Thursday, January 23, 2014

Open Letter to Bethesda Games and White Wolf

Something I'd like to see for a CRPG sandbox game in the vein of Skyrim or Fallout 3 is a game along the lines of the White Wolf Scion game.  For those that aren't familiar with the game, scion is a game where you play the children of the old gods in a modern time battling the servants of the titans (and occasionally the other gods).  Very recently, some time after World War II, the Titans escaped their prisons (at least partially) and are now once again trying to return the World to a state of primal chaos that existed prior to the development of humanity and the subsequent birth of the gods.


I would love this to be a CRPG.  Some basic concepts regarding the flavor of the game.

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Pantheons

The basic game describes 6 pantheons and these were expanded to 13 pantheons by later additions.  Each pantheon has a special connected power unique to them.  Out of each pantheon you choose a single divine parent, this divine parent will favor some skills, epic attributes and purviews.  The favored stuff will be cheaper to pursue than other skills, epic attributes and purviews, but you are still able to take the other powers.

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Core 6

Aesir - Norse - Jotunblut: enhancing mortal followers by feeding them blood.  These followers become fanatically loyal to the Aesir and somewhat irritable with everybody else while they become physically more powerful.  The first rank works on animals only, second and third work on humans.  And then it goes again with 1 animal and 2 human enhancements.  Then 1 animal enhancement, 1 human enhancement and 1 power to cure a mortal of addiction to Eitr (giantblood).

Amatsukami - Japanese - Tsukomogami: talking to the spirits of inanimate objects like weapons, trees and the like.  This provides a number of unique potentials.  The first level allows you to wake up a spirit and talk to it to get information.  The second level allows you to ask a spirit to specifically keep watch in an area.  The third level allows you to ask the spirit to aid an action for which it was made: such as asking a forge to help in the creation of a weapon or asking a gun to help in shooting.

Atzlanti - Aztec - Itzli: Sacrifice in exchange for power.  At low levels this is primarily cutting yourself in exchange for legend but eventually you get to where you can sacrifice enemies.  The very highest rank grants its highest bonus if the sacrifice is blood related to you.

Dodekatheon - Greek - Arete: Super-skills.  This can be taken multiple times and each skill increases the dice pool of a particular skill (or allows for rerolls).  The Greeks are just amazingly awesome at skills, it's often complained to be a thematically boring power but one that provides huge actual bonuses.

Loa - Voodoo - Cheval: Possession.  The powers of the Loa allow for differing levels of possessing other people or controlling their souls at various levels of control and possession.

Pesedjet - Egyptian - Heku: Powers based on the manipulation of the Egyptian multiple parts of a person: ren (name) sekem (energy) ba (soul/personality) ka (corporeal life force) akh (postmortem merger of ba and ka), khaibit (shadow) and sekhu (mortal remains).  The powers are rather varied but all deal with manipulating the above facets of a person.

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The 3 Main Expanded Pantheons

Tuatha - Celtic - Enech: The character gains a benefit for following the tenets of the celtic morality.  Among other things they can take on geasa which grant them power as long as they fulfill certain rules.  If they break the rules, they will suffer penalties.  It also has a lot of powers which are basically praising or insulting people to give them buffs.  Or bragging about yourself to gain benefits.

Celestial Bureaucracy - Chinese - Tai yi: A control of spiritual energy and the transformation of beings.  This ranges through increasing the power of other scions, transforming ghosts into lesser immortals, dispelling powers, combining purviews to make them harder to dispel. Etc.

Devas - Hindu - Samsara: Stepping outside of the weave of Fate and escaping the story.  This lets you do things like reroll failed actions, tell what the purpose of a GM's secret rolls are and whether they succeeded or not.  Reflecting supernatural attacks and so on.

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The World War II Pantheons - primarily for the WWII setting which was prior to the Titans escaping and consisting of scions fighting mostly other scions and titanspawn working for the various gods.

Yankee Pantheon - US Folk Tales - Industry: working hard, working long, gremlins and eventually the nuclear bomb

Allied Pantheon - a conglomeration of British, French and Russian folk tales - Civitas: teamwork and collaboration for the good of the society.  (I grimace at the Allied Pantheon, I like some of the Gods such as Robin Hood, Baba Yaga and D'Artagnan....but lumping these three together is more than a little insulting to the cultures involved).

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Yazata Pantheon.  This is the Persian pantheon.  I haven't used it much and haven't played with it enough to know how it works.

