The Chariot: Wayne Iori

You know the drill: this post contains minor spoilers for my Persona tabletop RPG, particularly about Wayne, The Chariot character, who is one of the actual PCs in the game. Thus, what I say about him is subject to change, as he’s still developing and being revealed as a character.

If players want to preserve the mystery and only learn about Wayne at the table, skim or skip this post!

The Chariot

Driven, skilled, aloof, and with a bit of a chip on his shoulder, Wayne is a quiet but very apt manifestation of the Chariot Arcana. He isn’t loud and brash like Ryuji from P5 or tsundere and over-protective like Chie from P4, but exudes the kind of quiet, reserved competence and drive that marked Kuromoru from P3. He’s Japanese, dyes his hair blowfish orange (his parents hate it), and spends a lot of his time plugged in to his classy high-market iPod.

The Chariot represents triumph through grit and determination, success achieved through remaining confident in your abilities and executing your talents to their best. Persona Chariot characters are typically strong with physical attacks, brash, and a little bit arrogant. (That’s the shadow slipping through.)

Wayne Iori

Wayne cuts a flashy figure with that hair (artist unknown)

Wayne is still coming into his own as a hero. He has a firm belief in himself and his abilities, but he keeps running into hurdles that he can’t conquer. In Japan, all he wanted to do was hockey, but his parents moved to America–to him, inexplicably–just when he was on the verge of breaking in. Now here in Seattle, he’s trying to go out for the Thunderbirds, and he achieved some success–see his pseudo-date with Janna, below–not to have it ultimately blow up in his face. He hasn’t yet learned how to reconcile his aspirations with his life.

A Maze of Relationships

Wayne tells people he’s named after Wayne Gretzsky, but in reality, his dad named him after the character in the movie Wayne’s World. That in itself is an encapsulation if Wayne’s standoffish relationship with his parents, Yoshi and Ulala. His mom’s pretty ok, if temperamental, but not only does his dad’s love for western media embarrass him, but Yoshi’s long-planned move to America essentially crushed his son’s young dreams. He spends most of his time at home plugged in so he doesn’t have to interact with them.

Wayne is a key, if somewhat distant part of the core group, and was one of the first of the heroes to awaken to his persona (see below). He kind of goes with the flow alongside Zach (Strength), Uki (Devil), and Jimmy (Magician), and he’s usually to be found quietly observing until the moment his talents are called upon. Some people who meet him think he’s judgmental, but in truth it’s usually more that he’s hanging back, leery of putting himself out there and making a mistake.

Wayne initially met Janna (Priestess) in math class, as she is a year younger than them but at a comparable academic level. She’s actually better than most of them st math and other subjects, growing frustrated with Wayne getting a question wrong, such that she blushingly informed him of how to do the equation and suggested she could tutor him. This interaction meant little to Wayne, until they were all at a party where Janna was being harassed by some dudebros, and in a panic, she clung to Wayne’s hand and informed everyone there that he was her boyfriend. Wayne had no idea how to react and both of them were very awkward. (Wayne is key to Janna’s own personal awakening in Seattle Underground.)

Thereafter, her brother Brent (Emperor) called Janna’s bluff by inviting Wayne and Janna to a hockey game down in Kent, during which the two were super awkward. In a surprising turn of events, it came to a shoot out but one of the Thunderbirds was injured and the coach called on Wayne to suit up. He managed to score the game winning point, ending the sorta-date on a high note, but shortly thereafter he learned that his actions at the game have had dire consequences! Essentially, his hockey career is over before it began.

Wayne has formed a connection with Kazushi Miyamoto, a 20-something personal trainer who is teaching him some speed skating techniques. Miyamoto is having marital problems, and through him, Wayne sees a different side of life he’d never considered.

Wayne metaverse

Wayne in the metaverse (artist unknown)

Awakening and Persona

Wayne always has his nose buried in a comic book and/or his ears plugged up with his headphones, so when the team first entered Darkest Seattle, he didn’t notice at first. Wayne wandered off and was captured by some shadows, who proceeded to beat him until Zach and Uki showed up to rescue him. When the tables turned on his then-acquaintances, Wayne tried to fight the shadows with his hockey stick, but to no effect. They knocked him down and we’re about to land a killing blow, when he found himself abruptly reliving the darkest moment of his life: when he came home to tell his parents about his first hockey game coming up, and found a ticket for their flight to Seattle on his bed: the morning of his game. Hopelessness and despair seized him.

