Scion: Origin by Mors Rattus
Believe EverythingOriginal SA post Scion: Origin: Believe Everything
Scion is a gae about playing the children of gods, destined to be heroes or demigods in their own right - or more. The power of divinity lies within them, and their ancient enemies, the Titans, stir in their ancient prisons, spawning monsters and mythic beasts that come to bring battle. Every story is true, every myth is real. The world looks like our own, but the old stories are told in whisper and omen. Your deeds are mythic and legendary, but the World, as Scion's...world...is called, is also very modern.
Scion is designed to fit into four core books. Origin, Hero, Demigod and God. Each is meant to define and expand the setting and some of the divine groups, and to follow the primary PC type, Scions, as they climb in power and Legend. Origin focuses on them when they're still largely human, before the Visitation of their divine patron that brings them into the world of heroes. They're exceptional, sure, blessed with luck or cursed with strange trials, but they're not much more powerful than any other human. Origin is meant to detail the setting and system, plus talk about the various weird shit that lives in the World.
Belief in the old gods is still strong in the World. They're still here. Monotheism never destroyed their religions to the extent they were in the real world, though some took it better than others. Cults and temples are still a smaller place in the world than prayer groups or churches, but they exist in large number and with greater acceptance than in our own world. Strange things persist in the cracks of society - satyr colonies in the Greek mountains, fighting with the Thessalian centaur herds for territory. Tengu living among the skyscrapers of Japan, doing business with a chosen few. Chromed bike-centaurs out in the American West, Amazons living alongside Valkyries and Dahomean warrior-women in New York.
Yes, you can still go to the library and read the old myths. They exist. They are manifest. In ancient times, the Gods were mroe direct in their actions, calling down miracles, for good and ill. The spawn of Titans lurked outside civilization, ready to devour mortals. Humans turned to Scions for protection, and Scions interceded with the gods for their mortal allies. They moved their parents with flattery, service and pity. Today, however, humanity has tamed most of the planet - and yet the Titans still stir in the prisons and unleash their titanspawn. Even now, mortal men cannot handle it. Only Scions are able to, and they are always ready to guard humanity.
The game's thematic focus is on relationships - Scions are in many ways bound and defined by their reliationships, with the gods and each other. They have their own stories, but also their stories about their relations - Thor is not just Thor, but ally to Tyr and Loki and Odin. It's also about modern myths, looking at the ways that myths deal with the culture and politics of their time. Scions are of ancient cultures but modern day, products of the modern world who must use old wisdom. Modernity and ancient mores clash, and how you deal with that is important. Some gods demand sacrifice - even human sacrifice, at times. Sometimes the ways of the ancient gods clash with your own morality. The Greek gods aren't exactly strangers to sexual assault, the Aztec gods demand blood. Some have changed. Some may not have. How do you confront that kind of thing?
In general, the goal of Scion is a mood of both heroism and reverence. Scions cannot help but be great, cannot be anything but heroes. They inspire others by their actions, inevitably. They are larger than life, both in their virtues and their flaws. Reverence is because...well, these are real faiths, some living and some dead. There is a gravitas to them, and treating the passion and grandeur of these stories with respect is critical. Scions feel things intensely, their emotions are deep and passionate, and their actions are grand.
Hero is going to present ten pantheons of Gods. (The book notes that the other gods are very annoyed that the Greek-derived 'pantheon' became the dominant term.) There are others, though, which may be presented in other supplements. Or you can make some up. Even in Origin, the common man finds the divine filtering into their lives. Some gods exist in multiple pantheons as well - they're broad entities, and while pantheons are culturally distinct, they do mix. (Yama is a death god for three different groups, they book notes, and is extremely busy.)
The Hero Pantheons are going to be:
- Aesir: The Norse gods of Scandinavia, both warlike and agricultural, who prepare for the final battle that will end the World.
- Deva: The Hindu and Vedic gods of India, powerful and ancient beings of immense pride and majesty.
- Kami: The Japanese gods, deeply passionate but hiding their rivalries and emotions behind calm masks and subtlety.
- Manitou: The native Algonquin gods, who have suffered form the diaspora of their people but who remain righteous.
- Netjer: The Egyptian gods, eternal but changing, who watch over a people not truly their own now.
- Orisha: The Yoruban gods of Africa who transformed themselves during the slave trade, and who also contain the sub-pantheon of the Loa of Voudoun.
- Shen: The Chinese gods, immensely numerous and organized in the Celestial Bureaucracy.
- Teotl: The Aztec gods of the Mexica, who sacrifice for their people and receive sacrifice in turn.
- Theoi: The Greek and Roman gods, a noble line that is one immense family.
- Tuatha de Danann: The Irish gods, fiercely honorable, passionately artistic and descended from refugees.
Next time: The World - is it enough?
How It WorksOriginal SA post Scion: Origin: How It Works
In the original Scion, the answer to how the world reacted to Scions and the gods was a big fat . This is not the case any more. Everyone knows the gods exist - if not as real entities, than at least as mass hallucination. Most people are pretty sure the supernatural exists, though they may never encounter it personally. #TeamTezcatlipoca is a Twitter sensation. Superstition is common and honestly pretty damn valid. Evil spirits definitely can show up! Now, sure, 90% of the world goes through their lives with fairly little overt interference from mystical things. Most people never see a god in the flesh. But that 10%? Oh, that's when Fate can bind you up tight.
All creation myths are correct. Every myth is true. There is no conflict between the World being the back of a great turtle, and also being clumps of mud stirred up from the ocean floor by Izanagi's staff. That's fine. It can be both. In these myths, however, there are commonalities, and these are the biggest map to understanding the World. The great landmarks of these crossovers are the Primordials - immense deities that are essentially boiling asses of concept. They are creation itself, boundless in energy. They make existence in their wake. They have had many names. Chaos, Harmony, Light, Darkness - living beings that embody concepts so fundamental the world that they are foundations of reality itself. They are beyond the walls of reality, but they are not abstractions. It is by their existence that the world can be.
The marks they leave behind in their passage through the Overworld are Titans. They could be called the children of the Primordials, but that's really a simplification, perhaps too much of one. Some are literal offspring, sure. Most are just byproducts or emanations of the universal forces that define the World. They are the shadows that Primordials cast upon reality. Titans are the sun, the moon, the wind, the earth. They are rarely changed, and can rarely be anything but what they are. They are not masters of their aspect - that's what a god is. A Titan is mastered by it. They are the point directly between creation and destruction. They make the world possible by their existence, they are responsible for defining it, but they are equally natural destroyers. Wind doesn't care what it does - it blows the windmill as easily as it smashes the ship on the rocks. It doesn't care, isn't even aware. Titans are aware of humanity; some even care about specific mortals or mortals in general. However, Titans do not see a clear distinction in importance between human life and rocks. Most don't hate humans - they just don't particularly get the point of humans, and that is why the gods warred against them.
The Titanomachy is recorded in most religions - a war between gods against their predecessors, who were cruel and uncaring. Even those cultures that prefer tales of ignoring or rehabilitating the monsters, there are s tories of binding them away to prevent harm. Today, almost all Titans are kept sealed by mystic ritual or immense prions. The free few are watched closely for signs of danger and treachery. The Titans and the gods are two sides of one coin, each containing the nature of reality and reach balancing creative energy and destructive urge. The distinction between them is in how they relate to humans.
Gods do not need humans. They need humanity as a whole. Gods would not stop existing, if humanity were gone. Gods would remain powerful. What gods need humanity for is to be their mirror. Human worship is what maintains the self-image and nature of the gods, and without the ability to sympathize with and relate to humanity, a god and a Titan are functionally identical. Mortals, meanwhile, require the gods to protect them from the warping power of the Titans and the often dangerous and sadistic desires of the titanspawn, offspring that roam free of their forebears' prisons. By their worship, humans define a god inadvertently. When a mother tells her child a story of the gods, her words reinforce the structure of the god's nature, they tell the god again what they are and what they are not. In return, the god's mantle grows stronger in the human imagination, becomes more firmly lodged there. Once mortals tell the stories of gods living and working together, they bring what may have been disparate entities into a single narrative, a pantheon.
In short: Gods don't gain power from worship. Worship just keeps them sane.
The gods stand outside the mortal world, able to make imprints on it. These are called Incarnations, aspects of the god spun through the World as people who live as mortals. Incarnations are one of two ways a god can interact with the World as it stands without being trapped in the power of Fate that covers it. The other, of course, is by their children - Scions.
But what is Fate? Fate is the cosmic force that pulls the World towards order. It is a kind of anti-entropy. The World takes people of power and writes them into recurring story patterns. You meet the same people over and over, you play your role, your life plays out its pattern. This isn't mind control. You make your own choices. It's just, you make those choices in response to the patterns the universe shapes around you, and Fate makes those patterns appear again and again unless you manage the very difficult decision to break free of your destiny and do something else - something few ever do.
Scions and gods drag mortals in their wake, catching them in the pull of Fate. This is known as Fatebinding, drawing mortals into the stories of the divine, and it is the source of both great triumph and tragedy. Fatebinding wraps around a Hero or a Demigod directly, but to a god? They attach to the mantle, the divine oversoul. These fatebindings define the god and how their relationships will play out in the future, which is one more reason most gods stay in the Overworld, where Fate is weak, acting via intermediaries. Gods often refrain from direct action in the world because doing it shakes up the fate of the cosmos - and by doing that, it alters how their power might manifest in the future. By embracing this radical change, a god that directly interacts with their people in a crisis c an be completely and permanently altered by it. This most famously happened to the Orisha during the slave trade, in which their divine identities were warped, shattered or folded between them, creating even a few new gods.
An Incarnation of a god is still a person. One god can have many Incarnations, maybe three or four at once, even. Sometimes these Incarnations even conflict with each other - they're all echoes of the same god, but they still value their individuality. Sometimes they get a little too involved with mortals. The gods fuck. They sometimes fuck a lot. However, Scions are uncommon. Most couplings between mortal and god have no fruit. But sometimes, the child is born - or made, as a god might bring to life a block of clay or a tree, transforming them into a chosen human, driving their divinity into the Scion via Fate. Not all Scions learn of their nature - they often lack the spark that they need to become something more than merely exceptional.
Some have that spark, and when a god notices it, they grant a Visitation, a great event that makes the world sacred briefly, awakening the Scion to their true nature and their true power. Some Scions know their parentage before the Visitation - but none understand it as fully as they do after. A Scion is halfway between the World and the Overworld, and from the moment of Visitation, they face conflicts beyond anything a mortal could survive. They become Heroes, fighting against titanspawn and performing great Deeds. This fuels their Legend, which inspires others to worship them. Sometimes that's literal cults, but more often it's a general admiration by the populace. For some, that's where it stops. Culture heroes, legendary but mortal. Others alter their culture forever, becoming Demigods, the midpoint between human and god. They are still linear beings in the World, but they are full of divine, archetypal energy. They can face down even gods and titans, when they band together, and they are all too easily able to bend the World to their will and tie it to them by Fate. Those who find humanity too dear to leave for power stop there.
But some Scions achieve the Godhead. To do this, they must sacrifice. Maintaining a human life is impossible for a god. Only an Incarnation can meaningfully exist in the mortal world. Being in the presence of a god in their true form is impossible for mortal minds, bodies or souls to handle. Fate's pull is also far too great in the World, so a Scion must truly sacrifice their humanity and embrace their elemental nature to become a god. From there, they are as great and powerful as any of their parents, with the same ability to Incarnate into the World and make Scions of their own.
As you might be able to tell, the presentation here is of a world that resembles ours, mostly, but has Scion worship just under the surface, supernatural influence, and immense religious diversity. In our Rome, the old temples are bare remnants at best. In Scion? Rome looks fairly similar to ours, it has a Catholic Church, but some old ruins have well-kept annexes for cult rites, and everyone knows some churches are not for Mass, and that sometimes the priests stand aside for the other priests. Superficially, it is similar, but with cultic undercurrents everywhere. Accept this, and then you can find the excuses for why things are like this, if you need them.
Next time: What it means to be in a world of gods.
Everything Is True, Nothing Is PermittedOriginal SA post Scion: Origin: Everything Is True, Nothing Is Permitted
So what is the World? It's...everything. It is what every myth says it is. At once. All myths are true. Fionn mac Cumhaill was a man, and also a giant. Aphrodite was born from divine ballsack tossed in the sea, and from the pairing of Zeus and Dione. When mythic histories conflict, well, that's where arguments and fights start ICly. Cosmological truth matters only insofar as a god wants credit for deeds attributed to a rival. Is the earthquake because Tuli's dogs scratch at fleas or because Poseidon is having a tantrum? It doesn't really matter, does it? Whichever is true, the earthquake still happens, and the only real cosmic outcome to a fight over it in an Overworld is which pantheon gets bragging rights. Most people just assume Tuli is behind some earthquakes, Poseidon others. There's no need to be bound by one legend.
In smaller matters, though, it can be hard to reconcile some differences. A relic sacred to two different gods and using two different religious practices which are mutually exclusive...well, that's a problem. Same if one group of legendary critters chases out another because their mythic history says it's their home instead. This is when the gods send their Scions or others authorized to speak for them in order to settle the dispute - peacefully or violently, depending on taste. Or they don't do that, and grudges form and some Scion in fifty years has to deal with it. It gets even trickier if you worship a god that belongs to multiple pantheons - the demands and politics of it can be maddening, let alone the mythic incompatibility yet mutual truthiness. It gets even more muddled when Incarnations work at cross purposes, pantheons invade Overworlds or Titans work to undermine divine claims. You just gotta find a way to deal with the shit that gets weird or hard because of all myths being true.
So, world history. Well, World history. Broad strokes? It looks the same as ours. All the geological and geographical changes fit. Electricity is still used, there's still a Hollywood, and so on. It's the details that change, and the motivations, and of course in Fate. Some events may have turned out differently, due to divine influence. Fewer people believe in random coincidence. Hell, 'random' means something a little different when several gods hold dominion over Chaos. Plenty of rulers and major politicians have claimed divine right in the past, and it still happens in the modern day. Sometimes it's true, or mostly true. The gods can and do grant blatant blessings to those they favor, sometimes. Every so often, a prophecy is crystal clear. Sometimes a relic will be a kingmaker, if people agree to use it. But even these don't always reflect the direct will of the gods, and Incarnations tend to avoid situations where people can ask their intentions. Plus, of course, two Incarnations of one god could have different answers. More often, legitimate claims have to do with bloodlines and descent from Scions than direct divine empowerment.
And they're not always true. Not hardly. The thing is, the presence of Scions and oracles makes the claims easy to believe. Some of the false claims become true, retroactively, if a god decides they like the idea or the ruler found a way to gain their favor. On the other hand, maybe they use Titanic power instead of divine. It's not like a lot of mortals can tell the difference in results. Sometimes, they suffer divine retribution, but unless a god literally sends a herald with an incontrovertible message to that effect, it's hard to prove. Typically, no one can easily verify or dismiss such a claim instead. Scholars and priests will argue for generations over omens and prophecies. Even Scions can rarely confirm if their parents had anything to say about a monarch, and tend to err on the side of 'no, that didn't happen' since they know the gods don't usually like to act so directly. More likely, gods are going to watch over the rulers of their favored peoples and nudge events a little, rather than give direct opinions. Some Scions have chosen to rule openly, but that doesn't mean their god approves. It might just be their destiny to take the throne. Or not - sometimes it's Fate that there are warring emperors, for example.
Ultimately, the World doesn't see that many more global leaders claiming divine right than ours does. Most Scions and other divinely connected beings have better things to do than tie themselves to a nation's Fate. They tend to care rather more about personal relationships - Fate's very much about the personal more than the global, so even a man like Caesar is impacted more by the betrayal of a friend than by ruling an empire. Elected office or even a throne are often just not something Scions aspire to.
It's easy to imagine that every important person in history was a Scion. Some were - Lord Byron probably was. Khutulun of Mongolia, definitely. Imhotep? Yeah, Ptah was his papa. But while Scions shine bright, they aren't the only heroes. Mundane humanity can be heroic, too, and the gods acknowledge that and show favor. Scions make big splashes, but even an ordinary human can swim against Fate's currents and divert them a little, or get caught up in the flow despite their best efforts to avoid being historically important. Mortals can be just as important as Scions, if not necessarily as personally potent most of the time. Now, yes, many violent events in the World have divine motivations or Scions involved. Divine wars between pantheons typically impact the Overworld, the lands of myth, more than the World itself, but sometimes these battles spill out. The American occupation of Haiti is said to have had overtones of Columbia, Goddess of America, fighting the Loa. The Knights Templar tried to wipe out polytheism in the Crusades. Caesar's war in Gaul was a one-Scion campaign of annihilation against the Gallic gods, allowing Divus Iulius to apotheosize when his mortal form was slain. However, the gods became much less active in their interference in mortal affairs in the 1800s.
There's a reason for that: industrialization and the rise of modern technology. In the past, before this, a god could reasonably expect to send an Incarnation to meddle but only receive mild Fatebinding, since the story would have to travel by word of mouth. By the time it had saturated enough to become Legend, Fate had already taken hold and diffused itself across the god's mantle. Instant communication and particularly the mass media? That changed things big. If Hera personally turned a mortal into a bird for insulting her today, Facebook would mean thousands of people would end up Fatebound within 24 hours. Open miracles to gain worship gives such an overwhelmingly large response that the god's self-image is pulled in too many directions, too many interpretions overwhelming them. Thus, it's in a god's best interest to stay behind the curtain. It means the World's a bit more jaded than it used to be, sure, but the gods do still interfere often enough and deeply enough that no one forgets them. Scions have it easier, though they can run into the same problem. If a fight with titanspawn or some grand plan gets too explosive, a dozen iPhones are there to stream it out in real time, and Fate has fun with that. Some Scions are fine with impossible stardom at the cost of agency in their own stories, but most prefer to keep a lower profile most of the time.
As for the gods influencing human technology? Nah. Didn't happen so much. Yes, worship and blessings can provide inspiration or remove obstacles, but humans are ultimately responsible for their own innovations and will. Mortals rather than Scions were responsible for most major technological and scientific advances, primarily because Scions have had fewer needs to conquer limitations technologically and in any case are kept rather busy by Fate. That's why the World looks mostly like ours in the broad view, rather than some kind of superadvanced space age society. Many gods also think in ancient patterns, derived from long ago. They don't really understand the vast amount of changes that humans have gone through in a mere century, not really. They understand the technologies and the new society, but they still can't help but think opf humans as the children who relied on them to survive plague and climate. They still help, but humanity is far more in charge of its own destiny these days.
We get a brief sidebar on the Anausa, the Persian Immortals. Their membership was fixed at 10,000 soldiers, as described by Herodotus. When they died, their reserves were called in to maintain the number of 10,000, serving as both heavy infantry and imperial guards. They were exceptionally skilled and prestigious. After Alexander the Great destroyed the Persian empire, the Immortals ended as a historical unit - but the name lived on. Various royal guards, up to and including the 1960s Iranian Imperial Guard, used the name Immortals to tie themselves by Fate to the legends of the Anausa. And thus, the Anausa are now like the einherjar. Everyone who has died under their banner may be called on to reincarnate and fight. When the Immortals take losses, the bodies vanish and new Immortals simply arrive the next day. They are a legend without a pantheon, divine mercenariesw who will work for anyone that can pay. They have deployed all over the World, and are now an elite paramiltiary company that can't truly die or be defeated, though it is excessively expensive to hire all 10,000 at once. Scions can call on them and tie their Legends together - as the Scion does great deeds, the Immortals gain in reputation, and eventually, some other army or guard will take the name Immortal and the myth will grow. However, the Anausa will never serve a Scion of the Theoi, and they are hostile towards the Persian Yazata, even though they should by rights be friendly. Neither the Yazata nor the Anausa will speak of the specific incident that caused them to break ranks.
Next time: Modern mythology.
What's A MasqueradeOriginal SA post Scion: Origin: What's A Masquerade
There is no secret conspiracy to protect the world from knowledge of the divine. The gods are completely frank and open about their relationship to humanity. They answer prayers, they receive worship, they throw tantrums. Everyone knows the gods exist, even if they refuse to accept that they are divine or to engage with them or even believe they're more than shared collective hallucination. The people of the World tell stories about local Heroes as much as they tell the old tales, though they've rarely met these local Heroes any more than they've met a god. The gods are all well aware of the dangerous of getting too involved. Every pantheon has horror stories about why they shouldn't be doing it. Hera destroyed Zeus' lover Semele right before his eyes. The Tuatha de Danann were once part of mortal Ireland proper, but it cost them dearly - their geasa were turned against them by Fate, ensuring they'd be just as compelled by taboos as their foes.
The more the gods get directly and obviously involved, the easier it is for the Titans to know what to target, and the worse the collateral damage gets. The gods aren't afraid to make their power known and don't try to hide - they just find it incredibly inconvenient to make them obvious most of the time. Instead, they treat the World as a sort of game board for their fueds and plots. They need to keep the collateral damage down if they can, because without humanity, the gods lack validation and definition. Thus, they act for the sake of the World as well as themselves. They have a vested interest in doing so.
So yeah, the divine influence on the World is fairly subtle most of the time - but it's strong. They're in the background of life, occasionally coming into the foreground. Water cooler talk at the office could as easily be about Coyote's latest antics as celebrity dating. Urban legends get attributed to one pantheon or another, and conspiracy theorists tend to believe in debunking that rather than proving it - after all, a real conspiracy would be if myths weren't involved. Magic is rare and terrifying and wonderful, but it's entirely believable. And, as you might expect, the lives of the gods and those tied to them are great fodder for the media. TV, films, comics, tabloids - they all regularly show gods and Scions doing great deeds. Primetime dramas about third-tier minor gods from all over the world air pretty frequently, and most superhero comics have religious undertones thanks to Scions and Incarnations eating a large chunk of the public's imagination about power fantasies. There's a small but steady community of people who pray to be chosen by the gods to become Scions. These 'myth-hunters' sometimes even chase down rumors for the chance to come face to face with the divine.
Fate's nature can also lead to some...strange effects in the world, which humanity understands by superstition - superstition that isn't totally false, thanks to the nature of legend and the power of names. Two soccer teams name themselves for the honor of rival gods. They war with each other constantly for the same position in the conference - by sheer coincidence, each time. A company about to go bankrupt is rebranded and renamed for Osiris or Xipe Totec, in a last-ditch effort to turn things around. But nothing is certain - sometimes, that renewal comes in a total reorg, layoff of the CEO and the executive board, or a hostile takeover. And sometimes it works - and brings a whole lot of new complications that vaguely resemble parts of the myths of the god. Everyone has learned, over the ceturies, that 'tempting fate' is real. It's just an accepted fact. People often trust fortune tellers, frequent lottery players all have their own rituals for success.
The World has far more religions than ours do, in their own way. People in our world may wear a gold cross - but in the World? Maybe it's a hammer amulet or a raven's claw. Yes, the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio is still Christ - but signs of Zeus run through the city, too. It is in fashion for some soldiers to carve the Tiwaz rune into their rifles, to prevent jams. You listen to the weather reports on Caribbean radios and you hear drums behind the words sometimes. People just pay homage to the gods, as a matter of course. Celebrities often pick patron gods to follow for extra notoriety, and oaths of office often contain prayers to a local tutelary god. When the Phillies win the World Series, they sign hymns to Ogma and Nike. The San Francisco Giants have an actual, literal giant as their mascot, and the general manager claims they only hire players the giant thinks are worthy. (He refuses comment on whether the giant is just a very tall man in a taller costume.) The fine print in movie contracts usually include clauses to protect not just from copyright infringement but also from ffending the aes sidhe whose names or domains are similar to the film's contents.
Shrines and temples to the gods are all over the place, from ages past and present. Rune-shaped holes carved in a mountainside by an ancient Scion cult. Irish mausolea built as tiny replicas of the Teach Duinn tower. Wooden posts that never decay, along a path through a hidden bog, to guide spirits home safely. Every city has an altar to its patron deity, sometimes displayed prominently and sometimes hidden by secret signs. People rarely notice all these things until attention is drawn to them somehow. They're just...there, it's just normal. However, because the faiths of the gods never ended, they were never reconstructed or had the more objectionable parts removed. The pantheons often stand outside society on these matters, considering the modern shifts in philosophy and the value of life and freedom to be a passing fad or novelty, worth observing but not fully adopting. Where human standards and divine standards clash, Scions often lead the charge in rejecting objectionable traditions of the past. Mortal religions tend to move more slowly, without their leading the way, trying to more gradually influence the gods.
It is true that the "pagan" faiths tend to be more in the background, but again, not due to a conspiracy. For centuries, they were at the forefront, led by Scions who warred with each other for power and territory. Some gods didn't meddle so openly, some left the mortals largely alone...but that changed. It's hard to say exactly when, there's no real specific event to point to...but the gods abandoned direct rule. They never really left, though. Sure, they let new religions form and new ideologies grow and serve society, but they made sure their followers honored them in private, or in cults outside the control of states. Sometimes, the gods never called for a change in public religion, but in the attitude towards faith, urging people to take responsibility for themselves rather htan relying solely on the gods. That's the general thrust, anyway. Of course, there's still messy details. Yeah, the Pope and other monotheist leaders would really prefer if you didn't sacrifice to Aphrodite after attending services, but there's little they can do about it. This is just how things have always worked, regardless of doctrine. Sure, some people have nothing to do with politics or civic religion and just serve the gods, while others are purely monotheists or even atheists. That happens. (It may seem hard to believe, but consider that an atheist can believe the gods are powerful beings without being divine.)
'Cult' is the term the game uses for Scion-focused religions, and they don't mean it as a pejorative. Cults are no more likely than any other faith to produce bigots, fanatics or xenophobes. They're just very private, for the most part, and focused on smaller groups. They aren't really big organizations with diverse points of view. Rather, they are a small group of people who get together to belive osmething specific, with no real higher authority but the Scions or gods they revere. When they go bad, it's usually the fault of their Scion patrons or because the gods have ignored them and not corrected their course in a long while. It's rare, but that does happen. Or maybe they're a cult to a Titan. Hell, not all Titan cults are even malevolent. Some Titans aren't destructive, and some cults are meant to keep the Titans propitiated and safe. The fact that Titans rarely care about anyone begging not to be destroyed rarely figures into the theology. The more dangerous ones are the ones asking to be spared or to be destroyed last, as these groups are often quite ruthless - a viewpoint most Titans are more receptive to. Beyond their patron, the most important other fact about a cult is its purpose. Some cults care more about what they do than for whom, and that doesn't always offend the gods. Worship is worship, and if a purpose has virtue, it is worthy of support. The game provides a list (admittedly incomplete and inexact) of common cult types.
