I Told You That Story So I Could Tell You This One

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
I Told You That Story So I Could Tell You This One

Welcome to Hero. Now, we get full writeups of our ten core pantheons. While all the Origin suggested media are still valid, they give us some new ones: Vikings by Michael Hirst, Mage: The Hero Discovered/Defined/Denied by Watt Wagner, and Lucifer by Mike Carey. (With the note that Lucifer often dives into Demigod power level much of the time.) We jump right into this book: 'Once upon a time' is now, and Heroes are the start of their story. See, the problem with humans shaping the gods is that humans are entirely unsatisfied with a simple answer. They want to know how and why, and that's why most pantheons are just one god - it is very tiring to be everything to everyone. That's not to say that it doesn't work for some - the Dacians had Zalmoxis, God of Sacrifice and the Dacians, and he did pretty well. However, most of the time, gods band together to form a pantheon in order to divide up the labor.

All myths are true, see, and if a group of people begin to believe their gods made the World, then...they did, because those were Deeds, and from Deeds, faith grows. Even if the gods are very recent, once it has become part of who they are to have created a thing...well, they did. They always have. Gods get to exist outside of space and time. It's a perk. That's why, if a god has followers that say he watches the flight of every sparrow, he probably has at some point - and then it becomes extrapolated through history, and into the future, because Legend. Which can be quite boring, if you're not into that, so the gods share the load with their pantheon. Once a pantheon exists, it orders the World around itself as a cosmology. Stories are told, and the gods' homes take form around those. They reorder the Terra Incognitae around themselves, making Underworld and OVerworld. Not, mind you, that the gods exactly create those things. It's not always a conscious thing. Rather, the Incognitae alter themselves to suit the pantheon's needs.

Not all Terra Incognitae are separate, however. Many gods make their homes in the shadows and cracks of the world - in a tree, a hearth, a statue. If a god lives there, it's a Terra Incognita. However, gods bring conflict with them. Every story needs conflict, and so the gods cause their own drama. They can't help but get entangled with mortals, cultural rules and each other. The biggest conflicts, though, come from the interaction of the gods and the Titans. Titans and titanspawn are inextricably bound up in divine stories, but their role isn't always defined so clearly. It'd be easy to say they're all villains - but they aren't. It's not that simple. Both Titan and god are elemental expressions of the World, after all. And if the Titans are all bad, then the gods are all good, and that is very much not the case.

Prometheus, you understand, was not overcome by compassion for humanity when he saw the fires of creation. Rather, Prometheus is Creativity. It is what he is. And he saw a chance to spark an endless age of creative furor - and so, he had no choice. He stole fire. His action spawned as many terrors as wonders, and Prometheus finds both equally wonderful. He doesn't care what - he just loves that new things are being made. He doesn't even want it - it's just a fact. Likewise, while Ravana very much wants to destroy the Deva, that isn't from whim or malice. Rather, it is because it is his nature to better himself via destructive ambition. He knows, from his deep understanding of the Vedas and the shastras, that he can only advance by submission to reincarnation and learning. He can't do it - his nature prevents him. His role is to lead the rakshasas in endless war, and without that, the entire cycle would lose its balance. So he is perpetually himself. He can't be reformed, because he is defined by his role - not any inherent evil, just his place in the universe. That's just how Titans work. They can't defy their nature, and so they come into conflict with the gods. Titans might be jealous of the gods' ability to change, of their human connections, of their capacity for understanding and mercy. Titans couldn't do all that even if they wanted to. However, ultimately, they are counterparts and kin of the gods, and worship, hatred or reformation as the correct view on them is just, you know, opinion.

Titanspwan are both children and castoffs of the Titans - not both at once, but rather they come in many forms. Some are born of actual Titanic sex, others are just...made from the World. They are all over the place, in and out of the World. They are not inherently evil, generally - just different in ways often incompatible with mortals. The wendigo, for instance, usually live in the winter wilderness of various North American Terra Incognitae. When the cold iwnds blow, however, they can step through and raid mortal lands for food. They are gluttonous, hateful creatures that seek to destroy...but that's not the reason they can't coexist. Rather, they can't coexist because they live entirely on the meat of humans. They can't mitigate that desire - they will eat humans until they die, and if not for the work of the Manitou and particularly Nana'b'oozoo, they would feast upon the world. Other, more intelligent titanspawn have learned to coexist. The Tengu once loved spreading fear among mortals, but soon learned that mortals were more than capable of chasing them off, sometimes fatally. So now, they mostly live in isolated communities in the mountains and rivers of Japan, avoiding humans. Occasionally, they meet a human, but since they don't want to eat or terrify them much any more, most Tengu will just retreat to their nests...until someone interferes with their young, and they remind us why they were once called demons.

Most sentient creatures of Legend just...aren't that different from mortal humans. If they don't have some innate hatred of or hunger for humans, they usually just want to survive. Thus, it's not that uncommon for them to form communities. In Tir na nOg, you might find a faerie circle where the Tylweth Teg gather to dance and create. Most of their work involves getting food and throwing parties, and they have no real ill will towards anyone...though their nature means they try to trick mortals into magical bargains, and because they can't reproduce naturally, they also try to steal or bargain for children they can transform into young fae. In Japanese forests, you can find many small cillages of Kitsune, guarded from outsiders. They are often shy, but some open their doors to lost or needy humans, though they rarely let these visitors leave for fear of exposure. The were-jaguars in the Central American jungles are expert hunters, and rarely does anyone see their small but elaborate villages, where they raise their children communally and use as headquarters for pack-based hunts.

Sometimes, these communities aren't good for humans. The Fomorians have an army of warriors to battle the Tuatha eternally, and under Balor's leadership, they can cause nedless death and destruction. Even if death isn't that permanent for gods, it's still annoying enough to make the war continue - and when gods and Titans fight, it's titanspawn and Scions that are hurt. Not that all legendary creatures come from gods or Titans. Hardly that. Sometimes, things just...happen, thanks to Fate or human belief or who knows what. Griffons and kodama and hippocamps just happen. No one makes them. It's not always easy to tell such creatures from titanspawn, and even they may not know their origins. Often, it is the stories mortals tell about them that solidifies their nature - if only because they choose to become what they're seen as. Because Titan and god are somewhat arbitrary labels, some say all Scions of certain pantheons are titanspawn. If you run into a Scion from a pantheon that doesn't think much of yours, you may well get treated as a monster - just one more reason to think a bit about where you draw the line.

As we know, Scions come in four broad types. Most Scions are Born Scions - the product of a tryst between a god and something else. This is not always consensual - too often, the gods lie, shapeshift, manipulate or coerce. All of that's terrible...but too often, the gods are just beyond reproach. Generally, born Scions are orphaned by their divine parent, left to be raised by their human parent. They excel, growing up in a world that sees them as different. Even before they know their heritage, they take on heroic challenges head-on. Some have a sense of privilege in their birthright, while others believe it is their Deeds that set them apart. Some hope to become true gods, but many are quite happy just remaining human and simply knowing who and what they are. Hanuman of the Deva began life as a Scion, the son of the god Vayu, though unlike most Scions, his nature was known from the start. He grew arrogant and mischevious, and he ended up cursed to be unable to remember his immense power unless reminded of it by others. Little Hare of the Manitou was also a Born Scion, the son of Earth-maker. He was raised by his grandmother, the Earth, and cared for by nature itself. He was quite reckless, and has died many times, only to be brought back by his grandmother. Mostly, he exists to be a lesson to humans to think, rather than just rushing in. Xolotl of the Teotl is one, too, the twin brother of Quetzalcoatl and son of Coatlicue. His brother was the light, and he was the dark, the night and death. His fame comes from his first trip to the Underworld, where he tricked the ruler into letting him bring the remnants of a lost civilization home, where Quetzalcoatl brought them back to life, thus reviving humanity. He appears canine due to his time in the Underworld, where dog spirits escort the souls of the dead.

Created Scions are vgranted power and human form from...stuff. Wind, clouds, dogs, bugs. Many are made for the express purpose of being a minion of the god, often guarding books or serving as a muse for favored worshippers. A special few get more feedom. Their lives are not easy - the instincts of their old animal self show through, or their emotions and thoughts are strange and naive due to their origin in nonliving things. Many seek not to integrate, but to become at least Demigods, to avoid having to be human. Galatea of the Theoi is a Created Scion, granted life by Galatea in honor of Pygmalion's love. She outlived the sculptor, and wandered the world in search of love for centuries after. Mafdet of the Netjer was a cat beloved by a pharaoh, and Bast honored her affection by giving her human form. She became a hunter of snakes, scorpions and criminals, becoming a god of justice - and a god of execution, for she always brought her catch to her master to display. As she grew older, she became guardian of burial sites, protecting her fallen masters. Ukemochi no Kami of...the Kami...was spontaneously gnerated by a mix of feasting and divine magic, and became known as the Young Woman with Food. She could make food with a snap of her fingers. It is said that she met with the gods to prove her worthiness, but because she vomited up the best rice ever for Tsukiyomi, she was seen as disrespectful and was killed. Amaterasu grew angry at her brother, Tsukiyomi the moon god, and vowed to never see him face to face again, which is why moon and sun are never in the sky together. After her death, Ukemochi's body became a feast for the land.

Chosen Scions are gifted by the gods, but have no blood relation. Often, they do have a potent bloodline, forged by generations of worship or royal pedigree, or a potent tie to ate that aligns with a god's Legend. Chosen Scions owe the gods - and they know it. They have been given favor, and some serve willingly for it, while others are resentful. They are never without a constant reminder that they owe the gods, whether branded phyiscally or just knowing their power is never truly their own. Macha of the Tuatha, one of the three-in-one Morrigan, was once a mortal, a queen or princess of Ulster. She was chosen by her sister-selves to make a new aspect, died in IReland, and became part of the Morigan. She is closest of the trio, if not kindest, to mortals. Sigurd of the Aesir was born of a bloodline favored by Odin, but he was humble and rejected riches. He was respected by all other kings and the gods, and his stead Grani was son of Sleipnir. Thus, he slew the dragon Fafnir, and after decades, he eventually settled down and passed on his legacy to his children, knowing Odin would watch as they walked their paths. Wen Zhong of the Shen was advisor to King Da Yi until the king's untimely death and the beginning of the Shang dynasty. Zhong sought enlightenment, meeting the dragons of the North Sea, and eventually riding one home to quell a rebellion. The gods gave him a third eye, that he might see through lies, and when he came home to the new king, he saw bitterness and idiocy, leading a coup that put in place a more worthy and kinder king.

Incarnate Scions are the strangest. See, the gods often make mortal avatars, aspects of themselves that wander the land, reliving their myths and experiencing human life. These are the beings that sire Scions, generally. However, when a god's Mantle is sundered from their physical form or they are killed, any Incarnations they have left in the world are broken and cast asunder, becoming full Scions, awakening to their true identity but with neither patronage or power from their dead selves. Some of these Incarnates, more strangely, were never actually gods. Dead Heroes or Demigods have no full mantle to carry on, but in some pantheons, they may be reborn in new life, going through their stories much as any other Scion might. Inevitably, these Scions face a vicious trial, having to approach and remake the Deed that ended their life and sealed their fate...and this time, hope they can survive it. Of course, they do have a roadmap to reclaim their mantle - recreate the Deeds that forged it in the first place. This can be done by any Incarnation, though, and so they are often their own worst foes, as competing Incarnations seek godhead as well - and it's not just them. While Incarnations are driven to seek the mantle, any Hero of the dead god can try for it. Xiuhtecuhtli of the Teotl, the Turquoise Lord, is the personification of life after death, the light in darkness, forever growing old and then young again. EVery few centuries, he purposefully gives up immortality and divinity, becoming mortal and apotheosizing again. Dionysius of the Theoi was lured to his death with hcildhood toys, so Zeus destroyed the Titan responsible and used the ashes to remake his beloved son from humanity. Rhea, the Titanic mother of the god, guided the Scion Dionysius to reclaim his old mantle. Tammuz of the Sumerian Annua, god of food and plants, voluntarily killed himself to release Inanna from the Underworld. He'd previously been a minor god with several Incarnations, who then battled each other for supremacy until, at last, one reclamed the mantle and the other Incarnations.Since his ascension, he has become a solstice god and most remain in the Underworld for several months of the year.

Scions become Heroes when they reveive the Visitation. A god appears before them in full power, announcing their heritage. Monsters attack them, force htem to fight. The divine intrudes on their lives in more than mere signs and portents. Visitation is never an accident, though the gods don't always do it deliberately - ofr every time Ganesh meets one of his children and welcomes them, Baldr's kids might get hunted by sapient, angry mistletoe. It can never be ignored, though, and it brings a visceral, physical change. The blood boils off, refined into ichor, which beats with the sound of prayers. The breath becomes incense, the flesh is transfigured and made powerful. It is also a psychological awakening, and for many, the first meeting with their divine patron. The entire world is realigned before their eyes, as they become more than mortal. Often, the gods grant gifts during hte Vistitation - sometimes given freely, sometimes worn by force and cunning from titanspawn and demons. Visitations rarely happen before late adolescence these days, though it is still possible for it to be earlier.

Most Born Scions receive a literal visitation - the gods try to keep tabs on their kids. Usually, thy get handed some gifts and given a quest to prove their worthiness, though more fickle gods may just leave it to their children to find their own place. Chosen Scions generally must prove themselves worthy before Visitation. Sometimes their trials are sent by the gods themselves, while others just happen and impress the gods. If the chosen one survives, then generally they are given their divinity, though they rarely admit to testing on purpose these days - it goes over poorly with modern mortals. Still, once the gift of ichor is given, it can't be taken back, even if the Chosen are resentful. The Created typically receive Vistation quite early - usually, when they'rem ad.e They're made for a purpose, after all. Still, sometimes a god will make a Scion and then cast them out, bereft of memory or with false ones, as part of some shceme. More rarely, an automaton servant goes missing, but that's an outlier. Incarnate Scions generally get their Vistation via Fate. They rarely get it from outside soruces, but instead are drawn into repeating the myths of their former selves. While reenacting these stories, they come into possession of the Birthrights they once held, and their Vistiation is the instant in which they put together their living story with the vague memories of their former lives.

Next time: What do Heroes do, anyway?

God's Army

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
God's Army

It can be tempting to think of Heroes as the bottom of some divine chain of command, since they serve as representatives of the gods and must deal with divine obligations in the world of mere mortals. However, that's usually not the case. Heroes are free in a way gods and even demigods are not. Fate has only tied them weakly, and so they may still revel in their gifts. They fight for the gods usually when the cold war between god and Titan intensifies, handling the tactical concerns while gods deal in grand strategy. When titanspawn or other monsters emerge, Heroes are the ones to deal with it first. They may not have a clear idea of what's going on, but it gives them a chance for mighty deeds, undiluted by divine politics or cynicism.

Titanspawn come in all shapes and sizes, and so do monsters that people just assume are titanspawn, even if they're not. The simplest times are when Heroes must deal with cunning but nonintelligent beasts, more about instinct than intellect. Usually, that's, if not an easy job, then an easily understood one - find monster, kill monster. Of course, in the modern day, mortals tend to believe that animalistic monsters deserve some compassion or even rights. Not that animal cruelty laws usually apply to flying serpents that drip with poison, but mortals often expect them to be captured and then released into what they assume must surely exist - a divine nature preserve far, far away. It's even more complex if the monster can talk. Courts have largely not made any decisions on if intelligent nonhumans have human rights. In most places, things with no human ancestry can be assaulted and killed legally. Often this includes most giants, house elves, knockers, goblins and so on, but that doesn't mean the public will go for it. On the other hand, some monsters are just evil, and everyone knows it.

But while Heroes often fight monsters with no idea of their broader significance, they can try to learn. They can interrogate Titanic servants and cultists, uproot dangerous cults (though that can risk trampling on religious freedom laws) or seek ancient prophecies. That means they can have some sway over the gods and demigods, who hate being kept out of the loop. Crushing a monster infestation is great, but figuring out why they were there at all is often a bigger question. Even gods said to see all can't do that all the time, and so they need Heroes to investigate and report. Typically, Titanic plots are ultimately designed to free them from their prisons. Generally, that means weakening their jailers - so any harm to Tyr, for example, is good for Fenris. When a Titan's purview manifests in strange ways, it is often a sign that the Titans are testing their prisons.

It's not all Titans, though. Sometimes, you have to deal with other gods and your fellow Heroes. Digital communication and world travel mean these interactions are more common than they have ever been before. The gods are rarely bigots, but they tend to have a keen understanding of their own Legends and how myth interacts...in their own culture. When pantheons start to cross-pollinate, gods are often out of their depths. When Scions of the kami and the Theoi face off with frost giants, the gods have no idea how to respond. They don't know those songs, those legends, which are yet to be written. Thus, every member of a band that crosses pantheons is, at some point, in the unenviable job serving as their pantheon's ambassador to other gods, who are often quite suspicious of their loyalties. Old history can get in the way, too. Still, when these bands perform great deeds, it helps strengthen cross-pantheon ties. Sometimes, the gods will even gamble on whether a band can perform some great deed asked of them. Even enemy gods love a wager.

And enemy gods are there, make no mistake. Even within the same pantheon, Hera despised Herakles and tried to have him killed from the moment of his birth. Now, Hera's cult claims she wasn't behind the torments of Zeus' son, but that's not true at all. Poseidon trapped Odysseus at sea for ten years. There's no rivalry quite like family rivalry, no grudge like an old one. Most pantheons, though, discourage direct action against rivals. Rather, enemy gods will go after those that a Hero values, and will often leave hints as to their responsibility. They want you to know, after all. They may even hint at how to make amends...though that's not always possible, as with Herakles, whose mere existence was the issue.

What about monotheist gods? Surely they're enemy gods! Well, no, not usually. Monotheism exists, and it mostly works...with some twists. Sometimes the gods themselves subscribe to it, as in the case of the Orishas. The Abrahamic faiths typically hold that the gods are not truly divine, if they acknowledge them at all. They are things which the Creator allows to exist, and despite myths, they had no true part in creating the world. They use their stories to justify power over mortals. Their Purviews do not grant true miracles, and when the dead go to Underworlds, it is because gods use their natural powers to force them to do so. Otherworld realms are extraordinary, but no more divine than the ability to make a house. The Orisha agree with most of these statements - they believe there's only one god, and they serve that god, rather than being actual deities themselves. Many other faiths hold that the gods and Titans are aspects of a greater deity, which are incapable of knowing the full nature of the whole. This is a common stance in lands known to the Devas historically, and one which several Devas agree with. They posit that while the Devas (and similar beings) are partially divine, mortals alone can pursue union with the Absolute, attaining a spiritual liberation unknown to gods.

Atheists also exist. They may not believe in the gods, or may acknowledge them but think them unworthy of worship. At Origin level, it's not as hard to deny the gods' existences, as the gods take a rather dim view of scientific attempts to prove or disprove them, and largely interact via omens and mysteries. Well, that and their Scions. Faith, after all, is precious, and can bind people together better than fact. Still, even some Scions believe the gods are unworthy of any worship, even as they become worshipped themselves as their power grows. The book acknowledges that all this is far too complex for a sidebar, as they have had millenia to develop these arguments in the World. Scion takes the position that the gods are, if not divine, at least sacred, and should be treated with as much respect and grace as their myths give them. Most mortals simply choose not to engage with theological argumentation - as in the real world, millions go to Church on Sunday and then come home and do other things on other days, or go to the other Church some other day. It's all about cultural tradition that determines which you go to for marriage and which to pray for vengeance or favors. Purists, intellectuals or eccentrics may be different, but most folks just sense the way of things and act accordingly.

Gods tend to raise their Heroes with a sort of sink-or-swim philosophy. They do break it, from time to time, when things become too tough for a Hero to handle, but constant intervention would interfere with a Hero's rise and even, potentially, influence the god involved negatively. Thus, after the Visitation, most gods stay rather hands-off. Still, they are family and a new society to be part of, and they will advise and give social support when they can and feel like it. Typically, a Hero's mentors will come from their own pantheon, but not always. If the gods never really wanted that Scion, they must find their own teachers. Prometheus and Mimir stand outside their pantheons, but are both well known for wisdom. They might be drawn to a Hero by Fate, sensing that the youth needs them. Sometimes Heroes will seek a specific god for advice, planting the seeds of a good relationship. Mentors will also spur Heroes to act, in payment for their advice or because they know a Hero must do great things to meet their full Fate - even if that Fate isn't always pleasant.

And sometimes, well, the gods do call on Heroes to be their soldiers. It's rare, saved for when truly needed, but it does happen. Typically, these grand tasks are left to Heroes to avoid the Fatebinding and twisting of Legend that greater Scions might cause. The gods may force disparate Heroes together for this with threats and bribes, but that's extremely rare. After all, it's rather a bluff in most cases. Gods are limited to lesser Incarnations in the mortal world and are prone to Fatebinding, so they cannot usually just order their offspring about. Besides, what god wants to be seen by Heroes and Demigods to be nothing more than a bully rather than a moral leader with the innate wisdom of creation?

While many gods (Hi, Zeus!) are terrible parents, that's not all of them. Still, intervention is hard for them, as noted. Heroes must be strong, not reliant on their parents all the time. That can cause a lot of emotional issues, though. That's not just for new kids, either. Reincarnated Scions often feel a familial bond with figures from their old life or lives, for good or bad. The Visitation is, no matter its context or glory, a very intimate occasion, in which a god shares some of their essential selfhood with the Hero, even if that Hero is something they made or chose rather than sired. Cynical gods may try to manipulate Scions desperate for approval - the PCs, or NPC Heroes. Mortal parents often don't approve of the divine progenitor - sometimes even when they, too, serve the god loyally. Family sometimes beats faith. Gods have been known to bribe or murder to get their way, and when a Hero finds out you've done that to their family...well, things can get rough.

Next time: Dealing with people.

The World Is More Than Enough

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
The World Is More Than Enough

The World, and the mortals in it, matter. A lot. Mortals give meaning to the lives of the gods. Heroes, of all Scions, deal with these people the most. They often still have mortal families and friends. They went to school, had jobs before their Visitation. Hell, some of them still have education to deal with and jobs to go to - while most Heroes can easily find a cult of their parents to pay their way, some don't like doing that. And some don't want to just work doing the job of their parents - a Scion of Areas may be a tactical genius but still want that MFA in Creative Writing, or a Scion of a crafting god wants to become a hero of the working class and never misses his shift. Legally speaking, being a Scion doesn't get you out of the education requirements of the law or society, or the need to socialize with same-age peers, or the emotional turmoil of high school. Sure, some cults use their influence and funding to get homeschooling or distance learning, but mortal families, cult elders or even your divine parents might favor sending the kid to public or boarding school - and some cults interfere to arrange for multuple Scions at the same school. At college level, some Greek societies even waive pledge requirements for Heroes. Which is to say: you can absolutely run a school game, if that's your bag.

The average government takes a hands-off policy when it comes to Scions, and generally they expect that in return, as long as you keep the place safe from mythic threats. Heroes walk the line between subtly helping and meddling more than most divine beings. Cops and politicians sometimes quietly call in Heroic aid - for the sake of their careers, to solve problems they can't find a good way to handle, or to deal with mythic weirdness that is above their pay grade. Some are even just political figures in cults that figure their piety should get rewarded by Heroic favors. And, of course, a politically proactive Hero doesn't wait to be asked. They use their power to solve crimes, defend the rights of people they care about, pursue patriotic or subversive acts. It's not a big deal for most people if a Hero does this by their words and actions, but mortals often resent Heroes who blatantly use their magical abilities to do these things. Telling your cult to hold fast against the cops is one thing - it's another to use your divine power to get the cops to run away and lay down their guns. When that sort of things happens, governments tend to crack down on associated cults and even charge Heroes with crimes...though no one really wants to put a Hero through the courts, given the difficulties involved. Rather, they more often will quietly contact other members of a Hero's band or pantheon to try and get them to step back. If that doesn't work, well, there's always other cults, who have their own Scions to call on.

In western Europe and North America, Scions have no special legal status, except possibly recognition as religious figures. Some agencies do informally track them, but it's not discussed publically as it might be seen as a form of religious persecution. In countries more deeply tied to a pantheon via national identity, state bodies may require registry of identity and role. Until the fall of the Qing Dynasty, the Shen were officialy registered with the government, in accordance with both mortal and Shen policy. The chaos that followed and the growing belief that these policies were part of an oppressive traditional culture ended this until after the Cultural Revolution, when the system was revived and integrated into the state's security apparatus. (The Shen still don't entirely agree, given their differences with the Communist government.) Governmental registration systems tend to break down, anyway, when Scions cross borders. It'd offend a lot of cults to detain Heroes, though some organizations are quite interested in their movements. Typically, a disruptive Hero won't get in trouble for refusing to declare their divine nature, but might be deported for other reasons.

Most Heroes don't really need to work - cult ties and their innate abilities mean they can usually find a good meal and a good bed. Some, however, cultivate LEgend by work - steel-driving men, women that beat Nazis one rivet at a time, ruthless business leaders. Heroes with the right talents can excel in these fields, and sometimes cults run businesses - a good enough reason for a lot of Heroes to help out. These businesses don't really give direct access to, say, Hephaestian craft, but you can spot the names, logos and connected industries if you look. As with governments, mortals don't really like it when Scions become major economic actors, but Heroes have mouths to feed like anyone else. This means many end up working for business interests, either short-term or long-term, to solve problems or earn money. The big multinationals prefer Scions not screw with them, but their rather flexible ethics and long-term goals mean that they're happy to hire on Heroic mercenaries as executives, marketers or spies at times - or as muscle to rescue workers from riots, warzones or other hazards. Corporate gigs mean not having to care about ministering to a flock, just earning pay, and most corporations big enough know where to find Heroes for special jobs, usually under wraps. Of course, the more secretive the job, the more likely it'll be ethically dubious and come with some long-term consequences.

So, about cults. In Scion, 'cult' is just any cultural religion that honors a pantheon. They aren't any more likely to be sinister, fanatical or secretive than anyone else - on average. Sure, some are, but your average cult runs a day-care center for kids that can't take part in services, ministers to normal people and is full of folks trying to have a good life. Sometimes, sure, cults love a Scion too much, acting like screaming groupies. Sometimes they think their worship entitles them to control a Hero. Heroes can't just ignore them, though - as far as most pantheons are concerned, supporting cults is one of the main jobs of a Hero, especially if they were given power for their piety. Heroes visit the flock and remind them that the divine is real and potent. They listen to prayers and either answer them or send them up the chain. Sometimes, that's even a formal process (and, with the Shen, involves a lot of complex paperwork). This can be a burden because it empowers mortals to expect a proper answer, should they submit the request correctly. Either way, though, answering prayers is usually in your best interest, as it builds your Legend. In return, you can expect a cult to support you materially and provide people for anything you need to do, as long as it's consistent with their theology. It's not an unlimited right to abuse funds or people, mind, and cult treasurers can get quite testy about greed, but a Hero can always at least expect room, board and trivial expenses if they're in good standing. This gives the ST plenty of room to elide boring financial concerns but focus on interesting financial concerns if they want, such as a Hero's enemies attack their cult connections financially to get at the Hero.

Titans also have cults, but they rarely work out that well. Titans don't really care about worship, in general, so their followers are usually a bit more faithful but less numerous, since they can't actually expect a return on their faith. These cults either honor the Titans as creators, or try to beg them not to hurt people, or at least delay their calamities for a time. Titanspawn usually only call on these cults for immediate practical reasons, and give only token rewards to keep things going. They might need muscle, or go-betweens, or just food and shelter. Once the job's done, they leave or, sometimes, kill the cult to tie up loose ends. Some Titans do favor their cults, of course, and not all titanspawn are that selfish. Some work to prepare the cult for doomsday, while others support a select group not for love but because they appreaciate the Titan's purview - artists, naturalists or explorers that open themselves to the raw power of nature, untempered by humanity. Prometheus cults, for example, tend to be of this type.

Covens are the most distrusted, secretive and dangerous form of cult, because a coven exists not to honor the gods, but to harness their power. They usually treat worship as a technique or social maneuver, rather than a way to gain divine guidance. They do the rite, the Scion or whatever tool or proxy does the job. That's not to say they're less devout - often they have an internal theology that frames worship as a transaction. Holy, yes, but they want results. Covens have poor reptuations, as some sell their services or demand divine intervention for malicious and venal goals. Thus, covens may often get treated as (anthropological) witches - that is, those who use magic to harm others. On the other hand, some covens have bargains to heal the sick and aid the weak. Some Scions even like covens, since they tend to have clear-cut and explainable expectations, and they can make excellent agents when a third party wants help.

The example coven is the Weird Sisters. A thousand years ago (give or take), three sisters became widows due to the actions of the warlords Duncan and Mac-Bethad as they engaged in a series of petty wars in Scotland. The sisters called on the Morrigan for aid. They wanted to end both lines, but thought it might take them generations. However, the Morrigan agreed to help only female, property-owning descendants - a typical trick by the Morrigan to ensure the sisters either lost her favor or joined with the kind of men they hated. She didn't think they'd remarry, then promptly murder their husbands and selectively commit infanticide to keep the bargain, nor that they'd produce disciplined enough daughters to continue the process, at least until more liberal social mores and better reproductive medicine made it less harsh (a little, anyway). To this day, the Morrigan's Scions are bound to aid the sisters' three eldest female descendants, provided they own some land. The Weird Sisters mainly use this work to keep themselves rich and fund initiatives supporting women's financial autonomy. The warlords, well, Shakespeare wrote a play about them.

Guilds are a form of cult that have existed for as long as the gods have favored certain jobs. They are warrior societies, religious smithies, sacred sex workers and, these days, programmers, engineers and analysts. Many guilds can claim an ancient pedigree, though some of these have changed the profession they serve or turned into social clubs. Others arise new and without heritage, though Scions rarely acknowledge them until their profession has proven it'll last - no one wants to bind their power to something that'll become obsolete. Guilds often serve as professional networks for their members, and may even be formally recognized authorities in their trade, though in those cases the religious aspect is officially optional...even if everyone knows you can't make it anywhere as a Greek steelworker without paying respects to Hephaestus. Scions with purviews related to mortal trades often form guilds entirely by accident, simply due to their natural aptitude bringing such people together.

The example guild is IBIS - the Institute for Business Information Sites. It's a recognized leader in network security standards, specializing in air-gapping and courier-facilitated data transfer protocols. They began as a joint project between a number of Thoth-worshipping librarian and archivist groups, but have become wealther than all of them. The facilities they design combine Faraday cages and biometric security with ancient techniques for defeating intruders that go back to the pyramids and their secret chambers. As an act of devotion, they build their own facilities to preserve human knowledge, which clearly belongs to Thoth, after all, and protect it against future idsaster. These facilities also serve as good boltholes in case of trouble, as long as you can squeeze between etched granite slabs.

Family traditions are what it sounds like - families close the gods, with their own ways of honoring them. Some were founded by Scions or family of Scions. Sometimes a god gave them a revelation or even a relic to keep, or they're descended from priest-kings. Whatever the origin, they are both clan and cult. Their reunions are religious rites, their estates are temples. Most are highly idiosyncratic and evolved behind closed doors. Some keep the oldest secrets of the gods, while others have distorted into horrors driven by a belief in their own holy privilege making morality obsolete. Because they don't need unrelated worshipers, even the gods can lose track of them and their actions. Civilizations collapse, the priests vanish, the gods move on and never notice that a clan became refugees, bringing their faith with them. Rediscovering them is usually a happy occasion, if they've kept the faith. Some of them can be convinced to share their faith, but it risks offending the family, who have earned their place over generations.

The Grandchildren are the example cult. See, Ogun has a lot of kids, and some of them have a lot of kids. The Grandchildren (or omo, in Yoruba) follow the ethos of their ancestors and protect their communities with wisdom and strength. Individual lines have their own customs, but when their branches meet, they follow rules similar to the Yoruba Ogboni, fraternal groups. These use subtle symbols, shibboleths and handsigns to confirm membership. The Grandchildren protect themselves from persecution by fouynding self-defense initiatives wherever they are, and they tend to be quite fit and good fighters.

Next time: Historians, Mystery Societies, Reliquarians, Social Clubs and Temples

Cult Classic

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Cult Classic

Historian cults exist to maintain historical traditions. They tend to serve pantheons with ancient and storied pedigrees, and some of them date back to the BronzE Age...though not most. A lot of historian cults are reconstructionists, studying the past in order to discover the "true" religion of the ancients so they can practice it now. It seem redundant, given the ageless gods who still exist and prosper, but religions evolve and the oldest gods are rarely very accessible people. Thus, many reconstructionists are a sort of fundamentalist, who seek a pure age of faith to emulate. Sometimes, this means they offend modern values, but often it just means they're weird. Sure, some priests won't marry two men - but they're outnumbered by the ones who don't give a shit about that, just what the proper dowry would be. Historian cults take a lot of research - enough, in fact, that worship can become a secondary concern. Many historian cultists don't actually like modern Scions, and some even try to tell them the "proper" way to do things...which some gods actually appreciate, as they share those older values. Still, this is the kind of cult that knows the old rites and the ancient tales, and they can help you if you need answers from the past.

The example cult is New Arcadia, a small commune on an island off the coast of Washington State. Its native flora have been replaced by Mediterranean plantlife, and it survives via primitive fishing boats. The residents came here to live as the ancient Greeks did, 3000 years ago. Mortals don't know a ton about that era, and the Theoi have been profoundly unhelpful in filling in the gaps, so a hundred and two worshippers decided this was a test and that they should live as the ancients did, that the gods might reward their dedication. It worked out. Several Scions have visited New Arcadia, and at least once a Scion helped the residents learn better Achaean and how to read Linear A. The exclusive knowledge the community possesses accounts for about half of the money they need to survive due to university consultations, and the other half comes out of Theoi cults donating to them to support the experiment. New Arcadians have almost no modern technology, except for radios for emergencies and guns to drive off unwanted guests.

Mystery Societies...well, they come in a few types. In some cultures, everyone joins one, where they learn the secret knowledge of their gender, or their family, or their trade. Others are real secret societies, using special knowledge and gestures to confirm membership and serving as Masonic-style groups, organized crime syndicates or, sometimes, just people that want to not talk about their faith with outsiders. Some mystery cults are in between, sharing low-level knowledge freely but hiding the most sacred from those that do not put in their service. There's a lot of mystery cults out there. When the gods decided to interact with the World more subtly, so did many worshippers, hiding away what once was public. However, quite a few predate the change. These groups were entrusted with secrets, all kinds of secrets, and they still keep them. Titan cults are often mystery cults as well, refusing to acknowledge their true masters until you reach the inner circle.

The example cult is The Order of the Mule. To the general public, they're idiot frat boys shouting about Set as they do stupid, stupid things. They recruit from college campuses, competing with the Greek societies (who have denied them any official recognition). Would-be members must undertake a week of booze-fueled antics while wearing donkey masks, earning the right to use the bottom floor of their clubhouses and get free beer. The minority of these who avoid the parties after entering are singled out for further initiations. Their intelligence, survival skills and ambitions are all tested, and they are offered many temptations, threats and generalized harassment. Each ordeal, you see, brings them closer to the true purpose of the cult, the service of Set as moral leaders and sometimes soldiers.

We get a sidebar on Heroes serving as ordained clergy for cults. Governments rarely recognize Heroes as objects of worship, but often allow them the perks of priesthood, such as tax-exempt status or professional recognition from law enforcement or cultural adminstrations, as well as the right to privileged conversation with the flock. However, clergy are also often encouraged to refrain from some forms of political speech and may have restrictions on how they can use their tax-free incomes. They must demonstrate they're attending to the needs of their followers, above and beyond killing monsters. Mostly, this route appeals to Heroes that like personal relationships with their followers and have little interest in business or politics. When ordained Heroes fail to perform their clerical duties, though, it can risk their legitimacy as priests or even their cults' legal status.

Reliquarians are cults formed to protect holy objects. They keep them, do holy rituals for them and so on. Some of these possess only a representation or facsimile of a true holy object, but believe their worship passes through the symbol to the genuine article. Often this is a belief of necessity, when a Scion comes to claim their relic as a Birthright, or a thief steals it. However, many also possess true artifacts - body parts of Scions or monsters, even Relics of power. Sometimes, worship shifts from the gods to the objects, and some may accuse the reliquarians of being idolaters with no true faith, but typically their beliefs have answers to this accusation. When the 'true master' of the relic shows up for it, things can sometimes get messy. A Scion might have to make a show of just borrowing the item, returning it to its sacred place whenever possible, or might have to pass a series of tests to prove their worthiness. And, of course, a Scion that loses the relic will have a lot of unhappy cultists, though they might be willing to wade through Hell to help get it back.

The example cult is the House of Caladbolg, who possess Excalibur. ...one of them. Caladbolg is the name of the sword in Middle Welsh, and the cult collects potential Excaliburs for safekeeping. They were first commanded to do this a thousand years ago by the Scion Fergus mac Roich, who lost the first Caladbolg, and faked his own death to seek the blade...until he found it, or a twin of it, in the hands of Pendragon the Bastard, as the House knows Arthur. They refuse to acknowledge his kingship or his given name and do not especially like the Welsh pantheon. Fergus told the descendants of his old warband to keep up his quest, and they have. The House of Caladbolg are loyal to the Tuatha de Danann, hoarding supernatural weapons they believe belong to the Irish gods by right. Modern members are also happy to trade in other antique weapons, and will happily trade foreign relics for cash or favors.

Social Clubs are similar to guilds, but without the professional focus. They promote some kind of activity, generally recreational, and treat the gods as their patrons. They drink and have feasts, they play sports, they debate, they go camping, they host orgies. Typically, they follow gods of compatible Purview, but may defy that expectation out of longstanding traditio, such as their founders all loving a particular god, or because they developed out of some other type of cult. For example, the Lycoctonus Club was once a society of hunters in service to Apollo, but now their only woodland pursuit is a 72-hour game of tag on the club's private island. Social clubs usually love their rituals, but are rarely especially devoted. Still, they are proud of their traditions and would be deeply embarrassed if their gods came to harm. They often have unusual knowledge and a wealth of shared resources when pressed, and they're certainly fun to be around.

The example cult is the Corinthian Society. After World War 1, the Corinthian Club of New York avoided the general decline of gentleman's clubs by redefining themselves as a benevolent works society, open to any. Of course, not all members were created equal, and while anyone (including women, since the 60s) may join by paying the steep initiation fee, descendants of 19th century members and their select invitees benefit from slightly better service and a network of private estates, so long as they honor Poseidon. The society offers its estates as homes for Poseidon's Scions and servants, who receive free elite membership. To the public, though, they are most famous for promoting the Corinthian ideal of amateur sport. Every few years they fundraise by holding the Isthmian Games, an Olympics-like event limited only to people who have not competed since age 16, if ever. The Games feature a certain degree of clumsiness that amuses the public but irritates Poseidon, as the original Isthmian Games were held in his honor. However, he does appreciate the work of the Corinthian Society, which funds horse rescue charities, support for earthquake victims and gives his kids a good meal and a nice place to sleep whenever they ask for it.

Temples are cults organized around a place of worship, whether that's a rented church hall, a corner of a strip mall or the Parthenon restored. (They even got the Elgin Marbles back, mostly, though tourists are still more common than cultists in Athena's great temple.) Due to the required infrastructure, temple cults are the groups most likely to have fulltime priests and caretakers. Maintaining sacred sites costs money and time, so these groups typically are efficient fundraisers or, at the very least, have wealthy patrons. Some Scions take it on themselves to fund their pantheon's temples. While this dedicated space is useful, it can also be a target for enemies of the cult, and temples to more belligerent or maligned gods and pantheons often have safe rooms, emergency supplies or even small arsenals, kept hidden from the public. However, in some cases, the best protection is the public itself. You go after the Parthenon, and millions of Greeks will despise you, even if they're not fans of Athena. Temples often double as soup kitchens, emergency shelters, food banks or other charitable ventures.

The example cult is Ishtar Gate, USA, a temple in northern Mississippi that was founded by a small but wealthy cult of worshippers of the Babylonian gods. They intend to create a perfect duplicate of Babylon's Ishtar Gate, using nothing but period construction techniques (except for the use of contemporary computer modelling to ensure they get it totally right, and modern shipping to bring in the materials). The Gate is currently only half-done and is in the middle of some nondescript swampy land, but it is open to the public and draws a small number of tourists yearly. The company owns enough land to recreate the entire city of Babylon, but they haven't figured out a decent business plan. Marduk's Scions have made it very clear that unless the end result is an economically viable community, it will dishonor the city god.

It should be noted that most cultists are just people. They worship as part of their routines, coming to the temple after work to ask for help in meeting deadlines or getting clients. They bring the kids by every Tuesday after karate class to visit the sacred grove, or set aside a week each year to head to Uppsala for the Aesir temple there. Sometimes their phones ring during services to Zeus or they fall asleep as the Epic of Gilgamesh is recited. They aren't false believers for that. It's just easy to take the gods for granted, a little. Cults are, fundamentally, communities, even when social networking isn't their primary purpose. You ask around your cult for advice on finding a dentist, or to raise money when your house burns down. Cults use phone trees, email lists and social media to mobilize people when needed. They're gossip-laden community organizations. Of course, when a Scion shows up, they're usually allowed to take charge and as they like...as long as it fits cult doctrine, is practical and doesn't annoy the cultist leaders too much. Of course, they're rarely defied openly, but cultists can often focus on what a Scion "really" meant, delay things, and pray to the gods to do something about their wayward child. Ultimately, power still rests in the hands of whoever organizes things and maintains cult assets. Usually, those people are elected by the cult's members, and in some places that's legally required. The USA defines most cults as Traditional Religions Operating as Private Endowments, or TROPEs. They are tax-exempt and have special rules on governance and financial reporting. Only the largest cults have full-time staff, and not all have formal priesthoods. Aesir godi are usually volunteers, elected for their public accomplishments, while the Shen have dozens of kinds of priest, who may be full- or part-time. Typically, priests run the cults' religious functions and set goals, but the practical matters are handled by lay officers most of the time.

Not all spiritual matters take full ceremony, and not all of them need the full cult congregation. Many cults have a small number of people that do rituals outside of the main mass of cultists, specializing in more practical services. These are your soothsayers, ascetics, cunning folk and exorcists, who you visit when you want to know where grandpa hid the money or if your marriage is destined to fail. They rarely perform social rituals like weddings, though they may do funerals, especially those designed to keep the dead quiet. Cunning folk are often part-timers, but not all work for free. However, in many jurisdictions, pretending to offer supernatural aid is a crime, and false soothsayers can be fined or imprisoned. If they can prove they really did see the future in the entrails, though, there's no case - and it's a defense that has a reputation for success.

Next time: Deifans, corporate cults and the mythic underground.

Tags: Slash, Zeus, Thor, Dubcon, H/C, Fluff

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Tags: Slash, Zeus, Thor, Dubcon, H/C, Fluff

Deifans are a new subculture, and they've kind of turned the whole cult organization thing on its head. The mass media, see, can create new myths without real gods being involved. It used to be that elders of the pantheons would manage legends by telling them to trusted poets and scribes. Sure, there wasn't a way to completely control the creativity of folks like Homer or Vyasa, and they could introduce biases or omit information or even lie...but overall, the old tales unfolded as the gods wanted. Mass literacy, the printing press and the new media took that tool away, so the gods gave up on their most blatant forms of influence. They gave up on the storytellers as the storytellers became truly numerous, which probably ended up encouraging mortal creativity, as they were not forced just to document legend but could invent it, without the shadow of authority looming over them. And...well, broadly speaking, that's how fandom came to be in Scion's World. The gods left a vacuum to be filled by amateur storytellers. When the small press, webcasts and websites came up with every possible variation on media franchises, a few fans decided it was time to write speculative fiction about real people. Real people like celebrities...and gods.

Deifans are not traditional worshippers at all. To them, the gods are the ultimate stars, fodder for fanfic and gossip. They wrote love stories about cross-pantheon pairings that are usually wildly out of character, they report on their interactions with Scions in online communities. Some cross the line between gossip and fiction, reporting things they wish happened as if they were real. Everyone's read stories about sex with gods, and most of them are fake. Most. The best writers sometimes even get published, but tradition demands that they fictionalize the names. See, the gods are real, so Deifans often have to invent new ones for their stories, to disguise the identities of Scions and their adventures - real or fictional. Generally, this is just disguised enough to invite speculation about who the characters are meant to be, but not so obvious as to count as a legend that might cause Fatebinding. Deifans love interacting with Scions and are often eager to help...but you never really know what they'll write about it, or if they're smart enough to change up your name so that Fate doesn't grab their story and start trying to force it onto you. Assuming it gets popular enough for that, anyway. Fatebinding is...weird.

Because few gods want excessive attention, few openly support any cult embedded in a government or major corporation. Everyone knows that small corner stores or even smaller chains support one or another pantheon, but if mortals though Scions controlled large multinationals, they'd probably not just suspect them of undue influence but demand the gods act against it. Similarly, while civic faiths can gather politicians for prayer breakfasts or memorials, the public does not want presidental blots. In countries with strong national pantheons, governments make sure to tightly control the framing of ceremonies to ensure it's clear that they represent the traditional relationships with what the gods represent, not with the gods as people. It's a thin line, and sometimes it gets crossed, but for example, even in Japan, civic Shinto rituals actively avoid including Scions most of the time. Some Scions attend anyway and try to go for the big multinational or government power, but they try to not get caught at it. Sure, maybe Anubis' Scions have cornered the market on funerary goods - but they're not doing it under a name like Pyramid Corp. Smaller firms, like IBIS or Fenris Arms, can get away with it with a little winking and nudging, but both mortals and gods watch them for any sign of exerting undue influence.

Governments and business do have to deal with the supernatural sometimes, though. Companies dig up old ruins, local surveyors find monster lairs. It's fairly common for these organizations to quietly ask their staff about cult affiliations, using them to build relationships with Scions willing to help with these problems. Rewards for this work are usually vaguely worded honors, charitable contributions to things the cult supports or special considerations in zoning bylaws, customer rewards programs or other minor elements that the local government or business can control without implying a deep relationship.

Fenris Arms is a good example here. They are known for making weapons stamped with the Tiwaz rune, primarily very durable pistols, rifles and military-grade arms for militaries, cops and private security forces. All of their firearms are ambidextrous, and the firm is a pioneer in the field of assistive technology for users with physical disabilities. Fenris was founded by an incarnation of Tyr, and Tyr continues to serve as its CEO via a number of identities. The board and a good chunk of the employees are either Tyr's cultists or Aesir Scions, but Tyr works to keep the company small and priced out of reach of hobbyists. Fenris Arms weaponry is typically found only in the hands of elite military and police forces, or owned by people with disabilities, who get steep discounts. The Fenris head office is in Neuhausen am Rheinfall, Switzerland, just down the street from the (much larger) HQ of Swiss Arms. Tyr can only rarely be found there, though - he located the company there for political reasons but doesn't actually like the country all that much.

Modern gods don't really want their kids disrupting society, which actually makes crime a fairly relaxing pursuit for Scions. They're already breaking the rules, so why not do it a bit more? Many cults tolerate minor crimes like tax evasion, labor exploitation or shady business deals ending with a prayer to, say, Hades. It doesn't take much to shift from that to organized crime. The cops know this and maintain files on criminal cults, but they're tough to crack - even before you get into Scion crime lords, you've got extreme loyalty and the use of cult shibboleths to detect outsiders. Cultic syndicates have mystery cult methods to draw on to maintain secrecy and chain of command, using secret signs and initiations. Heroes tend to be naturally inclined to lead them, but sometimes they develop on their own, and may even resent a Hero trying to take over or change their methodology. On the other hand, cults can also be victims of crime - hate crimes, titanspawn gang attacks, rival Scions. Maybe the local cultists just live in a bad part of town or are part of a discriminated group. This can drive Heroes to fight crime...and the cops don't usually like that kind of vigilantism. It brings them dangerously close to mythic issues, makes them look bad and often makes them have to clean up whatever mess the Hero leaves in their wake. Maybe a Hero jsut turned one easily handled syndicate into a chaotic mass of warring gangs. Maybe a Scion broke a mob boss's legs before handing them to the cops, which makes prosecution iffier, to say the least.

Still, the cops shy away from actually arresting Heroes. They get treated with great lenience, like action movie heroes. A poorly-supported self-defense claim justifying a ton of bodies will lead to questioning, sure, but if the Heroes are (mostly) in the right, they'll usually just get grilled and then told to leave town for a while - if they've got a rep for benevolence, anyway. When they're in the wrong or too disruptive to tolerate, generally officials will use alternative forms of pressure. The gods usually don't like Scions making too much trouble for mortals and may intervene when notified via their cults to make it known the matter's being dealt with. If all else fails, rival Scions might get called in as deputies and an arrest might get made. Cops hate this because it pits Scion on Scion on mortal turf, but if they have to, the police will give over credentials to ensure Titanic or otherwise mythic problems get handled.

Beyond cults, there's also the general mythic underground. They're not quite cultists, not quite criminals. They're the people who get interested in the mythic, who really dig down and become caught between the mundane and the legendary. This isn't a coherent group, but a collection of subcultures, obsessive cliques or even Scion groupies. You go to your cult for worship, gifts, connection to the gods. You go the underground when you want to sell a bit of kraken tentacle, meet a titanspawn on neutral ground or make fire sculpture for an audience, either for art's sake or cash. It's also a good place for a Scion to get some casual sex, since it's kind of shady, morally, to go for cultists, interband relationships can be so much trouble and...well, some folks just love Heroes, or the idea of sleeping with one. Some just want sex and gossip, some want something deeper - you just have to find the right people. The underground cliques can often hazily merge with actual cults, criminal gangs or cultural movers. More orthodox cults hate these guys, which tend to be extremely multicultural, because they embrace the mythic as a whole rather than parts dedicated to specific theologies. There's also a good deal of crossover with the inhabitants of Terra Incognitae - the mythic emigres often feel more at home among these people, and members of the mythic scene often yearn to move somewhere wondrous.

Collectors are pretty common - both themselves and the networks of dealers that service them. Many collectors are anonymous, and they all want divine artifacts, legendary critter bits - really, anything that seems divine and cool. It's a good way for a Hero to get some extra cash. The dealers usually refuse to name buyers or sellers, and may keep some supernaturally gifted security on hand...but if you can get past discretion and force, most do keep a client list for emergencies, which can be pretty useful.

Cultclubs are the bars, nightclubs and parties of the mythic underground. Organizers invite Scions or Titanspawn. Some of these guests believe in a code against fighting at the club, but not everyone respects that. Clubgoers revel in the presence of Heroes, but only the newest are rude enough to just walk up to them. Custom is, unless you know someone well, you wait for an invitation. Scions that like to perform for crowds indulge themselves at cultclubs, and despite the name, most of these places are financed by folks with a general interest in the mythic rather than dedicated cultists...though a few major venues are sponsored by the cults of the more recreational deities.

Deifans we've discussed. They write fic about Scions and share it. Occasionally, they cross into gossip and journalism. The deifan community is mostly an online thing, and may never involve face-to-face contact. Some of their work, known as deific (pronounced 'dayfic') is embarrassing and offensive in its depictions of Heroes...but some Heroes embrace their deifans, using deific to build Legend or relay messages.

Godbloggers and Godcasters are the successors to the old G-Zines. They're citizen-journalists who report on Scion activity and weird events, generally to very small but devoted audiences. Some cross into deifan territory with their speculations and bias, but many are professionals, in ethos if not fact, and try to use reliable sources and consider the fallout of their scoops before throwing them out there. Some godcasts are pure cultic propaganda, of course. Heroes listen and read for the news...and to make sure secrets they'd like to stay secret don't get out.

Mythopoetic Societies are the academics interested in the gods, Terra Incognitae and legends. They want to know the how of it, how the epics compare to history. They aren't regarded all that highly in academic circles, but being a mythopoeticist isn't quite a career-ender. Even if no one would ever say it, most scholars have a bias against questioning or annoying the gods. Mythopoeticists try to interview Heroes, publish embarrassing revelations of history, and sometimes even unearth dangers that even the gods forgot about or never knew.

Next time: Friends and foes.

Band vs Band

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Band vs Band

Heroes end up banding together for a lot of reasons, but the big one is that they're really the only ones who understand each other. Other Scions might be stronger, but Heroes have a unique role in all this. They aren't just the baby form of a Scion, they're a distinct position in the world, with a real purpose. And that's why Bands form. The Heroes' Band is a known institution. There's no forms or anything, but Scions and the more interested sort of mortal talk about bands, gossip about membership changes and argue about the famous ones and their merits or failures. Heroes form bands because Fate throws them all together, or to cement divine alliances, or for tradition, or just because they all became friends on a message board. It's said that the manner of a Band's origin affects its members' Legends, so Scions have been known to exaggerate their band origins, or even just pick a foolhardy and reckless first quest to get some recognition. Many bands go without formal names...but if you don't come up with one, other people will, and it may be worth feeling like you're really pretensious to avoid being stuck with something like 'Team Jerkface.'

There have always been cross-pantheon bands, but they've only become really common in the past century or two. Even the more conservative gods are resigned to it these days, and some pantheons even encourage it for diplomatic reasons. However, when these diplomatic ties become strained, Scions in mixed bands end up having to choose between their family and their friends...and yet, these tensions are often why the bands are a good idea, because they end up in the best position to view these conflicts from a balanced position (if one that may well involve heated arguments), investigate them and solve them.

Heroes within a pantheon will usually treat each other as family, either distant cousins or the group you really wish didn't get invited to the annual cookout. Some branches are closer than others. Theoi Heroes often feel kinship based on common descent - the generally abandoned kids of Zeus need to look out for each other. Some pantheons discriminate based on origin, with certain gods being looked down on or value more than others, or blood-relative Scions being favored over those who are chosen. No matter what, the gods bring baggage with their power. Heroes born from often vilified gods face discrimination from their parents' rivals and from members of the public who only know their bad rep. Some people shun Scions of Loki or Set, though it's rarely an overpowering or omnipresent problem. More considerate folks understand the difficulty of escaping your parent's shadow and can also understand the politics of the old myths. Loki still helps the other Aesir a lot, and Set was a god of kings as well as outsiders. It takes a lot of stubbornness not just to stereotype the gods but then also insist that their kids are also untrustworthy. Of course, Scions unfamilar with a foreign pantheon's mythology often do rely on the same biased sources as the general public, and might be rather standoffish anyway.

Heroes do share a common culture that crosses pantheons. Not all of them acknowledge it, but their common passions and needs often bring them together to fight common foes, pressure the gods into giving them more freedom or just share personal advice. Heroes that need to hide their mortal kin from foes might find others who've done it before, or even one who does it as a regular side job, for charity or cash. Of course, shared interests can also breed resentment...but even mutual hate creates a community bond. You don't have to like your band, or the shadier Heroes, but everyone understands the need for a common decorum. Heroes tend to develop local hangouts and customs stemming from their unique position as the Scions closest to the world. Often, Hero culture crosses over with the mythic underground, but they also have some exclusive spaces - private cultclub rooms, forbidden areas in mythopoetic libraries. Often, thanks to these habits, the gods and their limited numbers, Heroes have heard of each other before they've met. Unless they choose to hide, no Hero is ever really anonymous.

Not that the game's going to provide demographics. They give a sidebar on why, and the short form is because any stated ratio is going to bring up far, far too many questions and be 'unrealistic' to someone. While it's worth considering that the 1.2 billion people in Africa are probably going to produce a good, sizable amount of Heroes, they don't want you to 'have to' decide somewhere's run out of Heroes or has too many. There are enough Heroes for the story you need to tell, and no strict rules on it.

Most Heroes see themselves as human, made of flesh and blood, rather than a divine creature of the Overworld. Sure, the strange places are open to them more than most mortals, but they are not yet of those places, even if they were raised there. They know what lies behind the reverence and fear of mortals: the silent plea to protect and act as representatives for humanity to the gods. Shirking those duties harms your reputation and can harm your Legend. No one wants to be remembered as the coward hero - and the gods have ways of finding out about these things. However, generally the consequences of avoiding your duties are quiet contempt and shunning, acidic comments on social media and your Legend recording your deeds in the skein of Fate.

Heroes also have to remember that the Underworlds exist. Not all Pantheons keep a presence there, but it can't be ignored, thanks to the Cthonians, the dark Primordials of the dead lands, and of course shades and ghosts. When souls lose their way, it is often up to Heroes to take on the role of psychopomp and guide them to their proper place. Some of the dead didn't lose their way, either, but escaped or dread the journey, and the strongest of these may require a Hero to force them to go - not an easy task, given their power. Plus, sometimes you need to question the dead for their wisdom. While this is traditionally left to necromancers, Heroes can do it with less lore and more determination. While none of the underworld guides like casual visitors and all enforce the laws of life and death per their religions, they may allow shades to manifest in certain places if a Hero does the proper rites. Those that dwell in the deep places must be sought, in the way of Orpheus or Gilgamesh, and that kind of trip is almost always needed to gain audience with the gods of death, some of whom can be dour or even malevolent. Of course, not all - the Netjer, all of whom dwell in the underworld and are, to some extent, death gods, can be quite friendly.

For most Heroes, the Godsrealms are equally foreign - rather like the second generation of an immigrant family going to their ancestral nation for the first time. Sometimes, they feel a deep connection, but it rarely feels like home - not yet, anyway. They don't know these places like a native, and must rely on their guides and families. Some Heroes do get prepared for their Overworlds early, though, and may visit during their Visitation or before. These Heroes may feel like they are coming home, but the natives know they are no gods, and will not treat them with that level of respect. However, the strong ties Heroes have to the World gives them a special place in Overworlds. They bring important prayers and cult business, firsthand knowledge of the World from a perspective even Incarnate gods sorely need. Gods typically see things through the lens of their Legend and their Purviews. Yes, Tyr manages Fenris Arms, but he probably doesn't know a damn thing about mercenaries using his guns to suppress labor movements in Sudan. That's a thing for Heroes to handle - it's not his business. Framing this kind of news for the gods always takes some care, especially if you aren't even Aesir. Cross-pantheon bands are common enough that most Godsrealms have adapted to outsiders visiting without being hostile or gawking, but visitors remain ambassadors of their pantheon by default. Gods will demand answer for offenses, ask them to deliver messages or even suggest political marriages.

And then you've just the weird places, the mythic locations. These are places Heroes go a lot, to help people, because the average human can't handle them. (That said, there is a growing subculture of extreme exploration fans, the kind of people that do caving or solo rock climbing, heading into Terra Incognitae.) Heroes typically learn about all kinds of weird places when they settle in an area, and the troubles they cause. These places test them, but also let them cut loose against foes that can handle what they throw without worrying about bystanders being endangered. Of course, some Midrealms are inhabited, too - isolated settlements devoted to the pantheons. These range from a couple families to a self-sufficient community of thousands. Heroes often visit these places, called devout lands. Cult leaders sometimes live there, and the gods may send you there to check on them, while governments sometimes use heroes as mediators when these places cause problems. A few of these places are even designed to raise children as Heroes. New Arcadia's an example of a devout land, albeit in the World rather than a Midrealm, and also exceptional for being well known to the public.

Covenants are places used to reward or protect faithful mortals, often the oldest settlements - or the newest, though new ones are usually small. These places tend to require more attention, as the covenant will have obligations both for the inhabitants and the gods, such as promises that Scions will visit, prayers will be answered or that the gods will prevent certain problems, which Heroes are often sent to do.
Cradles of Heroes are places where gods get their offsprings raised just right. These settlements were founded to ensure that one or more Heroes got the precisely correct background. Some are made as needed, others are traditional homes of many Heroes. The ad-hoc ones tend to be short-lived, but some last, waiting generations for prophesied heroes. Some of these fall apart in shock when the heroes aren't quite what they expected.
Great Temples tend to grow up around significant holy sites. They may have gates to places for the people to live, or be in regions that can support the communuity. They're certainly the best known of the devout lands, possibly with regular traffic from the outside world - particularly from cultists looking for spiritual retreats.
Radical Faiths are colonies of particularly zealous cultists. Most of these settlements are in the World, though a rare few lean to cross into other places. They typically exist in harsh conditions and great isolation, and may rely on Heroes to help them...or may have to hide some shame or crime from the Heroes that visit.
Winter Palaces are areas in which the gods rule directly, either to provide a moral example, pursue a project, or just to enjoy ordering folks around. Powerful gods may create these places as spiritual fallout shelters in case their actual homelands get invaded or harmed. Living conditions in winter palace settlements vary wildly based on the god's leadership abilities and temperament.

