Playbook Focus: The Heretic

Voidheart Symphony is a game of revolution in the shadows of the city. Who better to focus on next, then, than the Heretic?

The Heretic

Photo by Alexander Popov

Burning down the house.


The Heretic is here to bring it all down – every corrupt authoritarian, every cruel system, every watchdog more concerned with the status quo than justice.

The Heretic’s strength is independence – they’re very difficult to pin down, and skilled at operating on their own. They’re also extremely resourceful, great at cobbling together something useful in the nick of time. One weakness is that they tend to run hot – they can find it very easy to accept more and more of the castle’s power, and become vulnerable to its coercion.

Inspirations: Beat in The World Ends With You, Kanji in Persona 4, Elliot in Mr. Robot.

The Heretic and the Crew

Your revolutionary fervour doesn’t stop you playing an important role in the crew – but as always, you have a few choices for what this might be.

The Devil

A Heretic that takes after the Devil is following the path of Lucifer, constantly pushing against society’s codes and trying to shake people out of comfortable – but harmful – ways of being. They enjoy pushing other’s boundaries – but have to be careful to make amends if they go too far. Their abilities let the Heretic burn bright but burn quick, whether that’s by hugely boosting the rate at which they accumulate power in the castle, or casting aside mundane obligations that are weighing them down. Their Hangout move lets them do this to others, but they have to be careful that they respect what the other rebel wants out of the interaction. But, in counterpoint to all that, they have to pick which of the other rebels comforts them when this rock and roll revolution gets too much – they have a soft side that at least one other character has seen.

Pick the Devil if: you want to grab as much power as you can get, and help others do the same.

The Magician

The Magician supercharges the Heretic’s resourcefulness, giving them skills and tools that can blow through problems in this world or the void’s. They’re a practised and skilled individual, such that another rebel depends on their talents to get by. In the mundane world, they have the drive to pour everything into a project, impressing others and speeding the project’s completion. In the castle, they can perform literal magic, improvised rituals that can create impressive and freeform effects. And they can share these talents with the other rebels, teaching them little tricks and skills that’ll help them during the investigation.

Pick the Magician if: You want to have an answer to every situation.

The Tower

A Heretic that follows The Tower has been through absolute ruin, and after another rebel helped them put their life together they’re fearless in confronting the castle’s pressures. The skills they learned at rock bottom help them push themselves now. When they would max out a trouble gauge and be taken out, they can get a second wind to keep going. In the castle, they can get great power at a cost – automatically succeeding at a move without having to roll, but taking a deadly wound. But their Hangout move presents a challenge to their fellows – if they respect what you’re looking for your bond can grow much stronger, but if they provide unwanted assistance (or don’t take you seriously) it’ll cause problems down the line.

Pick the Tower if: You want to survive and endure, no matter what.

Moves and Powers

As the Shadow flows into them, the Heretic becomes what they always wanted to be – an avenger ready to bring down the castle and its servants. Each of their moves plays into their themes of mobility, independence and disruption in different ways, letting you pick what kind of spanner in the works you want to be.

Castle Moves

First up, Free Running. As a Heretic, you do your best work when you’re free and mobile – this helps greatly with that, letting you keep momentum as you move and avoid your enemies as you do so. You can chain multiple Flow Like Water attempts together so long as the dice favour you, or turn that momentum into a successful Dodge and pull your enemies out of position.

And if you take Hey, Asshole! you can get great use out of that momentum, because your opponent will definitely want a piece of you. This move makes you an excellent antagonist, getting under the skin of your enemies and forcing them to deal with you. The better able you are to understand them, the more you can mess with them, disrupting their attacks and weakening their defences.

But maybe you want to lever your understanding in other ways. Radical Empathy lets you get under their skin by showing mercy, getting valuable information on your true target and even recruiting them to your side. The void’s creations aren’t inherently evil – we’ll see that when we get to the Inhuman – and a Heretic that heavily invests in this move can end up building a whole shadow revolution in the castle.

Finally, Resourceful helps the Heretic always have an answer to the situation, even if it might be a little lacking in places. No matter how hard-pressed you are, a rifle through your pockets will turn up something.

Shadow Moves

And as you gain shrouds and your Shadow rises, your Heretic’s toolbox will unfold. If you’re focuses on mobility and up-front antagonism, Shadow Step and A Shadow Like a Mirror are ripe for use. They’ll let you dart around the battlefield from shadow to shadow, and leave duplicates behind that let you play a shell game with your true position. If you’re focused on getting under your enemy’s skin, Subversive Whisper is incredible – so long as you get the drop on their minions you can sow discord in their ranks. And Avenger’s Resolve keeps you in the fight as your friends fall, encouraging you to hurl yourself into danger early because you know you’ll be able to recover.

And your appearance will change, too. Will you become a terrifying outlaw hurling promethean fire flanked by pyrotechnics? A macabre punk performer with a skull face and your own illusory backing dancers? A shadow-twisting assassin revelling in your ideal gender and daring haters to gaze on your gorgon visage? Find out in play!

The Mundane World

The Authority is guaranteed to have a relationship with power, and so is the Heretic – but in a very different way. Every one of their roles puts them in some kind of opposition to society’s rules. Your main question, then, is whether you fight for a cause like the Activist and the Thinker, push against society’s laws like the Hoodlum and the Thief, or try and find safety for yourself and others like the Runaway and the Scene Mom.

There’s also the question of how that’s all reflected in your mundane appearance. Do you wear your work uniform grudgingly, defiance in your eyes? Do you stand out with clashing fashion, daring others to comment? Or if your identity is hidden away from others by a mask or other concealment, who will you reveal it to?

Wrapping Up

The Heretic is a fire you can’t stamp out, the whisper of a better world in the back of your mind, a lighthouse pushing back the darkness even as they burn themselves as fuel. What will you do with yours?

And tune in next time when we look at someone completely different – the nurturing, empathetic and resolute Provider.

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