Covens are fairly rare and mistrusted, because they aren't really formed to worship the gods, but to exploit them. USually this involves some kind of traditional transaction or mythic loophole that grants influence over a Scion or a pantheon. Some pantheons embrace this idea of divine bribery or obedience to certain oaths, and others are merely forced to tolerate it. Coven members are generally either self-deluded or know some secret that gives the cult its advantages. Guilds are professional associations which honor specific gods or pantheons. Some guilds are ancient professions, while others have evolved with society - horses and carts to truckers, for example. A few gods even take new trades under their protection, so that software developers, jazz musicians or other modern groups hnor them. Some of these guilds control virtually all of their trades, while others serve a minority, but in either case, joining usually provides some professional advantages.
Family Traditions are frequently found in new immigrant communities, sparsely populated areas or other places with families that are isolated. They develop their own practices and pass them on. Some of these have grown quite large over the centuries, while others remain tiny. In rare cases, some gods even demand family cults, due to a lineage that has sworn service or is marked by Fate. Some are even descendants of their god. Historian cults are designed to live and worship their gods in the manner of some classic period, like ancient Mycenae or 700s Denmark. The most extreme of these live as natives of that time period constantly, and sometimes have otherworld realms set aside by the gods to help them do it, but most just want to revive the 'old ways'. They generally are small, mainly attracting those that enjoy the research.
Mystery Societies are those cults that reveal their true theology and purpose only in stges of initiation after proof of loyalty and spiritual preparedness. This is most common in worship of gods of knowledge, gods with bad reputations (such as a warrior society of Set masked as a social club of drunk frat boys) or cults of Titans, whose followers know it takes a long time to convince others. Reliquarians focus their worship on one or several sacred objects of some kind. IT can be any kind of relic, and these relics need not have any supernatural powers...though often these cults do have powerful, capital-R Relics. While they may lend these to Scions related to their figures of worship, they almost always expect these items back. This is, after all, a sacred rite, not done lightly.
Social Clubs almost treat the worship as secondary. They gather to do something they enjoy, dedicating their effort to a patron god. Some gods don't think this is very flatteirng, but those that are interested in the activity involved will usually accept recreation as worship. Some of these are similar to guilds, except that social clubs accept casual practice while guilds usually restrict themselves to professionals. Temples are dedicated structures housing communities of worship. Temple cults are the closest in form to monotheistic, public faiths in the way they are organized and worship, but even the largest temple cult usually prefers to avoid the public spotlight by comparison. Smaller temples will rent or share spaces, while large ones may have impressive structures or even restored sites of antiquity.
Next time: The Worlds Apart
The World UnseenOriginal SA post Scion: Origin: The World Unseen
Myths are too grand to exist in the normal World. In describing unattainable virtue, Platonic ideals or transcendant existence, they create the Overworld, the place where the gods reign. Where they speak of impurity, catharsis and death, they create the Underworld and its dark rivers. These are the grand places, drawing attention from the balance and complexity of the World to the simplicity and power of mythic story. However, the World is not merely a place of Scions seeking their heritage, either - mythic beasts and divine powers still live alongside humans, ot even have found or made mythic places where they rule. The secret lairs of monsters, the homes of giants. These places are known as Terra Incognita, not because they're unknown, but because they are tied to the mystery of legend.
The prison realms of the Titans are known as the Lands of Chains. There is no single prison realm, of course, though they may have conditions in common. The Titans that were ancestors to the Theoi mostly are imprisoned in the Underworld of Tartarus, beneath Hades, where their rage torments the Shades of evil mortals. The Tuatha de Danann exiled the Fomorians to some Midrealm underwater. And even the Theoi didn't send all their Titans there - Prometheus was spared, that he might be tortured in a Midrealm in the Caucasus mountains until freed by Heracles. What the Lands of Chains have in common are a few elements. First, they always have powerful, incorruptible guards. Their gates are exceptionally rare and always guarded by magic and sentinels. They do not connect to Touchstones, and they cannot be reached by the Axes Mundi. The Titans cannot break free of their restraints unless these restraints have already been loosed by plots or their attempts are aided by great divine power. No, you have no idea what any of those capitalized terms mean. We're getting to that in just a moment.
The World itself has some odder geography - basically, due to the supernatural twists over history, the GM can invent tiny sovereign nations as they like, unrecognized by the UN but known well to mystics and Scions. Rivers can change course, and entire cities can easily be invented. That's all before we hit actual Terra Incognita. It should also be noted that while myths represent a certain mode of reality and can contradict physical laws, neither god nor mortal can conclusively prove what hte precise relationship is. Philosophers, scientists and priests have all tried and failed. Some say that the World is the root of mythic reality, others that it is a degenerate version of mythic reality. Some posit a 'monomyth' that sets the pattern for all other legends. No argument or experiment has ever convinced enough people to form any consensus. Mythic Bleed is the effect that makes it much harder to figure out the relation between myth and nature.
How does it work? An archaeologist heads to Turkey to find the helmet of Achilles. It looks nothing like anything else dug up of the period. Manticores exist and hunt in western Asia; evolution cannot explain them at all. Hell, the existence of Scions themselves may be partly due to Mythic Bleed. Sometimes, it is caused by migration from the Otherworlds or Terra Incognita into the mainstream World, but in many cases, it's simply always been there. The Otherworlds are the places of the gods and myths. In many cases, Otherworlds have a core realm with attached subrealms. Asgard is an Overworld Godsrealm, with Valhalla as an attached subrealm under Odin's dominion, while Bilskirnir is Thor's subrealm, his hall in Asgard. Not all of the Aesir have personal subrealms - some just oversee halls in Asgard proper but lack the total control over their homes that the subrealms provide. It's not an exact science in any way. Two realms can even be connected by alliances or gates. The Norse realm Vanaheim is not Asgard, but has many connections to it by the gods and means of passage. These can break the conventional ctegories of World, Overworld and Underworld. What defines a subrealm is its connections to its primary realm and its dependence on it. If Asgard burned, Valhalla and Bilskirnir would probably burn, too. Vanaheim? Possibly not.
So, what is the Underworld? Well, first, it's plural. Underworlds. It is named such because many myths hold it exists under the earth, where bodies rot and ashes settle. Most Underworlds are attuned to specific mythologies, but some have never been claimed by any culture or pantheon. Some mystics believe that there can be no Overworld without an Underworld, and that any imabalance in one would cause disasters in the other...but some pantheons do not recognize the Underworlds as existing. They have other placves for the dead to go. So...how do the dead work? Scion posits a multiplicity of afterlives. Sometimes, a soul does not manifest in one at all. Some pantheons destroy souls for various reasons. Western scholarship, however, attempts to divide the dead into various types. Every culture has their own names for them. Some traits are universal - all souls, after death, lose the ability to easily take material form in the World, though there are exceptions via ritual, divine intervention or the powers of certain rare dead souls. All of hte Dead can, however, interact with each other while incorporeal.
Ancestors are those souls that exist in the World still due to the deliberate actions of their gods. They are not ghosts, lingering unnaturally or becoming lost. They either live in a Midrealm, in their tombs, or among their people. If among their people, their gods and cult traditions usually teach them how to guide and protect those people. Chthonians are fragments of the Primordials of the Underworld. They were never human, but they do all tasks too petty for a Scion to do yet inappropriate for a Shade. These are your demons, your heart-eating beasts, your psychopomps, your guardians of the gates. They rarely leave the Underworld, and when they do, it's often for grim or strange reasons. Eidolons are souls sent to the Overworld, often to exemplify pantheonic virtues, prepare for a higher stage of enlightenment or just as a reward for loyal service. Not all gods choose 'good' souls - or, indeed, any souls - as Eidolons. Eidolons appear, generally, as they did in the point of life during which the gods chose to uplift them, or at an age appropriate to whatever real they serve in a Godsrealm, but often changed to reflect divine influence - taller, more serene...or, in the case of einherjar, growling and fight-happy.
Ghosts are those lost souls who were either prevented from entering or were cast out from an Afterlife, Godsrealm or Midrealm. Some lose their way due to the nature of their deaths, usually strange or upsetting. They often return to familiar places, and may engage in obsessive or repetitive behavors. Ghosts almost never appear due to obsession or unfinished business, despite widespread belief, but may apepar to do so due to the trauma they experienced. Ghosts are more common now than they once were, and some say this is a sign of the growing strength of the Titans. Shades are the most common form of the Dead, maniesting after death in the Underworld. Pantheons which produce Shades use their own various mythic methods, with the aid of divine and Cthonian beings, to guide them to their promised Afterlives. A Shade usually appears as they did in life at the poiint of their death, though in cases where the gods punish or purify them, they may appear to be whatever age they were when the gods decided they deserved this. Shades are generally quiet, listless beings. Some pantheons remove their memories out of mercy or to prepare them for reincarnation.
So, since the soul manifestly exists, how is it defined? How does it work? Well, that's...nebulous. Every faith defines it differently, and they're all broadly correct, when dealing with their own. The Shen and Netjer treat the soul as a collection of aspects that can be separated and dealt with by different rites, while the Deva's rites work on the characteristics of the soul that hide a single, inner divine nature that must be liberated from the illusion of mortality. This can lead to unusual situations - the Shen may divide a soul into its Three Treasures, simultaneously sending one part to an AFterlife, one to a Godsrealm, and one to a role as an Ancestor. This kind of thing works on deep mythology and Fate. Gods cannot trivially divide or unify souls, but souls can change aspect, split or recombine when mythic tradition demands it.
There are millions of Shades. Most dewell in the realms prepared for them by their pantheons, known as Afterlives. Some pantheons torment Shades for their failings in life, some for eternity, some until they are sufficiently pruified. Some pantheons even allow a few to become Eidolons in an Overworld. Most pantheons with Shades, however, don't see the Underworlds as places of punishment - just necessities. After the vivid life of the World, what is left over must be cared for or made useful somehow. You appreciate life by knowing what comes next. The NEtjer, perhaps uniquely, make their home in an Afterlife, Duat, and reward Shades by giving them something resembling a mortal life in a place resembling the Nile Valley. They do not punish those they find unworthy - they destroy them. Some Primordials also dwell in the Underworld, in realms that personify destruction, absence or mutation. Unlike those of the OVerworld, they do not represent manifest Forms of existence, but the destruction or unmaking of essential things. This is the home of Chaos and Darkness - which, paradoxically, create. They make places opf twilight, plains of shifting bones, and homes for their nightmarish Exemplars. They are also the source of the Cthonians, neither divine nor dead. These creatures have colonized much of the Underworld, usually playing whatever part myth demands of them. However, wise Scions remember - the Cthonians are not true servants of anyone but Fate. The Furies are Cthonians.
So what is a Midrealm? It is a place that develops a mythic character powerful enough to be a domain of its own. They cannot be reached save by the appropriate gate or Axis Mundi. They are not ideal places, so they cannot be reached by a Touchstone. The smallest Midrealm is just an alley, a glade or a temple that cannot be entered except by proper means. The largest are mountains, nations. They take up no space if you do not enter them the proper way, but usually do have a rough geographic location set by tradition, or be said to exist near their most prominent gate. MYthic Bleed happens a lot in places like these - in the right parts of the UK, you dream of Camelot. Around a gate to Jotunheim, everything grows a little bigger than normal. Stories of these places usually feature guardians, either alive or geographic, or require entrants to demonstrate certain characters. Some say all Godsrealms and Afterlives were once Midrealms, pulled from the World by gods or made inaccessible by shifting Legend. Some Midrealms are indeed said to be places where the gods used to live, before they migrated away. Others belong to the rivals or foes of a pantheon, like Jotunheim. And the Orisha defy the trend of abandoningg the World, having made many Midrealms to remain close to their people. Other Midrealms never belonged to any pantheon. They are strange places, perhaps born of fears or yearnings given form by human legend. They may belong to extinct pantheons, or date back to some prior cycle of the World. Yhese are the strange places, reached by the Bermuda Triangle, perhaps, or other ways. Misty islands full of extinct beasts, fortresses of forgotten people. Rumors that pull in treasure hunters, explorers, and Scions hoping to create their own realms and legends.
Some example Midrealms include:
Camelot: Everyone knows Camelot existed, but no one knows exactly who Arthur and his knights raelly were or what they were doing. Their legacy lives on in France and the British Isles. The Tuatha de Dannan, the Plant Don and the Theoi all claim Camelot - the Theoi specifically via the route of having Roman guises and supporting the theory that Arthur was a Romano-British general. Some seekersh ave found ruins and artifacts - often strange ones. People have dug up modern plumbing in Celtic hillforts, or found bespoke rifles stamped with the signs of the Round Table. Arthurian cults claim the knights have returned and now scout for their king, who awakens in AValon and will return in the hour of need.
Doggerland: Until around 8000 years ago, most of the North Sea was above water. Archaeologists named it Doggerland, after the shallow area known as Dogger Bank, which is the highest remnant of the old land. People lived in Doggerland, until rising sea levels caused a tsunami that crushed the area. However, Doggerland remains as a Midrealm, accessible via underwater gaates at Dogger Bank. Explorers can enter it, track mammoths and find saber-toothed cats, but none of the original human inhabitants remain there. The Tuatha de Danann visit frequently, because according to their lore, three gods and goddesses came to Ireland before the Fir Bolg, escaping a great flood. Their true names have been lost, corrupted by Christian syncretism of their legends. (Similarly, the Tuatha de Danann do not use their own mythic name for Doggerland.) If they can prove those divinities were relatives of themselves, it solidifies their claims to Ireland. Thus, the Tuatha have supported a small colony in Doggerland, in the hopes that a new human population will call these unknown gods from hiding.
Jotunheim: Giants live in many midrealms, existing in many mythologies, but Jotunheim is the most famous, thanks to the interactions with the Aesir. Thor fights there, he had an affair with the giant jarnsaxa there and produced his half-giant Scion Magni, and so on. The greatest Jotnar live there, along with their families and vassals. The strongest of them are as powerful as the Aesir, and a few of them are Scions. Their chieftains include the enchanter Utgartha-Loki (not to be confused with actual Loki), actual Loki's dad, Farbauti, and the wisest of the Jotnar, Mimir. Gates into Jotunheim can be found in the wild places near old Norse settlements and in Asgard. The Midrealm itself is a Northern European wildnerness, but all flora, fauna and structures are between twice and ten times as large as their mundane counterparts.
Libertalia and the Gyre: The pirate republic, though it was more of a fellowship than a nation. They agreed to a few laws, promising to unite against any that blatantly broke them. The members, called Liberi, vowed to aid each other and liberate slaves, for many had once been slaves themselves. They were forbidden to work with any state's navy. By the end of the 17th century, the British Royal Navy and internal dissension threatened to finish them, so the Liberi captains turned to the gods - all sea gods, yes, but anyone who could help, especially the Orisha, whom many Liberi already followed. The gods sent them to the heart of the Sargasso Sea, where the seaweed grew up around them and enveloped the ships, binding them together. Anyone watching would have seen them drag the ships beneath the waves - but in truth, it took them to a secret, plant-choked ocean Midrealm instead. This is the Gyre, home to Libertalia in the form of a floating city of hundreds of ships. When it needs more room, it steals another ship. Modern cargo ships have made it possible for the Gyre to support over 10,000 people, who make a life out of theft and fishing and worship of the Orisha and the gods of the sea who saved them.
Next time: The Overworld.
Somewhere Over The RainbowOriginal SA post Scion: Origin: Somewhere Over The Rainbow
The Overworld is a sort of metaphysical area that contains many realms, each also commonly called Overworlds. Often, these places are associated with the sky, stars, virtue, truth or purity. Often, they are called Heavens, if you're interested in that kind of thing, they are also sometimes associated with the Platonic Forms or with enlightenment. Yes, evil, deception and so on can exist in the Overworld, but they're players and props in myths of higher themes. The venomous dragon is there to be slain, or to be the symbol of sin in the one that defeats or accepts it, to approach enlightenment. The gods and pantheons can override these themes by legend - as can Fate, which doesn't have to obey the rules it sets.
The most common Overworlds are Godsrealms - places made or ruled by gods or pantheons as a whole. Some gods accept the souls of certain dead, as judged by their pantheon, and make them Eidolons, bright and strong, unlike the Shades of the Underworld. In some Godsrealms, they live lives of pleasure or plenty, or act out a Pantheon's values, such as in Swarga (the paradise of Indra's rule, where souls work to final liberation of self) or Vlahalla, where the einherjar feast with Odin and battle freely. Eidolons are usually no longer bound by the limits of flesh in doing what the gods tell them to do. Not all gods dwell in these Overworld Godsrealms, however, and not all pantheons send their righteous dead to them.
Other Overworlds include Primordial Worldbodies - mixtures of natural purviews, places beyond place, and homes to the vast consciousness that is the Primordial. Each Primordial is a plane in itself, a representation of the immense energies and principles they used to create the World and maintain it. Some Primordials allow no passage into themselves, and are known of only in legend. Others are deeply inhospitable to life due to, for example, overwhelming Fire or Darkness, but even these may shape parts of themselves to allow visitors to survive there. While the Pimordials are theoretically all-powerful, they don't always crush invading foes. And there are native beings within the Primordials - Elementals, split off from the source and living as independent beings, and Exemplars, who represent some aspect or aspects of the Primordial's identity. Both kinds of being are considered to be Titans, and if they were involved in the Titanomachy, they were imprisoned. Thus, to speak to some Primordials, you may need to visit their imprisoned 'selves'.
The World itself contains realms within it - places the gods set aside for their own use, hidden kingdoms, wild places that cannot be easily mapped. Some pantheons do not follow the stories of ideal heavens or gloomy underworlds. All gods watch the World and have sent servants there or walked on it themselves, defining legendary or holy places by their actions. Some of these places even arise from no particular myth, but from the magic of mortal hope and fear, or by the nature of Fate. Primordials, however, do not have realms in the World. They made it, but as realms themselves, they would destroy or displace the World should they ever return to it. However, it can also be saide that the Primordials who dwell in the World are the World - the winds, oceans and stone. It may be that their nature is to sleep and rest and have long dreams that are the laws of nature that manifest in all life. Then again, maybe their slumber is temporary, and when they awaken, all will return to Chaos for a new cycle of violent creation.
So what do you do if there's a strange realm inside the bounds of your nation-state? It depends on the situation. Most governments will claim a realm whose gate lies in their territory as part of their territory...and then well actively attempt to leave it alone. They don't usually collect tax or even enforce law save in extreme circumstances, such as faerie gold flooding the market or a serial killer hiding out in a mythic land. Human residents of these realms, generally encouraged by the gods, do not often have government registrations of any kind. They live in self-reliant, closed societies that care for and punish their own, and if their problems erupt outwards, that's when national police agencies call in experts or even Scions to help. When a realm straddles a border, is in international waters or defies georgraphy, they're usually handled case-by-case. Pantheons typically try to prevent or stop sources of conflict before nations notice, but they don't always succeed, and places like Libertalia may prove troublesome just in how they act. Strange places that are easier to visit are treated a bit more formally, though they often are what in our world would be mere rumor and superstition. They're just...true, and real. Regional governments tend to kep lists of dangerous locations and quietly monitor their edges. A national park might have a large chunk carved out as a troll preserve, but that would only be noted on classified paperwork. When strange places bring dangerous or disruptive things, the governments usually turn to consultants - historians, anthropologists, engineers, cultic leaders. In more corrupt areas, vigilantes or even gangsters might get involved. And when caution, ritual and bulldozers all fail? Ask for help from a Scion.
Strange places, as noted, aren't other realms. They're definite locations. You can find them on a map, if such a map existed. They might be bigger or smaller on the inside, or space and time might be strange around them, but anyone can enter or leave. They might be products of Fatebinding and legend, errant magic, or just Fate. Some surround gates or manifestations of the Axes Mundi, manifesting lesser versions of what lies beyond. Many of these strange places are not tied to any traditional mythology. Unshaped power twists the land, or draws shape from urban legend and superstition. Mole people in the subways, with pet sewer crocodiles. Giant stray dogs, swarms of extremely smart rats, bloody gardens with immortal farmers. Other places are claimed by pantheons, and the longer the myths and cults uphold these claims, the more mythology influences the area, good or bad. Old temples and groves attract strange things - sometimes helpful, sometimes not - and sometimes these things follow the faithful, even far from traditional sites. It may seem odd for a giant to show up in Minnesota, but it happens, and no one is quite sure why. Some monsters begin as normal creatures or people, warped by supernatural energies in periods of hours or generations. Creatures pass through gates or Touchstones, or the World just produces them as needed.
Despite all these unusual features, strange places are often forgotten or ignored. They rarely show up on surveys, their records are lost, reports of them are vague. Locals, Scions and those who understand the local mythology are not affected by this, and memories are not erased. Rather, people just...try to ignore these places and avoid them. Stories grow inconsistent, recording devices fail inconveniently but believably. Every strange place is unique, but they do come in a few broad types.
Folds are places that collect power due to some association with gods or Titans. The most common Folds are around popular or ancient places of worship. A temple to Odin might have a cup within it that grants the drinker superlative poetic skill briefly. Some Folds are around shrines to gods no one has heard of, or mishmashes of folk memory and pop culture. These gods don't exist, but may still have some weak supernatural influence - a sign that perhaps, someday, they will exist. It is said that there is an old stone deck at the site Odysseus went ashore in Ithaca, haunted by the ghosts of Penelope's suitors, who seek vengeance on the descendants of their killer or demand others do so for them.
Lairs are what happens when a titanspawn or other monster claims a place long enough. It warps to suit their nature, though exactly how can be hard to tell. Minotaurs may seek out mazes, or mazes may spring up around them. It's impossible to say which way that one goes. Perhaps Fate just ensures that anywhere a minotaur decides to live develops odd paths and dead ends. In Boston COmmon, there are fairy mounds that can take you to distant places, but only with the permission of the mound-dwellers, who will challenge you with riddles.
Holy Grounds are places dedicated to a god, either over great periods of time or with great zeal. These places often provide advantages to Scions or other relatives of the honored god, such as a Scion of Areas finding a store of potent weapons only she can lift. Cults fiercly protect their holy places, however. It is said that under the foundations of the Acropolis, cults sacrifice to Athena. That wouldn't be strange, except that members of these cults speak archaic Greek, have no knowledge of modern Athens, and depart by fissures and caves that smell of wood smoke rather than industry.
Liminalities are strange places that expand a mundane location. Sewers may open into great vaults that appear on no map. In old libraries, you might wander into unmarked stacks or apartments. Some of these places are nearly seperate realms, very hard to enter without the right route, informant or prayer. In Varanasi, it is said that some streets are thousands of years old, and all the maps are wrong. Turn enough corners, and the stars will shift, and you will meet rakshasa veterans of the war against the Devas. They're nice old people...or maybe they're potent demons who will do anything to be left alone.
Stories are usually far more useful than maps in finding your way around Terra Incognita. Not all maps are inaccurate, but they must be interpreted by the correct mythology. Relative positions in space matter less. Sometimes, you also need proper guides, or keys, or permissions. Gates are the primary means f passage from the World to more closed-off mythic places, or to travel between mythic places. There is no typical gate - every pantheon's myths make their own types, and they can even vary within pantheons. Olympus may lay between Doric columns, and also by climing into a cave full of hallucinatory mist. Every gate has a key, an action, item or circumstance that must be used for passage. This can be an object, a poem, even a state of mind. Gates my need a different key depending on the direction you go through them, or even be one-way. Many gates contain realms of their own, but these tunnels, woodlands or palaces primarily exist just to enable passage - they aren't really destinations of themselves.
Overworld Gates are rare, and link the World ot the Godsrealms, primarily by passing through other realms attuned to the same mythology or made for the convenience of gods and difficult to use for anyone else. Travelers are usually stuck using the Axis Mundi instead. No one knows any gate that exists to connect the World to a Primordial worldbody, except for rare situations in which the Primordials directly create them.
Underworld Gates...well, the easiest way to get there is to devote yourself to a religion that has one and then die. But the living can enter the Underworld - find the right cave, tunnel or river and you can find an appropriate Afterlife. These gates are rarely shared by multiple pantheons, though they can be. Their keys usually involve ordeals along the journey, fierce Cthonian guards, or trouble getting out again. The Primordials of the Underworld, like their Overworld counterparts, have no gates to the World save those they create, and then usually only to unleash some terrifying creation for reasons none can say. Death gods can create more convenient gates to the World or Overworld, but they always guard them well.
Midrealm Gates are more common and generally cluster around the Worldly counterpart to the Midrealm. Their keys tend to be specific actions. For example, you get to Mag Mell, the Irish land of youth and joy, by sailing west of Ireland and using specific star charts, or by dying gloriously. Avalon can be reached by sea as well, but only after you perform the correct mythically resonant actions in Glastonbury Tor and then immediately head for the coast and sail off.
Some example Gates include:
Bifrost: The Fleeting Bridge, which connects the World and Asgard. Bifrost theoretically exists inside any rainbow. To cross it, one needs the presence of a natural rainbow, plus a key. Acceptable keys are being an Aesir Scion or Eidolon (such as an einherjar or valkyrie), or secret knowledge given by Odin. Until Ragnarok, the god Heimdall may also bar anyone he choose from ascending Bifrost. In the past, he refused passage to Thor and his descendants, and he's still sometimes testy about that. Bifrost is the length of a morning's ride on a swift horse.
Fengdu Ghost City: The Shen have coordinated management of the dead with their mortals, opening the gates to Diyu where it is most convenient for mortals to pay respect. Fengdu Ghost City was founded in the Eastern Han Dynasty and has always been a special place to honor the dead and for dead souls to undergo the ordeals and paperwork needed to determine their destinies. The living use their funerary rites as keys to enter Diyu, simulating the actions of a soul bound for the region of Diyu they wish to enter. Fengdu has a Midrealm in which souls perform duplicate actions of the mortal city's landmarks and their purposes, sucha s the bridge that determines virtue to the Last Glance Tower, where the dead take a final look at the World.
The Sidhe: Sidhe are earhen mounds taht lead to the Celtic Otherworlds. The otherworldly beings take their name from the sidhe, and are more properly known as the ao si or daoine sidhe - the people of the mounds. True sidhe contain small palaces and hedge gardens, kept in trust by the daoine sidhe for the Tuatha de Danann. These exist within the gate rather than the World, and contain doors to one or more Otherworlds. These doors are locked unless a visitor entertains or deceives the daoine sidhe, which serves as the key. Violence and threats are useless.
