Campaign of the Month: February 2017
|Virtue||Use Virtue To…||A Failed Roll Allows One To…||Virtue Extremity|
|Conviction||win converts to their cause, resist acts of persuasion or compulsion that go against their beliefs, determine the best course of action in support of their cause, commit heinous acts in support of their beliefs||not respond to attacks on their beliefs, act in a way that violates the tenets of their cause, refuse to take an action that would clearly benefit their cause (even if it results in the suffering of others)||Fanatic Zeal|
|Courage||fight powerful foes, resist the effects of supernatural fear or compulsion, take death-defying risks||avoid the prospect of battle, resist a physical challenge, surrender to an opponent, give aid to another warrior in battle, accept such aid when offered||Berserker Fury|
|Duty||help those in need, build or repair objects vital to a community, uphold the laws of a community, serve an authority figure in a time of crisis||steal from a community, break a community’s laws, defy legal authority, place personal ambitions above the greater good of the whole||Morbid Self-Sacrifice|
|Endurance||resist fear, survive extended bouts of hard physical labor, function for days without rest, endure pain, hunger, thirst, and fatigue||fail to act because of risk to life or limb, attempt to rest or relax during a time of crisis, avoid a course of action due to injuries, fatigue, or lack of resources||Self-Destruction|
|Expression||create works of art, repair or restore damaged works of art, assist in musical, theatrical, or oratorical performances||deface or destroy a work of art, refuse to create or perform a work of art, repress or discourage works of art or communication presented by others||Visceral Shock|
|Harmony||determine a balanced solution to problems, act in ways that maintain or restore balance in a situation, convince others to alter their actions in the interests of maintaining a balance of forces||knowingly act in a way that creates an imbalance of forces, counsel action that creates an imbalance||Tyranny of Balance|
|Intellect||find new solutions to persistent problems, investigate mysterious phenomena, acquire knowledge, persuade others to accept their ideas or theories||destroy or delete sources of information or knowledge, suppress or censor knowledge, silence debate, promote ignorance in any form||Obsessive Analysis|
|Loyalty||fight on behalf of a friend, defend a friend who has been unjustly accused, aid a friend in need||betray a friend’s trust, refuse to answer the call of a friend in need, desert a friend who has been accused of a crime||Blind Devotion|
|Order||investigate crimes, determine wrongdoing, assess penalties, pursue fugitives, deliver lawbreakers to justice||commit a crime, turn a blind eye to a criminal act, allow a criminal to escape, bend the rules, selectively apply the rules to herself or anyone else||Summary Judgment|
|Piety||employ well-worn ideas or tactics to solve a problem, act in accordance with the wishes of one’s God or family, uphold tradition and custom over innovation, impose the dictates of tradition on another||defy the wishes of one’s God or family, break with tradition or custom, allow others to break with tradition, advocate new ideas over tried-and-true precedent||Self-Righteousness|
|Valor||defend the helpless, defeat those who prey on the innocent, fight an honorable opponent in battle, resist the effects of fear, pain, or fatigue||strike a foe from ambush or other underhanded means, avoid battle out of fear for personal health or safety, allow others to suffer from the depredations of monsters, criminals, or tyrants||Valorous Sacrifice|
|Vengeance||hunt down and punish criminals, discern wrongdoing and assess penalties, investigate crimes and defeat those who oppose her efforts||let a criminal go unpunished, forgive a crime against herself or another, show mercy or leniency to a criminal, give up the pursuit of an offender for any reason||Implacable Nemesis|
A pantheon with Conviction stands behind their beliefs, no matter what the cost or how compelling the argument against them. A Scion with Conviction knows certain truths about the world and himself and will always support them, regardless of the cost to himself. Conviction is the Virtue you see most often in action for people who believe zealously in a religion, support a political cause or are dedicated to a certain ideal above all others. To illustrate this mechanically, we ask Scions with Conviction to keep a list of the things that are their beliefs that Conviction applies to, which range anywhere from selfish (Shadan, who has “always get something out of every situation” as one of his convictions) to the antagonistic (Eztli, who has “Norsemen are evil and should be destroyed” as one of her convictions) to the noble and lofty (Faruza, who has “truth may never be hidden” as one of her convictions). Characters who attempt any action (or inaction – standing by can be just as bad, depending on the belief in question) against one of their Convictions must roll that Virtue; if they get too many successes or can’t afford the Willpower to fight it, they enter Virtue Extremity and become insane zealots, mortified by their failure to uphold their beliefs and determined to do so at all costs.
