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Annoying combat at origin level?

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  • Annoying combat at origin level?

    Anyone having trouble with combats using the currently-available material at Origin level? I have noticed an issue with too many missed attacks going on. The NPC opponent stats have pretty high defense, which Hero level characters have some measures, such as more sources of Enhancement and the occasional Feat of Scale in particular, to make things easier. But Origin-level characters deal with the same high-defense foes while having less recourse to deal with it.

    This has resulted for me in quite a bit of "misses a whole bunch of attacks, until finally can throw enough momentum at it for a good hit". Since the other stunts tend to be harder than inflicting injury, that also causes a lot of cool stuff to see little use!


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  • #2
    I'm playing in a PbP Origins game right now, and you're right - antagonists are hard to hit. But what works is:
    1. Momentum - you miss, you get momentum (you mentioned this one, but remember that everyone generates it, so it'll build up quickly).
    2. Teamwork - someone uses the action to give an enhancement to their friend
    3. Invoking Paths- extra dice and the possibility of using Twists of Fate to bend the environment to your advantage
    4. Proper use of Specialties - remember those failure bonuses (another momentum!) and the sidewise Enhancements.

    Hope this helps!

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    • #3
      Originally posted by haydenmccullen View Post
      I'm playing in a PbP Origins game right now, and you're right - antagonists are hard to hit. But what works is:
      1. Momentum - you miss, you get momentum (you mentioned this one, but remember that everyone generates it, so it'll build up quickly).
      2. Teamwork - someone uses the action to give an enhancement to their friend
      3. Invoking Paths- extra dice and the possibility of using Twists of Fate to bend the environment to your advantage
      4. Proper use of Specialties - remember those failure bonuses (another momentum!) and the sidewise Enhancements.

      Hope this helps!
      Yes. This is the intentional way of handling things - you're meant to take on foes as a team.

      Good hits should also come in addition to the cool stuff - you're doing one or two or three more than you need, and you can only Inflict Damage once a turn, so a hit powered by Momentum should cause some subsequent hits.
      Last edited by Neall; 06-03-2018, 04:56 PM.


      Neall Raemonn Price
      Beleaguered Scion Developer

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Neall View Post
        Yes. This is the intentional way of handling things - you're meant to take on foes as a team.

        Good hits should also come in addition to the cool stuff - you're doing one or two or three more than you need, and you can only Inflict Damage once a turn, so a hit powered by Momentum should cause some subsequent hits.
        The bold bit doesn't fit with my experience. I posted about it elsewhere, actually: https://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php...it-quot-combat

        Getting additional successes over what you need is hard. A maxed out combat character is throwing 10 dice. If they don't have a relevant specialty in another skill, that's the most they're consistently capable of doing. There aren't many easy sources of Enhancement unless you've got a background where a Relic weapon makes sense. We've struggled to find relevant Teamwork actions - Most of them have been "I'll Feint at it do draw it's attention... wait, that's an actual Stunt where I need to hit first? Well, I guess I'll just generate momentum then..." Against a Villain (Not even a Monster), they're looking at 4 successes to Inflict Injury (Assuming that the Villain doesn't have Soft Armour. If they do, it gets much harder). That's comfortably above average to score even one additional success.

        In my experience, we've been having 5 or 6 attacks that exist purely to build Momentum to every attack that actually Inflicts Injuries. We've not had a single successful use of another Stunt on the PC side, because the only time they've had enough excess successes to do anything was when fighting mooks (And so they just killed off more mooks). There's a pretty high threshold on most of the useful stunts - Like 3 or 4 over Defense for Knockdown/Seize/Trip. And at that point, you probably want a Critical Hit so that you can end the combat already.

        A Monster's 4 Defence plus Inflict Injury is going to want you to dump a full Momentum pool (In our case, 10 dice) into it in order to reliably injure them. And you need to do that 6 times. Even then, 20 dice isn't guaranteed success - An even slightly unlucky roll will mean that you've just blown two full turns of wasted attacks.

