The spread of Scion 2e books continues to grow! You can check out my previous reviews of Scion: Origin and Scion: Hero (plus more) and the upcoming Scion:Demigod is I’ve already backed on Kickstarter. Today I’m here to talk about the newest book from the game line, all about the enemies of the gods and potential destroyers of worlds: Scion: Titanomachy.
Titanomachy is a Greek word referring to the battle between the younger Olympians and the older titans (with some folks like the titan Prometheus switching sides). In the setting of Scion, this Greek word has been borrowed to refer to the collective struggle between destructive deities (the Titans), who want to upend the natural order into an apocalypse or maybe their unrivaled dominion, and the dominant deities (the gods), who want to maintain the status quo. This book nicely complements the last books in this series, Mysteries of the World and Mythic Denizens which detailed locations and creatures respectively. Those books laid out a world to explore and interact with, Titanomachy lays out existential threats that could destroy all of that.
The majority of the book is taken up by individual Titans, who are detailed in the same way as gods from Scion: Hero (and other upcoming books). While this is really exciting in itself (more on why later) let’s start with going through the Titan profiles to see what’s included in here.
The Titans in Titanomachy are split up by the pantheons they are associated with. Like the book states (and like we’ve previously seen in Scion: Hero) not every pantheon of gods is completely anti-Titan. Some of them (like the Devá and Theoi) are in a constant battle against the Titans and attack them on sight. Other pantheons (like the Æsir and Tuatha Dé Danann) take things more on a case-by-case or day-by-day basis. Still others (like the Òrìshà and Polynesian Atua) see the whole god/Titan dichotomy as dumb and don’t really bother with this struggle. As a result, the Titans in this book run the gamut from slavering monsters to moody relatives. Notes on relationships, priorities, and other pantheons (not to mention new Birthrights) also make each of these Titans options for your chronicle no matter what pantheons your Scions are courting.
In the world of the Norse Æsir we’re introduced to the Earth Mother titaness Jõrð who shaped her own body from the remains of the giant Ymir after he was killed by Æsir gods. She is Thor’s true mother and his rejection leaves her bitter and vengeful, willing to go to great lengths for revenge. Nidhoggr the Corpse-Chewer is not to be confused with the dread serpent Niõhöggr who gnaws the roots of Yggdrasil. The Corpse-Chewer is (I think) an invention for this game to present a more interesting version of the serpent who wants to destroy everything including his twin with the umlauts. The fire giant Surtr is really just in it for the burning and ashes, destined to do a lot of that at the world’s ending. Finally, Ymir himself is still around despite his death and corpse-repurposing for has a lot that he’d like to see repaid.
Opposing the Devá of South Asia, Banasura the Thousand-Armed King is a bad-tempered demon who rules the City of Blood and is a great indicator for why the Devá hate Titans with such a passion. Rangda, the Witch-Queen of Bali, is a particular asura for Balinese Hinduism and reportedly repays “any slight a hundredfold.” There’s a great anchor for an antagonist, though there’s likely some deep-seated xenophobia and hate baked into this one if you start researching… The Titan Saita is another terrifying foe, a horrible monster born during a massive battle against the Demon King of Lankā and looking like something out of Lovecraft.
Over in Japan, the Kami are very much opposed to their Titan siblings with bad blood going back to the dawn of the world. Fūjin is brother to the elder gods, driven by shock and betrayal at the rage of his father Izanagi who sealed the Titans away. As a green-skinned oni giant, Fūjin is outwardly and inwardly an angry and nihilistic rage-monster. The cunning Titan woman Goki is one of two protectors of the divine Enno Gyōja who founded the Shugendō religion which blends Shintō and Buddhism, an amalgam that many Kami and mortal rulers find unacceptable. Kiyo is another female Titan, the dragon princess of love, and she doesn’t seem like your typical Titan at first glance. However, she’s obsessive and jealous, brainwashing lovers into putting her ahead of everything else (or she burns them to cinders). A fraught, gendered story but a great antagonist angle. The Titan Namazu is billed as “Japan’s most famous prisoner,” a huge fish who didn’t want to be pushed around by the Kami and was trapped in the bedrock of Japan’s largest island for her attitude. Her thrashing around brings earthquakes, hence the moniker, and she has birthed as many sea terrors as Poseidon. Lastly, Raijin carries a grudge against the Kami for their primordial betrayal, and again for their dismissal after he tried to help them later in life. He’s effectively the leader of the Japanese Titans (though he doesn’t particularly want the job) and is a powerful foe and interesting ally.
Among the Maniou of the Anishinaabek people, their Titan compatriots are troublesome but are only fought as a matter of last resort. This is hard when they live with such gems as Ae-pungishimook, the embodiment of death who whithers the world wherever he goes. The other three Titans listed in this book are not much better, though decidedly on the horrible-monster end of things. Aniwye is literally a giant skunk, forever outcast for his stench and tired of playing nice. He’s in a mood to go where he pleases these days, homes and cities be damned. Mishibizhiw is a chimeric amalgamation of panther and fish, prowling the rivers of the world to drag unsuspecting victims to watery graves just for the sheer fun of it. Lastly, Misiginebig is a massive, horned serpent who (like fell serpent-Titan Jormungandr) is shunned by the gods for her temper and hunger, and just wants to swallow everything. She lives in the Great Lakes so any Chicago- or Detroit-based chronicles better watch out.
Speaking of serpents, Apep is the chaos-serpent who opposes the divine order of the Netjer, hating everyone and everything. The sun deity Aten is normally listed as an Egyptian god, but his attitude of being the One True Sun God and his cult’s intolerance of other deities (exemplified during Akhenaten’s rule) marks him as definitely a the-world-is-mine type. In the setting of Scion, Aten is identified as also being the primordial Egyptian god Shu, the source of the Roman Sol Invictus cult, and other domineering sun things so… he gets around. The Titan Isfet is the embodiment of chaos and enemy of the divine order in ma’at, a trickster and meddler who just sets things on fire and laughs on his way to his next target.
