Scion rpg 2nd edition

Scion rpg 2nd edition DEFAULT

Scion (role-playing game)

ScionHeroCover.jpg

Scion: Hero cover, featuring Eric Donner as drawn by Michael Komarck.

DesignersJohn Chambers (First Edition)
Neall Raemonn Price (Second edition)

Authors: Justin Achilli, Alan Alexander, Carl Bowen, Bill Bridges, Duncan Harris, Michael Lee, Peter Schaefer, James Stewert, and Andrew Watts (First Edition)
Dale Andrade, Dave Brookshaw, Laura Dasnoit, Tanay Dutta, Danielle Lauzon, Meghan Fitzgerald, Kieron Gillen, Chris Handforth, Matthew Herron, James Mendez Hodes, Eloy Lasanta, Charlie Raspin, Lauren Roy, Allen Turner, Malcolm Sheppard, Monica Speca, Chris Spivey, Travis Stout, Geoffrey McVey, Vera Vartainian, P.A Vazquez, Ben Woerner, and Tara Zuber (Second Edition)
PublishersWhite Wolf Publishing
PublicationApril 2007 (First Edition)
June 5, 2019 (Second Edition)
GenresContemporary fantasy
SystemsStoryteller (First Edition)
Storypath (Second Edition)

Scion is a series of role-playing games published by White Wolf, Inc and Onyx Path Publishing. The first core rule book, Scion: Hero. was released on April 13, 2007. The second volume, Scion: Demigod, was released on September 12, 2007, and the third, Scion: God, was released on January 23, 2008. The Scion Companion began release in sections March 2008, as a PDF direct download. Scion: Ragnarok was released on January 21, 2009. A second edition was announced in August 2012,[1] changing the setting and also updating the system from the previous Storytelling System to the new Storypath system. This second edition was released for public purchase on June 5, 2019.

Setting[edit]

Scion is a role-playing game wherein players take on the roles of mortal descendants of gods tasked with working as the hands of their parents in the mortal world; while the first edition focused on a singular antagonist in the form of the recently escaped Titans (powerful, primordial embodiments of concepts such as water, chaos or light), the second edition does not automatically place this at the forefront.

The pantheons presented draw from mythology across the world, giving players the ability to associate their characters with any of the pantheons presented in the game. Portrayals of the gods differ between editions, ranging from a minor renaming (e.g. the Greek Gods no longer being listed as the "Dodekatheoi" but as simply the "Theoi") to full-fledged reimagining (The African Loa of first edition are now presented in their pre-syncretic forms as the Yoruban Orisha).

PantheonFirst EditionSecond Edition
West AfricanHero (First Edition Core)Origin (Second Edition Core)
American FolkloreCompanionN/A
World War II Allied NationsCompanionN/A
AtlanteanDemigodMysteries of the World
AztecHero (First Edition Core)Origin (Second Edition Core)
ChineseCompanionOrigin (Second Edition Core)
EgyptianHero (First Edition Core)Origin (Second Edition Core)
GaulishÉcran du ConteurMysteries of the World
GreekHero (First Edition Core)Origin (Second Edition Core)
IndianCompanionOrigin (Second Edition Core)
IrishCompanionOrigin (Second Edition Core)
JapaneseHero (First Edition Core)Origin (Second Edition Core)
NorseHero (First Edition Core)Origin (Second Edition Core)
OjibweN/AOrigin (Second Edition Core)
PersianYazata: The Persian GodsMysteries of the World

Differences between editions[edit]

Scion changed drastically between its first and second editions. While the first edition presented an Earth effectively identical to the real one, the second presented instead a setting literally referred to as "The World,"[2] wherein Abrahamic faiths did not so completely overtake Europe, let alone the rest of the world. As such, other pantheons are still widely recognized and worshiped. Further, the existence of gods and other supernatural entities is sometimes presented as generally acknowledged as fact rather than faith, although rarely present in anyone's day-to-day life.

With the updated Storypath system, the mechanism of advancement has changed; Scion players create Deeds as goals for their characters to experience or accomplish, and through these gain a large portion of Experience Points. While Legend continues to be the most significant measure of a Scion's growing power, and still contains the same thresholds past which a Hero becomes a Demigod, and then a full-fledged deity, it is no longer increased by the expenditure of experience points but directly by the accomplishment of deeds.

The nature of demigod-hood has significantly altered: while previously it was a relatively natural progression of power that had few survivors merely owing to increasing scope of danger in a growing war against the Titans, the second edition plays up the liminal state of Demigods by making it a temporary state: A scion who has decided to move beyond being a Hero must actively pursue apotheosis, passing through a series of trials, leaving behind mortal connections and ties, and constructing a larger-than-life mythic identity called a Mantle in the process. While Heroes can theoretically be brought back from death, a Demigod who passes a certain point of their advancement can no longer do so. Further, the final step to godhood is often fatal to a mortal, and a Scion who tries and dies may still fail. Explicitly, some mortal cultural heroes are demigods, in-setting, whose deaths and failures marked where their own pursuit of godhood failed. Those people, however, left behind their Mantles, and a hero who wishes to do so may pick up an incomplete Mantle and try to complete it, taking the legends upon themselves and becoming the deity that the initial hero wanted to be. A scion may also, at the point of apotheosis, try to take the identity of an existing god, either by wresting it from them, accepting a lesser mantle from that god, or by surrendering their identity to the god, effectively declaring that they were always an incarnation of that deity from the start.

The options of player characters has also greatly diversified, with supernatural entities such as Kitsune, Satyrs, and skin-changing Therianthropes, who may or may not claim patronage or descent from a higher power. Even the Scions themselves have become more diverse: instead of being universally blood descendants of the gods, they may now include those who have been chosen by the god (gaining their favor either by an affinity of fate or a special bloodline), created whole cloth, or even an Incarnate Scion: a mortal guise of a deceased god in the world.

The nature of the relationship between the world, the Gods, and Fate has altered: as the Gods create myths of themselves, they alter the world not just going forward, but going back: a newly ascended god may find herself in her pantheon's prayers and traditions going back centuries.

Furthermore, while the Titans still exist, the degree to which they are presented as antagonistic varies: the Greek Theoi regard them largely as dangerous foes who must be opposed, the Shen of China are more inclined to try to incorporate them into their hierarchy and give them a job and purpose within the Celestial Bureaucracy, and the Orisha explicitly regard the difference as a political designation for enemies, rather than a term possessing any material or metaphysical distinction. The game explicitly intends for the presentation and relevance of antagonistic titans to be to adjustable to a given group's tastes.[3]

In the Second Edition book Titanomachy, the titans and their relationship to the gods is given a spotlight. While the previous edition allowed the Titans to "adopt" a willing scion of a god as one of their own, they may now create progeny directly in the same ways that the gods may; this allows even fallen titans (such as Ymir) to return.

The writing team has also expressed the intention to introduce a new faction to the game by way of dragons,[4] who are here presented as pre-human entities whose reign was brought to an end by the ascendance of the gods and humanity. Dragons are greatly focused on memory: immune to the rewriting of history that the gods do, they remember all pasts that were, and even slain dragons still exist in a communal pool of memories. They exist in hiding, grouped into Flights (based both on philosophy and geography) and work through Heirs—humans who have been bestowed a fragment of a Dragon's might, analogous to divine Scions—who can ultimately embrace that power, shed their humanity, and join the ranks of their patron. Deceased dragons can even return again, if an heir decides to become that dragon upon their final ascension.

System[edit]

Scion uses a rules system similar to the Storyteller system made popular by the World of Darkness, but is not part of that setting. While the first edition of Scion modified the core system of Exalted: Second Edition, the new edition has a new core system related to it, but with an explicit design goal of being able to handle the entire range of the game (from mundane mortal humans all the way to full-fledged divinity) without breaking down. For more information, refer to the Storypath System section of the Storyteller system page.

