I couldn’t find a shot of Mark when he gets the idea to “save the Empire” at the end of the movie, but this one is pretty good for my purposes. If you’ve never seen Empire Records, don’t worry about it.

OK, so, it’s been a good long freaking while since we’ve done a Promethean preview, and folks have been waiting very mostly patiently over on the OPP forums. I went looking back through the previews I already did (the last one was here, back in October, which actually is more recent than I thought), and I realized that when I was taking votes for preview material, milestones always got narrowly outvoted.

So, because running a poll and then tabulating the results is more time and energy than I want to expend during the work week (my workload effectively tripled this year, did I tell you that? Not game-stuff, I mean my day job), I’m just gonna talk about milestones a bit. Tell me in the comments what you’d like to see for a preview next, and I’ll do the more dictatorial thing of just picking what I want to talk about.


In Promethean 1st Edition, the Storyteller designed milestones for each character based on their Pilgrimage and Refinement(s) and the player’s view of the character and so forth. Speaking as someone who ran a very long Promethean chronicle, it was a lot of work. It was very rewarding, mind, but I found myself wishing we’d had just a little more structure than we did. Obviously, Second Edition gives us the chance to do just that.

Milestones are now divided into three sub-categories: Universalinstinctive, and prescribed.

Universal Milestones

Every Promethean has to complete the universal milestones before she can complete the Great Work. If her Roles and knowledge of the Refinements are the alchemical reagents and herself the crucible of the reaction, the universal milestones provide the necessary background and apparatus for the transmutation to happen. Without completing all of the universal milestones, she cannot experience the New Dawn. The universal milestones correspond to the later operations of the Saturnine Night. Each Pilgrimage is unique, and characters can hit these milestones in any order.

A Promethean’s knowledge of these milestones (as with the other operations of the great work) comes from her connection to the Azothic memory. As such, this knowledge is as much instinct as it is conscious awareness. As they have no link to the Azothic memory, Extempore do not know of these milestones, and may not be able to achieve them even if they discover their existence. Most notably, no known Extempore has so far come back from the River of Death.

  • Sublimato, sublimation — A Created may not know her Pilgrimage to begin with, but she knows that it involves passing through a number of Refinements, and that each has something to say about what it means to be Created and what it means to be human. One Promethean encounters this milestone on completing her first Role. Another realizes the truth after completing her first Role in a complex Refinement. Yet another only gains enlightenment after creating an Athanor. This milestone is separate from that involved in completing any given Refinement, as it focuses on the need for Refinements and Roles in general.
  • Separatio, division — The Promethean must understand the parts of herself that sets her apart from others, the effects of Disquiet and Torment. The precise expression of this milestone varies. Some Prometheans must complete a Role in the Cuprum or Stannum Refinement; this is often the case if one of those Refinements is already on her Pilgrimage. Alternatively, she may come to the understanding of this milestone after falling into Torment or through causing significant Disquiet and a Wasteland.
  • Ceratio, tentatively affixed — A Promethean must affix herself to the world by connecting to others of her own kind within it. Sometimes, this comes in the form of meeting another Created and taking her Measure (p. XX). Another encounters this milestone when she joins a throng, or when that throng binds through the alchemical pact. Some others only achieve this milestone when they use an Athanor that another Created left to educate others — or when they themselves create an Athanor to benefit others.
  • Fermentatio, fermentation — The Created are both reagent and crucible in their alchemical workings, and this milestone reflects that fact. Each Promethean is a reactor that ferments Azoth into Vitriol. It might hit the first time the character earns Vitriol Experience, or when she first spends Vitriol Experience. A few Prometheans only come to understanding when they spend Vitriol to fix a specific Transmutation that speaks to their nature, or when they build up knowledge of the Pilgrimage from a number of lesser milestones.
  • Multiplicatio, multiplication — Humans have a need to create, as do those who would be human. This stage of the Great Work requires the Promethean to pass on what she knows, to leave a piece of her that will remain in the world after she undergoes the New Dawn. Many choose to propagate their existence by sharing knowledge, mentoring another Created and inducting him into a complex Refinement, and generally passing on knowledge. Others create a new Promethean, either out of a desire to experience parenthood, or the belief that only by creating something to take her place can she ever transcend to a new state.
  • Projectio, projection — As an operation, projectio involves passing from dead stuff animated by Divine Fire into an actual living human. It is the culmination of the Great Work, the moment of the New Dawn. As a milestone, scholars call it anastasis, meaning resurrection, or the Milestone of Dust. The Promethean must die and drink from one of the Rivers of Death, as dying is part of what it is to live. Despite many Created leaving it until last, it is like the other universal milestones in that it can take part at any point during the Pilgrimage.

