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  • And if thieves walk among the Gods? Campaign Type Idea

    Tlotoxl(Priest of Sacrifice): How shall a man know his gods?

    Barbara (Companion of the 1st Doctor): By the signs of their divinity.

    Tlotoxl: And if thieves walk among the Gods?

    Barbara: Ah then, how shall a man know?

    This is from The Aztecs the fifth Doctor Who story. It suggests an interesting type of Scion campaign, those that challenge Men, Fate, and the Gods.

    Although modern critics slam Barbara as racist her goal was, at the base, noble. She saw and passionately loved the beauty and wisdom of the Aztec culture. Finding herself in Mexico during the life of the Aztec Empire, she decided to save all that was good and noble in Aztec society. Her plan was to end human sacrifice and to reform Aztec society to withstand the Spanish. In that, she set herself against the Gods. Picture a time traveler in a Scion campaign. A time traveler as willful, brave, great-hearted, resourceful, and stubborn as Barbara. Even the Gods would have something to fear.

    Barbara, for all her many faults, is the champion of Justice, Hope, and Love. Tlotoxl, for all his vanity and cruelty, is the champion of History, Piety, and the Gods. This ought to let you see how complex such a campaign can be.

    Characters of many kinds can challenge the Gods. Some will be villains, but those like Barbara, driven by virtue and a hunger for justice are far more interesting foes.

    But let's flip the script. Instead of playing a Scion of the Gods, why not play a mortal who is in conflict with the Gods? The champions of Hope, Honor, Love, Justice, Freedom, History, or even Fate itself? There are powers beyond Gods, Titans, and Fate, that can and will challenge the children of the gods. For either side, it sounds like an epic campaign.

    What are your reactions and ideas?

  • #2
    Hm.

    The primary challenge im reading here for Barbara, would be to figure out how to prevent the universe/the sun/the earth from shutting down if there are no more sacrifices.
    (Ive seen exactly no doctor who episodes ever so its possible they solve the problem in the episode).


    Completed campaign: Scion 2nd Edition. Les Légendes Currently playing: Being a dad for a 3 year old daughter and a 2 years old son and now a beautiful new baby.

    Comment


    • #3
      Right the primary issue I see is this presupposes that the Gods are wrong and therefore worthy of being overthrown. That can be argued in some cases but I'd be careful about just assuming that every pantheon is like that.

      Because yeah, the main issue with your example in the context of a Scion game is that it declares that the Teotl don't have good reasons in needing sacrifices, that their religion is just wrong for demanding such things. Like yes, from an objective perspective you can say that human sacrifice is bad, but if you're going into a game that presupposes that all myths are true, its kind of disingenuous to then declare that a large part of that belief is completely wrong because it's distasteful from a modern perspective.

      Also on a personal note I've got some reservations about the plot of that Doctor Who episode as you describe it. Like I get the idea of saving the Mexica people from the horrors of Cortez and Colonization. I have less sympathy for the notion that somehow it's the Aztec's fault that they were conquered and that to stop those horrors they need to be the ones that change their society. Like why exactly did Barbara not decide to go and stop the Conquistadors instead? It seems more than a little ethnocentric and gets into White Savior narratives to have her just declare that she's going to "fix" a society that is not her own because she wants to save them, but only the version that conforms to her notions of how they should act.

      Comment


      • #4
        To echo the others here, this campaign idea has a lot of ways it can trip and fall into unsavory narratives, because the central thrust of it is "And the Teotl are bad and must be opposed"

        Like, from a modern perspective, the Teotl do seem rather brutal, with their demand of sacrifice. But a look like this ignores several things.

        First of all, they don't demand sacrifice because it amuses them. The spilled blood and the offerings are the fuel that keeps everything going and keeps the sun burning. So for the sake of Scion's assumptions, this is true as well. No Offerings, even if their context may have changed somewhat in the modern day (Willing sacrifices only? Maybe gang wars where both sides understand "Look losers get their hearts cut out, everyone agrees") will mean a weakened Sun.

