Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Scion: Demigod - Part 2

Once again, the antagonist section is the best part of a Scion book. Though I feel I need to clarify something from the equivalent section of my Scion: Hero review. When I said the antagonist chapter was 99% good, I was referring only to the antagonist descriptions, the flavor paragraphs where they explained what these things were and how they interacted with scions. The creature statistics were actually pretty bad. I point this out because the monster descriptions in Scion: Demigod are even better, and the stats go from bad to unconscionable.

The reasons for this are largely what I complained about in my previous post, so I will just leave you with one specific observation - the antagonist section contains an NPC band of scions that's meant to be a parallel to the sample PCs and act as their rivals in the included adventure. One member of this group, Victor Fingers, Scion of Ares, can solo the entire PC band. The only default PC that can damage him is Eric Donner, who has an accuracy of 7 dice to hit his defense of 17. The only PC that can hit him is Yukiko Kuromizu, who does 10 damage against his soak of 13. And nobody's Epic Stamina is even close to countering Victor's damage. They might as well have listed his stats as "Victor kills 1 scion per round, except for Yukiko, who might survive for 3-4."

Okay, one more comment on the antagonist section. It's nice that they have a heroic trans woman as a signature character, but it's kind of embarrassing in retrospect to see the sloppy job they did in addressing her gender. A trans person's pronouns don't need to go in quotes, guys, even if you are talking about her before she came out. I can't say I was any better in 2007, so this is officially not a scolding. Just a heads-up for anyone picking up this book today.

Working backwards, the next thing to address is the sample adventure. It's okay. Nothing offensive like in Scion: Hero, though like its predecessor it comes across as a little bit railroady. I like the idea of racing to the ruins of Atlantis under the ice of Antarctica to stop a dark ritual from ushering in the apocalyptic winter that will spell the doom of the gods, but the start of the adventure seems to be written under the assumption that the players won't take the bait and you have to trick them into it. I don't know. Once you get into it, it's basically just a dungeon crawl, so very little can go wrong, but I'm not sure you'd want to run it without the player buy-in.

Finally, I can talk about the first chapter of Part 2. It's setting, guys! At last, some direct indication of what the Scion universe actually looks like. It's all pretty good, with mystical shortcuts through the realm of platonic ideals, hidden lands that house villages of spirit-folk or long forgotten sorceresses, and detailed descriptions of the various pantheons' lands of the dead. I love it. I really want to play in this world (Circe, of course, is problematic, and the minotaurs are terrible, but . . . source material?)

The tricky thing here is that as we get a closer look at Scion's setting, the clearer it becomes that some of its assumptions would work better if they were explicitly spelled out. Like, there's not a Masquerade, per se, but people don't really believe in the gods, and everyone can see what the PCs are up to, but nobody puts two and two together? It's a little confusing.

Overall, Scion: Demigod is a book of dizzying highs and terrible lows. It's a beautiful mess. Borderline unusable, but with some inspired ideas. I love it, but I hate it for not being what it could have been.

UKSS Contribution - Shit-eating vampires!

No . . . no . . .

On a more considered opinion, that would not be optimal. I guess I just felt compelled to inform you that Scion: Demigod suggests the existence of shit-eating vampires, though mercifully it neglects to provide their statistics.

Let's go with something that actually impressed me. The Yokai village. I did some cursory research to make sure I wasn't trampling on something real and holy, and my 5 minute Google search suggests that this is one of those "fun" myths that is suitable to be adapted to entertainment (though the name of the specific town in the book, Horai, seems to be associated with something entirely different than the book suggests).

The idea is pretty simple. A small town, inhabited by ghosts, spirits, and monsters. Some friendly, some not. Hidden deep in an inaccessible forest, where humans dare not tread too deeply, thanks to the signs and portents that surround it.

I like this sort of thing. I'd probably make it a bit lighter and a bit friendlier than the book, but a hidden monster town, where the ferocious-seeming inhabitants regard the human interlopers with a mixture of curiosity and fear, is just a delightful image.

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