Books[edit]

  • Scion: Hero
  • Scion: Demigod
  • Scion: God
  • Scion Companion
  • Scion: Ragnarök
  • Scion: Yazata: The Persian Gods
  • Scion: Liberty Road (PDF only)
  • Scion: Seeds of Tomorrow (PDF only)
  • Scion: Wolfsheim (PDF only)
  • Scion: Écran du Conteur (France only)
  • Scion: Extras: Supplemental (Yet Can Be Somewhat Useful On Occasion) Scions
  • Scion: Origins
  • Scion: Hero (2nd Edition)
  • Scion: Demigod (2nd Edition)(Announced)
  • Scion: God (2nd Edition)(Announced)
  • Scion: Dragon(Announced)
  • Masks of the Mythos(Announced)
  • Scion Ready-Made Characters
  • Scion Jumpstart(Announced)
  • Scion Companion: Mysteries of the World
  • Titanomachy

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scion_(role-playing_game)

Scion 2nd Edition Gen Con 2016 Poster

 Title   Publisher   Price  Scion 2nd Edition Gen Con 2016 Poster
Scion is a contemporary game game of modern myth and epic heroism. Its first edition was published in 2007, and it quickly gained an enthusiastic following, winning the ENnies Game of the Year award. Originally slated as a simple three-book series, its fervent following merited an expansion beyond those original limits, resulting in a series of books and PDFs released over the next...   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing $0.99

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order Scion: Second Edition Wallpaper
You are the child of a God, born to the magic of yesterday and the promise of tomorrow. You live in a World of myth, where every ancient story is true. Your ancient enemies, the Titans, stir in their prison beneath the lands of the dead. Their spawn issues forth from lands of myth, and the specter of war falls across the heavens. In this age of turmoil, you seize your birthrights and feel the call...   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing $0.99

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order A Light Extinguished (A Jumpstart for Scion Second Edition)
Someone has killed Bai Amari, the Luminary, a well-respected and beloved Scion of Ra. Who would want such a thing? Who could muster enough power to end the immortal life of a demigod? Is this a declaration of war? Who is behind this terrible tragedy?  The Gods and their children feel the tremors of Titanic influence behind the mystery of the Luminary’s killing and have asked key personages (the...   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing $1.99

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order Heroes for the World (Ready Made Characters for Scion Second Edition)
"My mother once told me that nothing in this world moves because you will it to. You must bend yourself to your own will, and through that, you can find that the world moves with you." — Yukiko Kuromizu  This book is for use with Scion: Origin and Scion: Hero. Inside you’ll find:  Six Scion characters with backgrounds, motivations, and both Pre-Visitation and Post-Visitation...   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing $2.99

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order Mysteries of the World: The Scion Second Edition Companion
Though knowledge, wisdom, and the ability to see the unseen are many Scions’ birthrights, the World holds infinite secrets. Gaze deep into Tezcatlipoca’s mirror or the eyes of an avian bringer of omens, and no matter how sagacious you imagine yourself to be, you’ll learn something new — or something older than time. Scion: Mysteries of the World presents optional rules and new pantheons,...   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing $14.99

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order Mythical Denizens (A Collection of Antagonists for Scion Second Edition)
The World Is a Dangerous Place Awakening to a mythic destiny brings a rush of new powers and capabilities, but it can also bring a Hero to the attention of a variety of strange and powerful beings, who seldom regard the arrival of a meddling band with warm wishes and open arms. Some are dyed-in-the-wool villains straight out of folklore, bringing ruin and chaos for their own selfish reasons. Others...   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing $4.99

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Dare To Walk The Onyx Path This brochure contains: An intro letter from Rich Thomas, founder of Onyx Path Publishing, that describes the Onyx Path look to the future with new games and more.   A look at the Onyx Path Publishing projects by game line.   A special catalog list of Onyx Path Publishing projects so far, plus teasers for upcoming games. ...   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing  FREE 

Buy Now Scion 2e Layout Templates
All the materials you need to get started creating your own Scion 2nd Edition supplements Includes all textures, fonts, and indesign templates.  Note: This template is for use with the Storypath Nexus community content program only. For more information on creating your own Scion supplements and publishing them on DriveThruRPG please review the Content Guidelines and Frequently...   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing  FREE 

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These tokens are designed to allow you to bring Scion: Hero to the virtual tabletop platform of your choice. Inside you’ll find: Five signature character tokens drawn from Scion: Hero Variants for each signature character to represent each pantheon presented in Scion: Hero A quick reference pdf containing all the token art for ease of view ...   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing $0.99

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order Scion 2e VTT Origin Signature Tokens
These tokens are designed to allow you to bring Scion: Origin to the virtual tabletop platform of your choice. Inside you’ll find: Nine signature character tokens drawn from Scion: Origin and Heroes for the World Nine character tokens to represent allied Storyguide characters Nine character tokens to represent Antagonists A quick reference pdf containing all the token...   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing $0.99

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order Scion Art Pack 01: Origin
The collected artworks fromo the Scion: Origin core book. Inside you'll find full page illustrations, character templates, and half page scenes (locations, spells, equipment, etc). Note: This art pack is for use with the StoryPath Nexus community content program only. For more information on creating your own Scion 2nd Edition supplements and publishing them on DriveThruRPG...   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing  FREE 

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Inside you'll find full page illustrations, character templates, and quarter page portraits. Note: This art pack is for use with the StoryPath Nexus community content program only. For more information on creating your own Scion 2nd Edition supplements and publishing them on DriveThruRPG please review the Content Guidelines and Frequently Asked Questions. About Scion...   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing  FREE 

Buy Now Scion Live-Action
Scion Live-Action is a live-action roleplaying game (LARP for short) that concerns the creatures and persons of myth and legend and how they interact with the World, a place where all myths are real and all stories have weight. Fate is its own force in the World, and the characters in this book are feeling its first touches upon their souls. Whether mundane or supernatural, Scion Live-Action...   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing $9.99

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order Scion Second Edition Book One: Origin
You are the child of a God, born to the magic of yesterday and the promise of tomorrow. You live in a World of myth, where every ancient story is true. Your ancient enemies, the Titans, stir in their prison beneath the lands of the dead. Their spawn issues forth from lands of myth, and the specter of war falls across the heavens. In this age of turmoil, you seize your birthrights and feel the call...   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing $14.95

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You are the child of a God, born to the magic of yesterday and the promise of tomorrow. You live in a World of myth, where every ancient story is true. Your ancient enemies, the Titans, stir in their prison beneath the lands of the dead. Their spawn issues forth from lands of myth, and the specter of war falls across the heavens. In this age of turmoil, you seize your birthrights and feel the call...   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing $14.95

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order Scion Second Edition Book Two: Hero
The savage Titans have escaped their eternal prisons to wage war against the Gods once more. Their battles in the lands of myth have spilled over into our World. But even the Gods cannot stop their personal rivalries and squabbles long enough to care for the peoples who worship them. Find your destiny and seize your birthright. Scion: Hero details the children of the Gods when they have been touched...   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing $19.95

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This download contains two PDFs (one full-color, one black and white for printer ease) with the errata and FAQs for Scion: Origin and Scion: Hero Second Edition. The color PDF also contains updated pre-generated character sheets for both books. ...   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing  FREE 

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This special bundle product contains the following titles.Scion Second Edition Book One: OriginRegular price: $14.95 Bundle price: $12.71 Format: PDF You are the child of a God, born to the magic of yesterday and the promise of tomorrow. You live in a World of myth, where every ancient story is true. Your ancient enemies, the Titans, stir in their prison beneath...   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing $42.37

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Gods Walk The Earth! An amazing montage of the beautiful Scion art by Michael Komarck and Aaron Riley. Originally released at Gen Con 2014 and now available as a 12" x 18" poster. Embrace Your Birthright! Now begins the war against the Titans, elder beings who rage against the human world and its wayward gods. As Scions you command the push and pull of Fate....   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing $0.99