Next time: The Axes Mundi
The Road To EverywhereOriginal SA post Scion: Origin: The Road To Everywhere
Gates can take you from one place to another, but it is the Axes Mundi that bind worlds together. They connect many diverse locales across the World and the Otherworlds. They're used when direct gates can't be found or are too dangerous. It's usually easiest to get to the Underworld via gate, the Overworld via Axis Mundi and the Midrealms through either one. You can't go just anywhere via any given Axis, though - the guiding myths set limits. Each Axis Mundi has a corresponding place, object or state you must get or achieve. These are all less specific than gate keys, though, and once you meet the requirement, you can be off. Axis Mundi connections are always two-way, so you don't have to worry about getting stuck. Mortals can use the Axes Mundi, but they need either an innate ability to do so or special training. Travel time is not about distance, but about ordeals. A well-traveled route will have only one ordeal, generally, while traveling to an obscure realm or to meet a Primordial will require several. Ordeals often have clues about the meaning of your journey and what is to come, so sometimes taking the long way is better, to learn more, rather than just hopping through a gate or Touchstone. Axes Mundi also often bypass the guardians and dangers of other routes, though the ordeals can be their own dangers.
These are some of the best known Axes Mundi, though others exist and in some cases have been hidden by the gods.
The Aether: It's written about extensively in Indian, Greek and modern occult literature. Some call it Indra's Net or the Astral Plane. It is composed of the fifth element, the subtle element that creates space and distance. The Platonists say it transmits the 'light' of the ideal objects which create the substance of other realms. Mortals have always had techniques to send their souls ino the Aether, and from there rise in contemplation of the World and Overworld. Scions can use these techniques as well. Ordeals in the Aether take on the form of riddles, enigmas or acts of self-realization, administered by the abstract idea-beings that dwell in the Aether. Unfortunately, physical travel in the Aether is completely impossible except via obscure magics, and it is extremely hard to get to the Underworld via the Aether.
The Earthways: Known as the Erdstalls in most of Europe, the Earthways actually cross the entire World. They are ancient tunnels, made in legend by goblins, worms or mortals fleeing disaster. You enter one and you reach the Earthways, which extend far and deep, to Midrealms and Underworlds. Subterranean creatures and Chthonians travel the tunnels, and some open into vast underground cities or strange subways. The Earthways form a good way to enter Afterlives without using the routes of the dead, and occasionally even without permission from death gods, who often send patrols to watch out for trespassers. The Earthways cannot reach the Overworld, however, barring intervention by gods or mythic stories.
Sumeru: The Deva hold that Sumeru is the mountain at the heart of the universe. At its roots are the Naraka, the afterlives that purify by punishment. You climb the mountain and you pass through the World, then the Midrealms of the Asuras, then the Overworld, where Swarga and other heavens exist as homes for the Devas and enlightened souls. To enter Sumeru, you must go to one of the Asian mountains associated with it, or if you're a Deva or devout follower who knows the right meditations, climb any mountain. It's easiest to use Sumeru to reach the realms of the Deva and their relatives, but various pathways do extend to other realms - including other Axis Mundi mountains, like Olympus or Qaf. These are longer and more dangerous routes, though, and most gods from other pantheons resent their use.
Ocean: The sea or river that surrounds the World, and is known to many pantheons, including the Aesir, Deva, Theoi and Tuatha de Danann. Ocean connects to all natural bodies of water that reach the sea somehow, and by taking a ship beyond sight of land, a Scion can navigate out of the World and through Ocean to any realm with a legendary body of water. The Tuatha de Danann use it to visit the island Godrealms of those that came before him, and it is where Odysseus was cast from the Mediterranean, though he knew it not. The Theoi have also reached Ocean from the Styx, so it can extend to Hades. The Aesir acknowledge Ocean, but they avoid it, because the World Serpent, Jormungand, dwells in its depths. Some say Ocean is itself a Primordial, and that the storms, monsters and strange islands within it are its dreams or messages. Others claim it as the source of legendary floods, the chaos before time or the formless abyss that existed before the cosmos.
Yggdrasil: Yggdrasil is an immense ash tree, so great that armies can march on some of its branches, if not the smaller or newer ones. It has so many leaves, branches and fogs around it that the sky cannot be seen from its heart, and its trunk cannot be measured or even easily determined, though it must be at least as wide as the World. Its branches run through Asgard, and on to the Well of Urd, where the Norns live, and down through pretty much every Norse Otherworld and Midrealm, including Jotunheim. At one of its immense three roots is the Afterlife of the dishonored, Hel. Some of its branches extend out to other realms, though as with Sumeru, places beyond the Aesir worlds have more dangerous and hidden paths. Yggdrasil is inhabited by the squirrel Ratatosk and its children, who are skilled if untrustworthy guides, and Chthonic dragons descended from Niddhogg, who gnaws on the second root...at least when it isn't torturing the damned in Nastrond. Sometimes ice giants climb up from the third root, which stands upon the Primordial Ymir, who is also called Niflheim as a realm. To enter Yggdrasil, you must climb a sacred ash dedicated in tis name - or if you are a Scion or devout follower of the Aesir, any sufficiently old and strong ash tree.
We've mentioned Touchstones before. What are they? Well, mortal lives are touched by myth. They channel as much as anyone else, even if the results are not so obvious as when more potent creatures do it. Sometimes, though, they create Touchstones, objects attuned to some mythic ideal. Touchstones become what they are by exceptional skill, emotional significance and fame or veneration. This can even extend to copies of some objects. Some ancient obelisks gain power via their vanished Egyptian god-kings, and some copies of the Statue of Liberty connect to the original, adopted by the goddess Columbia as one of her symbols. By touching a Touchstone and calling on their divine nature, Scions can move from one Touchstone to any other that calls on the same mythic archeype. You can go from STonehenge to any ancient henge, but also the Georgia Godstones or French menhirs. They're all standing stones. A prop at a rock concert, not so much - that wouldd lack the artistry, hallowed nature and emotional significance...unless the band sacrificed people with the prop as an altar, which might change things. Touchstones can only be used to travel within the World, and then only if they stand fixed in space for a significant (if variable) period of several days or more. So you can't just ship in a wooden horse as a Touchstone to transfer troops from the Trojan Horse, unless you leave it to sit for a while before you make the transfer. Pantheons often claim Touchstones bound to their traditions. The Netjer, for example, dislike outsiders using the Washington Monument, as they claim it via its sacred architecture. However, the cross-cultural nature of Touchstones often interferes with such claims. Many cultures have standing stones that connect to each other, for example, so many pantheons can lay claim to that network.
The game gives us a list of eleven example cities to show how the World has shaped things differently. First up, Athens, Greece. It has always been Athena's favored city, and it is a mix of modern and ancient, with some temples having been in continuous use since they were built, sharing streets and even sometimes buildings with mosques, museums and nightclubs. Its shrines have often been desecrated by war, and Athena sends Incarnations fairly frquently. Her periodic phases of meddling have caused extensive government policies regarding how to handle it when a Hero shows up to make demands. Athens is the start of several pilgrimage paths, which ehad on to places like the Temple of Apollo Zoster (one of Apollo and Artemis' birthplaces), the Ampiareion of ORopos (a cult site for an oracle Hero) and Eleusis (home of the Eleusinian Mysteries). It is as much a place of worship as tourism. Sure, most of its temples have been ruined over time, but they are always rebuilt. AThena has given the city caryatids across its grounds, which have the power to come ot life as guardians, should anyone approach the city iwth ill intent. When Elgin took the Parthenon Marbles in the 1800s, one of the caryatids was taken with them, and occasionally, the stone maidens of the columns campaign to find champions to rescue their lost sister.
Four mountains surround the Athenian basin. Countless roads and caves in the ranges lead into the Earthways and several mythical mountain passes. With permission or stealth, one can descend to Hades or climb to Olympus. There are also mysterious caves below the Acropolis that function similarly, but are much easier to get lost in. There is also the Sacred Way, a road leading from Athens to Eleusis, which marks the pilgrimage route of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Those who know the inner Mysteries have the keys that let them use this road as a gate to the Underworld and, if they obey Persephone's rules, to get back. The Acropolis has many strange, timeless corners where you mgith get lost and transported to ancient festivals or hear whispers of prophecy. There are also several Touchstones. The Parthenon museum in Nashville doubles as a temple to Athena Polias, Athena of the City, and can be used to reach the original if you enact the procession of the Great Panathenaea festival, make proper sacrifices, and bring a peplos robe made by women alone to drape over the statue of Athena. All Olympic torches in the World also lead back to the ceremonial site at the Panthenaic Stadium, where the flame begins its journey every time. In the World, Athens has hosted the games more than anywhere else, as the Theoi consider themselves the masters of hte Olympics, and their agents often meddle to get them back when other cities win the bid.
Next, Boston, Massachusetts. Boston has a ton of fairy mounds in its parks, and pretty much any pub that honors the Irish culture and music with old traditions has good luck. Bostonians know that you listen to the buskers at Faneuil Hall and leave milk behind on the T at night, to avoid angering the aes sidhe. The Boston Globe has a satirical column written by bards and poets since its foundation, and it's been used to subtly curse public figures who behave poorly. Catholic churches across the city often double as Tuatha sancta with sacred trees growing wherever there's space, and the Irish Catholics easily dismiss accusations of hypocrisy when they also invoke Nuada to help them at work. The Irish diaspora has roots in prehistory, when the Fomorians banished the ancestors of the Tuatha from IReland. Since then, millions of Irish have settled across the globe, and Boston is full of them. The gods came with them, to help keep the faith alive. They encourage Boston to support the arts, and they find the American Revolution significant, as it resonates with why they fought against their Titans. Ever since a Scion of Ogma signed the Declaration of Independence, American Heroes of the Tuatha have been especially interested in Boston and Philadelphia, and that's part of why there's been a ton of Irish-American politicians there. The Tuatha grant luck in electoral races, if you honor them properly. Boston is also sister city to Kyoto, and so the Kami often send their associates there. This strangthened ties between the Kami and Tuatha, and it is known that Susano-Wo, Manannan mac Lir and the Morrigan love to party and occasionally have drunken revels in Boston.
Boston Harbor lies on an Axis Mundi that Mannanan claims as a route to Tir na nOg, and a sailor that carries wood or stone from Ireland, inscribed with the correct ogham runes, can find the entrance...though the price exacted by the fairies that guard it could be anything from a poetry slam to a full reenactment of the Boston Tea Party. The Sidhe mounds litte Boston Common, and those that picnic there can sometimes hear fae songso n the wind. You follow the wrong path, pay the toll or answer the riddle when you find the crossroads, and you can enter a dream garden where your whims will be catered to...if you stay forever. The Common is also home to the Central Burying Ground, a cemetary two centuries old. Here, the Irish dead have a gate to Teach Duinn, the lighthouse of lost souls...though the journey mirrors the distance between Ireland and Massachusetts, and souls often get more lost than they should. Downtown Boston is known for frequen sluagh hauntings. The Irish gods' favor for sages has also led to Boston's many universities and museums, which often have original texts or artifacts written in Old Irish, ancient instruments...and gates to the Dagda's library or Ogma's trail markers to the Otherworld. You just have to know hwo to read or play the artifact properly.
Next time: Kyoto, Manitoulin Island and Memphis. (The one in Egypt.)
A Tourist's GuideOriginal SA post Scion: Origin: A Tourist's Guide
Kyoto, Japan is the favored city of Amaterasu, goddess of the sun, and is home to thousands of Buddhist temples and shrines to the Kami. The greatest weavers and textile companies work here, under Amaterasu's blessing, and the city has a high demand for Heroes with urban planning and archiving skills - the many guardian gods of the city resist moderniztion whenever they can, and the priests would love for Scions or other Fate-touched builders to help preserve Kyoto as it has been for centuries. At one point, Kyoto was the Imperial capital of Japan, until the fire kami Kagutsuchi schemed to burn it down and chase the Emperor to Tokyo. See, Kagutsuchi is a violent god who can't control his emotions, and he wages a constant passive-aggressive war on Kyoto, hiring on yokai to help him set fires, out of jealousy. See, he hates that people more often pray to Atago Gongen (local Kami mantle of the Buddhist deity Jizo) for fire safety rather than propitiating him. The yokai tend to spread chaos by kidnapping the Kami that rely on protable shrines to protect their shintai (the objects or natural features they live in) when the priests move them during festivals, and then take these kidnapped spirits and try to turn them to darker, more destructive urges in the wild. Thus, Kyoto's holy places are some of the most heavily guarded in the World, and the local miko and kannushi are trained in divine protective arts. The temples are always on the lookout for mercenaries and exorcists they can hire to protect them during festivals.
The primeval forest Tadasu no Mori, never cut by human hands, is home to the Kamo clan of tutelary Kami who protect Kyoto, and proper gifts and rites to them can lead you in - and from there into the forests of Heaven, or to similar forests in Japan, such as Aokigahara, near Mount Fuji. The various torii arches at the entrances of Shinto shrines demarcate holy places, and if you perform a musical piece or other artistic work beautiful enough, you may catch Benten's attention and pass through a torii into Heaven. It is also a popular pastime to earn Benten's approval by having sex under a torii at night. Certain torii also serve as Touchstones to each other, especially among shrines that belong to the same network or kami division, such as Hachiman shrines. The oldest parts of the city were modeled on the Chinese city Chang'an, today called Xi'an, and are built on its mystical principles. This means that certain especially auspicious street corners, gardens and rooms fall under the dominion of the Shen, and the Kami that live there are considered to be part of the Celestial Bureaucracy, whether they know it or not. A few of the telephone poles, drainpipes and trees can serve as sky ladder into Chinese Heaven. The Monkey Park Iwatayama, on the slopes of Mt. Arashiyama, is supposed to just be a wildlife park full of macaques. However, the personal monkey friends of Sarutahiko also live there, and by leaving the proper gifts at a hidden crossroads, you may consult these monkeys for advice, martial arts training or message service to their divine patron.
Manitoulin Island, Ontario, also known as Mnidoo Mnis in the Odawa dialect of Ojibwe, means 'spirit island'. It is an island in Lake Huron, sacred to the Manitou and their people. On the island is the smaller Lake Mindemoya, which contains a smaller island, Mindemoya, also sometimes known as Treasure Island, which is a slumbering Incarnation of the grandmother-goddess Geezhigo-Quae. Her presence has led many to believe that Manitoulin might be the original Turtle Island, and its extremely bountiful crops and prosperous nature support that, but its many lakes and rivers hide darker things. Fishermen and tourists have recently been reporting lots of strange sightings, and there's been a worryingly large number of missing persons. The local communicators with the island's dodaem warn that the misginebig, a giant serpent that normally sleeps in an underwater spirit cave between South Bay and Manitowaning Bay, has awoken. The authorities are hunting for a Scion of Maudjee-Kawiss, or frankly anyone else willing to lead a hunt to kill the serpent, and the local nibiinaabe merfolk are asking anyone willing to talk to them for help. Still, the Anishinaubaek refuse to leave their ancestral land, and are preparing to fight for it despite the dangers.
The lakes and waterways of Manitoulin connect, in their depths, to the Underworld, though many titanspawn live in these waters and make it a dangerous trip even if you know the way and can survive underwater. Occasionally, spirits of the dead float up to the water's surface to give cryptic warnings of strange Manitou planning to visit the World. Treasure Island contains a tree that appears ordinary but, if climbed, is much taller than it should be. If the correct ritual entreating the Manitou is performed, you may climb this tree to reach a vast network of roots and branches that lead to Skyworld. You can also take a longer, more dangerous route to reach Yggdrasil or other World-trees. The Anishinaubaek also visit a local promontory, Dreamer's Rock, to fast in order to receive Manitou dreams. The guardian dodaem also use the place to bless youths for the first time, and those who complete vision quests may be granted healing powers or secret knowledge, in emulation of the Scion Shawanosowe. Outsiders must gain permission from the Whitefish River First Nation to visit Dreamer's Rock. The local waterfall Bridal Veil Falls, near Kagawong, is home to a strange Manitou, small with a red feather, who grants food and fertility blessings to those that accept his hospitality and defeat him in a wrestling match. He is able to help seekers of lost family or ancestors navigate the rivers to find them.
Memphis, Egypt is, in the World, a bustling, living city, though it is no longer capital of Egypt. Ptah, his son Imhotep and the Egyptian Scion Menes all had a hand in its construction and its turning into one of the most prosperous cities in the entire World. It is widely known as a birthplace of Heroes and a global leader in architecture and technology. The Imhotep Institute for Technology and Engineering is highly competitive and on the cutting edge, and Memphis has always stood as a haven for the followers of the Netjer even when being one was dangerous. Legends of the mummified dead rising from the Saqqara necropolis to defend the city remain to this day, discouraging attacks. While there are Christians and Muslims in Memphis, Ptah and his worshippers remain a top priority in the city's prayers. The city is aesthetically divided quite sharply between shining skyscrapers and maglevs and the old-styled stone tombs of Saqqara. While Saqqara is part of the municipality of Memphis, it operates as an independent borough that is dominated by the funerary arts. Here, the local officials handle requests and paperwork from visitors to borrow or buy relics, consult oracles, pass on messages to the dead via ghostly messengers or gain embalming services. Those who can pass the secret trials required to live in the necropolis have a peerless healthcare plan and access to many mysteries.
The pyramids and tombs of Saqqara are a network of passages into Duat, if you know how to cast the right spells. They are guarded by mummies that judge the worth of visitors, and those found unworthy are cast out and then arrested for trespassing. One of the more famous spots in Memphis is the Ozymandias Nightclub, and it takes reservations years in advance to celebrate your 30th birthday there, at the feet of a giant statue of Rameses II downtown. If you turn 30 on the rooftop and personally sacrifice something great and important that represents your most triumphant victory to the eternal legacy of Rameses II and his unending Heb Sed festival, you are Fated to settle the worst of your life's conflicts that year, either by achieving an impossible peace or defeating an impossibly powerful foe. And if you were to go looking in the back roads of Saqqara, you might find clues leading to the hidden tomb of Imhotep, concealed by his final magics as a puzzle to his successors. If you were to find the hidden clues and piece them together, you might be the first in 5000 years to set foot in the ancient tomb, where you would then need to solve many riddles and puzzles to reach the innermost chamber, where the true ren of Imhotep is inscribed. It is said that, should a seeker speak this ren aloud, they will inherit the human soul of the god Imhotep, along with all of his secrets - and, potentially, even a Visitation.
Mexico City, Mexico is the center of the Teotl's universe, the remnant of a mighty empire that now claws its way back to the top. The conquistadores once buried Tenochtitlan, using its stones to build their churches, but the Teotl now work to reclaim it, leading archaeological digs, holding open-air tianguis markets in honor of the gods in the Zocalo, and play the ancient ritual game of ollamaliztli in newly built courts, petitioning the government to tear down Spanish architecture to expose the old temples and relics beneath. Here, they reenact the World's creation and the founding of the sacred city via ceremonies at the dig site that revealed the remains of the Templo Mayor, honoring Huitzilopochtli and Tlaloc beneath the Fifth Sun. Scions of the Teotl, traditionally hidden in plain sight among the quiet dedications to their parents in Mexico City, have been entering the limelight once more to try and strengthen the Fatebinding of Mexico City to their gods in preparation for the returning darkness.
Northeast of the city, the ruins of Tenochtitlan stand as evidence of the greatest city of the Teotl in the previous age. They are dominated by three pyramids in the central boulevard, the Avenue of the Dead, or Miccoatli. Beneath these ruins are piles of bones that show the closeness to Mictlan, and each year during the Dia de los Muertos, Miccoatli leads directly into the Afterlife for those that honor the dead with offerings or who carry marigolds and who can overcome the trials of the Underworld. The spirits of the dead exit the same way, seeking their loved ones. The ancient homeland of Aztlan is also known to be home to the seven caves that birthed the Nahua tribes, where Huitzilopochtli led his favored people to build Tenochtitlan. Aztlan remains as a Midrealm, and if you dig beneath Mexico City, you can find waterlogged caverns that will lead to Aztlan's lake island, so long as you denounce your old name and identity, taking up a new one during the journey. Under the ruins of the Temple of the Feathered Serpent in Tenochtitlan, archaeologists have found a sealed tunnel, lined with mercury and pyrite shards which glow like stars in the dark. Teotl Scions prepare for battle, as they know - this was the prison of the tzitzimime, which now run free. The cold power of the stars remains, however, confusing the senses and leading visitors astray, to vanish in the dark. Downtown Mexico City sits right on top of Tenochtitlan, and while there, compasses spin and GPS fails - the literal center of the universe defies human technology and navigation. Here, you can find secret shops and market stalls that display the black jaguar of Tezcatlipoca, and in these you can buy obsidian mirrors that will lead to your desires or show the way to places you will go in the future. The Angel of Independence statue, plated in gold, stands atop a victory column downtown, too. This angel represents the Greek goddess Nike, and the Teotl and Theoi often fight over its ownership and use, for it serves as a Touchstone that connects to similar victory columns in places like Berlin, Copenhagen, Jaen, Saint-Denis, Chihuahua or Saint Petersburg, when blood is spilled there in triumph.
Next time: New York, Reykjavik, Sao Salvador, Wudangshan.
You Can Serve God - He's MammonOriginal SA post Scion: Origin: You Can Serve God - He's Mammon
New York City, New York is one of the most diverse cities in the World, with pockets of pretty much every faith in existence flourishing. Mammon is the patron god of Wall Street (and that's notable because Mammon as an entity, in our world, was a medieval Christian invention), pretty much every well-known god has a church or temple somewhere in the city, and those that don't still have storefront shrines maintained by the locals to pay their respects, as do a number of saints. The Scions of New York are similarly diverse, with some loving fame and publicity and others working just to protect their own neighborhoods from the divine infighting that plagues the city. See, no one pantheon claims the city, and if anyone tried, it'd spark a terrible war. When the Statue of Liberty went up in New York Harbor, Columbia, the goddess of democracy and America, declared its island neutral ground, where anyone could meet - even titanspawn - with her personal guarantee of safety. A few of her other Mantles opposed the idea (Columbia's quite young by deity standards and hasn't settled on a single dominant identity), but Fate settled in her favor, and the peace has lasted over a century...primarily because it's easy enough for anyone who wants to fight to take a ferry to Battery Park and do it there. The fallout is a constant issue for New Yorkers, but subtly and blatantly. It isn't especially unusual for a commute to get delayed because a pack of Hindi-speaking monkeys starts a gang fight with a few ravens, accusing them of being Odin's spies. (Which they usually are.) The city maintains a budget line item every year for 'Spiritual Matters,' which they use to maintain and repair the place in the wake of the Scion battles, demonic invasions, river serpents, frost giants, ghosts and other problems certain to happen in the coming year. However, it's not all chaos. For every fight, there's plenty of cross-pantheon cooperation. An Incarnation of Eshu Elegbara owns a bar, the Crossroads of the World, in Times Square, and welcomes anyone to drink there, regardless of their affiliation or power. There's a freestyle hip-hop dance group in Brooklyn who offer veneration to any god that loves dance and doesn't mind blessing them occasionally. Every subway line calls a different liminal deity their patron, to ward off delay and malfunction, and the agents of those lines generally engage in friendly competition for bragging rights. NYC is where you go when your own pantheon isn't that happy with you, for whatever reason. It'll help you hide or help you find friends - the city has your back.
The downtown 6 train officially ends at Brooklyn Briodge and City Hall, but if you stay on past that, you'll head past the old, shut down City Hall station. If you have a talisman of any god whose purview includes Journeys and make the right offering or prayer while passing through, you'll end up riding past the World and into the Via Incognita, a railroad that runs through several Midrealms of numerous pantheons, including a few hidden ones full of abandoned creatures or lost souls, with no entry or exit besides the train. The Statue of Liberty is not just the referee of its own neutral zone, but also works as a gate into the Godsrealm of Columbia that'll open for anyone that has made a sacrifice for any form of freedom, their own or another's. It also works as a Touchstone hub for other Liberty Enlightening the World status across the planet, all of which can go back to Liberty Island as well. It is said that the graffiti palace of 5Pointz, an abandoned factory building in Long Island City that was transformed into a monument to street art, was sold off and painted over some years back. Others, however, say it is still there - and they can prove it with photos. See, the gods of artistry in each pantheon - a group that includes Brigid, Khnum and Sarasvati - watch over 5Pointz and preserve it against any attempt to end its creativity, but it c an only be seen by those with inspiration and a passion for self-expression.
Reykjavik, Iceland is extremely tapped into Fate. The Aesir guided the city's founder to it, and in Reykjavik...well, Fate is not the background white noise it is elsewhere. Everyone has developed various traditions to avoid or encourage Fatebinding to Scions, relics or mystic places. They know what rhymes keep the wolves out, what choices will lead them to exciting lives and which will let them live peacefully. Scions stand out in Reykjavik whether they want to or not, and most folks are far too savvy to get swept up in it unless they want to be. The wild areas in and around the city are home to shocking numbers of legendary beasts - elves and trolls, sure, but far more. The people of Reykjavik and the hidden folk tend to stay out of each others' way. Urban expansion routes around known alagablettur, or places of power and elf habitats. There are subtle clauses in national legislation that take prophecy and magic into account, among other things. Draugr sometimes rise from botched funerals, and trolls will sometimes rob tourists who don't know how to appease them, but mostly, people just coexist. Some dwarves even offer craft workshops at local schools and universities, for those that will pay them in gold or favors. The worship of the Aesir has been quiet but constant since Reykjavik's founding, and has resurged greatly recently. A brand new temple has been built, presiding over daily public ceremonies to the gods. Others prefer more direct methods, tying themselves to Fate by emulation of deities. There's a biker gang named the Wilder Hunt that travels the highways and roads in the name of the Allfather, each wearing an eyepatch over their left eye (which each sacrificed) and each seeking ways to preserve Reykjavik during Ragnarok, which they believe approaches soon.
Reykjavik translates to 'Bay of Smoke', named for its hot springs, lava fields and active volcanos. Anyone that ventures into the earth around Reykjavik with true rage in their heart, cursing someone they hate and wish to destroy, can descend all the way to Muspelheim. Northwest of the city is the Neighborhood of the Gods, with streets named after the Norse pantheon. Those that live there tend to see their Fate turn in ways reminiscent of their address's god. Academics and scientists compete to get the aparments on Odinsgata, while those that want courage head for Tysgata. No one lives in Lokastigur unless they don't mind being troublemakers and watched closely by their fellows. Some might question the wisdom of deliberately tying yourself to a pantheon doomed to die, but the locals just accept it. Ragnarok comes for everyone, so why not accept some doom in exchange for greatness?
