Meet the children of the gods, someday to be gods unto themselves.
Scion is a tabletop roleplaying game by White Wolf, though not one that takes place in either of that company's trademark Worlds of Darkness. Instead the setting is the world as we know it, but there's one big difference: the various gods and goddesses of mankind's pagan pantheons really exist. The myths about them are true, and they do walk the Earth in human guise, looking for men or women to mate with.Player characters are the offspring of such unions, making them technically demigods, though in game terms they are referred to as Scions. They grew up unaware of their nonhuman heritage, until one day they received a visitation from their divine parent, and were told the truth about their origins.Being a demigod sounds cool, but there is a catch: the Titans, ancient powerful entities, and your grandparents on the important side of the family, once vanquished and imprisoned by the gods, are breaking free, and a cosmic war has begun between the two. The characters must join the fight, and in the process grow in power until they too become gods in their own right.Think of it as as ExaltedmeetsAmerican Gods; in fact the game designers acknowledge American Gods among their influences.The rulebook (Scion: Hero) includes six possible pantheons to choose from, using the time-tested White Wolf concept of making members of different groups team up into a motley crew. They are: the Pesedjet (Egyptian), Dodekatheon (Greek), Aesir (Norse), Amatsukami (Japanese), Atzlanti (Aztec), and Loa (Voodoo). Game extensions include the Tuatha De Danann (Irish), the Celestial Bureaucracy (Chinese), and the Devas (Hindu) from Scion Companion, as well as nationalistic pantheons of America and the Allies in the same sourcebook for running games during World War II, and it's implied that yet more pantheons exist as well (indeed, there's a PDF covering the Yazata, the Persian pantheon (Yazata: The Persian Gods), as well as a supplement not available in English detailing the Gaulish pantheon; several fan-made pantheons can be found on the net as well). There is also the Atlantean pantheon, although they are canonically dead after having been corrupted by the Titans; details on the actual Pantheon and their Cosmology are in Demigod, while the Pantheon's original Virtues (Duty, Intellect, Order, Piety) and Purview (Scire) are in the Scion Companion.At GenCon 2012, it was announced that Scion had been acquired outright by Onyx Path Publishing, a company set up to handle White Wolf's tabletop RPGs, and a new edition was planned.Has a characters page.Not to be confused with the Tomb Raider artifact, the Toyota car, or the CrossGencomic.
This game features examples of:
All Japanese Swords Are Katanas: Averted. One of the template characters is a daughter of Susano-o who fights with the legendary sword Kusanagi, which is not a katana.
All Myths Are True: Literally—in fact characters get to meet just about every mythical figure out there. But, to paraphrase Gargoyles, few myths are accurate: Daedalus did not make the Labyrinth, Hermod and Vali aren't gods yet, and other little altered tidbits (like who Thokk really is, for instance...).
Anti-Villain: Out of the six sample "evil" Scions, only two - Kane Taoka and Seth Farrow - are truly nasty. Sly's a pawn, Orlanda's a victim of Love Makes You Evil, Marie's just egotistical (and pulls a Heel Face Turn in God), and Victor's just following orders (he is a soldier).
God also offers another group of antagonists, the "Keepers of The World", a group of gods who are pissed at their pantheons and want to seperate the mortal world from other realms. None of them are truly evil, and considering their background story, their goal is rather justified.
Army of The Ages: The Einherjar warriors that show up in modern times come from the 18th century through the mid-1970s, outfitted in whatever gear they had on them when they "died".
Ascended Meme: In-Universe, the principles of Deific Fatebinding are basically this. In short, what humans believe about their gods can literally become reality, as Fate reshapes Gods to fulfill the expectations of Humans. One explicitly noted example is Artemis of the Dodekatheon being a lesbian, because of the strong associations made between that goddess and that sexuality by humans.
Awesome, but Impractical: Many of the purviews are like this. The much easier path to being extremely powerful is to pile on the epic attributes and knacks.
Awesome But Practical: Most first level boons fall under this category, granting resistance to the boons that come after. Now this may sound like a dull roadblock skill, but keep in mind Sky's Grace (Sky 1) allows the user to fall from any height and survive with no injury, Fire Immunity negates flame damage and Water Breathing is...well...water breathing.
Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Hitler's Spear of Destiny was actually Odin's spear Gungnir, given him by Loki in the alternate setting set out in chapter six of Scion Companion. Lady Liberty, Br'er Rabbit, Uncle Sam, Robin Hood, Britannia, d'Artagnan, Baba Yaga and sundry others are all gods. The French, Russian and British ones work together out of the need to fight the Germans whereas the American ones are a different Pantheon.
Boring, but Practical: The Greek pantheon's purview of Arete just grants bonus dice instead of awesome abilities, but damn if those dice don't come in handy.
Cain and Abel: Ironically, not Kane, but his lieutenant Seth Farrow, who killed his brother Cyrus out of jealousy and made himself the Arch-Enemy of his nephew Horace.
Chunky Salsa Rule: Ultimate Strength or Avatar Boons throw away the dice - if you hit someone, and they don't have an equivalent power to call on, they die.
Corrupt Church: Monotheism as a religious concept is portrayed this way, born of a Titan-worshipping servant of Akhetaten's attempts to try and use Deific Fatebinding to destroy the Gods. However, even if this is the true secret origin of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, it's emphatically stated that they don't know that — even the Order of Divine Glory, the true secret cult at the heart of things, is not only regarded by the mainstream churches as just a particularly eccentric group of missonaries, but actually believes its own doctrine, to the point it's noted it would probably execute its own inner circle as heretics for admitting that there really are other Gods besides God Himself.
On the other hand, Aten is explicitly stated to be more of a corruption of monothestic belief into arrogance more than anything, and the Order's success would lead to the end of destructive divine rivalries. That, and the Order deliberately selects for people in the Saintly Church mode of things-both characters shown are Actual Pacifists who genuinely want to better the world.
Crossover Cosmology: Inherent in the very premise. The rulebook has the pantheons of six different cultures. Scion Companion adds three more and hints of other pantheons in the distance.
As well as one in a PDF supplement and one in a supplement released (so far) only in French.
Not to mention all the fan-produced writeups.
Dark Is Evil: Soku-no-Kumi. However, it more embodies fear and concealment than actual light-absence darkness - even if you have powers that let you see in the dark, you still can't see in Soku-no-Kumi.
Dark Is Not Evil: A given Player Character may be the child of one or the other death gods if the player so chooses, which will make him/her pretty dark, but not evil.
Well not necessarily evil. However since many of the gods are not especially kind (as a rule), and the concept appeals to many players who wish to play an evil character, evil Scions of a Death God are not uncommon. And if both general disposition of the player and general disposition of the character fail to make a Death God evil, it's not totally unlikely that Fate will try to force a god to become evil. It's also worth noting that you can become an actual God of Darkness, who may or may not be evil.
It's also worth noting that the majority of evil crap that happens in the official setting is not instigated by Death Gods, but by Trickster Gods (particularly Loki) and the Titans (who are just as likely to be examples of Light Is Not Good).
Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Certain boons (specifically Fire 4: Flamin' Bullets, Sky 6: Levin Fury, and Sun 4: Flare Missile) allow a player to use the elements themselves as projectiles for ranged weapons. In addition, relic weapons can be supernaturally enhanced (with increased accuracy, responsiveness, and stopping power).
Deus ex Machina: Weaponized in the Magic purview. Played with in that Fate can intervene in any way it sees fit (whether the drowning Scion is saved by a pod of dolphins or a mortal Boy Scout)
And it comes with a price-invoking Fate in this manner results in a Fatebinding, and always a pretty strong one.
Devil but No God: The various Gods and Titans are all eventually killable making them simply more powerful forms of mortal life. There is a Titan imitating God, but God as a Supreme Being and Creator of All does not appear. The closest you get is Fate itself, but that is controlled by mortals. There are a fair number of beings that appear to be Christian but are actually divine identity hijackers (which is an easy way of gaining legend and power). There is mention that Jehovah actually existed but promptly disappeared and was replaced by Aten who is a frickin Titan. Pan has taken on the role of Lucifer and because of fatebinding actually BECAME demonic. Then again, it's not as if The Devil is present in the setting either.
The Companion reveals that the Abrahamic God does not exist-anymore, at least, and if he ever lived he was a normal God. Aten hijacked his image as part of a Xanatos Gambit that spectacularly backfired when the Order of Divine Glory developed an ideology anathema to the Titan. He may someday, though, if the Order has its way...