        Secondly, they don't demand more than they're willing to give. The blood and flesh of the Gods become the water, land, and maize that nourish the mortals. The mortals pay the Gods, and the Gods pay the mortals. It's a cyclical relationship. That's why the name for the Teotl PSP translates to "Debt Repayment".

        And if you must play a game where your stance is "The gods are assholes and we're gonna be righteous", then the Saint expansions in Saints & Monsters will probably be suited for you. I admit I find most games that take the stance of "The Gods are corrupt and we must oppose them" to be inherently distasteful and will refrain from running such a game. Like, even in the initial pitch, the modern enlightened human is cast as the champions of Justice, Hope, and Love. Implicitly casting the Gods as not those things.

        Especially the Teotl, who bleed and burn and carve from themselves to protect and care for their mortals. Arguably almost as much as the Deva do. To try and make a campaign that centers around the implicit notion that the Gods as a whole... Not particular Gods that may be Problems, not even One Particular Set of Gods who historically would very much not like mortals (as Watcher will tell me the Tuatha de Danann fit into) but Gods In General are the ones who must be opposed for what is Good and Hopeful and Kind to prevail? Not gonna lie, that feels gross to me.

        (And if anybody wants to fuckin' @ me over this, I'm not gatekeeping and I'm definitely not gonna stop anybody from running this game. BUT I feel like I'd be doing everyone involved a disservice if I didn't note "Yo bro may want to keep an eye on this, this, and this, because it can easily fall into something else pro-imperialist under the intention of fighting off imperialism)

        I am, however, entirely onboard with an alternate history game where you play Scions of the appropriate Meso, Central, or South American Pantheons and your stated goal is fucking up some colonizers. Fuck yeah. It's a historical game, run that shit right off the rails. You don't even need to be a time traveler to get in on that. It sounds like blast.
        Last edited by Kyman201; 08-27-2020, 02:06 AM.


        Disclaimer: In favor of fun and enjoyment, but may speak up to warn you that you're gonna step on a metaphorical land mine

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Ravian View Post
          Right the primary issue I see is this presupposes that the Gods are wrong and therefore worthy of being overthrown. That can be argued in some cases but I'd be careful about just assuming that every pantheon is like that.

          Because yeah, the main issue with your example in the context of a Scion game is that it declares that the Teotl don't have good reasons in needing sacrifices, that their religion is just wrong for demanding such things. Like yes, from an objective perspective you can say that human sacrifice is bad, but if you're going into a game that presupposes that all myths are true, its kind of disingenuous to then declare that a large part of that belief is completely wrong because it's distasteful from a modern perspective.

          Also on a personal note I've got some reservations about the plot of that Doctor Who episode as you describe it. Like I get the idea of saving the Mexica people from the horrors of Cortez and Colonization. I have less sympathy for the notion that somehow it's the Aztec's fault that they were conquered and that to stop those horrors they need to be the ones that change their society. Like why exactly did Barbara not decide to go and stop the Conquistadors instead? It seems more than a little ethnocentric and gets into White Savior narratives to have her just declare that she's going to "fix" a society that is not her own because she wants to save them, but only the version that conforms to her notions of how they should act.
          First off, Barbara was traveling with the first Doctor and arrived places and times randomly. So it was Hobson's Choice.

          More importantly, why assume the Gods are wrong? A noble hearted hero who has got it wrong is high drama.

          Also, why shouldn't the gods be wrong from time to time?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Kyman201 View Post
            To echo the others here, this campaign idea has a lot of ways it can trip and fall into unsavory narratives, because the central thrust of it is "And the Teotl are bad and must be opposed"

            Like, from a modern perspective, the Teotl do seem rather brutal, with their demand of sacrifice. But a look like this ignores several things.

            First of all, they don't demand sacrifice because it amuses them. The spilled blood and the offerings are the fuel that keeps everything going and keeps the sun burning. So for the sake of Scion's assumptions, this is true as well. No Offerings, even if their context may have changed somewhat in the modern day (Willing sacrifices only? Maybe gang wars where both sides understand "Look losers get their hearts cut out, everyone agrees&quot will mean a weakened Sun.

