[Scion Second Edition] A New Calling

The Irish God Lugh, who is that one kid on the playground whose superpower is "all the superpowers". Literally, that's his Legend.
The Irish God Lugh Lamhfada, who is that one kid on the playground whose superpower is “all the superpowers”. Literally, that’s his Legend. This picture is from Devil Survivor 2, which calls Lugh a “sun god”, which is ironically like the one thing he isn’t.

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
—Oscar Wilde

Greetings, true believers!

Sometimes, gods contain multitudes.

Orunmila is a singular deity of wisdom, divination and foresight. But Shango is (or was) a king, a war-god of thunder, lightning, justice, dance, and virility. Hermes is god of messengers, omens, roads, travellers, border crossings, trade, protection of the home, thievery, cunning wiles, and animal husbandry.

Some of these are powers and purviews covered by capital-p Purviews. But not all of them. Many of them relate to the broad archetype of God, rather than the specific elemental influences of the World that God holds dominion over.

In the first edition, many of these extraPurview powers were covered by Knacks, supernatural tricks or charms that stemmed from a Scion’s Epic Attributes. In the second edition, they’re still covered by Knacks, but those Knacks now stem from the Callings.

In the first edition, besides Knacks, Callings have also changed. Callings used to be “the God you’re becoming” but they ultimately ended up very similar to the “Concept” of other Storytelling System games. They were descriptive of the past rather than prescriptive of your future, which is why you got Gods with a Calling of “Used-Car Salesman”. So with the excision of Epic Attributes in favor of a looser Scale system, we decided to repurpose Callings and Knacks to a higher purpose.

Callings are the specific divine archetypes that Scions find themselves embodying, loose myth-structures in Fate from which Scions draw supernatural power both Worldly and divine. They’re one of the big choices in character creation – it’s a clear indication of what kind of god you’ll become – but they’re not set in stone. You start with a dot in a Calling and a Calling Path. Heroes can maintain one Calling; Demigods, two; and Gods, three. They’re added to by Transfigurations, or undergoing a Crisis of Calling that allows you to double down or shy away from tying yourself to an archetype.

There are eleven: Creator, Guardian, Healer, Hunter, Judge, Leader, Liminal, Lover, Sage, Trickster, Warrior, each with a Knack tree. You don’t need to belong to a Calling to purchase branches of the Calling’s Knack tree, but it helps.

When you’re a Demigod or God, they (along with Legend) partly define the Omens your Incarnations exhibit and the Paths they can inhabit when they create an Incarnation. Callings, for Scions, are inherited from their divine parents to start – but in play, this can change, as they accept, reject, or syncretize their heritage. By confronting the Crisis situations and dealing with the Fatebindings that arise from them, you can change the Calling you’ve been dealt.

Callings group Skills under them; they also have several Purviews associated with them. Leaders have Sky, for example, while Tricksters have Chaos, Lovers have Passion associated with them, and Healers with Health (obviously). If your Calling matches this Purview, you can channel that Purview and its associated Boons through yourself, rather than through a relic (and work marvels through your Pantheon magics, rather than through the relic and its associated motifs). These are, again, associations – you’re not prohibited from taking a Purview outside your Calling.

So, the open development part of this: what do you guys think about Callings? I’m open to the idea that these are large groupings that players can further detail out rather than hard-and-fast categories. Let me know what you think on the Scion forums.

So, next week: do you want to hear about Virtues, the attitudes of the Gods that also work to constrain them; or do you want to hear about Fate, the relationships that bind all the World together?

37 thoughts on “[Scion Second Edition] A New Calling”

  1. How do you plan to differentiate Scions that share a Calling? I’m worried that a Scion of Ra might find himself overlapping with a Scion of Zeus even though both have different roles and focuses in myth.

    You mention that Callings are “inherited from their divine parents,” but isn’t divine parentage only one of the possible Geneses in Scion 2e?

    Casting my vote for Virtues, by the way, though I hope Geneses can come back soon.

    • The Calling Knacks are pretty broad. Those Scions will have different Geneses, relics, Purviews…even if they both take the same Knacks there’s a lot to distinguish them.

      All Geneses require a progenitor of divinity, somewhere. Even a Chosen of the Gods must be, well, chosen and suffused with ichor in the adoption.

  2. Oh ho, I wasn’t expecting the satellite Purviews of the Callings. Now we have a nice mythical character framework to work with. I was hoping Scion’s digest might provide a counterpoint to Exalted’s synthesis of world mythology. While it remains unique there are a number of basic axioms necessary for its specific setting that traditionally have been difficult to handle if Exalted is used as a generic high powered system, which I suspect has been a problem for many people as godly/mythic/gonzo ‘anime’ games have been relatively rare as a genera till now.

    Virtues next, we’ve had some tantalizing glimpses so lets see the whole range of dramatis personae now.

  3. Ether for me! Just please please please keep the info coming! Looking forward to the Scion/Trinity panel at GenCon!

    • We felt the Orisha were a stronger group to start with in terms of the massive Afro-Atlantic diaspora. The Loa will be expanded in a companion book.

  4. I really like the archetypes… reminds me of GoT hehe just feels like a little bit restrictive: leader leads to thunder… I mean Huitzilopochtli is a Sun God. Guess you had to choose ^^

    Fate is really important for Scion but I really wanna know what happens with Virtues.

    I vote Virtues then!

