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Beast Camp (Actual Play)

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  • Beast Camp (Actual Play)

    Well, I haven't actually finished writing up the Actual Play yet. And this will be difficult because putting my thoughts to words isn't that easy. But, by posting this now I'll be cementing my commitment to this Actual Play. Because out of all the games I've ever ran there is none more dear to my heart that Beast Camp. It's my first successful one-shot out of any Tabletop Game I've ran (although, it didn't stay a one-shot for long.) It's the first true Chronicles of Darkness game I've ran (I did run a solo Changeling Chronicle before this but it kinda got derailed and ended up more akin to Changeling the Dreaming in tone.) And it was unique in that every single player for that first game also happened to have never played a Chronicle of Darkness game before, so it was a first Chronicle for them. Beast Camp was many things for many people, but most was a tragedy. But first, some much needed context.

    Beast the Primordial had just came out with it's advanced PDF equivalent and I had just read through my favorite section of the book, the Storyteller Section, for like the third time. I wanted to test out the Chronicle creation rules that the section suggested, because the idea of having to write Beast Chronicles differently from regular Chronicles due to the Beast's doomed nature within the Monomyth really resonated with me. It was such a great way to incorporate a Beast and Hero's nature into the story creation process itself, like how the Wyrd was both a narrative device and key element for the world for Changeling the Lost. So, I set out to find an iconic story I could subvert into a Beast Chronicle. And in the end, I decided on one of the most well known horror tropes: the camp horror story. Ya, we all know that song and dance. Campers go out for summer fun, get a bit too frisky, night falls, monster starts picking them off one by one, Ect. So, with that in mind I began drawing up the Chronicle outline for a story around the monster of a camp horror story. And in the it wound up a sorta coming of age story for the monster, and thus Beast Camp was born. But there was one big problem though, the idea was veeeery close to the "mystical coming of age camp story" than I would have liked. This was a Chronicle of Darkness game, and that meant I wanted it to be a horror game. So, after pondering how to fix this problem I decided on my tone and wrote up a proper title:

    Tragedy at Bloom Lake: A Beast the Primordial chronicle about youth, fear, and the coming of age.

    Boom, done. All around feeling of satisfaction. Moved on to the next chapter of the book and left my little Beast One-Shot to sit on my phone. Probably to never see the light of a tabletop game ever...or so I though.

    Cut to a couple months later where my friends and I have gathered together for a holiday celebration. Beast's final completed document is out to all the Backers are patiently awaiting their Prestige Edition copies of the game. The nights festivities have stalled for a couple of hours, and we're looking for stuff to do to pass the time. One of my friends brings up Beast: the Primordial to some of the group who have never heard about the game before, and before long we've booted up the desktop and are showing them the PDF. They seem interested and wonder what character creation is like. This triggers a lightbulb moment where I remember that I have a fully fleshed out One-Shot Beast Chronicle on my phone, just waiting for player characters to pick it up. The next thing we know, I'm writing down my friend's character ideas into the Beast Camp doc and my friend who're familiar with character creation are walking the new players through the process. Character creation takes the rest of the night, and the following day the Chronicle begins.

    This is who they made.

    ~ Vance: An Anakim Tyrant of about 15 years of age who's Horror is The Man, the embodiment of monolithic and unshakable authority who leverages the hopes, dreams, and desires of his prey in order to command obedience.

    ~ Randal: A Namtaru Nemesis of about 18 years of age who's Horror is the Manticore, a creature of the wilderness and untamed places who judges man for their hubris against their fellow animals.

    ~ Jade: An Eshmaki Nemesis of about 17 years of age who's Horror is the Forgotten, a lithe creature of abstraction and shadows that judges those who take for granted the impermanence of human contact.

    I explained to the players that their characters had gotten into some trouble as a side effect of their recent Devouring. All had only been Beasts for maybe three months tops, and were still learning exactly what their powers were and what it meant to be one of the Begotten. This had led them to a run in with the law in some form, and as a result they were prosecuted and sentenced to community service. However, a representative from Camp Sunnydale, a rehabilitation camp for psychologically troubled youths *wink*, advocated that each of the player characters spend their community service at the camp. Seeing the alternative being trash pickup at best (not to mention there wouldn't have really been a game otherwise) and that the advocate was the same as them (even though they couldn't quite explain how they could tell) the Troupe opted for community service at camp. Here is what each character did to wind up at camp.

