July 23rd, 2009

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Pursuing the Great Work

48) Promethean: The Created by divers hands (White Wolf, 2006, 288 pages)
Billing itself as "A Storytelling Game of Stolen Lives" Promethean: The Created has the distinguishing quality of being the first truly original game developed for White Wolf's new take on its World of Darkness setting. While the other games take the monster-characters from the previous versions (Vampires, Werewolves, Mages, Changelings, Hunters) and try new things with them (or not), Promethean is pretty much unprecedented in White Wolf. Prometheans are beings animated by Azoth (aka the Divine Fire), beings who are dead (typically though not always) but move. The literary/mythological origins are pretty straightforward: be it Frankenstein, Osiris, The Golem, Pygmalion/Galatea, or others, there are plenty of stories about life granted to the inanimate/dead. In this game, players take on the roles of a character from one of five Lineages (that is a line of Prometheans that can draw its origins to a single, human, demi-urge/creator, such as Frankenstein; these lines are promulgated by the Created themselves, who must eventually create another of their kind as part of the Great Work).

The Created have a pretty bad time of things. Their very existence is outside of Nature's Design, leading to plenty of problems. Too close proximity to human beings leads to Disquiet (which starts as unease and can build over time into the "gather the pitchforks" mob mentality). Even the land itself begins to die, when The Created lingers too long in one area. However, there is hope. Each of the Created is on a very personal Pilgrimage, performing The Great Work of truly understanding what it means to be human and potentially to achieving actual Mortality (giving up the hoopty powers as well as the stigma) before ennui or the supernatural terrors inhabiting the world or simple madness overwhelm them.

While some groups might see this game as an opportunity to go waaaaay into either the "my soul waaaanes like the moooooon" level of emo-cheese or meaningless-episodic "Walk the earth. Help people, get into adventures. You know like Caine from Kung-Fu" meh, I am fascinated by the inherent tragedy and travel and personal quality of the thing. This game breaks the mold of previous World of Darkness games by robbing characters of their one fall back: a single city/location home. Unlike vamps and werewolves (oh my) the Created can only linger in one locale as long as they don't mind laying it (and miles around) to waste. While this adds levels of complexity around such simple concepts as involving recurring non-player characters, I am quite drawn to the notion of ceaseless travel and journey. Kind of kooky exciting.

On the Storyteller side of things, this game setting presents plenty of information about topics ranging from Milestone creation (essentially codified landmarks for the Pilgrimage, each personally driven, each attainable), specialized antagonists (the eternally hungry Pandorans, vile offspring from failed Promethean creation, to the truly unknowable Qashmallim, angelic beings serving mysterious powers), the actual climax of the Pilgrimage itself (yes, this is the one WW game that gives details about returning to humanity; and it does so in the main friggin' rulebook) and more.

In short: I love it.

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Of course, while reading the book was rather fun (if a little slow), I essentially did so for another purpose. Organizing and playing a game.Collapse )

Last night was the prelude for hntrpyanfar's Created. I have to say, after several weeks of only RPGA approved, Fourth Edition Dungeons and Dragons, it was refreshing to play a game with some, well, character.