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Beast Analysis & Hacks #2: Reconciliation with existence as a Begotten

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  • Beast Analysis & Hacks #2: Reconciliation with existence as a Begotten

    Here's the next entry on my series of Beast posts that explore the game as a whole. After some days of writing (I'm not that slow, but l use the time I have) this turned out to be longer than expected so I'm gonna start posting it now in order to avoid dropping an obnoxious wall of text on all of you. Makes it a little more manageable. I should be able to end the last part by the 31st. For now, this is the beginning of my discussion.

    Some of it covers things I already said elsewhere, but they're compiled here in a more organized way, with some new stuff too. Those few brave ones who follow my rants will be familiar with plenty of this. This is just me talking about Beast, no real mechanics or anything, but it's a perspective I hope you'll find interesting to read, agree or disagree with.

    Heresy Rating: 1/5? It's heresy in the sense this is just me stating my opinions on aspects of the game, with me not being a real writer or anything. Beside that, I don't move much away from the book canon here.

    This Is Your Life Now
    Finding balance between being a monster, a person and the people you care for

    "I don't aspire to be a good man. I aspire to be a whole man"

    - Carl Jung

    Second in my series of Beast’s essay, today we’re gonna talk about the struggle that involves a young Begotten coming to terms with its new state of being after the Devouring, specifically when related to its human life, the ensuing change of perspective and human associates. It’s a topic the core only mentioned here and there because space reasons but I’m sure will be further explored in the Player’s and Storyteller’s guides. That said, I still think I might have something decent to say about it.

    One of the aspects of Beast I love is that it is built under several aspect to be a more intimate game. Speaking in Tier terms, it lends itself more easily to Tier 1/low Tier 2 stories. Which is not to say you can’t go high Tier with your Begotten and have fun with the Dark Mother calling forth all her children all over the world, the collective noise of thousands of sleeping minds screaming in unison and the walls of the Astral plane breaking down on a global scale: it’s just not the default assumption. It’s merely a matter of the tools the game offers. I believe, strongly, that Beast works at its best on a limited (if not less over the top) scale because many of his themes, like personal choices, self-acceptance, inner conflicts and what’s good and bad about having a Family are innately more intimate.

    Then again the last RPGs I ran ended with Iblis cannibalizing the comatose ephemera of the Persian God of Evil and try to end the world, the Changelings of Tokyo making a pact with the spirit of Japan itself to help them against an army of youkai and oni and Mages in the 60s having to to unplug several platonic aspects of Luna, each related to a god/goddess of the Moon and an Arcanum, from what was essentially an Exarch-made lobotomy machine in order to not let the Abyssal reflection of the Sun into our universe. Plus Call Of Cthulhu games of various apocalyptic scale. I clearly have nothing against high-tier games.

    It’s just that I feel like Beast shines better when it focuses on a more personal level. It’s an idea further supported by the same reason I feel like I can write something worth reading about this topic: the Begotten as a whole lack a complex and structured society. They do so because each of them is a highly-egotistical monster who embodies a number of fears, myths and lessons, because they’re too primordial for that to work and, no less importantly, because Family does not work that way. But while it fits the theme, it also makes things deceptively more difficult

    A young vampire has the Covenants and the Requiem to help it gain a structure and meaning to its undeath. A wolf has the whole spirit world thing that keeps it busy, plus packs, tribes, grudges and many other millenias of spiritually enforced traditions. And so on. Even Sin-Eaters can rely on death traditions and Promethean have the dubious advantage of being made supernatural straight off the bat.

    Beasts don’t have that. One day they’re humans and the following they’re monsters, with Heroes on their trail. Best case scenario is the notion, equivalent on a practical level to a suggestion dictated by common sense, that Lessons help to deal with what your Horror and Hunger demand from you. Nothing more.

