18 Sep 2014


DEGENESIS is all about making choices. In game, as well as during character creation. Seven Cultures and 13 Cults are locked and intertwined in the conflicts of the world in the year 2595.
Between them lies an ocean of dirty secrets, idiosyncrasies and resentment, that is now contained by the rise of the clans. A player character needs to fit this world, where political entanglement as well as uncovering bunkers of the Recombination Group is part of the daily business. A character needs to be part of such a society full of prejudice, arrangements and opinions.

That’s why the character creation system in KATHARSYS is more than just a collection of dice rolls or randomly distributed skill points. It’s about making the right choices:


The three big “C’s” make up the foundation of a character. Each step in the decision making forms the character culturally, morally and ideologically.

CULTURE: Culture describes the mentality and geographical background of a character, his heritage and the customs he grew up with. A childhood in wealthy streets of Tripol, where the air is full of fragrant odors, will lead to a different worldview than someone’s who grew up between the dust ruins of Borca.

CONCEPT: The concept describes the archetypal characteristics of a character, his deeply routed moral instincts. concepts are represented by the 22 major Arcana of the Apocalyptic Tarot. Choosing a concept adds principal standards which the character chooses to live by.

CULT: The final choice is the cult. They resemble ideologies, religions and economies. What the character stands for, what he strive for and what larger goals he feels appointed to. A cult is a destination for doing greater things, belonging to one gives a character a purpose in life.
Every Culture, Concept and Cult allows for certain Attributes and Skills that can be trained more easily. A Spitalian can easily afford to spend a point more on the skill, “Medicine”. A Hellvetic can do that with the skill, “Firearms”. But they don’t have to do so out of necessity. All bonuses granted on attributes and skills only enlarge the maximum available value for the increase during character creation. It’s the players choice if he wants to spend his points to max out an available skill or apply them sparingly across a larger skill set.

In general, the distribution of points is rather uncomplicated: 10 points are granted and divided among 6 attributes. 28 points are available to raise skills. The maximum level available is limited but expanded for each of the choices of the 3 “C’s”. Generalists don’t care about maxima and distribute the points to their liking among a vast set of possibilities. Specialists invest their points into the skills that are preferred by their Culture, Concept or Cult.

Does a character draw his strengths from ferocity? Is he choleric? Does he push forward against all odds? Then he must choose the skill “Primal”. Is he calculated, concentrated, a clear thought behind the bars of intellect? Then his choice must be “Focus”. Savage explosiveness vs cold blooded reaction. Primal and Focus eliminate each other.

Again, the player must make a choice which path of life his character follows. Once Primal or Focus is chosen, it excludes the other skill and is blacked out on the character sheet.

Some of the special skills a character can learn over the course of the game – the so-called “Potentials” -will be influenced by this choice. Also, both Primal and Focus determine the Ego pool of a character. Ego describes the amount of self-confidence, inner strength and will to survive. With Ego, the rules of combat can be bent to ones advantage and incredible feats can be achieved.


For some, psychological strength derives from Faith, others draw it from pure willpower. In the conflict of religion and ideology a character has to make his stand. The choice between the two eliminates the other skill which again is blacked out on the character sheet. As with Primal and Focus, the choice will have consequences on the Potentials that a character will have available during character progression. Furthermore, faith and willpower determine the maximum of Spore infestations a character can withstand before the call of the chakras begins to lure him in and follow him in his sleep. Whenever the character is exposed to the Primer’s powers, faith or willpower will be used to resist the threat.


When a character starts a game he has already left his footprint on the world. He has excelled within his cult or gained respect from people he was in contact with. These topics are reflected within the six Backgrounds: Allies, Authority, Network, Renown, Resources and Secrets. The more a character does for his cult, the easier it will be for him to draw comrades to his side, unlock upgrades for his own equipment or influence the cult’s agenda.


Every character has access to a rank within his cult, that is determined by a combination of skills, backgrounds and achievements. Every rank grants advantages, upgrades, bonuses and specific cult equipment that can only be obtained by a certain ranking. The ranks are described through different hierarchy trees within each cult. The further a character progresses, the further he branches out from the trunk.
The ranks in each cult are as unique as the cult itself. Here are the hierarchy trees for two cults: The Spitalians and the Jehammedans.