Note for STs: Some players aren’t sure what their character’s convictions are, especially at the beginning of the game, or try to game the system by having very few or very narrow ones. In those cases, keep your own list of their beliefs, based on what they do in roleplaying and what they claim happened in their backstories, and make them roll according to that. If they complain, help explain to them what Conviction is about again.
A pantheon with Courage is utterly fearless and prizes individual bravery above all things, rewarding moxy and severely punishing or abhorring anything they perceive as cowardice. A Scion with Courage never shies away from danger, avoids problems or lets someone else take point in order to stay safer herself. Courage is the Virtue you most often see in action for berserker soldiers, protesters who refuse to move when they are punished for their actions or scientists throwing themselves into toxic environments to finish their experiments. Courage is pretty easy to run from a Storyteller’s standpoint; if there are dangerous monsters, the lady with Courage needs to fight them, and if a player ever says “Let’s not do that because it’s dangerous/there’s a safer way/I’m afraid X might happen”, remind them that they’re directly acting against their Courage to not dive in headfirst. Characters who attempt to avoid taking courageous actions or who display cowardice in any way may hit Virtue Extremity and become ravening, insane berserkers, hurling themselves at everything and anything in their paths, determined to make up for their failure by destroying any potential challenge near them.
Note for STs: Courage is very straightforward; it doesn’t care whether something is a good idea, only if it’s a dangerous one. Players are prone to arguing that they shouldn’t have to do things that might get them killed, but that’s a good time to remind them that that’s the exact opposite of Courage. If you’re worrying about getting killed, you’re doing Courage wrong.
A pantheon with Duty is utterly dedicated to the idea that each individual has personal responsibilities that they must fulfill, no matter what the odds arrayed against them, for the greater good. A Scion with Duty has a job to do and does it until the bitter end, always follows through on things that are required of her and never tries to pass her duties off to someone else or do only the bare minimum to get by. Duty is the Virtue you most often see in action when a captain goes down with the ship, a bodyguard takes a bullet or a spy who knows she’s about to be discovered manages to get a last desperate message home to her superiors. Characters with Duty can’t disobey orders, be lazy or slapdash in their responsibilities, put their own desires before their duties or make decisions to follow a course other than the one they know they’re supposed to be working toward. If they do any of those things and enter Virtue Extremity, they become self-destructive psychopaths who pursue completing their duties so stringently and exclusively that they can and will immolate themselves in the process, and if they succeed will turn to doing the same thing with their next responsibility.
Note for STs: While we don’t do a full list for Duty the way we do for Conviction and Vengeance, you’ll still need to know what a character considers her duty to know when you should make her roll. Some are easy – instructions from divine parents or the Scion’s pantheon, for example, or things that she’s told to do by commanders or employers – but others may be more freeform, such as Eztli’s belief that it is her Duty to defend her husband because her society would require it of her. If you’re having trouble knowing what a character considers her Duty, a list can’t hurt.
A pantheon with Endurance believes that stoicism, steadfastness and unmoving dedication are among the most important ideas in the universe. A Scion with Endurance eschews meaningless pleasures, refuses to rest and weathers even the most difficult situations with the stony indifference of a mountainside. Endurance is the Virtue you most often see in action for holy men who fast and meditate for decades at a time, exhausted travelers who forge on on their hands and knees if they have to until they reach their destination, or torture victims who remain tight-lipped and uncommunicative no matter what horrors are visited on them. From a mechanical perspective, we often make players roll against their Endurance if they’re trying to rest (including sleeping to heal wounds), wait around or become idle for any reason at any time, or refuse to do something because they think it might take too long or be too difficult. Characters who attempt to rest or ease their ways too much may hit Virtue Extremity and become psychotically obsessed with their own ability to endure, dedicating themselves to finding the most painful and difficult ways to accomplish the task at hand and then performing them until they drop.
