Scion 2nd Edition Tabletop RPG

Created by Richard Thomas

Contribute to help us create and traditionally print Scion 2nd Edition Tabletop RPG's first two books and get them into stores!

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Scion September Update - Fiction and Origin Errata
8 months ago – Fri, Sep 07, 2018 at 11:06:54 PM

Hello, true believers! As I speak, the last of the errata'd Origin is winging over to Mike Chaney, our art director, for final integration into the PDF, which means the next step is open sales and print proofs and all of that good business. I'm pretty sure I got all of the errata, so thanks to all who participated in our errata threads. 

Hero has arrived for a second PDF proof in the place of Origin, however, and work continues, but there are some really gorgeous pictures in here.

The dead are within the shadows.
The dead are within the shadows.

I wish this update were something more substantial than "things are progressing and Hero is coming along rapidly", but that's about the size of it - the balls are in the air and I'm waiting for them to land. So, here's a piece of Scion fiction to tide you over. Next time I'll talk about the drafts of the Scion Companion coming in and share news about the other Scion Kickstarter stretch goal projects (and there will be some big news about that).

Grass  

A cloud-darkened sky is only featureless to those who don’t really look. The careful and discerning eye perceives a thousand folds within the gathering storm. One can take any number of lessons from the sky beyond simple observation and appreciation, comparing the overlapping clouds to a well-made sword. Lessons of a storm’s strength born from careful refinement of air and water, or of a land’s parched patience rewarded with rain. But those were lessons Yukiko Kuromizu had long since learned, so she put the thought out of her mind in the split second before she slammed back-first into the cold waters of San Pedro Bay.  

Kuso,” she whispered beneath the waves, the bubbles from her muttered curse floating upwards. Yukiko imagined she could hear the fire giant’s roar beyond the waves. He was probably brandishing that lead pipe still, leaving a trail of burnt wood and dripping molten metal on the docks as he stalked and bellowed about the sons of Muspel. She had assumed it was too heavy to strike with any sort of speed. Her crushed ribs and the aching warmth spreading in her chest were the fruits of that assumption. Yukiko rolled — or perhaps drifted — to face the blackness below. The blood was flowing freely from her mouth. She heard the sharp rapport of gunfire above and behind her, muffled through the water. Donnie Rhodes battling against her assailant, but that was another thought she needed to put out of her mind.  

Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, the Grass-Cutting Sword, slipped out of her grasp and plunged toward the ocean floor. She did not have the strength to catch it; instead, she watched it slicing easily through the ocean water. It had been lost at sea before, but they were a very long way from Japan. She imagined it turning along the ocean floor over the course of long months and years, far from Amaterasu-ōmikami’s light. She imagined it washing ashore, not in Yokosuka where the waters were cold and the coarse beach crunched beneath your feet, but in Okinawa, where the sand was white and soft. She imagined the Shintō priests wrapping it in silks and lifting it gingerly from the surf. She imagined it being presented to the emperor upon his ascension. Yukiko imagined the sword being privately mentioned to her mother.  

Sansei,” the children outside the base called her. Three generations from Japan, though her mother was native to Okinawa. Her father was born in America, nisei, and had worn the naval uniform of his homeland. She didn’t know how her parents met, and had never truly asked. Yukiko’s father had been a man who didn’t care that an unmarried woman had been driven out of her village by her traditionalist family, or even that she carried the child of another man who’d loved her for a week and left forever. He only knew that the too-proud hostess he met at Navy Restaurant Yokosuka was the most wonderful woman he’d ever met, and he wanted to be the light in her life. Yukiko’s earliest memories of her father were of a handsome man smiling and kissing her mother, of him bouncing her happily on his knee and promising brothers and sisters.

Her father was in their family home still, sitting on the mantle, lacquered chopsticks within an empty funeral urn to commemorate a man lost at sea. The pension was little comfort. Yukiko’s childhood was a series of silent weekend afternoons and Japanese language lessons on weekday nights, of sorrowful silences at the dinner table. Her mother carried the grief of two lost loves like a sack of rice on her shoulders, and she stooped under the weight.  