Doom Magnet: Fate sees to it that Scions are never bored. Bad things constantly happen around them. Given their power level, they can deal with it, but still, it's got to get annoying/scary/hideously depressing.
Eldritch Abomination: The Titans. They not only are free of any human shaping, making them hard for the human mind to comprehend, but they also shape reality simply by existing. The one that most stands out, however, is Hundun - Chaos. Unlike other Titans, it can't be defined in any way. Canonically, it is one of two Greater Titans that never got imprisoned nor submitted to the gods. The other was Vritra, Titan of Drought, but while Vritra avoided imprisonment by shrinking until they couldn't find it, Hundun simply can't be imprisoned. Fortunately, it can't define itself, so it's not very proactive.
Eldritch Location: Terra Incognita (Anea, Horai, etc.) are Earthly locales that are literally impossible to reach if you don't have Legend, since they are fundamentally an Important Place in folklore. Then there are Touchstones, which are the Overworld embodiment of Important Types of Places, like the Great Hall. Most of these are of human origin, but a few are embodiments of "the wild places", and thus focuses for the Titans' chthonic power. If you plan to visit, bring supplies.
Even Evil Has Standards: The Scion Companion takes pains to note that, though Loki did arrange the rise of Hitler in Germany as part of his plan to avert Ragnarok, he had no knowledge whatsoever of the Holocaust, and (along with the rest of the Aesir) takes great pains to punish those responsible, even in death.
This is explicitly the difference between evil gods and the Titans, on some level all the gods care about mortals and the World. Even the most bloodthirsty of the Aztec pantheon does not indulge in mass slaughter just For the Evulz and even Loki, as malevolent as he is, draws the line somewhere. For example while Loki just wants to survive Ragnarok and preferably get ultimate power along the way, Surtur on the other hand wants to burn the World to ash. And Surtur is hardly alone among the Titan avatars in wanting genocide, making the World uninhabitable or both.
Everybody Hates Hades: Averted - Hades is probably the god with the least amount of issues in his pantheon (though he's not happy about the ex-planet Pluto's demotion). The other death gods largely get a fair shake as well.
About the only major exception is Miclantecuhtli of the Aztlanti, who is pretty much a Jerk Ass — Hero describes him as "suffering a permanent case of schadenfreude". Then again, with the possible exceptions of Quetzalcoatl and Tlazolteotlnote And she's a goddess of shit, none of the Aztlanti are really portrayed in a flattering light. This extends to the Scions; of the three official examples, one is a psychotic self-mutilator, one is a male-to-female transsexual who uses the flayed skin of a woman to change sexes, and the other, after ascending to godhood, is pretty much disgusted with his own pantheon.
Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Greater Titans are so unable to comprehend anything - least of all why their children, the Gods, are so interested in saving the World - that they had to create avatars to even start getting it. And the avatars still don't understand all of it.
Evil Virtues: Almost literally named. Unlike the other gods and Scions, who have Virtues such as Honor, Expression, Duty, etc., titanspawn and the Titans have Dark Virtues - Ambition, Malice, Rapacity, and Zealotry.
Gender Bender: The Epic Appearance Knack "Undeniable Resemblence" lets Gods (and Scions, and Titanspawn) pull this off. They are even fertile in their new form, allowing former-women to impregnate other women and former-men to bear children.
Ghostapo: Both the Allied and Axis forces were using Scions and divine power in World War II, which was known as the Axis War by the gods (due to the fact that they were trying to conquer one another's Axes Mundi while mortals fought over the world).
Glamour: With high enough Appearance and Charisma.
Glorified Sperm Donor: Scion reactions to learning they have divine parentage are... mixed. Among the sample characters, Kane actively hates his divine mother and Donnie is disgusted with his, while the others tend to be more "I wish they'd respect me more, but eh."
God Is Evil: The closest thing to the Abrahamic God to be found in the setting is Akhetaten, the Titan of Light, and it would appear that anything genuinely good to be found in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religions stems from misinterpretation of his attempts to rule everything.
...assuming that the actual Abrahamic deity was not in fact replaced by Aten millennia ago, as is hinted at. The Hands, for instance, are explicitly stated to not be real angels, but Titanspawn Aten deliberately made in their image.