Note for STs: Endurance is a big pain in the ass, especially for Heroes who sometimes really need to spend a night at a hotel to recover for the next day, but that’s what the player’s signing up for. Remind them that this isn’t just weird insomnia; it’s their need to be doing something, to be productive and active, like a genius scientist who only sleeps two hours a day to have more time to work on experiments or a supplier who knows he’s ahead of schedule but still won’t take a break in the name of getting those shipments there even one hour earlier.
A pantheon with Expression values the creation, expression and presentation of the individual self, whether it’s through passionate discussion or moving artwork. A Scion with Expression never holds back her true thoughts, appreciates the expressions of others no matter what they might contain and fights against censorship wherever she encounters it. Expression is the Virtue you most often see in action for street artists who make their mark in spite of the possible consequences, curators who collect and display art in all its forms or dissidents who stand up and speak out no matter how dangerous or inconvenient doing so might be. Scions have to roll their Expression any time they want to stifle someone else’s form of expression, let someone else tell a story or explain something instead of themselves, destroy or damage any kind of artwork or fail to find a way around someone trying to silence them. If they do and hit Virtue Extremity, they become slaves to their insane need to create, finding ways to build and express as loudly and shockingly as possible, forcing everyone to pay attention to what they’re doing and be shocked and affected by what they see.
Note for STs: Expression’s easy to forget about, but characters that have it need to be front and center, always expressing themselves, and they can never accept censorship or quiet retiring avoidance without upsetting their Virtue. Also keep in mind that any Scions doing large-scale property damage may have problems if any art, architecture or promising artists or speakers are damaged or in danger.
A pantheon with Harmony believes in the incredible importance of the balance of the universe, where everything must complement, oppose and support the rest of its environment or risk disastrous consequences. A Scion with Harmony preserves balance, fosters equality and never allows anything that threatens this delicate balancing act or might irrevocably change the natural order. Harmony is the Virtue you most often see in action for environmental conservationists, human rights activists and negotiating moderators who try to find a solution that helps both parties in need and society as a whole. We require Scions to roll their Harmony whenever anything seriously threatens or damages the natural balance, which includes when they don’t work to prevent or alleviate environmental hazards such as pollution, extinction or deforestation, when they allow serious imbalances of human society such as slavery or cannibalism, or when they allow the divine to intrude too much into the world of the mortal or vice versa, most obviously by failing to remove Titanspawn who are loose in the World. If they hit Virtue Extremity, they become fanatically dedicated psychopaths who will do anything – including murdering, taking hostages or giving up their own lives – to make sure that whatever dangers to cosmic harmony are present are worked against and defeated.
Note for STs: Worldly environmental concerns are easy, but the balance between mortal and divine is also a major issue for Scions. It’s not good for the World to have divine or Titanic things in it too much, so Scions with Harmony need to prevent that from happening, and conversely mortals were never meant for the worlds of the divine and need to be kept away from them. When someone has the brilliant idea of just moving their entire mortal worshiper population to their Sanctum, it’s always the person with Harmony who flips their shit and shuts that retirement plan down.
A pantheon with Intellect prizes intelligence, deep thinking, teaching and enlightenment, as well as making sure that all people have access to these things. A Scion with Intellect needs to learn and then share what she learns with others, and can’t abide the destruction of knowledge or the willful continuance of ignorance. Intellect is the Virtue you most often see in action when teachers provide knowledge to others, preservationists prevent the loss of ancient knowledge and artifacts or enthusiastic students travel to faraway locations to find those elusive secrets. People with Intellect will run into problems if they fail to correct misinformation or stupidity in others around them, if they withhold information or enlightenment for any reason, if they allow knowledge to be destroyed or obscured or if they pass up opportunities to learn. If they do Virtue Extremity over one of those things, they become incapable of doing anything but analyzing and sorting through information and knowledge, unable to make any decisions or come up with any coherent ideas from the overload of internal thought.
Note for STs: Intellect Extremity is the only one that is not active and does not involve a Scion doing something – rather, it prevents them from doing anything. If the asymmetry bothers you, consider instead having Extremity do something similar to the other Virtues, causing Scions to go batshit and start pursuing knowledge, forcing others to learn and trailing destruction as they do so.
