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Blackberry Thorns and Beasts-Jabbering About Teaching Culture

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  • Blackberry Thorns and Beasts-Jabbering About Teaching Culture

    I'm up, because I am, and I'm thinking, because I am, and I'm handling shit, because don't we all. Anyways, the mind wanders and strays, and I found myself on two things that brought me back to the one thing and I will go to them in reverse order. Why? Because they are on my mind and I want to talk, because I can only introspect so much and I'm out of German music aside.

    So, I was a playtester-technically, we never got around to it because shit happened, but whatever-and so I'm probably among one of the earliest people to have put forward the idea that one viable way to go at Beasts is the "Batman" method-that is, Beasts do bad things to bad people who deserve it. Obviously, that's highly subjective and asks some good questions about where a person gets off deciding that shit, but it's good fodder for questions about a person's sense of ethics and morals, justice, vengenence, shit like that. Of course, the problems go two ways with that-1) we have the Nemesis and there are, like, four other Hungers (Six now, apparently, but whatever), but more importantly 2) A lot of people glomped onto that idea when it became public as a way to dodge the messier but infinitely more interesting other things you can do with Beast. It quickly drove me nuts how many people made the game shallow for themselves by trying to sidestep their initial distaste, so I became a not-fan of that idea fairly rapidly.

    Anyways, since then I've become a fan of the Beast-As-Adversity idea, a have-cake-and-eat-it-too notion of Beasts using their Hungers to refine and bring out the best in other people-get a meal and make better individuals at the same time, carefully applying challenge to mastercraft a soul. But given the shit I've been dealing with and thinking about, two notions came that I just wanna lay out for Beasts as ways to think about the Teaching Culture thing. I don't promise any of this is new.

    First up is the "Parable of the Blackberry Bush"-it's not an actual ancient parable, in case you were wondering, it was some thing sent into the Christian magazine that every Mormon was subscribed to when I was still Mormon, based on a real story, whatever. ANYWAYS, the story goes like this: A mother took her child to play at the park, and got caught up in her book while the child did so. When the mother looked up, her child was nowhere to be seen. Panicked, she scrambled around the park, until she came across her child caught in the thorns of a blackberry bush. As her child struggled, more and more thorns bit into her and tangled her up, which cause her to scream and panic, and get caught up in the thorns more and more. The mother sat down and calmed her child down, calling for help and pulling out thorns. As she pulled the vines from her child's weeping wounds, she wondered how God could let this happen. It was then she noticed a lake(pond, something, whatever, shut up) next to the bush-she had missed it for her child. Her child could not swim, and had her child fallen into lake, she might have died. She mused to herself that sometimes God lets bad things happen to people because they prevent worse things happening. The End.

    I believe in many gods, and they all play second fiddle to humanity, ANYWAYS, this is, I know, an openly discussed thing that Beasts do. The Beast is, after all, the world, the monster, that can care. Their lessons include "Do not go there, it is not safe beyond my caverns." "Do not do that, it is not safe beyond my scratches." "Do not hate them, it is not safe beyond my spiral." A Beast is acutely aware of the dangers of the world, and can know better than most who belongs where-or when, or what. Beasts can save souls from their self-loathing, or hatred or others, from their actions or inactions, as much as they can space-time-perceptions. A Beast is pain, but we learn by pain to avoid greater hurts. we've all touched a hot stove, but some people learn by touching, and some learned by accidentally grabbing, committing more deeply. Beasts curb that by a lot, getting their meals while keeping the cruelty of the world lower than it could be.Beasts are great thresholds guardians in all manner of speaking.

    This thought of thorns brought me back to the Hedge and what a marvelous metaphor that has always been, and it came around to, well, shit, but in that shit was a rather good point-at the end of the day, we're all just caught in the thorns. (By the way, we're on a different train of thought, this is different from that parable thing). To sort of make my point, allow me to try and make a not-great comparison via storytelling.

    Once, there were a pair of hikers who got lost in a thorny-filled forest. As they each made mistakes, they got tangled up in bramble and brook more and more, until they became well and truly lost and torn apart. Hurt. hungry, and confused, the two turned on each other, blaming each other for the mistakes made that got them where they were. Riled to fury, they picked up sticks and stones and fought, until one killed the other. Now tired on top of everything else, the other hiker turned around, looking to see if he missed something-but the thorns were still there.

