Scion: Demigod Review

Today I’m here with the latest core book for the second edition of Scion. In previous posts I’ve gone over the mortal-level Origin book and the superpowered Hero book but now we’re fully into the mythical with Scion: Demigod.

In the simplest sense, demigod characters are those Scion characters who have gained five dots in Legend. As described on page 187 of Scion: Hero, Legend is the weight of the character in terms of Fate and it runs from 1 to 12. Those with Legend 1 through 4 are heroes, those with Legend 5 through 8 are demigods, and those with Legend 9 through 12 are the subject of the future Scion: God book. In many ways, demigods are just the next power level of Scion characters but they also function very differently both mechanically and narratively. Let’s take a look at how that plays out!

Demigod Characters

So, in this book your character is at a new level of power. If you started out with Scion: Origin then you began as a cool and resourceful person caught up in a mythical story, then with Scion: Hero you were a supernaturally powered person in that story. With Scion: Demigod you are for the first time starting to shape that story and remake the world in a way that you want to see. Mechanically you are now Tier 2 which means your default Target number is 7 rather than 8 (so you are 10% more likely to succeed with each die), you constantly gain the effects of Scent the Divine, you start to hear prayers directed to your pantheon, and your blood is starting to be replaced with divine Ichor.

Image © Onyx Path

Demigod characters also have an upgraded version of the Defend stunt (starting with a default 2 instead of a default 1), an additional Bruised Injury box thanks to their Ichor blood, and Enhancements on defending when you have a Specialty that applies. They can also get Heroic and Immortal Knacks for their Purviews and new Birthrights. Demigods also gain access to Realms which are Fatebound locations that start to hum with the demigod’s power and legend. There’s a small part of another world that becomes part of your responsibility and in turn you gain a measure of power in the form of specific Birthrights and Knacks that you can gain.

A big part of being a demigod, though, is using Divinity Dice. These are a growing resource that you gain through Legendary actions (performing a miracle, resolving a Deed, using a Virtue, etc) and each action replaces one of your normal dice with a Divine Die (pick a different color). First off, if you make a roll with a Divine Die you can get a Catastrophic Success where everything is amazingly good or a Mortal Failure where things are incredibly bad. The results are determined by the Purview you were using (it needs to be something since you are being divine) and each one has listed results. You can also Flood the Pool and roll only Divine Dice which is a bit of a risk but has special stunt options that can be the stuff of legends.

Lastly, demigod characters are incredibly, casually epic and you are supposed to reflect that in the narrative. They gain Dominion over their areas of influence, building on and replacing their Purview power from earlier books. This greater control allows demigods to perform Casual Miracles, basically “tiny impossible feats” that can be done at whim like the innate powers of Purviews. A hero with the Darkness Purview, for instance, has an innate power to see in total darkness or peer into someone’s dreams while they sleep. A demigod with the Darkness Dominion, on the other hand, can wave their hand to snuff out all light sources in the immediate area or banish the fear of the dark from others in your presence. Demigods can also perform the Marvels that heroes can but they’re much better at them. When a Marvel in Scion: Hero calls for spending Legend a demigod can instead imbue it (which refreshes faster) and if a Marvel already calls for imbuing Legend they instead can gain a Divinity Die (which ramps up their risk for a Mortal Failure).

The process of “upgrading” a character to demigod level is slightly different than creating a brand new demigod character. Both of these I’ll be looking at in a future post like I did last time.

Image © Onyx Path

New Pantheons and New Options

Aside from new rules, there are expanded options in Scion: Demigod that can affect games at any level. The first and most obvious of these is pantheons and there are five new groups of gods ready for your game, complete with Titans, cosmologies, Birthrights, relationships to other pantheons, and Pantheon Paths and Signature Purviews. The Annuna are the gods of ancient Mesopotamia (looking to regain their lost glory), the Apu are the gods of the Inca coming back to power in post-colonial South America, the Atua of Polynesia are bold and audacious gods of sea and strength, the Tengri are the horse-riding and tempestuous gods of Mongolia, and the Bogovi are the cyclical and united gods of the Slavic peoples.

There are also new versions of the ready-made characters from the Scion: Origin and Scion: Hero books. Eric Donner, the wildly-strong Scion of Thor Eric Donner is now shirtless and wreathed in lightning; Emanuel Montero, the reborn avatar of Xiuhtechutli, is gripped more and more by his recovered memories; the confident Hassan al-Hakim, Scion of Loki, uses his ring Andvaranaut to fund relief programs in his native Iraq; Rashmi Bhattacharya, chosen Scion of Agni, still has a magical rifle but has moved on to the divine fire of quantum physics research; and Rhiannon Jerrigan, Scion of Brigid, is advancing in her firefighting career but also expressing her magical aura more and more overtly. It’s really cool to see these characters advance in their stories and see the pictures and stats grow in epicness.

Image © Onyx Path

Apotheosis

The principal concern of a demigod’s existence is their path to Apotheosis. They start this process as heroes who claim their growing mantle from their heroic deeds (or take up the incomplete mantle of a failed demigod) and it ends with them ascending to godhood. There are five stages to Apotheosis which involve a Divine Deed that you attempt when you have reached the next Legend rating. These Milestones go hand-in-hand with Deeds so you complete those Deeds and gain another dot in Legend then attempt the next Milestone of your Apotheosis path.

