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As Neall would say: Greetings, true believers! Meghan here, to share with you a high-level preview of what’s going into Scion: Mysteries of the World, the companion book to Origin and Hero. Remember that the book is still in first drafts, so anything and everything is subject to change! But this is what Neall and I have worked out for the outline, and what the writers are currently busy working on.
Chapter One: Myth Level
The Myth Level is five options along four axes of design, meant to allow the Storyguide to choose how many of Scion’s setting “dials” they want to crank. This chapter lays out what each of those dials looks like at each of the five Myth Levels. Those Myth Levels are:
- Iron: Perfectly mundane. Very similar in nature and tone to Gaiman’s American Gods, where ifriti are cab drivers, Odhinn is a shiftless wandering con man, and Chernobog and the goddesses of dawn, midday and evening are poor immigrants scraping by in a shitty apartment in Chicago.
- Heroic: Mostly mundane, but with room for great acts of heroism. Most supernatural creatures still have mundane manifestations here (that centaur is still just a biker here), but Scions and gods may appear as impressive and tremendous – Aphrodite isn’t some burnt out barfly here, she’s drop-dead gorgeous and probably on fashion covers. This is the level of the Iliad and the Odyssey.
- Bronze: This is where the supernatural really comes into play. Creatures of Legend shed their mundane disguises in areas of Bronze Myth, and appear in their true nature. Magic becomes overt here, and Demigods wield their true power. This is Clash of the Titans territory, and there might just actually be dragons in that undetailed area of the map.
- Silver: Past the threshold of urban myth and getting into epic fantasy, places of Silver Myth are deeply resonant with Myth. They are often fanciful places and hidden vales of magic technically found in the World, but not of it. The power of a creature of Legend is reflected in its appearance – the mightier the entity, the more impressive it appears. Zelazny’s Lord of Light goes into this area of Myth in its narrative.
- Gold: Flat-out mythological, where symbolism is the same as its reality. Places of Gold Myth are not even of this World. Lots of Scion 1e went into this territory, with its otherworldly locales, and lots of fantasy that touches on extradimensional areas and the like qualify.
The trick is this: you should be able to choose a starting Myth Level and then turn each dial up or down within that level to taste. So, for instance, as Storyguide I might choose to start at the Iron Level but crank the Titanomachy up, turning American Gods into a raging shadow war that you have to keep peeling back layers of the World to see.
Chapter Two: Cults
This chapter covers mortal interactions with Scions. We’re drilling down on both a Hero’s function as intermediary with the divine, and the propensity of people to directly worship the Scion.
One of the main questions we get is, “What do Scions do?” and the answer is, besides fighting monsters, they intercede between humans and the divine and act as mortal champions — as people at the forefront of societies. This causes Hero cults to form around our protagonists, small offshoots of their parent’s cult and the larger faith. These can get borderline heretical and nearly to the level of cults of personality, with various people assuming positions of importance to the cult and the Scion.
We’ll also have a basic system for how the cults — a new type of Birthright — can do things for the Scion and vice versa. This includes creating a cult and its SG characters: prominent positions, roles, and the like.
Chapter Three: Pantheons
First, we’ll present the Loa, to update the Gods who weren’t carried over into Hero’s Òrìshà Pantheon, and depict how the practice of Voudoun differs from the religion and practices there.
Next, we’ll give a full Pantheon write-up for the Nemetondevos, the lost (but to be once again found) Gods of Gaul. The Nemetondevos were, as a Pantheon, destroyed by Julius Caesar after his progression to Demigod and as part of the Deeds he performed to earn his apotheosis. Several Gods and many of their Scions were slain, their followers enslaved and put to the sword, their shrines upon the nemetons broken and destroyed. Some managed to flee and survive Caesar’s wrath. The others retreated to the Gaulish Underworld, Dubnolissos, where they licked their wounds and awaited the wheel of reincarnation to return them to the World.
Then, a full 2e write-up for the Yazata: the Zoroastrian Gods of Persia. Because their Gods are pretty much all dedicated to upholding the idea of fighting as the Side of Good against the Forces of Evil, they have a much higher per-capita representation of concepts like righteousness and holiness, justice and law, and purity that fights corruption. They also equate righteousness with truth, so anything that is true is righteous and good, and anything that is a lie is evil and contemptible.
Finally, this chapter will give one additional God write-up for each of the 10 Pantheons in Hero, and talk a bit more about Mantles and how they manifest.
Chapter Four: Pantheon Creation
This chapter does two things: presents rules for how to create your own Purviews, including some samples, and then walks the reader through a Pantheon creation exercise using the fictional Gods of Atlantis as an example.
