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The Cradle of Nightmares: Signs of the Dark Mother

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  • The Cradle of Nightmares: Signs of the Dark Mother

    Some time ago I mentioned the idea of a thread of fake texts and fictions about the Dark Mother, something along the lines of the Clanbooks or Signs of the Moon (I love those books), to give me something chill to write during my spare time. Here we are.

    Entries will vary wildly, I'm pretty much throwing ideas at the wall to see what sticks, not to mention it's a thing to do when there's no more urgent stuff to deal with, but I really hope you'll enjoy these. I'm kinda testing myself here, so criticism is welcome. In any case, practice is practice and that never hurts, especially now.

    Little disclaimer since this is the first content I post in a while! This is fanmade content based on my personal canon and nothing more. Same goes for other gamelines, be it Werewolf, Hunter or whatever. I have no secret knowledge whatsoever of gamelines that aren't Mummy nor authority in any case (and I won't post Mummy stuff for obvious reasons). This is just me writing fanmade stuff as an aside from freelancing.

    Having said that, here's the first entry. If you happen to have questions, criticism or just want to discuss, you're welcome to do so.

    To: Prof. Ronald G. Lee
    From: Prof. Josephine DiMeo

    Re: New findings and developments

    Ron, I reached Lübeck while following what our Swedish contact told me on the phone and, for once, it only took a few days for me to pick on the right trail. Not at the university, mind you. Yes, I asked there just to give them the benefit of the doubt and not hear you complain, but you know how much I hate how slow things can move in that setting. The situation here is not different from there. I’m starting to think it’s just an universal thing. Then again, that’s why I’m the one taking planes and doing the field work.

    I looked for Family around the city and met some of our kind. They led me to a group of vampires, of the sort you’d love to meet. “Scholars of the night” and all that stuff. I introduced myself as Yarrow, like I always do when I’m with Family, and told them what I was looking for. Took me little to make new friends, you know how adorable I am. That, and the fact I helped them with a couple of issues they had. Vampires be vampires, I guess.

    Anyways, that earned me access to a storehouse they have, pretty much a museum filled with books, paintings and old relics. Most of it dates back to the Hanseatic League, the collection of a rich merchant that also happened to be the servant of a vampire back in the day. No easy details about the identity of either: they’re both long dead. What matters to us is that there an some interesting books scattered around (at least interesting to us). It’s not what we were looking for but it’s a start: the name the Swedish contact gave us reappears in several notes I’ve found as someone owner of this collection traded with. Or rather, was forced to trade with through intimidation. It’s never outright stated, but our merchant was deathly afraid of this person and, call me a fool, but I recognize a Collector when I see it, ancient documents or not.

    Seems like the little guy still kept a fair amount of stuff for himself, though. I’m sending you a translation of a medieval text I’ve found, just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about. It's clearly a copy of an even older tale (and I mean old). There are several versions of it around, but this one is the one that was preserved the best. As you will see, this has the potential to lead to something huge. If this is what was left here, just imagine what’s out there.

    I’ll stay here for some more days and try to discern what’s relevant to us and what’s not, while also trying to learn more about our real target (or what’s left of his collection, at least: the guy must have died centuries ago). I’ll try to convince the people here to let me have these documents, but I’d rather avoid to find myself swamped in the local vampiric politics. At worse, I’ll send you more pictures.

    Here's the text:


    Once, there was a mother
    Who lived with her many children.

    She took care of them and loved them all,
    But their nights were restless
    And they longed for more,
    which is why they could not stay with her forever.

    The first son left.*

    He was strong and brave
    And dreamed to become a great warrior.
    But his strength was not enough to triumph.
    He lost all his hopes,
    And was devoured.

    The second son left.
    He was cunning and swift
    And dreamed to become a great hunter.
    But what lurked in the night made him the prey.
    He ran and got lost in the darkness,
    And was devoured.

    The third son left.
    He was wise and curious
    And dreamed to become a great sage.
    But he uncovered eldritch truths from the depths of the world.
    He lost his mind as the air in his lungs died,
    And was devoured.


    The fourth son left.
    He was beautiful and pure
    And dreamed to become a great leader.
    But plague, poison and time corrupted his body and his thoughts.
    He lost his followers because they felt revulsion when they looked at him,
    And was devoured.

    The fifth son left.
    He was daring and proud
    And dreamed to become a great explorer.
    But sun, wind, rain and cold tore his flesh open.
    He collapsed, lost and exposed to the world,
    And was devoured.