Then he heard a cool voice from across a great distance that asked what gave him the strength to stand against that feeling of loss–when the world he imagined was suddenly gone–and Wayne said that he still had that hope. The roar of a motorcycle engine filled his mind and the voice challenged him to prove it.

Thus did Wayne awaken to his persona, Cloud Strife of Final Fantasy VII fame, whose electrical powers turned the tide of their battle with the shadows. Wayne’s hockey stick turned into a RWBY-style gunscythe, which he wields with strength and precision. His persona is mostly about physical attacks and lightning, with a few buffs as well.

Cloud K-Koji.jpg

Cloud Strife (art by K-Koji on Deviantart)

Shadow and Challenge

Wayne never had to face his shadow in Darkest Seattle–when the others were in danger, his Persona came roaring out of him to save the day. If and when he does, the Reversed Chariot will represent uncertainty and a lack of control over his own life, as though Wayne is dragged along by his own chariot. It represents a challenge to Wayne’s self control and demands that he bow under the pressure.

Wayne’s challenge, as appropriate for his Arcana, is to find his way in life, assert himself, and control his own destiny. His youth has been spent rudderless on the seas of circumstance, but now he has a chance to rise up and take ownership of his own life. If he can do it.

Easter Eggs

Wayne best emulates the awkward, shy schoolboy aspect of Persona heroes. He reminds me the most of the main character from Persona 3, with the classy headphones and everything. They’re even an actual stat-boosting item in the game (I believe they null sleep).

Iori is a name from Persona 3, and one of Wayne’s cousins is actually Junpei Iori, the Magician character from that game. I picked the name in part to highlight that fun, pop element that his America-loving father embraces. Junpei himself isn’t old enough to be Wayne’s father, but there’s that thematic connection.

Kazushi “Kaz” Miyamoto, the personal trainer Wayne is working with, is the Chariot Arcana social link character from Persona 3. He was a teenager at the time and is now in his twenties and married to Yuko (the Strength character from P3), who is Zach’s coach.

Wayne’s mother is Ulala Serizawa (The Star) from Persona 2, who was a playable character from Eternal Punishment. I’m not saying the potential to wield a persona is hereditary, but Ulala will be way more understanding of Wayne’s powers if she ever learns about them.

He is also connected to the Nijima family of Tokyo, though their exact relation is unclear. His mother introduced Sae Nijima to him as his “cousin,” but she seems to be quite adamant that she’s a potential romantic partner for him.

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The Strength: Zachary Beathan

This post contains minor spoilers for my Persona tabletop RPG campaign, though none of this should be all that surprising for my players. If you want to learn everything at the table, give this one a miss.

Zach is played by one of the players in my campaign, and he’s still developing. This is just what we know about him thus far and all this info is subject to change.

The Strength

Gawky, awkward, and well-meaning, Zachary Beathan doesn’t seem at first glance to be a likely Strength Arcana character. He spent his youth in and out of hospitals, the victim of an early dread disease that has held back his social development as well as his physical prowess. He isn’t sickly, exactly, but he isn’t nearly as strong as average kids his age, and his stamina is very low, because he’s never participated in sports of any kind, even as a child.

But in truth, as in the rest of the Persona series, the Strength Arcana represents the power of self-control, gentleness, courage, and virtue over brute force. A common trope among Persona Strength characters is their strength of heart, and Zach is the strong, good heart of the Persona Heroic team.

Zach has brown-black hair, brown eyes, and a pleasant smile. He always seems a little tired, but he’s unfailingly polite to most people.

Zach Beathan in the real world (artist unknown)

In the Persona series, Strength personas typically excel in physical attacks and attributes, and the Black Knight is no exception. He also uses the element of Ice, but he’s about as good with it as, say, Yusuke in Persona 5 was: sure, he can use the magic, but his primary strength is dishing out boatloads of physical damage.

