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  1. I've been spending a fair old while working through an RP setting and as I'm partially awake at the moment I figured I'd drop a recommendation here on the forum because the game absolutely deserves recognition because of the incredible quality of the work. The game is called Degenesis and it follows the struggle of humanity in the centuries after the apocalypse happened. The other thing that's worth noting is that they make all the PDFs completely free on their site. Well. you need to sign up, but it's a good trade. The game is set approximately 500 years after Earth was struck by a swarm of asteroids; none as big as the one that wiped out the dinosaurs, but large enough to effectively destroy society as we know it and push humankind back into barbarism, individuals completely fucked and groups doing everything they can to survive, banding into clans. So far so awful, but it was only after the dust had started to settle when the actual true horror started to become known. The Asteroids were carrying a payload - a substance called The Primer, the stuff of raw evolution - breaking down our DNA and sending some of us in a completely different evolutionary path. Homo Sapiens soon found itself locked in an existential struggle with Homo Degenesis, similar to us in some ways, but utterly alien on the inside. Worse, the Primer bonded with fungal structures and began to creep into the ecosystem of the ruined planet causing what is referred to as The Sepsis, strange landscapes where life mutates out of control and the spores that drift out across Europe causing infections. You'll never mutate yourself, you're more likely to just die from the fungal infestations, but the children of the infected are more likely to be Homo Degenesis than they are to be human. The game is set in Europe and the northern coast of Africa only - Nobody has been able to reach America, Asia or Russia - and if they have they've never returned. But ships bearing strange markings not associated with the known world occasionally wash up. There may be other people, other cultures out there. The problems don't end there though - from beneath the Earth, the locked and hidden bunkers of the mysterious Recombination Group unlock and the Sleepers rise from cryostasis, in possession of the miracle technologies from before the end occurred. They move with a purpose, infiltrating communities, killing their leaders and imprinting their own views on society, seemingly able to shackle people into mimetic chains through their words alone. The first emerged after 100 years, and they had the number 100 tattoo'd on their upper arms. Then came the 200's after another century has passed. Each generation filtering out into the world to play a different part in somebody's ineffable master plan. They were the best of the best before, and their blood - thick with nanotechnology - makes them more than human. Beyond even the Sleepers stand the Marauders, worshipped as gods by the tribes. They annihilate communities with a gesture. Impregnable metal doors leading deep into the mountains open in their presence. Some call them "The Sleepers who never Slept", and time tears as them. Seemingly held together by technology bolted to their forms and pus-drenched bandages, they gift some with ancient secrets, while others feel their seemingly endless fury. In the centre of all of this, humanity does what it does best. It factionalises. It seeks profit - and potentially to survive as well. Player Characters 90% of humans are in clans, and the remaining 10% are organised into what is known as "The Cults", groups of people who come together with a singular purpose to achieve something in the world, and both are absolutely playable - The Sleepers are not as the truth of Project Tannhauser remains mysterious, and they are in effect pretty overpowered. They remain as antagonists. There are a large number of cults for the players to follow, from the effectively fascist Spitalians, the Chroniclers who are seeking to piece the past back together and ultimately bring the internet back online, through to the Judges who are basically the 2000AD Judges in cowboy outfits. One of the issues with the game is that everything is in such massive, overwhelming detail in the fluff that it's pointless to try and describe it all in the scope of an internet post. If you're interested in seeing more of the clans, their website has it all HERE. The game isn't strictly about survival in the wasteland; indeed, it surprised me by being much more of a conspiracy based game where the group seeks to uncover and unravel the mysteries of the world, battle and hold back the Homo Degenesis and try to make some money along the way. While there are rules for starvation and the like, they're themed to the places the game is set in. Borca (roughly Germany) is mostly spore free, and has a relatively high level of civilization with much if it reaching the industrial era. Franka on the other hand (France) is a warzone between humanity and the disease carrying swarm - the insects acting ever more intelligently, cutting off routes through the world, isolating and devouring communities. The tone of the game ranges from desperate survival through to relatively metropolitan conspiracy and mystery stories. The Books The books are lovely and the production values are off the chart as far as I'm concerned. So much is explored in depth, the new nations of Europe through the delicate political balance of the cults. I find my expectations regularly subverted, and when I initially thought that the Chroniclers were going to be a post-apocalyptic version of the Adeptus Mechanicus, I was wrong. They see technology for what it is, not something to worship and are on the whole a bunch of sneaky manipulative fucks who have used their position and technology to abuse society into something that benefits them rather than anyone else. The Judges are just a slightly lower-lying Mega City One construct? On the surface until it gets properly into the history, the factions and the bureaucracy of the organisation and how the strict adherence to their laws has utterly failed them on several important occasions. The whole thing is split into two books, the fluff and the rules (ignoring