    I have a wide array of problems, and one of them is that I have invested rather a lot in the idea of forgiveness and mercy and stuff. It becomes increasingly clear as time goes on that there are clear and present times that action must be taken, structures must be broken, and shit must change. I get that, and I try to not excuse things that need a hammer, metaphorical or literal. However, in the context of Beast, I think it's important to remember in regards to them is that they show that we're all going through the thorns together, and that there's plenty of times where the fight is just more hurt. Sure, we might make choices that actively hurt each other and make things worse, even things that might not be forgivable. But really, the way that manifests is more, well, like wandering into a hedgerow, rather than people deliberately cutting and bleeding each other. And you can spend time fighting each other, but at the end of the way, you're still in the hedge. Likewise, the world is just a place that hurts. It will always hurt, it will hurt in an exquisite variety of ways, and we as people wander to those places together for all sorts of reasons. And sure, fighting each other helps, and even more than that, it feels good. You can do something about an enemy, you can do something about someone being wrong and doing wrong. It's easy, and it feels like you're going somewhere, but none of that changes that when all said and done, you're still in a world of hurt. Hell, most of the time, these sort of fights can't ever have a cathartic ending because, well, we don't live in a world where we can kill each other or effectively force severance of presence, so it often just people hurting each other a lot more because, fuck it, they hurt and they want someone to answer for it.

    You can actually see that a lot with the contrast of Heroes. Heroes, disregarding how they use to be or what they could choose to be, are defined by their enemies-they exist to kill Beasts. All they have to do is kill the Hydra, kill the Kraken, Kill the Dragon-"If I beat this next enemy, all is right with the world. I would stop hurting." By contrast, while Beasts do always enact a certain level of violence to survive, they don't really have to fight anyone. They don't need an enemy. They don't need Heroes to be wrong, they don't need anyone to really be wrong-hell, even the Nemesis don't need you to be wrong, per se, just in place for punishment. The world can often just be a place where we hurt together. Beasts can show that, when and where we need to fight and where we just go through thorns together.

    Anyways, just some quick musings. Thoughts are things, and I just wanted to think in a public place, even if none of it is especially profound. Who knows what will come out of this.

    PS: For the record, I'm well and fine, I'm not even directly involved with the shit, and I'm handling what is my portion of it well. It just leads to thinking and I'm not going to deny that my thoughts come from shit happening and people learning from pain*. No need for concern.

    *Yes, Beasts don't neccesarily have to inflict harsh pain, just shock, which are two different things, so we're clear.

    Sean K.I.W. Steele, Freelance Writer
    Work Blog Coming Soon
    The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey

  • #2
    Thanks man. Stuff to think on.

    Writes stuff. Sometimes you like it.
    WoD | Changing Breeds, Umbra, Book of the Wyrm, Shattered Dreams CofD | Werewolf: The Forsaken 2nd ed, Idigam Anthology, The Pack, Demon Storyteller's Guide, Hurt Locker, Dark Eras Companion, Beast Player's Guide, Deviant: The Renegades
    The Trinity Continuum | ├ćon


    • #3
      And now I'm musing about an old and wise Beast having Kinship with the denizens of the Hedge, based on this very chain of logic.

      MtAw Homebrew: Even more Legacies, updated to 2E


      • #4
        Thank you ArcaneArts, I feel this is the heart of why many Beasts try to do good despite their condition as humanity's fears.

        In fact, since Horrors are Astral entities it stands to reason they are more the fear of pain and loss made manifest, humanity's nightmares of the thorns that entrap them as it were. It can also explain why Beasts can form Kinship with most kinds of monsters too. They are all what humanity imagines up after finding the corpse in the night, or the screaming petrified remains. Tear stained dreams of the hidden things that took their friends and loved ones away forever.

        But most importantly it emphasizes the duality of the Beast. Something that comes up so rarely in Beast I feel. Yes their souls have been replaced/merged with a Horror of the Primordial Dream, but they still have human minds and (dare I say it...) human hearts and can still empathize with humanity enough to live among them. This means that they have agency to choose how to live with their Hungers, who they form Kinship with, how they build their Legend, and how they want to leave their mark on the world. That's why Beast is such a good game about asking questions, particularly about the other gamelines. Because no matter if your a human, semi-human, or full blown supernatural, we're all in this world together right?