[Once and Future] Preview

Once and Future art by Skan Srisuwan

As a result of popular demand, today’s preview will be from Once and Future, our upcoming sourcebook for Scion, which delves into all things wonderfully Arthurian!

Once and Future accomplished a lot of tasks on its many pages. Whether you’re wanting to play as Pendragons-elect, in games of cyclical tragedy, be a Scion of one of the Welsh Pantheon, use new Birthrights, Knacks, and Arthurian Mantles, play in historical campaigns, or more(!), you’re not going to lack in content.

Let’s delve in, for instance, to the Gods of Wales, and take a look at some of the divine parents you may end up adopting, and two in great detail:

Principal Members

The pantheon does not call itself the Plant Dôn aside from those members who are actually the children of Dôn. There are the children of Dôn, the children of Ll?r, and a handful of Gods in their orbit who belong to neither family. While they grudgingly acknowledge that mortals use the name of one family for all of them (much as the Vanir are accustomed to being called Æsir), it remains a point of contention that is unlikely ever to be settled.

Among the children of Dôn, the most active Gods are Aranrhod (goddess of destinies), Gwydion (god of storytelling and illusion), and Lleu (god of heroism). The brothers Amaethon and Gofannon (gods of plowing and smithing) and Dôn’s brother Math (god of justice) have all but withdrawn from the World, but may still aid worthy Scions as Guides.

The children of Ll?r include three of that God’s own children: Brân (god of protection), Branwen (goddess of loss and compassion), and Manawydan (god of crafts), and two linked to them through marriage or alliance, namely Rhiannon (goddess of wise counsel) and Y Pen Annwn (head of Annwn). The latter is not a single God, but a role shared by the Gods Arawn, Pwyll, and Pryderi at various times and in myriad aspects.

Alongside both families are Gods who trace their lineage from neither ancestor, but have crossed paths and shared in deeds with both: Ceridwen (goddess of inspiration and magic), Gwyn ap Nudd (god of battlefields and wild places), and Taliesin (god of knowledge). On the peripheries is Mabon fab Modron (god of youth), who is too carefree to produce Scions himself, but will act as companion when it suits his moods.

Pronunciation Guide

Welsh spelling can be intimidating for English speakers, but its pronunciation is consistent after taking orthography into account. The most important differences are these: U represents an “i” or “ee” sound, never “uh”; W can be a vowel, “oo,” as well as a consonant; Y is usually a short “i” sound; Ch is like in the Scottish loch; Th is always pronounced as in “thin”; Dd sounds like the beginning of “that”; F is a “v” sound, while Ff is “f”; Ll is nearest to “hl” or “thl” in English.

Amaethon: am-AY-thon

Annwn: an-OON

Arawn: AH-rown

Aranrhod: ar-AN-hrod

Blodeuedd: blod-EYE-eth

Bendigeidfran: bendy-GIYD-vran

caer, caerau: kyre, KYRE-eye

Ceridwen: ker-ID-wen

Cyfeillach: cih-VYHL-ach

Dôn: rhymes with “tone”

Gofannon: go-VAN-on

Gwydion: GWID-yon

Gwyn ap Nudd: gwin ap neeth

Lleu Llaw Gyffes: hley hlaw GUFF-ess

Ll?r: hleer

Manawydan: mana-WID-an

Pryderi: prud-ER-ee

Pwyll: pwihl

Rhiannon: hree-AN-on

Taliesin: tal-YES-in

Yr Hen Dduwiaeth: ur hen THOO-yeith

Rhiannon, Goddess of Wise Counsel

Three otherworldly wonders of Rhiannon, the divine queen: that none can ride as swiftly as she, though she never hurries her pace; that the song of her birds brings sleep to the wakeful and wakens the dead; and that her counsel is the wisest a king may have.

Where the divine queen came from is a mystery that she is not inclined to resolve. When she entered the World to ask Pwyll to marry her (and persisted even as he made blunders on the way to her goal), there were speculations that she was a goddess hiding from more than a rival suitor. Certainly, her affinity for horses has led a few Gods to wonder privately if she once carried a mantle of Epona that she would prefer to forget, but her position as dispenser of vital guidance has ensured that no one would risk offending her by mentioning it aloud. Now that Pwyll has passed entirely into the Otherworld as part of Y Pen Annwn and Rhiannon has chosen Manawydan as her new husband, others are even less likely to challenge the pantheon’s unquestionable elders.