    The ideas, faiths and goals that guided your life before are still there. Odds are that your family (not Family) and friends are still there. Everything is still there because...why not? You might have gained awareness of your monstrous nature (or gained it as a whole with the Devouring, that’s an aspect I don’t think will ever get a definitive answer), but your life is still our own. Some (hell, many) Begotten might come to feel like proximity with ordinary people only risks to hurt them, but the decision to take distance is a personal one and,frankly , the chances it happens are pretty much the same it does not.

    So, let’s explore that small-scale,intimate conflict that happens when a Beast has to process its mental and social life framework and make it fit into its new life.

    Gonna divide the rest in two posts to avoid walls of texts. See ya below.

    Last edited by Cinder; 12-30-2017, 07:43 AM.

  • Cinder

    Yeah, Slumbering is interesting as a condition. Something I might explore in the future for sure. You make some excellent questions about it here.

    Originally posted by Scriptorian View Post
    The player's guide can't come out soon enough...
    Amen to that

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  • Scriptorian
    Great analysis. The perspective of the reluctant beast is something I felt was lacking in the core book.

    As an aside, I'd really like some exploration of what the Slumbering condition means for characters trying to escape their nature. How hard is it, practically, to reach for them? How many would actually choose to sedate their Horror? Is having your Horror asleep merely unpleasant, or majorly depressive? Would the Horror ever wake up on its own long-term? How susceptible to Hero-tracking are they in this state?

    I had an idea for a character in a hypothetical Hunter campaign who was secretly a Slumbering Beast and used their Kinship abilities (which are nothing to sneeze at compared to vanilla mortals) to hunt other monsters. For reference, that's a Hunter who
    1) starts with better first impressions with supernaturals
    2) can detect supernaturals on sight
    3) empower supernatural abilities
    4) disguise themselves quite convincingly as other supernaturals and
    5) open all the portals
    None of these actually cost Satiety (I omitted the ones that do), and Mother's Kiss and Passing-Resemblance benefit from high Satiety. Also, they would rack up experience pretty quickly from the 'Beats' clause the condition.

    The player's guide can't come out soon enough...

    Leave a comment:

  • Cinder
    Originally posted by SunlessNick View Post
    Very good. I've always thought Beast makes an oddly good game for living relatively normal lives. The actions that can feed a Horror range from, if a human was doing them, to things that would be punished, reprimanded, tolerated, accepted, or even lauded. To the Primordial Dream, it's all part and parcel of the same thing, but reconciliation with their human past can give a Beast guidance on channeling their Hunger in ways they're used to thinking of as positive.
    Thanks! I agree, Beast might actually have a better chance at living a somewhat normal life than others, or at least what it amounts to normal in a horror/urban fantasy genre. That's why coming to terms with the human side of their life can be quite important to help with the monster one.

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  • SunlessNick
    Very good. I've always thought Beast makes an oddly good game for living relatively normal lives. The actions that can feed a Horror range from, if a human was doing them, to things that would be punished, reprimanded, tolerated, accepted, or even lauded. To the Primordial Dream, it's all part and parcel of the same thing, but reconciliation with their human past can give a Beast guidance on channeling their Hunger in ways they're used to thinking of as positive.

    Leave a comment:

  • Cinder
    And the third and last section of my essay is now up, at least when it comes to the premise. Unlike the second section, this is stuff I never had the occasion to write about, so I'd really appreciate to know your opinion about it (and the thread as a whole).

    Like all the essays of this series, the main goal behind the thread is to spark discussion about Beast and show people more about this beautiful, difficult, game, so it goes without saying that I'll be here to talk about the topic with anyone willing to participate, no matter if you agree or disagree with what I wrote

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  • Cinder
    Originally posted by Vent0 View Post

    I just felt that should be emphasized. How far out was it?
    Quite so. It was a One Piece game, made with a fan system written around here. I knew the other players, their style and knew all them would go for the kind of "chaotic neutral" that makes Dungeon Masters shiver.

    So, since I have almost no occasions to play and wanted to have fun, I made a 9-meter tall dunkleosteus fishman with "stuck into a block of ice since prehistoric times with his Dire Penguin friend" as background. Something that fitted the setting perfectly, to be honest.