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Atlantean Pantheon.  I rather hate this as a thing.  We don't even have proof of Atlantis as a culture in the past, much less what their religion was.  I don't mind the idea of Atlantis being a place in the setting, but the Atlantean pantheon annoys me.

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Legend and Fate

The source of a scion's power is their legend.  In fact the source of any supernatural's power is their legend.  Werewolves have power because people tell stories about them as do vampires and dragons.  The demigods are no different.  As such, this is different from White Wolf's more well known setting (World of Darkness) because having witnesses is thematically beneficial.  Even when you have tons of witnesses, however, the general supernatural conflict will continue to be un-noted by the majority of the world.  I ran a massive battle across the whole Seattle involving a flying galleon, fenrir wolves, giant tigers, human mercenaries, giants, werecreatures, pterodactyl things, harpies, zombies, hel-hounds, rakshasha, an army of hackers and remote control predator drones.  The mortal media is reporting "rumors" of genetically engineered animals used as weapons and the actions of various fanatics.  All the official reports carefully avoid mention of mythological monsters. Witnesses to the actual events tend to say "he was like a giant" or "it was a huge tiger" or "I don't know what it was" rather than noting "he was a giant", "it was a nemean tiger" or "they were giant spiders!"  The stories of the characters' exploits still spread, but the supernatural aspects are often taken to be exaggerations or conspiracy theories.

The downside of acting under the public eye is Fatebinding.  When you perform amazing feats of strength or intelligence...or you perform outright magic...you have a chance of becoming fatebound to people, places or things.  A fatebinding works two ways and enforces rolls on those bound.  For example, if a mortal witnesses you killing someone in a impressively legendary way, it could produce a fatebinding role on you of "murderer" or "monster" while it produces a "witness" fatebinding role on the person you are bound to.  Afterwards as long as the fatebound witness is around you, you gain bonus dice to actions that forward that role and penalties on actions that work against that roll.  Likewise, the witness gets bonuses when acting like a witness and penalties when trying to avoid the role.  If the person witnessing you realized the person you killed was a vicious serial killer or even witnessed that the thing you killed wasn't even human, then the roles might be "vigilante" and "fan" instead of "murderer" and "witness."  Most fatebindings fade over time, but powerful ones (5+) can persist for the life of those bound or even into the afterlife (6+).  It is because of fatebinding that Zeus is such a skirtchaser.  Anytime Zeus comes down to Earth, he is bound up in so much fatebinding that he has to behave like a skirt-chasing player or suffer massive penalties.

Legend is used to fuel powers and knacks and can be used to reroll, increase defense and add successes to your roll on an action.  Spending for knacks, defense and reroll is unlimited.  Spending to add bonus successes can be done a number of times each story equal to your Legend score.  For example, if you have legend 2, you can add successes to a roll twice per story and each time would add +2 successes.  If you have legend 5, you can add successes 5 times per story and each time would add +5 successes.

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Nature and Calling

These are primarily guidelines for the way your character acts and what their purpose in life is. 

The Calling has no mechanical effect and essentially is only a way for you to focus around building your character.  For example a "Martial Artist Prodigy" would take a lot of combat powers and someone with a calling of "Bridge of Peace" would have a lot of diplomatic and peaceful type powers.  There is no set list of Callings because it is made up by the player.  I usually use something to describe the character as they will end up being known as in legend such as "Amaterasu's Eclipse" "Doomed Traitor" "The Trickster Fox" "The Great Mangaka" or "The Beautiful Death".

Natures have a mechanical effect in that they give an alternate way to recover Willpower by acting in accordance with the nature, but in most games I've been in, we've largely ignored it and only used it as a guideline.  It's more useful in pigeonholing how NPCs will act.  The list of natures is below.

Architect - You are a methodical planner.
Autocrat - It's your way or the highway.
Bravo - You live life on the edge.
Caregiver - You are a wellspring of compassion.
Competitor - You are driven to be the best.
Cynic - You are familiar with Murphy's Law.
Fanatic - You zealously champion your beliefs.
Gallant - You protect those that can't protect themselves.
Gambler - You risk all to win.
Judge - You are the law.
Libertine - You live each day like it's your last.
Loner - You rely on yourself alone.
Pacifist - You endeavor to solve problems peacefully.
Pedagogue - You live to teach.
Penitent - You seek to expiate the wrongs you've done.
Perfectionist - You strive for flawlessness in all your endeavors.
Rebel - You believe laws were made to be broken.
Survivor - You persevere against everything life throws at you.
Traditionalist - You believe the old ways are the best ways.
Trickster - You live to deceive.
Visionary - You see the World for what it could be rather than what it is.

