On Tuesday I wrote about the Book 2 of the new edition of Scion, the book about Hero-level play. Hopefully it gave you a good idea of what’s included in the book but one thing it didn’t give you a sense of is what the pantheons in the book are and how they resemble the first edition pantheons. This post’s length should show you why I split things up but without further ado… These! Are! Your! Gods!
The Æsir probably appeared the most throughout the first edition of Scion (though they were spelled “Aesir” at the time) and they had the biggest roster thanks to the Aesir-center supplement Ragnarok. White nationalism aside, there’s good reason to be interested in the Norse gods since their stories are filled with the sort of monster-slaying heroes that RPGs love, not to mention RPGs can trace their lineage (through D&D and The Lord of the Rings) to a lot of Norse tropes so it’s literally baked in. The roster of gods here is Odin, Thor, Frigg, Hel, Bladr, Heimdall, Sif, Loki, Tyr, Freya, Freyr, Skadi, and Njordr… the same as in the first edition (spelling aside) except for Vidar which is unfortunate in my opinion.
The Devá of South Asia appeared in the Companion book of the first edition but now they’ve graduated to the main stage! This is a tricky one since Hinduism is a major religion and has immense variation throughout the world so trying to cast its deities as a codified RPG tool is tricky at best. I’m no expert but the approach here seems pretty good and the pictures aren’t overtly racist so success? The roster for this one is Agni, Durga, Ganesha, Indra, Kali, Karttikeya, Lakshmi, Parvati, Sarasvati, Shiva, Surya, Varuna, Vishnu, and Yamaraja. The original lineup in Scion Companion had Brahma as well and it’s a really good move not to cast him as just another god.
The Kami are the new version of the first edition’s Amatsukami, and I don’t know if that’s better, worse, or a lateral move. Regardless, the description of the Kami seems like a step in the right direction as it calls out from the beginning the Western view of Japan as these eternal places of harmony and softly chiming gongs. The authors stress the fractured nature and the multifaceted relationship between Japanese culture and religions, and this is a good challenge to many readers’ subtle biases. The roster here is Amaterasu-Ōmikami, Susano-O, Hachiman, Inari, Ama-no-Uzume, Sarutahiko-Daimyōjin, Takemikazuchi, Ebisu, Ōkuninushi, Bishamon, Benzaiten, Fukurokuju, Kisshōten, and Hotei. That’s eleven deities added from last time and five removed (including Izanagi and Izanami who are probably best removed for the same reason as Brahma above).
The Manitou are new to the Scion universe (minus some fan creations for the first edition) and I think it’s both understandable and unfortunate that past authors have shied away from any Native American legends. However, you can’t just ignore two whole continents and I’m glad that American cultures are included in this edition and that the company is choosing to do so from the start. I’ll leave it to the more informed to say whether this rendition is accurate but I will say that the language in the introduction certainly sets an excellent tone. Here’s a quote: “Many humans think of Manitou as only being connected to things of nature, but such thought is an arbitrary restriction… there are Manitou who watch over mountains and rivers and deer and corn, there are Manitou who watch over people, cities, neighborhoods, even strip-mining.” Take that, white revisionism. The members of this pantheon are Geezhigo-Quae the Grandmother of Us All, Muzzu-Kumik-Quae the Earth Mother, Winonah the First Woman, Maudjee-Kawiss the Firstborn Son, Pukawiss the Disowned, Cheeby-aub-oozoo the Chief of the Underworld, Nana’b’oozoo the Prototype of Man, and the Orenda (twins Ioskeha and Tawiscara). You’ll just have to get the book to find out about these folks.
The Netjer were called the Pesedjet in the first edition and, again, I don’t know if this terminology is better, worse, or neither. Truthfully, the write-up here seems very similar to the first edition with just a few spelling tweaks (as seen in the roster below) to move away from the more familiar spellings which are actually Greek in many cases. Whereas the Manitou and Kami chapters stresses that the world of these cultures is not a static, ancient, mysteeerious place frozen in time the Netjer are explicitly ancient in their origins and inflexible in their position. I suppose that fits the Egyptian concept of ma’at but I think it’s a disservice. The roster for the Netjer is Anpu (Anubis), Bast, Het-Heru (Hathor), Heru (Horus), Aset (Isis), Khnum, Wesir (Osiris), Ptah, Re, Set, Sobek, and Djehuty (Thoth). The first edition had the earth god Geb but lacked Khnum and Hathor so this is a much better group in my opinion.
