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  • About Lessons, Revelations and the Dark Mother

    While talking about Beast related things in another thread, the topic of lessons came up and I found myself having more thoughts to share about it, as well as thinking that I'd be interested to hear what your opinion is. Since doing this in the other thread would derail the discussion, here's a new one.

    This is just me rambling and there's a good chance that the Player's and Storyteller's Guide might eventually disagree with me and promote a canon that has nothing to do with my ideas. Anyways.

    The central topic I wanted to pick at was the relationship between Beasts, the nightmare they embody, the lessons they decide to teach and even a bit about the Dark Mother. It all works under the assumption that Lessons are the way the Begotten try to channel their Hungers into something productive, a social convention of sorts the Beast as a whole developed because it would give them a way to discourage their worst excessess and aim towards a somewhat positive output for their urges. So, are lessons entirely a made up lie? Yes and no. I'll get to it.

    What stops me from saying that lessons aren't entirely based on nothing is that there's actual meaning to it that has nothing to do with a conscious social effort. "But Cinder" you might say "you always preach that the whole point about lessons being important is that Beast have no way to know if they work and yet have the choice to channel their hungers into something constructive" Yes, but that comes later.

    A little perk of my native language is that the word for monster and the verb "to show, in a instructive/revelatory way" are the same. Dates back to the Romans, but the sense is not lost: monsters are revelations. They are lessons. It's something I try to keep in mind and one of the reasons I personally love horror: it's a genre that says about mankind more than any other, speaking of things no other genre can do. The book suggested in Beast's introduction, On Monsters, explains this for our world better than I can (Matt, if you see this, thanks for suggesting that book) but, speaking as in-setting, I do think it's an important notion to keep in mind when talking about the Begotten.

    Originally posted by Morpheus from Sandman, speaking to the Corinthian View Post
    You were my masterpiece, or so I thought. A nightmare created to be the darkness and the fear of darkness within the heart of every man. A dark mirror created to reflect everything mankind will never be able to face

    Beasts teach something by merely being. They are an aspect of the collective subconscious given shape and, at their core, all Horrors are a cluster of fears that reflects a dark truth. Each Horror, each Beast, is a nightmarish revelation just because it exists. This is not something negotiable: it's a birthright that belongs to all the children of the Dark Mother and it's fundamental to their existence just as much as their Hunger. A monster, under Beast terms, is at the same time a fear, a revelation and a hunger. Even those Begotten who are not into teaching lessons will still give one to those who witness their horror by the mere virtue of being. These are dark lesson, atavistic, primordial ones, that tap into the ancient dreams, experiences and emotions of mankind as a whole. Perhaps in ancient times, these were enough. But while there's still wisdom in these revelations, these are not the "lessons" Beasts came to look at them with time, as mankind and its reflection in the Primordial Dream changed. We'll get to those, but first I have to talk about the Dark Mother.

    I said before that my personal belief is that what the Dark Mother asks to her children is not to teach lessons but "to be a great and terrible monster". The two things actually don't exclude each other: by being a memorable monster, by sating your hungers, killing or succumbing to Heroes and by living your legend, you are still teaching a lesson. It's the idea I just explained: monsters trigger an instinctive reaction to those who look at them and hear about their myth. Humans unconsciously process monsters as lessons. Something, I believe, the Dark Mother is totally aware of. But, on the other side, the Dark Mother is the Mother Of Monsters. She's does not hope for her sons and daughters to be only that. She wants them to be magnificent, proud, triumphant monsters. Something that's remarkable about the "Tales of Dark Mother" stories in the Core, is that the Dark Mother loves and accepts all Beasts no matter what. There's no "right path" she forces them on, she just wants them to be. Live a life as Beast, feed how you want, accept what you like, hate what you want to hate, do your mistakes. Be wicked, be noble. Be true to yourself, no matter what. Fighting Heroes, loving or hating your Family and even all the possible outcomes of life as a Begotten (including death): all is fine, all is accepted. You'll be a legend anyways and, because of that, you'll change the world. This are my two cents about the Dark Mother's mandate.