The children off-base were the worst. They were free to indulge in the customs of America, eating hamburgers and curry while she ate pickled vegetables and slivers of grilled fish. They were free to laugh and giggle with one another, but she was met with chilly silences and laughter that was cruel, not kind. Yukiko’s mother never noticed when she came home with bruises or muddied clothes or torn schoolbooks. The older woman went to work, came home, cooked dinner, and ensured her daughter was attending Japanese lessons. Then she would retire to bed, and Yukiko would be left with household chores. When Yukiko’s mother smiled, it was for American sailors, and it never reached her eyes.  

One day, Yukiko noticed she’d grown taller than her mother. That day, she summoned her courage, and spoke long-hidden feelings aloud. “Mother, I am sorry.” Once she started, she could not stop. “I am sorry I remind you of what you lost. I am sorry I am a failure at school. I am sorry I am too much like my father with too little Japanese in me.” That was a phrase from the girls at school, and it must have hurt her mother as much as it hurt Yukiko, for she had never seen the older woman’s jaw drop quite so. Even so, she had to finish. “I am sorry,” she choked, “That I cannot be a daughter you are proud of.”  

Silence. After an eternity, her mother spoke. “Yuki-chan,” she said, cupping her daughter’s face with a gentle hand, but only for a moment. She reached over, flicked on the stove, and moved the kettle on to boil. “Never apologize for what the world does to you. Only apologize for what you fail to give back.”  

“Mother?” Yukiko had never her speak about anything other than base practicalities. “What do you mean?” she asked.  

Her mother took a deep breath as the steam began to spout, and poured warm water on a cloth. Yukiko felt the heat of the cloth as her mother gingerly wiped her daughter’s face, felt the gentle strength in her hand as she stilled Yukiko’s attempt to shy away from cloth and cleanliness. The older woman rubbed water over her hands, then returned the kettle to the stove. “I mean that our thoughts, our feelings, our actions, disturb the world around us.” Something had changed in her mother’s voice as the woman gestured around the room. “You know this, right? Shintō? Kids talk about it, you learn it in school, right?”  

She did not. Most kids didn’t talk to her, and if they did, they didn’t talk about Shintō. “Is this about the Buddha?” she asked. She knew about the Buddha, definitely.  

“The Budd—” her mother started, and Yukiko shrank back from the sudden note of strength in her mother’s voice. Her mother opened her hands and sank to her knees, lowering her voice and steeling her tone. Not with anger, Yukiko realized, but with pride. “No, this isn’t about the Buddha, though he is important. This is about the world, and everything in it, and you and you in it.”  

The kettle began to whistle. Her mother took it from the stove and poured two cups, whisking in some powder. The scent of matcha filled the air.  

“This is the true way, Yuki-chan,” her mother began, seating herself next to her but staring at something out the window Yukiko couldn’t see. “Everything we do affects everything around us. To live only for one’s self is to twist that. You must live for others, and for the world. You must keep your eyes open, observe all around you.”  

She paused for a moment. “My mother told me this story, once: When the son of the Emperor took up the blade Kusanagi, taken by the God Susano-O from the tail of a great serpent, he found himself fighting a great warlord. The warlord’s men set an entire field of grass aflame to entrap him, but the prince did not charge in heedlessly. He stood back and watched the fire crawl along the field, then sliced every blade of grass off before it could catch fire. He swept the blade—” and here her mother stood and made great sweeping gestures so unlike her, much to her daughter’s delight, “—to throw the flaming grass back at the warlord. He watched the world and saw it, rather than forcing himself upon it. You understand, right? He saw the kami.”  

“What is a kami?”  

“The kami are in everything and within everything. They are in the air, in the sword, in the fire, in the grass,” her mother said. There was strength in her voice. “They float between everything and they are in harmony, unless we disturb them. We cannot rule them, daughter, we can only see them and move between them.”  

Her mother looked at her, truly looked at her, and stood. Yukiko realized she wasn’t taller than her mother after all. “You cannot force the girls at school to be kind to you, just as I cannot force your father to come home, and we cannot force the world into what we want it to be. We can only see it and move within it, until we are where we need to be, not where we should be.”  

