Scion: Hero to Ragnarok
The children of the Gods do not feel as mortals do. With the ichor of their divine parent burning in their veins, Scions are driven by passions both heroic and terrible. These passions, or Virtues, are what drive Scions to perform their epic deeds. Sometimes, when their passions run away with them, it can lead to terrible tragedy as well, as many heroes of legend learned to their regret.
A character in Scion begins the game with four Virtues, determined by the pantheon from which she descends. Like Attributes, each character automatically has one dot in each of her Virtues and can increase them further during the course of character creation. Virtues are rated from one to five dots, and a character can have high or low ratings in all of her Virtues.
Aesir: Courage, Endurance, Expression, Loyalty
Amatsukami: Duty, Endurance, Intellect, Valor
Atzlánti: Conviction, Courage, Duty, Loyalty
Dodekatheon: Expression, Intellect, Valor, Vengeance
Loa: Harmony, Order, Piety, Vengeance
Pesedjet: Conviction, Harmony, Order, Piety
Benefits Of Virtues
Virtues represent the core values of a Scion, those deep-seated beliefs that propel her to perform deeds worthy of legend. It is the strength of a Scion’s Virtues that drive her to take action, and when she channels her Willpower in service of her beliefs, she gains an increase in power and effectiveness.
Once per story per dot her character possesses in a particular Virtue, a player may spend a Willpower point to add a number of bonus dice equal to the Virtue rating to the character’s dice pool for actions that relate to that specific Virtue. For example, a Norse Scion with a rating of 3 in her Courage Virtue would gain three bonus dice for a combat-related dice roll by spending a Willpower point. She could gain these bonus dice up to three separate times during the same story. Performing a stunt that strongly reflects the values of a given Virtue can restore one use of this benefit.
Naturally, these benefits become more cost-effective as the Scion’s Virtue ratings increase, but there are disadvantages to high Virtue ratings as well.
Disadvantages of Virtues
A high Virtue rating represents a Scion’s deep commitment to the ideals of her divine parent. The deeper the commitment is, however, the harder it becomes for a Scion to resist acting according to her beliefs, even when such action might be dangerous or unwise.
When a Scion wishes to act in a way that runs counter to the tenets of one of her Virtues (or wishes to refrain from acting in line with one of her Virtues), the player may spend a point of Willpower to allow the character to do so. If she has no Willpower points to spend (or simply does not want to spend Willpower), she must roll a number of dice equal to the character’s Virtue rating instead. If the Virtue roll generates even one success, the Scion cannot resist behaving as her Virtue demands.
When a Scion struggles against her Virtues, she is not only betraying herself but the expectations of her divine parent. Her ichor seethes in her veins as she tries to act in a way that she knows is wrong. The stronger her beliefs are, the greater the pressure brought to bear against her becomes. If her resolve fails, she risks losing control of her actions, as she is carried away in a storm of grief and remorse.
When a Scion attempts to suppress one of her Virtues with a die roll and the resulting Virtue roll generates more successes than the character has points of temporary Willpower, the Scion suffers a Virtue Extremity. Under the effects of a Virtue Extremity, the character takes the demands of her Virtue to potentially tragic lengths. See the individual Virtue descriptions for information on the duration and effects of each Virtue Extremity.
Although each of the six pantheons detailed in Scion has a specific set of Virtues that best embodies its version of the heroic ideal, some degree of overlap exists. The Gods and Goddesses of Japan, for example, hold the Virtues of Intellect and Valor in high esteem, just as the Greek pantheon does. As a result, it is more likely that the deities of both pantheons might look more favorably on Scions who share the same values.
If a Scion has the opportunity to gain a Boon from a pantheon other than her own, and she possesses a Virtue common to that pantheon, the cost to purchase and increase it is one point less.
Characters are not required to possess the default Virtue set of their pantheon. You can choose other Virtues listed in this section (or create your own) that better represent the kind of character you would like to play, as long as at least one of her Virtues is drawn from her pantheon’s Virtue set. Scions that break from the heroic ideal fostered by their divine parents run the risk of alienating themselves, however. What use does Odin have for the Virtues of Expression or Harmony, for example? As a result, characters who possess one or more Virtues that are not part of their pantheon’s Virtue set pay one additional point when gaining or increasing Boons granted by their parent God or pantheon.
