The Active/Passive Dichotomy
The definitions I use to describe the classes are the definitions Calliope gives us in her expository conversations with Roxy and Dirk. I know some people doubt the veracity of those statements, but the only part of the system I see reason to doubt is Calliope’s statement about gender distributions for Classes, the rationale for which I go into in this post.
There’s good reason to think Calliope is right about the rest of it. Namely because like the Aspects, the way Calliope describes Classes suggests a familiar interplay of complementary existential forces. An interplay we’ve seen in Homestuck before, even outside of the dichotomous pairings of the Aspects.
The Daoist concept of the Yin-Yang. This is a concept far too broad and complex for me to effectively break down completely here — I really suggest watching this video before continuing — but the gist is that Yin and Yang are complementary juxtaposed forces, both of which are necessary in shaping reality.
In Tao philosophy, the Yang force — the Black swirl with the white dot— is active, forceful and energetic. The Yin force —the White swirl with the black dot — is passive, conforming and stable.
In this image, Rose is the Yang force — Actively forcing her needles into an Ogre’s eyes, then turning her threads into a harness and riding it. The Ogre is the Yin force — the Passive entity being stabbed into and then ridden upon.
A perhaps more relatable but less colorful, inspiring, and hilarious way to understand this (God I love Rose) is with a simple game of Catch.
A pitcher throwing a ball is Yang
while the catcher receiving it is Yin.
And the game of Catch cannot exist without both elements present.
If this is starting to sound like the distinction Callie draws between Princes and Bards, well — it should:
Because even the Active/Passive terminology the Classes use seems to be derived from common Yin/Yang terminology.
(NOTE: Interestingly, although Calliope does link Passive classes to femininity and Active classes to masculinity (through Muses and Lords), lining up the ideas as presented in Homestuck with their underlying Yin/Yang interpretations, the+/- distinction is flipped. The Active classes are denoted with -, and the Passive ones with +. No idea what that means, but I thought it worth noting.)
So in terms of how to parse the key verbs, the Active/Passive classes correlate perfectly to the Yin/Yang dichotomy. But that’s not the end of it, since Calliope gives us two definitions for what the Active/Passive distinction means. Her second definition is where she posits that Active classes exploit their aspect to benefit themselves, while passive classes allow their aspect to benefit others.
However, Calliope herself says the distinction means a lot of things, and that this is only a starting point for understanding the dichotomy. Let’s take the time to define what, exactly, a dichotomy is in the context of Homestuck.
A dichotomy is often described as a set of mutually exclusive elements that make up a larger whole. This is true of Yin-Yang, as it is composed of forces that are mutually exclusive and in tension with one another.
And yet, a key feature of Yin-Yang is that each force contains the seed of its complement, and indeed objects that are at one time Yin (such as a hill cast in shadow), will eventually become Yang (such as a hill lit by sunlight) and vice versa.
In other words, Callie is describing a system similar to the Aspect pairs we’re well-acquainted with. The Classes, like the Aspects, are meant to describe an existential dichotomy. And so the Classes, like the Aspects, are hyperflexible and broad enough to incorporate practically any way you can interact with reality imaginable.
This isn’t particularly new information — plenty of people think so about the Aspects, and many do about the Classes as well. But because of this element of duality and juxtaposition, we now have thematic and philosophical grounding for it.
An additional claim I’m building from this is that the Class pairs are grouped not just into Active/Passive pairs, but grouped yet again on top of that with an existentially complementary Key Verb pair.
From now on in this text, when not speaking about a specific class with a specific verb, I’ll use the word “Exploit” to players using their Aspect knowingly, for their own purpose. Conversely, I’ll use “Allow” for any instance of an Aspect acting through the character, as if with a will of it’s own.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s use the dictionary definitions of Exploit and Allow, as well:
Exploit: make full use of and derive benefit from (a resource).
synonyms:utilize, harness, use, make use of,
Allow: give (someone/something) permission to do something.
synonyms: permit, let, enable, entitle
So in relation to an Aspect, to Exploit means that a character directly uses their aspect like a resource — the player’s will acts as a Yang force on reality, manifesting itself through the Aspect. This implies conscious thought towards a pre-determined goal, the player premeditating how they want to proceed and then using their Aspect as a tool to accomplish their goal.
To Allow means that a character gives the Aspect permission to act on reality, and as Calliope implies, without necessarily being aware of it. In this case, the Player acts as a Yin force on reality, reacting to the “will of the Aspect” — the Aspect’s will manifesting itself through the Player. In this case, it’s almost as though the Player were the tool employed by the Aspect.
Finally, Callie posits that some classes are more passive or active than others — meaning there is a spectrum ranging from most Active to most Passive.
From all this, we can draw a number of possibilities that can influence how we read any given class’ execution. I am going to make the following claims, which I will provide evidence for across this series:
1. A Passive class may not always act for the benefit of others, nor will an Active class always act for their own benefit.
2. An Active class may at times allow their Aspect to act through them, and a Passive class may at times exploit their Aspect for a known purpose.
3. These two truths are separate and unlinked — that is to say, an Active class may end up allowing their Aspect to benefit themselves in some situations, and conversely a Passive class may exploit their aspect to benefit others.
But if this is true, then the Classes are kind of hopelessly complicated, aren’t they? It’d be literally impossible to determine whether we should read Classes as Active or Passive, because in even the most extreme cases they could seem to be both! The system is broken!
But not so fast, dear reader.
My smug furry scholar plans beg to differ.
The first is a way to determine whether a class is primarily Active or Passive.
I believe the Class system describes the terms in which
the Players tend to think about the world, and in this case refers to a particular division:
Selfishness vs. Selflessness.
The comic refers to the characters in these terms frequently, and as far as I can tell it always matches the player’s active/passive status. Other times different terminology is used to convey the same effect, and other times still one can derive a character’s priorities from their actions. I will be including all of these styles of reference throughout each post in this series.
