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Beast Analysis & Hacks #4: Identity, Family and a little of chronicle building

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  • Beast Analysis & Hacks #4: Identity, Family and a little of chronicle building

    Since I’m a bit burned out and in one of those dreadful moments of “where to start, I can’t come up with anything new” when it comes to fanmade content (but one still has to push back against the white page each day), I figured I could go back to my Beast’s essay series instead. I still enjoy writing these and people seem to find them a useful read.

    Sorry this took a while, but the Player’s Guide happened. That book still scares me for how much of a game-changer it was. Loved it but, damn, I do feel like a babbling baby when I compare it to what I do. One of my attempts to prove myself I can write decent Beast stuff even after the BPG, the Irkalla Family, went very well, not gonna lie about it. The essay series, though, had to wait a while both because of life demands and because the ideas and additions to the setting the PG brought in had to be absorbed and processed before I could get back to speak about the game’s elements and make any sense.


    I think now I’m ready to go, though. The essay I feel like writing at the moment is not one of those I planned before, though, at least not how I originally envisioned it: today I want to talk about Identity & Family.

    Those are topics I’ve already touched upon in other essays, but were never central enough for me to really say what I think on the matter. Something I really should do for this series to have a reason to be because, to be blunt, I think they’re the core point of the whole Beast: The Primordial deal. There are a lot of other elements, sure, but I sincerely believe that the foundation of Beast lies within Identity, Family and Identity through Family.

    Admittedly, and here’s where my essay will get more controversial, I think the Identity theme comes just a little bit before the Family one. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe Family remains fundamental, but also that it still owes a certain amount of importance to its association to Identity. I hope I’ll be able to show why I think that’s the case. To be completely honest, I actually think the books don’t disagree with that, but that’s where reader’s perception comes in and I sure don’t have the right to tell anyone what the writers are talking about. All I can offer is my perspective, with the hope this will be an interesting read.

    Also, by going through that discussion, I aim to provide some answers about what someone can base a Beast chronicle around. It’s a topic that resurfaces from time to time, and I think I can give my two cents about it, especially if I first focus on what narratives the game lends itself to generate.

    So, three sections this time: “Identity”, “Family” and “Storytelling”.

    Heresy Rating: 2 out of 5. Lots of the stuff I’ll talk about is based on my personal interpretation of the game themes. Most of it is easy enough to reconcile with canon, but I won’t deny this is has lot to do with my own take on Beast.
    Last edited by Cinder; 06-21-2018, 06:53 PM.

  • Cinder
    replied
    Jeez people, I have this thing where most of what I do is subjected to crippling self-doubt and you're making it increasingly difficult for me to keep it up.

    How dare you.

    (Stupid self-deprecating jokes aside, thanks everyone. It means a lot)
    Last edited by Cinder; 06-22-2018, 05:53 PM.

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  • ArcaneArts
    replied
    Gotta say Cinder, seeing your work always inspires the itch to chat/rant.

    Busy busy busy.

    Anyways, good work as always.
    Last edited by ArcaneArts; 06-21-2018, 06:10 PM.

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  • Wormwood
    replied
    Finally found time to properly read this, though I've long since skimmed (and liked) it.

    It didn't disappoint, and that's saying a lot, since I have grown to expect much from your explorations, Cinder. I can honestly say it is a) a good read b) thought-provoking c) good material for my own games and d) as all good art, has actual meaning reaching beyond the game. Each time I see one of those numbered "Beast Analysis & Hacks", I am happy and looking forward to reading and thinking about them.

    Keep up the excellent work!

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  • Primordial newcomer
    replied
    espritdecalmar, regarding beast and them as enablers, I was just thinking about their relationship with centimani. Very happy you thought further than that

    By the way cinder, your "rants" are art/philosophy at this point
    Last edited by Primordial newcomer; 06-20-2018, 01:46 PM.

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  • Cinder
    replied
    Originally posted by 21C Hermit View Post

    Especially since Beasts are some of the few beings who can say that genuinely, unlike, say, alchemists. (Maybe mages too, but they’re probably too busy metaphorically and/or literally dissecting things to care)
    True that.

    Originally posted by espritdecalmar View Post
    Cinder, thank you for writing these lovely and thought-provoking discursions. They have certainly given me new things to ponder regarding the game, and to an extent have even influenced a setting hack that has been cooking inside my head for several days now.

    Regarding Begotten and Kin, something that has surprised me is that the books barely touch on the concept of the Beast as enabler. Obviously every Child of the Dark Mother is different, but I wonder how many Beasts start after a while to think "You know, the Strix, the Pure, the Centimani. . . those guys really accept what it means to be a monster. Maybe you should be more like them?" Combined with the relative ease of gaining Satiety through Family hunts, it could be the beginning of a beautifully toxic codependent relationship.
    Thank you, that's the main goal of these rants of mine and I'm always happy to hear they're having that effect.