Conviction represents a person’s selfless devotion to a cause, as well as her willingness to take any measures necessary to further her cause or to take action against those who oppose her beliefs. The exact nature of the cause varies from Scion to Scion. It could be a passionate belief in environmental issues or social justice, or a belief in the supremacy of one’s pantheon above all others, for example. Whatever the cause, it must be something that will have a major impact on the lives of mortals or other Scions. Players are encouraged to work closely with their Storyteller to determine the exact nature of the character’s Conviction.
Characters use Conviction to win converts to their cause, resist acts of persuasion or compulsion that go against their beliefs, determine the best course of action in support of their cause, and commit heinous acts in support of their beliefs.
A failed Conviction roll allows a character to not respond to attacks on their beliefs, act in a way that violates the tenets of their cause, and refuse to take an action that would clearly benefit their cause (even if it results in the suffering of others).
Virtue Extremity: Fanatic Zeal. When overcome by the strength of her Conviction, the Scion goes to extreme lengths in defense or support of her cause, regardless of the danger to herself or the suffering she inflicts on other people. No one — friend or foe — will stand in her way. Fanatic Zeal lasts for a number of hours equal to the Scion’s Virtue rating.
A hero’s worth is measured by the foes she defeats in battle, and Courage measures a Scion’s drive to test her mettle against the deadliest opponents she can find. Further, the Scion holds other warriors to her own high standards. Heroes must fight their battles alone and live or die by the skill of their sword-arm. Death is something to be faced stoically, even embraced, for it is better to die in an epic struggle with a worthy foe than to live a callow life without struggle.
Characters use Courage to fight powerful foes, resist the effects of supernatural fear or compulsion, and take death-defying risks.
A failed Courage roll allows a character to avoid the prospect of battle, resist a physical challenge, surrender to an opponent, give aid to another warrior in battle, and accept such aid when offered.
Virtue Extremity: Berserker Fury. The Scion is so overcome with shame at her perceived weakness that she flies into a murderous rage, hurling herself at her foes without regard to her own safety. If there are no foes left to fight, the Scion will attack any other living thing she can reach, seeking to expiate her cowardice in violence and bloodshed. Berserker Fury lasts for the duration of the scene.
Duty is the Virtue of service to one’s community, respecting authority and upholding the laws that govern a decent society. Civilization is part of a divine order that flows from the Gods themselves, so it is a Scion’s duty to put aside personal ambition and devote herself to maintaining and contributing to a healthy society. Personal sacrifice for the greater good is to be expected and celebrated, for a prosperous and safe society reflects its glory on each one of its citizens.
Characters use Duty to help those in need, build or repair objects vital to a community, uphold the laws of a community, ands serve an authority figure in a time of crisis.
A failed Duty roll allows a character to steal from a community, break a community’s laws, defy legal authority, place personal ambitions above the greater good of the whole.
Virtue Extremity: Morbid Self-Sacrifice. The Scion is so mortified at having contemplated violating the divine order that she goes to extreme lengths of personal self-sacrifice to atone for her selfishness. She might donate personal possessions or wealth to the community, break ties with her family, seclude herself from the community she “failed,” turn herself over to the authorities to confess any crimes she has committed, et cetera. Morbid Self-Sacrifice lasts for one full day.
Endurance is one of the hallmarks of the epic hero. She endures hardship beyond mortal limits in order to overcome the challenges arrayed against her. Scions who espouse this Virtue embrace this stoic ideal, taking strength from the suffering they must endure. Instead of wasting time and energy trying to avoid any form of hardship, they grit their teeth and accept what comes. The blows of Fate and foe harden them like hammered iron.
Characters use Endurance to resist fear, survive extended bouts of hard physical labor, function for days without rest, and endure pain, hunger, thirst and fatigue.
A failed Endurance roll allows a character to fail to act because of risk to life or limb, attempt to rest or relax during a time of crisis, and avoid a course of action due to injuries, fatigue, or lack of resources.
