Scion: Hero to Ragnarok
Many heroes of legend stood at the forefront of mighty armies, and the Followers Birthright reflects that heritage.
This trait represents the number and quality of sentient beings who are extremely loyal to the Scion — making allowances for the variety of “sentient” beings found in classical legend, of course. Followers might consist of a small cadre of human warriors or servants, though they can also be recruited from the denizens of the realms of legend, including zombies, spartoi, and even more exotic folk. As a rule of thumb, a being with intelligence and communication abilities roughly comparable to or surpassing humans are covered by the Followers Birthright, while creatures of animal intelligence (or those with limited communication abilities) fall under the auspices of the Creature Birthright. Given the breadth of human legend, this is a fuzzy line at best — the Storyteller gets the final say.
Though the trait effects listed here all assume five followers, a Scion is not limited to this number. A player can opt for a greater number of weaker followers. In essence, doing so amounts to purchasing the trait multiple times. Using the listed examples, a player might allocate five dots to the Followers trait to represent 25 hoplites, four dots to represent 10 myrmidons, and so forth.
Although a Scion’s player purchases this trait at character creation, having the dots does not imply that the character will always have access to that number of followers. If a follower dies in battle, note this on the Scion’s character sheet in the Birthrights section. Barring a trip to the Underworld (not out of the question, considering the milieu), the follower is lost to the Scion forever, or until other events arbitrated through roleplaying give the Scion access to new followers.
Use Chapter Twelve in the Scion: Hero book as a guide for determining the trait values for various followers, using the examples in the following chart as a benchmark:
1 Five cops, hoplites or jaguar warriors.
2 Five zombies or berserks.
3 Five spartoi, samurai or amazons.
4 Five myrmidons, einherjar or tengu.
5 Five valkyries or shinobi.
Fianna and The Red Branch Knights, The: (Followers 2 – 4) The Fianna and the Red Branch Knights are warriors that made up the two greatest warbands in Irish history. The Red Branch existed during the reign of Conochobar mac Nessa (king of Ulster) around A.D. 10, and the Fianna followed Irish hero Fionn mac Cumhaill during the reign of Irish High King Cormac mac Art at the beginning of the third century. People were admitted to both warrior bands based solely on their prowess in battle. They were expected to be of impeccable honor, skilled with the use of spear, sword and shield, and capable of fighting equally well on foot, on horseback or in the back of a chariot. In earlier times, the majority of both bands were made up of the sons (and occasionally daughters) of nobility, but from time to time low-born warriors who had proven their worth were also admitted (such as Laeg, the charioteer of Cúchulainn). In modern times, followers from either band are as likely to contain warriors born into poverty or middle-class families as they are to contain people from the upper crust. Members of either band have the Virtues of the Tuatha, with most having Courage as their primary Virtue. Many may be Scions themselves, although often of lesser members of the pantheon. They fight without fear of death or injury, afraid only of losing honor in the eyes of their Gods. Each dot of Followers after the first nets five Fianna or Knights. The characteristics for members of either the Red Branch Knights or the Fianna are identical to those for the template for the experienced soldier or mercenary, except that any attempts to use the Enech Purview against either group of characters gain 3 bonus dice.
Anauša: (Followers 3 to 5) With membership fixed at 10,000 men (described in detail by Herodotus), the Anauša — the Persian Immortals — comprised a shock force of tremendous size for the ancient world. Despite their limited technology, the Immortals exhibit excellent organization for their day. Stories say that whenever one fell in battle or to illness, a reserve was called up so that their ranks would always be 10,000 strong. Of that number, 9,000 would carry spears adorned with silver pomegranates, while the outer rank consisted of 1,000 with gold pomegranates on their spears. Every gold pomegranate was the sign of a veteran; by putting the veterans on the outer ranks, the Immortals helped to control and direct the less-experienced green troops, thereby improving morale and holding ranks together. Immortals served both as heavy infantry and as the special Imperial guard, a dual role that highlighted the Emperor’s extreme importance as well as providing a boost in prestige that guaranteed that every Immortal fought to uphold the honor and discipline of the unit. After the eventual demise of the Achaemenid dynasty at the hands of Alexander the Great, the Immortals ceased to function as a historical unit, but the name lived on. Various royal guards, up to and including the Iranian Imperial Guard in the 1970s, claimed the moniker of “Immortals” to tie their fates (and Fates) to that legend (and Legend). In that sense, the Anauša are much like the einherjar: Everyone who has died under their banner will now be immortal and will fight when called. Without a pantheon to support them, though, the Anauša are in the position of being a mercenary force. They will work for whoever can pay them; that