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You are the child of a God, born to the magic of yesterday and the promise of tomorrow. You live in a World of myth, where every ancient story is true. Your ancient enemies, the Titans, stir in their prison beneath the lands of the dead. Their spawn issues forth from lands of myth, and the specter of war falls across the heavens. In this age of turmoil, you seize your birthrights and feel the call...   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing $1.99

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order Scion: Annie X
Annie X was mad as hell, and she wasn’t going to take it anymore. The stage and the dance floor were the only places Annie felt absolutely free. It was one night on stage that Annie locked eyes with an older woman who didn’t look like part of their usual crowd. Annie was intrigued, and after a few drinks Annie learned the woman was their real mother. It wasn’t until the woman gave them a necklace...   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing $1.99

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order Scion: Car Competition
Automobiles are entrenched in The World’s culture, and they’ve changed travel forever. The Gods are not immune to the changing culture, and many Scions have incorporated it into their legends, pushing themselves to interact creatively with vehicles. The Scions of Hephaestus had a particular attraction to vehicles, often modifying them beyond the human capability for speed or maneuverability. These...   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing $1.99

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order Storypath System Character Sheets
A collection of all the interactive character sheets for Onyx Path's currently available Storypath System games. Included in the pack are sheets for: Trinity Continuum Core Rulebook Trinity Continuum: Aeon Scion Second Edition Book One: Origin Scion Second Edition Book Two: Hero They Came From Beneath the Sea! Dystopia Rising: Evolution ...   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing  FREE 

Buy Now Storypath System Preview
The evolution of the Storypath system is tied to our work on the Trinity Continuum, a world of hope, heroism, and peril, and Scion, a world where the children of the old gods walk the earth.  Early on, we found that both new editions of these games had similar system needs, because their characters are larger-than-life and fight in epic battles on a grand scale....   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing  FREE 

Buy Now Storypath System Preview (2017)
The evolution of the Storypath system is tied to our work on the Trinity Continuum, a world of hope, heroism, and peril, and Scion, a world where the children of the old gods walk the earth.  Early on, we found that both new editions of these games had similar system needs, because their characters are larger-than-life and fight in epic battles on a grand scale....   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing  FREE 

Buy Now Storypath System Preview (2018)
The evolution of the Storypath system is tied to our work on the Trinity Continuum, a world of hope, heroism, and peril, and Scion, a world where the children of the old gods walk the earth.  Early on, we found that both new editions of these games had similar system needs, because their characters are larger-than-life and fight in epic battles on a grand scale....   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing  FREE 

Buy Now Storypath System Preview (2021)
The evolution of the Storypath system is tied to our work on the Trinity Continuum, a world of hope, heroism, and peril, and Scion, a world where the children of the old gods walk the earth.  Early on, we found that both new editions of these games had similar system needs, because their characters are larger-than-life and fight in epic battles on a grand scale....   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing  FREE 

Buy Now Titanomachy (A Collection of Threats for Scion Second Edition)
The second war against the Gods fast approaches. Are you prepared?Scion: Titanomachy has everything a Storyguide needs to bring the Second Titanomachy — a phase in the eternal cold war against the Gods — to their Scion Second Edition games. It presents new threats from the Titans to their servants, plus their fell powers and Birthrights — ripe for use as antagonists...   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing $14.99

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order Zeus! We Just Wanna Talk!
Zeus! We Just Wanna Talk! is a lighthearted scenario providing an inciting event to bring Hero-level Scions together into a Band. It can kick off a chronicle or simply be a fun one-shot. Existing Bands can also enjoy the scenario with minor modifications. Just like “we just wanna talk” can change meaning depending on how it’s said, this adventure’s goal can shift depending on what tack...   [click here for more]Onyx Path Publishing $1.99

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Scion RPG 2nd Edition Review – Part One – Scion: Origin

Scion (cover)Scion is an urban fantasy roleplaying game (RPG) of a very particular sort and one that’s likely to appeal to fans of fantasy fiction. It’s not about secretive societies of seductive vampires and passionate werewolves lurking in the shadows. (Though you could use it for that, at a stretch.) It’s about the children of the gods carving their legends into the modern World.

Yes, that’s World with a capital ‘W’. Scion explicitly does not take place on Earth. It takes place in ‘The World’, which is what Earth would be like if gods were real and took an obvious hand in mortal affairs.

“Which gods?” you might ask.

All of them.

If you can think of a pantheon or a mythology or an aspect of folklore, then either it definitely exists in Scion or it could do if you wanted it to. Not just the Greek, Egyptian and Norse pantheons, which most Westerners learn about in school, but also the Loa of Voodoo, the Chinese Celestial Bureaucracy, Japanese Kami, the Orisha gods of the Yoruba, the Manitou and more.

All of the other beings in these mythologies are also present: skinwalkers, kitsune (hurray! Kitsune are the best!), satyrs, maenads, nemean beasts, valkyries and everything you ever read about that wasn’t real. Even beings that have never been explicitly worshipped could arise as gods in this world. Columbia for example—the female personification of the USA who was supplanted by Lady Liberty.

American Gods (cover)If you like Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, then Scion is about as close as an RPG gets to it. (With the possible exception of City of Mist and Part Time Gods of Fate, but we’re not looking at them today.) It could certainly be used to run a campaign based around the war between the old gods of mythology and mysticism and the new gods of technology and modernity.

A key difference between Scion and most urban fantasy is the fact that the mythical aspects of reality are completely out in the open. Corporations explicitly brand themselves to attract the patronage of certain deities, gossip magazines follow the love affairs of gods and their descendants, amazons work as military contractors and centaurs live on mountains in Greece.

Gods are a bit like celebrities in Scion. You might know an awful lot about them, you might idolise them and you might dream of meeting one. But most people don’t really expect to bump into someone famous during their daily lives. (The difference being that Beyoncé can’t bless you with supernatural wealth and George Clooney can’t send a flood to destroy your town.)

Anyway. You probably won’t run into Thor at the supermarket. But you’re a little more likely to bump into one of his children. Such people are called Scions—extraordinary mortals who might one day ascend to godhood themselves if they’re willing to give up enough of their humanity. They aren’t necessarily the blood descendants of particular gods—some are chosen to be imbued with special powers and others are created out of nothingness to be a vessel of a particular god’s power.

Scion is broken down into Tiers that represent the power levels Scions can achieve: Origin, Hero, Demi-God and God. Broadly speaking, the higher your power level the more tied you are into your own myths and legends and the more out of touch you become with the mortal world, as divine conflicts draw you into Higher or Lower realms of existence.

Each Tier will be getting its own 2nd Edition book if it hasn’t already. This two-part review is concerned only with Origin and Hero. We will look at Origin for now and tackle Hero next month.

Scion: Origin

The protagonists of Scion: Origin are the children (in one sense or another) of gods but have yet to be officially welcomed into the divinity club. Most Scions at this level don’t even realise they’re special, beyond possessing an unfair amount of natural talent. Some very definitely do know what’s going on as they’ve been trained from birth to fulfil a particular role.

At this point Scions are like action heroes or the protagonists of an over-the-top drama series. They tend to be manifestly better than those around them in at least one way, but their abilities aren’t obviously supernatural.

  • The young martial artist who can take down far more experienced practitioners without breaking a sweat.
  • The medic who can patch up a soldier in the field so well he barely notices the injury anymore.
  • The guy everyone falls in love with at a glance.

Once a god (usually but not necessarily their divine parent or patron) visits an Origin level Scion they become a Hero level Scion and can start throwing around some proper divine power.

Scion: Origin (cover)Scion: Origin serves as an introduction to the world of Scion as well as a starting rulebook for the whole of Scion 2nd Edition. The other books expand on it rather than acting as complete games in their own right. Let’s go through what this book has to offer.

I really liked “Apple”, the opening story of Scion: Origin. It references and remixes Greek mythology nicely, modernises it in a clever way and really captures the sense of someone who is extraordinary, but still mortal. It’s snappily written too, my compliments to Kieron Gillen for lines such as, ‘The business suit was simple, a picture frame on her Mona Lisa.’