    Its personality can be best described as a combination of Conan's worst attitudes towards civilization, Attila the Hun's patience, the Hulk's subtlety and the general kindness of a warlord in a nuclear wasteland. Did not speak much, mostly growled and acted. His goal was "to build a horde and die a glorious death while leading it". A character to which the fastest way through a cluttered city is a straight line through buildings and who had "Improvized Weaponry: Ships" (yes, whole ships) as a specialty. It was fun.

    The only reason he was the most reasonable one it's because he functioned, "hardship is what makes people strong" ideal aside, in a way where he did not like people imposing rules on the others and picking on the weak, He still was willing to accept a honest surrender and did not mind to help those who relly needed it. Also cared for other fishmen as a whole. The kind of "if you belong to my team, woe to anyone that annoys you" character.

    The others would not do much without a reward being promised and leave a trail of bodies behind no matter what. They would not go on a murder spree at random and were still able to make friends, but it took very little to rub them the wrong way. Which, when my character threw all the houses in a village into the sea because the people refused to say "thank you" after killing a monster, should give you an idea of the bunch of sociopaths the members of that crew were. Still, since we were opposing the evil regime at the lead of the setting and were a force of anarchy like few others, those who did not met us mistakenly took us for heroes and rallied behind our path of destruction. We did not even have a captain on the ship, something really weird if you know One Piece, because it would imply a degree of authority and structure that we would not accept.

    It was one of those games.

    EDIT: If someone ever gives me a chance, I'll be tempted to work my fishman into an Exalted game, changing a thing or two. Feel like he would shine
    Last edited by Cinder; 01-18-2018, 03:28 PM.

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  • Vent0
    Originally posted by Cinder View Post
    my prehistoric barbarian fishman still turned out to be one of the most reasonable of the group.
    I just felt that should be emphasized. How far out was it?

    Leave a comment:

  • Cinder
    Originally posted by YeOfLittleFaith View Post
    This essay topic is one that interests me and I think touches on some really pertinent things about Beast. Several of us have discussed these difficult and interesting parts of the game at length before, but it's nice to see something dedicated to it.
    Yeah, this one is about one of the most common topic of discussions for Beast, so it's gonna be familiar for all of us. It's stuff we have explored, but I could not avoid the topic as whole in an analysis of the game. Thanks for the kind works about the the thread.

    Originally posted by Solaris View Post
    The whole second section really stands out to me because I am very much someone who isnt the best at playing darker characters (so the idea of an alternate point of view is appealing.). I play in a campaign where at least two of the five members of our brood are completely fine with wrecking humanity with no thought of the consequences--contrasting with my character who yeah, likes being able to throw fireballs, but didn't really know what she was signing up for when she went through her Devouring. She's not particularly bloodthirsty and ends up being very careful with how she justifies herself doing these terrible things.

    Of course--she recognizes that 'If I stop feeding, I'm going to end up starving and my Horror really wont care about casualties. Better to be in control, right?" Which as you said--isn't really what it burns down to in the end, but damage control. (To be fair, she's not terrible at the damage control part, going as far as to help other Begotten learn how to damage control themselves.)
    I am the same, darker character are something I don't manage to play well. I enjoy good villains and can come up with some really nasty ones and have fun with them as a Storyteller, but not as a player. Did it once, but that game was cartoonishly over the top and my prehistoric barbarian fishman still turned out to be one of the most reasonable of the group.

    Loving Beast, the struggle of being a decent person while having to deal with Hunger and doing what are objectively terrible things is something I thought about a lot. Guess it also reflects in my Beast fiction, with characters that at least give it a try before going full monster.

    Glad you found it an interesting read, I hope you'll appreciate the third section as well
    Last edited by Cinder; 01-01-2018, 03:56 PM.

