Yesterday I wrote about the Scion: Hero campaign. My plan was to write about all three stories in a single post, but it would’ve been excessively long so I decided to split it all out.
Today let’s go over the second story arc I told my players, and as it was yesterday, if at any point there’s something you don’t understand, read the primer I wrote on Monday. That should tell you all you need to know.
Well, not all, not in this case, at least. I explained on Monday what Virtues and Purviews were, I didn’t go into details with them. So for this story, I urge you to read these wiki entries on the Virtues and Purviews, so you can learn what they’re about, as they’re very important to the arc’s plot.
Demigod: The Descent
A few months after the Heroes stopped Samuel and with a few personal adventures and family trips, they notice their new powers diminishing. Their purviews disappear, as does the supernatural tug of their pantheon’s virtues.
Their parents, clearly frightened, call a joint meeting and inform them that the Purviews and Virtues, the very celestial concepts that give them purpose and frame their legends and beings are not where they should be. Instead, they’re on Earth, living lives as normal people, or as close to normal as the manifestations of Epic Virtues and celestial powers can be.
How they came across this information, they never tell—the Gods tends to be light on details when it’s least convenient to their children—but one thing is clear: They, along with all of their allies and every other Scion on the planet, and even some Gods, will scour the world to look for these people and get rid of them.
But where to start? The Gods know they’re around in the world, but they have no clue where.
But my players and most people have a firmer grasp on the modern world than old deities. So the Inspector, son of Athena, grabs his network of Scions and Interpol resources and gets them to work. The Rock Star, son of Baldr, hits his show-business friends, most of them supernatural folk, and gets them to find targets for him to pursue.
The Troublemaker, daughter of Bastet, and the Rich Kid, son of Tezcatlipoca, go the “normal people” route and look for weird news on papers and the internet.
And with their separate methods, some brilliant rolls and clear communication, the players find their first targets:
- A thick Victorian-era mist covers London and the police open an investigation on the murders of prostitutes, the killings replicating those of Jack the Ripper down to the length of each cut.
- A series of strange accidents, power failures and even minor tremors hit the British countryside, and they seem to be following a general direction.
- In the USA, an arms deal between mobster factions goes terribly wrong and everyone dies, but through the ballistics don’t match any of the criminals’ guns, but those of some unidentified third party.
- The most parched and sun-battered corners of Africa enter a sudden rain season.
- All communication with Las Vegas ceases. No one goes in or out of the city and the US Military cordon it off.
- Renowned archaeology professor Dr. Henry Jones uncovers an old Viking village off the coast of Sweden.
- A police officer stops a major terrorist attack inside the Nakatomi Plaza.
Being the closest, the party decides to hit England first, using their skills and newly obtained relics and creatures to track the murderer. Knowing it’s mimicking the Ripper’s murders, they focus their search on Whitechapel. On the first night they come up empty-handed, but on the second they meet the Ripper, a figure dressed in typical Victorian attire, down to the top hat. He carries a doctor’s kit, but they can’t make out his features. It’s not because of the darkness, but because he doesn’t have any. When he takes off the top hat to greet them, they notice his head cuts off at hat-level, as if it were part of his form.
But as they speak to it, they see features starting to appear, the shadows around his form solidifying. The Rich Kid recognises The Ripper for what he truly is, Itzli, the Aztec Pantheon’s Purview, one of blood and sacrifices. He manages to talk the Purview into remembering itself, and in doing so it vanishes, leaving only the medical bag behind.
The Rich Kid and every other member of the Aztec pantheon then feel their Purview return to them. Because of his role in returning the power to its rightful place, his mastery grows, as if Itzli itself granted him a reward. The Rich Kid takes the doctor’s bag, and notices the scalpels inside are each minor relics meant to draw out more power from uses of the Pantheon’s purview—I know how to reward players.
Next up is the British countryside. Following the pattern of accidents, they predict where they’ll hit next and in a small town meet a young man in medieval armour and an Old Man in a long flowing robe. The old man is mute, but in his eyes, they see awareness of his true nature. They follow the young man and his companion to a library, where they confront them.