    Then, having said that, still leaves Beasts on their own when they have to deal with the moral dilemmas and realities of their life

    Originally posted by Hellboy, The Right Hand Of Doom View Post
    "Anung Un Rama. Destroyer of worlds. The Great Beast (...). Is this what you are?"

    "I...no"

    "Then I don't think that's your name, boy. Am I right?

    I love Hellboy more than any other comic. Not only it's a work of art of constant top-tier quality that never lost any of it for more than 20 years, but it also is about my favorite character arc: the monster that struggles to do something good even if everyone and everything insist he's doomed to bring ruin and destruction. Beast resonates with that, to a degree.

    Beast will, inevitably, hurt people. Even those who try their hardest to be good will fuck up from time to time. It's from the awareness of this grim truth that Lessons, as the book intends them, come. They're the conscious attempt to do something good from something unquestionably bad. It's the point where the human meets the Horror and learns a lesson while looking at himself. "Within all the pain and nightmares we cause" think the Begotten "perhaps there's a way to find a meaning. Perhaps we're not just the scourge legends and Heroes say we are. Or at least, we're that but also something more". Now, I'm not saying that all Beast have to embrace this wholeheartedly, but merely that they're all aware that the choice to try is there. It's a horrid sentence to write but hell: this is important. It's the awareness of having that choice and how a character reacts to it that shapes it. It's how you try to make it fit between what you want, what your Family wants and what the Heroes have to say that's the source of most conflicts in Beast.

    "Hey, welcome to the Family. You've just accepted to be a monster. Cool powers and shit on the left, along with friends that have a better shot at understanding you more than anyone else. On the right, you've got people wanting to kill you, plus a whole lot of other monsters that might want to take you down for their own reason. Family can be difficult to deal with. Oh, keep in mind that no matter what you do people will suffer for it because you're made of nightmares and that your hungers might consume you and those you care about. It's your call how to deal with it. Bye!"

    That's Beast. No clear faction, no prehistorical traditions, no trying to escape all the time from more terrible monsters. It's the character, having to live his life. And, always looming over any choice, the idea that it's up to you to find something meaningful out of the urges you cannot escape.

    Now, does this excuse Beast from any behavior, even if they try to keep Lessons in mind? Hell no. That would be problematic, inane and, frankly, just bad, boring writing. It's the idea that your actions are your own and that you have to deal with them that makes Beast interesting. Lessons are important because they don't excuse anything and because those a Beast hurts are still hurt. The Begotten are not nice or balanced people. One that still tries to teach lessons even if all evidences point towards it being a flawed and artificial solution instead of just going "fuck that, let's just eat and have fun" is one that's trying to to its best with the cards it has.

    I'm not saying that Beast should only be about that, it has other themes that deserve to be explored, but that one and the attempts, success, failures or refusals to do so are something that has to be addressed (in various degrees, of course) and leads to what's probably the central conflict of the game: the idea of being a monster which is also a person. People are flawed and so are Beasts: let's explore that.

    Naturally, not everyone has the attitude or the ability to teach to others, especially if we're talking about the sort of lessons Beast can teach. A Beast that tries might fail miserably, another might have some success but also some fuck ups. Another might not care and, hell, that's a valid character: going back to what I said before, that Beast is still showing people something. It's the freedom to do what they want that gives poignancy to what a Begotten does. The whole package, including mistakes and wrong decisions.

    I think the approach a character has is also interesting. You don't get a handbook along with your Horror. All you get is the idea that Lessons do help.

    "Hey, warning that kid to be careful about strangers is not a bad thing. Sure, he'll have nightmares about me, but I needed to feeed somehow, I can't help it, and teaching him a lesson instead of just making him cry is better than the alternative. Perhaps this will save him from some trouble in the future and it makes me feel a tiny bit less horrible about myself."

    A silly example where a Beast teaches a lesson but still traumatized a kid. A Really Bad Thing, no damn surprise there, but with a microscopic shade of gray thrown in it.

