Sunday, May 20, 2018

Gorgon Archer - Scion 2nd Edition - Character Creation Analysis

Scion's first edition was a hot mess of a system with a wonderfully fun premise. As you can tell from this blog, I quite like the idea of playing with mythological creatures. However, Scion first edition was primarily limited on human or human-like characters who happened to have a touch of the divine. There were ways of building something like a gorgon, but it would be something that would have to come over time rather than something you start with. Likewise, the rather erratic and self-contradictory rule-set made homebrewing both necessary and touchy.


The second edition is so far much superior. There's still not an official set of rules for playing gorgons but the game has systems for playing legendaries other than demi-gods. These legendaries who are not scions are referred to as Denizens and are usually limited in how high a legend that they can reach though it is possible for a Denizen to also be a Scion such as if you are a kitsune who is also a child of Inari or a nymph whose father was a Greek god, thus allowing for the character to have the full potential of reaching god-hood eventually.

The packages intended to create these Denizens are designed to be flexible so the kitsune package might be used to represent a European Reynard style fox, a Korean vicious gumiho, a Japanese or Chinese trickster, or even shapeshifting tricksters that aren't foxes like a relative of Anansi the spider. In the books released to the backers so far, there are paths for: therianthropes, kitsune, wolf-warriors, centaurs, naga, troll, vodyanov, strange folk, sorcerers, and satyr. Each of these has a number of variations such as deer women of the Manitou and the Amazons of Greek myth. The naga path is a bit different from what I was thinking of for the gorgon, so I used the guidelines to generate a Serpent path that could range from Melusine to the serpent people of Yig from Lovecraft's stories.

With that answered, I'm going to go to the character creation itself. We're going to start with an origins level character so our character will not have a Legend rating to start with. This means that while she will possibly have a minor supernatural trait or two she won't yet look demonstrably inhuman. Those Denizens that have obvious physical features develop those once they've gained enough Legend to awaken their ichor and develop that nature.

One note is that Denizens are apparently getting a rewrite, but we'll go with this anyway as it is similar enough to standard scion character creation to serve as an example.

Step one is concept and this is where you decide on the basic idea that you're building towards as well as the pantheon your character most closely associates with. The concept is clear, we're aiming at the gorgon archer, but what to do for pantheon. Typically for a gorgon that would be the Theoi with the Greco-Roman gods however it's perfectly fine for you to choose a non-standard pantheon. Since there are theories that the concept of Medusa originally came from an opposing religion contemporary to the ancient Greeks out of Lybia. With that in mind, I'm going to associate her with the Orisha and Loa pantheons. Another reason for this is that the Orisha "think the Titanomachy is bullshit" and are seeking to build peace between god and titan rather than continue the war so a gorgon would be more welcome among them. 

Also in step one you will need to decide on some "Deeds". Deeds are short-term and long-term goals. These can be in-character goals or they can be out of character goals that you have for their development. For example, a character is unlikely to consciously desire to "admit to her desire to be part of a group" but it is something you want to move your character toward. It represents the next step you want to take in your character's story arc. At any given time you can have one Short-term, one Long-term, and one Band deed. The last represents the current overall goal that your group is aiming at.

Step two comes off the concept and is where you choose paths. Every character has three Paths to choose from: an origin path, describing their background; a role path, describing their occupation or the way they approach life; and a Society/Pantheon path describing their connection to society or the supernatural world. In the case of Denizens one of these paths has to represent their supernatural nature. Each of these comes with a short description similar to a Fate aspect, three associated skills, a set of connections and contacts, and a condition that occurs when you invoke the Path too often.

Step three involves dealing with skills, which is a bit different than normal for games from White Wolf and Onyx Path which have historically had you choose attributes first, though that is rather a minor thing. Typically of Storyteller games, Skills start off with you choosing to prioritize three categories. In this case it is the paths you choose from step two. 

The primary path gets 3 dots added to each of the three associated skills, the secondary gets 2 dots to each of its skills, and the tertiary path gets 1 dot to each of its skills. If the same skill appears in multiple paths, these dots stack. So it's possible to get to the maximum of 5 dots in a skill if a skill appears in both the primary and secondary path. 

If any skills get more than five dots, you are allowed to redistribute the extra to a different Path skill. Since this will only happen if the same skill appears in all three paths, this will mean that you can apply that overflow to any of the other skills associated with your paths. Any skill with three or more dots gains a specialties. Specialties in this system do not add to the number of dice you roll but they mean that you will generate extra momentum whenever you fail a roll, thus generating resources for you or the rest of the band to use. Basically, you're skilled enough to even turn a failure into some sort of opportunity to be taken advantage of.

Step four is the setting of attributes and this works a bit like how players of Storyteller games would find familiar. The attributes have a three by three structure and are organized into three Arenas and three Approaches. The Arenas are the expected Physical, Mental, and Social with the Approaches being Force, Finesse, and Resilience. Each of the nine attributes gets one dot to start and then more dots are assigned based on how you prioritize the arenas.