all other sourcebooks), and it's presented almost as written fiction. Hundreds of pages and not a single table in sight - and if the system has something that lets it down it's that it's just too dense and coherently presented. There's no real elevator pitch for the game, and I don't think I could get a pick up group for the game and explain exactly how it works quickly enough before they moved on to something a little less enormous. And it's a shame, because the background and setting for this game are absolutely stunning. Mechanisms Degenesis is a D6 game, and it turns the dice into a duel-resource thing. The GM sets a difficulty for the task and you roll dice equal to your ability and skill - 4+ are successes, 6+ is a success and a 'Trigger', which allow you to spend them to activate certain abilities and bonus effects (while keeping the success). A good example of this is medicine and healthcare. You have a health tracks for both Flesh Wounds and Trauma - flesh wounds are easy to treat with successes, but repairing the more damaging trauma faster than just waiting for it to heal on it's own needs the Triggers spent on it. ... other than that, the system is mostly as you'd expect, weapons do damage, armour reduces damage and a whole heap of stuff in between to help manage infections, hunger, mental breakdown and addiction to drugs, including the most dangerous drug out there, Burn, which is created from the spores of the Sepsis - you can risk infection to rapidly recover your Ego track, which is vital in a fight. Combat is dangerous and deadly and should be a last resort or well considered by he group. The world is a rough place and the players will be people who accept that guns will occasionally be pointed in their faces as part of a negotiation, even if the trigger rarely gets pulled. --- All in all, for a system which gives away it's PDFs for free, I simply cannot recommend Degensis enough if you're looking for a world so solidly realised that I feel like I could throw on a backpack and travel there. It showcases the best and worst than humanity has to offer in a setting where we're almost sort-of back on our feet after life on the planet almost ended and with layers upon layers of deepening conspiracies and horror for those who wish to explore the dark history of planet since the Eshaton. I can't imagine running it for a group that wasn't completely on board. I often struggle to get people to read two sides of A4 when it comes to setting background, without trying to compress the sheer, terrifying amount of amazingly written fluff into the heads of people who might just want to go and smack some monsters. I mean, fuck - the central city of the world, Justitian has a source book that is approaching 700 pages. For that one city. It's crazy.
  2. Haven't tried it out yet, but assuming it's good this is one hell of a nice gesture by current Titan Quest ip owners Nordic Games. Out of nowhere (well, not exactly, they've been patching the original games and running beta versions for months on Steam now) they've now released Titan Quest Anniversary Edition on Steam! That's right, one of the best ARPG's ever made remastered for a new generation to enjoy with a total of 1261 changes. It incudes both the original Titan Quest and the must-have expansion Immortal Throne combined into one game with reworked multiplayer, stability, performance, balancing, AI, STEAMWORKS and much more. And anyone who already owns either Titan Quest, Titan Quest Gold or (not and! Or!) Immortal Throne on Steam will get (or already own, since it's out) Titan Quest Anniversary Edition for FREE! And for those who don't already own one of the TQ games? Well, after being ashamed of yourselves for having a bad taste games and missing out on one of the best games in its genre for so long, you can buy Titan Quest Anniversary Edition with a 75% discount for one week. That's either 5 US dollars or 5 euros - no idea how much it is in the UK, but after Brexit that probably translates to 60 quid or something? Somebody let me know and I'll edit it in. After a week, the price will go up to twenty bucks/euros. Steam storepage here Full changelog here Edit: also out on GOG! GOG storepage here, same 75% discount but no free option obviously For those unfamiliar with the game, Titan Quest comes with my highest possible recommendation (Official Gerbik Approved (tm) ). Personally, I prefer Titan Quest over the likes of Diablo and Torchlight, but it takes awhile to get going - the game really comes into its own once you hit level 8 and unlock the second skill tree for lots of possibilities, allowing you to freely customise and combine skills between two different classes in a way that not many other games in the genre allow. But it's the setting that makes Titan Quest memorable above anything else - no emo/goth/satanic or endless dark dungeons or ye olde fantasy locales or even science-fiction trappings here, instead you're travelling across ancient Greece, into ancient Egypt and even further while fighting mythological beasts along the way like Minotaurs and Medusas and whatever else is appropriate for each location. It's all wonderfully different and refreshing, and even after all this time it still plays so well (thanks in no small part to the aforementioned multiple skill trees customisations).
  3. I noticed on Rudy Rucker's blog the other day that he's released three of his nonfiction texts as free online editions: Infinity and the Mind The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul The Fourth Dimension The Fourth Dimension is particular is an amazing read that has blown my tiny mind on many occasions. It builds on the analogy of Edwin Abbott's Victorian 2D masterpiece Flatland to explore the concepts and practicalities of higher dimensions, both in mathematics and the real world. There are exercises, puzzles and illustrations alongside Rucker's grade-A gonzo science prose. If you do nothing else, build and play with the Neck-A-Cube. Rucker has many other free books available on his site - for fiction, his complete short stories is an obvious easy win. I paid good money for all of these and don't regret a penny of it, so it's great to see them released into the wild like this.
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