Just as I could not keep myself from snakes, so I was drawn to survivors of snakebite, that singular clique, that club whose members had been touched by something dark, exotic and preternatural. They were like those who had experienced shipwreck, lightning strike or even alien abduction; they wore a badge of otherness that the rest of us could only shiver at even as we asked, our mouths slack with fascination: being bitten; what did it feel like? That was the point; we wanted to know. If we examined our curiosity deep enough, I suspected we might even acknowledge that these people, these survivors, had experienced something far stranger than we would ever know, and what we truly felt, despite our shivers, was something akin to a kind of dangerous envy, even a yearning for the experience they had survived.
-Jeremy Seal, The Snakebite Survivors' Club
-Jeremy Seal, The Snakebite Survivors' Club
There are many frightening things in the world: hurricanes, terrorism, real estate agents, etc. Dreadful things come to pass, and no one can stop them. And so we learn to avoid them, mitigate the damage, and build atop the dead. But there's more to fear than just aversion; people are drawn to roller coasters and horror movies just like any other interest. Being scared comes with a rush, a thrill, a reminder that you are alive and your autonomic systems plan to keep you that way. Your heart quivers, your breathing quickens, sweat forms across your forehead, as a jolt of adrenaline roars through your body. And then it's all over, all too quickly. Some want to experience it again. Some want more.
Beasts inspire fear like no other. It's their reason for being alive, and how they stay alive as well. A child of the Dark Mother may linger over the differences between dread and anxiety like a master chef deliberating over which knife would best fillet a troublesome swordfish. Their artists, in their own way, and all arts have their admirers.
Fear Clubs form from people who have been preyed upon by Beasts. They experienced something terrible, and afterward, maybe immediately following the shock or only after weeks of contemplation, they realized that, deep down, they kind of liked it. The rush is complicated, heady, and accompanied by a bouquet of emotions. Stories are shared, first online, then in-person as support groups coagulate. Together, over churros and gin, members of a Fear Club compare experiences, talk about the Beasts they've encountered, and plan outings so they can be fed from again and once more experience the thrill of nightmares made real. If one Beast is known to strangle people (not all the way, but just enough) who enter a certain park after dark, then you can be certain that Fear Club members are sneaking in come nightfall, giggling to themselves like teenagers at a slumber party after someone's revealed they swiped a bottle of their parents' Arbor Mist, waiting in anticipation for that critical moment when hands in the dark meet outstretched neck before everyone makes a break for it to talk about what just happened, break down the feeding and critique its finer points. Usually. A good number of Beasts are more bark than bite, but accidents happen, and it's not always easy to tell who's out to teach a lesson about drug abuse and who just likes to stab strangers for the hell of it.
Reaction among the Begotten to Fear Clubs is, naturally mixed. Some find them amusing, or flattering. They can be useful for spreading one's Legend, and who doesn't like admirers, or willing participants in a nominally unpleasant ritual? Some find them annoying. Having something you do to survive be treated like a form of entertainment would wear down even a saint after a while. Tyrants occasionally attempt to turn a Fear Club into a readymade cult or gang, only to discover their fans growing cold when the novelty wears off. Others see them as a danger, primarily to themselves, and try to disband Fear Clubs whenever they pop up before someone gets killed. Others still see them as a danger to Beasts, since they tend to compile a rather extensive dossier on local Begotten that any Hero would love to get their hands, and if these people get a thrill from being scared by monsters, imagine the rush they'd probably feel from slaying one.
Although not a religious group per se, membership in a Fear Club can be represented with dots in the Mystery Cult Initiation merit. Fear Clubs generally are non-hierarchical, so advancement doesn't represent rank so much as how many times a member has been fed from and how long they've been in the Club.
1: Talking with others about their frightening encounters has given you a good idea how others react to being scared. Gain an Empathy specialty in Fears.
2: You've heard and experienced enough about the Begotten to be able to piece together a thing or two about how they work. Gain the Encyclopedic Knowledge (Occult) merit that can only be used for questions about Beasts.
3: Being scared by supernatural beings so many times makes mortal intimidation humdrum by comparison. Gain the Iron Will merit. If your Resolve is less than 4, treat it as being 4 when using the merit.
4: At this level experience, you find yourself thinking more and more like a Beast. Gain the Mind of a Madman merit. Its effects can only be used on Beasts.
5: Fear Club members who've survived more feedings than they can remember exude a certain allure, like they've felt something no one else ever has. That, or they become masters of their own emotions. Gain a dot in either Presence or Composure. This cannot take you above your normal Attribute maximum.
One of the PCs thinks nothing of a quick snack they grab when their Satiety is low. A few months later, a popular new work of horror media is making the rounds: a movie, video game, creepypasta, whatever seems most appropriate. It's all about the PC, and people are absolutely loving it. People the Beast has never met before are posting about the awful nightmares they've been having starring the Horror, which just makes them admire the work even more. Maybe the PC likes being the center of attention, if only peripherally. Maybe they can use this sudden popularity to achieve the Incarnate Inheritance. Or maybe there's just enough personal information about them freely available to cause all sorts of problems.
Since the Begotten tend to seek out connections with their distant relations, it's only a matter of time before a Fear Club stumbles across the existence of other types of monsters, and especially their mortal hangers-on. Blood dolls, glamour junkies, Arisen cultists, and others flock to supernatural creatures for one reason or another. The Fear Club sees an even greater opportunity. Imagine what being the thrall of a vampire must be like. Granted, the other spookies out there don't tend to take kindly to a bunch of ignorant horror fans who have no sense of secrecy. Tensions are strained between a PC and their kin because of these wannabes. They must be dealt with.
Speaking of wannabes, some members of the Fear Club are starting to get ideas. Sure, being the subject of fear is fun, but what about being its object? Beasts can't have all the fun, now can they? Just like copycat murders that follow in a serial killer's wake, the city experiences an upswing in terrifying phenomena as mortals ape the frightful lessons of the Begotten. Maybe they think if they get it right, they can become monsters too. Or maybe they've been co-opted by another group, like the Ashwood Abbey, who have incredibly liberal notions of what constitutes as fun.