There’s no moral connotation here, however. One way to think about it is that Active players tend to do things based on their own wants and thoughts — being more self-absorbed and self-directed. Passive players tend to be more reactive and group-oriented thinkers.
So, representative of Yang and Yin, respectively. Only instead of being Yang or Yin to some physical force, the Selfish vs. Selfless distinction describes whether players are innately (but not exclusively) Yang or Yin in their relationships with other people’s wills.
Being self-directed and motivated makes Active players quicker and effective at taking direct action, but being group-oriented and reactive makes Passive players more communicative and steady. We’ll explore the Selfish/Selfless distinction more as we go through the class pairs.
The second trend will help us figure out what Classes share a key verb, and what that verb is, exactly.
Homestuck sets up unifying mythological figures for every Active/Passive pair except the Destroy and Steal classes, which Calliope gives us as freebies. These figures connect the two classes, and tend to imply things about the nature of the classes themselves — cementing and giving context for their key verbs’, and the nuances of their potential meanings.
I’ll also include a number of sub-definitions for the key verbs that are either popular in fandom or seem to add nuance to the class to me — just to note them as interpretations that I feel fit comfortably inside the umbrella terms that canon presents.
So before we move on to the rest of the Classes, you might still have questions. For example, why do I prioritize the “Benefit Oneself” vs. “Benefit Others” distinction over the “Exploit” and “Allow” distinction Callie gives us when it comes to determining what classes are Active and which are Passive?
And a Unifying Myth is an awfully abstract concept. What exactly do I mean?
So let’s take a crack at decoding some relatively easy classes with Canon context, so we can then tackle the more nuanced and complicated ones.
Let’s talk about the Master Classes: Lord and Muse.
Does Classpect confuse you? The endless series of titles and ranks, charting some unfathomable system that is wondrously complex, terribly complex, but overall just seems way too important to the story for something Hussie doesn’t seem willing to explain? Well good news! Under the tutelage of my friend and mentor bladekindEyewear, I have the learned the basics, and through spending way too much time thinking and writing about the classes and aspects, I have come up with working definitions and ideas behind them! So read on, and look at a few very well defended and defined ideas and theories behind them all.
This system was primarily developed by Homestuck, so reading the comic would be a great asset in understanding it, but by no means should a study be limited to fans of the comic. It would be very interesting to see a non-Homestuck get into the system.
It’s all under the cut. Questions, additions, theories, criticisms, compliments, and gifts are all well appreciated. Especially the gifts. But be warned: there are approximately 9,000 words here, and you are getting yourself into something big.
What is Classpect?
Classpect is a system introduced in the popular webcomic Homestuck that catalogues the total impact on reality that a person has. There are two components two Classpect roles: an aspect, which is a piece of reality, the one which the most energy and attention is focused, and the class, which determines how the aspect is interacted with. This is arranged in an “X of Y” format, for example, an Heir of Breath, or in another way of thinking of it, Breath’s Heir. A Classpect role seeks to chart someone’s personal growth and their impact on reality, not such things as personality and abilities or powers. Often times, a correlation can be seen, but just as often it can be subverted.
In theory, every person would have a title. However, in works of fiction many times sufficient information is not given about a character to the point that they could be reliably assigned a role, nor does every single person in life impact reality enough to be given a role. In addition, children and other such people are often not developed enough to hold a role themselves. It is also important not to limit yourself or others based on this or any other classification system. This system is intended to help you learn more about yourself, others, and the world around you. Basing who you are off of such a system can only limit your potential. Act like who you are, then use this to determine what Classpect role that would be, not the other way around. That would be stupid. This is also in the name of fun, so don’t take this too seriously.
That said, Classpect potentially has many uses. You can use it to learn more about yourself, or to understand another fan of this system more quickly. We can use it to learn more about problems we face and to analyze literature easier. We can determine what we like best about ourselves and our biggest failings, and build off of that. And, we can all connect together in this big stupid system and experience the human emotion called friendship.
Determining Your Classpect
As soon as you hear about this, one of your first thoughts will probably be “What’s my Classpect role?” First, I would advise you to look at the aspects and make a decision which few most likely represent you. From there, you can decide what you think your best impact on reality is represented by and claim that as your aspect. From there, look at how you interact with your aspect: do you tend to be more active or passive? Do you control your aspect, or do you conduct it in a more casual manner? From there, a more specific type of impact will be possible. Finally, look at the implications of the combination, and try and decide what it would look like, and if that fits you. If you are having some trouble with this, go ahead and drop me a question: I’m always willing to help. And don’t be afraid to look at all the possibilities. There are 168 possible Classpect roles, and it’s perfectly alright to net get the first one a few dozen times!
There are a few tests available for Classpect roles at this time, but with so many possibilities, and so many possibilities within each role, I don’t particularly like any one at this time. The described method is currently one of the better ones, though it is possible to use the test for a sort of baseline if you are absolutely lost as to what your Classpect role is. Also note that you could have one million of each individual class, and not a single replication of a person, and just because you aren’t like someone with a similar role doesn’t mean that it’s not your role.
Aspects are the twelve ideals and points that make up all of reality. Each has an opposite, and with this opposite, they form 6 individual spectrums that make up all of reality. Two of them form the physical world: Space and Time, and the rest focus on the ways that people interact with reality. Everyone has a bit of all the aspects in them, but there tends to be one that people can identify with more than any others. This aspect will probably come to define them in subtle ways, and they gain an instinct for the flow and feel and shape of this aspect, and it largely comes to represent them whether they know it or not.
Every idea can be traced, in some way, back to these aspects. The concept of a spectrum cataloguing everything might seem alien, but it is in fact well explored. Consider the four classical elements or the five colors of Magic: The Gathering. This is simply another schema available for looking at it, and looking at people. There is probably some perfect arrangement of the aspects, but it has not been found yet, just rough ideas of where the aspects lie in relation to each other.