        We've had two serious fights, and it's not been fun for anyone. If anything, that's too generous - It's been a miserable slog that made everyone so unhappy that we're taking a break to play other games. I've got hope for Hero, but I don't see myself ever using the Defence values from the book for Origins again. I think I'll be halving them, and maybe using a careful amount of Armour if we want the fights to be longer.
        Last edited by Tarion; 06-04-2018, 03:11 AM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Tarion View Post
          The italics bit doesn't fit with my experience.
          Just as formatting note: Quotes are displayed in italics, so you want to use bold or underline to highlight something in a post, or we can't see what you wanted to highlight.

          Getting additional successes over what you need is hard. A maxed out combat character is throwing 10 dice.
          I think you might be overstating things a bit here.

          You used a Defense of 3 in your example. 10 dice to get four successes (overcome defense and inflict damage) has 35% chance, not great, but basically one in three attacks are going to hit without any momentum, enhancements, etc. +1 enhancement, increases that to 62%, and +2 enhancement to 85%.

          Is getting enhancements hard at Origins? Sure... but you don't need +5 here. +1 and +2 is plenty to make your combat heavy go from whiffing to hitting regularly.

          And realistically, if you want a combat focused character? Find yourself consistent sources of enhancements. They mater way more than dice. 6 dice with + 2e is better than 10 dice without any.

          A lot of your issues sound far more a probem of expecting dice-pools to do all the work here. "I don't have a relevant specialty, or a relic weapon, or none of my teammates have one of the Knacks that are good for generating teamwork enhancements, etc." seems a lot more like not using the tools the game gives you than the Defense ratings being too high.

          A maxed out character isn't one who can get 10 dice first.
          Last edited by Heavy Arms; 06-03-2018, 07:25 PM.

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          • #6
            My character has Might 4, CC 3, but a spec in Athletics for Wrestling and one in Culture for mythological creatures. When grappling, he can get the injury fairly often.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post

              Just as formatting note: Quotes are displayed in italics, so you want to use bold or underline to highlight something in a post, or we can't see what you wanted to highlight.
              Bah, so it does. I'll fix it in a minute.



              I think you might be overstating things a bit here.

              You used a Defense of 3 in your example. 10 dice to get four successes (overcome defense and inflict damage) has 35% chance, not great, but basically one in three attacks are going to hit without any momentum, enhancements, etc. +1 enhancement, increases that to 62%, and +2 enhancement to 85%.

              Is getting enhancements hard at Origins? Sure... but you don't need +5 here. +1 and +2 is plenty to make your combat heavy go from whiffing to hitting regularly.

              And realistically, if you want a combat focused character? Find yourself consistent sources of enhancements. They mater way more than dice. 6 dice with + 2e is better than 10 dice without any.

              A lot of your issues sound far more a probem of expecting dice-pools to do all the work here. "I don't have a relevant specialty, or a relic weapon, or none of my teammates have one of the Knacks that are good for generating teamwork enhancements, etc." seems a lot more like not using the tools the game gives you than the Defense ratings being too high.

              A maxed out character isn't one who can get 10 dice first.
              My problem, specifically, is that I'm running a game where the players aren't having fun.

              They certainly could have optimised better, but reading the book there's not even a hint that optimising for combat is required for the system to work. In fact, the book is clear that you're expected to miss a lot in order to generate Momentum, in order to score hits. I'll concede that if you've got a Band who set out to optimise, they can make the system work. But if you don't have the required level of system mastery, or if you have character backgrounds in mind that don't fit with optimising, the game stops being fun quick.

              I don't even have a single character with 10 dice in a combat pool (Close Combat 5, Might 4 is the best in the party. None of her specialties are relevant for the situation the party is in. She's not particularly supernaturally aware, so didn't feel she could justify a Relic weapon. And she's a Warrior, so she's actually much much worse than a Guardian or Hunter, due to no source of Enhancement). I've got a few characters with a Relic for +1 Enhancement, but they've got dice pools in the region of 5 to 7 for actually using it. I've got a few characters with a situationally relevant specialty, but again, mediocre dice pools.

              I suppose that leads to a relevant question - What sort of specialties are people using that are providing consistent Enhancement? The closest my Band has is one that provides it against a specific Pantheon (Which isn't the one they're encountering). Frankly, the consensus I'd seen was that if you were consistently getting combat enhancement from your specialty, it was probably too broad a specialty (The best I've seen is Wrestling on Athletics providing a bonus to Close Combat, as with haydenmccullen, but that's pretty exclusive to grapplers), or was narratively weak.

