That’s the opening quote to the Promethean chapter of Night Horrors: The Tormented. It’s also good way to introduce myself, because it perfectly encapsulates what Promethean means to me.
Being Promethean is like an open wound. It’s life handing you the short end of the stick, which is also on fire and trying to strangle you. It’s always having a no good, horrible, very bad day. It’s being stuck in the dark with no visible way out.
But it’s also about light in that darkness.
The thing that fucks up the Prometheans’ existence — Azoth — is also what sees them through. It stays with them in the darkness, is always at their side*. Rooting for them. Telling them, in the way a giant might try to explain the world to ants, that there is a way out: Keep going, and Dawn will come.
That is a powerful promise, and this struggle between torment and elpis is the heart of Promethean — it’s what sets the Created on the Pilgrimage. Nothing’s ever easy though, and Night Horrors: The Tormented is filled with 52 (I counted them) characters to get in the Promethean’s way.
I’m Steffie de Vaan, you might recognize me from various works including the Promethean Second Edition Core, and I’m the new developer for Promethean the Created. Your preview for the day introduces the petrificati, a stagnancy of Prometheans that snuffs out the flame if they stay in one Refinement for too long. Guy Reece conceived and wrote them, and I look forward to more of his work in future books.
Let me know what you’d like to see in the next preview. We have Pandorans, humans (your pick of alchemists, hunters, and genitors), qashmallim, clones, and Zeky (for the latter two: characters or mechanics) to choose from!
*Unless you’re Extempore, in which case it really sucks to be you, but maybe we can talk about them later.
What happens to a Promethean who sticks to a completed Role long past Wastelands and Firestorms that signal them to change? What happens when she ignores the dire warnings of Azothic Memory and qashmallim? Her Pilgrimage stalled to the point of impossibility, her Azoth finally gutters out and, along with it, her free will and intelligence. What’s left is a mindless thing that can only act out her Role. Anytime she’s alone or in a situation outside the purview of her Role, she is an automaton, mutely shoveling food into her mouth, or staring unblinking at the walls. When time comes for the Promethean to adopt her Role again, she springs back to life and acts as if all is well. Attempts at mind reading reveal absolutely nothing, but even when she is talking, working, and laughing, she does not have conscious thought. It’s all instinctual responses. She has become a petrificatus.
Petrificati, colloquially called the Stuck or Automatons, would just be sad failures in the quest towards the New Dawn, if not for two things. Firstly, they still perform the generative act. Whenever petrificati encounter a dead body, they instinctively seek it out and perform the same rite that gave the original Promethean its Divine Fire and life. They never create new Prometheans though: they either rip the corpse apart into Pandorans (who ignore any petrificatus‘ presence) or they create another petrificatus with a Role that best fits their former situation in life. Since the Stuck are just as resilient and unaging as a normal Promethean, throngs have encountered small communities filled with people who shuffle to work and come alive, only to walk outside and immediately lose all emotions and ability to communicate. And if one of these petrificati‘s Roles is murderous or works with corpses, their numbers just keep multiplying.
To the sorrow of Created who encounter them, no one has recorded a petrificatus rejoining the Pilgrimage, nor does Azothic memory tell of such an event. That hasn’t stopped more optimistic and curious Prometheans from trying to redeem them. Until one Promethean or demiurge finds success, Automatons will remain both a sad reminder of the perils of the journey to the New Dawn and a potential threat to any throngs in the area.
To become a petrificatus, a Promethean must stay in a completed Role for a year and a day (see Promethean: The Created, p. 179). Furthermore, he cannot be part of a branded throng, nor have completed the multiplicatio step of his Pilgrimage. If he meets all of the above requirements, his Azoth and Pilgrimage scores both drop a dot for every week he stays in the same completed Role, until he reaches zero in both scores. At that point, the Promethean becomes one of the Stuck.
Petrificati cannot use Bestowments or Transmutations. As they do not have an Azoth score, they do not have Azothic Radiance, do not cause Disquiet, Firestorms, or Wastelands, nor can they be Measured by Prometheans. They cannot gain, store, or spend Pyros. They do not wake dormant Pandorans, nor hold any sustenance for them.
Petrificati still benefit from Superlative Endurance, though they cannot return from death. They also heal from electricity, but do not gain Pyros from it. Fire no longer causes aggravated damage, as the Divine Fire within them has cooled to ashes. Their disfigurements are still visible to other Prometheans.
While acting in their Role, petrificati have a dice pool of 4 for all Role-oriented actions. Outside of their Role, they can only walk to a safe location, feed themselves, and bat weakly at attackers. All non-Role and concealment actions automatically fail, though mortals generally explain away any weird behavior as the result of being stressed, overworked, or otherwise tired.
Attempts to read an Automaton’s thoughts or emotions automatically fail. There’s nothing to read. When creating a petrificatus, Storytellers determine how many Vitriol Experiences they possess. Petrificati that have had a chance to multiply should have Experiences equal to the number of other petrificati they have created.