Relationships

Zach’s parents, Thomas and Lisa, are extremely protective of their delicate flower of a son, to the point of locking him up rather than risk him getting sick or hurt. They had to argue quite a while before they finally decided to let him go to a school with other kids, let alone a public school. This causes him some problems when it comes to a social life, and he often finds himself grounded or given strict curfews. To this day, he typically cannot participate in nighttime activities because he has to be home. If his parents learned about his metaverse activities… well, odds are they wouldn’t believe it, but they’d forbid him from associating with the obviously delusional friends he’s made.

Zach is good friends with the core crew of Persona wielders, including Wayne (Chariot), Uki (Devil), and Jimmy (Magician), as well as newcomer Brent (Emperor). He sort of knows Janna (Priestess), but they haven’t actually talked to each other. He also has an odd, young relationship with Timothy Brothers (Death), a former bully and Jimmy’s nemesis, whom he stumbled upon in a vulnerable moment wherein he discovered that Tim has an adversarial relationship with his abusive father, as well as a sickly younger sister (Alice) that he tries at all times to protect (mostly from his father, but also from the world in general).

The first classmate Zach met on his first day was Sayeed Ahriman, a handsome football player and upperclassman, who helped him pick up his schoolbag after some jocks knocked him over. He fell deeply in love with Sayeed from the moment he saw him, and shortly thereafter he forged a bond with Sayeed, who turned out to be the Lovers Arcana.

Awakening and Arcana

Zach bears the distinction of being one of the first two Persona wielders to awaken to his power, when he and Uki and a distracted Wayne found themselves drawn into Darkest Seattle. When dark creatures attacked them, he plucked up the nearest weapon—a gunblade—and did his best to fight, to protect Uki and himself, despite his body’s weakness. He saw a vision of the worst moment of his life, lying in a hospital bed while a medical team worked to resuscitate him.

Now as then, he felt the darkness drawing him down into despair, but he heard a powerful voice from across a great distance asking why, in that moment, he did not give up and die, and whether that strength remained to him. Zach choked out an affirmative, and the entity demanded he speak louder, and he screamed with more strength than he had ever known. And thus did he forge a pact with Moriaen, the Black Knight, who brought new strength and power to his limbs. Together, they made short work of the creatures.

The Black Knight (artist unknown)

Moriaen the Black Knight is a physically-inclined persona, with power over ice magic and, appropriately, strength. His strength gives Zach great power with his gunblade (Final Fantasy VIII is Zach’s favorite video game), and Zach’s metaverse outfit is a suit of hooked black armor inspired by that of his persona.

Moriaen’s pursuit—looking for his father at Camelot to recover his birthright—mirrors Zach’s own quest to discover himself and find his true inner strength.

Shadow and Challenge

Zach’s challenge is to build up his confidence in himself, his abilities, and his own inner strength. His path does not necessarily represent physical strength, but rather self-control and moral strength of character—restraint over the beasts of his nature.

Zach hasn’t had to face his shadow—yet—but it represents The Strength Reversed: cowardice, vanity, doubt, and a lack of self-control. When Zach encounters his Shadow, he will be horrified and disgusted but also recognize that darkness inside him.

Zach in the multiverse (artist unknown)

Easter Eggs

Zach might be the most classic Persona hero on the team, as he is a nerdy transfer student who starts from essentially nothing and wields a dark sort of Persona. He also follows a similar progression to, say, the hero of P4 or P5 in that he can’t go out at night at first and all his social contact is done at school.

At the same time, he provides this excellent inversion, because he’s gay, and a major part of this game is to include explicitly queer content that gladly, gleefully embraces what Persona should have been doing for years. Sayeed (Lovers Arcana) is kind of his designated love interest, and Zach gets all flustered around the older, suave upperclassman, who takes their blossoming romance in stride. (For a very deep cut, this continues the trend in Persona games of the first companion the PC sees in the game being the Lovers character, which was the case in Personas 3 through 5.)

Also, a fun Easter egg is that Lisa, Zach’s mother, is Lisa “Ginko” Silverman, one of the core characters of Persona 2: Innocent Sin (and she has a supporting role in Eternal Punishment). Considering how deeply in love Lisa was with Tatsuya Suou (Jimmy’s adoptive father), I’m not saying the two of them have a thing in my game… but I’m not saying they don’t. 🙂