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Epic Attributes

Like in any White Wolf game, there are 9 attributes, 3 physical, 3 social and 3 mental.  In addition to the normal, there are also Epic Attributes.  Epic Attributes add bonus successes to your rolls and other benefits besides.  In addition, for each level of an Epic Attribute you have, you gain 1 "knack" related to that attribute.  You can also buy knacks separately and have as many knacks as you want even if your epic attribute never rises above 1.  Also, the benefit from epic attributes is not linear.  The bonus successes for each level go like this: 1, 2, 4, 7, 11, 16, 22, 29, 37, 46.  Which means that by Epic Attribute 3, you are, without even trying, achieving a level of success considered exceptional by most of humanity and by level 4, you achieve mastery results without trying.  By the time you hit the god levels (Legend 9-12), you're basically superman.  (of course, you have to have actual levels in the skill being used with the attribute, but still)

Epic Attributes can't be higher than your Legend -1.

Epic Strength: Increases jump distances and lifting. Increases Melee, Brawl and Thrown damage.  Knacks include unarmed damage increases, jump increases, destruction of inanimate objects and terrain, thrown weapons, lifting knacks and other such things.

Epic Dexterity: Increases move and run speed.  Increases Defense.  Knacks include defensive knacks, mobility knacks, ranged weapon knacks, escape artist and so on.

Epic Stamina: Increases time one can survive without food, water, sleep or air.  Increases health, increases soak.  Reduces wound penalties (at Epic Stamina 3, you have no wound penalties regardless of how hurt you are).  Knacks include damage-soaking, healing, poison immunity, endurance knacks, eternal youth and so on.

Epic Charisma: No special increase, adds to Charisma actions such as inspiration, command and persuasion.  Knacks include things like charming people to not be hostile, avoiding getting in trouble for something, always appearing cool, inspiring people to greatness, making people feel important, and convincing people of your position through impassioned pleas.

Epic Manipulation: No special increase, adds to Manipulation actions such as intimidation, lying and the like.  Knacks include detecting lies, detecting guilt, giving direct orders, lying convincingly, threatening people, laying blame on other people.

Epic Appearance: Allows rerolls of Presence skill rolls.  Either beauty or ugliness.  Knacks include shapeshifting, drawing attention, blinding people, making them not want to look at you so much they have trouble fighting you, shifting between beauty and ugliness, fear, inspiration, seduction, disgust.

Epic Perception: Deals with deliberate searching or analysis.  Knacks include sensing radio waves, sensing fatebinding, detecting other scions, tracking prey, paying attention to multiple sensory sources, blindfighting, excellent sense of smell and taste, clairvoyance and so on.

Epic Intelligence: Deals with intellectual research and riddles.  Knacks include reducing experience point costs, reducing enemy combat bonuses (fighting intelligently), knowing useful trivia, resisting mental powers, knowing a little bit about most skills, teaching others, code-breaking, language mastery, wirelessly interfacing with computers you can see, telepathy and so on.

Epic Wits: Deals with gut feelings and instinctive senses...such as detecting when an ambush is about to happen.  Also frequently used for telekinetic type powers.  Knacks include reducing the penalties for being attacked by multiple enemies, reducing the penalties for having distractions in the environment, profiling people, doing the Sherlock scan on a crime scene, going first in combat, giving painful insults that drain willpower, retorting with better insults, always seeming to fit in to the situation, detecting ambushes, responding to sudden assault even if you didn't notice it coming, Initiative effects.

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Purviews

These are the supernatural powers associated with the Gods.  There are all-purpose purviews (available to everybody), special purviews (available to everybody but work differently than general purviews) and pantheon purviews (only available to specific pantheon and mentioned above).  All-Purpose and Special purviews require the player to have a relic that grants access to those powers in order to use them.  At Demigod level (Legend 5-8) they can use some powers without their relics (but at a reduced level), at God level (Legend 9-12) the penalty for not having a relic is reduced.  In either case, if the demigod or god loses ownership of a relic, they lose access to the purview.