The other story in the book, written by Lauren Roy, is called “Eileen Bran” and draws on Irish mythology including the Dagda, Caithe Sidhe and the Morrigan. Eileen is a knowledge-wielding super-librarian who solves her problems with storybook logic. I loved her. She’s also gay and it’s great to see a game-line put an LGBTQ character front and centre. This kind of representation is par for the course for Onyx Path and I salute them for that.

The book offers lots of cool, pulpy and evocative art. Particularly the guy who’s shooting a zombie man-goat while it tries to rip his nipples off with its filthy talons.

The worldbuilding in this book is pretty good too. The World humans live in is a sort of interdimensional crossroads between the various underworlds and heavens and so on. It’s simultaneously the product of every creation myth there ever was. All the stories are true, even the ones that directly contradict each other.

Gods live in lands of symbolism and myth, typifying certain concepts and aspects of realities. But they’re not the greatest powers of this cosmology.

The first beings were the Primordials. Their children, for lack of a better word, are the Titans. (Yep, the roots of this game are very much in Greek mythology.) Titans embody natural forces and without them it’s possible the World would cease to exist. But the Titans really don’t care about humans. They’re not necessarily evil in the usual sense. They just don’t understand. The volcano doesn’t cry over the cities its eruption destroys and a Titan cannot comprehend the pain and fear of mortals.

The gods do care about humans, for the most part. They might be extremely unpleasant to certain mortals or groups, but as a rule they want the World to keep on spinning. So, they fought the Titans in wars called Titanomachies and now keep them imprisoned in the deepest and darkest parts of reality. Unfortunately, the Titans are stirring in their prisons. They have their own children and cults and these minions work to free their monstrous parents.

The nature of the gods can be altered by Fate, which in turn, is affected by the beliefs of humanity. Much like in American Gods, a god’s nature may change over time, in response to the beliefs of mortals. It can also change very suddenly and dramatically if a god goes around manifesting on the mortal plane, chucking miracles about and generally drawing the attention of the masses. This handily circumvents awkward questions like, “Shouldn’t this god or pantheon know the answer to e.g. whether Baldr was always a god of rebirth or if he was rewritten by Christian commentators into a Christ-like figure?” Or, “So who exactly was Medjed?” Even the gods may have forgotten such details and anyway what was once true might not be true anymore.

Let’s take Bragi, the Norse god of poetry. Imagine that he manifests in the USA so that he can hunt down a titanspawn who’s hiding in a college campus. Along the way he notices some students having a rap battle and can’t resist taking part just to prove that he is the best at words. He wins of course.

But someone films the battle and uploads it to Twitter. It goes viral.

Millions of people see Bragi spitting sick rhymes and their collective belief changes him into the god of rap. He becomes popular amongst gangsta rappers in particular because the Viking lifestyle of fighting, looting and bragging (as they see it), appeals to them.

An enforcer for a powerful street gang starts invoking Bragi and laying down a couple of lines of rap just before he kills his targets. He says he wants to blow their minds with something beautiful before he blasts their brains out.

This catches on. Now Bragi is the god of gangstas and is becoming the god of beautiful murder. Odin, Freya and Hel are getting twitchy because there really isn’t room for yet another Norse death god and Bragi’s too busy trying to get the dwarves to make him a gun powered by poetry to notice.

And all of this could have been avoided if Bragi had just sent a Scion or other supernatural creature to do the work for him.

There’s a huge amount of story potential from this set up. I liked the way the writers dive head on into the conflicts between ancient mores and modern morality. What does it mean for a modern Scion to interact with gods who believe the bodies of mortals are theirs for the taking, to ravish or devour as they please?

One of the most interesting parts of the book for me was a series of eleven short descriptions of places in The World. Places like Kyoto, Mexico City and Reykjavik. All of which have been reimagined with a mythic character to them.

  • Athens is a proud city guarded by living stone statues but is rarely free of its patron god’s meddling.
  • Boston Harbour contains an entrance to Tir Na Nog.
  • Manitoulin Island in Ontario is home to a giant serpent that has just woken from a long slumber. Local merfolk plead with anyone who’ll listen for help in slaying the beast.
  • Memphis still stands in Egypt, a prosperous and modern city. Next to it is the tomb city of Saqqara where a complex bureaucracy fields and passes on messages to the interred dead.
  • A priest in the Wudang Mountains in China has achieved such perfect clarity that he has stopped time in the cave where he lives. He’s also tamed a huge swarm of bees. You know, as you do.

Beyond the cities, The World is filled with strange places and portals to other realms: The land of the ice giants, lost Camelot where Arthur once ruled and may do so again, and Libertalia—the sea-god worshipping republic of pirates that has survived since the Age of Sail. Again, this offers huge potential for all sorts of adventures.

The character creation system for Scion is fairly long, but also fairly easy to follow, particularly if you’re used to building characters in a story-focused system like FATE. For example:

You pick three Paths that define your character. These are broad descriptions of things like their upbringing, formative experiences, profession or calling as well as their supernatural or mundane affiliations. Rank these Paths as primary, secondary and tertiary. Choose three thematically appropriate Skills for each Path. The primary path grants three dots each to the selected Skills, the secondary grants two and the tertiary grants one. Later on, you get a few more Skill points to spend customising your character.

Paths can also be invoked to justify getting access to places, resources and contacts or even manipulating Fate in your favour e.g. “My character is a Peerless Hunter so she anticipated that the monster would flee this way and left a snare to trap it.”

As well as Paths you pick a couple of Knacks. These are very specific low-level powers, talents and gimmicks that often don’t appear to be specifically supernatural e.g. the ability to treat someone’s wounds without needing a proper first aid kit or bandages.

If you don’t fancy playing an actual Scion or would like to tie your Scion in to a particular type of mythical being, then Origin offers you the Supernatural paths. Which means you can play as a Saint, a Satyr, an Amazon, a different kind of Amazon that isn’t actually an Amazon, a therianthrope (werewolves etc), a Kitsune (yay!), or even a Cu Sidhe (a fairy dog). I don’t know why they threw this bit in but I really like it and now I want to write a story about a modern-day Amazon fighting crime with her pet/best friend who is a fairy dog and also the goodest boy, yes he is.

This book was my first proper exposure to the Storypath RPG system. It’s an elegant and muscular ruleset based around a single core mechanic: take an Attribute and add its value to the value of an appropriate Skill, roll as many ten-sided dice as that total and count how many of them rolled an 8 or higher. Any dice which do roll an 8 or higher are counted as Successes. Successes can be spent to achieve a task but also to avoid (‘buy off’), any Complications. E.g. you could use one Success to smash your way through a French window and spend another to avoid getting any cuts from the shattering glass. Harder tasks require more Successes to achieve. There’s more to it than that but once you’ve got the hang of this principle, you’re halfway to understanding the game.

Scion adds a system called momentum to this core setup. Momentum is generated during the course of play in various different ways, but usually by a player failing a dice roll. Momentum can be used to power certain Knacks or to bend Fate in the character’s favour.

In general, the game encourages you to have the player characters fail forward and not to let the game stall or become boring. Poor rolls while investigating a murder might mean a particular lead turns out to be a dead end. But then something else should give the player characters a break e.g. an accomplice to the killer gets spooked by the investigators and lets slip some piece of information that creates a new angle on the case.

Scions can only really be stopped by death (though I’m sure the game could cope with some post-life adventures through various Underworlds too). And only a threat of the same Tier or higher should ever kill a Scion.

The combat system itself is just an outgrowth of the core mechanic, which I always appreciate. Generate your dice pool and roll to attack, the target rolls to defend and if you score more Successes than they do and have more Successes leftover than they have points of armour then you hit them and cause an injury. Extra Successes beyond that don’t translate directly into extra damage but can be used to purchase stunts like eye gouges or grapple breaks or critical hits. The defender can spend their Successes on things like diving for cover as well as just soaking up damage.