    The sixth son left.
    He was kind and lovable
    And dreamed to become a great patriarch.

    But what he built was destroyed by traitors and invaders.
    He lost faith in the others and he attacked them on sight,
    And was devoured.

    The seventh son left,
    He was fierce and independent,
    And dreamed to become a great hermit.
    But they captured him and made him a slave.
    He lost his freedom and got confined in chains,
    And was devoured.

    **

    With no more children nor tears to wipe away, the mother left
    To speak with the Dark One at the end of the world,
    Where what exists give shape to reflections
    And the reflections give shape to what exists.
    The mother reached the primeval land and entered the primordial lair
    Beyond the wall of sleep.

    Terror plagued her mind and chest
    And pain tortured her body and soul.
    Still, she asked: “Dark One, She Who Hungers and Bane of Mankind,
    I am nothing more than a lowly mother, but I demand an answer from you.
    What gave you the right to fill my children’s hearts with fear and devour them?”

    The darkness replied.

    “Mother that was, your mistake is to think I stole something from you,
    But they were my children just as much as they were yours.
    I was there with them from at the beginning and I was with them at the end.
    I was there when they were sleeping and when they were awake.
    They were my children and their heard my call
    For I am the Cradle of Nightmares and live within the hearts of all men”

    The darkness continued.

    “I loved them like only a mother does,
    You gave them life but I gave them fear, impulse and teachings
    To not let that life go and give a meaning to it.
    I loved them as they were, at their highest and their lowest,
    And they never left me nor did I left them.
    In fact, I would say that I was a more caring mother than you.”

    The darkness concluded.

    “When they left to live their life and follow their dreams,
    They faced their nightmares and were devoured
    Because that’s the choice I gave them.
    Embrace me or forsake me, I’ll devour them either way
    Because in this world there’s more hunger than love.
    Now leave this place or stay and become myth, the choice is yours too.”


    The woman left.
    She was grieving and defeated
    And was afraid to never feel the love of his children again.
    But she still had hope and still had life.
    She gave them away to become a mother once more
    And gave birth.

    The last son left.
    He was a paragon and a example for all
    And dreamed to become a great hero.
    He fought against the darkness and against himself,
    Against monsters without and monsters within. ***
    And he triumphed, he slayed and was devoured

    Again and again and again.

    * I sent you the most complete version of the text I could find here, but these things are anything but coherent. The order of the sons associated with certain attributes varies wildly, not to mention that sometimes one of them is a daughter, sometimes more. There’s an obvious juxtaposition between the feminine of the two “mother” figures and the masculine of their children here, nothing too unusual for ancient tales, but other fragments tell another story. While the general traits of the sons are there, in a way or another, the only constant parts are those about the dialogue between the mothers.

    Please ask someone else to make the textual criticism of this, with all these different texts it’s gonna be a nightmare to rebuild what the original version looked like and I always hated doing that. I’m not kidding, Ron: I don’t want to waste years trying to recover fragments of this thing so you can make a stemmatic analysis of it.

    ** Again, most version have the mother leave after the seventh son is devoured, but there are pages and notes that mention even more children. For example, there’s a bit that talks about “a son that wants to live forever but then surrenders to the End and is devoured” that’s labeled APOCRYPHA. Apocrypha according to whom, I wonder? And why?

    *** Now, I’m aware all this thing is obscenely allegorical, needs to get deciphered and contextualized, and nothing says there’s any truth within the text, but here it seems to imply that Begotten and Heroes might share an even more common origin than we tend to think. Not to mention each son confronts with a certain Family’s nature but they fight “both monsters and themselves”. Almost as if deep down they’re...a sort of twisted Family that came to be in response to us? Ugh, that gives the creeps.
    Last edited by Cinder; 10-11-2018, 02:48 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
    While I can't offer an expert opinion, since I'm not an expert to begin with, I have a leading question. What sort of inspiration do you expect readers could take from this text?

    For the most part, the poem seems very orthodox as far as Beast Lore in concerned - it's an overview of Familes and their themes (with a poke at Irkalla). The first section doesn't offer anything new. The great advantage of in-game documents is offering perspectives that are subjective, idiosyncratic, probably-but-not-certainly wrong, unique to the writer and the world he grew up in.