    ~ Vance: The most unique of the cases, Vance wasn't actually charged with anything. Rather he faced explosion from school should he not be admitted to either a psychiatric ward or attend Camp Sunnydale. For you see, Vance had always had an eye for picking up things others wished to keep hidden. It wasn't until after the Devouring that he learned how he was able to do this, but long before he stood before The Man and his mountain sized desk in the tallest room in the highest tower Vance had started writing down the things he would discover about others in a little school notebook of his. By the time he underwent the Devouring he had a closet full of them, and they provided him with his first taste of Satiety. However, Vance couldn't account for how the hunger of his Horror would effect his interactions with his parents. And one day while he was away at school they snooped through his room to see if anything was wrong and found his collection of secrets. Horrified of what they discovered they alerted the school principal and sought his council. Unfortunately for them, they didn't believe what Vance had written down about the principal and when he realized that Vance knew what he had done he lied to Vance's parents and threatened to expel him from school unless he was given psychiatric treatment. Luckily for Vance, the Camp Sunnydale advocate learned of Vance's notebooks as well, and after a "friendly" conversation with the school principal they convinced him to allow Vance to take their program instead. This was the first time Vance had meet another Beast, and they were quite impressed with his work.

    ~ Randal: People got hurt. They were awful people, but Randal never wished them harm. Randal never wished anyone harm. Born in a small rural town Randal grew up with a deep appreciation for the natural world and a strong empathy for others, tempered by the night terrors he had of a great monster prowling through a thick forest of bramble. Tragedy struck his family early in Randal's life when his mother passed away, leaving his father to raise Randal during his awkward teenage years. This led to a schism between Randal and his Father, and as soon as Randal was old enough to live on his own he packed up and moved to the city. He always retained his love of nature though, and ended up working for the National Forestry Service as something like a intern. It was while working to upkeep camping grounds that Randal began to fully realize his fellow man's disregard for nature, especially when it involved wild animals. People treated nature as a fascination, but always seem apart from it as if their actions had no consequences. This enraged Randal in a way he didn't think possible, and that night he underwent the Devouring and finally understood the nature of the monster that used to haunt his dreams. He was to judge those who had forgotten that humans are animals too, and never stopped being a part of nature. However, this nature ran counter to Randal's gentle heart and as he first underwent the struggles of being Begotten he especially found it difficult to feed properly. In the end he wound up returning to the camp sites late a night and scarring off rude or disrespectful campers with his strange powers over nightmares. That all changed one night, when one particular group of drunk college kids pushed him over the edge. For they had brought guns to the camp sight, and talked about shooting wild animals for sport in the morning. This, as you could imagine, would not stand. That night Randal terrorized the campers without mercy and no small amount of cruelty, but in the camper's blind panic to escape one of them fell into a small ravine and impaled their leg on a fallen tree. If Randal hadn't snapped out of his rage and helped the camper they would have died from blood loss, however one of the campers recognized Randal as their tormentor and soon after that Randal both lost his internship and was sued by the parents of the college students for endangering their children. Luckily for Randal the Camp Sunnydale advocate learned of his antics quickly and offered Randal an out in the form of community service through attending the program. Seeing as he had little alternative, and that the advocate was like him, he agreed.

    ~ Jade: Was it such a bad thing to want to spend time with family? Because for Jade, that very reason was why she was about to go to Juvenile Hall for a very long time. Jade and her sister were orphaned at a very young age, and spend a great deal of time in the foster care system. While her sister was eventually able to get put into a decent home, Jade found herself constantly shipped from place to place because her guardians found her "unmanageable." What a bunch of jerks right? This went on all across the state until Jade was just on the verge of being emancipated. This is when her Devouring occurred and she understood the shadow that seemed to dog her every step. She was a judge of those who took for granted the impermanence of human contact and connection, and she would show them why they should cherish their loved ones and friends as often as they could. It was a natural fit for Jade, plus after the life she had she saw it as doing these boneheads a favor. Unfortunately for her, those boneheads didn't quite see it that way. Jade quickly earned herself a bad reputation and was on the fast track to Juve, but Jade's powers made it very difficult for Human Services to contain her so she always managed to mysteriously get away at just the last moment. This led to a bit of a prideful streak in Jade though, and after three years apart she decided to visit her sister and catch up for old times sake. Sadly, the authorities were able to piece two and two together and Jade was captured by the police when she absconded with her sister for some ice cream. Jade wasn't able to escape this time, and would have gone to Juve for a long time if it wasn't for the Camp Sunnydale advocate speaking to the authorities on her behalf. She was given the same option as Vance and Randal, and easily opted for Camp over incarceration.

