Alright. We’re three session in already so I need to start writing up the sessions of my seriously awesome Smallville game before I start forgetting too much. As we’re three sessions in the first few episodes will be a bit scanty.
The concept we began with was to make our characters Gods, the central members of a mythological pantheon. Smallville works really well for this, because, as I discuss in my review, it’s a game about relationships and bickering. Gods are famous for bickering, and also can do anything, so it matters less than usual that the system puts all the emphasis on emotional wrangling and almost none on Physically Doing Things. You don’t need to roll to rain down lightning and thunder when that’s just what you do all day.
Smallville is also good for Gods because it lets you start with an entirely blank slate and define things as you go. This allowed us to be whatever kind of Gods we wanted to be, and thus really feel like world-shapers. Indeed, we decided from the get-go that it would be as above, so below, which means whenever we established something was true in our backstory, it became part of the history of the world and its peoples beneath us.
However, after moving through almost all the chargen steps we had an incredibly complicated backstory and mythology, and I’m not going to re-tell it all here. You can read it on the game website on Obsidian Portal here, but for now I’m just going to hit the briefest highlights and bring the rest out as and when it becomes important.
The world turned out to be a bronze-age kind of world, but in a land of great plains and rivers, not unlike the pre-colonial world of North America. Once upon a time, the people (aka the Second Peoples, aka the Volanyi, lived in the far north, but then they came south, conquered the people of the plains, and built a much greater civilisation, harnessing the agriculture of the new land with their new-found skills in iron and bronze-smithing.
Mythologically, there was once the Cold, and in it where the Kalakaq, or the Rimeblood, the giants/titans of before. There were also the Three, the parent gods if you will. Rokan was Lord of Chaos, Ankar the Lady of Order, and Zyz, God of The Change Between. Rokan and Ankar tried to make people and it didn’t work because there was no warmth. So Ankar made warmth and put it in the sky (which Rokan had made) so the people could be warm. At the same time, Ankar and Chaos became one and formed a unity called The Balance. They were separate Gods still but linked and forever changed. They had a daughter who represented their Love.
Meanwhile Zyz had three children: Korak and Ix, twin boys, and Lika, the younger girl. Korak was bigger and stronger and more warlike and was feted to one day be king of the Gods and marry Always, just as Rokan had wed Ankar. But that was far off. The Rimeblood grew angry about the warmth and kidnapped Korak. He returned, however, carrying his half sister Sky, who was Rokan’s first daughter, long-time prisoner of the Rimeblood. Her only friend in her captivity was a Rimeblood called Teyamaq who Rokan agreed could sit in the sky with her and keep her company up there (he’s basically the moon).
For his efforts, Korak was given the Brass Palace and the throne within it, brass being a new gift from Zyz below to the returned king. Jealous of his brother’s power, Ix felt the need to be MORE wild, so he stole some of Rokan’s Chaotic essence. Zyz saw his son steal the essence but told Rokan he had done it himself. Rokan banished his brother Zyz to the underworld, and stripped him of his power over Death; Death instead was given to Always. Ix’s wildness let loose the great beasts on the world and together, he and Korak rounded them up and drove them into the Pit. The two also stood together, equal in strength and fury, when Ulyuq, Lord of Frosts tried once again to conquer the world – and was defeated.
During this battle, a man appeared and warned Korak that in battle he could lose his ability to have children, and so convinced Korak to leave one testicle with him for safekeeping. That man was known as Smith (or The Smith) and had begun as mortal, but when he found himself in love with Lika, he had set out to become a God. He learnt the arts of metal from Zyz which he spread on the world making it in his image, and with the essence of Korak, he became like a God. As final proof of his divinity, he tricked Ulyuq into falling into the Pit, where he waits and plots his revenge.
And so the five were, and time passed, and the world knew them as the chief gods. The time of the Three passed and the Five were ascendant. They chose champions, they took servants, they crafted the world below and watched how it went. And then…
Our cast of Leads:
Aristeia, solitary and scarred Goddess of the Skies
Always, the inscrutable and inevitable Goddess of Love and Death
Korak, intemperate and mighty God of War
Ix, petulant and unpredictable God of Wild
Smith, the trickster God of Metal and Manipulation