Next time: Pantheons! First up, Aesir.


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero

Before we get into the pantheons proper, some basics need covering. First, yes, the term pantheon is Greek-derived, and the other gods don't like that much, but what can you do? A pantheon is a group or family of gods from a common culture. Gods rarely last long alone, not with Titans around, and nearly every Scion or supernatural denizen of the World is tied to one...though exceptions do exist for solitary deities, like Zalmoxis, the god of the Geto-Dacians and, according to some accountings, the god of vampires. Most pantheons settle in Godsrealms in the Overworld, though they're also often associated with specific places and peoples. While only ten are covered by Hero, the book, they note that others exist - they namedrop the Yazatas of Persia, the Palas of Buddhist myth and the Nemetondevos, the gods of the Gauls, whom Julius Caesar destroyed as part of a successful bid to become the god Divis Iulius.

Gods can have multiple identities. This is because the Deeds of a god or Scion form a Fate around them, altering their relationships and nature. Your past is past, but it is also your shield in the present and your chains in the future. As you develop your Deeds and Legend, you form a Mantle around yourself. At the apex of a Demigod's power, they must die, shedding their mortality somehow, and then, if their Deeds are worthy enough and their divine identity strong enough, the god awakens as the mortal dies. It's rarely pleasant for you as it happens, of course. These divine identities are Mantles, and they persist even when the god that fills them Incarnates and makes a new one, as Ares did with Mars and Lakshmi and Durga did with Kali. Other Scions may grow into these Mantles, or shed them and give them to descendants, or be defeated and have them stolen in battle. Gods who have multiple Mantles can easily swap between them, birthing Scions from any of them. If the god dies, the Mantle persists beyond them, to be filled by a Scion who follows the right path. Aphrodite, for example, was born from the severed genitals of Uranus, but was also the daughter of Zeus and Dione who apotheosized. Aphrodite will not even show her expression if asked if her predecessor died or passed on the Mantle, and Venus will give only a withering glare. It is possible to destroy a Mantle, but it's not easy. Harder than killing a god. You must destroy the mythological links and identities within the Mantle while it is held by no one, sundering its ties to Fate and leaving it adrift from human consciousness. These gods fade from memory, leaving only fragments behind. All that's left are old, now empty shrines, abandoned Terra Incognitae, faded spirits that claim to former greatness.

Then you have the Titans. Titans can belong to pantheons and conform to myths. Like gods, Titans have Virtues, but theirs are mainly expressions based on their purviews. Any Titan only has one Purview, of course. The four potential Virtues of a Titan are:
Fecundity, an expression of creative capacity. Fecundity expresses the desire to spread the Titan's Purview and its energies.
Rapacity, an expression of destructive capacity. This is the desire to let the Purview grow and consume all.
Submission, an expression of creative union. This is the desire to subsume the World into their own essence and that of the Primordials.
Dominance, an expression of destructive union. This is the desire to corrupt influences and spread Titanic energies across the World.
Titans all possess one creative and one destructive Virtue, no matter what. However, a Titan that becomes a civilized part of the pantheon structure, as Helios did with the Theoi or Bres with the Tuatha, or...well, a lot of Shen, they can exchange one of their Titanic Virtues for one of the Pantheon's Virtues.

The Deva, Theoi and Teotl are the most aggressive seekers of Titanomachy, the aggressive destruction of the Titans' cults and continued jailing of them forever. They want to be done with cold war and go hot. The Deva decided, entirely on their own, that they were in charge of the alliance. They respect the Teotl and are patronizing towards the Theoi, possibly due to the strong Titanic blood among the Greek gods. Durga, Indra and Karttikeya are the most hawkish of them all, while Ganesha actually has probably averted more international divine incidents than any other god by getting to conflict zones first and telling everyone to smile and nod at them until they go away instead of taking the bait. The Aesir, Netjer, Shen, Yazatas and Tuatha are more mixed. The Aesir love to fight, sure, but the Deva are obnoxious and suspicious of them, and they have Jotnar in their own ranks, which means it's more complicated for them. The Netjer hate some Titans, but are friends with others and protect them. The Shen are down for fighting Titans, but then they keep on hiring them once they're defeated, which confuses the Deva a lot. The Yazatas like the idea, but as far as they were concerned, the Deva were the worst Titans, and now they're very confused. The Tuatha claim to be totally fine with it, but more than any other pantheon, the lines are quite blurred between them and their Titans. The Manitou and Orisha are more doves. The Manitou treat violence against the Titans as a last resort, playing defense and helping others only in extreme cases. The Orisha and Loa reject the label of Titan entirely, with the exception of King Oduduwa, who uses the word to mean, roughly, 'jerk.' Most of the others view the entire idea of Titanomachy as racist warmongering.

Now, let's talk Aesir. The Aesir and Jotnar were forged in fire and ice, and they have always been foes. It is how things had to be. They were born in an empty world, with no land. Odin and his brothers tore Ymir apart, and from his corpse they created Midgardr. The only two surviving giants were Bergelmir and his wife, the ancestors of all future giants. They fled to the world of Jotunheimr, a wild place of beasts and dark forests, and had to choose - live and mix with the Aesir, or exist to torment them until the worlds ended. The Aesir settled in Asgard, a civilized land of laws, and built a great wall. Eventually, a second tribe of gods came, the Vanir of Vanaheim, a land of sacred halls and wilderness. The two tribes coexisted for a time, until it was found that the Vanir had the power of seidr, a great magic, which Odin sought to take by force. The war proved only that both sides could fight well, but neither could truly defeat the other, and after much bloodshed, the Titanic foes of both groups devastated them. The Aesir absorbed the rival Vanir, preserving both in these difficult times. The Aesir now are a product of the mixing of Germanic and Nordic faiths, and their dichotomy between those two groups still shows. However, the Aesir are more at ease these days and do not look to the past. Rather, they prepare for the dreadful future they know is coming.

Odin is the God of Wisdom, the Dead and Magic. He is also called Alfadir, Harbard, Vak, Valtaid, Wodun, Wotan and Ygg. He is the ancient, wise and imposing leader of the Aesir, the All-Father who sends Valkyries to collect half of all souls that die in battle, to bring them to the halls of Valhalla, to wait for Ragnarok. He seeks wisdom, hanging himself for nine days from Yggdrasil to suffer and learn the runes' secrets. He unmanned himself, that he might learn seidr, the magic used only by women. He went so far as to tear out his own eye to give to the Well of Mimir. To see the world, he gained two ravens, Huginn and Muninn - thought and memory. He is born to lead, all-seeing and all-knowing. He is not, however, a good father. Never has been. He appears as a haggard, aged man with a full beard, no matter what job he takes on. He has been a telecom magnate, a con man, a master of the rookeries. He drinks and he seduces, but is never drunk or seduced. He is always thinking of the oncoming Ragnarok. Rarely, he will appear as a golden eagle or a ferryman. No matter the form, he has no left eye, and he is never indecisive. He is a traveler, seer and warrior, and he expects his Scions to be likewise, willing to do anything for knowledge and wary of those that would stop Odin or themselves. No sacrifice is too much. Odin is a cryptic god, speaking to his Scions via Guides and granting them Birthrights with strings attached. He has high expectations, and does not ever explain himself - he expects you to be wise enough to understand. His Callings are Leader, Sage and Trickster, and his Purviews are Fortune, Journeys, War, Artistry (Poetry), Death, Deception and Epic Stamina.

Thor is the God of Thunder, Rain and Crops. He is also called Donar and Thundr. Thor is Odin's right hand, strongest of the Aesir. He is brave and brash, shaking the foundations of the world. Thor Odinson is a protector of Asgard and Midgardr, wielding the hammer Mjolnir, which is flawed by Loki's mischief, with a shortened handle. Despite this, it is the strongest weapon ever made, and Thor must wear the iron gauntlets called Jarngreipr to wield it safely. His belt increases his already terrifying strength, giving him might enough to lift even the disguised World Serpent. He is accompanied by Thjalfi, the best runner and scout in the Nine Worlds, and he travels the sky in a cart drawn by two gigantic golden goats. He is a bold warrior, dangerous to his allies and enemies alike. He never complains, and leads the charge against the Jotnar when they assault Asgard each winter. He knows his role and does it gladly, not attempting to change his fate. He has red hair and blue eyes, and is quite imposing, though he prefers to remain in the background until required. He spends his downtime avoiding battle, taking on Incarnations such as a garage mechanic for antique cars, rock musician or sound engineer. Sometimes he can be found in the boxing or MMA ring, usually in a small or rundown gym. Thunderclouds follow him, and he is always associated somehow with the color red. He is always imposing, with calloused fingers, dirty fingernails and a crooked nose. He expects his Scions to fight for the underdog and protect people from bullies. His passion is in his blood. His Callings are Guardian, Leader and Warrior, and his Purviews are Epic Strength, Epic Stamina, Fertility and Sky.

Frigg is the Goddess of Marriage and Destiny. She is also called Frigga, Freja and Frige. Frigg is Odin's wife, and sees many things, but says little. She grants solace to women in childbirth, for she is always mother, wife and protector. When her son Baldr told her of his prophetic nightmares of death, she traveled to every living creature and asked they not harm her son. She knows many magics. Her falcon skin can transform anyone without risking them being lost to the animal's spirit, and she is an incomparable fortuneteller. Some claim she is a Titan, or a mortal sorceress who takes power from the World's ancient energies, but Frigg guards her many secrets and rare failures carefully. Today, she usually appears a matronly woman with kind blue eyes. No matter what, she wears jewelery that hints of mistletoe, and is always accompanied by three maidens, one of whom carries a cigar-box purse made of ash wood. Frigg is always very concerned, and she prefers roles that let her do diplomacy or tell the future, such as War College tutor, marriage counselor, diplomat or financial planner. She can also be found as a NICU nurse or doula. Frigg always sees the big picture, but sometimes misses the fine details before her. She expects her Scions, who are mostly female, to focus on what she does not see. She also considers oaths vastly important in this relationship, and demands all her Scions swear an oath never to harm Baldr...which more than a few have died regretting. Her Scions often feel her presence, and tend to be slower to act than many, taking time to logically attack their problems, as their mother does. Her callings are Sage, Guardian and Lover, and her Purviews are Beasts (Falcons), Fortune, Order and Wild.

Hel is the Goddess of the Realm of the Dead. She is also called Hela and Hell. She is a fierce, unforgiving goddess, and a hideous one. To reach her hall, she had to travel the Helveg road, and the journey was so terrible she had to wear the Helskor, or Hel Shoes, to do it. It took nine days and nine nights. Her hall is a grand place called Elvinder, and she is attended by the servants Idleness and Sloth, who serve only one dish, called Hunger. Her bed is Sorrow and her land is Ruin. However, Helheim is not so lonely as you'd think. Hel is surrounded by the souls of those slain by sickness or old age. She is a quiet, patient goddess who is half flesh and half rotten. She prefers the late hours, just before the dawn, and enjoys solitude, to better hear the ghosts speak. She wears black, and speaks softly, with a voice full of cigarettes and whiskey. She is cold, and that is found equally in her Incarnations. She prefers roles that place her near the dying or those that require judgment. She is a chief doctor at the ICU, the administrator at a senior care facility, the groundskeeper of a prison for death row inmates. Her Scions are often associated with the dying, and often Chosen. She speaks to them mostly via the dead, and she expects them to attend to the souls that belong to her. Her callings are Liminal, Guardian and Judge, and her Purviews are Death, Frost, Forge, Passion (Fear, Disgust) and Health.

Baldr is the God of Love, Beauty and Peace. He is also called Baldur. He is the favorite son of Odin and Frigg, and none are loved as much as he. He is not just beautiful, but cheerful and kind, bold and brave. He glows when he smiles, and so loved was he that every creature and plant save one swore not to harm him. He once became distraught with nightmares of his own death at Ragnarok, yet he allowed the gods to hurl things at him to ease their minds and prove his impenetrability. Loki took advantage, convincing the blind god Hod to shoot an arrow of mistletoe, the one thing that Frigg passed by. Baldr died, becoming trapped in Helheim to keep Hel company for all time. When his brother, Hermod, asked Hel for his release, she demanded that all creatures weep for him. They all did, save for one jotun named Thokk, who is said to perhaps have been Loki in disguise. Baldr was released when the deception was revealed, but he worries that Loki will try again. Even Surtr, Fenris, Hel, Hadi, Skoll and Jormundgand wept for Baldr when they thought him dead. In the modern era, he is always handsome, impeccably (if modestly) dressed and often found helping those in need, sometimes at an orphanage, sometimes wandering the streets feeding the homeless. Baldr is not always peaceful. He is passionate, caring and meticulous, and his agility and strength are great. When he must do violence, he can. He expects his Scions to be as passionate as he is, in whatever role they choose. He is very invested in their lives as well as guarding his own, and he sometimes forgets his limitations. His Scions typically must endure his guidance a lot. His Callings are Guardian, Liminal and Lover, and his Purviews are Beauty, Passion (Love, Peace), Health, Epic Stamina and Sun.

Heimdall is the God of Perception. He was born from nine mothers of the sea, and is very fair. He has golden teeth, sight beyond sight and great hearing, and he guards the bridge Bifrost with his senses, which can hear the grass grow on all Nine Worlds. He turned Thor away, forcing the god of thunder to wade in the waters beneath the bridge. He carries the Gjallarhorn, to alert the gods of intruders. When he has free time, he likes to drink mead in his home, Himinbiorg. Heimdall is destined to die at Loki's hands, but also destined to simultaneously destroy Loki, for he is the only god that can pierce Loki's tricks. Knowing this, he has no fear for the trickster. Heimdall is Father of Mankind, watching over them vigilantly. He is often a tall, broad-shouldered man with large ears and long, dark hair. He speaks only when necessary and wastes no time listening to useless things. He expects his Scions to also be direct and to the point. His Incarnations have been cybersecurity agents, investigators, submariners and codebreakers. He sleeps less than a bird, and rarely understands why others keep daytime hours. Fortunately, most of his Scions can withstand 24-48 hours of sleeplessness without need for coffee. Heimdall uses them to further his all-seeing ways, manipulating them to maintain a solid security network. It is practically impossible to keep a secret from him, and he often meddles in his children's careers. His Callings are Creator, Guardian and Hunter, and his Purviews are Artistry (Horns), Beauty, Epic Stamina and Journeys.

Next time: Sif, Loki, Tyr, Freya, Freyr, Skadi, Njordr.


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero

Sif is the Goddess of the Harvest. She is Thor's wife, the only one who can balance his stormy temper and great power. She is a considerate, compassionate goddess who can endure anything. Often, she is the peacemaker of the Aesir, even when Loki is involved. When Loki cut her beautiful golden hair, Thor threatened to behead Loki with his hammer. Loki quickly promised recompense and hired dwarves to make a golden wig. (The metal, this time.) Sif suffers in the same way when the harvest is plucked, and so it is: with action and renewal and working metal, the harvest will grow again. Sif is actually one of the more ancient gods, associated with the earth and warmth. She defends against blight and vermin with grace and assurance, and her sharp nose and great intelligence allow he to control most conversations. In more modern times, Sif takes on many roles, as do her Scions. She is a mediator, a celebrity chef with a focus on local and fresh ingredients, a cattle magnate. She is always fair and level-headed, but quick to remind her children of the harsher side of life. Crops suffer because of pollution, wildlife, insects, and only the strongest harvest with the best workers survives. Scions of Sif are typically passionate, Type-A personalities with busy schedules. Like Sif, they are competitive but make it looks easy. Her Callings are Creator, Guardian and Lover, and her Purviews are Earth, Fertility and Order.

Loki is the God of Trickery and Fire. They are also called Logi. They are the trickster, the shapeshifter, always pretty and never trustworthy. They are surely cunning and often in trouble, but their wit saves them each time. They are blood-brother to Odin, child of giants and father of monsters - Fenrir, Jormungandr, possibly Hel - and mother of Sleipnir, Odin's steed. It is said they will be bound in a cavern, with poison dripping into their eyes for all the betrayals they commit, and that they will side with the Titans come Ragnarok. However, while Loki is often in trouble and endangering the Aesir, they are currently loyal to the tribe. Logi was the true God of Fire and bested Loki in an eating contest by burning the food as he ate, but Loki became enraged and stole Logi's Mantle and even his wife, Glod. Loki is careful, occasionally cowardly, but always sly and charismatic. They appear as spies, politicians and seductresses, and with their passion, Loki can do anything they put a mind to. In the modern day, Loki appears equally as a handsome man with fiery red hair or an imposing woman, or something in between or other. No matter what, Loki has a devilish smile, twinkling eyes and a tendency to impart both lessons and humility - even to their Scions. These lessons are without prejudice but often dangerous, given to anyone, at any time. Double-crossing comes naturally to Lok, but if their children earn their loyalty, Loki will guide them for as long as they serve Loki's needs. (Loki is genderfluid and prefers the 'they' pronoun.) Loki's Callings are Liminal, Lover and Trickster, and their Purviews are Deception, Chaos, Fire and Epic Strength. (Loki is still a giant, see.)

Tyr is the God of Courage and Justice. He is the only god that compare to Thor in power. When the wolf Fenrir grew large, the gods decided to bind him with dwarf-forged chains. Fenrir sensed a trick, and would only agree to be bound if one would put a hand in his mouth. Tyr was the only god brave enough, and once the wolf was bound, he bit off Tyr's right hand. All the gods laughed, except Tyr. He did not complain, however, and never does. It is believed that he may once have led the Aesir, before Odin rose to prominence, but he will not speak of it and is not especially concerned with his loss of limb or station. All of Tyr's Incarnations lack a right hand, but he never accepts a prosthesis. Tyr is strong and capable, typically short and with fierce eyes and salt-and-pepper hair. He is always smirking. He can be found as a veterinarian dealing with difficult animals, a blogger on national security, a military judge or a one-handed telephone line repairman. He believes in courage, and will not accept cowardice or weakness in his Scions - or anyone else. He is a fierce warrior who tolerates no oathbreaking, no matter what reason, for he does not swear oaths casually and is a careful observer of justice. His Scions are always punctual and typically just as committed to justice. He encourages them to never back down despite any odds, to be brave and unflinching. Tyr only steps in to help if he thinks it is dangerous enough that even he is threatened, for true bravery can only be demonstrated when one is endangered and afraid. Tyr's Callings are Judge, Leader and Warrior, and his Purviews are Epic Stamina, Order, Passion (Courage) and War.

Freya is the Goddess of Fertility, Love, Lust and War. She is also called Frau and Freyja. Like Odin, she collects the souls of those slain in battle. She gets first pick, in fact, as leader of the Valkyries. She is both covetous and cruel yet forgiving and merciful. She loves battle, but also quiet. She collects the worthiest, and she always takes an equal number to the All-Father's. Her chosen go to the hall Sessrumnir, which is also a great ship stranded on the field of Folkvangr. Her chosen train constantly to prepare for a great offensive, rather than just feasting and slaying. When she weeps for them, her tears are amber, enriching those for whom they fall. She once met Odin in the guise of a wise woman, and she is very skilled in seidr. She is extremely horny, but she never takes a lover who isn't ready for her. She inspires shieldmaidens across the World, who pray to her for skill and protection in battle. Freya is one of the Vanir, a clear-skinned woman with red hair and clear eyes. She is matronly, older, but gorgeous. She is a feminist, encouraging self-awareness, self-worth and beauty in women, and while she respects boundaries, she dislikes them. Her Incarnations usually run some kind of establishment, anything from a Krav Maga studio to jewelery store to a bakery. She always leads and her product is always worthy. Her Scions are full of passion, devoted to being well-rounded and as diverse as Freya herself, fighters, lovers and magicians. Sometimes, they can learn seidr from her. Freya's Scions can expect her to be invested in them, and sometimes she will leave them a gift of flashy jewelery. Not wearing such gifts is an insult. Her Callings are Lover, Guardian and Sage, and her Purviews are Epic Stamina, Death, Fertility, Beauty, Fortune, Passion (Love, Lust) and War.

Freyr is the God of Fertility and Prosperity. He is also called Frey. He is the son of Njordr and brother of Freya, and he once became so consumed with desire for the jotun Gerdr that he stopped eating. He sent his servant Skirnir to convince Gerdr to marry him, and she agreed...if she could have his sword, a magic weapon that can fight on its own. He agreed without hesitation, and the pair were married nine days later. Without his sword, Freyr cannot defeat Surtr at Ragnarok, but he does not care - love is more important. He is the Battle-Bold, once facing an army while armed only with a stag's antler, and he conquered Sweden and founded its first dynasty. Freyr is the most fertile of all the Norse gods, and he watches over both mortals and plant life. He is beautiful, charming and lively. His light overcomes sorrow, as he wanders the World with his ship and his pet boar, spreading seeds both literal and metaphorical. He is built like a linebacker, and his Incarnations can be found volunteering to suicide aid charities, starring in porn or spending billions to aid the less fortunate. He is always the best-dressed in any room, and he wants his Scions to be like him - leaders, but willing to listen to those that hurt. He works to give them opportunities no matter what they want, and he stresses that they must work to make a difference in Midgardr over other worlds, that they must always be aware of their own influence on others. His Callings are Lover, Leader and Warrior, and his Purviews are Beauty, Fertility, Order, War and Wild.

Skadi is the Goddess of Winter. She is also called Skaldi. Skadi is a frost giant and ruler of the winter wilds, ruler of cold and snow. She is a huntress and archer. When she came to seek weregild for her father's death, Odin was so afraid of her ferocity that he agreed to pay the blood price, on the condition that she choose her husband from among the Aesir by looking only at their feet. She picked the most beautiful of feet, but it turned out they belonged to Njordr. Their vastly different lifestyles had them spend nine nights in the mountains for Skadi and nine nights by the see for Njordr. They were both miserable, and quickly and amicably divorced. Together, they actually are excellent patrons of those that seek amicable divorce. Skadi also married Odin at one point, producing many Scions with him, and had an affair with Loki. When Loki proclaimed this to the gods, she grew enraged and has, at times, placed a serpent on their head to drip venom in their eyes. Skadi is humorless and passionless except when dealing with the deeds and people she shares a bond with - primarily, hunting, skiing, those who do not feel at home in their skin, and Loki. Her Incarnations in the modern day spend much of their time in snowy lands in the role of a winter park caretaker or hunting ranger, often dealing with her fellow frost giants. She also loves to ski and snowboard. If forced outside her niche, Skadi rapidly grows bored and impatient, even to her own Scions, who often show their giant heritage, her warrior nature and her love of the hunt. Her Callings are Warrior, Hunter and Judge, and her Purviews are Earth, Epic Dexterity, Journeys, Order and Frost.

Njordr is the God of the Sea and the Winds. He is also called Njord, Njor and Niord. When the Vanir sent hostages to the Aesir, Njord was among them, and he was briefly the husband of Skadi until their divorce noted above. Despite their separation, the pair remain close friends. It is known that Loki is wary of Njordr, who can calm fire and tame it. His name was featured in many viking prayers. Njord is father to Freyr and Freya, and he is the eldest of the Vanir, though he never speaks of the sister-wife that mothered those two. He led the Vanir in battle against the Aesir to many victories, but these days he prefers peaceful days on the ocean. His Incarnations are often lighthouse keepers or fishermen or young bachelors that bring lovers to seaside mansions. No matter what, he always smells faintly of sea salt and always longs for greater life, love and women. He is wealthy and lively, bringing light to communities and to lost ships. He is a fertility god with many children, whom he loves well if distantly, and he serves as an example of leadership in harsh conditions. He teaches his Scions that over time, cruel realities and harsh times, combined with doing what is needed, will result in a stronger society, like smooth sand on a rough shoreline. His Callings are Creator, Hunter and Liminal, and his Purviews are Fertility, Fire, Journeys, Prosperity, Sky and Water.

In Aesir cosmology, the World is Midgardr, centered around the ash tree Yggdrasil, which connects it to the other eight worlds. The Nornir, Urdr, Verdandi and Skuld, care for the tree. A great eagle perches at the top, and the serpent Nidhogg gnaws at the roots. Ratatosk the squirrel runs up and down the tree, carrying insults between the eagle and the serpent. Asgard rests in the high branches, home to the Aesir. Migardr rests below, connected to Asgard by Bifrost. Jotunheimr surrounds Midgardr, home to chaos and wild things. Vanaheim has been long abandoned by the Vanir, and rumor says squatters have taken up residence in its fertile fields. Alfheim is home to the light elves, and is said to once have been ruled by Freyr. Nidavellir was home to the dwarves, who made many artifacts for the gods. Helheim is Hel's realm, the home of the dead who did not fall in battle. Niflheim is the home of ice and frost, the Primordial realm that has existed as long as Muspellheim. Muspelheim is another Primordial realm, which has always existed, and is home to the fire giant, Surtr.

The Norse gods have several underworlds. Many Norse faithful today are claimed by one of four gods, taken to rest in their halls after death, though the favored of other gods sometimes get homes there too - Freyr looks after the Ydalir, or Yew-Dales. Valhalla is the most prominent of these, yes, but not the only. Those that die in battle go to Valhalla or Sessrumnir, those that die of disease or old age go to Helheim, and everyone else goes to Helgafjell. Helheim is the largest of the four, across a dangerous road and turbulent sea, through which one must travel in darkness for nine days and nights to reach the river Gjoll, spanned by the bridge Gjallerbru, which is guarded by the jotun woman Modgudr, who allows the dead to pass if they state their name and business. From there, in the north there is Elvinder, surrounded by a gate guarded by the bloody hound Garmr, and the place lies in the shadow of Helgafjell. In Elvinder, Hel rules from her cold throne, and she is the only goddess here. Death reduces the souls here to less than nothing, and it is an unpleasant place, though Hel always sets a feast for Baldr's return, and the dead may eat freely. Despite the cold and dark, the dead here are free of that which destroyed them in life, and may feast, carouse, sleep or do magic as they will. Still, faced with terminal illness, many Norse faithful will seek a valiant death or even a dignified suicide, fearful of Helheim.

Valhalla, the Hall of the Fallen, is thatched with gold shields and spears. It stands before the tree Glasir, and is where Odin's chosen battle-fallen go. Here, the dead fight and train with both modern and ancient weapons, then eat the meat of the resurrecting Saehrimnir and mead from the udder of Heidrun, drinking until the end of days. Odin rarely visits, having no need to watch over his chosen. Heimdall sometimes takes the best of them to aid in fights against the Jotnar, but these souls are commanded to be silent and never speak to the living. Sessrumnir, the Hall of Seats, is Freya's hall on the plain Folkvangr, where her chosen go - as do women of noble birth or those that die in service to causes Freya likes. Seats appear for every soul that arrives, and as in Valhalla, they fight and drink and train - not only in weapons, but in rhetoric and philosophy and strategy. It is a fair, open place of golden walls that reflect the light, to banish any shadow. Helgafjell, the Holy Mountain, is where everyone else goes - those that die of anything that isn't disease, old age or in righteous battle (or Freya's other exceptions). It's a misty mountain covered in homes, which cannot be looked upon by the living and extends far into the sky. There are no feasts, though food is plentiful, because this is a place of rest rather than true happiness. The Norse believe in reincarnation, kind of, and the gods will allow those on Helgafjell to leave the mountain and be reborn within their family line. Scars become birthmarks, attitudes typically follow. Often, the reborn are named for their elders, giving them a legacy to live up to.

Giants, dragons and troll are all Titanspawn that plague the Aesir, and their greatest foe is the fire giant Surtr, who will bring forth the flames that end the world. This Titan is bound within his Primordial-self, Muspelheim, of which he is a potent Emanation of malice. The Aesir fear that killing him would destroy the Primordial, so they've settled for sealing and aggressively hunting lesser fire giants. Nidhoggr and his spawn are also a problem, seeking to end the world by destroying civilization and the roots of the World Tree. They often appear as dragons or snakes, and their venom is terrible. The Vargar are great titanspawn wolves, destructive beasts that follow the legacy of Fenrir and Hati Hrodvitnisson, the wolves that will eat the sun and moon. Most are referred to as Fenrirspawn as well, and they hunger for Scion hearts, which allow them to grow stronger. Most jotnar are Titanspawn, but the cruel and malicious ones (rather than the generally indifferent ones) are known as Thurs, or thorn. They are the smaller relatives of the Jotnar Titans, born of ice or fire, who spread woe and trouble, destroying order and beauty, either in the form of big people or, if they are able, their natural giant forms. It depends on how subtle they want to be.

Next time: Laukr, Ymir and other pantheons.

Rune Power

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Rune Power

Ymir, the Father of the Jotnar, is believed to be a dead Primordial. Odin and his brothers used Ymir's corpse, after killing him, to make the world. If Ymir still survives, he has never manifested. It is also theorized that Niflheim is a Primordial, for until Muspellheim (and Surtr's fiery sword) came, there was only darkness and ice. Muspellheim is definitely a Primordial, of which the Titan Surtr is an emanation.

The modern religion of the Aesir is Laukr. Worship of the Aesir used to be highly personal, then later unified and partially codified by great warlords. As the Scandinavian people have spread, it's gone back to those personal roots, though contact with monotheism definitely changed it. The Norse rune laukr roughly means water, or leek, or to bend, and so it is used to show how the faith of the Aesir focuses on the ebb and flow of life, and how to shape your life to fit your circumstances. Yes, the Nornir have already woven the tapestry of your life, but cloth and twine bend - and so should you. While seers and fortunetellers are to be valued, you must also have caution - too much looking to fate will burden you. Priests of Laukr are known as gothi when male and gytha when female, and those who care for the stave temples are hofgothi. In the past, Norse religion was led by the great jarls known as the fylkir, but the last of them died centuries ago and no Hero has yet chosen to replace them. Modern Laukr involves certain codified texts on behavior, such as the nine noble virtues of the Poetic Eddas - most notably the Sigrdrifumal and the Havamal - but is still heavily focused on public sacrifice and feats of daring. Practitioners are usually quite vocal about their faith, wearing arm rings and torcs or tattoos of Norse mythic scenes, making their sacrifices and pledges of victory obvious. Even the more quiet of them will proudly answer if asked to whom they're pledging a victory - Odin for exams, Bragi for rap battles, Tyr for court, the Vaettir ('wights') for luck. Vaettir are nature spirits, including elves, dwarves and giants. Laukr faithful typically inscribe runes on their belongings and jewelery to invoke protection or esoteric effects, and often choose to pledge themselves to a specific deity.

Laukr holds numbers or collections of things in those numbers to be especially significant, particularly 3 and 9, but also 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 18 or 27. Sacrifices are offered to the gods - pledged victories, sure, but Loki likes cookies, Thor likes mead and Odin likes books, among other physical sacrifices. The gods challenge their faithful to strive for ever greater justice and stability in their communities and lives, but also emphasizes personal honor and rights. Family and nation are important, but injustice against one person is a cause for action, even for vengeance against an entire community. Sacrifices bind the community together via great ceremonies, called blots, where beasts and wealth are given to the gods, and the blood of the sacrifices is sprinkled over the assembled. They are followed by great feasts and drinking in honor of the gods and the dead. In ancient times, holy people of other faiths were sacrificed, but in the modern era human sacrifice is frowned on and generally illegal. Still, the deaths of titanspawn and titan cult leaders are known to bring blessings from the Aesir.

Laukr cultic spaces are typically sacred groves, lakes or mountaintops, but the stave temples of the gods can even be built in cities, and are not that uncommon to be found between skyscrapers. The temple at Uppsala is host to many festivals, including May Eve, which marks the final night Odin hung upon Yggdrasil. Midsummer, the longest day of the year, is a time of great rejoicing, and winter brings the Wild Hunt, which begins with a sacrifice performed by the greatest or highest rank political leader present. Yule is a time of reflection, as the days grow short and the Wild Hunt reaches its peak in the nights.

Seidr is a form of clairvoyant ritual magic, typically performed by women, which can call on the great powers of the world to bless or curse in dramatic and poetic manner. Of course, true acts of jarteign, the power change Fate, are rather too obvious these days, and are quite rare. Most of the jarteign done today are smaller curses and blessings that can mimic modern life. Seidr also connects the user to the Nornir, allowing control of their loom for a brief time, such as by allowing control of a raging fire or forcing someone to give a speech that compels a crowd. By seeing something, the user may manipulate it, but that locks the event into being. Despite (or possibly because of) the gendered association of seidr, men, agender and genderfluid practitioners can use it, but must adopt a feminine presentation to do so, regardless of their true feelings. More traditionalist Laukr faithful find this unnatural. Galdr is the magic incantation of runes in a falsetto voice, using a special meter called the galdralag. This runic magic takes the form of charms or purpose-made miracles, spoken or sung aloud. Most are harmless and powerless, of course, but a few can invoke the power of the gods and their Purviews. Many of the marvels of Aesir Scions are performed via galdr.

Birthrights of the Aesir may include Creatures such as Gramr, the bloody hound of Helheim, which can become mist and shadow, or its spawn, or the horses bred of Sleipnir, Loki's eight-legged horse son, whose children inherit the legs, speed and ability to cross realms. Followers might include berserkers, who could be from any modern military or bodyguard group - including Fenris Arms, which runs a side business as a PMC in order to provide berserkers with work and give them access to young Scions. Berserkers come in three varieties, the bear warriors who are powerful and tough, the wolf warriors who are skilled and quick, and the boar warriors who are stealthy masters of terrain. All three can enter the battle-rage. Draugar may also serve - undead who were not properly laid to rest. They swell to the size of an ox and are dark blue, commonly found guarding treasure and tormenting the living, though they are mildly intelligent, can shapeshift and do some magic. Or you might have Dvergar, dwarves - skilled craftsmen who live in fortified homes these days, as mountains aren't so popular any more. Many work as civil engineers or construction workers, but they're generally willing to help a Norse Scion that will pay their ruinously high prices. Guides could include Disir, largely invisible female spirits that protect families or clans, Mylings, child spirits used by Hel as messengers or assassins, Hrafn, the watcher-birds of Odin, Ratatoskr, the titanspawn squirrel of Yggdrasil that spreads spiteful rumors, or Skogkatt, Freya's giant, 14-pound cats that deliver messages and cuddle. Relics might include Thor's Bridal Veil, which disguises the wearer from Jotnar, the Gun of Tyrfing, which never rusts or misses and which works underwater, a Thread of Loki, used to sew Loki's mouth shut and now able to sew anything together, or the Mead of Poetry, made from the blood of Kvasir, which grants inspiration.

Thor and Zeus are rivals in various contests, most often eagle fighting. In winter, Skadi will hunt with anyone who takes up her challenge, and Loki and Set have a friendly rivalry. Thor and Jormungandr are the eternal rivalry of man and nature, and only at Ragnarok can they destroy each other. In general, for other pantheons, the Aesir and Tuatha get along quite well. odin spent years with Ogma studying runes, which is revealed by the similarities between the Futhark and Ogham. They aren't close to many others. They find the Deva frustrating to talk to, as that pantheon seems unable to tell Aesir from Jotnar, and the Netjer confuse them - why would anyone keep their treasure so close? They also don't get the massive Netjer underworld or why you'd keep organs in jars.

The great weakness of the Aesir is that they're human. More human than most gods. They are kind, courageous, loyal, proud, cruel and deceptive. They can age and wither. They rely heavily on their golden apples to remain young and healthy, and they live in a world born of darkness, clutching at what light they can. Their constant knowledge of fate, and particularly their own, is both their great pride and their great weakness.

Their Virtues are Fatalism and Audacity. The Aesir are bound, knowing the significance of every encounter to come - so say the Nornir. Odin willingly gave up his own eye to see the future's story. He hung from Yggdrasil for nine days and nights to learn the magic of the runes. Fatalism, to the Aesir, is the understanding and acceptance of events. They know they will not live beyond the time allotted them by the Nornir. Nothing can change that. They know that all actions are predestined. However, Audacity is the virtue of valiant and bold action. It is the courage to go beyond the whims of the Nornir, to force a jarteign by your courage. To go against Audacity is to declare yourself a Nidr, a coward - and there can be no greater insult.

The Signature Purview of the Aesir is Wyrd. The Wyrd fixates on the things that are perceived by the Nornir, as they sit and spin the tapestry of fate. They force destined encounters. When the gods chained Fenrir, hurled Jormungandr into the sea and gave Helheim to Hel, they accepted their fates. They can no longer deny Ragnarok. Gods will die, giants will die, and the end of days will come - and new days will exist beyond. Wyrd accepts this fate, and in acceptance, controls it.

Next time: Rejoice! The Deva!

Big Dogs On Campus

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Big Dogs On Campus

The Deva, more than any other pantheon, have great temporal power. They have over a billion mortals worshipping them among many faiths, they possess many artifacts - including some of the most devastating divine superweapons ever made, they have immense diplomatic influence over the other faiths and gods in or near India, and no matter who you are or where you're from, sooner or later, you have to deal with them. There are hundreds of Deva, with infinite variety in their names, Mantles and avatars, as they call their Incarnations. The original Deva declared themselves a sort of noble caste to an older group of beings, the asuras, whom they drifted from over the years, often violently. The first generation included Agni (the flame), Surya (the sun), Yamaraja (the king of death), the original chief Varuna (the sea) and Indra (the storm-hero). The more recent rise of Vaishnavism, Shaivism and Shaktism have granted greater power to Vishnu the Preserver, Shiva the Destroyer and Durga, the Mother of Feminine Power. Shiva's sons, Ganesh and Karttikeya, also ascended to godhood long ago. Besides Durga, the feminine power Shakti subdivides into a number of other goddesses, such as Lakshmi, Parvati, Sarasvati and Kali. They can split and fuse with each others' identities and Mantles with an ease only the Orisha caminos can match.

Agni, the Sacrificial Flame of Knowledge, is also known as Aggi, Jataveda, Kravyada, Abhimani, Atithi and Vaisvanara. When humans first discovered fire, he was there. He might be the Primordial Brahma's eldest son, exhaled from the mouth of the Primordial Purusha, or he might be the child of Law and Light, or the sage Angira. He has red skin, black hair, black eyes, two heads, seven hands and three legs, and he rides a ram into battle, wielding his massive quarterstaff. He is fire and heat and sacrifice and knowledge, identified with the divine word which ignited the cosmos at the start of this age. He devours the sacrificial oblation with heat, giving it to the Deva. Once, Agni fled, with Varuna and Soma, to the side of the asura Vritra. Indra, who slew Vritra, was Agni's own twin who also emerged from Purusha's mouth, and Indra convinced him to join the Deva. Agni is the priest, the shepherd, the firefighter, the laborer and the forester. As others of his generation grow dimmer, Agni remains, strong as ever. His wife, Svaha, is the goddess of the offering, and bore his children - the purifying flame of electricity, friction and the sun. He fathers many Scions, encouraging them to work with other pantheons and to forge relationships. He knows they will link the next generation of gods to humanity, as sacrificial fire links the human and divine. His Callings are Guardian, Liminal and Sage. His Purviews are Epic Strength, Epic Dexterity, Fire, Journeys, Prosperity and Water.

Durga, the Mother of Victory, is also called Adi Parashakti, Devi and Mahamaya. She is the mother of power, whose victory brings peace. The Primordial Shakti, the feminine power, manifests as the ultimate warrior, Durga. Some say she created Brahma and Vishnu, or that she took form to defeat the Aurochs Asura when Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva crossed the streams of light that emerge from their enraged faces. The Aurochs Asura had gained a boon from Brahma, that no man could defeat him, and he thought no woman, even Durga, would be strong enough. Yet she rode her great cat, blowing a conch shell, and struck him dead with her trident, chakram, mace, bow, longsword and thunderbolt. Simultaneously. Today, she is honored in a 10-day prayer festival. Her Incarnations include the nine forms of the Navadurga, including the mountain princess Parvati, who has become her own goddess. She also shares essence with Kali, Lakshmi, Sarasvati and, of course, Parvati, who are all emanations of Shakti. Only Karttikeya can match Durga's mastery of fighting, and hers are all weapons. She is the pure warrior impulse, the noble rationale for battle, for she defends what matters. She has no rage, only purpose. This puts her at odds with the gods that exalt battle, like King Shango of the Orisha, or those who have uncontrollable wrath, like Maudjee-Kawiss of the Manitou. Durga is the most zealous supporter of Titanomachy, demanding that her Scions identify and slay asuras and their spawn quickly and efficiently. She has no patience for anything but bravery and unyielding defense against the asuras. When the Yazatas and Aesir, who are probably asuras anyway, dare question the Devas, they must contend with Durga first among them. Her Callings are Guardian, Hunter and Warrior. Her Purviews are Epic Strength, Epic Dexterity, Epic Stamina, Deception, Fertility and War.

Ganesha, the Lord of Obstacles, is also called Ganapati, Pillaiyar, Maha Peinne, Phra Phikanet, Kangiten and many other names. The Smrti, Buddhists and Jains all honor him. Some say he was Parvati's creation, or the son of Shiva and Parvati, or the son of the elephant goddess Malini after she drank Parvati's bathwater. Some say he is older than Karttikeya, some younger. Some say he was born with his elephant head, others that Shiva put it there after accidentally decapitating him. He has 32 avatars, and his many symbols include musical instruments, weapons, the serpent Vasuki worn as a belt and his own broken tusk, but his favorites are sweet fruits and candies. He rides a mouse and has no spouse. He is greatly popular, honored by every caste. The Smriti honor him alongside Durga, Surya, Vishnu and Shiva, while the Ganapatyas identify him with Godhead. He is friend to all, and only a truly wicked demon could ever make him angry. He is offered far too many invitations by other pantheons and gods to ever accept. He is a placer and remover of obstacles, believing that challenges are good, like a tough course outside your major, but those that do not strengthen, like standardized tests, are bad. He often personally mentors Scions, his own and those of other gods, as he believes them to be key to successful diplomacy with other pantheons. He is the olive branch to Indra's aggression to the asuras and other pantheons, for he believes in faith towards all who stand for truth and righteousness - even asuras. His Callings are Guardian, Liminal and Sage. His Purviews are Artistry (Dance, Writing), Beasts (Elephants), Chaos, Fortune, Journeys and Prosperity.

Indra, the Storm King, is also called Inthiran, Indera, Vrishan, Vritrahan, Devaraja, Vajrapani, Shakra, Sakka, Phra In, Dishitian and Taishakuten. He is chief of the gods, and in the beginning, the cosmic man called Purusha sacrificed himself to himself. From his mouth emerged Agni and Indra. His thunderbolt wounded Prince Arjuna, when Arjuna and Lord Krishna set Agni loose upon Indra's Khandava Forest. Indri defeated the monsters Vritra and Puloman, rescuing and marrying Puloman's daughter Shachi, the goddess of jealousy and wrath. Indra is the proudest Deva, and he took control of the pantheon from Varuna at the beginning of time, and regardless of what any say, he has still not technically given that rule to Vishnu. He is commander of horses and chariots and villagers and cattle, and he annoys the Theoi because he has decided he's in charge of them by analogy with Zeus, which is an analogy only he makes. His habit of acting like he and all other chief deities are old friends confuses many, though at least Huangdi of the Shen is too polite to give him any grief over it. Indra's elephant, Cloudbinder, has five heads, his dog, Sarama, is the foremother of all dogs, and his horse, Long-Ears, has seven heads - far better than a mere eight legs, like Sleipnir. He is also guardian god of the Buddha and the teaching-gods of the Jains, for he is infinitely generous (and likes to show off). Indra is very proud of his Scions, for all that belong to him are the best of the best. He frequently appears at their greatest battles to watch, applaud and boast of his part in their birth and taught them everything they know, even if neither is actually true. His Callings are Guardian, Leader and Warrior, and his Purviews are Epic Strength, Epic Dexterity, Beasts (Cattle), Fertility, Order, Wild, Sky and War.

Kali, the Dark Mother, is also called Bhavatarini, Chamunda and Kaalrati. She stands atop the corpse of Shiva, guarding it from jackals. Even the gods do not truly understand her origins. Some say Parvati took on her form to defeat the asura Andakha, while others say she emerged from the forehead of Sarasvati, as her anger made manifest. Some say Queen Sita took on her Mantle to end Thousand-Bodied Ravana, or that Durga brought her forth as Shiva's companion, or that she was always there, the Primordial Night from which the gods arise. Kali wears the Girdle of Human Hands, for no action may touch her. She wears the 50 letters of the Sanskrit alphabet on severed heads about her neck, for no language can truly describe her. She is skeletal, and she is voluptuous. She is terrifying and she is alluring. She stands between asura and Deva, a bit too much for comfort. She does not care what others think, and she is sister-self and defender of Lakshmi and Durga, as they are to her. She rarely Incarnates directly. Sometimes she manifests to her Chosen, but often she works via omen and proxy - people in the right place at the right time. When Scions of Lakshmi or Durga need her, she helps them, as she helped Lakshmi's Incarnation Sita when she fought Ravana. Her Scions tend to be fervent iconoclasts, and have included wanderign ascetics, reformers who fought the caste system, and serial killers. In traditional stories, they often clash with each other, each believing themselves right. Kali, as goddess of Freedom and Liberation, does not judge. She is the End of All Things, and all will come back to her in time. Her Callings are Guardian, Liminal and Warrior. Her Purviews are Epic Strength, Epic Dexterity, Epic Stamina, Artistry (Dance), Chaos, Darkness, Death, Deception and Fire.

Karttikeya, Field Marshal of the Gods, is also called Murugan, Skanda, Tamill Kadavull, Subrahmanya and Kataragama Deviyo. Some say he was born to Shiva and Parvata due to some misadventure of Agni's, and that his birth saved the world from fire. Some say he is the son of Agni and Svaha, or the Ganges River, and that he was raised by the Krittika stars. His skill alone prevented the world's destruction by Tarakasura, and he alone is equal in martial prowess to Durga. He is both Aryan and Dravidian, united. His avatars are always generals among generals, arrived at the moment of great urgency - the village attacked by warlords, the street kid beset by bullies, there he can be found in one of six faces. His favored form carries all his mastered weapons at once - the bow, chakram, javelin, mace, sword and Parvati's spear, which he favors over all. He rides upon a peacock, and he is simultaneously the divine bachelor Kumaraswami and the husband of Devasena and Valli. Karttikeya is honored most in northern and eastern India, and among Tamil across the world. However, despite his popularity, he and his Scions tread lightly among outsider pantheons, for they are living rumors of war. Durga is defense and security, but Karttikeya is conquest, whether he wants to be or not. If the Devas ever go to war on other gods, he and his will lead the charge. His Callings are Leader, Sage and Warrior, and his Purviews are Epic Strength, Epic Dexterity, Epic Stamina, Beauty, Stars and War.

Lakshmi is the Goddess of Fortune. She is also called Shri, Thirumagal, Vasudhara, Sita, Rukmini and Kisshoten. She rides the owl and is goddess of three worlds. All wealth, beauty and fortune flow from her, both physical and spiritual. Her consort is Vishn, and she rules over the realm Vaikuntha, and the Ocean of Milk from which she was born. She knows that material wealth has meaning to all, no mere luxury but a defense against hunger, disease and exposure. She watches out for the health and safety of the masses when others are blinded by high ideals. As Queen Sita, she endured many indignities, was kidnapped by Ravana and was ultimately doubted and rejected by Vishnu's own avatar, Prince Rama, but she never lost her grace, composure or courage. As Rukmini, she had a great romance with Krishna. Her avatars include the prudent farmer, the investor, the elephant keeper, the pediatrician, the sports manager and the economics professor. She often discusses economics and fashion with Oshun of the Orisha, and they sometimes trade outfits of gold. She ignores no prayer, for all are worthy of her notice. Her Scions balance budgets and make sure there is always enough to keep the world in nectar and ambrosia. They never forget the common folk, at their mother's command - yes, their great power can vanquish foes, but they can also aid vast populations. Her Callings are Judge, Lover and Leader, and her Purviews are Epic Strength, Beauty, Earth, Fertility, Fortune, Order, Passion (Joy, Love), Prosperity and Wild.

Parvati is the Goddess of Love and Fertility. She is known also as Uma, Lalita, Sati and thousands of other names. She rules over love and devotion, and she is sister to the Ganges River, daughter of the king of mountain snows and granddaughter of Mount Meru itself. She carries all things that grow, a crown, a bell, and no weapon but the elephant goad. She has the strength of an ox and the peace within a cow. She has boundless compassion, allowing her to even stand up to Shiva's extremes of anger or self-denial. The epic Kumarasambhavan tells of her courtship of Shiva, after the self-immolation of his first wife, Queen Sati, who reincarnated as Parvati. Shiva hid in grief, but the God of Love shot him, though he knew Shiva would destroy him for it with Shiva's great third eye. Parvati undertook punishing austerities, eventually winning over Shiva with her infinite devotion. Their marriage brought forth Ganesha and Karttikeya. Parvati's avatars are often found in the mountains of India, New Mexico and Switzerland. She is mother to all growing things, and she offers refuge from war and extremism. Her Scions, like her, offer much emotional labor for little reward, and she encourages them to be the emotional center for those around them, promoting mercy and temperance even if their allies are violent and extreme. Their love serves as counterbalance, moderation rather than opposition. Her Callings are Creator, Lover and Trickster, and her Purviews are Epic Strength, Epic Stamina, Artistry (Dance), Beauty, Earth, Fertility, Frost and Passion (Devotion, Love).

Sarasvati is the Goddess of Arts and Letters. She is also called Thurathadi, Benzaiten and Biancaitian. She is a river goddess and one of learning, whose words are as Soma to the scholar. She rides upon a pure white peacock or swan, and her truth washes away all lies. When the asuras threaten, she wields the trident, chakram or bow, never afraid. She is wife of Brahma, and she has no need to exalt herself, for all know of her greatness. She would rather be a music teacher to children than a rock star, a librarian rather than a best-selling author. Her fame is not sought, yet it extends across the world, and has spread to Shinto, Jainism and Buddhism. She is honored by those who fear deadlines or tests. From her Scions, Sarasvati demands purity of conduct and great achievement in scholarship or art, and so she is admired by Confucius, Obatala and Athena. She gives her children great gifts, encouraging them to confront problems creatively and artistically. Any Scion might wrestle a dragon, but it is Sarasvati's who charm them with a song. Her Callings are Creator, Healer and Sage. Her Purviews are Epic Strength, Epic Dexterity, Artistry, Health and Water.

Next time: Shiva, Surya, Varuna, Vishnu, Yamaraja.

Beloved By The World

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Beloved By The World

Shiva, the Destroyer, is also called Lingam, Maheshvara, Nataraja and...well, a ton of other names. He lives with Parvata, Ganesha and Karttikeya as an ascetic in a small house on top of Mount Kailasha, which cannot be climbed by those who are not without sin. The river Ganges flows from his dreadlocks, and he is a master of yoga. His dance ends and begins the world. In the Vedic era, he was Rudra, the Roarer, terrifying as the storm. He is the greatest god to the Shaivists. He is known by his third eye, which can incinerate even gods when he is angry, and by the serpent-king Vasuki that is either coiled around his neck or worn as a belt by Ganesha. He wields the trident and the two-headed drum. His Incarnations are not often seen, as he prefers to meditate in dangerous locales - plague-ridden slums, or mountains during storms. Hanuman is his avatar, the lord of monkeys and mightiest follower of Rama. His Scions have a lot to live up to. Ganesha and Karttikeya are the greatest of them, who are gods now. However, there are multitudes within Shiva. He is esoteric, he is amorous, he is devoted to service, he is balance and stability, he is rampant destruction, he is self-indulgence, he is self-denial. He has been all these things. It is unsurprising, then, when two of his Scions meet and have very different ideas about who and what their father is. His Callings are Hunter, Lover and Sage, and his Purviews are Epic Strength, Epic Dexterity, Epic Stamina, Artistry (Dance), Beasts (Monkeys), Chaos, Death, Deception, Fertility, Fire, Moon and Sky.

Surya, the Vivifying Sun, is also called Ravi, Bhanu and Savitr. Every morning all the Deva salute him. His daughter-rays are the seven horses that draw his chariot, marching to the beat of the seven meters of prosody, and his son-rays are fluttering banners. He is the purifying gaze of Varuna on the sacrifice, the light of Agni and the banisher of ill health. Jains and Buddhists name him as a representation of understanding triumphing over ignorance and good triumphing over evil. His temples tower over the land, and his image is found in the fanes of other gods, for he is their eternal comrade. Surya fathered King Karna of Anga with Princess Kunthi, and he was the most honorable warrior of the Mahabharata, inheriting Surya's love of friendship, despite his mixed-caste parentage, and he remained forever true to the villainous Prince Duryodhana even at his worst. Even the mighty Arjuna had to use dishonorable means to defeat Karna. Surya appears as race car drivers, doctors in times of great need, UN Blue Helmets in warzones, teachers in neglected schools and more. He is the hope of the sun...but he's not the most supportive parent to his Scions. He tutored Hanuman only after lots of supplication, and he did not grant Karna any understanding of his nature. Rather, Karna had to rely on his own strength and honor, as Surya does. Surya's Callings are Healer, Leader and Sage, and his Purviews are Epic Strength, Epic Dexterity, Fire, Health, Journeys, Stars and Sun.

Varuna, the Face of the Waters, is also called Baruna and Suiten. He is the Emperor of Order, riding a great amphibian called a makara, and he was one of the first to set himself above the asuras. He sends the rivers to the sea, and his lasso binds fear and anguish, as well as thieves and debt. He was the first king of the Devas before surrendering his throne to Indra, and he remains present even now, ready to face down liars. He measured the distance between earth and sky, but he would not honor Rama's call to part the seas until threatened, and then he revealed he had been enslaved by Ravana. Varuna has great humility now, and some say he is humiliated, but he stands as a symbol of a time past, a simpler era, when the Deva had only to corral the primal forces. His avatars are rarely employed - they are huge, dripping wet men staggering from waterways, usually. He encourages his Scions to act with the lordly grace of his history, vanquishing lies and standing as if they are still the kings of kings. His Callings are Guardian, Judge and Leader, and his Purviews are Epic Strength, Darkness, Fertility, Order, Sky, Sun and Water.

Vishnu, the Preserver, is also called Jagannatha, Gorakh, Bichu-ten, and many other names. He is the lord of the world, who preserves all life past, present and future. He emerged from the mouth of Purusha at the beginning of time, ascending to supreme godhood. He is consort to Lakshmi, and he blows the conch that foretells the doom of foes, fighting with his mace and chakram. He is the highest god to the Vaishnavas, the most numerous Hindu faith. He rules the time that is, where Brahma rules the time before and Shiva the time to come. Vishnu has been the fish Matsya, the turtle Kurma, the boar Varaha, the lion Narasimha, the dwarf Vamana, the martial artist Parashurama, and the Buddha. (Buddhists tend to fight over that particular one.) His best known and most beloved avatars, however, are Rama and Krishna. Prince Rama is the hero of the Ramayana, whose evil stepmother exiled his wife, Sita, into the forest, where Ravana, the Demon King, kidnapped her. Rama's rescue of Sita forged his friendship with Hanuman and slew Ravana and his reign of Lanka, but his suspicion of Sita's virtue - which was indisputable, of course, but that's hardly the point - drove a wedge between Vishnu and Lakshmi that has never really been fully resolved. Krishna was of the knight caste, named for his dark blue skin. He is famous for his four arms, for stealing butter as a youth, and for defeating serpents and demons. He was a great lover and swordsman, who once became 100 Krishnas to dance or possibly have sex with 100 cowgirls at once. As an adult, he was the charioteer for Prince Arjuna during the Kurkshetra War. He often appears as a rickshaw driver, a pilot or a cowboy rancher. His Callings are Guardian, Lover and Trickster, and his Purviews are Epic Strength, Epic Dexterity, Epic Stamina, Artistry (Dance, Wind Instruments), Beauty, Deception, Order and Passion.

Yamaraja, the King of Death, is also called Imra, Yanluowang, Enma Dai-o, Yeomna Daewang and Shinje. He is King Yama, the first mortal to die, who blazed the trail into the underworld. He was the son of Surya, grandson to the demiurge Vishvakarman, and he answers to special poems, inviting the dead to Naraka to be judged. His four-eyed guard dogs keep the gates, and his Yamaduta messengers guide the dead past horrific ghouls and demons. He is close to Agni, who burns the dead so their souls may pass on. His most devoted secretary is Lord Chitragupta, who keeps the records of all who die. His emblems are the noose and stick, and he rides the buffalo. Yamaraja, as ruler of the shared underworld Naraka, is as much Shen, Kami and Pala as Deva. Of all gods in all pantheons, he is perhaps the most stressed and busy because of this. He possesses the pantheon Purviews of Yoga, Tianming, Yidam and Yaoyorozu-no-Kamigami equally, and even his beloved Scions must make appointments with Chitragupta to meet with him. He has no avatars - that would take too much of his time. He is the king of law, and he points his Scions at the work that even the mighty fear - paperwork, caring for the dying, more paperwork. (His pantheons generate a lot of paperwork.) The Scions of Yamaraja shine in times of chaos, where they thrive as those who bring grace to that which all others fear. Yamaraja's Callings are Judge, Leader and Liminal, and his Purviews are Epic Dexterity, Epic Stamina, Darkness, Death, Journeys and Order.

The Deva define time in cycles of four epochs, the yugas. During the 4800-year Satya Yuga, there is great virtue and humans are huge and long-lived. Each of the next three, the Treta Yuga, Dvapara Yuga and Kali Yuga, humans become nastier, more brutish and shorter. Ours is the Kali Yuga, which will eventually end the world and begin the cycle anew. All of existence, they hold, is a towering stack of lokas, a word meaning 'planes' or 'levels'. The lowest level, just above the Garbhodaka Sea, is Naraka, the realm of King Yama and the many hells he watches over. Above that are the Patala Underworlds - the Serpent Level, Rasatala, Mahatala, Talatala, Sutala, Vitala and Atala. Our world, Prthvi, is above these, divided into the Bhu (or earth) and Bhuvar (sky) levels. Above that is the Svarga Levels - Svarga Level, Mahar Level, Jana Level, Tapa Level and Satya Level. The highest of these is reserved for the greatest of gods, though given the differing opinions on who that is, there's a bunch of places vying for the top, including Krishna's Cow Level and Durga's Mani Continent. The center of the cosmos is Mount Meru, a gigameter tall and with five peaks. It is the axis upon which the World turns, and its top is the Deva Level, home of the creator, Brahma. The terraces below are home to serpents, raptors, dwarves and nature spirits. Meru can be reached by various mythic locations it has been sighted at, including the cosmic ocean and the Pamir Mountains. Climbing it is beyond the reach of mortals, but any who reaches the top is worthy of Heaven.

Brahma, the Creator, is a Primordial. He is first of the Trimurti, perhaps self-born, born of Vishnu's navel, or born of Shiva and Parvati. He may be Prajapati or Purusha. His four mouths spoke the Vedas into existence, and he has red skin, white beard, white clothing and a white waterfowl mount. He doesn't particularly care about worship, and he receives little, with only a handful of temples. He is also a Buddhist guardian god, and he urged the Tathagata to share enlightenment with the world. He is husband to Sarasvati, whose harmony balances his lust for knowledge.

Naraka serves as the Deva underworld. Yama and his nine judges assign souls to a Svarga level or a hell, after which it is punished or rewarded, then reborn. Naraka handles Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, traditional Chinese and Shinto souls. Each has specific needs and expectations - Hindu souls undergo torments appropriate to their sins until they are purged and reborn, Buddhism doesn't really deal in souls but still sends very, very bad people to the darkness beneath, and so on. On top of its many torments, Naraka has a huge necropolis for the monsters and spirits of four different pantheons to live in and aid Yama in his work. Lord Chitragupta manages a great citadel where all the records are kept, guarded by demons that watch out for any intruder trying to break in and erase their names from the book of those who die. (Especially monkeys, now, but that ship's probably sailed.)

Lanka rises from the sea 1300 kilometers southwest of Kerala, and it is the island kingdom of devils. The island was built by Vishvakarman, but then the rakshasa took it over. It fell into many hands over the centuries, always monstrous or demonic, and most famously was the land of Ravana, the Demon King. As the Battle of Lanka grew close, Hanuman, son of the wind god Vayu and avatar of Shiva, torched Ravana's castle, and Prince Rama, avatar of Vishnu, exploited a loophole in his invulnerability to kill him. Lanka has had no ruler since, and most people assumed it would just fade into obscurity. However, in 2009, it was rediscovered by the Sri Lankan navy in the aftermath of the Sri Lankan Civil War, though the locals drove them off. The city of Lankapura has been rebuilt, and now covers most of the island. It is not as great as once it was, but now it is an anarchist haven for monsters, mostly inhabited by rakshasas, yakshas and serpents, though the past century has seen monsters from across the world take refuge there, including rusalkas, manananggals, trolls and others who have no safe place to go. The Deva, on hearing of this, immediately gathered a war party, but were stopped by a protest on their way there. When the Shen Guanshiyin Pusa personally interceded to beg for peace and mercy, they relented, and Lanka was allowed to remain, for now. The question of who will rule it remains. The inhabitants rebuilt Ravana's golden palace between the Trikuta Mountain peaks, and every few years someone tries to be King of Lanka, but the squabbling gangs inevitably band together and toss them out. One day, it is said, Ravana or one of his Scions may come again. Rumor has it that one of his daughters fought on the LTTE side of the Sri Lankan Civil War, but she has not returned to Lanka.

