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Beast: the Alternate Take

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  • crapcarp
    started a topic Beast: the Alternate Take

    Beast: the Alternate Take

    I’m not gonna sugarcoat it: I cannot enjoy Beast as it currently stands. I believe it betrays one of the most important themes of ChronDark, it makes veeery unfortunate implications, and overall is rather immature.

    Now please keep in mind that is simply my personal opinion on the game. I am in no way saying this as concrete fact. If you like the game as it stands, more power to you. I’m not here to tell you what you’re enjoying is wrong, all I’m saying is that I simply can’t enjoy the game. That’s it.

    And ultimately, my opinion on the game is really besides the point of this thread. I’m not here to say why I don’t like the game, I’m here to say that I don’t like the game, but I do like some of its concepts, so I’ve come up with a way to change it so I can enjoy it. I’m not alone in disliking the game either, so this alternate take might provide something useful for others in my boat. Who knows? Even if you like the game as is, you might enjoy this alternate take on it.

    So basically, I’m not saying “This game is bad and you should feel bad” but rather “I don’t enjoy this game, but I like some of the concepts, so I’ve come up with a way to change it so I can enjoy it”.

    With that outta the way, onto Beast: the Alternate Take.

    Premise

    You were human once, not anymore.

    What are you now? You’re caught in the place between humanity and monstrosity. You delved too deep in a place where all nightmares and fears pour into a horrifying ocean. The Primordial Dream, they call it. There resides the Dark Mother, the progenitor of all monsters, and she wants to make you one of her Children. She sent a Horror to Devour you, claiming your soul. It burrowed deep in there, molding it into its Lair. The Dark Mother feeds on fear and suffering, and now that you’re Devoured, so do you. You must torture, terrify, maybe even kill others just so you can keep on going one more day.

    But it doesn’t have to be that way. You, through some miracle (or maybe curse, depending on who you talk to), managed to maintain some semblance of your humanity. You weren’t completely Devoured, otherwise your body would’ve transformed to match the Horror within. You can fight this, become human again, but you gotta hurry. It’s only a matter of time before the Horror finishes what it’s started.

    Your only hope? The darkness you once forced yourself to ignore. Before all this, you like most people denied the darkness that lurked just under the surface of the mundane world you knew. You went about your normal life, pretending that the monsters weren’t there. If you can’t see them, they can’t see you, right? Look how that turned out for you. You’re gonna have to delve into this world of darkness if you wanna find a cure, ‘cause sure as hell the mundane world doesn’t have one. You’ll have to meet the vampires, werewolves, and stranger things, to understand their nightmares so you can escape your own.

    As if things weren’t bad enough, there are people called Heroes who want you dead. They’re like humanity’s antibodies against the Dark Mother’s agents, and they’ll stop at nothing to wipe you out. Even if they knew your plight, they’ll still end you because they see you as hopeless, a lost cause. But you aren’t a lost cause, you can stop this Devouring before it’s too late.

    What have you got to lose, anyway?


    And that’s pretty much the gist of it. I know, it’s more like a complete rewrite than an alternate take, but if it’s gonna take a complete rewrite to make this game enjoyable for me, then so be it. I’ve got several ideas to flesh out the concept, and I’ll be putting them in future posts. In the meantime, what are your thoughts? Like it? Dislike it? Have some ideas? Let’s discuss!

  • Vent0
    replied
    Originally posted by Ladegard View Post


    Well, they all sound interesting, but most directly the Demon and Alien.
    Infernal: the Corruption

    Themes: Identity and Integrity (in the line of "what is a person's price?")

    The PCs play as Infernally Possessed individuals (a Demon of the Inferno, or its close approximate, claimed the host's soul and merged with them). Family corresponds to the general type of Demon, and Hunger as to their desired Sin (which are fed upon by inflicting Breaking Points in their theme - Infernals feast on the bits of lost soul/Integrity). Atavisms represent the Demonic Form, and Nightmares are Corruptions (exploiting or infecting others with weaknesses both physical and spiritual). Kinship bonds represent the Infernal corrupting the other supernaturals. The Lair is an Infernal's Dominion, and a grouping of them is a Bolge. Their Anchor Traits are Nature (the traits/inclination of the Demon inside) and Identity (the being's attempt at carving out a sense of individuality). Heroes represent people empowered by "the Opposition", though they are less self-aggrandizing, and more "no sacrifice is too great - now stop stalling and charge those traps".


