The World [Scion Second Edition Open Development]
Welcome back, faithful readers! Titans didn’t win, which means today’s blog post is about The World.
Four and a half billion years ago, a ball of molten dust and raw, sun-forged elements coalesced into a planet. This one time, another planet crashed into it, and the resulting molten mass formed into a tiny moon. Other than that, nothing much has happened on that little planet, though to be honest with you I haven’t checked in a while.
Woe that I haven’t. This is a time of heroes.
The World is Tiamat, carved into shape and form by Marduk. It is Rangi and Papi, locked in their embrace while their children war within them. It was created by a wagtail swimming upon an infinite ocean, and by Q’uq’umatz and Tepeu speaking the word “Earth” when floating upon a similar infinite ocean. Atum existed within a very similar ocean, containing all the World within himself, taking the definitions and limits of existence from the Primordial Deities and granting stewardship to the Ennead until he was named. The sons of Burr lifted the earth out of another infinite sea, fashioned from the bones and flesh and maggots of long-dead Ymir.
It is all of these things, even in contradiction to one another, and they are all true. To understand the paradox, to understand the World, you must see it as the Gods do.
The Gods are still here, in spirit and in fact. Strange peoples walk the World (always “the World”, never “Earth” or heavens forfend, “Terra”). In the World, the old religions of pantheism were never quite overtaken by monotheism in Europe, though some weathered the changes better than others. The World is our base setting, allowing us to treat religions as fictional entities for our use in a game while still respecting the real-world spiritual beliefs and engaging their cultural heritage for games of Scion. Sometimes, this means treating them as cohesive stories contributing to a larger pantheon when the myths surrounding those deities are anything but cohesive. Sometimes, it means sanding down differences.
The World is like ours, though the differences are subtle at first. Belief in the Gods runs strong. Cults and temples take a far smaller place alongside prayer groups and churches, but they’re there, in greater numbers and more acceptance than our world. Where you might see a gold cross around a young woman’s neck, it might instead be a hammer amulet on a leather thong, or even a small raven’s claw. The statue of Christ the Redeemer standing tall over in Rio de Janiero isn’t replaced by Zeus on his throne, but signs of the lightning god of ruling are throughout the city. Ob-gyns with silk shirts occasionally charge their patients a premium for the taurobolinium, a phrase most don’t quite grasp smuggled as it is within most overpriced American prenatal tests. It’s a fashion among a very few soldiers in the know to carve the Tîwaz rune into their rifles to ensure the weapon won’t jam on them. Other soldiers secretly into Mars to look here as they prepare for battle. Listen closely to the weather report over Caribbean radios, and you’ll hear a drumbeat reminiscent of Shango’s. In San Francisco, there’s a few more Shinto-Buddhist temples to compete with those of what Western pantheons call the Celestial Bureaucracy.
Pull out a bit, and you’ll see a few even bigger differences. Caesar’s campaign against the Gauls wasn’t a dubiously legal quasi-war, it was a campaign of annihilation and apotheosis by the self-professed Son of Venus against the Gods of the Sacred Shrines. In the cracks of the World are Creatures of Legend, sitting ever within humanity’s collective peripheral vision. They hide in plain sight, when they bother to hide at all. Dwarves and elves are in towns in the Scandinavian countries, sometimes even plying their trade. Centaurs herd in the plains of Thessaly, where there are so few cameras. Tengu nests nestle among Japanese skyscrapers. Colonies of satyrs in the mountains of Greece, fighting for territory with the aforementioned centaurs who lope across the plains. In the American West, a different kind of centaur rides the highways on two wheels, chrome where human legs should be and oil pumping in their hearts.
Believe it or not, this isn’t such a grand departure from our world; folk religion is strong the planet over, and such beings exist in the minds and hearts of people as a matter of faith. Believe it or not – the Gods don’t need belief, even if they do care for it. They are, like a storm or a fire is, and they do not need your acknowledgement.
The World of Legend exists alongside our World, and this firmly places us in terms of modern mythology. Where it differs from our own, it hews more closely to the secret history of books like The Promethean Age and Mumbo Jumbo. We don’t veer into outright alternate history – we’ve got cities, people wear suits and ties, and even monotheism still has a hold on the people of the World – but events are different in some places, and the motivations behind them are sometimes radically altered.
The Unknown Lands
Off the coast of Ireland are four city-islands: Murias, Falias, Gorias and Findias. You won’t find them on any map, but the same waters that lap against the Emerald Isle’s shore lap against theirs. If you go to these places, you’ll find shattered ruins and high magic, wild and unfettered from a time when the Tuatha were young. Search further, and you’ll find both fae and mortal, their eyes unseeing but souls weighted with knowledge, sequestered there by Gods who want to keep them from the prying eyes of the World. Not too far geographically, but infinitely far if you don’t know the way, lies the Isle of Avalon, where Arthur ap Uther rests until the hour of Britain’s greatest need. There’s people on that isle, ruled by a nonet in the slumbering king’s stead. Across the World, if you’ve the right heritage and aptitude, you can climb a side of Mount Fuji and find yourself on another mountain entirely – Horai, where the air itself grants you knowledge and lightens your heart so you never grow old.
These are Terra Incognita, and they encompass civilizations and worlds in and of themselves. They are inextricably linked to the World, connected via a specific site called an axis mundi. Cities like Shangri-La? Continent-sized islands like Hy-Brasil? Planets like Nibiru or Muspelheim or Vanaheimr or (maybe) Brahmapura, orbiting a strange and foreign sky? They’re there. Humans and other creatures live in them. They cross over, sometimes, into the World, visitors and travelers and emigres and exiles. Sometimes even emissaries.
So, for next week: do you want to hear about Geneses, the different types of ways the Gods make a Scion (including the ever-popular beast with two backs); or do you want to hear about the Pantheons, the families the Gods group themselves into in Scion?
Vote in the comments!
Today’s Music: Do it for me, you do it for money.