Playing at Humanity: Roles [Promethean: The Created]

Open Development, Promethean: The Created

Cover art from World of Darkness: Mirrors, illustration by Matthias Kollros

Cover art from World of Darkness: Mirrors, illustration by Matthias Kollros

No two Prometheans have the same Pilgrimage. The journey to the New Dawn takes a Promethean through multiple Refinements, and each of those Refinements has multiple lessons about humanity. Those lessons are called Roles, facets of humanity as expressed through the practical philosophy of a Refinement. A Promethean must master at least one Role in each of the Refinements on his Pilgrimage, but some choose to remain in (or return to) a Refinement in order to master them all. In taking on a Role, the character commits to fitting in to what humanity in general accepts as reasonable behavior for that Role.

What is reasonable behavior in the context of a Role is not necessarily what people think of as “good” behavior. If he is a Soldier, should he follow orders to the letter (or spirit), or should he disregard orders in order to save his fellow soldiers’ lives? Humanity as a whole accepts both options as reasonable for soldiers. Both can lead to great rewards — or to court martial. A Promethean who takes the Role of the Soldier doesn’t have a right answer. He has to work that out himself. Likewise, a Leader could be an inspiring figure, a big brother that his siblings look up to, the leader of an organized criminal organization, or a vicious lunatic who commands through fear. Whatever the case, the Promethean is learning about what it means to take responsibility for a group.

Often, taking a decision like that acts as a pivotal moment, as the Promethean decides what kind of person he wants to be — and fixes his idea of what makes that Role special in the eyes of humanity. This realization is often, but not always, the point where he learns the lesson of the Role, and achieves the milestone associated with it. As it’s a superlative milestone to complete a Role, the realization is always a step forward along his Pilgrimage. Other Created don’t internalize the lessons of a Role by resolving a pivotal question, but come to a gradual understanding of their place in humanity over time. Whatever the case, a Role’s milestone often only comes up weeks or months after she first takes on the Role.

Turning Away

The problem with taking up an identifiable archetype in human society is just that: it’s an identifiable archetype. An Outcast who maintains contact with the social groups he was a part of before taking up the Role, a Confessor who cuts people off or otherwise ignores a chance to learn about people, these are cases of a Promethean going against her Role. He deliberately ignores the parts of human nature that he should internalize, for whatever reason. Perhaps he needs to betray his learning in order to save his throng, or perhaps he simply cannot understand what makes people choose to be a Companion, an Observer, or a Stalker. Whatever the case, turning his back on his Role means ignoring the milestone in front of him. This is not in and of itself a problem, but if the Role is related to his Pilgrimage, it gives him a real chance of stepping back along his Pilgrimage.

A Promethean has to actively ignore his Role in order to risk stepping backward. Being bad at his chosen Role isn’t enough — by doing so, he learns both what others value in the Role, and how he chooses to interpret it. These lessons are very valuable to a Created wanting to define the end-point of his Pilgrimage.

Each of the Roles below presents two examples of milestones that might show that the character has learned his lesson, and a breaking point for turning away from the Role. While he’s on the Role, add this breaking point to the list of things that can cause a step backward.

Stuck in a Rut

Some Prometheans become too comfortable in a Role. Having learned his lesson, a Created should carry on to a new Refinement, or a new Role in the same Refinement. By carrying on with the same Role, he doesn’t learn anything new. He actively holds back his progress on the Pilgrimage in order to embody a facet of humanity that he feels comfortable in. Some make the conscious choice to not change Role, while others get stuck naturally and do not realize that they should change Role.

A Created who does not change Role after achieving the milestone associated with it becomes limited in her actions. She has to keep embodying the Role in order to stave off negative consequences. A Soldier has to keep acting as a soldier — he can’t go back to his family or friends and act as a normal person. He is a Soldier, and that’s all the world will accept him as. As long as he only acts in accordance with the Role, people he meets in that capacity think he is a normal person — he does not cause Disquiet. When he drops the façade, proving himself more than the Role, all hell breaks loose.

Breaking from the Role involves taking any action that people do not associate with that Role. Taking time to pursue other avenues, either meeting people not related to the Role or even just spending too long alone both count, as does spending more than a scene without taking a significant action involving the Role. The Created can impart the knowledge of the Role to other Prometheans, but only if no humans are present. Even then, he casts the knowledge through the lens of his Role. Using any kind of supernatural ability — using the same standards for breaking points — knocks the Promethean out of character.

Dropping character is not a good thing. The character has to fall back to a new Role in a basic Refinement — often Stannum. The area around her immediately becomes a Blighted Wasteland. In addition to the effects of the Wasteland, humans that interact with the Promethean in the resultant Wasteland have their rolls to resist Disquiet reduced to a chance die.

Same Roles – Aurum

Gold’s Roles, along with the rest of the Refinement, focus on integrating with humanity so that the Promethean can live among humans, and develop an understanding of human nature.

Companion

The Companion wants to belong. She might focus on a single person, trying to become her friend or lover, or she might try to integrate with a group, so that they accept her as an equal.

Milestones: Develop an intimate relationship with your chosen partner, or have nobody in the group challenge your inclusion. Be shunned by your partner/group for entirely human reasons (abuse, infidelity, or breaking the group’s social norms).

Breaking point: Leave your partner or group, vanishing without a trace.

Follower

By putting hir fate in the hands of others, the Follower learns to trust others. Sie may find a regular human to act as a surrogate parent or mentor, or copy another person’s looks, mannerisms, and decisions.