Chapter Five: Expanded Relics
This chapter does a few things: expands the crafting rules from Origin and the relic design rules from Hero with more advice; walks through a more detailed in-character process for creating relics, including using the Forge Purview to do so and examples of what its Marvels can do in crafting; and presents detailed play examples. We’ll also have a few new example relics.
Chapter Six: Translation Guide
This chapter focuses on how to translate elements of Scion 1st Edition into 2e, including creating a character in the new system from an established character, with examples; and addressing system and setting changes, like creating new Purviews from the rest of the Epic Attributes and discussing the revised role of Fate and Titans in the World.
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With the current setup I feel we are more then ready, teachnically, to meet the demands of a great community again in 2018. The basis has been there for many years of course, but with some additions we now have a very capable platform to stand on:
The forums are state of the art and the best community forum software out there. It has all the features needed to make sure we have an engaging experience. With good membership functions such as user groups, private messages and all the editing tools needed this is a strong foundation to build from. New views can be chosen depending on how you want to see the forums: list view which is the old view, block view give a different approach to that view and then topic view that should you the updated topics based on your selection of forums to keep track of.
Clubs is a new standard function and it allow for creating your own little space on Shadownessence. Its perfect for creating communities inside communities such as your own gaming club, a RPG chronicle club, an art club or a writing club to mention a few versions. Every club can have their own discussion areas, galleries, download, blogs and calendars of course. Clubs can be open to anyone, private so no one even can find them without invitation or public but you need to be invited.
An old feature that is maturing a bit with features such as RSVP so you know who will join or not. You can even set up a RSVP limit if you have an event with limited seats. You can create venues if you have frequent events in the same location, like your gaming HQ. I have added a community calendar for pretty much anything and also a special calendar for events. This allow you to add your events so you may get some attention to your events.
A much appreciated function has returned and we now need to rebuild it again. I have reached out to our old patrons and will contact the artists I have on my personal social networks as well. We have a lot of good artists in the community so hopefully some of them will add their creations from Deviant Art and other places. I will contact the V5 art director Mary Lee as well to see if I can lure her in here as well with her great art.
It's in a terrible shape, but the function is there. I have contacted @MrGonev5 to ask permission to add his extensive collection of character sheets as we had in the past. I will also see if we can get some permission for the WoD fonts and other things that can be of use for you. Eventually the plan is to create a few skins for these forums as well that can be used for creating your own community. It's work in progress though and it will take a while to beck into shape.
A new section with two purposes: List every single book available to purchase from drivethrurpg.com and to let you sell and buy items you are missing from your collection. I have added sections for some optional categories as well, such as books, magazines, games and of course art for our talented artists. As this is a very new section for Shadownessence we'll see how this will evolve and how we should set it up. Right now it's setup with a $1 fee for each transaction to support the site, but that might very well be removed if we see that it's hurting the users in any way.
The Videos section (with Twitch support)
Another rather new feature where I was amazed over how much content there are out there! I found some great video creators, and not just the official ones, and I think this can be a fun feature to have. It's fast and easy to add new videos and for those that are active on Twitch we have support for live streaming as well. As the new video games come out I am sure we will see new streamers and with this we have a good place to showcase them.
The blogs allow anyone to write, not just management. You can create group blogs, which is great for news and articles that you share with others. You can create your own blog for any number of reasons, like expressing your opinions on the upcoming V5 material, report on events or why not make it a character diary of sorts? In the World of darkness news blog I am using the RSS import feature to grab the latest news from WhiteWolf and Onyx Path so you always get the latest news with links t he original article.
The Raffles and Give Aways
If you remember a long time ago, we had Raffles to support the site and we got so much support from the WhiteWolf authors that donated books and other items. This funtionality is now back and it's open to anyone if you want to host a raffle or give away. I am looking into the best ways to use this to give away some books and other items together with for example drivethrurpg.com and WhiteWolf themselves. I think this can be something fun and hopefully we can get some traction on the old "Month of the" feature that we had a long time ago where we featured a certain system for a month.
Chat has always been a big deal as Shadownessence was created out of the old Dark City RPG chat created almost 20 years ago now. We have a Discord server setup thanks to @Amaranth and you can see a Discord Widget on the forum start page. I have added the user groups there so you should have the same user group there as on the forums. For now we are just having a good time chatting in the void, but we will for sure have game related sections soon and I also hear some whispers that we might have some IC RPG chat happening in the future....
That is just the beginning....
Visually these forums are using a purchased theme and as time permit I will look into making a custom skin for it. For now I will simply adjust the things that is already here and then time will tell when a new layout will be possible.
