Breaking away from the archetypes

  • 10 Replies
Breaking away from the archetypes
« on: January 20, 2015, 02:31:49 AM »
The playbooks are archetypes and they evoke a particular kind of character. Brainers are clinical psychics, Hocus are holymen, and Skinners (in my experience, 4/5) are wandering musicians. The game is all about intepretation of vague but solidifying tags, but I don't always get to see much variation. Savvyheads are machinists who build robots and waterpurifiers whose advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, what if it was played as just magic? An alchemist who creates humonculi by reaching through realities fraying edge and their controlled growing environment.

I've toyed with the idea of a Brainer artist whose brain relay are murals based on the area/close tag and  enjoys taking receptivity drugs with guests in their studio abode. Take artful and gracious later on and we have a budding celebrity who has some captivating and cerebral work. But it does completely ignore the high tech tag on the brain relay. For the MC's in the house, is that taking too many liberties with character creation?

Would anyone on here like to share their more unconventional characters or idea they've kept on the back burner?

Re: Breaking away from the archetypes
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2015, 02:39:09 AM »
My friend Simone M. kept talking to me about this idea he had: he wanted to play a velociraptor “Driver” in a jungle apocalypse. I don’t know if he managed to (probably not yet), but I know my friend Paolo C. played a jungle apocalypse in (post-apocalyptic) Paris and he was a Wrangler (unofficial playbook) who trained velociraptors.

Re: Breaking away from the archetypes
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2015, 07:32:44 AM »
The only Savvyhead I've played grew food; his workshop was a garden. I took the Skinner move "Artful & Gracious" to account for the reaction of people in a post-apocalyptic desert to freshly-grown produce. "When you perform your chosen art... or put its product before an audience."

In another game, our Brainer ended the game by taking over a vacated hardhold and swapping to the Hoarder playbook: his hoard was made up of people -- the population of the hardhold. His psychic sensitivity allowed him to sense where each person would best 'fit' in the collection, and of course the hoard could produce just the type of person he might need for any particular task, out of the general population.


Playing within and with established archetypes is one of my favourite things in roleplaying games, and something I often miss in more open-ended storygames. I cut my teeth on White Wolf's Changeling, a game that -- aside from being literally about characters who exist on the border between archetype and reality -- was basically incoherent if you didn't come at it with a very particular angle. Playing a class (or playbook, or whatever) without putting some serious twist on it often makes me feel like I'm half-assing it -- which can be a weird impulse for games that actually have more coherent and exciting/well-integrated archetypes.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2015, 07:39:47 AM by Daniel Wood »

Re: Breaking away from the archetypes
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2015, 04:13:10 PM »
I love subverting archtypes, too, and I think something that really helps with that is thinking of what playbook you want your character to transition to. Some playbook transitions make sense, like a Touchstone to a Hardholder, or a Driver to a Chopper or something, but the really unusual progressions can make for some very interesting and subversive characters.

I played an Angel turned Savvyhead who began to lose perspective on what makes people different from objects. I GMed for someone who was an Operator who turned into a Brainer because of another PC having a bad effect on him and breaking his psyche. I've been wanting to play as a Faceless who becomes an Angel but retains his plague doctor mask and wants people to be afraid of him for fear of getting too close to someone.

So yeah, pick an unusual playbook combination and try to think of why a character would develop like that. Why would a Hocus become a Gunlugger, for instance, or what would make a Quarantine become a Maestro'D?

Oh, and as a side note, the idea of a Savvyhead whose workshop is a garden is fantastic.

Re: Breaking away from the archetypes
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2015, 02:43:47 AM »
I played a Brainer masquerading as an Angel. It was pretty close to the "clinical psychic" archetype mentioned previously, but the whole game of "if they find out the truth they'll hate me and throw me out (to the mutated wolves in the forest)". At the same time I played Marie as unable to resist improving or experimenting with people's heads when they wound up on her table.

In a game I MC'dthe Brainer was an archetypal "creepy kid" from like a horror movie. Also an archetype, but maybe not the one most often found in the Brainer playbook.