A pantheon with Loyalty believes in the importance of comradeship and brotherhood as some of the highest and most admirable ideals in the universe. A Scion with Loyalty always has his friends’ backs, never leaves a man behind and will go to the ends of the earth to help someone she respects. Loyalty is the Virtue you most often see in action when someone lets himself be used as the fall guy to keep a friend out of trouble, leaves home and family to help a friend in need or shields a comrade with her own body. Having Loyalty means never letting a comrade be hurt on your watch, always coming to their aid no matter how bad the situation or how much it’s their fault, and never turning your back on them if they need something, even if it’s painful for you personally. If a Scion with Loyalty goes into Virtue Extremity, he immediately becomes slavishly and uncontestedly loyal to his comrades, doing anything and everything they tell him to without complaint, incapable of refusing or arguing so long as he can do what is asked of him.
Note for STs: This is one of the Virtues that players most often try to fudge, usually with some variation on “I don’t like that guy, so I don’t have to apply my Loyalty to him.” You can have them keep a list of people Loyalty applies to if you want to, but the easy rule of thumb is that Loyalty should be active for A) anyone in their pantheon, B) any family member, and C) their bandmates, as well as anyone else they choose. Unless they have a good reason not to include that person – i.e., they have Vengeance or Conviction against a specific person – those categories should usually activate Loyalty. Loyalty doesn’t care if the person is being a little shit right now or even actively campaigning against you; their bad behavior doesn’t ever excuse you trying to turn on them or ignore them when they’re in need.
A pantheon with Order upholds law, reason and the rule of authority over society, believing that there is a divine order to the universe that must be followed to avoid the destructive influence of Chaos. A Scion with Order follows laws, upholds authority, prevents crime and respects the chain of command, believing that the system is ultimately good and works to better the world. Order is the Virtue you most often see in action when vigilantes go out of their way to bring criminals to justice, the innocently accused go to trial knowing that they will be acquitted or those who know they have done wrong willingly accept the punishment bestowed on them. When Scions have Order, they find it difficult to disobey instructions from authority figures, break any laws (including stealing things, killing people, jaywalking or freeing slaves in societies where they’re legal) or refuse to support a society’s customs and laws, whether or not they agree with them. If they do go into Virtue Extremity, they will seek out, turn in and punish lawbreakers (including themselves) at any cost, becoming unstoppable vigilantes with zero tolerance.
Note for STs: Order doesn’t distinguish between the severity of a crime; all crimes are equally bad and unacceptable, so Scions are going to need to roll against their Order to allow littering or noise pollution as well as murder or assault. Order also applies to the actual law in the place that you happen to be, so the fact that something that isn’t illegal at home doesn’t mean that your Order can ignore it if it’s illegal where it’s happening right now. Scions get a pass if they don’t realize something is illegal when it happens, but they’ll still have to roll if they later discover it was illegal and fail to bring the perpetrator to justice, or wilfully avoid learning local laws for the express purpose of not knowing the rules. Also keep in mind that Order cares about the letter of the law, not the spirit; if you let someone off because you think they have extenuating circumstances or were screwed by an unfair law, you’ll still need to roll your Order.
A pantheon with Piety believes in their own importance as paramount – they are the most powerful, worthy and pivotal beings in the universe and they expect the respect due to them as a result. A Scion with Piety believes utterly in her pantheon and obeys its dictates and those of its individual gods without question, as well as spreading the respect and worship of them as far as he can. Piety is the Virtue you most often see in action when missionaries go into dangerous territory to preach their religion to new peoples, heroes commit atrocities they would normally abhor in order to make sure their pantheon is victorious or true believers allow themselves to be destroyed rather than recanting their beliefs. If a Scion doesn’t do what he knows his pantheon wants, fails to tell others who don’t know about them about all their glorious awesomeness, allows others to be misinformed or disrespectful of the gods of his pantheon or gives any other pantheon or religion more props, he’s likely to trigger a Piety roll on himself. And if that Piety roll causes him to go into Virtue Extremity, he becomes so dedicated to his pantheon that he refuses to use his obviously superior talents for anyone else, leaving mortals, unbelievers and members of other pantheons to fend for themselves, even if they die.