    It's not like you go "I'm a giant snake which is supposed to represent the fact that nothing lasts forever". How lame that would be? Mages don't get answers right off the bat, and neither do Beasts. No, the lessons you decide to take at heart are something that comes from your own experiences. They might resonate with the Horror but that's not a given (though I do love the idea that what defines you as a person, ideas and fears included, it's what determines the Horrors that joins you, so I would say a shared aspect of some kind has to be there).

    Overall, the kind of lessons you try to teach are your own clumsy attempt to do something good. You're a ravenous monster which would rather gorge and feast yet you're still trying to attach a good thing to that truth, saying "screw it! I'm more than that!" and striving to prove it to both the world and to yourself, not caring about the fact millenia of myths and cultural conditioning are against you, figuratively and literally. Which is kind of beautiful, if you ask me.


    Ok, rant over. I just gave shape to a lot of thoughts and theories I had, hoping to clarify that my stance on Beast is not just "Lessons mean nothing! Everyone is fooling himself! And you have to admire them for that!". That's a line of defense I use, and it has flaws, but I akwnowledge there's more depth to that.

    Obviously, I do hope this will make you want to discuss with me about these topics.
    Last edited by Cinder; 06-22-2017, 10:04 PM.


    Cinder's Comprehensive Collection of Creations - Homebrew Hub

    I write about Beast: The Primordial a lot

    This is what I'm working on

  • #2
    A little perk of my native language is that the word for monster and the verb "to show, in a instructive/revelatory way" are the same. Dates back to the Romans, but the sense is not lost: monsters are revelations. They are lessons. It's something I try to keep in mind and one of the reasons I personally love horror: it's a genre that says about mankind more than any other, speaking of things no other genre can do.
    Beasts teach something by merely being. They are an aspect of the collective subconscious given shape and, at their core, all Horrors are a cluster of fears that reflects a dark truth. Each Horror, each Beast, is a nightmarish revelation just because it exists. This is not something negotiable: it's a birthright that belongs to all the children of the Dark Mother and it's fundamental to their existence just as much as their Hunger. A monster, under Beast terms, is at the same time a fear, a revelation and a hunger. Even those Begotten who are not into teaching lessons will still give one to those who witness their horror by the mere virtue of being. There are dark lesson, atavistic, primordial ones, that tap into the ancient dreams, experiences and emotions of mankind as a whole. Perhaps in ancient times, these were enough. But while there's still wisdom in these revelations, these are not the "lessons" Beasts came to look at them with time, as mankind and its reflection in the Primordial Dream changed.
    Beast will, inevitably, hurt people. Even those who try their hardest to be good will fuck up from time to time. It's from the awareness of this grim truth that Lessons, as the book intends them, come. They're the conscious attempt to do something good from something unquestionably bad. It's the point where the human meets the Horror and learns a lesson while looking at himself. "Within all the pain and nightmares we cause" think the Begotten "perhaps there's a way to find a meaning. Perhaps we're not just the scourge legends and Heroes say we are. Or at least, we're that but also something more".
    Now, does this excuse Beast from any behavior, even if they try to keep Lessons in mind? Hell no. That would be problematic, inane and, frankly, just bad, boring writing. It's the idea that your actions are your own and that you have to deal with them that makes Beast interesting. Lessons are important because they don't excuse anything and because those a Beast hurts are still hurt. The Begotten are not nice or balanced people. One that still tries to teach lessons even if all evidences point towards it being a flawed and artificial solution instead of just going "fuck that, let's just eat and fun" is one that's trying to to its best with the cards it has.
    All that above, and also the following:

    Originally posted by Satchel View Post

    "If you have the desire to spill blood, say the Rabbis, become a butcher, and if you have the desire to steal (in other words to take hold of and possess) other people's money, become a collector of charity. In other words, take the desire you have, and use it for a good purpose.

