[Scion] Return of the “Yes, but…”

Today we’ll be talking about the “Yes, but…” philosophy of gaming.  The first time I’ve heard of this was in Exalted, when people were discussing how to run a game where the players were meant to be able to deconstruct a setting the moment they hit the table.  Exalts were demigods, divinely powered humans given the means to enact sweeping changes to Creation the moment they were exalted by the gods.

Given the sheer nature of the game, it was a slight paradigm shift.  Suddenly, rather than Level 1 characters who fought rats for experience points, the basic starting character was more than able to hurl an Ox-Cart onto a group of guards, or easily dispatch of a sorceror terrorizing a village by summoning a demon to wale on them.

Many GMs didn’t exactly know how to deal with this, and were therefore forcing their tried and true methods:  throw bigger opponents.  Just to somehow even the odds, GMs were throwing lesser gods, elemental dragons, and entire armies at new characters, just to somehow reassert the older philosophy of gaming.  Same old stuff… bigger scale.

In reaction to this, a group of other GMs realized that the power level of the player characters was deliberate.  Rather than fight this sudden increase of power by slapping down even more points on the villains, these GMs figured that the game was all about the consequences.  It enabled large scale change because it was about What Happens Next.

And so the same goes for Scion.  As children of the Gods, even starting Scions can pick up a car and swat some gangbangers with it if properly motivated.  With the change in setting to a modern-day one, a whole new can of worms opens.  Religious persecution or worship, Advertising opportunities, Politics, the Military, the Media… people hoping to become children of gods too, strange secret sex cults revolving around these godlings, hoping that perhaps their children might bear the spark of greatness too.   These are the things that spring forth from the actions of the players.

The game is bigger than them not because the monsters are huge (which they are), or just because of combat.  The game is big because all of a sudden the world is watching the Scion’s every move, judging them, worshipping them, emulating them.

At it’s very core, the “Yes, but…” mentality of running is one that revolves around permission:

“I swat the guy with a backhand that twists his head around thrice and declare myself the new President of this country!”

“Sure.”  the GM answers, but then follows up with the complications of ruling a country, other ambitious scions doing the same to others, and the power struggles that happen next.  Rebel Scions might believe that it is not their place to do this, while others realize that the first was on to something… if they can hold the title.

It’s the complications that fuel these stories and games, and I feel that this is the path that would suit me best in Scion.  Given the nature of the characters, and the players, this should prove to be very interesting indeed as they struggle to push the agendas of their parents, all while balancing their personal lives, public appearances, and how they handle the mortals that stand in awe of them.

[Still Scion] Making Myths…

So, after reading the corebook and talking to a f ew friends regarding the system and the setting… and I’ve decided to just have fun.  Scion is a game that plays heavily into the myths, and it’s important to note that if anything Myths were at the lowest common denominator… entertaining.  Sure some were tragic, but in the end they all had something in them that made them worth remembering.

So here I am, fiddling around with the book, before  I put it aside and ponder… how do I make this game Mythic for my players?  So far I’m only certain of 4 characters… one being a Scion of Odin, another a Scion of Morrigan, one of my players is considering playing crossdressing twins and another of the Amatsukami, but no specific god or goddess (yet, though vote swings in favor of Amaterasu.)

So, first order of business is to do some heavy-duty research on the myths.  I’ve found some good sourced on the net for stuff on the Norse (they seem pretty popular) but I might run into a dead end with the Aztec ones.  That said, it’s exciting and I’m looking for ways already to fold, spindle and mutilate my own stories from Myths, while incorporating elements to the modern world.

Overall I’m still debating on the general mood of the game, there’s certainly a couple of players itching for cinematic level combat of the likes of the Beowulf Animated Film, but there should be room for godly politics, and personal stories as well.

I suppose this is where all my pre-planning must halt.  Until I get the rest of the character concepts in full, I’ll be running in circles.  I’ll see what I can do to talk to my players and find out what they intend to bring to the table.

[Pointyman Reads…] Scion: Hero (Long)

I’ve always been a big fan of Mythology.  Journey to the West, the Odyssey, the Labors of Hercules… Myths form the very foundation of our stories in the modern world.  As such, White Wolf’s Scion piqued my interest when it first came out.  I bought the corebook when it came (miraculously) to Philippine shores, and I picked up the PDF versions of the succeeding books, especially the Scion Companion, which had the Celestial Bureaucracy, and addition that made me very happy given my Chinese heritage.

In any case, I’m planning to run a Scion campaign sometime in the future, and as preparation, I figure making a read-through of the book would help me better understand the rules, and get a better feel of the game.  I’ve read through the rulebook before in my spare time many months ago when I first bought the book, but I’ve got my study mode on today, so hopefully this will be more fruitful.

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[Scion] Still Planning… Tiny little worries

As the title indicates, I’m still working on putting together a Scion campaign.  As I review the book, I suddenly remember the tiny little snags I’ve seen in the system that bother me.  Mainly:

  1. Dexterity The Uberstat – Something that I was glad to leave behind in nWoD, Dexterity seems to be the most important stat in the entire game.   Aside from granting the impossible to ignore Untouchable Opponent benefit, Dexterity also handles the accuracy of attacks and a host of other combat variables.
  2. Oh look! Minions! – It’s relatively easy for a starting Scion to spend bonus points to get a plethora of combat-capable goons at their disposal.  Why bother with fighting Titanspawn head on when you can dial a number and send your Einherjar to do it for you?  It sort of dulls the very point of actually being tasked to do anything when you can delegate it to a small mob of thugs?

Perhaps I’m being overly critical, but it does worry me.  Some might say that I could always just slap on restrictions on Maximum Dexterity and disallow Followers in the game but that might be overly restrictive… and be perceived as me making sure that the Scions don’t hit their full potential.

At this point, I will be talking to my players, after all, they’ve got as much stake in this game as I do.  I’ve already thought about it, and I’m fairly certain that I won’t just be throwing combat at the characters all the time.  That should somehow manage the Dexterity’s importance and lower it in the overall scheme of things.  Surely there has to be other, non-combat opportunities that should prove to be equally important.

As for the Minions, that’ll have to be handled by the players as well.  They’re mature players, and perhaps in talking to them about this concern, they and I can come to some sort of middle ground.  Minions are well and good, but they’re certainly not the stars of the show.

For my next steps, I’ll be going through the corebooks, starting obviously with Scion: Hero… I’ll be working on several posts, scribbling my notes and comments on the game.  I feel that it’s important for a GM to be able to study a system back and forth to be able to run it coherently.

As for those who’ve run or played Scion, what are your experiences?  Did you notice these, or am I jumping at shadows?  Any advice for a first time Scion GM?

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