Space is one of the cardinal aspects, and one of the two that are absolutely necessary. It’s most obvious meaning is spatial distance, the actual location, with minor emphasis on size and velocity. Space players tend to be good with these things, like Jade’s skill with a rifle and Kanaya’s extreme ability with the clunky SGRUB cursor. As such, many of their powers could be speculated to deal with these portions of the aspect. However, Space is more than just that. Space represents substance, everything that is. Information ties in with this, like Kanaya’s interest in fashion or the Calliope’s ability to give accurate information on almost any topic, and creation, especially from parts. Space Heroes tend to be good with what is there, rather than abstracts, and are usually more physically oriented.
Creation can be speculated to be tied in with Space, usually from pieces. Jade was using Space when she helped create the bunny, by putting it together and creating something new out of all of the components. Also consider Calliope’s fan-fictions and drawings, which use pieces and ideas already existing, but combined in new and interesting ways. In relation to the body, Space seems to correlate to personal image, such as Jade, a Witch, loving the furry fandom, Calliope’s consistent hatred of who she is and desire to look beautiful, Maryam, who modified her body in fashionable ways, and Kanaya, who is one of the only trolls who has any skill in fashion and has problems with the way her Rainbow Drinker status works. Space’s opposite is time: not only are they different dimensions, they also represent the twin points of creation and destruction.
Life is the raw energy to influence reality, and the consumption of the energy for strength. If confronted with a problem, Life consumes energy to overcome it if possible, and if not, will grow stronger until it can. Life players tend to be joyful and optimistic: just look at Jane, Feferi, and even Meenah. This aspect hates restrictions and unnecessary rules, especially when they create limitations. Feferi had constant plans to fix the troll’s system of ruling, Meenah rejected the possibility of being Empress because she hated the possibility of not being free, and Jane despised the limitations imposed upon her by her father and the Condesce, not to mention Nanna Egbert rebelling against Betty Crocker the only way she could: surpassing her ability to bake. A Life player’s main skill is growth, and grow they will, overcoming anything that gets in their way.
There is a lot of connection between the aspect of life and nature, though not always shown in Homestuck. We have Feferi and her lusus who is the top of the food chain and the very best. Moreover, many other Life oriented ideas fall squarely within nature, like the constant fight for survival, consumption of energy to survive, and rejecting laws that place restrictions. In the comic, Life tends to be represented by cake and utensils, as it represents the energy to impact reality. This can clearly be seen by the Condesce creating a baking empire, Jane’s love of baking, and Meenah’s apparent godlike skills in the craft herself. It’s also important to note that though Life player’s appreciation for energy and ability to overcome problems tend to make them more optimistic, this is not always the case. Aspect orientation tends to have certain personality traits, but they are by no means set in stone. Life’s opposite is Doom: whereas life is overcoming difficulties and defeating systems, Doom is abiding by systems and sacrificing ability to impact reality.
Breath is about motivation, direction, freedom, and quest. Breath sees a goal it wants, and it pursues it, overcoming anything it may face in the way. Breath players tend to be carefree and a little bit silly, like John’s love of pranks or Tavros’ faltering manner and desire to be a fairy. However, as they become more realized, they can become driven, determined, and powerful, without ever losing any of the freedom or joy that was originally who they were, just like John’s incredible drive without losing his sense of humor or his ability to overcome such trials as his father’s death. And Tavros, who was a very unrealized Breath player, was always a failure in his inability to decide what he wanted and pursue it, showing a clear lack of the principle Breath is founded on. Breath players also have a unique ability to deal with problems emotionally, like John’s lack of angst at anything that’s happening to him, or Tavros not making a huge deal about what Vriska was doing at any given moment.
In Homestuck, flying is the biggest symbol of Breath. Karkat, as a Blood player, was never able to fly, and even lacked wings in his God-Tier form unlike the rest of his cohort. Meanwhile, Tavros’ had a constant desire to fly that linked up with his desire to be able to do what he wanted and not be torn down by other people. Also, John’s constant flying to and fro with his jetpack became a symbol of his decision changing at all random points, particularly in the whole debacle with Terezi and Dave. Breath has also been linked to mail, with the Peregrine Mendicant being someone who is driven forward by her internal motivations and doesn’t let such petty things as reality and physical space interrupt her quest to deliver that motherfucking mail. Breath players also have a tendency to shrug off incredible pain, such as Tavros losing his legs, but not letting it bother him too much, or John ignoring the massive amounts of emotional trauma that was sent towards him for a long time. Breath’s opposite, as noted above, is Blood: instead of remaining free and not having responsibility, they give themselves up for loyalty and bonds.
Mind represents the way people act: the images they put on, their internal logic, and what they do independent of who they are. Terezi, for example, uses her intense ability to chart the flow of people’s decision making and can use it FOR GREAT JUSTICE. Latula, as a Knight, uses it as a shield to keep everyone from knowing who she is and what she wants, creating a fake “gamer girl” attitude to be safe. Trickery is associated with Mind, especially because a really good trick requires knowing what a person is going to do in advance. Mind also knows that “luck doesn’t really matter”, and acts accordingly to get the best result. It is also associated with dishonesty, as it represents not being true, to yourself or others.
Mind players have a tendency to do whatever they want and disregard how people feel. Terezi wasted no time is stepping all over Karkat’s façade of his blood color (which was actually fairly necessary to keep himself safe) and arranges for Dave to get into a scenario he REALLY doesn’t want to be in, one that absolutely shatters his trust for her. Mind is also associated with justice: since justice is all about punishing people for actions they have done, and also deals with a consistent internal logic, and tries to not allow emotion to stand in the way. This could be a simple quirk of the Pyropes, or there could be something greater to it, depending on the situation. Mind is often used as a defense of sorts, to keep the true nature of a person safe and hidden. Mind is the opposite of Heart, because it represents ignoring your internal emotions and desires in order to impact reality in a different way.
