for the gamers reading this
If you’re a fan of White Wolf’s Scion game, I just discovered they’ve put out a new supplement, covering the Yazata, the Persian gods. So far it’s only a .pdf, though it looks like there are plans to do a print edition early next year.
What interests me about this is that, according to the place where I first saw it mentioned, the supplement is based on fan-created material. Scion‘s original books covered a wide range of polytheistic religions (Egyptian, Greco-Roman, Norse, Aztec/Mayan, Japanese, Voudoun, Celtic, Chinese, and Hindu), but there are still parts of the world they missed, and so there seems to be a small but energetic base of people designing additions to the system. (I’m using a fan-created supplement as the basis for my own handling of native North American religions; with my game set in the 19th-century frontier, I needed something to address that question.)
A quick glance at the original Yazata writeup, that I downloaded when I first began looking at fan supplements, shows there’s been a non-trivial amount of revision. For example, the pantheon-specific purview — which is probably the biggest hurdle for pantheon design — appears to have been completely replaced. Also, the new purview of Time has been renamed as Stars and changed on various points, though it still mostly has to do with the manipulation of time. So this tells me that White Wolf didn’t just grab the old pdf, typeset it to look like the rest of the books, and fling it out there; somebody, somewhere along the line, sat down and reworked things. I don’t know if that was the original designer, someone at White Wolf, or what, but they put some effort into it.
Which really pleases me. This is potentially the ideal way to handle Scion expansions, at least of the “pantheon module” sort: it’s a small enough addition that it doesn’t really justify putting out a big expensive hardcover book, but vital enough that it’s worth picking the good ones out of the mass of stuff on the internet and distributing them in an organized fashion.
Of course, one big concern is accuracy. I’ve been very pleased by the quality of the White Wolf-produced material; I’m enough of a mythology geek that I would have been put off by shoddy research, but everywhere I know the material, their work looks solid. (And this goes beyond the familiar grounds of Greek and Norse mythology. When the first book came out, my litmus test was to look at the Mesoamerican gods. They listed three alternate names for Quetzalcoatl, two of which I recognized, the third being something I’d never seen in my life. Which told me they’d done more research than I had, which was basically my minimum requirement for the game.) Is the fan-created Persian material accurate? I have no idea. I know that there are (at least) two Native American supplements out there, one of which calls the pantheon the “Anasazi” and boils the entire thing down to archetypes like “the Trickster” or “Mother Earth;” that is NOT the one I’m using. If you open the door to fan-created material, you may end up trusting that whoever wrote that supplement knows what they’re talking about, and you may be wrong. So I hope there’s still a degree of quality control happening on the White Wolf end, before they put their stamp of approval on something. The changes to the Yazata writeup make me hope that it’s so, even though I can’t judge them for myself.
I’m also a bit curious as to how White Wolf is handling rights and compensation, but that’s probably private information I’m not likely to get. If they’re paying a fair price and not exploiting their fans, though, this is potentially a very cool way to approach the question of expansion.