            Secondly, they don't demand more than they're willing to give. The blood and flesh of the Gods become the water, land, and maize that nourish the mortals. The mortals pay the Gods, and the Gods pay the mortals. It's a cyclical relationship. That's why the name for the Teotl PSP translates to "Debt Repayment".

            And if you must play a game where your stance is "The gods are assholes and we're gonna be righteous", then the Saint expansions in Saints & Monsters will probably be suited for you. I admit I find most games that take the stance of "The Gods are corrupt and we must oppose them" to be inherently distasteful and will refrain from running such a game. Like, even in the initial pitch, the modern enlightened human is cast as the champions of Justice, Hope, and Love. Implicitly casting the Gods as not those things.

            Especially the Teotl, who bleed and burn and carve from themselves to protect and care for their mortals. Arguably almost as much as the Deva do. To try and make a campaign that centers around the implicit notion that the Gods as a whole... Not particular Gods that may be Problems, not even One Particular Set of Gods who historically would very much not like mortals (as Watcher will tell me the Tuatha de Danann fit into) but Gods In General are the ones who must be opposed for what is Good and Hopeful and Kind to prevail? Not gonna lie, that feels gross to me.

            (And if anybody wants to fuckin' @ me over this, I'm not gatekeeping and I'm definitely not gonna stop anybody from running this game. BUT I feel like I'd be doing everyone involved a disservice if I didn't note "Yo bro may want to keep an eye on this, this, and this, because it can easily fall into something else pro-imperialist under the intention of fighting off imperialism)

            I am, however, entirely onboard with an alternate history game where you play Scions of the appropriate Meso, Central, or South American Pantheons and your stated goal is fucking up some colonizers. Fuck yeah. It's a historical game, run that shit right off the rails. You don't even need to be a time traveler to get in on that. It sounds like blast.
            As I said before, it isn't about the GM assuming the gods are jerks, or simply wrong, it's about the PCs making that assumption.

            Barbara has been slammed hard before, yet her goal is nobel. Both Barbara and the gods could be partially in the right and partially wrong. Maybe your Scion gets them to make peace.

            Also, why focus only on the TV episode. Are the Aztec gods the only ones that a human being might be justifiably angry with?

            Picture a young Dalit woman deciding the Caste system is racist garbage and must go. She, like Barbara, is a champion of Hope, Justice, and Love.

            Will you side with her or the Gods?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Astromancer View Post
              Although modern critics slam Barbara as racist her goal was, at the base, noble.
              I'm with the modern critics on this one. (Also I'm pretty certain that if you asked some of the ancient Aztecs to criticize Barbara you'd get much the same response, so blaming this on modernity is a little disingenuous)

              Originally posted by Astromancer View Post
              She saw and passionately loved the beauty and wisdom of the Aztec culture.
              A wisdom she clearly did not understand in the least for reasons already pointed out earlier in the thread.

              Originally posted by Astromancer View Post
              Finding herself in Mexico during the life of the Aztec Empire, she decided to save all that was good and noble in Aztec society.
              And who was she to make this judgement of a culture she is neither a part of, nor has taken the time to understand?

              Originally posted by Astromancer View Post
              Her plan was to end human sacrifice and to reform Aztec society to withstand the Spanish.
              Yes, because clearly a time-traveller's answer to the Spanish Conquest is 'you need to change yourself' as if they were in fucking Grease.

              Originally posted by Astromancer View Post
              In that, she set herself against the Gods.
              And the People she claims to love, and the life of the Universe itself.

              Originally posted by Astromancer View Post
              Picture a time traveler in a Scion campaign.
              I am... somehow the first idea coming to mind is not 'let's educate the natives about their sinful ways.'

              Originally posted by Astromancer View Post
              A time traveler as willful, brave, great-hearted, resourceful, and stubborn as Barbara.
              Those are strange ways to spell stupid, closed-minded, interfering and arrogant.