              As for Knacks capable of generating Teamwork enhancements... There actually isn't one. There's a Lover Knack that gives you Enhancement on teamwork actions, but not that provides Enhancement to other people. The only Knacks that provide combat Enhancement that I can see are the Guardian and Hunter ones. And, for some reason, one of the Judge ones - Holy shit, Objection! is really good.

              My party actually looks pretty similar to the example PCs, where the combat specialist has... 9 dice, with no regular source of Enhancement. After that, the best the example characters has is 7 dice and it drops off rapidly from there.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Tarion View Post



                My problem, specifically, is that I'm running a game where the players aren't having fun.

                They certainly could have optimised better, but reading the book there's not even a hint that optimising for combat is required for the system to work. In fact, the book is clear that you're expected to miss a lot in order to generate Momentum, in order to score hits. I'll concede that if you've got a Band who set out to optimise, they can make the system work. But if you don't have the required level of system mastery, or if you have character backgrounds in mind that don't fit with optimising, the game stops being fun quick.

                I don't even have a single character with 10 dice in a combat pool (Close Combat 5, Might 4 is the best in the party. None of her specialties are relevant for the situation the party is in. She's not particularly supernaturally aware, so didn't feel she could justify a Relic weapon. And she's a Warrior, so she's actually much much worse than a Guardian or Hunter, due to no source of Enhancement). I've got a few characters with a Relic for +1 Enhancement, but they've got dice pools in the region of 5 to 7 for actually using it. I've got a few characters with a situationally relevant specialty, but again, mediocre dice pools.

                I suppose that leads to a relevant question - What sort of specialties are people using that are providing consistent Enhancement? The closest my Band has is one that provides it against a specific Pantheon (Which isn't the one they're encountering). Frankly, the consensus I'd seen was that if you were consistently getting combat enhancement from your specialty, it was probably too broad a specialty (The best I've seen is Wrestling on Athletics providing a bonus to Close Combat, as with haydenmccullen, but that's pretty exclusive to grapplers), or was narratively weak.

                As for Knacks capable of generating Teamwork enhancements... There actually isn't one. There's a Lover Knack that gives you Enhancement on teamwork actions, but not that provides Enhancement to other people. The only Knacks that provide combat Enhancement that I can see are the Guardian and Hunter ones. And, for some reason, one of the Judge ones - Holy shit, Objection! is really good.

                My party actually looks pretty similar to the example PCs, where the combat specialist has... 9 dice, with no regular source of Enhancement. After that, the best the example characters has is 7 dice and it drops off rapidly from there.

                Obviously, if you're not having fun, then something is definitely wrong. The suggestions below are not telling you how to play your game, but I'm curious as to whether your table has tried them and, if so, what your experience was:

                1. Bond rules: if your Scions work together on team-oriented tasks, they can build a Bond that they can tap for Enhancement when needed.
                2. Teamwork rules (p 70 of the Origins doc): here it's pretty clear that you don't need to use the same pool, or even overcome Defense - one character kneels behind the big bad so the other guy can trip it. It says this applies to challenges, and there is the Feint rule for attacks, but you may (depending on your read) be able to use it for other combat applications than just hitting.
                3. Trip is really good, actually, in hand-to-hand combat, and a lot of the big monsters with high Defense probably don't have as high of a Dexterity (or, at least, will have to use their desperation pool to generate it).
                4. Implementing Scale. While Scions at Origin level don't have Scale inherently, objects can. Is the big monster tearing up a building? Hit them with a semi truck. Drop the building on them.
                5. Down-and-dirty combat rules: keep the meaningless fights from dragging out forever.

                If the rules aren't working for your game, change them, obviously - that's the first rule, always. But I'd love to hear your experience on some of these!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Tarion View Post
                  My problem, specifically, is that I'm running a game where the players aren't having fun.
                  Nobody's denying that, we're just trying to point out that there are system based solutions here that you players don't seem to be taking advantage of... and not a few obscure hidden gems... but just some baseline stuff.

                  It's not a judgement... it's a new game you're running from a preview PDF. But that's why I believe a lot of us are focusing on what tools the game provides to address this stuff.

