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The Archetype System in Quint

What’s an archetype? Broadly defined, you could call it a recurring symbol or motif, usually found in art, literature or mythology. More specifically, you could call an archetype a very typical example of a certain person or thing. The archetypal apple in most people’s mind has red skin, has a round shape, and tastes like an apple. The archetypal wizard in western literature wears a pointed hat and dabbles in alchemy.

A lot of work has been done to codify archetypes, most popularly Carl Jung’s work with Collective Unconscious. In this book, he posits that human beings aren’t truly blank slates, and that we have a series of shared ideas and stories that inform our lives unconsciously. While the work falls slightly short of being comprehensive in that he fails to account for many cultural mythologies, it created the groundwork for an entire discipline of distilling stories and ideas down to their essence.

In Quint, you choose your own archetype.

With the archetype system, the game asks the question: what do you want to be? Furthermore, it isn’t at all prescriptive, meaning that the definition of your archetype is entirely up to you. Essentially, this process encourages worldbuilding in that it presupposes that you aren’t necessarily working with the same kinds of archetypes as one would contend with in our real world. An archetypal wizard in Quint doesn’t need to wear a pointed hat at all. What if instead they always wore platform shoes? That’s up to you to decide and when you do, it becomes real in your game.

The Archetype sheet provides a way for players to record the details of their own archetype with four sections

Aesthetics refers to the sensory ways in which your archetype is experienced. Usually visual, this section allows a player to define what they look like. This archetypal wizard could wear platform shoes, and their magic can appear like handfuls of glitter.

Story notes refers to the ways you hope your archetype interacts with the world; what if our archetypal wizards studied in towers that stretched upwards to the dome above? This section allows you to define a “canon” for your archetype.

Code of Ethics is meant to help your roleplaying. While you don’t need to write every rule your character follows here, rules that are applied to your archetype might be useful; what if wizards were duty-bound to help whenever they could?

Skill plan is last but not least. By exploring the skill trees of Quint, you can find powers and abilities that would help you define your archetype. Write them here as a plan, and when you gain enough character points from adventure, you’ll know what to take!

If you’re well versed with other TTRPG games, this all might feel familiar; in games with classes your archetype is largely assigned to you. This creates a cohesive storytelling world for writers to work within, but it’s also inflexible and can lead to prescriptive misunderstandings of who you want to be. Paladins are a great example. While 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons has canonically changed what a paladin is to champions of specific concepts like justice or revenge, the original concept was a holy warrior in the vein of the Christian crusader. They were only able to be Lawful Good, and even though the game has changed there still exist people who argue about what your paladin should be like. In Quintessence no such presumptions exist; if you’re the first person at your table to create a paladin, you get to define what they are.

I’m hoping to provide a space for your creativity with my game. The handbook provides a world that’s rich with lore, and I hope you throw whatever you don’t like in the trash. As Players create archetypes, and Storytellers create creatures and cities, each game of Quint is going to become uniquely yours.

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