    And that is how the player characters wound up in Camp Sunnydale. The Troupe assigned their Aspirations and character creation was finished. The following day the Chronicle began, and like that Chronicle the Actual Play will begin soon too. For now I hope this has interested you enough to keep reading, and I hope you enjoy this coming of age story.
    Last edited by Dusksage; 11-22-2016, 05:40 PM. Reason: Spellcheck & Polish

  • #2
    Chapter 01: Tragedy at Bloom Lake

    Scene 01: The Bus Ride

    This write up turned out very exposition heavy so if you want to skip right to the good stuff you should begin on Scene 2, this shall be more of a mood setter and explain the mindset's of the Troupe and major NPC for when the bus arrives at camp.

    But first, some setting context (since I both forgot to do this in the description and because really...Scene 1 is mostly character introductions.) The Chronicle of Beast Camp takes place in the fictional county of Bloom County California, a parallel universe equivalent of Humboldt County California. It consists of several major fictional cities like the port cities of Northcreek and Providence, and several smaller fictional cities like Fargrace and Greypines. The name of the county comes from Bloom Lake, one of the major features of the county and the location of Camp Sunnydale. The region is known for it's lush temperate forests, rugged mountains, and rocky coastlines. And most importantly, it serves as something of a nexus to strange and distant places. Bloom County is a place of vast wilds, dark mysteries, and secluded communities where even the major cities hide away hidden neighborhoods of strange folk with traditions not entirely human in origin. This is the setting our players find themselves: Vance is from a relatively normal suburbia in Northcreek, but even he could see many of the people there hid a secret pain behind a mask of normalcy (and a bitter hatred of the thorns that seemed to grow everywhere there.) Randal hailed from the small forested town of Greypines, and spent most of his entire life in a town where everyone knew each other's names yet were all strangers. As for Jade, she may have spent her youth being shunted up and down the California coast and has definitely seen more places than the other player characters combined, but even to her Bloom County had always been a strange place. The brief time she spent in the city of Providence was certainly memorable, especially since it's where her sister currently lives with her weird foster parents.

    And now that the stage is set, let's begin right at the beginning. The bus ride to Camp Sunnydale.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    A bus belonging to the city of Northcreek rumbles down one of the main roads, heading deeper into the heart of the Northern California wilderness. The driver, a Child of the Dark Mother named Brian Fritz (who will be NPC'd in this scene by another of my friends who wasn't able to game for Chapter 1 due to work), has been asked by an old friend to safely see five young adults to the Sunnydale campgrounds as a favor. As he drives along the lazy road he occasionally looks in the rear view mirror to see how the kids are doing.

    The two sitting closest to the him, siblings by the look of them, are sitting in silence and staring down at their feet. Brian's eye for detail notices that the girl looks younger and occasionally looks up at her brother, as if about to say something, but then decides against it and continues looking down. The boy, maybe two years older than his little sister, occasionally looks towards the bus driver or towards the door. Then, decides against doing something stupid. Good lad.

    A few rows behind them appears to be the oldest looking member of the five. Just barely an adult though, and sitting quietly with a distant expression as he looks out the window facing where Bloom Lake will be appearing within the next hour or so. Brain knew that expression, this individual must have been down this road many times before, just not in this particular kind of situation. And Brian was right, Randal had been down this road many times. Some of his earliest and fondest memories are of visiting Bloom Lake with his father and mother. It was a more innocent time back then, and this nostalgia reminds him that he hadn't really spoken to his father in over a year. Perhaps once this whole "camp" thing was over he'd give the old man a visit...or a phone call...or something, he'd definitely do something. Randal's relationship with his father was complicated.

    A few rows behind the oldest of the group sat the reminding two passengers. Both adjacent to each other on the opposite sides of the bus. One, Brain noticed, was just slightly younger than the oldest of the group and was lounging in her seat. She had a relaxed demeanor, but kept her eyes more on the other passengers rather than her surroundings. Brain speculated that she too had been down this road many times before as well, but in a different way than the other passenger. And he was right, Jade had done this song and dance time and again. She'd lost track of all the different bus rides to and from the places she'd been forced to stay, and of all the passengers she was the expert when it came to "correction programs" meant to turn bad boys and girls into the idea youth of the nation. However, this time was definitely different. The trappings may have been the same, but these people on the bus were monsters. Just like her. Jade made sure to stay calm, but keep an eye out for other passengers.