    Alien: the Messenger

    Themes: Uncertain Purpose and Paranoia

    The PCs play as Messengers from some Alien force(es) - either Abducted/Augmented humans, specially made hybrids, Alien-in-disguise, etc. All of them have a Purpose they need to spread/transmit... even if they aren't sure exactly what it is precisely (they have the gist) - this corresponds to Hunger. Family corresponds to the traits of the Alien* - natural aptitudes, widespread augmentations, etc. Nightmares are Psionics - all the branches of Alien have profound mental powers. Lair corresponds to the Alien's "home" - a mothership, homeworld, native dimension, whatever. "Spreading the Message" sets up psionic resonance that brings it closer (at least, that's my Satiety handwave). Life and Legend correspond to the Public and Private persona they put forth. Heroes are the Men In Black (basically) - they track down Aliens they've detected, eliminate them, and steal whatever they can to strengthen themselves (Gifts might not be tied to individual characters, per se).

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  • Ladegard
    replied
    Originally posted by Vent0 View Post

    Which one? I'll have to find (and possibly complete) the notes.

    Well, they all sound interesting, but most directly the Demon and Alien.

    Leave a comment:


  • RickmanUK
    replied
    Originally posted by crapcarp View Post
    Subversion

    ​Horrors are the monsters of legend, they take cues from the narrative. So what better way to avoid becoming such a thing than to reject the narrative? A Beast could do several random kind acts to become known for your kindness instead of their monstrosity. Another could deliver much needed justice to the other terrors of the community. Particularly daring Beasts might try to rehabilitate Heroes who have gone off the deep end. However a Beast goes about it, they have their work cut out for them, and they're swimming against the tide. It may be one of the most obvious cures, but it's also one of the hardest to accomplish.
    This is actually not that great. Stories tell of many kindly beasts that don't seek to harm people anyway. IF they take this part they probably wouldn't become human again, just another Beast. Granted probably not one that needs to feed (or one that Feeds on Kindness instead... And if you think Feeding on fear is bad can you imagine the uproar that will come from that...). The Problem i find with this one is based purely on the idea that by Subverting the Narrative you are actually acknowledging it and granting it power over you. You are becoming just a different piece to be used for its needs.

    Then again i'mma stickler for using "Greater" powers in stories i tell...

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  • crapcarp
    replied
    Originally posted by SunlessNick View Post
    The big question is, will you include a way to win? That is to fight your way out of the belly of the beast and become human again? One approach might be to put your Horror to Slumber, enter your Lair - because you don't merge with it under those circumstances - and kill it in its sleep. But to do that, you have fill its belly, and that's hard to do without becoming monstrous yourself.
    ​Yes, there will be a way for PCs to succeed, and this is how the crossover element comes in. You need to discover a way to turn back, so you explore the supernatural world to do so. You enter the vampire clubs, the werewolf territories, etc. and ask around.

    ​As for what exactly needs to be done, that's ultimately up for the ST to decide, though I will provide several ideas to get the creative juices flowing. Here's a few I have so far:

    Switching Lanes

    ​Rather than become a Horror, you just become a different supernatural instead, such as a vampire, werewolf, etc.. The Beast does this by understanding what makes the supernatural they want to become tick, and then slowly start embodying the supernatural (could be done mechanically with buying something like Kinship Atavisms, also Kinship Nightmares of course). Naturally, many Beasts tend to see this as a non-cure, and so pass it up when they discover it. Other Beasts tend to see the Devouring as an inevitability, so they might go for this method as a way to have at least some agency in the situation ("If I must become a monster, then I'll become what I choose to be").

    Subversion

    ​Horrors are the monsters of legend, they take cues from the narrative. So what better way to avoid becoming such a thing than to reject the narrative? A Beast could do several random kind acts to become known for your kindness instead of their monstrosity. Another could deliver much needed justice to the other terrors of the community. Particularly daring Beasts might try to rehabilitate Heroes who have gone off the deep end. However a Beast goes about it, they have their work cut out for them, and they're swimming against the tide. It may be one of the most obvious cures, but it's also one of the hardest to accomplish.

    ​The whole "Kill the Horror while it's Slumbering" could also be a valid method, but it would be extremely risky. For starters, you're in the Lair itself, so it has a chance to consume you once and for all (dying while in the Lair would make it go to 10 dots in one big hit). More importantly, you have to kill the Horror in one blow, because if you don't manage to, the Horror will awaken and try to kill you, and since you'll be in the Lair while this happens, if it does end up killing you there it can physically manifest. So if you attempt and mess it up or didn't do enough to kill it, then you've just given it one hell of an incentive to kill you where it is at its strongest. Basically, good luck doing that. Still, its one hell of an option for daring players.