Rage is all about limitation. Whenever you limit your options, you have used Rage in your decision. More broadly, rage is about all negative emotion, and negative emotion is what makes you limit your decisions. For example, anger can make you limit your choices, as can fear and determination. Any limiting of your perspective is a function of Rage, and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Think of characters like Batman, who inspire fear in the hearts of criminals to keep them from acting, or how Jake, as a Hope player, often just could not make his mind when it mattered, causing severe strain on himself and on others around him. Rage also has to do with subjugation and domination of your will over the will of others. Gamzee goes batshit insane and starts killing people so that he can get what he wants done and he doesn’t much care about who he has to kill to do so, and Kurloz brainwashes a couple of people so that they can serve the Mirthful Messiahs like he desires.
Rage is one of the more pessimistic of the aspects, but negative does not mean bad. It is common to assume that anyone but a Bard or Prince of Rage would be useless, but there are no useless titles and no useless aspects, nor any useless combinations of the two. Rage is heavily focused on the fighting spirit, it being necessary to get troops all whipped up and raring to go before combat can start. Rage primarily deals with limitation of one’s perspective, whether it is on their own (through fear or cowardice) or by somebody else (subjugation and enslavement). Commonly associated with Rage is religion and leadership, though not necessarily exclusively. Rage is the opposite of Hope in negative vs. positive emotions and also limitation versus opening of perspective.
Void is about obfuscation and destruction of information. Void hides and avoids, cloaks in shadows, deals with secrets. At its very core are submission and destruction: basically, Void is nothing, but that lets it be a lot. Roxy can pull secrets from nowhere, taking through void and giving obscurity in return. Equius destroys everything he touches, consistently pursued and controlled by the all consuming Void that surrounds him. Void, in many ways, also represents misfortune and death. Horuss, despite not being too bad a guy, was an utter failure in romantic pursuits and failed at almost everything until he started listening to the subtle whisperings of the Void. Void is subtle, quiet, and maddening, and obscures everything, hiding information, and souring luck to achieve their ends.
That is not to say Void is necessarily dreary. Negative yes, bad no. After all, we have Roxy, a Rogue of Void, who is quite cheery, and though she does hold true to the characteristics of her aspect, she manages to be kind, loving and helpful at the same time. Void is about nothing, and sometimes that’s better than something. Void players tend to have the ability to pull something out of nothing, just look at Roxy’s secrets and Horuss inspiration to build mechanical devices out of the maddening whispers. Also, they are uniquely capable at working with nothing, such as Equius lack of knowledge as to what was going on with Gamzee, but ability to move forward without fear regardless. Void also deals with lack of certainty, which can in many cases lead to potential. Void is the opposite of Light in that Light is information and reality whereas Void is secrets and shadows.
In many ways, Time is the most pessimistic of the elements, but also one of the most vital. It is uncertainty and inevitability, two of the things that human beings hate the most. More than just the passive flow of seconds, Time is a palpable force that deals with when things happen. Time players tend to require patience, such as Dave’s Medium-entering challenge, or Aradia’s understanding of waiting ‘til the opportune moment to get done what was needed. It has destructive ties, such as Lord English embodying destruction in Paradox Space or the Demoness using her powers to obliterate everything. Time is timing and patience aspectified. Time players understand this flow of time and use it to their benefit, giving them incredible skill with timing and patience.
Time is, typically, represented by clocks. We see this is Doc Scratch’s clock measuring Vriska’s onward progression as a character, in the Felt’s massive collection of clocks, and the endless countdown timers available in Homestuck. Time is also endlessly linked to mortality and death, though not necessarily as an ending, since many characters still impact reality after their death or continue on in an afterlife or two. The time player’s role in a session is to make sure the Alpha Timeline stays pure and can continue in order to continue the progression towards creation or destruction. Time’s opposite is Space, because they different dimensions of reality as well as representing Creation and Destruction.
Doom is systems and restraint. It represents things that are going to happen, such as death as an end, and systems that cause them to happen. Sollux uses a computing program based on death, such as the ending of the universe and uses it well somehow. Restraint is also a large part of it, such as Sollux limiting himself, to the degree that it was a relief when he no longer had to do it again. Furthermore, we see his calm acceptance of not being a leader anymore to increase the odds of his teams total success. However, it also has to do with sacrifice, giving up your ability to affect reality in order to effect great change. Think of Sollux’s constant death and losing of pieces of himself in order to do things like move the meteorite, fight Eridan, things like that, and of course the big, mysterious sacrifice perpetrated by Mituna. It also focuses on death: a lot of the imagery is focused on it, like the Captor’s vision Two-Fold.
One way to think of the sacrifice portion of Doom is that it ties in to knowing your limits: you know how much you can do without hurting yourself, which means that in time of need you can push yourself beyond the limits in order to accomplish something big. It’s also hard to tell what the sacrifice ends up doing: you could see it as a standard sacrifice, or add the stipulation that it has to curb your ability to effect of reality, or maybe both are possible effects. Doom players tend to be somewhat gloomy and also aware of their shortcomings, but at the same time possess great power and capability. Doom is the opposite of life, subjecting itself to systems and limiting its ability to impact reality, whereas Life does the opposite.
Blood is bonds and loyalty, limiting your freedom in order to help something or stay true to a system that is in place. Particular attention is paid to friendship: think of Karkat’s use of friendship and bonds to guide the team to victory and calm down Gamzee, two of the biggest acts he has accomplished. It also deals with society and societal restraints, like the Sufferer’s understanding of the Hemocaste system as well as his vision the potential for a kinder and happier world. Furthermore, there is Karkat’s obsession with his blood color and his lowly place in the spectrum. Relationships of a romantic sort are probably linked in with Blood, as it relates to limiting yourself for beneficial results as well as the evidence in Karkat’s obsession with romcoms.
