I’ve been pretty radio silent for awhile, I know. I also know not many people care, so I’m not sure what I’m doing explaining :-P. But truth is, I haven’t been feeling very creative. I’ve been very depressed and my efforts to draw have been entirely fruitless and made me feel like I wanted to shoot myself, so I really haven’t been doing that at all. It makes me a little sad, but some days that feels better than the frustration I get when looking at the garbage I draw. I’ve also been pretty busy with work. I recently returned to my job writing for a small rural newspaper, so that kind of eats a lot of my time (I worked all seven days last week. And I still can’t afford rent and student loan payments. Yay.)
But lately, I’ve been feeling the creative itch again. Not to draw, heavens no. But I’ve been planning an RP with my usual partner (who I’m only fortunate enough to see once a week if I’m lucky, so that’s a little frustrating too) and I’ve finally convinced her to try an idea I’ve been meaning to flesh out for years now. It’s based (loosely in some ways, a bit more closely in others) on the Homestuck mythos, though I have taken some liberties regarding some of the finer details, particularly where Hussie has been somewhat less than clear. Now, I’m a bit anal and I don’t like being clear on some things and speculating on others. So I decided to flesh out the system my own bad self, but as I did so, the system failed to be as symmetrical as I would have liked. Some classes have very obvious passive/active opposites while others aren’t quite so apparent. So I decided to scrap a large chunk of it and start over. I thought all y’all might enjoy seeing that, so here I am. Sharing.
Just a quick disclaimer before I start: though I have, in many ways, made this my own, the basic core idea belongs to the genius Andrew Hussie. I won’t take full credit for it since so much of it remains his. However, the class system has all been more or less revamped from the ground up with only a few nods to Hussie’s original iteration. I’ve used some of the non-canon classes I found floating around the internet for inspiration, but for the most part, I’ve completely scrapped any regular system I found. Those of you in the know will see where I’ve deviated. Others…well, it won’t really matter, will it? :-P
Now, for those of you who don’t know, Homestuck is a webcomic (though calling it that does it a bit of a disservice…it’s more of a multimedia experience and is one of the singularly most complex and beautiful and absurd things to ever be birthed of this cesspool of a thing we call the internet). I won’t go into too many details except to say that the main characters all fall into certain heroic “roles” that are composed of two parts, a class and an aspect. The class, as in any roleplaying game, is sort of their job title, but in Homestuck it tends to deviate from your usual roles. Instead, the class part of the title indicates how the hero manipulates their aspect. The aspect, then, is the element that they’re attributed to, though they aren’t restricted to the four basic elements. In fact, this is where Homestuck shines so delightfully. The four elements aren’t even all represented, with only air present in one form. Each aspect is very symbolic and works beautifully with the class to sort of describe the character, their strengths and their weaknesses, not only in battle but also as individuals and details the challenges they must face and overcome to become better people. There’s a great deal of speculation in Homestuck as Andrew Hussie didn’t exactly release a sourcebook for all of this stuff (which is half the fun for him because he can basically define everything as he goes), which leads a lot of people to speculate what this class or t’other means and how they would interact with their aspect, even in combinations that don’t exist in the actual canon. It is one of the reasons that Homestuck is so incredibly popular. It lends itself very well to personal interpretation (as you may have noticed in my own gallery).
I love the class/aspect (or classpect if you prefer) system. I love how it works and I love how powerful it can be as a way to describe characters. But in planning for my own Homestuck-esque RP, I began to realize how abstract the system is, even notwithstanding all the necessary speculation that abounds in order to describe the gaps left by Hussie. So I decided to fill those gaps and embellish on the system a bit myself. Firstly, I made the system a lot more “game-like” and a lot less abstract. In my RP, I am really playing up the fact that the characters have entered what basically amounts to a video game, something that becomes very vague in Homestuck as things get…well, a little weird. As such, the class titles in particular but also their descriptions are a lot more stark and basic to feed into this feeling of existing in a very controlled, mechanical system. Secondly, the “passive/active” dichotomy, while mentioned in Homestuck, never really comes into play that much. Again for those who don’t know, classes are either passive or active and often (but not always, it seems), they have a counterpart. Active roles tend to benefit themselves with their aspects while passive roles tend to benefit others. A thief and rogue, for example, always steal their aspect. But the difference is that the thief steals their aspect to benefit themselves while the rogue, like Robin Hood of old, steals to aid their teammates. However, this often struck me as being vague and a little troublesome as aiding others can sometimes be done in such a way that it benefits yourself…and certainly benefiting yourself can, in return, benefit others. Also, the act of benefiting others itself is an action and is generally not passive, so the terminology didn’t work for me. So I revamped that system too. In my system, the active classes tend towards imposing themselves upon their aspect. These tend to be characters that are more in command, more confident in their own power. Passive classes on the other hand tend to be acted upon by their aspect. These characters tend to be more intuitively connected to their aspect at their core. Yes, I know some of the “passive” roles manifest their powers in an active way, but I felt like it made more sense this way.