If a petrificatus receives more than (7 – Vitriol Experiences) points of damage from one attack, the Vitriol erupts within him. If the original damage was bashing, the Vitriol eats away at his body, causing one bashing damage per turn. This eventually reduces him to a steaming puddle of biological waste, unless someone performs the lacuna upon him to pull out the Vitriol. If the damage was lethal or aggravated, the Vitriol sprays outward, burning everyone nearby. Treat this as a chemical fire (Promethean: the Created, p. 213) that lasts for (Vitriol Experiences) in turns. The Automaton loses all of his Vitriol Experiences and Beats. This only happens on the first wound a petrificatus receives in a scene. Any Vitriol that leaks or explodes outward this way is useless for both the lacuna and alchemical purposes.
Any time a petrificatus encounters a dead body or a severely injured person, his behavior while outside of their Role changes. Instead of seeking shelter or food, he seeks out the target and performs the generative act upon it. If his target was living and is helpless and injured, he kills it in the process. The petrificatus has a dice pool equal to the amount of Vitriol Experiences stored within him for both seeking out their target and performing the generative act. Consequently, most Petrified use a chance die.
Dramatic Failure: The corpse shudders and jerks, splitting into a writhing mass of Pandorans. Create one Pandoran for each die in the dice pool.
Failure: The corpse twists, flesh tearing into a single Pandoran.
Success: The petrificatus creates a new one of its kind. It does not become active for several days and has an appropriate Role upon waking. The creator gains a Vitriol experience.
Exceptional Success: The new petrificatus comes to full capability by the end of the scene. Both created and creator gain a Vitriol experience.
?1 Per week the body has been dead.
?1 Generative act takes place in a Wasteland.
Cathy: Agony Aunt
Have a lovely day.
When Cathy awoke the first time, she was in a water-pumping station, wrapped in newspapers and surrounded by flowers. The body of her Creator was beside her: suicide by shotgun. Cathy took her name from the newspaper’s advice column, “Cathy Counsels.” She still carries those newspapers with her wherever she goes, with a flower pressed between each page.
Cathy did more than just use those newspapers to learn about people; they guided her entire life and Pilgrimage. From their directions, Cathy took on the Refinement of Iron, and completed the Martyr Role. People need help with their problems, and the “Cathy Counsels” column always said the best thing to do was “stick to it” and “endure any hardships to reach your goal.” So when a man made of fire told her she had to move on and locked her out of the pump station, she ignored him and lived under the open sky. When the neighborhood surrounding the pump station became overrun with kudzu and poison ivy, and everybody began fighting, and they all moved away, she endured. When it rained burning acid, and lightning flashed brighter than the sun, she kept at it. When she was all alone, with no one around her with problems to bear, she made a martyr of herself, letting the Divine Fire inside her die. Now she wanders alone, eating kudzu and poison ivy, only coming alive to suffer.
Agony Aunt is dressed haphazardly, in clothes stolen from laundromat dryers and backyard clotheslines. She explores her Wasteland like a queen in her castle. Her light auburn hair frizzes out behind her head like a cloud. Tall, willowy, and walking confidently, she steals and scavenges, then mindlessly piles items about the closed pump station. When she leaves the Wasteland, she is once again Cathy. She walks out of her Wasteland and looks for people in trouble. Her body language changes: no longer a queen, but a hesitant child fearing an ill-tempered parent. She steps between muggers and their victims, looking scared yet defiant. She blocks abusers with her own body, a tight smile on her face for the person she’s protecting. She gives away any possessions she has, insisting folks in need take them. She preaches a litany of self-reliance while helping others. And then she returns to her Wasteland, once again the vacant-eyed ruler of vine-covered ruins.
“There’s a bad Wasteland, just east of here. Don’t go there. The few folks remaining are real mean.”
The Disquiet Cathy accrued in her neighbors before her unfortunate transformation lingers like a miasma. She can no longer be the target of humanity’s ire, but that ire has not gone away. Searching for a new target, the people suffering from Disquiet latch onto the first Promethean they encounter.
“My throng-mate left us to go make his own child. He seemed so ashamed. Barely even got him to admit what he was doing. We never saw him again.”
Redeeming Agony Aunt, bringing her back to Cathy, certainly requires finding out more about her maker. He had a throng and an active Pilgrimage. Maybe by tracing his life and finding his motivations, Cathy’s Azoth can be rekindled. Or maybe that’s just a wishful dream, the fruitless quest making putting her down all the more poignant.
“She had a knife sticking out of her eye! She just turned and told me she would take care of it and smiled. She’s a hero!”
The homeless and downtrodden gossip about this new vigilante. She stands in between attackers and their victims while giving life advice, ignoring all wounds she receives. Is this savior an actual hero, or just someone else who will eventually betray or let them down? Without Disquiet, Cathy is racking up a positive reputation.
Dice Pool: 4