• Anne

The Odyssey: November Update

You may have all noticed that we skipped our October update, but that was because we were hard at work! Let's take a look at where we are on our checklist:


A brown-tinted checklist showing an artistic representation of the Egyptian god Thoth writing on a scroll; the items "Conversations", "Egyptian Devotionals", "Greek Devotionals", "Steps of the Journey", and "Archetypes & Goals" have been crossed out

As you can see, we've been deep in the Devotional mines, cleaning up those powers that Heroes get directly from their patron gods and the pantheons they are part of. (It's probably worth noting that "pantheon" as a term doesn't really make sense for every mythology's gods, but it works pretty well for the ones in the core book and is useful shorthand, so we use it to mean "group of gods related by a common religion or story canon.") As I write this, the Egyptian and Greek rewrites are complete and we have about a third of the Norse mess under control, with the Hindu Devotional scheduled for after that.


But what, you ask, did we actually do? I'm so glad you want to know!


A black-and-white ink illustration of Beowulf, an old king in full Norse armor with a long beard, lying dying on top of the corpse of a dragon he has just slain, while his servant Wiglaf approaches

So... you okay, there, bro, or...


Stable Tragedies


This is a working name for this new mechanic because we haven't quite found the one that feels right yet (feel free to make suggestions!), but it's better than our original shorthand, "Tragedy Protection."


In essence, Stable Tragedies are cases in which a Hero rolls a Tragedy, but the roll doesn't automatically fail. The Tragedy still happens - a terrible disaster is befalling this Hero or those around them, because those are the breaks when it comes to the vagaries of sweet but whimsical fortune - but where a normal Tragedy ignores successes on the roll, a Stable Tragedy does not. If the roll was part of a cumulative or shared action, their successes can still count toward it; and if it was a solo roll, they can still even succeed at the action if they rolled enough successes, even if they fall down a manhole directly after.


Stable Tragedies aren't a common mechanic; they don't come up very often, but when they do, they're an important tool for making sure that players' most exciting powers and big moments can still be cool even when disaster strikes. Powers used during Lulls, for example, can only result in Stable Tragedies rather than regular ones, because it's just not very mythic (or particularly fun) when the one downtime action a character gets to have for an entire scene not only fails but also backfires. Some especially expensive powers also have Stable Tragedies built-in; when you only get to do something cool a couple of times over the entire Saga, it's nice to know that even if you fall off a cliff in the middle, you might still have been able to contribute.


Devotionals


Devotionals have been slightly reorganized; while they are still arranged in two "tracks", one corresponding to the pantheon's concept of heroism and divinity and the other to the practices and theology of their religion, these are no longer rigid in progression. Heroes can choose from either track each time, regardless of whether they chose one from the same track previously; it's less like choosing one of two highways and being stuck on it until it ends, and more like picking an apple from one of two trees each time.


Powers from the ritual and theology side of the equation have also been firmed up, mechanically speaking, and now all have to do with things the Hero can do during a Lull Episode. They can also be performed simultaneously if the Hero has more than one; playtesting has shown us that players were struggling to effectively use them alongside all their other options for their precious Lull actions, so this will hopefully prevent the dreaded feeling of having powers that can't be used.


An ancient Egyptian relief depicting four dark-skinned people on a boat, holding geese and cranes while more birds fly above them

Just your average five-Egyptian-Hero group all communally sumoning cranes, as you do


Egyptian Devotionals


The Egyptian Devotionals have retained most of their theological concepts and ideas, but have been extensively mechanically retooled. Some highlights include:

  • Heroes of the Egyptian pantheon still choose other Heroes to form magical partnerships and share some limited powers with; in addtion, they also have some new rules about more flexible ways of paying for those powers to help them act as a team.

  • The Divinity track now features the ability for the Egyptian Hero and their partner to gain more shared powers, temporarily share things with their entire group, and even prevent the negative effects of Tragedies on rare occasions.

  • The Ritual track now features powers allowing the Egyptian Hero to more easily regain resources, "bank" powers to be used later, and share their partnership bond with their entire group for short bursts of time.

In addition to the shared Devotionals all Egyptian Heroes have, the powers for individual gods in the pantheon have also been updated:

  • Anpu (Anubis) automatically heals their Hero's and their partner's worst wounds.

  • Aset (Isis) provides both partners with a wide variety of defensive benefits.

  • Bast grants additional resistance to mind control to both partners.

  • Dihauti (Thoth) allows both partners to reroll some of their powers for free.

  • Hathor automatically regenerates Inspiration for both partners.

  • Heru (Horus) automatically regenerates Motivation for both partners.

  • Nebethet (Nephthys) grants additional resistance to illusions and deception for both partners.

  • Ptah automatically repairs damage sustained by important items owned by one of the partners.

  • Ra grants both partners additional skill in specific areas of expertise.

  • Sekhmet automatically regenerates Brawn for both partners.

  • Set grants additional protection from physical attacks to both partners.

  • Sobek grants additional resistance to illness and toxins to both partners.

  • Wesir (Osiris) requires some loss of life energy from their Hero, but grants both partners additional skill in their Blessings.

(Yes, we are still talking about orthography when it comes to the reconstructed names of the Egyptian gods. I'm just going to keep putting the one that's more commonly known alongside the more accurate ones while we make final decisions.)


An ancient Greek black-and-orange amphora painting scene depicting the hunter Actaeon and several other Heroes discussing something

Have we tried just going ham? Like just utterly bananas? I have a good feeling about it


Greek Devotionals


There's been less change in the mechanics for the Greek Devotionals - the system is working well and we are tired enough without picking fights with mechanics that aren't already trying to duel us in the street. But less change is not no change:

  • Rules about how exploding 10s from Arete interact with rerolls have been clarified.

  • The Divinity track now grants more buffs to stats and the opportunity to mitigate the traditionally tragic life of your average Greek Hero with some Stable Tragedies.

  • The Ritual track no longer involves ritual intoxication (not because that isn't accurate for the ancient Greek religion, but because it's not widely applicable outside the mystery cults and made more sense for some gods than others), but now allows Heroes to be blessed with temporary magical tools from their patrons.

The individual god powers also got a makeover for the Greeks, but in a much more straightforward way: each god now grants one more additional area of expertise to their Hero. Y'all just got fancier.


A color painting of the Hindu heroine Draupadi making a disbelieving face while she is forced to marry the Pandavas, many men in helmets and turbans standing around her; in the distance, her father watches from his throne and the god Krishna watches where he hovers above them

Draupadi making the same face the playtesters do whenever we show up with patch notes


What's Next?


This section is slightly embarrassing to write, given that we did none of the things we said we'd do last time and instead did entirely different things we didn't even mention, but I can confidently say that we will be finishing the next Devotionals before we do anything else, since we're already in the middle of them. After that, I could pretty much copy and paste the sequence from last time: next up should be the final pass on the steps of the Hero's Journey, then the Flashback Episodes clean-up, and so on.


But all progress is good progress, so we're not going to argue with whatever muse of inspiration is feeling benevolent toward us. Meanwhile, feel free to drop in over on Twitch to see the playtesters tackle their new Devotionals. Until next time!

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