Lions

I like how the combat system focuses on taking injuries rather than losing Hit Points or Health Levels. Your character might get a black eye, cracked ribs or a gashed leg, which will slow or weaken them in different ways. This makes combat feel more visceral than the classic D&D model, heightening the cinematic feel which Scion is designed to create.

You get all the combat stunts you’d expect and it’d be easy enough to improvise your own if need be. There’s even rules for grappling and (D&D players take note) they’re quite straightforward and easy to understand.

Interestingly, you use a different Attribute for ranged attacks depending on how far away the target is. I can kind of see the sense in that and it allows clever players to take advantage of an enemy’s strengths and weaknesses a little more. E.g. if your enemy is deadly with a pistol because of their agility and reflexes you can snipe at them from a distance. At that range your careful precision is more important than their speed.

Overall, it’d probably take new players little while to get used to this combat system, but I think it should allow for quite flexible and dramatic battles.

I also love the optional rule for ‘quick and dirty combat’. For low-level threats you can just use a single roll to determine the action if you want, letting you get straight to the point, then move on to more important or interesting events. Did you beat the crap out of those street thugs? Of course you did.

There’s a pretty streamlined set of rules for creating bad guys as well. It focuses more on the look and feel of opponents than fiddling around with stats. Basically, they’re good at something, okay at something else and bad at all other things. I liked how you can use this system to throw antagonists together with just a handful of abilities. Though you can tweak your bad guys with strengths and weaknesses if you want. I’m not sure if this approach would work long term. But if your players get bored then you can always move them up to the next Tier.

The Storyguiding session gives you the usual GMing advice. What definitely comes across is this game has a very modern and progressive ethos. Everyone should be having fun, the GM should be rooting for the player characters and play must stop if anyone feels uncomfortable. All fair enough.

The more unique points raised in this chapter focus on the mythical nature of storytelling in The World. You’re encouraged to infuse myths into the comparatively mundane stories your Origin characters will be navigating. E.g. instead of performing 12 Labours you need to perform community service to help you with your anger management issues (love it). Characters can be aware of this sort of thing—tropes like The Rule of Threes have real power in The World and it’s possible for characters to recognise and exploit them.

You’re also told to make everything dramatic e.g. you turned down a man’s advances so now his mission in life is to tear down everything you love! Also, ensure if a Scion refuses a call to adventure then the adventure will just keep calling them—so you refused to pick up the mysterious little jade statue you saw in an antiques shop? Never mind. Your kooky aunt saw it too and bought it for you as a present! Oh, you thanked her then threw it away? Well you just crashed your car into a rubbish truck and guess what came flying through your windshield?

Scion Origin (banner)

The book also provides information on a bunch of different gods your Scion could be descended from. I was really looking forward to learning about the diverse group of pantheons that the book is based around. A whole heap of gods I know nothing about, just waiting to be discovered! So, it was a bit jarring to discover that all Scion: Origin contains on this subject is a list of the names of the gods. Every god gets a title, a selection of three character paths their Scions can pick from and a brief list of their divine purviews. Many of the titles are absolutely tantalising. For example:

  • Guanshiyin Who Perceives the Sounds of the World
  • Tezcatlipoca the Smoking Mirror
  • Xipe Topec Our Lord the Flayed One
  • Chang’e the Immortal in the Moon

What does all that mean? It sounds fascinating. But you’re going to have to disappear down an internet rabbit-hole, do some serious academic research or go out and buy Scion: Hero if you want to know more.

I can kind of understand this design choice. Onyx Path wouldn’t have wanted to repeat the Pantheon information in each book. And Origin level Scions aren’t supposed to be running around dealing with gods. Origin level Scions are just about qualified to take down small organised-crime operations and perhaps the occasional disgruntled faun. But you’ve still got to choose a god to be your character’s ‘parent’ so a one or two sentence backstory for each god would have been nice, even if that would have added a sizeable amount to the page count. If I’d bought this book on its own just to try the system and setting out, then I’d have been sorely disappointed to find so little information about gods in a book about the children of gods.

Hero (cover)If you want to use this book as it is intended then I would suggest buying Scion: Hero as well, even if you’re planning to play at the Origin level for the foreseeable future. Scion: Hero has a huuuge amount of information on the different gods.

On the other hand, there’s no shortage of things you could use this book for. Run a spy thriller, a police procedural or a noir adventure. Recreate the bombastic worlds of Bollywood or your favourite pulpy drama. Personally, I’d be tempted to use Origin to run a game set in Riverdale, its overdramatic tone, reliance on symbolism and backstory and larger-than-life characters would suit the world of the series perfectly. And being Origin Tier Scions would explain how a bunch of teenagers could have become variously successful businesswomen, cage-fighters, super-sleuths, gang-leaders and vigilantes.

I do recommend Scion: Origin. It presents a huge range of possibilities and a system that’s adaptable enough to make them happen. It’s got a fun high action feel to it and lets you build a badass character of almost any sort you can imagine.

Onyx Pathcast (logo)As usual I’ll end with a couple of shout outs. I first learned about Scion: Origin from listening to the Onyx Pathcast (which I have mentioned before on this site). This podcast is definitely worth listening to if you like Onyx Path or RPGs in general and particularly if you are hoping to work in the industry.

The second shout out is to Caffeinated Conquests—a video channel on Twitch and YouTube. They post RPG Let’s Plays among other content, some of which covers adult topics. Their short series of Scion: Origin Let’s Plays was absolutely hilarious and really showcased how cool these pre-divine Scions can be.

That’s all folks. Look out for part two of this review next month!

I received a free digital copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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Richard Marpole

About the Author

Richard Marpole Richard was born with his nose in a book and his head in the clouds; which is probably why he keeps getting lost. These days he divides his time between reading fantasy fiction, playing computer games, GMing tabletop RPGS, watching all the superhero and SFF films and TV series, blogging, and haphazardly researching mythology and folklore. He also manages to work on his first book now and then; it’s an urban fantasy novel called A Day in the Lies of Inari Meiwaku and it’s about a kitsune. His body has a day job in a library and lives in a sleepy county on the outskirts of London; his mind can usually be found in one dream world or another. You can follow him on Twitter at @RMarpole or on his personal blog at https://richardmarpole.wordpress.com.

Sours: http://fantasy-faction.com/2019/scion-rpg-2nd-edition-review-part-one-scion-origin
Character Creation October: Scion
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Rpg edition scion 2nd

Scion RPG 2nd Edition Review – Part Two – Scion: Hero

Scion (cover)Okay, round two of my review of Scion—the RPG from the good folks at Onyx Path that lets you play the children of mythological gods in a modern world. Check out part one of this review (Scion: Origin), for more context and a description of the core rules of Scion as a whole. (I’ll also note here that the art in Hero carries on the high standard set by Origin. And the pantheon pictures show the gods in both ‘classic mode’ and in modern clothes and you can have fun trying to spot which god is which in each picture.)

Whereas Origin dealt with characters who were the children of gods but hadn’t yet come into their power, Hero covers people who have been visited by a god and had their own divine powers revealed. Origin tier Scions are action stars. Hero tier Scions are supernatural superhumans.

Heroes are the frontline in the wars between gods and titans. Titans are dangerous and destructive personifications of forces of nature that, unlike gods, do not require worship to exist. Heroes are the monster-slayers, the questors, the exemplars and the human face of the gods.

Hero (cover)Player characters in Scion: Hero will battle giants and other outlandish creatures, foil the plots of titanspawn and rogue Scions, retrieve or create magical items, explore various afterlives and hidden worlds and lead entire cults to victory over their enemies. Yet even as they wield the powers of the cosmos and build their own legends, they will find themselves Fatebound—forced to recreate age-old tales with new human partners. Doomed love affairs, deadly rivalries, unbreakable friendships and so on.

In short, this is a game of high action, high drama and high fantasy.

The book starts with “Grass”, a brief tale of a Japanese Scion’s origins and how they give her the strength to fight a rampaging fire giant. Featuring Kusanagi—the legendary grass-cutting sword. (It’s more impressive than it sounds.) “Grass” is well put together and gives a good snapshot of the main character’s past and present.

