Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Spoilers: Revenge of the Archetypes

After lots of neat discussion about the idea of Archetypes in our last post one million years ago, we had some requests for examples of characters that might fit each of them - sort of to get the idea of what the Archetypes are supposed to be illustrating and of what Heroes in stories gone before might represent them. There are a LOT of other Heroes and gods that display these Archetypes in various different stories around the world, but we stuck with just the ones in the core book to stay most relevant. And just for fun, I'm including some gifs of pop culture Heroes that fit these Archetypes as well, because I can!

Remember, almost all Heroes have two Archetypes, or change their Archetype as they expand into becoming a new kind of Hero over the course of their stories, so you may run into characters that seem to display more than one!

Artisan: Innovation is the force that improves the world.
Archetypal God Examples: Apollo, Hephaestos, Sarasvati
Other Heroes: Daedalus, Imhotep, Volund

Artisans are motivated to become Heroes because they want to make stuff that changes the world. That could mean a lot of different things: creating new artforms, inventing new objects that fundamentally change society, being a performer whose art does amazing things, teaching a new generation of makers, and so on and so forth. They have creativity and skill on their side, or at least think they do, so they're out to share those things and make their mark.

Of course, you won't succeed every time you try to Artisan. You can also be an Artisan who tries to make important things and fails to have any real impact. But if you work at it and you're Artisaning well and frequently, over the course of your career as a Hero, you're bound to invent, make, or introduce something you can point to as your little effect on the universe as a whole.

Champion: A life without challenge is a wasted life.
Archetypal God Examples: Durga, Set, Thor
Other Heroes: Achilles, Herakles, Karna, Sigurd

Champions are all about overcoming obstacles and becoming Heroes purely to prove that they can. They have something to prove: whether it's defeating the greatest and most dangerous of enemies or braving the most daunting and perilous of tasks, they need to prove, not just to other people but to themselves as well, that they can do these things, and the idea of letting someone else handle it would seem like gross cowardice (or at the best, at least laziness) to them. They would be literally wasting their own time and potential if they didn't seek out and do these things, and avoiding giving those powers and skills to the world at large that could have benefited from them. Champions also see being a Hero as their very literal job - because they can do these things, they have to, because who else is there to do it if not them?

Unsuccessful Championing usually means that the Hero or god in question got creamed by the difficult task or dangerous enemy they tried to take on, but remember, that's just par for the course. All Champions sometimes get their asses kicked by adversity - it comes with the territory when they spend all their time trying to do the literal most difficult things they can find to do - and every time they do, all that means is they successfully found the obstacle they should be focusing on, and if they survive, run right back into it again.

Citizen: To be one with your people is to be truly whole.
Archetypal God Examples: Agni, Heimdall, Yama
Other Heroes: Aeneas, Menes

Citizens become Heroes because their communities need them. They care about supporting, protecting, and safeguarding their people - whether that's family, their neighborhood, their ethnicity, their local contact network, you name it, they step up because the rest of the group needs them to. Someone has to be the voice or the arm of the people, especially if they can't always speak or act for themselves, and a Citizen Hero is always trying to make sure that what they do benefits or protects their people one way or the other. It's not that they don't have personal or selfish desires, but their careers as Heroes aren't about that; they're about their people. They are, very literally, the power of the people.

Citizens sometimes fail, often because something they thought would help the community turns out to backfire and hurt them, or because they aren't there to take the lead when their people need them to. But as long as they don't fall into the trap of considering themselves more important than the rest of their community, their actions usually over time help them build up their people and help them when no one else could or would.

Companion: Every person is the most important person in the universe.
Archetypal God Examples: Baldr, Demeter, Parvati
Other Heroes: Mohini

Companions focus on forming close bonds and connections with other people; they know that it is people who really change the world and affect events, and therefore helping and empowering individuals is just as powerful in the long run as fighting a monster or inventing the cure for cancer. Companions want to make individuals' lives better and be a warm and positive connection in their lives, which could be as friends, lovers, family members, confidantes, therapists, or any other role that lets them change a person's life for the better. Every single individual makes a change in the world, and a Companion Hero is connected to all of them, the center of a beautiful, complex spiderweb of allies and loved ones.

Of course, sometimes Companions fail to make meaningful connections with people that they want to befriend or help, or it turns out that said people are not very nice and want to take advantage of the Companion - or sometimes they just can't help someone, which tends to be exhausting and unfortunate for everyone. But the important thing is that they keep trying; where others might say that an individual is unimportant in the grander scheme of events, a Companion never believes that.