God's Hands Are Tied: There is a good reason gods no longer openly manifest themselves to humans, and in fact shun worship. It ties them up to Fate, and they don't like it. Except for the Devas, who seem to accept it, possibly in return for the fact that, as the pantheon with the largest extant worshiper base, they have greater power.
And justified; it's stated in the God book the Gods have their hands full holding the Titans at bay in the Overworld and just performing the Visitations for their new Scions is risky both because the Gods have to power down and become weaker to enter the World without incurring Fate's unwanted and undivided attention, making them vulnerable to Titanspawn, and because it takes them away from the main front of the war that is implied not to be going well.
Good Is Not Nice: The Aztláni are described this way in the introduction to their section in the core book:
Guns Are Worthless: Firearms are the only weapons that don't get stronger with high attributes, making them extremely weak in Demigod and higher. For some reason Bows and even Crossbows DO get a strength-bonus though. There are numerous fan-created Knacks and Boons that alleviate this, but thus far no canon ones.
Heel Face Turn: Titanspawn can officially cross over from the side of the Titans to the side of the Gods. Not only are multiple examples of this given, but actual rules for helping to "convert" a Titanspawn are given in the Ragnarok sourcebook.
Face Heel Turn: However, sufficiently slighted gods can turn themselves over to the Titans as well.
Hollywood Voodoo: The line takes great pains to avert it as far as the Loa are presented. Sure, there's a bit on Baron Samedi and zombies — but then, there's also quite a bit on Damballah, Erzulie, Ogoun, Legba...
Homosexual Reproduction: The sample Scion of Kali, Annie X, is revealed to have been created when Kali took on a male form and impregnated her mortal mother. So far, she remains unique in the sample Scions to have originated that way, but theoretically any God or Goddess with the right focus on Epic Appearance could do so. Loki, for obvious reasons, is an excellent candidate for having done this.
Humongous Mecha: The Collossi. Also the "true form" of Surtr's fortress in Muspelheim.
Jerkass Gods: Given the base material, it's not surprising Scion has a lot of these — or that a player can become one of these. Special notation must go to Poseidon, who actually gets a new level of Jerk Ass given to him by the revelation of how the Minotaurs were made in this setting.
The Atzlanti are the only pantheon to still require human sacrifices, to the point that their pantheon purview is fuelled best by it. The Aztec Death God is also the biggest jerk of all the canonical death gods, even compared to Hel or The Morrigan.
A Load of Bull: The Minotaurs are a One Gender Race of humanoid bulls likely to be encountered as opponents (and, possibly, followers) of demigods. It turns out that, in the Scionverse, the Cretan Bull actually raped first Pasiphaë and then any Cretan woman it could find after emerging from the sea, as none of the Cretans would even dare to try and corral it for fear of Poseidon's wrath. Poseidon made no effort to stop it; they were saved from its rampages only when Heracles came and took the Cretan Bull as his Seventh Labour.
Lonely at the Top: Can be applicable in this setting, once a PC reaches apotheosis (considering that you'll be very much a junior deity in your pantheon, and your contact with your Band-mates from other pantheons may become very limited). Indeed, the signature characters seem to be suffering from this in the opening fiction from Scion: God (Horace is chafing in the celestial equivalent of a desk job, Donnie and Yukiko are essentially glorified errand boys (well, errand girl in Yukiko's case) for their parents, and Dr. Tigrillo finds himself philosophically isolated from most of the other Atzlanti. Only Eric and Brigitte seem to be really fitting into godhood comfortably).
Lovecraft Lite: Very much so. The closest things to truly unknowable beings (the Greater Titans) aren't truly malevolent (hell, a possible ending to Ragnarok involves convincing Muspelheim that it's in his best interests to only burn away the toxic parts of the Earth), and much of the theme involves taking the "chaotic, dark power" and either kicking it across the room or turning into something useful.
The Lost Woods: The Dark Woods is literally the embodiment of this trope, an archetypal forest in the Overworld where the only real defining geography is "lost".
