Ninja Crusade

Not long after the Kickstarter finished, Eloy Lasanta of Third Eye Games has just released the second edition of his high-action Ninja RPG: Ninja Crusade. Formerly known as Wu Xing: the Ninja Crusade, this new release pushes the setting forward down the timeline, and the players take the role of a new generation of Ninja.

Here’s the marketing blurb for the game:

Pick your Clan…

Pick your Jutsu…

Take on an army!

Become powerful ninja fighting against the Izou Empire as it wages its crusade against your kind. The ten most powerful clans have assembled into the Lotus Coalition, and nothing can stop them as long as they can keep their alliances from crumbling! The war must be stopped and the ninja must win for the sake of the world!

The Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition includes the following:

  • 10 ninja clans to pick from (plus an 11th clanless option)
  • Detailed history of the Ninja and the Izou Empire
  • Lifepath-style character creation system
  • Full d10 system details, bringing the ninja to life
  • Opponent creation systems making it easy for GMs to come up with enemies on the fly
  • Dynamic Environments that make your choice of terrain a real part of the fight
  • Plenty of advice on how to run the game

Overall, it looks very promising, and I’m looking forward to reviewing this edition of the game.

Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition is now available in PDF format via DriveThruRPG for $14.99


Cults

Perhaps more than just the Cultures, the biggest decision that you’ll end up making in Degenesis character creation is which of the Thirteen Cults you want your character to be in.

Cults are factions that are bound together by a common purpose. If Cultures are who a character is, then Cults represent what the character does. Cults range from loose definitions of people who share common traits like Tribals, to actual secret societies with hierarchies and structure like the Spitalians.

Given the nature of the setting, these cults are very pro-active when it comes to their individual agendas. Each of the cults is given a thorough treatment in the book, going over their beliefs, organizational structure, goals and practices, well-known members of the cult, as well as a short one-page summary of what they think of everyone else.

I remain convinced that Degenesis might work best as a limited or single Cult game. Some Cults work naturally together as in the case of the three African cults, but there are those who despise each other to the point that coming up with a group that has members of those cults working together tends to break suspension of belief.

Here are the Thirteen Cults present in the game:

  • Spitalians – A curious organization of trained warrior-medics who know a lot more about the Foulness and the spores than anyone else. Armed with flamethrowers and superior medical knowledge, they travel the world, healing the sick and burning away the Foulness where they can find it.
  • Chroniclers – As masters of lost and forgotten technology, the Chroniclers turn their attentions to the recovery and preservation of technology to hopefully uplift themselves (and the rest of humanity) out of this age of ignorance and barbarism.
  • Hellvetics – Descended from the swiss military, this cult operates with a strict code of honor. Acting more like Knights of old, the Hellvetics are a largely neutral faction with an unassailable fortress in the Alps.
  • Judges – Formerly known in the previous edition as Marshals, these grim dispensers of instant justice make their home in Borca where they are respected and feared. Cloaked behind a strange code of law and indecipherable legalese, they are feared by the general populace for their methods, but they certainly know how to enforce control.
  • Clanners – Not exactly an organization as a demographic, the Clanners represent those who have returned to the purest form of barbarism, starting over in the state where only the strongest have any right to rule.
  • Scrappers – Whereas the Chroniclers are busy with tinkering with technology, it’s the Scrappers that are out there in the ruins digging for it. Scrappers are often, cold, hungry and desperate, but few can doubt the fact that they are determined and very dangerous.
  • Neolibyans – This rich faction of Africans are the beating heart of trade in the affluent African nation. They control trade and handle the administration of the wealthy superpower. Their influence reaches far and wide, though it is no surprise that they are largely seen as gaudy and pampered.
  • Scourgers – An organization of African slavers, the Scourgers see themselves as avengers of the African people who have long suffered from the Europeans even before the Eschaton. They are a proud group of warriors who tame large hyenas to serve as allies in their raids for new slaves.
  • Anubians – This group takes upon itself the mantle of the seer, the oracle and the shaman. Born of Egypt, this African Cult is one of the most occult-oriented, with a strong affinity for death, and a whole lot of secrets.
  • Jehammedans – The other strongly religious group of the post-apocalypse are an equally fanatical group dedicated to fulfilling the words of their last prophet to subjugate the world for the Chosen of God.
  • Apocalyptics – This nomadic cult involves themselves in the tradecraft of vice: drugs, prostitution, gambling, nothing is sacred. Their determination to live large among the ruins of civilization and willingness to do anything for their benefit has made them equally admired and despised.
  • Anabaptists – A strange gnostic offshoot of pre-Eschaton religion, the Anabaptists vow to purify the earth of all evil and herald the coming paradise with fire and faith. While they are merciless to their enemies, the Anabaptists have had surprising luck in coaxing food from barren land, and gaining the faith of many farmers who have joined their ranks to spread the word.
  • Palers – Formerly known as The Ashen in the previous edition, this cult is a community in itself. Having adapted for centuries to living in darkness, the Palers are a freakish but intriguing group with its own designs for the surface world.