The Titans in the courts of the Shén of China are mostly inhuman creatures who want to create their own realms of power in defiance of the order set up by the Celestial Bureaucracy. Ào Guāng is a giant blue dragon living in the seas to the east of China who has latched onto capitalism and overseas trade to amass power. Kuāfu is a muscleheaded giant, laying down challenges he can’t win but with massive strength and millennia of experience to make him a real danger. At one point Su Dáji was a mortal but after her death she became a debaucherous fox spirit who corrupted the Shang Dynasty. Normally these sorts of manipulators are interesting foes to me but I think we can say that some legends are worth exploring in games and other legends are clearly misogynistic propaganda. Moving on, the intriguingly-named White Eyebrow is a traitor to the Shaolin monastic tradition who serves as a cautionary tale against losing your way. If you want Darth Vader in your story, this is your guy.
For the Central American Teōtl, their Titans are generally corrupted figures from the past and primordial monsters trying to tear apart everything the gods have built. For instance, Citlali is a Cthulhu-like star-demon (tzitzimitl) who finds ways for her star-demon sisters to come to Earth and bathe in mortal blood. Cute. The Titan Coyolxāuhqui is sister the Teōtl war god Huitzilopochtli who thought that her mother’s pregnancy with that god was a sign of infidelity. She led her Titanic siblings in rebellion and is still leading that fight today out of spite, waxing and waning in power with the Moon which she represents. Tenoch was also once a member of the Teōtl family in good standing and is actually the architect of the great city of Tenōchtitlan, but he should not be. He is one of the giants of the First Sun and his continuing existence on Earth is wracked with pain through little fault of his own. Finally, Tlaltecuhtli represents the hunger of the wilds, the every-present threat of the jungle that threatens the followers of the Teōtl.
And now the classic Titans, in several different senses, the ones who vie against the Theoi of Greece and Rome. First up is Cronus, father of Zeus and the first victim of the original Titanomachy. Then the mother of monsters Echidna who births terrors to plague god, demigod, and Scion. Gaea, Mother Earth herself, is so full of fertility and growth that she’d like to see nature grow and cover all the works of humankind. These are some of the best-known Titans to a Western audience so I won’t belabor the description here, but there are multiple hooks for including these classic terrors into a modern story which is helpful.
The Titans of Ireland are known as the Tuatha Dé Domnann, the people of the goddess Domnu who is the evil and hated counterpart to the mother goddess Danu who lends her name to the Irish gods, the Tuatha Dé Domnann. If this seems arbitrary then the lore is right there with you: basically there was a battle at the start of the world and the winner got to be gods while the losers were relegated to Titanhood. Balor, who lends his name to the fire-demons of Tolkien’s world, is a fiery-eyed giant who tried to stop the coming of descendents destined to kill him (like Cronus) but failed miserably to do so (like Cronus). Belenus the Bright is a deity of horses and journeys and many of the Irish gods are nice enough to not try and kill him when they see him. Though half-Fomorian, Bres is also tolerated some times because he’s drop-dead gorgeous, but he’s also a total jerk about it so he’s not anyone’s favorite in the end. The Green Man of the woods Cernunnos is a Titan of beasts and wild places, a different divine Scion than the Gaulish Cernunnos (detailed in Mysteries of the World) and a lot more recent in his origins. Last of all comes Domnu herself, the bitter river goddess who eggs her children on to fight and scrape with the children of Danu. A real petty bunch but there you have it.
Last of all comes a short two-pager on the Titans of the Òrìshà and Loa entitled “No Such Thing as Titans.” In part this is a lighthearted, in-person discussion of those pantheons’ opinions on this whole Titanomachy thing, but it’s also an interesting second perspective that upends the previous sixty pages of writing on Titans and exiling people.
The second half of this book is much different from the first. Rather than listing out Titan figures to weave into your game, this includes both Storyteller advice and character options. Designing chronicles that feature Titans in interesting ways in discussed in expansive (ha!) detail from street level to cosmic stakes. Plot hooks for many different Titans are included and example cults, storylines, adversaries, etc are all given to help you in your Storytelling role.
Perhaps most interesting, though, is the idea of Titans not always being the enemy. There are common enemies for both gods and Titans and there are half-Titans who are divine Scions just like their god-begotten cousins. Examples of TItans in procedural play, intrigue play, and action adventure play expand the scope of what Titans can be in your campaign, while an several mini-adventures show you how to put the Titanomachy front and center. An upcoming addition to the Scion game line explores dragons which predate humans (and so exist outside of the world of gods and Titans) so they can be a threat that brings the two sides together, and you could conceivably have a mixed party of the children of gods and the children of Titans (especially in the more tolerant pantheons).
Finally a bestiary of Titanic adversaries and antagonist powers will have your characters running for cover from Origin to God tiers. The giant spider children of the sorceress Arachne are especially creepy and I love the example Scions of Titans to include as the “other side’s” heavy hitters. There are so many opponents in here that this chapter alone probably makes Titanomachy a must-have for all Scion 2e Storytellers.
My review’s not done here but you’ll have to wait for the next bit. While Titans as antagonists is a big focus of Titanomachy, you can build full PC characters as the children of Titans and that’s definitely worth a look. Like I did with my sample band for Origin (later upgraded to Heroes) and the sample Scion: Hero characters, I want a chance to show exactly how this process works. That means a whole different post so keep an eye out for that in the future!