Degenesis: Rebirth

[Let’s Study Degenesis: Rebirth] Part 7: Bazaar, Burn, From Hell, Conclusion and Review


To end this series we’ll be taking a quick peek at the remaining chapters of Degenesis: Rebirth starting with the Bazaar.


Degenesis: Rebirth features a huge section on gear. Everything is here from a quick discussion of the economy and trade to shopping lists of weapons, equipment, armor and goods such as pack animals and pharmaceuticals.

Of particular note here are weapon mods and Talismans / Insignias. I love the fact that each of the 13 cults have their own respective Signature Gear that provide not just mechanical benefits, but help with giving a sense of identity to the player character.

Definitely the chapter for gearhounds to get lost in.


Burn talks about the various effects of the Sepsis, including Spore Infestations and Burn’s effects on a character’s Ego. Each different type of Burn is also explained.

More than just the body horror aspect of using Burn, I found the notes on how each of the cultures view Burn as particularly interesting. Degenesis is a HUGE setting, with space for all sorts of adventures, so being able to see how each culture deals with such a fundamentally disturbing phenomenon was a nice touch.


Perhaps my favorite chapter, this one details the myriad threats in Degenesis. Opening up with a list of various Clans that dot the apocalyptic landscape, each with their own culture and beliefs, there’s a solid sense that these are proto-Cultures and would-be Cults that are scrambling for dominance.

Players are on top of the pyramid of civilization, but these Clans are all looking to supplant them one way or another.

But more than the scattered Clans there are more fearsome threats that exist, from terrifying animals, to things that can only be best described as monsters. The most terrifying of them are the Psychonauts, children of the Spore Fields with fearsome Psychic Powers that science cannot explain.

I wish I could go into more loving detail into each but I don’t want to spoil it. Let me just say that Degenesis: Rebirth has some of the most terrifying antagonists I’ve ever read and yet there’s enough mystery in each that you would be left itching for a way to find out what makes them tick… if only to better defend yourself from their kind.


Degenesis: Rebirth is aptly named. More than a second edition, it was reconstructed from the ground up to be better than it’s previous form.

The Art and Layout is absolutely amazing. I would be happy to leave a copy in the open for visitors to flip through because it’s just that pretty (if a bit disturbing.)

Rules-wise, Degenesis is straightforward, and relatively easy to learn. There’s a bit of going back and forth with regards to the character creation, but the rules themselves tend to be on the medium range of complexity. That said, combat looks to be very lethal and absolutely terrifying in play.

But of all the things in Degenesis: Rebirth, it’s definitely the setting that sold me. Each of the Cultures has a unique struggle against an antagonistic world that feels like it’s doing its best to snuff out humanity entirely, and you’re the only ones that can stop it.

If you like bleak post-apocalyptic settings with more than a pinch of body-horror and science gone wrong, then Degenesis is an absolute must-buy. Take note though that it’s not a game for kids and some themes and imagery in the game is Grade-A nightmare fuel.

If you’re looking to get yourself a copy of the game, check them out at

[Let’s Study Degenesis: Rebirth] Part 6: Combat


Hey everyone, we’re back to the not-so-cheery world of Degenesis today to take a look at the combat rules.

Degenesis is a bleak setting, and combat reflects this reality… but hopefully not in a way that turns off players from playing.


In Degenesis, attacks of a particular combat skill are countered by a different skill as a form of active defense. These matchups are:

Brawl vs Brawl or Melee to defend
Melee vs Brawl or Melee to defend
Projectiles vs Mobility to defend
Mental or Social vs Faith or Willpower to defend


Taking a hit can either be a Flesh Wound, or the more serious Trauma.


Ego is a resource that reflects a fighter’s mental condition. If Ego drops to 0, the fighter is exhausted and falls to their knees.


Maps are optional in Degenesis. If your group likes to use them, then there’s nothing stopping them from using it to help visualize the positioning of the combatants.


Initiative in Degenesis: Rebirth allows for players to spend Ego in order to boost their Initiative rolls. This is a bit of a change from the previous edition where it was a blind bidding. I kind of liked the old initiative system better but this sort of works too.


Resolving an attack is similar to a standard mechanics resolution, with an Action Number modified by the various conditions of the fight, such as the weapon used, the range that the attacker is firing from and any other conditions such as cover and concealment.