    "This is a crucial idea within Judaism. There are two aspects to who I am as a person: the gifts and desires I am given, and what I choose to do with them. Everything we are given in this world, however challenging this may sometimes be, is ours for a reason. We all go through life with our own little package, our own suitcase, full of our talents and skills, desires and foibles; all the things that bring us up, and all the things that bring us down.

    "There isn't much we can do about that. Each of us has a suitcase, and whatever we think of it, it is ours to keep. Some are born tall, maybe they will become basketball stars, and some have musical talent, and others, the gift of knowing when and how to smile. Many of these talents we do not really earn, they are ours to develop. The question, however, is what we choose to do with them. And if everything comes to me from G-d, then even my weaknesses can be a gift, if I will only find a way to channel them for the good.

    "If I have a desire to steal, it must come from somewhere, and therefore there must be a way to make good of it. Our challenge in this world is how to do just that.

    "This, perhaps, is the offering to Samael, the "Sar Ha'Moshel Be'mekomot HaChurban", "The Prince who rules in the places of darkness and destruction", described by the Ramban. There is a place of darkness inside each one of us, that threatens to destroy us, to bring us down from the places of light we so long to reach. There are those who suggest that the only way to fully combat these desires is to retreat from the physical world so as not to grant them any place. If you have physical desires, live in a monastery, and desist from all contact with that physical world so you can put it out of your head.

    "Judaism, however, has a different approach entirely: Don't deny these desires, embrace them! But do so in a healthy manner, channeling their energy to a good purpose, in a healthy fashion."


    MtAw Homebrew: Even more Legacies, updated to 2E

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    • #3
      Only tangentially relevant, but:

      You hear about this in whispers, though, in the pub, late at night, when all the tourists have gone to bed or gone away and no one but the locals are around. That hill. That curve in the road. That cold feeling you get in that one place. There is a deep understanding that there is something here older than us, that doesn’t care about us particularly, that (when we obtrude on it) is as willing to kick us in the slats as to let us pass by unmolested.

      So you greet the magpies, singly or otherwise. You let stones in the middle of fields be. You apologize to the hawthorn bush when you’re pruning it. If you see something peculiar that cannot be otherwise explained, you are polite to it and pass onward about your business without further comment. And you don’t go on about it afterwards. Because it’s… unwise. Not that you personally know any examples of people who’ve screwed it up, of course. But you don’t meddle, and you learn when to look the other way, not to see, not to hear. Some things have just been here (for various values of “here” and various values of “been”) a lot longer than you have, and will be here still after you’re gone. That’s the way of it. When you hear the story about the idiots who for a prank chainsawed the centuries-old fairy tree a couple of counties over, you say – if asked by a neighbor – exactly what they’re probably thinking: “Poor fuckers. They’re doomed.” And if asked by anybody else you shake your head and say something anodyne about Kids These Days. (While thinking DOOMED all over again, because there are some particularly self-destructive ways to increase entropy.)


      The Southwest is like this in some ways. You don’t go traveling along the highways at night with an empty car seat. Because an empty car seat is an invitation. You stick your luggage, your laptop bag, whatever you got in that seat. Else something best left undiscussed and unnamed (because to discuss it by name is to go ‘AY WE’RE TALKING BOUT YA WE’RE HERE AND ALSO IGNORANT OF WHAT YOU’RE CAPABLE OF’ at the top of your damn lungs at them) will jump in to the car, after which you’re gonna have a bad time.

      If you’re out in the woods, you keep constant, consistent count of your party and make sure you know everyone well enough that you can ID them by face alone, lest something imitating a person get at you. They like to insert themselves in the party and just observe before they strike. It’s a game to them. In general you don’t fuck with the weird, you ignore the lights in the sky (no, this isn’t a god damn night vale reference, yes I’m serious) and the woods, you lock up at night and you don’t answer the door for love or money. Whatever or whoever’s knocking ain’t your buddy.


      I live in the south and… you just… don’t go into the woods or fields at night.

      Don’t go near big trees in the night

      If you live on a farm, don’t look outside the windows at night

      I have broken all these rules.

