Gods of the Fall
What the…where did this game come from?
Where have I been these past months?
(Looks at schedule). Oooooooh…right…dying…
Anyway, this latest release for the Cypher system, which was derived from RPG legend Monte Cook’s Numenera, snuck up on me. Despite having a vague inkling that it was, in fact, a thing, I hadn’t paid it much mind due to the aforementioned life-cessation related activities. That said…it’s a doozy, done in the way that only Monte’s team could really do.
Grab your spark and get ready to Ascend: this is Gods of the Fall.
No Gods, Plenty of Masters
The gods are dead.In the golden age, they were the shepards of humanity, guiding and watching to ensure the people would prosper. They granted knowledge, magic, channeling their divinity to raise all. For millennia, the world was at relative peace.
Then they fell.
Rather spectacularly, I might add. Their heavenly realm, Elanehtar, burning, crashed from the sky into the earth, scattering into millions of fragments. One kingdom was gone entirely. Others survived, but greatly diminished. The people took a new name for their land: Afterworld.
Forty-two years have passed. In the wake of the passing, others have risen to power. Slavery runs rampant, dictators rule with iron fists, monsters rampage out of control, and the people see no way out. Reconciliators, atheists who expunge last worship of the gods, enforce their brutal regime, the dragon (mega-sorceress) Nulumriel rules the Nightlands, and Nod, a moon formed from nowhere, blocked out the light of the sun in one area. Oh, and something called the Annihilation Seed is sitting in a dark underground world called the Deeps that may be responsible for the Fall.
Yet things are not without hope. In the Book of Fate, the Seven Prophecies were written by the God of Destiny. They declare that these things will pass at the hands of gods…which is where the players step in.
The setting is…honestly very interesting. It takes its cues from classic mythology, but if the gods just up and went extinct. The world is basically set so that the players get to not only be heroes, but true saviors. Further, a lot of things GMs might use anyway (ancient prophecy, tasks to gate into higher power) are built into the world itself.
I Have Become Death, Shatterer of Worlds
How does one go about becoming a god? Well, the good news is that for purposes of the game, the PCs start at normal level and the decisions they make affect what kind of deity they become.
For those who have played other Cypher games, the creation will be familiar: “I am an adjective noun that does something.” There’s just one small addendum at the end: god of domain. That’s right: want to be the god of death? Go nuts. Goddess of the Sun? Rock it. Like the other traits, this one advances over time, but with some additional caveats.
As you advance, you gain additional powers. These range from simple like summoning a heavenly servant to generating earthquakes. These powers aren’t free, though. You have certain tasks that need to be done before the powers work, ranging from deciding your domain to deciding your own dogma. A couple require serious tasks. Overthrowing dictators, destroying ancient evils…that sort of thing.These extra bonuses allow you to do superhuman feats, pushing into territory meant for…well, gods. These place you well outside of normal mortals, and lets you tackle such issues as Hellmaw, a giant underworld guardian or leap tall buildings in a single bound…which is nice. It’s about a 50% increase. Given some of the things you have to fight, that’s a great help. Speaking of…
I Will Teach You To Fight Legends
To put it bluntly, life as a god isn’t an easy one in the Afterworld. The Order of Reconciliation is an early threat. Basically, they’re an enforced atheist organization. “Enforce” in this case means burning anyone who claims to be a god as a heretic. It’s an odd, backwards world we have here…though admittedly, I have to wonder what they do with gods of fire…There’s an assassin’s guild called the Tranquil, and the rank and file witches, wizards, and other mortal antagonists. Outside of the cities and Nightlands, orcs, goblins and ogres drift around. Of course, there are other races outside as well. The Sleen are a race of snake men. They worshiped the old gods, and are very clever. The Taran are eyeless hulking humanoids. Both are playable and can ascend to become gods themselves.
Really, though, the biggest challenges aren’t the monsters you fight, but rather the oppressive conditions of the world itself. It’s messed up, both on a natural and supernatural level. Hellmaw, that dragon thing you see, is supposed to be an underworld guardian, but is currently rampaging through the multiverse. Slavery is now an accepted institution, as is bribery for crimes like torture and murder. That moon called Nod is blocking out sunlight for the largest civilization. Fixing these problems isn’t as simple as fighting a monster, but still lie within the realm of possibility for dedicated heroes.
Meet the New Gods
Overall, this is a great setting piece, and well worthy of the Cypher system. This review might feel a bit short because the mechanics are already set. Overall, if you want to play as fledgling gods, this is a great system to do it in.