary right after the paragraph, which is great. Both Primal Punk and KatharSys have an index which makes looking items up convenient. Production values are first class and the mechanics, while deep, are straightforward. Overall, I highly recommend picking this game up. The setting is very intense and the cultures deeply important to play. Degenesis is not a casual game. That might not be for you or your group, but I suspect most folks will enjoy diving into this discordant future of humanity.

    This article was contributed by Sean Hillman (SMHWorlds) as part of EN World's Columnist (ENWC) program. We are always on the lookout for freelance columnists! If you have a pitch, please contact us!
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. DMMike's Avatar
      DMMike -
      The player does not ever roll more than 12 dice.
      Well that's a relief. I was worried things might get dice-heavy. How often does it seem like that situation will come up?

      The resolution system sounds a lot like how I remember World of Darkness to be. Is there a major difference? If not, does that make Degenesis a WODOSR?
    1. Von Ether's Avatar
      Von Ether -
      Old WoD had adjustable DCs on the dice numbers, which meant that assigning a 10 DC on the die for a big dice pool much more swingy than for a smaller dice pool.

      Hence why from Trinity on they've gone with a threshold number on the die and used the number of successed as the DC.
    1. Connorsrpg's Avatar
      Connorsrpg -
      The main mechanic for this has me intrigued. Sounds interesting. I like that with the one roll easy to see successes but also room for crits and fumbles

      Similar (but more expansive) to the Year Zero system.
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