Virtue Extremity: Self-Destruction. The Scion is so horrified at her own weakness that she attempts to purge it through acts of extreme self-punishment, pursuing her goals without regard to personal health, safety or survival. Self-Destruction lasts for one full day.
Great things are expected of those gifted with great power, and Scions have many gifts that can enrich mortal civilization. Expression is the Virtue of artistic excellence, which venerates the musician, the painter, the skald and the storyteller. It is the belief that the creation of art in all its forms is a way of sharing the gifts of the Gods with the mortal World. Many Scions who espouse this Virtue believe that their creations act as a vehicle by which the Gods continue to interact with mankind and continue to nurture their faith in the divine.
Characters use Expression to: create works of art, repair or restore damaged works of art, and assist in musical, theatrical or oratorical performances.
A failed Expression roll allows a character to deface or destroy a work of art, refuse to create or perform a work of art, and repress or discourage works of art or communication presented by others.
Virtue Extremity: Visceral Shock. The Scion’s extreme reaction to stifling her art (or another’s) pushes her to the opposite extreme. She pours her guilt and selfrecrimination into her efforts, pushing the performance into the realm of the vulgar and grotesque. She bends her energies to creating art that scars and horrifies her audience. Visceral Shock lasts for a number of days equal to the Scion’s Virtue rating.
The essence of Harmony is the belief in a cosmic design, engineered by the Gods, that governs the forces of creation. Even the Gods themselves form but a part of a grander design, fulfilling their roles just as mortals do as part of the cycle of existence. Yet, despite its complex intricacies, the cosmic order is not infallible. The actions of Gods, Titans, or even mortals can disturb its movement, creating rippling imbalances that spread conflict and suffering. Scions who espouse this Virtue see it as a sacred trust to keep the divine order in balance. For them, good and evil are arbitrary terms that can cause more harm than good in the long run. What matters is keeping the scales even, answering order with chaos, violence with peace, death with new life.
Characters use Harmony to determine a balanced solution to problems, act in ways that maintain or restore balance in a situation, and convince others to alter their actions in the interests of maintaining a balance of forces.
A failed Harmony roll allows a character to knowingly act in a way that creates an imbalance of forces and counsel action that creates an imbalance.
Virtue Extremity: Tyranny of Balance. The Scion goes to extreme measures to restore the balance of outcomes in a given situation, even going so far as to inflict harm or suffering on herself or her compatriots if necessary. Tyranny of Balance lasts for the duration of the scene.
Intellect is the Virtue of the mind. It exalts the power of reason as the link that joins the mortal to the divine. Scions who espouse this Virtue believe that raw power must be harnessed to the engines of logic and imagination in order to truly master the secrets of the cosmos. They hone their minds through diligent study, relentless inquiry and vigorous debate, and constantly grappling with the myriad riddles of creation and the complexities of everyday life.
Characters use Intellect to find new solutions to persistent problems, investigate mysterious phenomena, acquire knowledge, and persuade others to accept their ideas or theories.
A failed Intellect roll allows a character to destroy or delete sources of information or knowledge, suppress or censor knowledge, and silence debate, promote ignorance in any form.
Virtue Extremity: Obsessive Analysis. The Scion’s attempt to blind herself to reason forces her to atone by overanalyzing everything. She becomes powerless to make important decisions as she wracks her brain trying to imagine every contingency and every conceivable outcome from every given course of action. Obsessive Analysis lasts for one full day.
The abstract ties of citizenship, culture, or even religion are nothing compared to the bonds of love, family, and friendship. Scions who espouse this Virtue reserve their trust, support, and devotion for those who share their blood or have shared in their suffering, from parents to kinsmen to tried-and-true friends. Loyalty is a bond stronger than iron; even the Gods themselves test it at their peril.
Characters use Loyalty to fight on behalf of a friend, defend a friend who has been unjustly accused, and aid a friend in need.
A failed Loyalty roll allows a character to betray a friend’s trust, refuse to answer the call of a friend in need, and desert a friend who has been accused of a crime.
