Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Better Late Than Never: Maya

All right, folks, by popular demand, here's what we've got left over from our work on Maya, the Titanrealm of Illusion. As all of you know, we're no longer working on Scion so this project was never completed, but several people have asked to see what we've got, so here's a list of the Avatars and the rough maps we had already completed by the end of our run.

The Titanrealm of Illusion is Maya, which represents not only illusions in the classical magical sense but also other forms of deception or unreality, including lies, hallucination, dreams and optical befuddlement. Maya is dually run by Mayasura, lord of illusions and opponent of the Deva, and Angra Mainyu, lord of lies and opponent of the Yazata. Together they have succeeded at keeping the two pantheons pitted against one another for time immemorial, deluding each into believing that the other pantheon of gods are the true enemy. There is some confusion between the father of all evil in Persian mythology and the master of deception in Hindu; some have even theorized that maybe they're the same person, although of course it would be almost impossible to prove that one way or the other.

Angra Mainyu, Avatar of Maya
Associations: Manipulation, Chaos, Illusion

Also known as Ahriman to his later worshipers, Angra Mainyu is the source of all discord, evil and especially falsehood in the universe. Created by the doubt of the great Titan Zrvan at the beginning of time as the opposite counterpart to the great god Ahura Mazda, he corrupts and influences for the worse all the creations of his benevolent brother. It is through lies, the most natural and undetectable form of illusion, that he constantly works for the downfall of the world; all lies come from him or his minions, who tempt humanity into telling them every day of their lives, and he waits for the day that the accumulated weight of his untruths will finally bring the world crashing down, destroying righteousness and beginning the Frashokereti, when he will fight to assert dominance over the universe and obliterate truth from it once and for all.

Hypnos, Avatar of Maya
Associations: Health, Illusion

Hypnos is the Greek lord of sleep and dreams, the bringer of the silent night who captures and holds humanity as easily as does his brother, deadly Thanatos. From him come all fantasies of the mind and the middle of the dark night, carried around the worlds by his children, the Oneroi, and their hosts of minor daimones of terror, sleep, dreams and visions. His symbol is the poppy flower, which brings sleep and strange visions to those who suffer from its effects (or those of its modern derivatives, like opium or morphine). He has not left the center of his domain in time immemorial; Hypnos is always sleeping and dreaming himself, and those dreams swallow and rewrite the smaller dreams of any others that come in contact with them. Eventually, if he cannot be stopped, all living things will fall unconscious under his spell, and all of reality will be replaced by Hypnos' dream, subject to the whims of his ancient mind.

Mayasura, Avatar of Maya
Associations: Charisma, Artistry, Illusion

Mayasura is a complex individual; he has at various times throughout history supported and even paid homage to some of the Deva but then turned upon them as an enemy, given them wondrous works of art but then also filled them with traps and pitfalls. He is the undisputed master of optical illusions, bending the maya that makes up the world of mortals and gods so that it deceives even as it seems innocent. A master architect, he can and has created incredible palaces, cities and works of art, and designed them so cunningly that visitors to them can easily fall into dead-ends from which there is no escape or find themselves lost forever in seemingly endless halls and pools. Through the rakshasa and daitya, the latter some of his most ardent followers and the former his children and creations, he releases other workers of illusions into the world to trouble humanity with their powers of deception, exacting vengeance against followers of the Deva who have over the centuries destroyed his works and thwarted his power.

Utgard-Loki, Avatar of Maya
Associations: Manipulation, Frost, Illusion

Although Utgard-Loki is one of the great frost jotun of Norse myth, he is a far cry from the typically brawny but brainless warriors that make up much of his species. Old, crafty and full of the desire to entertain himself at others' expense, Utgard-Loki is a trickster with no equal, spending his time creating illusions to flummox and trap others, luring travelers into his hall to play with like a cat plays with a mouse, or creating incredible and complex illusions just to see if anyone can tell the difference between them and reality. He has no greater agenda except to amuse himself, but in pursuit of that goal, he spares no expense. Just as when he famously tricked Thor and Loki into performing impossible tasks in his hall until he had grown bored with them, he intends to continue to do anything and everything that suits his fancy now that he is free from Tartarus - even if it results in calamity, destruction or death for someone else. These things are, as far as he's concerned, acceptable casualties in the name of fun.