Sao Salvador de Bahia, Brazil is a raucous capital city, heavily Afro-Brazilian and dedicated to living each moment to the fullest. It was once a major hub for the slave trade, and is now one of the major Worldly homes of the Orisha, or Orixas as the locals say in Portuguese. The influence of the Yoruba gods has made the city a home of music and dance, host to the biggest celebrating of the World during Carnival. The locals are very proud of their worship, making offerings ot the Orixas since their ancestors founded the religion by cloaking their gods in the disguise of saints. The city has blended Portuguese, West African and Native American cultures into a unique if not seamless fusion, and they constantly reinvent themselves whole still being true to the ancient ways. While the Orishas have followers across the globe, Salvador is the frequent home of incarnations of Eshu Elegbara/Exu, thanks to its status as a cultural crossroads and as the center of the ashe musical style and birthplace of capoeira. Scions of Shango/Xango especially enjoy the work of the capoeiristas in protecting their homes and stopping other pantheons from trying to bring their Titanic wars to Brazil.
Salvador's colonial neighborhood of Pelourinho is a treasured cultural center...and also a symbol of racism and oppression. The name means 'pillory', for the place where the slavers imprisoned and whipped people. Candomble practitioners play sacred music and dance to catch the attention of their ancestors on the spot the pillory once stood, allowing them to speak to these spirits via possession. The goal, you see, is to ease their suffering long enough open the way to orun for them. There are also many endangered species of plant and animal in the 40,000 square miles of forest around Salvador and the Bahian coast. Anyone visiting, particularly Scions of Oshossi/Oxossi and other hunters must be very careful not to be led astry by the flame-haired, childlike Curupira that protects the forest. It cares little for mortal or divine concerns, and uses its backward-facing feet to lay false trails, imitaties natural sounds and shapeshifts to confuse people. It sometimes even turns people into prey animals or steals their shadows.
Wudangshan, China is not a city - it's a mountain range in Hubei Province, the home of the famous Wudang martial arts, a Daoist tradition dating back to ancient times, and a dedication to fierce righteousness. It is full of martial arts schools and waterfalls, and atop the highest peak is the Gold Pinnacle Temple, made of copper and painted with gold. It was placed directly on the mountaintop from Heaven by a Scion of Zhenwu the Perfect Warrior, guardian deitiy of Wudang, becauser the mortals had no idea how to transport it there from its original construction site. The Pruple Heaven Palace, down the slope, has many temples and courtyads for training. IT is home to the Green Dragon Crescent Blade of Guan Yu, which Heroes may use if they get the gods' stamp of approval. On forms, in triplicate. Wudang masters teach internal martial arts relying on momentum, and they are famous for their sword skill. The local Daoist monks welcome travelers, offering services in divination, feng shui readings, advice and healing. Daoists come from across the World to learn and teach, and the ancient temple compexes have a history of quiet resistance to those who would end their way opf life. They staged effective protests against the Cultural Revolutiopn, and to this day, the concept of 'jianghu' remains strong. Jianghu, of course, is the hidden world of outsiders and commoners that many martial artists belong to, taking care of those that the mainstream cannot.
The Wudang complex includes two paths into Heaven. First is the Sword River Bridge, which crosses the river Zhenwu made by cutting a line in the ground with his sword in order to stop his mother from preventing him from ending his journey of enlightenment. The other is the oldest staircase, which runs from the mountain foot to the Golden Pinnacle Temple. In either case, those that wish to use the paths must perform sufficient amounts of righteous deeds, and then report them on a special form that they can submit at any of the temples. Deeds are earned not just by unselfish acts and defending the weak, but also by learning new things or by lighting incense on the head of a stone dragon that stands at the end of a narrow ledge jutting from Nanyang Palace over a long drop. Once the requisite deeds are reported and approved, you must either climb all the stairs in one go with no breaks, or cross the bridge on the ninth day of the ninth month of the Chinese traditional calendar, that being the day Zhenwu ascended to godhood. The place is also home to the cave of Grandfather, called the Bee Taoist, a reclusive priest who has achieved total clarity and stillness to the extent that he has tamed a massive swarm of bees. Within the cave, time stands still - no one inside may age or die until Grandfather and his bees are gone. Wounds do not bleed out, diseases halt their progression, nothing changes. As long as you have respect, you may ask Grandfather and the bees questions about spiritual or physical health, the future, love, war - really just about anything that peace of mind and flawless memory might be helpful with.
Varanasi, India is the holy City of Light, full of ancient templ;es along the sacred Ganges River. Here, the gods stand close to the world, and Fate binds them and the city tightly via Heroes, festivals, relics and the Axis Mundi that is the river. The patron of the city, the Kashi Naresh, is always a Scion of Shiva and always lives in the Ramnagar Fort, across the river from one of the many ghats, or wide sets of stairs that lead to the water, on which devotees perform ritual cleansing and cremation. The Incarnations of the Deva visit each year to bathe in the river during the Dev Deepawali festival, while mortals light a see of diyas - a form of oil lamp - in their honor. However, while Varanasi is unquestionably theirs, the Devas may only show themselves in strict traditional ways that Fate decreed long ago. The city is also home to a fairly sizable kitsune population, ever since it recently partnered with Kyoto. They serve as advocates and messengers of the Kami. The criminal underworld of Varanasi has recently been taken over by several rakshasa gangs that steal and smuggle relics back to the island city of Lankapura, where titanspawn and other supernatural beings struggle for supremacy. Whether they serve the asuras or not is unclear.
The waters of the Ganges wash away sin, and their tutelary goddess, Ganga, rides a makara and presides over travel between worlds via an Axis Mundi that leads to the home of Shiva and other Otherworld locations. During Diwali, if you hang a lantern from the prow of a boat and row upstream, you may enter the Axis Mundi. Tose who are burned upon a ghat or whose ashes are cast after death into the river may bypass Naraka and immediately pass to a higher level of the afterlife, possibly even transcending reincarnation. It is said that the Ganges' divine power is even enough to turn those who bathe in it into Scions. Lack of proof has not stopped thousands from trying it every day. Makara, a strange chimera of fish and mammal, swim in the river depths, and anyone sufficiently fast and brave may catch one to train as an aquatic mount. In the oldest neighborhoods of Varanasi, which have been inhabited for millenia, the streets are cramped, packed alleys - and nother is ever truly lost. There are many forgotten nooks, full of things like indoor forests that serve as home to monkey people or street corners where the same game of dice has been in progress for 3 millenia. Anything lost in Varanasi can be found eventually, if you wander around enough, but it's not always easy. In the nearby area of Sarnath, where the Buddha's first sermon was given, there is a pillar that bears four lions, which also appears on the Indian national emblem. Emperor Ashoka, who converted to Buddhism in atonement for his sins, erected these pillars across India and inscribed them with his edicts. If you commit a truly selfless act before a pillar, you may travel to any other pillar. Many of them survive only in fragments, if that, and while you can travel to a broken pillar, it's risky - you do it wrong and you might get trapped between parts of reality.
Next time: The Titan Wars
I Want to Break FreeOriginal SA post Scion: Origin: I Want to Break Free
The universe is a violent place, born in chaos. Some say it's an eternal cycle, others a linear path. But one thing is clear: the imprisoning of the Titans was violent...and often a one-time event. Many pantheons have no idea how to imprison a Titan. Some forgot, others relied on magic that could only be used once, or the Titans weren't really imprisoned anyway. The Shen, for example, chose to not imprison their Titans but rather to give them jobs in the Celestial Bureaucracy as part of a rehab programs, and the Orisha and Loa do not believe that Titan is anything more than a political title - everything is just an aspect of the World to greater or lesser degree. And now, the Titans strain at their prisons. The Titan Wars have begun. It's still a cold war, but the Titan Wars or Second Titanomachy sound cooler, so that's what people use rather than the Cold War of the Gods or whatever. Now, strange cults arise, ancient omens reappear, and the grand battles surface on the horizon. No one doubts the Titan Wars will grow hot, and not far in the future at that. For centuries, the pantheons have largely focused on inter- and intra-pantheon rivalries, pushing their pet causes and so on. But now, the ancient enemies are beginning to return.
Side note on the Cold War: explicitly, neither the Titans nor the gods were behind the Warsaw Pact. They don't think that way. The Titans see the world in terms of places and characteristics. The gods see it in terms of cultures and traditions. Power groups exist in those terms, but they don't always map well to nations and even less so to global ideologies. Now, yes, in the last century, the Titans found that humans had gained the means to destroy themselves. At the time, the Titans were weaker than they were today, more tightly chained, but many encouraged mortals to do it, to break the world with nuclear weapons. They didn't care which side struck first - they supported provocateurs on both sides of the Cold War. However, not all Titans supported this, particularly those whose nature drew them to a world with an unsullied environment. These Titans helped the gods prevent nuclear flashpoints, and we survived the Cold War. Fringe books and websites do say that some gods still want to see the missiles fly, their solar fire cleansing the land, to remove people and technology from the World. No well-regarded cult would ever admit their god wanted an apocalypse, though, and the accusation is seen as little but slander.
So, the Titans. They're returning. And another sense, they never went away, because they are of the essence of the World, and their purviews will continue until the World ends. The actual beings that are the Titans are growing more active, however. They are able to send ever stronger pieces and aspects of themselves through the cracks in their prisons, they awaken sleeping monsters. Not all titanspawn are literally born of the Titans, and some are even nominal allies of the gods, but they are all becoming more active. No one truly understands why - the scholarly gods have enforced limits on what mortals may know, and the priests say that the ebb and flow of Titanic power is not for humans to understand.
Gods anchor themselves via worship. Titans don't. Sure, some Titans present a persona of hate and genocide...but in reality, humans don't matter to them. Or rather, humans shouldn't matter to them. At heart, what the Titans want is to express their natures at the fullest, and they have no need of mortal prayer. They would end civilization by earthquake and flood not out of hate, but because they would glory in the elements unleashed. In the past, humans achieved Titanic attention via worship of the gods. If the humans were wiped out, then, the gods might be defeated. But really, it's only in the past century that most Titans have considered humans an actual threat. They can sense the increased background radiation, feel climate change, see the ecosystems reshaped, hear the cries of extinction. Humanity is reshaping the World slowly but with the force of nature itself, and that means they are as mighty as any Titan. The lowliest beings in reality are stealing and corrupting the World of the Titans.
As the Titans find loopholes and weaknesses in their prisons, they are now more able to call on their old servants, make new ones and even recruit mortals. However, the gods also have access to more worshippers than ever before, thanks to spreading communities and new technology. The two sides are preparing for war. However, there's problems. Titans don't care about mortals and as a result rarely understand them. Even without gods, humanity just isn't easily cowed by elemental power any more - not when they command the power of life, nuclear fire and the internet. When the Titans attack the interests of the gods, they often fail to notice key details about mortals, and when they don't, it's generally because a mortal or titanspawn informant has warned them, for example telling them that just sending giants to knock over a building in Manhattan means getting past layers of security and will just piss off the USA rather than strike fear in them. This means the informants of the Titans have a lot of power in their relationships, power they can use to pursue their own interests.
The gods both generate and react to the currents of mortal culture, and on a level beyond reason, people react intuitively to the myths they make. When Scions act, they make new myths, which can influence entire nations. The example the book uses is the Shen. So, let's say a Shen Scion defeats a bunch of titanspawn on a small island off Africa, and decides that she's going to forcibly convert the locals from their fearful worship of a Titan to worship of the Shen. On the surface, that seems like a smart strategy - the enemy loses a source of aid. However, the Shen are not normally expansionist in that particular manner. They prefer to form tributary relationships with outsiders, seeking wealth and respect rather than territory or exclusive worship. They support the Chinese diaspora but are not agents of conversion. So, assume our Scion succeeds. Now she's changed the nature of the Shen in a small way. Other Shen start to proselytize. The people of China now find that their gods are okay with them expanding their rule by force. And if that's fine, why not us? And so, China's foreign policy shifts to a more aggressive one.
The Titans don't care or worry about geopolitics. They barely notice the games of mortal ants. Sure, they'll send minions out to go cause chaos and fuck things up in mortal politics, but that's only because they know the gods can be distracted by threats to their worshippers and social stability in general. That's all it's about - knock the gods off-balance, so that the Titans have more chance to escape. Some say the bonds holding the Titans harness the relationship between god and mortal. Certainly it seems like the gods must have had some resource the Titans lack to be able to defeat them the first time - but since more people now honor the gods than ever, why are the Titans' prisons weakening? Others claim that the gods used the power of the Primordials to bind the Titans, by negotiation or by force. And perhaps that power is weakening, as the Primordials in general have turned their attentions away from the World.
Two things are clear, though. First, the Titans grow stronger when the gods weaken. It appears to be related to the individual mythic ties of god and Titan - the death of Zeus, say, might free Cronus from his prison in Tartarus. Second, when Titans exercise their purviews in a realm, whether via a titanspawn proxy or mythic event, their presence in that realm is strengthened. This may be why they intentionally breed titanspawn rather than just corrupting legendary critters. Sometimes, powerful natural events help the Titans, too. The 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajokull allowed Surtr to send forth newly spawned fire giants...but the Aesir and their Scions went immediately to go fight, so maybe it wasn't as helpful to him as it might have been. It is also said that some rare and ancient rituals can give the Titans more freedom, but these all require skilled sorcerers and special circumstances. Either way - the more freedom a Titan has, the more it can act on the World or realms beyond. The most successful Titans can even create minor manifestations, to act directly, but if such a manifestation is destroyed, it generally costs the Titan far more dearly than the loss of an Incarnation does a god. Titans just aren't as good at being in multiple places at once.
It's not as easy to pick a side as you might think, either. On the face of it, yes, it looks obvious. However, the difference between Titan and god is degree, not kind, and it can be made complex by the individuals involved. The Titan Prometheus gave his purview (fire) to humanity and accepted his punishment, but he is still a Titan, for two main reasons. First, he angered the gods and second, he wanted to watch the World burn. Some gods don't really like humans, and accept only the minimum of worship required to convince their allies they're on the same side. The god/Titan divide is at least partially political - but the politics do have magic behind them. As you go further down the ladder, it becomes far more about social role than supernatural implications, however. Some titanspawn are monsters, yes, but others can only be told from a Scion by their parentage. Hell, what about the children of Aesir and jotnar? The mixing of human and gorgon? The Orisha don't even recognize the distinction, saying that the greatest evil comes from humanity. They are the ones that hate, after all, that oppress each other not from mythic logic but petty desire. Not, mind you, that the gods and Titans are without personal rivalries. Far from it. They are the best and worst of us, after all. This is not just some war of ideals, made of logic and treaty. It's personal, very deeply personal, about greed and rage and hunger and hate.
Next time: Divine conflict.
Punching ZeusOriginal SA post Scion: Origin: Punching Zeus
Not everything the gods or Scions do is going to have anything to do with the Titan Wars. Everyone has their own agendas, too, including unrelated third parties. And it doesn't matter how small those agendas seem when Fate gets involved. The goals of various gods and pantheons are going to clash, and while most of the gods agree that the Titanic threat takes precedence over other conflicts, they still fight those other conflicts. Gods are as easily distracted as anyone else, and their emotions, their loves, their hates - these are the key things that distract them.
God-on-god conflict isn't rare. Hell, divine arguments are what legends are made of. Followers of Zeus characterize Hera's antagonism towards him as simple jealousy, while followers of Hera claim she protects people from the selfish and abusive exploitation of her husband. Horus and Set have been feuding for a long time, their rivalry born out politics, patricide and rape. And yet, relationships shift, and the priests know that, like Set, today's enemy might be tomorrow's god of kings. The gods used to be more generally cautious about starting fights with their foreign counterparts, though. They didn't know the other pantheons that well. Now, they benefit as much as anyone from the smaller world brought about by colonization, imperialism and mass communication. It's made the other gods feel more familiar to them, even if they aren't, and that means they're more comfortable picking fights. A lot of the time, gods that share the same purview will end up with competing cults, now no longer separated by geography and culture. The war gods are notable for their contention over who is the 'true' war god that will rule over the rest. Of course, not all gods are so competitive, and some enjoy intercultural exchange. Trickster gods, in particular, seem to enjoy traveling to foreign places where no one knows their habits or weaknesses - or their pranks. The Aesir have a saying - only Loki could go to China.
Just about every pantheon has developed similar strategies for dealing with other pantheons - ignore, incorporate, or treat as subordinate. That worked when mortals communicated only by word of mouth. Now? Not so much. Every pantheon is, of sorts, a government - and even the ones that favor individualism among themselves do so out of a common ethos. Even without a leader, gods follow codes. Sure, the Tuatha de Danann don't need approval for what they do, but they must obey the laws of Honor and Prowess. They keep their promises even without someone looking over their shoulder. Typically, pantheons will consider themselves the guardians of their worshippers and the cultures that pay them the most respect. The Kami say they are the essence of Japan and will protect their primacy in its borders, for example. But with diaspora, conversion and colonialism, these firm lines fade, borders are redrawn, which can lead to conflict.
In order to escape from Fatebinding by millions or being called on to sanctify things they didn't approve of (not all war gods want to be the god of cluster bombs, we are told), the pantheons have told mortals to accept or at worst avoid the new religions that took over civil society, the monotheist faiths. Pantheons born under imperial monotheism have grudgingly followed that example, caring for people rather than nation-states. The gods stepped aside - but they chose to, they never signed anything, and mortals often treat it as an implied agreement. People don't interfere with divine cults, and so gods don't interfere with government, business or militaries. The gods never agreed to that. It is mostly in their best interests to do so, of course, or at least appear to do so. Your Incarnation might play CEO, but it's a bad idea to make the world's top OS chant your praises when turned on. Basically, the rule is to do to mortals only as they'd have done to each other anyway. Sure, some degree of open participation is inevitable and tolerated, but there's reasons that Tyr only runs Fenris Arms, not General Dynamics.
Mortal forces, for their part, treat bringing a Scion or similar into intelligence, military or other work similar to bringing in a nuke, except the nuke can get drunk and has family destined to fight them as part of a moral lesson made real. It's done quietly and sparingly. Strategically, it's also better to, ironically, deploy Scions only in scenarios when the enemy is least likely to have their own divine agents, to avoid grudge matches between gods. Governments also tend to go out of their way to avoid being involved in divine affairs, even when a pantheon has a strong national identity. Less than a century ago, governments were more openly supportive of their gods, but it went poorly. Basically - warrior Scions and Incarnations can join military groups, but it almost never goes the other way. Yes, some operators and soldiers will take a holiday to worship via action, but governments frown on that kind of thing and almost never condone it.
And then there's Fate. The gods are coated in it, it is the world they exist in. They shape it like a swimmer shapes a pool with their movements, pushing things toward and away from them. But unlike a pool, a god can't get out. Only the Primordials know how to escape Fate, and the currents of Fate are stronger than any ocean's. Gods struggle against Fate, via Fatebinding and other ways, and must deal with problems they can't just magic their way out of. Two nations are destined to war, and no one can stop it. Trying just makes it worse. Fated events make problems, and no one knows why they are fated. Those that study Fate flock these events, primarily to do postmortems - it's usually only obviously predestined after the fact.
Next time: Storypath.
How 2 ScionOriginal SA post Scion: Origin: How 2 Scion
So your core mechanic in Storypath is the same as, uh, every White Wolf or Onyx Path game that has ever existed: Take your Attribute and Skill, add them together, roll that many d10s. Each die that hits or beats your target number is a success. That's it! But then it starts to diverge. First, if you roll at least one success and have Enhancements, you get extra successes equal to your Enhancements. If you get enough successes to meet or beat the Difficulty of the check, you succeed. You may need extra successes to overcome Complications. If you don't get enough, you fail, but get a Consolation. Unlike most games derived from the basic system White wolf and Onyx Path have been using for years, Storypath dicepools are rarely modified.
Also, prepare for a bunch of proper nouns that are not explained in the most cromulent of orders.
Once you have 3 or more in a Skill, you may choose a Specialty for it. When you fail a roll that a Specialty applies to, you gain 1 Momentum as well as a Consolation. The Skill list for Scion is:
Academics: Your knowledge of law, politics, bureaucracy, art, literature and so on. A 1 is basic skill at research and a basic grasp of several fields. A 5 is encyclopedic knowledge on most subjects. Academics+Reason is also how many languages you are able to know at once, provided you have the chance to, y'know, learn them.
Athletics: Skill at using your body. A 1 is moderate physical fitness, a 5 is world's greatest athlete. Might+Athletics also determines your lifting strength, based on successes on a roll. Also, it covers bows and throwing things.
Culture: Your knowledge of different societies and their ideas, as well as etiquette in various situations and knowledge of art, language and religion. A 1 is a basic understanding of world cultures. A 5 means you understand the mores and art of pretty much everywhere, and can pass yourself off as a native with little effort. Everywhere.
Close Combat: Hit somebody. A 1 is amateur brawling, a 5 is terrifying combat monster.
Empathy: Knowledge of the motivations and emotions of others, and how to manipulate them. A 1 is a decent sensitivity to how others feel, a 5 means you're basically a walking lie detector that can profile someone off what they ate for breakfast.
Firearms: Shoot someone. A 1 is basic proficiency with guns and their maintenance, a 5 is expertise in sniping and firefights, gun modification and gun repair.
Leadership: Knowledge of how to lead and coordinate groups of people. A 1 is experience in management and teamwork, a 5 is ability to lead entire armies, genius strategy and inspiring loyalty.
Medicine: Heal somebody, human or otherwise. A 1 is basic first aid skill, a 5 is mastery of surgery and medicine, even in challenging conditions.
Occult: Knowledge of the supernatural, cryptozoology and the secret history of pantheons and mystic rituals. A 1 is basic interest and ability to identify common phenomena. A 5 means you know practically everything about mystic rites and cults and know most mythic rules.
Persuasion: Ability to convince others. A 1 means you can probably talk your way out of a speeding ticket, a 5 means you're practically hypnotic.
Pilot: The ability to drive, uh, anything. A 1 means you can handle most vehicles in normal circumstances, including animals. A 5 means you are what stunt pilots wish they could be in just about any environment.
Science: Knowledge of the scientific method and how to look at the world in an orderly and reasoned way. A 1 means you can understand physical evidence and get useful data out of noise. A 5 means you can come up with and test hypotheses in an instant, do kitchen chemistry at a whim and repair most machines just by understanding of physical principles.
Subterfuge: Lying and deception and disguise and forgery and sleight of hand. A 1 means you lie easily, open basic locks and avoid cops. A 5 means you're practically a criminal legend, able to impersonate anyone or get anywhere undetected.
Survival: Understanding and surviving in inhospitable environments. Also, animal training. A 1 means you can handle yourself in unfamiliar locales and can probably survive several days in the wilderness alone. A 5 means you are an expert tracker, and can easily survive even in the most extreme climates.
Technology: Knowledge of software and hardware, whether in operating, fixing and breaking. A 1 means you can get most modern devices to do what you want. A 5 means you're a master hacker, have probably built your own tools, understand electrical engineering blindfolded and can assemble better stuff than is sold in any store.
Attributes start with Arenas - your typical division of Mental, Social and Physical. The Physical Arena is most commonly used for fights and chases, the Mental Arena for research, investigation and planning, and the Social Arena for persuasion and seduction. A character will have a rating of 1 to 3 in each Arena. (Note: these are relative. A weedy and skinny giant has Physical 1, but is big enough that they operate on a different scale. We'll get to Scale.) This then combines with Approach. There are three Approaches. Force, for confronting problems head on - not subtle, but very direct. Finesse, for subtlety and speed, but in ways that can often cause more problems later. Resilience, for outlasting opposition in ways tat are thorough, but often slow or dangerous. A character has a Favored Approach, which gives +2 to an Arena's value when it applies.
Or, in other words, you get a 3 by 3 grid of Attributes.
The Physical Arena has Might (Physical Force), Dexterity (Physical Finesse) and Stamina (Physical Resilience).
The Mental Arena has Intellect (Mental Force), Cunning (Mental Finesse) and Resolve (Mental Resilience).
The Social Arena has Presence (Social Force), Manipulation (Social Cunning) and Composure (Social Resilience).
You will have a 3 in your best Arena, with one 5 where it matches your Favored Approach, and 1s in your worst, with a 3 where it matches your Favored Approach. In theory, any Attribute can be used with any Skill, as long as it makes sense.
So, multiple actions, the bane of any OP game. In this game, doing two things at once is a mixed action. You calculate the dicepool for each of your two actions, then use the smaller one. You must then split your successes between the two actions to determine whether either, both or neither succeed. Relevant Enhancement successes can only be used for the task the Enhancement applies to. This can drastically reduce the odds of success at both actions at once - odds are, unless your pools are very big and/or you're very lucky, you're only going to succeed at one of the two tasks.
So how are target numbers? They're based on your Tier. Tiers are 1 through 4. Tier 1 is mortal characters, or at least those that lack a Legend score. They have a TN of 8. Tier 1 is Heroic, beings with Legend 1-4. Also TN 8. Tier 2 is Demigod, Legend 5-8. TN 7. Tier 4 is Divine, Legend 9-12. Also TN 7. You want your dice to meet or exceed your TN. If you roll a 10, you get a success and you get to roll another die. This is called 10-again, and the extra die can also roll a 10 and add another die. Some benefits can give you 9-again or even 8-again, which give you an extra die on 9 or 8, also. Successes are often abbreviated - 2 successes can be called 2s.
Next time: Difficulty, Complications, Enhancements and Scale.
Scaling Mount MeruOriginal SA post Scion: Origin: Scaling Mount Meru
So, on top of all we've discussed, the main thing about any roll is it has a Difficulty, the number of successes you need to spend to not fail the roll. Every roll takes at least 1 success, so minimum Difficulty is 1. If it'd be easier than that, don't roll. If you don't have enough successes to spend on Difficulty, you fail and receive a Consolation to keep things moving. If something is impossible, again, just don't roll. Most Difficulty is static - you roll against a Difficulty that is known. However, it can also be opposed, which is when your Difficulty is generated by someone else's roll. Difficulty 1-2 is the norm for static, with 3+ being the realm of 'this is some insane shat for the level of the game you are playing', like outrunning a car or evading the Wyld Hunt.