Finally, on a more aesthetic level, I changed the names of the classes in many regards, so while I use some of the verbiage Hussie used, they aren’t always in the same place performing the same function. In some places, I basically just tried to pick a class title that seemed to intuit that class’s method of affecting their aspect (something else I felt Homestuck lacked was that intuitive class-to-abilities connection…how is a Bard a “destroyer” in any form? Speculate all you want, in stark, black-and-white video game terms, that makes no sense, so it didn’t work for what I wanted to accomplish) but in other cases, I wanted the active/passive pairings to have opposite titles, such as is seen in the Warden/Rogue dichotomy or the Lord/Fool dichotomy. I wanted to do this for all of them, but it didn’t always make sense, so I did it where I could.
As you can tell from my above blathering, I most imposed my own creative efforts on the class system. I feel like the aspect system works amazingly well and while I took some non canon aspects from around the internet (I’ll note them when I come to them), I find that they all worked pretty well as put forward by Hussie the Great. I personally loved how the aspects were very broad and symbolic, really making them feel more like portfolios of the old D&D gods rather than just very basic elements. I just felt like there were places to embellish a bit and some really great ideas in the non-canon realms, so I wanted to include those here (as well as weeding out some of the sillier or less symbolic ones).
Ok, now that I’ve blathered on for over two full pages, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty. I’ll start with the classes as those are the most overhauled:
The Warden is one who protects with their aspect. Pretty straight forward, they use their powers to protect others. A warden of breath, for instance, might manifest wind walls and shields around their teammates while a warden of space might be able to phase teammates out or move them around to avoid injury. The Rogue, on the other hand, is one who is protected by their aspect. Their powers primarily affect themselves and seem more intuitive whereas Wardens impose their aspect on the world in an active and often very noticeable way. A rogue of breath might be able to assume an airy form to avoid attacks or even be able to free themselves from any bonds.
The Cleric heals with their aspect or heals their aspect. A cleric of time might be able to speed up or slow down time to accelerate healing or put people in stasis to halt an injury or illness from spreading. A cleric of life would be the quintessential healer, being able to fill people with life energy and mend wounds. The Monk, meanwhile, is healed by their aspect. Again, this would be done on an almost intuitive level, usually through some form of regeneration. A monk of rage might be healed the angrier they get in battle while conversely, a monk of hope might be healed the more positive and hopeful they (or even others) become.
The Seer is a broad class that can either see with, sees, or otherwise understands their aspect. A seer of time might be able to see different time periods to help them avoid danger. A seer of space would see different places. A seer of doom, however, might be able to see dead spirits or, alternately, they could see negative outcomes to actions. The passive counterpart to the Seer is the Speaker, one who is shown by or gains knowledge/understanding from their aspect. These two classes often seem to function in the same way, ultimately gaining knowledge either way. However, like with all passive classes, the speaker has a more intuitive understanding of and relationship with their aspect…but far less control and often at the “whim” of what their aspect wishes to show them.
The Mage controls, guides, or manipulates their aspect. This is a very powerful class that would work true “magic” with their aspect and can be incredibly powerful, though it is certainly one of the least subtle classes (depending on their aspect, of course). A mage of time could slow or stop people in their tracks or speed up their allies while a mage of breath could simply control the wind. The Vassal, on the other hand, is a strange class that is guided or even controlled by their aspect. This tends to manifest in a much more personal way. A vassal of breath would become swifter or more difficult to catch as they are guided by the wind while a vassal of time or doom might be able to avoid folly by heeding their aspect’s whispers and allowing themselves to be guided by their aspect. In this way, the Vassal and the Speaker are very similar, though the Vassal tends to have a more intuitive but less cognizant connection with their aspect.