payment, however, is in Legend. Scions have Legend in abundance, and by calling on the Immortals for aid, Scions and the Immortals can tie their respective Legends together. As the Scion performs great deeds, the Immortals reinforce their reputation. Soon, some other army or guard will call itself the Immortals, and the myth will grow. In order to call upon the Immortals, the Scion must offer a point of Legend as payment. The troops spring forth from the Earth fully-formed and armed. Anauša function like experienced soldiers. When armed only with spears, shields and light leather armor, they count as a unit of five experienced soldiers (Followers 3). More dots in Followers can increase the number or can upgrade to more recent Immortals, such as the Iranian Imperial Guard (complete with modern weapons). Since the dissolution of the Shah’s regime, though, no new Immortals have joined the ranks (likely for the same reason that the einherjar have no new recruits). Unlike the einherjar, the Immortals are summoned; the summoning Scion does not need to offer them any sort of food and drink. Also unlike the einherjar, they are actually dead. Anauša gain a temporary lease on life and a return to action when summoned through the power of Legend, but if the sun sets while the Anauša are out in force, their bodies shrivel, turn to dust and blow away (along with all of their gear). The Scion must summon them again with a new infusion of Legend. Because they are now a mercenary force, Anauša gain affinity for the same Virtues as that of the Scion who calls upon them (distribute 5 dots between Virtues when they are summoned). They will fight hard and loyally for whatever cause their master dictates, so long as they are provided with Legend. The one exception is that they will never serve a Scion of the Dodekatheon.
Ghilan: (Followers 3 to 5) In Islamic folklore, travelers would sometimes come across a graveyard and find scattered corpses dug up and gnawed upon, blaming the desecration on ghouls that clawed their way out of the ground and feasted upon the other bodies. Ghilan (the plural of ghoul) represent packs of these hungry corpses. Mechanically, ghilan function like hungry dead. Unlike hungry dead, though, ghilan can speak (and some are given to being quite talkative, complete with a dark sense of humor). Ghilan also restore health simply by devouring human (or near-human) flesh without having to eat brains, so a ghoul can restore health levels equal to a body’s (former living) Stamina score. If properly disguised, a ghoul could pass for a human (in the dark, with a heavy coat and if you did not mind the stench). Taking Followers 3 grants the Scion a group of five ghilan, while additional dots increase the amount as usual. Because they are tough, clever and able to follow directions, ghilan can make a frightening force. Ghilan do not normally come equipped with any sort of gear beyond perhaps a loincloth or burial shroud, but they can use simple implements of destruction like crowbars, baseball bats and machetes. They prefer, though, to rend and tear potential prey with their hands and teeth. Ghilan only come when called by an appropriate Relic, or if the Scion offers them a tasty treat — a piece of bone or flesh from a recently-dead person, perhaps. Left to their own devices, ghilan will also sniff out other corpses and dig them up for feasting. Thus, a Scion should keep a tight rein on them unless he wants them to wander off and get up to all sorts of mischief that will garner unwanted attention. Ghilan have only one Virtue: The Dark Virtue of Rapacity. The fact that ghilan have a Dark Virtue should be enough to give a Scion pause in commanding them, but when you are losing a war, you take the allies that you can get.
Sprites: (Followers 1 to 5, Guide 1) Sprites — from the same root word that gave us spirits — are perhaps one of the most humbling Followers a Scion can have. While the term “sprite” in general mythology refers to the entire class of faeries, malevolent spirits and mischievous creatures, the Scion who calls upon these Followers finds that he has access to an “army” of small gremlins, boggans, pixies and similar figures (probably much to his dismay). Sprites are not just whimsical faerie folk that might be erroneously laid at the feet of the Tuatha Dé Dannan, though: They could be small brown-skinned goblin-like creatures, such as the bakemono of Japan, or they could appear as tiny dragonfly-like winged serpents, in a miniature form of the coatl. For a Scion of the voodoo pantheon, they might resemble ghostly, disembodied heads. Whatever their appearance, they come in swarms that emit strange noises, give off eerie lights and are usually embarrassingly small. Like other magical followers, sprites generally appear only when called. Most commonly, the Scion keeps the sprites trapped in some form of container — an ensorcelled bottle, a shoe box tied with a magic string, a wicker basket for lucky crickets — and lets them out only when necessary. Naturally, sprites will whine and complain about this imprisonment, so occasionally a Scion has to get tough with them when it is time to go back in the box. In spite of their drawbacks, sprites do have one redeeming characteristic: They are unfailingly loyal. A sprite will never betray its patron. If guided correctly and used with discretion, sprites can form the backbone of a stealth task team that is hard to catch. Sprites can serve as regular Followers, with each dot representing five sprites. Alternatively, a single sprite could serve as a one-dot Guide.