Scion Companion 2: Manifestation of Ichor

In case you’ve never played Scion, I’ll try to explain it in brief.

You play Hercules.

OK, I’m really doing no justice to the game.  Scion‘s concept should be familiar to anyone that’s interested in Greek mythology or Kevin Sorbo.  The universe is ruled by a pantheon of gods, and a variety of majestic or horrific beings are always lurking just out of sight.  For better or worse, the gods can’t resist dalliances with our women, so they’ve fathered a race of half-breeds (Scions) that live in the mortal world while carrying some of their divine daddy’s powers.

Getting to live in the normal world with incredible strength (or whatever powers your character has) isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  You actually get the worst of both worlds.  You have just enough power to save the mortals around you, but not quite enough to really contend with the powers that are out to get you.  So caught between helpless masses and Olympian politics, you do the best you can.

True to their own traditions, White Wolf has done an excellent job of giving this game a complex, brooding feel.  So if the concept I just described sounds campy, put aside my joke about Kevin Sorbo and at least thumb through the book.

The real subject of this review, Manifestation of Ichor, is the second in a series of supplements they’re putting out for Scion.  They’re releasing several in periodical form before putting out a larger, hardbound book at some point in the future.

This is a short book — clocking about 40 pages — so let me stress that it’s a supplement, not an expansion or full-blown setting book.

As I said above, in Scion you play someone living just between the mortal and immortal realms.  As your character progresses, he not only gains new powers, but he can also progress down the road to god-hood.  In Manifestation of Ichor, you’re given rules for starting the campaign at that level.

Players are handed some new powers and background traits to flesh your Scion out.  But what I really appreciate is that they’ve also given you mechanics for telling the story of how you got here.  A character could simply dump points into their Legend trait, reaching god-status in short order, but they’d never survive that path without becoming more powerful in other ways.  And no matter how they survived, there were stories that occurred along the way, friends and enemies made, and people inadvertently tangled into your fate.  This supplement will make sure you’ve thought all of that through.

Incidentally, this progression is where the book gets its title.  For those not in the know, ichor is the proper name for the substance that flows through a Greek god’s veins.  So I suppose at some point in your ascent, ichor will first manifest itself in your veins as well.  I wonder what happens if you donated before you realized this was happening, and some car wreck victim got ichor instead of blood from the local hospital.  There’s a free NPC idea for ya.

The book’s production values are very typical of a White Wolf product.  In case you’re not sure how to take that, it’s one part compliment and one part neutral statement of fact.  The pages are dressed with multiple layers of art and waterprint, giving the whole book the feel of ancient-tome-meets-dirty-urban-flat without distracting from the text.  The illustration is a good step above what you normally see in RPG books.  And if you play any other White Wolf games, you’ll have no problem navigating the general arrangement of the pages.

I have a couple complaints with the product, though none are serious.  There are a few typos in the book that appear to be leftovers from pre-production.  For example, some misplaced dashes (“char-acter”) that I assume are from a day when the column ended elsewhere and missing page numbers (“turn to page XX”).  In all fairness, these also could be unique to the review copy I’m looking at, having been fixed in the final version.  And none are so bad as to be distracting from play.  Well, unless you’re that one guy, in which case I’m glad you’re playing Scion instead of annoying people on our forums.

There’s also no index in the back.  I suppose a book this short doesn’t really need one, but there’s nothing worse than interrupting a game session with 15 minutes of flipping through the same few pages, looking for that rule you just know is in there somewhere.

For any fan of Scion that wants to play a game that starts at high levels, this book should be worth your money.  Some of the new ideas and abilities in this book may also be useful for fleshing out NPC allies and villains in lower level games.

To end this on a complete non-sequitur, I’m having some fun with the PDF copy of the main book.  It appears to have been saved off in its original layers, rather than just printed and scanned.  So if I scroll a page really fast, I can actually read the entirety of the watermark text that’s occluded by the illustrations.  If you’ve ever wanted to know what’s behind those pictures, it’s violent, pulpy, and almost nonsensical.

Want to learn more about Scion? Read on…

Or drop by RPG Now to pick up a copy!

Comments (3)

Eddy WebbFebruary 13th, 2009 at 8:35 am

Thanks for the review! No, there isn’t an index, but there are PDF bookmarks instead (or at least, there should be). Also, those bits were cleaned up in post-production, and (hopefully) won’t show up in the final product.

– Eddy Webb, Developer

BlindeyeFebruary 16th, 2009 at 1:34 pm

Wow! You got a developer response?! Damn!

They DO listen!

Hey, Ed! Tell the guys who work on Exalted that we’re re-writing their system at the Freedom Stones forum! >.<
All I’ve ever talked about with Exalted fans is how we need a different system to fit the setting! The developers if this game needs to know this for 3rd edition!

Wait! Don’t go… Aww… I don’t think he’s listening…

ZenaficusFebruary 18th, 2009 at 9:59 am

Good review. Haven’t picked up this particular Scion product yet, as gonna wait for the hardcover edition. However, I have to agree that White Wolf has done an excellent job with this concept.

Also, there is more than just the greek pantheon running around! Playing a game now with two characters from Egyption pantheon, 1 from Norse, etc. Glad you did a review on it while I’m playing a game. Until I found out about the Scion Companion, figured Scion had fallen by the wayside at WW. Good to know that’s not the case!

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