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All-Purpose Purviews

Animal - control of animals, shapeshifting and adoption of animal features
Chaos - confusion, anarchy, formlessness.  Either causing it, controlling it or surviving it.
Darkness - shadow, darkness, night
Death - ghosts and death
Earth - control of stone
Frost - control of cone (not in core book, appears in Ragnarok book)
Fertility - control of plant life
Fire - control and association with fire
Guardian - protection of other people and things
Health - healing and inflicting pain or disease
Illusion - creation of illusions (Ragnarok purview)
Justice - punishment of the guilty
Moon - influence of things relating to the moon
Psychopomp - travel powers
Sky - wind, air and lightning
Sun - control of light and the sun
Water - control of water
War - becoming the warrior incarnate

All-Purpose Purviews have a number of boons.  These boons don't have to be taken all at once or in order.  It is possible for a person to take the third Fire boon and never take either the first or second, for instance.  Also, there are occasionally alternate powers at the same level, both can be taken.  For example, a single person can choose to learn both Warning Line and Vigil Brand despite the fact that they're both rank 1 Guardian boons.  A person can have any number of boons, but they can't have boons of a higher rank than their legend -1.

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Special Purviews - Special Purviews deepen the scions perception and control of Fate

Magic - directly manipulating the threads of Fate's plan.  It can duplicate boons of All Purpose purviews, but such duplications are often a little weaker.  Mostly these spells involve tweaking the destiny of the targets.  Magic always fatebinds the caster to the target.

Mystery - allows the scion to see parts of the weave of Fate directly.  For every success rolled, the scion can ask one question of the GM which must be answered.  This can be done once per story.

Prophecy - allows the scion to see parts of Fate's plan.  For every success rolled, the scion gets one hint as to what is coming.  This can be done once per story.

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Birthrights

These are things that are fated to be tied to the character.  These are followers, creatures special items, guides and the like.

Followers/Creatures - inexplicably split up into two advantages, these represent mortal and supernatural entities that serve the character.

Guide - this represents a person who advises the character or gives them missions or help.  Every character has their divine parent as a free 5 point guide.

Relic - these are the characters' characteristic weapons and tools.  Some are things like computers, cell phones and musical instruments.  Others are things like clothing, armor or weapons.

Gods also have two more birthrights available:

Avatar - the ability to manifest as a weaker version of yourself so as not to produce or invoke as much fatebinding

Sanctum - an other-world of your own, shaped by you.


Relics can do several things:

Provide contact to a guide, follower or creature.

Summon a guide, follower or creature.

Provide access to a purview (necessary for a scion to use that purview)

Provide a bonus to it's normal use (a computer with bonus dice to programming...a sword with bonus to accuracy)

Duplicate the power of a boon (this is similar to providing access to a purview, but it provides only the one boon, not the whole purview...and the boon does not actually have to be purchased)

Unique Powers

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Virtues

Each pantheon has four out of twelve total godly virtues.  Most mortals have virtue ratings of 0, usually noted as not having virtues.  Every scion has a virtue rating of at least 1 in all four of their pantheon's virtues.  A rank of 1 means that you are a better example of that virtue than the vast majority of humanity.  Virtues run up to 5.  They can be expended to provide bonus dice in situations.  This can be done a number of times per story equal to the rank of the virtue and provide a die bonus equal to the rank of the virtue.

Also, virtues dictate behavior.  In order to act against a Virtue, the character must first roll a number of dice equal to their rank in that Virtue.  If they get ANY successes, then they have to spend 1 Willpower to act against the Virtue.  If they roll more successes than their current Willpower (say they're at Willpower 3 and in their virtue roll they roll 4 successes) then they enter a Virtue Extremity, which is a state of temporary insanity.  I've told new players that because of virtues you can either act unreasonably...or you can go insane.

Conviction - dedication to and protection of a cause
Courage - facing challenges, proving your physical capability, etc
Duty - dedication to and protection of a community
Endurance - continuing in spite of great hardship
Expression - the ability to communicate the passion of your soul
Harmony - the belief in a cosmic design
Intellect - the respect of regard for rationality, reason, learning and knowledge
Loyalty - dedication to and protection of friends and family
Order - dedication to and protection of the law
Piety - dedication to and protection of tradition
Valor - dedication to and protection of the defenseless
Vengeance - dedication to the punishment of sins

Titans also have virtues:

Ambition - To the titans and titanspawn, love, family and friendship are alien concepts and communal instincts are a sin against the self.  The only person a titanspawn should care about is themselves.  Even the Titans themselves are not worthy of actual loyalty save that it is a means to gaining greater power.  This is why titanspawn will almost always backstab someone if they think it will benefit them, even the Titans.

Malice - To the titans and titanspawn, compassion is a sort of madness unique to the Gods and mortals.  It is the natural state of things to revel in the fear and pain of those weaker than you.   This is why they will torture and play with their foes rather than kill them outright.