                  They certainly could have optimised better, but reading the book there's not even a hint that optimising for combat is required for the system to work.
                  Because the system does work without it. The system does, however, highlight repeatedly that teamwork matters, and that this isn't a game where just having the biggest dice-pool wins. The book even says to cap enhancements at 3 for an action at Origins level play, because 4e basically makes Origins level challenges boringly easy... and 3e is already insanely good with what the book suggests throwing at PCs.

                  I also feel like you're being a bit defensive with things like "system mastery" when you keep saying things like how your players don't have relic weapons... when the book's example for weapons that provide 1e are mundane weapons (which is repeated more than once). Yes, a Relic is a simple way to get 1e, and it will grow way more potent with the move up to Hero... but any character that has a strong combat focused concept should probably have a least one 1e weapon unless they're a brawler. A perfectly mundane sword that your character had custom made for their specifications is as much a 1e weapon as a weapon handed off by a divine parent. Mundane heavy weapons can also justify 1e from Scale.

                  None of that is system mastery... it's examples from the book.

                  You also keep talking about your player's dice-pools... which is precisely why I said that this isn't a game where racing to 10 dice is the same as optimization. It's the only thing you keep bring up besides, "they don't have/didn't take something."

                  In fact, the book is clear that you're expected to miss a lot in order to generate Momentum, in order to score hits.
                  Not... really? It says that is expected in situations that are difficult for the Band so that things don't get stuck without a way forward, not that the combat rules are designed specifically to cause this result.

                  None of her specialties are relevant for the situation the party is in
                  ...
                  I've got a few characters with a situationally relevant specialty, but again, mediocre dice pools.
                  Why? If your group is struggling to enjoy things... why are you putting them in situations where things like their Specialties don't apply? That's not secret knowledge. Whether it's earning Momentum faster or getting that extra +1e, if they were in situations where they got to use the stuff on their sheet more, I'm pretty sure they'd enjoy it more.

                  As for Knacks capable of generating Teamwork enhancements...
                  Sage's Master of the World is insanely good.

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                  • #10
                    Enhancement 1 is reasonably easy for everyone to get their hands on, and can be gained from high quality but otherwise mundane things like a very well crafted weapon, a really nice computer, a high end sports car, extremely fashionable clothes, etc. It definitely helps tip the balance in favor of the players, along with all the strong incentives the game makes for Teamwork. And it's reasonable for characters to want to get their hands on high quality items in order to do their jobs better.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by haydenmccullen View Post


                      Obviously, if you're not having fun, then something is definitely wrong. The suggestions below are not telling you how to play your game, but I'm curious as to whether your table has tried them and, if so, what your experience was:

                      1. Bond rules: if your Scions work together on team-oriented tasks, they can build a Bond that they can tap for Enhancement when needed.
                      2. Teamwork rules (p 70 of the Origins doc): here it's pretty clear that you don't need to use the same pool, or even overcome Defense - one character kneels behind the big bad so the other guy can trip it. It says this applies to challenges, and there is the Feint rule for attacks, but you may (depending on your read) be able to use it for other combat applications than just hitting.
                      3. Trip is really good, actually, in hand-to-hand combat, and a lot of the big monsters with high Defense probably don't have as high of a Dexterity (or, at least, will have to use their desperation pool to generate it).
                      4. Implementing Scale. While Scions at Origin level don't have Scale inherently, objects can. Is the big monster tearing up a building? Hit them with a semi truck. Drop the building on them.
                      5. Down-and-dirty combat rules: keep the meaningless fights from dragging out forever.