Ravana, the Demon King of Lanka, was the greatest Titan of the Deva. Once, he was the most devoted worshipper of Shiva, granted the boon of invulnerability to anyone but a mortal. In his uncountable hands he could wield any weapon, and in his ten heads he had perfect knowledge of the Vedas. Legend says, however, that power corrupted Ravana, transforming him into an evil tyrant. He lusted for Prince Rama's wife, Sita, abducting her and causing the Battle of Lanka, which eventually saw him die at Rama's hands. Or, at least, that's the popular story. Ravana's been dead for a long, long time, and the growing rakshasa welfare movement rallies around him as a martyr by citing a much less known South Indian version of the Ramayana in which Ravana is the hero, utterly clashing with the more popular versions. 'Ravana reborn' is a rallying cry for modern rakshasas, who believe that a new Incarnation or Scion of Ravana will come to lead them again. Ravana's Purview was either Artistry or Epic Stamina, but no one is really sure which it was. His Virtues were Dominance and Rapacity.

Next time: The Hinduisms

One Billion, With A B

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
One Billion, With A B

The Hinduisms is the term that collectively refers to all the myriad faiths that worship the Deva. Taken together, there are over a billion mortals that adhere to one of them. Hinduism is actually a British term, but it's been adopted by the Hindu unitarian movements, and it covers a huge spectrum - Vaishnavists, Shaivists, Shaktists and more. Indonesian Hinduism is vastly different than most South Asian Hinduism, at that - they believe all of the Deva are encompassed as aspects of a single god, Acintya, who is the Godhead. There are Hindus all over the world, and their different traditions can be treated as related but separate dialects. They may share vocabulary, script or ideas, but they are only partly intelligible to each other, which makes it very hard to generalize. Still, most Hindu faiths emphasize prayer, devotion, art and sometimes dietary restrictions, such as vegetarianism or not eating certain sacred animals. Once, a professional scholar-priest caste called the Brahmins oversaw the Hindu faiths and their sacrifices, and the religions also feature ascetics fairly heavily. It's also worth noting Buddhism here. According to the Deva, Siddhartha Gautama was one of Vishnu's avatars, achieving enlightenment by meditation and establishing a new religion, which emphasized nonviolence and decried the animal sacrifice common to many Hindu faiths. Even before the Deva realized the Buddha was Vishnu's avatar (which is very strongly denied by actual Buddhists), many of them were fascinated with the Buddha's teachings and the intellectual and spiritual challenges he represented. Many of them were present at the Buddha's later sermons, including the one at Vulture Peak that was attended by 4% of the World's entire population at the time. Even now, many Hindus and even the Deva are mindful of the Buddhist viewpoint's contrasts.

Common Creatures and Followers for Deva Scions including Animals, generally talking ones. They are largely serpents (which have been both enemy and ally to mankind), monkeys (symbols of Hanuman, and particularly the vanaras, who are a sort of human-monkey mix that serve Hanuman directly), sentient bears (who fought alongside the vanaras at the Battle of Lanka) and raptors (the greatest of whom is the garuda, Krishna's mount and great enemy of serpents). Some of them can take on human form, as well. Guides could include a bodhisattva - as mentioned, the Deva are quite interested in Buddhism, and many study under arhats or bodhisattvas when they have philosophical or moral questions. There's also great immortal gurus, like Preceptor Drona, who was the martial arts master that taught the Kauravas and Pandavas, and who founded the city of Gurgaon in Haryana. He still runs a military academy there, amidst the office complexes and factories. Relics are where it gets nasty, though. The astras are common in myths of the Deva - the most devastating divine superweapons ever to exist, designed to vaporize armies in a single strike. Most are missiles, thrown or fired from a bow, and traditional Indian warfare considers use of them against common soldiers a war crime, though not using them against rathi or Scions. There's also Soma, Indra's favored drink, which is also a god. A soma relic would be a leafy green plant you can milk, then mix that sap up to create the drink that grants divine vitality.

Everyone that understands the power of the astras fears the Deva. An astra that misses, or which hits a target unworthy of its power, is like a nuke a going off. It destroys entire cities. Hypothetically, a non-Indian divine weapon, such as the Spear of Lugh or the Mixcoatl, could block or counter an astra if wielded by a worthy Hero, but no one's ever tested that, and no one really wants to be the first person to try it. For the Devas, the Titanomachy has always been the top priority. See, they date back, originally, to a divine schism between two factions. In Sanskrit, those are the Devas and the Asuras. In Avestan, the Daevas and the Ahuras. These two groups fought over territory, religion and ideology, with the Deva winning on the Indian subcontinent and the Asuras in and around Iran. Each pantheon's word for Titan, in fact, is just the name of the other. Titanomachy is inseperable from the Deva identity, at this point. They exist because they oppose the Asuras and their degenerate values. Abandoning that fight - which they excel at, anyway - would be giving up.

As should be obvious, the greatest enemy pantheon of the Deva is the Yazatas. Yes, the war between them went cold a long time ago, because despite the great influence of the Deva, every other pantheon recognizes the Yazatas as gods, rather than Titans. Even the most aggressive of the Deva would never encourage their Indian faithful to persecute the Parsis, either - there's enough prejudice as it stands. However, they still think of the Yazatas as asuras, jumped-up Titans with good PR, and they've said before that the Aesir are probably Titans, too, given the jotnar in their ranks. Keeping Thor and Indra from ever meeting and, inevitably, murdering each other is an important job for both pantheons. They got on fairly well with other aggressive pantheons, at least, particularly the Teotl. The Theoi haven't really forgotten about the time the Pandavas conquered Greece and Rome out of boredom, then left without bothering to even set up an empire. The Deva and their patronizing encouragement of the Theoi, like they're kids from the wrong part of town made good, doesn't help. The Orisha and Loa, on the other hand, are always unfailingly polite to the Deva, but vocally and loudly oppose their attitude toward Titanomachy. They use the Deva/Yazata conflict as a perfect example of the use of the word Titan as a slur on one's enemies. The closest allies of the Deva are probably the Shen and the Kami. Originally, it was just proximity and shared interested in Buddhism, but now, the gods of all three pantheons frequently visit or even Mantle into each other. Yamaraja runs Hell for all of them, for example. Each group knows how to operate in large, messy families, complex bureaucracies and systems of devotion in which different areas emphasize entirely different parts of the faith, even within the same country.

The great weakness of the Deva is that they're a huge target, thanks to their strong position in the World. They oversee the largest of any pantheons' religions, and they possess the most terrifying arsenal anyone is aware of. They're the most obvious foe for any Titan with nothing to lose and a desire to prove themselves against someone huge and (to a Titan) oppressive. It doesn't really help that the Deva attitude toward this can best be described as 'if you come at the king, you best not miss' - especially when you're one of the Scions who has to be out there on the front lines.

The Virtues of the Deva are Conscience and Duty. Consider - after years of fighting the Kauravas, Prince Arjuna of the Pandavas looks down at the enemy force - his own relatives, manipulated into this battle by the selfish and evil Prince Duryodhana, who will do anything to fulfill his own destiny of death in battle. Arjuna knows that going to war with his own relatives is wrong, so he throws down his bow, Gandiva, and speaks of his problems to his charioteeer, Lord Krishna. Krishna explains the divine truth of Arjuna's duties as a knight, the duties of his caste and destiny. This explanation, the Bhagavad Gita, defines many Hindu religions, and is the articulation of a struggle that gods and mortals alike have always had. What do you do when your duty is one thing, but you're pretty sure that thing is wrong or evil? In the end, the Pandavas obey Krishna's ruthless advice, and use treachery to defeat King Karna and Prince Duryodhana. However, Duryodhana still manages a knightly death, and he mocks the Pandavas from heaven. Modern Scions are going to face similar issues, where their conscience conflicts with the rules of their faith or pantheon. There's a part in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad that explains how to coerce a woman into sex, for example, and the Indian caste system, while officially abolished, has been taking forever to actually dismantle. Then there's the whole Rama/Sita thing. There's always going to be times when you're faced with the decision to do your duty and fulfill your destiny, or give up your honor to do what's right, even if the whole world falls apart after. You have to make a choice.

The signature Purview of the Deva is Yoga. Yoga in this context is a set or system of religious exercises and activities designed to unmake the ego and elevate the self to divinity. Its ultimate reward is union with the Godhead and escape from the cycle of death and rebirth. Some practice karma yoga, the yoga of selfless action, which helps purify the self of hope for gain in order to help others more perfectly. Others practice jnana yoga, the yoga of selfless meditation, to dissociate from their own mind's pain and misery. Some practice bhakti yoga, the yoga of ecstatic love and devotion to divinity, as expressed via art, sex or other things. Some will practice two or even all three.

Next time: Ten Thousand Kami

Hidden Fractures

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Hidden Fractures

To outsiders, Japan and its Kami have always come off as homogenous and united. What most never realize is that the islands have long, long history of internal conflict. They don't know about the Ainu, or the Ages of War, or the divisions between the earthly and heavenly kami, or the invasion by Buddhist bodhisattvas who then became Kami. Yes, Amaterasu has ruled all things for, practically, forever. But that's never stopped there being war. There are plenty of divisions - it's just that, when confronted by outsiders, the Kami circle the wagons and unite as one. Even the Titans of Japan will come aid the Kami when outsiders threaten the islands. The Kami descended from the Heavenly Plane to rule Japan approximately 2500 years ago, and around 600 BCE, they decided that Ninigi-no-Mikoto, grandson of Amaterasu, should travel the Central Land of the Reed Plains (or, for modern people, the Kansai region) and rule as Emperor. His grandmother gave him three gifts: her string of magatama jewels, the mirror that drew her from the cave, and the Kusanagi blade.

The path of Ninigi-no-Mikoto was blocked by Sarutahiko, the king of the Kunitsukami, or Earthly Kami. The Heavenly Kami had long ignored them as lowly, brushing off their leaders, and the Earthly Kami saw Ninigi as an interloper and invader. Sarutahiko was ready to fight, but was struck by the laughter and beauty of Ama-no-Uzume, who had joined Ninigi as an advisor. She spoke kindly to him, and had Ninigo show him the heirlooms. Sarutahiko agreed to stand down and join the Imperial Party, thanks to her charms, and so Ninigo won the right to rule all Japan bloodlessly. Uniting it would be harder, but they managed it, and the Kami power structure has largely remained in place ever since. When foreign gods arrived, they were shown their place in the structure and worshipped. This view, called shinbutsu-shugo, or synchronistic viewpoint, has prevented a lot of Japanese religious strife. Not all of it - Buddhism brought huge changes that threatened to destroy Shinto belief, but it was eventually saved by this view and the Buddhist Fortunes accepting roles as Kami...which created a third major political faction among the Kami, which the Fortunes are happy to use to their own advantage. Still, today, Japan is one of the most religiously integrated and pluralistic societies out there.

Technically, everything is a Kami. They're the largest pantheon on the planet, and their more liberal members argue that literally every god or supernatural creature could find a place in the Kannagara, the order of things. However, they do have leaders, and typically those leadership figures are the only ones able to create Scions; when others can, their kids are often adopted by the leaders anyway, or even outsider Scions. The only stricture the Kami place is that a Scion prove themselves worthy, which can be simple or extremely deadly, depending on the Kami in question.

Amaterasu is the Amatsukami of the Sun and the Ruler of Heaven. She is also called Omikami, Tensho Daijin, Ohirume-no-muchi-no-kami. She is the Queen of Heaven, grandmother of the imperial family, and the firstborn of the three kami born of the Primordials Izanami and Izanagi, who named her queen of all. Her early rule was not easy, but in the struggle she learned wisdom. Her younger brother, Susano-O, rampaged across Heaven, destroying much and killing many, which drove her to rage and had her hide in a cave, plunging all the world to darkness. The other Kami, via the cunning use of a mirror and the bold dance of Ama-no-Uzume, tricked her out, and she recognized the danger she had caused. She banished her brother and retook Heaven. In the modern day, she continues to advise the Emperors, though they had some rocky times during the Pacific War, and she learned much from that experience. She realized she needed to bring her wisdom to all who sought her guidance, not just her own family. While she still appears in the Imperial Court as a long-haired woman with a quiet voice and amazing poise, she also appears a motherly advising figure to others, and as a personal advisor to corporate leaders who shows them how to deal with bureaucracy efficiently and discreetly while remaining humble and honest. Her Scions understand the value of hard-earned wisdom and advising those in power, and she often visits them to give advice, whether desired or not. While her children can be haughty, they also tend to be altruists who care for others befoer thinking of themselves. Amaterasu's Callings are Leader, Judge and Sage, and her Purviews are Epic Strength, Fertility, Order, Prosperity and Sun.

Tsukiyomi is the Amatsukami of the Moon. He is also called Tsukiyomi-no-Mikoto. He is the middle child of Amaterasu, himself and Susano-O, and he largely does his own thing. He's not seen his sister in ages, and he says he prefers it that way. (It is wise not to mention that she banished him from her sight; he still feels justified in killing Uke Mochi, the Kami of Food, for spitting in his meal. Amaterasu says she'll rescind his sentence when he accepts the justice of it.) Because of his banishment, Tsukiyomi has had far more freedom to travel than other Kami, and he knows many things about history and current gossip. When not traveling, he spends most of his time in Tokyo's nightlife, which keeps him away from his sister, who prefers Kyoto. He often incarnates as a food critic or as a patron of various nightclubs and other fun places of the night. Some Kami consider him an insufferable gossip, but his taste is impeccable. His Scions, likewise, are always in the know. Their father shares gossip, because information is no good if kept to yourself, and they often share his cutting edge taste. Tsukiyomi's Callings are Liminal, Judge and Healer, and his Purviews are Artistry, Darkness, Moon and Order.

Susano-O is the Amatsukami of the Sea, Death and Storms. He is also called Susanoo-no-Mikoto. He is the youngest of the three siblings that rule the Kami, and...well, it shows. He cried for Izanami, demanding to see her even though she died and went to Yomi. He challenged Amaterasu to see who could have the best kids, and a combination of his luck, talent and his sister's politeness led him to declare himself the winner. His subsequent celebration destroyed much of Heaven and killed many, until Amaterasu put an end to it and banished him from Heaven, ordering him to watch over Yomi-no-kuni's entrance in Izuno. To win back her favor, Susano-O undertook epic quests, discovering sea plants, defeating a great dragon by trickery and even pulling a sword from its tail - the mighty Kusanagi, which he gave to Amaterasu. She did forgive him, but wouldn't let him quit his job. Eventually, one his Scions, Okuninushi, was frustrated that the living and dead were separated, snuck into Yomi and, over a few days, tricked his father and stole from him several times. Instead of being angry, Susano-O was delighted to be bested, and promoted his son to being a Kami, and even gave him his great hall - Susano-O has never wanted it. Then he opened the passage from Izumo to Yomi so that honored ancestors could speak to their descendants. He now spends as little time as possible doing his job. Technically, he rules the dead and the seas, but he'd much rather be surfing, hunting dragons or heli-snowboarding with his kids while looking for snow monsters. His Scions tend to crave adventure and challenge, much as he does, and party just as hard. They wreck hotel rooms, sure, but they'll always pay the bill and leave a great tip. Susano-O's Callings are Creator, Trickster and Warrior. His Purviews are Artistry (Poetry), Chaos, Death, Epic Strength, Forge (Metallurgy), Sky and Water.

Hachiman is the Amatsukami of Warriors, Archery and Culture. He is also called Daibosatsu, Emperor Ojin and Yahata-no-kami. He is one of the most popular Kami, after Inari, being the Kami of warriors and Japanese culture. His signs are the eight banners and the dove and, of course, his symbol, the mitsudomoe, or three teardrops in a vortex. It symbolizes flexbility and willingness to change to succeed. His is the wisdom of the new and unexpected, of necessary change. He guided the warriors of Japan via bushido and even incarnated as Emperor once to help them succeed. Hachiman seeks victory in all things, not just the military, so he understands war by other means. He appreciates Amaterasu's passion for helping others, but knows she won't ever focus on large groups - so he does. He knows that a war is won on logistics, organizations and training, not singular deeds. He loves Japan and its people, wants to see them prosper, and he thinks the best way to do that is to help them work together. In modern times, he is often found as an interim CEO or a military reformer with new ideas. He is also often a mentor to a team of new and eager leaders, telling them of his past successes and failures in order to teach them. His Scions have been military leaders, corporate presidents, anime or film producers, teachers, mentors - anyone who can promote the positive parts of Japanese culture. They are all zealous and hard workers, and also extremely enthusiastic and loud. Hachiman's Callings are Leader, Sage and Warrior, and his Purviews are Artistry, Beasts (Dove), Order, Prosperity and War.

Inari is the Kunitsukami of Rice, Fertility and Foxes. They are also called Inari Okami, Oinari, Inari Daimyojin and Dakiniten. Inari is Kami both of granting wishes and growing rice, and is extremely popular. They always have been. They have many forms - an old man with sheaves of rice, a young family man and farmer with advice on what people need, a nine-tailed kitsune, a beautiful maiden. Inari tends to see gender as just another kind of appearance and refuses to adopt one permanently. Inari's popularity gives the Kunitsukami a lot of political sway - Inari has over 32,000 attended shrines dedicated to them, a full third of all Japan's shrines cared for by people, and if you counted roadside shrines, Inari could overwhelm everyone else combined. They are sometimes overworked answering prayers, but fortunately, their foxes are protected by law in Japan and their Kitsune friends often help out. Inari often appears as a reproductive specialist, a family planner or an agricultural engineer, and they and their foxes try to answer as many prayers as possible from those who are pure of heart and sincere. Scions of Inari often work in areas Inari cares about, as Inari is quite busy and often drafts them to help. Inari also is the most prolific adopter of Scions in all the Kami, choosing those who are compassionate and want to help. Their genderfluid nature also attracts many trans Scions who want to be adopted, and Inari always welcomes them if they're willing to work. Inari's Callings are Creator, Healer and Liminal, and their Purviews are Beasts (Fox), Fertility, Fortune, Journeys, Prosperity and Health.

Ama-no-Uzume is the Amatsukami of Dawn, Revelry and Mirth, and the wife of Sarutahiko. She is also called Otafuku and Okame. She is the Kami of fresh starts, simple joys and parties. She's never been one for tradition or propriety - when Amaterasu was in the cave, Ama-no-Uzume showed her breasts and belly to remind her elder goddess of her duty to nourish life. If some big monster gets in her way, she tells them off. She is a Kami of action and always speaks her mind. When Sea Cucumber insulted the Emperor, and wouldn't stop when she told him off, she slit his mouth. It's best not to get her angry. No matter what form she takes, she is always enthusiastic. Her other name, Otafuku, means 'good fortune', and she loves it. She's not just jokes and parties, though - her biggest passion is spreading joy, whether by food, sex or just a nice backrub. No job is too big or too small. She married Sarutahiko, and they get along great. She says it's because he's got a huge cock, and that's true, but they're also both really assertive and just like to spend time together. She may not be the prettist Kami, and some even say she prefers more homely forms - and that her husband's not a looker, either. They don't care - they're having too much fun. Her Scions are similar. They're the life of the party, usually have no real sense of shame, and they love to help everyone out. They don't care much about glory, and neither does their mother - it's just about having a good time and making sure the work gets done. Ama-no-Uzume's Callings are Lover, Liminal and Trickster, and her Callings are Artistry (Dance, Singing), Deception, and Passion (Mirth, Lust).

Sarutahiko is the Kunitsukami of Martial Arts and Monkeys, King of the Kunitsukami and the husband of Ama-no-Uzume. He is also called Dosojin and Kojin. He blocked the path of Ninigi-no-Mikoto, the future emperor. It was unclear how they would defeat or even get past him until Ama-no-Uzume stepped forward, told him of their journey and told him off for being rude. He fell in love - no one had ever dared harangue him before, given his might. And so he joined the Imperial party and said he'd even help subdue Japan - and then he'd marry Ama-no-Uzume. Impressed by his forthright declaration, she agreed, and so Japan could be conquered even faster than expected, because of Sarutahiko's strength and knowledge. These days, he's more concerned with taking trips with his wife, improving his skills in aikido and combat, and hanging out with monkeys. When he decides to help people, he is best at showing them all their options. Amaterasu or Tsukiyomi will tell you what's proper, or what's best for you, but all Sarutahiko cares about is that you're happy with your choice, even if it was a bad one. Sometimes he will appear as a literal sign to make your choices clear, or if he's annoyed, as a monkey to mess with you. When feeling sage, he will appear as a silent scarecrow pointing the way, an understanding sensei or teacher, or even a stranger giving directions. He has many Scions, both Kami and human. It's no secret that he has a giant penis - in fact, large phallus effigies are often left at his roadside shrines as offerings, and he'll have sex with anyone that catches his eye, if Ama-no-Uzume is not available for some reason. (Yes, they're married, but it's a very open relationship.) He doesn't really care what his kids do, as long as they do it with gusto. Want to be an otaku in Mom's basement? Be the best damn otaku there ever was. If you want to do something with monkeys, martial arts or traveling, even better. He'll love it and help out more often. Combine all three, perhaps as a zoologist studying how monkeys across the world fight, and that'd be just the best. Sarutahiko's Callings are Liminal, Lover, Sage and Warrior. (Wait, how he'd get four? I'd probably drop Liminal or Sage.) His Purviews are Beasts (Monkeys), Earth and Journeys.

Next time: Takemikazuchi, Ebisu, Okuninushi, Bishamon, Benzaiten, Fukurokujin, Kisshoten, Hotei.

Sumo God

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Sumo God

Takemikazuchi is the Amatsukami of Thunder, Swords and Sumo. He is also called Takefutsu, Toyofutsu and Ikazuchi-no-kami. He's a hardliner Heavenly Kami and really, really does not like the Earthly Kami. When Amaterasu needs a dirty job done, he always volunteers, expecially if he gets to be nasty to Earthly Kami. He was the one who came down when the Earthly Kami supported the unaligned clans against the Emperor, challenging the leaders of the rebels (who were Okuninushi's sons) to a fight. He beat them all. The first few he beat with swords, so the last challenged him to a battle of pure physical power, which he won as well, inventing sumo wrestling. However, his biggest job is keeping the Titan Namazu from destroying Japan. Namazu is a giant catfish that lives in the mud under Japan and really just wants to shake until all the land sinks and becomes more mud to lie in. Takemikazuchi fights Namazu, and he uses his thunderous shouts, his swordsmanship and his sumo to protect Japan. He often appears as an advisor who drives his charges to great heights, regardless of the cost. The unenlightened may believe sumo is just about getting fat, but the wise realize it is austere, punishing work that required perseverence. Self-sacrifice is in the nature of Takemikazuchi and his Scions, and many have died in battle. Scions of other Kami may complain about his methods, but no one is unhappy to have him or his kids on their side. His Callings are Guardian, Leader and Warrior, and his Purviews are BeastS (Deer), Epic Dexterity, Epic Stamina, Epic Strength, Sky (Thunder) and War.

Ebisu is the Fortune of Luck and Fishing. He is also called Yebisu, Hiroku and Kotoshiro-nushi-no-kami. He is one of the Shichifukujin, the Seven Fortunes, though he's the only one that's actually native to Japan originally. Unlike most Kami, he does not tie himself to any one place, event or shrine - he prefers the natural world and the company of humans or animals to other Kami. He's been pretending to be deaf ever since, so that when the Kami are called to Izumo for their annual party by the ringing of bells, he doesn't have to go. Today, he mostly works as a caretaker of Japan's seas or, when the other Kami are busy, Japan itself. He doesn't mind the work - he likes the quiet time for fishing. If he's lonely, he turns into a fish and gets caught. If the fisherman that catches him is kind and treats him well, he blesses them. Other times, Ebisu well turn into a shopper and mingle with the people. If shopkeepers treat him well, he blesses them, too. Ebisu's Scions, like him, tend to be strange. They are in crowds but never part of them. Many prefer nature and the outdoors, and enjoy anonymity, but will never hesitate to help others if treated well. They are also the Scions of the Kami most often found outside Japan, as they tend to enjoy traveling for the sake of it. Ebisu's Callings are Hunte, Liminal and Trickster, and his Purviews are Beasts (Fish, Sharks, Whales), Epic Stamina, Fortune, Prosperity and Wild.

Okuninushi is the Fortune of Heroes, Magic and Wealth. He is also called Onamuji, Daikoku, Daikokuten and Daikokutennyo. He began life as a Scion of Susano-O, but tricked his father so well that he was given the hall at Izumo that leads to Yomi, where you can speak to the ancestors. He didn't stop there, though. He went on to finish Izanagi's work of making the islands of Japan, along with countless other feats, allowing him to ascend as a Kunitsukami rivaling even Sarutahiko in power. His power was so great that his sons rebelled, supporting the unaligned clans over the Emperor. They lost, but Okinuninushi refused to speak for or against either side, for fear of either starting a war among the Kami or destroying his own honor and reputation by appearing a weak appeaser. Soon after that, the original Daikokuten, the Buddhist god Mahakala, wanted to return to China, but the Seven Fortunes feared a fracturing of their pact. They turned to Okuninushi for advice, and he volunteered to replace Daikokuten to solve both their problems, allowing him to be a Fortune rather than a Kunitsukami, so he could maintain his honor without being a rallying banner for rebellion and going into open war with Amaterasu, whom he admired. In the modern day, Okuninushi and his Scions often seek out worthy quests to improve the world. They are quite friendly with the Scions of Susano-O, trying to steer them away from meaningless diversions to important jobs. Often, they butt heads with Amaterasu's children, and most Heavenly Kami are cautious around Okuninushi and his Scions...but they're always handy when you need to solve a big problem. His Callings are Creator, Leader and Liminal, and his Purviews are Beasts, Darkness, Earth, Fortune and Prosperity.

Bishamon is the Fortune of War and Warriors, and the Punisher of Evil-Doers. He is also called Bishamonten, Tamonten and Vaisravna. He is brother to Kisshoten, and he stands as defender of the laws of the Buddha, one of the Seven Fortunes. He came to Japan from India via China, and formerly wore Chinese armor and wielded a Chinese halberd while carrying a pagoda containing a scroll bearing Buddha's laws. In the Warring States Period, he blessed his most loyal follower, Uesugi Kenshin (the Kanrei of Kanto) with such immense skill in battle that he could not lose, and it took a ninja while he was having his nightly shit to kill him. It is said that Bishamon guided the Japanese leaders in the early parts of the Pacific War, but abandoned them after discovering their unclean, anti-Buddhist actions in China. He's never really seemed to recover from that, and for decades, he appeared in the garb of a Buddhist monk. He cares about right action and Buddhist law over all else, but things might be changing for him soon. The past few generations of his Scions have focused on guarding temples, practicing law or being Buddhist priests. However, during the early days of the invasion of Iraq by Coalition forces, one of Bishamon's Scions was revealed when he drove a medical truck full of casualties through a hail of enemy fire and emerged with no one hurt. Bishamon appeared in full JSDF regalia and praised the man. Since then, several more Scions of Bishamon-as-Warrior have been found. Bishamon's Callings are Guardian, Sage and Warrior, and his Purviews are Epic Dexterity, Fortune, Prosperity and War.

Benzaiten is the Fortune of Talent and Eloquence. She is also called Bentensama, Benzaitennyo, Ichikishima-hime-no-mikoto and Ugajin. She began as a Buddhist goddess in India, but soon joined the other Fortunes, making her home by a river that flowed from Mount Meru. She played her biwa and sang, and at first the Kami of the river listened, then the Kami of the land and mountain, and at last all Kami stopped to listen to her beauty. They gifted her with the torii arch and all of the stars in the sky, so impressed were they. Now, Benzaiten continues to inspire all who watch or listen to her, and she grants artists fortune when performing. She often appears as a simple musician in a coffee shop, open mic night or concert, giving an impromptu performance to inspire others. Sometimes, her passion will bring out her other aspect, a goddess of love, and the Kami say that many children are conceived whenever she performs. Her Scions are pretty much all artists of some kind - mostly writing, painting, calligraphy, music or sculpture, but not nearly all. She also has a fair few sex worker or sex therapist Scions, as she sees sex as the greatest of all arts. Benzaiten's Callings are Creator, Lover and Sage, and her Purviews are Beasts (Snake), Artistry, Beauty, Fortune, Fertility and Stars.

Fukorokuju is the Fortune of Longevity and Wisdom. He is also called the Old Man of the South Pole. He is one of the eldest of kami, and the only one who knows the secret of defeating death and restoring life to the dead. When he arrived in Japan, he was already ancient. He is a short man but with a very large, bald head and a few whiskers. He always carries scrolls with him, which contain his secret wisdom, and is often followed by his pets, a deer, turtle and crane. He's gained a reputation, these days, as a dirty old man, and the Kami say he will flirt with just about any Kami. Ama-no-Uzume, however, says he knows what he's doing. To mortals, he often appears as a short or hunchbacked retiree, an old doctor or an aged businessman with a stack of books and a gleam in his eye that says he knows the meaning of life. He has many Scions, some of them the oldest still living, though new ones are born daily. Many of them work in medical fields, often geriatrics or oncology, or as research scientists of all kinds in medicine and biology. Almost all of them have active sex lives in their free time, but never let it detract from their work. Fukurokuju's Callings are Healer, Lover and Sage, and his Purviews are Beasts (Deer, Turtle, Crane), Epic Stamina, Fortune and Health.

Kisshoten is the Fortune of Beauty and Mercy. She is also called Kichijoten Kudokuten, Lakshmi and Mahasri. She is sister to Bishamon, and she first came to Japan as Lakshmi, but quickly realized she'd have to adapt. She changed her clothes, painted her face and learned the ways of the geisha. Every Kami she met was struck by her kindness and beauty, especially her care for children. Only a fool would call her just a pretty face, as the wise know her beauty is born of her mercy. Today, she is often found caring for the vulnerable, and she is always beautiful. She often works closely with Inari when working at clinics to help women in the sex trade, or with Hotei to aid poor children. Her Scions tend to look amazing, and they are all merciful. They care for the weak more than any others, working hard to find those in need, those most downtrodden, and giving them what they need. Kisshoten's Callings are Guardian, Healer and Lover, and her Purviews are Beauty, Fortune and Health.

Hotei is the Fortune of Joy and Contentment, and the Guardian of Children. He is also known as the Laughing Buddha, the Fat Buddha, Budai and Miroku. He traditionally appears as a Zen monk wearing Buddhist beads, with an exposed belly, a bald head and fat earlobes. His name is from the sack he carries, which has within it whatever the person he is helping most needs. Usually, that's candy or small gifts for the kids that follow him wherever he goes, whom he always protects from harm. A Zen story says that as Hotei was traveling, a monk recognized him and asked him the meaning of Zen. Hotei dropped his bag. The monk than asked him how one realizes Zen. Hotei picked up his bag and went on his way. Scions have reported meeting Hotei across the entire world, often as a friendly, fat and bald man. Wherever he goes, he is smiling and helping kids. While his Scions don't always share his appearance, they share his ability to find the good anywhere. Many work in service industries, as volunteers or even as monks, nuns or priests. A very special group of them is in child protective services or working as foster parents, to take care of kids others don't. Hotei's callings are Guardian, Liminal and Sage. His Purviews are Chaos, Fortune, Journeys and Passion (Joy).

Next time: Takamagahara and how to Kami.

Cosmological Constants

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Cosmological Constants

The Amatsukami, or Heavenly Kami, are officially in charge, and they live in Takamagahara, the High Plain of Heaven. Amaterasu leads them, and very little else is known of the place, because even most Kami never, ever go there. Amaterasu has a palace there, it has rice paddies, it has important buildings. There's a big river that flows through it, but it's been dammed up so that there's enough space for all the Amatsukami to gather when needed. The place is very similar to early Japan, physically, and to get there you have to cross the Heavenly Bridge, which is also the Milky Way. It's along that route, somewhere, that Sarutahiko confronted the Imperial party.

The original land of the dead is Yomi, deep beneath the earth, and only the unclean reside in that place. Susano-O guarded its entrance at Izumo, until he gave the job to Okuninushi. There's said to be a river, and that Yomi is much like the land of the living, except everything is a shadowy, decaying reflection. However, when the Buddhists got syncretized into Japanese beliefs, many more Kami joined the realms of the dead, and the Underworld had to expand. Across the river from Yomi, Jigoku appeared, the Buddhist halls and halls of death. There, those who have not attained enlightenment are punished for their sins in life, and once that's done, they are sent up to be reborn. There are eight hot and eight cold regions, plus a capital city ruled over by Emma-O, who is King Yama. Besides him, there's a ton of demons in all kinds of ranks that help run Jigoku and manage the punishments.

Now, the Kami believe that all things have their proper place in the cycle, but...well, that's not always good. Your place might be an example of what not to do. Several Kami have become so focused on their specific place that they lose sight of balanace and become Titans. It's a path all Kami fear, but it's claimed more than a few. Some of the most notable are Fujin and Raijin, both very old Kami, brothers who protected Japan and the Buddha. Fujin was a master of magic and sailors, but now all he cares for is the blowing wind. He is a huge, green-skinned demon with red hair and a leopardskin loincloth, along with a big sack of wind. Raijin, his brother, became obsessed with the power of lightning, which he had used to protect, and now only uses to destroy. Their Purview is Sky. And, of course, there's Namazu, the catfish, who was once a carp Kami that could shake and get out of anything. Because he could not be trapped, he ate and grew for millenia, eventually gaining a taste for fish in the deepest caverns...where he became too large to fit until he shook himself, broke through, and trapped himself under Japan, causing earthquakes. Now all he wants is to escape, and Takemikazuchi is tasked to stop him. His Purview is Earth.

Shintoism, or the Way of the Gods, is the ancient religion of Japan. Most Japanese would say they're Shinto, but equally take part in some Christian and Buddhist beliefs in the modern day. Shinto is a synchronistic rleigion, and most people in Japan see no problem with religions and beliefs coexisting. It doesn't mean there's no rifts - if the devout Japanese of today had known about the kirishitan Kannon during the era of closed japan, they'd have torn down the shrines and killed the Christians, too. Similarly, there were fights between Buddhism and Shinto at first, with Buddhism winning a lot, until they came to an accord and incorporated each other. The basic principle is the Kannagara, the proper and natural order. This includes an understanding of what is clean or unclean, what is right action, sincerity or duty, and what the proper place for all things is, even outside beliefs and gods. Most Shinto practitioners visit shrines, pray to the Kami, light candles, ring bells and leave small offerings. You can do one, some or all of those - no specific action applies to all Kami, as each is different. Ebisu may not hear the bell, but he'll appreciate your gift of fish, for example.

Creatures of the Kami that might serve Scions include the Komainu, the magical lion dogs that protect temples and shrines, which have a lion-like maned head, a large mouth, bulging eyes, and a dog's body. Followers might include the Kitsune, Inari's magic foxes, whom they use as messengers and advisors. Some are just foxes, while others have multiple tails and can shapeshift. Guides include the Tengu, raven-headed Kami with wings and the body of a man, who live atop secluded mountains and are masters of the sword. They sometimes teach those that earn their respect. The most famous Relics of the Kami are the Yasakani no Magatama beads, which are the symbol of the right to rule the Kami, and which are kept the Kashikodokoro Shrine in the Tokyo Imperial Palace's Three Palace Sanctuaries, the Eight-Hand Mirror or Yata no Kagami, which was used to trick Amaterasu out of her cave but was lost in the 9th century and has the power to show any place or being you want to view, and the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, the Grass-Cutting Sword, which Susano-O gave to his sister. Its name comes from when the prince Yamato Takeru used it to free himself from fire by finding it could control the Kami of the air, but he lost the blade soon afterwards.

Understanding how the Kami relate to others means understanding face. Tatemae is the outward face, which is used to preserve harmony in social situations, while honne is thei nner face, or true feelings, which are shared only with family and friends. This is a problem when actions promised under tatemae never happen because of honne. Other pantheons typically find the Kami friendly but frustrating, as the Kami seek to preserve harmony and often agree to things or promise things that they can't or won't do, while the other gods have no idea why they're acting that way. The closest allies they have are the Buddhist and Hindu pantheons via their friendship with the Fortunes, who are the most diplomatic Kami. Many are different Incarnations of each other, and have good working relationships. Kannon also has a direct tie to the Catholic Virgin Mary, via her incarnation for crypto-Christians in the 16-1700s. After that, the Kami get along best with pantheons that have strong ties to nature, such as the Tuatha de Danann.

The biggest weakness of the Kami is their arrogance. They'd never say so in public, of course, but they know they're superior to all other pantheons. Saying it would destroy harmony, so they don't, but they think it's true. None work harder than Hachiman, none are more enlightened than Amaterasu and the Fortunes. All other gods and Scions will fail, and the Kami must plan for that failure. They get surprised when others don't fail, which can reveal their superiority complex and destroy that harmony they work so hard to preserve.

The Virtues of the Kami are Sincerity and Right Action. This, they feel, is the best way for any person to act. If you are sincere and wholehearted in all you do, and what you do is right and proper, you will always win and be happy. Some wrongly believe bushido is one of their Virtues - in truth, that's just the path of bushi, warriors. It'd be wrong for a farmer to follow it, as it would be wrong for a warrior to act as a farmer should. Sincerity means to believe in what you do with all your heart. Partial commitment means you will fail and be unhappy. No matter what you do, you should commit entirely to it. Right Action means doing what is proper for you to do, what you should do. Sometimes, right action means you have to die gloriously, or stay at home while your friends go off on a quest. It can be very hard to be sincere when you don't really feel good about what is right, and sometimes you sincerely want to do something that isn't the right thing for you.

The signature Purview of the Kami is Yaoyoruzo-no-Kamigami, or Eight Million Kami. See, everything is a Kami, and so you can talk to it and convince it to help. The pebbles below your feet are Kami, the road is a Kami, the city is a Kami, the dream of a dude in the city about Godzilla is a Kami. If you know the right way to appease a Kami, it can help you. A river Kami might know about all the places it goes to and anyone who has stepped in its streams, though probably not the kinds of shoes they were wearing. For that, you might ask a stone someone stepped on, which can tell you about the design, as long as you pray to it properly and give it respect.

Next time: The Manitou of the Anishinaabek

We Are All Manitou

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
We Are All Manitou

The divinities of the Anishinaabek people are the Manitou, and they've always been here. They range from divine humans with magic to primeval forces to small faeries, and they live in the World. The Manitou, unless most pantheons, do not seperate themselves into an Overworld and Underworld. They're just here, unseen. The primary Manitou were born of the destructive acts of a Titan against a noble god, and they are a nuclear family in the way few pantheons can claim. They recognize countless spirits, great and small, and treat them all as equal. Manitou is a term that applies equally to all of them. Their divinity is different only in degree, not kind. Because of this, many pantheons are dismissive about them, suggesting they have no real structure or respect for authority. For their part, the Manitou look at most pantheons and just see Manitou. They come in all shapes and sizes, but only a small number have had an active role in the myths and development of the people. Most humans think of them only as connected to nature, but that's an arbitrary and false restruction. Yes, theire are Manitou that watch over mountains and deer and corn, but there are also Manitou that care for people, cities and strip-mining. As new gods mix with the Manitou, the old ones see them as equally ancient Manitou that they're just now meeting. It doesn't mean they're all friends - far from it. But they're all Manitou.

The Manitou are the bringers of art, tradition and prosperity. They are very human divinities - brash, self-righteous, full of a deep and abiding pride. Typically, they don't interact with the day to day lives of their people. While offerings are made to them, that's as often as not to keep them away, acknowledge the right to live of those beasts or plants they care for even as they are killed, or to have them bless some interaction. When a Manitou actually shows up, it's a significant event, and not always a good one. Many Manitou are predators, after all.

Geezhigo-Quae, the Grandmother of Us All, is also called Nokomis, Grandmother and Sky Woman. It is said she came from the Sky People, potent beings that live above the clouds. The story says she was deeply pregnant and came down to earth to deliver, but there was no safe place, for the World was covered utterly in water. Whether she came down, fell or was told to go down by Kitchi-Manitou is a matter of debate, and she never tries to answer it when she hears the story. Once she was in the World, a great turtle allowed her to rest on its back while she begged the animasl to find eart, deep under the water. The animals each tried, one after another, until at last the muskrat was able to bring up one paw full of earth. Sky Woman made the soil grow and expand over the whole of the turtle, forming Turtle Island. Once made, the plants and trees immediately took root, that she might sustain herself and her child. This was the home of the people. Today, Geezhigo-Quae continues to watch over the people. She loves humans and will advise any that seek her out. She adopts Scions easily, seeing all of them as her grandkids, and she has been known to adopt them from any pantheon, or evne Titans or Primordials. The Manitou just accept them, as long as they don't cause too much trouble. Her own Scions are typically driven to gather and care for people. Some have argued that she actually has no Scions besides those she has Chosen - that is, she doesn't actually give birth to them. Typically, she only has one Scion at a time, usually a woman. Sometimes she is given power, other times she is mostly human. Often, these Scions die after they have children of their own. Some who survive speculate that Geezhigo-Quae gives birth to her own Incarnation as part of some cosmic cycle. Her Callings are Guardian, Sage and Healer, and her Purviews are Moon, Sky, Stars, Beasts (Crane, Turtle) and Order.

Sidebar: The Turtle Island is most of the World, but not all of it. Other islands exist, too, which came later and probably also are on top of turtles or some other creature. The important thing is, Turtle Island hasn't always been here, and it will, eventually, return to the waters. It's part of Earth, but it is not Mother Earth, who was there before Turtle Island and was covered in water. It's an allowance from her, a part of her, which is called up to support the people. Only great Manitou can speak to the earth-diving creatures, then use that earth to grow a Tutle Island, and Muzzu-Kumik-Quae can reclaim it by extending her waters. This is a sacred gift of renewal that brings new life, but only by destroying the old to create anew. Nana'b'oozoo and Wisakedjak have called forth Turtle Islands, too, and the world has flooded more than once. Many believe it will happen again soon - Muzzu-Kumik-Quae has been spekaing of how dirty she feels. Sky Woman will not call the Turtle Island without Kitchi-Manitou's blessing just yet, but just in case, she is watching out for someone she can teach to make a Turtle Island in case it's needed. She doesn't trust Nana'b'oozoo to always be around or get it right again.

Muzzu-Kumik-Quae, the Mother Earth, is also known as...Mother Earth, and Earth Woman. She came to be when Kitchi-Manitou made all things. She received the created peoples and the Manitou onto herself. She is the World, the heart of the earth and water, and as befits her elder status, she is tended by the thunderbirds, that keep her cool and cleansed, and who burn down old forests to ensure a proper cycle of growth and regrowth. Earth Woman has many forms, but most often appeas as an old woman. A famous story tells of four young men that find her to bring prosperity. She gives them their wish when treated with kindness, giving them bundles of medicine. They returned him, brewed it and drank it, and they thought they were swindled, as nothing happened. Then, they all died. The people buried them, and from their graves sprang Earth Woman's gifts: evergreen trees, the weegwaus (or birch tree), flint, and finally tobacco. The people used these to prosper. Muzzu-Kumik-Quae likes to give boons to those with genuine requests, but there's always a catch. She is, after all, nature. She is blood and soil and rock and storm. No life, to her, means more than any other. All are part of the cycle. To gain her aid, you know you must give to the cycle. She doesn't care if you're a vegan or a carnivor or a medicine-person or a gangster. All things have a place. Muzzu-Kumik-Quae's Scions are diverse, but they have an inherent connection to the Earth and its creatures, including humans. They often excel at hunting, fishing or farming, but grow enraged at excess and abuse of the land. They can be found in lots of agricultural or wildnerness pursuits, plus earth resource or human rights activism. Her Callings are Healer, Sage and Hunter, and her Purviews are Beasts, Fertility, Earth, Sky and Water.

Winonah, the First Woman, is also called Winona and Tekawerahkwa. She is the child that was born to Geezhigo-Quae on the Tutle Island. On her birth, she immediately grow into a woman, and lived among the people for generations without a childhood. The Titan Ae-pungishimook came across her bathing, and she was taken and made to bear a son. He returned four times over four generations, and each time, she was made to bear a son. She is said to have died in the final birth, but it was never permanent, and she has always returned. Her sons brought tradition the people and cleared away many bad Manitou. Winonah continues to exist, and she is mother to many Scions. She is a loving mother that puts a lot of energy and time into fostering and adopting kids of all kinds, plus working on women's rights issues. She's generally on the move, trying to keep ahead of Ae-pungishimook, who still shows up every few generations when he wakes up, and he still tries to, well, rape her. She inevitably puts up a hell of a fight. After a time, she will then fade from the world, leaving her mother to tend to her children until, invariably, she can escape the Titan and his spawn. Winonah has appeared, given birht to a pantheon and died more than once. Her name changes, but always, she is Sky Woman's only daughter. Thus, she has many names and MAntles, but generally the only real difference is which Manitou she gives birth to. One of the more notable manifestations, Tekwerahkwa, gave birth to two very different kids who often do battle with the sons of Sky Woman-as-Winonah. Her Callings are Guardian, Lover and Healer, and her Purviews are Health, Passion, Prosperity, Epic Stamina and Fortune.

Maudjee-Kawiss, the Firstborn Son, is also called the Warrior. He is the first son of Winonah, and his name roughly means 'the beginning son' - with all the responsibilities that come with it. He is a great warrior that can beat just about anyone, and his Scions tend to also excel at physical pursuits. Unfortunately, he also takes after his father and has inherited much of Ae-pungishimook's Titanic demeanor. He rarely gets along well with others for long, and he's quite brash and with a terrible temper. His first instinct to handle any problem or slight is violence, force and strength. Others have learned to avoid him, for fear of provoking his rath. He knows he makes people uneasy, because they're so weak, so he tries not to stay in one place long, and tends to follow rumors of gatherings of warriors or good fights. He does stop by from time to time, to check on the people. However, he carries a grudge very well indeed, and when he is in Anishinaabek country, he tends to try and start fights with any non-native pantheons in the area, particularly European ones. His Scions tend to have a hard life - he's got a habit of showing up when they're age four, training them, and then dropping them in a shitty situation to see how they do. If they please him, he keeps an eye on them and helps them out from time to time, or invites them to go hunting and hang out. If he's not pleased, he tends to make fun them of them and then never show up again. While Maudjee-Kawiss generally dislikes most Western pantheons, he has been occasionally seen in the company of Oshoshi, Skanda and Artmeis, hunting wendigo and other titanspawn. His Callings are Warrior, Leader and Hunter, and his Purviews are Beasts (Bear, Eagle), Epic Strength, Epic Dexterity and War.

Pukawiss, the Disowned, is also called Unwanted. He is the son Ae-pungishimook didn't understand. Pukawiss had no care for fighting or sports or anything his father thought of as manly. He was squeamish, hated killing, wouldn't even look at dead animals. He was interested in playing and listening and stories. He was distracted by life. His father saw all this as impractical, and so he became known as Pukawiss, which roughly means 'Disowned', as his father actively avoided him. Pukawiss became a dancer, actor and prankster. His pranks and his tendency to tease his brother Nana'b'oozoo caused his brother to go into such a rage that he was chased under a mountain, and Nana'b'oozoo tried to kill him with thunder and lightning. Pukawiss escaped death, though he allowed his brother to think him dead, watched as he mourned and felt fuilt, and then started pranking him again to let him know he was alive. He's still doing that, now using the entire internet. Pukawiss has no patience for fools or the self-absorbed, and so he has not really noticed his father's abandonment. Everything else is much more interesting. He sees the drama and lessons inherent to life, manifesting them by pantomime and dance and acting. Sometimes, he gets so in character that he walks around pretending to be an animal. While his father disowned him, the people are drawn to him and his lessons. He has invented many dances, imbuing them with meanings to raise consciousness, most notably the hoop dance. Like their father, Scions of Pukawiss are storytellers and dancers with an inherent restlessness that lets them see the flaws and nature of the things around them. They tend to have an inherently therapeutic quality to their actions, and while some can be found on grand stages, they are more often drawn to places where people gather and move to more intimate spaces. They also tend to be strong-willed and want to do things their own way. They may be attracted to traditional dances, but almost always mix them with the modern and inventive, which can make them rather unpopular in more traditional areas. Pukawiss' Callings are Trickster, Lover and Sage, and his Purviews are Epic Dexterity, Artistry (Dance, Acting, Storytelling), Passion (Mirth), Fortune and Deception.

Cheeby-aub-oozoo is the Chief of the Underworld. He is also called Jiibayaabooz, Chipiapoo, Moqwaio and Ghost of Rabbit. He is the third son of Winonah and Ae-pungishimook, and he lacked either the brashness or silliness of his elder brothers. He's the serious one, similar to Pukawiis in having an inherent connection to the world, but different in that he needed to know why things were as they were. He would often go into trances, listening to the beauty of one thing in particular for hours at a time, which others found weird and offputting. Before long, he began to seek out the dwellings of the Manitou, hearing them whisper to the life around him. He'd speak to thin air and creep everyone out, making them fear he was possessed or would attract bad Manitou. Instead, he received visions from them that showed him how to make special drumsand do ceremonies to speak with the Manitou. He taught the people to fast and seek visions, and how Manitou would help them if treated right. He brought about new chants and songs that pleased the Manitou and made the people dance. Even Pukawiss was impressed. He finally met his other brothers at Nana'b'oozoo's wedding...but at a cost. Maudjee-Kawiss hated the lack of manliness in his siblings, chiding them and shaming them such that Cheeby-aub-oozoo tried to prove him wrong and show he, too, was mighty. He got in a canoe and went to fight a giant and never returned. They later found him drowned in the lake that night. Nana'b'oozoo weeped so hard that he summoned his brother from the land of the dead as a phantom, and everyone yelled at Nana'b'oozoo to send him back. Cheeby-aub-oozoo returned to the land of the dead, where the dead elders asked him to be their leader, their ogimauh. Now, he mostly remains in the land of the dead, but still ventures out on occasion to speak to Pukawiss or Nana'b'oozoo. He will have nothing to do with Maudjee-Kawiss. His Scions are strange people, often bothered by spirits and with moments of sudden genius. Most are drawn to communication and the building of communities, and many have a knack for programming and AR games, and using them to communicate with the Manitou. Cheeby-aub-oozoo's Callings are Liminal, Hunter and Judge, and his Purviews are Beasts (Wolf), Death, Epic Stamina, Artistry (Song, Music), Order and Darkness.

Nana'b'oozoo, the Prototype of Man, is also called Manobozho and Wisakedjak. He is the youngest son of Winonah, and the child she first died giving birth to. While he is sitll a son of Ae-pungishimook, his father never came to visit or teach him. Only his nookomis, his grandmother, was there to raise him. While he grew quickly, without parents his demeanor and perception remained somewhat childlike or selfish. He wanted to be loved and had great power, but he was given to emotional extremes and would not be taught. Thus, while he tries hard to do good, he is often impeded by his own failings. He is lazy, cowardly, has a bad temper and his hunger easily distracts him. While he thinks of himself as a mighty hunter and warrior, he is more often than not just a lucky fool. He discovered and gained many great powers, which have made his fumbling and his successes both larger by orders of magnitude. The people know he is a champion and a Manitou, because Manitou in human form can be a bit unstable. A rumor was going around that Nana'b'oozoo got in a canoe one day with Geezhigo-Quae and left the World, frustrated by the general lack of acceptance the people had for him and their tendency to laught at his foolishness, despite their quick acceptance of the strange ways of newer pantheons. Of course, he failed to acknowledge that the people were still somewhat upset by the whole time he caused riots and made Kitchi-Manitou flood everything, as he has always maintained that it wasn't him, it was that asshole Wisakedjak. The rumor was, he was going to stay away until they apologized. Of course, he's the only one spreading the rumor, and so when the people realized that, they started ignoring him. Nana'b'oozoo has always been impatient, and when no one cried over his absence, he started looking for ways to return without losing face. He's discovered social media, and his Incarnations are invariable social media stars. His video channels are popular, and he has millions of followers. That most are laughting at him when he speaks his mind or does (very good, for the record) burlesque shows doesn't bother him - he now has thousands of friends, and it's a short trip to laughing with him. The downside is that Pukawiss trolls him fiercely, and some people follow him just to see the rages he goes into when his brother pushes him. Every now and then, someone tries to be as witty as Pukawiss; it rarely ends well for them. His Scions tend to share their father's knack for bumbling into and out of trouble. He is an exceptionally attentive and friendly father, as he wants to be around like his father never was. His Callings are Trickster, Hunter and Warrior. His Purviews are Beasts (Rabbit, or Wolf for Wisakedjak), Chaos (or Water, for Wisakedjak), Epic Dexterity, Fortune and Journeys.

So who is Wisakedjak? Well, one day, Nana'b'oozoo had an incredibly bad day, and Wisakedjak was born as a Mantle. He's associated with many of the same stories, but he's more of a troublemaker. Nana'b'oozoo is a lovable fool and collaborative trickster. Wisakedjak starts shit to see what'll happen. He's sorry when it goes bad, but it's already done, and while sometimes he fixes it, just as often he runs away. There was already that one flood incident, which he is really sorry about, honest. The biggest difference? Nana'b'oozoo grows with humanity, teaching them to avoid mistakes by making them. Wisakedjak has more in common with European trickster figures, punishing with savage lessons that can be fatal if you can't adapt.

Next time: The Orenda, Ioskeha and Tawiscara.

All Manitou Are Orenda, Or Possibly Vice Versa

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
All Manitou Are Orenda, Or Possibly Vice Versa

The Orenda are two other sons of Winonah, and they are the foundation of the Iroquois pantheon. The Manitou say they are a subset of the Manitou, while the Orenda say the Manitou are a subset of the Orenda. These two sons are the twins Ioskeha and Tawiscara, the Good Mind and the Bad Mind. Ioskeha cares for all the things over the World and all the wholesome things, while Tawiscara cares for what is beneath and what is twisted or dark. Together, they made humanity, who have capacity for both good and bad. Both are required for the World to work, and they have a subtly different pantheon of spirits and Heroes around them than the Manitou. They see the four brothers of the Manitou as rivals, claiming themselves to be the true descendants of Geezhigo-Quae. Sometimes, Winonah doesn't evne show up in their myths. Ioskeha mostly ignores the four brothers, but Tawiscara takes their existence personally. (Honestly, he takes everyone's existence personally.) He tries to cause conflict between them, and between eeveryone else, though he has a particular dislike for Nana'b'oozoo.

Ioskeha is also called Sapling, Good Spirit, Good Mind, Right-Handed Twin and Little Sprout. He is one of the twin sons of Tekawerahkawa, one of the Mantles of Winonah, and he is all that is good about humanity. Legend has it that he fought his twin brother, Tawiscara, in the womb, and this discord killed their mother in childbirth. The twin were raised by their grandmother, Sky Woman, but Ioskeha never really got along with her, as she believed Tawiscara's lies about him. He and his brother made the Iroquois, and added to the things in the World, with Ioskeha making all things of light and above the World, as well as giving humans their noble qualities. He tries to be the best representaiton he can be. He was given the knowledge of bows, maize and growing, and he's done his best to pass that on. He is a great creator, but deeply regrets never getting to know his mother before her death. While he tries to avoid dealing with them, this remains a sore spot between him and the four brothers, partially fueled by Tawiscara, who tries to convince him that they somehow stole their mother away. If the four brothers fight Tawiscara, he will typically intervene to stop them and deal with his twin himself - only he has the right to punish Tawiscara, and no other. Scions of Ioskeha tend to be very nice people, who do the right thing no matter what. They tend to have a need to create and to serve, as well. Ioskeha will not coddle them, and he makes sure they get the hard lessons he thinks they need. He encourages them to volunteer at soup kitchens or build homes for the poor as well as hunting monsters, and many of his children peacefully protest corporations and governments that harm the land or people. His Callings are Creator, Leader and Warrior, and his Purviews are Forge, Sun, Sky, Order, Beasts (All Diurnal Mammals, Birds, Insects and Fish), Health and Passion (All Light Emotions).

Tawiscara is also called Flint, Bad Mind, Left-Handed Twin and Molsem. He is the other twin, and he's a sociopath. He is driven by a compulsion to do terrible things, and even his birth was wrong, for he so hated his twin that he made his own exit from the womb, killing his mother. He is a potent creator, who made many things in the World that Kitchi-Manitou did not - one for every thing of light that his brother made. He is eternally dying, but he never dies, embodying death instead. He is too ugly to look at, resembling a diseased man. He is driven to do that which is unhealthy for humans, but he does care about them, in his own way. He cares about their wrong choices, their dark moods, their pain, their rage. He wants people to experience that dark side of life. He gave the world his gifts - bats fly at night and are content, snakes envenom prey and are content, so why does humanity resist his gifts that make them stronger? He especially loves a good drama, and also likes daytime reality TV. The only thing that he hates more than Ioskeha getting in his way is when the pretenders that claim also to be Sky Woman's grandchildren show up. Any time he can bring harm or chaos to the four brothers, he does. Many of Tawiscara's Scions are also antisocial and attract trouble. However, they too are creators, and often work together to engage in elaborate schemes or become focused on doing whatever they can without thinking on if they should. The fighting between Tawiscara and Ioheska, as well as their children, is so great that most Manitou try to avoid them, as engaging either one means the other will also turn on you. Tawiscara's Callings are Creator, Trickster and Warrior. His Purviews are Chaos, Deception, Darkness, Death, Passion (All Dark Emotions), Forge and War.

The Manitou are, by default, invisible. They coexist in the World but are largely non-physical as well. Some, however, are inherently physical and can be seen. That's just how things are - some things can be seen and touched, others can't. That's why you should treat all places with respect, because humans run into Manitou all the time. In general, it's a bit harder to find the Terra Incognitae where the more powerful Manitou live, or might take special tricks or determination to get to, but they are still part of the World, not somewhere outside. The rivers are known to have secret entrances to places where the water spirits, Memegwesi, live, as do tribes of Nibiinaabe, a sort of mermaid-like creature. Of course, some parts of Manitou cosmology are far enough removed that you might consider them other realms - mainly, the Skyworld and the Undereworld. Most Manitou choose, however, to stay incarnated physically in the World, enjoying the experiences and guiding their children. The exception is Cheeby-aub-oozoo, who lives in the Underworld, and of course Kitchi-Manitou never really manifests anywhere.

Skyworld is said to be somewhere above the clouds, or possibly on the moon. It's full of Manitou that humans have never met. Only Geezhigo-Quae left and came to the World. It is said that in Skyworld, there is a great tree that reaches from the cloudy lower reaches up into the stars, and it was a hole by the roots of that tree that allowed Geezhigo-Quae to descend, or perhaps fall, into the World. Getting to Skyworld is hard if you can't fly, and even then, going there without permission from Kitchi-Manitou would be wicked indeed. The Underworld, well, it's literally under the World, accessed via deep lakes or underwater caves. It's full of dead people and weird Manitou that don't talk to the living. Cheeby-aub-oozoo is the ogimauh here, as the locals were so impressed by his ability to speak to the Manitou and teach humans how to listen, they decided he'd be the best intermediary and leader for them. Tawiscara also lives down here, somewhere.

Both the Underworld and Skyworld were once entirely inaccessible to humans, but the modern age has changed that, thanks to technology. Now, humans might actually accidentally stumble into Skyworld via the moon, or the Underworld underground. The Manitou of these places have nothing to do with humans and don't care about them. Some may not even know humans exist. Others want doors opened so they can pour out to cause chaos and terror. Humans, more than ever, risk disturbing Manitou they should not. The Underworld Manitou sometimes work to guide the dead or keep the living and dead separate, but there's also plenty of monsters down there that'd love to rampage - and Tawiscara's always making more of them.