Rapacity - The gratification of the senses and the satiation of hunger are the only valid reasons for action.  Titans, titanspawn and those corrupted by them will always indulge in their desires, raping, thieving and devouring all they can.  This is why they will never back down from simply taking the things they desire and will always take up any deal they think we get them what they want.  But then they'll likely cheat on the deal if they can.

Zealotry - All titanspawn gain their power from the Titans, but not all are willing to risk their lives serving their masters, especially not against scions, but those with high zealotry eagerly seek out ways to serve their masters and refuse to falter or back down from the attempts.  Giving them such an opportunity is a great way to manipulate them into doing something.

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Willpower and Legend Points

Scions have a Willpower ranked between 1 and 10.  The starting value is equal to the some of the two highest virtues you have at character creation.  Afterwards it is increased via experience.  Willpower is used to invoke Virtues for bonuses, power some knacks and boons, resist mental powers and can also be spent to provide a single automatic success.  Unless a boon requires multiple Willpower points to be spent, only 1 Willpower can be spent in a round.

Scions have a number of Legend points equal to the square of their Legend.  So at start, with a Legend of 2, the scion would have 4 Legend Points.  A low level demigod of Legend 5 would have 25 legend points.  A low level god of Legend 9 would have 81 legend points and a full Legend 12 God would have 144 legend points.  Any number of legend points can be spent in a round.  They can be used to provide bonus successes to a roll equal to the scion's Legend (1 time per Legend dot per story), reroll failed ability rolls (once per roll), increase their defense to an attack and to power knacks and boons.

Willpower and Legend refill complete at the start of each new story.  They also recover by stunting (dramatic description of their actions).  Also, Willpower can be recovered by following one's Nature, though this is a mechanic I don't generally use much of.

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Adversaries and Allies

There are several sorts of creatures within the setting of Scion, and not all of them come from the Titans directly.

Mortals - These are normal men and women, sometimes of great skill, but still normal men and women.

More-than-Mortals - These are people with a touch of the divine.  Some were created or born that way, others were mortals who were changed.  Amazons, Thralls, Berserks, Einherjar, Maenads, Spartoi, Myrmidons, Samurai and so on.

The Dead - These are ghosts and zombies.  Things that have died and yet continue to remain around.  Note, scion does not consider the dead to be inherently evil unless they're corrupted by the titans.  Zombies, ghosts and mummies can be tools of good.  Hungry dead and spectres are titan corrupted dead things.

The Undead - Powerful, titan-corrupted predatory and intelligent dead beings.  These things regain legend points only by feeding on mortals and gain even more legend points by feeding on scions.  Unlike the Dead, they are all considered corrupted and evil.  (though it is possible that some Gods make use of them).

Titanspawn - These are creatures spawned directly by the Titans to do their work.  Most do not truly have Free Will and can only behave as extensions of their creators' wills.  Others have broken free and allied with the Gods.  First there are the minions, many of whom were mortals corrupted by the Titans such medusae (mortals fed on the blood of the two remaining Gorgons, they remain beautiful as long as they have the blood, without it, they have to eat the eyes of the beautiful in order to remain pretty themselves.).  Then there are the Chimera, unique creatures of dangerous, powerful abilities.  Nemeans - primal, vicious examples of natural beings.  Giants - huge men with addictive, empowering blood that forces loyalty to the titan who gives it.   When defeated, most titanspawn leave behind a "trophy" that can provide some supernatural benefit.

Lesser Immortals - These are beings who are immortal and powerful in their own right.  They are not titans or titanspawn and often either neutral or allied with the Gods.  They include the Nordic Alfar, the Celtic Sidhe and Baensidhe, Japanese Kitsune, Greek Nymphs and so on.  They are not considered Gods even though they really could be.  While most are not allied with the Titans and many are downright benevolent, they are still not human and many are often in it for themselves.

Agents of Fate - These are often mortals and animals that exist to push the dictates of Fate's plans.  Oracles who give out snippets of Fate's plan with the intention of insuring such a thing will happen, Cassandras who preach a coming doom unaware that they're actually helping it come faster, animals or people that behave oddly once just so a particular event could happen.  And also, sometimes, Fate produces seemingly supernatural entities formed of the force of the stories of humanity.  Things like the Greek Fates or the Norse Norns are born of pure Fate rather than either the Titans or the Gods.