Yukiko thought back to this moment often over the years. She thought back to it when she learned to watch the other children, to learn their cliques and their fears and their anger, and how to avoid it or redirect it. And again when a professor at Kyodai took the same umbrage at her heritage that ignorant schoolchildren had. She thought back to it when she was grown, when she rode across Japan on a domestic motorcycle until she came to an Okinawan beach, and a smiling surfer with a giant board across his shoulders walked along the surface of the water to tell her a story of how he seduced her mother. She thought back to it when that great kami shrank back in surprise from the fury her mother had given her, and asked her what gift he could give his daughter and a princess of Heaven as her birthright in recompense for a life of neglect. She thought back to it now, dying in some foreign ocean.  

“See the world as it is, not as you want it to be. Look upon the kami with your own eyes. Now! Taste your tea and savor it for what it is.”  

Yukiko sipped her tea and pursed her lips at the taste. It wasn’t very good at all. Her mother tapped her hand with something — a small packet of honey from the Naval commissary. Then the older woman smiled with her eyes for the first time in her daughter’s memory. “Sometimes the world really needs a bit of adjusting,” she admitted. “Sometimes we all do. I love you, Yukiko. And I am proud of you.”  

Yukiko opened her eyes to the kami within the depths and saw only her own face.  

The blood in the water, her blood, shimmered bright gold in the span of her heart’s beat. With a gesture she was one with the sea, and it raised her as easily as lifting her own hand. The surface of the water shattered as she rose, a pillar of might, higher than the giant and higher than the docks and higher than everything. Deeper, too, as she felt her sea touch the garbage-scattered ocean floor to find an imperial treasure. Kusanagi leaped upwards, breaking through the waterspout to rest in her hand. She saw the towers of the city of angels in the distance, shining white and brilliant as dragons made of lightning crawled across the sky, rising from the sprawl across the valley extending out to the mountains of The World.  

Donnie whirled through the air, the great golden wings on his back beating furiously, the invention of someone named Daedalus. His twin pistols did nothing more than irritate the giant, and Yukiko thought she heard Eric Donner’s name in the Greek Scion’s shouted curses. Lambasting the other man for not dealing with his own monsters, she imagined.  

No matter. Donnie knew, even if he pretended not to: The World was their duty.  

The giant had set an entire section of the pier ablaze, a great black cloud crawling up through the sky. In truth, he wasn’t all that tall, maybe eight or nine feet, but he carved a swath of fire and destruction. He waved and gestured at Donnie, not seeing the column of water until it slammed into his head. The fire incited the water to a riot of steam. It rolled, thick and heavy and white, across the cold ocean and the docks. Yukiko whirled Kusanagi above her head and felt the ancient magic respond, snuffing out the smoking embers all around and fanning the steam, flames, and sand from the sea’s floor into a column around the giant, thick and heavy. She flicked the sword up, touching a single pure white finger to the sky. The giant hovered a few feet off the docks, a massive shadow within.  

Donnie landed beside her. “That’s not going to hold him!” he shouted over the boom of distant thunder and the twin roar of giant and whirlwind.  

“It doesn’t have to!” Yukiko shouted back. “It’s just got to exist.”  

What?” Donnie asked. “What does that—”  

Everything went white, the static setting Yukiko’s hair on end, the noise deafening her. The reek of ozone filled the air, and Yukiko let the magic lapse, lest another lightning bolt come screaming down from the sky. The giant was still smoking, but he was lying face down in scattered specks of lightning-forged glass.  

Donnie said something, then smacked his ear. Yukiko shook her head. He smiled instead, and the sun, her aunt, broke through the storm clouds.  

She was her mother’s daughter, and it would be a good day.

Scion July Update: More Art and Proofs
10 months ago – Sat, Jul 28, 2018 at 02:28:23 AM

Greetings, true believers! I hold in my hands the first proof of Scion: Hero, and man, this book is gorgeous. If you’re coming to Gen Con, I’ll be there, running Scion demos (as will the Wrecking Crew) and talking up the game. I’m going through the proof right now, trying to get through most of it before Gen Con so I can identify any really extant problems. I’m going page by page, making comments, altering text here and there for clarity, and trying to avoid those ever-growing errata threads.  

A shocking amount of research went into this piece of art.
A shocking amount of research went into this piece of art.

(speaking of which, Origin’s errata thread is here. We’ll be closing it sometime soon, so get comments in!) 

