[Scion] Pantheon Preview: Shen

Scion

This post was originally featured as a May Kickstarter update.

Greetings, true believers!

Besides mechanical work (we’ve integrated all of the Team Trinity improvements to the system – and I’ll preview our version of the advancement rules very soon – and we’ve been testing the new Purviews added after the Kickstarter), I’ve been working with players and writers to nail down the pantheons into something very gameable that’s unique to Scion, yet still respectful of their religious origins. At this point, all of the final drafts and Kieron Gillen’s story are in, and I’m finishing the text of the Storyguide’s section this week.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Scion doesn’t feature the true Odin, or Woden, or Wotan. That god belongs in the heart of his worshippers across time, and in Asgard awaiting Valhalla. Tinia, Zeus, and Jupiter were truly three different gods with different traits, adopted by three separate cultures — saying “the Etruscans, the Greeks, the Romans” is like saying “the Americans” describing a period of time far longer than this country’s been around, and a multitude of various demi-cultures contained therein. * Let me give you an example: is Sònpònná, Òrìshà of Smallpox, a Titan or a God? There’s arguments for both Titan (his original Nigerian incarnation) or as a God (he’s a general-purpose medicine spirit these days — in a transatlantic context, he’s one of the best-known and most popular òrìshà as Babalu-Aye).

(Seriously, here’s Desi Arnez singing about him: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAV3bOJaQuY)

So how does this translate into the decisions we need to make in Scion? The Òrìshà as a pantheon don’t quite believe in the Cold War against the Titans, refusing to consider those monstrous deities as worse than the worst examples of humanity. Sonponna’s story as an entity becomes a story of a Titan slowly culturing to humanity, traveling the Middle Passage with the rest of the Orisha and adopting their Virtues of Tradition and Innovation in place of his own Titanic Virtues.

You can see the new Shen signature character, Colwyn “Little” Máo, leaping into the fray in the example art on our Kickstarter page. Here’s the original art notes for him: * Little Máo is Colwyn Máo, a seventeen-year-old kid from Staten Island. His dad is a Chinese American who works on a fishing boat and his mom is a Black American chef at a fancy seafood restaurant, so they’re a match made in Heaven, and he had a happy childhood full of comic books and rap music. He and his friends got started making mixtapes in middle school and before long a popular rap group who also happen to be Daoists trained on W?d?ng Mountain started mentoring him. Like the Daoist priests of old, he intercedes between the mortal and the supernatural using social skills, sorcery, and Chinese boxing, in that order. He specializes in unarmed combat, probably b?guà. Visually, he’s a multiracial Black and Chinese kid with short dreadlocks and big glasses. He looks kind of like Luke Youngblood. He is a normal kid with generous parents, so he wears Chucks, baggy pants, T-shirts with superheroes, his dad’s old Guardian Angels jacket which is too big for him, and a snapback cap with an eight-trigram mirror on it. He fights like Aang from Avatar: the Last Airbender, and should be pounding the snot out of a human-looking guy in robes or biker gear.

He was created by James Mendez Hodes, who has this to say about him:

“I put a lot of myself in Little Mao. He’s a multiracial Asian American from New York City, the kind of hero I wished I’d had in pop culture when I was growing up, but that we’re starting to see in works like Fresh Off the Boat and Gene Luen Yang’s comics. Like his divine parent Fuxi, he’s a culture hero, representing the relationship between Black and Asian culture in Afrofuturism, hip hop, and pop culture. He’s also a much better rapper than me, for which I am jealous (although I might be a better dancer). I love Shen Fei’s take on him, even though I always imagine him drawn by Aaron McGruder.”

To show off some more of Mendez’s hard work, here’s the Shen preview. At the end I’ve included one of the boons of Beauty, one of the new Purviews we ended up creating after the Kickstarter to patch a mythological hole revealed during this process, and two relics and guides of the Shen.

Enjoy!

Click here for the Shen preview.