The Infamous once participated in wicked deeds, but they’ve become fiercely righteous in trying to atone.
Their central conflict arises from the lasting consequences of their past actions and beliefs versus their new convictions. Will they repair the harm they caused, will they seek forgiveness, or will they despair? Will they find a new place to belong?
- Former Villain
- Escaped Henchperson
- Veteran of Dishonor
(circle or invent one for each)
- Haunted demeanor, challenging demeanor, disdainful demeanor
- Dangerous clothes, unremarkable clothes, transgressive clothes
- A broken sword, a wicked sword, an enemy’s sword
Choose one column of stats, then add 1 each to two different stats.
What Cannot Be Undone
You’ve hurt people, and they have no obligation to forgive you or engage with you.
Before defining Relationships in character creation, propose a wicked past that you think could be forgiven, and ask each PC this question:
What circumstances or subsequent deeds could make it possible to forgive this past?
If anyone hesitates or can’t answer the question, revisit your past and tone it down. You can tone down the gravity of your backstory by reducing the severity of your deeds or the agency you had in enacting them.
Afterwards, answer these questions:
- What personal growth are you proud of?
- What about your past causes you the most grief?
You swore to never again perform certain actions that could lead to harm. What are they? Examples include: Lying, stealing, accepting someone’s love, drawing blood, or breaking a promise. If you break your vow, you Stagger. Then decide whether to keep the vow or abandon it.
(start with the moves marked and choose two more from the list)
Wicked Past: When you hear about a villain for the first time, you may decide that you know them from your past. If so, give them a String on you to ask a question from the Figure Out a Person list and take +1 forward against them.
Make It Right: When you allow yourself to be vulnerable to someone you hurt during your villainous past, they choose 1:
- Decline to engage; they gain a String on you
- Lash out; you Stagger
- Guide you; they mark XP and give you a task to help make amends
- Show vulnerability; you take +1 forward to interact with them
- Forgive you; you each clear a Condition and this move no longer triggers with this person
Always Suspect: When you pretend to be a villain to win a villain’s trust, they trust you enough to offer you an opportunity and you gain a String on them. You must choose one of the following options:
- Someone watching comes to the worst possible conclusion
- The villain requires an act of villainy to prove your intentions first
- The villain is only pretending to trust you and the opportunity is a trap
Talons of the Past: When you gain a String on someone associated with your villainous past, or vice versa, mark XP. The first time this happens for a given person, you each can define a secret or vulnerability you know about the other.
They Can Change, Too: When you give up an advantage on someone dangerous because you believe they can mend their wicked ways, you can ask a question as if you’d Figured Them Out.
Used to Disappointment: When you rely upon or trust someone else with something important, say how you expect them to let you down.
- If they pleasantly surprise you, they gain a String on you
- If they do as you expect, choose 1: they lose a String on you, or you gain a String on them
- If they are somehow even worse than you expected, you have a choice: berate them and inflict a Condition, or swallow your loneliness and take a Condition yourself
What Makes a Home: If every other PC in a scene has a String on you, your Conditions cause you only a -1 penalty instead of a -2 to the associated basic moves.
Who’s the Monster?: When you expose the hypocrisy of someone who is supposedly virtuous, roll +Daring:
- 10+: Gain a String on them and choose 1
- 7–9: Choose 1
- The wrongness of their act is exposed to all; they mark XP if they change their mind. If they don’t, they must attack you or take a Condition.
- Your words sting; they take a Condition.
- You impress an onlooker; gain a String on them.
Truths of Heart and Blade
Undeserving: When you become Smitten with someone, say why, give them a String, and answer this question:
- Why do you think they would be wrong to forgive you?
Your Wicked Heart: When you Figure Out a Person during physical conflict, you may additionally ask one of these questions, even on a 6-:
- What are you most ashamed of?
- How could I get you to betray your ideals?
Playing the Infamous
Despite their reputation, the Infamous is often the character that is most committed to doing the right thing—and they’re keenly aware of it, too. They hold themself to a high standard, and find that their enemies get away with the most flagrant misconduct while they’re taken to task for daring to raise their voice.
If you want to play someone who is earlier on their journey to correcting their toxic beliefs, look at the Seeker playbook.
The Infamous can introduce complex themes of justice and redemption into a game. A crucial thing to remember is that this playbook should not be used to pressure any character to engage with or forgive someone who has harmed them. The game presumes that the PCs more or less get along, and an Infamous who has harmed other PCs complicates that dynamic. Those complications can be really fun, which is one reason why the Infamous exists and has a special safety tool in the form of What Cannot Be Undone, designed to tailor them to the comfort level of your entire group.
You can play an Infamous with a cartoonishly light redemption arc, someone who had bad values until the other PCs came along and showed them the error of their ways and basically never speak of it again. Or you can play a former villain who was manipulated or trained to do harm, who has been more or less reliably good when they’ve had the agency to make their own choices. Or your group might be interested in exploring the story of a person who really was just toxic at one point and hurt people—a willing operative of a tyrannical regime or a self-made billionaire who exploited workers and crushed lives for greed. This last option requires the most sensitivity and group buy-in and isn’t recommended if playing with a new group or if anyone might not be comfortable speaking up about something that pushes a boundary for them.
You can use this playbook to explore the feelings of someone who has spent a large portion of their life forced by fear or ignorance to live in a way that they have come to find alien and terrible. Then, suddenly or gradually, something changed. They gained a new conception of themself, a new courage to live their values, and an aching awareness that things could have been different all along. And now there’s no right way to be, according to a society that doesn’t want them to exist. Often the best they can hope for is to be accepted but expendable in a pinch.
If reckoning with your past ceases to be your central emotional conflict, you might forgive yourself and become a Nature Witch, exploring the world afresh. You might become a Devoted, pushing yourself hard—likely too hard—for your beliefs.