Because the Manitou name all of their divine and semi-divine beings Manitou, they try to respect all of them, even Titans. They assume all were made by Kitchi-Manitou for some purpose. However, some Manitou are given to such a terrible need to destroy and befoul that, well, they have to be stopped. These are titanspawn. Not all are so extreme - some are just dangerous by nature, and are typically just checked and stopped when they cause trouble but are otherwise allowed to go about their jobs. Others, however, most be destroyed. Giants, for example, sometimes have tribes that go a-raiding and try to destroy cities, and must be slain, as the wendigo are. The most notable Titan of the Manitou is Ae-pungishimook, called the West Wind or Death. He lives in a cave somewhere in the west, and is more potent than any other giant, destroying whatever he likes. He is the father of the four brothers and the rapist of Winonah. He has a very poor relationship with his kids, except for Maudjee-Kawiss, and he's never even tried to get to know Nana'b'oozoo, who hates him for that. Once, Nana'b'oozoo tried to get revenge, but he was far too weak to beat Ae-pungishimook. Still, he impressed his father, who gave him the pipe, or pawaugun, as a sign of respect. Ae-Pungishimook's Purview is Death, and his Virtues are Rapacity and Dominance.

The most common titanspawn is the Wendigo. Or Windigo, Widjigo, Windego...or, in plural, the windigoag. See, no one really knows where they come from. They're gigantic cannibals that exist only to destroy corporeal life. They are most active in winter, and they feast on the flesh of their victims. They have a special hatred for Nana'b'oozoo and his Scions, as he is said to have wiped out an entire tribe of over 40 windigoag by himself, drowning them in a lake. (Windigoag can't swim.) Other dangerous titanspawn Manitou include Mishibizhiw, the Water Lynx or Underwater Panther - a sort of cross between a cougar and a dragon with the antlers of a door, sawtooth ridges on its back and a prehensile tail made of copper. It hunts anyone in its waters and is said to be the thing that actually killed Cheeby-aub-oozoo. It can sometimes be the size of a cougar, and sometimes it is immense.

Then you've got Misiginebig, or Mishi-Ginebig, the Great Serpent, or Wewiwilemita Manetu. These are a kind of giant snake that lives in lakes and eats people. There's a lot of them, and they're all very malicious. They are the enemies of the Animikii, the thunderbirds, who go out of their way to hunt down and kill the snakes so they don't find the thunderbird nests and eat the baby thunderbirds. And then, of course, there's Aniwye, or Aniwo'ye, Mishi-Zhigaag or just the Giant Skunk. It's a man-eating skunk of immense size that likes to kill people with its horrific musk, which sickens and withers people. Nana'b'oozoo found it once and sort of killed it by shattering it into all the skunks of the world, but its essence remains and, sometimes, it manages to assemble enough of itself to form again. Scions of the four brothers keep an eye for evidence of this, to put it down before it can figure out how to absorb all the many skunks into one giant monster again.

The chief Primordial of the pantheon is Kitchi-Manitou, the Great Mystery, who created all things and Manitou. The World began with the vision and dream of Kitchi-Manitou, sometimes called Gitche-Manitou or Chi-Manidoo. In this dream, they saw all that could be, and immediately set about making it happen. Once it was done creating...everything, it left things to the created beings so that they could in turn create and grow and shape the World. Humans, in particular, inherited the ability to dream, as Kitchi-Manitou dreamed. This lets them find their purpose and what job of creation is theirs. Sometimes, Kitchi-Manitou will give power to a mortal via a dream, creating Scions. These Scions are impulsively drawn to find their place, driven by the dream within. They must always either create or destroy something. Thus, Kitchi-Manitou ensures the world stays in motion and the people are protected against bad things. The Primordial never incarnates, but will manifest to humans that seek guidance via dreams, or via messengers and portents to other Manitou. Their Callings are Creator, Judge and Sage, and their Purviews are Fortune, Stars, Prosperity, Sun, Darkness and Forge.

Next time: Midewiwin, the faith of the Manitou.

Stop Calling Them Medicine Men

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Stop Calling Them Medicine Men

Midewiwin is the religion of the Manitou, and its practitioners are Midew. Male practitioners are Mediwinini and female are Midewikwe. It's more a state of being than a role, though, and roughly means 'the state of being in midewi'. Outsiders use the term 'medicine men' to refer to all this; they are incorrect. Medicine men ('doctors') would be Mashkikiwin. Midewi doesn't actually have an English equivalent, but the closest is probably sacred, or perhaps spiritual or mysterious. This midewi state is required to connect to the Manitou and receive visions or favor. Most practitioners live on reservations, preferring to avoid outside influence, but there are some who are trying to popularize the practices in Anishinaabe social groups in more urban areas. In general, there's also a belief in dodaem, called totems most of the time these days. Dodaem is the idea that there is a personal Manitou that oversees the needs of every person. People are born into one of the tribal clans, which also have a family dodaem. The major clan dodaem are bear, bird, fish, catfish, crane, deer, loon and marten. Within a clan there's also going to be several sub-dodaem of the same type. These can be connected to by anyone, but they favor those of their clans. They're basically a Manitou you're related to. In addition to them, people will seek out the Manitou that is their personal guardian, which could be any non-human animal or even a plant. People can have multiple dodaem in life, and your dodaem can be convinced to lend its atttributes to you and help you solve problems or learn skills. Many ceremonies are devoted to acknowledging potent Manitou and their effects on things. These include, but are hardly limited to, the Midwinter Ceremony, the Feast of the Dead, the Raven Festival, the Painted Pole Festival, seasonal feasts and major rites of passage - your birth, naming, first kill, puberty, dream seeking, marriage and death.

Creatures or Guides for a Manitou Scion might include Animals, of the same type as your clan dodaem or your personal one. They tend to be larger and tougher than standard animals of their type, with notable qualities or attributes that stand out. Then there's Animikii, thunderbirds - tribes of giant, magical eagle-like things that serve Muzzu-Kumik-Quae, and can control wind, rain and lightning. They can turn into a human form but prefer to stay among their own. They are similar to but distinct from the Wakinyan-Tanka, the thunderbird of the Lakota, who is god itself and has Scions. Animikii are sometimes believed to be distant relatives, but if so, they're so distant as to be something else entirely. They grant no tie to or protection from Wakinyan. Then you have Bagwajiwinnini, also called Pukwudgie - tiny, hairy wildmen that are friendly but mischevious. They tend to make themselves at home in your house or ride around in your bag, and are especially fond of Nana'b'oozoo's kids, who make them laugh. Then there's the Nibiinaabe, merfolk-like water spirits found around rivers and docks, who will befriend those who spend a lot of time in or on the water. Or you might have your Clan, human relatives that share your dodaem or something connected to it, many of whom will be activists seeking to gain authority via your power.

Relics might include the Club of Maudjee-Kawiss, an immense club wielded by that Manitou when he stole the Wampum from the bear people, which let him beat nearly anyone in a single blow. Then there's Spirit Rifles - see, bows are fine and all, but younger Scions tend to prefer the more modern rifle. Sure, they need to get charged by a war dance and have their bullets blessed in blood, but once you do that they don't miss and their shots burn titanspawn flesh. Winonah's Jingle Dress is an ornate medicine dress made from buckskin and coated in tin cones. Its sound frightens weaker titanspawn and confuses stronger ones, preventing them from focusing. And, of course, there's the Hill Striding Moccasins, which are beaded with symbols of clouds and birds and lightning and give super speed.

So, the Manitou know something: the wendigo are everywhere. Modern folks believe they're dying out, but the giants are just adapting. They're blending into the crowds of people, slowly feeding and gathering forces. In the night, they descend on the ghettoes and slums and feed while no one notices. The growth of man into places once only for Manitou is also weaking strange new Manitou, who may be even worse. In response, the Manitou have been sending their Scions and followers into the dark places in the human world, killing these awakening titanspawn as they can. They remember when armies of wendigo would descend and wipe out entire villages. Geezhigo-Quae fears that another flood is coming, if the Manitou cannot find a way to stop it. Of the other pantheons, the Manitou largely relate best to the Kami and Orisha, who understand the fact that there's innumerable spirits out there, and that even more powerful ones must respect the smaller ones. The Kami are quick to see the Manitou as Kami, and the Orisha see them as Orisha. Since that's how the Manitou also approach others, you can get some interesting back and forth there. They haven't really met most of the Western Pantheons before the colonization of the Americas - just the Tuatha and Aesir, and then briefly. There's some respect, but they also see the others as rivals fairly often. Maudjee-Kawiss likes the warrior and hunter gods more than his brothers, though, going so far as to invite some to his wendigo hunts. Nana'b'oozoo doesn't like that - he feels left out and thinks that everyone's been far too accepting of the strangers when they won't accept him. Geezhigo-Quae and Winonah are both happy to foster Scions from other pantheons, though, and so is Nana'b'oozoo if we're honest - he'll take anyone that'll hang with him. The Manitou know the Teotl see them as backwards barbarians, but they don't really care. They'd prefer to just avoid those guys, as they see the sotuerners as quite obsessed, too uptight and scarily intense.

The great weakness of the Manitou is tradition. See, they're providing more dreams to more and more people, leading them to reclaim their culture and language...but for this to be done, new traditions and songs have to be made, and some of the old must go. Convincing their people to embrace new songs and stories is really hard. Nana'b'oozoo may have the solution, in the way he is so enthralling to the young, making them dig more into spiritual tradition and adapt it to modern ways...but that's bringing about a lot of generational strife, too.

The Virtues of the Manitou are Pride and Dream. The Manitou are prideful to a fault. It comes from their father, and it defines them all. They aren't hierarchical, quite, but they like to be acknowledged for what they do, for their power, and they constantly jockey for position. Many Manitou fly into rages or become vindictive when slighted, and some have short fuses. It's one of the reasons even their own people rarely invite the Manitou to be among them for very long. They're Heroes, sure, but not champions. Their pride can be what drives to solve a problem, but it can also drive to fury and make things worse. However, the Manitou are not static. Each has a purpose given them in a dream, and they give dreams to others. That purpose keeps them always moving. It's rare for them to even want to stay in place for long, as the desire to physically act on their dream drives them constantly. They can't escape that, and it can make them easy to manipulate.

The signature Purview of the Manitou is Dodaem. This, in this case, refers to action, heart and fulfillment. There is a Manitou for all things, which oversees and cares for them. Before anything is done, you should acknowledge and respect that dodaem. Additionally, you can invoke and seek your personal dodaem, to help accomplish your goals or intervene with other Manitou on your behalf. Tobacco seems to resonate with them - physical or burnt offerings of it will allow communication and show respect, alongside proper prayer, which often includes songs, chants or dances. Once in connection, if the Manitou agree with you, then you can do miracles.

Next time: The Netjer, Lords of the Dead

Seven Thousand Years of Grandeur

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Seven Thousand Years of Grandeur

For the Netjer, the origin of the world is multiple choice. Some claim that eight Primordials, or possible eight Titans, called the Ogdoad rose from the primeal water of Nu, creating the World by raising the earth from the water and making space that Re might be made in. Others say that the Primordial Atum, the peerless divinity, created the Ennead Titans, who gave birth to the gods. Ptah has claimed sometimes to have made the world, though he's demonstrably quite young...but he's got plenty of evidence on his side. Both the Ogdoad and Ennead exist, and there's evidence for all origin stories. The thing is, the Netjer are over 7000 years old. In the oldest days, the remet, the people, worshipped one or two patron gods of their cities, and these cults did not, at the time, understand the full nature of the Netjer. As people traveled, the influence of these gods spread, bringing some conflict to them, as they were used to undivided attention. Some gods had always been loved by all of the people, under different names, of course. None of them could truly say when it began, but the pharaohs of Upper Egypt claimed to hjave the divine right to rule all, and the gods backed them. Soon, the land was united, as were the Netjer, and they have endured many changes since.

The Netjer have fought the Yazata, the Theoi, even the gods of Canaan at times, but today, they have no real enemies except for those that they have faced every day since the start. They focus on the concept of ma'at, of living a just and true life, which can be achieved by balance, order, the seeking of justice and leading others via just acts. They are always fighting with the Titans that are their ancient foes, who seek to disrupt order and spread injustice. Once, they had millions of worshippers, but now only hundreds of thousands. Their followers are no longer limited just to Egypt, but are across the world. However, Egypt is always in their ib, their hearts. Even if isn't the superpower it was at one time, they are never far from its sands.

The Netjer roster changes. Gods come and go, sometimes the same god under new names, sometimes an old god fading and a new one taking over their job. The gods don't disappear, though - they end up with small roles in an intensely political pantheon. There's no room at the bottom for the ambitious, and even the kind and balanced Heru was devious and ruthless in claiming kingship. This means that there are thousands of lesser Netjer and Titans that'd love to take over the jobs of the main gods, but only a few have ever held both the mortal interest and the will of the pantheon for more than a few centures, and few have the strength or willingness to sacrifice their virtue and climb to the top. At times, the Pesedjet, a collection of nine gods and Primordials, were worshipped, but the modern Netjer are slightly different. While most of the book uses the Greek names of the Netjer, this section uses their Kemetic names.

Anpu, Weigher of the Heart, is also called Anubis, Anapa, Yinepu and Upauaut. He has the head of a jackal and he weights the hearts of the dead in Duat, to determine if they are worthy of the afterlife. Those who are not he tosses to Ammut, who eats them. For a short time, this duty was shared with Wesir, but he isusually the main judge of the dead. He took to guiding the dead through Duat to the scales and presiding over funerals, because ultimately, ma'at decides who has been just and true, and he's never really cared about if he's the one to read the scales or not. He is one of the oldest gods of the Netjer, a child of Re but unclear on who his mother is. Bast says she is his mother, but Set sometimes claims Anpu's entire parentage is a lie, for the sake of drama. Anpu doesn't especially care - he has important work to do. Today, he appears either as a talking golden wolf, or an older man with extremely dark skin and a bald head. He always wears black, and it is always business attire or even more formal. He prefers to hang out in funeral homes and graveyards, but sometimes he is a doctor in a nursing home or critical care ward. He is usually calm and collected, but he also has the passion of the jackal. He can be loyal or he can turn on you in a fit of rage. Some say he is fickle, but rather, he is impassioned and unafraid to show it when it matters. Scions of Anpu are also passionate. They are loyal, devoted people who wrok to ensure people do not die before their time, and that the dying are eased into death gently. Some of them have trouble controlling their passions, and tend to focus on Justice over Balance. Anpu's Callings are Guardian, Judge and Liminal. His Purviews are Beasts (Jackal), Darkness, Death and Order.

Bast is the Goddess of War and Prophecy. She is also called Sekhmet. She began life as the patron of war, lions and cats, and she took it seriously. She fought the Titan Apep, who sought to overthrow Re, and she is his bodyguard as well as his child. The more she stood at his side, however, the more jobs she took on for him, even doing some time as the sun while he went on what she assumed was a lazy vacation. Many of the gods have tried to take advantage of her warrior skill, and she been pulled in too many directions. Besides cats, she is the goddess of prophets and has the gift of prophecy, though it isn't pleasant. It did give her something better to do than fight for everyone else, but it is draining and nearly drove her mad. It certainly drives her to drink. Bast wars with her own nature, even now. When she is calm, she calls herself Bast, the prophet and guide. When the future's visions are too much, her old warrior self surfaces. She appears as a woman with long black hair, light brown skin and bright green eyes. Talking to her takes some patience and bravery, as it's never really clear which side of her is in charge unless you can smell the alcohol on her breath. Bast's children are also warriors. Sometimes, they gain her prophetic powers, but it's rarely as bad for them as it is for her. She's a pretty hands-on deity, guiding her Scions through their problems and leaving them surprisingly well-adjusted despite her alcoholism. Her Callings are Hunter, Guardian and Warrior. Her Purviews are Artistry (Dance, Music), Beasts (Cats, Lions), Epic Dexterity, Fertility, Fortune, Health, Moon, Sun and War.

As a side not, Bast and Sekhmet are no longer quite the same deity. Het-Heru once wore the mantle of Sekhmet, as Bast's twin sister. Sometimes Bast takes the Mantle now, sometimes Het-Heru does, and sometimes all through appear in one place. When Incarnated, Sekhmet drinks to forget her visions and fights anyone that angers her. She could be Bast's twin, but rougher in disposition. She is found in bars, pubs, wineries, boxing rings and sports matches - anywhere she can drink and fight. She has Bast's purviews, but also Epic Strength and Wild. As for [i]Bastet[/b], she's ane entirely different goddess. She may have once been one of Bast's Mantles, but the current one was probably a Scion of Bast, and they have grown apart. Bastet is associated with cats, fertility, prophecy and guardianship. Her children can be hard to tell from Bast's at times, but you really don't want to get them confused when talking to them.

Het-Heru, Mother of the Netjer, is also called Hathor, Bat and Sekhmet. She is the goddess of the sky, love, fertility and birth. She is one of the eldest Netjer, perhaps even born of the Primordials. Re claims he made her, but some say she gave birth to him. Certainly, she is the sky, and so she gives birth to the sun each morning and takes it to bed each night, as Re's mother and lover. She and Sobek also had an affair, earning her the title Mother of hte Nile, which then led to an affair with Khnum. She spends her evening with Djehuty while Re is in the underworld, though Djehuty has his own wife. She also spends time with Wesir, sometimes with the duty of leading people to the Underworld. Re is, fortunately, not a jealous husband. She often goes back to Heru, though, and that is why she is called Het-Heru, the House of Heru. Besides having a lot of sex, she also is the embodiment of motherhood to all the gods. When Aset wanted to become pregnant, she went to Het-Heru to help make a magic golden phallus, though neither will speak of it. When Heru lost his eye to Set, Het-Heru took a piece of the moon, with Djehuty's help, and sewed it into the socket. When someone threatens the gods, Het-Heru protects them. She has more than once been Sekhmet, driven to a bloodthirsty fury against the enemies of the Netjer until Re gives her alcohol and talks her down. Het-Heru always appears as the most attractive and most matronly woman anyone could imagine, simultaneously. She takes on roles that let her be both sexual and nurturing - the madam of an escort service, the movie star that adopts many children. Her Scions are always compassionate, helpful and charismatic, and often sher her ability to heal and create. Like her, the only relationship problems they ever face are because they have too many at once. Het-Heru's Callings are Creator, Lover and Healer, and her Purviews are Artistry (Music, Dance), Beasts (Cow), Beauty, Fertility, Fortune, Passion (Love) and Sky.

Heru is the Lord of the Black Soil. He is also called Horus and Nekheny. He is the god of skies and kings, the king of EGypt, and the child of Aset and Wesir. Set carved Wesir to pieces and lost his penis in the process, but Aset put him back together and used a magic golden penis to impregnate herself. Some say Heru is Nut's child, born during a fifth day given to her by Djehuty. Aset claims he is her son, but refuses to speak about the golden phallus. When Heru was born, his uncle, Set, had the throne. Through birth, it belonged to Heru, but Set wouldn't give it up. This led to years of dispute and battle, in which the other Netjer occasionally played both sides. Re once gave Heru the sun to be his eyes, that he might better rule. Set used a golden spear to gouge one it, but only one, and Heru replaced it with part of the moon, given him by Djehuty. Through the fighting, Set and Heru eventually reconciled, splitting Egypt between them after a sexual encounter in which Set gained a golden crown. Heru spends his time protecting kings and rulers from trouble, but also protecting the people from unwise rule. He is a tactician, warrior and leader who deliberates quite a bit before acting. Most of the Netjer love him, as do their people. In the modern era, he appears as an athletic young man with light brown skin and tones muscles, but a missing left eye. He often has roles that people look up to - political leaders, sports heroes, judges or firefighters. He is dedicated and even obsessive in pursuit of his goals, and his Scions are equally driven. They focus on justice, but often have trouble with balance, as they resert to vengeance and use more force than is strictly necessary. They prefer roles that let them express their leadership and often work in law enforcement (often IA or in jobs that let them punish abuse) or as reformer CEOs. Heru's Callings are Leader, Guardian and Warrior. His Purviews are Beasts (Falcon), Moon, Order, Sky, Sun and War.

Aset is the Goddess of Magic and Rebirth. She is also called Isis. She is sister-wife to Wesir, born from Nut, the Primordial of the heavens. Her older brother, Set, cut Wesir to pieces to become king, and Aset grew enraged, stalking the world and collecting the pieces to restore Wesir. Unfortunately, Set had run off with Wesir's penis, so Aset could not fully restore her husband, and Anpu forbade Wesir from leaving Duat, so he could not retake his throne. Thus, Aset decided to get pregnant with Wesir's heir before she left Duat, to displace Set. Re, already deeply involved in all this, was angry at Aset for bring Wesir back. However, rather than be bullied, Aset tricked a titanspawn serpent of Apep into biting Re, giving him eternal poison. Re agreed to give Aset one secret of her choice for the antidote, and she asked his name, the mystery he held against all Netjer and the one thing that'd give her full power over him when she needed it. Re gave Aset his name, and so was weakened to the level of the rest of the gods. Aset is probably one of the most powerful of the Netjer, given her magical expertise and her political skills. She is cunning, brave and never backs down, no matter what. She never breaks a deal once made, but won't make one that does not get her what she wants. Today, she appears as a beautiful woman with thick black hair and dark skin. She wears many roles, but always powerful, choosing her place to fit her plans. She loves her children to the point of doting, but they always know she can, will and has done anything to ensure they are safe. Her Scions are protectors, and like their mother, they do not back down. Oftne, they are doctors, particularly of reproductive medicine, teachers or family protectors. Aset takes a deep interest in them and tries to meddle often, as she feels she knows what's best. She is also responsible for the creation of Wesir's Scions, and while she tells him he's solely responsible for caring for them, she can't really help mothering them, too. Aset's Callings are Guardian, Healer and Trickster, and her Purviews are Beasts (Kite, Serpent), Death, Deception, Fertility, Fortune, Health and Stars.

Khnum is the God of Artistry. He is also called Khnemu and Atum. He is the ram-headed god of the Nile, pottery, rebirth and the evening sun. He is one of the eldest Netjer, and it was he who crafted you out of clay and put you in your mother's womb. The first humans were made by Re's falling tears, but the rest? All Khnum. Khnum creates art constantly, then moves on to new things and leaves the old behind. He's not careless - he just loves creating. His first works were pottery, but after Anpu brought him alabaster, he became fascinated by stone nad metal. His love of art also extends to song and dance, too. He inspired Ptah to create architecture, and his influence still shapes Ptah's ways. Today, Khnum appears as a lithe, brown-skinned man with a dancer's moves, or as a nimble ram. He prefers to take on Incarnations that let him pursue art - dance instructors, street artists, opera or Broadway stars, art teachers. His Scions share his love of art, and are often performers or artists. They are always creative, in any field they pursue, and come up with unexpected solutions. They are all very intelligent, and the seek balance as the height of artistry. Khnum's Callings are Creator, Healer and Sage, and his Purviews are Artistry (Dance, Pottery), Beasts (Ram), Earth, Health and Water.

Next time: Wesir, Ptah, Re, Set, Sobek, Djehuty.

Lords of Death

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Lords of Death

Wesir, the King of Death and Resurrection, is also called Osiris, Sepa and Serapis. He was born of the Primordial Nut of the heavens as she lay across her husband, the Primordial Geb of the earth. (They had sex constantly.) As Nut grew pregnant, Re became jealous and forbade her to give birth on any day of the year, so Nut asked Djehuty for help. He brokered a deal for enough moonlight to last four more days, and Nut gave birth to four children - one each day. The first of these, Wesir, became the king of Egypt. Set grew jealous of his brother, cutting him to pieces and scattering his body. Wesir's sister-wife, Aset, found most of the pieces, begging Ma'at and Djehuty to help restore him. They came together in Duat, wherE Anpu was measuring Wesir's ib in the scales. Anpu, who believed Wesir had died before his time, allowed Aset to take the heart before he weighed it, and Djehuty and Ma'at gave her the spell and the power to bring him back. However, Anpu forbade Wesir to leave Duat, for his body was uncomplete. Wesir agreed to stay, but only if he could rule part of Duat, as Set had taken his place as king. Anpu agreed. Modern Wesir is a businessmen, though not as profitable as some due to his perfectly fair and just nature. He's made his kingdom in Duat a place of comfort and luxury for the dead. Wesir has power over resurrection, as well, and will grant it sometimes, but always at a high price. He spends most of his time brokering deals and gaining power over those people who would cheat death. Wesir's Scions are not born as other gods' are, and instead, he must rely on Aset to help create them. His children cannot fully encompass all of his aspects, but he does get to pick and choose what they get. Yes, physical sex isn't the only way to make a Scion, but Wesir can't adopt either, and his attempts to make Chosen are idiosyncratic when they work at all. Aset needs to help. She loves her husband and won't deny him, but is not above making him do something for it if she needs to. Wesir has few Scions as a result, but he treasures, honors and carefully judges all of them. His Callings are Creator, Judge and Leader, and his Purviews are Beasts (Ram, Centipede), Death, Earth, Fertility and Order.

Ptah is the God of Craftsmen. He is also called Petah, and by Netjer standards, he's new. (This means he's still thousands of years old.) Ptah is an ascended Scion of Re due to his acts in life. He was one of Re's favored children, and he claimed one of Re's old Mantles, or perhaps a rival's, his name now meaning breath of life. He also assumed a marriage to Sekhmet while doing it. He worked to build and engineer the city Ineb-Hedg, now called Memphis, and before he left, he'd laid out its architectural groundwork, inspiring others to make a city so great it became the seat of Egypt's kingdom. In ascension, Ptah distinguished himself from his father, but still retained much of Re's aspects, and for a time, Ineb-Hedg worshipped him as the sun god, giving up Re entirely. Re was angry at this, though he still loved his son, and so he took the sun away for three days, exiling Ptah to Ineb-Hedg to solve the problem. In that time, Ptah taught the people to build fire for light and to make ever greater buildings, leading him to be worshipped instead as a god of builders. Now, he is a master craftsman, designing and creating buildings, projects and complex machines that are also works of art. He enjoys complex jobs and often works in architectural firms. He also appears at times as an engineer, programmer, carpenter or toymaker. Anything he makes tends to be simple in design but with complex actions or mechanisms. Ptah creates games and puzzles, and he especially enjoys making brain teasers, which even he has problems solving sometimes. His children are likewise naturally inclined to design and challenge, both in crafting and puzzle solving. They tend ot be logical, rational people with a knack for seeing the underlying mechanisms of anything. They aren't rash, but their passions can get in the way sometimes. They see justice over balance, in the belief that their logic will prevent bias. Ptah's Callings are Creator, Liminal and Sage, and his Purviews are Beasts (Bull), Fire, Forge and Prosperity.

Re, Between Two Horizons, is also called Atum, Atum-Re, Khepri, Ptah-Re, Ra, and Tem-Ra. Re is the creator of all, the god of sun, earth and underworld. He is the god of many names and the god of no name, whose presence creates order and justice. Re is the father of many Netjer, and some say he even made himself. He is eldest of the Netjer but for Khnum, and his history is hard to follow, given how many names he's had. If he had any other rivals, he has destroyed them. Only naming him removes his power over others, and only Aset knows his true name, which is what has reduced him to a mere god rather than a Primordial. Re has three faces - morning sun, afternoon sun and evening sun. In the morning, he is bright and welcoming, impulsive and enthusiastic. In the afternoon, he is terrible, demanding and vengeful. In the evening, he is thoughtful and rational, but tired and lazy. He ventures into the Underworld in this time, where the pantheon (well, mostly Set) defends him from Apep. In the modern day, Re appears as a tall man with dark skin and impeccable fashion sense. He changes persona based on his mood - sometimes, he is a bright, cheerful gardener or dance instructor, sometimes a gruff military commander or laborer, sometimes a tired leader of the community or retired teacher. His children tend to adopt one of the three personas, but can shift as they grow. Generally, these Scions are more mellow than their father no matter what, and are strict followers of ma'at. Re's Callings are Creator, Judge and Leader, and his Purviews are Beasts (Falcon, Scarab, Ram), Death, Journeys, Fire, Order, Epic Stamina and Sun.

Set, Lord of the Red Desert, is also called Seth or Sutekh. He is the god of the desert, of disorder and of violence. Despite his bad reputation, he is a loyal Netjer, though often impetuous. He did kill his own brother, but he's saved Re from Apep countless times, and does so every night. The one time he took a night off, the World was swallowed by Apep, until Set slit open theb east and drew it out again. He is the protector of desert tavelers, and he believes strongly in lessons - people can hardly follow ma'at until they know, truly, what justice is. His lessons sometimes come from nowhere and seem like pranks more than anything, though. Despite the views of Wesir and Heru, Set has no animosity towards any other god. Today, he appears as a nondescript young man with dark skin and a notably large nose. He is mercurial, but likes roles where he can teach hard lessons - drill sergeant, parole officer, crime boss, director of a camp for troubled youths. He's never around by night, of course. Whenever he appears, he is remembered not by his looks, but his temper - he is always jovial, but has a mean streak. Set's Scions are driven to teach and guard others as well, but often take it too far. They are fiercely loyal, and will do anything demanded of them, but often at a price. They are good spies, of course, given their ability to hide their emotions. Set's Callings are Guardian, Leader and Trickster, and his Purviews are Beasts (Salawa, Fish), Chaos, Earth, Epic Strength, Journeys, Sky and War. (A salawa is Set's animal, which does not exist in nature the real world, but may be derived from a fennec fox. It is also called the sha.)

Sobek is the God of Fertility and Protection. He is also called Suchos. He is the crocodile, a fierce protector, who fights alongside Bast. Where Bast is the guardian of Re and those that request her aid, Sobek is the monster that protects the common folk. He is the son of Neith and Set, and he was given charge of the Nile to protect people from its dangers. Its fertile nature infected him, so he spent a lot of time just having sex with crocodiles. When the Netjer finally called him back, he had nearly lost himself, becoming very aggressive. He is still a shameless, wild and destructive creature, but his protective nature wins out in the end. Sobek always protects children, no matter who they are, and he guards the deep waters, where Re and Wasir fuse each night. He pulls the fish of chaos, who are spawn of Apep, out of the Underworld and devours them. He guards Heru, catching and returning that god's hands when they are cut off. He gives fertility blessings to those who ask, hoping that his effect on their children will make them better than their parents. Today, he rarely manifests except as a crocodile. If he does spend time as a human, he is a large, muscular black man, most often found in orphanages caring for the children or as a district attorney representing abused children. Sobek has more Scions than any other Netjer god, due to his extreme promiscuity. His children are vicious and passionate, like he is, and often end up as cops or criminals. He is a deeply invested parent and takes great care in providing for them. Sobek's Callings are Guardian, Hunter and Lover, and his Purviews are Beasts (Crocodile), Epic Stamina, Fertility, Passion (Lust) and Water.

Djehuty is the God of Knowledge. He is also called A, A'an, Asten, Thoth, Hab, Kenti, Mehi or Sheps. He is the ibis-headed god, who knows all things, who cares for language, writing, math and ritual. He is also the moon god, spending his time in the night sky watching as people tell stories and pass on knowledge, or assisting in weighing hearts with Anpu. Djehuty is married to the primordial Ma'at, representing balance to her justice. He cares deeply about balance, getting involved in the various spats of the Netjer when one side gains unfair advantage over the other. He does have a sense of justice, and in balancing sides he sometimes takes one down rather than boosting the other. Many of the gods respect Djehuty and ask for his aid, but that doesn't mean they especially like him. Today, he appears most often in scientific and technological fields, keeping track of them. Sometimes he is a professor, a student, a computer expert on the bleeding edge, or the technical director for a magician. He is a short man with dusky brown skin and close, silky black hair. He always wears glasses, not out of need, but because he believes they make him look smarter. He is expert in practically every field, and if asked will spend far too much time chatting about his latest interest. Any request for advice needs patience, as he's liable to give out far more information than can be easily processed. Scions of Djehuty are subtle, and tend to obsess over some specific interest or topic. They can come off as nerdy, though they're expert at gathering and processing information, and they tend to be just as concerned as their father about balance. Djehuty's Callings are Guardian, Liminal and Sage, and his Purviews are Beasts (Baboon, Ibis), Deception, Health, Fortune, Moon and Order.

Netjer Cosmology in the Overworld focuses on two Terra Incognitae - Nu and Pet. Nu is part of the Titanic, or perhaps Primordial ocean and is not safe to visit. The path between the World (or Duat) and Pet is difficult, arduous and requires climbing physical and metaphysical ladders. Few bother, save in times of need, such as when Aset went to ask for assistance in resurrecting Wesir, or Wesir went to give thanks. Nu is a vast and boundless ocean, feeding all the rivers of Heaven, the World and the Underworld, even creating the deepest part of Duat, the Sixth Hour of Night, where there is a pool of water in which Re is reborn each night. Nu is chaos, and its waters dissolve the damned souls that wash out of Duat. Pet, on the other hand, is a wide plain held by Shu in the center and by four pillars - the gods called the Heh - at the corners. It has four directions and four gates, on the horizons and zenith. The plain itself is an immense swamp through which the Sun Barque sails each day, and the east and west are solid banks. The only other solid ground is the Beaten Path of Stars, the Milky WAy. Pet is a place of passage - nothing dwells there, save for some of the stars. It is home to the eastern bank of Heaven, where the Field of Reeds and the Field of Offerings lay. The morning sun Re is born here from the lap of Nut, cleansed in Reeds, fed in Offerings and then sent off on his daily journey.

The real home of most Netjer is in their Underworld, Duat, or the Duat. Many of the gods live there, Set defends it each evening, and others visit at certain times of day or year. It is split into the main body, Duat, and a paraise known as A'aru. The river Iteru runs through Duat, connecting it to the mortal realm via the sky. Re floats along this river each day, and through the Underworld each night. He is guarded by Bast and sometimes Djehuty, and sometimes Khnum is with him. A'aru is seperated from the rest of Duat by a bunch of gates leading from the Hall of Two Truths. The only souls which are not in Duat are those which weighed more than Ma'at's feather. These are fed to the crocodile-headed monster Ammut and are destroyed. Duat is divided into the 12 Hours, the time it takes the sun barque to make it through the place. Each night, these become a battleground against Apep. Wesir and Re merge, becoming one, and the sun is eventually reborn. The dead are judged nightly, and if a Scion of the Netjer dies, they must be rescued from the Underworld before their judgment in the Sixth Hour if they are to be resurrected.

The Hall of Two Truths is home to Ma'at's scales, which are used to weigh the hearts of the dead. Wesir sits here, before the gates of A'aru, while Djehuty and Anpu serve to weigh the ibs of the dead. Anpu also lives her, but travels often, and Ma'at is said to be the scales herself. Mesektet is the name of Re's boat, the sun barque. It is here and along the Iteru's banks that many gods live. Hundreds of Netjer live on the boat besides Re, and each night it becomes a fortress to protect him. It is practically a floating city, and Re will occasionally grant the souls of chosen people, usually political leaders, access to it instead of A'aru. They live lavishly in return for doing odd jobs for Re, and have the ability to return to the World to visit loved ones, so the dead all value this prize. A'aru, the reed field, is where the souls who have led just lives and followed ma'at excellently spend eternity. The river feeds lush islands of earth and gentle sun, and the people live at ease, with no need or care. Het-Heru provides milk and meat for them, and Wesir gives them any luxuries they may need. This is a paradise, but reserved only for the worthy - even the gods cannot live here.

Ma'at is Primordial Truth - she is Truth itself, expressed through her nature. She sometimes walks the banks of Pet, appeared and speaking to Netjer Scions about important things. When she manifests, it is as an androgynous person with brown skin and short black hair. She enjoys speaking in riddles and cloaking herself in mystery, but if presented with a real problem, she often gives up this facade. Other Primordials probably include the Ogdoad, eight gods worshipped by Egypt in ancient times. They represent the unknowable - day and night, sky and sun, the joy of action and the pull of inaction. They could not change with their worshippers, however, and were left behind. Sometimes, the Netjer come to them for aid or advice. Some of them embody things that would oppose ma'at, but each is intrinsically tied to its equal and opposite, which upholds ma'at, as well. This constant balance does make many Netjer pause and think twice about seeking or giving aid to the Ogdoad, but thankfully, they're mostly content to reside in the place beyond the world where they live.

Next time: Kemeticism.

Desert Snake Monsters

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Desert Snake Monsters

The primary Titanic foes of the Netjer are embodiments of things that are antithetical to ma'at. Sometimes they work together and sometimes not. Apep is a giant snake that spreads chaos. He tries to eat Re every night and is constantly fighting the gods in Duat, using whatever weapons he can. Some of the gods fear what would happen if Apep somehow got his hands on nukes, which contain Re's fire, and Apep and his cults are the focus of most of the pantheon's attention. They cause a lot of radicalized problems. Apep's Purview is Chaos. Isfet, on the other hand, is the embodiment of untruth, and therefore evil. She is the counterpart of Ma'at, working to destabilize culture and spread lies. Her cults work to suppress truth and harm journalism, and she is very happy to work with other pantheons in order to promote narratives that diminish the Netjer and their people. Her Purview is Deception.

And then there's Aten. See, for a while, Egypt was monotheistic. Amenhotep IV took the name Akehenaten and decreed that all gods of the sun were a single expression of a single god: Aten. This...well, this was a Titan cult. Aten is a solipsist, refusing the divinity and legitimacy of all other gods and calling them pretenders, unworthy of worship. Aten appears as a powerful, bearded man shining with sunlight, and his light corrutps all it touches and fills men with zealous certainty. His cults borrow a lot from both Kemeticism and more modern monotheism, using white robes and dried cakes in their communions. They bind entire communities to the will of Aten when they can, filling the people with fear and anger and powerful guns. His Purview is Sun.

Kemeticism is the religion of the Netjer, derived from Kemet, the ancient name of Egypt. Kemeticists worship the gods in total, but most place more importance on a life in accordance with ma'at than any individual god. The current faith is broken down into highly individualistic cults split among multiple cities, each following the gods whose Purviews match their needs. They do rituals and use magic granted by the gods, serving as loyal cult followers under orders from their city priests. Any Netjer can call on any cult, but using a cult not directly devoted to you is likely to end with miscommunication and problems. No matter what, however, each cult tries to follow ma'at and, as long as directions are given in those terms, they form a strong resource for the pantheon.

Creatures of the Netjer include the Sha, the mythical creature made by Set to embody himself, which has the body of a dog, the head of a giraffe and the tail of a donkey. Then you've got the Spawn of Ammut. See, Ammut lives in the Hall of Two Truths and is a mix of crocodile, line and hippo. Her spawn are titanspawn, technically, but they are mostly domesticated as small pets for Scions, used to track sinful hearts. Spiritual Animals are also common - each Netjer is associated with a specific one, and the spiritual animals are the first and greatest of their kind, uplifted to serve their gods. Each shares some properties with their master. You can also get mummies as followers - animated corpses that populate both the World and Duat. Also Wadjet, rare beings that offer protection to Egypt and anyone else the Netjer asks. Their symbol is the stylized eye, known as the Eye of Heru or Eye of Ra. You can also get ghosts as a guide - well, technically ghosts. They're souls from Duat that are allowed out to be Anpu's messengers and guides to Scions. Also scarab beetles, who roll up the sun each night and let it out in the day. They're imbued with power and wisdom by Re. Relics of the Netjer include Amulets of Resurrection, made by Wesir, which can renimate corpses for a time, the Book of Going Forth by Day, which contains instructions on how to get to Duat and how to do a resurrection by breaking a soul out before it is judged, the Feather of Ma'at (or a replica, anyway), which contains a fragment of Ma'at's justice and soul, and the Sekhem Scepter, wielded by Wesir as a sign of his rule, which contains power and the vital essence of life.

Of all pantheons, the Netjer are closest with the Theoi, who live in a similar region. Many Netjer followers and Theoi followers mingled, bringing them into contact early on. Not that they're all friendly - some are, like Djehuty and Hermes, but then you have Re, who is often jealous and angry at them...which means Wesir spends time with them whenever he can. The Theoi also have spent time in Pet and Duat after a brief exile from Olympus, which the Netjer never let them forget, especially once Egypt became a client of Rome. Things have mostly settled down the last few centuries, at least. The Netjer and Teotl also get along well, with many commonalities and appreciation of the sun, as well as hard work each day to keep the World going. Set and Loki have a friendly rivalry of sorts, which usually means unreasonable amounts of competition, but the Netjer otherwise have little contact with the Aesir. Everyone else is pretty neutral on them - the Netjer don't really make enemies.

The great weakness of the Netjer is delegation. Pretty much everything important has, at some point, been attributed to one or another of them, to the point that about half of them have been named responsible for the sun at some time. They aren't especially good at leaving each other alone about this stuff, and their infighting gets really intense when they aren't busy with their Titans. This general lack of seperation of duties can get nasty, and more than a few gods have fallen from favor out of politics. Scions are often dragged into these conflicts by their parents, and that can be a problem when the conflicts are based on grudges thousands of years old based on ideals of justice no one even understands any more.

The virtues of the Netjer are Balance and Justice. They believe that balance must be pursued in all things to live a just life. Ma'at often translates as truth or justice, and most Netjer focus on justice in some form, but whether that means vengeance or mercy is hard to say except case by case. Balance is meant to be order, harmony and so on. However, the world must function and proceed in a true way, because lying is the worst thing. Truth may not be literal, but it is the proper way to proceed and is evenhanded to all. Justice, on the other hand, is about repayment. Justice isn't just punishing wrong, but also appropriate consequences for all things. Justice can be a reward. Ma'at holds that you should live justly and do justice to the deserving, whatever that means. This can become an obsession, which makes you forget Balance. On the other hand, all things demand accounting. Focusing too much on balance and equality over fairness can allow injustice.

The signature Purview of the Netjer is Heku. The Netjer care about the state of the soul over all else. The soul is made from many parts - the Ren, or name, the Ib, or heart, the Sheut, or shadow, the Ba, or personality, the Ka, or vital essence, and the Ha, which is all of them together. These make up the soul, intentions, personality, intelligence and life of a peerson. Heku draws on the magical energy contained in those, drawing it off the life and death of the people.

Next time: The Orisha, who gave themselves up to help the people.

We Are Not Gods

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
We Are Not Gods

After the Great Flood, a golden chain descended from Heaven. Depending on who you ask, either Obatala or Oduduwa brought down a seashell full of dirt and a five-toed chicken. Then, the Creator spilled soil in the waters, and the chicken pecked, spreading it out to the continents. Then the Orisha descended to prepare the World. The place where they came down is Ile-Ife, the place of expansion, in West Africa. Here, the Orisha watched over the Yoruba, and their neighbors, the Vodun, cared for the Fon of Dahomey. This was how it was meant to be, forever, but human greed betrayd their people, kidnapped and enslaved them. The trans-Atlantic slave trade destroyed lives and families, even religions. The many peoples brought together by this evil had to put them together anew from half-remembered songs and stories, hidden behind a mask of Christianity. And so the Vodun, now mostly known as the Loa, and the Orisha went with them, to help. They didn't have to. They could have stayed, remained themselves. But they rode in the slave ships and endured the whips and laid their own lifes down for the freedom of Haiti and Brazil. They chose to change and break themselves for the sake of their people.

Strictly speaking, while the Orisha and Loa are classed as gods, they aren't. Olodumare, the pantheon's Primordial, is the one they recognize as God, who is three - Olodumare, Olorun and Olofin, also known in Kreyol as Mawu Bondye. The Orisha and Loa are this god's servants, commonly known as saints, but that's a vulgar term. Slavery has fragmented and restored them, and will continue to do so. Different regions, faiths and even specific people disagree on names, stories, even genders and families of the Orisha. They are not defined in quite the same way as other pantheons, existing in states of uncertainty, with many Mantles, called caminos by the Cubans, which may be shared between them. However, the game's current map of their relationships, which is probably not permanent in the World but will do for now, recognizes Obatala and Yemoja-Oboto as the king and queen of the Orisha, with their sons being Orunmila, Eshu Elegbara, Ogun and Oshossi. Oduduwa took Ile-Ife from Obatala and fathered the founder of Oyo, Oranmiyan, who fathered Ajaka and Shango. King Shango's wives include Oshun and Oya Iyansan. Then you've got the more independent Ibeji, Orisha-Oko, Osanyin, and Sonponna.

Eshu Elegbara, the Opener of the Way, is also called Elegua, Exu, Papa Legba and Papa LaBas. Eshu can make or destroy a community, and is behind many strange things. He is first and last and forever, and he opens the way to start every ceremony, then closes it when it is over. You call him before you call anyone else. When Olodumare handed out Purviews, Eshu Elegbara caught the most of them - travel, language, play, arrivals, ordered and chaotic paths, stories, sex, the passage from life to death. Anything that starts at point A and goes to point B, in fact. He's the divine messenger and the best there is at manipulating the universal energy, ashe. He loves games and storytelling, and he appreciates rum, toys, candy and cigars, which can be left for him at the crossroads. He appears as a child or an old man in black and red, and when he appears as an adult he always has an erection - a big one. It was probably intended as a curse from Olodumare, but Eshu likes it. He carries a staff or cudgel to walk with, and usually has a missing leg or a back injury. He loves to have sex, and has many Scions. He expects them to do whatever they like and not bother him with it, though if you can pin him down and make him laugh, he'll probably take you out to eat and somehow manage to charge it to Obatala. Eshu Elegbara's Callings are Liminal, Lover and Trickster, and his Purviews are Artistry (Storytelling), Chaos, Deception, Epic Dexterity, Fortune and Journeys.

Ibeji, the Sacred Twins, are also called Taiyewo and Kehinde, Edun, Adanjukale, Hohovi, or Marassa Dosu Dosa. It is said that in Ishokun, in Oyo, a farmer had a constant problem with his babies dying until he discovered that a troop of magical, superpowered monkeys that he'd been driving out of his fields had cursed his wife. One he allowed the monkeys to run rampant in his crops, his wife bore two children, the first of the sacred twins of the Yoruba. Presumably his farm suffered, but he got magic kids out of the deal. Yoruba mothers are now four times more likely to have dizygotic twins than anyone else on the planet. The older twin, Kehinde, sends the younger twin, Taiyewo, out first to check that the world is worthy. They judge your actions with the clarity of childhood, and where they go, animals follow, singing. Their Incarnations are always children, though neither prefers a specific gender. Ibeji tend not to make traditional Scions; rather, any twin can become their Scion, especially if the mother has lost children before. The Ibeji usually grant an early Visitation, so often their Scions' adventures involve the entire family. As often as not, the non-Ibeji Scion twin will end up the Scion of some random non-Orisha deity, who usually claims to have no idea how that happened. This has made them essential diplomats for the pantheon. Ibeji's Callings are Healer, Trickser and Judge, and their Purviews are Artistry (Dance), Beasts (Monkeys), Death, Fertility, Fortune and Prosperity.

Moremi is the greatest hero of the Yoruba. She is the Great Mother, the sacrificial redeemer. See, once upon a time, an ancient people called the Igbo, who are unrelated to the modern Igbo, attacked Ile-Ife. They seemed not men but strange creatures, and the defenders fled in fear. Many Yoruba were captured and enslaved, and the woman Moremi offered a great sacrifice to the Esinmirin River if she could end the tyranny of the Igbo, then allowed herself to be captured. She was a tall, beautiful woman, and lived as the Igbo king's wife for five years until, in a moment of weakness, he revealed that the Igbo spirits were, in fact, not spirits - just men in raffia costumes. She then escaped to Ile-Ife and revealed the secret, telling the soldiers to carry torches to burn the raffia. At the end of the next raid, the Ife soldiers routed the Igbo, who never returned, but in payment, the river demanded the life of Moremi's son, Oluorogbo. When she killed him, a golden chain descended from Heaven, and he sprang to his feet and climbed into the sky. Moremi always has a reincarnation living in Ile-Ife. This incarnation is called Chief Eri, and oversees the yearly Edi Festival, which reenacts her adventure and sacrifice via feasts, wrestling and pranks. The Eri is always solemn, however, for her job is to remember Moremi's loss and grief. One the rare times that Moremi Incarnates as someone else, she prefers an unassuming woman in a subordinate job - an office worker, cleaning lady or army grunt, say - to better spy on the wicked. Oluorogbo's sacrifice has made Moremi very anxious and intense with her Scions, and she is always careful in choosing and guiding them. Yemoja calls her a helicopter parent, but she never listens. Moremi's Callings are Guardian, Lover and Trickster, and her Purviews are Beauty, Deception, Fertility, Fire and Passion.

Obatala is the King of the White Cloth, also called Aniyikaye, Oro Oko Afin Eni Shoju Shemu, Obatarisha, Alade Sheshefun, Orisha-Nla and Oxala. It is known that you must never laugh at anyone with protruding teeth, for they were made by Obatala, who failed to cover their teeth in flesh. Nominally, they are in charge of the Orisha, though their wife Yemoja doesn't notice, King Shango doesn't care and Oduduwa refuses to acknowledge it. Obatala bounces easily between male and female camino. When they first made humans out of clay, Eshu offered them palm wine, and they were too tired and thirsty to realize what it was until it was too late. And so, Obatala's humans weren't so great for the rest of that day. They still feel pretty bad about that, so they're the patron of people with disabilities. They were also the first king of Ile-Ife until Oduduwa took over, which is about as close as the Orisha ever got to Titanomachy. Obatala favors Incarnations where they can help the disabled. Hospital administrators, social services workers, nonprofits...and also travelers and tourists, because Obatala likes visiting new places, often followed by Eshu. Their Callings are Creator, Leader and Judge, and their Purviews are Artistry (Sculpture), Health, Order and Sky.

Oduduwa is the God-King of Ile-Ife, also called Oodua. He is the mighty one of the world, who blesses his people and never harms them, and who is the tutelary god of Ile-Ife. He claims Obatala got drunk and fell asleep when they were supposed to populate the world, so Olodumare sent him to finish the job. Oduduwa made the Earth and started a long rivalry that ended with him seizing Ile-Ife from Obatala, which is ritually reenacted each year. The two never get along even in the best of times - Oduduwa thinks Obatala is weak, and Obatala thinks he's stuffy, arrogant and presumptive. Oduduwa is also the only one among the Orisha and Loa who thinks Titans are different from gods, as he claims to have defeated ancestral spirits of the river, sun and fire when he took over in Yorubaland. Oduduwa believes in ending threats quickly and decisively, and the god-king that rules Yorubaland from Ile-Ife is his current Scion and Incarnation. This god-king is ritually sequestered from mortals, participating in important ceremonies on Oduduwa's behalf. His best-known Scion, however, is Oranmiyan, who is what Oduduwa expects of all his children - greatness and determination. When it was time for Oranmiyan to leave home, Oduduwa sent three lice to the three kings of Benin, asking them to care for the lice for three years, then return them. When they managed it, Oduduwa judged Benin to be worthy to receive Oranmiyan as their god-king and hero, thus founding the Oyo Empire. Oduduwa's Callings are Creator, Leader and Warrior, and his Purviews are Darkness, Earth, Order and War.

Ogun is the God of Iron. He is also called Oggun, Ogum, Gu, and Ogou. He prefers to bathe in blood, and he's very dangerous indeed. He can kill with anything made of metal, but the machete is his favorite. He is a bit of an introvert, spending most of his time by himself in the woods or hanging with his brother Oshossi, ever since Eshu convinced them not to kill each other over hunting grounds. Ogun goes ahead and clears the way for Oshossi to creep along and shoot food. Ogun wears green and black, he's always muscular, and he's always deadly serious. When he can, he travels by train. He loves trains, and also he can't get past most airport security easily. He can name any train he sees, down to make and model. Sometimes he's a farm blacksmith, sometimes a railroad engineer, sometimes a combat medic. He prefers to be surrounded by chaos, with a gun at his hip and tools in his hands, protecting something he cares about. He has a lot of Scions and is proud of it. He likes to see how they handle stress, so their Visitations are usually in crises of some sort. Ogun's Callings are Creator, Hunter and Warrior, and his Purviews are Earth, Epic Strength, Epic Stamina, Forge, Passion (Fear), and War.

Orisha-Oko is the God of Agriculture. He is also called Zaka or Kouzen Azaka Mede. He was once a mortal hunter and sage, and he loves the countryside. He can be trusted with any secret, but he never lies. His name means 'Farm Orisha' and it is by his power that we live. He mediates the conflicts the other Orisha can't resolve themselves, and he likes to hang out with Baldr of the Aesir. His symbol is the bull of the plow, and he rules over all cultivated plants. He appears in workman's clothes in earth tones, and Incarnates mostly as hunters, farmers or ranchers that live close to the land. He spends most of his time trying to help improve West African agriculture, which is no easy job, and some of his Scions are working in a think tank with those of Yandi Shennongshi and Inari to develop new crop yield improvement techniques and fight the use of child slavery and corn ethanol on cocoa plantations. Ultimately, Orisha-Oko wants to ensure no human ever goes hungry again. His Scions tend to be unpretensious, generous and tough, keeping their bands together by resolving problems and taking care of the little things. Orisha-Oko's Callings are Hunter, Judge and Sage, and his Purviews are Beasts (All Beasts of Burden, Birds), Fertility, Fortune, Order and Prosperity.

Next time: Orunmila, Osanyin, Oshossi, Oshun, Oya Iyansan, Shango, Sonponna, Yemoja-Oboto.

Divination Ain't Easy

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Divination Ain't Easy

Orunmila is the Power of Divination. He is also called Ifa or Orula. See, for any serious fortune-telling, you need a trained diviner - a babalawo, for a man, or an iyalawo, for a woman. They will do a formal Ifa divination, in return for a cash offering. They use a divining chain strung with halved palm nuts or tosses nuts in a tray, matching the pattern to one of 256 poems they have memorized, then tell you how to proceed with your problem, as well as any sacrifices to please spirits you might need. Orunmila is the Orisha of Ifa divination, and he is the only one that speaks regularly to Olodumare. He is also close to Osanyin and Eshu. Orunmila rarely has flashy Incarnations. He usually wears a green and gold Nigerian agbada, and works as a babalawo. If he has time, he'll even do it for free if you recognize him and are polite. After all, he is the act of divination as well as its spirit. His Scions tend not only to be diviners but anything that needs a good memory. They are excellent detectives, pharmacists and university leaders, as well as advisors. Orunmila's Callings are Healer, Judge and Sage, and his Callings are Fortune, Sky, Stars and Wild.

Osanyin is the God of Herbal Medicine. He is also called Aroni, Ossaim or Ossange. Once, he hoarded his knowledge and his plants. When Orunmila complained to Eshu that he needed Osanyin's plants to do divinations, Eshu knocked over Osanyin's house. (He hadn't known Osanyin was inside at the time.) Osanyin was crushed, and is now only half his former size, and has only one eye, one arm, one leg, a giant deaf ear and a tiny hypersensitive ear, and a squeaky voice. But hey! He shares now. His symbol is the healer's staff, topped by a metal bird. His herbalism is the root of all West African and Afro-Atlantic magic, called rootwork. Root doctors were the medical, spiritual and cultural keystones of slave society, and often provided a better standard of care than, say, pre-Civil War New Orleans' white pharmacists. Osanyin hates Incarnating because his new body inevitably is struck by catastrophe, and waiting for that is nerve-wracking. Instead, he prefers to possess toys or dolls, granting them his nightmarish voice. He wants his Scions to master a field of knowledge, whatever they please, and share it with the World. Osanyin's Callings are Healer, Hunter and Sage, and his Purviews are Beasts (Birds), Epic Stamina, Fertility, Fortune, Health and Wild.

Oshossi, the Bowhunter, is also called Ochosi, Oxossi or Age. He is a quick, stealthy hunter, rarely seen but handsome. He was from Ketu in the Oyo Empire, from which many slaves were kidnapped and sent to Brazil. His symbols are the bow and arrow, often made of iron, and the huntsman's whisk. He gained a feather headdress and jaguar skin in the Americas, where bowhunting was associated with the Native Americans. He's still worried about being Fatebound into cultural appropriation. However, he also has the symbol of three parallel arrows, representing the strength of unity. He and Ogun fought all the time until Eshu made fun of them for not getting any hunting done, and they began to work together. Thus, Oshossi came to symbolize partnership between Africans and Native Americans, especially when slaves would escape into the rainforest, swamps or backcountry and worked with the natives to adapt. He also helped some native religious figures become Orisha to survive extermination by Europeans. Oshossi is a quiet, patient parent to his Scions. He listens more than he speaks, but his words are well chosen and memorable. His Scions are often multiracial, adopted cross-culturally or immigrants, and they tend to love exploration, no matter the danger. Oshossi's Callings are Hunter, Liminal and Judge, and his Purviews are Beasts, Epic Dexterity, Prosperity and Wild.

Oshun is the Goddess of Cool Sweet Water. She is also called Ochun, Yalorde, Oxum, Aziri, Ezili and Erzulie. When the Orisha first came to Earth, the men called a secret meeting over something no one remembers any more. Oshun found out and wanted to attend, but was turned away. She'd have cut her way in with her knife, but she decided instead to make a statement, revoking the human ability to bear children until the men apologized and offered her her favorite metals, copper, gold and brass. However, it took a gift of honey to finally appease her. She is the ruler of love and wealth as well as fresh water and the Oshun River of Nigeria. She has had sex with Eshu and Orunmila, learning divination as well, but is married to King Shango now. When she first came to the Americas she asked Yemoja to give her pale skin and golden hair, like a European painting of the Virgin Mary, to fit the dominant beauty standard. She has since lost patience with that kind of thing, and has become the pantheon's public face, using an Incarnation as a performer, businesswoman and philanthropist that she's held for the past 36 years. She is always surrounded by killer bees which defend her. Oshun loves her Scions, but she wants results. She wants you to network, dress your best, never settle. Become powerful, and once you are, heal the sick, help the poor and fight evil. Her Callings are Healer, Lover and Sage, and her Purviews are Beasts (Bees), Beauty, Fertility, Fortune, Frost, Health, Passion (Love), Prosperity and Water.

Oya Iyansan is the Goddess of the River Niger. She is also called Araka, Iansa or Avesan. She is the Tearer, and she is cold and dangerous. She guards the cemetary gate, and where her husband Shango is thunder, she is lightning and wind. The market is sacred to her, as are the bull, goat, pigeon and black hen. She checks her husband's ego as needed, and is the only Orisha who can stand up to Yemoja. At some point before, Yemoja guarded the cemetary and Oya the ocean, but Yemoja tricked Oja into swapping jobs and Purviews. Oya's grown into the new role, but has never forgiven Yemoja. She may not love war like Shango or Ogun, but she does like a good fight. She dresses in bright colors, like a superhero - capes included. She incarnates as a riverboat captain or meteorologist, always cloaked in storms and cackling with glee. She's a badass and exceptionally popular. Her Scions, like her, are flashy and without fear, able to speak truth to power and always looking good. One of the most famous of them is Omolara Muhammad, a Wall Street whistleblower who got fired for investigating a crime committed by her bosses. Oya Iyansan's Callings are Guardian, Liminal and Warrior, and her Purviews are Beasts (Bull), Epic Strength, Epic Dexterity, Death, Prosperity, Sky and Water.

Shango is the King Who Did Not Hang, also called Jakuta, Oba Koso, Hebiosso, Chango and Xango. Once, a king named Shango ruled the Oyo Empire, was the sexist man ever, wielded a great two-handed axe and could throw a rock so hard it hit like a thunderbolt. He was a god of divination, but he traded that for the power of drumming, dancing and sorcery. His favorite spell let him breathe fire, which he'd do whenever he got angry. However, Shango grew suspicious of even his most loyal servants, and his schemes to turn them against each other backfired. Finally, his servant Gbonka learned to counter the fire breath, and after Gbonka humiliated him, Shango went into the forest. We don't talk about what he did there; it upsets him. Shango wears red and white and has several wives, including Oshun and Oya. He Incarnates as politicians, drummers, b-boys and baseball players. Shango loves baseball. His symbols are the two-handed axe, the baseball bat, and the stones he throws. He has had many Scions, but they tend to die young. They get Visitations in their mid-teens, generally, and live fast and hard. The media tends to love them for their love affairs, high profile feuds and general chaos, and they love the spotlight. Shango's Callings are Leader, Lover and Warrior, and his Purviews are Artistry (Drums, Dance), Beauty, Epic Strength, Fire, Order, Passion, Prosperity, Sky and War.