Note for STs: Piety is a directed Virtue, which means that it applies to a specific group of people, in this case your pantheon. If a Scion gains Piety during play from some source other than their pantheon – the Bogovi are critical offenders here – then that Piety is likely to be pointed toward the source they got it from, not their pantheon. Having Piety for a pantheon other than your own often leads to complicated and messy situations, but it can happen. For those having trouble differentiating Piety from Loyalty, think of Loyalty as supporting individuals to whom you are loyal, while Piety is supporting a group and religion to which you are faithful; they can overlap but don’t always have to.
A pantheon with Valor believes in fair play, even odds, protection of the weak and the glory that can only come from surmounting a true and equal challenge. A Scion with Valor never allows the weak to be overpowered by the strong, fights only under fair and equal circumstances and refuses to compromise her honor even when overwhelming odds are stacked against her. Valor is the Virtue you most often see in action when a fighter challenges an opponent to single combat, a policeman draws a criminal’s fire to redirect him away from innocents or a referee enforces a handicap on an opponent with an unfair advantage. Valor rolls are triggered whenever a Scion cheats in a fight or backstabs someone from concealment, tries to walk away from a glorious combat, allows the abuse of the weak at the hands of the strong or kicks someone when they’re down. If she goes into Virtue Extremity, she is so overcome by her dishonorable actions that she determines to wipe them away by fighting the first opponent of equal or greater strength she sees, and either defeating them in honorable combat or dying in the attempt.
Note for STs: Valor not only governs the actions of the Scions that have it, it also causes them to try to force others in their band to follow its dictates. This means that a lot of strategies – killing an unconscious or paralyzed opponent, sneak attacking or attacking with greater numbers – will offend a Valorous Scion’s sensibilities and consequently not work most of the time since they’ll need to either sabotage them or risk going crazy. It doesn’t matter how pragmatic or effective a strategy is; if it’s not honorable straight-up combat, Valor’s not okay with it. In mechanical terms, a higher-Legend person fighting a lower-Legend one is not a fair match even if it’s single combat, nor are equal-Legend opponents evenly matched if one is a combat powerhouse and the other fragile, ill-equipped or already heavily injured. Several lower-Legend opponents on a single higher-Legend one can be a fair fight; use your judgment about what constitutes a fair matchup.
A pantheon with Vengeance is dedicated to avenging any slight or injury done to them, exacting furious and instant justice against those who anger them. A Scion with Vengeance never forgets and never forgives, never lets a wrong against him go unredressed and refuses to lay a feud to rest until the bitter end. Vengeance is the Virtue you most often see in action when a dictator throws caution to the winds to keep attacking a hated enemy he’s losing against, a scorned lover absconds with all his paramours worldly goods or a victim of assault hunts down his attacker and sells him out to a mob boss. Like people with Conviction, we require people with Vengeance to keep a list of those they most despise, and they can’t pass up an opportunity to strike against them in some way whenever they have the chance, never showing mercy and always making sure they pay many times over for whatever they once did to anger them. If they fail to do this and go into Virtue Extremity, they immediately stop doing anything but trying to absolutely ruin the people they’ve sworn vengeance against, going to any lengths and refusing to focus on anything else to make sure that person gets what’s coming to them.
Note for STs: Like Conviction, Vengeance is a Virtue players try to cheat by putting as few people or groups of people on their list as possible, so make sure to call them out and make them include people who have committed serious sins against them (assaulted them, stolen their relics, utterly humiliated them in front of gods and so on), although they can occasionally let lesser sins slide by, particularly if they do something at the time to make sure their displeasure is known. Anyone a Scion channels their Vengeance against (whether in an attack, damage, attempt to use a power on, whatever) is automatically added to the Vengeance list. Also note that groups of people – for example, “fire giants” or “police officers” – are also fair game for Vengeance, and Scions should have some of these involved after a while, too. The best rule of thumb is that if an individual person is important, they can go on the Vengeance list singly; if they’re not or they only represent some larger power, the group they belong to should go on the list instead.