    The passenger on the adjacent side of the bus must have been the youngest of the bunch, and from what Brian could tell he must have been either in late middle school or veeeery early high school. This kid seemed to be taking in every aspect of his surroundings, carefully examining the other passengers and calculating his risk/rewards from engaging in a conversation with them. In a youthful, naive sort of way it reminded Brian of his own earlier years. Cleaver boy. And Brian was right. Vance was completely absorbed in his surroundings. And who could blame him? Here sat four other kids and a bus driver that were all just like him. He had so many questions, but knew that was no excuse to open himself up to unwanted questions about himself. Vance did have a good head on his shoulders, so he instead observed everything he could about the other passengers, and the bus driver. Although it was proving more difficult than he thought.

    As the bus rolled along, it was indeed Vance and Jade who first broke the ice. In the end Vance's curiosity won out over his caution (but not by much) and he struck up a conversation with Jade. Both parties were eager to learn more about what exactly was going on, and with Randal occasionally overhearing parts of their conversation, Vance and Jade began to learn more about each other and how they ended up on the bus to Camp Sunnydale.

    It was around that time that Bloom Lake slowly became more visible through the tree-line on Randal and Vance's side of the bus. Randal was left with even greater pangs of nostalgia as memories of his youth and home began to occupy more of his mind. It wasn't until the now natural presence of his Horror stirring deep within his own Lair at the first pangs of hunger that snapped Randal from his reflections. It served as both a reminder of where he was right now, and the ultimate futility of his remembrance. For no matter what he did, Randal wasn't the same person he was when last he and his family were at Bloom Lake. With that solemn realization, he turned for the first time to his new camp compatriots and joined their conversation. He figured it was better to focus on the present than dwell on distant memories.

    For the next half an hour Vance, Jade, and Randal talked to one another. They learned a brief bit about each other and why they were shipped off to Camp Sunnydale. While not many personal details came up about themselves they did all come to the same conclusion, that each of them got sent to camp because they got in trouble by using their strange powers. This was the first hint the Troupe had in character to the true nature of Beast Camp, but it was still too early on for them to realize the purpose of the camp was to help teach them how to interact with human laws and society while still staying true to the teachings of the Dark Mother (or even the whole Begotten terminology and mythology. For all they knew, they all became monsters after one terrible dream.) This line of logic led Vance to ask the two other teens near the front of the bus why they got shipped to camp, as well as the fact that the younger sister of the pair had obviously taken an interest in the three other passenger's conversation. This however, wasn't taken too positively at first by the older brother who, for lack of a better description, told Vance to go piss off. After some encouraging from his younger sister though the two introduced themselves as William and Diana Graceheart, and revealed that they too had run afoul of the law while coming to terms with their new powers and hunger but didn't reveal exactly what that was. Vance and Jade were able to discern that William seemed solemnly protective of his younger sister, while Randal was able to tell Diana held herself with no small degree of shame. This was something he was familiar with himself, and came to the conclusion that she might have accidentally hurt someone while feeding like he did.

    Listening in the whole time Brian took stock of the campers too be, and remembered back to when the camp first started. He remembered his old friend's passion and dream of making a safe place where young Begotten could learn what it meant to be a Beast from those who'd seen the best and worst the world had to offer. Even after all these years, and all the heartbreak Ramirez still believed in what he set out to accomplish. But Brian had long been disillusioned with the Camp Sunnydale project, and while he believed teaching young Beasts about their powers and hunger was a good thing, he no longer shared Ramirez's idealism about changing the Begotten's role in the Narrative. They could teach these teens all they wanted, but the world would always hammer them back into the role humanity dictates that they play. For better or worse. But for now, he humored himself by playing the role of the bus driver.

    "Keep it down back there!", Brian shouted from behind the wheel of the bus. The five teens immediately quieted and shifted in their sets a little. They were all still forced to go to Camp Sunnydale and knew not their ultimate fate upon arriving. Brain meanwhile laughed to himself at how he sounded. He had to be true to his own Legend, even if unintentional.

    The bus pulled off the main road and onto a well worn dirt path with a large wooden sigh on the side reading: Bloom Lake

    It wouldn't be long now.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Storyteller's Notes: The most interesting thing about this scene is not what happened, but rather the atmosphere as the scene was going on.

