11 Sep 2014


When we played “Ludo” as kids, we tried to roll the die as high as possible – every 6 was a party! There were other games with a handful of dice and every time you rolled high, it translated into successful results.

When we started revising KATHARSYS, we had exactly these same memories in mind. Besides the die roll itself, we had a few more points on our list:

– One mechanism for everything
– Little math, no multiplications
– Scaleable, to be able to reflect Machine Men and Mammoths without having to address special rules
– Fast recognition of exceptional die rolls
– Exceedingly more successful die rolls in comparison to the old KATHARSYS
– The Storyteller should be able to ask for rolls without the need to reveal the difficulty

What came out of it wasn’t a game system trying to reinvent the wheel, but something that reached our requirements in all regards. If a player wants to start a melee attack, he picks the skill “Melee” and adds it to the parent attribute, “Body” and thus receives his action value. Different influences, like the quality of a weapon or injuries can modify this action value. Once all bonuses and maluses are factored in (they rarely change, so the player doesn’t need to calculate much) the player rolls a number of dice equal to his action value.

For example, an action value of 7 leads to a roll with seven six-sided dice. Every die showing a 4, 5 or 6 counts as a success. Successes are counted. The Storyteller provides the threshold for the roll – the amount of Successes a player has to reach with a single roll, for his action to succeed.

So far, so good. A pool system with six-sided dice.
But one specialty comes with rolling a 6. All dice that rolled a 6 are counted separately. KATHARSYS calls these special Successes “Triggers”. They are the equivalent of a critical success. With these Triggers, extraordinary actions can be activated.

– During initiative rolls, each 2 triggers rolled allow an additional action
– Triggers are counted 1:1 onto weapon damage. No additional damage roll is needed.
– Triggers can launch a weapon’s special abilities, like the blades of a Splayer snapping together in the right moment
– “Potentials” are cult-specific abilities that need to be levelled up. Some of them are also activated through Triggers.

This is the pool system of KATHARSYS in a nutshell. Let’s close off with:

– The player never has to roll more than 12 dice. All action values above 12, are reduced to 12. The excess is counted as automatic Successes and prevents dice roll orgies.
– Within combined actions, players can add their dice to solve extremely difficult actions together.

In the best case, a game system for a Roleplaying Game is a silent clock-work ticking in the background, that drives all other components of the game forward. These other components include character creation, combat rules or crafting mechanisms.

We’ll look at all of them, one at a time.