If the target sacrifices an action, they can roll against the attack roll with the skill noted above. If they can roll at least as many sucesses  as the attacker, then they defend successfully. If they roll more and get 3 triggers, then they manage a counterattack (unless, of course, they rolled a dodge.)


On a successful hit, the attacker takes his weapon damage and adds the Trigger and bonuses from any Potentials that apply. The defender’s Armor rating is subtracted from the damage total.

Take note that this isn’t a roll. Weapon damage goes right through to wounds. Nasty.

That said, that first applies to Flesh Wounds, which won’t kill you right away. But if you run out of Flesh Wounds, then you take Trauma. Trauma penalizes you by -1D for each one you take, and if you run out, you’re pretty much dead.

The rest of the combat chapter goes over some edge cases, such as Mental Attacks as well as Vehicle Combat. I have to say that having vehicle combat in the game is a big plus for Degenesis: Rebirth as I’m certain there are many players who are looking forward to go all Fury Road on people in a post-apocalyptic landscape.


Combat in Degenesis is pretty straightforward if you’re used to other RPGs. That said the choice for damage to go through unrolled will definitely hurt, and I imagine this will go a long way to forcing people to play dirty, as it were, to ensure that they always have the upper hand and dispatch of their opponents as quickly as possible without giving them a chance at reprisal.

Next up, we’ll be doing a look at the last few chapters of Degenesis: Rebirth, from the Almanac to the fearsome opponents that lurk the desolate landscape of Degenesis before arriving at my conclusion and review of this Let’s Study series.

[Let’s Study Degenesis: Rebirth] Part 5: Character Creation


Today we’re taking a look at how to build a character for Degenesis: Rebirth. After learning so much about the setting, it’s cults, cultures and a bit about the basic mechanics powering the game, we’re finally ready for character creation.

But before that, the game wisely chooses to spend some time to discuss the need for a GM to talk with his players to hash out what kind of Degenesis game they’re about to play. Given the broad spectrum of Cults and Cultures, it’s easy to see the game going in multiple directions. Because of this the players and the GM have to agree on what kind of game they’re playing, and what kind of conflicts will power it before they think of characters. Nobody wants to be the person who plays a character that doesn’t belong to the game.

It’s very good advice and I’m glad that they brought it up here.

STEP 1: Choose Culture, Concept and Cult

The first part of character creation is selecting their Culture, Concept and Cult. Each of these steps bestows a bonus to the character.

For the purposes of this character creation example, I’ll choose Borca as the Culture as I intend to make a Judge character.

In choosing this Culture, the maximum ratings for the following Attributes go up by one: Agility and Instinct. While the following skills maximum rating also goes up by one: Toughness, Artifact Lore, Engineering, Crafting, Survival.

Concept is determined by the archetypes of the Apocalyptic Tarot. Chosen from a list of 21 different archetypes, each one bestows another +1 Bonus to the maximum attribute and skills associated with it.

For this character, I’ll go for The Righteous, which adds bonuses to Intellect, Cunning and Negotiation.

Cults also work in a similar fashion, with each of the Cults giving a bonus to certain skills. As a member of the Judges, this character gains a bonus to Melee, Navigation, Conduct, Projectiles, and Domination.

STEP 2: Spending Points

Degenesis is a traditional point-buy system with a few little tweaks. Normally a stat can only be raised by 2 during character creation. The bonuses bestowed by Cult, Concept and Culture allows you to spend more on them as desired. So for my character, I can raise my Agility and Instinct attributes by 1 over the normal maximum.

Athletics 2
Melee 3*

Projectiles 2*

Conduct 1*
Expression 1
Negotiation 2*

Artifact Lore 3*
Focus 2
Legends 2

Cunning 2*
Domination 2*
Willpower 2

Empathy 2
Survival 2*

STEP 3: Backgrounds

Every character in Degenesis also has backgrounds that reflect their access to resources outside themselves. In character creation, you are given 4 points to assign to the 6 backgrounds (Allies, Authority, Renown, Resources, Secrets and Network.) None of these can be increased beyond 3.

I’m spending my points on Authority 1, Renown 1 and Resources 2

Step 4: Choose Potential

Potentials are special abilities that are bestowed upon a character from their Cult.