    However, the latter parts contain hints of other ideas, such as:
    • Direct communication between Mortals and the Dark Mother.
    • The way the Dark Mother sees Mortals.
    • Connected origins of Beasts and Heroes.
    Each of these ideas deserve a piece of text exploring them, but as things stand they seem a bit glanced over.

    Sorry if that came out too harsh. I fully assume this is just a warmup.



    Find my Homebrew Fangs of Mara 2ed update Here

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Teatime View Post

      Sorry if that came out too harsh. I fully assume this is just a warmup.
      Oh, that was not harsh at all, don't worry. You raise genuinely legitimate points.

      I started this way because I think it's a good introduction, in the sense that's indeed rather orthodox and not too wild. An old document to get in the right mood and glimpse something of what's to come. The first part is more of a build-up that I admit does not offer any remarkable inspiration, more of a service to the core and known ideas, but the part that I intended to be the interesting one is the latter.

      The ideas and hints you mention are stuff I'm going to explore in the future, along others, and they're what I hope will get to readers and capture some interest.

      Point taken, though! I'll try to give some more personality and subjectivity to future documents, make them more unique. Thanks for your comments and trust about what's to come.


      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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      • #4
        Nice nod your fan made family cinder.

        I think you added a nice twist to what the origins could be of the begotten

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post
          Nice nod your fan made family cinder.

          I think you added a nice twist to what the origins could be of the begotten
          Hehe, they might not be canon but I like them too much to not carry them along.

          And thanks!


          Cinder's Comprehensive Collection of Creations - Homebrew Hub

          I write about Beast: The Primordial a lot

          This is what I'm working on

          Comment


          • #6
            Oh, another thing I like is the idea the children had archetypes of heroics, but were perverted into fear, what they are now

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post
              Oh, another thing I like is the idea the children had archetypes of heroics, but were perverted into fear, what they are now
              That's something I'm definitely going to talk more about, in a shape or the other, but for now I'll say that's owes a lot to the works of a great author and literature expert, Roberto Calasso.

              Many of his works talks about the relation between myths and culture. That specific idea of mine is related to the notion that hero cannot exist without a monster being there first and owes its power to it. I read his works in the original language, but found a short translated quote that shows it well.

              Originally posted by Roberto Calasso View Post
              The monster does not need the hero. it is the hero who needs him for his very existence. When the hero confronts the monster, he has yet neither power nor knowledge, the monster is his secret father who will invest him with a power and knowledge that can belong to one man only, and that only the monster can give.
              I have lots of thoughts about monsters, heroes, legends and ideas on how to translate those thoughts into Beast and its monomyth (shocking, I know), a considerable part of those describing how the mythic cycle is a lot more than Heroes and Beast having to fight each other, both within the relationship between the two and their lives as singular beings without having to take the other side into consideration.

              Long story short, you caught a glimpse of something I'm going to rant about quite a bit
              Last edited by Cinder; 10-14-2018, 12:53 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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              • #8
                Sorry if you don't want more posts on here, but I just re read the slasher book, and the aegis Kai doru believe the very first slashers were the myths of legend: Heracles, perseus, such as that.

                What if that is why beast have kinship with slashers, they are the perversion of HEROES

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Roberto Calasso
                  The monster does not need the hero. it is the hero who needs him for his very existence. When the hero confronts the monster, he has yet neither power nor knowledge, the monster is his secret father who will invest him with a power and knowledge that can belong to one man only, and that only the monster can give.
                  This short piece of text has been poking at the back of my mind for quite a while now. It might be because I never had the chance to read the full work, but this quote bothered me without me being able to disagree with it. Finally, I think I figured out why.

                  It's metatextual analysis. The monster does not "need" the hero, because it's possible to have a story of a monster without any heroes in it, as evidenced by most horror movies. To have a story about a hero, presence of a monster is necessary - whether overt or subtle, literal or metaphorical. As such, it's hard to argue with Calasso.

                  But...

                  What if we mix our peas and porridge a little? By that I mean what if we get a character to use this reasoning in-story? Consider a violent bandit and a prosecutor in front of a tribunal. The criminal didn't need the prosecutor to be a criminal - his life of robbery and murder would have carried along fine without the justice system. However, the prosecutor needs people like him to justify her existence. There would be no point of having a position of a prosecutor, if there were no crimes to punish. So far, this is in keeping with Calasso's reasoning. The process of pursuing the criminal might have even invested the prosecutor with wisdom and experience. However, the moment the bandit starts boasting of his superiority over the prosecutor, the tribunal should conclude he is missing the point to a baffling degree. What is a interesting analysis out-of-character, sounds like deranged excuses in-character.