Milestones: Be at risk of physical or emotional trauma and survive by following your patron’s instructions. Experience a significant misfortune by disobeying your patron.

Breaking point: Put yourself into a position of leadership over your patron, and have him follow your instructions.

Leader

In contrast to the follower, the leader must earn the trust of others. He may position himself as a “big brother” to a younger person, start a self-help group, or act as a leader among her community.

Milestones: Have a group or community formally accept you as their spokesperson. Have someone under your care avoid harm because of your instructions.

Breaking point: By your actions, cause your group to reject or shun you as an outsider.

  20 comments for “Playing at Humanity: Roles [Promethean: The Created]

  1. Verge
    November 25, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    “organized criminal organization”, that thumb looks sore.

    So, the reference to breaking points in the archetypes, are these breaking “Integrity” AND causing Disquiet on the same violation?

    Also, these examples hew closely to Mask/Dirge archetypes, FWIW. Not any more than Milestones might resemble Aspirations, mind, but as a part of the Pilgrimage, I’m inclined to regard these as straitjackets rather than opportunities. That is, inserted into a 1E framework, this seems like a rigid and formulaic way to achieve a Milestone. Furthermore, that one “falls back” to a basic Refinement role when failing seems to indicate that these are mandatory. Not liking, if that’s the case.

    • CreatedInterest
      November 25, 2014 at 5:49 pm

      Feels very similar to how Covers work in Demon (taking into account any significant distinctions within its execution), does this mean that “Roles” are the Promethean’s new Integrity swap?

      If so, this sounds pretty awesome! It makes the original Humanity feel like a “Basic D&D” to this advanced take on emulating a human moral compass.

    • SunlessNick
      November 27, 2014 at 10:29 am

      I get the impression that a Role only becomes so limiting if the Promethean gets an associated milestone but then oesn’t move on.

  2. November 25, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    So, Roles -> Milestones. Does that mean that all possible Milestones that a Promethean can accomplish at a given time are tied to their current Role?

    • November 29, 2014 at 3:02 pm

      No, though some of them probably will be.

  3. Mr.Shades
    November 25, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    interesting…

  4. Andrew Thomas
    November 25, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    Getting the same feel with these that I got with Masques and Dirges. Which begs the question, will this be another binary Willpower recovery method, and what will the other side of this coin be?

    • Verge
      November 26, 2014 at 2:07 am

      No, this is only about breaking points and milestones. I’m sure we’ll get a Mask/Dirge pair of archetypes, but that seems like more of the same in light of this update.

      • Felipe
        November 26, 2014 at 3:43 am

        This feel closer to Anchors than Maske and Dirge actually.

  5. November 25, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    sounds awesome.

    being a soldier means following orders, what happens if you no longer have orders, and someone to give them? I presume you don’t just go around taking orders from everyone.

    • November 29, 2014 at 3:03 pm

      All of these Roles have be viewed in context; one Soldier’s take on the Role won’t be the same as another’s. That said, sure, it might be possible to have a Role that, because of the circumstances, you can’t really get stuck in. That’s actually good for you, if you think about it. 😉

  6. Felipe
    November 26, 2014 at 3:46 am

    Liked the Roles, it makes much sense in the contest of the Pilgrimage. And you say that a Promethean has to fulfill at least one role in each Refinement, does that mean both basic and complex refinements, or just basic?

    • November 29, 2014 at 3:04 pm

      You have to fulfill at least one Role in each Refinement *in your Pilgrimage*, but every Pilgrimage doesn’t necessarily include the same Refinements.

  7. Ephsy
    November 26, 2014 at 4:14 am

    Do you have to drop character in order to choose a new role once you’ve reached the milestone in it, thus causing said Blighted Wasteland?

    • November 29, 2014 at 3:05 pm

      No, that’s just an effect of staying in a Role too long. Figure on a brief grace period. 🙂

  8. Nathan Henderson
    November 26, 2014 at 4:44 am

    Wait – a Promethean is required to go through EVERY Refinement before achieving the New Dawn? Doesn’t that unnecessarily close the door on the possibility of other rarer Refinements, and create a certain degree of more uniformity to Pilgrimages than is necessary?

    It might be more interesting if it was something like “No less than 5 Refinements, at least one of which must be Complex, and 10 Roles” Thus a Promethean mastering Roles of the same Refinement is not taking an inferior path to someone hitting 1 in each.

    • Nathan Henderson
      November 26, 2014 at 4:51 am

      Wait… “A Promethean must master at least one Role in each of the Refinements on his Pilgrimage”…

      There are two different ways to read this statement.

      A Promethean must master at least [one Role in each of the Refinements] on his Pilgrimage.

      or

      A Promethean must master at least one Role in [each of the Refinements on his Pilgrimage].

      Does the Pilgrimage require one ot pass through EACH of the Refinements? Or is it just a statement referring to the set of Refinements that happens to be on a given Promethean’s Pilgrimage?

    • November 29, 2014 at 3:06 pm

      No, every Pilgrimage has X Refinements that the Promethean has to go through. X isn’t a constant number.

      • SunlessNick
        December 1, 2014 at 8:16 am

        Interesting. Is it a *predictable* number, dependent on a factor that can be measured like Lineage or whether their creator is another Promethean, demiurge, or chance? Or not?

        And how do Roles interact with the concept of the ST choosing milestones? Does the ST still design all the milestones, including the Roles (and thus Refinements) they attach to, or is the intent that they wait until seeing which Refinement/Role a player picks and designing a milestone around them then? Or is that left open?

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