Like in the regular Homestuck lore, the Thief steals their aspect. A thief of breath might be able to choke people by stealing the air from their lungs or stop people dead in their tracks by stealing their freedom while a thief or rage could calm and pacify their opponents. A thief can often use the stolen aspect to their own advantage, possibly becoming faster themselves in the former example or being empowered by their enemies’ rage in the latter. The Minister, then, gives their aspect to others. A minister of rage would make people angry while a minister of breath could revive people by giving them breath or free them by giving them freedom. It bears noting here that depending on the aspect, a thief can become a defensive or “buffing” class while a minister could become offensive or “debuffing.” Just another reason the Homestuck class system is so great.
One of the most powerful classes, the Lord/Lady is the ultimate destroyer. Quite simply, they destroy their aspect. A lord of hope would crush people’s spirits with a simple glance while the lord of heart might be the most powerful of all, obliterating people’s very essence, leaving them an empty husk. Again, a lord might be a positive force when combined with “negative” aspects. A lord of rage could destroy people’s rage, though it would likely put them in an obscenely, almost debilitatingly good mood since it would obliterate all traces of it. However, a lord of doom might be one of the most powerful healing classes in the game (oddly enough) by eradicating death (though it might simply manifest as them being able to destroy a person’s immortal soul or dead spirits…hard to say!). On the other side of the coin, the Fool is a bit of an anomaly, a bug in the game, a glitch in the program…because the fool is one who is destroyed by their aspect. Obviously, most fools wouldn’t last very long once their powers come into being and even with the “weakest” aspects, they would be harried endlessly. The fool of breath would find themselves constantly buffeted by winds or their movements hampered while the fool of light would have terrible luck (or simply be blind). Of course, a fool of rage might become an incredibly powerful but uncontrollable force in battle as the rage consumes them…but whatever the case, the fool would likely simply not exist or be removed from the game early.
The Peasant (Maid for female players, Knave for male players) empowers their aspect while their opposite, the Knight is empowered by their aspect. This was my homage to the idea of a “knight equipping their aspect,” one of my favorite speculations of the knight class in Homestuck. Knights, then, would primarily weaponize their aspect, wielding blades of wind, light, or darkness as a knight of breath, light, or void respectively. This isn’t the only use the class would have for their aspect, of course, and sometimes a knight could seem very similar to a mage as their aspect makes them seem stronger, though their strength would be much more personal and less imposed on the world. The peasant, then, would tend to empower their aspect in themselves or others, perhaps driving someone mad with rage as the peasant of rage or empowering their abilities to make decisions, giving them clarity of vision as the peasant of mind.
Finally, the Artificer, a relatively straight-forward class, creates things with their aspects, be they the creations of pure wind as the artificer of breath (I sure use breath a lot in my examples…) or even creating living entities as the artificer of heart. On the other hand, the Heir is a strange class that is created by their aspect or made of their aspect. This would manifest in strange and varied ways depending on the character and their powers and abilities might resemble the knight, who is empowered by their aspect, or even a seer or speaker, one who communes with their aspect. These are often the most in touch with their aspect, a powerful class that can emulate the powers of many, though their deep connection with their aspect can make them seem alien and inhuman as they come into their powers.
Obviously some of the classes lend themselves better to some aspects over others. The curse of doing this the way I did it with a list of characters and trying to fill in dichotomous passive/active gaps is that some of the classes almost don’t seem to work with some aspects (which is why I used breath so much as an example, it seems to work in any combination). However, that’s the beauty of Homestuck itself, if a character falls into a certain combination, it becomes immediately clear how their powers would manifest. So while some combinations may seem impossible, I’m sure with a little creativity and cleverness, anything can be made to work.
Ok, so now for the aspects. As I said, I basically left these untouched, though I did elaborate a bit on them thanks to a few sources. I embellished a bit on time and space in particular, as you’ll see below.
Since I used it so damn much as an example, I’ll start with Breath. Breath is the aspect of the wind, but it can represent many things depending on who uses it. Most frequently, it refers to freedom, swiftness, speed and sometimes even life (breathing tends to go hand in hand with living, after all), though it is less powerful in that realm than life and space.
Light and Void are dichotomous, though not 100% opposites. While light does indeed represent literal light and void represent literal darkness, light is also analogous to fortune and luck. Void, on the other hand, represents metaphorical darkness as well: emptiness and the abyss (which, in my particular canon, is a place beyond time and space, similar to Homestuck’s “Furthest Ring” where the old gods reside).
