The Bindings of Fate
Greetings, true believers! It’s been a while, I know. But I’m Fated to do this post, so here we are. Let me start with another quote from our inspirational material, The Wicked + The Divine:
“You are of the Pantheon. You will be loved. You will be hated. You will be brilliant.”
Love. Hate. Brilliance. Are these destinies, as we think of them in the Greco-Norse conception of fate? Preordained events? Or are they a declarative statement, instead saying that a person’s predilection and actions leads them inexorably to an end? Fate is defined by drama and tragedy, which makes it fond of statements like, “You live by the Sword, you die by the Sword.”
Fate isn’t something that “applies” to a Scion or a god, at least not truly. A Scion’s actions ripple throughout the world, causing people to become bound to her destiny. Those ripples of her actions are Fate at work. These ripples are referred to as Fatebindings, and they’re why Gods refrain from overt action, because doing so shakes up the ordered destiny of the cosmos in a way that begets problems bigger than the one the God was trying to solve in the first place. Fatebindings may also alter the way a God’s mantle, the way her divine power manifests itself in the future (not to mention her very conception of self). By embracing this radical change, gods who interact with their peoples during a crisis can find themselves and their mantle radically changed – as happened to the Afro-Atlantic pantheons, who deliberately reworked themselves during the slave trade.
Thus, Fate exists as a means of relationships, reinforcing that the Gods themselves are bound to vast patterns of narrative, and that their actions have consequences.
Some Gods and goddesses have a special relationship with Fate, like the Norns, Sudice, and Morai. Without exception, every other God thinks they’re super weird and kind of fears them, a little.
Pantheons exist as as massive metaphysical constructs within Fate, binding the gods to entire cultures and peoples. Scion 1e posited the connection of Fate to Humanity; humans were bound to Fate and couldn’t contest the ebb and flow of the connections through their lives, save for some divinely-aided heroism, but humanity itself provided the necessary web for connections to form in the cultural consciousness. The Gods don’t need humans, but they do need humanity. Not to exist, not as some kind of source of power, but as a mirror. Humanity and worship are the ways by which the Gods know themselves and, without the ability to relate to and sympathize with humanity, the line between God and Titan blurs to the point of vanishing.
Fatebindings latch to a Hero and Demigod directly, but tend to attach themselves to a God’s mantle, or their divine oversoul. They act to define a god and how the god’s relationships will play out in the future by defining Roles, which is another reason many gods are careful, stay in the Overworld (which is devoid of the trappings of Fate, and where they feel the tug of Fatebindings but rarely) and act through intermediaries (like Scions. Especially Scions). Over time, these relationships can change how people react to a God in the future…and, maybe, their past. But, as we’ve noted, they’re not exactly passive actors in this change. Gods strive to fulfill their Virtues and make sure Fate is on their side, and that they only change when and how they want to.
It’s very important to note that Fate is not “mind control.” It doesn’t override a mortal or God’s will, force them to do things they don’t want to do, or otherwise turn them into puppets. What it does do is find people who were already predisposed to fill a particular role in the Scion’s Legend and makes it very, very easy for them to go along with it. Someone Fatebound to a Scion as a Paramour isn’t suddenly struck with a compulsion to love her; rather, Fate finds someone who was already romantically interested in (or at least attracted to) the Scion and manipulates events such that they will encounter each other in settings conducive to furthering a romantic relationship. Either party can turn away from the path if they have a compelling reason to. Think of it like going for a walk in the woods: if you’re not consciously trying to get somewhere in particular, you’ll probably pick the path of least resistance: downhill, out of the hot sun, etc. Fate just makes sure that the path of least resistance is the one that leads to the Fatebound role.
Example: Two Scions, Boyd Calhoun (Scion of Sobek) and Henrietta Belle (Scion of Hermes) have both triggered a Fatebinding on a French battlefield in WWII (it’s a long story). Both are fighting their way through the Axis lines to recover an artifact buried beneath an old church, but Boyd’s Fatebinding tangles him up with a Paramour, while Henrietta’s brings her a Boon Companion.
Taking shelter in a foxhole, Boyd finds himself face to face with Corporal Fumero, a medic he’d previously had a spark with. As they make their way across the battlefield together, Fate conspires to throw challenges at them that allow each man to display character traits the other finds attractive. It might even ensure that the German shelling stops just in time for them to see a beautiful moon, full and bright, hanging above the trees — Fate is not above clichés. Even any injuries they might suffer on their quest are conducive to romance: the sort of thing that requires the removal of shirts and tender bandaging, and certainly nothing that would impede an impassioned kiss at a dramatic moment.
Henrietta, meanwhile, marches through hell with a local freedom fighter. Sucking mud and howling chaos force them to rely on each other, and each is presented with opportunities to abandon the other and press on — which, naturally, neither of them takes because they’re not that sort of people. By the time they reach the church, they trust each other more than some people who have known each other their whole lives.0
That’s it for now! After Gen Con I’ll provide you all with some of the beta feedback and talk about playtesting. I might even share a few Purviews and Knacks, while I’m at it.