I love this book. I love this game. I was a playtester for this Second Edition version, in fact. All that said, I appreciate and acknowledge that everyone may not share these feelings. Promethean: the Created offers experiences that run the gamut from extremely personal journeys to over-the-top transhuman craziness, and while my goals tend towards the former, I understand that mileage varies. So, what about the book? I think that it tends towards catering more to that personal side, but it does not negate any other options. I’ll go into more detail below…
The book is a true new edition of the game, with some heavy revisions, big additions, and refinements (not just the ten philosophies of the Created) that shift some of the game’s base assumptions. Much of it is based on focusing and enhancing the experience of the Pilgrimage, the journey towards the New Dawn of becoming truly mortal. You see this right away with the ten Refinements – divided into Basic and Complex, where the former are ‘intuitive’ to follow while the latter require some teacher – and the addition of Roles that are tied to Transmutations that are no longer the one-to-five dot buffet of First Edition, but now nested sets of effects that tie strongly to Roles and their Refinements, all of which are somewhat based on your character’s Elpis and Torment archetypes (think along the lines of Virtue and Vice), but they lead to one of three forms of milestones that add to your Pilgrimage score (kinda like Humanity), leading to Vitriol and the eventual New Dawn.
Does all of that sound complex? Yeah, it kinda is until you play it. At that point, you see just how many OPTIONS this game offers! Getting to that point, though, may prove difficult for some of us. New players may feel that entering the game is a bit like a trial by fire, and even seasoned veterans of Promethean can find the additions and changes jarring. That’s when taken as a whole, but when broken down to the individual character, it’s far more manageable.
There are seven Lineages (adding the Unfleshed and Extempore from First Edition supplements) and a whopping ten Refinements (double the First Edition’s), but each is distinctive and well presented. The chapter on the Promethean experience – what some would call ‘fluff’ – is a wonderful introduction to the perspective of the Created, and it segues well to the chapter on mechanics. Here you’ll find character creation, new Merits, and all fifteen of the Transmutations, as well as mechanics for Azoth and the Pilgrimage. Again, it is a lot, for sure. Again, too, it doesn’t need to scare you off.
The chapter on antagonists isn’t as robust as maybe I’d like, feeling like it only skims over Pandorans and Qashmallim, and the view of the Alchemists focuses more on what they DO than why they’re to feared. What this chapter does, however, is offer more options, which is good.
I’m not a big fan of the ‘location splats’ that have appeared in each of these Second Edition books, but this one has a reasonably good one. Where the book truly shines is the last chapter, on Storytelling, where we find a bunch of great advice on how the game works, what may not work, and ways to let it work without fighting the basic concepts of Promethean.
I could have given this a four-star rating for the steep learning-curve or the added complexities, but I choose to see those as wonderful reminders of how nothing in the Promethean experience is easy, and anything worth having is worth working for. Uh, also just on account of how much I LOVE this game! Five stars, and worth every cent I paid.