The Freaks Come Out At Night: Centimani [Promethean: The Created]

Open Development, Promethean: The Created

Screencap from The Thing (1982, dir. John Carpenter)

Screencap from The Thing (1982, dir. John Carpenter)

The Pilgrimage is a hard road. Supposedly, Prometheans have a reward to look forward to – the promise of Humanity. But sometimes, a Promethean looks at humanity with derision, or horror, or just plain old apathy, and turns his back on the Great Work.

If that continues, the Promethean can be said to follow the “Refinement” of Flux, making him a Centimanus. Centimani wield Flux like a weapon. They summon up pure chaos, calling down Firestorms, mimicking the Dread Powers of Pandorans, disrupting the Transmutations of other Prometheans, and aggravating the worst aspects of the Saturnine Night. Different Centimani have different goals, but one thing is for certain: One progresses on the Pilgrimage, or one degrades. No progress toward the New Dawn is possible while a Promethean follows the Refinement of Flux.

Adherence to the Refinement of Flux isn’t necessarily suicide. A Promethean can find peace in accepting her own nature, in not having to fight to become something else and being able to stop running from the Pandorans at her heels. Some Prometheans even see themselves as kin to the Lilithim: necessary agents of chaos and destruction. Others are less philosophical. They stop thinking and give themselves to instinct and impulse. And some are purely practical, seeing a path to power.

This path is not without its downsides. The Flux transforms a Promethean, body and mind. Their forms often become twisted and mutated, like a Pandoran, hence the moniker Freaks. Many are insane or, at the very least, highly unstable and unpredictable. Flux, by its very nature, is the enemy of order and coherence. Those who spend a long time in this Refinement find it hard to keep their thoughts together. Memories become a jumble and complex rational thought becomes elusive. Only their Azoth allows them to maintain any shred of sanity or identity. Many Centimani become creatures of ritual, investing what habits and practices they manage to hold onto with a nearly religious observance.

Yet, Centimani are not irredeemable. All else aside, the Refinement of Flux is just that: a Refinement; a philosophy, not a permanent change. Any Freak can choose to switch to Stannum to escape the chaos and begin the difficult road back to the Great Work. Sometimes it is a moment of clarity that allows him to return to the Great Work and begin rebuilding himself. Other times, a Hundred Handed One’s former throng will pull him from the grip of despair and help to set him to right. The former Centimanus may have done terrible things while chasing the Flux, but who among the Prometheans hasn’t? He is just another monster, seeking redemption.

Examples: 

An Osiran sees the power to be had in the mastery of Flux and the control of the monsters which harry his brothers. He is no idealist, his interest is purely practical. His ambition leads him down a dark path, searching for the mentor who can teach him forbidden alchemy. He turns his back on humanity and gives himself to chaos. Try as he might, he is ultimately unable to hide what he has become from the other members of his throng, so he feeds them to the Pandorans to gain their obedience and walks into the night.

Every night, Sentry dreams of seeing his friends fall to the monsters, seeing them rent and torn asunder despite all his efforts to protect them. One night, he goes to a place where the Pandorans are known to lie dormant and makes a deal with the Hundred Handed who is their master, turning his back on his Great Work. The next time his throng sees him is when he steps out in front of a pack of Pandorans, stopping them in their tracks. His body twisted and his eyes filled with pain, he bids them to flee.

A Cathar comes to the conclusion that the impurity within him is his humanity. By removing that weakness, he can become a better, more refined monster. He turns his study to the Refinement of Flux, using it to burn away the progress he’s made on his Pilgrimage. Only by embracing both sides of the Divine Fire can he hope to make himself pure. He wonders how he could ever have been so foolish as to believe that humanity was something to aspire to, especially when he stands over their pathetic mewling bodies, glorious in his newly found perfection.

  19 comments for “The Freaks Come Out At Night: Centimani [Promethean: The Created]

  1. Andrew Thomas
    November 18, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    I hope the final draft of this “refinement” gets a Grinning Bastard (c) example character, because there’s a noticeable pattern in motivation and character arc in the two sample Centimani presented here, and no one likes a one-note villain.

    • November 19, 2014 at 6:53 am

      Oh, whoops. I actually hadn’t meant to grab the Osiran one for this update. I added another one.

      • Andrew Thomas
        November 19, 2014 at 6:27 pm

        Cool. It’s good to see a character that sees what they’re doing as a valid choice, not merely a last resort.

  2. bones
    November 19, 2014 at 12:12 am

    Is there no chance we can get a Solid, not-depressing centimanus example? One that studies this refinement out of the joy of discovery, or the need to know, that DOESN’T decide to just murder his only friends?

    There’s so much potential with the centimani, I feel is being written out before it’s even explored.

