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Agon – Great deeds and high adventure

Greek mythology meets RPG. Check out the latest from Hutton’s Hot Picks



By: John Harper and Sean Nittner
Gameplay: 2 – 3 hours per session

Long ago, in days gone by, the Gods were petty and cruel.  The whims of the Gods through the land into chaos and strife.  Only a hero could weather the storms and face down hideous monsters to save the land.  Agon is a game set in the world of Greek mythology.  The Gods only know what will be your ultimate fate.  Will you perish in battle or will you finally make your way home?  Maybe more importantly, will your exploits and great deeds be remembered?

Much like the heroic Greek tales Jason and the Argonauts and The Odyssey, you and your friends find yourself sailing upon an endless sea shrouded in fog.  From the fog appear islands unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.  Forge bonds with your allies, gain favor from the Gods, and carve out your own legacy.

Getting Started With Agon

Getting started in a TTRPG like Agon is fairly easy.  It starts with your character’s name, an epithet, and domain.  Remember, this is in the world of Greek mythology.  Bob the adventurer isn’t quite as striking or dramatic as Adara the Swift-Footed: scion of Agamemnon.  Then choose a domain.  It can be either arts & oration, blood & valor, craft & reason, or resolve & spirit.  These decisions might seem inconsequential at first, but it is the essence of your being.  It also created the dice pool used for skill checks and battles.  Announcing who you are before each battle becomes a clever way to announce to the GM what dice you plan to roll.  Your character has a name die, a domain die, and an epithet die.  Name die is always used.  If your epithet is applicable, then that die is added as well.  Then depending on which domain is being used, that die gets added.  Roll the dice, and add the two highest numbers.  If that number beats or ties the target number, then it’s a success.

Next part of character creation is the divine favor.  Divine favor is also very useful as it will add a d4 to your total if used.  Mortal players start with two divine favors.  They can choose any of the Greek Gods to give them their favor.  Demigod players will only get one divine favor.  During the course of the game, the Gods will grant more favors depending on if they are pleased by your performance.  It is also possible to anger the Gods and draw their wrath.

And then comes the style and notes.  This is a brief description of your hero and any weapons and armor they may have.  There’s generally very little in terms of gameplay for this, so feel free to be as creative as you wish.  

The last part of character creation are bonds.  Bonds are formed with your fellow heroes.  These bonds can be used for many things including convincing them to go on your course of action, to defend yourself from a mighty strike, or to ask for support.

Get To Know The Strife Player

The GM in this game is called the Strife Player.  They are the whims of fate that plague the islands.  Their job is to set up the challenges for the heroes and they establish the target number in order to successfully pass the challenges.  The Strife Player will also assign glory.  Glory is this game’s version of experience.  While the heroes are all working together, much like in Greek myth, one hero eventually stands head and shoulders above the others.  

The order of play will be mostly the same.  It starts with the heroes on the sea.  This is the Voyage phase.  During the Voyage phase, players will engage in fellowship, sacrifice to the Gods, and establish leadership.  The fellowship is a chance for the heroes to talk and enjoy each other’s company.  They will get to ask each other a question and gain a bond.  It’s a clever way to get to know your characters and also give them a bonus for the adventure.  Sacrificing to the Gods allows heroes to please the Gods and gain their favor.  Again, a way for players to gain some bonus while also engaging in roleplay.  The last part is the establishment of the leadership role.  The leader has a special role to play.  The leader’s job is to interpret the signs of the gods and they will have final say in the hero’s plans of attack.  If the heroes are investigating an island and they see an eagle perched on a steep rock, the leader’s job is to interpret that as a sign.  Is that a sign from Zeus to climb up the steep mountain?  Or is it a sign from Artemis and they should shoot the bird with an arrow?  Interpreting the signs correctly will please the Gods.  Getting it wrong will draw their wrath.

The next phase is the majority of the game.  It’s the contests and battles the adventurers will find on their journey.  There are several scenarios in the book so most of the work is already done for the Strife player.  There is a section for creating your own islands but it is recommended to use the pre-generated islands in the beginning.  

After the adventure is the Respite phase.  This is where the heroes learn the fate of the island they leave behind.  The heroes will also record their great deeds and collect their trophies after a successful adventure.  After all that is done, the players will reminisce on the experience and award virtues to each other.  

Final Thoughts

Agon is an absolutely fun role-playing game and is very evocative of the Greek myths we all grew up reading.  It’s a fast paced game and a session can be played in a couple hours.  At the end, players are left with a grand adventure equal to the tales of Hercules.  

The ease of gameplay can be a bit of a turn off.  There aren’t any bonuses for having special weapons or armor for example.  The game also tends to be semi-competitive.  When a battle starts, the one who rolls the highest gets full glory while everyone else involved in the battle gets half.  It can quickly be where a player gets a huge amount of glory while everyone else is trying to catch up.  

Agon is still a game worth playing.  The grandiose roleplaying and the epic stories are the heart of this game.  Grab your xiphos and set sail for destiny. 

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