Sonponna is the God of Smallpox. He is also called Obaluaiye, Ile-Gbigbona, Ile-Titu, Olede, Babalu Aye, Obaluaie, Omulu, Sagbata, Sakpata, and Sabata. It is said that he feasts with the fathers but strikes down the sons. One day, at the yam festival, he did not dance, for he was drunk on palm wine and has a cane. The people wouldn't stop bothering him, so eventually he tried. Someone crashed into him, he fell, and everyone saw his wooden leg under the cape he wears to hide his disease scars. They laughed at him, someone even made a song to mock him. And so Sonponna lashed out with his cane, and everyone came down with smallpox. For that, Obatala banished him to the forest, where he still wanders. However, whenever a mob or witch hunt comes for Sonponna or other pantheons call him a Titan, the Orisha close ranks around him. He is their brother. Sonponna wields disease as his weapon. Some say Olodumare cursed him with it as a punishment for his promiscuity, and that he died and Oshun had to bribe Olodumare to bring him back. Sonponna's Incarnations never show his face. Sometimes he's a doctor in a hazmat suit, a researcher, a Zen monk with a straw hood and shakuhachi. Despite this, he is nearly as popular as Ogun. Sonponna's Scions are frightening, unafraid of the worst of the World. They are home in shadow and chaos, going where no one else will, to solve problems no one else wants to know about. Sonponna's Callings are Healer, Hunter and Liminal, and his Purviews are Death, Earth, Health, Passion (Spite), and Wild.

Yemoja-Oboto is the Queen of the Sea. She is also called Olokun, Yemoo, Yemaya, Iemanja, Stella Maris, Lasyren or Mami Wata. She is the angered wave that smashes the bridge. In Nigeria, she is they - Olokun, the primal sea, Yemoja, goddess of the Ogun River, and Yemoo, the wife of Obatala. In the Americas, she is one. Most of the Orisha are her children, and she is a far more ready leader than her husband. Her wrath is terrible, and she is magnetic as the moon to the tides. She is very wise, and only Oya will ever stand up to her. Yemoja wears blue and white, and sometimes appears as a sailor or naval officer, but more often as a mermaid, and more often yet as a whale. Her symbols are seashells, anchors and violets. Yemoja's Scions are not all in positions of authority, but all of them are authorities. Yemoja is a good mother, and she tends to give her Visitation early and take an active role in her children's lives, complete with fussing over homework or resumes. This can often confuse the regular parents of these Scions, who often wonder why their kid heads down to the docks after school to take advice on club choices from a vaquita. Yemoja-Oboto's Callings are Creator, Guardian and Leader, and her Purviews are Beasts (Cetaceans), Epic Strength, Epic Stamina, Fertility, Frost, Journeys and Water.

Next time: The four parts of the soul.

Got Soul?

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Got Soul?

In Yoruba tradition, the physical body, or ara, is the home of the soul, which has four components. There's the emi, the breath of life, which is granted by God of his own primordial essence at birth and is recalled at death. Then you have the ori, literally meaning head, which is your personal destiny, determining the course of your life and interacting with fate. You have your personal orisha, which determines your mythic nature and attributes, and your egan, the actual immortal spirit that goes to Heaven when you die to eventually reincarnate or become a revered ancestor. In the Dahomean/Haitian tradition, on the other hand, your soul has two parts: the gwo bon anj, which is identical to the emi, and the ti bon anj, which does the job of all three other parts together. The ti bon anj can undergo up to 13 reincarnations, punctuated by trips in the spirit world or the forest, before it merges with Godhead.

The Orisha and Loa represent the universe with the cross-in-circle. The World, called aye in Yoruba, is the market, where humans and spirits meet and bargain and have fun. On death, all egun, regardless of morality, ascend to Heaven, the home of the spirits. In Yoruba this is called oyun, and in Kreyol, Ginen. It's a nice place, but even the Orisha admit that the spirit world is less interesting than the mortal one. Most spirits are pretty eager to reincarnate, typically into their old family but a few generations later. Major heroes, world leaders, religious masters and other important people prefer to hang out in orun as ancestor spirits, called egungun in Yoruba, and to possess performers during festivals in order to give their descendants advice and judgment.

The holiest place in the World is Ile-Ife, in the Ogun State of southwestern Nigeria, where the Orisha first descended from Heaven. Oduduwa's Scion still rules from the palace there. However, the actual center of Yoruba religion isn't in Africa, but Sao Salvador de Bahia de Todos os Santos in Brazil, known as Black Rome. See, the shortest slave trading route was from Angola to Bahia, and it became a hub of American Yoruba, Dahomean and Kongolese culture and people. It is the source of the religion candomble and the arts of capoeira and samba. Other important locations include Oyo, the capital city of Oranmiyan and Shango, in modern Benin. Many West African rivers, as well as rivers in places such as London which have large West African populations, are home to an Orisha, ranging from a great and powerful one to a small one.

Olorun/Olodumare/Olofin is God Almighty, the Primordial of the Orisha, and is also called Mawu or Bondye. See, the Yoruba and Dahomean faiths are, technically, monotheist. Olodumare is God, generally agreed to be the same as the Abrahamic one, and he lives alone in Heaven. His form, thoughts and nature are alien even to the Orisha, and only Orunmila interacts with him with any regularity. He's God, after all. His business is his own. The Orisha have no Titans whatsoever. Indeed, the Orisha and Loa don't believe Titans exist. They worst thing to ever happen to them was done entirely by humans. While they've fought amongst themselves, the closest they had to Titanomachy was Oduduwa beating up nature spirits at the start of time, and no one else even remembers that. The Orishas tend to associate Titanomachy with one ethnic group crushing another. Titan, they say, is a racial slur used by privileged pantheons against those they don't like, to make their allies fight their enemies. The archfoes of the Orisha, instead, are evil wizards and witches. These are entirely normal humans who curse and sicken the innocent. The worst of them are subtle and quite powerful, blending in or turning into animals to do their evil. In the Americas, the most notable are the Night Doctors, who abduct black people that society forgets, subjecting them to horrific experiments that turn them into monsters, infecting them with diseases like syphilis to see what will happen, or pumping them full of experimental and dangerous drugs.

The Orisha have many religions - Candomble, Lukumi, the Shango Cult, others. Wherever you find Yoruba, you find aborisha, followers of the Orisha. Typically, the religion isn't even formally named. It's just what you do. The first big export of the faith from West Africa, though, came with the slave trade. The slavers forced their captives to give up their ancient civilizations and traditional faiths in favor of Christianity, and so the Africans developed deceptions to preserve their ways, using the names of saints and religious figures as ciphers for African divinities. Santa Barbara, for example, became a name for Shango because a popular lithograph involving Santa Barbara showed a tower being struck by lightning. It kept the whites from realizing what their slaves were actually doing. West African religion, though, relies less on ideas of faith or membership. Few aborisha ask if you believe in the Orisha. Do you need faith in a spirit that pops into your head to chat every week? The pantheon has occasionally entertained the idea of neo-pagan interest, though it makes them understandably nervous. Still, you don't need to formally affiliate with any religion to take part in most ceremonies of the Orisha. The common joke is that many aborisha showed up because they smelled good food in the sacrifices, then stuck around for the religion. You can be Muslim aborisha or Catholic aborisha fairly easily, and in fact, the Yoruba King has always had a palace imam. That guy's a big deal in Yorubaland, too.

Common Followers of Orisha Scions include capoeristas, who often invoke the Orisha to protect them from danger, or Ijapa, who is a magical tortoise that likes to steal things and can turn human or ninja-turtle-shaped. He's a decent guy for a trickster, at least. Guides include Egun - your ancestral spirits, who you really should listen to - or an Ifa Diviner, who can tell your future. One of their most famous Relics is Eshu's Red-and-Black Hat. It's red on one side and black on the other, and when he wore it, the villagers couldn't agree. Half of them said it was a really great black hat, the other half a really great red hat, and they started fighting each other to prove who was right, until Eshu came back to laugh at them, and almost incidentally teach them to respect other perspectives. Sacred drums are also a common Relic, used to call spirits. They could easily be a drum machine or ghetto blaster, too.

The Orisha are generally creeped out by the Teotl. See, the Teotl were similarly marginalized, but they weren't changed by it - they're still aggressive and like human sacrifice, both vices the Orisha gave up a looooong time ago. They get on much better with the Manitou, who only fight the worst Titanspawn. Oshossi tries his best to understand and respect native American culture, and Eshu has a great social media back-and-forth with Nana'b'oozoo and Sun Wukong. The Manitou are trying to convince the Orisha to be friends with the Kami, but the Orisha don't like how close the Kami are to the Deva, who they really don't like. They see the Deva and Theoi as privileged at best and racist warmongers at worst. (Except for Oduduwa, who uses the word 'Titan' like normal people use 'jerk.') They aren't huge fans of the Yazatas, either - they're pretty sure that if the Yazatas had won that fight, they'd be just as bad as the Deva. People keep assuming the Orisha and Netjer know each other or are related; they're not, and they don't. Beyond that, they tend to rank other pantheons based on how easily they can be talked out of Titanomachy. The Manitou are down, the Shen have a lot of deep-seated prejudice but agree in theory even if they don't want to annoy their friends the Deva. The Tuatha and Fomorians are almost familial, which has left the Tuatha more sympathetic than they'll admit, but some are coming around. Of course, some of them would be incredibly angry if they knew Eshu was happy to hang out with Bres the Beautiful and talk politics, too.

The great weakness of the Orisha is systemic racism and religious intolerance. West Africans are often accused of idolatry by monotheists as well as all kinds of other problems. Hell, most aborisha descend from slaves and still face overwhelming prejudice, violence and economic injustice. In the US, the Hialeah City Council (in Florida) passed a 1987 injunction against animal sacrifice, literally demonizing the aborisha of the local Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye. The local priest, Ernesto Pichardo, sued the state of Florida in a landmark case that went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the church and prohibited states from outlawing animal sacrifice. Sonponna himself was called as an expert witness.

The Virtues of the Orisha are Tradition and Innovation. Old African values are what kept the aborisha and vodouisant communities going against oppression and genocide, but their faiths would not be anything like they are without change and innovation. The Orisha and Loa risked their very identities to safeguard the old traditions, preserving their martial arts, medicine, magic, songs, stories and language, among other things. However, the Yoruba tradition of mighty kings and their paternalistic rule doesn't tend to sit well with younger generations. Tradition can empower and grant benefits, but also leave you inflexible and fearful of change. Innovation's effects can't be denied, either - the Orisha have been given new identities, rituals and herbs. Ogun has songs about guns and railroads, Shango uses a baseball bat! However, gaining the new often means giving up the old. Capoeira develops new flourishes and songs, but the jogo de navalha, the razor game, is almost forgotten, and the ultimate technique of Mestre Pastinha, the Cat's Leap, may already be lost. The conflict of old and new is one that the Orisha face constantly, trying to balance innovation, preventing cultural appropriation, preserving tradition and figuring out how important syncretism is now that the faith no longer needs to be concealed.

The signature Purview of the Orisha and Loa is called Gun or Cheval. The Orisha and Loa possess people, willing or sometimes not, to communicate with their people, typically as part of a religious ceremony. Haitians say that the ti bon anj of the possessed makes way for the other spirit, letting it use their body and intellect to advise others and take part in physical pleasures which are hard to get in Heaven, like tobacco and booze. Thus, Orisha and Loa Scions also have the power to project themselves into others, draw down spirits or detect and fight possessions.

Next time: Please Sign In Triplicate For The Shen

What If We Ran The World

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
What If We Ran The World

According to China's Shen, in the primordial chaos that was before the World was made, the giant Pangu was born in a cosmic egg. When it hatched into the heavens and the earth, Pangu held them apart by his expanding body, and when he died, his body became everything, and the insects that lived on him became the first humans. Later, the Jade Emperor, one of the Three Pure Ones that set Heaven and Earth in motion, organized the Shen into a great court, which evolved into an immense bureaucracy that covered every spirit in China. The Shen, more than any other pantheon, are organized. They may argue over philosophy or rule or responsibility, but they firmly believe that the entire World would be better off as part of their bureaucratic system, even that system's bloated, corrupt in places and often thinly spread. The rest of the pantheons tend to be more concerned with the fact that the Shen have a reliable history of offering jobs to Titans once they're beaten.

Chang'e, the Immortal in the Moon, is also called Heng'e and Changxi. She is celebrated every autumn, on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month - the Mid-Autumn Festival, when mooncakes are shared and parents tell their children the story. After the Excellent Archer Hou Yi shot nine suns from the sky, the Queen Mother of the West, Xiwangmu, gave him the Elixir of Immortality. When he became a cruel and selfish tyrant, his wife, beautiful Chang'e, stole the elixir and fled to the moon, where his arrows could not reach. She lives there even now. Some say she takes the form of a toad or rabbit, pounding the elixir with her mortar until it is needed, while others say the rabbit is her friend, one of the few immortals of the moon. She represents the choice to do what you want or believe in, even knowing you might be alone if you succeed. (Except, again, for the rabbit.) Her Scions, like her, have a reputation for being flighty or selfish, but Chang'e holds that this is a sexist viewpoint - she's just a woman who knows what she wants and takes it. Her most famous Scion is Kaguya of Japan, the bamboo princess of the moon. She rarely has flashy Incarnations, preferring to appear as a Chinese woman of Han descent with billowing traditional robes that shine faintly silver. She is cheerfukl and welcoming, but likely to ask more personal questions than you like, just like your parents at the family gatherings. Chang'e's Callings are Healer, Lover and Trickster, and her Purviews are Epic Stamina, Beasts (Rabbit, Toad), Health and Moon.

Confucius, the Model Teacher for Ten Thousand Ages, is also called Kong Qiu, Kong Fuzi or Zhongni. He never wanted to be a god, and he was easily the most surprised when he woke up after death to find he was one. He'd encouraged his students to avoid thinking about gods and spirits as much as possible, and it's only after his death that the Rujia, his scholarly tradition, really got big. This system, known as Confucianism to the west, focused on a government led by a charismatic and perfect gentleman, structured like a family. It dominates a lot of Asian thought even now, and during the Neo-Confucian period, he got deified due to some confused beliefs. He's not happy about it. His philosophy focuses on the family over all - family comes first, even before law. It might be expected that he expects a lot from his Scions. He tends to Incarnate as wise or high class people, but never at the top. He's a non-tenured professor of a hard topic, a second-string socialite or a government middle manager. Inevitably, he has many students, and Laozi or other Daoists often sneak into his entourage to piss him off, as his temper tantrums are often enlightening and always hilarious. While strict Confucianism would never call him a god, or anything more than a revered sage, it hasn't stopped thousands of people from worshipping him daily. He often sends his Scions to tell his cults he's not a god. Sometimes, it doesn't make it worse. Confucius' Callings are Judge, Leader and Sage, and his Purviews are Artistry, Order and Passion (Filiality).

Erlang is the Merciful and Miraculous King, the True Lord and Illustrious Sage. He is also called Li Erlang, Yang Jian or Governor Zhao Yu. He is the Jade Emperor's nephew, but his great pride means he's rarely in Heaven, as he feels he would not be respected or paid attention to as the greatest warrior there. Instead, he mostly hangs out at a temple dedicated to him in Jiangsu Province, where he most famously raised an army of heroes to beat Sun Wukong's monkey army. It started as a field battle which Erlang won, then a kaiju duel which Erlang won, and then a transformation battle which Erlang won. It ended when the Monkey Kong turned into Erlang, infiltrated his forces and temple, and was finally defeated thanks to Laozi helping Erlang. Monkey's fine with this; Erlang is less friendly. Erlang is good with any bow or crossbow, but his favorite weapon is the Three-Pointed Double Edged Blade, which he uses alongside his loyal Howling Celestial Dog to fight demons. He has a third eye that pierces all deceptions and shoots thunderbolts, his body is immune to almost any harm and he can transform into countless forms. His ego is only somewhat larger than his actual skillset. He loves to be the hero, and his Incarnations are often found trying to upstage everyone around them, doing great adventures and rescuing people. He loves to compete with his own Scions, and his Visitations often end in duels or tests of worth as a result. Erlang's Callings are Guardian, Hunter and Warrior, and his Purviews are Epic Strength, Epic Stamina, Forge, War and Water.

Fuxi is the Ancestor of Humanity, also called Paoxi, Baoxi or Taihao. He is a giant snake with a human head, and he's always been about caring for humans. He can also become a humanoid dragon-man, if he wants hands. After the great floods, Fuxi made it his mission to remake humanity. He married his sister Nuwa and invented the many practices and tools needed to keep mortals alive in the World. This includes fishing nets, writing, musical instruments, law, calendars and the I Ching. He technically retired from his post at the Ministry of Health a long time ago, and should be out enjoying his retirement with a pension and his sister-wife, but he can't keep himself at home. He still comes in to work every day, though he has no official duties, to advise and give ideas to the other Shen, some of whom appreciate this and some of whom find him extremely annoying. Everyone seems to know him, wherever he goes, though not always by name - he's just the guy who works here, does something important. Fuxi's Scions are innovators in all kinds of fields, and are often the type of people to unironically use the word 'disrupt.' Fuxi is a busybody and often shows up in their lives to help, even when they've assured him he's not needed - mostly because he's lonely and bored, but also because he, like his Scions, believes he can solve anything. Fuxi's Callings are Creator, Hunter and Sage, and his Purviews are Artistry (Musical Instruments, Writing), Beasts, Fertility, Forge, Fortune, Health, Order and Sun.

Guan Yu is the Divine General. He is also called Yunchang, Changsheng, Shouchang, Marquis Zhangmou, Duke Zhonghui, the Lord of the Magnificent Beard, Guan the Holy Great Deity, God of War Manifesting Benevolence, Bravery and Prestige, Protector of the Country and Defender of the People, Prow and Honest Supporter of Peace and Reconciliation, Promoter of Morality, Loyalty and Righteousness, and Sangharama Bodhisattva. His green armor strikes fear in his foes, his Green Dragon Crescent Blade can slay dozens in a blow, and his beard is majestic. All revere him, most loyal of all the men of the Three Kingdoms, and his image is everywhere, to guard health and fortune. He is loyalty over all. None of Cao Cao's gifts tempted him from Liu Bei, and he sees his role as general of the Shen as a chance to instill a loyal spirit in the troops. He's got no time for unjust wars or petty warmongers - divine might must be used to help others. Wherever he goes, he is ready for action. His Incarnations are often protectors or commanders of all kinds, not always martial. He's not afraid to be angry, but he never lets it control him. He isn't pushy with his Scions, but will show his approval or disapproval frankly and openly. If one does not uphold his standard of honor, he will often ask another Scion to go convince them to change. He's slowly coming to realize how much toxic masculinity has affected him. Guan Yu's Callings are Guardian, Leader and Warrior, and his Purviews are Epic Strength, Epic Stamina, Artistry (Historic Fiction), Order, Passion (Loyalty), Prosperity, Sky and War.

Guanshiyin Pusa, Who Perceives the Sounds of the World, is also called Avalokiteshvara, Hayagriva, Guanyin, Kannon and Cundi. They are a bodhisattva, postponing their own enlightenment to help others. The original Mantle of Guanyin was Avalokiteshvara, the lord of compassion, but they are also Cundi, the 18-armed monster on the lotus throne, who is called on in the Om Mani Padme Hum. The Chinese loved them so much they deified them, which has rather confused Guanyin - they're not really a traditional god, and those don't really exist in Buddhism the way they do in other faiths. Divinity exists, it's just not that important. Guanyin is the most popular Buddhist in the entire World, even beating out the Tathagata. They struggle to give their Scions enough attention because they're so busy answering prayers and showing compassion to all of Great Vehicle Buddhism. They expect compassion from their children over all else - Scions exist to spread the blessings of godhood, they say. Guanyin views godhood as a kind of weird privilege, which should be used to help mortals in need. They prefer humble Incarnations - fishermen, mendicant monks, sex workers, and of course omens in the form of eyes, hands or faces. They are often guarded by Guan Yu himself, and of course their faithful white parrot. Guanyin and their Scions are all likable and skilled diplomats, and often take point when the Shen need someone to deal with others. Guanshiyin Pusa's Callings are Guardian, Healer and Sage, and their Purviews are Epic Stamina, Deception, Health, Journeys, Passion (Mercy) and Water.

Huangdi, the Yellow Emperor, is also called Gongsun, Xuanyuan, Youxiong and Zhongyue Dadi. He ruled over China from 2697 to 2597 BCE, controls the center direction and the element of earth, and is the father of civilization, master of bears, commander of animals, author of numerous classics, inventor of the calendar and clothing, and husband to Leizu, goddess of sericulture. Lightning in a clear, starry sky presaged his birth, and he has four faces, all of which could speak even in infancy. Early in his reign, he fought against Chiyou and Yandi Shennongshi, slaying Chiyou, but allowing him to be deified so that his services to the World would not be lost. Later, he set an example for the Shen in sparing Yandi Shennongshi, father of chiyou, and instead making him a servitor rather than punishing the Flame Emperor. Thus began the tradition of adopting defeated foes. Huangdi has had so many Scions that the only commonality they all share is greatness. They include the legendary heroes Gun, Yu, Zhong and Li, the gods Shujun and Yuqiang, and even entire ethnic groups, like the Huantou and Miaomin. Any Scion of Huangdi knows that they have dozens of relatives still active, ready to advise and trade favors. Huangdi remains reserved and deeply concerned about the Communist government, but as a Daoist he prefers not to get directly involved. The Cultural Revolution hit his pantheon hard, and many still haven't forgiven the Communists. However, they've recently sent representatives to sacrifice and take part in rites to Huangdi, whom they acknowledge as the founder of their culture. Huangdi's Callings are Creator, Leader and Sage, and his Purviews are Beasts, Death, Earth, Forge, Health, Order, Prosperity and War.

Laozi, the Old Masters, is also called Li Er, Lao Dan, Boyang, Taiqing, the Grand Supreme Elderly Lord, the Universally Honored Virtuous One and the Daoist Ancestor. The Laozi is eighty-one short poems with commentary, originally divided into the Way Classic and the Virtue Classic, but now combined as the Daodejing, the Way and Virtue Classic...also called the Laozi, the Old Masters. It is in theory about politics, but it has been expanded in application to everything from martial arts to medicine to magic. It advocates an approach to life centered on putting forth as little effort as possible to achieve the greatest effect, in accord with the true nature of things. No one is actually sure who wrote the poems, as the Old Masters obscure their identities as much as possible. Some say it was just one court official, perhaps an archivist or astrologer, who wrote it down while riding a water buffalo to the west. Others say it was the Incarnation of the Heavenly Lord of Way and Virtue, who is one of the Three Pure Ones. Laozi allows all stories to spread, as their favorite Incarnation is actually a large collection of Chinese grandmothers, dressed for whatever time period they like, who bicker constantly. Laozi's Scions tend to be women of humble birth, who excel in subtle roles, the power behind the throne. Traditionally they would end up as Daoist priests, often around the Wudang Mountains. Laozi's most notorious child, however, is the White Eyebrow, the Shaolin monk who researched Daoist black magic and was expelled from the Temple, then betrayed them to the Communists, resulting in one of Shaolin Temple's many destructions. Laozi's Callings are Leader, Sage and Trickster, and their Purviews are Epic Stamina, Artistry (Poetry), Chaos, Darkness, Health, Order and Water.

Next time: Prince Nezha, Nuwa, Sun Wukong, Yandi Shennongshi.

Born From An Egg On a Mountaintop

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Born From An Egg On a Mountaintop

Prince Nezha, Marshal of the Central Altar, is also called the Third Lotus Prince and Nataku. He's one of those people everyone feels strongly on. You love him or hate him, never any in between. His mother was pregnant for three a half years before giving birth to a ball of flesh, which his father split open to reveal a youth that could already walk and speak, and who had a magic ring and bolt of cloth. By the age of seven he was almost six feet tall. He killed the third son and the bodyguard of the Dragon King Ao Guang, then committed suicide to repent and became a god of healing. His teacher, Taiyi Zhenren, made him a new body out of lotus roots. Now, he rides the Wind-Fire Wheels, using his Universal Ring and Red Armillary Sash to show off and impaling his foes on his Fire-Tipped Spear. Nezha is proud in a somewhat different way than Erlang. Erlang knows he's hot shit - Nezha is badass, but he also knows he's not as badass as Erlang or Sun Wukong, so he has to work harder. His office is always licensing his likeness and story to various projects - TV, movies, games, the works - in exchange for partial creative control and some sacrifices. Nezha doesn't especially care what his Scions do, as long as they do it loud enough for him to notice. Start fights, save orphans, cure a cool cancer. He wants you to make him jealous, because that's how he knows you're his. Prince Nezha's Callings are Guardian, Trickster and Warrior, and his Purviews are Epic Stamina, Artistry (Animation), Health and War.

Nuwa, the Snake Goddess Who Mends the Heavens, is also called Nugua. She is a serpent with a woman's face, and she could have been or done anything, such was her wisdom and power, but she chose to care for humanity. When the pillars holding the sky collapsed, all was chaos. Danger was everywhere, and only Nuwa could stop it. She patched the sky with colored stones, cut off a giant tortoise's legs to hold it up, fought off a black dragon, dammed the flood with reed ash and, because she couldn't reproduce normally with her husband Fuxi, she made humans out of mud, though sometimes bits fell off, causing disabilities. She taught them arranged marriage and invented wind instruments. Today, Nuwa is a Divine Sovereign, alongside Yandi Shennongshi and her nominally-retired husband-brother. She serves as a liaison to humanity due to the massive amount of prayers directed to her. She hears and even tries to respond to most of them. This commitment to the people can bring her into conflict with more ruthless Shen such as Laozi, who see humans as useful but not vital, and she once saved humanity when her father, the Jade Emperor, sent the God of Plague to cull them. Because her natural form tends to freak people out, she often Incarnates as an older woman in traditional Han clothing. Nuwa's Scions share her love for humanity and her lateral thinking skills. Her Callings are Creator, Guardian and Healer, and her Purviews are Earth, Fertility, Forge, Health, Moon and Sky.

Sun Wukong, the Monkey Awakened to Emptiness, is also known as Miao Min, Ton Ngo Khong, Heng Chia, Son Ogong, Sun Gukong, Son Goku, the Monkey King, the Great Sage Equalling Heaven, the Protector of the Horses, Sun the Novice, the Victorious Fighting Buddha, Clever Stone Monkey and That Damned Macaque. He was born from a stone egg on the Mountain of Flowers of Fruit, and was ruler of all apes and monkeys. After studying under a Daoist teacher, he caused chaos in Heaven, stole the immortality pills of Laozi, erased his name from King Yama's records and was a general problem until the visiting Tathagata Buddha trapped him under the Five Elements Mountain for 500 years. Then, he was tricked by the Tang Priest Xuanzang into being a bodyguard, alongside Pigsy and the Sand Monk, and went to India to fetch the Tripitaka scriptures. For his devotion, the Tathagata made him the Victorious Fighting Buddha. Depending on who you ask, either the Monkey King is proof that the Shen can, in fact, rehabilitate anyone, or proof that their policy of rehabilitating monsters is a terrible, terrible idea, or both at once. No one can deny his talent, however. His favorite outfit is the elaborate costume made to represent him in the Beijing Opera, though he also often appears as a totally normal monkey. His Scions tend to be as tirelessly noble as he is, and as irritating and puckish. Sun Wukong's Callings are Liminal, Trickster and Warrior, and his Purviews are Epic Strength, Epic Dexterity, Epic Stamina, Artistry (Opera), Beasts (Monkeys), Chaos, Deception, Journeys and War.

Yandi Shennongshi, the Flame Emperor and Divine Farmer, is also called Sinnong, Than Nong, Entei, Shin'no, Five Grains Emperor and Medicine King. He is the god of agriculture and medicine, ruler of the southern direction, the summer and the element of fire. Once, he was two gods - Yandi, the Flame Emperor, and Shennong the Divine Farmer, but Huangdi merged them into a single Mantle for administrative reasons. Yandi ruled half the World, but he warred on Huangdi and lost. Huangdi showed mercy, however, and assigned the Flame Emperor to serve under and eventually become Shennong, in recognition of his genius. Shennong has a dragon's head and a man's body, as his parents were dragons. By the age of three, he knew everything about agriculture, invented various farm tools and taught humans how to grow crops. He discovered the Five Grains - rice, two types of millet, beans and wheat - and invented Chinese medicine by carefully tasting every plant, which nearly killed him many times. Yandi Shennongshi's Scions generally excel in multiple disciplines but are usually tied to the land. Their father encourages them to care for the common people's needs as well as fighting evil. He especially likes to see them convince a Titan to change sides, if possible, and to go above and beyond. Don't just feed the hungry - revolutionize agriculture. Don't just heal the sick, cure cancer. Any cancer. Take a chance. It's worth it - it worked for Yandi, didn't it? Yandi Shennongshi's Callings are Healer, Leader and Sage. His Purviews are Epic Stamina, Artistry (Storytelling), Fertility, Fire, Forge, Health and Prosperity.

The character 'tian' refers, in Chinese, to Heaven, the sky and the weather, which are fundamentally all one. Heaven is where the gods live and work, up in the clouds. Other pantheons tend to put their Otherworlds away from the skies directly, to avoid getting hit by spaceships, but the Shen love being part of the World. How else would they manage the weather? The paperwork would be even worse than it is. As a result, jets in China that fly high enough must avoid hitting the clouded pagodas of Heaven and can often see the mystic serpents and star spirits dance back and forth. There were even a few crashes until Nuwa built an Air Traffic Control Constellation. Heaven can be accessed via sky ladder or certain mountains.

The Mountain of Flowers and Fruit, Huaguo Shan, is in Jiangsu Province. It's mostly occupied by talking monkeys and apes, and is the birthplace of Sun Wukong. It is officially an independent principality ruled directly by the Monkey King and his primate officials, who meet in the Water Curtain Cave. They also grant asylum to any demon that comes there and manages to impress the monkeys...and also has the emotional strength to survive being surrounded by the monkeys all day. Every time the Shen come seize control of the place, the monkeys welcome them with open arms, then annoy everyone until they wish they'd never come. Sun Wukong always mysteriously disappears for the duration of these conflicts, usually hiding out in cafes around Nanjing and watching the chaos on Snapchat. Eventually, the 'invaders' leave, and everything goes back to normal. The place survives largely on tourist revenue, and is one of the few places in the world that people go to get pickpocketed deliberately.

Womanland, or Nuguo, is another independent principality, this time in southwestern China. It was first recorded because the Tang Priest, Sun Wukong, Pigsy and the Sand Monk stopped there. The place is populated entirely by women, and records show that the Tang Priest and Pigsy drank from Pregnancy River, the source of all new births in Womanland, and had to visit Abortion Mountain to prevent whatever might have happened from happening. Yes, really. Both are real places. Honest. The Queen of Womanland proposed marriage to the Tang Priest, who agreed and then ran away. Ever since, Womanland and Heaven haven't had the best relations. While the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit exists in a kind of perpetual past time (but with cell phones), Womanland is a technologically advanced microstate within China. There is a Communist attache in town, but she has very little power or influence, and the Queen is pretty firmly in charge. For most of Chinese history, when Confucian patriarchy dominated, Womanland has existed as a counterpoint and salve to those tendencies.

The Shen underworld is Diyu, shared with the Deva, Palas and Kami. Yanluowang and his nine judges (that's King Yama, who has citizenship in the Shen pantheon as well) process the ghosts as they come, assigning them to one of thousands of afterlives, or decide that they died before their time and annul the death. Many dead never reach Diyu, however. Many remain behind in the World, invisibly, as tutelary Shen of groups or places. It's mostly those with more Buddhist tendencies who get directed to the more regimented afterlives. The largest city in Diyu, the Dark Capital, looks like a thousand-year-old Chinese metropolis, complete with a citadel housing the Courts of Hell, and of course the administrative records. It was from these that Sun Wukong removed his name, along with every other ape or monkey on the Mountain, when he caused all his chaos.

How do you get to Heaven? Mostly, you climb one of the Wuyue, the Five Sacred Mountains: Mount Song in Henan Province, Northern Mount Heng in Shanxi Province, Mount Tai in Shandong Province, Southern Mount Heng in Hunan Province, or Mount Hua in Shaanxi Province. Each mountain has a grand temple at the top, and almost always has a very long line indeed. If you're able, you must climb every step. If not, there's a chairlift, but you have to stand in line for that, too. Once inside, the local demons that staff the processing centers must be presented with a petition on one of the available forms, plus a bribe provided via one of the helpfully provided bribery shrines. Petitions done by hand in fancy calligraphy or with very good bribes, like your grandma's pork buns, tend to be processed much more quickly. Once your petition is processed, you head into Heaven, where you probably get lost, because all of the signs are written in seal script - a recent improvement from bronze script. Attempts to cut in line get you thrown out by ogres with iron cudgels. There are other sacred mountains to various traditions, of course. The Wudang Mountains are home to the most important Daoist temple complex in the World, for example, the Wudang Clan.

Next time: Kung Fu Treachery.

Kung Fu Paperwork

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Kung Fu Paperwork

Xiwangmu, Queen Mother of the West, is one of the major Primordials of the pantheon. She most often appears as a refined, elderly woman of noble birth that entertains visitors with tea, song and poetry. Her true form, however, is a massive storm of fang, fur and tail. She and her husband, Dongwanggong, the King Father of the East, live in a stone mension on the Eastern Wild Mountain, and they represent the natural chaos that counterbalances civilization in general and Chinese civilization in particular. She was the first ruler of the Shen, and reluctantly took on a more god-like form to help them out, but immediately retired back to being a Primordial as soon as a Jade Emperor was found. She is the mistress of the Peaces of Immortality, stolen by Sun Wukong, and the Elixir of Immortality, taken to the moon by Chang'e.

Ao Guang, the Azure Dragon King of the Eastern Sea, is one of the pantheon's more notable employed Titans. He rules over the color blue, the eastern direction, the element of water and a massive household of princess-daughters and semi-competent creature officers and massive divine superweapons. He's a very stressed out dragon. All he really wants is peace and quiet in which to maintain the seas and occasionally scare mortals with a flood or tsunami. However, ever since Prince Nezha humiliated his family in front of the entire pantheon and Sun Wukong turned out to be the single worst houseguest in the universe and stole his As-You-Will Gold-Banded Cudgel, well, every Scion that comes to the East China Sea seems to show up at his door and challenge him to a fight, or seduce some of his many daughters, or try to steal his magic bath towels or whatever. It gets really frustrating. His Purview is Water, and his Virtues are Dominance and Yin.

For a more enemy-style Titan, you've got the White Eyebrow, betrayer of Shaolin. In Mandarin, that's Bai Mei, but he's more commonly called using the Cantonese pronunciation, Bak Mei. He was a Chan Buddhist monk and a Scion of Laozi, but he achieved one of the less healthy and wholesome means of alchemical immortality. His research into Daoist black magic saw him banished from the Shaolin Temple, and so he betrayed them to the government, or possibly set the place on fire, or possibly punched everyone in the temple to death, depending on which version you hear. He won't clarify. Since then, he's been associated with shadier groups, plus the White Lotus Society and the Wudang Clan, and he's grown in power until he was able to steal Titanhood from...well, somewhere, probably by betraying someone. His most infamous technique is the Death Touch, but his entire White Eyebrow Style is notorious. It's derived from the older Tiger Boxing. White Eyebrow's Purview is Kung Fu Treachery, which is a reskin of Epic Dexterity, and his Virtues are Rapacity and Yin. Not that he's welcome among the Shen - he just has Yin because he happens to be completely and utterly Yin-imbalanced.

The traditional faith of the Shen is some combination of Chinese indigenous religion. Daoism and Confucianism, plus some Buddhism, varying by the practitioner and location. It's primarily a thing you do, rather than a thing you are. You venerate tutelary or ancestral spirits, you consult local spiritualists. There are several texts asociaed with these combinations, each focusing on some specific school of thought. There's a Daoist set of books inspired by the early Laozi, Zhuangzi and Liezi, which focuses on cosmic balance, Legalism and mysticim, or then you have the Confucian Analects plus the Classic of Poetry, Book of Documents and the Spring and Autumn, which end up focusing on how to be a productive and positive member of society and especially your family. Most also accept the Classic of Changes, which is primarily about divination and known more widely as the I Ching. There are a number of Daoist monastic groups in northern China as well, who mix up standard Daoist scripture with traditional shamanism in a wide variety of combinations. Most are celibate and vegetarian, but a lot of Daoist priests study their works without either of those things. There's also the formal Academic Schoo, Rujia, built around Confucianism, which eventually evolved into a religion that deified Confucius and incorporated more traditional practices. Buddhism, though, is where the idea of a religion with membership came from. Indian Theravada Buddhism changed in China, becoming a more populist religion known as Great Vehicle Buddhism. It focused on bodhisattva-hood rather than arhat-hood as your primary goal, and it, like most forms of Buddhism, never rejected any other faith. The Deva and Shen were invited equally to study the Buddha's Law, and many are wholehearted Buddhists, including Sun Wukong.

The most common Creatures found serving Shen Scions are the Animal Officers - talking animal people who may be wild and dangerous until you beat them up or teach them the lessons of Laozi or the Buddha or otherwise make them reputable. These sentient animals then faithfully serve. Ao Guang, for example, has entire armies of crabs, shrimp, bream and crocodiles in his service. Many can shapeshift into human or demonic forms. Followers may include Triads - Chinese crime families descended in theory from the Three Harmonies Society, a branch of the Heaven and Earth Society (a secretive fraternal group). Many modern Triads are secular but pay lip service to gods like Guan Yu, and are otherwise totally normal gangsters, though often rather politically active. Or you might have friends among the Wudang Clan, an ancient Daoist priesthood that is dedicated to political meddling and internal alchemy. Rumors claim they have influence everywhere from the Chinese government to banking to the music industry. They practice a number of ancient martial arts that align with their elechemical expertise, and they ain't nothing to fuck with. Relics include the Sky Ladders. See, any natural feature or thing that can get you into Heaven quickly is a sky ladder, but most are physical terrain things - sacred mountains, particularly ancient trees, and so on. You can get the portable kind as a relic, usually a collapsible ladder or grapple gun, though the Orisha, who also use them, like golden chains. Natural sky ladders are rare outside China, so these can be real handy. Somersault clouds are better for general travel, though - they appear as small, fluffy clouds, about three feet wide, which appear to be drawn into the world in ink or crayon. If you hop on, you sink into them and lock in place. (They feel like non-sticky cotton candy.) Then you lean in a direction and they speed off. With practice, they can be used pretty much like a flying snowboard or skateboard. The Shen also hand out constellations. Yes, those are collections of stars a vast distance away in space, but they're also conveniently located in Heaven, and can be used to communicate lots of information or inspire those who view them, depending on how you control their twinkling.

The Shen have important, formalized alliances with the Deva and Kami, who share many of their attitudes and stances on Titans, though there is that disagreement on what to do with them after you knock them out. They don't have the same kind of history and ties with the Orisha, but deeply respect the Yoruba views on ancestor worship, openness and bureauracratic efficiency. Generally speaking, the Shen are kind of bipolar about Titans, whom they call gui, a term that can refer to...well, almost any kind of monster but is usually translated as 'demon' for convenience. Yes, subduing them with extreme prejudice is a big part of many Shen legends, and nearly everyone has beaten the hell out of at least a few monsters. However, the Shen also employ thousands of spirits that identify themselves as demons. When the Monkey King was on the Journey to the West, most of the monsters he beat up with the aid of ex-demons Pigsy and Sandy didn't die, but converted to Buddhism and got jobs with the Shen, or returned to jobs they'd abandoned. The Deva and Aesir have both occasionally drafted a defeated and redeemed foe, but they tend to be baffled by the sheer breadth of mercy the Shen show even to repeat offenders, sometimes even seeing it as treacherous. The easy way to understand it, however, is to realize that 'gui' is to 'Shen' as 'barbarian' is to 'Chinese' in the Shen viewpoint. You forgive their flaws because they can't help it.

The greatest weakness of the Shen is their numbers. Billions of human souls have become tutelary or ancestral Shen on death, and maintaining the chain of command over literal billions is nightmarish even for them. Entire administrative departments or previously beaten Titans going rogue and declaring themselves cannibal warlords is just...a thing that happens, fairly often. Any other pantheon would be ashamed. The Shen just regularly draft their Scions into solving problems by declaring them 'beneath Heaven's notice', which is code for someone fucking up and not wanting to admit it.

The Virtues of the Shen are Yin and Yang, the principles of balance united in the taijitu, the Supreme Ultimate cosmogram. Yin is feminine, receiptive, dark, expansive and sinister, while Yang is masculine, active, bright, focused and positive. Each carries the seed of the other. A Yin-aspected person is subtle, gentle and patient, at best, letting them be sensitive, caring and adaptable. At worst, however, they are sinister, dishonest and ruthless. A Yang-aspected individual is bold, powerful, charismatic. At their best, they are strong, vibrant and full of hope. At their worst, they are inflexible, loud and angry. Every Shen, in theory, occupies a specific place on the yin/yang spectrum...but in the physical world, things get complex. It's not a simple interplay, and every action can be meaningful. You probably sway towards one side or the other, but your bosses, all the way up to the Jade Emperor, expect you to maintain and bring balance. It's not easy.

The Signature Purview of the Shen is Tianming, the proper ordering of the World via the celestial bureaucracy. At the head is the Jade Emperor, and from him flows all power down through countless positions, titles and responsibilities, providing the mandate of Heaven. Thus, the Shen are able to call on the hierarchy of Heaven and also control mortal bureaucracies, where are merely Worldly extensions or reflections of their ideal celestial model.

Next time: Blood calls for blood! The Teotl!

Sacrifice To The Gods, For They Sacrifice To You

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Sacrifice To The Gods, For They Sacrifice To You

The Teotl are the gods of the Mexihcah, and many other pantheons see them as brutal and savage. The Teotl don't care - they know the other pantheons are lacking in dedication. Blood is what powers and feeds the gods, and without the gods, the universe would end. Outsiders cannot question it. It's all about the nature of sacrifice. The price must be paid. It all began with the creator-Primordials, Tonacacihuatl and Tonacatecuhtli, who brought forth the four Tezcatlipocas, who then brought forth the other gods and were tasked to populate the universe. However, while they tried, they were constantly thwarted by the giant, crocodilian Cipactli, who consumed all they made. The Black Tezcatlipoca shoved his foot into the void to distract her, and she quickly devoured it, but was ambushed by the other Tezcatlipocas, who tore Cipactli to bits and used her to make the universe. Her head became the heavens, her tail the Underworld, and her body the World.

With her gone, five worlds were made and destroyed, along with all of their people. Each had a sun, and each sun was put out. First was Tezcatlipoca, the Jaguar Sun, who lit the world by leaping into the sacrificial fire, but the wounds left on him by Cipactli weakened him, and his light was dim. Quetzalcoatl knocked him out of the sky and took his place, but Tezcatlipoca was furious and set his jaguars to consume the giants that had populated the World. So second was Quetzalcoatl, the Wind Sun, but under his rule, the people grew lax and decadent. Tezcatlipoca turned the worst of them into monkeys, and the rest were swept away in Quetzalcoatl's great hurricane. He stepped down as sun, defeated, and abandoned the few remaining monkeys to eternal darkness. Third was Tlaloc, the Rain sun. He was bright, and his people were loving, until Tezcatlipoca stole his wife, Xochiquetzal. In grief, Tlaloc failed to send the rains, and the World was consumed by drought. Humanity begged for aid, but he became enraged and sent a rain of fire to burn them all to ash. From the ashes, the gods remade the World, and Tlaloc was replaced by his wife, Chalchihuitlicue, the Water Sun. However, Tezcatlipoca was jealous of her kindness to humans and their veneration of her, so he questioned her sincerity and made her cry so much that she drowned the World with her tears.

At last, Quetzalcoatl descended to Mictlan to retrieve the bones of past humanity. He sprinkled them with his own blood, making today's humans. The humblest god, Nanahuatzin, sacrificed himself to become the Fifth Sun, the Earthquake Sun, but to do it, he needed the heart's blood of all of the Teotl to set him in motion. As their blood burned into the sky, he rose, and became the final sun. There cannot be another, for if the Teotl fail now, earthquakes will tear the world asunder and celestial horrors will consume humanity. The gods know their duty now, and there is nothing they will not sacrifice to ensure the sun rises again. They expect the same devotion in return - and rightly so. The Teotl are a fearsome but devoted pantheon, passionate but fatalist, calm yet knowing they can change the future. They have a rigid hierarchy, but encourage their Scions to innovate and push boundaries. They are dedicated to preserving the Fifth Sun, yet they are also capable of terrible infighting.

Chalchihuitlicue, She of the Jade Skirt, is also called the Water Sun, Acuecucyoticihuati and Matlalcueitl. She is the queen of Tlalocan and wife to Tlaloc, and she has mastery over all rivers, oceans and running water as well as women in childbirth. She is beloved by her people and freely shares her blessings. The farms she favors never know drought, and mothers under her protection never lose a child. She blesses married couples and midwives, and offers her patronage to mortal and Scion equally. She will even make water bridges from the World to the 13 Heavens for Scions who earn her favor. Her traditional appearance is a Mexihcah noblewoman with elaborate headdress, tasseled shawl and green skirt. She is often found in the rooftop gardens of Mexico City when not ruling in Tlalocan. Her incarnations and Scions alike are often found in leadership roles as sailors, farmers, agricultural experts and guardians of the needy. Chalchihuitlicue's Callings are Creator, Guardian and Leader, and her Purviews are Beasts (All Aquatic Animals), Fertility and Water.

Chantico, She Who Dwells in the House, is also called the Ruler of Ehecatl. She is the goddess of the hearth, volcanos and precious things. She often appears as an eccentric but wealthy businesswoman, all in red, with rouged cheeks and fiery lips, and is a common sight in Mexico's halls of power. She owns Securidad Chantico, a private security firm specializing in home security, and Banco Chantico, one of the best banks in Mexico. Both are tied to the commodities market and sponsors of volcanic national park preservation. Homes that Chantico protects are rarely robbed, and when they are, Securidad Chantico promptly retrieves the belongings. Alarms she blesses do not fail, and her vaults are practically impenetrable. She is the protector of the home and its people, and she is almost obsessively materialistic. She loves precious things, and those who steal from her must fear her volcanic temper. When enraged, she becomes a giant red serpent crowned with cactus thorns and a plume of aztaxelli warrior feathers. Her warlike aspect is as terrible as any war god's, and the wise give her a wide berth when she's retrieving her things. Her Scions are often equally hot-tempered and passionate. They often specialize in protection and transport of rare goods, or are bankers, volcanologists or artists. Chantico's Callings are Healer, Liminal and Sage, and her Purviews are Fire, Forge, Order and Prosperity.

Chicomecoatl and Centeotl are the Deity of Maize and Corn, also known as Xilonen and Centeocihuatl. Maize is sacred to the Teotl and Mexihcah in a way few can understand, granting strength and vigor, growing where other things can't, and able to be sacrificed to the Teotl. Quetzalcoatl gave it to mankind, but Chicomecoatl and Centeotl are the guardians of it. Chicomecoatl is a benevolent mother to the Mexihcah and one of the most beloved of the gods. Her husband, Centeotl, helps her provide sustenance to them. Chicomecoatl used to be wife to Tezcatlipoca, and she can take on many forms. She is often a young woman in a feathered headdress, with face, clothes, hands and feet painted red and carrying ears of corn. She is also a young woman holding water flowers, a woman whose embrace means death or an elderly woman bearing a sun-like shield. Centeotl is a golden-skinned young man with a headdress full of maize, from whom the energy of the land radiates. They preside over massive harvest festivals to bring luck and food to the people. They are not as martial as other Teotl, but more well-loved. Their Scions tend to be energetic and vibrant, with a positive outlook. They bring luck and prosperity with them and are often skilled healers, taking jobs as farmers, sages, environmentalists, green businesspeople or doctors. Chicomecoatl and Centeotl have the Callings Healer, Guardian and Judge, and their Purviews are Earth, Fertility and Prosperity.

Huehuecoyotl, the Old Coyote, is also called Xochitl. He is a god of music and dance, a reveler and decadent with an endless libido. He's a notorious trickster and is by nature a loner, despite his massive entourage. He mostly avoids the other Teotl except for Xolotl and for having sex with Xochiquetzal. Despite appearing young, he has old eyes. When not partying, he becomes philosophical and knows many things. The price for his advice could be anything from an evening of karaoke to seducing a god, but it's never boring. His natural form is a human-like coyote, but he can take any shape. His lust is hard to satisfy, and sometimes he abandons his parties to go spread chaos and war out of boredom. Most recently, he convinced the Mexican government to cancel a defense contract with Aesir-backed German firms in favor of local Mexicah arms manufacturers. Other gods prevented war with the Aesir, but he likes to cause mischief. His Scions are lively people, intelligent and puckish. They make excellent revelers and spies, idle rich or prodigal musicians. Huehuecoyotl's Callings are Lover, Sage and Trickster, and his Purviews are Chaos, Epic Dexterity and Passion. (Not Beasts, though, for some reason?)

Huitzilopochtli is the God of War and the Sun. He is also called the Blue Tezcatlipoca, Lord of the South, Patron of Tenochtitlan and Champion of the Mexihcah. He roars to the dawn each day, flashing his Xiucoatl to banish night and escort the sun into the sky at the head of his army of the fallen. He becomes the noonday sun, banishing shadow, and as the sun sets, his warriors retreat on hummingbird wings to be replaced by the Cihuteteo, skeletal women who died in childbirth. They fight madly against the dark until the sun is swallowed into the underworld to be reborn. He never tires or retreats. He helped make the world, and it was he that marked the promising tribe from Aztlan for greatness, leading them south to Tenochtitlan, the center of the universe. He has since instructed them to abandon the name Aztec, for it is the past, and one must never look back. Now, they were to be Mexihcah, and few ever try to test this in his presence. His Scions are aggressive warriors, but always ready to sacrifice themselves for the people. They are modern Eagle warriors or gang members with hummingbird tattoos, fighting the flower wars to capture rivals for sacrifice, or they are politicians, corporate leaders or celebrities dedicated to economic and cultural conquest. Huitzilopochtli's Callings are Guardian, Leader and Warrior, and his Purviews are Beasts (Eagle, Hummingbird), Death, Epic Strength, Prosperity, Sun and War.

Next time: Itzapalotl, Mictacacihuatl, Quetzalcoatl, Tezcatlipoca, Tlaloc, Xipe Totec, Xochipilli and Xochiquetzal

Butterflies and Hummingbirds of Death

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Butterflies and Hummingbirds of Death

Itzpapalotl is the Obsidian Butterfly. She is of dual nature - both Chihuateto, a woman that died in childbirth, and a Tzitzimime, a star demon. Her Chihuateto side makes her loyalty to women and the sun unquestionable, and her Tzitzimime side grants her a feral savagery that leaves a trail of destroyed titanspawn and unfaithful men wherever she goes. She fell from the sky in a shower of Tzitzimime and toads, and she conceals her appearance with an invisibility cloak. Even in the best of times, her dual natures get the better of her. She alternates between being a protector of women and a night monster that inflicts madness, steals kids and seduces (and then murders) men. After the fall from grace of Xochiquetzal, she was given rule of Tamoanchan, but it hasn't changed her much. She can feel war coming, and while she'd rather not fight her fellow Tzitzimime, she is endlessly loyal to the Teotl. She often appears as a beautiful, seductive noblewoman, using a mix of magical makeup and rubber to remain human-looking. When it falls away, she is revealed as a skeletal warrior with obsidian-edged wings, jaguar claws and talons. Her Incarnations typically have more in common with predatory beasts than humans, leaving destruction where they go, but they can often be fiercely protective of the few people they bond with. Her Scions are usually more able to balance their destructive nature and the protection of the World, at least. Itzpapalotl's Callings are Hunter, Lover and Warrior, and her Purviews are Beasts, Darkness, Death, Fertility, Stars and War.

Mictecacihuatl is the Queen of the Underworld. She is also called Lady of Mictlan, Watcher of the Bones, Lady of Death, La Calavera Catrina and Wife Mictlantecuhtli. She and her husband rule over the Underworld, Mictlan. However, the rise of Christianity in Mexico slowed the flow of souls to Mictlan that she and her husband had to care for, but they were patient. One day, she found a solution - that death should not be feared, but celebrated. She whispered in the ears of the living, and so the Dia de los Muertos was born. She has reveled in her new celebrants and offerings, and now she is the Lady of Death, well eclipsing her husband's power and popularity. The Day of the Dead has spread beyond Mexico, and with it, her power. No one is ever fool enough to challenge her between October 31 and November 2, when the offerings to her make her more potent than any other. She has not, however, abandoned her traditional duties. She embraces all who come to her from the living world, and she is dangerous and cruel to any that defy her, try to steal the bones of the dead, or try to escape the Underworld. Her Scions promote death and darkness, working to expand their mother's domain. They are death squad soldiers, festival organizers, educators, lobbyists for cultural awareness, morticians, revelers and spelunkers. The greatest of them currently is known as Santa Muerte, who has paved the way for her family to tap into the prayers of death year-round. Mictecacihuatl publically praises her child, but some wonder if she fears that Santa Muerte will eclipse her. Mictecacihuatl's Callings are Guardian, Leader and Sage. Her Purviews are Beasts (Bats, Owls, Spiders), Darkness, Death and Passion.

Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent, is also called the White Tezcatlipoca, the Lord of the West, the Wind Sun, Ehecatl, Kukulkan and Precious Twin. He is the wind, the protector of craftsmen, the teacher of farming, the inventor of the calendar and the patron of order and civilization. He appears either as a great feathered serpent or an aged Mexihcah priest in red mask and black body paint. He is often associated with his more monstrous, dog-like twin, Xolotl, who guides the evening sun through Mictlan to be reborn. Quetzalcoatl's Scions are, like their father, tireless promoters of justice, mercy and learning. They are more compassionate than most Teotl Scions, and are heavily involved in archaeology, sustainable agriculture and energy, and cultural awareness and missionary efforts of the Teotl. The most beloved of all of Quetzalcoatl's children were Topiltzin and Nezahuacoatl, and they are the standard he holds all other Scions to. His Callings are Creator, Liminal and Sage, and his Purviews are Artistry (Writing, Feathers), Beasts, Fertility, Journeys, Order, Sky and Stars.

Tezcatlipoca, the Smoking Mirror, is also called the Black Tezcatlipoca and the Lord of the North. He is the master of darkness and night, who brings change by conflict, corruption and deceit. He is the patron of kings and the bringer of discord, who spreads hurricanes and teaches sorcerers. He raises a man to glory on one day to bring him low the next. He haunts the night, teaching sorcery and inspiring the weak to commit theft, adultery and other acts of depravity. He promises all you desire, if you can defeat him in battle and take his heart. No one has ever managed it. In the rare times when he reveals his form, he is an armed young man, painted fully black but with a yellow face, save for horizontal black stripes. The foot he lost to Cipactli has been replaced by an obsidian mirror that smokes ominously, matching the one he wears around his neck. Looking into either will reveal the future, distant places or the dark desires of the heart. His Scions sow chaos and grant desires, breaking the balance and leaving destruction in their wake. They are not entirely without nobility, however, they just prefer subtle and dangerous means. They are the Jaguar Warriors, assassins, sorcerers or con men. Tezcatlipoca's Callings are Trickster, Hunter and Leader. His Purviews are Beasts (Jaguar, Turkey), Chaos, Darkness, Deception, Earth, Fortune and War.

Tlaloc is the God of Rain, also called the Rain Sun. He is the supreme master of rain and fertility, and his favor brings life and healing, while his anger brings drought, hail or floods. The common folk love him, and only he of all Teotl was honored alongside Huitzilopochtli at the apex of the Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlan. He rules from Tlalocan, the Land of Eternal Spring, and is served by lesser spirits known as Tlaloques. Each Tlaloque lives on a mountaintop and collects water in sacred vessels, to dispense rain or storms. Tlaloc's face and body are black, and he wears a blue goggle mask that has coiled serpents forming a sort of moustache for him. He often wears a headdress of white heron and quetzal feathers, and he wears black paper banners sprinkled with rubber to represent the rain. He is quite an active god, with both a large penthouse temple in Mexico City and his traditional home atop Mt. Tlaloc. His Scions tend to be calm and compassionate, but can turn merciless when enraged by threats to their loved ones. They tend to be healers, farmers, meteorologists or hunters, and often work with the local Tlaloques. Tlaloc's Callings are Guardian, Healer and Hunter, and his Purviews are Death, Earth, Fertility, Frost, Health and Sky.

Xipe Totec, Our Lord the Flayed One, is also called the Red Tezcatlipoca, Lord of the East, Youalahuan or Camaxtli. He is a very old god, and very potent. He was the first of the four Tezcatlipocas, and is the lord of rebirth, new growth and renewal. He wears a flayed skin over his golden body to represent the first growth of plants in spring, and his blessing brings new life, cures disease and inspires goldsmiths. While he's mostly a nice guy towards humans, he does have a dark side. He is also the lord of war and disease, and he prefers sacrifices in the form of flayed human skin. These are mostly gained during the Tlacaxipehualiztli Festival of March, where victims are shot by arrows to nourish seeds with blood, or in reclusive fight clubs in which ritual impersonators fight five foes to the death in honor of Xipe Totec. The fallen in both ceremonies are flayed and worn in his honor, and some say that the skins grant miraculous regeneration and health, or even visions to the most pious Scions. Scions of Xipe Totec are often warriors, farmers, goldsmiths or healers, but they tend to alienate others due to the whole flayed skin thing. As a result, they tend to gather in the Yopica, a temple cave under Mexico City, to commune with their god-parent and each other. Xipe Totec's Callings are Creator, Healer and Hunter, and his Purviews are Fertility, Forge, Health and War.

Xochipilli, the Flower Prince, is also called Chicomexochitl or Macuilxochitl. He is twin to Xochiquetzal, and is the image of youth and energy. He is the god of youth, love, beauty, music and flowers, and he adores the hedonistic lifestyle. He is a patron of writers and painters, granting them inspiration and the tools they need to make whatever they like. He is also the god of botanicas, and his love potions always work. He is the patron god of the gay community and of male prostitutes, for his appreciation of love and beauty is limitless. Chicomexochitl and Macuilxochitl are the names of his online dating and escort sites, which grant safe rendezvous and protection to users and patrons, and the gay bars and clubs he blesses are always safe. He has special vengeance against those who mess with his favorite community. He is also happy to send venereal disease to those who do not observe his fasting days, but quickly cures them if you make amends. His Scions, like him, are always the life of the party. Xochipilli's Callings are Lover, Guardian and Trickster, and his Purviews are Artistry, Beauty, Fortune, Passion and Prosperity.

Xochiquetzal, the Maiden of Blossom and Feather, is also called Ichpochtli. She is a tragic goddess, for she had paradise and lost it. She was the ruler of Tamoanchan, as the lady of feminine beauty and artistry, but she became greedy and hoarded the forbidden fruits of the place. As a result, she was banished to the World by Tonacacihuatl after she took a bite from the fruits. She wept, but made the best of her lot, adapting to her new home. She often appears as a wealthy socialite, a model or a fashion designer, and while she holds court every eight years at Mexico City major fashion events, she is equally at home in New York, Paris and Milan. She is also an amazing weaver. She is the incarnation of lust and sensuality, and none can resist her charms even if they wanted to. Her Scions are many, and always beautiful. She is a fertility goddess as well, protecting young mothers and granting children to the barren. Her fertility clinics are always successful, and mothers that give birth under her protection find a quetzal feather and small spindle in their child's hand when they first awaken. Her Callings are Creator, Guardian and Lover. Her Purviews are Artistry, Beauty, Epic Dexterity, Fertility, Fortune, Passion and Prosperity.

Next time: 13 Heavens, blessed in blood.

Mexico: Center of the Universe

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Mexico: Center of the Universe

That's literal. In Teotl cosmology, the universe is a giant disk with Tenochtitlan, now Mexico City, at the center. If you go up from there, you hit the 13 Overworld realms, and there's nine layers of Underworld beneath on the way to Mictlan. The 13 Heavens are both wonderful and terrible, and are mostly the domain of the sun, moon, stars, gods and Titans. They are largely inaccessible to actual people, though there's a few Axes Mundi in Mexico (and a few more outside it) that can get there. Tonacateuctl ichan, the 13th Heaven, is barely visited by any but the greatest of gods. It is where the Primordial creators, Tonacacihuatl and Tonacatecuhtli, live. Human souls are made here in their great, shining palace. Tamoanchan is the paradise of the gods, forever sunlit and full of fruit and flowers. It's where the gods met Quetzalcoatl when he emerged from Mictlan to make the first modern humans, but humans may never return there. Tlalocan is the personal realm of Tlaloc and Chalchihuitlicue, a rainy paradise of lush fruit and cacao. It is the final home of those that die of water-based disease, drowning or lightning strikes.