Challenges can also have Complications. Complications have a value, like Difficulty, but they don't prevent you from succeeding at your goal. Rather, they are 'yes, but' drawbacks. If you climb over a fence, and it has barbed wire on top, the barbed wire is a Complication. The roll might be Difficulty 1, but also have a level 1 Complication, or 1c. This means that one success is enough to get you over, but you'll need another success to avoid the danger of the barbed wire - maybe you would cut your hands and take damage, say. Complication 1 isn't too bad, usually - it won't injure you most of the time. Complication 2+ is where conditions and injuries can be gotten, and 3+ is where they get nasty.
Enhancements make rolls easier...sort of. They will not increase your odds of basic success. Rather, If you get at least one success, you get bonus successes equal to your relevant Enhcanements. Only the most exceptional Enhancements exceed 3, and Enhancement can be abbreviated as 1e (or however many e). Enhancement 1 might be a really nice piece of gear or taking basic advantage of terrain. Enhancement 2 is more in depth study of a foe or a magic weapon. Enhancement 3 might be striking from hiding or using a genuine Masamune sword. Enhancement 4-5 is basically 'you have some insane mojo backing you or hindering the foe.' However, Enhancements can come with Drawbacks. Maybe getting drunk gives Enhancement to making friends with satyrs, but it's going to increase the Difficulty of other actions. Drawbacks in general manifest in the form of Complication, increased Difficulty to some other action, or free Enhancement to your antagonists. The game suggests that Enhancements over 3, whether form one source or combined together, should definitely come with Drawbacks - too much help rarely makes things much easier.
Teamwork, incidentally, uses Enhancement. When you assist someone, you roll your dicepool and give (successes) Enhancement, to a max of 3. Your roll doesn't even have to be the same pool as the main actor's, as long as it could reasonably make sense as helping.
Now, the question is, how does this rather short-scale (1-5) system handle the difference in tiers? Well, Scale. Scale is a large gap in power or scope. Most supernatural critters operate on a different scale than humans. Scale comes in two components - narrative scale and dramatic scale. Narrative Scale is a value that is used to multiply successes or static traits when dealing with beings of lower tier, and also serves as a general narrative benchmark for the havoc this shit is going to cause to minor characters, scenery and so on. Just make the roll and multiply all successes by the Narrative Scale value, or assume one success per three dice that'd be rolled and multiply that. Dramatic Scale is what's used, instead, to affect characters and other central elements to the story. It provides an Enhancement to actions against narratively important people or things, or half that value as a bonus to static values.
When you're applying Scale to two different individuals that each have it, use the difference in scale between them, benefiting whichever has higher Scale. So a car is going to get a larger bonus to chasing a human than a centaur, as the centaur has higher Scale than the human, and the car has higher Scale than both. (In this example, anyway.) Scale only comes into play in dramatically important challenges, and it's up to the players and ST to handle the divide between the narrative and dramatic effects of Scale. Scale drastically alters the difficulty of doing something, and only applies in large differences - one human being bigger than another isn't Scale. Scale is when a human wants to arm wrestle an oni. Also note that Scale only affects relevant rolls - the oni may be immensely strong, but unless it's also immensely clever, that Scale's only really going to be useful for physical stuff.
Scale 0 is a normal person. Scale 1 is 'Elite' - double successes on narrative Scale, and Enhancement 2 on Dramatic Scale. Scale 2 is times 5 and Enhancement 4, Scale 3 is times 10 and Enhancement 6, Scale 4 is times 100 and Enhancement 8, Scale 5 is times 200 and Enhancement 12, Scale 6 is arbitrary multiplication on Narrative Scale and Enhancement 16 on Dramatic Scale. Scale 6 might be what you do for a damage roll on 'I try to tank a nuke' as a normal person, if for some reason the GM thinks you have even a slight chance of survival.
Scale can come in multiple types. Size can provide Scale for tasks that make use of that size - lifting, crushing, scaring people. A giant that can hurl cars might be Scale 2, while the Statue of Liberty might be Scale 4. Destructive force can provide Scale for attempts to deal damage. A grenade is probably Scale 2 here, while tank armor might be Scale 3 to oppose it. Vast disparity in speed can provide Scale for races, journeys or range in combat - a horse might be Scale 1, while the heroic Atalanta might be Scale 2 and a plane might be Scale 4. Commanding presence can also provide Scale in terms of swaying opinion or encouraging action. Your boss at work is probably Scale 1, while the president is Scale 3, and Athena might be Scale 5.
Scale can, of course, come with drawbacks. A giant might tire more easily if not fed a lot, or might have trouble dodging attacks. It should also be noted that mortals don't usually do well against things of higher Scale, at least without finding ways to subvert things, like ramming the giant with a speeding truck. It's up to the ST to increase Difficulty when Scale would be a problem, but the game advises usually doing so by an amount equal to the Scale rating.
Scale differences of more than 3 will usually mean that the lesser-Scale being can't succeed, and the greater-scale one can't fail, so don't bother rolling. However, against scenery or random mooks, any difference of Scale greater than 1 is enough to not need rolling. These are trivial targets. PCs are never trivial targets, ever. Some forms of Scale or attacks can also generate Shockwaves. These cause the effects to spread out at greater range than normal. The action is rolled once, applied against everyone in range. Every range increment out from that reduces the effect's Scale by 2, as it gets weaker. So let's say that the Colossus of Rhodes animates. It's Scale 4, and it smashes the ground. Everyone right on the spot it hits has to deal with a Scale 4 hit. Everyone in close range has a Scale 2 hit. Everyone at short range has a Scale 0 hit. Past that, the shockwave has lost all force. Presumably, the ST will be using bonus successes mostly for knockdown and knockback Stunts. More on that in a bit. Not all Shockwaves are based on Scale - Knacks can also provide them, sometimes.
Sometimes, something will leave a longterm effect on you. These are Conditions. They stay until resolved and affect your rolls, usually in the form of a Complication, Enhancement, or mix of the two. If a Condition causes you to fail or otherwise suffer a notable setback, you get 1 Momentum on top of anything gained via Consolation. Conditions always provide at least one way to remove themselves, their resolutions. The ST can add more if they want. The Hangover Condition, say, will fade over time, but an appropriate home remedy might end it early. If you resolve a Condition before it would naturally fade, you gain 1 Momentum. Some conditions don't go away easily - Persistent Conditions. These are usually only resolvable via Boon or other divine power, and instead provide a good source of Momentum for you.
The area in which a scene takes place is called a Field. Fields are not defined by distance or range - rather, each Field is a single place with distinct features. A cramped elevator is a Field. Miles of empty desert are a Field. Fields provide context, and the ST should add any features that make sense. If you're on a roof and someone calls down a storm, maybe the Field now has a Complication that causes people to slip and fall if they aren't careful. Players can suggest stuff like this, but the ST has final say.
Next time: Stunts.
Stunt ManOriginal SA post Scion: Origin: Stunt Man
So, once you manage to make your roll, you count up your successes and spend as many as you need to meet the Difficulty. What's left over are Threshold Successes, which can be spent to overcome Complications or to achieve Stunts, extra bonus effects. Any threshold successes you don't end up using for anything just indicate how cool you look while doing it - one means it's done with a flair, three is dazzling, and more than that is, quote, "bound to win you honor, glory, and millions of YouTube views." Practically speaking, however, Stunts are where it's at. They will give you chances to shift the scene in your favor or do stuff you wouldn't normally be able to do. There are a few limits, however. A stunt must somehow link back to your success at the action, it must affect a skill or attribute combo that is not the one you used, and it must be narrated out. Basically, you have to say how you did whatever.
Typically, Stunts come in three types:
Complicated Stunts make a Complication for someone else, at a level equal to the successes spent on it.
Enhanced Stunts give an Enhancement for another action, whether your own or someone else's, based on the successes spent on it.
Difficult Stunts make it harder for others to target you, adding t the Difficulty of actions against you based on the successes spent.
Twists of Fate are a special form of Stunt that can only be used if you used a Path to enhance a roll. (We'll get to that.) Essentially, this lets you dictate a twist in the story, because unlikely coincidence followers Scions around. Each success spent lets you add or remove one detail from the scene, like 'this room has a door over on that end that we hadn't seen before' or 'there is convenient a gun on the table for me.' This represents Fate intervening to make your story more interesting. Twists of Fate cannot undo anything already established, but they can change the context or introduce new facts. Maybe there's an open window, or maybe every fire alarm system in the building is linked to a central sensor like the one right here, or even something bigger, with enough success - maybe your character understood the Eddas well enough to know the villain was a frost giant this whole time, so you brought flamethrowers along. The whole party and the ST must agree to a Twist, and it can't be overtly supernatural.
It can, however, be really convenient - the mook firing at you runs out of ammo, the cops show up, you've had a gun this entire time, your divine parent left a cache of passports for your team, your damaged car suddenly works again, the monk youre fighting once lost to you in a duel and owes you a debt of honor just this once. The ST can decide that some changes cost more than others, but generally speaking, one change costs one success, and nothing made or removed by Twist of Fate lasts for more than a scene. Heroes and above can have overtly supernatural Twists of Fate; that'll be in the Hero book.
Some rolls are part of a set of separate tasks that come together to resolve one problem. This is called a complex action, a series of linked rolls known as intervals that each have their own dicepool and Difficulty. This could be, say, a race where you have to navigate teach stretch. It's basically like a movie montage. You beat a roll for an interval, you get a Milestone - a clue, an ingredient, a checkpoint, whatever fits the action. Once you get a set number of Milestones, you succeed at the complex action. If you aren't under any pressure, you can fail as many intervals as you like while you gather Milestones, but more urgent complex actions have a limit on the intervals you can attempt before the action fails. Complications might force you to skip an interval or even lose a Milestone. The ST can also give Milestones without a roll if you receive something that'd count as part of a narrative effect, such as getting a strand of Sif's golden hair as part of a complex action to craft a magic guitar.
You can use the teamwork rules to work together on intervals, or you can try to get miltiple Milestones in one interval by working separately. Complex actions can be opposed - each group will be trying to earn Milestones, and whoever gets the requisite amount first wins. For contests with a limited set of intervals, like a race around a track, whoever gets the most Milestones by the end wins. Contests, as opposed complex actions are known, use initiative to determine order because the two (or more) sides can use Stunts to interfere with each other. A typical complex action might need up to 3 Milestones, with 2 being more easy and 4 being harder. 5 or more is epic in scale.
As we've noted, failing rolls is not a dead end, because all failures grant a Consolation, a minor benefit that isn't quite what you wanted, but does advance your interests. The ST chooses what form it takes. The simplest method is just to gain 1 Momentum. However, other options include a Fateful Encounter - gaining new information as you fail at whatever you were doing, which reveals another approach you might take. A Chance Meeting, where your failure leads you to someone who can help you, though maybe at a price. An Unlooed-for Advantage is Enhancement 1 to a future challenge that cannot be a second try at the same goal.
So what is Momentum? Momentum is a pool sharped by the entire party, which can hold up to twice the number of players in points at any time. Momentum can be spent to activate some knacks, to give bonus dice, or to enable individual attempts at complex actions. Specifically: You can spend 1 Momentum per die to add dice to a pool before it is rolled. This pool can belong to any character, even NPCs, but this requires the party to agree to the spend. You can spend 3 Momentum to add an interval to a complex action, again with party approval. And Knacks will say how much Momentum they cost, if they have a cost. Unlike the others, using Knacks does not need party approval.
As a side note: botches exist. A Botch is when you roll no successes and at least one die is a 1. If you botch, you get an additional setback as well as failing your roll, and your only Consolation is Momentum. However, on top of hte Consolation, you receive an additional 2 Momentum - so any botch basically means you fail, bad things happen, but you get 3 Momentum to the pool. If you just fail, the ST can offer you 2 Momentum to turn your failure into a Botch.
Next time: Special types of action.
Genre ConventionOriginal SA post Scion: Origin: Genre Convention
Scion defines scenes in broad categories - action-adventure, procedural and intrigue. They do overlap, but each area covers a set of systems that'll be in play. And yes, you can have multiple in play at once. Action-adventure scenes will typically focus on the physical, and have rules for violence, racing, exploration and infilitration. Procedurals focus on the mental, and will have rules on finding clues, discovering secrets, tracking suspects, making plans or crafting items. Intrigue focuses on the social, with rules for managining groups, building relationships and dealing with people.
Scion divides time into a number of increments. You got your turn, which is anywhere from a few seconds to a minute. During a turn, you can perform a single instant action. Turns basically only matter in combat or other highly dramatic situations. Rounds are a snapshot of those situations - the length of time it takes all participants to have a turn in initiative order. Scenes are the whole sequence of events. A fight, an inspection. A scene takes as long as the story requires or as short. The ST decides when the scene ends and moves to the next one. And Act is a game session. Acts consist of scenes that represent a segment of a larger story, and an act can end early if you complete the episode mid-session. Which brings us to Episode - an Episode is a single story, which gives the PCs a bit of time to breath when it finishes. An episode might be one long session or it might take multiple acts. An arc is a full storyline, start to finish, but it still has loose ends, uncompleted tasks or successor stories. Most arcs take two to five episodes. A Season is a complete, conclusive story, generally driven by some great threat or climactic goal. When a season ends, there's usually some downtime until the next one starts. A Series is the campaign. For purposes of figuring out if a magic power is still active when it feels like 'it lasts a scene' is too short, it can be estimated that a round takes about four seconds in combat, a scene is usually around an hour or two, an act is usually a day, an episode is usually a week and an arc is a month while a season is a year. Generally.
Action-Adventure rules cover physical peril, dramatic movement, initiative and combat; combat will come up later. It has its own chapter. Here, though, we get Initiative. At the start of a fight or other situation requiring time tracking, each character rolls a dicepool of (most appropriate Skill+Cunning), though NPCs with similar stats can just share one roll. In a fight, the skill is usually your best combat-related skill, while a race might use Athletics. Most successes goes first, least goes last, in order, with PCs trumping NPCs...sort of. See, at this point, you erase the names of the characters in that order. Any slot that had been occupied by a PC is now a PC slot, while the ones occupied by NPCs are NPC slots. The players choose who gets what PC slot, and the ST dertermines who gets what NPC slot. Then you go down the list in order. Once slots are assigned, that's set initiative until you don't need it any more.
Generally speaking, movement is not really tracked in the specific. Over most terrain, characters can just move freely. Maneuvers, chasing and fleeing are generally abstracted into Athletics rolls or range bands (which are covered in combat chapter). When relevant, though, assume an unimpeded human on foot can move (Athletics+highest Physical Attribute)*2 feet per turn. After this, we get movement-related actions.
Move: Each round in combat (or other initiative-tracked scene), you may reflexively Move, an action that moves you one range band, though if fighting at close range you may need to Disengage.
Barriers: Crossing a barrier takes an action. A barrier is any wall, gap or other feature that takes extra time or effort. Many times, this is only a roll when you're under pressure - it's easy to hop a fence...unless you're being shot at. Typically, you roll Might or Finesse + Athletics to get past a barrier.
Disengage: You move one range band away from an attacker. If they allow it, you do this reflexively. If not, you make contested Athletics+(Dex or Might) vs Close Combat+Might rolls. If you fail, you can't disengage. You can use this even if you've already used your reflexive Move, but it is not a reflexive action if contested. Ties favor the Disengager, and Extras will never contest your disengagement. They're just mooks.
Drop/Stand: You can fall prone reflexively. Standing from prone is reflexive but you can't Move in any round you do it in. Also, if an opponent chooses to threaten you while you rise, any attacks you make on the ac tion you get up are considered mixed, and use the lower of your Athletics+(Dex or Might) and your relevant combat pool.
Rush: You charge one range band towards an opponent as a simple action, which you can do after using your Reflexive Move. If an opponent wants to keep you away, you must make contested Athletics+(Dex or Might) rolls, with ties favoring the Rusher.
Use Cover: Getting behind cover in a fight takes an Athletics+Dex roll or a stunt. Cover comes in Expendable (chairs, knee-high crates, barstools), which can take one 1 Injury before being destroyed, Light (marble railings, pillars or other significant cover), which can take 4 Injuries before being destroyed (which must be split among players using the cover, if more than one), Heavy (cars, armored doors), which can absorb 10 Injuries (and must be split between players using the cover), and Full, which is identical to Heavy except it blocks line of sight completely and so usually means ranged attacks can't even be made.
Withdraw: This is running away. First, you need to Disengage if you're in close combat, and then make an Athletics+(Dex or Might) roll to continue to cross range bands. If the enemies choose to pursue you, this is contested and treated as additional Disengages.
Terrain can make movement more difficult. There are two types of terrain:
Dangerous Terrain could hurt you. Pools of acid, fire, whatever. You can get past these, but it's a Complication. If you don't want the Complication's effects, you can roll Athletics to buy them off as normal.
Difficult Terrain isn't necessarily harmful, but it's hard to cross - rotting floors, mud, loose rocks. When you are on difficult terrain, Move is no longer reflexive, and you must roll Athletics+Dexterity whenever you want to move one range band. All other movement actions get +1 Difficulty.
Chases are often simple actions, abstracted down to a single opposed roll (especially in a chase between PCs, for brevity's sake). On foot, this is usually Athletics, and in a vehicle, usually Pilot. Might is for a full-on sprint, Dexterity for obstacle-laden or unstable courses, and endurance chases are Stamina. Mazes or puzzles might use Reason, while split-second reactions might use Cunning. Driving uses either Cunning or Dexterity. Longer or more varied chases are treated as complex actions, allowing for multiple rolls.
Milestones in a complex action chase are referred to as laps. The number of laps you need are a representation of distance. Once you get them, you either catch the prey, escape the pursuer or finish the race. Interval limits depend on what you're doing. In fleeing form a foe, it's the point where you get stuck or otherwise unable to escape. When pursuing, it's the point where the quarry hits somewhere you can't follow easily, like an embassy. Chases between two significant parties are contests, with each side rolling to complete laps. For races, the interval limit is just how long the race lasts, with earned laps being successful stretches, in which one side pulls ahead or manages to conserve energy. Chase rules can also be used for long-distance travels, like a voyage to be the first to find a new island fished up by the god Maui. These will often have mor varied dicepools or interval lengths, but work as normal.
A head start on a chase is worth 1-3e, depending on how far ahead you started. Road hazards are worth 1-3c - slick ice, minefields, whatever - with rating based on their danger. And in most races, you can make a 1s stunt to perform a snatch-and-grab - grabbing some useful piece of equipment appropriate to the interval, which will give 1e when used. This might be grabbing a branch for use as a club in a forest, or...well, a lot of things, in a street market.
Next time: Procedurals and Intrigue
Cop ShowsOriginal SA post Scion: Origin: Cop Shows
Procedural play covers gathering info, solving problems via planning, finding clues and making stuff. Information Gathering has its own subsystem. Scion divides information that can be helpful to the players into two types: leads and clues. Leads are necessary to either start or continue the plot. Without them, the story just stalls...and therefore, you never need to succeed on a roll to find a lead, you just need to be in the right situation. In fact, you can often get leads as a result of Consolation or via your Path contacts. (More on those later.)
Clues are more than just the basic info that keeps the plot going, and they're generally harder to find. They require checks - examining a dead body with Medicine to tell what poisoned them, say, or using Culture to ask around and find out who they owed money to. There's a lot of ways to find clues, and the game suggests a few standard pools you might use. Complications will often involve tipping off your opposition, burning contacts or owing a debt. Analysis can gather clues via experimentation and study of something, often using Medicine (for dissection or diagnosis), Occult (for mystic examination) or Science (for chemical tests or material analysis). Obviously, you can only find clues which are relevant to the thing you're looking at. Cracking is when you go to break through a firewall or other barrier via criminal activity, commonly via Subterfuge (to defeat physical obstacles and break into places) or Technology (to crack codes or break into secure computer systems), offering whatever clues are hidden within.
Interrogation involves asking around, reading the mood or yelling at someone while you hang them off a building, typically via Culture (for gossip), Empathy (reading someone and telling if they're lying), Persuasion (making conversation and asking questions) or Subterfuge (dealing with criminal contacts), and will get you whatever clues they know. A particularly intricate or involved interaction may well use the intrigue system, and a character with a relevant Path can try to make an Access roll rather than the normal roll to get this info. (More on Paths later, again.) Surveying is about looking at what's right in front of you, if you know how to look, which can use any appropriate skill, like Close Combat (to read the outcome of a fight) or Survival (to read a wilderness area), giving clues about the immediate scene. Research is when you hit the books or the internet for info, generally using Academics (for history or politics), Culture (for art or legends), Occult (for myth or secret rituals) or Science (for science), and it mostly gives you clues that are generally available, if obscure or advanced.
So what kind of stunts can you make with info-gathering rolls? Well, you can spend 1s to get an Extra Clue, usually related to a skill you have but didn't use for the roll. 1s can get you Interpretation, which is the ST giving you some additional context or insight into your clue or lead and its current relevance. For 1s, you can do Q&A, which lets you ask the ST a question about your clue, which must relate to how you're gathering info. If the answer would be irrelevant or a red herring, the ST will give you alternative information instead. Lastly, you could spend 1s for Player Inspiration, allowing you to invent an entirely new fact about the clue that your character figures out...as long as the ST approves of it, that is. But hey, maybe you don't need to just gather info - you need to make a plan. Typically, the way you do this is to use a stunt on an info-gathering roll to give yourself Enhancement on a future action.
The ST can also choose to run an investigation as a complex action. If used this way, each Milestone is a clue, with the full truth revealed when you finally succeed. Intervals for this can take up days or even weeks, and the individual Milestones may not make sense as clues until the work is done. Interval limits in this work might be due to deadlines to present, or the time until a murderer strikes again, or any other time crunch.
What about crafting? Scion decides that all craft projects have two components: a goal and a Tier. Your goal is what you're trying to make, and usually will end up providing an Enhancement or getting rid of a Complication...or, at higher Tier, making a Relic. The Tier is based on the project's scope. Tier 2 or higher means you need an appropriate Path to even try, due to the complexity of the challenge - as do some large Tier 1 projects. Projects require (Tier) Milestones, plus 1 per key element missing out of materials, tools or design when the project starts. Milestones might include rare materials (secret ores, the hide of a titanspawn lion), hard labor, inspiration from something similar (gained by theft or apprenticeship, say), the blessing or assistance of a deity or other powerful being relevant to the work, or some great ritual act (blooding a blade with a giant's heart, say). Milestones will have a minimum Difficulty equal to the Tier, but if you go on an adventure to get the Milestone you don't need to make a roll for that interval - you get a 'free' Milestone based on your work in the session.
Tier 1 objects are mortal items - swords, IEDs, cars. Typically, they will give 1e to some specific challenge, and many Tier 1 projects can be completed without even needing a roll, or just one roll with Difficulty 1-3. Tier 2 objects are Heroic - lesser mystical items, like a sleeping potion or luck charm. They often are not any more potent than a Tier 1 item, but instead have some special quality - a blessed blade that is no sharper than a knife, but which can cut through the sorcery of rakshasa. It typically requires only a scene to earn an unrolled Milestone at Tier 2. Tier 3 items are Demigod tier - equivalent to a 1-3 rating Relic. Generally, they'll offer potent effects or benefits that are stronger than 1e. Their unrolled Milestones typically take a full episode of play to acquire. Tier 4 creations are Divine, equivalent to rank 4+ Relics. Finishing a Tier 4 project might be the goal of an entire season, with unrolled Milestones taking an entire arc to gain.
How long does crafting take? Meh. While one guy is busy in the lab, others can get busy acquiring Milestones for them in other ways - stealing objects of inspiration, getting rare goods, or even just offering support via teamwork rules. Intervals that are entirely solitary should be solely done in downtime, while others train or study or whatever. The time an interval takes is based on the nature of the craftwork. A busted engine might be fixed in minutes, while a sacred silver jian might take a full day of labor per interval. Limited intervals are largely due to deadlines or perishable ingredients.
Some craftwork also requires Flaws, negative traits that undermine the item when it's used. Typically, Flaws are caused by Complications during crafting intervals, often due to dangerous or substandard materials, improvised tools, curses or so on. The ST can also offer the chance to make an interval take less time at the cost of a Complication that may produce a Flaw...or, if jury-rigging something in seconds (only possible at Tiers 1-2), getting (Tier*2) automatic Flaws. Most Tier 3+ projects are demanding enough that there will be at least one Interval that risks a Flaw. Players can reduce or remove Flaws by giving the ST +2 Tension per removed point of Flaw. (What is Tension? We won't find out until the antagonists chapter, but it's basically Bad Guy Momentum.) Flaws can include built-in Complications or automatic Conditions inflicted on use, being single-use, requiring refueling or reloading after each use or a 30% chance of not working each time you try it.
Repair jobs work like crafting, but require one fewer Milestone than making the thing whole cloth. If you already only needed the one roll, it can usually be done without Complications and quite quickly. Removal of Flaws can be done after the fact, but requires Milestones equal to the rating of the Flaws removed. Reforging a Relic into one that's of higher Tier is the same as making one of the appropriate level, but gets (old Relic's dot rating)e.
Now, Intrigue. This covers two core systems - bonds and influence. Bonds are your character relationships, while influence is how you affect others' feelings and actions. Both are altered by Attitude. Attitude is how someone feels towards someone else, and is either positive or negative and then rated on intensity from 0 to 5. 0-3 is normal, with 4 or 5 being unnaturally strong emotion. If a target's Attitude would help your goal in influencing them or bonding with them, it gives you Enhancement equal to its level, such as taunting a foe that is furious at you. If the Attitude would hinder you, the target gets the Enhancement instead. An Attitude of 0 helps neither side. If some other party is also very important to the attempt, like convincing your best friend to help their hated foe, both their Attitude towards you and the target may apply. Attitude 1 is either general friendliness or minor irritation, 2 is valued friendship or serious dislike, 3 is best friend or worst foe, 4 is a love potion or curse of hatred, and 5 is a divine soulmate or fated nemesis. If PCs ever need to know their Attitude toward each other and have trouble deciding, default to 2. If a player provides one or two concrete reasons why it should be higher or lower, give it +1 or -1 per reason.
Attitudes can change over time, as the result of play events...or rolls. Influence can shift Attitudes, Consolation can increase Attitudes, Complications can worsen them. They can also be modified by atmosphere. Atmospheres, like attitudes, are either positive or negative, and are rated 0-3. They increase Attitudes of the same type and decrease Attitudes of the opposite type.