I mentioned before that the Cults tend to work best in subgroups, and my previous suggestions seem to hold up well:

Lions Ascendant – Neolibyans, Scourgers and Anubians
Here and Now – Spitalians, Chronicler, Apocalyptiks and Scrappers
Expedition – Spitalian, Tribal, Chronicler, Scrapper

Most of the others strike me as better for a single-cult game. A Dogs in the Vineyard-style game of traveling Anabaptist Inquisitors for example, or a Jehammedan Rebel squad stuck fighting the Africans in Hybrispania.

Degenesis feels more like a well thought out sandbox game, where your character has all sorts of openings to get into different kinds of adventures and even more kinds of trouble.

For our next entry, we’ll be checking out the new system powering Degenesis: Rebirth and see if it measures up to the grit and terror of the previous one.

If you’re looking to get yourself a copy of the game, check them out at http://degenesis.com/

Games to Run: 2016 Edition

Posted: January 4, 2016 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Roleplaying Games

Hey there,

It’s a new year and I’m already working on a short list of games I’m looking to run at least once this year. Some are old favorites, but with my experience last year in running so many different one-shots, I’ve started to really commit to trying new games.

Right now, my list of new games to run looks like this:

  • Exalted 3rd Edition
  • Mage: the Ascension 20th Anniversary
  • Mage: the Awakening 2nd Edition
  • Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition
  • Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Edition
  • Degenesis: Rebirth
  • Something using Fate

It’s not a big list right now, and I expect it to get a lot bigger as 2016 rolls on. I can’t commit to a campaign just yet but who knows, I might find the time to do so!

That said, I’ve also received requests to run Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition as well. It’s an old favorite and I’m always happy to do so, but L5R tends to take a lot of effort to teach so we’ll see if I can make that happen this year as well.


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The Seven Cultures of Degenesis

Now that we’ve gotten an idea of the big events that shaped the apocalypse for Degenesis Rebirth, and gotten a glimpse of the threats to mankind’s existence, let’s move on to the various Cultures present in the game.

Much like in the real world, mankind is not one single monocultural mass. The survivors of the end group themselves according to seven Cultures, each of which has a different way of life and unique challenges depending on the nature of the environment in each of their regions.

The cultures present in the game are:

  • Borca (Germany) – Enduring and determined, the Borcan people struggle to survive in the harshest of conditions. Home to a massive fault that split their homeland in two, the western Borcans search the ruins of their once glorious past, looking to find anything that could help them rise above their status, while the eastern Borcans are more of herdsmen and survivors adapting to the world as it is rather than looking to the past for answers.
  • Pollen (Poland) – The devastated wasteland of Pollen is home to the Pandora crater, and is one of the epicenters of the disturbing and alien mutations that plague Europe. The Polleners are hardy survivors that eke out an existence even against the strange creatures born of the Foulness.
  • Balkhan (the Balkans) – The Balkhani are wild and untamed and the Balkhan lands are a strange network of alliances (and betrayals) of the Balkhani nobility. Their home is threatened by the insidious Psychonauts known as the Dushani, masters of manipulation who sneak into thoughts and twist them from within.
  • Franka (France) – Almost lost to the domain of Pheromancer Psychonauts, Franka is a civilization that has all but succumbed to the power of corruption. Still, its proud people cling to the symbols of hope and idealism of their past.
  • Hybrispania (Spain) – The proud people of Hybrispania find themselves in a constant state of war. They are rebels in their own home fighting off the African occupiers in a constant cycle of blood and violence.
  • Purgare (Italy) – The Purgar civilization forges iron bonds of family and faith. Twelve major families rule the land, and their people fight against the Psychokinetic Psychonauts.
  • Africa – The resplendent home of the Neolibyans merchant cult, Africa has become perhaps the most powerful civilization in the known world. Though threatened by the Psychovore threat, Africa is hungry for dominance, and extends its will through trade and steel.