For a Judge, I figure I might as well grab Hammer Blow as a potential, which reduces the penalties for Impact special abilities by 1 per level of Hammer Blow.

Step 5: Determine Rank

Based on the stats I’ve assigned, I meet the requirements to hit the second Rank of the Judges: City Judge. This basically gives my character a Judgment Hammer; leather coat; hat; and a copy of the Codex.

Stp 6: Finishing Touches

The last part would be determining the final derived values of the game:

Ego points are either INT+Focus or INS+Primal. Given a Focus oriented characgter, I’m going for INT+Focus for 5 Ego points.

Spore Maximum is PSY+Faith/Willpower x2 for 10

Flesh Wounds is BOD+Toughness x2 for 6

Trauma is BOD+PSY for 6

Passive Defense starts at 1

Dinars and Chronicler Drafts  is Rank + Resources for 4 x 50 for 200 CD total.

Character creation was actually much faster than I thought. I found myself retrofitting scores to match Cult Ranks perquisites, but I suspect that might be by design.

In our next entry, we’ll go over a quick review of the combat system and if I can squeeze it in, I’ll do a swift example of the fight mirroring the one from my previous series dealing with Degenesis.

If you’re looking to get yourself a copy of the game, check them out at

[Let’s Study Degenesis: Rebirth] Part 4: The KatharSys System


Hey everyone, it’s good to be blogging again after so much wackiness from Real Life. Today we’re looking at the KatharSys System.


In Degenesis, characters have six Attributes that describe them. The six attributes are: Body, Agility, Charisma, Intellect, Psyche and Instinct.


Each Attribute has six Skills tied to them. These skills are:

BODY: Athletics, Brawl, Force, Melee, Stamina and Toughness
AGILITY: Crafting, Dexterity, Navigation, Mobility, Projectiles and Stealth
CHARISMA: Arts, Conduct, Expression, Leadership, Negotiation and Seduction
INTELLECT: Artifact Lore, Engineering, Focus, Legends, Medicine and Science
PSYCHE: Cunning, Deception, Domination, Faith, Reaction and Willpower
INSTINCT: Empathy, Orienteering, Perception, Primal, Survival and Taming


KatharSys relies on a simple formula to determine the difficulty of succeeding with a particular action. This Action Number is derived from adding a characters Attribute to his Skill. Modifiers can move this value up or down depending on circumstances that help or hinder the character.


In the event of an action with an uncertain outcome, a player assembles a pool of six-sided dice equal to the Action Number and rolls them. Every die that comes up a 4 or higher is counted as a Success.

If the Action Number is higher than 12, then all dice above 12 count as automatic Successes.

In order for an action to be successful, the player has to roll equal to or higher than the Difficulty of the roll. This Difficulty is expressed by a required number of successes, with 1 being routine, 4 as difficult, and 8 as almost impossible.


While dice that roll a 4 or higher count as Successes, 6’s also count as Triggers. Triggers are used to determine the quality of success (and as such only come into play when the roll succeeds in the first place.)


If a roll does not generate enough Successes to meet the Difficulty of a roll, then the attempt fails. However, if the roll fails and more dice roll 1’s than Successes, then it counts as a Botch.

At this point the rules discuss iterations of the basics, including resolving Contested rolls between characters, Teamwork and Extended rolls.

The one iteration that I feel needs special mention would be Combinations. Combinations are used in situations when two different actions need to be done in almost the same time. The book mentions an example where a character had to spur his horse on and steer it towards a target and cut his target down with a sword stroke. It’s a clever way of doing things and it certainly helps the game feel faster.

Overall, KatharSys is not going to revolutionize the industry, but it’s a rock solid system. There are tried and true rules strung together to serve as a backbone for the game, and the math involved reminds me of the Ubiquity System used in Hollow Earth Expedition.

That said, there are nice touches here and there, like the Combinations rules, and the Triggers.

In our next entry for this series we’ll take on Character Creation and see what a character looks like in this edition of Degenesis.

If you’re looking to get yourself a copy of the game, check them out at

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

[Let’s Study Degenesis: Rebirth] Part 2: Cultures


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

[Let’s Study Degenesis: Rebirth] Part 1: Primal Punk

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.


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.)


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.


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

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