  1. The Second Call is the first step and it happens when you’re still a hero. You gain a fifth dot in Legend but still play by the Scion: Hero rules until you reenact an earlier challenge in a more dangerous and epic way. After you do this you’re officially a demigod.
  2. The Parting happens once you’ve achieved Legend 6 and you sever your Fatebond with a mortal or lesser mythic being as you head on to bigger and better things.
  3. The Threshold is for Legend 7 characters is the reckoning of the demigod’s growing identity in terms of the primal powers they are wielding. Archetypically, who are you?
  4. The Descent is a true trip away from the mortal realm when Legend 8 characters heading into the Underworld or are isolated some way as they see divine sacrifices.
  5. The Theophany is when the Legend 9 demigod comes up against a culminating, myth-defining challenge. After this Milestone you’re either an immortal, baby god or you’re dead.

There are lots of other bits of advice and plot-design tools for Storyguides (including Calling-specific advice and an example of a Scion going through the process) so while the broad strokes might be the same the specifics won’t be at all. This is still a lot of heavy narrative to pull off so it’s suggested that a Storyguide does so in collaboration with the players, advice for which is also found in spades in Scion: Demigod.

Image © Onyx Path

Underworlds

Since they play such a big part of the Apotheosis narrative, the underworlds of the various pantheons are described in detail. This covers all the pantheons to date: the original set in Scion: Hero, the five new ones in Scion: Demigod, and the three in Mysteries of the World. Each of these underworlds (and an additional underworld called the Veil for unclaimed mortal souls) has information on particular locations within the underworld and rules for establishing a demigod Realm there. Whether you’re headed to Naraka, the hellish underworlds of the Devás, or the mazelike Duat of the Netjer, there’s plenty of information here to make your journey to the afterlife memorable.

Antagonists

Obviously these larger-than-life demigods deserve larger-than-life opponents to keep them on their toes. These antagonists are also Tier 2 (so their target number is also lowered) and they represent a true threat to a demigod character. There are four new archetypes for making antagonists in Scion: Demigod. Paragons are the best that humanity has to offer and the last truly mortal threat you’re likely to encounter on your path to godhood. The mythic archetype is for rival demigods, magical beings, or powerful divine beasts who stand in your character’s way. Transcendent antagonists have just reached the top levels of demigod status and are standing in the way of those before them, drunk on their new power and perhaps jealous of their place. Lastly, when the gods themselves get involved in your story they send avatar antagonists to block young upstarts.

Image © Onyx Path

To add to these are qualities and flairs for building out your characters, though there are plenty of example antagonists to use as well. You can use qualities and flairs from Scion: Origin and Scion: Hero as well, with the raw stats of the demigod-level antagonists making sure they remain competitive. In addition, you have the option of creating Goliaths which are “any target that, reasonably speaking, a character could not disable or destroy within a scene with normal attacks or divine powers.” Basically, these are the world-shattering, immense threats that appear in myths and defeating them is measured in Milestones instead of damage. This might mean pushing through a series of wards to get at the thing’s heart or attacking multiple segments of the same massive creature. Regardless, if you ever wanted to fight a kaiju in Scion, here you go.

Keepers of the World

The last section of the book is a fun surprise set of adversaries ready to go. The Keepers of the World are a group of gods who protect the World from rampaging Titans but also from divine beings who are disregarding the consequences of their actions. They’re the traffic cops and Time Variance Authority of the Scion cosmos and the fact that their a secretive, cross-pantheon group of gods is just icing on the cake.

The group’s membership includes Imhotep, divine architect of the Netjer; Herakles, the Theoi god of strength; Takeminakata-no-Mikoto the Kami “Prince of the Earth;” Meng Po, the Shén goddess of forgetfulness; Wayland, a capricious and cruel smith-god of the Æsir; Dorje Shugden a hungry ghost-demon from Buddhism; Tolui Khagan, the Tengri god of family; Tlazōlteōtl, the Teōtl goddess of filth, sex, and purification; Karna a complicated Scion of the Devás; Zalmoxis, the lone vampiric god of the Geto-Dacian people; and Amergain mac Míl, a powerful saint who can bring down gods. They are incredibly different in their mannerisms, allegiances, and goals but all of them are willing to slap down an uppity demigod rising through the path of Apotheosis if they let their new power go to their head.

Image © Onyx Path

Conclusion

Once again, Scion is an epic game with some pretty incredible vision. The system can get complex, especially as books add more and more layers on top, but in terms of hitting the tone you set out to do it is still nailing it. The mechanics of playing a demigod clearly feel different than playing a hero but also they aren’t entirely different. In addition, the guidance for Storyguides makes sure that these stories feel epic and also that they carry the tone of myth and folklore.

I highly recommend this book for those familiar with Scion and newcomers too. In particular, pay attention if you’ve been watching Scion and thinking “this sounds alright but when do I get to play an actual god?” This is the stage when that becomes a reality and you can stride the world shaping it around you. What’s not to love?

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