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  • Representing changing refinement or role

    This is something I've been pondering for a bit. Maybe I haven't ready the book closely enough but I haven't quite figured out an In Character way to represent a Promethean changing a refinement or role. When it comes to roles do Prometheans just decide to try something else out? For refinements do they meditate on it or otherwise learn and suddenly it happens? I'm just not sure.

  • #2
    I am sort of new to Promethean so I apologize if I'm wrong. I believe it has something to do with their Azothic Memory (which makes an Extempore even more 'lost'). When a non-Extempore Promethean is created he instinctively knows the 5 basic refinements. They know of the refinement's existence, and the roles are just the difference facets of that refinement. This is why complex refinements are so much more rare and challenging to learn (since someone has to teach you or you have to find an Athanlor to learn it from).
    When it comes to changing refinements, I think it is a conscious decision since they have to know about it from Azothic Memory or another means.

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    • #3
      Yeah, I was wondering about this as well. How much of the Pilgrimage is conscious on the Created's part? Like, the Azothic Memory gives them a general idea of stuff they need to do ("Become human"), but are they checking off a mental list as they accomplish this stuff? The book even mentions that the Pilgrimage shouldn't be thought of as a mechanical checklist; it's about the Promethean gaining understanding of humanity...but the book, of course, is written in RPGese so it's hard to pick out what the decision-making process is. When a Created finishes a Refinement, it's portrayed as both a psychological and a physical/alchemical transition - the Promethean gains greater understanding of an aspect of being human as well as advancing the formula within themselves further along the road to the New Dawn. (in a sense, adding a new ingredient to their "stew")

      Related question: how long would a Promethean spend in a role, on average? Disquiet makes them move on eventually, but some of the examples given (such as the Created who joined the military) would necessarily be long-term commitments, taking years to complete. How long would she, for example, need to stick around in order to fulfill the "Soldier" or "Leader" roles through her service?

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      • #4
        I agree with Samare on the Azothic Memory. The knowledge of the Five Basic Refinements is kind of engraved into your soul. I think only the Plumbum really delve into their Azothic Memory so much that they would really call them "the Refinement of Lead" and so on, but pretty much every Lineage Promethean knows that they're called "trying to act human" "trying to find yourself in solitude" "trying to learn more about my condition" etc. It's common sense. So once they realize they want to be human, they decide which path they really want to try first.

        As for how long it takes, I would say...as long as your ST decides, and as long as it makes sense. If you want to become a Follower by joining the military, then you probably need to be in the military. Once you've followed your Role to a 'milestone' where you've really come to understand your condition (such as throwing yourself on a grenade to protect your fellow soldiers and surviving, which might also double as Martyr) then you complete the Role, gain the Alembic, and need to move on to a new Role/Refinement.

        All of the Firestorm stuff wouldn't affect you until you've actually completed the Role...that's how I read it anyway. So you could feasibly be on the same Role for thirty years or more, just not getting it, and you'd be fine as long as you don't finally get it.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by RomulusGloriosus View Post
          So you could feasibly be on the same Role for thirty years or more, just not getting it, and you'd be fine as long as you don't finally get it.
          That's sorta what I figured...but I was also hung up on how, y'know, it seems like the Pilgrimage is supposed to be something a playing group could complete in a reasonable amount of time. I think a lot of the impression of the Pilgrimage being restrictive comes from the idea that time is short, you've got to complete each step as fast as possible... Prometheans can live to 100 (or more, if they don't use up their "free death" too soon), which implies they've got decades to work on each step... but the average group probably isn't going to build their roleplay around the idea of "and then we work at Wal-Mart/get hooked on blow/sit alone in an empty cabin for six years."

          So, like, as a narrative concept the Pilgrimage gives plenty of time to stop and smell the roses, but if you actually want to see the end in a game you either need to start on third base or rush the whole thing, both of which seem unsatisfying. Then again, I've never actually played PtC yet, so that's just theoretical based on the text. It might work smoother in practice.

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          • #6
            I think something to remember in this discussion is that the PCs aren't your average anything. Vampire neonates, for example, are supposed to be pawns that get thrown at stuff and die by their Elders, with only three or so of nine actually surviving to be Ancillae, and only one of them an Elder. (Just a few numbers getting thrown about, that ratio doesn't get stated anywhere.) But a PC neonate vampire gets beats and experiences per session, and can be BP 3 with 5 in Disciplines within, in game time, a few months, depending on how regularly you play, whereas an Elder in your city might have the same stats after having been around for centuries.