The young man is King Arthur, making his companion Merlin. Arthur is on a quest to learn about the world, but is dismayed at how his ideals for chivalry and honour are all but forgotten in a world torn by war and greed. I have to give props where it’s due, but the Inspector and Rich Kid roleplayed the hell out of this scene and gave Arthur a passionate speech on how the dream of Camelot still matters.
Knowing that the Virtue of Valor is still alive in the world, Arthur passes on, returning the Virtue to its true home, but not before knighting the two Scions, in a scene that made my players giggle like idiots.
With Arthur gone, Merlin suddenly speaks and thanks them. He says that those that brought them down to Earth bound his voice so he wouldn’t reveal things to Arthur. He could’ve left anyway, but some of the real Merlin stuck to him, the desire to care for the young King. He thanks them for helping the boy before he too decides to return to his place, restoring the Purview of Magic.
With Jack, Arthur and Merlin, the players figure things out. The powers and virtues are now popular fictional characters, those with the firmest place in humanity’s collective consciousness. But it’s not until they meet their next target, a ninja in Japan that freezes people, that they realise the true danger.
They quickly identify him as Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat—when I say collective consciousness, I mean my consciousness—but as they take him to an Arcade to prove to him that Sub-Zero is a fictional character, they notice that the character in the Arcade and in the MK series in general is no longer Sub-Zero but a man call Arcticus. Only by escorting him to where he claims the Lin Kuei temple stands do they convince him of his fictional origin, allowing him move on.
The players now know that the longer these powers stay in the world, the more the world adapts to them, which is why Jack’s features were slowly materialising. Fate reshuffles the world to make them fit as part of it. The longer they take, the harder it’ll be to get the Virtues and Purviews back. The only thing allowing them to see through the shift in Fate is their own divinity.
The party continues with their investigations, travelling the world to liberate their powers. In Africa they release the Sky purview, appearing as Storm from X-Men, and Arete (Greek Pantheon Purview), one Angus MacGyver, among others—including Inspector Javert and Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, look ’em up! Between missions, they also see some other powers return on their own, as other Scions do their jobs.
But things get complicated when they attempt to release Duty, in the form of a wandering Samurai known only as Jack. Without any recourse aside from violence, they decide to assassinate the Samurai, but on pulling the trigger, a man suddenly appears beside him and stops their attack, giving Jack enough time to leave. To them, this man is clearly the Guardian purview, and it was working for the bad guys, something they realise when he keeps popping up to save other of his kind from violence.
That is, until the party realises that the way to bypass him is to make coordinated attacks on these beings in different places across the globe. As Guardian pops up in one place, they attack another, forcing him to make continuous jump that burn through his power reserves, leaving him so tired he has no choice but to retreat and leaving his charges vulnerable to assassination.
Worse still, two dangerous mercenaries actively hunting Scions appear, to stop them from liberating more of these celestial aspects. The first one, Zahn, has a powerful relic that gives him several powerful magical armours with a variety of powers and weapons, and the other, Anatoli, can devour the souls of the dead and use them to create a spectral blade.
While Zahn is a merely a professional and only interferes when it’s necessary and only to protect a couple of high value targets, Anatoli takes an interest in the Rock Star—bound by a fickle threat of fate—and pursues the group to screw with their lives. The party fears Anatoli as I had never seen a party fear an NPC before, and it gets even worse when they see him clash against the Purviews of War, Death, Fertility and Health, the ones responsible for the destruction of Las Vegas: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Anatoli dispatches Health and Fertility, wounds War and devours Death, himself becoming the embodiment of the Purview.
Freaking out at this revelation, which they saw thanks to the Mystery and Prophecy purviews, The Cheshire Cat and the Monkey Island Voodoo Lady respectively, the party rushes to the underworld to ask for Hades’ help. The Lord of the Dead tells them that unlike most Scions, Hades raised Anatoli in the underworld, and even taught him some of the arts he now used to devour and control the dead. With the group giving him a clear “Nice parenting, idiot!” look, he tells them he can stop his wayward child if they bring him down to where he is, which they accomplish by using the Rock Star as bait.