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  • Solaris

    The whole second section really stands out to me because I am very much someone who isnt the best at playing darker characters (so the idea of an alternate point of view is appealing.). I play in a campaign where at least two of the five members of our brood are completely fine with wrecking humanity with no thought of the consequences--contrasting with my character who yeah, likes being able to throw fireballs, but didn't really know what she was signing up for when she went through her Devouring. She's not particularly bloodthirsty and ends up being very careful with how she justifies herself doing these terrible things.

    Of course--she recognizes that 'If I stop feeding, I'm going to end up starving and my Horror really wont care about casualties. Better to be in control, right?" Which as you said--isn't really what it burns down to in the end, but damage control. (To be fair, she's not terrible at the damage control part, going as far as to help other Begotten learn how to damage control themselves.)

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  • Cinder
    Finishing the essay was my plan for today, but since I posted I got a really nasty fever and I can barely write this post.

    Sorry everyone, i'll complete the job once i feel better. Thanks for the likes and appreciation, it means a lot. Keep loving Beast and happy new year.

    Leave a comment:

  • YeOfLittleFaith
    This essay topic is one that interests me and I think touches on some really pertinent things about Beast. Several of us have discussed these difficult and interesting parts of the game at length before, but it's nice to see something dedicated to it.

    Leave a comment:

  • Cinder
    Without: Family, Friends, Work and the Social Circle

    The second section of the essay focuses on how a young Beast can look at the people belonging to his human life and try to work them in his new existence as a Begotten.

    Family, with the capital F, is not supposed to be discussed here and, in all honesty, I think I’ll manage to pull off an essay about it later, but it’s worth mentioning that a big part of coming to terms with what you are and how to deal with your hunger comes from your Family. Which is kinda the point: they’re not you and can’t perfectly understand your own struggles, but they offer you perspective coming from their own way to deal with dark impulses and there’s a connection between you that will forever be there. That’s Family, one of the core pillars of the game.

    That said, here we’re talking about the people locked out the loop. Friends, rivals, colleagues, fellow students, neighbors and, obviously, family. The mundane people of your life that still have an impact on it, Beast or not.

    Let’s address immediately the elephant in the room: not every relationship with those close to a character is gonna be a positive one. Shitty friends are a thing. Real-life enemies exist. Awful exes, horrible bosses. Many people hate their families, often with good reasons. The closer a person is to you, the easier is for you to be hurt by her and hold a grudge for it. To have a chance and an excuse to get some satisfaction out of someone you hate, to have the power and motivation to return the pain to those that hurt you is a far too understandable temptation. And, let’s be real, doing so has good chances of being cathartic.

    The game does not shy away from this: first story of the Fiction Anthology, right from page 1, depicts a situation like that. Might not be the most constructive way to deal with anger, traumas or years of abuse, but it’s one that feels realistic and fits well the theme of gaining awareness of the monster within. It’s also a thing all the characters from the various games have to deal with once the passage from mortal to supernatural happens. Little bits of hubris that come with gaining cool powers, nothing new. Stuff that various genres of medias have explored for decades.

    Still, this kind of temptation might be even harder to avoid since Beast are wired the way they are. Being monsters that feed of fear, creatures whose desires and instincts manifest in such a direct way, the Begotten find themselves in a position where their own nature encourages them to take their satisfactions and gives them the tools to be spectacularly successful. It’s another kind of character arc that has to be approached carefully and does not fit all tables, but might interesting to play with. Dealing with this sort of shit might a really important step in the life of a Beast and its evolution as a Begotten.

    Even then, I’d say that it’s better to keep in mind that an abused turned abuser is still an abuser and that a “nice person” that was nice only until she got the power to impose her will on others without giving a shit of the consequences is even worse. But hey, if that’s the kind of narrative you wanna explore, go for it. I saw it happen while done right and it was an experience for all those involved.

    (Not at my table. My players won’t enjoy that kind of game, I’m just paying homage to a fellow Storyteller and its players for pulling that off)

    Those character willing to reconcile the human and Beast side of their lives will face a different kind of challenges.

