Friday, 6 November 2015

The Bucket List 2015 (Part Two)

My wife and I see eye to eye on most things, but sometimes we realize there is a fundamental disconnect between us. She is not a visual thinker, preferring to think in words rather than imagery. I often picture things in great detail when I'm being creative, but perhaps it's something I've developed over time. When I've really got an idea cemented in my mind, I can often "see" it in my head playing out like a little movie. Maybe that's why I used to write short pieces of script for my games, and toyed with the technique of writing film-style "trailers" as a pitch technique.

The game I'm picturing now is SCION.

Michael Kormack's thrilling cover image for SCION: Hero.

I'm not going to beat around the bush on this: SCION: HERO is not a good game. The mechanics are old and clunky, and the execution is terrible. It commits several sins that I can't forgive in a modern game: devotes a vast amount of page count to game fiction at the start, and later, to an adventure... all at the expense of describing the world, the gods, the monsters, and the game in adequate detail. And yet, it's got a lot to like about it. There are powerful images and ideas in there, just sketched out.

The premise is great: Remember how the gods of ancient myth used to sleep with mortals, occasionally producing demigod by-blows who became mythic heroes? What if that never stopped?

Sure, it's just another urban fantasy setting at its heart, but framing it as a world of contemporary myths gives is extra oomph. Look up at that painting of Eric, the Scion of Thor, and his revolver (subbing in for Mjolnir). That is epic.

The book is full of a lot of little bits like that, like the "centaur" who's half-motorcycle. Imagery and tantalizing ideas. As soon as I read it, I began mentally constructing my own version of this game in my mind, but never imagined using the rules-as-written. (Now I'd probably want to use M&M 3rd Edition or WILD TALENTS, depending on how gritty we wanted it to be. A supers game through a mythic lens.)

The game I'm picturing in my mind looks a lot like Highlander -- on the surface, it's exactly like our world, but unknown to most mortals the children of the gods still battle with chimeras and minotaurs (and each other) in the shadows. In the mythic world, a trip by subway is a journey into the Underworld. The Olympians live in penthouses atop skyscrapers. The daughter of Hephaestus is a computer engineer with a 3D printer that can produce oricalcum blades and armour. Charon's ferry looks a lot like the one that carries commuters back and forth across the harbour.

Yes, I would lean toward a main cast of Greek Scions, because those are the myths I know the best. Later, I'd add in Scions of other gods, especially the Voodoo and Aztec ones, and put my own spin on the whole mythology.

So here's the image I want to leave you with:


A woman wearing a hoodie steps off a bus. The CAMERA TRACKS WITH HER as she moves away from the bus to the street. She reaches into her pocket, unfolding a promotional flyer for the Royal Ontario Museum. We see the title: TREASURES OF ANCIENT GREECE

She opens it, and we see a well-thumbed colour image of a figure wearing ancient Greek armour. Draped around its shoulders is a shining piece of golden fabric: The Golden Fleece. The woman touches the image. 

She replaces the flyer in her pocket and opens her backpack. Among a few items of clothing, there is a Greek-style SHORT SWORD. She zips up the pack and walks away from the camera down the street.

Unobserved, a black bird takes wing from a nearby building, following her...

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