                      If the rules aren't working for your game, change them, obviously - that's the first rule, always. But I'd love to hear your experience on some of these!
                      1) The players are (Or at least, should be) aware of the Bond rules, but they've not actively used them yet. I'll make sure to push them a bit more.
                      2) There's been a few issues with making teamwork work. A lot of it is that the players have been trying things that are, narratively, attacks. I'll make sure to encourage them to think a little further outside the box for Teamwork. That said, I think everyone was a bit wary of teamwork after a ridiculously epic Teamwork roll was followed up by a botch on the 9 dice attack roll. It's the sort of thing that put people off for the rest of the session.
                      3) Even in the best of cases, Trip needs 3 successes against a Villain (Half their Desperation Pool, rounded up). I'm not exaggerating when I say that I don't think we've had a single attack with that many additional successes.
                      4) I'll keep an eye out for opportunities to use Scale, but they've not done anything that would really benefit from it yet.
                      5) Honestly, fights against mooks have been great. I've got no complaints there. The meaningless fight was really fun. Unfortunately, it's the meaningful fights that utterly sucked the soul out of the group.
                      Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                      Because the system does work without it. The system does, however, highlight repeatedly that teamwork matters, and that this isn't a game where just having the biggest dice-pool wins. The book even says to cap enhancements at 3 for an action at Origins level play, because 4e basically makes Origins level challenges boringly easy... and 3e is already insanely good with what the book suggests throwing at PCs.

                      I also feel like you're being a bit defensive with things like "system mastery" when you keep saying things like how your players don't have relic weapons... when the book's example for weapons that provide 1e are mundane weapons (which is repeated more than once). Yes, a Relic is a simple way to get 1e, and it will grow way more potent with the move up to Hero... but any character that has a strong combat focused concept should probably have a least one 1e weapon unless they're a brawler. A perfectly mundane sword that your character had custom made for their specifications is as much a 1e weapon as a weapon handed off by a divine parent. Mundane heavy weapons can also justify 1e from Scale.

                      None of that is system mastery... it's examples from the book.
                      I'll admit, I forgot that was a thing - The Enhancement for equipment has always struck me as a bit weird, given that a mundane weapon can give +1, but that's the same as a 2 dot Relic in Hero. I think I'd mentally categorised that as an inconsistency to address later, and then forgot about it entirely. I'll need to go back through Origins to make sense of it. It'll definitely help a lot though, that's for sure.

                      You also keep talking about your player's dice-pools... which is precisely why I said that this isn't a game where racing to 10 dice is the same as optimization. It's the only thing you keep bring up besides, "they don't have/didn't take something."
                      Because my players, right now, have their dice pool. They don't have many consistent sources of Enhancement. Maybe they should, but it's just not what the characters have been built with. They've got the dice on their sheet, and situational bonuses.
                      Not... really? It says that is expected in situations that are difficult for the Band so that things don't get stuck without a way forward, not that the combat rules are designed specifically to cause this result.
                      Maybe, but that's not how I read this bit in the book.

                      "Antagonists often have high Defenses; failing to hit them in combat generates Momentum, which allows you to boost dice pools, which allows you to beat their Defense."
                      Why? If your group is struggling to enjoy things... why are you putting them in situations where things like their Specialties don't apply? That's not secret knowledge. Whether it's earning Momentum faster or getting that extra +1e, if they were in situations where they got to use the stuff on their sheet more, I'm pretty sure they'd enjoy it more.
                      They're using their specialties. But not for combat. None of them have specialties that help with combat in a broad way. "Blending in", or "Languages" aren't exactly the sort of thing that make you hit harder (Although, interestingly, the combat character is built to hit things with sticks, but is actually better at pistol whipping, thanks to her Firearms specialty). And I'm not convinced that failing the their specialties for more Momentum will feel better than failing at the things they're not supposed to be as good at. It's mechanically better, but it really feeds into the 'feel bad' nature of the combat
                      Sage's Master of the World is insanely good.
                      Yeah, I'd missed that one. If I had a Sage, I'd be pushing them for that Knack for sure.
                      Last edited by Tarion; 06-04-2018, 04:51 PM.

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                      • #12
                        This is the exact reason that I changed how specialties work at my table. I basically ask them the question "Could any of your specialties provide a benefit to this roll?" If yes then they get a +1e. If they then fail the roll then I check the parent skill they rolled and if they had 3 dots or more in the skill then they gain a additional momentum. I also let my players buy specialties for skills that are below 3 dots to show limited knowledge in a focused topic.

                        This lets the guy with a specialty in swords get his 1e on an attack as well as the guy who has a specialty in gang knowledge for knowing a general idea of how thugs fight. It makes sure people don't need to entirely rely on momentum and teamwork rolls in order to feel like they are doing something.