    The real problem with Beasts is the one mentioned before: there’s no external reason for them to distance themselves from the humans. They’re not dead and with a nasty aversion to sunlight. They have not escaped imprisonment from an alien dimension with their captors looking for them. There’s not a secret war, ancient duty or search for supernatural knowledge for them to get absorbed into. So it’s understandable for a Beast not to want to detach itself from its former life in the same way other supernaturals do.

    So once again, the idea that the situation requires precautions, rules and discipline is one that has to come from within. Many Beast will soon figure out that those around them are exposed to danger because of sheer proximity.

    This danger has many shapes. Whether it manifests as a Begotten losing control, as a hungry Horror making no distinctions, the bad kind of Family members or Heroes coming to your place to say hi, it’s there: a looming threat that’s part of the deal.

    One might call a Beast willing to expose its dears to these selfish and perhaps there’s a bit of truth to that, but humans are a social creatures. You can’t expect to ask one to throw its life away and renounce to its loved ones out of the blue. Also, games sometimes don’t focus on it, but work and school are still a thing, monster or not, and it’s not like leaving is always an option.

    There are elements of a Begotten’s life over which Beasts have no power whatsoever, like Heroes, but they have a degree of control over others.

    Hunger and its consequences have been touched upon in the previous section, but it’s here that their practical consequences show: if you don’t manage to keep the Hunger in check, these are the people you’re gonna hurt and regret about. So you’re better do a good job, because your mere presence is gonna put a pressure on your relationships and complicate the lives of those around you, without even taking Starvation, Hunger and dark urges into account. You’re gonna make these people suffer, whether you like it or not, and you’re gonna hate yourself for that. If you can live with that, trying to balance all the bad you cause with your love for them, it’s up to you.

    The related dilemma is whether a Beast should reveal its nature to those it cares about. Theoretically speaking, it might make things easier, allowing others to know you for what you are and how to deal with you. On a more realistic perspective though, it’s probably a devastatingly bad idea. First, they gotta believe it and the ways for a Beast to demonstrate its powers are not nice. Then there’s the fact that, in the Chronicles Of Darkness, you’re forcing these people to see the world of darkness around them, something that’s both shocking and scary. Last, but perhaps more important, you’re revealing yourself as a monster. Not as an icon: a monster, a creature born of out the substance of nightmares. Horns, claws, tentacles, spiders under the skin, poison, fire breath and all. Atavistic fears and primal reactions from the brain. You’re not a superhero, you’re not glamorous or fascinating. There’s a good change people knowing your secret might come to fear and hate, a risk many Begotten would not be willing to take. There’s a reason Family is so important and that’s because they’re the ones who can understand what you are, deal with the fact and still love you for what you are.

    That said, some people might be willing to process the truth and become important allies and cornerstone of your character’s life just because of that. Some people might understand and accept, become willing to face the risks and giving fuel to a fascinating narrative in that acceptance. That True Friend Merit has not “supernatural” as requirement, after all. Not to mention that people aware of the supernatural are a thing in the CoD setting. There’s no need for Major or Minor Templates or an Unseen Sense Merit for those to exist.

    Then a Beast has to decide how much it is willing to let its two lives overlap. Sure, you might have found a way to handle your Hunger enough and you’re not the kind of Begotten that hurts the others for fun, but can you say the same thing about the other members of your Brood? Are you willing to let them interact with your family?

    What about other Family members?

    That vampire friend of yours is both charming and good-looking, but what happens when you find him talking with your sister/brother and the two seem to like each other a little too much? You know Rosetta enough to know that she does not deserve a mob with torches and pitchforks going after her, but you also know she’s not the best around people and she does not handle jealousy well: you sure you want her to know where you live? The Hollow Tree pack are the kind of people you want around when shits hits the fan and some of the most loyal group of friends you ever met, but you also know there’s an endless list of spirits and other werewolves that try to kill them all the time, so perhaps giving them a call to have a drink with you and your friends might not be the best idea.