In the coming weeks we will get several new features in the 4.3 update from invision Community. These are coming with regular intervals as they have done for the past 15 years or so, but expect the blogs to have a much needed visual update and that the clubs functions can be seen in the forums and so on after that update.
- We now support Elasticsearch which is a search utility that allows for much faster and more reliable searching.
- The REST API now supports search functions.
- Both MySQL and Elasticsearch have new settings for the admin to use to set search-defaults and default content weighting to better customize search logic to your community.
- Visitors can now search for Content Pages and Commerce Products.
- When entering a search term, members now see a more clear interface so they know what areas they are searching in and the method of search.
- Commerce can now send a customizable account welcome email after checkout.
- You can whitelist emails in the spam service to stop false-positives.
- REST API has many enhancements to mange members.
- Ability to join any OAuth service for login management.
- Invision Community can now be an OAuth endpoint.
- Wordpress OAuth login method built in.
- Support for Google's Invisible ReCaptcha.
- Groups can be excluded from Leaderboard (such as admins or bot groups).
- All emails generated by Invision Community can now contain admin-defined extra promotional text in the footer such as recent topics, Our Picks, and more.
- Admins can now define the order of Complete Your Profile to better control user experience.
- Option to make a Club visible but invite-only
- Admins can set an option so any Club a member is part of will also show in the parent application. So if you are in a Club that has a Gallery tab then those image will show both in the Club and in the main Gallery section of the community.
- Club members can now follow an entire Club rather than just each content section.
- There is a new option on the Club directory page for a list view which is useful for communities with many Clubs.
- If you have Commerce you can now enable paid memberships to Clubs.
- Admins can set limits on number of Clubs per group.
- If a group has delete permission in their Club, they can now delete empty containers as well.
- Members can ignore invitations.
Moderation and Administration
- Unrestricted moderator or administrator permission sets in the AdminCP are visually flagged. This prevents administrator confusion when they cannot do something as they will be able to quickly see if their account has restrictions.
- You can choose to be notified with a new Club is created.
- Moderators can now reply to any content item with a hidden reply.
- Download screenshot/watermarks can now be rebuilt if you change settings.
- Support for Facebook Pixel to easily track visitors.
- Moderators can now delete Gallery albums.
- Automatic moderation tools with rules to define when content should auto-hide based on user reports.
- Totally new member management view in AdminCP.
- More areas are mass-selectable like comments and AdminCP functions for easier management.
- Commerce now has full Stripe support including fraud tools, Apple Pay, and other Stripe features.
- Commerce packages can now have various custom email events configured (expiring soon, purchased, expired).
- Full Emojii support in the editor.
- Setting so when someone is typing in an editor, other members will see a "Member X is typing..." status in the editor view.
- Complete overhaul of the Gallery upload and image views.
- Announcements system overhaul. Now global on all pages (not via widget) and new modes including dismissible announcements and top-header floating bar option.
- Many new reports on traffic and engagement in the AdminCP.
- Blog has new view modes to offer options for a traditional site blog or a community multi-member blog platform.
- The content-starter can now leave one reply to Reviews on their item.
- Commerce now makes it much easier to do basic account-subscriptions when there is no product attached.
- Forums has a new widget where you can filter by tags.
- If tags are not required, the tag input box now indicates this so the member knows they do not have to put in tags.
- Member cover photos can now be clicked to see the full image.
- Any item with a poll now has a symbol on the list view.
- Twitch.tv embed support.
- You can now update/overwrite media in the Pages Media Manager.
- Mapbox as an additional map provider to Google Maps.
- Direct support for Sparkpost has been removed. Anyone currently using Sparkpost will automatically have their settings converted to the Sparkpost SMTP mode so your email will still work.
- Your cache engines (like Redis) will be checked on upgrade and in the support tool to ensure they are reachable.
- Third-party applications will now be visually labeled to distinguish them from Invision Community official applications.
- The queued tasks list in the AdminCP is now collapsed by default as queued tasks are not something people need to pay much attention to during normal operations.
- When upgrading from version 3 series you must convert your database to UTF8 and the system saves your original data in tables prefixed with orig. The AdminCP now alerts you these are still present and allows you to remove them to reclaim storage space.
- On new installs there are now reasonable defaults for upload limits to keep people from eating up storage space.
- Categories in all apps (forums, gallery albums, databases, etc.) no longer allow HTML in their titles. This has been a concern both in terms of security and usability so we were forced to restrict it.
- Large improvements to the Redis cache engine including use for sessions.
- The login with HTTPS option has been removed and those who were using it will be given instructions to convert their entire community to HTTPS.
- Images loaded through the proxy system now honor image limits for normal uploads.
- We now consider BBCode deprecated. We are not removing support but will not fix any future issues that may come up.