Mictlan is much easier to get to: die. Otherwise, there's some routes through deep caves, temples and cemeteries, and you can sometimes reach it via the ofrendas of Dia de los Muertos. Scions going there must face many trials - one on each level. It's wise to gain the aid of Xolotl or his dog-faced spirits, and to bear gifts for the rulers of Mictlan. It's a cold place, home to those souls that neither died in battle nor ascended to Tlalocan. Each year, they are allowed only one day's respite to visit their living families. The rulers of the dead live in a windowless palace at the center of Mictlan, full of grave goods and human bones. Those who do not show proper respect are torn apart by the claws of Mictlantecuhtli.

Coyolxauhqui is one of the primary Titans of the Teotl, a daughter of dead Coatlicue. When she discovered her mother was pregnant, she became enraged, refusing to believe Coatlicue's story of becoming pregnant from a bundle of hummingbird feathers she found while sweeping. She gathered her brothers, the stars of the south, and decided to cleanse the dishonor by killing her mother. It went poorly, and Huitzolopochtli emerged from Coatlicue's belly, armed with Xuihcoatl, which he plunged into Coyolxauhqui. He scattered her brothers and tore her to bits. However, with the unearthing of the Coyolxauhqui Stone in Mexico City in the late 70s, the magic that kept her dead has unraveled, and she began the process of resurrection. Her rage is undimmed, perhaps even heightened by the pain of rebirth, and she now gathers her brothers anew to claim vengeance. Her Purview is Moon, and her Virtues are Dominance and Hunger. Her brothers are the Centzonhuitznana, the 400 Southerners. They are evil by nature and are happy to rejoin the battle against Huitzilopochtli and the Teotl. They are countless in number and all warriors, though only the eldest and most potent are full Titans rather than mere titanspawn.

Then you've got the Tzitzimime, skeletal demons that shine with silver light in the sky. They're stars. It is said that they will descend at the end of the world to consume humanity. Until then, they are only able to come down during eclipses and the five unlucky days of the year known as the Nemontemi on the Mexihcah calendar. They are always repulsed with great effort by Teotl Scions, and each year there are more of them, growing more impatient. Some have even gone so far as to slip into the World when they aren't allowed to. Again, only the mightiest are full Titans. Other enemies of the Teotl include the Giants of the First Sun, the survivors of the destruction of the Jaguar Sun who are trapped in an otherworld of pure darkness, with only the growls of jaguars for company. They are extremely angry and, if they can ever break out of their black cage, they will make the world tremble. There's also the Monkeys of the Second Sun, whose anger is cold and patient. They have found ways out of their prison, cracks that let them slip into the World. Once there, they disguise themselves subtly and work to unmake all that Quetzalcoatl and the Teotl have done.

The Mexihcah are an extremely religious people, steeped in tradition, and their ties to the Teotl color just about all they do. The priesthood of the Teotl guide them, educate the young, care for the temples and do divinations, as well as taking part in daily prayer and sacrifice. Every god has their own temple and rituals, plus a dedicated cadre of priests and priestesses. Mexihcah clergy are easily recognized by their black body paint, bloody hair and elaborate costumes. They mortify their own flesh, often, and are usualy trained to fight, in case of monsters. They have an elaborate hierarchy for both men and women, starting as tlamacatzon ('little giver of things') and eventually hitting the rank of tlamacazqui or cihuatlamacazqui ('giver of things' and 'female giver of things', respectively). The peak of the hierarchy are the high priests of Huitzilopochtli and Tlaloc in Mexico City, called the Quetzalcoatl Totec tlamacazqui and the Quetzalcoatl Tlaloc tlamacazqui. All priests must be immaculate in virtue, and if they fail, they must atone with a major sacrifice. Mexihcah religious ceremonies are quite elaborate, managed both on a solar calendar and a special ritual calendar that only the priests really understand - well, them and the tonalpouhque, trained calendar readers and diviners.

Sacrifice is the core of Mexihcah faith. It can take many forms - fasting and abtinence, offerings of food and wealth...but the Teotl need strength to maintain the universe, and that means blood. Of course, the Teotl have long known that largescale human sacrifice draws too much unwanted attention, so they've adapted by creating new kinds of sacrifice that are equally painful - a Scion might destroy a friend's reputation, destroy cherished belongings or even abandon their love in a time of need. There's also new ways to get blood. The Teotl's faithful organize various blood drives, work as phlebotomists and run blood banks. The old ways are not forgotten, however. Priests and lay worshippers offer up their own blood and pain by piercing their flesh with maguey spines, and soldiers and gang members that wear the hummingbird tattoo fight 'flower wars' with cartels and rival gangs, claiming prisoners to sacrifice. Other priests go to the terminally ill and offer them a release. The only real rule is this: a sacrifice must be willing. You cannot give for another, and it must be given freely. The bond between sacrificial victim and captor is more intimate even than family, and anyone that breaks this rule faces the wrath of the gods.

Common Creature birthrights of the Teotl include the Dogs of Xolotl, red dogs that can guide you to Mictlan, or Nagual, potent spirit guides or animal transformations. Followers often include Eagle Warriors - in the modern day, these are Mexican special forces teams dedicated to Huitzilopochtli that specialize in daylight raids and can be spotted by the eagle symbols on their helmets and their Xuihcoatl assault rifles. They often team up with Scions when off duty, and those that die in battle join Huitzilopochtli's retinue. Then there's Tezcatlipoca's Jaguar Warriors, who are often not the most morally reliable or the most loyal, but easily some of the most lethal stealth assassins in the world. Priests and Mexihcah Shamans are also common followers, with priests focusing on the grand scale of the people and shamans largely handling people one on one and fighting evil sorcery. Guides might include Tonalpouhque, professional calendar readers who interpret omens to tell the future. Relics of the Teotl include Tezcatlipoca's Mirrors, polished obsidian mirrors that can reflect the future, distant places or the desires of humans, Xolotl's Lowrider, a bright red 1964 Impala that can drive directly into Mictlan, or the Xuihcoatl of Huitzilopochtli, a weapon in the form of a flaming serpent made from the fire god Xiuhtecuhtli's essence, which strikes blindingly fast and leaves fire and ruin where it strikes.

The Teotl maintain close ties to various spirits - Xolotl's dogs, the Tlaloques, Xuihcoatl and so on. However, as you might have noticed, they have nothing but apathy for the survivors of the prior suns, abandoning them as symbols of failure. Their main priorities these days are to expand their influence and protect the world from darkness. They base themselves out of Mexico City in the World, and they and their Scions sponsor archaeological digs and historic preservation as well as working to spread Mexihcah culture. Every year, Dia de los Muertos gets more popular, and that strengthens the Teotl. They have only really recently begun to recover from the wounds of the Spanish conquest and reach out to other pantheons. They respect the Manitou for their ideas of there being a place and time for all things and their concepts of duality, and are renewing ancient ties with the Mayan gods, as well as reaching out to the Incan gods over their shared history of being conquered. Their contact with Western pantheons is limited, and they tend not to like them much. They have take an immediate dislike for the Theoi especially, for their treatment of their mortals, and the Deva, for their attempts to conceal their appetites. In fact, the only other pantheon they really like all that much is the Aesir, who share the Teotl martial nature and manner of life. Teotl, the concept, is both the pillar of belief that unites the gods and their great weakness. It gave their believers the strength to embrace blood and pain, but it also caused their fall, as Teotl can mean a sense of mystery. When Cortez and the conquistadors came, it was because Montezuma II could not understand them, so he named them Teotl, mistaking the new for the divine. The Mexihcah knew Cortez was no god, but their confusion and uncertainty disrupted the ties to their gods, who could then not intervene in their people's time of need.

The Virtues of the Teotl are Hunger and Sacrifice. Hunger drives them - the Teotl cannot just sit and wait for victory. They are driven to act, to constantly seek more, more of whatever it is they want. They are raw, even savage, unable to contain their lusts and hungers for victory, for sacrifices, for power. This makes them terrifying to face, but it can consume them. The flip side of this is Sacrifice - the Teotl cannot just do what they please. They must give of themselves, because they have a duty. They must serve their chosen cause and give what they can to help it, even if it pains them. They will give up their own heart and blood to further their cause. They must balance their intense hunger for conquest against the need to sacrifice for victory. Tezcatlipoca gave up his own foot to help make the world, but it is his hungers for glory and power that destroyed several of the suns. Huitzilopochtli led the Mexihcah out of Aztlan to a new land to satisfy his hunger for conquest, but he had to sacrifice his own nephew, Copil, to do it.

The signature Purview of the Teotl is Nextlahualli, a word literally meaning 'debt repayment'. It draws on the cycle of sacrifice, from people to god and from god to people. The Teotl sustain the world for humanity, and so their worshippers offer prayer and good and blood. This cyclical worship allows Scions of the Teotl to draw power from sacrifice and wield it on behalf of their people.

Next time: My Big Fat Greek Pantheon

Family Sucks

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Family Sucks

The Theoi say that the World was born from the immense chasm, Chaos. From it arose Gaia, who gave birth to her equal, Uranus, to surround her in sky. Uranus and Gaia had many children - the 12 Titans, the Cyclopes and the Hundred-Handed. However, Uranus was fearful of his children's power and hated their appearance, so he bound the Cyclopes and Hundred-Handed in Tartarus, far below Gaia, which caused her great pain. She made a knife of flint and gave it to her son Cronus, who used it to castrate his father, then hurled Uranus' genitals into the sea. He then took his sister Rhea as wife, and she bore him six children - three sons and three daughters. Cronus, not wanting to be overthrown as he overthrew his own father, reimprisoned his siblings the Cyclopes and Hundred-Handed, and swallowed each of his own children as they were born. Rhea, however, sought the aid of her parents to trick Cronus, giving him a stone rather than her youngest son, Zeus, whom she raised in secret. He grew, returned and defeated Cronus, forcing him to vomit up the other five children, and the stone. Zeus freed the Cyclopes and Hundred-Handed, and in return they gave him thunder and lightning, the greatest weapons. It took ten years, but Zeus and his fellow Theoi defeated the Titans in the war called Titanomachy, binding them within Tartarus and setting the Hundred-Handed to guard them. Zeus and his brothers, Hades and Poseidon, drew lots to split the world. Zeus took the sky, Poseidon the sea and Hades the Underworld, with the land itself being left in common to them all. Now, the Theoi rule over all, and Zeus watches his own children, for like Uranus and Cronus, he is destined to be unseated by one of them.

Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, is also called Venus. By tradition, she is said to have been born of the foam when the genitals of Uranus struck the sea. From birth she was beautiful and sought after by all, men or women. She is ruler of both love and lust, and while the prudish may try to separate the two, she does not. She was married to Hephaestus by Zeus, but she and Ares have been having an affair for thousands of years. Several times, it's humiliated all three of them. Aphrodite, eldest of the Theoi, does not begrudge Zeus' rule, for he is so often ruled by the passions of lust. Rome called her Venus, but she changed little with the name, save that she was honored as the mother of the Roman people via Aeneas. Julius Caesar and Augustus claimed her as ancestor, and the modern world still reveres her. Her symbol is everywhere - cosmetics, ads, even as a symbol for all women (which, let me tell you, pisses off other goddesses a lot). Beauty rules the fashion and film industries, and if the standards aren't the same as they once were, Aphrodite is more than able to adapt to them. Her Callings are Lover, Guardian and Creator, and her Purviews are Beauty, Fertility, Passion (Desire, Love) and Prosperity.

Apollo is the God of Music, Prophecy and Healing, also called Phoebus. He is son of Zeus and brother to Artemis, and his youth is his nature. He wields the bow with extreme skill, and where his arrow lands, plague spreads. He is equally skilled with healing and with the lyre, his favorite musical instrument. He is a prophet more than any other god of the Theoi, and he inspires a sort of controlled madness in his seers and priestesses, with many of the World's oracles serving him. He gained no new name in Rome, unlike the other Theoi. He is the god that kills from afar, and he doesn't appreciate mortals taking his schtick. He doesn't like cruise missiles, but he especially hates biological warfare, which is a hubristic intrusion on his domain. The fact that he's more than willing to punish use of it is, perhaps, one of the reasons that biowarfare has never been seen on a large scale. Still, he does like the great diversity of modern music. Apollo's Callings are Healer, Judge and Sage. His Purviews are Artistry, Epic Dexterity, Health and Sun.

Ares is the God of War, also called Mars. He is the son of Zeus and Hera, and he was the least beloved god of the Greeks. He commands the chaos of battle, but he is no wise general or reserved soldier. Rather, he is a terrifying and brilliant warrior. Mortals rarely sacrifice to him, and if they do, it is to beg him to restrain his aid, for a soldier maddened by fury is less likely to survive. The Romans named him Mars, god of the Legions, and made him a stern, unyielding commander. There, he was respected more than any god but Jupiter and is named the ultimate parent of the Roman populace via Romulus and Remus. Here, is the fine machine of war, precise in tactics, yet still unequal to Minerva in grand strategy, which still angers him. He wears both Mantles well, both as the mad warrior cutting and thrusting and the precise, industrial commander of men. He is still no strategist or thinker, though, and he despises unmanned but armed drones. He is the greatest warrior against the Titans among all Theoi. Ares' Callings are Warrior, Lover and Guardian, and his Purviews are Chaos, Fertility, Order, Passion (Rage, Valor), Prosperity and War. I'd probably also give him Epic Strength and/or Stamina, but that's me.

Artemis is the Goddess of the Hunt, also called Diana. She is sister to Apollo, daughter of Zeus and Leto. She stands between the wild lands, which she loves, and the women of humanity, whom she is sworn to defend. She disdains men and has never been married, and never shall be. She is forever surrounded by maidens that serve her, guarding her dogs and bow, and she comes out of the mountains to watch over the growth of girls into women and to bring relief from the pain of childbirth...or to kill them, for Artemis is both healer and plague. In Rome she was Diana, and she was there before the city. Her two Mantles are quite similar, and her temples in Rome were sanctuary to plebes and slaves. She does not appreciate the modern World's insistence on crowding out the sacred wilderness, but she has many, many more women to watch over now. She accepts any who claim to be women, and she works for women's rights across the globe, being one of the most active Theoi. Artemis' Callings are Hunter, Guardian and Healer, and her Purviews are Beasts, Epic Dexterity, Health and Moon.

Athena is the Goddess of Heroes, Wisdom, Strategy and Law. She is also called Minerva. She is the daughter of Zeus and Metis, and one story has her emerge full-grown from her father's forehead, carrying a spear. Others tell of her childhood tutelage by Triton, and of how she took the name of Triton's daughter Pallas after accidentally slaying her. She is a great warrior but a better general, for she is studied in strategy. She does not lead the armies of Olympus, but she makes the plans that Ares implements, for he knows quite well she's the wiser. She often involves herself with the lives of Theoi Scions, or even those of other pantheons. In Rome, she was Minerva, and was patron of trade and commerce as well as strategy. This was where the tradition began of dedicating schools to her, which continues to this day. (Actually, the entire state of California is ritually dedicated to her, too.) Her wisdom has let her adapt well to the modern age. She enjoys modern democracy, descended as it is from the experiment of Athens, but she hates corruption in it, which is all too common. She rarely acts directly, preferring to manipulate the organizations of the world, and she has many plans that may appear to be at cross purposes but always get her what she wants. Athena's Callings are Guardian, Warrior and Sage, and her Purviews are Artistry (Weaving), Beasts (Owl), Epic Dexterity, Order and War.

Demeter is the Goddess of Agriculture, also called Ceres. She is sister to Zeus and mother of Persephone. She grants security to mortals with her bounty, and in her honor, they offer her the best of each harvest. When Zeus gave Persephone to Hades without her consent, she denied the world its harvest and nearly destroyed all of mankind, even after the Theoi begged her to stop. In the end, Zeus relented and gave her Persephone back, but only for half the year...and so, for half the year, she makes the land lie barren, to remind the Theoi never to take from her again. Rome named her Ceres, greatest of the crop gods, and she was popular not only for this, but the Eleusinian Mysteries brought from Greece. Rome claimed her blessing made them prosperous, and her protection was granted to the Tribunes, who were guardians of the plebian class. Today, she is great and powerful as ever thanks to the modern technologies of agriculture. She is also the patron of organized labor, as the withholding of power resonates with her and she likes that mortals could learn that lesson from her. Still, many go hungry despite her work, for even Demeter cannot save everyone. Her Callings are Creator, Guardian and Judge, and her Purviews are Earth, Epic Stamina, Fertility and Order.

Dionysus is the God of Revelry, also called Bacchus. He is the lord of epiphany and wine, youngest of the Olympians. His father is Zeus, his mother the mortal Semele, who was obliterated by the sight of Zeus in his full glory. Zeus sewed her unborn child into his thigh, and Dinoysus was born a second time, then given to Hermes to raise far from Hera. He was widely revered as part of the powerful and sometimes dangerous Dionysian Cult, and has always been the god of foreign wisdom and madness. While the Romans called him Bacchus, it's barely a Mantle - Dionysus didn't change in Rome. He loves the modern World and has become patron of...well, every drug. Every drug. Also conspicuous consumption. He is the double-edged blade, wisdom and excess, and he adores both. Dionysus' Callings are Lover, Liminal and Sage, and his Purviews are Artistry (Theatre), Chaos, Deception, Fertility and Passion (Ecstasy).

Hades is the God of the Underworld, also called Plouton or Pluto. He is son of Cronus, and he is rarely seen, for he rules eternally in the lands of the dead. He is no torturer, but there is little he can do to make death pleasant, for it is death. When he enters the World, which is rare, he wears the Cyclopes' helm of invisibility. The Romans called him Pluto, derived from the Greek Plouton - giver of wealth. Few ever sacrificed to him directly, except as part of his role in the Eleusinian Mysteries as abductor of Persephone. He doesn't like the modern World much - there's too much of it. He's stuck in his realm, unable to experience all the new things out there, and while Persephone will act as his intermediary out there while she's in the half of the year not underground, it's no real substitute. Mortals claw at his realm in search of wealth, and the smarter ones sacrifice to him first as thanks. Hades may not be cruel, after all, but neither is he kind. His Callings are Judge, Leader and Liminal, and his Purviews are Darkness, Death, Earth and Prosperity.

Next time: Hephaestus, Hera, Hermes, Hestia, Persephone, Poseidon, Zeus.

More Issues Than National Geographic

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
More Issues Than National Geographic

Hephaestus is the God of Craft and Industry, also called Vulcan. He is the son of Hera, yet Hera rejected him. He is a master of the forge, very strong, but he cannot hide his ugly, scarred face or his withered legs, for which his mother hurled him from Olympus. In vengeance, he made for her a great throne which bound her the moment she sat in it, and he would only release her after Dionysus got him very drunk and convinced him to do it. He was wed to Aphrodite mostly as a joke, and he ignored her affairs until she lay with his brother, Ares, at which point he made a net and trapped the pair in it mid-coitus. Hephaestus is nearly as vengeful and vindictive as he is a genius. The Romans called him Vulcan, and while he was still the smith-god, he was also the lord of the volcanic fire, assuming power over both destructive and constructive flame. Every year he was offered the Vulcanalia, a harvest festival to convince him not to send wildfires. Hephaestus has watched over mortal technology, and while they cannot yet match his automata, they are coming closer. He has claimed circuitry and programming as part of his craft domain, and he has become masterful with them as with the forge. He likes the modern era, which gives him much more freedom to move around, as his wheelchairs are no longer awe-inducing just to look at, even if they do operate on very different principles than most and have strange abilities. Some people don't even stare at him any more, which he honestly is not used to. Hephaestus' Callings are Creator, Trickster and Sage, and his Purviews are Epic Stamina, Fire, Forge and Fortune.

Hera is the Goddess of Marriage, also called Juno. She is sister and wife to Zeus, and is Queen of the Gods. She is always watching her husband, but he always manages to slip off for another affair, and the other gods know too well not to get in her way when she's angry. She is the patron both of marriage and married women specifically, and she is called on by spurned wives for vengeance. Rome named her Juno, and she was given rule over community, men and women alike. She was more martial for the Romans, bearing the Aegis, and she ruled over the kalends of each month, as the goddess of beginnings and birth. Hera doesn't like modern Earth. More people means more chances for Zeus to cuckold her, and marriage is declining in social importance, especially in the West, despite her efforts and those of mortal governments. The institution of marriage has changed in fundamental ways from its place in the past, and Hera doesn't like it. People are choosing their own partners, even marrying out of love, and the divorce rate is sky-high! Hera hates this and fights it as much as she can. She's stuck with Zeus, after all, so no one else should be able to get out of an unhappy marriage. So far, her efforts have seen little success. She blames Zeus, mostly from habit. Hera's Callings are Judge, Lover and Leader. Her Purviews are Fertility, Health, Order and Prosperity.

Hermes is the God of Boundaries and Travel, also called Mercury. He is the fastest god, and the patron of travellers and thieves. He is a trickster whose image was placed on borders and crossroads - typically in the form of a bust with a large penis. He is the emissary of the Olympians and intercessor between god and mortal, as well as the one that conducts human souls to the Underworld. He was the one that invented the lyre, not Apollo, and he is the master of commerce and trade. He has learned much, and so has become a god of wisdom and magic. The Hermetica, it is said, is a dialogue between Hermes or Thoth and a mortal, to tell them the truth of reality. (Both gods claim the other was the one involved.) As Mercury, he was the Roman god of trade and travel, but Janus assumed the role of boundary god for the city. Hermes loves modernity. He can travel easily, run con games as he likes, and borders are now measured and strictly tracked by satellites. The efforts mortals go to in committing and foiling theft have risen to ever greater heights, and Hermes loves it. His Callings are Trickster, Liminal and Sage, and his Purviews are Death, Deception, Epic Dexterity, Journeys and Prosperity.

Hestia is the Goddess of the Hearth and Sacrifice, also called Vesta. She is both eldest and youngest daughter of Cronus and Rhea, and she tends to the Olympian hearths. Mortals honor her first in sacrifice, and she portions it out to the gods. She is the calm, dutiful center of the Olympian court, the one who does not scheme or seek power, and is not offended when she is not counted as Dodekatheon in favor of Dionysus. However, she is omnipresent. In antiquity, she was honored at each Hellnic hearth, and a sacred flame was carried to new colonies, for should the fires ever die or go out, the hearth had to be ritually purified and Hestia had to be reinvoked. The Romans knew her as Vesta, guardian of the family and the home, tended to by the order of Vestal Virgins. It was said that without these priestesses caring for the eternal flame in her temple, Rome itself would collapse. While this can't be proven, certainly the Western Empire fell less than a century after the forcible disbanding of the Virgins by Theodosius I. Hestia remains present still, in every cooking flame, at every kitchen table and in every power plant, for these are hearths as well, providing heat and light to distant homes. Engineers perform quiet rituals and ensure that sacred geometry is present when a new power station comes online. They've lost a lot of the sacred rituals, but they can spot a pattern, and no one wants to have an overheated generator or jammed turbine when a simple ritual might prevent it. Hestia's Callings are Guardian, Healer and Judge. Her Purviews are Fire, Fortune, Order and Prosperity.

Persephone is the Goddess of That Which Rises from the Earth. She is also called Kore and the Maiden. She is condemned to eternally shift from Hades to Olympus and back each year, but she has prospered greatly by it, for she shares the willpower of her mother Demeter. Each year she dies and is reborn. She has power over all that grows from the earth and all that dwells within it, thanks to her mother and her husband. She is the love of Hades' life and the hope of the souls of the dead for reincarnation...but she doesn't grant this often, for she knows it's a double-edged sword. Persephone was popular as part of the Eleusinian Mysteries, even in Rome, and there she was Proserpina, a mere Latinization of her name. In the modern World, she is no less famous, still revered by millions in the Mysteries. Her name is found in symphony, story, play and art. She blesses the world with life and signals its end in death, and always will, either as Persephone of the Spring or Persephone of the Dead. Her Callings are Liminal, Judge and Leader, and her Purviews are Death, Fertility and Health.

Poseidon is God of the Sea, also called Neptune and Earth-Shaker. He is son of Kronus and brother of Zeus. He is master of the seas that surround all land, and his fury shakes the earth itself. He stirs storms with his trident, to batter ships like toys. Fishermen and sailors revere him and big his mercy for sailing on his seas, and those who raise horses pay him respect, for Poseidon gave the horse to man by spilling his semen on the earth. Horses are offered to him as well as bulls. However, he is not a god of civilization or order - it was Athena that broke horses the first time, and Athena who showed men to make ships. Poseidon is a god of sudden and immense change. To Rome he was Neptune, master of all water, assuming the role that had been held by the Etruscan god Consus, and so he also take over as patron of horse racing. Poseidon has changed little over time - only really shifting in the past few centuries. The onset of whaling upset the balance of the ocean, and even now that it's mostly ended, overfishing continues to steal from his domain, and carbon sequestration shifts oceanic salinity. Poseidon has destroyed entire cities for less, but Zeus restrains his wrath for now. Poseidon is not a subtle god, however, and his fury, when it is unleashed, will be very noticeable. Poseidon's Callings are Guardian, Hunter and Leader, and his Purviews are Beasts (Horse), Epic Strength, Earth and Water.

Zeus is the God of the Sky, also called Jupiter. He is the son of Cronus, youngest of his siblings, but patriarch, for he went unswallowed and freed them, and he won the sky as his to rule. He has countless children, and has yet to be overthrown by one, even if that is to be his destiny. (He plans not to be.) Rome knew him as Jove and Jupiter, lord of the gods and the king of the royal family once the Empire was established. He convinced the kings of Rome to institute sacrifices, and his Temple of Capitoline Jupiter predates even the Republic. Oaths were sworn in his name, and oathbreakers were believed to be struck by lightning. Zeus is the greatest and wisest of the gods, yet he cannot remain faithful to Hera, and she has never forgiven him. It has left him with many Scions at any given time, and while they could be dangerous to him, given the family history, they are also one of his greatest weapons if properly managed. And who has as much practice herding argumentative, familial cats than Zeus does? His Callings are Leader, Lover and Trickster, and his Purviews are Deception, Epic Strength, Epic Stamina, Fortune and Sky.

Next time: From the heights...of Mount Olympus!

I Wonder If The Theoi Can Travel To Mars

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
I Wonder If The Theoi Can Travel To Mars

Theoi realms are pretty closely tied to geographic features. Pretty much any mounta can in theory lead to Olympus, and any cave can, in theory, reach the Underworld. Many Aegean islands also have Terra Incognita counterparts, all of which are surrounded by the Titan River Okeanos. Mount Olympus, of course, is home to most of the Theoi and is largely patterned on the actual physical Mount Olympus, but with palaces set in its many forges, home to the gods. They party and live and oversee prayers and the receipt of sacrifices, handed out by Hestia. They also spend a lot of time sniping at each other, because that's what the Theoi do as a default activity. The Agora of the Gods, the Pantheon, sits at the peak of Olympus, a palace all can use but none own. It is home to the hearth of the gods and their thrones, and is the general home of divine arguments, humiliations and councils of war. Hephaestus' Forge is another major area of Olympus, an immense metalworking complex that lights the entire mountain at night.

The Underworld is the Kingdom of Hades. The fastest way to get there is to die, of course, but once you do, there's not a lot of ways out, as Kerberos, the three-headed dog, guards the gates and allows no passage. Many caves lead in, most notably the one that Orpheus used so long ago, and sailors speak of the River Okeanos being able to reach it. It's a dark place, and most of the shades are just echoes of their former selves, regaining vigor only with a gift of blood. Five rivers cross the Underworld, most famously the Styx, which serves as the boundary. Any who drink of it lose their voice for nine years. The other four are Phlegethon, the river of flame, Cocytus, the river of lamentation, Acheron, where those two mix and purge souls of evil, and Lethe, the river of oblivion, which destroys the memories of any who drink of it. The Underworld is also home to Elysium, where the virtuous dead dwell as reward for their merit or heroism in life. Scions often end up there, if they die. It's a lot nicer than most of the Underworld, a place of ease, but even those that live there would prefer to be alive. Some say that those who go to Elysium may choose to be reborn, and if they live three virtuous lives in a row, they can go to the Isles of the Blessed, but few have ever managed that particular trick.

Tartarus is not the Underworld. It is said that an anvil dropped from Olympus would fall nine days before striking the world, and it would have to fall another nine days from the Underworld to reach Tartarus. It is guarded by the three Hundred-Handed, Briareos, Kottos and Gyges, who oversee the gates in the name of Zeus. Only they have the power to keep the Titans trapped inside. However, it is not only the Titans that are imprisoned. Tartarus has served as a prison for some gods as well, and even particularly wicked mortal souls. Sisyphus is here, still trying to push that boulder up the hill, as is Tantalus, mad with hunger and thirst yet unable to reach food and water.

Delphi is a fairly notable location as well. When Apollo slew Python, the serpent's body fell into the chasm at Delphi, with fumes rising from the body. The Pythia, the local priestess who is always chosen from the local population, inhales these fumes to enter a trance and allow Apollo to speak through her ravings, which the other priestesses would interpret. The Oracle at Delphi is renowned for accuracy, and the TErra Incognita of Delphi has had an unbrken line of priestesses since ancient times, their prophecies still completely inerrant if properly interpreted.

The Theoi and their Titans are family, and so their relationship is complicated. There isn't really a clear line between god, Titan and titanspawn, and some Titans have acted more like gods or Primordials, while some gods resemble Titans. Some roam free and unbound, but all know that the gods could change that if they pleased. Zeus has had kids with several Titans, and those kids are mostly gods now. Cronus lies imprisoned in Tartarus, and he is very angry over it. He ruled in a golden age and he believes he will again, if he can but escape and get his bloody vengeance upon the Theoi. His Purview is Fertility, and his Virtues are Rapacity and Dominance. Phoebe is the mother of Leto, who bore Apollo and Artemis. She was the first and greatest of oracles, whose memory of events to come was a potent weapon for the Titans against the gods, but even her foresight could not match Zeus' plans. She still grants her visions of the future to some of the Titans, but even she cannot foresee her own future. Her Purview is Fortune, and her Virtues are Foresight and Dominance. No, Foresight is not actually a Virtue. Rhea is the mother of Zeus and five other gods. Hers was the will that broke the Titans' rule, freeing Zeus and his siblings. She doesn't regret it. Like Demeter, she nearly destroyed the world for the sake of her children. Her Purview is Earth, and her Virtues are Patience and Endurance, neither of which are Virtues. Typhon is halfway between a Titan and a weakened Primordial, a great beast that nearly destroyed the Theoi by itself. Typhon has a hundred snake heads emerging from its shoulders, makes every sound there is, and calls forth a firestorm that destroys all it touches. Even broken and burned by thunderbolts, Typhon's flames still rise from the earth, melting stone and making volcanos. Its Purview is Fire, and its Virtues are Destruction and Fecundity.

The primary faith of the Theoi is called the Hellenismos. In ancient times, they were worshipped in hundreds of different ways that differed by city. In Athens, Poseidon and Athena competed for worship, and they chose Athena's olive grove over Poseidon's salty spring. The city is named for her as a result, and her Incarnations can often be found there. The Spartans called on Artemis at the start of any war, and at Ortheia, where the youth allowed themselves to be flogged in her name. Sacrifice of animals was common, with their bones and fat burned for the gods and their meat cooked for the community. Typically, in the modern era, many Greeks still keep shrines to the Theoi, but there are few full temples. However, the Dionysian Mysteries and the Eleusinian Mysteries remain extremely popular. The Cult of Dionysus is an ecstatic faith that uses drugs and alcohol. The initiated know that this is to seek a higher consciousness in the loss of self-control. Self-flagellation and ecstatic sex are not uncommon, and a lot of their orgies have little enough to do with seeking the god. Rome tried to eradicate the cult, but only drove it undergrand. It remains to this day, popping up in many places almost overnight, and vanishing quickly when persecuted for its excess. The Eleusinian Mysteries are a different kind of cult. They began as an agricultural faith, and they are centered on the story of Hades, Demeter and Persephone, particularly in reverence of Demeter and Persephone (whom they know as Kore, the Maiden). While the story is well known outside the cult, the inner Mysteries have been kept secret for centuries. It is said that they promise life after death, free of the Underworld's suffering, but only the hierophants know for sure. They have millions of worshippers across the world, but they concentrate mostly in Greece or areas with heavy Greek populations. There are smaller temples in these enclaves, like the Temple of Astorian Demeter in Queens, but the temple site at Eleusis is home to hundreds of thousands of pilgrims each year.

Thoi Birthrights can include Creatures such as the Kerberoi, the divine Scions of Kerberos, whom Persephone will sometimes adopt out to worthy homes, though it is advised to new owners that one of the heads is usually bad-tempered, or Pegasi, the foals of Bellerophon's steed, which can fly as well as their parent...though catching and taming one is not easy. Amazon tribes often join up with Theoi scions as followers, especially if they get a chance to fight, but rarely follow male Scions unless they can prove themselves worthy. Centaurs are known to be rowdy, but they are endlessly loyal once you've earned their faith. They don't carry riders, ever. Athena herself can serve as a Guide, as the patron of heroes, but she is also known for being a bit of a micromanager and manipulator. Satyrs make a decent guide for anyone that appreciates a good party and some chaos, for Dionysus grants them wisdom as well as madness. Relics of the Theoi include the Golden Fleece 2000, a jacket lined with the wool of the ram of Colchis, which marks its wearer as favored by the gods, the Helmet of Shadow, made by the Cyclopes for Hades, who loans it out to those who need to be invisible, the Icarian Wings, a refinement of the original Daedalan design by Hephaestus, which no longer melt at the touch of seafoam or sunlight, and the Thunderbolts, lesser versions of Zeus' own weapons, which may be cast into the clouds for safekeeping when not in use and which always return to hand.

Theoi Scions are, if not officially, always at least unofficial leaders in their communities. Many tend to know of their parentage before their Visitation, as the Theoi are quite tight knit, and some are even raised by avatars of their divine parents. The Titans are rattling their cages more now than ever, and the Theoi are not taking it lightly. The Cyclopes are busy making weapons, and Hephaestus has set his clockwork servants to watch for any signs of Titanic activity. One of their big unstated problems is that the Theoi know most other pantheons don't like them much. But when the family is threatened, they come together and watch each other's backs, regardless of their own rivalries. The Netjer are probably their closest allies, as they offered hospitality for the Theoi while Typhon ravaged Greece. However, the Theoi are eager for the chance to turn the tables on the Netjer, less because they want to repay the debt and more because they want to be the ones lording it over the Netjer for millenia. Hermes and Thoth are pretty good friends, if also rivals, though. Alexander's conquest spread the Theoi influence widely, as did Rome...and so the Deva, Tuatha and Aesir remember the Theoi by the mortals that came to conquer. The Devas have been exceptionally patronizing ever since their people halted Alexander's advance. Others still hold grudges.

The great weakness of the Theoi is their internal rivalries. They work well together against external threats, but even then, their immense egos can get in the way. A canny foe can exploit the divisions and hatreds within the family, turning them against each other...but only if they were very careful to not reveal their own actions in the matter. A trick revealed would cost them greatly, as the entire family would band together to crush the interloper.

The Virtues of the Theoi are Egotism and Kinship. They are a literal family, a lying, backstabbing family. They all have their own desires, but they can never leave. Family is family. Egotism drives them to greatness, but also to do terrible things to fulfill their own desires. Hubris is the nature of gods, and the Theoi are some of the pettiest and most selfish beings in existence, thanks to the immense egos that drive them. However, they are also family, and bound by the laws of family. While they have a knack for abusing each other and fighting, they also love each other. (Sometimes this love is balanced by hatred; this is the nature of the Theoi.) They will never abandon family. They've been together, despite everything, for millenia. The bonds of family are strong, and the Theoi know: sometimes, you have to choose them over your own desires, as they will choose you, when push comes to shove. Just...don't trust them when you don't need them desperately. The gods are patriarchs and matriarchs, and Scions of the Theoi grow up as part of this vast familial web. Some leave to join other pantheons or do things so unforgivable that even the Theoi won't accept them...but if they do, they earn the entire family's hatred. Family matters, just as much as your own desires do.

The signature Purview of the Theoi is Metamorphosis. The Theoi, mopre than any other gods, are masters of shapeshifting, both themselves and others. Many of their myths involve disguises or transformations. While their Scions are not quite so fluid in form, they are much moreso than most mortals, and can both change their shape and the shapes of others. Not that this great power frees them from the petty nature of the gods. The Theoi are some of the most human of gods, intervening in mortal affairs more than many others but also being exceptionally petty and unwilling to put up with prayers that they find waste their time. Their Scions can invoke them far more easily...but the Theoi are rarely good parents and can be quite moody and unpredictable, even so.

Next time: The Tuatha de Danann

Danu's Children

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Danu's Children

Other pantheons tend to look down on the Tuatha De Danann, the People of Danu, as merely the eldest in a host of fairy beings. While not entirely inaccurate, they won their place as rulers by power and force, standing atop a mountain of conquered gods and monsters. Since time before time, the titanspawn called Fomohoraigh, or Fomorians, ruled over Ireland. Others came to drive them out, but no success was permanent until the Tuatha De Danann came. They and their cousins, the Fir Bolg, descended from a tribe driven off by the Fomorians centuries before. The Fir Bolg returned first, and then the children of Danu. The Fir Bolg came in ships, but the Tuatha rode atop magical thunderstorms. They fought bloodily, but the Tuatha were victorious and claimed Ireland. However, their half-Fomorian king, Bres, subjugated them, stealing their wealth for his Fomorian cousins, so the Tuatha rebelled, imprisoning the Fomorians beyond the World, but not until after a bloody war that took much from both sides. At last, the Gaels came, defeating the Tuatha and claiming the World. The Tuatha took the Otherworld, and the Gaels became the Irish, while the Tuatha became their gods, bloody and fierce yet loosely organized warrior-poets with strange powers and rules.

Aengus the Mac Og, God of Love and Youth, is also called Oingus, Oengus and Aonghus. His title, the Mac Og, comes from his birth. His father, the Dagda, forced the sun to stand still for nine months during the Samhain feast, so he could be born in a single day. Thus he is Mac Og, the young son, and his Scions are often created or born strangely. All of the Tuatha are passionate, but Aengus is the master of love. He is called on as matchmaker and schemer for love, and is a master of cunning words. He appears as birds, particularly swans and others known for their beauty. He is also a fiercely protective and vengeful god, with no mercy for traitors or those that'd separate lovers. In the modern age, he has blessed a dating website, albeit one that's hard to find, and inflicts divine retribution on its trolls and those that use hate speech on it. Relationships started there, it is said, never end. He also mans a radio broadcast that goes out at late nights in any city that receives them, using his soothing voice to take calls from lonely people and solve their problems. He also patrons a law firm with no listed number that handles tough divorce cases, never loses, and works pro bono for wronged parties. Aengus' Callings are Guardian, Lover and Trickster, and his Purviews are Beasts (Birds), Beauty, Deception, Moon and Passion (Love).

Brigid is the Triple Goddess of Fire, also known as Saint Brigid. She is the three sisters Brigid, who oversee the dawning of the new year and the health of children. She is the direct descendant of the Primordial of the sun, and none can say how much that primal being lives in her. No one really wants to find out. She is one and she is three. As one goddess, she married Bres to forge a bond between the Tuatha and Fomorians. When war broke out, she sided with the Tuatha, and she created the mystical keening when she lost her traitor son to her own tribe's spears. As a triple deity, each sister has control of a different aspect of fire. She is the sacred hearth, that heals bodies and minds. She is the spark of inspiration that is muse to poets and artists. She is the smithy's fire, forging great wonders. Brigid's Scions reflect her multiple nature - the only real commonality is that they're firebrands and can't be ignored. Brigid Incarnates as often as she has children, and it's said that more than three Brigids have actually been around, as her children become her over and over. Her most famous Scion was Oscar Wilde, whose mastery of magical satire protested injustice. Brigid's Callings are Healer, Sage and Trickster, and her Purviews are Artistry (Poetry), Fertility, Fire, Forge and Health.

Triple deities are not really uncommon among the Tuatha. There's the Brigids, the rulership goddesses and the Morrigna. Scions are unclear on whether all of them are same god with three incarnations, or three seperate gods which are also the same god, or something weirder. Hell, with the Morrigan, it's not even always the same three, depending on who you ask and when. And then there's possible cross-pantheon triples - Lugh's got a weird relationship going with the Welsh god Lleu Llaw Gyffes and the Gallic Lugus. The Tuatha just don't talk about it much. While all Scions of a triple god can use the same Purview and Callings, they may well feel that the three are different people. (Some Morrigan Scions show up and claim descent from a goddess no one has even heard of, but clearly has the Morrigan's power. It gets fucking weird.)

The Dagda is the Ruadh Rofhessa, the Red Lord of Great Knowledge. He is also called Eochaid Ollathair (or Eochaid All-FAther) and the Good God. He is both a revered feather figure and mocked as an oaf. He sits at the center of the Tuatha/Fomorian family web, and no one is actually sure how many gods he's fathered, given how many lovers he has. He's believed to be Elatha's son and the father of Brigid and Aengus, at least, and he fosters plenty of orphans. Few outside the Tuatha really understand the Dagda. He is the most powerful sorcerer of the sidhe, yet he doesn't act like a sage - he eats, drinks and fucks to excess. And yet, he is more than he appears. He is called the Good God not for moral reasons, but as a statement of ability. He can do any magical feat of any druid in all of history, and unlike Lugh, it is not a matter of training - rather, he is simply innately talented. The Dagda is also Enech, a god of battle and plenty. His cauldron is one of the Four Treasures of the Tuatha, able to feed any, no matter how numerous they are. He cna singlehandedly raise a fortress, and he is a mighty fighter and wise strategist, armed with a club that can slay and heal. His Scions are famous as advisors and teachers, for a price, and the Dagda's great realm is a massive library. The Dagda's Callings are Guardian, Leader and Sage. His Purviews are Epic Stamina, Epic Strength, Fertility, Forge, Prosperity and War.

Dian Cecht, the Physician of the Gods, is also called Cainte and Canta. He is the proud grandfather of Lugh and the most famous of healers. He is one of the eldest gods, and he knows the ways of enchanting wells and herbs to heal injuries. When Nuada lost an arm against the Fir Bolg, Dian Cecht worked with the craft gods to make him a silver replacement. Of course, his son Miach proved the greater when he grew Nuada a new arm of flesh, and in a rage, Dian Cecht killed Miach. Ever since, the two haven't really gotten along so well. Dian Cecht enjoys making Scions out of divine prosthetics as well as fathering them. While he's mostly a healer, he does fight and help plan battles as well. His children are amazing doctors, scientists and mystics, and inveterate meddlers. Wells, sewers and canals are sacred places to Dian Cecht - any manmade waterway, in fact, can be an entrance to his Otherworld home. His holy waters are healing ones, though to those he finds unworthy, they are poison. Hospital he blesses produce almost impossibly lifelike prosthetics and get the best surgeons. Dian Cecht's Callings are Creator, Healer and Judge. His Purviews are Fertility, Health and Water.

Donn is Lord of the Dead, also called Eber Donn. He isn't truly Tuatha at all, but a Gael who led the invasion that defeated them. He was not respectful and insulted Eriu when she greeted the Gaels, and so she cursed him to never enjoy the hospitality of Ireland. When he tried fighting dirty, his ship was wrecked and he drowned on the promontory now called Teach Duinn, the House of Donn. He became the shepherd of the dead souls, and a lighthouse now stands there at the place called Bull Rock, an Axis Mundi that leads into the Celtic underworld, controlled by Donn. He is a regal god, yet very petty, as he resents his kin for claiming Ireland and leaving him to become a dark lord of the sidhe. Souls that lose their way to Mag Mell find themselves on his doorstep, where they stay as guests until he pronounces them either worthy to sail with Manannan to the Otherworld or sentences them to roam the World as a sluagh. He never explains himself, and most think it comes down to his first impression of the soul. Donn has a violent temper and can be sulky when he doesn't get what he wants, but the Tuatha offer him grudging respect for his dedication to being a good king and granting hospitality. His Scions are often found as hosts of all kinds - hotel managers, homeless shelter founders, event organizers, spirit mediums. They are called on to handle hauntings or solve disputes, and while the aes sidhe can mock them as pretenders, they generally change their tune when they have to actually deal with these potent Scions. Donn's Callings are Leader, Liminal and Trickster, and his Purviews are Darkness, DEath, Journeys and Sky.

Eriu is the Triple Goddess of Sovereignty, also called Banba, Eire and Fotla. The sisters, Eriu, Banba and Fotla, are the god-queens of Ireland and personifications of the isle. The country's modern name, Eire, is derived form theirs, and of all the Tuatha she spends the most time in the World, caring for the Irish and their descendants and relatives. She travels the world to spread cheer, do good, and take down anyone that threatens her people. Her collective trio rules over sovereignty and home. They fought against the Fir Bolg, yet allied with the Tuatha. No one knows why, and they will not say. Eriu married the Fomorian Elatha, and her son was Bres the Beautiful, granting him legitimate claim to rule after Nuada stepped down. Since then, those she chooses as leaders seem to become Fated to it, and she serves as the gods' main way of influencing mortal power after Lugh's Scion Cu Chulainn destroyed the Stone of Fal, one of the Four Treasures, for not recognizing his foster son as High King. Eriu's children are sometimes politicians, but equally often they are kingmakers and power brokers. They tend to be territorial about their homes, friends and loved ones, and they are vicious with curses and action alike. Eriu's Callings are Guardian, Judge and Leader. Her Purviews are Earth, Fertility, Order and Prosperity.

Goibniu is the Smith of the Gods, also called Gaibhne. He is the weaponsmith whose arms never miss and always kill. He is aided by Creidhne the metalworker and Luchtaine the carpenter. When they work together, they are a triple god, but Goibniu also stands on the war council of the Tuatha. The Fomorians consider him their greatest threat, though he is rarely on the battlefield itself. When Brigid's traitor son ran him through with a spear of his own make, he pulled it out, killed the boy, took a dip in one of Dian Cecht's wells and went back to work without complaint. He holds a grand feast each year in his Ohterworld, offering up magic ale that cures all illnesses and keeps the gods immortal. He treats hospitality as the highest honor, though mortal guests should know that his brew will keep them from going home until they've done their duties as guests - and that human limits were not considered as part of those ancient rules. Goibniu helped convince the gods to accept honor and leave the World when defeated by the Gaels. He often creates Scions on his anvil as well as fathering them, and his children work and play hard. They are generous hosts and providers that make friends easily and help out, but are vicious against those that insult or betray them. Goibniu's Callings are Creator, Sage and Warrior, and his Purviews are Artistry (Brewing), Epic Stamina, Forge and Health.

Next time: Lugh Lamhfhada, Manannan mac Lir, the Morrigan, Nuada Airgetlam and Ogma.

We're Number Two! We're Number Two!

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
We're Number Two! We're Number Two!

Lugh Lamhfhada, the Long-Handed, is also known as Samildanach, or Many-Skilled. It is often bragged that he is not the god of anything, but the god of everything, and it's only partial exaggeration. Lugh was the child of Dian Cecht's son Cian and the Fomorian Ethniu, another attempt at bringing peace. However, when Bres sided with the Fomorians, Lugh sided with the Tuatha. He was raised in fosterage by Manannan mac Lir and the Fir Bolg Tailtiu, who gave him many gifts, like the water-walking horse Aenbharr and the truth-seeking blade Fragarach. His skill at the spear earned him his nickname, Lamhfhada. His other title and his job as the god of excellence were earned when he came to Nuada's court to help plan the battle against the Fomorians. He was a master of all skills and arts, but each he offered up already had a god for it. At last, he asked if they had anyone else that was a god of all of them at once, and so he was accepted and made leader in the battle. He knows the sorcerous arts as well as those of battle and mortal skill, and may assume the mystic posture of the Fomorians by covering one eye, using one hand and standing on one foot. His Scions often inherit some of his Titanic magic - for example, his most famous child, Cu Chulainn, could perform the battle transformation called riastradh, which none could stand against. Lugh's Scions tend to be overachievers and champions, who work hard but make it look easy. While other pantheons can grow nervous when they use Fomorian power, the Irish gods see nothing wrong with it. Lugh Lamhfhada's Callings are Creator, Leader and Warrior, and his Purviews are Artistry, Epic Dexterity, Epic Strength, Forge, Health, Order, Prosperity and War.

Manannan mac Lir is the God of the Sea, also called Manann. He has great respect from the Tuatha, whose Otherworld realms are all islands and whose Worldly home is also an island. He stole his position from his father, the Fomorian Ler, and now rules over the passage to Tir na nOg. He claims that the Isle of Man was named for him, and given the number of Axes Mundi around it, he may be right. He was the foster father of Lugh, and he gave the god many treasures, and owns many more. Any Scion that travels to his home and impresses him can expect him to be generous, though impressing him is never easy. He tends to manifest as a merchant, a sailor, a guide or a jester, always with a hidden agenda. When the Gaels drove out the Tuatha, it was Manannan who divided up the Otherworlds between them, for he knew them better than anyone else. He spends his time wandering the World to prank mortals and ferrying the worthy dead into the Underworld. His Scions are guides and travellers, but their plots and pranks can make dealing with them difficult. They tend to stumble onto deep mysteries with an alarming regularity, which feeds into the rumors that Manannan predates the Tuatha and has seen realms long since vanished. Manannan mac Lir's Callings are Guardian, Liminal and Trickster, and his Purviews are Deception, Journeys, Prosperity, Stars and Water.

The Morrigan is the Triple Goddess of Prophecy and War. Among her many names are Morrigu, the Morrigna, Badb, Macha, Nemain and Anand, but there are others. She is the Battle-Crow and the Phantom Queen, whose presence is the harbinger of doom. She has many curses, and she is three, always three, but which three changes almost randomly. She is the nightmare goddess Morrigu, the raven-hag Badb, the mare-queen Macha, the battle-frenzied Nemain, the earth-mother Anand, the prophetic sisters Morrigna. She is the ruler of the battlefield, her bloody prophecies commanding the tides of war and her magic spreading fear and confusion. She changes shapes with ease, being animals or crones or bean sidhe, and even her favor is not safe. However, for all she is feared, the Morrigan was instrumental in the taking of Ireland from the Fomorians. She meddles as she pleases, and soldiers and bikers dedicate their vehicles in honor of her war chariot. She and her Scions manipulate all conflicts, not just war, with a vicious joy. They do not apologize, and they straddle the line between pursuing their own will and allowing Fate to guide them. They rarely reveal their motives until later, and it is hard to trust these Scions, but the Morrigan offers them all advice: never start a war. Always end one. Once loyal, they never betray. The Morrigan's Callings are Liminal, Lover and Sage, and her Purviews are Beasts (Cattle, Crow, Horses), Chaos, Death, Epic Dexterity, Fortune, Prosperity and War.

Nuada Airgetlam of the Silver Hand is also known as Nuadu and Airgeadlamh. He was the king of the Tuatha when they came to Ireland, and he led them to victory against the Fir Bolg. Had he not lost his arm in battle, he'd have held the throne for a very long time indeed, but at the time the law barred any man who was not whole from ruling. In his place, Bres the Beautiful was chosen, but he betrayed the Tuatha. Dian Cecht made Nuada a new arm of silver, earning him his title, and he took the throne again to fight Bres, but allowed Lugh command for a better chance at victory. Now, Nuada is king only of his personal domain, where the sidhe love and respect him. Ever since Dian Cecht's son Miach regrew his arm, Nuada wears the silver arm as a gauntlet to appease Dian Cecht's ego, and he lends it out in times of need to his Scions. They tend to be judges, cops, activists, therapists or philanthropists, often championing the rights of the disabled. They see Bres as proof that the old tradition was garbage. Nuada Airgetlam's Callings are Leader, Sage and Warrior, and his Purviews are Order, Prosperity and War.

Ogma is the Champion of the Gods, also called Oghma. He is the one who serves when the gods are challenged on honor to perform a duel or contest. He is half-brother of Lugh, son of Elatha and Ethniu. This means he's a full Fomorian, but he has always stood with the Tuatha. He was the champion under Nuada and under Lugh, and he is a god of might and physical feats. He does not lead, and nor do his children, but they are not muscleheads. Ogma is also the god of writing, poetry and eloquence, after all, and invented the ogham script, which allowed druids and bards to communicate secretly, bless graves and bind oaths. Each ogham rune is also associated with a tree or plant, as Ogma is the lord of sacred plants. Ogma and his children are not only champions of causes, but also historians, archivists and protectors of history. They compete, they fight, but always for something greater than themselves. Ogma's Callings are Guardian, Sage and Warrior, and his Purviews are Artistry (Oration, Poetry), Epic Strength, Fortune and Wild.

The Tuatha De cosmology is made of a number of mystic isles, each reachable by certain land-based Axes Mundi and many more by sea. These, collectively, are known as Tir na nOg, the Land of the Young. While that sounds nice, these fairy places are dangerous to mortals that plan to leave again - it's easy to get trapped in a reverie or bound by the laws of hospitality and obligation and become trapped for years or more. While some fairies are benign, others delight in trickery, or simply do not understand what mortals want or value, and may take offense at strange things. While common wisdom holds that the fairy folk descend from the Tuatha De Danann, not all believe it. Some say they've been there forever, some say they descend from the Fomorians or are their ancestors.

Technically, the underworld is part of Tir na nOg, in the form of the island Mag Mell, the Plain of Joy. It's a lovely place of plenty and sunlight and plants. While most make their way to Manannan's sea-chariot on their own, others get lost on the way and end up at Teach Duinn. Nearby is Emain Ablach, the home of Manannan's court. It is the Isle of Apples, offering up its orchard bounty to any guests of the sea god. It is possible to reach the place from the Welsh isle Avalon, and fistfights have started over why the two are so connected. Then you've got Hy-Brasil, the vanishing isle of mists, and only Manannan knows when or why it shifts in and out of the World - and even he might not be sure. There are also four island kingdoms in the far north, Falias, Gorias, Findias and Murias, where the Tuatha De learned their magic before they reclaimed Ireland. These island-kingdoms are mostly shattered ruins of wilder and older time, now, showing the early lives of the Tuatha. Beyond Mag Mell is the Land of Women, where fairies occasionally invite men to go. The women of the isle are friendly with Womanland, the Amazons and the shieldmaidens, who all take part in a shared cross-realm social media network with them.

The rest of the Tuatha Otherworld is split into personal domains, largely accessible via the Axes Mundi called sidhe, fairy mounds. Each of these realms is ruled over by one of the Tuatha, as decreed long ago by Manannan mac Lir after the Gaels drove them out of the World. Scions can bargain with Manannan or his sea fae for passage to these shores; there are other entries, but they are more dangerous, and the sea god doesn't appreciate people that circumvent his authority over the Otherworlds.

Next time: The Fomhoraigh

My Family Is Awful

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
My Family Is Awful

The big problem the Tuatha and their Titans, the Fomorians, have is that they're all related to each other. This big web of marriages and births is complex even for them, and it's less about existential hate than it is about fighting with the in-laws. Even during the active war, members of both sides married each other or jumped ship to support relatives. The Fomorians have been driven from their homeland twice by the Tuatha, been declared Titans, and they simultaneously hate and wield their relationship with the Tuatha as a claim to legitimacy. They call themselves the Tuatha De Domnann, the children of Domnu, as a claim to be the true gods of Ireland. Yes, they're monstrous where the Tuatha are beautiful, but some believe they've always been related, even a single group before some of them were made hideous and cast out. There is evidence that Danu and Domnu share some history, perhaps two shards of a shattered Primordial, or Incarnations of the same deity, or two parts of a triple goddess with a long-lost third face. On the other hand, Tuatha poem-magic and Fomorian sorcery are very different in form, if not always effect. The leaders of the Fomorians are full Titans, but most are lesser titanspawn.

Balor of the Evil Eye is the grandfather of Lugh and led the Fomorians in war. His single eye spreads plague and devastation when opened, which takes four people and prying back seven layers of eyelid, with each lid releasing a new horror. Balor has never forgiven his grandson for using a sling-stone to turn his eye against the Fomorian host or for killing him. Balor's Purview is Chaos and his Virtues are Rapacity and Dominance. Bres the Beautiful is the half-Fomorian son of Elatha who betrayed the Tuatha and tried to enslave them. Poets exposed his evil with satire, and when the gods demanded that he step down, he called on the Fomorians to fight them. Some suspect that Bres, former king of the gods, still creates his own Scions. His Purview is Beauty, and his Virtues are Dominance and Prowess.

Crom Cruach is a Titan but not a Fomorian. He is something older and stranger, a third party in the war that desires worship and blood - firstborn cattle and children, mostly. He will turn 12 of the herd of his cults into monstrous stone servants that enforce his will with 12 idols of power. He is a Titan of agriculture, and if not appeased he will rot crops in the ground. His true form is an immense worm with a ravenous maw. He currently slumbers, if not very deeply, after being defeated centuries ago by the Scion Patricius. His Purview is Fertility, and his Virtues are Rapacity and Dominance. Then you've got Domnu, Mother of Titans. It's unclear if she literally birthed the Fomorians or if that's more a metaphor, but she is the counterpart of the Primordial Danu, a mistress of the deep places and a stoker of the fires of war. She wants to be the queen-mother of the Fomorians-as-Irish-gods, it seems. She is a facet of the same being that Danu is part of, but most never really understand that. Her Purview is Darkness, and her Virtues are Fecundity and Submission.

Elatha the Golden-Haired, the father of Bres, the Dagda and Ogma, is worth noting. Of all the Fomorian Titans, he alone refused to honor Bres' call for aid in fighting the Tuatha, and is the only full-blood Fomorian who is beautiful rather than ugly. As Titans go, he's a decent person, a noble creature whose whims are hard to understand. He sails about in a ship of silver and dresses all in gold, seducing people whenever he pleases. His Purview is Prosperity, and his Virtues are Fecundity and Honor.

The Tuatha believe they once had several Primordials, but most perished in an ancient flood that drowned all of Ireland before all the invasions started. Only one remains - Danu, the mother of the Tuatha de Danann. Scholars believe that this being has another name, and that Danu is only one face, but no one can prove it. She primarily manifests as a deity of the Otherworld rivers and earth, a sort of mother figure that occasionally chooses Scions from among mortals or makes them from dirt and rain. Her Scions never speak to her directly, but rather receive visions in the water or messages brought by selkies and fae. Danu's Callings are Creator, Guardian and Healer, and her Purviews are Earth, Fertility, Water and Wild. Domnu is, of course, her counterpart. The two tend to act as foils to each other, and some believe Domnu is the one that drowned Ireland, long ago, as a creature of the deep water.

The modern religion of the Tuatha is Ind Iress, an Old Irish term meaning, simply, 'the faith.' It's organized mostly around small, regional groups rather than any international structure, and it treats the words 'priest' and 'poet' as synonyms. These are scholars and teachers who preserve knowledge in ogham script and oral stories. They know the preferences of the gods in sacrifice and how to appease the fairies, as well as local tutelary gods of rivers and natural features. They carve ogham runes onto wooden wands to read omens and tell the future, and determine the best time and method for seeking divine blessings or to avoid divine curses. Sacred trees and plants are used to decorate homes, and votive offerings are left in groves, wells, lakes, pits and other sacred places. The gods typically prefer objects of war, like armor or weapons, or things of beauty, like art or jewelery.

Common Creatures found in service to Tuatha Scions include Hounds raised by Lugh or Horses raised by the Morrigan or Manannan mac Lir, who both favor these steeds. Followers are often bards or filid. A bard is a more ordinary poet-historian and satirist, while a filid is more rare and can perform greater and more mystic feats of poetry. The Fianna are also common - bands of 10-30 warrior-poets that hunt titanspawn, patrol the borders of the Otherworld and the World, and hunt down and beat up troublesome fairies. The Morrigan's Crows are common guides, who deliver prophesy and warnings, and fosterage to other gods is also common, granting divine foster parents as a possible guide, too. Notable Relics of the Tuatha include Claiomh Solais, one of the Four Treasures of the Tuatha - a sword that shines like a torch and chases after foes. The Irish Muscle Car is the modern take on the war chariot, a vehicle covered in weapons and other methods of clearing the path. The Spear of Lugh is another of the Four Treasures, famously impossible to endure for long in battle. There's also Uaithne, the Dagda's Harp, which is also called the Dur da Bla, the Oak of Two Blossoms, and Coir Cethar Chuin, the Four-Angled Music. It plays at its master's command and will attack anyone that gets in the way.