One of the most critical holdups and things to get right is art. For example, I received the Orisha full-page pantheon spread back. “This is amazing,” I thought. Then I showed it to some of my writing crew and sensitivity readers, all of whom came back with the same criticism: “There aren’t any black hairstyles.” 

I tell you with full candor, Scion readers, that there is an absolute and discernible value to having a diverse writing staff. You might ask, “Well, how does diversity affect mechanics?” but even in the earliest stages of the game’s development, when we were talking about Momentum, I heard horror stories of players — mostly women and minority players — being ignored, marginalized, or even mocked at the table. We were considering having other folks determine your Momentum’s effect through narrative means, but we discarded that when one author shared a story about how her Boons were sometimes twisted in frankly gross ways by other players. Scion assumes a trusting group and encourages teamwork both in game and out, but at the same time your character’s agency remains your own. 

In this case, I hadn’t asked for Sònpònná to have dreads, maybe an afro or a straw hat for Ògún, cornrows for Òrúnnmìlà, bantu knots for Morèmi, and Òrìshà-Oko with a 90s flattop like Big Daddy Kane, because it simply didn’t occur to me. I wasn’t trying to ignore or marginalize anyone’s experience, but if you don’t involve everyone in the process it happens anyways. This is part of why I take so much time hunting down authors and discussing pantheons with sensitivity readers: the Gods in Scion aren’t the real gods, but they’re as close as we can make them to feel authentic. It’s a process that asks for blood and sweat, but as Zora Neale Hurston once said, half gods are worshipped in wine and flowers…real gods require blood. 

(and yeah, we fixed the art for their hair.)

I feel good about Scion’s Gods. They’re human and mythic, they’re grounded in the past, and their future is bright. See you all at Gen Con, but I'm dragging my laptop with me so I can keep working on the proof while I'm there. In the meantime, I'm working hard on completing Scion: Demigod's outline and the outlines for the next few Scion books, which will be handled by very capable developers working under my supervision so we can get lots of projects out in tandem. 

What's in store for Demigod

  • Five new pantheons! We haven't approved the final list, and Rich and Eddy would be mad at me if I put out a list and then we decided to change our minds in the outline stage. So I definitely won't promise the Mesopotamian pantheon, that would be presumptuous. 
  • New mechanics that allow you to apply Purviews to entire scenes, enabling new Stunts that anyone can access (if a God of Fire is around, suddenly everything becomes a lot more flammable...). Lots of uses for all those Enhancements, successes, and Scale you're carrying around.
  • Streamlined and cinematic "mass" combat rules that allow you to play big setpiece fights without everyone rolling for Initiative.
  • A lot of campaign and character planning advice and mechanics so you and the Storyguide can plot out the mythic arc of a character on their ascension to Godhood. Will their story be one of triumph, or of tragedy?
  • Also, giant monsters. And I mean giant monsters. Like, giant to giants. I mean we're talking like the size of an island.
The future lies in a new World.
The future lies in a new World.

Scion Progress List:  

Outline:  

- Scion: Bestiary (Scion KS fulfillment)  

- Scion: Jumpstart (Scion KS fulfillment) - Scion: Demigod (Scion: Demigod)  

First Draft (The first phase of a project that is about the work being done by writers, not dev prep):  

- Scion: Mysteries of the World (Scion: Hero Companion)  

Post-Editing Development and Art Direction:  

- Scion: Hero (Scion: Hero) Some final pieces of artwork coming in, first proof being worked on.  

A Note About Our Current Kickstarter Project!  

There's THREE DAYS LEFT for the Geist: The Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition Kickstarter and we’ve funded the project and achieved twelve Stretch Goals so far! Thanks to all of our backers out there spreading the word! We are in good shape to be able to make a great looking hardcover edition, and get that into stores, even while we’re giving backers first look at the complete text and other fun benefits: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/200664283/geist-the-sin-eaters-2nd-edition  

Geist: The Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition includes all the rules you need to play as one of the Bound: Five Burdens reflecting the cause that pulled you back from the grave, five krewe Archetypes for building your own mystery religion, and the Haunts, Keys, and Ceremonies that provide the Bound with their macabre powers.  

It also includes the Chronicle of the Dead, featuring the Sin-Eaters’ struggle against the all-consuming Underworld and a variety of terrifying threats. In addition, for the first time in the Chronicles of Darkness lines, ghosts are presented as playable characters.  