Virtue Extremity: Blind Devotion. The Scion is so horrified by her attempted betrayal that she will go to extreme lengths to support her friend or kinsman, suffering alongside that person even if said person is proven to be in the wrong. Blind Devotion lasts for a number of days equal to the Scion’s Virtue rating
Scions who espouse the Virtue of Order believe that the rule of law is a gift from the Gods that forms the foundation of mortal civilization. As the bulwark against the threat of anarchy and chaos, laws must be upheld and enforced, even when their applications seem harsh or unjust. For society to function, it must trust in the impartiality of its laws, which demands courage and steadfastness on the part of the lawgivers. To those who believe in Order, there is no relativism or moral ambiguity. There is only the law.
Characters use Order to investigate crimes, determine wrongdoing, assess penalties, pursue fugitives, and deliver lawbreakers to justice.
A failed Order roll allows a character to commit a crime, turn a blind eye to a criminal act, allow a criminal to escape, bend the rules, and selectively apply the rules to herself or anyone else.
Virtue Extremity: Summary Judgment. The Scion takes the law into her own hands, ruthlessly passing sentence — and executing judgment — on those she perceives to be criminals. Summary Judgment lasts for the duration of a single scene.
Scions who espouse this Virtue exalt and respect their God, their ancestors, and the traditions of their forebears, taking strength from the wisdom of the ancients. There is no situation that cannot be addressed by heeding the commandments of the Gods and the deeds of one’s ancestors. Those who break with tradition insult the hard work and sacrifice of their predecessors and show a reckless arrogance that can only lead to misfortune.
Characters use Piety to employ well-worn ideas or tactics to solve a problem, act in accordance with the wishes of one’s God or family, uphold tradition and custom over innovation, and impose the dictates of tradition on another.
A failed Piety roll allows a character to defy the wishes of one’s God or family, break with tradition or custom, allow others to break with tradition, and advocate new ideas over tried-and-true precedent.
Virtue Extremity: Self-Righteousness. The Scion withholds her support or aid from those she deems insufficiently pious, even going so far as allowing others to suffer or die as a result. Self-Righteousness lasts for the duration of a scene.
Valor is the Virtue of the noble warrior. She believes in using her martial skill to defend the helpless, to fight with honor and to offer up her life if necessary in service to a worthy cause. Scions who espouse this Virtue do not believe in fighting for its own sake. Indeed, they would rather avoid battle unless absolutely necessary, for they are all too aware of its awful cost. They master the arts of battle so that warlords and tyrants cannot impose their will upon decent folk. They pay the price in blood so others do not have to. Peace and prosperity are built upon the sacrifices of the valorous.
Characters use Valor to defend the helpless, defeat those who prey upon the innocent, fight an honorable opponent in battle, and resist the effects of fear, pain, or fatigue.
A failed Valor roll allows a character to strike a foe from ambush or other underhanded means, avoid battle out of fear for personal health or safety, and allow others to suffer from the depredations of monsters, criminals, or tyrants.
Virtue Extremity: Valorous Sacrifice. The Scion is so horrified by her perceived cowardice that she must atone for her sins by seeking an honorable death in battle. She attacks her foes with no regard for her personal safety or survival, and fights until she or her opponents are destroyed. Valorous Sacrifice lasts for the duration of the Scion’s next battle.
This Virtue dictates that those who offend the Gods or commit crimes against mankind must be made to suffer in kind, regardless of the cost. Vengeance is not about petty revenge, but a redressing of the cosmic balance, paying back a debt incurred by violating the divine order in some fashion. Scions who espouse this Virtue act upon their beliefs as they see fit. Some take an eye for an eye in straightforward, Biblical fashion. Others find more creative punishments for those who have committed crimes against the pantheon.
Characters use Vengeance to hunt down and punish criminals, discern wrongdoing and assess penalties, investigate crimes, and defeat those who oppose her efforts.
A failed Vengeance roll allows a character to let a criminal go unpunished, forgive a crime against herself or another, show mercy or leniency to a criminal, and give up the pursuit of an offender for any reason.
Virtue Extremity: Implacable Nemesis. The Scion will go to extreme lengths to punish an offender, making any sacrifice necessary — or committing any atrocity — in order to see justice done. Implacable Nemesis lasts for a number of days equal to the Scion’s Virtue rating.