Other, non-main characters have represented Blood before. The Wayward Vagabond is heavily linked with the aspect, from his quest, to his uniting the pawns of the separate kingdoms, to his long span carrying the ring (which is itself a major symbol blood). Then we have Jack, who at first glance has nothing to do with Blood, but at the same time has a tight-knit band he cares about, is excellent at paperwork, and combines the power of the prototypings in order to wreak major havoc. It’s also important to note that John, as a Breath player, is majorly motivated by Blood and his friends and family to get things done, which, along with the comparisons between him and Karkat, solidify Breath and Blood as opposites. Blood’s opposite is Breath, which eschews the impact of bonds and loyalty in order to remain free and pursue their quests.
Heart is the very core of your soul, who you are and your internal emotional desires. This is expressly told us by Calliope. Heart doesn’t care what people think about you or how you act; it’s all about who you are and what you feel. It also has to do a lot with internal strength and where you draw it from, like Dirk’s use of his sense of self to accomplish all that he does, using it as a fuel to inspire him. It can also be the mode of true change, such as Terezi’s gambit of Mind causing a breakdown of Heart when she betrayed Dave, and the Disciple’s works causing people to be incredibly inspired, to the point that they had to be wiped out to avoid insurrection. Also note Heart’s effect on passion and emotion: Nepeta, as a Rogue of Heart, was continuously arranging her friends into shipping pairs, as well as taking Equius’ fits of rage and violence to keep him from flipping his shit.
Heart tends to be represented by hats, but I ask that instead of having me elaborate on that you flood bladekindEyewear’s inbox with endless queries about it. Honestly. Do it. Other than that, motivation can largely be a mixture of Heart and Mind conflicting, since it becomes what you want to do versus what you want to be seen as. Examples are Karkat’s actions with Sollux: in his Heart he wants to be friends with Sollux, but his Mind urges him to keep up the pretense of hatred and anger that dominates him. Heart’s opposite is Mind, as Heart is all about who you are as opposed to what you act like.
Hope is possibility and positive emotion. Hope is all about seeing all of the possibilities, as well as believing in things, sometimes even when they are a bit silly or ridiculous (though I’m not sure whether Hussie is serious or sarcastic about that one). We see this element of belief in Eridan’s dear devotion to science, which he does not understand at all, which later lets him do incredible acts like defeating Sollux, Kanaya (briefly) and stare down Vriska and Gamzee when both have gone batshit insane just like him. On the other hand, it also deals with possibility, and your ability to see options. We can see this Jake’s lack of ability to make up his mind, Eridan’s destruction of Hope leaving him unable to see different paths to ends, and Gamzee’s destruction of Rage letting him encourage others to see all of the possibilities out there, and indeed believe in miracles.
Many of the “cheery” aspects are not nearly as happy as they seem, and this is the case here, too. Eridan’s delusion leads him to destroying many people, and Jake’s constant dithering and dallying causes significant strain and stress on his teammates, leading to many of the problems the team is having. However, it can still be an incredibly powerful thing, such as Jake’s amazing potential to grow and realize all of his powers through belief, seeing possibilities, and positive emotion. The opposite of Hope is Rage, because Hope is about positive emotion and opening up your perspective, while Rage is about using negative emotion to close your perspective.
Light is information, probability, in fortune. Whereas Void is nothing, Light is everything, but just everything. Vriska constantly thieves information, luck, and fortune (as well as more often than not actual fortunes) from her fellow players and enemies. In addition, we have Rose using her inherent feel for knowledge and truth, as well as reliable, consistent, and honest sources to get her information to try and guide her teammates. Agency is often linked as well, considering Vriska’s ability to take control of people’s choices and actions, and Rose’s understanding of what makes people do what they do continuously growing as she becomes a better and better Seer of Light. The most important factor of Light seems to be information and illumination of topics, such as Rose’s search for information at every turn, Aranea’s love (to the point of detriment) of giving out exposition, and Vriska’s search for information in the afterlife.
Light players apparently have a habit of expositing endlessly and joyfully, which certainly fits their aspect quite well. We see this in Aranea and Rose particularly, though even Vriska has been picking up the habit, as well as Mindfang’s gloriously hammy journals. They might also have some supernatural abilities of revealing things, such as Calliope’s extreme fear when Rose showed up in her area of the dream bubble. Luck is linked to Light (say that three times fast), but it is better to say “fortune” because luck in Homestuck is less about some strange guiding force and more about probabilities and how people influence them. Indeed, NOTHING is left up to luck in Paradox Space. Light is the opposite of Void, as it focuses on reality, information, and fortune, where Void is all about lies, secrets, shadows, and misfortune.
There are 14 Classes in Homestuck: 12 Normal Classes and 2 Master Classes. The Normal classes are extremely well explained, with many examples of each and in-depth explorations available. The Master classes are a bit more obscure, with not a lot being revealed about them as of yet.
It is interesting to note that the non-master Classes are all actually named to be a sort of “servant” or “lower classman”, while only the two Master classes are not. Also note that all classes have two functions, which can be broadly explained as “through their aspect” and “of their aspect”. You’ll understand later.
Each class has a “keyword” and is either passive/active. The keyword describes what avenue the impact on reality takes, such as understand, change, create, destroy, allocate, or exploit. Passiveness vs. activeness roughly describes how much direct control over the aspect the class maintains.
Mage is an active understanding class. Their focus is on doing what needs to be done, whether or not other people understand why. Most people have a somewhat inherent feel for their dominant aspect, but the understanding classes take this a bit further: they understand their aspect, and they understand through their aspect. Sollux, our best example of a Mage, used the systems and patterns of Doom to create a bifurcated system that he could use to survive, and was also incredibly good at programming and working within the constraints of temporal paradoxes. A Mage’s job is to use is this understanding to change reality. They use their aspect like a scalpel, or a sword if necessary, and take control for themselves. Sollux was continuously complaining about how everyone was going to die and they were all doomed, showing the understanding, but he never really began to act for himself, which is what caused his friends to suffer for it. So the job of a Mage is to first understand, and then act.
