Some might call it pretentious to make a game that claims to examine the very nature of humanity. I would call it brave, compelling, the kind of thing that designers should strive for if they’re serious about elevating roleplaying as an art form. Then again, I AM pretentious.
Tonally, this is a bit of a weird one. The gothic moodiness (and teenage angst) that characterises the World of Darkness is here in full force – you are an abomination, everyone hates you, Mother Nature herself recoils at your presence etc. But despite it all, and unlike every other WoD game, there is still hope. You CAN be cured, you can become human and leave your artificial life behind. Even a campaign that sustains a monotony of darkness and despair will seem more colourful for having a light at the end of the tunnel.
The fatal flaw of Promethean is in the Milestone system – the life lessons each Promethean must learn before their quest for humanity is complete. Each set of Milestones is created from scratch and unique to each Promethean, which keeps a chronicle focused on the player characters and their agendas. Unfortunately, the Milestones for each Promethean are created entirely without the players’ input AND kept secret by the GM. As a consequence, the structure of a campaign is one of players meandering aimlessly around, hoping to stumble into whatever bullshit philosophical lesson the GM had prepared for them, without having any idea where to find it. It’s ironically appropriate that a GM in World of Darkness is called a “Storyteller”; I guess that would make the players “The Audience”.
The World of Darkness system is hit and miss. For all its claimed focus on story-uber-alles, a substantial chunk of the supernatural powers are still flavoured towards combat, and the crunch is not much softer than it is in D&D. I like the setting though. It’s good to see a game set in the modern day that actual FEELS modern; which is actually quite the accomplishment, considering Promethean came out 8 years ago.
Promethean has never been the most popular WoD game line, but perhaps it’s an acquired taste, because it’s one of my favourites. I await with interest the upcoming second edition.
(I never review a game I haven’t played or run. Check out https://michaelduxbury.com/category/reviews/ for more RPG reviews.)