The other story in the book features Eric Donner—Scion of Thor and a character fans of the previous edition will remember fondly. This tale is kind of a slice of life story, with the daily grind replaced by battles against monsters and giants and the angst of having an absentee father.

Chapter One: Scions of the Gods

After “Grass” the book proper kicks-off with a discussion of the World and how heroes fit into it. Some of this is a retread of ideas discussed in Origin, such as the descriptions of different kinds of Scions.

We do learn a bit more about titans. Hero adjusts some of the mythologies it presents a little to justify its definition of the division between titans and gods. For example, Prometheus, who gave fire to humans and could be considered a ‘good’ titan is described as acting not out of compassion but out of a need to spark creativity.

Titan

There’s also lot of info on cults, who are often a lot nicer than the cults you’d encounter in other games. Cults to the many gods are just a part of life in the World, mainly consisting of ordinary people with ordinary concerns who happen to go down to the temple on a Thursday to pray to the ceremonial forge or something like that. There are many different sorts of cult because the writers of Scion think of everything. Dining club cults, cults based around artefacts, historian cults, temple cults, cults in isolated lands beyond mortal ken and more.

Cults can help associated Scions but have their own plans, goals and even budgets. An arrogant hero may find their demands being ignored or creatively misinterpreted.

Scion - Hero - Cults

Law and order comes up too. Heroes have a relationship with the law that’s a bit like Superman’s relationship with Metropolis PD. Cops and judges tend to work around recognised Scions rather than against them. Law enforcement and government agencies will often call in heroes (unofficially) to deal with supernatural problems.

There’s a flipside to this. Much like superheroes, heroes are expected to protect ordinary mortals from uncanny and monstrous threats. In some ways they are more important than gods and demi-gods because they are ambassadors of the divine to the mortal world and advocates of mortal causes in the Overworlds and Underworlds. Heroes remember what it’s like to be mortal (usually), but they wield enough power to get things done on the mortal plane.

A huge amount of work has gone into explaining how all the various kinds of god and Scion could exist and interact throughout the ages. For example, the book describes how a god might have been born and slain multiple times and how conflicting myths about the same entity can exist and be true at the same time.

Chapter Two: Pantheons

This chapter presents ten different pantheons of gods and I’d call it the heart of the book. Mainly because I’ve been looking forward to reading it ever since I discovered that Origin’s entries on gods were extremely minimal.

This section doesn’t disappoint. It’s fascinating, well researched and often surprising, even for a card-carrying mythology maven like myself.

For all my interest in Norse mythology I never knew Heimdall had gold teeth or Freyr defeated an entire army while wielding a stag’s antler. Or that the Irish god of the dead, Donn, was once a mortal mariner who led the Gaelic invasion of Ireland and was shipwrecked and drowned for his trouble.

Scion - Hero - Norse Gods

I liked that Loki is depicted as gender-fluid, which fits that god’s myths rather well.

The information on the Deva, the gods of South Asia, was particularly intriguing and made me realise my knowledge of Hindu mythology has only really scratched the surface so far. The glimpses offered by this book include tales of dances that could end the world, acts of inhuman asceticism, impossibly powerful weapons and a deposed Storm King who is still not to be trifled with.

The division between the Kami of earth and the Kami of heaven was also new to me (Kami are the gods and spirits of Japan). Though I don’t how much of the political manoeuvring between the two is from the original stories and how much was created for the setting. Either way it presents great opportunities for divine shenanigans in-game. Also new to me were the seven Kami of fortune, including such worthies as the long-headed Fukuruju who knows the secrets of longevity and resurrection.

The research that went into this book really is impressive. I was reading the entry on the cat-headed Egyptian goddess Bast and noticed it completely failed to describe her earlier incarnation as the crazed berserker lioness-goddess Sekhmet. “Hah,” I thought. “They missed something. Nerd rage activated.” A page or so later I found a sidebar explaining the links between Bast, Sekhmet, Bastet and another goddess called Het-Heru (Hathor). Before then I hadn’t even realised that Bast and Bastet were distinct entities. Yep, I got nerd-owned by a gaming book.

Any of the pantheons presented in this book could support an entire game-line on their own. That goes double for the Shen (the gods of China). It was never going to be possible to fit all Chinese mythology into a few pages, but what we do get is more than enough fun details to spark ideas and start off a campaign. I especially enjoyed the idea that both Guanshiyin Pusa, a Bodhisattva, and Confucius, a humble scholar with little time for gods, are surprised and not a little embarrassed to have been deified and embraced into the Shen Pantheon. Fans of Dynasty Warriors or Romance of the Three Kingdoms will get a kick out of learning that (just as in the real world), Guan Yu has also been deified.

The Teotl gods of Mexico on the other hand are one of the coolest pantheons and also the most disturbing.

Fearsome is the name of Itzpapalotl, for she is the Obsidian Butterfly. Bearing the untrammelled might of her dual nature, Itzpapalotl is both a Cihuateteo, a woman who died in childbirth, and a Tzitzimime, star demon.

Now that is just awesome.

The Teotl gods do raise an awkward question. At least some of them still demand human sacrifices. Most are content with donated blood or more abstract sacrifices such as the abandonment of a treasured friendship, but not all Teotl are satisfied with such meagre offerings. Scions of these gods would certainly have a lot of moral quandaries and disturbing decisions to navigate. I’m not sure how I’d GM that to be honest.

The writers hit the right notes with the Greek gods, whom they describe as “an endless argument of a family.” They are prone to infighting and indulging their own whims, but woe betide anyone who crosses them. They are also masters of the power of metamorphosis—transforming themselves or others into new shapes and creatures.

Greek Gods (modern)

The Tuatha De Danaan of Ireland are as rambunctious, tricksy and sympathetic as I’d hoped. (Morrigan forever!) Their pantheon both wields and is subject to the power of Geasa—oaths and commands that cannot be broken without dire consequences. So much storytelling potential here!

There were a couple of pantheons that I knew little to nothing about before reading this book. Such as the Manitou, the gods of the Anishinaabek people of North America. And the Orisha of Yorubaland, who are linked to the Loa of Voudoun and number the god of Smallpox amongst their ranks. It was an absolute joy to learn about myths from these cultures whose tales haven’t been widely explored in pop culture at the time of writing. It seemed to me that these mythologies were presented respectfully (though as a white British person I’m not in a position to make a useful judgement about that), but regardless, to see them get recognition in an RPG must surely be a positive step.

The pronunciation guides included in each entry are a nice touch. Apparently, I’ve been pronouncing Aesir wrong all this time.

The pantheon descriptions are more than just a list of gods. They also explain the cosmology of the pantheon and describe associated creatures, titans, afterlives, powers and seats of divine majesty. The entry on the Manitou, for example, presents the idea that skunks are the shattered remnants of a giant man-eating skunk whose toxic spray was a plague upon the land. The Orisha entry offers the ability to possess your followers or to be possessed by an Orisha to gain certain benefits.

New lands are uncovered too. Lanka, formerly the kingdom of the demon king Ravana, has become an island refuge for monsters of all kinds. No one has yet been able gain control of the squabbling gangs of savage creatures that now populate Lanka, although rumours abound of Ravana’s return. I could easily see a GM running an entire campaign based in Lanka, with PCs trying to conquer the warring groups or prevent the demon king’s return.

Then there’s the Virtues and unique Purview of each pantheon and a section on what they think of other pantheons, which is bound to amuse any mythology geeks. And if you weren’t a mythology geek before reading this book then you might be afterwards. (Purviews are themes or forces or aspects of existence that gods have power over. Things like Passion or Sky or the Norse Pantheon’s power of the Wyrd, aka the knowledge and manipulation of Fate.)

