After my short review of the new (2010) Clash of the Titans movie, I started thinking about how this compares to the world of Lost Heroes and how you might use it as the basis of a roleplaying campaign or adventure.
Of course you could just take the setting and world of the movie and use Lost Heroes to flesh out some of the under used stuff, like the other Olympian Gods. But for the sake of this exercise, we want to stick as close to canon or at least the spirit of the Lost Heroes world as we can.
Lost Heroes is based on the modern world, not on the pseudo-ancient Greek setting the movie seems to inhabit. But that’s not a problem though. My second play test run of Lost Heroes was ran in a psuedo Celtic period instead of a modern day setting. So we have the same setup here. As long as we don’t worry about historical accuracy, we just assume it’s a mix of ancient Roman and Greek culture, society and history. We’re basically giving ourselves permission to be more loose with the history and make up stuff we don’t know.
But this is also where Lost Heroes starts to diverge from the God-happy world of Clash of the Titans. Lost Heroes is about mythic heroes, but they are lost to the mundane world. Assuming the people of this time believe and worship Olympian Gods (or at least they did before they started revolting), they may be more favourable to Chosen of the Olympians than other Chosen. But still normal mortals, who hold all the social power, such as the King and Queen of Argos, will still see them as freaks and outsiders. (Maybe this explains why Perseus has a shaved head and no beard, a mark of shame?). You could argue that Clash of the Titans is set in the Golden Age of heroes, the time of Aeon according to the Greeks when Zeus created the Golden Race of men. But that time, a fragile time, would eventually disappear, replaced by a more real history without the overt footprints of the gods. Stating it starts in a “Golden Age” changes the expectations of the setting. The movie, at least visually, attempts to be more gritty and dark and that would be easier to establish with the default world rules of Lost Heroes with it’s binding Veil and Passion Bleed. The Chosen, despite being recognised as the warriors of the gods, would live with a burden on their shoulders and ordinary mortals would not trust them and probably try to drive them away.
The gods would not just sit idly!
We need to also shake up the Olympian Gods themselves to align them with the Lost Heroes versions. While Zeus does rule the council, he is not the dictator as presented in the movie. He is stern but a good leader. Certainly the other Gods would have more say in what happens and would be more involved in the action to come. For the Olympians, the Game of the Gods involves causing a situation to occur when reserved Zeus is impelled to act to keep the balance.
The relationship between the mortals and the gods would be more mysterious too. The gods do not depend on the prayers of mortals to survive, but events in the mundane sphere have some sort of casual affect on the divine sphere (and seemingly vice-versa), not easily interrupted by us humans (ah the Enigma of the Gods!). The Olympians themselves would try to manipulate the actions of mortals subtle to generate political situations in Olympus. The revolt of the mortals against the Olympians may have been instigated by a god or if it wasn’t, some of the gods would encourage it to their own ends. Hera, wife of Zeus, Queen of the Olympian Gods, has been known to put all of Olympus in danger to get at Zeus in any way.
It’s questionable if we should keep the good-evil dynamic of Zeus and Hades. It’s quite Christian, liking Zeus to the Christian God and Hades to the Devil. In Lost Heroes, we already have the Angelic Choirs fighting the Great War with the Devil and his legions. The actual relationship between Hades and Zeus is more complex. Hades rules the dead and all that the ground contains and is pretty strict on what’s his and what’s not. He rarely if ever interferes in the world above and when he feels the need, he goes to Zeus to do so (normally when someone steals his property, i.e. raising the dead). He doesn’t hate his brother Zeus but Hades motives are strange. Death is a dark mystery no-one wants to probe too deeply and so Hades is a mystery the other gods barely understand or want to. We’d need a stronger explanation for Hades to want to strike out at Zeus or the other Olympians. Perhaps Persephone, the wife of Hades, is kidnapped by some wily mortals (with the secret help of some of the others gods) as she was leaving the Underworld to return to Olympus (she normally spends half her time in the Underworld and the other half in Olympus with her mother Demeter). Hades would demand Zeus to strike the mortals down and return Persephone, but for some reason Zeus can’t or refuses to (perhaps they are too well hidden). Hades is the one Olympian who is actually loyal to his wife and that could drive him to anger. While there is no Kraken mentioned in Lost Heroes, Hades would certainly have his share of monsters in the Underworld. The most terrifying would be Thanatos, a shapeless abstract monster that is trapped in the Underworld, i.e. Death itself. Indeed the Underworld is actually a prison, holding the defeated Titans imprisoned. Imagine Hades threatening to unlock Tartarus!
Once Hades stated his intentions, some gods would take sides. Athena would stand by Zeus, Hera might side with Hades, continuing her vengeance against Zeus. Poseidon might take the opportunity to take Zeus’ place by siding with Hades. The politics of a potential divine civil war in Olympus would give many story-adventure seeds and provide a wonderfully dramatic backdrop to the campaign.