Another game saw a Touchstone whose ideal was pacifism, and whose vision of a greater world was a "swords into plowbills" thing. His symbol was a loaded handgun, never once fired. Between that and the high Hard stat, that player enjoyed making it hard for emself I think: would this Touchstone be able to stick to his ideal?

My favourite "hypothetical archetype break" has to be the masked vigilante faceless. In a sorta-large holding, maybe so large that everyone doesn't know everyone else, this guy is a Batman-like character who pulls on the mask and goes beat up bad guys at night (complete with a very subjective definition of "bad guy"). The rules then imply that Bruce Wayne is actually a wimp without his mask on.



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Re: Breaking away from the archetypes
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2015, 08:38:35 AM »
I've toyed with the idea of making a Hocus who would be more of a charismatic mafia leader than a holy person. When your followers have surplus it means that they are successfully applying murder and robbery on people (surplus +violence), but they are not organised enough to work as a gang. The shoe doesn't fit perfectly, and such a set-up doesn't exactly play on the Hocus strengths, but I'd love to try it out. I wouldn't expect such a character to very long-lived when inevitably going up against other player characters, though Seeing souls would probably be rather handy :)

Othen than that I've always felt that the Touchstones Long history lends itself well for taking that playbook into interesting directions off the bat. Maybe an Infirmary, and the visions of the future is of altering the bodies of people to make them more adapted to living in the post-apocalyptic world.



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Re: Breaking away from the archetypes
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2015, 11:33:34 AM »
Oracle Battlebabe, starting with Visions of Death and Perfect Instincts.

Savvyhead-turned-Operator, when they start mass production.

Hocus as heir of a depraved family of wasteland dwellers, who form their cult.

Hoarder-turned-Maestro D', when they turn their hoard into an attraction.

Re: Breaking away from the archetypes
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2015, 05:00:40 PM »
I haven't messed much with the Archetypes but I've seen some nice alterations to advancements and crap.

Post apocalyptic rock star Skinner whose followers are his fans (later he turned Solace and fought the wolves with music)

A brainer in the desert in rain gear. The core of her umbrella is made of an alien metal and functions as a violation glove.

Savvyhead and drug dealer whose workshop includes a hydroponics farm. He later became a gunlugger whose main weapon was his mind.

Re: Breaking away from the archetypes
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2015, 10:29:54 PM »
I personally haven't had enough play experience to want to break away from the archetypes. I feel like I haven't had the full basic experience, so I still have the hunger to play the archetypical gunlugger who's a dour murderhobo or the brainer who's this obvious creeper. If I were to get my fill of that, I think then I could begin to experiment and try different permutations. I want to have a foundation down, you know? Have the fundamentals figured out before I try to do more advanced stuff.

Re: Breaking away from the archetypes
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2015, 06:49:53 AM »
In one game I MC'd I had a Faceless in the group, who wasn't some kind of large brute, but a doctor who had been forced to do some nasty stuff by a rival gang, and when he ran away he picked up a dented hockey mask (thus the name “Dent”) that protected him from them, but wanted to keep the doctoring personality at bay. (This was his pre-story that we found out slowly in the game.) He started out as the Gang's bonesetter due to some innate capability (having picked up “Healing Hands” from the Angel playbook quite early), and turned more and more into an Angel as time went on, with much internal fighting between the doctor and the mask.



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Re: Breaking away from the archetypes
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2015, 12:23:30 PM »
In a game I ran, there was a Hocus player that was a stage actor, an on-with-the-show type of a creeper. He leaned heavily into skinner as time went on, balancing ruling the public through hearts and minds with backroom hypnosis on the leading caste. It was very much an all strings attached sort of a game-world, especially since we had a gunlugger and a hardholder butting heads all the while on who was in charge. Tension was high.

Really, at the same time, we had an Grotesque leaning into Brainer acting as some weird psychic monster / witch / healer / thief who was driven by an insatiable curiosity to fuck with people. All the while maintaining the hydroponics of the settlement. It was an interesting twist because the hard characters needed (but didn't want) her alive, the public wanted to burn her at the stake, and the Hocus / Skinner wasn't ever quite sure, and all the while she's forming some strange cult of worshipers.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2015, 12:34:45 PM by Ebok »