Playbook Focus: The Harlequin

Voidheart Symphony deals with serious things – abuses of power, the grinding poverty, the desperation of living under brutal systems that do not have your best interests at heart, and more. Faced with that, some rebels grit their teeth and face the struggle. Some rally allies into a formidable rebellion. Some look to those that are hurting and try to ease their pain. But the Harlequin? The Harlequin laughs.

The Harlequin

Photo by Christian Wiediger

If there won’t be dancing at the revolution, I’m not coming.


The Harlequin is a trickster and provocateur. They prick the pomposity of tyrants, keep their ally’s spirits high, and hurl themselves into danger without a care in the world. They’re incredible at throwing their foes off-balance and doing the unexpected, but their weakness is that they don’t have much control over what happens next. They can set the fuse, but have difficulty dealing with the bomb.

Inspirations: Yosuke in Persona 4, Yusuke in Persona 5, Amethyst in Steven Universe, Todd in Bojack Horseman.

The Harlequin and the Crew

What’s the root of your trickery? Are you trying to keep the others happy? Show them a different way to see the world? Or do you just want to see what happens if you throw things into chaos?

The Fool

The Fool sits at the start of the tarot, representing naivete and new beginnings. For the Harlequin, the path of the Fool is one of fearless risk, throwing themselves into danger and the unknown. They’re trusting, when no-one else would be – their starting question establishes that they took a chance on another rebel, trusting them completely. Their Hangout move leads to strange coincidences happening around them, somehow benefiting their friends. In the city, they can gamble on a make-or-break solution to their problems, bringing either great success or terrible woes. And in the castle, when things get to much they can just nope out of danger, with the only question being what perils they’ll have to deal with the next time you see them.

Pick the Fool if: You want to be an agent of chaos who always has a way out – if fate is in their favour.

The Hanged Man

The Fool is a hyperactive force of chaos and uncertainty; the Hanged Man is the opposite, stability and passivity. They challenge the other rebels to stop for a moment and relax a little. Yes, your cause is serious, but if you work yourself into an early grave that’s not going to help anyone. When you hang out with your friends, you can help them with their dilemmas – or at least makes the consequences of their options more clear. In the city, you’re better able to watch and learn details without risking yourself. And in the castle, your stoicism lets you accept the pain your adversaries deal you, spotting their weaknesses even as you get more and more wounded.

Pick the Hanged Man if: You want to be a calm, laconic source of insight and stability. Or, just, you want to play a stoner.

The High Priestess

The High Priestess is a source of intuition, wisdom through unexpected sources, spirituality and mysticism. A Harlequin on this path is an oracle for the team – they might not always make a ton of sense, but their insights often somehow end up pointing people the right direction. You can see the hidden places of beauty in the city, and show them to others when they hang out with you – letting them refresh their trouble gauges when they tend to it. In the city, your dreams are prophetic, letting you ask any one question about future events and getting advantage when you follow them. And in the castle, you push that joy and faith in your heart out into the area around you, warding away the castle’s creatures and protecting others.

Pick the High Priestess if: You want to be a fount of prophecy and vision, a modern oracle slightly perpendicular to reality.

Moves and Powers

The Harlequin excels at playing with other’s expectations and being a wild card. Here’s how those abilities manifest withe the accumulation of the void’s Shadow…

Castle Moves

The Harlequin’s castle moves play into their themes of improvisation, trickery and oddity. Ace Up Their Sleeve is simple but effective, letting them uncover weaknesses in their enemy with trickery and misdirection and use a better stat as they do so. I Can Do That Better makes you an (obnoxiously) effective follow-up act, making sure the action another rebel failed out succeeds in the end. Pratfall is the opposite – making your actions harder but setting up your friends to succeed.

And then there’s Trump Card, an impressive weapon of last resort. Whatever form it takes, it’ll take out an Adversary – no need for Qualities or Strikes, do not pass go. There’s a significant cost, though, as it’s also likely to max out one of your Trouble Gauges and deal you a Deadly Wound in the process.

Shadow Moves

With supernatural power backing up your actions, your tricks become powerful illusions – or even supplant reality. I Was Never Here lets you leave doppelgangers behind as you dodge attacks – and turn the duplicates into weapons. Made You Look gives you the ability to command your enemy’s attention, giving your allies a cheap shot while their back is turned. And Tears of a Clown is incredibly effective at taking off the adversary’s mask, filling their heart with emotion that you can then capitalise on.

And then there’s Wild Card. This is the only effect in the game that lets you reach across playbooks, grabbing some other archetype’s Shadow Move. The possibilities are huge – use a Heretic’s Subversive Whisper to sow discord in the ranks, the Inhuman’s True Form to become an eldritch and terrifying clown, the Idol’s Audacity to get a hotline direct to the Vassal. And each time you Vent and then regain Shadow, you can swap this move out and get a shadow move from another playbook.

The way you form changes as the Shadow flows into you says a lot about your harlequin, too. Are you a laughing, prismatic-eyed, monkey-tailed trickster in a fancy coat? An oracle with a narcotic haze, a shapeless habit, and a will’o’the’wisp glow? A terrifying nightmare jester in colourful motley with a quicksilver mask?

The Mundane World

The Harlequin doesn’t take life seriously. Maybe they’re a Dropout, a Stoner, or living on ‘Independent Means’, trying their best to check out of the stress of regular life. They could be a Class Clown, an Artist, a Dreamer, trying to prick pomposity and show people a better way. Or maybe they’re a Cashier or Temp resigned to a dead-end job – or a Scam(?) Psychic, giving clients spiritual guidance for money.

Wrapping Up

The Harlequin can be many things – a provocateur or a troll, a visionary or a fool, a jester or a miracle worker. But this war against the castle threatens to grind them down – how long can they maintain their smile and their ironic distance? And is there something else under the mask, just waiting for the facade to crack?

And the Harlequin isn’t alone in living a role, gaining power from its dramas and tropes. Check in next time for information on the Icon – a figure of adoration, struggling against chains of hope, desire and expectation.