Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Spoilers as Requested: Archetypes!

Since our last post about building characters and motivations on their Aspects and Archetypes resulted in a request for more information about Archetypes, I'm here to provide! Here's what's up with Archetypes: what they do in the game and what they're for.

Archetypes in HJ are based on (but not identical to) the Jungian heroic archetypes, which are a popular theory of mythological archetypes and personality types that describe characters in myths. Jung was the dude whose work Campbell, author of the theory of the Hero's Journey, based his own work on, and if you don't really care about reading a bunch of psychological mythology articles today, all you really need to know about it is that a lot of western study of mythology is based on Jung and Campbell and their ideas about universal themes and characters that can be found in different cultures and time periods around the world, and while they're certainly not the be-all and end-all of mythology ideas (and have plenty of detractors with good things to say about where their theories' failings are!), they're useful for big sweeping ideas and classifications.

So the Archetypes in HJ look like this:

The four categories at the edges (Self vs. Community and Freedom vs. Order) don't really mean anything in terms of gameplay, they're just to sort of show where the spectrum of character types is here. Some Archetypes are more about the Hero focusing on themself and their own goals (Self), while others are more about their services to others (Community); and some Archetypes are about the chaotic possibilities of having few restrictions (Freedom) while others are more about control and organization (Order).

Mechanically, your Archetypes do two things: they control your "leveling" process, and they control how much access you have to your Endowments.

Heroes have two Archetypes which combine to make a single total score, and they can't purchase dots of stats past that score. The idea behind this is that a Hero has to actually be working toward their heroic mission - the reasons they became and act as a Hero in the first place - in order to increase in power and skill. If they're living up to their own heroic motivations and giving it their all, they get to level a lot faster than someone else who doesn't. The total score from their Archetypes also controls how many Reserves they have to spend to activate their Endowments, meaning that someone who is seriously working to fulfill heir heroic calling is able to call in reinforcements with Sway or recover resources with Persistence or kick off a Gambit when needed more often than someone who isn't. Because you have two Archetypes in a combined score, you can control how much or little you focus on either of them, allowing you to have a more nuanced motivation set; while it's mathematically easier to try to keep them even and take facets of both into your character, you can theoretically favor one above the other and still succeed, or even let one drop completely to zero as long as you dive into the other one feet first.

So how do you get more dots of your Archetypes? Well, through roleplaying - performing actions and making choices that support your archetypal motivations. Saviors who save people, Preservers who preserve things, and Explorers who explore stuff are all likely to get a chance at gaining Archetypes; and conversely, Heroes who act against their archetypal motivations, essentially failing in their self-imposed mission, can actually lose dots of their Archetype and set themselves back a little ways (don't worry, you don't lose stats you already have if your Archetypes go down, you just might be slow being able to get any more new ones).

Archetypes have a lot of information about what each one means as a character type and when a Hero could be considered to be fulfilling them - for example, no one's particularly impressed when you go out and get easily accessible information you might already have known as a Scholar, and no one's going to applaud you as a Savior if you're saving someone from danger you just put them in yourself. It's too much for a single blog post to go through all of them, but we're happy to talk about individual Archetypes in the comments, if you like!


  1. If you had to describe the goal's of each Archetype in one sentence, what would they be? And if that's too much, what does the Magician do?

    1. There are actually single sentences for each one in the chapter, so I'll copy and paste those for you here!

      The Artisan: Innovation is the force that improves the world.
      The Champion: A life without challenge is a wasted life.
      The Citizen: To be one with your people is to be truly whole.
      The Companion: Every person is the most important person in the universe.
      The Explorer: There is no greater cruelty than the restriction of freedom.
      The Jester: All people have the right to joy in their lifetime.
      The Magician: To have a dream is to seek to remake the world.
      The Preserver: Tradition and order make a stable world for all.
      The Rebel: Unjust rules were meant to be broken.
      The Ruler: True power is wielded only by the worthy.
      The Savior: Everyone is deserving of help and support.
      The Scholar: Truth is the greatest power.

      The Magician, specifically, since you asked, is about trying to make large, fundamental changes to the world around you. A character with the Magician Archetype wants to understand the universe in order to gain the power to reshape it; they have a vision for the world and they want to make that vision a reality. This can mean big fat magical powers - wizards who use magic to change the building blocks of reality are a classic example of this Archetype - but it could also mean using other skills to try to effect sweeping changes in the world (for example, someone with a lot of Leader who was a Magician might be all about trying to create a utopian World Government for the entire planet, or something like that).