Magical Creatures - Dragons, unicorns, the wolf-mounts of the Valkyries and so on.  Magical creatures created by the Gods are not Titanspawn and do not leave trophies when defeated.  Some are intelligent many are basically supernatural animals. 


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How would I make this a game?

First of all, through the magic of DLC, it's not necessary to make it all at once.

Initial Game, focuses on the Hero level of play, Legend 2 through 4.   Hard set initial Legend score at 2 or some equivalent.
Core 6 Pantheons to start: Norse, Greek, Japanese, Voodoo, Egyptian, Aztec.  3-5 Gods available to each Pantheon to start.

Egyptian: Horus, Set, Isis, Bast, Anubis
Greek: Zeus, Ares, Athena(adopted), Poseidon, Hades
Japanese: Amaterasu, Susano'O, Tsuki-Yomi, Izanami, Izanagi
Voodoo: Baron Samedi, Dhamballa, Shango, Erzuli, Ogoun
Aztec: Quetzacouatl, Tlazolteotl, Xipe Totec, Tezcatlipoca, Tlaloc
Norse: Odin, Thor, Loki, Freya, Sif, Frigg

Normalize the favored abilities.  None of this thing where Odin has a huge number of favored abilities and Zeus only has a couple.  Instead each divine parent should favor X skills, Y epic attributes and Z purviews.  It could be possible that there is a choice, for example, say Odin is still associated with his huge number of purviews and attributes, the player would only be able to select 2 Attributes and 2 Purviews to be favored rather than the whole spread.

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Character creation:

Choose a pantheon and parent. 

Give the option of taking a Calling with preset templates...or just designing from scratch...if designing from scratch, allow them to name their own calling, this can be substituted into dialogue when appropriate just like the characters name while any voice avoids use of either.

Choose attributes, skills, powers, etc.

Choose virtues, the combination of virtues creates a "Nature" (sort of like in Titan Quest where, if you take Warfare and Defense, your class gets declared as "Conqueror" but if you take Warfare and Rogue your class is "Assassin")

design relics - relic creation should be given some thought and detail.  Characters in scion sometimes acquire more gear and trophies, but their primary gear will always be the relics they started with.  The player should be able to put some effort into it and name it what they like (since I'm thinking of this as Single Player, shouldn't have to worry if someone decides to give things offensive names...they're the only ones that will be subjected to it).  Optionally, give them the option of taking some historical mythical artifacts based on their parent and boon choices.

possible relics:

Cell Phone - I've seen this used for Mystery and Prophecy as well as used to summon some followers or contact guides.

Guns - used primarily to provide access to War, Sky, Fire, Frost or other such purviews.  Sometimes does enhanced damaged.  Sometimes infinite ammo.  Sometimes upgraded damage (lethal to aggravated)

Weapons - similar to guns.  Often swords, collapsible scythes, maces, daggers, etc.

Clothes - purviews, armor, unique powers

Dragon's Teeth - Summon Spartoi...recover the teeth later to be reused.

Fox-Tail - purview access

Pen - Prophecy, Illusion, Magic...etc...etc...bonus dice to Art - Drawing or Art - Writing

etc...etc

Design appearance.

Choose a background...this represents the way you attracted your divine parent's attention and proved your worth:

Local Sports Star
Popular
Troublemaker
War Hero
Lawyer
Cat Burglar
Actress
Internet Personality
Author/Artist
Urban Legend
etc
etc

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Missions/Quests

While Scion lends toward huge, over the top physical action.  It should be possible for a character to complete the game as a non-combat centric character, more difficult perhaps, but still just as fun and with just as much epic-ness available.  In fact, I'd suggest an achievement exist for a character who completed every mission without ever using a single direct attack (use of followers or tricking enemies to fight each other are not direct attacks).  Similar easier achievements for characters that complete the main storyline without using attacks and so on.

White Wolf rated each scene in their adventure paths with dots in Mental/Social/Physical to show how difficult each scene was.  For example a scene with "Mental - Social - Physical -" is not going to be difficult at all and is likely just an intro for talking to someone where as a "Mental ** Social - Physical ***" scene would require an average amount of mental stats and a heavy amount of physical stats.  "Mental - Social **** Physical -" would require a master socializer.

A similar thing could be done here with quests have mental, social and physical ratings that serve as warnings to players about how difficult the quest would be.  I'd further add achievements in this case for completing a mission when you have much less ability than the suggested amount.

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Fatebinding

Anytime the character uses magic on someone else they develop fatebinding.  If they do amazing things with mortal witnesses (like fight a werewolf in the streets) they risk fatebinding. 