    Originally posted by White Oak Dragon View Post
    Thank you for posting this. I actually love Beast as written, but I think that the idea of an alternate version in which they are trying to stop themselves from becoming a greater monster and return to humanity is a neat take. If I was to write something like this, I would go with breaking points like Integrity, allowing them to gain bonuses to resist increases by feeding in a manner that minimizes harm. Alternatively, something like an inversion of Mummy's Descent system could also work.
    The first one is actually a neat idea. I don't have Mummy, so I can't comment on that, unfortunately.

    Originally posted by White Oak Dragon View Post
    Atavisms could actually cover horror traits fairly well. I'd make them free, as a reflection of the Horror's advancement. When in trouble, they can call upon their Atavisms, but it comes at a price. Each Atavism used in the course of a breaking point penalizes them when attempting to prevent their Lair from increasing. Gaining a new one is an automatic breaking point in its own right.
    ​That works. I would also add that you gain a new Atavism every time you gain a Lair dot automatically (this causes no breaking point, though, it just reflects the advancement of the Horror) and each one has three tiers. Each tier represents different levels of the Devouring: Beginning, Middle, and End (also reflects a common narrative structure). The Beginning tier is very basic and subtle, but it's relatively weak. Middle is where it becomes stronger, but it's also more obvious. End is the strongest point, but it's blatantly obvious and a nightmare to cover up. The tier you use depends on your Lair dots; 1-4 you use Beginning, 5-7 you use Middle, and 8-10 you use End.

    ​For example, let's take Wings of the Raptor. At the Beginning tier, you only have slightly elongated arms. People might notice they're a bit too long for you, but it's not gonna cause a fuss anytime soon. As for the power itself, it only gives you a minor boost on jumps, you can go a bit higher/longer. Once you've hit Middle, you've developed some feather shafts on your arms, and they'd look extremely weird to anyone who sees them, but you can reasonably cover them up. For the power, you can now start gliding. And finally at the End, you've developed full wings, and they're a bastard to try and cover up. That said, you can now actually fly.

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  • SunlessNick
    replied
    Originally posted by crapcarp View Post
    ​Y'know, I had another idea for an alternate take on Beast, which basically focused on the whole "subvert the narrative" angle where you basically went about making your own story as a means to escape the whole "Heroes vs. Beasts" cycle, but then it hit me: I'm making Demon: the Descent, just with mythic trappings rather than techgnostic ones. Not really a bad thing (and hell, I think I still might do that), but I wanna make Beast a little more distinct.
    In a thread on RPGNet, I compared the Heroes vs Beasts narrative to the cycle of abuse, like so: The Horror creates (or "creates") a Beast, but it's humans who create Horrors through their collective fears - which are fed in turn by Beasts for their nourishment and Heroes for their aggrandisement (since after all, who cares if you kill a non-fearsome monster?) - and go on to create more Horrors. (This was back at the time of the first draft, where Heroes became active through encountering Beasts - though even in that draft, they always were Heroes-in-waiting, they weren't absolutely created by Beasts - but enough so for that to be included in the cycle). That ties the monomyth/narrative angle to Beast's abuse/violation themes, and provides an escape the monomyth plot with a more visceral expression.

    Lesson-teaching could be construed as a kind of attempt at subversion. So is your alternate take in your first post, albeit a more drastic one. In a comparison to Demon: the Descent, it might be that Beasts in this schema are analogous to angels that are trying to fall, with various philosophical camps as to how they can.

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  • White Oak Dragon
    replied
    Originally posted by crapcarp View Post

    Devouring Beats

    ​Devouring Beats reflect the Horror's progression. Feed, you get a Devouring Beat. Let your Horror Rampage to feed itself, you get more Devouring Beats. Gain a new Atavism or Nightmare, Devouring Beat. Get enough Devouring Beats, you get another dot in Lair. Get 10 dots in Lair, the Horror has now completed its Devouring. Something like that, it needs a lot of work, but the basic idea is to facilitate a race against time. This is cool because as you're getting stronger and more fun stuff to play with, the narrative stakes raise appropriately. As your Lair raises, you gain more and more...
    Thank you for posting this. I actually love Beast as written, but I think that the idea of an alternate version in which they are trying to stop themselves from becoming a greater monster and return to humanity is a neat take. If I was to write something like this, I would go with breaking points like Integrity, allowing them to gain bonuses to resist increases by feeding in a manner that minimizes harm. Alternatively, something like an inversion of Mummy's Descent system could also work.