    2. Could you give a rough description of the differing personalities between the rebel & the jester (doing what makes people happier vs. doing what the character feels is right) since my use of the archetypes is going be mostly philosophical instead of mechanical.

    3. Oops, missed this question!

      Yes, sure!

      Rebels are about fighting unjust authority. Corruption, despotism, systems that take advantage of others, people who are in power through unjust means - Rebels want to stop that sort of thing, and will fight those unfair systems and people where they see them. The important thing for Rebels is that it's not fighting against any law or authority they don't like, just ones that are unethical or unfair.

      Jesters are less big picture. They want to make people happy - people on an individual level as much as in large numbers. They could do that in big ways, like creating stuff that lots of people can enjoy or performing for audiences, or in small ways by being a best friend and support to their friends and family. Their big deal is that they hate to see people unhappy - and they're willing to put their own happiness aside to make sure they don't cause it in anyone else.

  2. Interesting. The only issue I have with this sort of thing, is that it brings an artificial sort of "pigeon-hole" to the characters, in much the same way as alignments do in D&D. You are expected to follow a set of ideals/code of conduct, and if you stray, you are penalized [or just don't advance as quickly, which is still a penalty]. The problem comes when the GM and the player don't see eye to eye on exactly what constitutes "supporting your archetypal motivation", or when the player feels they are doing the "right thing", but get nerfed because the GM didn't see it that way. I totally get the idea behind the mechanic - it's part of Heroic fiction to have a "life's purpose" or a "heroic goal" that defines the character - but I haven't had a lot of luck with similar ideas in actual gaming sessions [witness how many "what alignment means" or "your Paladin did what?!" articles relating to D&D/Pathfinder]. I notice the Scion 2.0 fan rules out there do away with similar restrictive roles for PCs, because heroes evolve in play, and don't do well with a narrow definition. Is there going to be a system for changing/evolving your Hero's Archetype? Anyway, hopefully there will be enough description in the rule book to overcome most of the potential grey areas in actual campaigns.

    1. Yeah, that's definitely a concern, which we have a few things going on to try to mitigate. For one thing, that's why Heroes get to have two Archetypes, so that they can work with both or either, or even ignore one completely, and still progress; for another, they have the option to change their Archetypes as they progress if they feel they no longer fit them quite right (doing so might temporarily set them back, but hopefully only a little, in service of sending them forward with a new and better setup!).

      There's a lot of discussion in the book about the Archetypes and what fulfills them, and suggestions for GMs about running them to make sure that they pay attention to how they're working out in play and whether all players are clear on the way they're being used. The goal here is not to have a narrow "this is what you are" definition that every player must fit or quit, but rather to have a barometer for characters to measure their ability to achieve goals that might matter more to them than the arbitrary goals of a given saga or quest, and give them a more coherent overall character design (even if they have to sometimes change it!).

  3. I am very curious. How does ''The Citizen'' work?
    Would it be like the Japaneese samurai who went to work in the rice-fields for 10 years?
    The word ''citizen'' calls images of the ordinary to my mind, which puts it at odds with what i hear you describing archetypes as.

    1. That could be one way of embodying the Citizen! They're all about serving their community or people - so sometimes that takes the form of community service, but it could also involve fighting for their peoples' rights or traditions, or going on a quest to find help or supplies for them, or helping them find a unified vision and internal peace, and so on and so forth. Citizens are about being part of something greater; they care about their group and its welfare is incredibly important to them.

      So yes, "ordinary" isn't totally off the mark, in the sense that a Citizen usually doesn't think of themself as any more or less important than other members of their community. But at the same time, they obviously are still a Hero, and go above and beyond to succeed in what's important to them and their people. :)

  4. Okay, here's a question: can you give us an example of one God[dess] for each archetype that embodies what it represents?

  5. So, where are you on the progress chart for the PDF?

    Just out of curiosity. :)

    1. Sorry, I logged in improperly.

    2. Post from Cameron on that coming imminently, actually! Stay tuned. :)

    3. Awesome, and wow, that was a fast answer!