This is where the design method seems similar to World of Darkness or Chronicles of Darkness. The character gets six dots to assign to their primary Arena, four to their secondary, and two to their tertiary. These are the Arenas they are most capable with not the Arenas they prefer. As the book suggests, someone that wants to be a tough-guy might actually be better as a social character. 

After this comes the last part of assigning attributes where you choose a favored Approach. If your character is about doing things in a straightforward and powerful manner this would be Force. If your character is more about being careful, tricky and skillful, then this would be Finesse. If your character is going to be about enduring and outlasting things, it will be Resilience. The benefit on your favored Approach is that you start the game with two extra dots to each of the three attributes in that Approach.

Step five deals with Callings and Knacks. Normally, we would look at the three Callings of our scion's divine parent and choose one of those as our Calling. Each of these Callings comes with a list of Knacks. However, as we are doing a Denizen and assuming that her relationship with a divine sponsor will be one of being chosen, so our gorgon doesn't start with a Calling and that is replaced by the Serpent supernatural path I have homebrewed based on the guidelines in the books. Callings and Supernatural Paths have a dot rating. At origin level you have one Calling or Supernatural Path at a rating of 1 dot. This gives us one Heroic Knack. This rating is also the number of knacks you can have access to at any given time. So if we learned other knacks we wouldn't be able to access more of them than our rating in the Calling. For origin level characters this means the character will only have one knack active at a time. And we'll be choosing our knack from the list provided by my Serpent homebrew.

Step six is the finishing touches. At this point you get 5 bonus skill points, 1 bonus attribute point, and then a choice of either 2 more Knacks or 4 Birthright points. Determining Defense and Health is also here. Defense is based on one of your Resilience stats based on what is appropriate for how you are resisting an attack. If you are simply enduring physical trauma, that would be Stamina. If you staying calm and moving at the right time, that would be Composure. If you are weathering a bought of fear to keep going that would be Resolve. 

As for health, characters have one each of Bruised, Injured, Maimed, and Taken Out levels. If you have Stamina 3 or 4 then you have an extra Bruised level. If you have Stamina 5 there will be two additional Bruised levels for a total of 3.

Serpent Path

Forbidden is only a matter of timing and location.
There is knowledge and passion behind slitted eyes. The serpent sits within many of the stories of humanity taking on many roles. They have been guardians blocking a path and tempters offering questionable advice. You know this better than most because you’re one of those serpents. The lure of knowledge calls to you and while they claim a snake’s blood runs cold, you know that yours runs hot and wild. Love, anger, grief, none of it runs calm in you. It boils unseen under the surface where others can’t see it.
In the modern age, serpents can pass under the radar quite often. There’s a couple of conspiracy theories about lizard people, and certain Western religions go a bit crazy over you, but otherwise the biggest danger you face is your fellow legends.

Building Legend

As a serpent builds in power, their nature becomes more obvious and harder to hide. As soon as the serpent gains a Legend they acquire the Persistent Condition Serpentine Aspect
Serpentine Aspect (Persistent Condition)
You have some feature that can reveal your nature. This is either a single significant feature, such as the gorgon’s serpentine hair; several minor features, such as the touches of scales in the naga women; or a major transformation that occurs at certain times or circumstances, such as Melusine’s snakey-Saturdays. Discovery of this truth can bring those seeking your death or your advice depending on the culture.
Effect: You have a Serpentine Aspect which you have to hide and can be discovered.
Momentum: Every time discovery of your nature creates unwanted attention whether it is pleas for aid or calls for your death.
Innate Ability: Complications related to lack of light are reduced in severity by 1 for you as your eyes are adapted to seeing in the dark.

Serpent Knacks

Master of Venom: Whether through serpentine hair, poisoned claws, a snake’s fangs, or an enchantment of some kind, you are able to infect enemies with a poison. Spend a Momentum and for the rest of the scene you gain access to the following Stunts for unarmed attacks:
  • Wracking Pain (1s): The target of your attack is afflicted with terrible pain, gaining a -1 Complication until the end of their next turn. Further successes can be spent on this Stunt to increase either the Complication or the duration to a maximum of -3 Complication and 3 Turns. 
  • Venom (2s): This attack inflicts the Poison condition.
Serpent Tongue: You are capable of speaking to serpents in their own language which sounds like sibilant hissing to others looking on. Most snakes can reason in the manner of young children and simply don’t care for much outside of their interests.
Stillness of a Serpent: Your serpentine nature allows you to remain unnaturally still and control your breathing to point that sometimes people will fail to see you even when you’re merely standing in the corner. While you remain still, you gain a +1 Enhancement to rolls to remain unnoticed.
Cold Response: While your emotions may run hot, they rarely seem to impact the face you present to others. When you oppose someone’s attempt to read your emotions you gain access to the following Stunts:
  • See what I want you to see (1s): You are able to determine a particular emotion or impression the interviewer reads from you. This does not have to be false impression. 
  • What do you seek? (2s): You gain a clue as if you were the one to successfully read the opponent. 
  • Interesting Reaction (1s): You may reflexively make an attempt to provoke an emotional response in either your interrogator or onlookers. Whether this is to make them look unstable, move to defend you, or something else is up to you.
Eye for the Hidden: You have an instinct for uncovering hidden knowledge. Whenever you engage in an information-gathering action, you gain a +1 Enhancement.
Shedding the Serpent’s Skin: Once per Scene, you may spend a Momentum to cancel the damage dealt by a single attack. When you do so, you shed your skin causing most of the attack’s force to be lost.
Tempting Whispers: When you speak to someone carrying a secret they are uncomfortable with, you can give them the impression that you are a safe person to vent to. Spend a Momentum and roll a Knack skill, on one success, they give the secret in hypothetical terms. On three successes they will reveal details and names.
Forbidden Fruit: As the Lover Knack “Fluid Appeal” you will begin to take on aspects of the target’s desires that they try to deny or repress.