The Tuatha maintain good relations with their fairy subjects, who are far, far more active in interfering with mortal lives than the gods themselves are. They find the gods' chosen humans fascinating, see, and get jealous of them, so they tend to follow Scions around to cause trouble. The gods, meanwhile, can sense the war coming against the Fomorians, who grow more bold and offensive, and actively seek ways to disrupt their plans and ceremonies. The Tuatha also spend a lot of time supporting traditional Irish culture worldwide, both to support their people and reclaim lost treasures from their old, forgotten pasts. They view the Aesir as long-lost cousins, believing that the northern kingdoms were probably once Norse Terrae Incognita. Their relation with their Welsh neighbors is more contentious due to pride - many Tuatha view the Welsh as annoyances seeking to outdo them at every chance with the whole Arthur-and-Avalon business. Some believe the two (and the now-fallen Gaulish gods) were once an enormous team of Scions from a more ancient, lost pantheon, who split the Gaelic lands between them. If so, it might be the key to reviving the Gaulish pantheon. The Tuatha tend to be belligerent and angry towards the Theoi, due to a possibly inaccurate grudge. See, the Fir Bolg were at one point enslaved while in exile in Greece, and the Tuatha have just assumed the Theoi did it.

The great weakness of the Tuatha De Danann is their great strength: the geasa. The oaths, taboos and obligations of the Irish magic gives them power, but it also binds their fates and can make no-win situations. Just look at Cu Chulainn, ensnared by two of his own oaths.

The Virtues of the Tuatha De Danann are the twin halves of Enech: Honor and Prowess. Enech, your face, how you are viewed by others - that has a lot of power. It's why satiric poetry is magic for the Tuatha. Honor is the way of the wise ruler, a strength of character, generosity and hospitality. Honor bids you to fight fair and keep your word, granting every courtesy even to your foes. Reputation is born from the prosperity of your allies and subjects, and you must care for them, even if you hate your brother or wish to be doing anything else. Loyalty is Honor, after all. Prowess, on the other hand, is the bold warrior's nature, strength in battle. A mighty hero does not back down from a challenge and never shows fear or allows an offense to go unanswered. Prowess isn't just combat, either - it also encompasses skill in art, music, poetry and scholarship. It is about courage and confidence, and it never lets you remain neutral. Prowess demands you choose a side, and that you stick to that, no matter what. Do your best or go home. The conflict between the two largely comes from when they must pick one side or the other, or a situation pits two sides against each other. For example, the warrior Diarmuid Ua Duibhne had to choose - his lord, Fionn mac Cumhaill, had a fiance, Grainne, who decided she wanted to have sex with Diarmuid over the aging Fionn. She forced Diarmuid to choose - uphold her geis and elope with her, or stay loyal to his lord. In the end, he followed her challenge and betrayed the Fianna, selecting his Prowess over his Honor, becoming a fugitive from the vengeance that Prowess demanded Fionn seek.

Geasa is the Signature Purview of the Tuatha. A geis is a ban or taboo that grants power when kept and dooms you when broken. These can be blessings, curses, sworn oaths, mandates or prohibitions. This could be anything from Cu Chulainn's inability to pass on hospitality or eat dog, or it might be nonsensical rules you have to follow to not offend the fae. Scions can lay geasa on others, but must always uphold their own.

Next time: Making it all work.

How To Be A Hero

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
How To Be A Hero

So, making a Hero is identical to making an Origin-Tier character, but with the following modifications:

Non-Scion mythical creatures on the Hero tier get somewhat lesser benefits. They get Calling dots as above, though one of their Callings must be their creature type - so instead of Healer, Lover and Judge, a Kitsune would have Healer, Lover, Kitsune, maybe. They then get Legend 1. Then, they must select one of the following:

So I'd suggest, if you plan to be a mythical being, be one that is a Scion. You get the benefits of being able to take their creature type as a Calling and all that, but get the better package of benefits.

Legend is both your power stat and the name for your power points. Your Legend is a measure of your mythic weight, the power of the Mantle that is growing around you and your Deeds. As your Legend grows, you get more access to Boons and Knacks. You also become more famous, but the connection is purely one way: fame does not grant Legend. Legend grants fame. Your Legend pool has points equal to your Legend rating. Most powers require you to Imbue Legend - temporarily spend a point of it to power the Boon, then get it back when you're done. More powerful abilities require you to spend Legend instead, reducing your pool until you can regain Legend. Legend runs from 1 to 12. 1-4 is the Hero level. 5-8 is Demigod. 9-12 is God, but most gods have Legend 9. Those with more diverse Purviews might be 10. Legend 11 is typically for the most important gods of a pantheon - the God of War, the God of the Harvest - while 12 is exclusively for only the top three or four mightiest of the gods in a pantheon.

As you go up in Legend, you gain new abilities. At Legend 1, you have your 2 Boons and known among your local cults and neighborhoods. At Legend 2, you get another Boon and a new dot to spend on one of your Callings. Your name is known and spoken among your chosen people and a fe wothers. At Legend 3, another boon, +1 Enhancement when dealing with the Attitude of your pantheon's worshippers, and you gain an omen, a cosmetic supernatural effect that shows whenever you imbue or spend Legend, such as flaming eyes or a shining halo or a flock of ravens. Your omen has no direct mechanical effects but can make for a good reason to use some Stunts. Your deeds are often spoken of and emulated. At Legend 4, you get another Boon and another Calling dot, and you're famous. You probably have a Wikipedia page or show up on magazine covers, your religion knows exactly who you are - you've got cultural weight and are changing the World.

Legend cannot be raised by XP. Instead, your sheet has three boxes, one for Short-Term Deed, one for Long-Term Deed and one for Band-Term Deed. When you complete one of the appropriate type of Deed, you fill in a box. Once all three are filled, you go up 1 Legend and erase them. However, the Band box cannot be filled again until everyone else in the party has gone up a Legend, too. When you increase your Legend, you may respec all your Boon choices.

How do you regain spent Legend? There's two main ways: Sacrifice and Fatebinding. When you accept a Fatebinding, you regain 1 Legend. Typically this can only be done once per scene. Sacrifice, well, that's more complicated. Typically, it means taking a scene and performing a ritual offering to your pantheon or divine parent in a holy place or shrine appropriate to them and in accordance with your pantheon's motif. Once the sacrifice is completed, you regain 1 Legend. If your pool was already full, you may immediately spend or imbue that point. Sacrifices are either major or minor. You can only make a minor sacrifice once per story arc. Typically, this is stuff you can get between scenes - garlands of flowers, expensive cigars, animal offal. Obviously, it needs to be something your god wants, too. A major sacrifice, on the other hand...you can make as many of those as you want, but they're costly. These tend to involve multiple scenes or entire sessions' worth of effort to gain, or may have consequences severe enough that even a Scion won't make them lightly. Human sacrifice is major, of course, but so is making a master-crafted effigy and burning it, or sacrificing the final cigar in a box that once belonged to the Incarnation of Eshu. Self-mutilation or scarification is typically a minor sacrifice and gives an Injury condition, but doesn't take much work to acquire.

Callings get some extra rules now that you have more of them. First: at Legend 3, 5, 7 and 9, you may rearrange your Calling dots as you please, as long as you leave at least one dot per keyword you've used in your Legendary Title in each of them, and at least one dot in each. (We'll talk about Titles in a bit.) Only one of your Callings has to match your parent. You can change Callings, but to do so, you must first commit a Failure Deed, a notable and important failure in pursuit of that Calling, and then an Adoption Deed for the new Calling you want instead, which will shift your dots from the old Calling to the new one. You can't do this if you already have dots in the Calling, and you must do both Deeds as part of the same arc.

So, your Legendary Title. This is a special Path that only Scions and similar beings have, and can be used just like any other Path, including making obviously supernatural Twists of Fate. It is composed of keywords. Each Calling has associated keywords, and you have one keyword per dot in each Calling. So you might have Warrior 2, Healer 2, Lover 1. Your keywords might then be Devoted (Lover), Renewal, Purifier (Healer), Bloody and Soldier (Warrior). You can also invent your own appropriate keywords, with the group's approval, if the lists for each Calling aren't to your liking. Your keywords represent your legendary focus within your Callings. For every dot of Legend you have or gain, you get one new Title that incorporates one of your Keywords. Your first Title, for Legend 1, is often related to your Visitation. So from our list, we might pick Bloody, and decide that we are famous for coming out of a house soaked in blood, rescuing a kid. So we are now 'The Bloody Rescuer'. Note that if you change a Calling as per above, you do not lost any old Titles you had, even though you change your keywords.

Whenever you do something that is covered by one of your Titles, you may spend 1 Legend to make that a Feat of Scale and increase your Scale for it by 1. You can do the same with actions that are covered by one of your Keywords but not a Title, but it costs 2 Momentum as well as 1 Legend.

Next time: Fatebinding


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero

While out-of-character, Fatebinding is chosen to happen by the players as a means of regaining Legend, in-character, it just happens. Fatebinding is just what we call it when mortals are drawn into the stories of the divine, and it is the source of both great triumph and great tragedy. Fatebindings latch onto a Hero or Demigod directly, but for a god, they often latch onto the Mantle and act to define it and how that Mantle's relationships will play out in the future. This is one reason the gods tend to avoid Fatebinding when they can and stick to the Overworlds, where Fate is much weaker, acting through intermediaries. For a god, Fatebinding can alter how your power manifests and even your sense of self, though embracing these changes can be useful...if radically altering yourself is acceptable, as it was for the Orisha.

On the Heroic level, though, essentially Fate picks someone and declares that they will be part of your story, possibly briefly or possibly permanently. Fate isn't mind control. It cannot override a mortal's will, force them to do what they don't want or puppet them. What it does, instead, is find people who were already predisposed to do what it wants done, then arranges circumstances to make it very, very easy for them to do those things. A mortal Fatebound as a Paramour to a Scion isn't suddenly being mind controlled into love - they were already at least attracted to or interested in the Scion, and Fate is now arranging events such that they encounter each other in settings conducive to romance. Either side can stop, if they have a reason to, but by default, the path of least resistance is to go along with it, since...well, everything seems to be pushing you together.

The limits to Fatebinding:

At Demigod level, Fatebindings are as often tied to whole groups as to single mortals, and Demigods can also be fatebound to mythic creatures. Also, Fate starts actively punishing them for trying to step outside their Fatebindings. This is where you get stuff like Cu Chulainn getting trapped in his oaths or the Aesir willingly going to their deaths at Ragnarok. Gods are even more dramatically affected, becoming bound to entire cultures and even being altered by their Fatebindings. The clearest examples are in gods with different Mantles - Ares/Mars is variously a coward, a brute or the model of martial virtue, depending on his Mantle and which societies that Mantle was Fatebound to.

Most of the time, an NPC will be Fatebound only to one person at a time, and only as one archetype. However, for a large cast, to avoid bloat, it is possible for one PC's Rival to be another's Paramour - you just want to avoid making schisms unless everyone's down for some infighting. Also, any shared Fatebound requires the consent of all players involved to be resolved in any way that removes them from play.

Fatebindings are modeled as Persistent conditions - one on the NPC, who gets the Fatebound condition, and one on the PC, who gets a Role Condition. Role Conditions can be invoked once per session to get a minor benefit. When invoked, if the Fatebound NPC wasn't present, they show up just in the nick of time, unless this is utterly implausible, in which case the ST can veto the invocation. Typically, though, it should be allowed, and can be done reflexively. Once per session, either the PC or ST can compel the Condition, to introduce an obstacle or difficulty for the PC. The benefit? The PC gains 1 Legend. Rather than invoking, a PC can also resolve the Fatebinding, which gives a more dramatic benefit but has permanent and long-lasting consquences on the Fatebound NPC, typically either removing them from play or altering the nature of their Fatebinding. And yes, this means you can both invoke/resolve and compel each Role Condition, each session, if for some reason you want to be in that much trouble.

The Fatebound condition is rated at Strength of 1 to 5. A Strength 1 Fatebinding lasts a single session, Strength 2 an arc, Strength 3, a Season, Strength 4 a Series and Strength 5 forever. Even beyond death of either party. If the Scion dies and reincarnates? Still Fatebound. If the Fatebound dies? Their ghost wakes up in the appropriate afterlife, still Fatebound, though possibly now in a different role - usually Jinx, Nemesis or Rival. Each time the Role Condition linked to the Fatebound is invoked, the ST makes a roll of (PC's Legend+Fatebound Strength) as a complex action. Once it gets enough Milestones to exceed its current Strength, Strength goes up by 1 and Milestones drop back to 0. The Fatebound condition goes away when its duration runs out, or when the Fatebound is removed from play if Strength is below 5.

Occasionally, a Fatebound will be Imperiled - they will face a Peril. This might be getting kidnapped by demons, requiring a favor for some reason, or the relationship with the Fatebound may run into some problem. Whatever it is, it shouldn't usually take more than a scene to solve, but should require some risk or hard choice on the PC's part. Once the Peril is resolved, the ST gets to roll to gain Fatebound Strength Milestones, as if the Role Condition had been invoked. If the Peril is not addressed by the end of the current Arc, the Peril happens, and depending on the nature of the Peril, one of the following happens:
If the PC attempted but failed to stop the Peril, instead the Peril just sticks around for another arc and probably gets bigger and worse - disaster is only when you fail to do anything.

Next time: Fatebound Roles - the Apprentice, the Balm, the Boon Companion, the Canary/Martyr, the Jinx, the Nemesis, the Paramour, the Rival, the Traitor, the Worshipper/Unrequited Paramour.

Central Casting

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Central Casting

I will note: I didn't mention it, but you should be recording your Deeds on a list, because they are the mythic actions that build your legend. These are the things people will tell stories about, and the things that, as you rise in power, will bind you.

The Apprentice is a mortal Fatebound to learn something from the Scion - maybe a skill, maybe specific lessons, maybe just general philosophy. The Apprentice can be Invoked when you fail an action, to have your Apprentice learn by making a mistake you were too wise to. It...does something that actually isn't at all helpful on the face of it. It takes your Consolation away and turns it into a Complication instead, and if that Complication's rating is less than or equal to the Fatebinding's Strength, it affects the Apprentice instead. However, if this makes your roll succeed instead and then just throws the Complication at you (or your Apprentice), that's actually really good. It's not totally clear. When you Compel the Apprentice, they try to help at the worst time. You gain 1 Legend, but your next action must be a mixed action - whatever you were doing, plus stopping the Apprentice from doing something disastrous, using a dicepool chosen by the ST, with Difficulty of (Fatebinding Strength/2). The ST chooses what happens if you fail. If you Resolve the Apprentice, you gain wisdom from their study. One complex action automatically gains (Fatebinding Strength/2) Milestones, and then you choose:

The Balm is a mortal that always there to calm you and keep you centered. When you invoke the Balm, you move one space towards the center of the Virtue track. This counts as resolving the Virtuous Condition, and can't be used if you're already at the center. You can compel the Balm when you reinforce a Virtue to make the Balm's presence question your Virtues. You gain 1 Legend, but no Momentum, and do not change position on the track unless it moves you toward the center. You may Resolve the Balm to immediately set yourself to either Virtue extreme and gain Momentum as if you'd fulfilled the Virtue, but you also either end the relationship catastrophically or change it forever. You must choose:

The Boon Companion is a mortal Fatebound to be your friend and comrade. When you invoke the Boon Companion, your next action benefits from teamwork as if they had rolled (Fatebinding Strength) successes. You may compel the Boon Companion to have your friend need your help. You regain 1 Legend, but the Boon Companion becomes Imperiled in the form of needing a favor, and if you let it go unanswered, the Fatebinding Strength is reduced by 1. You may Resolve the Boon Companion after rolling an action to have them swoop in to help. You automatically succeed at the action with (Fatebinding Strength) Enhancement, then choose:

The Canary and Martyr are identical; the difference is that the Canary stumbles into problems that you might miss, while the Martyr is willing to die for you. When you invoke them, you may reroll an action you botched, and the Canary suffers any consequences or drawbacks of the botch in your place, such as wandering into an ambush or blurting out a faux pas. However, Canaries and Martyrs tend to get in trouble, too - when you compel them, they become Imperiled in the form of imminent threat of death or great harm. You may Resolve the Canary or Martyr to remove a single dramatic, life-threatening obstacle from the scene. When you do, the Canary or Martyr dies. You record a Deed, and a Failure Deed in the appropriate Calling.

The Jinx is Fatebound to bring you bad luck - maybe inadvertantly, like a sidekick that screws up constantly, or maybe deliberate, like an angry ghost cursing you. When you invoke the Jinx, you suffer a narrative disadvantage, similar to compelling a Path, but gain (Fatebinding Strength) Momentum. The disadvantage is somehow related to the Fatebound. When you compel the Jinx, the bad luck spreads. You gain 1 Legend, but one of your other Fatebound becomes Imperiled; if you don't have any, the ST picks an NPC to become Imperiled. You may Resolve the Jinx before a roll; when you do, you automatically botch the roll and record a Deed. Then, choose:

The Nemesis is your sworn foe. You may invoke the Nemesis to define how they are involved in some element of the current opposition in the story - perhaps they hired the Onis that came to kill you, or they're the killer you're hunting. You get a reserve of (Fatebinding Strength) successes to spend on Stunts until the end of the session, because you know the Nemesis so well. You may Compel the Nemesis before making a roll to have them meddle with you. You automatically fail the roll and gain 1 Legend in addition to your Consolation. You may Resolve the Nemesis to force a dramatic confrontation. Add (Fatebinding Strength) to both the Momentum and Tension pools. Depending on how this plays out, one of the following happens:

The Paramour is someone drawn to you romantically, which you reciprocate. You may invoke the Paramour to gain a single use of a single Lover Knack (which must be a Heroic or Soul Knack, at Strength 1-3; no, we don't know what a Soul Knack is. At Strength 4+, it can be an Immortal Knack). If the Knack only works on someone you love, it must be the Paramour. When you compel the Paramour, they become Imperiled. The peril is usually in the form of relationship conflict, but can also be kidnapping. When you Resolve the Paramour, you and the Paramour may perform a teamwork action at Scale of (Fatebinding Strength), then choose:

The Rival competes with you somehow - maybe business, maybe romantically, whatever. When you invoke the Rival, you get (Fatebinding Strength) Enhancement on an action to best, outwit or otherwise show up the Rival, even if they are not personally present, as long as it's something they'll at least hear about and get super mad over. When you compel the Rival, they get that Enhancement on an appropriate roll against you, and you gain 1 Legend. When you Resolve the Rival, the two of you put aside your differences briefly to address a greater threat. Before rolling, you may spend Tension as if it was Momentum, up to (Fatebinding Strength) Tension, for one roll. Then, choose:

The Traitor is not what they appear to be. The player knows they're a Traitor; the character doesn't. The ST and player choose an appropriate apparent Fatebinding, which the Traitor acts as with a Strength of 2, and the Actual Fatebinding, which is what they really are. When invoked, they give the benefit of invoking that Role, and mark is made. When enough marks are made to equal the Traitor's Fatebinding Strength, resolve the Fatebinding. When compelled, they give the compel of the Actual role, rather than the Apparent one. When the Traitor is Resolved, the Tension pool fills to its maximum, the Actual Fatebinding is revealed to all, and the Traitor becomes the Actual Fatebinding role at equal Strength. You record a Deed, and a Failure Deed in the appropriate Calling.

The Worshipper and Unrequited Paramour are mechanically identical; either they're in awe of you or are in love with you but you don't reciprocate. Either way, they're trying to help you. When you invoke them, you may use the resources or narrative advantages of one of their Paths as if it was yours. When you compel them, they become jealous of your other relationships. You gain 1 Legend, but one of your other Fatebound becomes Imperiled, with the peril relating to the Worshipper/Unrequited Paramour stalking them or harassing them. If you have no other Fatebound, the ST chooses an NPC to Imperil instead. When you Resolve them, they become what they think you want - use the resolution of any other Role of your choice, except then you must choose one of the following:

e: also worth remembering - if you get a Fatebinding Strength up to 5, death doesn't get rid of them, it just changes them into a ghost that is likely to cause you problems.

Next time: Birthrights.

All This Can Be Yours

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

All This Can Be Yours

Birthrights are the divine gifts granted to you. They come in four varieties, all of which are pretty customizable: Creatures, Followers, Guides and Relics. Demigods and Gods get access to other Birthrights, but these are what you have for now.

Creatures are...well, mythic beasts that serve, ranging from Inari's foxes to Odin's ravens to basilisks or dragons. They might be intelligent or might not, though they are unlikely to be the brightest creatures - if you want a person that listens to you, take Followers instead of Creature. Creatures are more...pets, companions, mounts. They are loyal and obedient, though they may require negotiations if they're smart enough. If not, it can be assumed that they know at least (dot level) commands and will obey them. Creatures are assumed to be willing to die for you, as long as you seem to be loyal to them as well, though they aren't suicidal and won't go looking for their own death for no reason. Creatures are constructed as Antagonists - they have a base primary dicepool, determined by their dot level, and then you buy Flairs and Qualities for them at a rate of 2 dice per Flair or Quality you want. At the end of this, you take your dicepool size for the primary and match that to the appropriate Antagonist archetype, from what I can tell, to fill out their stats. You get to define their primary dicepool, but it needs to thematically match them. Obviously, any Tension costs must be paid with Momentum, instead.

Creature 1 is generally for small, mundane and largely ineffectual critters - they have a base dicepool of 3 before spending.
Creature 2 is for a larger mundane critter - a wolf or crocodile, say - or a weak mythological critter, like a Chinese fox or a serpopard. Base dicepool 6.
Creature 3 is good for a modestly potent mythic creature, like a hellhound or pegasus. Base pool 9.
Creature 4 is a potent beast, like a manticore, guardian lion or anka. Base pool 12.
Creature 5 is something unique and terrifying, like a sphinx, basilisk or kirin. Base pool 15.

Followers are your companions, sidekicks or gangs. The Fianna, Pigsy and the Sand Monk, a band of Amazons, your faerie servant, whatever. Followers are assumed to be loyal, either because a god has ordered it or because you've earned it. They're generally sentient beings, and if mistreated enough they might leave, of course. Followers can be mortal, but most are mythic beings or at least touched by Fate. Your pet dog isn't a Follower unless it's a Cu Sith, and if your football team are your Followers, some of them are probably alfar. Followers are NPCs, but they don't make rolls normally. Instead, they function as a kind of living equipment for you that gives you extra options.

First, you need to define what your Followers are, which determines what they can do narratively. A football team, a flock of ravens and your bodyguard all do different stuff, after all. They have whatever equipment or items fit their concept. You also pick an Archetype for them, which determines what arena they're helpful in. These are: Heavy, for physical stuff, Entourage, for social stuff, and Consultant for mental stuff. Then, for each dot invested in them, Followers get one tag. They have one Bruised and one Maimed box before being Taken Out, and have Defense of half their rating. You and they can take damage for each other if you're both present, and they do not act independently. Rather, they act on your turn, and commanding them to do something takes your turn, using a roll of one of your Attributes, plus the higher of their rating and your Leadership. Followers that get Taken Out typically reform at the start of the next session; if they're gone for good, you get the dots back to spend on other Birthrights freely, including new Followers. The Followers are NPCs controlled by the ST when dice aren't involved, but you command them when dice are rolled. If they're unhappy and mutinous, they likely may produce Complications, but it is assumed that they will never actually betray you unless you're down with that OOCly. Singular Followers can't be Fatebound to anyone but their master, but members of Follower groups can be; however, anything that'd permanently remove such a character from play must have your consent.

Tags for Followers include Archetype (They get another Archetype), Group (they're actually a group of 5-15 guys), Mob (replaces Group, for a mob of 20-50 guys), Savage (they get Enhancement 2 on actions to harm others), Helpful (they add a free Interval to any Complex action that is in line with what they're good at), Knack (they get a single Knack they can use, which can be Immortal at Followers 4+) and Unruly (all Difficulties on actions to command them get +1, but you get 1 Momentum when you fail those rolls).

Guides are your mentors and day-to-day advisors; the average god has to be distant and avoid intervention except when strictly necessary, see, and even then they don't usually stick around long. Thus, you find your advice needs fulfilled elsewhere. Guides can be anything from a god's mortal Incarnation to a legendary critter like a kitsune or dwarf to a Titan or titanspawn to an oracle or witch to another Scion. Hell, if you want to get weird, a Guide could be a ghost or a talking Relic or your own prophetic dreams or past life memories. While a weaker Guide will likely have fewer dots, the dot value of a Guide is more about how useful they are. You could have an extremely potent Titan as a low-dot Guide if they can't or won't help you out very often.

The Guide is both a character and a resource, and the ST needn't stat it out fully unless they want to. Rather, a Guide can be invoked like a Path in order to get narrative benefits. If you call on the Guide this way too much, you get the Paying Tribute condition, which gives you a new Deed to repay your debt, and until you do, you Complication equal to the Guide's rating to any action that doesn't work towards doing that. Once per arc, you can call on your Guide for a deus ex machina solution, though only one Guide can be called this way at a time. Basically, by some means available to the Guide, they empower you. For the rest of the scene, you are treated as if you were a full Tier higher than you are and may use one Boon you don't know from a Purview you have access to. At the end of the scene, you get the Tempted Fate condition, which immediately compels one of your Fatebindings, and until you resolve a number of Fatebindings based on your Guide's dot level (more for a lower-dot Guide, as they had to call on more power), you can no longer access any of the benefits your Guide would normally provide, including any access to Boons or Knacks they allowed you to purchase.

All Guides provide access to a unique stunt that can be used with their Asset Skills when you invoke them; they have two Asset Skills (except for one-dot Guides, who only have one). They also provide any generalized access to equipment, allies, contacts and so on that a Path would, following the same rules as a Path. For every dot above the second, they also get one of the following benefits:
A Guide at 3+ may also have a unique Knack you get access to. Depending on the power of this Knack, it may be able to be combined with the above, or may take up one or even two 'slots' of Guide benefit.

The game provides a number of example Guides, including a bodhisattva (Guide 1), one of the Animikii (Guide 2), an Ifa diviner (Guide 2), a magic scarab beetle (Guide 3), the Titan White Eyebrow (Guide 3), an Incarnation of Itzpapalotl (Guide 4), an Incarnation of a Muse (Guide 4), a Kodama (Guide 5), or Preceptor Drona (Guide 5).

Next time: Relics, which are complicated.

Relics of the Past

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Relics of the Past

Relics are your legendary gear, your great tools. Your Excalibur, your Golden Fleece. These are some of the most common Birthrights, as they represent obvious power and - more than any other - don't care about pantheon. You find a Netjer relic but you're Teotl? That's fine. Use it and be happy. Most Scions get at least one Relic as part of their Visitation, and may be given more as time passes. It's also not uncommon to quest for or seek out lost Relics, or to steal them from other Scions or from Titans. They can even be made, though not at Hero-level, typically.

Typically, Relics come in five types, though they can fall under multiple of these categories. Classic Relics are your original artifacts - the tools wielded by gods and heroes of myth, like the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi. Archetypal Relics are those that resemble an original artifact and can tap into its legend directly, possibly due to being a replica or homage. They tend to have the same or at least similar form to their predecessors - like Twofold Guise, a hat or scarf or jacket modeled on Eshu's red-and-black hat. Modernized Relics indirectly call on the power of an original artifact, but greatly alter the form and function to fit the modern world. Often they have a piece of the original in them, are reforged from them, or somehow associate themselves via Fate. The example here is the iGjallar, a magical cell phone that taps into the power of the Gjallarhorn. New Relics are wholly designed for you. They will express a Pantheon's themes, sure, but have no specific ties to an existing god. Maybe you made it, maybe someone made it for you. There is no example - these are new! And then you have General/Mass-Produced Relics - series of similar or identical Relics, either copied from a more potent artifact or meant to be generic. Maybe they let an army or cult tap into the gods' power in some small way, or are meant to allow many Scions to each have access to some useful ability. For example, the Netjer produce the Amulets of Resurrection, which can raise corpses as servants temporarily.

Relics have a lot of potential abilities. They can grant access to Purviews and Boons, though obviously once purchased, these Boons can only be used while you've got the Relic, and a Relic that grants Purview access can have its Motif used only for that Purview and your Pantheon Signature Purview. Some Relics also grant unique Knack access or alter how your powers work; these are always on and don't need to be slotted. They may also grant innate Enhancement to some actions. However, any use of a Relic that requires non-reflexive action can't be part of a mixed action.

Relics always have an associated Deed (for ones at chargen, it's your Visitation). Whenever you use or show off your Relic while interacting with someone that knows about the Deed, you get Enhancement based on your Tier - just 1, at Hero level. This can stack with any normal Enhancements the Relic provides, to a max of +3. Borrowed Relics used this way give their Enhancement based on the actual owner. Relics are rated from 1 to 5 dots, but can also take up to 5 dots of Flaws to give them room for more powers. And yes, Relics are physical objects, so you can hand them around...or lose them. Anyone who has the necessary traits can use them. However, any use of a Relic that isn't one of your Birthrights costs (Relic rating) Momentum - and those with passive abilities cost that much per scene you want access to those abilities. You may fully claim a Relic by Fatebinding it, as if it was an NPC. Once the Fatebinding Strength is greater than the dot rating, it becomes one of your Birthrights - and yes, that means for 5-dot relics you must hit effective Strength 6, even though for most things that doesn't exist.

Invoking a Fatebound Relic allows you to pick an NPC that recognizes the Relic or its original owner, and it lets you use one of the actual owner's Legendary Titles or relevant Paths as if they were yours when dealing with that character for the scene. When you compel the Fatebound Relic, the ST chooses an NPC that recognizes the Relic or its original owner, and Fate lashes at you. You gain 1 Legend but the Difficulty of your next action while interacting with that character is increased by 1. Normally, you won't Resolve this condition, but if you choose to do so, you must boldly renounce the Relic and give up all claim to it, immediately gaining a new Fatebinding of equivalent Strength to another character in the scene, with an archetype appropriate to the way you renounced the Relic. The Relic is either returned to its original owner or abandoned for someone else to claim.

So, Relic design. A situational Enhancement 1 to a certain type of roll costs 1 dot, while a general Enhancement 1 to everything costs 2. Each additional +1 costs 1 or 2, depending on if it's situational or general. General Enhancement can't exceed 3, and situational can't exceed 4. A Purview costs 2 dots for the first Purview, another 2 for a second, and then 3 for a third. Obviously, this means it's probably gonna need Flaws to offset it, especially if you want a 1-dot Relic with a Purview. If a Relic grants at least one Purview, it gains a Motif; Relics cannot grant more than 3 Purviews. Relic weapons and armor get the standard set of tags for what they are; additional points of tags cost 1 dot per point added, or per negative point removed. You can also add negative tags as a Flaw. Custom Knacks add dots based on how powerful they are.

So what kinds of Flaws can a Relic have? Flaws include only functioning in a scene if you spend an action entering a password or using a special activation phrase (1 dot), increasing Difficulties under certain circumstances, like 'in a scene where it is submerged' or 'in a scene where it's used to take a life' (2 dots), once per arc the Relic's divine patron requires a favor be done for them (2 dots), each use adds 1 Tension to the pool (3 dots), each use, the Relic attacks its owner due to an unstable power source (5 dots), or you lose access to a full dot of Legend and all its benefits when you do not have the Relic (5 dots).

We get a bunch of example relics - Soma, which is a plant that produces a magic sap you can drink to gain a pool of magic luck points you can spend to reduce Complications, get temporary HP or get useful strokes of luck. Icarian Wings, reworked by Hephaestus, which let you fly. A Jade Seal of the Celestial Bureaucracy, which allows access to the Order Purview via the Motif of 'I'm going to need that in triplicate.' (Typically this means the Order powers must be accessed by carrying around special forms that you fill out and stamp.) Then there's Giantsbane, a massive revolver made with a shard of Mjolnir, which gives access to Sky via the Motif 'The flash and fury of the thunderstorm', gets a general Enhancement 1, or 2 vs foes of larger Size, shoots humongous bullets, can be used to shoot lightning if you have the Bolt from the Blue boon, and can call down hurricanes. However, each time it is used to call a storm, the ST gets 3 Tension.

There's a lot of example Relics, to help you learn to design your own or just pick one of the ready-made ones.

Next time: IMMORTAL Knacks

To You, The Immortal

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
To You, The Immortal

Mortal Knacks were still fundamentally human, mostly. Immortal Knacks aren't - these are explicitly divine acts, drawing on the power of the gods. They work pretty much the same way as Mortal Knacks, but they take up two slots and count as two Knacks for pretty much all purposes.

Immortal Creator
Afternoon of Fortnights: When you start a project, spend Momentum and make a roll. Each success reduces the duration of Intervals by one unit - either dramatic time (session to scene) or actual (years to months, months to weeks), whichever is more appropriate.
Lifted from Dust: When you work on a creative project that would cover a massive Scale, such as planning a city or designing a civilization, you may imbue Legend rather than spending it to invoke your Legendary Title as a Feat of Scale.
Raise the Pillars of the Earth: You can make a roll to create a small building, structure or monument in minutes, raising it from nothing but rock and dirt with any successes. You can spend Momentum to raise it instantly.
Touch of the Muses: When working on an artistic project, double the successes on each roll made by an artistic partner. You can spend Momentum to give this bonus to yourself.

Immortal Guardian
By Your Side: You can innately sense whenever someone you are protecting would be in danger, and you can spend Momentum to teleport to their side. If they are your designated charge, this is free.
Eternal Guardian: When you protect a person, place or thing that has Scale, such as guarding the gates of the Underworld or watching over an entire city, you may imbue Legend rather than spending it to invoke your Legendary Title as a Feat of Scale.
Living Pillar: While you protect someone else with your body, you are immune to environmental hazards such as burning buildings, landslides or drowning, and as long as they're within arm's reach of you, so are they. (They still need to eat and sleep, however, so you probably want to get them to safety.)
They Cannot Be Touched: You may spend Momentum to designate one person that you have a Bond with or who is of lower Tier. That person is immune to all sources of damage until the end of the session. If the target doesn't need protection, such as a Warrior-calling Scion, this doesn't work on them.

Immortal Healer
Breath of Life: If you touch someone within 3 minutes of their death, you can spend 1 Legend to bring them back to life with all of their health boxes filled. Any longer than 3 minutes and they're dead for good.
Internal Refinery: When you are exposed to a poison or disease, you can make a roll to instantly cure yourself of it. You may spend Momentum to generate a dose of cure or antidote, which you may then secrete and give to someone else.
Panacea: When you work to cure disease or fight illness on a large Scale, such as curing cancer or stopping a divine plague, you may imbue Legend rather than spending it to invoke your Legendary Title as a Feat of Scale.
Reconstruction: Once per day, you can make a roll to remove any one Condition someone has that isn't necessarily a disease or illness. For example, you might cure blindness, restore a limb with a perfect prosthetic or end paralysis or PTSD. Additional ailments can be removed for 1 Momentum each. Further, at the start of each session, you may reassign your Attribute dots as you like within their categories - so any Power attribute can swap with each other, but not with Resistance attributes, for example.

Immortal Hunter
Always There: No one of lower Tier than you can ever escape you. You can always find them or track them down, no matter how far they go.
Perfect Camouflage: You get +3 Enhancement to avoid notice by anyone you are pursuing, applied before you roll, and targets of lower Tier just can't spot you at all. Further, you get access to the Vanish stunt, which lets you attack someone and then get out of their vision, so they can't target you for a round.
Relentless: When you pursue or hunt a target on a massive Scale or of great Size or Speed Scale, such as chasing a target across worlds or hunting a mountain-sized monster, you may imbue Legend rather than spending it to invoke your Legendary Title as a Feat of Scale.
Send the Pack: You can make a roll to designate a target you can see unaided. A number of other characters based on your Legend can pursue them ceaselessly without any increased Difficulties.

Immortal Judge
Bound by Oath: When someone swears an oath to you to do something, you can bind it with a short ceremony. As long as they work towards the task, they get +1 Enhancement on all rolls until they finish, applied before the roll. If they break the oath, their next roll automatically botches.
I Am the Law: When you reshape laws or challenge societal structure on a wide Scale, such as by rewriting a constitution or smashing the patriarchy, you may imbue Legend rather than spending it to invoke your Legendary Title as a Feat of Scale.
The Pain of Dishonesty: You spend 1 Momentum to cause anyone who lies directly to you to gain 1 Stress or a -1 Injury of your choice. (I think Stress is a relic of an older draft.) You can choose to withhold the damage, but you always spot the lie. You also know the severity of the lie - like a white lie to preserve feelings vs lying to obstruct justice, which might be a reason to hold back the damage. Or not. That's up to you.
Terror of the Guilty: Anyone guilty of a wrongdoing of your choice who is also of lower Tier than you can't bear your presence, and will flee in terror or break down and confess while weeping. You must spend Momentum and make a Clash of Wills to apply this to anyone of the same or higher Tier.

Immortal Leader
Fearless Presence: As long as they can see you, your followers of lower Tier are fearless and will not panic or flee.
Invulnerable Master: While leading NPC followers that are loyal to you, you may spend Momentum to prevent a -1 or -2 Injury as they are suffered.
Masterful Efficiency: When you lead people in a task, you can make a roll, increasing the Scale of those you lead by 1 per success, to a max based on your Legend, for one action. You can spend Momentum 1 for 1 to further increase Scale, to a max based on your Legend.
Not Today, Friends: When you command others or stir hearts on a huge Scale, such as commanding an army or calling an entire city to your aid, you may imbue Legend rather than spending it to invoke your Legendary Title as a Feat of Scale.

Immortal Liminal
Enforcing the Boundary: You can make a roll to create a forcefield that protects you and your allies within short range. It moves with you, but you cannot Rush or Disengage. It lasts for the rest of the scene, until you are Taken Out or until you dismiss it, whichever comes first. Anyone under protection of the field cannot be targeted by weapons or abilities with the Firearms or Arcing tags and gets Enhancement based on your Legend to resist the Rush action, applied before the roll.
The Long Road to Anywhere: You can make an extended journey without stopping, but must rest when you arrive. When you arrive, you may ask hospitality of anyone of lower Tier, and if they refuse, you may cause them to get +2 Difficulty to all actions until you withdraw your curse.
Pierce the Veil: When you cross boundaries on an epic Scale, such as walking into the afterlife or driving across the globe, you may imbue Legend rather than spending it to invoke your Legendary Title as a Feat of Scale.
Step Sideways: When you take a Move action, you teleport directly to your destination without actually needing to cross the intervening terrain. As long as you can see it and your Move would be able to reach that distance, you can get there, even if there's hazardous terrain or a chasm in the way or anything, really. This only works with Move, however, not Rush or Disengage.

Immortal Lover
Center of Attention: If you're at a party and need to meet someone of political or social importance, they are there. Period. If you want the attention of a supernaturally potent person, you must spend Momentum to have them be there. The ST may allow you to even have a god be there with a roll, but this may not always work out well for you.
For You, I Will: When you perform an impressive feat to positively impact someone you love, platonically or otherwise, you regain 1 Legend. This can be an NPC or Pc, but the feat must be suitably impressive for them.
Hearts Aflame: When you inspire passions or promote relationships on an epic Scale, such as inspiring millions or changing a culture's attitudes towards consent, you may imbue Legend rather than spending it to invoke your Legendary Title as a Feat of Scale.
Lover's Oath: You and a consenting partner may bind yourselves together in love by Fate forever. Both sides must spend 1 Legend, if they have any, to do so. From that point on, either needs only to concentrate to know the location and general state (emotional and physical) of their partner. Each may take Injuries for the other, and each may imbue Legend to power each other's abilities, if both have Legend. This doesn't need to be romantic love, but Fate will punish those who mistreat their partners.

Immortal Sage
Cipher: You can always crack any code or encryption put in place by someone of lower Tier. You read and speak all foreign languages without accent, and may translate them into your native tongue in minutes without any roll. If translating mystic runes or other magic language, you must make a roll but remain very fast. Your own encryptions cannot be broken by those of lower Tier, and you get Enhancement based on your Legend to prevent decryption by anyone of equal or higher Tier, applied before you roll.
Eternal Genius: When you solve a mystery or tackle a complex scholarly problem on a massive Scale, such as figuring out the secrets of quantum physics or solving a trickster god's codes, you may imbue Legend rather than spending it to invoke your Legendary Title as a Feat of Scale.
Immortal Mastermind: When you make a plan and direct others to follow it, they get Enhancement 1 on all actions while obeying the plan. Anyone not following it gets +1 Difficulty to all actions. No one has to obey you, especially not PCs, but they get the bonus when they do. You are also free to create plans and order your enemies around to bait them into taking the penalty.
Overworld Knowledge: Once per scene, you can make a roll and, for each success, ask a relevant question to the ST about events happening now, based on what you know or have studied, and will receive a truthful and applicable answer. These aren't yes-no - you can ask stuff like 'what is the enemy's strategy' or 'what is this guy's true motive'. If you have any remaining questions left unasked, you can spend Momentum to carry the pool over to the next scene.

Immortal Trickster
Doppelganger: You can make a roll to clone yourself exactly. The copy has all of your stats and abilities and is controlled by you, allowing you to be in two places actively and independently. However, the copy can't make teamwork actions, and if attacked it crumbles to dust. Otherwise, it lasts for several days based on your Trickster Calling.
One Man's Trash: You can spend Momentum to make trash seem rare and valuable. Anyone of lower Tier is automatically fooled and will squabble over the 'treasure'. Those of the same or higher Tier can make an Empathy roll to see through this, but they get increased Difficulty based on your Legend to convince anyone else.
Surprise!: You may, when attacked, voluntarily choose to be Taken Out. You may then return at any point later in the session to make a surprise attack or set up an ambush at +4 Enhancement, applied before the roll. If someone has seen you pull this before, however, you get no bonus and they get +4 Enhancement on combat rolls against you in the first round if they successfully resist your ambush. You may, alternatively, choose to dramatically return in the middle of a social scene to get that Enhancement to the next most appropriate Social roll.
Woven from Lies: When you tell a story or make an elaborate deception on an epic Scale, such as spreading a rumor across the world via social media or convincing an entire society you're something you aren't, you may imbue Legend rather than spending it to invoke your Legendary Title as a Feat of Scale.

Immortal Warrior
Army of One: When you fight while outnumbered, you never take penalties or increased difficulty from being outnumbered. You also get Enhancement based on your Legend to all attacks as long as your party remains outnumbered. When fighting a greater force, you may imbue Legend rather than spending it to invoke your Legendary Title as a Feat of Scale.
Hurl to the Moon: When lifting or throwing objects with Size higher than yours, you may imbue Legend rather than spending it to invoke your Legendary Title as a Feat of Scale. Objects thrown this way can be hurled out to Medium range. All of your normal Thrown attacks may hit out to Long range, regardless of their range tag, but are still rolled as normal.
Perfect Defense: Once per fight, you may declare that an attack made against you by someone of equal or lower Tier automatically does not affect you in any way. You may spend Momentum to do this a second time per fight, but may never do this more than twice per fight.
They're Everywhere: Any Field you fight in is Divine Territory. When an enemy enters your Divine Territory, you may choose to make a single attack against them, regardless of range, but may not boost this with any Knacks that allow extra attacks. You can use this ability even if you've already acted this round, and can do so no matter how many enemies enter your Divine Territory, but you can only make one attack per enemy.

Next time: Purviews.

For Purviewing Pleasure

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
For Purviewing Pleasure

Purviews are the expression of divine authority over some part of reality. They are elemental forces, though not as we or as the ancients quite understood them. They are things - things that are real, that are part of the world. Fertility, War, Fire, Order, Stars. Scions inherit these powers in their blood, able to claim mastery over them to perform freeform marvels, and more specific Boons. Most of these abilities require the user to imbue or spend Legend. Imbued Legend is tied up for the duration of a marvel or Boon, but can be reclaimed. Each Purview also grants you access to an innate power that is always on if you have it. (Note: if you lose access to a Relic or Guide that grants a Purview, you lose access to all of its abilities, including the innate power.) So, what are marvels?

A marvel is the flexible use of one of your Purviews to do all kinds of things. What your marvels can do is determined by the combination of your Purview and the Motif by which you wield it. You call on the Purview through the lens of the Motif, the mystic paradigm or metaphor which explains how you control it. For your innate Purviews or those granted by Guides, you will typically use your Pantheon's Motif. For Relics, you'll use the Motif of the Relic most of the time. It is also possible to gain other Motifs from other sources. The ST is instructed to not let the game grind to a halt over whether or not a certain marvel fits a player's Purview or Motif - it's better just to let a shaky marvel happen and apply a Complication or thematically related drawback if you really think it's thematically poor.

Pantheon Motifs
Aesir: "By drawing runes or weaving threads, one may perform a jarteign."
Kami: "The kami are all things, and can be bidden to work wonders."
Deva: "By chanting spells and undergoing austerities, one may create or become a miracle."
Loa/Orisha: "Those who understand plants can use them in magic and medicine."
Manitou: "An offering of tobacco, prayers, dance, and song convinces the myriad, unseen manitous to work their magic in your favor."
Netjer: "Speaking the sacred ritual words releases sekhem, lending power to the soul."
Shen: "Alchemy manipulates the energies both within and without the body through exercises and concoctions associated with the five elements."
Teotl: Offerings of flowers, food, effigies, and blood empower the Gods to sustain the World with miracles."
Theoi: "The most high may grant their favor to those who beseech them."
Tuatha De Danann: "Magic flows from verse and satire."

The game says you can only do a marvel once per scene as a simple action; I'm not sure if that's an actual or a practical limit, because I like allowing players to use marvels more freely, but RAW it seems to be intended as a hard limit of one per scene. You tell the ST your Purview and motif, what you want, and then do it. Marvels cannot be part of a mixed action. Also, any use of a Marvel on a trivial target doesn't require payment of the usual cost unless it also affects non-trivial characters meaningfully. So what can marvels do?

A Blessing marvel will empower you or another character. You can imbue 1 Legend to give Enhancement 2 to a single action of a specific type, or ignore up to 3 points of Complication spread across one or more actions. The benefits are lost if not used by the end of the scene, and the Legend returns either when the bonus has been fully used or the scene ends, whichever comes first.
A Complication marvel makes an obstacle or curse on someone. You can imbue 1 Legend to give +3 Complication on the next action of a specific type that they take this scene, with the ST deciding the consequences based on your description of the marvel. The Legend returns either when the Complication gets applied or the scene ends, whichever comes first.
An Impose Condition marvel lets you inflict basically any condition you choose on someone, as long as it reflects the Purview. You can spend 1 Legend to do it, and if you just want a generic 'your life is awful now' curse, that's a condition that gives +1 Difficulty to all actions and is resolved by doing a challenging or risky thing thematically tied to the marvel's nature.
A Resolve Condition marvel lets you spend 1 Legend to resolve any condition either related to or opposed by your Purview, which can explicitly break curses or other magical conditions.
An Attacking marvel lets you wield your Purview as a weapon. You can spend 1 Legend to be able to make either melee or ranged attacks for the rest of the scene as simple actions with up to three points of appropriate tags. Melee attacks use Close Combat+Might, while ranged ones use Occult+Cunning, but the ST can allow other pools depending on marvel description.
An Equipment marvel lets you create or summon something related to your Purview, or just declare you had it all along. You can imbue 1 Legend to get a mundane but useful item, like a gun or cell phone, which you keep as long as the Legend is imbued, and which then fades or vanishes between scenes when you reclaim it. If you want something that'd normally be difficult or significantly expensive to get, like a car or rocket launcher, you must spend 1 Legend instead, and it fades at the end of this or the next scene, whichever the ST feels is more appropriate.
An Offscreen Action marvel lets you imbue 1 Legend to do a quick cutaway to a nearby mortal or animal and describe how they do something helpful that impacts the current scene. If the action has longterm effects beyond a single scene or you want to literally create a person from nothing, you must spend 1 Legend instead.
An Upheaval marvel lets dramatically edit the local terrain or events by spending 1 Legend. Maybe you set a building on fire or call down a storm or make everyone feel intense feelings of love. This can add a significantly advantageous feature to the Field, create a difficult terrain area or hazard, make an obstacle that imposes a Complication or other dramatic and large-scale effects.
An Emulate Boon marvel lets you use a Boon you don't have - even from a Purview you don't have, as long as you can describe how your Purview and motif let you tap into the effect. If the Boon requires you to spend Legend, you must spend 1 additional. If it rquires you to imbue Legend, you must spend instead, and indefinite durations are cut down to a single scene. If the Boon would be free, you must spend 1 Legend.
Esoterica marvels cover anything else. You work them out with the ST. If they're just cool sfx but no real mechanical or narrative impact, they are free. Beyond that, the ST determines cost based on similar effects.

Artistry is the Purview of poetry, dance, storytelling and art, as well as the Purview of inspiration. It is also one of the Purviews that can specialize. Basically, if you choose to specialize it, then you can only use the Purview to draw on and express your selected specialty - music, poetry, dance, cuisine, manga, painting, whatever. However, in exchange you gain a Motif based on the chosen art, which you can use with any Purview you have. For example, you might get "losing yourself in the rhythm" or "composing the perfect harmony" from Artistry (Music).

The Innate Power of Artistry is that when you put on an artistic performance or create an art piece, you may express yourself to those that experience it as if you were speaking to them, even if you don't share a language. This can also bypass Complications that might apply to normal rolls to communicate, such as being overheard. Only those you intend to receive the message can perceive it, but 'everyone' is a valid intended target.

Enthralling Performance: You can put on a performance that no one can look away from, and anyone trying to do anything else must do so as a mixed action with Integrity+Resolve, Difficulty 2. Doing a performance this way is a complex action that can last multiple rounds, but you don't need to make a roll to keep it up once the Boon has been activated.
Heartfelt Expression: When you make a work of art, you can instill an emotion into it based on your current feelings or the ones that inspired it. Anyone who witnesses the performance or piece gets +1 Attitude based on the emotion, which doesn't stack with other magical bonuses. This lasts until you turn the Boon off, but when you do, your piece no longer supernaturally resonates with emotion.
Muse's Kiss: You inspire someone, giving them Enhancement 3 when they try to create art, do a performance or otherwise do something creative and expressing. You can name a requirement they must meet to keep the blessing, like 'pay my cult a tenth of your earnings' or 'spend eight hours a day writing'. If not met, the Boon ends immediately. There is no cost to use this Boon on trivial targets.

Beasts is the Purview of animals. It can command any animal and tap into the iconic and mythic symbolism assigned to them by humanity, so you can draw on lion courage, owl wisdom or fox cunning. This is another Purview you can specialize by narrowing yourself to a specific sacred animal. If you do, any Beasts boons that call forth animal traits must do so from your sacred animal, but you get a Motif based on that animal - so a dog might give "the faithful companion" or "hunter and tracker of prey" or "the good boy".

The Innate Power of Beasts is that animals will never attack or harm you unless they are either compelled by magic or are Legendary themsevles.

Animal Aspect: Pick an animal; you get one of its iconic traits. This can grant a new form of movement, such as dolphin swimming or mole burrowing, allowing you to bypass some forms of difficult terrain or barrier, can boost your senses by giving eagle vision or bat echolocation, granting Enhancement 3 on relevant rolls, or can give you other traits, like octopus camo or anglerfish glowing, which give Enhancement 2 to relevant rolls or negates up to 3 points of Complication on relevant rolls, whichever best works with the idea of the trait.
Leader of the Pack: You can speak to and understand all animals. Animals with no Legend automatically like you at least a little. When you deactivate this Boon, your animal helpers will keep trying to do anything you've convinced them to do, but may become more distractible and less reliable.
Tooth and Claw: Pick an animal; you gain some of its physical traits and weapons. Your brawling attacks gain the Lethal tag and up to 3 points of other appropriate tags, such as Grappling and Piercing for an alligator bite.

Next time: Beauty, Chaos, Darkness

All Things On Heaven and Earth

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
All Things On Heaven and Earth

Beauty is the Purview of transcendent grace and allure, inner beauty and physical appeal. The Innate Power of Beauty is that whenever you roll to influence someone with your beauty, appearance or body language, you may attempt a Feat of Scale - even if you aren't trying to seduce them. You're just that good at body language.

Draw Back the Mask: You can bless someone to reveal their inner beauty or curse them with ugliness. Either way, this can either target one character or all trivial targets in range, and it's free on trivial targets. As a blessing, it is a Condition that lets the target use their beauty once per scene to gain Enhancement 2 on a social roll, a number of times based on your Legend. As a curse, it causes +2 Complication on any Social rolls in which appearance is a factor, and can be resolved with a sincere, heartfelt apology to someone the target has significantly wronged, or by anti-curse magic.
Lasting Impression: You can impress either one target or all trivial targets in range. They get +2 Attitude toward you, and this resolved by sharing a moment of physical intimacy with you or you rejecting their advances, or when you reclaim the Legend imbued.
Visage Great and Terrible: You become so immensely potent in appearance that your foes are filled with terror. Trivial targets automatically flee, and all others get +2 Complication on any action not related to fleeing your presence. (This Boon can also be learned by those descended from gods whose appearance is notably monstrous or terrifying, via an appropriate Purview - probably Death for Hel, say, War for Kali or Beasts for Monkey.)

Chaos is the Purview of unshaped form and entropy. It is both physical and social disorder, accidents and disasters. It is confusion and riots and anarchy. The Innate Power of Chaos is that you always walk unharmed through chaotic situations - you will never take harm from random or haphazard dangers like debris in a tornado or freak traffic accidents. You can still be harmed by anything that deliberately targets you or from actions done with intent to do harm, like gunfire in a shootout, however. Still, you are immune to any non-magical dangerous terrain unless it was made with the express intent to do harm. You still may face Complications - you just won't get hurt by, say, wandering through a busy freeway.

Hornet's Nest: All trivial targets near you, plus a number of non-trivial targets based on your Legend, stop whatever they're doing to instantly create a riot, mob or protest - whatever is most appropriate for the circumstance. The ST may veto some targets if they have specific plans for them, like the security you're using the riot to distract. You don't control the mob, but they're loud and reckless.
No Masters: You remove someone's authority over others. This suppresses any positive Attitude or Bonds any other character near them may feel towards them based on any form of authority, though negative emotions are unaffected. This is free if used on a trivial target.
Overwhelming Chaos: You overload a machine or a person with entropy. Against a person, each round they must combine any action they take with an Athletics+Stamina roll to maintain coherent thought. Trivial targets are simply rendered catatonic for the scene. Against a machine, you are limited to targets no larger than a car, but they break down completely until they receive maintenance. This damage is permanent, and you can't reclaim the imbued Legend until next scene.

Darkness is the Purview of night and concealment, of shadow and blindness and illusion. It can deceive the eye, snuff out the light and turn day to night. It also has power over sleep and dreams. The Innate Power of Darkness is that you can see in total darkness, even magical darkness. Also, you can see someone's dreams by watching them as they sleep.

Blinding Veil: You turn any number of nearby characters Blind for the scene. Against only trivial targets, this is free.
Dream Weaver: You send someone a dream of your design, targeting anyone you can give a unique description of. (A name works, but 'that guy I met on the subway with the red hair' is fine, too.) The next time they sleep, they have the dream, and you can make an influence roll against them with it. You choose how you appear to them in the dream, which can allow you to get around negative Attitudes or exploit positive ones towards other people. If you appear as yourself, you still improve their Attitude by 1 due to the intimacy of the dream.
Night's Caress: You send someone to sleep in moments, as long as they aren't in combat or another high-stakes situation. They remain asleep for the rest of the scene unless attacked or magically awakened. You can put as many trivial targets as you want to sleep at once, and can do so even in combat.

Death is the Purview of...death. It commands both the end of life and what comes after, has power over corpses and funerary ground, commands the undead and influences the underworlds. The Innate Power of Death is that you may see and communicate with shades, ghosts and other normally invisible or incomprehensible undead, and you can always perceive entrances to the Underworlds.

Unquiet Dead: You make a corpse speak, or summon up a ghost, shade or other culturally appropriate remnant of the dead from their gravesite. Whatever you're talking to, it can't act, just talk, but you may influence it as you can anyone. It starts with a positive Attitude of 3 towards you, and it retains all its memories of life, except for a blank space from about five minutes leading up to the moment of death. For as long as you imbue Legend, the answers it provides give you Enhancement 3 on any relevant rolls. You can only summon the same ghost once per session.
The Way of All Flesh: You steal away someone's life force. All attacks against them this scene get the Aggravated tag, and when they take damage, their Defense+Armor total is treated as one point lower than it is to determine how badly they are hurt. Alternatively, you can use this at no cost to instantly banish or destroy all trivial undead targets nearby.
Your Fault: You inflict guilt on the target over the last death they witnessed, and even attending a funeral or reading about a celebrity death counts. The precise effects of this vary depending on the target's personality and relation to the deceased, but by default it increases all Difficulties by 2, except for actions that have the potential for harming them or which might otherwise allow them to traumatically deal with their guilt. This ends when they confess their responsibility to someone that trusts them, or when you reclaim the Legend imbued.

Deception is the purview of lies, misdirection and illusion that confounds the mind and senses. It controls appearances, disguises and mirages as well as deceit. The Innate Power of Deception is that all others get +3 Complication on Empathy rolls or Assess Attitude rolls against you, and if they don't buy it off, you choose what result they get.

Ephemera: You make the illusion of a person, animal or object up to the size of a car. It is lifelike and utterly authentic, except it has no physical substance and can neither exert force nor cause harm. It can move, as long as it stays near you. A non-trivial target that beats you at a Clash of Wills can tell it's an illusion, and any attempt to touch or physically interact with the thing will prove its unreality because it...has no substance.
False History: You can make a single change to the target's memories of the last five minutes or so - something like 'my friends and I were never here' or 'all you saw were some dogs' or 'the room you were just in was ornately furnished.' Their memory remains altered until you reclaim the Legend. However, you can alter trivial targets' memories permanently, and can reclaim the Legend the next scene when you do.
Walk Unnoticed: You remove your own identity. You aren't invisible, but no one can process any distinguishing information about you, including your presence. Non-trivial targets that win a Clash of wills can resist being unable to even see you, but still can't distinguish your identity or even any distinguishing features, and get +3 Complication on rolls to notice you.

Next time: Earth, Epic Dexterity, Epic Stamina, Epic Strength, Fertility and Fire.

Epic Dexterity No Longer Breaks The Game

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Epic Dexterity No Longer Breaks The Game

Earth is the Purview of...earth. It covers stone, soil, sand, metal and crystal. It also covers the resilience of earth and stone and the fury of the earthquake and avalanche. The Innate Power of Earth is that as long as you are standing on the ground (or the bottom floor of a building), or on an earthen surface, you cannot be forcibly moved by any amount of physical force, and you get Enhancement 1 on Might and Stamina rolls.

Shaping Hand: You can shape and mold stone, metal and other earthen materials with your bare hands as easily as clay. When this assists in a roll, like climbing a cliff or pulling open a steel wall, you get Enhancement 3.
Skin Like Stone: You get +1 Soft Armor, or +3 if you are wearing no armor or any gear that grants soft armor.
Stony Heart: You harden a target's heart, preventing them from being changed in their ways by passionate or emotional pleas. This gives a +3 Complication to any Social action targeting them unless the ST decides it is totally devoid of emotional appeal. You can use this on yourself or others.

Epic Dexterity is the Purview of personal prowess in speed, agility and precision. It is swift running and also grace. The Innate Power of Epic Dexterity is that as long as you continue to move towards a destination, you always walk, run or jump with effortless grace, and any solid or liquid surface can hold your weight as if you weighed only as much as a feather. You may effortlessly scale or descend vertical surfaces without need for handholds.

The Falling Star: You may use your reflexive Move to cross two range bands, and you get Enhancement 3 on rolls to Disengage. You can't take fall damage.
Heavenly Stride: You move at superspeed, able to cross great distances in moments. You get Enhancement 3 on Rush actions and any actions taken in a race. Once per scene, you can make a Feat of Scale to enhance any action based on physical speed without having to pay for it.
Unerring Flight: You may make a ranged attack against anyone you can see, even at extreme range, and you can use Dexterity in place of any other attribute to do so. There is no increased difficulty for using weapons with the Ranged or Long Range tags at any range, and you can even attack an enemy behind full cover, as long as they're in your line of sight.

Epic Stamina is the Purview of personal prowess in vitality, endurance and resilience. It can withstand deadly attacks and danger easily, and provides limitless energy. The Innate Power of Epic Stamina is that you're immune to all poisons and disease that do not come from sources of greater Legend than your own, and you never face Complications or risk death from hunger, thirst or exhaustion.