Influence is when you are actively trying to sway someone, rather than just casually interacting. Rolls work like any other and are usually resolved in one roll, rather than a complex action unless they are particularly ambitious, in which case each Milestone represents one of the target's objections to your goal, generally for a total equal to the target's Attitude against it. Influence can be used to encourage behavior, either via overtly asking or as a mixed action with Subterfuge to hide your intention. Typically this will use Persuasion (for taunts, sweet talk or threats) or Leadership (orders or big speeches), and is opposed by the target, with Enhancement based on the apparent danger and cost of the task. You can encourage belief to get someone to think something or believe something, using Empathy (for psychology), Persuasion (for encouragement or fast talk), Leadership (indoctrination) or Subterfuge (rumor), with the target getting an opposed roll, with Enhancement based on how outlandish the lie is. If you succeed, they get 1e next time their belief is challenged.
You can shift Attitude to make someone like or dislike someone else, usually via Empathy (targeted insults or careful encouragement) or Persuasion (seduction, intimidation or raw charisma), with a Difficulty based on the target's current relevant Attitude rather than opposed rolls. Similarly, you can shift Atmosphere with Culture (music or party skills) or Leadership (rallying a crowd), though the larger the crowd involved, the harder it is to shift atmosphere. You can also use Influence to read Attitude, typically via Culture (reading the room) or Empathy (reading a single person) to learn the target's personality or motives, generally in the form of their Attitude towards a chosen person or topic. Any Influence targeting PCs can be ignored if their player chooses to. However, if they accept influence in a situation that meaningfully inconveniences their character, they get 1 Momentum.
Lastly, Bonds. Building a Bond requires two characters to use teamwork to overcome a challenge or complex action. If both players agree, a Bond is formed immediately. Bonds generate a pool of successes that the characters can spend 1-for-1 to get Enhancement on rolls to help, defend or support each other, to a max of +3. When a Bond is first made, it contains successes equal to the characters' positive Attitude towards each other. If these differ, use the lowest one. Both characters can spend extra successes from the roll that the Bond formed over to add to the Bond's pool, or any similar rolls later. If characters spend a scene doing nothing but reinforcing their relationship via RP, each can roll an appropriate social pool and use the successes to fuel or create a Bond.
There is a cost, though. Whenever a character does anything that works against a Bond, it suffers Complication equal to their positive Attitude, minimum 1. If the Complication is not overcome, it drains successes from the Bond pool. When the pool runs dry, the Bond ends. This doesn't mean the relationship does - just that it no longer fuels their success, until they take the time to dramatically reestablish it. All Bonds disappear at the end of each episode, and you can have multiple Bonds at once. If a character is faced with Influence that doesn't support their Bonds, they may spend successes from the Bond pool to increase the Difficulty of the Influence. Bonds are always cooperative and consensual, but you can have a Bond with negative Attitude. This Bond starts with negative successes equal to the worst negative Attitude, which means you're gonna have to spend a bunch of successes to fill it. This does not automatically cause Attitude to shift on its own, but the story may well focus on the budding change in the relationship. Example Bond tones might be friendship, camaraderie, love or rivalry. Again, the ST is told that players always have final say over their characters' behavior, but that they should give Momentum when the players choose to have their characters act against their own best interests...when dealing with NPCs. With other PCs, they should talk things through rather than getting rolls involved for Influence, though they can easily Bond with each other.
Next time: Characters!
How To Make A ManOriginal SA post Scion: Origin: How To Make A Man
This has been slow in coming because I've been trying to figure out some of the rules and hoped that Hero would clarify them. It didn't! So there's some...problems here. We'll get into those. Origin-level characters are usually presumed to be pre-Visitation Scions, but can be Legendary critters, mortal sorcerers or other such things. Until a Scion receives their Visitation and is granted power by the gods, they're still just human beings - normal, but a little stronger, luckier or greater. Most Scions never receive their Visitation, and as a result never really solve the mystery of their parentage. These are folk heroes, dealing with their heritage but never truly wielding its blessings. However, they can and do still engage with things of Legend in a way most mortals can't.
The game provides a few pre-made characters, but we'll be eliding over them, except to note that they're a very diverse cast. Eric Donner, Pre-Visitation Scion of Thor, muscle car enthusiast and blue-collar football star, is from 1e. The rest are not: Emanuel Montero, Pre-Visitation Scion of Xiuhtechutli, raised as a wealthy and privileged son of luxury but aware that something within him is incredibly old and wishes to come out. Hassan al-Hakim, Pre-Visitation Scion of Loki, a masterful Iraqi doctor now struggling to regain his qualifications in DC while driving a cab. (His father is one of his regulars, though he has not revealed himself yet.) Rashmi Bhattacharya, Pre-Visitation Scion of Agni, who was raised by a cult of her father to be the perfect servant for the god, whom she has never met. And Rhiannon Jernigan, a Pre-Visitation Scion of Brigid, military brat and ex-combat medic EMT who is at her best when trying to save people.
So, chargen. As in any White Wolf or Onyx Path game, we start with character concept and associated god or pantheon.
A local politician preparing for a tough fight in a special election is suddenly visited by Zeus, who announces that he's his father.
(Surely there's a funnier god than Zeus for this scenario if I had more time to think about it. Although I guess that isn't pre-visitation.)
The politician is running a shoestring budget campaign based on more open elections and campaign financing reform but then discovers their dad is basically the god of rule through old money. [/quotte]
[quote]A primatologist who keeps having near-fatal accidents and stumbles, Mr. Bean like, through fights where his enemies always seem to just miss him and hit their buddies instead (because he is actually the Handsome Monkey Prince and his dad wiped his name out of the Book of Death along with all the other monkeys.
We're going with these. After deciding our concepts, we need to pick Deeds - one short-term, one long-term and one Band-term. A Deed is kind of a character goal and kind of an OOC personal goal. They're the story beats you really want to hit, the things that will show and grow and change your PC's Legend. Achieving Deeds is the job of the entire table, no matter whose it is. Yes, always watch for chances to do your Deeds, but also watch for chances for other PCs to do theirs. If every PC manages their short-term Deed in a session, everyone gets 1 XP. You can also fail at Deeds - but at Origin level, the only consequences for fucking up like that are to your pride. Short-Term Deeds are achievable within one session - maybe a scene you want to see, a power you want to use or some cool moment. Long-Term Deeds take an arc, usually, and are related to a Path. These are declarations of how your PC will grow or change. Band-Term Deeds are selected by the entire party - each PC has the same one, and they're a group Deed that the entire group wants to achieve over the course of a whole season.
So for ours, we'll have our politician, Saieed Madavi, select "Convince someone to vote for me" as his Short-Term and "Fix the local traffic problems" as his Long-Term. Our primatologist, Jane Eun-Sook has "Fight someone" as her Short-Term and "Convince the local monkeys to stop stealing from the temple" as her Long-Term. Their Band-Term is decided by their party: "Rebuild the local temple so people have better access to the gods."
Now, we select our Paths. We have three: Origin, which is our background, Role, which is our area of expertise, and Society or Pantheon, which is our connection to a group or pantheon, either positive or negative. Paths have a short description (which is basically a FATE Aspect), three associated Skills that fit the Path, a set of people that function as social contacts, and a Condition that will apply if we invoke the Path too often.
Saieed's Origin Path is "Came Up From Nothing", with its Skills being Athletics, Empathy, and Subterfuge. Understanding people, knowing when to run and a basic understanding petty crime were how Saieed survived until he got into politics. His Role Path is "Voice of the People", with Skills of Culture, Integrity and Leadership. His Pantheon Path is "Pluto's Prodigal Son". For Pantheon Path, we have to select two of the skills from the ones assigned to the Theoi, but can pick the third. Those two are Empathy and Persuasion, and we select Leadership for the third one.
Jane's Origin Path is "Indiana Jane", with the Skills of Athletics, Survival and Close Combat. Her Role Path is "Action Scientist", with the Skills of Academics, Science and Survival. Her Pantheon Path is "Handsome Monkey Princess", which has the Shen skills of Academics and Leadership, and then Athletics as our choice.
We now have to prioritize our Paths as Primary, Secondary or Tertiary. Each Skill in your Primary path gets 3 dots, each in your Secondary gets 2 and each in your Tertiary gets 1. If a skill would go over 5 this way, the dots instead flow into one of the other Path Skills. Every skill at 3 or more also gets a Specialty. We'll do this at the same time as the next step, Attributes, where we rank Physical, Mental and Social. All Attributes start at 1. We get 6 dots to spread among our primary choice, 4 on secondary and 2 on tertiary. We then pick our favored Approach (Force, Resilience or Finesse) and add 2 to all attributes that match that. If this would bring an attribute over 5, the extra dots are instead assigned to a stat in the matching Arena (Physical, Mental or Social).
So, our characters now look like this:
Saieed Madavi, Rising Political Star
Origin: Came Up From Nothing
Role: Voice of the People
Pantheon: Pluto's Prodigal Son
Attributes (Favored: Finesse)
pre:Physical Social Mental Might 1 Presence 4 Intellect 2 Dexterity 4 Manipulation 4 Cunning 4 Stamina 2 Composure 3 Resolve 3
Culture 3 (Unions)
Empathy 3 (Blue-Collar)
Integrity 3 (Debate)
Leadership 5 (Public Speaking)
Jane Eun-Sook, Action Primatologist
Origin: Indiana Jane
Role: Action Scientist
Pantheon: Handsome Monkey Princess
Attributes (Favored: Force)
pre:Physical Social Mental Might 3 Presence 4 Intellect 5 Dexterity 4 Manipulation 1 Cunning 3 Stamina 2 Composure 2 Resolve 3
Academics 3 (Monkey Culture)
Athletics 4 (Lucky Escapes)
Close Combat 3 (Dodging)
Survival 5 (Jungles)
Next, we get to select Callings and Knacks. I'll get into Knacks more in the next post. However, Callings are basically broad Archetypes. At Origin level you only get one, rated at 1 dot, and for Pre-Visitation Scions, it must be from the list for their parent. You get one Knack, either generic or from your Calling. The game says it should be a Heroic Knack but I believe they're actually Mortal Knacks at this level. For Saieed, we have Judge, Leader and Liminal for Hades/Pluto, so we pick Leader and Perfect Poise as our Knack, which gives us Enhancement 2 to resist fear from supernatural sources, immunity to non-supernatural fear, and Enhancement 1 on Social rolls involving grace, poise, composure or poker face. Jane can take Liminal, Trickster or Warrior from Sun Wukong, and we go with Trickster. Her Knack is Smoke and Mirrors - once per scene, when she would be Taken Out, she may instead spend Momentum to negate the damage that'd do it, move one range band away from the attacker and leave behind a brief afterimage, which crumbles to dust in seconds.
Finally, we get 5 dots to spend on Skills, one dot to spend on Attributes and either 2 Knacks or 4 dots of Birthrights. We'll go with 2 Knacks, as all Birthrights are in Hero. Wait for Hero for those. Note: We can only have one Knack active per session - so basically, each session, these characters would pick one of their 3 Knacks to have actually in place. Here's what they look like after all this:
Saieed Madavi, Rising Political Star
Origin: Came Up From Nothing
Role: Voice of the People
Pantheon: Pluto's Prodigal Son
Attributes (Favored: Finesse)
pre:Physical Social Mental Might 1 Presence 5 Intellect 2 Dexterity 4 Manipulation 4 Cunning 4 Stamina 2 Composure 3 Resolve 3
Culture 4 (Unions)
Empathy 4 (Blue-Collar)
Integrity 3 (Debate)
Leadership 5 (Public Speaking)
Persuasion 3 (Honesty)
Leader 1 (Perfect Poise, Lighthouse of Society, Good Listener)
Jane Eun-Sook, Action Primatologist
Origin: Indiana Jane
Role: Action Scientist
Pantheon: Handsome Monkey Princess
Attributes (Favored: Force)
pre:Physical Social Mental Might 3 Presence 4 Intellect 5 Dexterity 4 Manipulation 1 Cunning 4 Stamina 2 Composure 2 Resolve 3
Academics 4 (Monkey Culture)
Athletics 4 (Lucky Escapes)
Close Combat 3 (Dodging)
Science 3 (Biology)
Survival 5 (Jungles)
Trickster 1 (Smoke and Mirrors, Blather and Skite, Light Fingered)
Next time: A Knack for It
KnackeredOriginal SA post Scion: Origin: Knackered
So, most advancement is through XP. The XP pace is determined by the group, with the ST handing it out based on story milestones and completion, and PCs getting it by Deeds and spending Momentum. Typically, however: You get 1 XP for showing up. If you achieve your short-term Deed, you get 1 XP. If everyone achieves their short-term Deed, everyone gets another 1 XP. If you achieve your long-term Deed, you get 2 XP, but cannot earn this reward again until everyone else has gotten it, too. If the players manage to spend half the Black Pool in a single scene, everyone gets 1 XP, as long as that amount is more than 1. (What's the Black Pool? We'll get to that in, uh, a while.) If the group hits a story milestone, everyone gets 1 XP, or 3 if the group completes a story.
XP can be spent on Skills, Attributes or Knacks, though the game wants you to only do so at the end of an arc. A dot of an Attribute costs 10 XP, a dot in a Birthright costs 5, changing your Favored Approach costs 15, adding a dot to a Skill costs 5, and a new Knack costs 10. You must be supernatural in some way to be able to buiy Knacks. On top of spending XP, however, players are allowed to make sheet tweaks after every session. Tweaks have no cost. The following are allowed as tweaks:
- Shift a dot from one Attribute to another, or one Skill to another.
- Swap an inactive Knack for an active Knack; you have to already know both, obviously.
- Write a new short-term Deed.
You may, as a note, only have five Deeds active at any given point. Also, the ST can let you spend XP or use a Tweak during play if they're feeling generous - but anything you change that way is stuck until the session ends.
So, what do your Paths do? Paths give you access to anything relevant to yur concept - if you're a cop, you can get into the police station. If you're filthy rich, you have money. You may also invoke your Path. This part of the game says that when you Invoke your path, you can:
1. Once per session, call on a connection (that is, a group of associates related to the Path) or a contact (a specific person related to the Path).
2. Once per session, add +2 dice to any roll that plausibly involves your experience related to the Path. On a roll that's Path-boosted, you can also spend successes on Twist of Fate stunts.
Twists pf Fate were mentioned before, but again: they let you edit the world. At Origin-level, they aren't explicitly supernatural changes. However, any character with a Legend trait can use Twists of Fate stunts to achieve supernatural effects. So if your Path is King of Beggars and you have Legend, you can use a Twist of Fate to summon all the beggars in the city as a flash mob, or temporarily heal a beggar of some illness. The main thing is, Twists need to stem from the fictional principles of your Path, and everyone has to agree it's fine.
Connections are the people and resources your Path gives you access to. Connections come in three types - access, group and contact. Group connections are some well-defined collection of related people - so, Jane can probably use this to call on her professional colleagues for help. Contact connections are specific NPCs related to the Path that you have a relationship with - Jane's advisor, maybe, or the trail guide who helps her out. Access connections are the things your Path just lets you use - so Jane can get into academic databases. Once per session, your Path connections may require you to perform a task, which you can take on as an extra short-term Deed. Typically, these are things you can manage within a single scene, though often at a slight burden to you. If you do not complete your obligation, your first attempt next session to use your connections is at Complication 2.
Contacts are where things get weird. See, whenever you invoke your Contact, you get 2 points, which you can spend to create or boost Contacts. Each Contact starts at a rating of 1 and has one tag, and each additionaly point can add one tag or one dot. (I think. It isn't entirely clear.) Tags define what a Contact can do for you, and in situations where they're useful, they add their rating as an Enhancement to your roll. Tags are stuff like Dangerous ('is good at fighting'), Informant ('good at finding clues'), Loyal ('will never betray you'), or Numerous ('can be used to get temporary helpers').
When you want to invoke a connection, you declare which one you're using and roll an appropriate Skill + 2 dice. If you're using a Contact, they do what you need. If you're trying to leverage your access, you get Enhancement on your next roll based on your successes. You may call on any given connection twice per session, which contradicts the stuff above. If you've already invoked a Path twice this session, you can, quote, "still inoke it for more dots." Which contradicts what we were just told. The first time you do this, you get the Suspended Condition, which gives Complication 2 to engaging with anyone in the Path group until the session ends or you fulfill a specific obligation the ST gives you. If you do it again this session, you get Revoked, which means you cannot access your Path's connections until you dedicate a long-term Deed to getting back in their good graces.
Again, I have no idea how this actually works because the rules contradict themselves three times.
So, Knacks! Knacks are generally fairly subtle at Origin tier, rather than explicitly or blatantly supernatural. Mostly. Until you get a Legend trait, if you somehow have access to supernatural Knacks, such as by being a supernatural critter like a Kitsune, you can only ever use one supernatural Knack at a time. (Which really isn't much different than normal, since at Origin tier you can only have one Knack active at a time regardless.) Knacks often require a Knack Skill roll, which is a skill role determined by the ST and player, and the ST chooses the Arena, the player the Approach. Many Knacks also require you to spend Momentum. Momentum spent on Knacks does not provide the normal bonus dice. Knacks that provide Enhancement can also bend the rules a bit - most of the time, Enhancements require you to roll first and get a success before they add successes. Some Knacks can make them add their successes regardless of your roll. Knacks cannot, generally, be applied to anyone two Tiers higher than you or more, unless they specifically say otherwise. If two supernatural abilities oppose each other, you also have to make Knack Skill + Calling rolls to see which applies, with ties favoring the defender.
Any Calling can learn the following Knacks:
Aura of Greatness: You pick one of Leadership, Empathy or Persuasion. You get Enhancement 2 to one roll of that skill per session because you're super cool.
Born to be Kings: The first time you would add to the Momentum pool each Scene, add 2 points instead of 1, because you're super cool.
Scent the Divine: You can sense other Scions and divine beings and which pantheon they belong to, either by scent or sound that only you can detect. (The ST is instructed that they can, if no one takes this, feel free to randomly hand out the effect if they want to. There's a chart listing what scents and sounds are associated with which pantheon, for the core ten.)
Somebody's Watching Me: Your divine parent is always ready to help. In any scene where you would be in danger, either two Mooks or one Professional show up to help you fight, but leave when the scene ends.
Creator Knacks help you craft, shape or destroy objects. Crafting rules (and Creator Knacks) can easily be used for plans, computer code or esoteric effects as easily as physical ones, as a note.
Innate Toolkit: You suffer no penalty or injury for performing your craft with your bare hands when you'd normally need special equipment.
Perfect Rendition: You may flawlessly illustrate or recreate images of anything you have ever seen with photographic clarity, without a roll. This requiresa Clash of Wills if the thing was obscured supernaturally.
Reverse Engineer: When you take something apart, you instantly understand how to rebuild or recreate it.
Flawlessly Platonic Ideal: Whenever you create or improve an object, you may ignore up to (Creator dots) of Flaws. In combat, you can upgrade light cover to heavy with a roll. If you have materials, you may spend Momentum to transform normally non-protective items, like cardboard boxes, into light cover.
The Unlimited Quartermaster: You always know where to find mundane crafting supplies without a roll. Unless the thing is extremely rare or your access is blocked by a rival, you can get it easily, assuming you can pay for it and are fine with shipping time. If something or someone ever prevents you from doing so, you get a Clash of Wills.
We Go All Night: When you're working on a project, you can work for (Creatore Knack Skill) days straight before you need to rest for a day.
Wireless Interface: You can use up to (Knack Skill) electronic devicess simultaneously without touching them, though you need to do a mixed action to do anything else while doing so.
Guardian Knacks grant resilience and good senses, to help protect others. Typically, you have to pick a specific person to protect, and it's worth noting that most party members will rarely need it - they usually are able to fight. Protect those who are weaker than you.
A Fortress: At the start of any combat scene you make a Knack Skill roll with Enhancement 1. You can spend these banked successes on stunts whenever someone attacks you but misses. Your stunts from this can do things like let someone you're protecting immediately disengage, heal minor injuries or armor damage, or get additional attacks against people that attacked your charge.
A Purpose: You select an ideal to dedicate yourself to. Whenever you act to defend that ideal, you get +1 Enhancement on applicable rolls, including Stunts gained from other Knacks, if you can have more than one Knack.
A Sentinel: Pick a person or group of trivial targets as your charge. When you guard them, you and they get +1 Derfense for as long as you're in the same range band, and you get +1 Enhancement to keep track of or defend them.
A Talisman: You can bless an object with a Knack Skill roll. Anyone bearing the object gets Enhancement 2 to defend or protect against a specific person, thing or situation of your choice when you lay the blessing. If you are making a talisman for your protected charge, you don't need to roll.
A Vigil: When you stand guard over someone, somewhere or something, you don't need to eat or sleep while you stand vigil, as long as you can see the protected target. While you can talk, move around and so on, you must devote your time to standing guard. You can only do this for one thing at a time.
A Warning: You can sense danger by spending Momentum to double your successes on any roll to detect ambushes or tell if someone means harm. If you are doing this while protecting your charge, you don't need to spend Momentum.
Healer Knacks help you heal people.
The Bare Minimum: You can always safely tend to wounds, even without sanitary medical gear, at no increased difficulty or risk.
Combat Medic: When you tend to an ally's wounds in battle, once per turn you can remove any minor injury they've got, including armor damage, without a roll. However, you can't make mixed actions while doing this.
Damage Conversion: When you spend an action to heal someone, even yourself, you can convert any Injuries to one grade lower.
Doctor's Kit: At the start of any combat scene, you can roll your Knack Skill. Any successes are banked and can be spent on Stunts whenever an ally is in the same range band as you and takes an Injury. You can use these stunts to heal injuries, mostly.
Immunization Booster: You pick (Knack Skill) targets to care for. While you care fore them, they get +2 Enhancement against disease, poison and recovery from injury. NPCs are automatically protected and do not need to make rolls.
Surgeon with the Hands of God: You halve the time needed for any medical procedure, and never get increased difficulty for critically ill or injured patients.
With a Glance: When you spend time interacting with someone, you can automatically tell what ailments or other pertinent medical information apply to them, though you need a roll to diagnose supernatural diseases.
Next time: More Knacks.
KnicknackOriginal SA post Scion: Origin: Knicknack
Hunter Knacks are, at the mortal level, all about pursuit, tracking and avoiding detection. They do not require you to literal stalk someone, though - you can do so figuratively, such as pursuing a hacker through a mainframe or hunting down an evil kami hidden in some blueprints. The main thing is you have to be pursuing opposition.
Apex Predator: When someone of lower Tier attacks or tries to hunt you in return, they must increase the cost of all Stunts applied against you by 1. If this target is your quarry, this increases by another 1.
Eyes in the Blinds: You may spend Momentum to invest some power into a small token. You can put this anywhere in the Field that you're aware of. As long as it's in place, you can observe the area as if you were present, which lasts for one day of in-game time or one session, whichever is longer. You can have someone else place the token if you like. If the token is destroyed or removed, the effect ends, and the more dots of Hunter you have, the harder it is to notice.
Internal Compass: You always know your precise direction, no matter what. You never need to roll to navigate somewhere or to stop being lost. If entrapped in a magical maze, you get Enhancement 2 on the Clash of Wills.
Keen-Eyed Predator: When you enter an area, you get to make a Knack roll and ask (successes+1) questions about things like what kind of hazards or present, where the exits or safe entries are, how many enemies are present, which is the biggest threat and so on. The ST will answer honestly.
Most Dangerous Prey: You can name an enemy your quarry. You get +1 Enhancement on all rolls against them while in pursuit, including attack rolls, until the session ends or you catch them, whichever comes first. Attacks against your quarry can also use special stunts to let you do extra movement or prevent the target from moving.
Silence in the Woods: When pursuing a target, you are completely silent, getting +2 Enhancement to avoid detection based on sound or vibration, which applies before the roll. You cannot be detected by sound via recording equipment while this is active, either.
Worrying Hound: While pursuing a target, you cannot get any increase in difficulty even if they fly, hide in water or try to lose you. You always have some idea where they went, and get +1 Enhancement to keep up with them or apply stunts from other Hunter Knacks. When hunting your named quarry, you get another +1 Enhancement.
Judge Knacks are all about seeing and analyzing the truth and being just.
Eye for an Eye: When you get an injury, you may spend Momentum to inflic tthe same injury on the attacker. They must have attacked you directly, not just done area attacks or had you jump in the way. If the target can't take the same injury for some reason, they get one of similar severity.
Indisputable Analysis: You can spend a minute or so observing something you want to analyze and make a Knack Skill roll. You get the successes as Enhancement to all rolls to analyze and investigate the specified incident for the rest of the thing, and this Enhancement applies before you roll.
Lie Detector: Anyone of Tier lower than yours gets +2 Complication to lie to you. If you are currently casing and they're somehow involved, they just can't successfully lie, period. The ST also will tell you when they lie, or if they believe something is true but might not be.
Objection!: Pick a target. Anyone targeting them gets +1 Enhancement to rolls, applied before they roll. You can also use a stunt on your attacks against them to make them have to roll to avoid havin to either flee or get +2 Difficulty to all attacks.
On the Case: When you investigate something, you are casing. While casing, you get +1 Enhancement to discern motives or find clues, applied before you roll. Casing lasts until the end of the session.
Quick Study: You halve the time it'd take to do an investigation, or quarter it while casing.
The Truth Arises: When you talk with someone alleged to have committed a crime, you can make a Knack Skill roll. On a success, if the target is guilty, the let some info slip that connects them to it. The ST will tell you beforehand if the target has no valuable info to leak.
Leader Knacks are all about swaying people and keeping order. Many of them rely on your followers. Followers are typically not PCs, and are often trivial targets, though not always.
Captain of Industry: When you take charge of a group, you can roll your Knack Skill. You can reduce difficulty for actions taken by the group based on your successes, with a limit of people inspired equal to (Leadership + Leader) - or ten times that per point of Momentum you spend. The difficulty decrease explicitly does not apply to you, but while inspiring people, you get Enhancement 2 on Social rolls involving leadership, including stunts gained from Knacks.
Cloak of Dread: You are super scary. You can Spend Momentum to double successes on any Knack Skill rolls to intimdate people, and enemies of lower Tier won't attack you. Nor will extras.
Good Listener: When you chat with NPCs, they will tell you a clue you're looking for if they know it, no matter how untalkative they are. The ST will tell you beforehand if they don't, and you immediately know they're irrelevant to your goals. You do not need to roll for this.