    I suspect that some talk about Beasts being enablers that draw on what the more monstrous inhabitants of the CoD is something we might see more about if the Storyteller's Guide does indeed happen, but I gotta agree completely with you: that's the sort of relationship that can go spectacularly bad, a true sight to behold that's worth of an entry in a Night Horror's book.
    Last edited by Cinder; 06-20-2018, 12:21 PM.

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  • espritdecalmar
    replied
    Cinder, thank you for writing these lovely and thought-provoking discursions. They have certainly given me new things to ponder regarding the game, and to an extent have even influenced a setting hack that has been cooking inside my head for several days now.

    Regarding Begotten and Kin, something that has surprised me is that the books barely touch on the concept of the Beast as enabler. Obviously every Child of the Dark Mother is different, but I wonder how many Beasts start after a while to think "You know, the Strix, the Pure, the Centimani. . . those guys really accept what it means to be a monster. Maybe you should be more like them?" Combined with the relative ease of gaining Satiety through Family hunts, it could be the beginning of a beautifully toxic codependent relationship.

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  • 21C Hermit
    replied
    Originally posted by Cinder View Post
    Yeah, that's a nice way to describe one of the main points of conflict between Beasts and Created. There's this contrast between what the two supernaturals aspire to be (with all the complications of the case, of course), that I think is an interesting source of stories and interactions to explore.
    Especially since Beasts are some of the few beings who can say that genuinely, unlike, say, alchemists. (Maybe mages too, but they’re probably too busy metaphorically and/or literally dissecting things to care)

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  • Cinder
    replied
    Originally posted by 21C Hermit View Post
    And just as many Beasts will take the perspective of “You have superpowers! And being human is worth nothing! Why would you ever want to give it all up and be them?!”

    And if that sounds familiar, well, I do remember what some of the reactions to Promethean 2E centrally being about the Pilgrimage to become human was revealed...
    Yeah, that's a nice way to describe one of the main points of conflict between Beasts and Created. There's this contrast between what the two supernaturals aspire to be (with all the complications of the case, of course), that I think is an interesting source of stories and interactions to explore.

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  • 21C Hermit
    replied
    And just as many Beasts will take the perspective of “You have superpowers! And being human is worth nothing! Why would you ever want to give it all up and be them?!”

    And if that sounds familiar, well, I do remember what some of the reactions to Promethean 2E centrally being about the Pilgrimage to become human was revealed...

    Leave a comment:


  • Cinder
    replied
    Originally posted by Acopiltaczet View Post
    Cinder,i remember that you wrote that the Irkalla think Prometheans need a new beggining,implying they're okay with the Prometheans quest to become human. Do you think that's what the average Beast thinks about the created?
    furthermore,y'know how Prometheans Have their Elpis,the aspect of the human condition they admire the most,do you think Beast might relate with that?
    For istance,a Promethean might have "Determination" as her Elpis, and a Beast might teach lessons that through suffering,teach humans to be more Determined?
    Not necessarily. Stereotypes sections are fun and good ones convey a general impression of how one typical member of the group they describe might behave (while also making them look badass), but usually don't mean much more than that.

    I'm a big, big fan of the idea that more "positive" Beast might find a supportive role towards other supernatural and act as friends, advisors and "big brothers & sisters" though (and that often shines through what I write), so I think your idea would work. As I mentioned before, some Beasts might have doubts about the Pilgrimage and not be 100% ok with their Promethean friends becoming human, because saying farewell to those you care about is never easy, but I think that, more often than not, supportive Beast would eventually understand and help the Created with their quest. Which indeed includes the Begotten acting as intermediary between Prometheans, mankind and teach lessons that also contribute to the Pilgrimage
    Last edited by Cinder; 06-20-2018, 10:08 AM.

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  • Acopiltaczet
    replied
    Cinder,i remember that you wrote that the Irkalla think Prometheans need a new beggining,implying they're okay with the Prometheans quest to become human. Do you think that's what the average Beast thinks about the created?
    furthermore,y'know how Prometheans Have their Elpis,the aspect of the human condition they admire the most,do you think Beast might relate with that?
    For istance,a Promethean might have "Determination" as her Elpis, and a Beast might teach lessons that through suffering,teach humans to be more Determined?

    Leave a comment:


  • Cinder
    replied
    Ok, sorry it took a little, bu this reply needed something more practical than a phone to get written.

