[Let’s Study Degenesis: Rebirth] Part 3: Cults

Posted: February 5, 2016 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Degenesis: Rebirth, Let's Study, Roleplaying Games
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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/

  1. René says:

    As for “subgroups”, i would like to add that a Protectorate group is always possible.
    Judges, Spitalians and Chroniclers are, more or less, allied, to different degrees.
    The Judges are the rulers of the Protectorate, the Chroniclers the architects and the Spitalians are nominally part of the Protectorate ( but are de facto independent).
    This isn´t all that surprising, they all dwell next door to each other. Justitian is build around the old Dortmund harbor, the central Cluster of the Chroniclers is also situated there and the spitalian Core is “an old hospital in the ruins of Dortmund”. So they are actually in walking distance to each other.

    There are other possible alliances (Spitalians and Anabaptists for example) or more difficult group combinations (Anabaptists/Spitalians and Jehammedans). The relations between the cults are complex and not always uniform.
    This can however help to build bridges for a gaming group. A Jehammedan from Justitian could function as a link for a Spitalian in a Jehammedan group. A Spitalian could bring in a Chronicler into a group of Anabaptists. And so on.

    All in all, the designers tried to remove a lot of the old animosities between the cults. So, an apocalyptic could work for a judge as an informer or sell burn to a corrupted spitalian, which makes playing a lot more easy,

    However, some combinations are really really unlikely.

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