[Let’s Study: Degenesis] Part 3 – The CatharSys Ruleset

Now that we’ve had a look at the factions and history of Degenesis, let’s go ahead and pop open the hood of this thing and see what makes it tick.

Degenesis has its own proprietary system called CatharSys. It’s an interesting system and I’ll try to give a general overview of how things work. At its heart, the basic task resolution for Degenesis involves rolling 2d10 and aiming for a value that is both ABOVE the Difficulty value of the action, while still being BELOW or EQUAL to the task’s Action Value. The Action Value is determined by adding a character’s Attribute rating (which ranges from 1-10) to their Skill Rating (which ranges from 0-10.)

What this means is that you’re actually aiming to hit any one result among a range of values that counts as a success. So, for example, if you’re attempting an action, and your AV is 12 and the task difficulty is 6, then you roll 2d10 and hope for a result of 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 Or 12 in order to succeed.

The first question that popped into my head was, “What if the Difficulty exceeds the character’s AV? Then what?” Well, the answer apparently is that the character has no chance to actually succeed in that action. Plain and simple and reassuring in some way. Degenesis doesn’t believe in giving you a remote chance.

There are critical success and critical failure rules in CatharSys as well, with roling doubles as the indicator. If a player rolls doubles and the value is a success, it’s a critical success, likewise, if the resulting value is a failure, it’s a critical failure.

Standard variants for rolling are included, such as contested rolls and teamwork, giving CatharSys a fairly robust mechanic to work with.

To those worried about difficulties, there are some means to lower the difficulty of a task. The first is if the character has a Specialization in the task being tested. Specializations lower the Difficulty of a task by 1.

A Character may also decide to spend Vitality, a special character resource that represents sheer effort. Vitality has multiple uses, but one of them is to lower the difficulty of a task by 1 point per point of Vitality spent. Characters may also increase a Die roll’s result during Combat after a skill roll, also by spending 1 Vitality per point increase in the skill roll total.


Now that we’ve taken a general review of the mechanics, let’s take a look at combat. Initiative starts off according to a character’s Initiative score, which is a static value that can be modified by having the players spend Vitality to temporarily add to their Initiative score for the round.

Attack rolls are resolved as skill rolls, with the target character’s Hit Location (among Head, Torso or Legs) and other modifiers as the Difficulty, and the attacking character’s Attribute+Skill as the AV.

Determine damage by rolling the weapons damage potential, with an AV equal to the attack’s penetration stat. Damage is handled somewhat differently as each die is compared individually to the AV and Difficulty set by the target’s armor. All those that succeed do a single point of damage.

Hit points are handled differently here as each character has a number of Flesh Wounds per Hit Location, once these Flesh Wounds are eliminated by taking damage, then the player starts taking Trauma wounds. Trauma wounds are dangerous as each time a character takes a Trauma wound, they will have to make a roll to remain conscious, or else otherwise go down and out of the fight.

There’s more to it than this admittedly, but CatharSys seems to be a fairly decent, if not entirely super-innovative system. I like how the Vitality attribute works, and how it serves as a pool of points that can refresh itself in a fight, simulating how combat is actually a burst of activity punctuated by moments when one or both parties try to catch their breath.

The rules themselves are easy enough to pick up and learn, though I’m slightly worried that the two condition check in reading a roll might slow things down in play. That could just be me though, and I’ll not be certain until such time that I actually see it in play. The idea of a moving sweet spot for success is neat on paper though.

Tomorrow we’ll be looking at Character Creation in Degenesis, and well try to whip up a character on the fly.

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