Her modern incarnations are all attractive, mature women surrounded by an aura of being terribly old and somewhat alien (to the extent that, when she was once accused of eating her own infant son, it seemed plausible). Time and space do not work in the same way when she is nearby. She can appear to be moving at a casual pace, but be impossible to catch up to unless she wishes it. The birds that sometimes accompany her appear to fly near the horizon, but their song is always clear. Rhiannon offers counsel to those she favors, mortal or divine, with the certainty of someone who knows how any situation will resolve itself. If they choose not to listen, she will tell them bluntly that they’re being foolish, but will not give up hope that they can learn from their mistakes.

Rhiannon’s Scions are either young people whose potential for greatness (with a little help) she can see, or older ones who have a history of sound decision-making already. If they are young, she treats them as her own children whether they are or not: she encourages them along their paths, chastises them when they fall short of their capabilities, and picks them up to make sure they keep trying. If they are older, she approaches them more like an old friend, someone to confide in and listen to when faced with life’s troubles.

Callings: Guardian, Leader, Liminal
Purviews: Beasts (Birds, Horses), Fortune, Prosperity

Aranrhod, Goddess of Destinies

Alias: Arianrhod

Three mysterious wonders of Aranrhod: that none may escape the destinies she lays upon them, save that she herself lift them; that she placed her castle on the shores of Arfon and among the stars, and none know how it is both; and that there is no greater peace than in her fondness, but no greater misery than in her enmity.

Aranrhod, who wields Fate and assigns destinies with surgical precision, did not ask to be the mother of Lleu. It’s not that she dislikes motherhood — she has other children with whom she has a much better relationship — or him specifically; it’s that her brother Gwydion and her uncle Math forced her into the situation that led to the boy’s birth and then concealed his existence from her for years. She laid two destinies on him at first, both of which she alone could overcome. It was only when Gwydion tricked her into undoing them that she laid down a third, seemingly unbreakable one.

After that, she stopped speaking to the rest of her family. None of them ever took her side, so why should she? Her seaside fortress in northern Wales lies in ruins, while she makes her home in a celestial Otherworld where she is much less likely to be disturbed. When she does choose to visit the World, it’s to find new books and music for her collections, update her wardrobe, or because she has the feeling that Gwydion is up to another of his schemes. She never passes up the opportunity to interfere with those if she thinks they will end up hurting someone. Her incarnations are women in their thirties or forties, always impeccably dressed, who demonstrate a thorough knowledge of art and literature and move in those circles of mortal society.

Aranrhod chooses Scions who, like her, have been betrayed by and isolated from the people who should have been closest to them. She prefers them to be smart and self-reliant as well, but it’s that stab of heartache that is most likely to prompt her to give them the gifts to rewrite their own destinies. What she expects of them is simple: when they see injustice, abuse, or cruelty in the World, be the person who demands that it stop.

Callings: Judge, Liminal, Sage
Purviews: Fertility, Fortune, Order, Stars

And there’s nine more gods in that same Pantheon! I’m very excited for this upcoming book. Let us know what you think of the above!

Are there any other books or games you want to see previewed or discussed here? Let us know in the comments!

6 thoughts on “[Once and Future] Preview”

  1. Once and Future is THE book I’ve been looking forward too! Please, give us more previews or, better yet, put the book out! It’s all so delicious!

  2. This preview has reaffirmed my desire for Once and Future. All other desires pale in comparison.

    Especially since there’s going to be some Arthurian mantles? Will we get Morgan le Fay? Merlin? Arthur-Lancelot-Guenivere is almost a *given*, but what about Galahad? Percival? Will the Mantle of Sir Dinedan get passed around like the laughing trickster he is?

  3. I was hooked by the art before I read a single word! The Asian and Middle-Eastern knights look amazing and I want to know more about their part in the story and their role in the book.

  4. As a leading expert on the Mabinogi of Wales I was very pleased to see this development. The descriptions of individual divinities are very good. Sadly the developers did not reply to my offers to help so they have missed a key issue. They have identified only TWO of the Mabinogi kindreds – Don and Llyr. There are actually THREE Don, Llyr – and Rhiannon – who is included but as a dangling oddity. Messy. (The scholarly backing for the three kindreds goes way back to Edward Anwyl (1908). What a shame. Hope this can be corrected. I welcome contact from anyone interested in the Mabinogi / Four Branches of the Mabinogi – see my website Mabinogi Study


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