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Scion Companion Part I Review

Posted on April 7, 2008 by Flames


Available at RPGNow.com

Introduction
Scion is about the only recent output from White Wolf that I’ve really cared for other than Exalted. While the game overall seems to have been completed with Hero, Demigod and God it’s nice to see that it’s getting some ongoing support and even more nice to see that White Wolf seems to be one of the first companies to really start taking PDF publishing seriously. There’s still some imperfections, I believe the idea is to sell sections of the Scion companion bit by bit as complete PDF releases, but to omit some final sections which will only be present in the print version, but it’s a big step in the right direction and one that I hope will be followed up on by other companies. Incidentally, I was about to write a Celtic pantheon fan-offering up for Scion when this came along, so they just managed it in the nick of time!

Overview
This is a nicely polished piece of work and does what it says on the tin. It provides you with the new pantheon (minus the illustrations of the old and new version gods, which was a bit disappointing) changes to powers and all the purviews, legacies and all the rest of it you could want in reference to the Tuatha Dé Danann, the Celtic pantheon. It’s all here and for denizens of the British Isles and much of France that provides us with a much needed burst of more local colour to use in our Scion games.

Artwork
The artwork is very nice, better – in my opinion – than the production values of the Scion main book and more in keeping with the high production values of the Exalted Second Edition books. The one niggle I have – that continues into the critique of the writing – is the rather simplistic equating of of Celtic mythology with Ireland, thus we get a lot of Irish stereotyping, red hair, green notes throughout the artistic presentation, all it’s really missing is a leprechaun and a pint of Guiness.

Writing
There’s the usual White Wolf conceit of unnecessary fiction which I couldn’t bring myself to read completely and I really do wish they’d dispense with when it really isn’t needed but I suppose it’s a hallmark of White Wolf and we might miss it when it’s gone. Otherwise this is all straightforward enough explanation of rules and has nods to popular ‘Celtic’ culture such as Slaine interjected here and there which is perfectly in keeping with Scion’s feel.

But…

As I hinted at in talking about the artwork there is a deeply annoying tendency throughout the text to equate Celtic mythology with Irish mythology, or more accurately ‘Oirish’, the ‘Plastic Paddy’. While this isn’t entirely unexpected in a book of American origin about something that does involve Ireland, Irish Americans being ‘more Irish than the Irish’ it is disappointing, especially since the Celts, and variations on their religion, were found throughout the British Isles, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany and throughout Central and into Eastern Europe. To fixate on the Irish in that context is a bit of a glaring omission and there’s a touch of insensitivity towards the Northern Ireland situation as well. That said this is improved leaps and bounds from the horrible treatment in the old Fianna books for oWoD and you’ll likely only finding yourself – as a person from Britiain or Irish – grinding your teeth periodically rather than constantly, like in the old days.

Rules
Nothing much to go into here, there’s a few variations or replacements – reflecting the different nature of the culture, history and faith as compared to the more normal Scion pantheons, there’s a host of items and allies lifted from the mythology and it’s all handled well enough. The main rules addition is the notion of the ‘Geas’, a ban or pledge made by a scion of the pantheon which lends them power and a boost in ‘fate’ so long as they keep to the rules. Stray outside them and fate has a piss-fit, weakening you, keep to them and you remain strong. This is a great addition and very much in keeping with the Celtic myth.

Upsides
* Great art.
* Relatively clear and concise writing (for White Wolf).
* Much needed injection of Western European folklore.

Downsides
* Oirish.
* Disappointing lack of pantheon illustration.
* The ‘plan’ to miss out the last part of the companion, thereby making some people buy the companion twice, once in installments, once as a book.

Score
Style: 4
Substance: 4
Overall: 4

Review by James ‘Grim’ Desborough

The Scion Companion is also available as a Subscription Product with four parts at RPGNow.

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4 Responses to “Scion Companion Part I Review”

  1. Joseph D. Carriker, Jr. says:

    The one niggle I have – that continues into the critique of the writing – is the rather simplistic equating of of Celtic mythology with Ireland

    We never said anything about “Celtic mythology,” to be fair. We said we were presenting the Tuatha dé Danaan, the gods of pagan Ireland. Specifically.

    There’s no such thing as “Celtic” mythology. That’s like saying “African mythology” exists, or “Native American.” The tribal folks we’ve lumped under the tremendously broad category of “Celts” were an incredibly varied and rich variety of peoples and cultures, over a several thousand year span.

    This includes their gods. Yes, there are some cognates (which generally have more to do with them deriving from the same Indo-European protomyths than somehow being about the same deity) through the various cultures, but the sloppy tendency to describe anything dealing with pre-Roman Western Europe as “Celtic” is a pet peeve of mine.

    So, you’re right. We pretty much do a crap job of describing a Celtic pantheon. In all fairness, though, that’s because we never set out to do any such thing. 🙂 We set out to describe the gods of Eire, and at the risk of feeding my ego, I’d have to say that my coauthor and I did an excellent job of it. 🙂

    Regards,
    Joseph D. Carriker, Jr.

    Reply

  2. Eddy Webb says:

    On the lack of pantheon art, that’s not intentional. We do have such art commissioned, and we’re hoping to provide it in (at worst) the final book.

    Reply

  3. GRIM Grim says:

    Good news on the pantheon art but I can’t say I agree on the matter of the pantheon, it still whiffs more than a little of Guinness and shillelaghs. When it comes to the other pantheons a pretty broad brush is already being used and in many cases are amalgums of more varied concepts. That seems to have been skimmed over here, which was a shame. Even a cursory knowledge of these gods shows the same deity paralleled directly between Ireland, England and France (Gaul) at the very least and this potentially also missed a trick in bringing in the rich Welsh folklore as well.

    Which isn’t to say that it isn’t a vast and overwhelming improvement on the oWoD stuff, as I said. That it is.

    To be sure, to be sure.

    Reply

  4. Joseph D. Carriker, Jr. says:

    When it comes to the other pantheons a pretty broad brush is already being used and in many cases are amalgums of more varied concepts.

    Examples, please. My knee-jerk reaction is to disagree, but I want to make sure that you’re saying what I think you’re saying.

    Reply

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