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.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Nuts & Bolts #90 - Review - Characters: Crews (Cypher System Creator)

Buy it now


Published By: Ganza Gaming via the Cypher System Creator • 5 pages • $1.49 • B&W PDF with Full Color Cover

What's In It

Characters: Crews expands the typical Cypher System character sentence by adding a crew designation. Crews in this use are gangs, groups, squads, actual crews of vessels, and similar. These crews are essentially a second descriptor that all the PCs will share as a means to tie the group together. Like descriptors Crews provide a pool bonus and training in one or more skills, and/or possibly an unique ability. In addition to training in a skill or two and a bonus of pool points Crews provide a Connection which provides both a bonus and also a roleplaying bonus.

A GM looking to run a game about pirates might give all the PCs the Vessel crew type (Crew of the Black Pearl perhaps?) as a means to ensure that all the characters share appropriate skills for their common background as pirates. This allows for cohesive concepts like a character group of spies, a pack of werewolves, a band (the musical kind), and the like.

There are 11 crews provided in the document as well as a short pointer to the rules for custom Descriptors to use to help with custom Crews, and a short introduction. The art, including the cover, is adequate to the task but unremarkable, and does the job you'd expect in a micro-product such as this.

Closing Thoughts

The concept of Crews, of a common descriptor to bind together a PC group, is one that the Cypher System needed. That idea and the execution of it are well worth the price tag of entry for this product. Some might argue that more Crews to bolster the size of the product and expand the utility within, but for me, as a creator, I see this as the perfect product. It introduces a concept efficiently and at a very comfortable price point and then opens up the concept for customization and adaptation by the reader. I can already think of ways that I will use the Crews concept in the future, and that right there is worth six quarters.

Score: 90% Short and sweet but some may wish for higher production values or more content. A bargain at this price for what you really get.

Author's note: A complimentary review copy of this product was provided for the purposes of this review.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Story Seed - Coming Together

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The raver lay dead at Membel's feet. Already the residual divine essence that fueled the thing was burning away, scorching the godflesh to ruin. Membel leaned heavily on the spear thrust into the ground next to himl it had been a hard fought battle and the ad hoc group had made many mistakes because they did not fight as a unified whole.

He looked to the side at the heavily armored form of Larr, his great weapon still slick with blood. The other man stared into the divine flames that consumed the raver's form. There were motes that steadily shone, crystallized essence that any of the fledgling gods could recognize as cyphers. There were enough there to replace all those used in the battle.

Membel craned his head in the opposite direction. Perlyenal and Iaen were talking quietly to themselves. Membel considered their small group. They all wanted the same goals, to overthrow the dragon Nulumriel, to restore Elanehtar, to send Nod back to the Aether. They had come together to destroy this raver that none of them along could have vanquished.

Membel looked to Larr again, "What's next for you, Larr?"

The big man looked up from the conflagration, "I don't know. I'll find the next labor. Destroy the next evil." The warrior looked at Membel, "You could join me if you like."

Membel nodded, "I was thinking that very same, and Perlyenal and Iaen as well. We four, we are stronger together than on our own. We do not hold dominion over conflicting ideals. We work well enough together, though with time even that will improve." Membel has raised his voice, ensuring that Perlyenal and Iaen would hear. "I think that the gods of old did not operate alone and nor should we. If we pledge our strength to each other ..." Membel shrugged, waiting for another to say it.

Iaen nodded, "A pantheon then? bonded in divine power and common goal? There is wisdom in this, and I would know."

Perlyenal nodded, "Agreed." Larr silently nodded as well.

"So then, how shall we seal this agreement?" Membel added holding up his wine-skin.

Sunday, September 11, 2016