Grand Entrance: When you make a first impression, you roll your Knack Skill. On a success, you get +1 Enhancement on all Social rolls made towards the target until the end of the session.
Lighthouse of Society: When you are in a tense or chaotic situation, as long as the crowd hasn't been directly scared by magical means, you can get them to remain calm and do as you say in an orderly fashion, no roll. Supernatural stuff requires a Clash of Wills.
Perfect Poise: You are immune to nonmagicla fear, and get Enhancement 2 against magical fear, applied before you roll. You get Enhancement 1 on Social rolls involving grace, poise, composure or keeping a poker face, applied before you roll.
Liminal Knacks are about travel, messages and silence.
Beyond Memory: Anyone trying to describe you or recall specific details of interacting with you has to roll to remember anything at all, and has Complication 1 to recall your identity on top of that. You can spend Momentum to double successes on your Knack Skill rolls to avoid passive detection or notice, though not active searching.
Complete Privacy: You cannot be eavesdropped on, your phone can't be tapped and your lips can't be read by mundane means - or anything similar, for that matter. All attempts to tail you get +2 Difficulty. However, this works only against covert attempts to invade privacy - TSA can still check your bags and people can still break into your house.
Experienced Traveler: When you go somewhere new, no matter how remote, you pick up the most important social mores, behaviors and language needed to get by. You get +1 Enhancement to rolls to blend with the culture, if a roll is even needed, applied before you roll. When you attend social rituals, you always know the rules and appropriate dress code, even if you weren't invited.
Flatlander: When you hit someone with an attack, you get access to special stunts and Enhancement 1 to use them. These stunts can remove someone from reality until their next turn, lower Initiative or reduce the distance between you. Because magic. Look, this one's weird.
Neither the Minute nor the Hour: You can make a prediction about the details of someone's death, which need not be a true one, and make a Knack Skill roll against them. If you win, they get +1 Difficulty to all actions for the rest of the scene.
Unerring Delivery: You can send a message via another person - a random stranger, a spirit, a ghost. They will deliver that message, no matter what. This message will be delivered to your intended target in an instant, even if you or they are not in the World or are in places where texts or emails cannot reach.
Unobtrusive Visitor: When you observe or infiltrate somewhere oyu don't belong, you can spend Momentum to appear as someone unassuming and invisible, such as a janutor. As long as you just collect info, observe, and take no hostile action, everyone overlooks you. This ends when you do violence or leave, whichever is first.
Lover Knacks mess around with relationships, attention and emotions.
Fluid Appeal: When you interact with someone, you can tell what they enjoy about other people. Any later interaction allows you to shift your freatures to be more appealing, giving +2 Enhancement to any persuasive social action, including but explicitly not limited to seduction, which applies before you roll. You can't use this to conceal your identity.
I am a Fire: You can push people - including yourself - towards a relationship. For two NPCs, you work with the ST to determine how this sudden, passionate relationship happens. If you target a PC, this doesn't work without their player's permission. Targeting yourself, you get +1 Enhancement to all Social rolls involving your chosen partner until the end of the session.
Lover's Intuition: When you touch someone, you understand their love life, and can ask a number of questions based on a Knack Skill roll + 1 to learn who or what they love, who they're involved with, who they're close to and who they want to be involved with, among other things. When used on PCs, you need the player's consent.
On Your Side: When you make a teamwork action with someone you are devoted to, intimate with or romantically involved with, you get +(Lover) Enhancement to spend on stunts, including those from Knacks.
Not A Fighter: When you're in a fight, as long as you don't attack anyone, enemies will not directly target you. You get +1 Enhancement to disengage or withdraw. You must have a partner or followers present for this to work - if you're solo, you can't just not get attacked.
Perfect Partner: Double the benefits you provide from teamwork.
Soothing Presence: When you enter an initial social encounter, you reduce Attitude by 1. For any other interaction where you try to get someone to relax, calm down or be welcoming, you get Enhancement 1 on any rolls that apply or any stunts gained from Knacks.
Sage Knacks are about knowledge, learning and teaching.
Blockade of Reason: You cannot be tricked, coerced, swindled or conned by anyone of lower Tier, and you get a Clash of Wills against supernatural attempts, which you have Enhancement 2 on.
Master of the World: When inside a Field, you may define up to 3 points of Enhancement, Complication or any combination of the two that are readily apparent to your perception but not obvious to others. They must reasonably conform to the Field's features - a shotgun behind a bar, say, but not a bazooka. No matter how many Scions you have with this power, only three total can be applied to a Field at once.
Palace of Memory: You have perfect, flawless memory, no roll needed. You may get rolls to rediscover clues messed in prior scenes, and may declare narrative advantages you remmeber without needing to invoke your Path every time.
Presence of Magic: You can always tell when you are near something or somewhere truly sacred or magical, by whatever means you choose. The ST must tell you if objects or places are magical or sacred, no roll needed.
Office Hours: When someone comes to oyu with a problem you can solve, they get +1 Enhancement to resolve it themselves if you work them through it. If you can't solve it, you get the bonus to rolls to solve it on your own. Both bonuses apply before the roll. You may spend Momentum to cause an NPC to come to you with a problem.
Omniglot Translation: When speaking or reading foreign languages, you understand them perfectly and have no accent. You can translate amazingly, no roll needed. If translating mystic or divine languages, you are still fast, but need to make a Knack Skill roll.
Speed Reading: You halve the time needed for any academic research. Once per scene, you may establish you've read about a subject, getting Enhancement 1 to the next applicable roll, with the bonus applying before you roll.
Trickster Knacks help lie, cheat and steal.
Blather and Skite: When you say nonsensical things to someone, they have to spend a moment trying to figure it out, giving you time to do something. This works automatically on those of equal or lower Tier, but needs a roll for higher Tier. For each success, you buy one turn or five minutes, whichever is more immediately applicable, before anyone realizes you've done something and are alerted. If used on a PC, you can't succeed without the player's consent.
In Sheep's Clothing: You don't need to roll to disguise yourself, and may easily change your hair, skin or eye color, apparent gender or height (within a few inches), though you can't take on someone else's exact appearance. This disguise cannot be seen through unless your speech and actions give you away. The ST may require, at their discretion, rolls to blend in.
Light Fingered: You do not need to roll to steal or pickpocket anything you could conceal in your hands. If used on a PC, you must have the player's consent. You can't steal anything curently in use - to get someone's wepaon, you'd first have to disarm them.
Rumor Miller: You can make a Knack Skill roll to cause a rumor of your choice to spread about someone, making sure it reaches the ears of whoever you intend to hear it.
Smoke and Mirrors: Once per scene, when you'd be Taken Out, you can spend Momentum to negate the damage and move one range band away from the attacker, leaving only a brief afterimage that crumbles to dust.
Takes One to Know One: When you're the target of a scam or lie, you know it. You don't know the truth, just instinctively are aware you're being lied to or cheated.
Wasn't Me: When you do something with legal or social consequences, you may transfer the blame to someone else of equal or lower Tier, which lasts until the end of the session, plus 1 scene per success on a Knack Skill roll. To do this to a PC, you must have their player's consent. Once the delay ends, anyone of higher Tier who was duped realizes it and will probably seek vengeance.
Warrior Knacks are for fighting.
The Biggest Threat: When you make a show of force or intimidate a foe, you can make a Knack Skill roll to force them to focus on dealing with you first, getting +2 Difficulty to attack anyone else.
Close the Gap: The first time you make a combat movement roll in a scene, you make a Knack Skill roll instead. You may spend the banked successes on stunts for the rest of the fight. These Stunts include being able to Rush without having to roll, prevent enemies from Disengaging from you or ignoring Difficult terrain.
Death By Teacup: When you use an improvised weapon, it takes on the stats of any existing weapon of similar size or shape that you choose. This lasts until you no longer hold the object, it breaks or you are no longer used it with a Warrior Skill - whichever comes first. For thrown objects, it lasts until impact. This is compatible with the Master of Weapons Knack, within that Knack's normal limits.
Enhanced Impact: Whenever you deal Injury with your Knack Skill, you also knock the target back one range band. (This deals no extra damage.)
Master of Weapons: At the start of each session, pick one of your weapons to be your favored one. When using it, you may add (Warrior) additional Tag points to it, which do not have to fit the existing weapon profile. For example, you may add the ability to strike at Far range to a sword. You can spend Momentum to swap what weapon benefits from this, but can't use it to purchase Tags with negative cost.
Trick Shot: When you use a ranged weapon to show off, you convert any extra Difficulty caused by your showmanship into equivalent Enhancement, which you may use on any Ranged Attack Stunt except Inflict Damage. This bonus is applied before you roll.
Well Tempered: When you wear no armor, you have the Armored tag. When fighting minor characters or anyone of Tier lower than yours, this stacks with any increased difficulty of the Inflict Damage stunt granted by other armor.
Next time: Combat rules! Also, combat rules.
Punching HerculesOriginal SA post Scion: Origin: Punching Hercules
The most basic combat system in the game, for fights which just aren't important enough to be actual fight scenes - a Scion rousting a mall cop, say - are resolved in single rolls using Down And Dirty Combat. NPCs can't start it, and PCs can't use it on foes of higher Tier. Each character involved declares their intention, and then make rolls. Whoever gets most successes wins and achieves their intent, with ties favoring the PCs. Teamwork rolls work here as normal.
For more detailed combat, we go to Initiative rolls as per normal physical action scenes, using Cunning + (Best combat skill), making slots to arrange among the party as normal, yadda yadda. Each round, a character can do either a simple or mixed action, but even with a mixed action they can only attack once. Reflexive actions can be done at any time, on anyone's turn. Reflexive actions rarely need a roll and just happen. Using Knacks is usually reflexive, as is looking around, drawing an object from a holster, moving no faster than your normal max speed or standing from prone; however, all of these (except using Knacks) count as an action for mixed action limits.
To attack, you pick a target and choose your dicepool. The target declares their Defense action, and if it's their first time this round being attacked, make their Defense roll. If your target is in range of your attack, you roll it, totaling your successes. You must first spend enough successes to buy down their Defense; at that point, you can start spending successes on stunts. Once you do, those stunts resolve and your turn ends. Dealing damage, incidentally, is a stunt - so if you only have enough successes to buy down their defense but no more? They aren't hurt or affected. Effectively, defense wins on ties.
A character only makes one Defensive roll per round, using their highest Resistance attribute. You use successes on your Defensive roll to buy Defensive Stunts, which persist through the round. You can spend Defensive Stunt successes on:
Dodge: The total successes on your Dodge stunt is the Difficulty an attack roll has to beat before they can start spending stunts. If you get no successes on your Dodge stunt, the Difficulty is 1.
Dive to Cover (Difficulty 1): You move up to a range band away to reach cover, which absorbs Injuries dealt to you as per hard armor.
Full Defense: If you choose to do this rather than Dodge, you roll your defense pool twice. This otherwise works as per Dodge and normal stunts, but it counts as your simple action for the round and can't be part of a mixed action.
Roll Away (Difficulty of foe's Composure): You move one range band away from your attacker.
As you can see, a defender that can get out of the foe's range is pretty safe! NPCs typically have a static defense rather than rolled one, for the ST's ease. Close Combat+Might is your default melee attack pool, and ranged attacks use either Athletics or Firearms, with different attributes based on range. If your attack hits and you still have successes left, that's when you apply attack stunts. Close Combat attacks can typically hit out to Close range only. Their stunts include:
Inflict Damage (1s): You cause an Injury condition.
Blind (2s): The target gets +1 Difficulty on all attacks with Ranged-tag weapons.
Break-up Grapple (1s): You end a grapple the target is involved in that you aren't.
Critical Hit (4s): You cause a second Injury condition.
Disarm (varies based on target's skill): You knock the foe's weapon to Close range, or Near for an extra success.
Establish Grapple (1s): You grapple the foe, causing the Grappled condition. (Grappled foes can't move unless dragged or thrown by the grappler, or they reverse or break the grapple.)
Feint (varies based on Dodge successes): You generate Enhancement on a specified ally's next attack on your target.
Knockdown (varies based on Stamina): The target is knocked prone.
Seize (3s): You grab something your target is holding.
Trip (Varies based on Dex): The target is forced prone.
While you are grappling someone, both of you can only use Grapple-tagged weapons, and you fight using..."Agility (Might)", except Agility isn't a skill. So...????? I'd guess Athletics or Close Combat. Fighting while Grappling gives access to the follwoing stunts, though again, if you aren't in control of the grapple you can't move until you take control or are thrown.
Break Free (Varies): You break out of the grapple.
Gain Control (Varies): You take control of the grapple.
Pin (2s): Your target gets no Defense against other attacks. You must be in control of the grapple.
Position (Varies): You get Enhancement to your next grapple attack on the target.
Takedown (1s): Both you and your target go prone. You must be in control of the grapple.
Throw (Varies): You throw your target and end the grapple. You must be in control of the grapple.
Ranged Attack actions use Firearms. Stunts:
Pin (Varies: Your target gets a Complication on their next attack. If they fail to buy it off, they receive an Injury automatically based on your weapon.
Thrown Attack actions use Athletics. Stunts:
Line Drive (Varies): You knock your opponent prone.
You can also use combat actions to just cause Complications for foes without potentially damaging them. There's rules for throwing really big things. Prone targets get -1 to Defense against Close characters but +2 against any other range. Standing from prone is reflexive unless someone is right near you, in which case you need to make an Athletics roll with Complication 1 to prevent them from smacking you while you do. There's ambush rules, but they reference Agility again; I'd probably use Subterfuge where they use Agility.
Damage comes in the form of Injuries. There are four types: Bruised (-1), Injured (-2), Maimed (-4) and Taken Out. Injuries will come with descriptive names, like Broken Arm or Concussed or Cursed based on what caused them. Everyone has a Bruised box, one Injured box (as long as they have any Stamina at all) and a Maimed box. For every 2 points over Stamina 1, rounding up, you get an additional Bruised box, and another Bruised box per level of Scale you have. Any time you take damage, you must choose one box and fill it; if you can't, you are Taken Out. Weapons with the Aggravated tag make the associated Injury condition Persistent (it won't go away unless magically removed). You may also choose to concede, becoming Taken Out without filling any Injury boxes beyond what you've already taken, if you think that'll help you heal faster from a fight you can't win.
Bruised or -1 Injury conditions have no ongoing effect beyond taking up the box. However, you can choose to have them get in the way and cause +1 Difficulty to an appropriate action in order to gain 1 Momentum. They heal, assuming no other intervention, after 2 days.
Injured or -2 Conditions also have no ongoing effect, but their Momentum gain requires a +2 Difficulty spike, and they take 2 weeks to heal naturally.
Maimed or -4 Conditions are the same, but their Momentum is a +4 spike and tey also take 2 weeks to heal.
When you are Taken Out, you can no longer take actions in that scene, but the party gets 3 Momentum. Until you are healed, any further hits in later scenes also cause you to be immediately Taken Out. These do not give 3 Momentum, but any time your lack of presence is a clear problem, the party gains 3 Momentum. To heal Taken Out, the injury must get in your way in a later scene, causing a +3 Difficulty spike.
Even if you are Taken Out, however, any enemy of lower Tier cannot kill a PC. Period. Death can only happen, incidentally, at the ST's judgment. Medicine rolls can downgrade Injuries, but you can only be healed this way once per session, and a given injury can only be downgraded once - and then only if you have an empty box ready for it, except for Bruised, which just vanishes. Taken Out, incidentally, is easier to heal the fewer other conditions you have.
Range bands are Close, Short, Medium and Extreme. Ranged weapons use different stats based on where you are - at Close range, they use Might as you try to force the weapon into position. Short is either Might or Dexterity. Medium is Dexterity or Cunning. Long is Cunning. Extreme is Intellect. You get +2 Difficulty per range band you are outside of a ranged weapon's max range.
So how do weapons work? Weapons are designed by a collection of tags which define how they are special. Weapons can have 3 points worth of tags, total, but some tags are bad and reduce cost. Damage types have no cost (well, except Aggravated) but you only get one. Tags include Aggravated (2 points), Arcing (it arcs, allowing you to ignore some cover, 1 point), Grappling (it gives Enhancement 1 on grapple attacks, 1 point), Reach (this weapon can make Close Combat attacks at Short range, 1 point), Shockwave (this weapon can hit all targets in a range band and is almost certainly magical, 4 points), Two-Handed (must have two free hands to use this, -1) or Versatile (+1 Enhancement when used to do any stunts besides Inflict Damage, 2). A sword, for example, is Lethal, Melee and Versatile, for a total cost of 2. An axe is Lethal, Melee and Piercing, also for 2 - they're good for getting past armor. A pistol is Concealable, Firearm, Lethal, Piercing and Ranged, for 3. A bow is Arcing, Lethal, Ranged and Two-Handed, for a total of 0. These are all generic weapons - your custom gear is probably cooler than that.
Armor also has tags, and again can ahve up to 3 points. Armor tags are stuff like Cumbersome (+1 Difficulty to athletic feats while wearing it, -1), Hard (you get an additional one or two injury boxes which, when filled, cause no conditions, 1 or 3), Resistant (Ignores a tag or type of damage on incoming attacks, 2), Soft (increases the difficulty of the Inflict Damage stunt by 1, can't be combined with Hard in the same armor, 1).
We also get Sickness and Poison rules. Sicknesses mostly cause Complications until healed, while Poisons inflict conditions that deal damage or other effects over time.
Next time: How2UrbanFantasy
Myth LevelsOriginal SA post Scion: Origin: Myth Levels
Scion admits to covering a vast spread of genres, and they've provided some pretty good advice on keeping those consistent, or at least inconsistent in ways you like. Most of Origin takes place at what they term the Iron Level, in which it focuses on the mundane lives of mortals, with the divine existing purely as signs and omens. At times, however, it veers into the Heroic Level, where the supernatural becomes apparent to some and the action gets intense and mythic creatures are part of life. The chapter has some of the standard advice to STs on how to, you know, not be awful and how to use description to reinforce themes and make a scene more real, and also how to do the research to make your myths feel right.
Their explanation on myths, though, is spot on, in ways that I haven't seen even with Glorantha:
1. There is no canon. All myths are true, and because of that, no myth is definitive. Dian Cecht is, simultaneously, a healer, a murderer, and a god that dies of disease despite being a healer. Apollo is a divine musician; Apollo loses to a mortal. Apollo brings sickness; Apollo protects against it. You can draw on multiple versions of myths and dance between them all through the same story, and no one can tell you that's wrong.
2. Myths express, not explain. A myth doesn't tell you why the sun rises or what lightning really is. Rather, a myth tells you how people relate the rising of the sun to their lives. They help people orient their lives, by giving them stories to build a structure around.
3. Myths arise from immediate needs. You don't get a city god before you get a city. To understand a pantheon and its myths, it helps to remember the interests of the societies that made them - and how those interests were fundamentally local ones. The relation between a god and their people generally mirrors the power structures of the society they were generated from.
4. Myths hide the present in the past. When a myth says that this is how things have always been, it can easily mean 'this is how we root our beliefs now.' They justify the status quo or bring about revolutionary ideas. This means that it's entirely valid to look at a myth and find a new meaning for it, even if it's been around for millenia.
5. No myth stands alone. Myths web together. Understanding one means learning about them all. Dionysus is not just part of one story, but many. No myth is a complete story, but rather a branch that leads into others, which leads into others, and so on.
6. No symbol has one meaning. Mount Meru is Mount Olympus, and it isn't. Both rise from the ordinary to the sacred, and both are mountains, so a Scion born from the myths that tell of Meru may understand Olympus, but each also has unique qualities that are not similar. Common ground is important, but so are the differences.
The game also offers some optional rules to tweak things like Momentum gain, encouraging players to take risks, and so on. Then we move into a discussion of urban fantasy and how to make mythic stories that fit on the lower fantasy level. It mostly focuses on using personal drama to push the intensity of emotion associated with most myths, and on ways to allow the supernatural to push through the mundane in subtle but surprising ways, using signs and portents and wonders, as the mythic intrudes on the mundane. We also get some discussion on story structures and linear vs branching structures.
Also of note are mythic tropes and ways to encourage players to follow them. Fate, after all, is real.
The Rule of Three: If a PC fails, and another deliberately chooses to fail at the same task, consider giving the third PC to try +3 Enhancement or even automatic success, because that's a thing that happens a lot in folklore.
Home Town Advantage: Many mythic beings are bound to a certain place or element. Outside it, they are often weakened, which you might represent by lowering their Defense or health boxes if the PCs can trick them out of their comfortable environment.
Stick To The Rules: In many folkloric stories, harm cannot befall the truly innocent unless they accidentally violate some rule - which needn't be a sensical, fair or consistent one, of course. But, for example, if hospitality is offered, most people will accept it even if doing so is a terrible idea that will get you in trouble...and, of course, sometimes refusing it is what breaks the rules. The main thing is, when people get in trouble without breaking a folkloric rule, consider it a red flag that something is up and needs to have a twist.
Virtue Is Its Own Reward: Demonstrating virtue despite suffering or trial should be rewarded. Quests weed out the unworthy and redeem those who transgressed. Make sure the tension between a PC's virtues exists, so they have to consider which to embody.
Beauty Is Only Skin Deep: The attractive option almost always hides consequences. The beautiful girl may be a fox demon, the red half of the apple is poison. Nobility can be found even in poverty and suffering. Often especially there. The unfortunate and wretched are often noble and beautiful souls, as what lies beneath the exterior is often different. The wealthy and powerful are often cruel, the downtrodden often virtuous.
Purity and Defilement: Objects and places touched by wickedness remember it. Houses, even people, can be possessed by evil spirits due to evil done there in the past or done to them. Purification is often a good option, whether by exorcism or other means. Salt and other substances held to be purifiers can be quite powerful.
Fantastic Children: A childless couple who long to raise a child almost always get to. Most often, this child appears in a strange way. Sometimes, the child is good and virtuous and heroic. Sometimes the child is wicked and inhuman. Almost never is such a child a normal person, and when they are, the parent is often strange and otherworldly.
Riddle Me This: Riddles and cleverness have power. They aren't all the Sphinx's riddle, but often, discovery and truth come from sudden, intuitive leaps. Some players like to solve these riddles themselves, but a GM should allow Academics or Culture rolls for those that aren't into that stuff. Another good way to use them is a cliffhanger at the end of a session, so that players can come up with a solution during the break...or not, and let them roll if they haven't.
Next time: The Baddies
Bad GuysOriginal SA post Scion: Origin: Bad Guys
Antagonist NPCs are designed to be stripped down and simple to use for the ST, because...well, there's gonna be a lot more of them than there are PCs. Antagonists are made of three basic parts: Archetypes, Qualities and Flairs. An Archetype determines the NPC's rough power level and dicepools, along with some built-in Flairs and Qualities that'll come standard. Qualities are permanent improvements, which flesh out and distinguish different antagonists within the same Archetype and add a degree of challenge. Some Qualities can be negative, too, to give foes weak points. Flairs are discrete powers. Typically, these are not suitable for PCs due to their design, but many PC Knacks and Boons may make for good Flairs, too. Many Flairs can only be used once, then go into a cooldown before they can be used again. It definitely is possible to build a complex NPC using the PC chargen system, but you don't have to.
At Origin level, there are four basic Archetypes - Mook, Professional, Villain and Monster. All of them share certain traits. First, all antagonists have a Drive, the basic motivation that pushes them in any scene. For Mooks and even some Professionals, it's usually stuff like 'Get paid' or 'Survive this'. More detailed Professionals and certainly Villains and Monsters will have more important and narratively weighty Drives. All Archetypes also have three dicepools - their Primary (for the actions that they basically exist to do when serving their story function), Secondary (for actions that are important to them but not central to their role) and Desperation (for things that they have no business doing but are trying anyway, and also for Clash of Wills rolls). They have a number of Health boxes, but do not take Injury conditions - rather, they're just Taken Out when the last box fills. Their Dodge and Soft Armor traits are all folded into a trait called Defense, which is what they use to oppose all attacks and powers used against them rather than rolling. They also get an Initiative trait that determines their dice for that.
Mooks are common foes, the rabble you easily defeat on your way to more interesting baddies. They have one Health box, so any hit takes them out...but that doesn't mean they can't be dangerous on offense. Their Primary is 5 dice, Secondary 4, and Desperation 2. Any attack on a mook that has more than one net success after buying off the mook's Defense takes the mook out - but you can also then apply any remaining successes to any other mooks in Close range until you run out, taking them out too.
Professionals are a cut above. They may not always have a name, but they definitely have a distinctive style. These are your interest points in a fight - the heavy armor guy, the rocket launcher guy, the guy with a glowy sword. They rarely last more than one fight still, though. They go up to Primary 7, Secondary 5, Desperation 3, and have 2 Health boxes. They come with the innate Extra A Cut Above, which gives them Enhancement 1 to the ST's choice of actions.
Villains are your centerpiece. They typically have Mook and Professional lackeys, and always have names and detailed motivations. They're also pretty tough. They have Primary 9, Secondary 7, Desperation 5, 4 Health boxes and the innate Extra Get Out of Jail Free. Once per arc, as long as they die in questionable or offscreen circumstances, they can spend 1 Tension to miraculously survive.
(Tension, as a note, is the ST's resource. Where PCs have the Black Pool of Momentum, STs have the Tension Pool, used to fuel NPC abilities.)
Monsters are your big guns at Origin level. While the last three Archetypes are normal people, for the most part, Monsters are explicitly not normal. They're legendary, mystic things that are beyond what any one mortal can handle. They can take on an entire party credibly, and while they may or may not have minions, they probably don't need them. They have Primary 11, Secondary 9, Desperation 5 and 6 Health. They may also use the Segments or Size rules, though at this tier, they rarely have more than 2 Segments, and rarely more than Size 1 or maybe 2. Anything more than that is unlikely to be within Origin PC capabilities.
The games notes that these systems are mostly for NPCs that won't ever be doing things that the PCs don't oppose. They're not detailed or deep. If you want a recurring sympathetic character with a significant role, make them with chargen, which will make a more well-rounded character that can handle intense scrutiny rather than the thinner (mechanically) Antagonist system. Basically, if the PCs decide someone is important enough to them to interact with in more than an obvious or antagonistic way, it's a sign you may want to transition them.
Antagonists can then be modified with Qualities, which can do all sorts of things. Qualities include things like these, and more:
Group Tactics: Typically, you give this to a collection of Antagonists, with one Professional-grade or higher one as the leader. While the leader is not Taken Out, every Antagonist with this ability gets +1 Defense, +1 Health and +1 Enhancement on any combat action when two or more of them attack a single target in the same turn.