Like I said, the game is already funded, and now we're working at unlocking Stretch Goals - including additional rules and setting material in a Companion book, Memento Mori. If you haven't already, come by and check us out and hopefully join in on the fun! 

Scion: Origin Backer PDF links sent out!
10 months ago – Thu, Jul 12, 2018 at 02:09:57 AM

Hello Scion Backers!

RichT here:

I just finished sending out the messages containing links for the Scion: Origin backer PDF to all backers whose reward tier included them!

If you think you should have received a link message, but didn't, please first check to be sure the Reward Tier you pledged to contains a Scion: Origin PDF. Then, please check your message threads from BackerKit, and your spam folders before messaging me, but if you do have problems, we'll figure it out.

You should also check the Digital Downloads section of your BackerKit page for the links.

Likewise, if you get your link(s) but for some reason the download isn't working, please contact DTRPG customer service before contacting me as I have no ability to engage on that aspect of getting you your reward(s). Either way, we will figure out any problems so you get your files. No worries!

As I mentioned in the message with the link, we encourage all backers to go to the stickied thread on our Onyx Path Scion forum to send notes on any technical mistakes you might find: http://forum.theonyxpath.com/forum/main-category/main-forum/scion/1233836-scion-origin-errata-thread

We'll be gathering up comments for Neall for at least two weeks, and then after that he'll need to go through the lists and make any changes. Any tweaks we make to the PDF will be automatically updated and show up in your DTRPG library. All you'll need to do is re-download the PDF. This includes things like pg XXs, bookmarks, interactivity for the character sheet, etc. that we can't do until we're sure that things like the page locations won't change with the errata.

Meanwhile, work continues to get the Scion: Hero backer PDF ready for you, and after we pull that through this same process we can send the books to press.

Thanks again for your patience as we worked really hard to make this an amazing Scion: Origin PDF!

July Scion Update!
11 months ago – Sat, Jul 07, 2018 at 02:01:44 AM

Hello, Heroes!

This is Eddy, one of Onyx Path's in-house developers, and one of my jobs is to help Neall out on Scion. Since he's busy making gods in his basement (see below), I'm pitching in to offer you some updates on where things are at!

SCION: ORIGIN

This is the first Storypath System book that Onyx Path will be putting out, so we wanted to make sure it was right. As such, we took a more detailed review pass than we usually do. The good news is, the response from the team was very good! We did notice a few things we could tweak to make it even better, though, so I spent some time working with Mirthful Mike Chaney to adjust the layout. That means the Backer PDF should be out to you very soon! (Once you get it, you'll notice that page references aren't done yet, with our infamous "p. XX" placeholders. Don't worry -- we'll get all those in the errata pass but don't want to change them until after we input any errata as changes can move some text off the pages the p. XX's point to.)

SCION: HERO

Because of the nature of these books, we needed to nail down Origin before we really dove into Hero's layout, but that's coming right after we sort out Origin.

SCION COMPANION: MYSTERIES OF THE WORLD

The amazing and talented Meghan Fitzgerald is taking the dev chair on the Companion. Neall worked with her on the outline and the initial kick-off, but now she's flying solo as the writers are writing. Meghan is fantastic, and Neall and I both have faith she'll do a great job on this!

OTHER PROJECTS

Neall's hard at work on the Scion: Demigod outline, and he's been sitting in with the Trinity Continuum: Aberrant design group discussing ideas and brainstorming, since both games are Storypath-based and deal with protagonists of superhuman capacity. He's also working on outlines for the ready-made characters, the jumpstart, and Creatures of the World -- once he has those done, I'll work with him to find talented developers to shepherd them, so he can keep his focus on Demigod.

So there you have it! We're at that great stage where key pieces are finally clearing the process pipeline, so other parts can start moving. You'll start seeing a lot of momentum in the near future!

Meanwhile, At Our Current Kickstarter:

Last Monday, we started the Kickstarter for Geist: The Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition for Chronicles of Darkness! It funded in under a day and is still rolling through Stretch Goals! If the very brief bit of info below sounds interesting, you can check it out here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/200664283/geist-the-sin-eaters-2nd-edition

In Geist: The Sin-Eaters, you play a person who died with a powerful burden on their soul — something they didn't accomplish in life, or something they never found. On the other side of the veil, they made a bargain with a powerful being called a geist, which returned them to the world of the living and to their own body, at the cost of a permanent bond between them and the geist. Now your character stands as a medium, with one foot in the world of the living and one in the world of the dead.