Xochipilli, Avatar of Maya
Associations: Fertility, Illusion

Xochipilli is the Aztec god of divine hallucination, lord of all mushrooms, flowers and fungus that cause mortal minds to go haywire and bringer of the strangest and most bizarre perversions of reality, the intensity of which have been known to drive his victims mad or convince them that things unbelievably far outside the realm of possibility are utter truth. All dangerous drugs, spores and substances that come from the earth and wreak havoc on the mind are his domain, and he is capable of sending sweet and pleasant hallucinations of good things or creating the horrific ultimate in a bad drug trip. Capricious and unconcerned about the problems that his dubious gifts cause those around him, Xochipilli is convinced that only through such freedom from the restraints of boring "reality" can anyone become truly enlightened and freed, and to that end he seeks to spread his brand of chaotic influence to any and all living things. That most of them would self-destruct in short order is not a problem for him; as far as he's concerned, that would be just another part of the natural cycle of life.

As for the realm of Maya itself, we never quite reached what we would consider a finished set of maps, but we can give you what we've got in all its crazy glory! Here's the combined map of the realm, forty-five layers of transparent illusion deep:

Tripura is the realm of Mayasura, Xochitlan the domain of Xochipilli, Viasha the realm of Angra Mainyu, Somnia the dreary home of Hypnos and Utgardr the kingdom of Utgard-Loki. The map gives you a little taste of what's going on here: illusionary landscapes overlaying the real truth of each place. Of course, which layers are "true" and which ones aren't is almost impossible to figure out.

Obviously, we had a lot of work to do signposting and writing up how STs could distinguish between illusions of various levels and the potential of reality in Maya (if there even is such a thing), but alas, this project is over for us now. If any of this is useful for you all out there, however, we wish you luck with it!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Bees Coming Home to Roost

By now most of you have probably seen our video post, letting you all know what we're going to be bidding Scion a fond farewell and moving on to projects of our own soon. Your outpouring of support and kind words were much appreciated. You guys are awesome!

In among all the flailing, several people requested that, since we weren't going to be able to finish all the Scion projects we had begun, they would like to see whatever we did have completed, just in case it was usable. So, as we get a little time here and there, we're going to see if we can't give you guys what's left in our work file. All use at your own risk, of course, since none of it is what we'd normally call a "finished product", but hey, you can all houserule away, right? We know you're not afraid to!

So, to kick this off, here's my personal baby: a tiny little proto-supplement on the Hittite pantheon, the Siwannes. It contains a pantheon roster, complete with Virtues and associations, and a PSP based on the Hittite religious idea of the cyclically raging and calming gods.

This day is not without a pang for me. Those of you who have been around a while know that I have a ridiculous fixation on the Hittite pantheon; they're my favorite obscure gods to get excited and yell about, and I was genuinely touched and excited (like, unicorns flying over the moon outside my bedroom excited) when you guys banded together en masse to vote them in as the next project and let me get to finally work on them. It was their bad luck that they were halfway through processing when it came time to move on to other things, but I'm still glad I got to work on them at all.

So, take ye and enjoy in my name. The larger-than-life personalities of the gods of the ancient Anatolian empire are here to rampage across your games if you want them, with a PSP that pretty much looks exactly like this:

Also, shout-out from us to the awesome Stephen Oppelt, who has helped out with copy-editing and drawing the awesome logos for all our fan pantheons over the years. You rock!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Big Day

Hey, there, everyone. We've been waiting for the right moment to make this announcement, and today is it.

Please come visit us at our new home:!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Scion AMA: Sophia Archimedes

Today, the short and probably not particularly sweet answers of Sophia Archimedes, better known as Aiona, goddess of the eternal flame. She is generally annoyed that people, who are stupid, are talking to her. God. People.

Her player let me know that if you have follow-up questions, I can field them over to her. :)

Yay fan letters

Hey guys. Big fan of your work, and I just thought you might appreciate to know that my friends and I have defaulted to using your home rules as the standard rules of Scion. Thanks for your hard work and dedication! Looking forward to seeing what you think up next. Also, have you actively studied game design? Or does it all just come naturally?

We are really glad to hear it. I know question was sent in a while ago. We hope that you've kept enjoying our rules in your games. We have something big and exciting coming next and we're very hopeful that people will be excited with us.

We've definitely "studied" game design. Ive been comparing/contrasting/breaking/fixing systems in all kinds of games since I was very young. But we havnt taken any classes or gone to college for game design. Both of our undergrads focused on the arts as part of a liberal arts education and hopefully that bleeds into our work in game design. I majored in comparative religious studes, but most of our religious studies(re: scion design), has been incredibly extensive, but has been done on our own. Anne's in a grad program right now for library sciences which has tons of usefulness for game design. But that is the extent of our formal training.