Understanding classes seem to have incredible problems understanding their opposite aspects. We see this in Sollux’s incapability to overcome the systems and thoughts of death that consumed, as well as Rose’s complete lack of understanding about Void and hidden information, Terezi’s ability to predict people’s actions but not always what they wanted or what was best for them, and in Meulin’s totally moronic attempts to help Horuss change how he acted to be happier. The word Mage harkens back to the court magician in days of old, the wise men who acted in order to help preserve the country they worked for using their learning gained. The inversion of a Mage is an Heir, who passively changes and invites change through aspect, almost drifting instead of taking control and command like a Mage is intended to do. The passive counterpart of a Mage is a Seer who guides others through their knowledge.
A Seer is a passive understanding class. They, true to their name, can see the flow of their aspect, perhaps to a greater degree than any other class. And with this knowledge, they move and shape the world, usually by lending aid and advice to others, sometimes through their own actions. The Seer is one of the most passive classes, focusing their intents almost entirely on working through others, but wielding enormous influence even as they do so. Rose was almost useless when she tried to go out and create effects on her own, but as soon as she started issuing orders and giving advice, the whole plan started to come together. However, even the Seer is capable of impacting reality themselves, such as Terezi’s use of Mind to outwit and defeat Vriska when she attempted not to take control of the coin flip but rather play reactionary, reacting to another’s actions and try and use her understanding, rather than take control herself.
From mythology, we can see the role of prophets almost from the beginning of time, such as Telemachus, who did not demand change but rather foretold grave consequences unless change happened. A Seer in the SBURB sense does not always know the future, but can usually use their understanding of their Aspect to chart or plan it, even help shape it. These prophets were often subservient to a higher power, kept in a court to help a leader plan, fulfilling the “lower” nature of the non-Master classes. The opposite of Seer is Witch, which actively shapes and focuses their element in order to effect change rather than passively understanding and conducting their element. The active counterpart of a Seer is a Mage, who guides themselves as opposed to others with their aspect.
A Witch is an active change class. Their role is to take charge of their aspect and shape it as effectively as they can in order to create the change they desire in reality. We see this in Jade, who twists and changes the planet’s size in location to get what she wants done, and in Damara, who uses Time to prevent her session from doing anything after she goes crazy. They also invite change in their aspect, like Feferi’s desire to change the current system of growth for her species and make it more friendly and happy. Their inherent understanding of their aspect is usually used so that they can make known the current state, and thus know how they need to change it in order to achieve their goals. This is scene in Jade’s quick ability to assess the state of the meteors raining down on Skaia and still take Skaia out of the fray, and in Feferi’s knowledge of how the food chain works in relation to Life.
Witch probably derives from the mythological explanation and not from practitioners of Wicca, but I’ll overlook that glaring oversight for the Hussie’s sake. (This is sarcasm, if you cannot tell.) Witches were told to cut deals with the devil for their amazing power, which is a sort of subservience. In the same way that Witches would submit themselves to the devil for power, you can imagine a Witch submitting themselves to their aspect, such as Jade giving up who she was in return for the amazing teleportation powers she gained, or Damara losing herself to a more direct devil figure (Doc Scratch) as well as becoming lost to time in order to gain power. But I could be stretching there. Anyway, the opposite of the Witch is the Seer, who instead of actively shaping their aspect is empowered by passive understanding of it and tends to direct through others. The passive counterpart of Witch is Heir, who changes their aspect through inspiration rather than direct control.
Heir is a passive change class, focused on inspiring change both in their aspect and through their aspect. We see this in John, who has the funniest habit of moving everyone’s mind around like crazy, completely altering their Breath and decisions without using direct control to do so. At the same time, their aspect also seems to move them, like Equius being shaped by the subservience of Void or Mituna being inspired by Doom to make the great off-screen sacrifice we have yet to see. It forms a complex dance of Heir and Aspect, one so inspiring that people start to tap their toes to the beat. The key is that although both have a piece in the dance, the Heir has to learn to lead, just like John deciding his motivation rather than being privy to every spare idea that strikes his fancy, and learns to conduct the Breath and even guide it into a palpable form.
Heir, to my estimation, comes from the idea that an Heir is given a lot of stuff, in this case their aspect, and must learn to use it for themselves. If anyone is reading this still, you are a fucking saint. I am going mad and I’m 5,000 words in and this is pointless what am I doing with my life. The Heir is subservient in that they still answer to the higher power until they come into their own and inherit the throne. The opposite of an Heir is a Mage, who actively understands and seeks to understand the world around them rather than passively changing it. The active counterpart of an Heir is a Witch, which controls and shapes their element rather than inspiring change in it.
Maid is an active creation/healing class. They tend to focus on the creation portion of their aspect, both making their aspect and creating through it. Creating their aspect can take many forms: we see Aradia spamming timelines to create Aradiabots and thus dominate the Alpha Timeline, and Jane and Grandma Egbert create baked goods, which often represent Life with the energy they impart to help influence reality. Then there is the flip side: creating through their aspect, like God-Tier Aradia using her powers to stop Bec Noir to allow the creation to go forth, as well as Grandma Egbert actively destroying the imps and ogres in order to aid in the effort of creation, and Maryam Porrim’s using her image and control over Space to create new ideas and help spread the future of the race in new direction. Finally, although they tend to be downplayed, Maids still have pieces and portions of healing to them, though it tends to be focused on active healing, such as Sprite Grandma going off to find Dad Egbert and also very actively finding John so she can heal him and help him, as well as Maryam’s quest also involving healing broken ideas about gender in her species, and Aradia using her powers in order to maintain the Timeline (though this IS a duty of all Time players, and may not apply).
