Degenesis: The Rebirth is a german roleplaying game, published by Sixmorevodka, that takes place a on planet Earth a few centuries in the future. Earth was hit by meteors by the end of the 21. Century and those that survived needed to find new means to survive, as the meteors greatly changed the world. Degenesis fits perfectly into the post-apocalyptic genre, though the setting is both interesting and original in many ways.
Once I had ordered this roleplaying game I waited eagerly for the package to arrive. After all, I had seen images and pictures from the rulebook online and to say the least, they were awesome. When I received the books, I was not disappointed, for they are beautifully laid out, every page has its own template and the images are simply breathtaking. In fact, if not for any other sake than the pure artistry and craftmanship of this publication, Degenesis is more than worth it. The only thing that bothered me a bit was the English translation, many sentences are a bit strange and the text could probably use another proofreading.
Degenesis is a post-apocalyptic setting. Meteors hit Earth and not only almost cause genocide but also caused a massive social collapse and the end of Europe as we know it. The meteors also carried strange spores, that affected plants, animals and, of course, humans.
The setting is placed in Europe and North-Africa. These continents have swapped economic roles, i.e. Europe is suffering and in bad shape after the meteors, wars and is struggling to rebuild. Africa on the other hand is blossoming, rich with natural resources, peaceful (as peaceful as it gets in the 25th century) and eager to strengthen their foothold in Europe.
After ages of bitter fighting for survival human morality is slowly giving away, especially since the discovery of new spore-related drugs and the spores themselves. Narratives in Degenesis evolve around this lack of morality and degeneration and the PCs role is, in a way, to be fickle candles in a very dark cave, so to speak, where villains, spore-affected/spore-altered creatures and other monsters constantly threaten them.
The setting is very interesting and original, and is a lot more complicated than can be explained in a short review like this. The narrative in the rulebooks is great, the setting is often explained in short stories and leaves enough room for game masters to fit their own stories into it.
Creating character in Degenesis is easy and straight forward. Every character in Degenesis needs to have the three Cs, i.e. Culture, Cult and Concept. You have 10 points to spend on attributes and 28 points to spend on skills and how you spend these points determines at what rank your character starts.
You can choose from 8 different cultures, which in turn affects your choice on abilities and skills. Cultures range from Northern-Europeans called Borca to the Africans.
After you’ve chosen a culture you need to decide on to which cult your character belongs. There are 13 different cults and each has its own history and way of thinking. Some of these cults are military like, with strict hierarchy, rules and titles. Every cult has a set of ranks, which gives the characters access to different cult-related equipment. Each cult has their own agenda and ideology, e.g. the Chroniclers collect data and relics from begone ages, Anubians explore the super-natural and the Judges try, in their own way, to restore humanity’s morality and dignity.
Finally, you choose a concept and you can choose from 21 different concept which affects your character in different ways, e.g. you can choose to be a hermit, zealot, traveler or heretic.
After you’ve chosen the three Cs and allotted all the points, you have few extra points to spend on Origins, which e.g. determines your character’s renown, authority etc. The character creation is open-ended and even if all the players choose the same three Cs, you can still end up with very different characters.
Katharsys, the base system for Degnesis, is a skill system, not different from World of Darkness. Each character has 6 attributes and 6 skills are linked to each attribute. To perform actions characters pair together attribute and skill and form a dice pool. If you’ve played in a skill system like WoD, there isn’t much new in Katharsys.
Katharsys uses d6s. Each roll has a set base number, 4, and every roll above 4 counts as a success. To succeed performing an action characters needs to accumulate number of successes. Every 6 rolled is called a trigger, and rolling many triggers can give you bonuses or alter the quality of your success, which is in some way like Advantages in the Fantasy Flight Star Wars RPG, e.g. Edge of the Empire.
If you’re looking for an original roleplaying system, Katharsys is probably not for you. If you’re looking for original setting, incredibly beautiful rulebooks and great narratives, then Degenesis: The Rebirth is the perfect choice.
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