Posted on February 13, 2009 by Monica Valentinelli
Secrets of the World is the latest “chapter” of the Companion for the Scion role-playing game from White Wolf. This review focuses on the PDF format. The hardcover version of this particular supplement isn’t available for purchase yet, so keep that in mind when you’re weighing whether or not you want to purchase Secrets of the World.
The PDF opens with fiction to set the mood. While written well, the white text in a scripty font was pretty hard to read on a black background, so I missed a lot of the details. The first section dives right into discussion cross-pantheon politics with commonalities broken out. This is a very useful section for Storytellers because it offers a high-level overview of how the Atzlanti philosophy works versus the Pesedjet that they can use in and out of game. I really like sections like this one in game supplements because it helps water down conflicting ideas and offer ideas for players to work together in a game. Sometimes, finding common ground when your characters come from different pantheons can be a challenge.
If you prefer your Scion character to have more physical abilities than mental, you’ll probably enjoy the enhanced mechanics for strength, throwing, weapons and vehicles. I enjoy a beat ‘em up, shoot ‘em up type of a game, but don’t always care for the crunch. This section was definitely written with system in mind and provides tables that work well for a wide range of ideas. The vehicles section is particularly useful if your players rely on planes, cars and boats to get around.
Also included with the more vanilla-flavored weapons and vehicles are six different relics from all over the world. Each relic is from a different mythological background and is described neatly alongside an image. The relics also come with the right amount of crunch, so you can determine which one might be best to offer your players. I thought the relics here were right on the money, taking stereotypical images from history (like a samurai’s armor) and offering a new twist. It allows the relics to “blend in” to the game without looking like a target for thieves.
Next up in this toolkit is a new order, called The Order of the Divine Glory, which is mired in monotheism. As a developer, imagine coming up with a society that you need to use in your mythological game that utilizes Christianity and other faiths, without overpowering the pantheons you’ve defined. The Order of the Divine Glory is not about “the evil Christians” rather its about the concept of “faith in one God in the presence of many.” Instead of trying to destroy the Scions, members of this Order believe that the Scions truly originate from “the one true God” and try to convert them to their cause. In this way, this new “Order” is less about demonizing Christians or pagans, and more about recruitment. Although, I should point out that that recruitment can take more drastic forms like brainwashing if need be. Oddly enough, the Order’s roots do not come from Christ, but from the Egyptians — specifically Amenhotep (Akhenaten) who was a Scion himself.
The reason why this Order works, is that the text makes it clear other religious leaders aren’t aware of the Order’s existence and its true goal — the “Fatebinding of all the Gods into One, a God subservient to the Order’s wishes.” I really like the fact that this isn’t just another bad, evil Order based on a church, it’s based on a Scion gone crazy. Once you understand the Order’s true goal in the world of Scion, you understand the level of threat they can offer you in game. What’s more, because they are very secretive, I can imagine that it’d be pretty difficult to find out who is a member until it was too late.
To add fuel to the proverbial Egyptian temple fires, the relics of this Order are all from Amon-Ra. I thought this was right on the money and will ensure that this Order is received well by players, because it ties back into the Order’s origins very neatly. It’s a gentle reminder that monotheism isn’t just visible in Western society, and it can evolve in a world where gods walk the earth.
I’m pretty ambivalent about the two characters offered for the Order; an unwitting Christian agent and a Muslim Inner Council member who both strive for peace and goodness in their own way. In an Order like this one, it’s important to remember that its members will be extremely varied with different philosophies. How can you fight a war of philosophy? These two characters don’t really offer any clues, because neither one is a “bad” person, even though they may be considered antagonists.
Since the Order is all about Fatebinding, logically the next section talks about Companions and the different stages required to strengthen bonds beyond normal levels through the sharing of ichor. Can we say “ick”? There are three stages for this sort of thing, and thankfully there are drawbacks that may occur. Unfortunately, I kept thinking of ghouls when I read this section. I know that’s not what they were going for, but it was hard not to.
Now comes the best section in this PDF, the “how-to”s for creating your own pantheon, titanspawn and relics. There’s a lot of crunch here for those of you who enjoy flexing your creative muscles, and this part of the PDF will appeal to a lot of folks who want to make the game their own.
If you enjoy running games for the other pantheons, you’ll probably hone in on the plot seeds broken out by pantheon. Finishing out this thirty-five page PDF are a ton of story ideas and individual plot lines that you can plug-and-play into your games. While the NPCs aren’t offered here, there’s enough fodder to run a lot of games.
All-in-all this Scion PDF of Secrets of the World has a broad range of material that will appeal to story-driven and mechanic-focused players. Even if you don’t care for the new antagonist here, the ability to create-your-own pantheons, relics and titanspawn is worth the price of the PDF.
Review by Monica Valentinelli
Want to learn more about Scion? Read on…
- Atomic Array: Episode 016: Scion
- Scion Preview: Demo and Adventure
- Game Cryer: Review by Chris Perrin
- Mad Brew Labs: Scions of Celtic Mythology
- Fear the Boot: Manifestation of Ichor
- RPGAggression: Celstial Bureaucracy
Drop by RPG Now to pick up your copy today!