But I also wouldtn say it comes naturally. I have a natural urge/drive to work on games/mechanics/design, but its not something that comes naturally. My drive to work on it sparks a need to envelope myself in it and work on it and learn as much as I can on my own to accomplish what I want to do. I assume there is some natural talent there, but theres also a lot of hard work and effort and sweat/tears/etc.

But blech, thats enough about me....again, glad you're enjoying the site and hope your games are going well.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Fox in the Henhouse

Question: Recently I've been trying to stat up Inari-no-okami for the Kami and I've run into a problem. The three associations needed for Legend 12 are easy (Animal (Fox), Magic and Fertility), but beyond that I'm having trouble distinguishing between things Inari itself does and things its kitsune messengers do, such as shapeshifting or power over fire and lightning. What do you think? Should Inari have Illusion, Fire or Sky, or do its kitsune have a wider variety of powers than it does?

Well, to start with, we agree: Animal (Fox), Fertility and Magic are totally in Inari's wheelhouse. Let's go from there!

First of all, because you bring it up a lot in your question obliquely, it's always worthwhile to talk about Inari's gender, because there is a whole ton of confusion and misinformation and interpretation that goes into how that particular deity is presented in Japanese mythology and whether or not it can be called male, female, or gender-fluid or changeable. English-language studies on Inari, especially older ones, tend to refer to the god as male most of the time; most likely this is because those writing those studies were European outsiders who were inclined to apply a fixed gender to all deities they studied, and who gravitated naturally toward males unless a god was specifically said to be female. Many - in fact most - of the other gods of Shinto are specific and unchanging in their gender, which is often a major part of their stories, but Inari is frequently referred to as either masculine or feminine, indeterminate, or capable of changing between those options at will. Inari's not one of the oldest gods of Shinto (our first confirmed dates are in the early eighth century), but old enough that modern, heavily Buddhist ideas of gender roles probably weren't strongly in effect yet. Inari's modern form is probably a composite figure composed of several different fertility deities, all of them originally separate local gods but later considered aspects of one - most notably, some scholars conflate Inari with Uke Mochi, although obviously we have her off on her own in Ourea as a Titan Avatar.

But anyway, Inari is a truly gender-fluid deity. Some Scions (and other gods, and mortals) might experience the god as male, others as female, others as having no idea one way or the other or seeing elements of both. Regardless of how your game represents Inari, though, you should probably never use "it" to refer to the god. That suggests no gender at all, which is not applicable here, and while some crusty old scholars use the word because English doesn't have good gender-fluid pronouns, in practice it's probably pretty insulting and Inari probably wouldn't appreciate it. Nobody likes being called by a word that implies they have more in common with objects than people; doing so to refer to a god will probably land you on a divine retribution list pretty quickly, especially if you do it to the god's face.

But, back to Inari's associations! Fire and lightning are tangential associations, even for kitsune; even foxfire isn't really fire but more of an optical illusion, so we wouldn't apply either to Inari. However, the god does do a lot of shapeshifting - in addition to appearing as various genders, Inari also turns up as various animals, monsters and even plants, suggesting that there's no confining the deity to a single shape for long. The eternal problem of how to handle shapeshifting in Scion rears its head again; Appearance probably isn't a great fit, since there aren't very many stories suggesting Inari is more visually crazy than other gods, so we would probably tentatively go with Illusion, since that's not only a kitsune feature but also one that Inari's myths often rely on. Inari also has several shrines dedicated to worshiping the god as a curer of disease and giver of children, which could point to Health, although that seems like an outgrowth of the general prosperity idea and we're not sure it's strong enough for a full association.

That leaves us without any firm Epic Attributes to assign to the god, and without more research than we have time for right now (alas, Japan is still not updated on our site!), we can't give you super firm recommendations. Inari is insanely popular, especially with modern businesses, so you might want to go with Charisma, which might also be supported by the god's association with performance and pleasure; Manipulation might be supported by the stories of Inari intentionally pulling capers and tricks in order to teach people lessons or enjoy their bewilderment. Wits is a general fox characteristic, so while we don't have any good support for it from stories, it might be a stopgap option if you need to take the god live for players before you have time to do a ton of work on it.

Kitsune, as a general magical race of creatures, are very common in folkloric stories and therefore do have an expanded powers thanks to the wide range of stories about them. But Inari is a little more specific and has tales that are all the god's own, so we wouldn't assume that the deity necessarily needs associations for everything the little messengers who serve the god might do.

Hades had work to do this evening!

Intense, long, stressful awesome game tonight.  Thanks to players for being awesome and making decisions that cause stuff to happen :)

Was fun talking about water all weekend, but definitely ready to move on.  Big announcement coming on the first, so keep an eye out.