It has been a long time since I felt the need to sit down and type out a post. The last time I came close was to write out a non-player character (NPC) that I had really enjoyed creating in Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC). Her name was Cynthia Choo, an illiterate librarian with a clan of street kids working for her. But the moment passed and I waited for the next time to be inspired. It came close when that game of DCC ended in a total party kill. But in fact, it is now that all of that has led to. We moved to a new game, and that game is Degenesis. The free to play, a post-apocalyptic masterpiece created by Degenesis.
What is it?
Seriously, go take a look at the link in the intro. It was a game I was introduced to when I was running my board game store. A regular showed me his copy of the game (before they offered the PDF’s for free) in the hopes that I would run it. I got dragged into the art and the story but the system to me then was a little simplistic. At that time I was super into Indie games that pushed the limit. This one is a rich setting with a system that contrasts.
After I changed jobs though this game haunted me. I kept thinking about it and in the end, bought myself a copy (again, prior to it being free to play). I reread it and really had wished at that point that I had run it. Come the total party kill I went to my players and asked them the type of thing that they would like to play. It just so happened that it aligned with this and a couple of other games. I mentioned all of them for input, but I think I was already sold.
I had to get back into it all again. I spent every waking moment that was not at work or looking after the family reading. The core rebirth edition is two solid books with a lot of information in them to try to soak up. I had planned for two weeks, but some of my players could not make the session at that point so it stretched to three weeks. Lucky, because I finished reading the books an hour before they were due to make characters.
We spent just a night forming the characters into a group. There is Hypertext, the mediating Chronicler, Guillaume, the lonely Scrapper, Judge Jedediah, who is a Judge of a local settlement Bayat. Throw in a total curveball of Seyto the Paler and finally the Spitalian, Diego. Character creation night we did not play, but we talked about where they wanted the game to go and how some of the disparate history they knew came together.
Last night’s game
I was not as prepared as I wanted to be, but I had fleshed out a game that would help us explore the rules. We will take it slow to start and flesh out the rules as we played. I had given each of the characters’ a touchstone NPC for them so they understood their place. They can involve them if they want, or ignore them, but it gave them some flesh on the bones of history. Initially, the Paler, Chronicler and Spitalian had been grouped together. They are chasing the rainbow of the Palers, a hidden dispensary somewhere and the clues to where it was were in a landmark town, walled by a palisade and surrounded by a moat. The locals of Franka suggested that was the settlement of Biyat, just North of the Souffrance crater and it is here where the initial game took place.
This is the settlement that Judge Jed looked after and he welcomed the group warily. He had one rule according to his Codex. No trouble. The group were looking for Scrappers who may know the lay of the land, and perhaps the location of what they were looking for. Luckily, one of the local Scrappers, Gillaume happened by for the evening meal. There was a lot of talk about the scrappers previous mentor, as she may have found what they were looking for, but Guillaume seemed a bit tight-lipped about it all. It is too dangerous is the only thing he would say.
The nighttime code
Middle of the night, a couple of the characters were still up and the night sky lit up like the day with a strobing red light. It woke everyone except the scrapper who had way too little sleep for a light to wake him. Hypertext recognised the strobing light for a code, like a morse code of the old-timers. It did not spell out anything useful, just the letters HUCNRSS. But the light kept repeating and seemed to be coming from the tip of a rock poking out of the moat.
Diego was not fearful of the darkness of the night, nor of the glowing creatures that seemed to be in the moat and headed across the darkness to see what he could find. Coming close to the rock he nearly fell overboard and as he lay in his raft he saw the mollusk, embedded in its glass container, begin to twitch. Whatever this was, there was danger. Spore corruption that he could not face in the dark, in the water. He turned back toward the jetty, stopping only to catch one of the glowing creatures, a jellyfish with acidic tendrils, from the moat.
The code revealed, and prey
In the morning Guillarme awoke. He knew that code. It was well ingrained in him. It was the code that his mentor used to use whenever there were others around that threatened the hunt.
Hole Up: Clanners Near: Remain Silent & Still
It could have been from no one but Ursula and she must be in trouble. They all got in the raft this time to investigate the light, now muted by the daylight. They shunted off and started paddling toward it, little knowing that the Clanner Vasily was skirting this area, hunting. Vasily crouched in the reeds, low and silent watching the raft move slowly toward him. He willed them to come closer to him but too late realised their true destination. Just outside of easy range. But he had to shoot before they were too well hidden by the rock they were headed to.
Four shots rang out from Vasily’s weapon, and he was certain he had hit on every occasion. He heard bodies fall into the moat. There would be wealth for his clan once the rest were dealt with. But for now, as he silently reloaded the weapon with the last of his bullets, they were on the other side of the rock. Vasily would have to move to see if his job was done as yet.
And that is where the game came to a close for the evening. The rock the characters are pinned on is actually a bell tower of a church or cathedral. It is coated in weeds and moss making it look simply like a rock poking out of the moat. None of the characters are dead, but three of the four of Vasily’s shots found their mark. That plus the mollusk in Diego’s player has come to life again. There is danger without and within here. Time will tell how this plays out – perhaps next week there will be a follow-up post after another night of Degenesis.