Martial Artist: You give this to Antagonists who are exceptionally trained. They get +1 Enhancement with barehanded combat, and they select a specific weapon type, like a sword or tonfa, that they count as barehanded for this Enhancement. They also get +1 Defense and +1 Health.
Super Soldier: For some reason, this Antagonist is just a superior combatant. They get +1 Enhancement to any Combat Ability, +1 Armor (either Hard or Soft) and +2 Health.
Invulnerability: A specific source of damage, like fire or electricity, can't damage this Antagonist.
Subterranean Movement: The antagonist can operate underground. While underground, they can't be attacked, but cannot attack until they emerge. Emerging under someone is an attack at Close range, but halves their Defense until their next turn. They may also Disengage by going underground, and can't be followed unless their pursuer can also go under.
A Cage of Words: Any attempts to Influence this Antagonist through reason or debate are at +2 Difficulty, and if someone fails such a roll, they get the Befuddled condition for the scene as the Antagonist talks rings around them confusingly.
Honor Bound: The Antagonist must keep to the letter, if not the spirit, of any promise they make.
Vulnerability: A specific source of damage, such as fire or salt, deals double damage to the Antagonist. Any damage from the source deals 2 boxes, not 1, and a critical strike deals 4 rather than 2.
Flairs are generally straightforward, single-action powers. Most are unrolled, and most are tactical abilities. They may also cost Tension. They include things like being able to glare at someone and paralyze them, terrify them or otherwise prevent them from escaping, firing a spray of bullets to hit everyone near their target, dealing massive knockback, teleporting into someone's personal space, or doing Sorcery. Sorcery is fairly unique - it grants access to a Purview, a power from Hero, that the sorcerer or witch can use to create miraculous effects.
Most Flairs are self-explanatory, and meant to be used whenever they'd give advantage. Use 'em when you can, because this is probably the biggest fight the antagonist will be in, from their perspective. Antagonists should never have more Qualities and Flairs than they need for their concept, and generally 2-3 is enough for most of them. More important ones may have 4-6, but that's probably the most you will want to keep track of. At Origin level, Scale should only be assigned to explicitly supernatural Villains and Monsters, as they can be incredibly dangerous if overused.
In addition to activating Flairs, the ST can spend Tension on a number of effects that alter the nature of the scene. The Tension Pool is public - the PCs always know how much is in it - and it starts at (Number of PCs + average Legend score of the group), refreshing each arc. On top of this, whenever a PC resolves a Condition or has a Calling Crisis (which won't matter until Hero and is currently not defined), the pool gains 1 Tension.
The ST can spend 3 Tension to boost an Antagonist one Archetype - Mook to Professional, Professional to Villain, Villain to Monster. They may retcon in a Quality for 2 Tension, or a Flair for 1 Tension. The ST may also spend 2 Tension to interrupt the Initiative Order and add a new slot wherever they please. This slot lasts only for one round, and can be used by any Antagonist, even if they've already acted this round. They can also spend Tension, 1 for 1, to boost an Antagonist's Defense for one round, to a max bonus equal to the number of PCs. They may also refresh a single Flair for a single Antagonist for 1 Tension, ignoring its normal cooldown.
The game provides some sample antagonists. We get Beat Cop mooks, SWAT professionals, Men in Black professionals (for FBI agents and Titanspawn critters that pretend to be agents but are weird and offputting). We also get a sidebar on the design principles behind them, with ways to tune them up or down, and ways to make them work as mobster stats, too. They aren't too interesting...but what follows is.
Amazons are statted as professionals, and they're pretty dang good at it. They come from the Eurasian steppe near the Black Sea, and are distant relatives of the Scythians. While a few still live pastorally and they still favor classical weapons, most have moved to cities now, retaining their warrior ethos but living a more modern life. The hetero ones will have sex with men almost solely for the purpose of having kids, and they're also willing to adopt women into the tribe. Most Amazons are happy to accept as a woman anyone who identifies as one and can hold their own, because Amazon training will more than make up for any weakness from one's origins. The Amazons are extremely family-oriented, and prefer to live together in extended clans, so most Amazons have plenty of sisters willing to back her up. Their statblock is also noted to serve well, with some modifications, for the Myrmidons of Achilles, the lesser Valykries and Folkvangr or Bearserkers.
Centaurs once roamed the Eurasian steppe in huge herds, but they rarely handled encounters with the local Greeks all that well. Most notably, an ancient myth speaks of a wedding that the centaurs got invited to, got drunk at and started a huge battle with the local tribes at. This is known as the Centauromachy, and many of the Greek tribes cursed the centaurs for inspiring Scythian mounted combat and archery. Centaurs cannot bear confinement, and because centaurs refuse all horseshoes, they hate paved roads, which pain their hooves. Still, the more personable and calm centaurs often trade with more settled peoples, especially for alcohol, which they love. Modern states have largely given up trying to civilize the centaurs in the past century, and they still live in fairly large numbers on the steppe, with smaller colonies in northern Greece and particularly Thessaly. There are also American centaurs, transported there in the 19th century in significant numbers as part of an experiment that was later given up on. Now, they live as a notable minority in the Great Plains, despite the frustrations of local farmers. Modern centaurs are generally less violent than ancient ones, as they've learned that there's always more humans and that guns are dangerous, but there's still tons of social friction. Hephaestus is also noted as having become fascinated by the internal combustion engine and tinkered with making hybrids of mortal and vehicle. Most of his experiments died, and most of the ones that didn't couldn't breed. The most common of those that can tend to be centaurs engineered around heavy motorbikes, though they tend to die young due to a combination of their immense speed and having no protection from falls at all. This has led them to a 'burn bright, burn fast' philosophy of life, which leads them to extreme behavior and violence. Centaurs have happily picked up the use of rifles, though they've always excelled at archery. Mechanical centaurs tend to operate on the scale of vehicles when their bottom half is a car or truck, but motorbike centaurs can often use the same statblock with extra armor and rapid movement abilities.
Kitsune are foxes that have survived a century. These foxes gain powerful illusion and shapeshifting powers, and grow additional tails as they age - one per century past the first. They turn golden when they hit nine tails. Any fox can become a kitsune - they're not a special breed - and they can be friendly or malevolent, much like humans. Of course, with kitsunes, the difference is largely in whether you survive their mischief. Most often they appear as beautiful women, and they've adapted well to the modern world. Typically, they will attach themselves to wealthy romantic partners or take jobs to pay for their insatiable lust for aburaage. Others will enchant leaves to look like money just long enough to spend it wildly. Many of them have shrines in Japan, and the more traditional ones live near them, serving as Inari's messengers. Kitsune tend to be very clever and well-informed, and their elders are exceptionally potent. Their statblock can be used for all kinds of trickster spirits, too, like tanuki or kumiho, with modifications as appropriate to their abilities.
Satyrs are hedonists, associated with Dionysus and resurgences of the Dionysian Mysteries throughout history. They are often accompanied by maenads, mortal women driven near to madness by Dionysus' revelations, who serve as his priestesses. Satyrs and maenads revel in his name, and have been known to be driven to heights of madness such that they tear people apart with their bare hands and even eat them. Satyrs are naturally charismatic and talkative goat-people with a knack for attracting other potential hedonists. Many artistic works featuring satyrs actually had the real thing pose for them, and they've appeared in a number of classic films. (And some decidedly bad ones.) While they prefer playing to working, satyrs are universally excellent physical specimens and more than capable of fighting back when the cops inevitably show up to break up the party. Their headbutts are more than capable of hospitalizing a human. Still, they're relatively harmless unless angered. Their statblock can, with modifications, be used for less friendly celebrant beings and lures, such as sirens.
Sorcerers are known by many names, and they're always ambitious. Often, they are also eccentric or do strange things as payment for their power. They can be found in every civilization, and historically were respected and feared. More recently, however, people have tried to control or wipe them out, out of envy or fear - after all, not all of them are benevolent. Many governments still have archaic laws on the books forbidding either interaction with certain demonic or otherwise supernatural entities for power, or even banning magic entirely. The game notes it uses sorcerer over the more common witch to avoid the gendered implications, but that 'witch' is and was used to describe male practitioners, too. The statblock's pretty generic, and can be modified for just about any culture, from the West African asiman to the Japanese kitsunemochi.
Strange Folk, or the Aos Si are...unearthly people. The Alfar, the Dvergar, the Jo-Ga-Oh. They are cruel, or playful, or vindictive, because they are people. They all know more than most mortals, though, particularly about the natural world, which most are tied to. Few can be seen unless they want to be. Some resent mortals for swarming over the land, but most recognize that that's a lost cause and have either adapted or fled to Terra Incognita. Most Western governments mark areas where the Strange Folk are known to gather, mostly for safety reasons. They are, after all, natural tricksters. Typically, they are comparable to humans but with exceptional skills and ways of doing strange and terrible things. The stats can be used for just about any kind of them, with modifications for their folkloric powers. Alfar are noted to be a small but significant Icelandic minority population, where they are known more politely as the Huldufolk.
Trolls are enormous, hairy creatures that turn to stone by sunlight. Mortals in northern Europe have known for centuries that they should be avoided and feared, and it is said that trolls can smell the blood of Christians, though no one's ever scientifically proven it. Some are quite intelligent, while others are barely aware of the world around them. It's only in more recent times that mortals have been able to push back troll territory, by use of church bell noise to disturb their natural habitats. Norway is noted for vast mountain ranges set aside as troll preserves, with careful border watches to turn back any trolls that wander out. Their statblock is also usable for most ogres and oni, though oni eat fewer people, are smarter and are usually just violent. These guys, no matter what, are always Monsters - they're big and terrifying and dangerous for any mortal.
Vodyanoy (plural: vodyanoi) are a form of water spirit in Eastern Europe and Russia. They appear as frog-like old men that lurk in bodies of water to drown the unwary. There are similar spirits elsewhere, like kappa or ahuizotl. Most cannot exist outside the water and are quite territorial. They are dangerous when enraged.
Werewolves and other therianthropes make for dangerous foes. Some are cursed, compelled to evil, while others are sacred guardians, and both kinds have spread far beyond their original cultures thanks to globalization. The cursed tend to live on the fringes of society or make containment solutions for themselves, because they're terrified of slipping up in modern surveillence states. See, most Western nations still have lycanthropy laws on the books, though they're rarely enforced these days. Their statblock is designed to be easily variable, given the massive amounts of therianthrope myths.
Next time: But can I play as those guys you just mentioned?
Oh When The SaintsOriginal SA post Scion: Origin: Oh When The Saints
While the game assumes that you're going to probably play a Scion, it does not forbid you from playing other kinds of weird supernatural gribbly. Hell, you can play a Scion that is a weird supernatural gribbly, if it makes sense! Apollo's kids might well have the gift of a Prophet or Cassandra (two Supernatural Paths that actually got left out of the core but were released on the Onyx Path forums), while a Scion of Inari could be a kitsune. Most supernatural paths will receive an upgrade at Hero level, and some can even reach Demigod tier, though not all. (At least, not without also being Scions.) Supernatural Paths require that one of your Paths explain that you are that thing - being a kitsune or an oracle or a satyr should, after all, be central to your concept. Supernatural Paths grant access to special Knacks that do not correspond to a Calling directly.
Saints are mortals that resonate with a Pantheon's Virtues deeply, tying them by Fate to that Pantheon's philosophy. Often, Saints are devout followers of the appropriate faith, but it's just as possible for an atheist who feels those Virtues in their soul deeply to be one. Saints, like post-Visitation Scions, get a Virtue Track corresponding to a Pantheon. Every Pantheon has a pair of Virtues that its members must deal with the tension between. This is a 3-point scale...in both directions. You have each Virtue at one end, with the extreme being 2 towards that virtue, and 0 being in the center. When someone with a Virtue track is at an extreme of Virtue, they get benefits and penalties in the form of the Virtuous condition. On the one hand, every point of Momentum you spend to augment a roll that fits with your extreme Virtue gets a free bonus die that doesn't come out of the Momentum pool - so you get +2 dice per Momentum spent, rather than +1. However, you must act to fulfill your Virtue, and cannot act against it, period. Every time this Virtuous behavior gets you into trouble, you gain 1 Momentum, at least. To resolve this, you must do something that reinforces the opposing Virtue without contradicting your extreme Virtue. Doing this will end the condition and move you one point back along the track.
So what are the Virtues?
Aesir: Audacity vs Fatalism. Every Aesir is doomed to meet a dire fate. And yet, the greatest heroism is found in the darkest moments, of resisting your fate, or at least meeting with great courage.
Deva: Duty vs Conscience. You must do what is expected of you by your society, faith and pantheon, but you cannot ignore your own conscience. Even Arjuna balked at the choice between fighting his kinsmen (as was his duty) and sparing them (as he felt was right, but which would ruin him).
Kami: Sincerity vs Right Action. Everything you do should be done fully committed, with a sincere heart, holding nothing back. Yet how can you fully commit and be sincere when the correct action for you is not what you want?
Manitou: Pride vs Purpose. You must find and fulfill your purpose, doing the right thing at the right place and time. And yet, how can you not also take pride in who and what you are rather than just accepting you have something you must be? Be proud, be great. And yet, find and obey your purpose, even knowing it makes you predictable.
Netjer: Balance vs Justice. The world must be ordered and proper, but all things demand accounting. Pursue justice too much and it becomes unbalanced vengeance...and yet, overemphasizing balance can allow injustice to flourish.
Orisha: Tradition vs Innovation. The sacred ways of the Orisha are old, highly traditional, and that tradition keeps them centered on their people. However, they are also always changing, progressing with history and the needs of the people. You must balance the importance of the old and the importance of the new, must find a way to keep them in harmony - or else allow them to come into conflict.
Shen: Yin vs Yang. Yin is yielding and passive, refraining from action out of wisdom. Yang is explosive and active, using total force to achieve goals. How can one be both?
Teotl: Hunger vs Sacrifice. The Teotl have always hungered - for flesh, for blood, for fire. They know that one's needs must be sated, one's hunger must be fed. And yet, for one person to eat, another must be eaten. For one person to have, another must give something up. How can one balance one's needs with fulfilling the needs of others?
Theoi: Egotism vs Kinship. The Theoi know that they must fulfill their own pride, must express themselves totally, for how else can they know who they are? How else can they fulfill their desires? Yet they are also family, bound to each other by love and by blood, and must know when to care for each other and put themselves second.
Tuatha de Danaan: Honor vs Prowess. Honor is your self-worth. Without your own pride and self-worth, how can others respect you? Prowess is your ability to back it up - because you need to be able to. But to do great things spurs you on to greater deeds and greater trouble, which can shatter your honor. And yet, great honor can as easily trouble you, as you are forced to defend it.
Saints, along with their Virtue track, can learn two unique Knacks:
Miracle: Once per session, you can use a Twist of Fate not tied to any of your Paths, which often borders on the supernatural though is rarely totally explicit.
Virtuous Might: Once per session, you may cancel out Scale for a single target, based on your position on the Virtue track. (More extreme is better.) This can mean you are able to stop a speeding truck unharmed (reducing its Scale from 2 to 0) or slapping a God as you would a mortal (likewise). This works on any form of Scale.
Kitsune are...well, kitsune. They don't especially like to be reminded that they're foxes who turn into people rather than vice versa. They try to keep their tails hidden, but it's not easy. Origin-level Kitsune don't actually need to have a tail visible at all times; once they gain a dot of Legend, however, they get the persistent Fox's Tail condition. It gives them a fluffy fox tail, and whenever said tail causes trouble or reveals their supernatural nature in a way that isn't helpful, they gain Momentum. Kitsune get access to unique Knacks, too:
Do You Feel Lucky?: When you threaten someone with a harmless object, you get +1 Enhancement to intimidate them. If it is a realistically dangerous-looking but still harmless one, like an empty gun or a dud grenade, it is +2 Enhancement instead. However, if you fail for any reason, you can't bluff the same target the same way again.
Kindness of Strangers: When trying to convince someone to provide for your basic needs, you get -1 Difficulty.
Mortal Mask: You can swap from fox to human and back at will. You only have one human form, and if Taken Out, sleeping or unconscious you revert to fox shape. Your human shape does not reveal your true nature or have a tail.
Not A Fighter: As the Lover knack.
Set the Stage: When you use props to prepare a space and occupy it, others accept it has the function you claim it does for as long as you occupy it - a bookshelf is enough to make any room an office, a microscope convinces people it's a lab. Anyone entering the space while you're not there is not convinced.
Tongue of the Fox: You can speak and understand the language of any canine. Most are no smarter than a child.
Under the Table: When you spend a scene indulging in vice of some kind with someone, you can steal some vitality from them. Select an Arena of your choice. For the next scene, they have +1 Difficulty on tasks involving that Arena and you get +1 Enhancement on the same. To use this on a PC, you must have their player's consent.
Satyrs are satyrs. Still, they're more than hedonists - they are a force of nature on the edge of civilization, making others shed their inhibitions. They tear down order and bring change. They follow their passions, good or ill, and take others with them. They are not fickle - they don't change course until they're satisfied. Once they gain Legend, they get the Hooves condition, like Kitsune get Fox's Tail, which reveals them for what they are. They get their own Knack access:
Baser Instincts: As the Lover's Intuition knack, but it senses cravings and desire, not love. It cannot be used on PCs without their player's consent.
Blind Luck: As the Master of the World Knack, except it can only be used when hindered by a Complication not tied to having hooves.
Cup of Wisdom: When you try to solve a complex problem, you may take the Drunk condition for the scene (causing Complication on all actions, especially those involving fine motor skills) to get +1 Enhancement on rolls to solve it.
Fruit of Passion: Choose a form of art that is your driving passion. For the rest of the session, you get an extra success on all rolls involving making that form of art. After you produce a work you are satisfied with, you may switch to another art form.
Give Me Another: You can make a roll to automatically convince someone to repeat their current willing activity when they're done. If this would put them at risk of harm, it costs 1 Momentum.
Party Animal: While you pursue your passions, you need not eat, drink or sleep for several days, after which you must fall into undisturbable slumber for an equal period.
Revels: When you take part in a performance, celebration or friendly gathering, the Difficulty of social actions for everyone involved is reduced by 1 for as long as you are present and active.
Wild at Heart: When you intimidate someone with your ferocity, you can spend Momentum to double the successes on the Knack Skill roll.
Therianthropes are people who can turn into animals. Possibly they've always had it, or been cursed, or chose it, but it can't be ignored. At first, they can't fully manifest it, but once they gain Legend, they gain power over the animal side. They acquire the persistent Were-Creature condition, which gives them a trigger that changes them to animal form (chosen by player and ST together) and the ability to temporarily delay the change for a few rounds or, with Momentum, a scene. They also have access to some special Knacks:
Bloody-Minded: You have an additional Injured box. If your Stamina is 5, you also get an additional Maimed box. This is on top of your normal bonuses from having Stamina.
Feral Grace: You get +1 Enhancement on all Athletics rolls that do not involve tools or weapons.
Howl: Whenever you show your bestial side to intimidate someone, you get +1 Enhancement.
Predator's Bond: As Tongue of the Fox, but it works on all predatory animals (and only predators).
Scent of Blood: You automatically know when you're in the presence of anyone with a Bruised or greater Injury, and what level it is. You have +1 Enhancement to follow their trail until they either wash away the scent or cover it with something stronger.
Unleash the Beast: When you fight unarmed, you may spend Momentum to add the Lethal tag to your attacks for the combat. (This is not actually super helpful, but it's cheap and lets you deal more fictionally harmful injuries than just punching.)
Wary Beasts: Ordinary animals will never approach or harm you unless compelled by magic. Anyone observing you can make an Occult roll to recognize your true nature if they see animals react to you.
Wolf-Warriors are people dedicated to a cause enough to fight for it. That doesn't make them magical - rather, they're people who are the best of the best, the cream of the crop. They're Batman, or Robin Hood, or so on. They bear the spirit of the wolf in them, fighting with the strength of ten because their hearts are pure. Amazons, berserkers, rathi. The important thing is, you have a cause beyond mere violence. To gain Legend, you must be even more devoted to it, embodying the ideal. This is one way for mortals to act on par with Scions - by becoming the exemplar of their cause. They tend to attract nemeses who are their antithesis, because Fate. They get access to special Knacks:
Favored Weapon: As the Warrior Knack.
Helping Hands Make Idle Work: When you look for help among the people who support your cause, you always find someone who will offer it. The aid will be humble and limited - supplies, food, information, a distraction. Where applicable, this functions as +1 Enhancement.
I Love It When A Plan Comes Together: When you form a plan for a Complex Action that furthers your cause and involves your allies, roll your Knack Skill. The successes become a pool of Enhancement bonus for everyone involved to draw on when enacting the plan.
Inspiring Act: When you demonstrate how to do something by doing it yourself, you can give an ally +1 Enhancement to do the same thing.
One of the Crowd: When you hide in a group of people, anyone trying to locate you gets +1 Difficulty to identify you by any means.
Rallying Presence: When you lead a group in combat, you can spend Momentum to give every member of the group besides you an extra Bruised box until the battle ends or you are Taken Out or otherwise defeated, whichever comes first.
Still Kicking: Once per scene, when you would normally be Taken Out by damage, you can spend Momentum to ignore all effects of the attack that would do it, including taking Injuries.
Strength in Numbers: When using Teamwork, you increase the maximum successes you can add from 3 to 5, and you can have multiple people rolling to assist you. However, to get the extra benefit, you must have at least as many helpers as successes rolled.
Cu Sith are talking dogs. Barghests, Church Grims, Gabriel's Ratchet, the Black Dog. They serve the Tuatha, for the most part, loyal servants and agents of their displeasure (in their role as death omens). Dogs know and fear them, and they are much smarter than most dogs. Still, while they can be lonely, they have their pack. They'd cross the world to help a packmate, and they know their pack would do the same. Cu Sith typically cannot gain Legend, however. If you want to play a talking dog, they have access to some Knacks:
Breed Versatility: As any one Hunter Knack, based on what your breed is good at.
Call the Pack: Once per session, you can summon the spirits of your packmates (if they aren't physically present) and direct them against a foe for a single attack. This is treated as a weapon with Lethal, Loud and Ranged tags, using Presence + Close Combat.
Terrifying Howl: You can howl over the course of multiple actions. On the first action, nothing special happens. On the second, you can be heard out to a mile away. On the third, your howl functions as the Immobilize Antagonist Quality.
But wait! What if none of these paths quite fits what you want? Never fear, you can modify them! The game gives some examples using the Wolf-Warrior and Satyr.
Classical Amazons are based on Wolf-Warrior. They live for battle, without the weight of politics that come with war. They often work as bodyguards, self-defense coachs or security guards while hunting for worthy battles. They have a code. Amazons are not assassins, ever. They never attack those who cannot fight back. They never betray their allies. Any opponent that will not follow this code is no warrior, just a monster unworthy of mercy. Classical Amazons, regardless of Calling, can always learn the Armorbound Knack and the Favored Weapon Knack (but only for spears or bows). They can also learn the custom Shield Wall Knack.
Shield Wall: Against opponents in front of you and in line of sight, your allies in the same Range Band as you gain +1 Hard Armor.
Dahomey Amazons are also based on Wolf-Warrior. They have nothing to do with Greece - rather, they are women who descend from the Fon tradition of Dahomey, who have joined the battalion of a ruler and ritually married them. Any marriages before that are annulled while they serve. They are trained riflewomen, working to kill their enemies efficiently and well. Winning, for them, is more important than how it's done. Survival matters more than honor...except in defense of your ruler-husband or your battalion. A Dahomey Amazon always has access, regardless of calling, to the Apex Predator Knack, the Favored Weapon Knack (for rifles only), and the Antagonist Flair Spray 'n' Pray as a Knack.
Shieldmaidens are based on Wolf-Warrior. Typically, they didn't start out wanting to be warriors, but were forced into it by fate and then embraced it. They hope for a glorious death, for they will never stop fighting. Their purpose is simple: protect. Protect a person, a nation, a community - just protect something. They tend to prefer jobs that let them take advantage of their superior abilities, like bodyguard, firefighter or soldier. However, for the right cause, they're also found as rebels or pirates, for the sake of the downtrodden and oppressed. They are always, always driven. Shieldmaidens always have access to the Favored Weapon Knack (for swords only), the A Fortress Knack, and the custom Knack Berserk.
Berserk: When you take an Injury condition, you become enraged. For the rest of combat, you get +1 Enhancement to all attacks and ignore any and all Injury Conditions, but you cannot tell friend from foe.
Deer Women are based on Satyr. They are known for seducing and punishing unfaithful men, but that's hardly all they do. Rather, they exist for the punishment, not the seduction. They live on the edge of society, keeping people from breaking the rules of that society. They are not forces of chaos, despite resembling satyrs. Rather, they enforce the unwritten laws and mores of a culture. They can be violent in reminding people not to transgress, but they are also known to help those oppressed by those same laws. What matters is that order is kept and chaos held at bay. Deer Women always have access to the Quick Study Knack, and the custom Trample and Laws of the Land Knacks.
Trample: Your unarmed attacks get the Brutal tag against prone foes.
Laws of the Land: When you enter a new place, you instinctively know the local mores and what would violate them. If applicable, you get +1 Enhancement on rolls related to those two things.
Hulder are based on Satyr. They like to be left alone and undisturbed, but in the world as it is now, that's not something anyone can really have. They can be overwhelmed by the number of people around them, but still, the modern world isn't all bad. Even they won't ever be alone again, not really, they can find a cozy home. They dislike sudden changes and disruptions to routine. They used to only come out when someone was trying to harm or move their homes, and when they stopped that by, say, destroying the machines involved, people usually left them alone. However, they're never left alone forever. Hulders always have access to the Beyond Memory knack, (I think - they're using different names, and my guesses are based on those names corresponding to what those knacks do) and the custom Go Around and My Home A Fortress knacks.
Go Around: You can declare an intersection, natural formation or structure up to house size to be your domain for a scene. Beings below your Tier instinctively avoid it, and you have +1 Defense against all others when in your domain's bounds.
My Home A Fortress: If you choose to make a house your home, it will constantly repair itself of any damage and its walls will be strengthened abnormally. We are told this functions as the Creator Knack Structural Integrity applicable only to your home, but I have no idea what that Knack is or what it does, because it's in neither Origin nor Hero. You can only have one home at a time.
Join me next time as we delve into Hero.