    For you see, the game was running late at the time and one of the participants (Brian's player) had to leave to go to work at a certain hour. This left us with a bit of a time crunch and a hungry group of gamers, so quite by accident we ended up doing this scene as we walked to pick up some take out. And by doing that we would up mirroring the events in the scene quite nicely as I (as William, Diana, and the Narrator) went to the players one by one and got a little bit of what they were doing and who they were interacting with, while the players themselves grouped up and in character while walking asked questions to one another and had some spectacular introductions. We wound up getting some truly immersive roleplaying done while just trying to manage the time and get lunch, and it taught me a valuable lesson about environmental roleplaying.

    And that's all for now, toon in next time as the Troupe arrives at Beast Camp and meets the camp leader and the rest of the Begotten of Bloom Lake.
    Last edited by Dusksage; 01-12-2017, 10:47 PM. Reason: Polish Update


    • #3
      Scene 02: Welcome to Camp

      Foreword: Apologies about the delay, the holidays had been busier than I though. Also, a special thanks to those who've read this let's play so far and those who've sent messages. Your suggestions have been extremely helpful for the write up of Scene 2 and I thank you for contacting me. I've been struggling to find my creative voice for years now, and I'll do my best to relay this Chronicle as best I can.

      - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

      The bus pulled into the gravel parkinglot of Camp Sunnydale at a quarter to noon. From the windows Jade, Randal, and Vance could see a large building near the parkinglot with campers going in and out with food, and sloping downward from that were 2 rows of 5 cabins adjacent to eachother but separated by a walkway that led from what looked like a beach volleyball court along the shores of Bloom Lake back to what must be the cafeteria. There were several campers varying from Vance's age to Randal's heading to the cafeteria, but all of them were the same as those on the bus: monsters. Only Randal noticed that down by the volleyball courts were there regular humans, and due to the elevation of the parking lot he could just barely make out another camp maybe a mile up the shoreline from where the volleyball nets were. (The Troupe succeeded on Wits + Composure rolls to scope out the camp, and due to Randal's familiarity with the lake he got an editional piece of information for his success.)

      Waiting for the bus from a nearby walkway that let to the cafeteria was a short man of olive skin, short black hair, and perhaps 35 to 40 years of age. He wore clothes befitting someone who'd just come back from hiking in the forest, and wore glasses that sat lightly upon his nose. He smiled broadly as the bus pulled up and opened it's doors, and introduced himself to the Troupe as David Rameirez, the director of Camp Sunnydale. Despite his charming and welcoming demeanor, something about this man made the new campers skin crawl. Only Randal and William truly understood why. (Randal discovered that, like William Graceheart, Mr. Rameirez must be the same kind of monster as he is and foreshadowed the Troupe learning about the Families.)

      [Update in progress]
      Last edited by Dusksage; 01-12-2017, 11:31 PM. Reason: Update in progress


      • #4
        [Place Holder for Scene 03: Night of the Feast, where the Troupe engage in a camp tradition of scaring the juvenal delinquents of the neighboring Camp Clearwater, learn more about their Hunger and how to sate it, and get up to some "classic" camp antics.]


        • #5
          I am extremely interested and look forward to seeing more.


          • #6
            [Place Holder for Scene 04: Shots Fired, where the Troupe get's a maaaaaaasive reality check, and the lives of the campers becomes imperiled.]


            • #7
              [Place Holder for Conclusion: The Real Tragedy, where we learn the fate of Vance, Randal, and Jade, as well as that of both Camp Sunnydale and Camp Clearwater.]


              • #8
                Thank you ajf115, i'll do my best to retell the tale accurately and entertainingly.


                • #9
                  I'm very excited to read this. I love the setup and am interested to see how it all plays out.


                  • #10
                    Thanks SaikyoDinosaur,

                    I'm currently writing out Scene 01 right now, it's about halfway done but due to my trouble with writing and ADD it will mostly likely get posted either later tonight or sometime tomorrow.
                    Last edited by Dusksage; 11-25-2016, 07:10 PM. Reason: Polish


                    • #11
                      Scene One is completed and posted. Will need a look over to catch spellchecks but got to crash for now. Hope you all enjoy it. *collapses*
                      Last edited by Dusksage; 11-28-2016, 10:46 PM. Reason: Spellcheck, ironically


                      • #12
                        Waiting for more =D


                        • #13
                          Still struggling to get through the writing. I have painfully learned that this is definitly not my stong suit. :/

                          But, I will soldier on. This is by far the best Chromicle I've ever run and it deserves to have at least a proper write up.