              Originally posted by Astromancer View Post
              Even the Gods would have something to fear.
              Yes... the end of their people and the Universe itself that they worked so hard to keep going.
              Last edited by Samudra; 08-27-2020, 12:29 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Now I’m not the biggest expert on the Hinduisms, but I recall that plenty of the gods are against the caste system or at least don’t particularly care at all about it. Also there’s a big difference between an insider of a culture changing the culture, and an outsider trying to change the culture

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Astromancer View Post
                  Picture a young Dalit woman deciding the Caste system is racist garbage and must go. She, like Barbara, is a champion of Hope, Justice, and Love.

                  Will you side with her or the Gods?
                  You say that like there's a difference (Not to mention that she, unlike Barbara, is a member of the culture in question and working with a much better understanding of her situation that Barbara is evidencing)

                  Originally posted by Devi Gita
                  "NOW BE ATTENTIVE while I explain the highest kind of devotion....
                  One who constantly listens to my virtues and recites my names,
                  Who is firmly intent on me, a treasury of auspicious qualities,
                  Whose concentration is ever steady like a continuous flow of oil,
                  Who has no ulterior motive at all in these actions,
                  Having no desire for liberation in any form-whether living in my presence, sharing my powers, merging into me, or dwelling in my heaven
                  Who knows absolutely nothing better than serving me,
                  Cherishing the notion of servant and master and thus not aspiring even for liberation,
                  Who enthusiastically thinks of me alone with supreme affection,
                  Knowing me truly as never separate from oneself, not acknowledging any difference,
                  Who thinks of beings as embodiments of myself, loving other selves as one's own Self;
                  Who makes no false distinctions, realizing the universality of pure consciousness,
                  My omnipresent essence manifested in all beings everywhere at all times,
                  Who honors and respects even the lowest outcaste, 0 Lord,
                  Discarding any sense of difference and thus wishing harm to no one,
                  ...
                  Such a person practices devotion deemed supreme,
                  In which there is no thought of anything except me, the Goddess.
                  The person in whom such supreme devotion truly arises, 0 Mountain,
                  Then dissolves into my essential nature of pure consciousness."
                  Last edited by Samudra; 08-27-2020, 10:46 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Incidentally, this seems at least partly based on the idea that the Aztecs (or at least their faith) were wiped out... which is not true, the Aztec Gods continue to receive sacrifice even today, only of chickens, on the basis that humans are made of Maize, and chickens eat Maize, and therefore the two are equivalent for sacrifice... this is an excellent example of how cultures change and evolve by themselves without an external Peggy Sue turning up and trying to 'save the good parts'; and it is much more fascinating this way as a story too.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Astromancer View Post
                      Barbara has been slammed hard before, yet her goal is nobel
                      Of course she means well. That's the insidious part. But it still boils down to "Hey, not white people, you're going to be destroyed by a colonizing force unless you listen to me, comma, another white person and ignore your gods, who may or may not be a representation of your primitive culture. Don't worry, I, comma, a well-intentioned white person, am going to tell you, comma, a bunch of natives I'm treating as lowly people who need to be uplifted, how to live your life. In opposition of your gods, your history, and your culture."

                      That's not much better than destroying one's culture out of malice. And you may backpedal with your "Oh look the PCs going against the Gods may be mistaken as well-" it rings a bit hollow when the first post presupposes that the PCs have generally positive qualities attributed to them (Love, justice, hope, honor) which, again, implicitly casts the Gods as not those things.

                      If you're going to cast two sides in the conflict as "The Divine Legion of Tradition, Stuffiness, and All Social Ills" and "The Scrappy Underdogs Who Just Want Good Things" then it feels disingenuous if you try to respond to people pointing out the unfairness by going "Well the Scrappy Underdogs may be mistaken"

                      Like, you wrote those words. You picked the qualities to attribute to each side. The writers of that Doctor Who episode picked how to frame each side. I'm not going to attribute deliberate malice to them, they may have even wanted to write a narrative out of purely good intentions. It's just that what they WROTE was "An enlightened (white) woman from the future arrives and stands in opposition to the Gods of the Aztec empire because they're part of the reason Cortez won" instead of "Taking the Tardis and altering Cortez's map so that he gets lost and never finds the Americas"