Explorer: There is no greater cruelty than the restriction of freedom.
Archetypal God Examples: Artemis, Bast, Ullr
Other Heroes: Icarus, Jason

Explorers have to get out there and see, do, and experience - they have to, they'd be the first to tell you. Being stuck in one place forever is stifling and horrifying to them; they want to go new places, find out new things, experience new and unfamiliar sensations, and continually broaden their horizons. They become Heroes because they aren't content with just staying where they are and are looking to be part of a grand adventure; even if it turns out not to be a lot of fun, they could never have just stayed home, for goodness' sake.

Explorers sometimes fail because they get cornered by events outside their control; they end up in jail, or they run out of money and have to walk and it takes a really long time to get anywhere they haven't been before, or they have to stay in the area to help people and can't just jet off somewhere the way they'd really like to. For the most part, they do their best by keeping an eye out for new experiences to try and places to investigate, even if it's just a new area in their home city or a new cultural experience in the community down the road!

Jester: All people have the right to joy in their lifetime.
Archetypal God Examples: Dionysos, Hathor, Lakshmi

Jesters care about joy, excitement, and happiness, and trying to give them to everyone else. They become Heroes because they see that there's too much sadness and dismalness in the world, and they're going to do what they can to redress that balance; some of them do that by being classical-style jesters, acting like clowns to make people laugh and stop taking things so seriously, while others work hard to do things that bring a smile to peoples' faces by giving them things they need or providing entertainment and succor where they can.

Since Jester Heroes are trying to combat an entire planet full of sorrows and misfortune, they're fighting a sort of neverending battle, and sometimes they fail just because it's too much to try to literally keep everyone they ever encounter happy at all times. They give it their best, though, and often tend to be the types to ignore or handwave their own sorrows; after all, bringing someone down by talking about their own sadness is hardly going to make them feel better, so they'll be smiling even when they don't feel it.

Magician: The world can be remade by those with vision.
Archetypal God Examples: Odin, Ptah
Other Heroes: Merlin

Magicians become Heroes because they have a grand vision for the world that they want to realize; they're big-picture people who want to rebuild the whole thing (possibly after tearing it down first, if need be). They're architects of the world around them, designing new systems, organizing new politics, and finding ways to meddle with not just changing some things but with reorganizing the entire shebang.

Or at least, that's what they want to do; it's a tall order, so Magician Heroes often suffer setbacks and have to adjust their master plan, or end up having to spend a very long time trying to put their fifty-five-step plans into action. They stay on message, though; as long as they're theoretically moving in the right direction, many Magicians can still count it as a success even if it takes an immensely long time or ends up not looking quite like they thought it should have.

Preserver: Tradition and order make a stable world for all.
Archetypal God Example: Anubis, Hades, Skadi
Other Heroes: Hector

Preservers are the protectors of tradition, law, and established custom. They become Heroes when the peaceful order of things is threatened and needs a defender; they believe firmly that traditions exist for a reason and have all the value of generations of wisdom and effective practice behind them, and act as stalwart defenders against chaotic forces for change that might tear down those traditions. Many such Heroes defend the cultural history and tradition of underrepresented groups, or keep things like folk wisdom and legal codes from being lost or misunderstood.

Preserver Heroes are living in a fast-paced modern world and so they can have a rough time sometimes; the sheer volume of things being destroyed or replaced at any given time is daunting, and most of them have to choose specific things to focus their efforts on. They can also sometimes get blinkered and resist necessary or positive change just because it is change, but they do a lot of very important preservation and restoration work that saves important things for generations still to come.

Rebel: Unjust rules were meant to be broken.
Archetypal God Examples: Loki, Pan, Prometheus
Other Heroes: Robin Hood, Spartacus

Rebels become Heroes to fight the Man. They aren't rebels in a general "fighting everything in authority" sense, of course - they are specifically about opposing unjust or corrupt leadership or systems, so they don't feel the need to protest against a benevolent administration but they'll absolutely be out there undermining rulers who want to take advantage of their people or bend the system to their own advantage. (Of course, depending on the Hero, some of them might point out that they've never seen any such thing as a leader who was actually above reproach, but that's why they're so important...)

Rebels can have real trouble having to pick their battles, since they can't swallow letting any corruption go past them unchallenged, and as a result they tend to end up in trouble a lot of the time, sometimes being punished so thoroughly that they get taken out of commission and can't have as much impact as they might wish. But that never stops them for long, and if being persona non grata is the price they pay, well, someone's got to do it.