But the Olympians do have existing external enemies that could also be used. The Giants once fought a war with the Olympians and nearly won, now they are spread across the world in hiding, planning their vengeance. What about the Titans? The Titans that remain on Olympus and Earth and fallen gods, their light dimmed. But the ones trapped in Tartarus raging against their shackles scare the Olympians even now and there is Typhon, a god more powerful that all the Olympians, created by Gaia in vengeance, waiting in the Void for his time to return. I think any of these would make a more scary enemy than a single giant Kraken. And that’s not without looking to other pantheons, something which the Clash of the Titans movie didn’t seem to have a problem with.
Is Argos the only mortal city in Clash of the Titans?
In the movie there is really only the city of Argos, ruled by King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia. This would have to be the starting point of the game. It’s appears to be totally dominated by mortals, no Community (no supernatural creatures living among the populace) except for the beautiful Io, no Divine Family. Even the mad guy who riles up the starving public to return to the worship of the gods is mortal, his power is his madness and obsession.
The movie is wholly centred on Argos, if Argos fell the gods in the movie would lose all their prayers/powers. That wouldn’t be the case in Lost Heroes though, but certainly Argos is important. Also, in the movie, it says that you can travel to Mount Olympus and even the Underworld from Argos. This would not be the case in Lost Heroes. One must enter the Sea of Dreams first and from there enter the Lands of the Dead to find Hades’ Underworld. Though possibly the Sea of Dreams might appear as desert that they had to cross (and where they fought giant scorpions). Is it possible that Argos is not a real city at all, but a Island on the Sea Dreams or a Fairy Realm (a realm that cross both the mundane world and the Sea of Dreams)?
We are lead to believe in the movie that the actions of the gods are driving people from their homes to Argos. So which came first? Did the humans start revolting first or were they driven to it by the gods indifference or Hades interferences?
I suspect that many of the soldiers, after battling harpies and even Hades at one point, could be considered Valiant Mortals. After Hades appearance in the castle, possible the trauma of the Queen’s death, the King may even be a Valiant Mortal. Certainly it feels like the Veil is getting a bit raggy in Argos. Which is dangerous for all, because Darklings might push through and Nightmares might have a look around. The angry reaction of the populace to the solders going on this quest to find the Stygian Witches (the Graece in Lost Heroes), could be exaggerated by the effect of the Veil.
Bloodlines, the Cursed, Valiant Mortals, Magic Practitioners and True Chosen, what a cast!
Putting aside the original myth of Perseus, Perseus is a classic Chosen. His mother was raped by Zeus (Zeus does that a lot) and so Perseus is a Bloodline (or a Demigod in the movie). He doesn’t know this, nor even realises it until he faces Hades in Argos for the first time. This would be his awakening. But once it’s revealed Zeus and the other gods feel him too. The reaction of Perseus is also classic Bloodline. Most Bloodlines despise their divine parents. Their mortal families become targets to the gods and Perseus case, they were killed by Hades. Despite this, the gods continue to give Perseus gifts, such as the magic sword, the winged horse and coinage to get across the river Styx. Zeus even lends him lightning at one point. Zeus also tries to convince Perseus to come to Mount Olympus. This is very much how the relationship a Bloodline might have with their Patron. The King’s reaction to Perseus would also be expected, throwing Perseus in a cell.
But it would seem that Perseus’ awakening is the forming of the Divine Family. Io appears, a cursed mortal. She claims to have watched over him all his life. The Cursed are normally not used as player-characters and her standoff-ish nature would be quite indicative of being just an non-player-character. (FYI there are a few flavours of the Immortality curse in Lost Heroes, and Io seemed to have the better one).
Then the soldiers, who are all probably Valiant Mortals, follow Perseus on this mad quest. So the initial Divine Family is formed, tasked with stopping the Kraken (or perhaps some other monster or threat). Later, we have a “Jinn” join the family. These Jinn are nothing like the Angelic Jinn in Lost Heroes though and I’m not sure how to work that in. It might be best to think of these Jinn as being simply Magic Practitioners who have, over the years, become cursed and have bodies of rock and stone rather than fallen Angels.
There is also the underused characters of Ozal and Kucuk, two guys who at the last minute decide to join the soldiers as hunters and who claim to know how to fight monsters. I suspect they may be Travellers, mortals who can travel between Shard Worlds and these two seem drawn to party but refuse to enter the Underworld.
Then there is Acrisius/Calibos, father of Perseus. We see Hades offer power to Calibos to kill his son. Calibos accepts and so he is a True Chosen of Hades. Despite the horrible disfiguration and his deadly task, Calibos is definitely not a Soulless. He accepted a choice, it was not forced on him by Hades. Also the giant Scorpions that rise from his blood, that’s a nifty power. He would certainly make a good regularly returning bad guy in a game.
With a city under threat, a beautiful princess (Andromeda) to save and a quest to be made, sounds like we have an excellent starting point for a campaign! There are some excellent story-seeds along the way, many secrets to reveal and some wonderful monsters to fight!