    It’s dangerous, problematic and difficult for all those involved. That’s why most Beast initially keep their mundane and supernatural existence separated. With time, it often leads the Begotten to drift towards their monstrous side, only because they feel more at home among “monsters”. It’s natural, to spend more time with those one can connect with, who love you no matter what. It’s human, relatable and obvious. It’s fine, a core theme of the game: that there’s a place for you, a Family.

    But maybe, just maybe, there’s still a place where family and Family can meet and a Beast can try to balance. Or fail spectacularly and hurt all those involved. Hell, that’s still a good story which fits the CoD genre to a tee.

    I left the most important issue (well, at least to me) one has to keep in mind when trying to make a Beast reconcile with the associates from his human life. It is also the stupidly obvious one: Beast will Hunger. I’m not talking about what happens when you Starve and the Horror comes out to play. A Beast character will hunger for the kind of nourishment that feeds it no matter how high the Satiety is. A Tyrant is not gonna let others dominate it, a Collector will want to hoard what it craves for, a Ravager will have the impulse to destroy, a Predator will itch to find its prey and a Nemesis will not leave others go unpunished, at least not without a great strength of will.

    Hunger is not there to be mechanic the Storyteller can beat you with when you don’t act “monstrous” enough: it’s there to be a core element of your character, something that defines it. Which means that a Beast’s behavior changes according to his Hunger after the Devouring. It’s something that’s part of the Begotten as much as Life and Legend, more important than the dots, Atavisms and Nightmares written on its sheet. It influences the way a character is supposed to be played to be, well, “in character”. As such, it will naturally color all the social interaction a Beast has with anyone, whether he knew them before the Devouring or not.

    Becoming a Beast is like being made whole or born again, depending on how you look at it, so there will be chances in all the dynamics involving the newly made Begotten. Odds are people will notice something changed and they might be ok with it or not. The character itself will notice it, unable to deny its newfound primordial might and fierceness. Even while not talking about THE Hunger, a Beast still is a proud monster hiding behind a human facade, and those kind of things tend to shine through.

    It’s pretty much the supernatural equivalent of having a life-changing epiphany, expect, instead of new job, haircut clothes and ticket to that place you always wanted to visit, you’re a dragon wearing a man’s costume.

    This is where I feel the biggest challenge to reconciliation comes from. You’re still yourself, but different. The people around you are the same but they’ll look at you differently just as much as you’ll do to them. Feelings might not change, at least not immediately, but the instincts under them did.

    To keep everything as it is is a road with plenty of pitfalls and, ultimately, I don’t think should be the goal. Everything is not as it was already: you’ve changed. True reconciliation can only be obtained by acknowledging it and figure out what and who is important to your new life. It’s not a perfect process, people (you and others) will likely suffer from it, psychologically and perhaps even physically, and that’s without even taking in account your monstrous urges.

    It’s a good start for existence as a Beast, to try to be honest with yourself and admit how you want to treat yourself and those surrounding you, the people you’ve known for years and you grew up with. It might not be a perfect solution and it will be threatened every day, both from others and from your dark side, but it’s the only way to make peace with yourself and try to build a semblance of stability to base your Life upon. A stability that, with your Legend demanding to be acknowledged, you’re gonna need in order to make things work.
    Last edited by Cinder; 01-21-2018, 02:04 PM.

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  • Cinder
    Within: Life as a Beast, Ideals, Morality and Inner Peace

    Admittedly, this part could have been much longer than it will be. The conflict of being a human monster and how to explore it in a game has been a thing since Vampire: The Masquerade. It’s been done by people better than me across dozens of books. Odds are that if you’re reading this, you’ve read that too.

    That’s why I’m gonna focus strictly on the Beast-exclusive side of things.