Mythology Upgrade: Isn't it amusing how advanced technology can improve already deadly Nemeans? Examples include Centaurs as half-human and half-Harley-Davidson motorcycle, Scylla has machines replace its monster heads and Surtr's main fortress in Muspelheim can transform into a Humongous Mecha.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Kill Surtr? Congratulations, now fire is completely uncontrollable! Kill Gaia? Watch the World wither and die! Kill Aten? Hope you like eternal, endless night! Okay, the series never gets specific (with one exception - the Ice Age ended with Ymir's death - which doesn't sound too bad...except it became The Great Flood), but there's a reason the Gods sealed the Titans away rather than just killing them.
Pan was already feeling ticked off against the Dodekatheon, but it took the deliberate efforts of early Christians to correlate him with Satan to give Fate the extra momentum to push him into becoming a Titanspawn.
No Honor Among Thieves: Two Titans have serious internal conflict amongst their Avatars. Every avatar of Muspelheim except Prometheus will turn against Surtr, once he fulfills his role in Ragnarok. In Drowned Road, Ran will attack Mami Wata once their plan to drown the Earth is complete. Nu, meanwhile, is hiding, waiting for its opportunity to strike at other avatars.
Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The only sample villain who's an irredeemable monster is Seth Farrow, who ultimately becomes the God of Snakes.
Required Secondary Powers: The first dot in each Purview is usually something completely innocuous on its face, but which you will dearly wish you'd picked up if you try using one of the more advanced powers without it.
Example: Ain't No Rule that says you have to take "Fire Immunity" as a boon but it's a bit embarrassing when you're the only God of Fire that gets burned by his own flame. Similarly, if you don't take "Frost Immunity", you can't use any of the ice-shaping boons of the Frost purview without freezing yourself.
Rule Of Cool: Stunting, a literal rule. The more badass you make it, the better it works. White Wolf first used this idea in Exalted.
Running Gag: "What the heck happened to my -insert item here- ?" Appears at the end of the fiction section that starts each core rulebook.
Sadly Mythtaken: Done deliberately with the Hands of Aten - Thoth classifies the weakest type as Cherubim, despite that being the second-highest rank in tradition, because humanity keeps getting it wrong.
Sirens Are Mermaids: God has sirens of the Drowned Road, that "appear pretty much as depicted by Greek mythology", with each siren being "an incredibly beautiful woman whose legs are replaced with a powerful fish tail." Except the sirens in actual Greek mythology were bird-women.
Screw Destiny: Played straight and subverted. The Scions, being the spawn of the gods, are no longer bound by fate's script. Subverted in that when you do use your god-given powers you run the risk of fate doing a rewrite and forcing some mortal nearby to become your sidekick, and from now on they will show up where you are for no discernable reason and feel some emotion towards you, again that they can't quite understand. Subverted even harder with the gods themselves as the reason why Zeus doesn't appear in front of mortals or Osiris doesn't show up in Egypt. Get too close to mortals and they get stuck in fate and have to follow the script.
Gods are actually bound to "the script", but they are more capable of breaking it. This is implied to be the reason why Zeus is such a manwhore... if enough people believe that a god is like that, he will get the urge to be like that.
It is implemented in the rules too. If you are around a person who is Fate Bound to you, you get bonus dice if you act in the way they expect you to act and penalties if you defy their expectations. So if several people watching are convinced that you are a sociopath and are going to murder the mentally disturbed hostage taker rather than talk him down and get him medical treatment, that may soon become your only viable option!
This is a major plot point in Ragnarok-sparing Hod (Baldur's accidental killer) really derails the prophecy (he trades his life for Baldur's, Loki is never imprisoned, Thokk is revealed to be Baldur's Yandere wife...). And that's only one of the things that can be done; it's quite possible to kill Garm before he gets Tyr (which is actually rather easy for a God, he being a Demigod-level adversary), or convince Fenris to sit out the battle in return for allowing him to live in the Dark Forest.
Sealed Evil in a Can: The Titans used to be. Of course, they still are if you happen to play during World War II.
Title of a sidebar in the first game's included story: "What's in the Egg?" First line of the article: "Gwyneth Paltrow's head! Just kidding."
In the first included story, one task (assigned by Aphrodite) is to bring a strained couple to love...any sort. The default assumption is that they'll split up, but crafty players can rekindle their love for each other. The paragraph discussing this ends with "In your face, space coyote!"