Instinctive and Prescribed Milestones

The Storyteller creates the prescribed and instinctive milestones that each character faces. She bases the instinctive milestones on the answers to the five questions asked during character creation, and may ask more questions to draw out enough to make the milestones. Prescribed milestones mostly come about through a character’s Role. While she might pick a milestone from the examples listed for each Role, the Storyteller is encouraged to come up with the exact milestone based on each character’s personality and circumstances. She will also come up with further prescribed milestones based on the characters’ outlook and actions, and the lessons that each individual Promethean learns.

A player won’t typically know his characters’ instinctive or prescribed milestones, though he can likely get an idea of the instinctive milestones as they’re based on his input. As the story progresses, a Created receives Elpis visions and other signs that a milestone is close. If the Promethean refuses to engage with these signs, and goes out of her way to ignore things that might propel her along her Pilgrimage, she runs the risk of stepping backward.

An Example from Actual Play

I’ve been running a Promethean chronicle off and on for…good grief, about four years now. That’s a deceptive thing to say, though, because what happens is that we’ll play a story, then take a few months off to play something lighter because Promethean is intense (the same group is currently playtesting Changeling: The Dreaming 20th, in fact). One of the characters in that game is Avalon, an Unfleshed girl made of clockwork and resin (if you read the Firestorm Chronicle Anthology, she’s the central character of “Dedication”). She was on the Refinement of Gold; pretty much had been since the beginning with a brief jaunt into Mercurius, but when designing her universal milestones, I thought it was important that she acknowledge the Pilgrimage and either fully accept it, or fully reject it (the specifics were less important than the recognition). As such, her sublimatio milestone was accept/reject the desire to become human.

During our last story, Avalon got involved with an artist named Emil (she was going after the Follower Role on Aurum, he wound up being her patron and helping her find her own artistic “voice”). During the climax of the story, Emil, due to pressure from outside forces (alchemists, in fact) had to leave town. He asked Avalon to go with him, and she refused, because she had to stay with her throng – she wasn’t a “real girl” yet, but she wanted to be.

This raises the question: What if she never says that? What if a character never completes a milestone because it never comes up, or the character changes focus, or the chronicle veers away from a supporting character or location that’s important for the milestone? Here’s a little advice from my experiences running Promethean:

  • Be patient. I’ve watched my players come within a whisker of making milestones plenty of times. Situations recur. Don’t force it; it feels false then.
  • Use the Elpis visions. Characters can (and do) force them, but they can happen any time.
  • Presage milestones. I often tell players that their characters feel incipient milestones as they’re about to happen. That doesn’t always work, but a lot of times it focuses them on what their characters are doing.
  • Don’t be afraid to change the milestone “behind the scenes” if it becomes obvious that it no longer applies. Characters take a while to cement themselves, so there’s no problem in saying “well, this milestone made sense for the character as written initially, but not the character as she’s actually being played.” This is different from a character failing a milestone in play, of course.

Whew. So, there you go. Hopefully Promethean will itself pass a milestone soon, and graduate from “in layout” to “proofing!” But until then – what do you want to know about?