Scion June Update: Art and Scion Companion
12 months ago – Mon, Jun 04, 2018 at 11:10:02 PM

The inside of the book.
The inside of the book.

Greetings, true believers! I'm hard at work proofing Scion: Origin, which is in the very final stages before release. After me, it goes back to approvals at Onyx Path, and we make any final changes before it comes out to you, the backers.

But Scion: Hero is very close behind.

You might think we're being old-school...
You might think we're being old-school...

Other than that, we're currently hiring writers for the Scion Companion, which has a completed outline that's dropped off the back of a truck right here. One notable thing that we decided to put in last-minute (and isn't in the outline yet) is something I like to call the Myth Level. 

Scion has a number of setting dials one can turn. The default setting of Scion is one where the divine and the legendary are barely hidden from the World at large, where religions of the Gods are popular and accepted, where monotheism isn't often at odds with the Gods (or is co-opted in pantheon power plays), or where the genre of the game shifts as you go from Origin to Hero and then again when you get to Demigod and God. This is all intended, but there's a setting difference from First to Second Edition that have thrown some folks off, so we're dusting off an old idea and giving it new polish. 

The Myth Level is five options along four axes of design, meant to allow the Storyguide to choose and emulate how many of Scion’s setting “dials” they want to crank. The one we've discussed the most is the presence of the divine in everyday life, or how much Scion deals with, well, the Gods. Named after Hesiod's Five Ages of Man, these dials are:

  • Iron: Perfectly mundane. Indeed, even a little shabby when it comes to creatures of Legend. Very similar in nature and tone to Gaiman's American Gods, where ifriti are cab drivers, Odin is a shiftless wandering con man, and Chernobog and the goddesses of dawn, midday, and evening are poor immigrants scraping by in a shitty apartment in Chicago. Most Knacks don't function fully, most Boons provide only weak "tricks". Gods communicate through Omens and small miracles when they're not embodied, and religion takes the place of most direct communications. The default genre setting of Origin.
  • Heroic: Mostly mundane, but with room for great acts of heroism. Most Hero-level abilities work normally in this environment, though most abilities still seem either tremendously lucky or as a result of great skill, and Boons deliberately pass into the next level. Most supernatural creatures still have mundane manifestations here (that centaur might still just be a biker here), but Scions and gods may appear as impressive and tremendous - Aphrodite isn't some burnt out barfly here, she's drop-dead gorgeous and probably on fashion covers. This is the level of the Iliad and the Odyssey and Hero, though that game also heavily crosses into...
  • Bronze: This is where the supernatural comes into play now. Creatures of Legend shed their mundane disguises in areas of Bronze Myth, and appear in their true nature. Magic becomes overt here, and Demigods wield their true power. This is Clash of the Titans territory, and there might just actually be dragons in that undetailed area of the map. This is where Hero truly lives.
  • Silver: Past the threshold of urban myth and getting into epic fantasy, places of Silver Myth are deeply resonant with Myth. They are often fanciful places and hidden vales of magic technically found in the World, but not of it. Godly powers work at their full potency here, and the power of a creature of Legend is reflected in its appearance - the mightier the entity, the more impressive it appears. Zelazny's Lord of Light goes into this area of Myth in its narrative. Demigod exists in this space, dealing with the effects of myth on a culture.
  • Gold: Flat-out mythological, where symbolism is the same as its reality. Places of Gold Myth are not even of this World, and all creatures of Legend may find their powers increased by the richness of the locale's potent Legend (in game terms, areas of Gold Myth actually have extra Effects that anyone can use if they meet the prerequisites). Lots of Scion 1e went into this territory, with its otherworldly locales, and lots of fantasy that touches on extradimensional areas and the like qualify. God works on this level.

We'll save the other dials, such as the presence of the Titanomachy or genre, for another update.

That's it for now! For the most up-to-date Scion information, keep checking back at theonyxpath.com every Monday evening for Rich's Monday Meeting notes.

...but we're trying to stay modern.
...but we're trying to stay modern.