Friday, March 3, 2017

Gods of the Fall - Relics

Relics are a thing in myth. They just aren't really a thing in Gods of the Fall. That's cool and all, and for some groups it probably works out OK, but I think there's some value in godly relics. In items of power so intrinsically wound up in the divine legend of their godly owner that they become an indistinguishable part of that legend. You can't talk about Mjolnir without talking about Thor for instance. That's easily the best example that is commonly known thanks in large part to a comic book god that bears little in common with the myth that spawned him.

Consider Hercules (or perhaps Herakles) and the pelt of the Nemean Lion. The Nemean lion's skin was so tough that blades and arrows couldn't puncture it and the lion was thought invincible. Enter Hercules, who used his great strength to strangle and choke the lion to death. He was then able to carefully remove the lion's skin and wore it, both as a trophy and as an unbreachable defense, for even in death the skin of the Nemean lion resisted cuts and punctures.

That's a divine relic. Zeus' Thunderbolts, Odin's spear Gungnir, CĂș Chulainn's Gae Bolga, and Athena's Aegis are all other examples of relics. For other gods relics may take on a different kind of role, one representing a loss or sacrifice on the god's part. Tyr's missing hand, Horus' eye, Osirus' manhood, and Odin's eye, are all relics in that they are aspects of the god that are important to that god's power and myth. Odin gains knowledge of fate and magic by the sacrifice of his eye much in the way Mjolnir grants Thor strength and the power of thunder.

Observant and well read readers may at this point realize that I'm taking huge ques from White Wolf's Scion RPG, and I totally am. I cop to it. I think that, rules issues aside, Scion had a great grasp over the divine legend and how to embody that into an RPG, and I don't think that taking lessons from Scion and applying them to Gods of the Fall in any way lessens either game.

How do you introduce relics? Well depending on what kind of relic we're talking about a character may start with a weapon they favor heavily, or they may find something. A relic item may even start play as an artifact, but through continual use by the player grow to be something more. I look at relics as being an artifact that cannot deplete for the character, that grants a special divine shift of some kind to that player. For relics that are represented not by a physical item but instead by a physical infirmity, I would offer two shifts, with the second being offset by the handicap of the injury itself. Tyr isn't going to be using two handed anything after Fenrir bit off his hand, so that's a detriment, but it's also a relic and it represents his steadfast devotion, his honor, and his strength as a god to make a sacrifice; after all, he knew full well that he would lose his hand once Fenrir realized that the gods had bound him.

Will I use this in my monthly Gods of the Fall game? Possibly. I like the idea of doing so, but I don't want to jump the gun too early either. we're only just now getting to 2nd tier and I don't think relics should really come about until probably third or even fourth tier. Still, it's an idea I've been toying with, and I think it fits nicely with the themes and helps to deepen the story potential.