In history, a Maid has been the servant of a lady, and it has been her job to aid the lady in any way necessary. Through this task, they gained great autonomy, to the degree that they were in control of themselves and simply did what they felt was necessary to get the job done. This links to their active nature, and the taking care of the lady is both creation and healing. The name is also a pun: Maid sounds like made, which is quite appropriate for a class that makes their aspect as necessary. The opposite of a Maid is a Bard, which passively erases and destroys their aspect as opposed to active creation. The passive counterpart of a Maid is a Sylph, who focuses on healing and dealing with problems that they are given rather than going out and fixing problems on their own.
A Sylph is a passive healing/creation class. Like how the Maid emphasizes creation, the Sylph seems to tend more towards healing. This is seen through Aranea, who uses her “exposition” to patch holes in people’s understanding, and will through this also try and repair problems, one of the reasons she was much beloved by the trolls in her session. We also see Kanaya, who would dress up and also had a tendency to clean and organize things like Vriska’s various piles, which is an example of “fixing Space” by making it look nicer. Also look at Kanaya’s reputation as the go-to auspistice. While we never see this in effect, it is clear she is focused upon healing and repairing reputations. Finally, note Mindfang’s use of information and fortune to keep her crew going despite constant hardships and struggles that they faced, and also her passive creation of the journal, slowly building up information for a later generation to use.
There has actually been a great deal of contention for the Witch and the Sylph to be an active/passive pair, based on one of Kanaya’s comments. However, this is only one point of evidence against a lot for Maid/Sylph being a pair (Maryam and Kanaya, God-Tier shoe theory, actions of characters). There’s not a lot of basis for Sylph in mythology, but it acted as a sort of wise-woman, presumably someone who could give advice and help with problems that people took to them. The opposite of Sylph is Prince, who destroys and destroys through their aspect rather than passively healing it and creating it. The active counterpart is the Maid, who focuses on creation and action.
Prince is the active destruction class. They are fueled by their aspect, fueled to the point that they begin to both destroy their aspect and then destroy through it. Like Eridan, who always dreamed of a better world, to the point that he first used his hope and belief to destroy other people, defeating Sollux and killing Feferi, and then destroying Hope itself, such as blowing up the Matriorb and setting the whole team in disarray. Then we have Bro, whose constant destruction of Heart through irony and humor masked his love of puppets and ended up twisting Dave a lot through his lifetime. The Prince is inherently destructive, and this can cause a lot of problems, but the class isn’t necessarily harmful. We can see Dirk, who when he gets control of himself uses his identity as an incredible source of power to do things like bring all of his friends together. A fully realized Prince can destroy their aspect in the name of their aspect, and move everything together.
Prince most of the times were not leaders, but sort of lieutenants underneath kings to help administrate their empire. The reference in Homestuck might be to Machiavelli, which discusses the endless political machinations of the princes, who used their influence to get what they wanted done, but at the same time eroding the kingdom with their endless debates. This matches the same type of dual destruction in Homestuck, and could be the original source of the name. The opposite of a Prince is a Sylph, who focuses on healing their aspect and healing through their aspect, paralleling the Prince destruction of and through their aspect. The passive counterpart to the Prince is the Bard, who mocks and derides his aspect and others to death, rather than active destruction.
The Bard is a passive destruction class. A more appropriate name might be “Jester” if it fit the one syllable rule, because what a Bard does is take his aspect and joke around with it. In this way, he destroys his aspect passively, exploiting its flaws, mocking its excesses, and doing so to you, too. We see this in Gamzee, who would tear down the belief that things could be impossible, encouraging people to believe in miracles. Then, when he later started to invite destruction through Rage, he played on Karkat’s fears and negative emotions, a surprisingly similar method to before, just focused on Karkat instead of Rage. We see this too with Cronus, who first was fueled by his Hope, his belief that he could be or do something, but later lost that, and turned his hatred upon people like Mituna, destroying Mituna’s Hope and positive emotions to leave him sad, both destroying Hope and destroying through Hope like a Bard can do.
The Bard or jester would stay in the king’s court, amusing him all day long, at the same time playing very dangerously and mocking the king. It also relates back to Hussie’s previous work, Bard Quest, where the Bard ended up doing very little and dicked around a whole lot. It is certainly where the God-Tier codpiece originated from. The opposite of Bard is Maid, who focuses on active creation and control as opposed to the passive destruction of the Bard, and the active counterpart is the Prince, who actively destroys rather than passively inviting destruction.
The Thief is an active allocation class. What dominates the Thief control and placement of their aspect, like Vriska having ALL the luck and thus using it to control what happened next. They seem to start with simple theft, like Vriska’s obsession with snatching information, luck, and taking agency, but as they grow, they learn to use it more intelligently, like Meenah using the growth she had in order to work together a plan for defeat Lord English, or Vriska using her information to control others on her quest to find the secret treasure thing. We also have the Condesce, who uses the sheer power she has gained over a lifetime to exert major control over the Life of others, twisting and moving the growth of Planet Earth to her liking. They can also steal through their aspect, such as Vriska using information and the will of others in order to gain the money she wanted. So although it starts about thievery, the Thief grows to be about control, allocation to self, and thievery.
The master thief has been an image in folklore and myth for ages, an almost romantic figure who is skilled enough to talk whatever he or she wants, and then get away with it. The Thief flies in the face of the “subservient” class theory, because it’s hard to imagine a thief answering to anyone. However, they are certainly not as high up as a king or a lord, so it still possibly fits. The opposite of a Thief is a Page, who inspires people to use what they have instead of taking it from them. The passive counterpart to a Thief is a Rogue, who moves their aspect for the benefit of everyone and without an emphasis on control.