    So, turns out you’re a creature part Jungian shadow archetype, part mythologically resonating monster, part cluster of fundamental fears, part collective dream, part instinctively assimilated harsh lessons. A significant size of your soul and mind just emerged from a nightmarish world made of terrors and made you whole, you now play a role in a mythic cycle so deeply buried within the human mind it’s pretty much subconscious and yet manifests in people who want to slay you and there’s a ravenous Hunger that’s always gnawing at the core of your mind.

    This is heavy, Doc"

    Aside from the rather obvious fact that having superpowers can be awesome and kinda addicting and my own personal idea that Beast and Heroes are into it because being mythical feels good (don’t worry, a big part of my Mythology essay will be about that one), the issue remains: how do you process this and learn how to live with it?

    The short answer is that, at first, you can’t. The reality of life as a Begotten only becomes clear after some time, probably after feeling the pain of Starvation and its consequences. Being innately aware of what you are after the Devouring is one thing, actually having to deal with starvation and a hungry Horror is another. Dealing with a world of monsters while having good chances of belonging to the worst kind of those is harsh. It’s not written anywhere that getting through the Devouring magically makes you able to withstand all of that indefinitely. There’s a reason Rampant and Unfettered exist.

    Logic and professionality would dictate for me to keep the essay tendentially neutral. Things like moral judgments, black or white and saying what’s right and wrong are usually are too tricky to discuss in a RPG supplement, especially in a way that manages to please everyone. But I’m not an Onyx Path writer: I’m a fan. If someday I manage to get good enough and bother the people in charge so much they can’t help but to notice me, you’ll get professional material from me. I won’t even pretend like that’s not something I dream about: I know it, you know it, it’s clear as the sun. But for now and probably forever, I’m a voice with no more respectability or duties than any other fan, so I’m gonna write my Cinderite heresy like we’re having a chat and not worry too much about it.

    Which means we’re gonna talk about Beast who dislike having to hurt others and Beast who don’t mind or actually enjoy that.

    People are flawed, which in turn means characters are flawed. Interesting ones are, at least if you ask me. One Beast has not to be “good” or “bad” but when someone looks at any character in any media inevitably decides how to perceive this character on his personal scale of values. It’s an opinion and one that can change, but that’s the beauty of it.

    Beasts are made in a way where the morality game is always stacked against them. Beast hurt people. One can argue that the characters of other gamelines do that as well, without being wrong, but I think what has been so problematic about Beast is that the Begotten do that through fear and traumas. A vampire biting somebody is a concept all of us can imagine but it’s not like we can really relate to. The odds of an Onyx Path fan seeing a man made of stitches and get his bones broken by it are pretty low.

    Beasts, fancy powers aside, feed from fear. People understand fear. People relate to the actions that allow a Begotten to feed, they can see them happen in real life. Fear is that powerful. “Oldest and strongest emotion of mankind” and all that.

    So when you read from a book that your character has to traumatize people in order to keep going and that not doing so only means the monster within you will do it and be even less kind about it, there sure are elements that would make many people wary about it. Fact is, as many can guess, I don’t think that’s a flaw: I think that’s a feature. One rifle with potential pitfalls but that finds salvation in the quality of the writing and the book in its wholeness.

    Beast, like many other games, is a tool. In its case, it’s entertainment that allows to explore (among other things who don’t belong to this topic) what happens when the dark side of someone is not only made manifest but a fundamental part of its nature. It’s still a beautiful game because it strips all the structures, distractions and complexities of other gamelines and put the central question of the World of Darkness games to the center of the stage: “You’re a monster. End of the story. Now what?”

    Let’s not be naive and say clearly that there are people out there who enjoy hurting others or don’t care for the pain the cause. Fuck them. If you wanna play a character made that way and others at the table are ok with that, it’s absolutely fine. It’s not wrong nor nothing to be ashamed of. It’s part of the charm of acting and roleplaying, the chance to play characters who are morally reprehensible.

    But a character that’s not 100% ok with that will go through conflicts and that’s what we’re gonna explore.