      I’ve seen some shit.

      If it sounds like your mom, but you didn’t realize your mom is home…. it’s not your mom. Promise.

      One walked onto the porch once. Wasn’t fun. But they’re not super keen on guns. Typically bolt when they see one.

      You think it’s the neighbor kids.

      It’s not the neighbor kids.


      Might sound like coyotes but you never really /see/ the coyotes but then wow that one cow was reaaaaaally fucked up this morning. The next night when you hear another one screaming you just turn the tv up a little more. Maybe fire a gun in the air but you don’t go after it. If it is coyotes then it’s probably a pack and you seriously don’t want to fuck with that and if it’s the other thing you seriously REALLY don’t want to fuck with that.

      So in the south, especially near the mountains, you just go straight from your car to inside your house, draw your curtains and watch tv. If you see lights in the fields just fucking leave it alone.

      Eyes forward. Don’t be fucking stupid. Mind your own business. Call your neighbors and tell them to bring the cats in. There’s coyotes out. Some of them know. Most of them don’t.


      Other than that everything’s a ghost and they died in the civil war. Literally all of everything else is just the civil war. We used to smell old perfume and pipe tobacco in the weeks leading up to the battle anniversaries.

      Shit’s wild and I sound fucking crazy but I swear to god it’s true.


      So I live in the west and some unspoken rules of thumb,

      Don’t go into the pastures, or the woods after sundown.

      Don’t be outside by yourself at night, spirits will fuck with your head or just fuck you up

      Always go in groups or have fireworks going, they seem to stop the evil stuff.

      Don’t drive to fast on the dirt roads at night, shit will pop out to make you crash

      Don’t look in your rear view mirror on a dirt road unless you have to that’s another way the things fuck with you

      If you don’t have blinds, buy them, now. Till you can don’t ever look outside at night, something will look back.


      If you get home late, stay by the car then go inside asap

      If you hear a coyote, just listen, never go looking, your listening to hear how close it is, and if it gets cut off,

      If it gets cut off double check your locks and windows, and never go outside till morning.


      Don’t focus on the thing on the hill, it won’t notice you if you don’t watch it

      Jackalopes are shit heads, if you see it take a picture but don’t follow it.

      Ignore any abnormal lights

      If you get a chill and you feel like someone is there, go inside, doesn’t matter day or night

      Tend to the flowers in your yard even if they weren’t planted by you, only remove them when your completely sure that it’s dead. Its some unspoken bad karma thing.

      I’ve seen places where they keep even the dead flowers

      We all no you saw that person, or car, or thing that wasn’t there when you look back, ignore it, we all see them,

      Don’t try and go mountain climbing in the winter, or when there is more then 2 feet of snow still, wendigos may be real, may not be, the Rocky Mountains have a shady ass past man

      Always check before opening the door completely, something (I’m guessing spirits/demons) will try and come in

      During the winter or just heavy wind storms ignore the bangs on your windows or siding, and don’t open the door at night.

      You know what avoid the night.

      These will change from town to town depending how isolated the town is, or where your house is located but something I notice a lot,

      Don’t mess with the hills, the hills should be left alone as much as possible, don’t fuck with them, don’t curse them, don’t stare at what lives on them, just don’t. During the day play all you want, at night leave that shit alone,



      Resident Sanguinary Analyst
      Currently Consuming: Changeling: the Lost 1e

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      • #4
        I kind of look at Beast lessons like this:

        When you have a nightmare, that nightmare exists to convey or express a truth to a person - from your subconscious to your conscious. You can warp it or look at it through a psychological lens as you wish - but it's meaning is your own, no one else's. Someone who has a similar nightmare might have it representing the same concept, or it might be entirely different - because that nightmare is addressed through the lens of the person who dreamed it.