The setting’s meta-mythology attempts to reconcile every story ever told and became increasingly complex the more I delved into it. Gods can be born directly from Primordials, not just from titans as with Greek mythology. Certain Primordials can also create Scions. At least one Primordial used to be a god. Some titans are fallen gods and one is an ascended Scion. Some gods are regarded as titans by other pantheons. The Shen routinely adopt titans into their ranks as gods. The Aesir and Tuathe De Danaan tend to marry their titans, producing new gods and titans in the process. The Orisha refuse to accept the validity of the term titan at all. The Manitou apparently view pretty much all supernatural beings as Manitou.

This complex approach to the World’s cosmology makes for a lot of flexibility and the potential for weird story arcs e.g. don’t just slay the dragon, rehabilitate her into becoming the goddess of cherry trees! However, it got to the point where I thought that the game would be better off just scrapping the god, titan, Primordial trichotomy altogether. Why not just have gods who are opposed to humanity’s continued existence and gods that are in favour of it? (I have heard that Onyx Path are working on a book called Titanomachy that may answer this question. Watch this space, I guess.)

If you like myths and legends then it’s great fun to just comb through the pantheon entries and learn a bunch of new stories. You will be left with a few questions that might send you off down the internet rabbit-hole though. Such as: why did Odùduwà believe sending three lice to each of the kings of Benin was a good test of whether they deserved a god-king to rule over them?

And these entries do have the desired effect—they get you thinking about the kinds of campaign and adventure you could run in this setting. Personally, having seen how many gods are fond of dancing I was very tempted by the idea of a heroic dance troupe who go from one strange land to another, putting on shows and solving problems with grace and rhythm.

Chapter Three: Character Creation

Character creation in Scion: Hero builds on the system in Scion: Origin. But with greater power comes greater complexity. As well as creating three Paths, ranking those Paths, picking Skills, ranking Attributes, picking a favoured Approach and assigning dots—you now pick three Callings, earn Knacks from them and choose some Boons and Birthrights. You’ll certainly need at least one Session Zero to get this all worked out and going forward you’ll need to keep track of your Legend and your Fatebindings too.

In fairness. I can’t see many players complaining about having to pick out more Kewl Powerz! for their character. And I appreciated the example of character creation that was interspersed with the rules. It definitely helped me to get this process straight in my mind.

Chapter Four: Traits

This chapter delves into the nuts and bolts of roleplaying divinity. It covers the gaining of divine power in the form of Legend and the powers it unlocks. There’s also a system called Sacrifice by which a Scion can restore spent Legend or gain temporary hits of divine power. Sacrificed items must be ceremonially offered to a greater power but can be anything from a precious relic to a living human, so long as it takes time and effort to acquire and/or its loss will have serious consequences. (Why are the player characters breaking into the British Museum and ransacking the Hawaiian exhibition? Because a Scion of Pele wants to retrieve an artefact associated with her mother to sacrifice to her.)

Scions can also accept Fatebinding to restore Legend—they act in accordance with one of their Callings and dance to the whims of Fate, thus earning some of the power invested in that role. Fatebinding was much discussed in Origin but not mechanised as such. Hero explains a Scion can recharge a point of Legend by allowing an NPC to be Fatebound to them—becoming a part of their story, whether as the hapless boyfriend they must protect, the rival who will hound them at every turn or the bright-eyed apprentice who could get killed in the line of duty. Fatebound characters become almost an extension of the Scion in gameplay terms. (Why does a Scion of Zeus get into another fling that is sure to end badly? Because acting out the disastrous stories associated with his ancestor will grant him power, which the player will appreciate even if the character does not.)

Fate won’t literally brainwash a mortal into playing a role, it just finds a person who fits that role and nudges them along with whatever inducements are necessary.

Fate is not above low cliché.

In rules terms, Fatebound characters feel a lot like Aspects in the FATE system. You can Invoke them once per session to get a small benefit or Compel them once per session to earn a point of Legend in return for accepting an obstacle or difficulty relating to that character. Unlike FATE, the more you Invoke a Fatebound bond the more likely it is to become permanent. The highest level of Fatebinding transcends death itself. Your rival got killed? Well now they’re gonna haunt you. It seems like a solid system that rewards players for playing out their character’s archetypal role but makes them wary of it too. Yes, that Leprechaun could help you out here, but do you really want him to become your BFF forever? Want to get some extra Legend by saying your nemesis is the person who set zombie jaguars on the party? Fine but remember he’s only going to get more dangerous if you keep paying attention to him.

Hero - Combat (detail)I like the huge roleplaying potential this system offers. It allows for a lot of player-driven storytelling. With the right group of players and player characters you could pretty much give the Scions a little nudge to get things started and then leave the story to develop on its own.

Callings themselves are well explained and definitely lend the game a mythic, archetypal quality. Warrior, Trickster, Judge and Sage all resonated with me and I could instantly think of examples of gods and characters from fantasy fiction who fitted those archetypes.

Virtue is a trickier system to internalise and I’m not sure if it was really required alongside everything else that influences how Scions behave. Honestly it feels like a holdover from the World of Darkness games. Each pantheon has two competing Virtues such as the Orisha’s Tradition and Innovation. Acting in accordance with one Virtue moves you along a track towards exemplifying it and away from exemplifying the other Virtue. I guess this helps to differentiate Scions and gods of different pantheons and ramp up the personal drama inherent in the game.

Birthrights

This section offers mentors, items and followers to aid heroes in their endeavours. The section on Guides provides a dizzying array of mystical creatures and magical practitioners to aid your Scions. Including but not limited to Tengu, fortune tellers, the Morrigan’s crows and even White Eyebrow—The Betrayer of Shaolin.

Also a standout is the section on Relics, aka magic items. Relics are hugely customisable. You can make a perfectly silent gun, a cursed vase, a power-up potion, a lightning bolt, a cloak of demon-smiting which must be recharged after each use by chanting mantras over it, and pretty much anything else you’ve ever heard of or can imagine.

There’s tons of readymade relics as well. Winonah’s Jingle Dress, Elfshot, a smartphone that always has reception even in worlds beyond The World, a Bear Warrior’s Bludgeon, a magical muscle car, Icarian Wings, a personal constellation, The Red Strings of Fate, the Green Dragon Crescent Blade and many more. I had to stop reading this section a couple of times to laugh like a gleeful supervillain as I thought about all the possibilities on offer.

While comprehensive rules are offered in this section for creating followers and monstrous pets, you’ll need to backtrack to the pantheons section to get examples.

Chapter Five: Powers

This chapter contains long lists of heroic abilities and is broken down into Knacks and Purviews.

Knacks

Callings grant Heroic Scions straight up divine superpowers that completely overshadow the subtler Knacks offered by Origin. With the right Knacks you can, amongst other abilities:

  • Raise whole buildings from dust.
  • Stand as a sleepless guardian who needs no sustenance beyond the sight of her charge.
  • Perform surgery despite the fact that the only tools you have on hand are two toothpicks and a sausage roll.
  • Ingest a toxin, ignore its effects and secrete an antidote to it.
  • Make it so it is literally impossible for a mortal or less powerful creature to escape you once you start hunting them.
  • Inflict dire consequences on anyone who breaks an oath to you. Alternatively, make anyone who lies to you suffer an immediate injury.
  • Ignore injuries as long as you have followers to bolster you.
  • Fade from the memories of mortals.
  • Shapeshift.
  • Create a temporary double of yourself.
  • Stab someone to death with a teacup.

Oh, and you get to learn what different pantheons smell like, so there’s that.

There’s also a lot of ‘gamey’ Knacks that give you bonuses to your rolls in certain situations, e.g. when investigating someone or when smashing the patriarchy. Less superpowers and more the ability to fulfil a certain role such as Judge, Warrior or Trickster with inhuman competence. In general I felt as though a lot of these powers were story hooks in themselves. I didn’t look at every single power and say, “Wow that’s cool,” but I looked at a lot of them and started thinking of characters I’d encountered or would like to create. And you can’t ask for much more from an RPG.