    The first step for any Beast to accept in order to live with itself is the fact that they don’t have complete control over their impact on others. Eventually, something will happen, words will come out, gestures will be made, Horrors will roam around and there will be consequences. Full stop. A Beast who refuses to accept this will always swim upstream, making the moments in which she loses control even more of a disaster.

    Control is wishful thinking, risk management is the only thing you can do. Life as you knew it before is gone because something within you awakened and there’s no turning back. You don’t have to like this but you have to be honest about it: it’s the way things are made. It’s the way you are made.

    This is, of course, where the bargaining between what your Hunger demands and what you’re willing to do begins. You know what you Hunger for and you’ve got relative freedom to decide from which to feed off and how. It’s up to you to find an acceptable compromise. Again, not one you have to be happy about, but one that allows you to look at yourself in the mirror the following morning and keep going.

    It’s also where Lessons, as a social construct promoted by the Begotten’s culture, play their role. Lessons help. The idea that scaring people might actually help them on the long run and/or help them improve as individuals does miracles in making Beast look at themselves as something better than parasitic monsters. Beast are indeed dark lesson at their fundamental core, but the notion of having an actual duty and being able to take something constructive out of their Hunger is more a general suggestion about how to deal with their condition. Something taken from the experience of the Begottens as a community than anything else, at least on a practical side.

    All of this is highly egotistical and individualistic, of course, but Beast is after all a game about individualism and empowerment of self (and how such an empowered persona might find a place among others who can accept it for what it is, but that’s a topic for another day). This obviously means that a certain Beast might teach morally reprehensible Lessons, if those fit her worldview. Racist Beasts will try to impose their perspective on others, for example, because to them, that’s a lesson to be learned. But that’s not because they’re Beast: that’s because they’re people. Give real-life people supernatural powers and they’ll try do the same.

    (Lesson will be explored thoroughly in their own essay, so I’ll not veer off topic more)

    The hard thing each Beast will have to face is that Lessons help, but only to a point. Being disciplined, acting as a vigilante, only feeding on those who “deserve” it, going on a Family Dinner...all those are only tools one can use to deal with the situation better. Useful ones, probably better than the alternative, but tools nonetheless. At the end of the day, Beast still hurt people. Eventually, they’ll lose control and hurt someone that was not part of the plan. And people will hate them for that, the Heroes will come and call them monsters and there’s nothing they can do about it.

    All a Beast can do is pick up the pieces, look for support at their Family and decide how to react to the situation. It’s hard but:

    Every day it gets a little easier. But you gotta do it every day. That’s the hard part. But it gets easier”

    Beasts are made the way they are, with desires, supernatural powers and hungers. What they decide to do with those it’s up to them. A Beast that looks at her pulsions and recognizes those as dangerous can, with constant effort, channel those into something constructive. Sure, it’s a choice that only belongs to her. As long as the Begotten don’t let their Hunger consume them, it’s a struggle worth having. It’s worth because they exist under conditions that have an impact on their whole life: accepting those conditions as a part of their being means accepting the reality of their life. To reconcile with that is the only way to have a life worth living. Mistakes, disasters, regrets, hate, love and experiences.

    It’s definitely not a kind of character dynamic that’s gonna interest everyone, but there’s lot of narrative fuel in this. I personally love the stories it allows to tell, to the surprise of nobody.

    This is Guts having to balance its hunger for vengeance and what the Beast Of Darkness wants with its desire to protect and care for the people he loves. It’s Hellboy having the whole world tell him he’s gonna cause the apocalypse, he knowing that and yet still trying to do more good than harm even if sometimes he loses control and awakens only to find his horns have grown back and there’s an entire warband of dead giants around him. Raziel and Kain fighting against Fate and their dark hungers while trying to build something better, no matter if the universe resists to their efforts. It's Edmond Dantes.

    If there’s not potential in telling amazing stories with this, then I don’t know anymore.
    Last edited by Cinder; 12-29-2017, 11:47 PM.

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