        In much the same way, the lessons which exist are the same way. They aren't the Beast's to convey - they are the Humans. A vampire doesn't teach or warn about sexual dangers any more than a werewolf teaches a lesson about rage and loss of control. Instead, it's humans who witness these events and portray the monster as a vehicle for the lessons they wish to convey. It's humans who take the creature and express the narrative. To that end, it is not important for a Beast to convey a lesson. It is instead important for a Beast to be recognized, so that humans may take the Beast's legend and turn it into a lesson.

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        • #5
          Masterfully put.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by 21C Hermit View Post
            All that above, and also the following:
            Originally posted by Satchel View Post
            Only tangentially relevant, but:
            Quotes that are, as Satchel's contributions tend to go, spot on, interesting and excellent fuel for discussions. I already praised the ones about trying to channel your gifts and desires into something good as suggested by Judaism, but these ones about the almost istinctive wisdom of folktales, local legends and oral tradition are also relevant. That's indeed a part of what I was referring to, the fact that scary stories carry warnings and lessons with them, not to mention there's something within the human nature that makes them persist even today. For all our achievements, they're still a part of us we can't let go (and my personal opinion is that, while they'll naturally change with time, we will never completely abandon). That's one of the layers of our mind that in-setting shapes the Primordial Dream, along with others.

            There's also the fact that, arguably, in the CoD, being afraid of the things that haunt the darkness, is arguably a good idea. The books mention it, rightfully so, but I feel like that's something that does not come up enough when we talk about it here (and that's also a fault of mine). It's a somewhat obvious when you think about it, but still.


            Originally posted by Jakondite View Post
            I kind of look at Beast lessons like this:

            When you have a nightmare, that nightmare exists to convey or express a truth to a person - from your subconscious to your conscious. You can warp it or look at it through a psychological lens as you wish - but it's meaning is your own, no one else's. Someone who has a similar nightmare might have it representing the same concept, or it might be entirely different - because that nightmare is addressed through the lens of the person who dreamed it.

            In much the same way, the lessons which exist are the same way. They aren't the Beast's to convey - they are the Humans. A vampire doesn't teach or warn about sexual dangers any more than a werewolf teaches a lesson about rage and loss of control. Instead, it's humans who witness these events and portray the monster as a vehicle for the lessons they wish to convey. It's humans who take the creature and express the narrative. To that end, it is not important for a Beast to convey a lesson. It is instead important for a Beast to be recognized, so that humans may take the Beast's legend and turn it into a lesson.
            I agree with what you say and you explained the passage from subconscious truth to conscious awareness better than I did, expecially the fact that the way someone interprets it belongs to her and none other, changing from person to person.

            In a way, that's what I was trying to explain in the first part, the fact that Beast (or monsters in general) do convey a lesson of sort by merely being, revealing dark truths just by being witnessed. To me, "Lessons" as a whole are the meeting point between that, which is a primordial, innate and unstoppable response, and the conscious attempts at teaching something Beast might do. Some characters might not care about the latter, but the former will still be there. As I said, I don't suggest the game has to be only about a Begotten trying to do good, there are tons of variations and different topics one can use to weave the dark tapestry the gameline offers but yeah, the fact Beasts will lead to revelations and truths is something that's gonna be there.

            Less relevantly to your contribution, you made me remember that I think a Beast Dark Era set during the first years of psychoanalysis, with Freud, Jung and dream interpretation, can offer lots of cool ideas and plot hooks. I even suggested it in the Kickstarter post about Dark Eras 2, so who knows? We do already have plenty of chapters taking place during a similar time window and I admit there were better suggestions in there, so I won't bet about it becoming reality, but it's still a fitting idea.


            Originally posted by Dusksage View Post
            Masterfully put.
            Thanks! I do spend probably too much time thinking about CoD, and Beast more than others, but I'm glad the results make sense. Honestly, at this point, I would not be surprised if some people think of me as a nuisance of sorts when it comes to this game
            Last edited by Cinder; 06-24-2017, 03:24 PM.


            Cinder's Comprehensive Collection of Creations - Homebrew Hub

            I write about Beast: The Primordial a lot

            This is what I'm working on

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