This should be mechanical and mostly behind the scenes. 

A character should be able to either take a power that allows them to know their own fatebindings, or else by default have that ability.  Fatebindings don't directly force behavior like virtues, but if a player acts in accordance with them they would have a mechanical bonus and if they act counter, they have a penalty.  For example, someone with the "Hero" fatebinding would have penalties when they tried to assassinate someone but bonuses when defending a group from a rampaging minotaur.

The fatebinding roles in the tabletop can be made up on the fly, but of course that's not possible in a video game.  Likewise, the sort of actions available in a video game are limited. 

Really, this might be a bit complicated for a video game, but it might be more successful as a video game than on the table top where sometimes fatebinding can really slow things down.

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Virtues

Some dialogue options should be marked (either visibly or only in data) as being against your virtue and clicking on it results in a check against the Virtue and, if that fails either a dialogue option asking "Spend Willpower" to continue even if the virtue check says "no, don't do that".  If the virtue check is too high, then you don't get the option to spend willpower and suddenly enter a virtue extremity where behaviors/dialogue options are limited.  For example, if someone with Courage is trying to negotiate out of a battle and enters a Virtue Extremity, he could suddenly enter a berserk state and have all the people around him turn hostile forcing him to attack them.  If he runs out of actual hostiles, then allies and civilians get marked hostile...until his extremity ends.

On the other hand, some dialogue options might be marked as in favor of your Virtue, granting you bonus dice when you perform it.  Or potentially allowing you to recover Willpower when you act in accordance with your Virtue.

Of course, some things are a bit of a no no in the game.  You can't really force movement or action from your players....well, you can, but it would have to be handled carefully or they'd get annoyed.  However, you might have some things like someone with Endurance being unable to leave an instance in order to go heal up somewhere else.

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Legend and Willpower

These should be basically separate mana pools, like the Stamina and Magika of Skyrim.  Within the way the game works, it should spend fast and refill fast. 

Since you can't "stunt" on a video game...well you can, but the game has little to no ability to recognize awesome...the rate of recovery for Legend and Willpower should be dependent on the level of success of any action.  So, for example, a success causes a spike in Legend/Willpower recovery for 10-20 seconds.  A good success a bigger spike.  A critical success an extreme spike.  Certain knacks should allow recovery of Willpower and Legend as well.  But most knacks work by giving other people back their Willpower and Legend, not the user.

Knacks and boons should obviously have automatic draws on Willpower and Legend. 

Use of Legend and Willpower for invoking Legend and Virtues is difficult.  Perhaps it could work like build up from City of Heroes...you click it before the action you want to enhance and then perform your action.  Since it can be used on anything, even conversation, the bonus would just get applied to the next active skill or dialogue option you choose that has a chance of success or failure.

Use of Legend and Willpower to enhance an action should come with a cutscene or special dialogue result to underscore the fact that the player used their supernatural essence successfully.

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Followers, Creatures and Guides

Characters shouldn't start with these save for their own parent as a guide.  They earn these in the game. 

On Followers and Creatures, in Scion the characters very quickly outpace the combat abilities of the followers and creatures that have ranked stats.  The followers that show the best capabilities are trickster type followers (pixies, shapechanging cats, small swarms of spiders), utility type followers (a lawyer or clerk) and followers based on the human experienced soldier template (the Rambo soldiers).  In a starting Hero level game this won't be so obvious.

Basically, a character should be able to earn Followers via roleplaying and several creatures should be able to be turned into loyal pets based on the character powers and decisions.  In the tabletop game, Followers mostly come in packs of 5 to 25.  That would be difficult in a CRPG meant for a single player.  However, you could have it that the player can call in the followers for some missions.  Such as if a social monkey finds himself on a Physical 5 mission and decides to go to the group of soldiers he helped out a while ago and ask them to come help out.

To avoid the followers being abused, you can do a couple of things.  First, for mortal followers, if a follower gets injured in the fate and the player has no healing ability, that follower might stay injured for a long time and thus the player might not want to call up that unit while it is recovering (similar to the way characters are placed on the wounded list in X-Com Enemy Unknown).  A similar situation could be used with non-mortal followers, only they recover from their wounds more quickly.  Perhaps followers won't always be able to come.  I'm aware that one of the Assassin's Creed games uses a follower mechanic that was pretty successful.

Suffice to say, followers and creatures should be things that allow characters to take out more dangerous opponents than they otherwise could have.  Especially, if the mission involves a mindless beast, it gives the social centric characters an option.  Followers shouldn't be necessary, but they should remain cool to use if the player wants.