Attack

It was at this point in my read-through I realised—this game feels like urban fantasy in the style I love to read and to write. It’s a world of fey creatures and inescapable oaths and mentors who turn out to be beings of legend. It’s not just American Gods—it’s Sandman, Horns, October Daye, Rivers of London, Matthew Swift, Mythago Wood, Faerie Tale, Lucifer, Welcome to Night Vale, War for the Oaks, The Skyscraper Throne, Crescent City, Swamp Thing, The Almighty Johnsons, and Delphic Division. If you enjoyed any of those series or books, then you should check Scion out. (Especially if you’d like to recreate one of those settings in an RPG.)

Purviews

Purviews are another sort of divine power. The ability to control aspects of reality, rather than embodying particular roles. With the use of Legend, a Purview can be wielded to do almost anything that fits its theme. But usually it’s more efficient to buy the Boons a Purview grants access to. Boons are specific powers distinct from Knacks. (Though there is definitely crossover between the effects of certain Knacks and Boons.)

The list of Purviews is pretty darn exhaustive. Consider Passion, Love, Beauty and Fertility are all separate Purviews. Same with Sky, Stars, Sun and Moon. Here’s just a tiny sample of the Boons on offer. You can:

  • Make someone fall in love with you.
  • Start a riot.
  • Make a corpse talk.
  • Take on the powers of an animal.
  • Curse someone to be hideous.
  • Perform what amounts to a Jedi Mind Trick.
  • Run across water.
  • Pull money out of the air.
  • Teleport.
  • Ignore lines at the Post Office. (No really, the Shen have an innate power to sidestep any form of bureaucracy that gets in their way).

All in all, there are literally hundreds of powers in this book. Which is definitely a selling point as far as I’m concerned. And GMs are encouraged to reward players’ creativity in coming up with new ways to use their powers. Even if a player is trying to use a Purview in a way that doesn’t make sense to the GM, the game encourages them to allow it and just add a Complication to the roll. Keep things fun and keep things moving, that’s the mantra for a Scion storyteller.

Chapter Six: Mythic Storytelling

While the Storyteller in Onyx Path games is just their name for the GM I have to admit this section really hones in on the nature of stories.* It references the Hero’s Journey and offers non-Western alternatives to it. It discusses the use of tragedy and how that can be as satisfying as victory. You can tell the writers have delved deeply into myths and legends in a genuine attempt to use RPGs to recreate how they play out. I don’t think I’d use all the campaign styles they suggest. But it’s nice to have the options and to be encouraged to think about the structures of the tales I tell.

*Editor’s Note* “While this is true for the licensed White Wolf games under their Storyteller/Storytelling Systems, Scion is an Onyx Path game and uses the Storypath system. Storypath’s term for the GM is the “Storyguide.” The only time “Storyteller” appears in Scion: Hero is the lowercase general sense of “someone who tells stories” and not as a specific game term.” – Ian, Onyx Path Publishing

There’s also a series of plot hooks to get you thinking about adventures for your campaign (or chronicle, if you prefer). This one in particular drove home to me one of the unique selling points of Scion: Hero.

Theft: The villain takes something of value from the hero or the World. In Hero-tier games, the scale of thefts is always grand. These villains don’t rob banks. They steal faces, dreams, shadows, or mountains.

Go big or go home. That’s Scion: Hero’s message.

Anvil

And the plot seeds on offer do have that mythic quality to them. Insult Zeus, kill the king of snakes, build a city to please a dragon.

What I really liked was the writers then suggested how you could create a new adventure from each of these plot seeds once they have been resolved, e.g. the people in the dragon’s city are starting to look a bit draconic themselves, maybe you should look into that? I don’t recall ever having seen this before in an RPG book and it’d be a great help for new GMs or anyone suffering from RPG writer’s block.

Antagonists

The Antagonists section takes a different approach to most RPG bestiaries. Scion assumes you’ll use its pretty extensive Antagonist creation system to generate your own villains. So, although the bestiary isn’t particularly large most of the creatures on display are examples of how to create a certain type of creature, e.g. undead, chimeras, evil spirits and rogue Scions. While I love a good bestiary, I wasn’t put out by this. It’s really easy to make your own antagonists in Scion and I was pretty much planning to do just that in any game I ran. Again, you can nip back to the pantheons chapter to get ideas if you want.

One more quote.

Pop culture has had its way with virtually every example of the living dead, twisting it into versions that have all but replaced their mythological inspirations. We encourage you to do a little reading—there are versions of all of these stories that are both weirder and more interesting than anything you’re likely to see on a screen.

Damn right. You preach that good word Scion: Hero. Who really wants to face another pack of shambling Romero-style zombies? Instead try tracking down a bloodsucking Penanggalan’s discarded body before she returns to stuff her dangling entrails back into it and sit her head back onto its neck.

Appendix: Legendary Creatures

This section mostly updates the options for playing some of the supernatural creatures from Origin. I love that they included creatures like the Nuckelavee, though I would have liked to see a bit more of an explanation of that creature for the sake of people who haven’t made a study of the mythology of the Orkney Isles.

Two new additions are the Prophet and the Cassandra (who is a prophet no one except Scions will believe). Handling characters who can foresee the future is always difficult in an RPG, where even the GM isn’t all that sure what’s going to happen next. But the writers of Scion: Hero manage to pull off some pretty sweet and gameable mechanics for this power. Good for them.

Conclusion

Should you buy this book?

I think so. You’ll need Scion: Origin in order to make it work so you can always test the waters by buying that book and taking the ruleset for a spin before you commit. And it is a good ruleset in my opinion.

Scion: Hero itself is the new home of mythological fantasy. It’s diverse, flexible and stuffed full of powers, creatures and magical items for you to play with. There’s no end of plot seeds and ideas for campaigns and adventures buried in its pages. It offers a huge pile of fascinating lore that’s fun to pick through even if you don’t plan to use it in a game. I’ve read academic books of mythology that provided me with less information on the subject than this roleplaying book did. (Or at least, less fun information.)

You could get years of play out of following its every cue and plot point or even from exploring one corner of its vast setting. Or you could use it to simulate just about any urban fantasy setting you’d care to name or invent.

Go on.

Be a Hero.

I received a free copy of both this book and Scion: Origin in return for an honest review.

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Richard Marpole

About the Author

Richard Marpole Richard was born with his nose in a book and his head in the clouds; which is probably why he keeps getting lost. These days he divides his time between reading fantasy fiction, playing computer games, GMing tabletop RPGS, watching all the superhero and SFF films and TV series, blogging, and haphazardly researching mythology and folklore. He also manages to work on his first book now and then; it’s an urban fantasy novel called A Day in the Lies of Inari Meiwaku and it’s about a kitsune. His body has a day job in a library and lives in a sleepy county on the outskirts of London; his mind can usually be found in one dream world or another. You can follow him on Twitter at @RMarpole or on his personal blog at https://richardmarpole.wordpress.com.

Sours: http://fantasy-faction.com/2019/scion-rpg-2nd-edition-review-part-one-scion-hero
[Scion Second Edition] Special Series run by Neall Raemonn Price - Episode 1

Scion: Origin

The ancient powers never fully went away. They wander our roads and cities, mingling with the teeming masses of humanity. You are one of their children, born to the magic of yesterday and the promise of tomorrow. Now begins the war against the Titans, elder beings who rage against the human world and its wayward gods. Commanding the push and pull of Fate, you will ride into battle and work wonders, the better to prove yourself worthy of legends.

Scion is a contemporary game of modern myth and epic heroism. Its first edition was published in 2007, and it quickly gained an enthusiastic following, winning the ENnies Game of the Year award. Originally slated as a simple three-book series, its fervent following merited an expansion beyond those original limits, resulting in a series of books and PDFs released over the next several years. Onyx Path is proud to oversee the publishing of an entirely new edition of the game.

If this sounds interesting to you, buy Scion 2nd Edition now! Scion merchandise is available via our RedBubble store.

A Scion TV series is currently in development!

Please join us on our Discord or on Facebook!

Scion: Hero

Scion: Demigod

Scion: God

Sours: http://theonyxpath.com/category/worlds/scion/

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