There are four of what I call “mental-state” aspects that fall under the purview of Mind, a greater aspect. Hope is pretty straight forward. It represents the mental state of hope, positivity and inner strength, the ability to persevere over enormous odds. This can make it one of the most powerful aspects but can also seem, on the surface, as one of the weakest. It tends towards buffing others, obviously. Rage is the second of the mental-state aspects and represents anger. However, it also symbolically represents fire and oftentimes its powers manifest in such a way. Not innately a negative aspect (though it can certainly seem that way or remain that way in a weak player’s hands), a true hero of rage that can control their anger can become an incredibly powerful warrior. Madness is the third mental-state aspect and is primarily negative (though paired with a class that inflicts this aspect on others it can be very powerful). It represents not only madness, but illness and pain as well (madness is my own creation). Finally, Zen is the last mental-state aspect, representing peace, calm, understanding and philosophy. (I discovered zen on Furuba’s Land and Title Test). Mind is the lord of all four. While a hero of mind wouldn’t necessarily have control over emotions, their purview tends to be over intellect, decisions, and intentions.
Life is another straightforward but incredibly powerful aspect. Life simply represents that: life. The essence that brings and maintains life. It is related in some ways to breath and space (see above and below).
Keys is another aspect I got from the Furuba Land and Title test. It represents secrets, mysteries, and traps. This is primarily a mental aspect and many of its classpect combinations would pertain to confounding others or providing clarity to their teammates.
Heart is my personal favorite aspect, probably because I feel like I relate to it the best. It is the aspect of the self, the soul. What this means varies depending on the class that it is paired with, but it is primarily concerned with one’s own identity and their personal being and their powers generally affect themselves or others at their very core. Also, an heir of heart would be made out of themselves. I kinda wonder how that would work :-P
Form is yet another aspect from Furuba’s test and I must admit, I wasn’t a huge fan of this one at first. It’s still not my favorite aspect but...well, I needed it for a character, so I put it in here. Form is essentially concerned with the composition and physical existence of matter. However, I also expanded it to include the planning and conceptual processes, giving it a bit of a mental aspect as well. As it is concerned with physical composition, it is most connected to the element of earth and metals as well, though somewhat less closely than breath with air and rage with fire.
Space and Time are two of the most powerful aspects and are connected to space and time respectively. However, speculation abounds about these aspects, particularly since they are so basic (albeit powerful). I particularly liked one interpretation that I read (though I can’t recall where) that time pertains to change, progress and growth as all of these things are governed by time. Space, meanwhile, has always had an element of birth and existence to it (this largely because the hero of space in Homestuck would breed the frog that ribbit’ed the new world into existence...I told you it was weird). In many ways, space, representing the present and current existence rather than the more metaphorical memories of the past and predictions of the future, is related to life. In my canon, time also represents law and order. In the flow of time, all things are even and rhythmical. One equals one and everything passes in perfect flow. Space, then, represents the chaotic here and now where anything and everything can happen.
In many ways, Doom is the opposite of life, breath, and time. At its simplest, doom is simply death. However, it also represents endings, the conclusion of things. In this way, doom is not always a negative aspect, though it does tend to dwell on the negative. Like the tarot card of Death, doom can also be related to great upheavals and change.
Finally, Blood is the aspect of connections and bonds. Just like blood binds families together with invisible ties, the aspect of Blood binds people together. Classes that pair with blood affect these bonds in some way or another, empowering or breaking or manipulating them. Blood heroes tend to be excellent leaders as they understand or otherwise manipulate the bonds between their teammates (though not always to the best of results).
A few others I liked were Tears, my own creation (though I saw it elsewhere, so I clearly wasn’t the only one). The aspect of tears represents raw emotion, not just sorrow but happiness as well (we cry when we're happy!). It is also the aspect most connected to the traditional element of water. Blaze is one I rather liked on Furuba’s Land and Title test, representing motivation, drive, power (will and physical strength) as well as, obviously, the element of fire. In my current canon, there is a hero of rage but not one of blaze, so rage was chosen to represent fire. But if there was one in which blaze and rage were both represented, I would obviously have blaze represent fire. I had also imagined the aspect of Grit to represent perseverance, willpower and the element of earth, though I transposed a lot of that aspect into form. Whispers, Tongues or something to that effect to represent language, words, or even creative endeavors. Code would be a wildcard aspect and one of the most powerful, representing the literal code of the “game.” I did not use any of these aspects as they didn’t fit into my canon, but I liked their ideas.