Anatoli attempts to destroy his father, only for his powers to vanish, his consumed souls escaping (including the Purview of Death) and leaving him powerless. Hades grips his son by the throat and after delivering one of the most badass sermons in my history as a storyteller, drops his Scion into the pits of Tartarus. You can be very powerful, but attacking Hades in his own domain is stupid. He might be weaker, but there’s a reason the realm shares his name.
Liberating the rest of the purviews becomes an impossible task by then. There are too many and they’re well hidden, their enemies keeping them there so as to prevent the Gods from powering back up. Worse still, they’ve been in the world for so long, it would be impossible to convince them they are not real.
But with the Prophecy and Mystery purviews released already, the Scions used their powers to locate the enemy’s base. And knowing it to have worked in the past, they gathered NPC allies Max and Nico from the first story arc, as well as the mercenary Zahn, whom they convince to join for an exorbitant amount of money and their help in gathering another armour to add to his endless collection.
Breaking into the base is the easy part. Dealing with the masterminds is another thing entirely. Their first obstacle is the Dark Scion, Ixion. He’s the father of Centaurs and a bit of a genetic splicing genius, whose monstrosities they had encountered many times during the story, often guarding some of the highest valued targets. They group fought one of his modified Hydras and one of his cyborg Chimeras, and knew the man himself was probably even more dangerous.
Zahn and Nico took care of Ixion while Max and the party fought their way to the heart of the enemy base, where they found, much to their surprise, an orgy. Presiding over it and the true master behind these events was Pan, the Satyr God and bitter enemy of the Pantheons. Through the haze of thick incense smoke and moody lighting, they saw a couple dozen scions bound to the wall and gagged. Some of them were awake, struggling against their bindings while others seemed in a coma. Above them, etched in metal plaques they saw the symbols for each purview and virtue and they knew these were the conduits for the spell.
But there was only one way to release them and it was through Pan, but the moment the Satyr deity noticed them, he enveloped the room in his wild and lustful influence. Half of the group, the Inspector and the Rock Star (and Max) managed to resist this influence but the Troublemaker, their heavy hitter, and the Rich Kid couldn’t and joined the mass of writhing naked bodies in the centre of the room.
As the battle ensued, the Rock Star and Max held Pan at bay while the Inspector released each of the victims, returning them the powers they still were missing. Fully empowered they defeated Pan after a grueling fight.
But before they could end him, Samuel reappeared and stopped them. He asked them if he could have Pan. He had an idea and the party, although suspicious, acquiesced. So Samuel strapped Pan in the same way he had done with his victims and performed the ritual on its creator, bringing down the Titans’ Dark Virtues to the world and in doing so, draining some of the ancient beings’ powers.
He said it would be temporary, as the titans would eventually find and release them, but that it should give the Pantheons the upper hand and the scions some breathing room to recover.
In Pan’s study they find something curious, something that told them how Pan found these victims for the ritual, how he knew they would fit his desires: The List.
With yet another adventure finished and the Pantheons saved, the Scions’ legend grew enough for them to ascend to Godhood, leaving the mortal world behind and taking their place by their families’ side in the Overworld while preparing to join the fight with the Titans themselves.
I enjoyed this story a lot more and everyone cooperated. Some of my favourite moments were those when they split the party and a couple of them worked some purviews and virtues and the other two took care of another set. The Troublemaker and the Rock Star liberating the Virtues of Intellect and Courage, Indiana Jones and Conan the Cimmerian, are high points.
I tried my best not to use too many comic book characters and going a bit more classic in terms of literature, but some just fit the bill and I had to use them. TV and gaming characters also made an appearance and it was fun to see the players interact with them.
I’ll release a full list of all characters I used at a later date!