                  But...

                  What if we take this line of reasoning on face value, and go from there? First, metatextual analysis: If Heroes need monsters to justify their existence, monsters need ordinary human beings to do the same. It's possible to have a story of people without any monsters in it, as evidenced by most drama films. To have a story about a monster you need ordinary human beings to victimize, or to be contrasted against. If a character held these beliefs, they'd have to conclude the following. Whatever respect a hero owes to the monster, the monster owes to humanity. Whatever treatment the hero deserves from the monster, the monster deserves from humanity. This could be basis for a very interesting blue-and-range morality. The moment the aforementioned bandit stops using his reasoning as an excuse and makes sacrifices in its name, the way we see him changes. At the very least, the tribunal will send him to hang not with disgust, but with deep unease.

                  So there... Depending on context, Calassos' quote can be used as:

                  An artistically phrased fact
                  An insulting excuse
                  An intriguing koan

                  Which for a gameline plagued by communication problems, is important to keep in mind.


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Teatime View Post
                    Which for a gameline plagued by communication problems, is important to keep in mind.
                    Oh, I completely agree. Well said, I think we do share a wavelength here.

                    Calasso's work is metatextual analysis (well, to put it quickly. I don't want to make a disservice to his body of works but that's what it is when it comes to the dialogue we're having here), but it cannot be used straight as a tool in a Primordial context. It needs to be adapted. Or rather, as I like to put it, it needs to crush against the structure of Beast.

                    Myths deals in absolutes and all kinds of analysis, both textual and metatextual, which deal with myths and legends takes those absolutes as a core value. There are perspectives and situations in those processes that are never taken into account because there's no reason to do so and, while it might be easier to jump straight from mythological studies into Beast (and sometimes that's actually the best choice), I do find that the real potential to write interesting material for BtP can be found when you try to hammer the larger-than-life truth of myths into the mold of a character-driven gameline set into a darker version of our very own world.

                    I'm not saying anything innovative here, it's stuff that's in the books, but the conflict that happens when characters become need to find space for the legendary aspects of themselves into life, morality and relationships that are no different from those you and I know, is one of Beast's strengths. It's something Beast does like no other game, and an element I think we should keep always keep in mind. Again, a big part of the fun for me is taking straight narrative conventions about monster and heroes and break them apart to make Beast shine.

                    Beast is not, as some of its critics think, disturbing and difficult just because, just to be edgy. It often leads to disturbing and difficult results, but only because it's inevitable. It asks uneasy questions. But the question is not whether you can have an easy time living as creature of legend into our world (you can't, we know the answer since ancient times and tons of modern works explored similar themes with the exact same conclusion), but rather on what happens to those involved when that's the case.

                    After you make that clear you can build over this foundation in a lots of different ways and each of those contributes to the charm of the game (the "I'm a dragon, hear me roar" part will always be awesome, let's not fool ourselves), but it's a topic we keep coming back to because we feel a lot of the misconception about Beast lie.

                    All this to say that I agree with what you're saying. We can even go meta about what's meta, as long as things are clear.

                    EDIT: It's Sunday, I finally have some spare time and I'm always happy to talk about CoD games and Beast. Sorry for the little rant, but I could not avoid to let the enthusiasm guide me.
                    Last edited by Cinder; 12-16-2018, 09:46 AM.


                    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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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Cinder View Post
                      It's Sunday, I finally have some spare time and I'm always happy to talk about CoD games and Beast. Sorry for the little rant, but I could not avoid to let the enthusiasm guide me.
                      Your enthusiasm is something I envy. What I have are itches that need scratching.

                      Originally posted by Cinder View Post
                      Oh, I completely agree. Well said, I think we do share a wavelength here.
                      To avoid confusion, I believe miscommunications started at the time of writing and eventually spread onto Internet communities.

                      Aside from that, you response deserves more time from me than I've got the stamina to give. I'll limit myself to saying that using examples is an excellent way of reaching clarity. As I read your writings, I always wonder whether we think the same way but use certain words differently, or whether I'm missing your point entirely. For instance, if I replaced two uses of "legendary" in your post with "primordial" our sensibilities match perfectly. Examples allow to illustrate ideas that abstract descriptions may struggle to. The one time I encouraged you to add examples to your essay seems to have resulted in a wery well received post, so I feel validated in that line of thinking. I wish you did that more often.