            So a PC, by definition, will always be exceptional, unless you plan on doing time skips in your game. An NPC might have been struggling with a Role for thirty years or more, and your PC will solve it in a week or a month (maybe a few months.) Unless you plan on doing time skips, as I said. It'd be totally reasonable to start your game in, say, the Dust Bowl, and have your characters only actually complete their pilgrimages in the present day.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by RomulusGloriosus View Post
              I think something to remember in this discussion is that the PCs aren't your average anything. Vampire neonates, for example, are supposed to be pawns that get thrown at stuff and die by their Elders, with only three or so of nine actually surviving to be Ancillae, and only one of them an Elder. (Just a few numbers getting thrown about, that ratio doesn't get stated anywhere.) But a PC neonate vampire gets beats and experiences per session, and can be BP 3 with 5 in Disciplines within, in game time, a few months, depending on how regularly you play, whereas an Elder in your city might have the same stats after having been around for centuries.

              So a PC, by definition, will always be exceptional, unless you plan on doing time skips in your game. An NPC might have been struggling with a Role for thirty years or more, and your PC will solve it in a week or a month (maybe a few months.) Unless you plan on doing time skips, as I said. It'd be totally reasonable to start your game in, say, the Dust Bowl, and have your characters only actually complete their pilgrimages in the present day.
              Time wise when it comes to PCs another thing to consider is that most games are done in groups and as such one way to look at it is the insights of others contribute to furthering the ppilgrimage a little bit

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              • #8
                There's also the fact that Promethean, more than any other game, has no "normal". Promethean's are explicitly unique, and it's as possible to have a Promethean take two hundred years and eke out their final step on the Pilgrimage just before their Azoth gutters and dies as it is that another Promethean may go from newborn to human in a month or two. When your numbers are so low and the individuals who make up those numbers are so unique then there really isn't a default to fall back on.

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                • #9
                  Some things I learned from running my PtC 2E subplot in our general Mage game:
                  1. Refinements stir from both general idea of PC goals ( 'I want to know what I am' ) and from particular Role connected to Refinement ('I want to be Martyr for this idea' - 'Okay, you will then switch to Ferrum, as it's Martyr Refinment.' ) / Had literal topic about it few weeks past. /

                  2. Refinement or Role is completed when you resolve Milestone about it - or player change his mind on pursuing it. But on change of mind, Refinemenet or Role are still to be mastered on next attempt.

                  3. Change takes minimum one day and character is treated to follow his previous Refinement or Role till the Dawn of next day. ( Can be longer in days if ST deems character need to acclaimed more to new alchemy in Created. )


                  Conquest of Paradise - Fan Dark Era about Portugal and Spain conquests in XVI century - Mage & Beast ( & Hunter )
                  My Hubs - MtAw 2E Legacies and System Hacks & WtF 2E Lodges and System Hacks
                  MtAw 2E - History of Awakened - (almost) canonical game timeline of events

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                  • #10
                    "I want to learn martial arts and fight at tournaments!" -> "Eh, I'm satisfied with my 4 fights. Time to pick up a new hobby. Always wanted to learn spanish." /"Hm. I'm good at punching, but my wrestling needs work. Maybe I should Focus on that some?"
                    Basically the same thing as a change of refinement/role: you start with something because it catches your attention for one reason or another. At some point, you feel content with what you learned, what you achieved (created probably feel that moreso than us mortals). However, there is something else that catches your interest, be it a different Aspect or another philosophy.
                    You start focusing your attention on that, consciously or subconsciously. And boom, you realize you are not a Martyr trying to weather the worst the World can Throw at him- you are an Exemplar trying to inspire people to be like you.

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                    • #11
                      For people who've actually played/run PtC games, how long do players typically stay in a particular Role/Refinement? In terms of time played; sessions, storylines, etc.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Gellydog View Post
                        For people who've actually played/run PtC games, how long do players typically stay in a particular Role/Refinement? In terms of time played; sessions, storylines, etc.
                        I've ran many stories of PtC, but all were in 1e, where there were no Roles, a far less streamlined pilgrimage, and shifting Refinements was allowed but not necessarily expected. I plan on running a one-on-one game soon for my fiancee, but that will obviously be skewed because I won't be having to come up with meaningful milestones for a whole throng.

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                        • #13
                          Has no one here brought up Pilgrim Marks? Changing Refinements is literally what they're there for. You follow the Ramble to some marks and study them and achieve a kind of religious epiphany / enlightenment / alchemical formula to practice.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Gellydog View Post
                            For people who've actually played/run PtC games, how long do players typically stay in a particular Role/Refinement? In terms of time played; sessions, storylines, etc.
                            That's... difficult to say. I honestly have to say that it depends on throng dynamics. What do I mean by that? Everyone has individual goals, but how often those goals come up depend on the plot you're following. A synergetic throng can hit those dynamics together, resulting in going through Refinements and Roles faster. I've completed story arcs fast when I have a role that works with others' stories. Working together, well, works.

                            Meanwhile, I had a Refinement once that took me months of game time to get out of, because it was just difficult to come up. Almost needed a one-on-one with the ST to do it. And, actually, we did do bits of it that way through email. It was a grind.

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