Zorro is dead; long live Zorro

A few months ago, I told you all the basic premise of the Scion game I’m running. People seemed to find it fairly entertaining, so I thought it might be fun to provide an update on the storyline we just concluded.

One of the PCs is a Mexican-American Scion of Tezcatlipoca. As a boy, he and his (mortal) family were servants in the household of an Anglo rancher in southern California — a rancher who treated them quite well, providing education to the children, etc. One day, however, (almost) the entire household was slaughtered by a group of bandits. For some reason, the leader of the bandits chose to spare the boy’s life, at least for the immediate moment; instead, he cut the boy’s eyes out and left him to die in the desert.

The boy didn’t die, of course, because he was the son of a god; this led to his first Visitation, in Scion terms. He grew up to be a tracker and guide called El Ciego, “the blind one,” who is (of course) about as blind as Daredevil. The loss of his eyes gave him the gifts of mystery and prophecy, but there is one target against whom they do not work: the bandit who killed his family.

So El Ciego has spent years trying to find the man and get revenge. That’s his backstory. During the course of the game, he found out the man in question was the legendary bandit Zorro. Not only that, but as El Ciego is a Scion of Tezcatlipoca, Zorro was a Scion of Huitzilopochtli — two gods that have long been enemies. Furthermore, as part of the game plot, it transpired that Zorro had taken, and was trying to use, a very powerful Relic: an obsidian sacrificial knife that could be used not just to kill Scions and gods, but to take their power for the wielder’s own. The PCs were told Zorro intended to use it against Anglo businessman types in California. El Ciego swore an oath that if he got the knife away from Zorro, he would return it to Tamoanchan, which in game terms is a terra incognita belonging to the Aztec pantheon. There it would be protected against Columbia and Uncle Sam finding it and using it for their own ends.

Skipping over the details of how they hunted Zorro down (it involved scaring the crap out of Pacheco one night, burning down San Quentin, and recruiting help from Paul Bunyan, among other random things), they eventually made their way to Death Valley, where they discovered that Zorro — who was by this point a demigod, as were the PCs — had a small group of cultists in the town of Furnace Creek. The confrontation that ensued there alternated between high drama (El Ciego and Zorro dueling all around Death Valley, the latter running at superhuman speeds, the former teleporting through shadows to follow him) and high comedy (the other two PCs in Furnace Creek, where for a while it seemed like everybody’s tactic was going to be “find the most dangerous enemy and use a power to make her fall in love with me”). On the latter end of things, there were three interesting people in addition to the cultists: a Scion named Tiburcio Vásquez, a guy who looked a lot like El Ciego, and a beautiful woman with an obsidian knife she pulled out from somewhere inside her own ribcage — who, they realized, was some kind of personification of the Relic they were trying to get back from Zorro.

Well, Zorro eventually died (of course), under a totally unscheduled solar eclipse (because Tezcatlipoca is associated with the moon and Huitzilopochtli with the sun). When El Ciego returned to Furnace Creek with his enemy’s body, he got two unpleasant surprises: first, that the guy I mentioned before was his brother, taken away during that slaughter and raised by Zorro, and second, that the woman with the knife was what remained of his sister.

The brother (whom Vásquez and others had called Paynal) had been Zorro’s Fatebound mortal companion, and pretty much snapped at the moment Zorro died. It was left to Vásquez to explain that the knife was too powerful for Zorro to reliably force it to his will; he had instead given it human incarnation as Itzpapalotl, so he could persuade her to work with him. El Ciego’s sister, loyal to Zorro, had volunteered to sacrifice herself in this fashion.

Vásquez also filled in the backstory of Zorro, explaining the legend’s longevity: he had begun as Joaquin Murrieta, Scion of the only Aztec god I could find with any fox associations. (“Zorro,” for those unaware, is Spanish for “fox.”) When he died, though — partly due to efforts by the aforementioned Anglo rancher — his sister got hold of his head and flayed the skin off his face to make a Relic, which she then passed onto Joaquin’s nephew Procopio, who was already a Scion of Huitzilopochtli. When Procopio put on the mask, he was possessed by his uncle’s spirit, and determined to carry on Zorro’s mission — with rather more ruthless tactics.

In talking about this, Vásquez managed to convince El Ciego that the idea of Zorro was an important one, worth preserving. So he hatched a plan.

First, though, they had to get to Tamoanchan. Rather than send the party haring off into Mexico, I decided they should be able to create a doorway to the terra incognita, by replicating the glyph that represents it: “a cleft tree, flowering and emitting blood,” with each half of the tree twisting in opposite directions. None of the PCs have any power over trees, though, so they had to go request help from John Muir, who owed them a favor from before. Muir, being not powerful enough to do it himself, referred them to his father: Johnny Appleseed, who the Scion books suggested would be a god of the American pantheon. Since I’m handling that setup differently, in my world he’s an ascended Scion of Danu.

Once things had been explained to him, Johnny Appleseed was willing to help — until he discovered that creating the gateway would require sacrificing a human being. Not just any human being, either, but El Ciego’s own brother. Even though the sacrifice was willing, this profoundly disturbed Appleseed, until they hit upon a bargain: he would try to use his power to keep El Ciego’s brother from actually dying (despite having his heart cut out). With this agreed upon, they made the gateway — El Ciego slipping an apple’s seed into his brother’s body once the heart was gone — and stepped through into Tamoanchan.

There, at the temple of Itzpapalotl, El Ciego laid the not-quite-dead, not-quite-alive body of his brother on the sacrificial altar and placed the mask of Zorro over his face.

As I said in the post’s title: Zorro is dead; long live Zorro.

The hope is that this third incarnation will carry on the laudable mission (protect Mexican-Americans against gringo violence) with less murderating of innocents than Zorro II indulged in. (Since the PCs didn’t hunt him down immediately on hearing of his plans, I had to say he managed to kill somebody important; my apologies to George Hearst for bumping him off early. Along with most of his family and household.) The fact that he owes his life to a very gentle gringo god may help with that. And now both of El Ciego’s surviving siblings are, erm, not quite surviving anymore, but are also semi-divine: one is Itzpapalotl, and the other is Zorro, with a minor cult at his back. It seems an appropriately mythic end to what otherwise would have been a fairly simple revenge story.

Next up: Promontory Summit, and the John Henry thing I mentioned in that original post. I have some fun ideas for this one.

0 Responses to “Zorro is dead; long live Zorro”

  1. beccastareyes

    Storylines like that make me want to GM again, though I don’t think I could do anything nearly that awesome, even though my players are wonderful.

  2. starlady38

    Augh, so interesting and awesome.

  3. oddsboy

    Heh, this takes me back to my time as Johnny ‘Anvil’ Walker, ass-kicking Scion of Thunderbird. More death from (usually) three stories up than is normally possible.


    • Marie Brennan

      ‘s game is part of the reason I’m running this; it being cut short left me with an itch for more Scion, and running my own game was the only way to scratch it.

  4. unforth

    Excellent! It sounds like things went largely as planned, except with even more awesome added in. 🙂

    Also: I do so

    • Marie Brennan

      Putting the mask on the brother was ‘s idea. (It broke poor Mr. Worthington’s head, as he is a firm believer in smashing your enemies and then NOT RESURRECTING THEM.)

      Muir was meant to be a throwaway encounter, but when I had the chance to bring him back in, I decided it would be fun.

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