The Òrìshà is the new name for the Loa but don’t let that fool you: this is a seismic shift in the game’s approach to this tradition. The Loa are Voodoo gods from African slave brought to the Caribbean, mixed with local traditions, Christianity, and other African legends. The Òrìshà are the Yorùbá gods that inspired those original stories. Nothing against Voodoo but ignoring this lineage makes it seem like the only interesting traditions to come out of Africa happened because white people brought black people to the North American colonies and gave them the chance to invent jazz and stuff. Ugh. The Religion section for the Òrìshà goes into the myriad traditions that came from this African legacy. Since more people (including me) are familiar with the Voodoo figures I’ll give the first edition names in this roster alongside the Òrìshà names: Éshú (Legba), Íbejí Morèmi, Obàtálá, Odúduwà, Ògún (Ogoun), Òríshà-Oko, Òrúnmílà, Òsanyín, Oshóssí, Òshun, Oya Iyansan, Shàngó (Shango), Sònpònná, Yemoja-Oboto. As you can see, most of the group of loa found in the first edition book aren’t represented here, which might mean they are coming in a later supplement or that you should just make them up on your own!
The Shén are found in the first edition as the Celestial Bureacracy in the Scion Companion and I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is probably a better name for them. The tone set from the beginning, though, smacks of Red Scare language: the Shén are organized, they are unified, and they worry the other pantheons who fear they may be plotting to take over the world. Yikes. Let’s assume that the portrayal of individual gods is at least reasonable and go through the roster: Chang’e, Confucius (really?), Erlang, Fuxi, Guan Yu, Guanshiyin Pusa (Guanyin), Huangdi, Laozi, Prince Nezha, Nüwa, Sun Wukong, Yandi Shennongshi (Shennong). This leaves out Houyi and Xiwangmu from the Companion but adds the sassy old lady Laozi so maybe still a net gain?
The Teōtl are the gods of the Aztecs, seen in the previous edition as the Aztlánti. I’m still trying to figure out the distinctions but “Aztec” and “Aztlán” apparently refer to a much larger area and ethnic group than those whose legends these gods were pulled from. That’s why the Teōtl are described as the gods of the Mexihcah in this book to narrow down that focus a little bit. The roster for the group is Chalchihuitlicue, Chantico, Chicomecoatl, Huehuecoyotl, Huītzilōpōchtli, Ītzpāpālōtl, Mictecacihuatl, Quetzalcoatl, Tezcatlipoca, Tlāloc, Xīpe Totēc, Xochipilli, and Xochiquetzal. This is most of the gods from the first edition (Tlazoltéotl, queen of filth, is missing which… yay?) and there are a few new ones as well!
The Theoi are the classic (literally) Greco-Roman deities and the authors make no effort to hide what this chapter is going to be like by starting with a blockquote from the Illiad in which Zeus is trying to talk Hera into bed by reminding her of all the affairs he’s had. Smooth. I got excited when I saw that the Theoi were billed as “the Greek and Roman Gods” but their write-ups aren’t substantively different from when they were just Greek gods. There’s a paragraph in each outlining the Roman honors but there aren’t any purely Roman gods, for instance. The roster for the Theoi is Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Athena, Demeter, Dionysus, Hades, Hephaestus, Hera, Hermes, Hestia, Persephone, Poseidon, and Zeus. This is three extras from what’s in the first edition so there’s even more Olympian soap opera to love!
The Tuatha Dé Danann were another pantheon in the Scion Companion but I’m really glad to see them in the core book this time. Coming from an Irish family I’m especially psyched about these guys and (like I said last time) I just love these stories so much there isn’t a big incentive for me to pick any other pantheon! That’s not entirely true but it’s more true than not… This is actually a pantheon that I think I can speak knowledgeably about from a cultural standpoint and here, at least, they did a great job of capturing the flawed, rambunctious, epic flavor of Irish legend. They even they even have information on the weird phenomenon of triple deities that they could have easily skipped over. The roster for this pantheon is Aegus, Brigid, the Dagda, Dian Cécht, Donn, Ériu, Goibniu, Lugh Lámhfhada, Manannán mac Lir, the Mórrigan, Nuada of the Silver Hand, and Ogma. This is all of the deities from the Companion and then some so we’re in good shape!