Ruler: True power is wielded only by the worthy.
Archetypal God Examples: Horus, Indra, Zeus
Other Heroes: King Arthur, Rama, Theseus

Rulers approach the problems of leadership from the opposite end: they cannot abide unfit rulers or weak leadership, which means that, most of the time, the only person they can truly trust to do a good job of it is themselves. They believe that only those who are worthy of power should ever have it - usually themselves, since that's the only person they can be sure of - and actively work to consolidate their own power, usually taking it away from others who don't deserve to have it in the process. Not every Ruler Hero is power-hungry, necessarily, but they're all ready to take on the role of authority if they have to, for the good of everyone underneath them and society in general.

Obviously, Rulers' usual problem is just other Rulers (Heroes or otherwise) - they don't get along, for obvious reasons, unless they all have enough mutual respect for each other and each others' leadership styles not to decide they have to stage endless palace coups on each other. They also often find themselves working alongside Rebels to topple unfit leadership - but the Rebel is always there behind them, watching to make sure they don't repeat the same mistakes...

Savior: Everyone is deserving of help and support.
Archetypal God Examples: Athena, Isis, Vishnu
Other Heroes: Perseus

Saviors want to save and help people, in whatever form that takes. They don't decide who "deserves" it and they don't want to pick and choose who to help; everyone who needs help should get it. That might mean saving people from danger or helping them when they're hurt, or getting them food and supplies when they're needy, or providing psychological support when they're having a rough time. They'll even help their enemies when they have to, although this can cause occasionally problems with other Heroes who are a little less mercy-minded.

A Hero who's a savior usually gets stretched thin - there are a lot of people who need saving, and even when they're great at what they do, sometimes they just can't save everyone. They also sometimes come into conflicts where saving one person might mean letting another one down, which can lead to traumatic choices, and their I-mean-everyone approach can mean they conflict with the other Archetypes pretty frequently if saving or helping someone would foul up a Rebel's just rebellion or a Magician's master plan.

Scholar: Truth is the greatest power.
Archetypal God Examples: Brahma, Frigg, Thoth
Other Heroes: Odysseus

Scholars believe in the old adage: knowledge is power, and the more they have, the more powerful they are. Learning is always good and important for its own sake, regardless of whether or not what they learn is "useful" by anyone's standards, and they become Heroes because they know there's an enormous wealth of knowledge out there waiting to be learned. They not only want to find these things out, but they also want to teach them to everyone else - truth and knowledge are important for everyone and the world becomes a better place the more people have access to them, so hoarding them is antithetical to their desire to see a more enlightened universe.

Scholar Heroes can suffer from the high-stress nature of their adventures; sometimes less information-minded Heroes run right over evidence or blow up information streams, which can be frustrating, and sometimes they have to try to make a case that is more practical than "because wouldn't it be cool to find out???" to convince companions to stick their noses into an area that doesn't seem useful to them at the time. But they're often able to do and learn things from their relentless pursuit of knowledge that others never would, and as long as they keep trying, they keep adding to their store of truth as they go.

Gods are, of course, gods; while many of them are divine Heroes in their own stories, they're not player characters and statting them as such doesn't always make perfect sense. But they still display the Archetypes that Heroes always have, and it's a lot of fun to speculate about what Archetypes various heroes from all kinds of myths, legends, and modern stories might have!


  1. I don' got much, just saying: I've missed you guys and your gifs.

  2. Good reading as always. I'm looking forward to the game, to see how the parts all come together.
    On another note, bag up your hard drives and get the hell out of the way of Irma, guys! Stay safe, and we'll wait for news.

    1. We're safe and sound and so are our files!

  3. Glad to see you back, gang !

    I remember Archetypes being the bane of my character Lukas during the european playtest, as he kept failing his rolls to gain new dots and progress further down his path to power despite practically throwing himself in dangerous Sage-y situations. Did the mechanic stay the same or is there something to comfort the unlucky players like myself ?

    1. The mechanic is at the base the same, but there are things to help and comfort you! For one thing, there are some powers that can affect Archetype rolls and tweak the odds a bit in your favor, especially in Mysticism and Fortune (and of course just... well, being Norse helps, it's sort of their specialty).

      Keep in mind, too, that we had a blast with that playtest, but it was much shorter than an average HJ game is designed to be (only six sessions!). Heroes are only getting 10 (maybe 15 to 20 if they have a lot of setbacks) of these dots over their entire lifetime as Heroes and only need 4 to get all the stats to max they could get at Mortal, so while unluckiness does of course suck, in a longer haul game infrequent Archetypes are working as intended!