                        That being said, the version we saw of Scion does have its fair share of mechanical issues... but I'm refraining pretty heavily till I see the next version of the rules we get. It does feel like u need to really optimize characters if you want to be able to have any sort of action sequences without the rocky vibe or a room full a mooks.

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                        • #13
                          Honestly? Don't actually run Origins Tier unless you're specifically running a game about mortals (E.G think Call of Cthullu supernatural investigators, but with more recognizable mythology.) If you're planning on playing a game about SCIONS, it's best to start them out as SCIONS. Not only will a combat focused game (what most tables are honestly expecting) be more fun from the get-go, but it widens the range of viable character concepts, both fluff-wise and crunch-wise. On the fluff-side, scions who were MADE exceptional and/or given a second chance by their visitations, such as paraplegics being healed during their visitation, an aging veteran given new vitality by the activation of his divine ichor, or a child given supernatural prowess by divine intervention Henshin/Magnical-Girl style. On the crunch-side, a number of "builds" in the new system don't "turn on" until heroic tier, because the ways in which they contribute to a given type of conflict (physical/mental/social) is largely and overtly magical in nature, and not really available at origins. I've been running games of scion for about a decade, and a LOT of concepts that have come across my table would simply not have worked if I'd expected them to function (either mechanically or fluffwise) as mortals (OLD Viet-Nam veteran, who's drafted/adopted by Athena specifically to lead a young band, a slacker-stoner who accidentally achieves Daoist enlightenment and begins to spontaneously develop wuxia skills despite being a fat-loser, an MMA fighter who was disowned by Ares when he was paralyzed in the ring then adopted by Heaphestus out of equal parts sympathy and spite towards Ares and given a set of golden legs, a little girl who LOOKS physically weak but has dons a superhero costume and channels Shango to clean up her neigborhood... to name a few.)

                          On top of that, you've got the issue of bending over backwards to shoehorn-in reasons for the band to come together as a cohesive force, while games that start at hero can have their godly parents/patrons literally putting them together as a task-force for a specific purpose.

                          ​Finally, crafting your personal pre-visitation mythological quest, complete with modern-day analogues/call-backs/allusions-to various myths of your pantheon as a writing exercise is one of the most fun parts of character creation, and one of the most helpful tools in getting a player in-character and invested in their character, and I wouldn't want to deprive my players of that. For many, the session zero where we share our pre-visitation-fiction (or don't, if they want to remain mysterious) is one of the more fun days of a cycle.

                          ​It's cool that there is a system with which to do it (and with which to play divine investigators, and with which to play divine scoobie-doo, and with which to play a game about young kitsune etc...it's actually quite good at running a number of kinds of games that AREN'T about scions,) but actually running the visitation-quests of scions throws the same sort of monkey-wrench in the narrative gears that actually running the abduction and escape does to a nWoD Changeling game.

                          ​Origins works well as a core system for other books, and as a side-game, and I get why it made sense from an organizational stand-point to separate it from the other books, but if you're trying to run a game about the heroic cycles of scions, it takes a lot of massaging to get the expected feels. The story of a godspawn may well start before their visitation, and while every part may be fun to READ, not every part is fun to PLAY; I LOVED the opening chapters in American Gods, before Shadow met Mr Wednesday, but I wouldn't want to play through those chapters in TTRPG form.

                          ​HOWEVER: Origins really does shine in stories that are specifically about mortals in a world with the divine (hidden or otherwise.) Just remember, you may be investigating a hydra-cult, who use its toxin for assassinations, but you no more want to actually fight a hydra in open combat than a band of CoC investigators want to fight a Mythos-Creature. I've only run a couple of one-shots of "Divine Investigators" but it's work out REALLY WELL so far... I just don't ever see it being about heroic Beowulf analogues fighting Grendel analogues... that's what Hero is for. I'm NOT saying Origins shouldn't exist, just that it's NOT good for running games about Scions, ESPECIALLY combat-focused games... it's good at lots of other things instead.

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                          • #14
                            Origins work really well as a prologue to a Scions game. But if you follow the XP gain, you'll be into Hero pretty quickly and picking up powers. Mortals and most denizens can get up to Legend 4 without problem. A lot of denizens can get up to Legend 8 and we don't have rules for that yet. And any mortal or denizen can also be chosen by a God to become a scion even if they weren't born with godly blood.

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