    • IanW
      November 19, 2014 at 1:00 am

      Of the two examples, only one murders his friends. The second one protects them.

    • Austin Loomis
      November 19, 2014 at 11:11 am

      “One that studies this refinement out of the joy of discovery[…]?”

      There’s a first edition example of that — Father Mazda from Saturnine Night, the Osiran who’s put his Pilgrimage on hold to study the generative ritual in all its permutations.

  3. Verge
    November 19, 2014 at 1:29 am

    So, since its not a Refinement, we probably won’t see things akin to Roles? And by “mimicking” Dread Powers, I guess the inference is that they don’t actually learn these, but have their own Transmutation set, or some other ability?

    I do like the idea of their minds becoming unhinged. Not that rational thought is a truly human feature, but culture and language impose certain structures on the brain, and it’s be interesting to see how this plays out in game terms.

  4. Zooroos
    November 19, 2014 at 4:17 am

    While reading this, I just kept thinking of Grendel and her mother. Definitely, Promethean has left its growing pains behind and steps firmly as a solid, extremely fun and dramatic game to play.
    Kudos to the creative team!

  5. wyrdhamster
    November 19, 2014 at 10:39 am

    I don’t like implications of transhumanism thinking for Promethans to gone in the murderous rampage. “One progresses on the Pilgrimage, or one degrades. No progress toward the New Dawn is possible while a Promethean follows the Refinement of Flux.” – so there is no way of saying “I abstaine from Pilgrimage, but not want to dwell in to Flux”?

    • Phaolan
      November 19, 2014 at 12:31 pm

      Matt has made comments about the possibility of a Promethean stalling her Pilgrimage without it meaning a required fall to Centimanus, but I do hope that we’ll get more on this, though.

      That said, my reading implies that even a pause on the road to the New Dawn is different than turning one’s back on the promise of the Magnum Opus. The thing about a Centimanus is that that he has steadfastly chosen the path of Flux over the struggle towards Humanity… Even IF that path can be regained, for the time he’s counted among the Centimani, he’s headed in the wrong direction.

      • Leliel
        November 19, 2014 at 9:00 pm

        More that that, the path of Flux is one that leads nowhere. Not because you can’t progress, it’s more that there’s no defined goal. Just being more of a mutant.

        I can see how that can become maddening, to feel like you’re getting somewhere but seeing no change. You are changing, of course, but not any changes spiritually or even mentally-at the end of the day, you remain Promethean, just “with Pandoran traits.”

    • SunlessNick
      November 20, 2014 at 9:34 am

      “I abstaine from Pilgrimage, but not want to dwell in to Flux”?

      If there is, that way isn’t Centimani, any more than someone who doesn’t want to focus on their physicality would turn to Ferrum. You could, I suppose, come up with a Refinement about remaining as you are and not changing – and it would have to be a Refinement, because remaining the same takes effort when you’re powered by the physical embodiment of change* – alchemically speaking, the Refinement of Salt would probably be the logical name.

      * This probably being the source of the “either progress or degrade” comment.

  6. Felipe
    November 19, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Cool, the Centimani definitely are getting more creepy. It seens we will see a lot of body horror from these guys.

  7. Possessed
    November 19, 2014 at 11:39 am

    Sounds cool I do hope they are presented as fully playable group instead of as meant to be NPC’s.

    • November 20, 2014 at 2:31 pm

      They’re not. They’re meant to be antagonists. There’s nothing stopping you from playing one, of course, but that’s not really the intent.

  8. Eric Christian Berg
    November 19, 2014 at 11:59 pm

    The Divine Fire is an agent of change. You can either harness it with the Pilgrimage to drive you towards the New Dawn or it will turn to Flux and consume you. Stasis isn’t really an option for Prometheans.

    • Eric Christian Berg
      November 20, 2014 at 12:02 am

      More succinctly, your Azoth will either build you up or tear you down. 🙂

  9. The Cowardly Scion
    November 20, 2014 at 6:46 am

    With regards to Transhumanism, I think its important to remember that World of Darkness treats humanity as a balanced equation. Improving upon some aspect of humanity cannot be done without consequences. Vampirism offers limited immortality but with great power comes burning in the sun and some inconvenient dietary restrictions. Mages occasionally cause small chunks of the cosmos to be fed to the Abyss in exchange for reality warping power. The price they pay for immortality tends to be nasty too. The whole setting assumes that going beyond the human condition should not be easy or good for your health.

    Its not a condemnation of Transhumanism in the real world any more than Mage is a condemnation against Pagan magical tradition or Demon a slam against artificial intelligence. It simply would be anathema for a WoD to present going beyond humanity as a positive experience. That’s the premise of the whole setting.

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