                      Disclaimer: In favor of fun and enjoyment, but may speak up to warn you that you're gonna step on a metaphorical land mine

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I would say Barbara was pretty enlightened and she always opposed needless death if she saw it. Since no one bothered to educate her otherwise from the culture about the why’s she might be forgiven. Also that particular story made me really look at Ian who was one badass school teacher and serious renaissance man.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Kyman201 View Post

                          Of course she means well. That's the insidious part. But it still boils down to "Hey, not white people, you're going to be destroyed by a colonizing force unless you listen to me, comma, another white person and ignore your gods, who may or may not be a representation of your primitive culture. Don't worry, I, comma, a well-intentioned white person, am going to tell you, comma, a bunch of natives I'm treating as lowly people who need to be uplifted, how to live your life. In opposition of your gods, your history, and your culture."

                          That's not much better than destroying one's culture out of malice. And you may backpedal with your "Oh look the PCs going against the Gods may be mistaken as well-" it rings a bit hollow when the first post presupposes that the PCs have generally positive qualities attributed to them (Love, justice, hope, honor) which, again, implicitly casts the Gods as not those things.

                          If you're going to cast two sides in the conflict as "The Divine Legion of Tradition, Stuffiness, and All Social Ills" and "The Scrappy Underdogs Who Just Want Good Things" then it feels disingenuous if you try to respond to people pointing out the unfairness by going "Well the Scrappy Underdogs may be mistaken"

                          Like, you wrote those words. You picked the qualities to attribute to each side. The writers of that Doctor Who episode picked how to frame each side. I'm not going to attribute deliberate malice to them, they may have even wanted to write a narrative out of purely good intentions. It's just that what they WROTE was "An enlightened (white) woman from the future arrives and stands in opposition to the Gods of the Aztec empire because they're part of the reason Cortez won" instead of "Taking the Tardis and altering Cortez's map so that he gets lost and never finds the Americas"
                          It's fascinating how little you follow your own advice. I mean the words you follow every posting with. Yes, Barbara is making many mistakes. But I admitted that and pointed out that either or both sides of this or any other conflict can be wrong but you have judged me and found me wanting again, but then your specialty is passing judgement.

                          Still, even if it offends you in the way this whole game will always offend conservative and/or reactionary religious and cultural types, the idea of figures like Ulysses, Barbara, Gilgamesh, Jacob, Medea, and others who struggle with Men, Fate, and the Gods, are important mythic figures. And this game is about playing with and as myth.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            My old signature was meant along the lines of "I wouldn't play Dragonbloods with those rules, but whatever", it wasn't written with the intention of ignoring someone going "I'm going to make a campaign that's about going against Gods and specifically cite a really fucking racist episode of a show and use that as a POSITIVE example".


                            Disclaimer: In favor of fun and enjoyment, but may speak up to warn you that you're gonna step on a metaphorical land mine

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Samudra View Post
                              Incidentally, this seems at least partly based on the idea that the Aztecs (or at least their faith) were wiped out... which is not true, the Aztec Gods continue to receive sacrifice even today, only of chickens, on the basis that humans are made of Maize, and chickens eat Maize, and therefore the two are equivalent for sacrifice... this is an excellent example of how cultures change and evolve by themselves without an external Peggy Sue turning up and trying to 'save the good parts'; and it is much more fascinating this way as a story too.
                              No, it's based on the idea that playing a person in opposition to the Gods can be dramatic and interesting. Then you and Kyman201 decided my post was only about the Aztecs rather than the Doctor Who episode the Aztecs being a fine example of the possibilities of such a campaign.

                              Barbara, because she is both heroic and profoundly flawed, is a truely dramatic character. You may be blind to it, but she's a truely grand model for an antagonist.

                              But if your version of the game is ritual devotion to your gods, have your fun. But don't demand my conformity. I suggested a type of campaign. I did not proclaim people now had to do it my way.

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