A Rogue is a passive allocation class. The Rogue moves things around as they see necessary, for the benefit of all and to further their goals. Also, they move things through their aspect. We see in the comic Nepeta, who is a Rogue of Heart, rearranging and moving the emotions and desires of her friends to try and maximize everyone’s happiness through shipping, and also taking roles upon herself as she roleplays along with her friends. She is also not afraid to steal other people’s motivations and stop their emotions, just like how she morails for Equius quite expertly, listening to his problems and making sure he doesn’t do anything rash or crazy, as well as motivating him to do the right thing when it is necessary. We also see Roxy, who takes secrets and other artifacts from the Void, and moves them where it is necessary, telling her friends secrets and details in order to facilitate a smoother group dynamic, as well as giving her friends a cloak through Void in order to keep them protected. So the Rogue does not exercise tight control, nor does it move things primarily to themselves, but rather keeps a constant flow of things and their aspect to benefit everyone.
As for mythological roots, my understanding of a Rogue is limited, but they seemed to act as a sort of thief for hire, working with armies in order to gain secrets of information or the like. They were in effect similar to spies, moving things where necessary in order to help their side and damage the other side. This fits quite nicely with their Homestuck class specifications. The opposite of a Rogue is a Knight, which uses what it has instead of moving things around. The active counterpart is a Thief, who focuses on allocating things to themselves as opposed to moving it in a freeform fashion.
The Knight is the active exploitation class. The Knight uses what it has and it uses it well. Knights often start off with a dearth of their aspect: Dave, as a Knight of Time had very little patience and Karkat had few very close friends do to his off-putting nature. However, what they do have they put to good use, such as Karkat using what bonds he hand in place to form together his team, and Dave quickly learning the ropes of time travel despite the somewhat frightening implications thereof. They do not only weaponize, they use it for EVERYTHING. Dave, as a Knight of Time, has used his powers for attack, defense, information gathering, money laundering, house security, and stupid jokes. And, as they grow, the amount of their aspect at their disposal grows, eventually increasing their total power and how they can use it.
Knights seem to be predisposed toward self-delusion and coming across as different people. This is obvious with Latula Pyrope, who maintains the rad girl image to keep herself safe, but it also manifests as Dave’s obsession with being cool and Karkat’s perpetually angry actions. This is not a hard and fast rule, but it does seem to be a trend among Knights in Homestuck and out of it. The Knight in myth was a character who would go out and use whatever he had on at hand to scour the countryside and help other people with their tasks and problems, fitting the active exploitation trait well. The opposite of a Knight is a Rogue, who passively moves their aspect rather than using what they’ve got. The passive counterpart to a Knight is a Page, who inspires others to use what they have instead of using their aspect to their benefit.
The Page is a passive exploitation class. They start off slow, usually lacking a lot in the way of their aspect, such as Tavros being very indecisive or Jake living in constant fear of the monsters outside his house. Another way to look at it is that they start with all of the negatives their aspects (for Tavros, it was indecisiveness, for Jake, it was lack of determination or ability to make up his mind, for Horuss, he was constantly unfortunate and never had enough information to go off of) and it is not until later they get enough and know how to use it in a productive manner. However, when they do, it can be astounding. They can inspire those around them to use their aspect for good and even give them some if they need it. When a Page is done, they have raised and army, an army who knows how to use their aspect and charge into battle. An army of Knights.
The Page is a hard class to spec on, because we have never seen an example of a fully realized Page. Thus, most of this is inference off of passive exploitation as well as mythological roots. The Page class is most likely based off of King Arthur, who spent his early years as a page to his older brother and believed that is all he would ever amount to. Plus, the Page gives others weapons so that they can use them, creating the image and idea of someone who gives people something and helps them use it. The opposite of a Page is Thief, who takes things away instead of helping people use them, and the active counterpart is Knight, who would rather use what they have at their disposal to help people rather than teach or inspire them.
Lord is one of the two Master Classes. It is impossible to say for certain, but odds are the Lord has two jobs: to embody and control their aspect. We see Lord English who represents the very unstoppable and destructive nature of Time itself, and through his goes on his merry romp through Paradox Space, destroying everything in his path. And when he does so, he gets his… hands?… claws?… into everything he can, changing the shape and flow of Paradox Space and creating infinite time loops in order to better help him dominate it. It is also apparent in one of his and Jake’s dialogues that he is supposed to ascend to the higher points of their aspect, becoming more and more comfortable with them, and then eventually as he does so, he will suddenly gain more and more control over reality. This very much describes how a Lord as an embodier and controller could work.
The Lord is the head of the castle, be it the king or whoever is in charge, and as such, he dominates. It is often used in mythology that the place a person rules comes to resemble them, and vice versa. This could very well be part of the control/embody dichotomy: Caliborn’s growth has been of him into Time, the patient, well-timed, inevitable yet uncertain point of destruction, and as he becomes this being, he gains control over the aspect. The opposite of a Lord and its passive counterpart is Muse, which passively embodies their class and inspires others, giving them control.
Muse is the most passive class, and it is probably about embodiment and inspiration. We look at Calliope, who is obsessed with her image and what she looks like to the point that she starts to continuously worry about them and tries to hide who she is. Her character arc is probably about becoming comfortable with who she is and through this more actively embodying Space. She also uses information, creation, and substance to inspire others, this very essence of who she is, and thus helps others become motivated in their quest. We also see her amazing abilities of creation when it comes to Space, and how Roxy is enable and more capable to move as she goes further and further into Calliope’s world, which could be a part of it, too.
Muses in mythology were gods, who never impacted reality except to inspire artists. They each had a piece of art they focused on, and in many ways represented that piece of art. In this way, they were extremely passive, but inspired many people and impacted reality that way. So that could be the mythological origin of a Muse. Opposite and active counterpart of a Muse is a Lord, who embodies and dominates their aspect rather than inspiring through it.
So that’s my thoughts on the 12 aspects, 14 classes, and Classpect in general. If you have any questions, particularly about the combinations of these, feel free to ask! I also adore constructive criticism and a healthy debate. I would also like to thank all of my followers: this was done as my 50 follower special, and I suspect I shall get many more to come. And of course, thanks to Andrew Hussie for ruining my life with his amazing webcomic.