    Originally posted by crapcarp View Post
    Horror Traits

    ​As your Lair grows bit by bit, your body changes to physically reflect the Horror within. At first, you might get slightly longer nails, maybe a few blemishes, or perhaps your pupils become slits. But then the changes get more and more obvious, a tail starts growing, scales form on patches of your skin, you start growing extra fingers. Fortunately, Mortals can't see these changes, the Dark Mother provides an illusion that occludes these "features". Unfortunately, Heroes can see past this illusion and immediately recognize you as a Beast if they even so much as get a glimpse of your Horror Traits (I'm also thinking of making a Gift that drops the illusion, revealing what you really are to Mortals). One part Body Horror, one part Paranoia Fuel. I'll probably use the Demonic Form rules as a basis for these. Speaking of Demons...
    Atavisms could actually cover horror traits fairly well. I'd make them free, as a reflection of the Horror's advancement. When in trouble, they can call upon their Atavisms, but it comes at a price. Each Atavism used in the course of a breaking point penalizes them when attempting to prevent their Lair from increasing. Gaining a new one is an automatic breaking point in its own right.

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  • SunlessNick
    replied
    Originally posted by crapcarp View Post
    Fortunately, Mortals can't see these changes, the Dark Mother provides an illusion that occludes these "features". Unfortunately, Heroes can see past this illusion and immediately recognize you as a Beast if they even so much as get a glimpse of your Horror Traits (I'm also thinking of making a Gift that drops the illusion, revealing what you really are to Mortals).
    Behold My True Form is one of the Nightmares. You could rule it exposes the Beast's true form to any witnesses, not just the one suffering the damage.


    Regarding your alternate take, it's a philosophy I could see some canonical Beasts having, if they decide they were forced ot tricked into Devouring, not understanding what they were signing on for.

    The big question is, will you include a way to win? That is to fight your way out of the belly of the beast and become human again? One approach might be to put your Horror to Slumber, enter your Lair - because you don't merge with it under those circumstances - and kill it in its sleep. But to do that, you have fill its belly, and that's hard to do without becoming monstrous yourself.
    Last edited by SunlessNick; 06-16-2017, 11:08 AM.

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  • ArcaneArts
    replied
    Originally posted by crapcarp View Post

    That is not a question for this thread, as I don't want the topic to be buried under a discussion of whether or not Beast is good. This thread is not about "Is Beast bad?" but rather "Here's my alternate take on Beast". I only brought up my views of the game as background information for why I'm doing this alternate take in the first place.

    ​That said, I'm more than happy to share my views on the game, so I'll be creating another thread to do just that. If nothing else, it serves as a place to dump all that discussion to ensure this one doesn't get buried. Basically, if anyone posts about the quality of Beast in this thread, we can just say "Please post in this other thread for that".



    ​Y'know, I had another idea for an alternate take on Beast, which basically focused on the whole "subvert the narrative" angle where you basically went about making your own story as a means to escape the whole "Heroes vs. Beasts" cycle, but then it hit me: I'm making Demon: the Descent, just with mythic trappings rather than techgnostic ones. Not really a bad thing (and hell, I think I still might do that), but I wanna make Beast a little more distinct.

    Damn, the irony of all this is so thick I could cut it with a knife.
    Fair enough, although that is it's own rabbit hole. Assuming it's not too late, can I just ask you for that answer in a PM?

    EDIT: Also, I should note I don't care why you don't like Beast, I just care about the theme you feel is betrayed.
    Last edited by ArcaneArts; 06-15-2017, 10:15 PM.

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  • crapcarp
    replied
    Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
    I'm going to regret this I feel*, but I must ask: What theme do you feel is being betrayed?

    *Mostly because I can just see diving deep into a possible ensuing argument after this is answered, if the "right" sort of people respond..
    That is not a question for this thread, as I don't want the topic to be buried under a discussion of whether or not Beast is good. This thread is not about "Is Beast bad?" but rather "Here's my alternate take on Beast". I only brought up my views of the game as background information for why I'm doing this alternate take in the first place.

    ​That said, I'm more than happy to share my views on the game, so I'll be creating another thread to do just that. If nothing else, it serves as a place to dump all that discussion to ensure this one doesn't get buried. Basically, if anyone posts about the quality of Beast in this thread, we can just say "Please post in this other thread for that".

    Edit: And here it is.

    Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
    Also I have a rant somewhere where I make case for G-M entities as a sidenote to my point, and I want to toss that in here later as a point of consideration.

    EDIT: Here it is, in the middle of my "Monomyth is merely the threat" rant.
    ​Y'know, I had another idea for an alternate take on Beast, which basically focused on the whole "subvert the narrative" angle where you basically went about making your own story as a means to escape the whole "Heroes vs. Beasts" cycle, but then it hit me: I'm making Demon: the Descent, just with mythic trappings rather than techgnostic ones. Not really a bad thing (and hell, I think I still might do that), but I wanna make Beast a little more distinct.

    Damn, the irony of all this is so thick I could cut it with a knife.
    Last edited by crapcarp; 06-16-2017, 01:22 AM.

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  • ArcaneArts
    replied
    Originally posted by crapcarp View Post
    I’m not gonna sugarcoat it: I cannot enjoy Beast as it currently stands. I believe it betrays one of the most important themes of ChronDark-*Snip*
    I'm going to regret this I feel*, but I must ask: What theme do you feel is being betrayed?

    Also I have a rant somewhere where I make case for G-M entities as a sidenote to my point, and I want to toss that in here later as a point of consideration.

    *Mostly because I can just see diving deep into a possible ensuing argument after this is answered, if the "right" sort of people respond..

    EDIT: Here it is, in the middle of my "Monomyth is merely the threat" rant.
    Last edited by ArcaneArts; 06-15-2017, 08:12 PM.

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  • Vent0
    replied
    Originally posted by Ladegard View Post

    Any chance of our getting a look at these?
    Which one? I'll have to find (and possibly complete) the notes.

    Leave a comment:


  • Ladegard
    replied
    Originally posted by Vent0 View Post
    Total Conversions (where I lifted Beast's mechanics and redid fluff and themes completely) were: Demon (Inferno-esque), Avatar (probably like Demigod: the Empyrean, but I've never checked that project to really know - sorry ajf115), Alien: the Messengers (guess what that one was like/about), and vague plans to convert Mummy, Changeling, and maybe Mage.
    Any chance of our getting a look at these?

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  • Vent0
    replied
    Originally posted by crapcarp View Post
    ​I would happily appreciate to see anything you got.
    So, one of my takes was similar to what you had - Beasts are the result of dream monsters consuming a person, and getting their identity stuck in their metaphorical teeth. It is left ambiguous whether the human side can win free, or whether "you" are just the Horror deluded into thinking it is what it just ate. The Dark Mother was either the source of these monsters, sending her "children" out to feed on her behalf (antagonistic), or the First Beast, who encourages and looks after Beasts who defy their nature and become more than mere monsters (positive).

    Another dumps or diminishes the "Fear" angle and makes Beasts/Horror more "Monster of Myth" - as in they are their Legend and Archetype. Lair is not the Power Stat, Legend is (though Lair is tightly coupled to Legend anyways). The Hungers usually start as Fears, because those are common and fundamental, but part of Beast evolution is to redefine what their nature feeds upon. Their interaction with other monsters is more "including them in my Legend", rather than any kind of familial connection. The Lair was also more tightly linked to their physical locations, but there was still Primordial Dream overlap due to them becoming a kind of Astral Verge.

    A third is more unfinished - it returns to the Homecoming concept in that Beast were always the monster within, only masquerading as human, but disconnects from the "Nightmare Creatures" and gives them a more physical origin, placing the Dark Monster in a loose Parasite Eve role. Kinship represent infection, and Nightmares triggering the latent genetic influence in the rest of humanity (obviously less effective vs non-human foes). Lairs were also more physical. Still, a lot more work needed to make everything fit.

    Total Conversions (where I lifted Beast's mechanics and redid fluff and themes completely) were: Demon (Inferno-esque), Avatar (probably like Demigod: the Empyrean, but I've never checked that project to really know - sorry ajf115), Alien: the Messengers (guess what that one was like/about), and vague plans to convert Mummy, Changeling, and maybe Mage.

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  • Spencer from The Hills
    replied
    Originally posted by crapcarp View Post

    ​Yup, I meant God-Machine Demons, and that's what I figured. That makes sense considering I'm basically making the Dark Mother really meta (icon of fear itself in a horror game), which I really like.
    Personally, I don't see how that fits. The God-Machine has angels doing monstrous things, but that monstrosity is incidental to its cosmic maintenance programme or whatever inscrutable ends it has. And it's the same for demons, but with different agenda (including keeping their own/latest skin)..

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