Thursday, March 28, 2019

Scion: God

I'm only doing one post for this book because I know the bulk of my observations are just going to be the things I've already said about Scion: Hero and Scion: Demigod. The highs are higher and the lows are lower. The monsters and mythological deep cuts are cooler! Their stats are even more nonsensical! The system is even more unbalanced! There's still an uncomfortable amount of rape in the text!

I guess I could make a bunch of specific observations. Eric Donner has finally reached his peak as a character that is superficially a combatant, but built in such a way as to guarantee his failure in combat.  Boons have always been curiously underpowered, but at the god level, they are bafflingly so. Only a few let you do truly godlike things, and even those are plagued by strict limitations and preconditions. Like, level 10 of the Death purview allows you to bring back the dead! Provided they've been dead for fewer minutes than your successes on the activation roll. Even optimized, that's like an hour, tops.

Pardon my surliness here, but what the hell is up with that? I'm playing a literal God of the Dead, I want some cosmic-scale powers to go along with that. I want to pull off some shit that makes nations worship me as a central figure in their religion. I want to be able to unbalance the cycle of reincarnation, build a paradise realm for the souls of the elect, crack open the vaults of the underworld and allow long-dead heroes to walk the earth once more. I want it to be clear that I am not fucking around.

To be fair, the game does give you a taste of cosmic power in the form of Avatars, but the way Avatars work is that you spend a quarter of your Legend Points to activate them, and then the rules throw up their hands in defeat and say, "you can just, like, do whatever." But even then, they're only available if you max out your purview in a pretty counterproductive way.

While it's a little disappointing that Scion: God doesn't really put the metaphysics of the universe into play, the setting material almost makes up for it. The book goes into detail about the Titans and it turns out that in the Scion universe, they are not anthropomorphic at all. They are, in fact, living geographies that radiate multiple personalities to carry out their complex and often contradictory agendas.

It's all very interesting to read, though it sometimes suffers from the same problem as D&D's elemental planes, where players are expected to adventure in a world that is constantly trying to kill them. Being gods should mitigate that somewhat, though given Scion's unbalanced point-based system, I'm fairly sure only Eric Donner is capable of surviving the sample adventure (well, the environmental part - Eric's build would crumple before any of the major antagonists)

Actually, after reading this book, I'm beginning to question the wisdom of the game's central premise. Not only did reading about the Titans start to feel oppressive in its baroque hatred for the PC archetypes, the very black-and-white conflict between God and Titan made for some pretty odd character choices. Thor's mom is evil! Prometheus is a sleazy manipulator! Gaia threatened to blow up the earth! A little nuance would have been appreciated.

Okay, so that's the last of the core Scion books. I can now issue a definitive opinion on first edition as a whole . . .

It's bad, people. My lip is quivering as I write this, because on a word-for-word basis, I genuinely love, nay adore, something like half of the text. But half isn't enough, you know.

The good news is that second edition is coming soon. Redemption is possible.

UKSS Contribution - Typhonian peacocks. They're the size of elephants, but rather than being terrors on the battlefield, they have posh accents and magic powers. If you get ahold of one of their feathers, it will make you pretty.

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