The Bindings of Fate

News, Open Development, Scion, Scion: Hero

More right than you know, Loki Lie-Smith. From Loki: Agent of Asgard.

More right than you know, Loki Lie-Smith. From Loki: Agent of Asgard.

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.

  14 comments for “The Bindings of Fate

  1. atamajakki
    July 24, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    Very cool stuff! I can’t wait to hear more; are there any plans to record/upload the Scion panel from Gen Con?

    Also, no votes this time? I’m still dying to hear about Geneses.

  2. Nicolas milioni
    July 24, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    Neall,since you mentioned Fate can help gods change themselves ,I wanted to ask you about a example you told me about a god changing their divine role. I asked if a god of the Sea could change and become a god of the earth and you answered he could become a god of a Coastal city or the shore along the deep sea. Can you tell me how fate would help the god effect that chang?

  3. Omenseer
    July 24, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    Fate does not write the script, but it does set the stage.

  4. atamajakki
    July 24, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    Does this mean Sobek is confirmed for the Netjer? I was afraid he’d get cut due to his less-than-pleasant reputation.

  5. Michael Stein
    July 25, 2016 at 2:23 am

    So hopefully we will be getting a bit more on where to draw the line between a god and a titan, something the first edition was wishy-washy on (lest we forget the fate of poor Nut who was mentioned as a titan in Geb’s blurb in Hero, and was never herd from again 🙁 ). Will we see something like Dark Odin from Ragnarok where a god so thoroughly denies their virtues to become something much, much worse than a titan?

    • Leliel
      July 25, 2016 at 7:11 am

      From the sound of things, Titans are defined by being unable to understand how much their power effects the world-they’re so defined by their Purviews that their powers are the only way the world makes sense to them. Gods may be just as alien, but they are aware of Fate, which serves as a useful supplement for thinking in the abstract and impersonal-that force is, by definition, tied up in the concept of “other people.”

      Which means, of course, that several Titans don’t need to be hostile, just aloof-in fact, I’ve heard that the Theoi (ironically) are pretty chill with most of their Titans (Helios and Rhea come to mind). It also serves as an explanation as to why they were sealed away, if even the benign ones don’t get that “uncontrolled Fatebinding=Bad.”

      • Neall
        July 25, 2016 at 10:17 am

        You got it.

        (Geb and Nut are both Primordials in this edition, what 1e called Greater Titans.)

        • atamajakki
          July 25, 2016 at 4:04 pm

          Huh. I would’ve thought the Egyptian Titans would solely be the Ogdoad.

          • Leliel
            July 25, 2016 at 6:12 pm

            I think Ra’s been merged with Aten in this edition too-Aten was another name for him before Akhenaten went nuts.

            You don’t need to be a primordial deity to be a Titan, just a distant one unconcerned with mortals.

        • Austin Loomis
          July 26, 2016 at 10:35 pm

          Geb and Nut are both Primordials in this edition

          Is that why Exalted‘s Primordials are no longer called by that name in EX3? Is it a sign that someone has already realized that EX4 will (a) eventually be necessary and (b) have to launch using the Chronicles of Darkness/Trinity Continuum/Scion Second Edition model of a core rulebook containing the setting info and mortals rules (Age of Sorrows: Epic Roleplaying in a Time of Tumult) plus a book for the first powered template/tier introduced (Solars: Rise of the Anathema)? Both of the above?

  6. Gene
    July 25, 2016 at 3:08 am

    Im sorry if this comes as a bit off, but does that mean that Fate has not changed? This seems to be the same as 1e, which is fine since it was the mechanics of Fate that didn’t work rather than the flavor. My only question would be how it is different, since this doesn’t really say.

    • Neall
      July 25, 2016 at 10:27 am

      In First Edition, Fatebound Roles deliberately abrogated the free will of a person when they assumed that role. In 2e, it’s a little more subtle, but it’s not mind control.

      There are teeth that come out when a person doesn’t fulfill their Fatebound Role for reasons or another, but that’s for another post.

  7. July 25, 2016 at 7:09 am

    This sort of helps the idea one of our Bands had of resurrecting Medusa and recruiting her to the side of the Gods (just not the Greeks)…now if only all the characters were aware that the other characters had the same thing in mind.

  8. michael
    July 31, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    Are we going to preview the Titans? (Please?)

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