Adamant Body: When you buy this, you pick a kind of damage you are Resistant to at all times, like bullets or fire. You can also activate this to become Resistant to another kind of damage of your choice and to get +1 Soft Armor.
Put Your Back Into It: When you roll a Physical Attribute as part of a complex action to do strenuous physical labor or other exercise, you can roll twice and take the better result.
Unbreakable: When you get hit and the enemy uses the Inflict Damage stunt, you can activate this to negate the injury completely, or to negate any Condition based on injury or physical incapacity, like Severed Limb or Broken Back.

Epic Strength is the Purview of personal prowess in raw might, force and strength. The Innate Power of Epic Strength is that you have +1 Scale at all times for the purposes of lifting, breaking or carrying large objects, and you can always use Strength instead of Presence for intimidation, seduction or building Bonds of friendship.

Heavy Lifter: You get Enhancement 3 to lift or carry heavy things. When you attack by throwing an improvised weapon, its range increases by one range band and it gets the Arcing tag. You may choose if it's Bashing or Lethal.
A World of Glass: You can tear down objects easily. Once per scene, you can make a Feat of Scale to enhance any Might-based action for free.
Pistons for Fists: When you hit with a Close Combat or Athletics attack, you can choose to either send the opponent flying back one range band or knock them prone. Enemies knocked prone must succeed on an Athletics roll to get up even if you aren't threatening them. When you use this to attack a group of trivial targets, your attack gains the Shockwave tag as long as all characters in the range band targeted are trivial.

Fertility is the Purview of growth, plants, family, sex and birth. It controls vitality in plants, animals and humans, and can bless entire families or fields...or curse them, as it also covers famine, blight and sterility. The Innate Power of Fertility is that, once per session, you can radiate an aura of vitality that causes nearby plant life, especially flowers, to bloom and grow, and all allies nearby to heal a single Bruised or Injured Condition.

Blessed Harvest: You prepare a meal, offer support or share a moment of physical intimacy with someone, which grants great vitality as a Condition. Once per scene, the target can call on this blessing to get Enhancement 3 on a roll made with a Force or Resilience attribute, a number of times based on your Legend. A Scion with this condition can end it to perform a Feat of Scale without paying the normal cost.
Favor of Nature: You can bless or blight a contiguous, recognized piece of land, or a family. (For land, basically you can pick 'this forest' but 'the 312 acres around me'.) Blessed land undergoes a growth surge in seconds, and grows a season's worth of development in a week. It remains fertile enough to give Enhancement 3 to any rolls to cultivate or harvest from it for years based on your Legend after the Boon ends. Blighted land causes great decay. Crops are instantly inedible, and all plant life dies in a week. Structures of wood or plant material decay greatly each day, and the land remains infertile for years based on your Legend after the Boon ends. Used to bless a family, you target a person and affect their direct ancestors and descendants. Blessed families get Enhancement 2 against poison or disease, never suffer infertility or complications in pregnancy, and are guaranteed to have healthy children that will survive adolescence unless targeted by unnatural causes; these children often become Prophets, Saints or even Scions. A blighted family becomes entirely infertile, unable to conceive by any means, and any existing pregnancies end in miscarriage. Weaker members of the family, usually kids or the elderly, that are trivial targets will probably die of natural causes unless given intensive medical care for as long as the Boon is active.
Hand of Blight: You curse a target with uncontrolled growth, which gives them the Blighted condition, with +2 Difficulty to all actions they perform until they resolve it via magical healing or extensive cancer treatments. You may target groups of trivial targets with this at once and at no cost, and may choose to have them die on the spot from rapid cancer growth during the scene.

Fire is the Purview of literal flame, but also the metaphorical flames in the heart - passion and enlightenment. Thus, while this Purview can make or control literal fire, heat and light, it can also cover sudden bursts of passion, emotion or inspiration. The Innate Power of Fire is that you and your belongings cannot be harmed in any way by fire, heat or smoke. You can walk through wildfires, microwaves or magma unharmed, and are likewise immune to extreme cold.

Eternal Flame: You grant a fire some of your power. It grows to the size of a large campfire if smaller, needs no fuel and cannot be put out by mundane means. You may take a Simple action to extend your senses through the fire, letting you see, hear and smell as if present. You can only have one blessed fire at a time.
Heaven's Fire: You can attack with the power of flame, manifested however you choose - heat rays, firebolts, spontaneous combustion. You can attack this way for the rest of the scene as a Simple action with Dexterity+Athletics, with the Aggravated, Ranged and Pushing tags.
Muse of Fire: You inspire someone else with the fire of enlightenment. Their next Cunning, Presence or Intellect roll gets Enhancement 3. If they do not use this in the next scene, however, the fire overwhelms them, raising the difficulty of all Social or Mental actions by 1 unless they are totally open and honest about everything they're thinking. This condition is resolved by expressing a deeply personal truth, potentially provocative opinion or other similarly inflammatory remark.

Next time: Forge, Fortune, Frost, Health, Journeys, Moon.

Can We Build It

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Can We Build It

Forge is the Purview of craft and technology. It is wielded by the divine smiths and makers, but it covers just about any art that produces useful things - from blacksmiths to programming. The Innate Power of Forge is that whenever one of your craft projects would suffer Flaws for any reason, it gets one point less from the total amount of Flaws, to a minimum of 0.

Celestial Artifice: You lower the Tier of a craft project by 1; however, this doesn't let you do projects of a Tier you normally couldn't. It just makes them easier.
Reclaim From Ruin: You can repair anything, no matter how badly it's been damaged, to the extent of actually reversing entropy. You can reconstruct a burnt book from its ashes or a sword from melted slag or even reconstruct a hard drive from its remains after a nuke.
While the Iron Is Hot: You get Enhancement 3 to a roll to jury-rig a craft project, and can even put together contraptions that a mortal could not attempt due to feasibility. As long as it's even theoretically possible you could make it normally with a number of days of work based on your Legend, you can try to make the jury-rig roll.

Fortune is the Purview of luck, of blessings and curses and chance. It controls coincidence and synchronicitiy, and while it isn't prophecy, it can easily arrange improbable events and enable extreme feats through luck. The Innate Power of Fortune is that you can sense the presence of Fatebindings in those you interact with. If you later meet the other 'half' of a sensed Fatebinding, you can tell that the two are bound together. You may also sense when a Prophet or Sorcerer uses their Knacks to manipulate Fate and can identify them as the source of the effect even if it can't normally be perceived.

Divination: You can sense someone's luck in the near future; out of character, you actually decide if they'll get good or bad luck. This creates a condition. Once per scene, before they make a roll, you can declare that their luck intervenes. Good luck lowers the target number by 1, bad luck increases it by 1. (I can't tell if this is meant to reduce/increase Difficulty or literally the target number of rolls. I think it's the latter.) Good luck ends after a number of uses based on your Legend, while bad luck ends at the end of a scene in which a failure on the penalized roll causes significant consequences, ot the victim accepts an offered botch on any action.
Fateful Connection: You may invoke the Fatebinding of one of your Fatebound without it counting against the usual once per session limit, as synchronicity arranges for them to be nearby enough to plausibly show up - even, with ST agreement, in Terra Incognitae or other realms of existence.
Nine Lives: You are so lucky you can survive things you should not. You get +1 Defense and Enhancement 2 on any roll that might have you suffer physical harm as a direct result of failure.

Frost is the Purview of cold, snow, winter and ice. It also has power over associations with cold or winter - inaction, cold-heartedness, the death of plants, hibernation. The Innate Power of Frost is that you are immune to all harm from extreme cold and to difficult terrain or Complications from snow, hail or ice. You can walk on water or clouds, turning them to solid ice underfoot just long enough to support you.

Cooler Heads: You can cool tempers easily. This can be used on characters in combat, argument, reckless action or other emotionally charged scenarios. They become almost emotionless and stop whatever they were doing, and will not return to it for the rest of the scene. They may still defend themselves from harm, but will not initiate any form of hostilities.
Flash Freeze: You may drain the heat from the world, freezing over an entire area - including your foes. This is an attack using your highest Power attribute + Occult, with the Bashing, Piercing, Ranged and Shockwave tags. All water in the targeted range band is intantly frozen solid, as well, and ground becomes ice-slick difficult terrain, along with any other environmental changes associated with water freezing or pipes bursting.
Glacial Pace: You slow the world around you. If you use this on a character that has speed-based Scale, like cheetah or a Scion using a Feat of Scale, that Scale is reduced by 1. Characters without Scale get +2 Difficulty to all rols based on physical speed. You may use this against all trivial targets in range for free. Alternately, you may slow any number of moving objects in range, reducing their Scale in regards to speed by 1, such as bringing traffic to a grinding halt by slowing the cars.

Health is the Purview of physical well-being and life force. It can mend and cure and cleanse. However, it also holds sway over illness, age and pestilence, and can inflict them just as easily. The Innate Power of Healt is that, once per session, when you successfully give treatment to an NPC ally that resolves an Injury Condition, a Poisoned Condition or a disease, you gain 1 Legend.

Healing Hands: You can touch someone to instantly resolve any Injury Conditions they have, even Maimed conditions, or to resolve Conditions such as Poisoned, Disease, or even other physical or mental health problems, even if caused by magic.
Flawless Diagnosis: You may look at someone and ask the ST one question:
You get Enhancement 3 on applicable rolls when you follow the answer.
Master of Disease: You can withdraw the benefits of Health from foes. This causes a +5 Complication based on disease and the Divine Plague Condition. Until that Condition is resolved via magic healing, the target cannot buy off the Complication or have it treated mundanely. Mortal targets that do not resolve this condition in a number of months based on Legend dies.

Journeys is the Purview of roads, routes, travel, portals, movement, vehicles, trade routes and transit infrastructure. The Innate Power of Journeys is that you have an unerring sense of direction, and you can always find a route that leads to anywhere in the World you want to go without a roll, unless the place is obscured by magic. You can sense the presence of an Axis Mundi or other gate between worlds at a distance based on Legend.

Chariot of the Gods: You may bless a vehicle with divine power, increasing the Scale of all speed-based actions it takes by 1, and giving +2 Complication to all attempts to steal, damage or impede it by foes.
Here There Be Dragons: You curse someone with obstacles. Any time they roll to travel or navigate, they get a +3 Complication. If they are trying to move across difficult terrain that already exists, they get +1 Difficulty on the action.
Unbarred Passage: You may remove a single Complication obstructing your travel. Locked doors open, traffic parts, turbulence vanishes. This benefits anyone traveling with you, as well.

Moon is the Purview of moonlight, revelation or distortion of truth, change, mutability and the lunar cycle. The Innate Power of Moon is that you can radiate an aura of moonlight reflexively. Only you and those you choose can perceive this light, however, and no others can benefit from it. You may spend Legend to reveal the true form of any shapeshifters or transformed characters in the moonlight, with a roll if they want to conceal their nature.

Enchanting Evening: You cause moonlight to make the familiar feel new. The target reconsiders their feelings for someone or something they see, getting Attitude 2 towards your chosen thing or person, or changing their existing attitude by +2 or -2. The target's player chooses the exact nature of the change - they simply have to change somehow.
Phase Cloak: You become totally invisible, gaining Enhancement 3 to avoid being seen, even by electronic surveillence or magical scrying based on sight.
Three-Faced Moon: You may change the target's apparent age to whatever you like, though it does not physically alter their body - just their appearance. Used on yourself, you also get bonuses based on the age. As a young child, you get Enhancement 2 to Empathy rolls, as an adult, you get Enhancement 2 to Medicine rolls, and as an elder, you get Enhancement 2 to Occult rolls.

Next time: Order, Passion, Prosperity, Sky, Stars, Sun

Law & Order: Supernatural Victims Unit

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Law & Order: Supernatural Victims Unit

Order is the Purview of law, society, justice, sovereignty, wisdom, custom and authority. The Innate Power of Order allows you to innately sense the laws that govern any jurisdiction you're in, telling you whether anything witness or think about doing would be legal under those laws. Any mortal law enforcement acting in their official capacity is physically unable to take action against you for any legal act you perform, and physically cannot overreach their authority against you, as their body betrays them in the name of true justice.

Code of Heaven: When you explain laws to anyone, as long as you are truthful and accurate, they know you are correct. If, as part of the explanation, you declare someone or a group to be innocent, then for the duration, those people gain the protection of the Innate Power. If you declare someone guilty, you and all who hear you get Enhancement 2 on any actions taken to bring them to justice.
Divine Right: You declare yourself or someone else to be a divine ruler, making all who see them sense proof of their authority. Everyone treats their Attitude towards the ruler as 1 point higher than normal. Further, for the purpose of any Order Boons or marvels that care, it is unlawful to harm or betray the ruler.
Nothing but The Truth: You become to terrifying to lie to. Anyone affected by this cannot lie, omit the truth or make any misrepresentation of material fact, period. They cannot mislead you.

Passion is the Purview of emotion. It rules over hearts, controlling every human emotion, and may stir them to the strength that they overwhelm rational thought. However, this is one of the Purviews you can specialize - Love, Fear, Joy, etc. If you do that, you can only create, manipulate and draw on that emotion, but you get a Motif based on it that you can use with any Purview, such as 'sensuality, pleasure and desire' or 'a mother will always do what's best for her kids' for Love. The Innate Power of Passion is that you get Enhancement 3 on all Assess Attitude rolls due to seeing into hearts, and if you see someone who has a Bond towards someone else in the scene, you can intuitively sense the Bond's existence.

Blurt It Out: You overwhelm someone with sudden emotion, causing them to unwittingly say whatever they are thinking. Anyone hearing it gets Enhancement 3 on Assess Attitude actions or other Social rolls to understand the context of the utterance for the duration.
Irresistable Impulse: You fill someone with an emotion of your choice, giving them a Condition based on that emotion. The effect may vary, but generically, it gives +3 Difficulty when they do something contrary to the emotion, such as being polite while angry or fighting while lovestruck. Others get Enhancement 3 on rolls to detect the emotion. The condition is resolved by taking significant action with potential for consequences which is motivated by the emotion, or when you reclaim the Legend.
Tugging at Heartstrings: Once you know someone's Attitude towards something, you cen intensify or stifle the emotions it draws on, raising or lower the Attitude by 1. This can't stack with other magical modifiers - none of them do - but it can cancel out a bonus or penalty, unlike most.

Prosperity is the Purview of wealth, commerce, the prosperity of people and cities, and blessings of providence. It is common among tutelary deities, who are patrons to a kingdom or tribe. The Innate Power of Prosperity is that whenever you use your wealth of financial status to influence someone, their Attitude is treated as one point higher.

All That Glitters: You may use this on any luxury good you've purchased this session, or on any object or locale you have either concretly or symbolically dedicated to a group of people. The blessed object or place catches the attention of anyone seeing it, and gives Enhancement 2 to influence that plays on their feelings towards it.
Blessed Wealth: You call forth roughly $10,000 in riches (though tracking exact sums is not needed). This takes any form you choose - a wad of bills, coins in precious metals, a deposit to your account, whatever. However, it wants to be spent - any that is still in your possession at the end of the session vanishes. Once given away, however, it retains your blessing - a mortal that receives it gets Enhancement 3 on a single roll to run a business or maintain a comfortable lifestyle, on top of now having money. If the money gets divided among multiple people, only the first to make such a roll gets the Enhancement.
Divine Providence: You bless a specific group of mortals that belong to an organization or live in a place - the employees of a business, the members of a cult, the people of a city. You ward away economic misfortune from them, negating any mundane Conditions that might be caused by poverty or the stabilizing of economies. A blessing on the homeless, for example, ensures they will all find enough resources to maintain their basic needs, while a blessing on a city means that it will handle recessions or other economic issues somewhat better than others in the region. If you have a relationship to the blessed target as represented by a Path, you may use that Path freely an additional time each session.

Sky is the Purview of weather, wind, lightning - and all other aspects of the sky. The Innate Power is that you have perfect foreknowledge of the weather and climate around you at least a day in advance, and you may ignore any Complications caused by rain, wind or other weather.

Bolt from The Blue: You call down a bolt of lightning as an attack using Occult+(highest Power attribute), with the Aggravated, Ranged and Shockwave tags. You may use this to attack enemies in a building, but this gives a Defense bonus ranging from +1 (for a one-story building with a light roof) to +5 (for a skyscraper with a lightning rod).
Flight: You can fly with your movement actions. However, you cannot Rush or Disengage while flying. When this ends, you descend gracefully and take no fall damage on landing.
Voice of Seven Thunders: Your voice can be heard clearly out to far range, and you do not need to spend successes to use the Spectacle stunt. If you benefit from Threats, the Enhancement you receive is increased by 1, to a max of 3.

Stars is the Purview of the stars and everything they do. They can provide guidance at sea, track seasonal changes and trace out the bounds of spacetime. They look down from above, infinitely distant yet fundamentally bound to the patterns of existence. The Innate Power of Stars is that, as long as you are under the open sky, you can take a simple action to shift your senses to a God's eye view, looking down on everything out to Long range from a top-down perspective.

Cosmic Perspective: You can observe the past in the area, specifying some point in time or some event that has occurred in the past thousand years, but nothing more recent than the last dawn. If you use this as part of an investigation complex action or similar, you can ignore up to 5 Complication caused by the passage of time since whatever you were observing.
Guiding Star: You create a mystic beacon that leads either to you, the location you are in when you activate this, or to any locale you know well. The target may sense this beacon from anywhere in the same realm of existence, and may navigate to it with a flawless sense of direction. Once the target chooses to follow the beacon, you may sense their location as a simple action, determining the exact distance and direction to them.
Starry Path: You focus on a location and cause motes of starlight to appear around you. You must maintain your focus as a complex action over the course of a few minutes, and cannot do this at all while in combat or similar fast-paced action. Once you finish, you disappear in a burst of starlight and reappear, instantly, anywhere in the World. You may bring a number of willing passengers with you based on your Legend, and other Scions and any mortals Fatebound to you do not count towards that limit. You cannot use this to teleport between realms of existence, however. While in the World you can appear anywhere on Earth that you choose, in a Terra Incognita, Overworld or Underworld, you can only teleport out to a distance equivalent to five days and nights of travel.

Sun is the Purview of all aspects of the sun - life-giving rays, scorching heat and drought. It also draws on the symbolism of the rising and setting sun to grant rebirth and fulfill hope, or to purify against the evils of the night. The Innate Power of Sun is that you can choose to radiate an aura of sunlight that will light up darkness out to Long range, reflexively. You can spend Legend to make this radiance blindingly bright, causing +2 Complication to any attack rolls against you or any allies within your light.

Blinding Glory: You unleash a flash of light, blinding all foes in range. When you spend Legend on the Innate Power, you may reflexively use this Boon without any cost. Further, any use of this Boon solely against trivial targets is free.
Hope Reborn: You embody the glory of the sun. Any mortals that see you will instinctively know you are the answer to all their hopes, and you get Enhancement 3 to identify those hopes or use them as leverage to influence people.
Penetrating Glare: You can see through the darkness of lies and confusion. You get Enhancement 3 to all rolls to see if someone is lying, to see through disguises, to pierce illusions or to otherwise see through deceptions. Any use of the Misleading Complication against you has its rating reduced by 1.

Next time: War, Water, Wild, Wyrd, Yoga, Yaoyorozu-no-Kamigami

What Is It Good For

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
What Is It Good For

War is the Purview of...war. It covers fights and armed conflict, but also strife on a conceptual level. War can shape battles, bless soldiers or generals, or shatter peace. The Innate Power of War is that you can select a group of Heavy followers and bless them, giving them the Savage tag. This lasts indefinitely, but you can only bless one group at a time.

Herald of Victory: You choose a side in a fight. All characters on that side get Enhancement 1 to all actions for the rest of the scene. If you are simply observing a battle rather than taking part, and none of your allies are involved, you may use this Boon for free to favor one of the sides.
Marching Orders: You grant Enhancement 2 to any one person, potentially yourself, on rolls to command Heavy followers for one scene. If the target interacts with someone who is their subordinate in a military or paramilitary group, the subordinate's Attitude is treatd as 1 point higher.
Understanding the Battlefield: You may activate this to ask one of the following:
Following whatever answer the ST gives will give you Enhancement 3 to relevant rolls. However, this never directly benefits attack or defense - if you learn about that shotgun, you get the Enhancement to find it and get it before anyone else can, but not to shoot with it.

Water is the Purview of all things water. It controls the tides, the sustaining and cleansing power of water and the danger of the waves and the deep sea. The Innate Power of Water is that you can breathe water as easily as air and may swim with flawless grace. You never suffer any Complications for moving or acting underwater, and you are immune to harm from water pressure or temperature.

Changing Tides: You control the tides and currents of water. You may calm it and make it still and placid even in the midst of a storm, or you may alter the flow of the currents - a river might flow uphill or a riptide might drag swimmers to shore. The water reverts back when you reclaim your imbued Legend. However, if you spend Legend rather than imbuing, you may call up a giant wave to crush your foes as an attack using Occult+(highest Power attribute), with the Bashing, Long Range, Pushing and Shockwave tags.
Reborn in the Depths: You may heal yourself by submerging in a body of water, resolving one Injury Condition of your choice at the end of a scene spent immersed in water. You can only use this healing once per session. Further, you may extend your senses through the water, displacing your perspective as a simple action to any point within Long range that is within the same body of water, seeing through that point as if physically present.
Sink Hopes: You overwhelm someone with the sensation of endless drowning as a Condition. They know they can breathe, but they succumb to panic or despair from the feeling of suffocation and darkness. All rolls with Social or Mental Attributes are at +2 Difficulty. If they are in water or at risk of becoming submerged in water, this also applies to Physical Attributes. This is resolved when the target suffers near-drowning or comparable mortal peril due to water, or when you choose to reclaim your Legend.

Wild is the Purview of the untamed land, of the living plants of nature. It commands all wilderness - forest, jungle, desert, taiga, it doesn't matter. It can command and animate plants, stop human econroachment or even draw on symbolic associations of wild things, unleashing the inner beast in animals and people. The Innate Power is that you ignore all difficult or dangerous terrain based on undergrowth, fallen trees, briars or other plant-based hazards. You also get Enhancement 2 to all rolls to establish stealth in a wilderness area.

Call of the Wild: You may use this on a human, human-like being or domesticated animal. They suffer a Condition that awakens their atavistic instinct, giving +2 Difficulty to all Academics, Culture, Firearms, Medicine, Pilot, Scions and Technology rolls, but Enhancement 2 on Athletics, Close Combat, Integrity and Survival rolls. This resolves when failure on a roll of a penalized skill causes significant consequences. This can be used for free against all trivial targets in range simultaneously.
Lay of the Land: When in a wilderness area, you can ask the ST one of the following:
You get Enhancement 3 to relevant rolls when following the answer.
Overgrowth: You cause massive growth in local plant life. It emerges from the soil, cracks in concrete or any other surface that can support it. This can make difficult terrain anywhere in range and create one or more terrain features that provide a total of 3 points worth of Complication or Enhancement. For the rest of the scene, you may direct these plants to attack enemies with a Presence+Survival roll, and they have the Bashing, Grappling and Versatile tags.

Wyrd is the Pantheon Signature Purview of the Aesir. It encompasses all of the magic they use, and which their worshippers use to foretell and manipulate the fates spun by the Nornir. This includes galdr charms cast by runes or chanting, spa (or prophecy), and seidr. The Innate Power of Wyrd is that you have a personal fate you know you're destined for. It's never good - you might be destined to die in a way mirroring your divine parent's doom at Ragnarok, or you might be betrayed by those closest to you, or your ambitions may fail grandly, or something else. Whenever you have narrative difficulties that advance your fate or echo it, or come from you trying to avoid your fate, you gain 1 Momentum.

Cast the Runes: Once per session, you may perform a ritual divination by casting runes of some kind over a few minutes. The ST will give you a lead or clue about what they expect to happen in the current session. If you use a Boon or marvel later in the session and the ST agrees that it'll help bring about what was foretold, you may waive 1 Legend out of its cost in imbued or spent Legend. This can only be done once.
Spin the Thread: You call on seidr to cast a blessing or curse on someone else via a ritual trance that lasts one scene, as you envision the future. You predict a specific triumph or downfall for them, placing it as a Condition. If an action is likely to bring about the prophecy, it gets Enhancement 2. Actions that go against the destiny have +1 Difficulty, or +2 if they'd make it completely impossible. This cuts both ways - a blessing can make life harder if you go against it, and a Curse will empower actions that lead to its fruition. The Condition resolves when the prophecy happens, when the ST decides it is no longer possible, or when you reclaim the Legend, whichever comes first. Magic that can alter destiny, such as Wyrd or Fortune marvels, can also end it prematurely.

Yoga is the Pantheon Signature Purview of the Deva. The yogas are disciplines of liberation of the spirit, via selfless action, personal devotion and understanding of the divine. The Deva use this to gain divine favor and blessings via austerities and selflessness. The Innate Power of Yoga is that, once per scene, when you selflessly act despite hardship in order to uphold your duty or serve someone, you may allow another PC to spend Momentum on an action without having to draw on their Virtues, and every point of Momentum spent this way adds a free second die, as if they had the Virtuous Condition.

Devotion's Reward: You may spend a scene to put on an act of devotion that calls on one of the Deva, such as a dance, a sacrifice or performing austerities. You may then ask for a specific Boon or power, or a more open-ended request. A specific request will have a limitation imposed on it by the Deva granting it, but you get whatever you asked for. If you go open-ended, the ST picks what you get, but it has no restrictions to its use. Typically, power granted this way is in the form of use of a Boon, a Knack or a Relic, and any blessing lasts until the end of the session. The ST may also offer a more customized blessing, but no matter what, you cannot gain any power that is beyond your normal ability to learn, such as a God-tier Boon while you're a Hero. You may also use this to call on the favor of an asura (IE, a Deva-associated Titan), or even, with the ST's permission, a deity outside the Deva, but it may require a good deal of work to figure out what kind of devotion they would want.
Eyes of Knowledge: You may look at a God, Scion, Titan, titanspawn or other divine being and ask one of the following:
The ST will try to answer you in the form of a spontaneous, in-character speech, monologue or other form of expository dialogue by the character in question, but can choose to just tell you the answer if that's too much work. Following whatever answer is revealed gives Enhancement 3 on relevant rolls while you keep your Legend imbued.

Yaoyorozu-no-Kamigami is the Signature Purview of the Kami. It states that all things are kami, and so all things can be influenced by speech and propitiation. The Innate Power is that you can speak to the kami of objects and animals, allowing you to talk to and try to influence them. They have Attitude 2 towards you by default. Kami of objects have limited agency - mostly, they can do things that their object might be able to do without rolling. A kami of a car could start the engine without keys, but not drive it, for example.

Appeasing the Kami: You offer respect and decorum to the kami of an object. Its Enhancement is increased by 1 when you or an ally use it, and any enemy that uses it gets +2 Complication. Failure to buy this off causes the object to 'misbehave' and avoid harming or disadvantaging you.
The Watchful Spirit: You can ask the kami of an object or animal to watch for intruders, wath out for a specific person or event, or do some other passive task. Once it finds what it's looking for or otherwise completes the task, it will notify you regardless of distance, either by whispering to you or sending a portent. This can provide +2 Enhancement if it benefits an action. If you use this again before the task is complete, the first task ends immediately and the kami is released from its duty as you give another kami a new one.

Next time: Cheval/Gun, Dodaem, Heku, Tianming, Nextlahualli and Metamorphosis

Would You Believe We Have Less than 70 Pages Left?

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Would You Believe We Have Less than 70 Pages Left?

Cheval/Gun is the Signature Purview of the Orisha and Loa. The Orisha use the word Gun, a Yoruba word, while the Loa prefer Cheval. It is the power that allows them to possess their mortal worshippers via use of sacred drumming and dance to enter a receptive trance. The Innate Power is that you can tell whether any mortal you see is possessed by a spirit or god, and can identify the nature of the possessing entity. You can also make a Clash of Wills to drive them out.

Dance with The Divine: You call down a god or ancestor spirit of your pantheon to share your body at the end of a scene-long ritual. You select one of their Purviews, in the case of a god, and gain access to its marvels and Innate Power. For an ancestor spirit, called egun or ghede, you get them as a Guide. In exchange, the god or spirit can experience what you do, though not control your body. You cannot end this Boon until the spirit is ready to leave you. They won't overstay out of malice, but may press for just one more meal or cigarette. Typically, the best way to get them out is to go off somewhere quiet with a priest or bandmate, who can then politely ask them to leave. (As a side note, once you hit God level, you get to be the other side of this - you lend out a Purview in exchange for at-will sense-sharing.)
Mounting the Horse: You send a part of your spirit into the body of a willing mortal. You can tap into their senses, control their actions and use Boons and knacks through them. They remain completely aware and may communicate with you mentally. You still control your own body during this as well, and may act through both at once via mixed actions. If the target is one of your Fatebound or a member of your cult and spends a scene in a ritual to invite you, you may use this at infinite range, even across realms of existence.

Dodaem is the Signature Purview of the Manitou. It allows for communication with the totemic manitou of all things. Everything has one. You can commune with your own dodaem manitou to gain insightful dreams or to have it be your intermediary with other manitou, or you may use this to converse with the World and ask the manitou for favors in exchange for offerings or oaths. The Innate Power is that once per scene, you may ask a manitou for favor as a simple action. It gives Enhancement 3 to relevant rolls for the scene - a bear manitou might let you hunt a bear or a forest manitour might let you pass through a forest safely, for example. In exchange, it will either ask you for a favor, such as finding it a new charge since you killed its bear, or impose a restriction on you, such as forbidding you from harming any living thing in its forest. You lose the Enhancement if you break the bargain, and the manitou may bless your foes until you make amends.

Dream Quest: As you sleep, your dodaem manitou will show you meaningful visions. You can ask the ST one of:
Following the answer grants Enhancement 3 on rolls that help you get to where you need to be in order to do what you need to do, but not on rolls to actually do it - so if you need to kill a wendigo, you get the bonus to track and find it, but not to fight it.
Sacred Medicine: You can appeal to someone's dodaem manitou over a scene-long ritual to tend to their physical, mental or spiritual health. This can resolve any single Condition they have, including Injury Conditions. However, in exchange, the manitou will request a favor or impose a restriction on either you or the other character. (For other PCs, it's always on them.) Failure to fulfill the bargain means that whatever the manitou healed comes back in full force or is replaced by another condition representing the manitou's anger.

Heku is the Signature Purview of the Netjer. It is an ancient Egyptian magical practice, used both by the gods and their mortals. It has control over rebirth, the afterlife, the lifeforce of sekhem, and the many parts of the soul in Egyptian cosmology. The Innate Power is that you have power over anyone whose ren you know - their true name. For most mortals that's their full given name, but the ren of mythic creatures, cautious sorcerers or gods will require more extensive research or sneaking to discover. Knowing someone's ren gives you Enhancement 2 on all rolls to gain knowledge or understanding of them.

Ren Harvest: You gain power from the speaking of your name in mortal thoughts. Once per session, when you hear someone talk about you by name and describe your exploits, you gain 1 Legend. Reading a published written description of your deeds that attributes them to you by name in a newspaper, blog or similar also works. However, the speaker or writer must be praising you from genuine awe or admiration - you can't coerce or trick it out of someone.
Sekhem Blaze: You manifest the power of your soul as a shining light in your eyes that declares your rule over all you see. Your target must either flee or be cowed into submission and end all hostilities - your choice, not theirs. If you know their ren, you treat their Attitude as 2 higher for the scene.

Tianming is the Signature Purview of the Shen. See, the Jade Emperor rules over heaven, hell and the World, and from him all power flows: Tianming, the Mandate of Heaven. Thus, this Purview commands the heavenly hierarchy of the Shen in all its positions and titles, and also all mortal bureaucracies, which are but Worldly extensions of the heavenly model. The Innate Power is that you ignore all Complications from bureaucratic delay, corruption, missing paperwork, long lines or similar obstacles to the proper functioning of bureaucratic and official institutions. This sounds crappy until you remember that this includes pretty much literally everything the Shen do as part of running their cosmology.

Celestial Promotion: You name yourself or another with a title that is imbued with Heaven's power - 'Protector of Dogs', say, or 'That One God No One Likes'. The title is a Condition. Anyone meeting the target can intuit their title automatically, and people that need aid related to the title will tend to come to them for help. The title gives Enhancement 2 on rolls to influence others or form plans whenever it would be relevant, but gives +2 Complication when dealing with anyone that'd dislike them for their title - cats, for example, for the Protector of Dogs, or literally anyone for That One God No One Likes. If someone doesn't want their title, they can resolve the condition by performing a dramatic action with significant potential consequences in service of the title's duties, which releases them for its obligations. (The example is someone named the King of Poorly Endowed Assholes could resolve it by gathering a gang of fellow assholes and establishing authority over them definitively.) The title also goes away when you reclaim the Legend, if that comes first.
Vermillion Tape: You curse a bureaucracy or similar organization, either by targeting its leader or its headquarters. Anyone in the organization that attempts to conduct official business gets +4 Complication that, if not bought off, causes the task to either take far longer than it should, to the point that it is narratively 'too late', or causes it to be misunderstood, resulting in an end product or accomplishment that is not what was intended. You may choose to specify a behavior, such as wearing fancy suits or doing weekly prayer rituals, that lets people ignore the Complication.

Nextlahualli is the Signature Purview of the Teotl. It literally means debt repayment, as it focuses on the cycle of sacrifice and service, drawing power from sacrifice and wielding that power on behalf of worshippers. The Innate Power is that whenever you gain Legend by performing a sacrifice, you also gain 1 Momentum, and whenever helping mortals that have sacrificed to you or the Teotl in general causes you narrative difficulties, you gain 1 Momentum.

Flesh of the World: Once per session, when you receive Legend from performing a major sacrifice, you may resolve a single Condition affecting you. Additionally, you may survive on sacrifice alone - in any session where you receive at least 1 Legend from sacrifice, you are immune to harm or Complication from starvation, dehydration or suffocation.
Repay the Debt: Whenever a mortal sacrifices to you or one of the Teotl within an area around you based on your Legend, or at one of your Sanctums (which are not detailed in this book), you sense their identity and their reason for offering. You may answer their request with a Boon or marvel, extending its range to the location of the sacrifice. Once per session, you may also reduce the cost of a Boon or marvel used in response to a sacrifice by 1 Legend.

Metamorphosis is the Signature Purview of the Theoi. They are extremely skilled at transforming themselves and others into all kinds of things - animals, other people, weather, abstract concepts. The Innate Power is that whenever you conceal your identity by any means, trivial targets automatically cannot see through it. When you make a roll to disguise yourself or present yourself as someone else, you ignore any Complications from changing your height, size, race, sex or species.

Change Shape: You take on a form symbolically associated with one of your other Purviews, such as a bird or a thunderous bull for Sky. This transformation is perfect and undetectable by any nonmagical means, but changes none of your stats. However, you do gain access to any special forms of movement or natural attacks it has, +1 Scale on all actions with a single Physical attribute of your choice (if the ST agrees the form would provide that), and any miscellaneous abilities the ST agrees it would have, like a cloud being able to rain. You cannot become invulnerable this way - if you become a cloud, you can still be attacked normally, the Injury conditions are just likely to be weirder until you turn back. (That said, the ST might grant you increased durability based on your form.)
Transfigure: You turn someone else into an animal or similarly animate form. It cannot prevent them from acting or be a death sentence, so no stone or fish-on-dry-land. This is free to use on trivial targets, however, and can completely incapacitate them as you desire. Transformed characters retain their stats, but face Complication if attempting tasks their form is unsuited to, ranging from +1 to +4. However, they get Enhancement ranging from 1 to 3 on actions that their new form is especially suited for, such as tracking for a dog. When this ends, any Scions or other characters that have Legend instantly revert to normal. Mortals instead gain the Transfigured condition, which must be resolved by magic to return them to normal. Trivial targets are stuck that way permanently.

Geasa is the Signature Purview of the Tuatha De Danann. Geasa set rules and prohibitions on actions by calling on Fate. The Tuatha are bound by geasa, but can also lay them on others, influence the behavior of those under a geis, or grant the power to uphold geasa or tempt others into breaking them. It also covers the bardic and druidic magic the Tuatha are famous for. Being under a geis is a Condition that gives 1 Momentum whenever obeying your geis causes problems. Breaking the geis resolves it, but causes you to lose all points of Legend, including any imbued in Boons or marvels. Mortals that break one are instead shoved into a life-or-death situation by Fate. The Innate Power is that...well, you have a geis. If you break it or otherwise resolve the condition, the ST will find another for you to fall under, either sworn or laid on you by another Scion, a god, a sidhe, a poet or just circumstance. Demigods get a second geis and Gods get a third.

Lay Geis: You may place a geis on another character, speaking to them to explain the rule they must now obey. Your only limit is that they must be capable of obeying it at the time you place the geis. You can't forbid someone wearing a red shirt from wearing red, but could if they weren't wearing any red at the time. You regain Legend when the geis is broken. (It's spent, not imbued, so I guess you just get a bonus point of Legend when that happens.)
Tongue of the Bard: You may select a character you see and ask the ST one of the following:
The answer is received in the form of you speaking aloud a poem or speech the ST provides. This information gives Enhancement 3 on any relevant rolls. You may use this for free against trivial targets.

Next time: ST Advice

Story Structure

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Story Structure

This chapter focuses on the traditional features of myth and legend, and how they can be adapted to your gaming table. It discusses how in ancient times, logic and myth were not easily divided, and both contained truth and lies - and that's the goal for Scion, too. We get some discussion of how a lot of myths are kind of formulaic, and using more complex story structures can help.

First it goes into traditional Western story structures. First, you've got stories of loss, danger and foreshadowing. They begin with a loss, something that compels the hero to act, often by removing personal connections or introducing danger to them or the self. The Hero must cope with the loss and grow from it, to better prevent loss and danger in the future, often by drawing on lessons from similar losses in the past. Often, the hero is forced to break an important rule or is asked for help by someone in need, to spur them to action. They overcome obstacles and either triumph or succumb to tragedy. Either is acceptable.

Then it talks about the Japanese kishotenketsu stories. These divide a plot into four parts: the initial situation, an elaboration of that situation which reveals more, a twist that changes how you understand the first two parts, and a final reconciliation of the three. These, the game says, are often well-suited to groups rather than singular heroes, so they're worth looking at for structure. Then you have the eze, or king, stories of the Igbo, which take two forms. In one form, the initial situation is an oppressive one, due to abuse of power. This causes rebellion by a hero or heroes who use their power and wit to use the king's status against them, and they restore the traditional power of the people. In the second form, it is reversed - a good authority figure is challenged by something that undermines their authority and threatens to remove it, and this is defeated by the king finding a solution via the virtues that made them respected in the first place.

We get some discussion of the mythic value of natural settings and set pieces, and how to incorporate various mythic cycles or traditional rules into games, and how to use them on several levels - the legendary, which is the myths as they are, the heroic, in which legendary images are repeated on a mortal level but magnified by the power involved, and the human, in which everyday life reflects the myths. Then there's the parodic or demonic level, in which the myth is twisted to be familiar and yet wrong, warped and strange reflections of the heroic drive.

It's a pretty interesting and useful chapter and you should preorder the book on Backerkit and read it. There's also an excellent FAQ on cultural sensitivity, approaching the problems of playing characters of cultures very different from yours, and how to handle it if you fuck up.

then we get the new tier of Antagonist archetypes. Foes are the first. They would be a tough fight...for a mortal. But against a Scion, they're nowhere near ready. These are Tier 2 Mooks, basically - you can still beat them in one hit, but they tend to have a Quality or two and hit harder. The Rival is the equivalent of a Tier 2 Professional - they're actually a challenge, and stand on the same rough level as a Scion, but aren't equals, quite. The Nemesis is a more equal foe, one who will be a real challenge. They might be a Scion or even a raw Demigod. Titanspawn are the Monster equivalent at this tier - a beast so terrible, so furious, that it can take on the entire party and be a big threat. They tend to use Size scale or multiple segments.

We get some new and upgraded Antagonist qualities for use in Tier 2, like the ability to punch fireballs or to cause fights with impossible beauty, and new Flairs, like laying curses or controlling the weather or going super saiyan. We get some examples:

The Basilisk is a species of mythic snake with a feathered crest, and it is deadly as fuck. It is toxic to the touch, has terrible venom, and it can petrify and paralyze with its very gaze. You can track it by the path of dead foliage in its wake and the die-offs around its nest. They grow continuously through their lives, and the largest recorded basilisk was 30 feet long, discovered in 1948. Its gaze had so much range that it had to be destroyed by concentrated artillery bombardment. The remains are kept under guard at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

Daitengu are bird-people of Japan, half bird and half person. They often are portrayed with human faces but comically large noses, though some say that is merely a mask over their true face. They are quite powerful, able to control wind with the beating of their wings and strong enough to carry off a human easily, to possess them or kill them as they please. Some stories portray the tengu as protectors of natural places rather than murderers, at least. The weaker kind are called Kotengu or Karasu-Tengu, lacking the wisdom and more human shape of their superiors. They are far more numerous, and rather less likely to be safe or pleasant, as they are hoarders and tricksters, like the crows they resemble.

Hydras are typically remembered for the Lernean Hydra, but it was not the only one of its kind. They are amphibious and found throughout the Aegean - or, at this point, any large body of water. The carcass of a hydra washed ashore in Nova Scotia in 1877, and it contaminated the beach for years. Their bodily fluids are so venomous that even their breath is poison, let alone their blood or saliva, and they regenerate so well that they grow two heads for each head severed. Fortunately, they are largely solitary and breed quite rarely, with never more than a single pup, which the mother will raise for several years before leaving it. Young hydras are born with just one head, but their mothers typically decapitate them at least a few times once they're strong enough to survive it - typically, a few months after birth.

Jotnar are the giants of Jotunheim, and they come in all kinds. some are beautiful, while others are hideous or monstrous. They're all huge, though, ranging from around 12 feet to several stories tall, or even larger, though none have yet equalled the mass of Ymir, whose body was made into the World. Not all jotnar are enemies, either - more than one of the Aesir is descended from them, and Loki is a full-blood jotun. Those jotnar that dwell in Muspellheim serve Surtr, and will raise up and set the World on fire come Ragnarok.

Kerberos Hounds are the children of the ever-loyal, three-headed Kerberos. The line was apparently originally fathered in the brief period when Herakles dragged the dog out of the Underworld for one of his labors. The breed now resemble oversize mastiffs, and even when they lack the additional heads they're most known for, they are broad and intelligent dogs, always loyal. They are very trainable, but aren't recommended for the faint of heart - they're not easy to housebreak in the slightest. Because of their wolfish nature, few breeders are familiar with them, and fewer try to keep the line going. Scions typically don't have a hard time adopting one, though - Persephone and Hades keep litters around. They are very fond of the dogs and do not take kindly to those that mistreat them.

Nemeans are...well, most famously lions, but hardly always. The Nemean Lion was slain by Herakles, and it was immune to most weapons and had claws that tore through most armor. Ever since its death, apparently invulnerable animals are known as Nemeans. Bears, tigers, crocodiles and, just once, a hippo have been spotted. (Everyone hopes that there is never another Nemean Hippo.) Any animal of sufficient aggression, territoriality and danger can produce a Nemean variant. One of the more famous is Hogzilla, a Nemean Pig infused with Titanic power and let loose in Georgia. Despite being a sow, she has half-meter tusks and weighs almost a ton. She has no mate, but goes into virginal estrus once a year and produces a piglet of incredible size. The hunter that killed the first one was lucky - another few weeks and it'd be bulletproof. Nemeans used to be able to destroy entire economies when they appeared, but the invention of gunpowder and cannons made them easier for people to handle. Modern guns can occasionally hurt them, especially if you get a lucky shot off and hit them in the eye or mouth, but only the highest-powered rifles can do so with any regularity. Not all Nemeans are killed on sight any more, though - environmentalists like to see them captured and relocated or placed in captivity. The Sacramento Zoo famously has a very photogenic Nemean Jaguar.

Next time: Enemies and Allies

Hail, Conquering Hero

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Hail, Conquering Hero

Octavian Gaius Caesar is a Scion of Divius Iulius. His birth was foretold by a comet that shone brightly for seven days, and he was marked for greatness from birth. However, it'd be easy not to guess - from a young age, he devoted himself to gaining power via crime and violence. Now he is 20, and he is the ruler of a massive and complex criminal empire, but his ambition remains undimmed. He plants to be better not only than his father, but the great Alexander as well, and intends to emerge from the shadows to take the entire World by force by the time he is 30. If pressed, he'll claim that this is to protect humans by unifying them and preparing them for war on the Titans, but he's not especially sincere. (He also serves as one of two examples of how to make an enemy Scion as part of the Antagonist system, using Tension in place of Legend for any Legend costs.)

Asher is a Scion of Anansi. He grew up in Harlem, in poverty, but is now a famous lobbyist for the tobacco industry. He sees the World as his plaything, now that he's got the power to do what he wants rather than starve. He collects wealth and Relics by any means available, even if that means stealing from or tricking other Scions, and so he's frequently at odds with fellow Scions. He never kills them directly, but he's more than happy to lead them into danger. Still, he vastly prefers they survive, as he enjoys having embarrassed and vengeful godlings after him for some reason. He's sworn that he'll never be powerless again, but he's more talker than fighter. On the other hand, he has plenty of fighting friends to call on.

The Sphinx is a species native to the Middle East. Greek sphinxes are famous for their riddles and their danger, but Egyptian ones were more known as temple guardians, and several great statues were built that still survive in Egypt, most notably in Giza. The Assyrians knew the sphinx as the lamassu or shedu, protective gods associated with the stars and zodiac. Lamassu sometimes had a bull body rather than a lion, or sometimes a combination of both, as witnessed by the prophet Ezekiel. Sphinx are, sadly, quite rare - for a lot of modern history they were regarded as dangerous beasts and either driven off or hunted nearly to extinction. Surviving populations exist in the more rural areas of the Middle East, particularly in Egypt's Red Sea Hills, the Armenian Highlands and the Caucasus Mountains, where their wisdom and intellect has allowed them to survive what other apex predators couldn't.

Vampires...well, they're vampires. Abominations that have clawed their way from the Underworlds to violate the natural order and feed on the living. They tend to be exceptionally weird, being more folkloric vampires than pop culture ones. Undead in general tend to have unnatural hungers, and they range from stupid as hell to extremely clever. While they can come off as friendly, they still feed on people, and tend to view them as food first, people a distant second.

Yaoguai is a kind of catch-all term for beings that have been twisted into strange monsters by their pursuit of immortality. Most Yaoguai are Daoist mystics as well as monsters, though not all - some have stolen the tools they used to become not wholly mortal, and don't really understand them. They come in many forms, from beastmen to fallen gods to living skeletons, but they all share the same goal: become immortal gods. The Shen are open to rehabilitating these creatures, at least in theory, but when you're fighting one, it can be hard to spare them in the heat of the moment.

But, you ask, what about legendary critters I can play? If they aren't Scions, odds are their Legend probably caps at 4, and they can't learn Boons. So there's that. We get new Knacks for the supernatural critters found in Origin, first.

Immortal Kitsune
Endless Masks: You may assume any human, animal, plant or inanimate shape, up to the size of an elephant, though your stats, weight and Scale remain the same in any form.
Kitsune Tsuki: You may curse someone with the Fox-Possession condition for days based on your Legend. This makes them ravenously hungry, especially for tofu, but otherwise lethargic, getting +1 Difficulty to any action requiring force or concentration. This resolves either when it times out or when the victim spends a night in the company of a dog, whichever comes first.
Tableau: You may imbue 1 Legend to create a convincing illusion that transforms a room into any appearance you like, which you do not need to occupy to maintain the illusion. However, if you do not choose to maintain the imbued Legend, the illusion reverts the next day.

Immortal Satyr
Panic: You may spend Momentum to make the Field you are in terrifying to those of lower Tier. All beings of lower Tier flee as quickly as possible, and will not return for the rest of the scene. You explicitly can't give anyone immunity to this.
Too Clever: When engaging in a nonviolent contest with someone else for defined stakes, you can spend 1 Legend to make your dicepool the same size as theirs for the contest, applying all modifiers after this happens.
Hair of the Goat: You are totally immune to all poisons and venoms. You may spend 1 Legend to mix whatever liquids you happen to have around into a dose of antidote to any poison you know of.

Immortal Wolf-Soldier
Exemplary Deed: You can spend Momentum to grant your dicepool to an ordinary mortal that supports your cause for one action. They get Enhancement 1 on the roll, but can only ever receive this blessing once in their entire lifetime.
Champion of the Cause: You may replicate one Heroic Knack from Guardian, Leader or Warrior, chosen when you take this. You can take this multiple times, taking a different Knack each time.

Immortal Therianthrope
Lycanthropy: You may imbue 1 Legend to take on the shape of a large, predatory beast, chosen when you take this. In animal form, your unarmed attacks have the Lethal tag, you gain an extra Bruised slot, and you get the benefits of the Apex Predator knack. You must make a Resolve roll to resist the urge to hunt for a scene, or to return to human form before the end of the scene.

Immortal Cu Sith
Guardian Dog: You may replicate one Immortal Knack from Guardian, chosen when you take this.

Next time: Centaurs, Kinnara, Nuckelavee, Naga, Troll-Blooded, Oni

I Am Large And Drunk

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
I Am Large And Drunk

Classical Centaurs reject city life and exist for the open plains and hills. They don't try to be anything they're not, and they don't trust others easily, but are not cowards. They never flee. They are rough types, good with animals and farming, but when they drink, they become violent, passionate and dangerous. They'll fight just about anyone, break things and steal things, because drunk centaurs are a huge problem.

Heroic Centaur
Lash Out: You can use your hooves as a weapon with the Bashing, Melee and Worn tags.
Tireless: On relatively level ground, you can run indefinitely without tiring.

Kinnara resemble centaurs, but they are not like them at all. Theirs is the way of love, dance and song. This isn't just lust, either - every kinnara loves deeply, just one person. They are gentle, tender lovers who prefer to avoid violence. They are refined beings, with a love for good food, good music and elegant dance from all over the world. They love culture almost as much as their beloved. While their lovers are alive, they are always close and would do anything to protect them. If their lover dies, they become resentful of others in love until they can find someone to replace the lover - not an easy task, given the depth of their love.

Nuckelavee are hideous. They might be mistaken, at a distance, for a centaur - but up close, it's clear that they aren't. They have transparent skin, webbed feet rather than hooves, and plant life burns away where they walk. Their skin is coated in a deadly poison, except when they are in water, which renders it harmless. This is why the nuckelavee tend to deal with sailors and fishers - it makes them feel less monstrous, for they are safe unless angered enough to stalk the land.

Heroic Nuckelavee
My Mother, The Sea: You can breathe underwater, ignore underwater Obstacles and can swim as fast as you run. Your Poison Skin stops working while underwater.
Poison Skin: If you touch someone or are touched barehanded, you are treated as having the Toxin quality.

Naga are either snakes that become people or people that become snakes; they neither know nor especially care which. In human form, they grant wealth and fertility to those they consider worthy, and as snakes, they hunt out mysteries underground. They tend to prefer living underground or at least in the shade, though they do not fear the sun. They tend to become lazy on hot days, but that doesn't mean they're slow.

Heroic Naga
Fertile Touch: You can bless a human that asks you to do so. If they are pregnant, their child will come to term healthy and there will be no complications. Otherwise, they are guaranteed to have a child the next time they have consensual sex, even if the pairing wouldn't usually be able to have kids. This works on anyone that could theoretically bear or conceive a child.
Hidden Treasures: Once per session, you can produce up to $500 in gems or precious metals. If you do not give them to someone else by the end of the scene, they vanish.

Troll-Blooded are the descendants of full trolls. Their human blood allows them to pass for human most of the time and tempers their trollish instincts with control, though they tend to be rough-looking folks. They know that their nature would be unwelcome if revealed, so they usually try to hide and control it so that people don't come after them. Fortunately for them, most people never realize that they inherit cunning and wisdom from their trollish family, not just raw strength, so when they are revealed, they can often handle it.

Heroic Troll-Blooded
Deceptive Strength: While you are not any larger than a human, you are treated as a Scale 1 being.
Spiteful Rebuke: When someone deals you a -2 Injury or worse, you may spend your next action cursing them with Cunning+Occult. If you succeed, they become paralyzed by fear for several rounds based on your Presence.

Oni are...well, were people who made many bad choices in life. Or maybe they were animals that liked eating people. Both routes exist. Now, they can choose - either be the monsters everyone sees them as, or try to break the cycle by punishing those who are truly wicked. They can never pass for normal, however. They hunger for flesh and are innately cruel in their actions, and everyone that sees them knows they are a threat. Their skin is red or blue, and they often have tusks, horns, extra toes or fingers, or other obvious monstrous traits.

Heroic Oni
Innate Cruelty: Any weapon you use gains the Brutal tag.

Werewolves...well, you know what they are. And you know that silver burns them. Everyone knows that. Some werewolves are cursed with their nature, while others choose it. Whatever the case, they change into a monstrous wolf under the full moon, hunting for pleasure and hunger. While some werewolves hate what they do in their wolf form, part of them always craves the times when they run wild.

Nagual Shapeshifters are not werejaguars. They are sorcerers. They perform dark deeds in the night at the behest of others, and they are paid well for it. They almost never work for free, and everyone in their community knows that, so the wise give them gifts even when asking for nothing. They often believe it protects them when the nagual is hired to fuck with them by a neighbor. The nagual shapeshifters are shrewd bargainers, and are definitely not above revealing what a rival has paid them to get a price raised.

Heroic Nagual Shapeshifter
Nagual Shapeshifting: From sunset to sunrise, you can transform into a specific animal, chosen at chargen - a bat, a snake, a rabbit, a dog, a deer, a monkey, a jaguar or a vulture. In that form, you cannot be told from a normal animal, and you gain all movement and attack abilities of that animal, though you keep your own stats.
Wary Beasts: Unless compelled by magic or Legendary creatures, normal animals avoid you and will never attack you. This can reveal your nagual nature if someone makes an Occult roll, however.

Next time: Aje, Nagual Sorcerer, Wu, Aos Si, Jo-Gee-Oh, Yaksha, Jiaoren, Nixie

Witches In Three Flavors

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Scion: Hero
Witches In Three Flavors

Aje are curse-layers and curse-breakers, the kind of people Europeans call witches or shapeshifters. They are more than that, though. They are power. When someone is hurt or sick and cannot be cured, it is because an aje prevents it in secret. When one of their curses is broken, it is because another aje broke it. Aje can be friends or enemies, but they always end up being the ones to struggle against each other.

Heroic Aje
Night-Bird: From sunrise to sun-set, you can send forth your spirit in the form of a white owl. Your body lies in slumber, and can only be awoken by your return or the destruction of your special ritual objects, like a calabash with potions in it or a red feather. While you are an owl, you may lay your Barren Curse, but cannot use your powers on anyone that has washed thoroughly with soap in the past day, or anyone in the presence of a dead but unplucked chicken. (A successful Occult roll can identify an aje by their ritual objects.)
Barren Curse: You can make an Occult+Cunning roll to curse someone with infertility, importence or disease at Medium range. You may do the same to break someone else's Barren Curse or similar supernatural affliction, though you have to beat their roll, if they had one.

Nagual Sorcerers aren't shapeshifters. Rather, they use their knowledge and visions to guide people. They are taught by older and more powerful sorcerers to control their dreams and visions, allowing them to view places that are far away and even see the future. Interpreting these visions can be difficult, of course, and they must study constantly to maintain their skills. They tend to look down on the nagual who shapeshift instead.

Heroic Nagual Sorcerer
Dreaming Flight: As long as you are intoxicated by alcohol or a hallucinogen, or as long as you have consumed enough to put you in a sleeping stupor, and you are in an enclosed space no larger than a normal bedroom with all entrances and exits closed, you may shift your vision into the sky. From there, you can see anything in Long range of where you are.

Wu are women who work to keep the realms of human and spirit seperate. (Men are called 'xi' instead.) They drive out spirits that break the rules and prevent human meddling in the spirit world. They also serve as spiritual doctors who handle the problems that come when men and spirits mingle. Their methods involve ecstatic trances that take them to the border of flesh and spirit, which makes them highly visible to spirits, who often show up to ask for help. Wu often feel they must try, even if they lack the ability to do much about the problem, because it is the right thing to do.

Heroic Wu
Spirit Voice: Once per session, you may ask a brief, precise question of a ghost or spirit that is nearby. If it knows the answer, it will tell you. If it doesn't, it will tell you that instead. In any session in which you use this, you are visible to all spirits nearby. If one approaches you to ask a favor, you gain 1 Momentum.
Balance Disorder: You may strengthen the boundary between a willing person and a spirit or ghost (which need not be willing). For the rest of the session, neither can affect or even perceive the other by any means. Alternately, you may use this to force a spirit to end or undo any one effect it has inflicted on the person, but doing that won't stop the two from interacting. Either way, in any session in which you use this, you are visible to all spirits nearby. If one approaches you to ask a favor, you gain 1 Momentum.

Aos Si are, it is said, those angels that sided with neither Heaven nor Hell, consigned to the World for their actions. Alternatively, they are the lesser children of the Tuatha De Danann, too minor to be gods. Alternatively, they are the souls of the dead remained in the World to settle their obligations. None or all may be true. The Aos Si have been around for a long time, sometimes hiding in hidden hillforts and sometimes living among mortals. They come and go with little understanding of the passage of time, and they are fascinated by the progress and rapid changes that humans seem to make.

Heroic Aos Si
Bounty of Foison: You can make a banquet for up to 9 people, using whatever you like, that lasts for one scene. Those that eat get +1 Enhancement to Athletics and Survival rolls for the rest of the scene, but afterwards they realize that they were not actually nourished at all and get +1 Difficulty to the same rolls in the next scene. Alternately, you may steal the essence of a meal, preventing the eater from being nourished at all; this causes only the penalty, with no blessing first.

Jo-Ge-Oh, unlike most of the creatures known as Strange Folk, are not tricksters or bored immortals. They genuinely want to reward those who do good, no matter what. The more they grant their rewards, the stronger the communities they gift are, and the more peaceful. Or, at least, that's what they claim. Things can be more complex than that, but they are an inherently optimistic people. They find the virtuous wherever they go, rewarding them for making a difference in an effort to bring peace.

Heroic Jo-Ge-Oh
Reward the Good: Once per session, when you deem that someone has upheld their community's values, you can reward them with either a set of fine clothes, a +2 Enhancement to any single profitable enterprise, or a +1 Enhancement to impress someone they love.
Flying Canoe: You may imbue 1 Legend into a water vehicle to let it fly for one scene. It moves at its normal speed and requires the normal fuel and effort to drive, but can go as far as the ST allows.

Yaksha come from a land of total plenty, where every need was provided for. They find the World and its lacks to be strange, so they try to give what they can - which is quite a bit. The thing is, they don't judge whether people are worthy of their gifts. They're not especially particular about it, in fact. If someone asks for something, they give it, even if they know it'll hurt them in the future. All that matters is providing for every need and desire, after all.

Heroic Yaksha
What You Need: Once per session, you may create whatever a mortal NPC desires. Anything - cash, a lover, drugs, a car, anything. When you do, they owe you a favor you can collect later. However, whenever you do this, you must take an equivalent desire from someone else you know. The scales are always balanced by making a loss that damages the life of one of your acquaintances.

Jiaoren make gifts. It's their nature. When they have nothing else to do, their instincts drive them to create Dragon Cloth. Their pearls, however, are made only when they are sad enough to weep, for their tears transform into the pearls that mortals so value. Jiaoren do want to help people, but it always seem to cost them their happiness to do so. Still, people love their gifts, and that's worth something to them. They try to hide that it takes so much from them, to avoid tainting that joy.

Heroic Nagual Shapeshifter
Dragon Cloth: Over the course of a day, you can make enough Dragon Cloth to clothe someone. Such clothing provides no armor or protection, but cannot be damaged by any means and is always in perfect condition. Also, when you are upset enough to weep, your tears manifest as pearls. They are quite valuable, but you know that if you give them away you lose a part of yourself.
Mermaid: You can breathe underwater, ignore underwater Obstacles and can swim as fast as you can run.

Nixies are fiddle-players, creatures that live by the rivers and try to lure people to the water to drown them. No real reason - they just think that kind of thing is fun. Of course, these days they do less drowning. They still stay by the water, but they've tended to get bored by the drowning part a lot of the time. Not that they don't do it - just less often. Instead, these days, a nixie is as likely to just play music for people without the drowning. They tend to be confused when people give them money for it, but not upset.

Heroic Nixie
Mermaid: You can breathe underwater, ignore underwater Obstacles and can swim as fast as you can run.

The End.