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Yazata: The Persian Gods RPG Review

Posted on August 11, 2010 by Flames


Available at RPGNow.com

    Written by Siavash Mojarrad, Dean Shomshak
    Published by White Wolf
    eBook, 67 pages

    Yazata is a new Pantheon for Scion done in the style of the Companion Pantheon sections for the Tuatha De Dannan, Celestial Bureaucracy, and Devas in the Scion Companion. It offers a look at a new Pantheon, their history, virtues, and PSP, some Birthrights, sample characters, and an examination of their Overworld, Underworld, and a Titan to menace them. Yazatas also offers a new All Purpose Purview, Stars, and an Adventure, The God, The Bad and the Ugly.

    My familiarity with Persian mythology is mediocre. I am more familiar with it than the typical fellow on the street, but I would not say I have a professional’s grasp of it. Take my comments therefore with the appropriate grain of salt. On the other hand, I have run Scion heavily for over three years and have a good idea of how it works. As this is going up on a horror site, I’ll note like the other Scion books Yazata is not a horror game; if you’re looking for something to give a good scare at the table, you will want to give this a pass.

    The Yazata
    The introduction was good. I found it an interesting contrast to the Devas and Celestial Bureaucracy. While the Devas are, frankly, kind of dicks as gods go, the Yazatas are pretty nice. While the CB is very rough on Pantheons they “conquered” the Yazata are not. They are self-righteous, but not annoying as written. Pretty cool. They have a rivalry with the Dodekatheon and a general friendship with the Pesedjet that makes a degree of sense, certainly…I am guessing they are not 300 fans. Overall this part felt well thought-out. The authors seemed to have an excellent grasp of the “feel” of Scion and its setting.

    The Pantheon
    We are introduced to 10 new Gods for the Pantheon (Anahita, Ard, Haoma, Mah, Mithra, Sraosha, Tishtrya, Vahram, Vayu, Zam), as many as the Irish Gods and less than the Chinese or Hindu in the Companion. The authors again avoided going favored purview crazy…the god with the most (Mithra) has 8, and the goddess with the least (Zam) has 4. Most have 6-7. My knowledge (which I again consider basic) jives well with what I read. I got a pretty decent feel for each of the gods. I would have liked a past and present picture set rather than just present, but I am sure space is at a premium. Overall I liked it well. Has a good scion feel.

    Purviews
    We got two, Asha (the PSP) and Stars (an APP). Most issues I had with the original write up (posted here on Flames Rising) were dealt with well. Aurora (Stars 3) has been rather seriously nerfed, while Sense Age has really been made to work better (not too well, but well enough to be worth the price) Overall I have a good feeling about Stars from skimming it. It is very much a stars and time purview, but that is fine. Asha will take some testing for me to know for sure. At first glance, 1-3 seem a bit powerful (boosting up to 3 epics in different categories by 1 each, and improving folks somewhat otherwise) but not overwhelmingly so. I plan to use it more or less as written for now, but I’ll see how well it works. 4-7 are either pretty cool or speedbump city depending on your concept. You get the ability to really take it a step further with 8-10, and the purview retains a very solid theme and feel with it. Overall I liked Stars and Asha more than I expected to. I expect people with Sky, Fertility, Fire, Water, Earth and Animal, or at leas 2-3 of those, will rock the world with it. Folks with 0-1 of those Purviews probably won’t buy it past 3.

    Birthrights
    This section was decent overall. The Relics get a little hairy, as relics are want to do, but aside from a certain already infamous sword, they look okay at a glance. As usual, it does fine until the unique powers come up. I would give any relic here at least a second glance were I to consider using them, and this was probably the weakest part of the entire book.

    Two samples, Scions of Mithras and Tishtrya. They seemed written well enough. As a recurring problem for White Wolf, the Samples had errors, in this case the Scion of Tishtrya had too few Knacks.

    Cosmology
    The Overworld, Underworld, and such comes across adequately, and nothing outstanding seems to be missing or off. Not extremely compelling but not bad either, IMHO. Methods for getting to each are there and make sense based on what (little) I know. Access is more difficult than, say, it would be for the Loa or Aesir, more on par for the Devas or Celestial Bureaucracy.

    Titan
    The Titan (Zrvan) is reasonably well done. I like that they went back to having the Titanrealm “feel” more like the old ones from God in the sense of being a place, as opposed to the more Anthropomorphic ones in the Companion. Good powerful and weaker types, one Titan, and the Template seemed OK. Extended Youth actually was given an in-game benefit as a result of the Template, which was interesting. Much like with the Companion, I would have liked examples for Titans related to other mythos, but space was again clearly a premium.

    The God the Bad and the Ugly
    This adventure I found serviceable, in general better than the ones in the cores, but not as good as the ones in Ragnarok. Hero level, but neat. I was amused by the western take and distinctly Scion flavor (there is even a reference to the Cattle Raid of Cooley). As one might suspect from the title, it has a western feel, and uses the standard Storytelling Adventure System as is used for World of Darkness SASs.

    Art was sadly mostly recycled. We got a new picture for the Yazata in the present but unlike the other 9 Pantheons we got no past/traditional representation. They got a new Pantheon Symbol (on the front among other places) but Stars did not get it’s own new symbol like the other All-Purpose Purviews. Art had an orange tinge, much like in Devas for the Companion. Art would probably be the weakest point for the book.

    Overall
    Liked the Gods, liked the background. It is interesting and fun to look at in the context of other Pantheons. Liked the purviews. Asha is very thematically consistent, Stars will appeal to several types of gods. Relics could use work but that is honestly to be expected. Cosmology and Titan are OK, and I liked the “more like a location than a god” Titan we got. Adventure looked fun and reminds me a bit of Ragnarok, which is a good thing. Nothing seemed to be missing. Siavash seems to have an excellent handle on Scions feel and theme, and with Dean to help him on mechanics did well for this first outing. I have liked Dean’s writing for years and this has not changed with Yazata. If you liked the additional Pantheons presentation in the Scion Companion, you will probably like this one as well.

    Review by Jason Needham

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