24 thoughts on “[Promethean]Milestones”

  1. Very nice! I find it interesting that I followed most of these by instinct after a few chronicles (the first few were… difficult with milestones)

    I’d love to see Transmutations next. They apparently changed a lot (pun)

  2. I’d like to know if that 3/3 Promethean armor from Demon ST Guide is indeed a thing in PtC2, or just a simplified approximation of a trait/mechanic intended for usage in a different game.

  3. I’m a bit disappointed – I was hoping for Milestones to work at least partially based on Aspirations-like mechanics. 🙁 That PLAYER choose some of them.

    • Some of them do. The instinctive milestones, for instance, are based on answers to questions during chargen. Also there’s a whole section on formulating milestones in the Storytelling chapter.

  4. Is there much more to Milestones? How do they interact with Aspirations, if at all? How many prescribed milestones to a Role, before the Role is considered thoroughly explored?

    Did we hit up Disquiet and Wastelands yet? That’s another place I’ve hoped to see some tidying up.

    • Actually, I think what I want to see more of is the Pilgrimage trait, if that’s still what it’s called. “Morality” traits have come a long way since, well, Morality, and Five Questions are coming up here as well.

      Also, will there be leeway and/or guidelines for Vitriol awards for roleplay? Session postmortems for me allowed me to tease out the inner life of my PCs and get perspectives that weren’t revealed organically in play, and 1e allowed for Vitriol awards like arcane experience.

  5. Have we heard the full list of settings yet? I’d love to hear about them; they’re my favorite part of 2e so far.

  6. How about wastelands next? I’d like to know how different wasteland can be between the big 3 promethean types (standard, construct, and extempore).

  7. I know that I’m stretching the limits of my NDA with Matt, but I’m gonna risk it to confirm something what he implies here…

    In our playtest sessions (ongoing since the troupe got our docs from Matt), everyone has been proper BLOWN AWAY by how well Promethean 2: Alchemical Boogaloo integrates a troupe-style play philosophy into the game. It’s not a RULES thing so much as an overall approach, where the ‘look and feel’ tends towards a shared exploration of the mysteries presented within and suggested by the rules. That bit above of some Milestones being ‘based on [player] input’ feels to me like it could have been a guiding tenet of how the game was (re)built for Second Edition. I mean, you can see evidence of that philosophy in Beast: the Primordial (available now, developed by this same Matt McFarland), so it shouldn’t come as a big surprise in the case of Promethean: the Created.

    …I do hope I didn’t overstep anything, O’ Great Black-Hatted One, but I am so mad-chuffed for this game that it’s hard to keep it all inside for so long. And I want everyone else to know that it’s sooooooo gonna be worth the wait! Send Pandorans after me if you must, as I may well deserve it. 😮

    • That’s awesome to hear! If you’re allowed to say, do you think this compatibility for troupe-style play would also enhance solo and/or one-on-one play as well? Or do you think the use of group input would hinder one’s ability to do that kind of thing?

  8. I’m so happy to see an Empire Records reference.
    Also, I second knowing more about “Completing a Role.” (Because, “What’s with you today?”) I feel like its been mentioned several times (in the refinements preview), but I don’t think we ever got an actual description of what that meant?

  9. I’d like to see Transmutations and Bestowments next. Yeah; that’s two things, albeit closely related; you’s gots some ketchin’ up ta do. :p

    One thing that I’ve always loved about Promethean has been how central character growth is to the game. Sure, every ChroD game has an experience mechanism for character advancement; but there’s something especially personal about the Milestones system and the way it strongly encourages the Storyteller to invest himself in the individual growth of each of the protagonists rather than concentrating on an overarching storyline and leaving character development entirely in the players’ hands. I’m rather grateful that Milestones aren’t being made more Aspiration-like.

  10. I feel like a couple universal milestones are innate knowledge from Azothic Memory.

    What does that Memory include, and how does it play into the revelations achieved by these milestones?

    I imagine it’s mostly narrative and that it can be different for every Promethean, but I don’t see that flexibility countering how it ties into milestones


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