Friday, September 16, 2016

Gods of the Fall - Pantheons

Somebody needs a milkbone.

Earlier this week I reviewed a product that added a whole new element to Cypher System character sentences: Crews. It's a short review befitting a product less than half a dozen pages long, but don't let that fool you, the product may be small but the idea is huge.

And I'm going to steal it.

So the basic idea (on the off chance you didn't click through to check out my review) is that Crews are a descriptor type add-on to a character sentence. It is meant for all the player characters to take the same Crews descriptor and gain a set of common skills and abilities.

But this isn't some game of vampire coteries or werewolf packs, its GODS of the Fall. GODS. And how do Gods congregate? Pantheons! Yeah, it's kinda brilliant; it takes the tiny seed from Gods of the Fall (see page 147), and blows it wide open. The best part is that since most descriptors work just fine as is you already a have ton of starting points.

Consider the Aesir, the Norse gods of northern Europe. An entire pantheon fated to fight and die in Ragnarok. Sounds like the Doomed descriptor to me. What about the Egyptian gods? The entire religion is focused on two things, the Nile, and death. Spiritual might work well. How about those Greco-Roman gods? A common thread among those gods is patronship toward a skilled profession like Apollo for medicine, Vulcan for smiths, and Diana for hunters. Learned or Intelligent might make good starting points, with some modification to be more diverse. Alternately the nature of those gods to make very human mistakes and choices (Zeus was a letcher, Dionysus was a glutton, Hera was a jealous jilted lover) might justify the Impulsive descriptor.

Of course in Gods of the Fall the players will be playing the gods and forming their pantheon. A GM may decide to watch how the players act in their roles during the early game and pick a descriptor she feels fits the group. Alternately the GM may grant the players the chance to pick or design their own pantheon descriptor in which case they must decide as a group how their pantheon bond will be represented. Their choice will have to be one formed from consensus and should determine how their characters will act in the future of the game.

All of that said I can't wait until I have players reach the midpoint in a Gods of the Fall campaign and have truly started to become gods and have to put up or shut up and decide if they want to bind themselves to each other and form a pantheon for all the rewards and obligations it will mean. Regardless of if you decide to use the Characters: Crews product as your starting point, or just allow a pantheon to choose or build a descriptor as detailed in the CSR (page 67), the idea of using a descriptor-like mechanic to define the pantheon is an idea that will hopefully be getting your own fledgeling gods excited to take on the responsibility of hauling the world back from the brink of darkness.