Variations:

Gorgon: Dread Gaze, Cloak of Dread, Silence in the Woods
Naga: Immunization Booster, Perfect Partner, Not a Fighter
Serpent People of Yig: Presence of Magic, Eye for an Eye, Eyes in the Blinds
Melusine: Mortal’s Mask (kitsune), Daughter of the River, Cloak of Dread
  • Daughter of the River: As a descendant of a river goddess, some melusine are able to breathe underwater and have a +1 Enhancement to move within water.
-----

Kyra Olrin - Gorgon Archer


Short-Term Deed: Make a difficult shot
Long-Term Deed: Defeat a mythical creature.
Band Deed: Solve the problems in the woods outside of town.

Primary - The back woods were my playground - Survivalist: Firearms, Medicine, Survival.
Contact: Paul Maritot, other child who grew up in the wild but went off to Iraq.
Connections: Hunters and conservationists.
Access: Hidden places in the wilds.
When Juniper and Wilton Olrin came to town claiming that the baby they carried was theirs and Juniper had given birth on her own, there were some condescending lectures but no one really questioned it. No one mentioned the harried woman with her head covered by a hood and hands covered in scales leaving the child at their door before vanishing into the woods. Kyra grew up on that edge of town, rarely staying in town longer than needed for schooling and she learned the way of the woods quickly.

Uncultured - Condition
Effect: When you invoke your backwoods background too often, you generate an impression of being an uncultured and uneducated bumpkin causing a Complication (1) on social rolls with most people.
Momentum: Whenever the condition causes you to ruffle the wrong feathers.

Secondary - Stealthy Hunter - Sneak: Athletics, Subterfuge, Survival
Contact: Officer Kendrick with Fish and Game
Connections:  Fish and Game Officers.
Access: Fish and Game records.
The wild child grew up and started to take up bow-hunting to help supplement the dinner plate for her parents. She was taught all the rules of a responsible hunter. Never to over-hunt. Always to make sure that to keep her licenses up to date. To choose her quarry carefully. But most of all how she learned how to be a ghost in the woods so that not even the birds would know when she passed.
Skittish - Condition
Effect: You're over-reliance on your stealthy nature has left you feeling vaguely paranoid about being in the open. When you're out of cover you suffer a Complication (1) on your actions.
Momentum: Whenever you hold back from acting as quickly as you could to avoid losing cover.

Tertiary - Descent of the Gorgons - Serpent: Close Combat, Occult, Subterfuge
Contact: Ontaria Blake, occultist and anthropologist.
Connections: Gorgons
Access: Euryale's terra incognita.(should she ever find it)
While her nature hasn't become truly obvious yet, as Kyra has gotten older, her hair has gotten thicker and seemed to twist about on its own. Her skin has gotten dryer, almost scaly, with odd discolorations here and there and some have been known to freeze in place with a simple look from her sharp, green eyes.

Poisoned Rage - Condition
Effect: When you draw upon your gorgon's heritage, a trace of the rage, grief, and sorrow of the original gorgons leaks through you. This gives you a Complication (1) to act calmly and rationally.
Momentum: When you lash out without thinking due to your attitude.

Academics
Athletics *** (Climbing)
Culture
Close Combat *
Empathy *
Firearms **** (Compound Bow)
Leadership
Medicine *** (First Aid)
Occult *
Persuasion **
Pilot
Science
Subterfuge *** (Stalking)
Survival ***** (Tracking)
Technology

Attributes - Priorities: Mental, Physical, Social
Force 
  • Intellect ***
  • Might **
  • Presence **
Finesse (Favored Approach)
  • Cunning ****
  • Dexterity ****
  • Manipulation ***
Resilience
  • Resolve ****
  • Stamina ***
  • Composure **
Callings: 
Serpent * - Knacks: Dread Gaze, Eyes for the Hidden, Silence in the Woods
Active: Silence in the Woods

Legend: 0
Defense: Resolve 4, Stamina 3, Composure 2
Health: Bruised x2, Injured, Maimed, Taken Out

Character Advancement
Character Creation and the Gorgon Archer

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