    The similarities between several aspects of Beast and Vampire are there for sure. In fact, I think that the a Kindred and a Begotten have the best chances of "getting" the struggles of the other. A flawed understanding perhaps, but easily the least difficult among all the crossover options. Consequently, it's also easy for Vampires and Beast to support and motivate each other (which can be a good or a bad thing, obviously). The story told in the chapter fictions of the core ends features indeed the difficult relationship between a Beast, his Brood and a Vampire he meets.

    Having said that, I think the differences make the games quite distinct. The biggest one is that vampires live their Requiem as a this mixture of of masks, lies, appearances and hidden truths that details them diving further and further away from their mortal life, all while it becomes progressively harder to keep their Humanity. Beast don't have that: no matter their feelings about Hunger, Lessons and being a monster, they are forced to be honest about it all the time and, eventually, come to terms with that while growing as legendary horrors (or seek a way out). There are doctrines in the Kindred society that address their role of monsters and help them balance their urges and new state of being with their more human side, but theirs is a war of attrition where they use their humanity as an anchor to not slip too far. On the surface, Beast has a similar aspect with the ideas one has to feed with a purpose and do its best to teach Lessons, but that's why those help you to not turn into a total bastard and at the same time are useful for you to come to terms with what you are and become a better monster.

    A successful Vampire carves a place for itself in the Danse Macabre and gives meaning to its Requiem, forging new relationships and finding a purpose even in that dark reflection of life, but does so while keeping Touchstones and connections with its old self to not lose a sense of self to the blood and the thirst. A successfull Beast is a monster at peace with itself, does not matter what aspects of its old life had to perish or be devoured on the path. I think this is the biggest difference, a different way to look at what you were before the Embrace/Devouring and what you are now.

    I look at it this way: Vampire is falling while trying to slow down because you know there's a bottom waiting for you, Beast is climbing while everything out there drags you down and to keep going is both scary, painful and difficult.

    Then of course there are other important differences. The fact that Vampires can get thrown into the Requiem without a choice, that they have a complex society with its rules to live within, that their banes and needs forever separate them from their former lives and many more. Beast, ironically, are monsters whose nature leads them to a larger-than-life existence that hungers to be aknowledged, leave a mark and turn into legend (not to mention the whole monomythical conflict that draws upon the collective subconscious), but there's not really anything that forces away from their lives before the Devouring. Those change because the Begotten change, but they don't have to build a new one.

    As for the Beast and the Horrors, I don't think there's a straight direct connection. I like to keep things blurry and, while Kinship is there for a reason, I always thought that explaining what's going on in a gameline with a simple, blunt answer coming from another one is...a bit lame. Robs the games of mystery and agency, like when saying "Changeling Arcadia is just the Fallen reflection of Mage's Arcadia" or stuff like that. The CoD has one of its strengths in its mysteries and the things we don't know about for sure. Some Vampire and Begotten might wonder how much they are related to each other and I expect many Acolites to be really curious about the Dark Mother should they hear about her (some might even worship Nightmare Mom directly, since the Circle is everything but homogeneous), but, while I think there's a connection somewhere, deep in the nights of prehistory when mankind was young and something in the darkness gave birth to the monsters, leaving that unknown allows for a lot more interesting stories to be told. After all, is not always fun to make theories about that kind of things?
    Last edited by Cinder; 06-18-2018, 10:53 AM.

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  • Iceblade44
    replied
    Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post
    To add on to iceblade, do you think there is a connection to the beast of vampires and horrors of, well, beast? Personally, think it's just a coincidence. Yet, the vampires to have the crone goddess
    Yeah, the links between the Crone and the Dark Mother is to me another similarity between the two. Though while they can have a connection the Vampire's Beast i don't know is more is visceral. material and instinctive. It is a more inherent part of you nature. With Beasts there are a line of separation with the horror and the beast themselves, it's also more metaphysical and symbolic. that's how it seems to me at first glance. Like say when a vampire falls under frenzy and attacks, they can not a put a blame on a "Beast" controlling them, they are that Beast, it is them. While when a Beast starves and their Horror goes and start to rampage, the thing doing that is the Horror not them. The Beast's Horror is like a landlord, demanding rent or else there would be consequences. A Vampire's Beast is the urge of an addict, who only care to get a fix if that makes sense. That's at least my first thought of an interpretation when thinking about it, but compared to other game lines I'm not super familiar with Beast. Cinder probably can explain more that i missed our got wrong

    As for a literal connection between the two, really you can make the case with any supernatural. There's Kinship after all, so there's probably some ancient truths here somewhere or another.

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  • Primordial newcomer
    replied
    To add on to iceblade, do you think there is a connection to the beast of vampires and horrors of, well, beast? Personally, think it's just a coincidence. Yet, the vampires to have the crone goddess

    Leave a comment:

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