Partially justified-there's not much better you can do for apocalyptic fiction.
Even before Ragnarok, the Aesir got a different background color on their pages than the one shared by the other five pantheons, and a god with the most direct involvement in the sample adventures (Loki). No one was that surprised with a supplement pushing the idea of a campaign where no other gods even existed.
Stephen Ulysses Perhero: Seems to be a common quality of the Scions. Sometimes it's subtle (Brigitte de la Croix, Scion of Baron Samedi, takes her name from Maman Brigitte, the Baron's wife, and her father's love of the crossroads). Other times... it's not (Horace Farrow, Scion of Horus, pronounced exactly the way you think it is).
Strolling Through The Chaos: The one-dot Boon of—naturally—the Chaos Purview, so long as one does not get involved in whatever chaotic event is occurring.
Super Cell Reception: One of the Relics in the Companion book is the iGjallahar, based on the ancient horn of Nordic myth that summons the glorious dead from Valhalla for Ragnarok. It's a special cell phone that get a signal anywhere because it transmits to a tower in the Overworld.
Take That: In Ragnarok, the game discusses alternate ways to cue Fimbulwinter rather than the default meteor strike. The title of the sidebar is "But Armageddon Sucked".
Only Demigods with Epic Stamina are capable of surviving by drinking virtually any liquid and treating it as water, "even such distasteful liquids as gasoline, blood, pine-scented disinfectant or diet cola."
Timey Wimey Ball: As the Greater Titan of Time-but not of causality-Zuvran is this trope. Places under his influence become temporally screwy themselves (an example adventure features the Scions encountering Coyote...as he was in the Wild West, and he quickly realizes he shouldn't be there as if that's nothing strange).
Trickster God: Loki, Baron Samedi, Hermes and Susano-o are in there, what do you expect?
*Ahem* And Odin.
As if that weren't enough, God adds Coyote.
And the Scion Companion adds Manannan mac Lir, Nezha, Sun Wukong, and Br'er Rabbit to the mix. In fact, it's heavily implied that Br'er Rabbit is Coyote, under an alias.
True Companions: A Band can be these. The signature-character "protagonist" Band in the core trilogy seems to be — in God's opening fiction, when they are settling into godhood in their pantheon's homelands, most of them genuinely miss each other.
Two-Faced: Hel. She's stunningly beautiful on one side, and very obviously a corpse on the other.
Most of the time. They were all agreeing upon that half her body was dead. Now, there was argument if the split was vertical, leaving her left side dead, or horizontal, leaving her dead from the waist down.
Values Dissonance: In-universe, it's noted that gods of one pantheon often don't get on with another pantheon because of their very different views of the world (the highly law and discipline-focused Pesedjet or Amatsukami compared to the wilder, more chaotic Aesir or Tuatha, for example). Even individual gods can have values dissonance from their fellows depending on how they prioritize their Virtues.
The best example is the Atzlanti; whereas even the many other pantheons who practiced animal sacrifice have given it up, the Aztec gods still practice — indeed, demand — human sacrifice. This makes the other pantheons leery of them at best. The viewpoint Atzlanti character is noted repeatedly to find it hard to balance his modern-day human views with the views of his pantheon.
Weaponized Landmark: Some believe the Statue Of Liberty, Christ the Redeemer and other large statues could be a giant war automaton if the right key is found. The statue of Vulcan in Birmingham, Alabama is confirmed to be one, but the key's still missing.
You Can't Fight Fate: A major aspect of the game world, and suitably represented in the rules. One of the biggest headaches the Gods (and their children) have to suffer through is figuring out how to make a difference in the world without being Fatebound into a metaphorical (or in some unlucky cases, literal) brick wall.
Few have suffered so much from the inescapable hands of Fate as the Aesir, the Norse pantheon. The doom of Ragnarok is so prevalent in their prophecies and mythologies, that their leader, Odin, pretty much spends all his thought and time doing two things: Looking for a way to avoid it, or making everything work out fine in spite of it. No success on the former, but potentially promising results on the latter. Key word being "potentially".
You Keep Using That Word: Averted. The writers actually get "chthonic" right as a definition (it means "of the earth" or "primal" in Greek, and what else can be used to describe the Titans, who embody the elemental forces of the world?).