  5. Bring on the Fate! My God, Soleil, patroness of the Art of Science and the infusion of Magic with Science, plans to take over the role of the Fates one day.

  6. So essentially Callings will determine all the things that come naturally (aka lower xp costs) as well as the purview they can manipulate without relic assistance?

    Sounds to me like you essentially grouped the starting kits of each god into 11 setups rather than need to list abuncha info for every god. Simplifies things while not being overly restrictive do to the fact that only makes things easier rather than restricts.

    Another question. Are there any choices within Calling or do u simply choose a Calling and get all the associations within that Calling? Meaning do Choose a calling and then choose which things within the calling’s choices that u want to start or focus on?

  7. Fate, please. I’m especially interested in how Fate acts as an entity, how Gods and Titans differ in their relationship to it, and in Gods of Fate in various pantheons.

  8. I *think* I want to know more about Virtues. They didn’t wow me in 1st edition (I never really saw the appeal of dealing with that kind of thing mechanically), but you’re blowing me out of the water so far!

  9. Not sure my earlier attempts to post got through…so will summarize here.

    On the one hand, I’d like to know about Fate because a lot of the campaigns I’ve been involved in have delved heavily into using rumors and fiction to shape the direction of Fate. In one campaign we discovered that certain popular real world pieces of pop culture were being used to fuel the Legend of various scions and Gods (among other things, Nick Fury was a proxy for a son of Hera and Amaterasu manifested as Haruhi Suzumiya.) In other cases they used stories to manipulate things…I had a scion who was a mangaka turning adventures into stories to build legend and also used it as the basis for some of her deductive/prophetic boons/knacks (she’d let herself get in a groove and Fate’s weave would show up in her manga) she also used such story writing as the basis of her Magic purview, by drawing out the scenes of what she wanted to happen in relation to the Magic. Another character of mine was a stage magician who likewise used her performances with her follow to spread the stories she wanted spread and affect the world.

    In a World War II campaign, Set was trying to spread the idea that an atomic bomb test would sear the atmosphere (he wanted to increase the amount of desert in the world and thus increase his influence) and the PCs included a reporter who would regularly counter doom and gloom stories with stories about the wondrous march of technology. In the end, the nuke occurred pretty much as it did in real life save that…well…Set died and was replaced by his son (essentially Dracula)

    In a campaign I ran, Sleeping Beauty was a prophecy and the girl it referred to was actually one of the major villains of the campaign. She’d used Fatebinding to trap Hel inside her own Legend and thus became free to impersonate the Goddess…Hel escaped by essentially abandoning her Legend and becoming someone else (she also ended up marrying the reincarnated Arthur Pendragon…who had come back as a child of Kali…if I return to that campaign, I’ll deal with the fact that Hel’s position is vacant and up for grabs.)

    On the other hand, a discussion of Virtue would be interesting. I have always roleplayed scions as being just slightly more primal and uncivilized than most people. Their emotions are closer to the surface and their image of justice is darker and more cruel than the average person’s. I’ve told people in the past that the best way to deal with Virtues is consider them a message telling you to “act unreasonable or else you’ll go insane”.

    However, the Virtue system was fairly well functional in 1st edition while Fate-binding was cumbersome and in some places rather nebulous. I’d look forward to hearing if it has been streamlined.

    As a side note, some things I home to see:

    ability to play purified titanspawn a la The Monkey King….I have a school-aged Gorgon character based on some of the pre-Greek origins of the Medusa myth (when she was possibly a goddess from a Libyan matriarchal religion that the Greeks demonized) and it is rather difficult to model her in scion. Likewise a number of heroes of Asian myth are minor animal spirits, yokai and the like.

    Also…shapeshifting is an ability that comes disappointingly late in a scion’s career. There are numerous stories of minor heroes whose schtick is becoming some animal or another but in scion it’s not available until Demigod status, at which point the ability to become a wolf is absurdly weak next to what is possible with knacks.

    For that matter a lot of the purviews in general suffer for lagging weakly behind the knacks. In many cases there’s not much reason to invest much into boons as it is usually easier to overcome obstacles with a much cheaper knack. Magic, Mystery and Prophecy work fairly well as did most of the Pantheon purviews (Arete is incredibly powerful but somewhat boring) but a lot of the general purviews have some laughably uninteresting and less than useful boons again with the thematically interesting boons usually not showing up until a power level where they’re not all that impressive and feel like you’ve been given a fruitcake for Christmas.

    Another issue is that the concept of being a summoner is generally not viable. Most of the printed monsters are far weaker than they should be for their stated level becoming progressively easier to destroy for same or near Legend scions with each raise until you hit the “why do I still have rules? They don’t mean anything anymore.” scale of God level scions. This means that a scion who is building themselves as a necromancer will find them comparatively combat ineffective next to the guy who punches things.

    Pets and followers are extremely useful when used for behind the scenes footwork, intelligence gathering, trickster work and the like, and followers based on the elite soldier model can be extremely powerful, but a “Lord of Wolves” type character won’t see themselves being that fearful in battle.

  10. “So, next week: do you want to hear about Virtues, the attitudes of the Gods that also work to constrain them; or do you want to hear about Fate, the relationships that bind all the World together?”

    About Virtues. One of the Virtues I thought didn’t work well with the Loa was Order. I tweaked it a bit and called it Tradition instead, to differentiate with the more conservative egyptian pantheon.


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