In addition to talking about the various Cultures. Degenesis Rebirth also goes into far more detail in talking about the key locations like cities and strongholds in each of the Cultures, and goes a long way in painting a better picture of how these locations are a melting pot of various Cults… which we’ll get to in our next entry!

If you’re looking to get yourself a copy of the game, check them out at http://degenesis.com/


Degenesis Rebirth’s core set has two large books: Primal Punk, which deals with the setting details of the game, and Katharsys, which includes the mechanics and GM-specific inforamation.

Today we’re starting off with a look at the first chapters of Primal Punk.

The Jackal’s Prophecy

The book opens up with the in-character ravings of a madman which lay out a strange and somewhat difficult to follow prophecy revolving around specific numbers. Being what it is, it makes for an interesting read, but don’t expect to make much sense of it just yet (or anytime soon.)

Still, it is an intriguing way to kick off the book that helps set the tone of the game (just as it did in the original version of Degenesis.)

What is Degenesis?

Here we see a trend in the game. Each chapter is preceeded by a bit of short fiction. I’m not really the best person to critique short stories but so far what I’ve read have been pretty decent, nothing groan-inducing and this first one in particular is a good look at the kind of body-horror that can be expected when dealing with the freakier side of the game.

What follows is a one-page summary of the game’s setting, and the themes of hope and despair. Given the countless various conflicts of the people in the setting, will Mankind be able to claw its way up from basic survival against a hostile new world, or will it finally descend into barbarism?

I really like the fact that they call out right away tha the PCs need to make a stand. The world isn’t pretty in Degenesis, but that’s what the PCs are for.

Chapter 1: Forward

Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies

This chapter deals with the history of the setting, beginning with the end. Degenesis Rebirth assumes that the world was hammered by a series of asteroids, and mankind was powerless to stop it.

The resulting devastation changed the face of the world, and over the next hundreds of years, earth was plunged into a new ice age caused by the choking dust that covered most of the earth, sparing only the regions closest to the Equator, including Africa.

The climate changed, leaving Africa exposed to weather closer to the Mediterranean climate, allowing plants and vegetation to take root. Meanwhile, Europe froze over, and the water levels receded, changing the face of both continents.

When the ice and bitter cold receded, mankind clawed its way back out of their hiding places and found a world changed. People were forced to start over from scratch, eking out an existence from what they could discover and understand, while picking at the remains of the fallen civilizations, hoping to find anything that could help them.

A Stranger Tomorrow

The Asteroids did more than just rain devastation upon the planet and ruin the climate. They were also bearers of a terrifying substance known as The Primer. This black mist had a means of twisting DNA of living hosts, creating twisted new monstrosities in its wake.

The Primer altered humans, turning them into something more suited to this hostile new world: the Homo Degenesis, bizzare, mutated humans.

Sepsis

As if the Homo Degenesis weren’t bad enough The Primer also took on the form of a massive fungal infection that covered large swaths of land. This infection was known as the Sepsis, and their spores were carried upon the wind and ash, spreading further and further.

These spores were dangerous, but bore further temptations for humanity. Some of these could be harvested and ingested for a hallucinogenic experience, capable of granting resistance to cold or hunger, a balm for the truly desperate (Of which, there are far too many.)

Psychonauts

Unborn Children are twisted into terrifying monsters known as the Psychonauts. Known as Soulless Ones and Aberrants, these children develop terrifying psychic powers that science cannot explain. Perhaps even more bizzare is that they come in several variants, each native to a different land: Biokinesis, Pheromancy, Dushan, Pregnocticism and Psychokinesis.

Psychovores

Meanwhile, south of Africa appeared an entirely different threat. Mutated Vegetation that grew at an unprecedented rate, slowly encroaching into the fertile territories once thought safe. These Psychovores bore their own terrors, leaving no place for mankind to turn to.

In our next article we’ll start off by looking at each of the seven new Cultures of the setting, and then the Thirteen Cults that form the societies of Degenesis Rebirth

If you’re looking to get yourself a copy of the game, check them out at http://degenesis.com/