Guides would come out of your mission givers.  Perhaps some mission givers will be able to give you info about other missions (doing research), or else train you in some things or provide you with some equipment for a specific quest, etc.  IE. If you complete Mission Y before taking Mission Z, the quest giver from Mission Y is friendly enough to you that he'll give you something that makes the mission easier.

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Advancement

Primarily experience point spending.   The spending of XP where they want it to go is sort of representative of the scion directing Fate where he wants it and willing himself to improve in specific ways.  Experience points are earned in the completion of dialogues, combats and missions.  The scion is limited to his mortal skills and attributes, his epic attributes, his pantheon purview and any All-Purpose or Special Purview that he has a relic for.  Supernatural powers are limited to ranks equal to their Legend-1 (in scion table top terms).  However, they can get any number of powers within those limits.

Legend should increase as it builds up during the course of the game.  Any deed you perform should increase your legend at least slightly because of situations like "this strange man came into town and suddenly nobody was dying anymore" where they didn't actually see your battle with the local beast, but the effects of it were clear.  Meanwhile, doing stuff in broad open public causes your legend to build up much faster.

Also, a legend range of 2 to 4 might be a bit low for a video game, even focusing on Hero level stuff.  Not because it isn't a significant increase in ability but because it seems like a slow pace of to advance if it takes half the game to gain a total of 2 levels.   There might be a Legend progress bar that can be spent down to unlock missions to do things like earn the followers, guides and creatures mentioned above or...if allowed to build up, unlock Legend 3.

Optionally you can have them be able to spend XP on Legend, but I'd prefer Legend to increase based on the deeds you do.

Even simpler, when you've spent a certain amount of XP, your legend automatically upgrades.

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Gear and Crafting

A few scions are based around being crafters and such, but to be rather blunt, crafting and improving gear isn't a major focus of Scion.  Still, I imagine it should be in for the people that enjoy it.

However, the thing that is different about Scion from other RPGs is that they get their main gear at character creation. 

Those relics they have at the beginning of their game will be their signature tool/clothing/weapon for the entirety of their legend.  They're not going to be discarding that tool for something better later.  Nothing they encounter later will be better for them than that first tool (which is why creating it and making it unique should be part of character creation)  You could say that they start with one to three relics at the beginning of the game and can earn more as they move along the story, but they don't replace the previous relics, they merely supplement. 

For example, to start, a scion might have a hat, a cell phone and a knife as relics.  Later they might run a quest to earn a new relic slot and design a coat that acts as armor....or a rifle for long range weapon.  Or a tarot deck....or any of a number of things that the game might provide as a potential relic.

Optionally, the character can have the option to upgrade their relics as they continue on.  But really they shouldn't drop the relic, and losing a relic should be a plot device for a mission if anything.  Relics aren't loot or gear in scion, they are a PART of the character.

That said, they might also collect normal weapons and armor, trophies and so on. 

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Money

Money is not a concern in Scion normally.  There isn't even a way to track currency in the tabletop system.  No Resources knack, no money.  It's a mythical story, they're basically assumed to be able to find ways to get what they need.  Their currency is experience, charisma and destiny really.

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Storyline

Depending on their pantheon they'll have access to one of six pantheon specific storylines with alterations based on which parent they choose.  Ideally, there'd be a different storyline for each individual parent...but...again DLC.

In addition there will be a "main" storyline as well that is a general sort of problem for all the Gods and mortals.

If the option for the background that described how the character earned their visitation, there might be another long personal subplot.

Then there would be the usually plethora of subplots and side quests all over the place.  Clear out harpy nests, fight linnorms, rouse people to fight for their town, yada, yada, yada.

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Setting

A sandbox setting would be best served by a wide area with several small towns, wilderness areas and one good sized city.  Lots of places would work for this.  A multicultural place would be best to accommodate all the pantheons involved.  In the basic Hero book, it was Las Vegas and the surrounding area.  Also, in a modern setting, it's rather easy to step on a plane and move all over the world.  However, in a Hero level game, this would stay very much in the World.

If at all possible destructible terrain would be awesomely appropriate to the setting, but yeah, very difficult.

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Potential DLCs

Add more Godly parents (thus maybe some more storylines)

Add more pantheons.

Add more side stories.

Expand to Demigod level....which would begin to have the characters traveling to Terra Incognita .

Expand to God level....which would begin to have the characters traveling to the World and the Underworld and eventually the Titanrealms.

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