                      Originally posted by Cinder View Post
                      I do find that the real potential to write interesting material for BtP can be found when you try to hammer the larger-than-life truth of myths into the mold of a character-driven gameline set into a darker version of our very own world.
                      For instance, if you described what could happen as a result of this hammering your post would reach a higher level.
                      Last edited by Teatime; 12-16-2018, 12:21 PM.


                      Find my Homebrew Fangs of Mara 2ed update Here

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Teatime View Post
                        To avoid confusion, I believe miscommunications started at the time of writing and eventually spread onto Internet communities.

                        Aside from that, you response deserves more time from me than I've got the stamina to give. I'll limit myself to saying that using examples is an excellent way of reaching clarity. As I read your writings, I always wonder whether we think the same way but use certain words differently, or whether I'm missing your point entirely. For instance, if I replaced two uses of "legendary" in your post with "primordial" our sensibilities match perfectly. Examples allow to illustrate ideas that abstract descriptions may struggle to. The one time I encouraged you to add examples to your essay seems to have resulted in a wery well received post, so I feel validated in that line of thinking. I wish you did that more often.
                        We might be circling the same stuff from different starting points, I personally find myself agreeing with your contributions around the board way more often than not. My "legendary" there has little to do with Beast and refers more to a general connection towards myths and legends. Dunno, I never got around to make a more "practical" thread, unless we're talking about those where I post about specific creatures or my Dark Era. Always thought that a sort of list of examples would come across as entitled or arrogant. After all, despite my aforementioned enthusiasm, I'm not a Beast writer and it makes me uneasy to offer that kind of solution by my own initiative.

                        Perhaps that's just me. I do tend to worry too much.

                        Originally posted by Teatime View Post
                        For instance, if you described what could happen as a result of this hammering your post would reach a higher level.
                        I get you, and won't deny I often take as granted that people don't need examples to see what I'm talking about, but at least in this instance I did not get into details because it's kinda off-topic. I'm more than happy to reply and discuss to any sort of question or criticism, but I do try to keep the discussion in line with the topic. I fail at that more often than I'd like, but still.

                        (Though the topic here is fiction piece I currently am not providing, so point taken)
                        Last edited by Cinder; 12-16-2018, 12:38 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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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Cinder View Post
                          Always thought that a sort of list of examples would come across as entitled or arrogant. After all, despite my aforementioned enthusiasm, I'm not a Beast writer and it makes me uneasy to offer that kind of solution by my own initiative.
                          What I meant were examples to enrich your essays, but if you want to write a practical guide I don't see it as much different to what you're doing already. Worst case scenario, it will leave people cold, but I'd be baffled if anyone feels insulted. If you feel insecure, use the number of Likes as a measuring stick.

                          If anyone else is reading this, it would be helpful if you shared your thoughts.

                          Originally posted by Cinder View Post
                          I get you, and won't deny I often take as granted that people don't need examples to see what I'm talking about, but at least in this instance I did not get into details because it's kinda off-topic. I'm more than happy to reply and discuss to any sort of question or criticism, but I do try to keep the discussion in line with the topic. I fail at that more often than I'd like, but still.
                          I get you.

                          Originally posted by Cinder View Post
                          Though the topic here is fiction piece I currently am not providing, so point taken
                          Fun shouldn't be a responsibility! Having said that, the fact you acknowledge it shows respect to your readers.


                          Find my Homebrew Fangs of Mara 2ed update Here

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post
                            Sorry if you don't want more posts on here, but I just re read the slasher book, and the aegis Kai doru believe the very first slashers were the myths of legend: Heracles, perseus, such as that.

                            What if that is why beast have kinship with slashers, they are the perversion of HEROES
                            what's your personal take on kinship with slashers Cinder. also, do you think that horrors can be absolutely huge in their lairs, but due to dream logic, heroes and other supernatural creatures sort of get a boost to their abilities too. (I'll clarify that last part if I'm being too vague)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Teatime View Post
                              Fun shouldn't be a responsibility! Having said that, the fact you acknowledge it shows respect to your readers.
                              Things in the last couple of months haven't been exactly easy, so when I'm able to write I must focus on priorities first. Wishful thinking says that by doing so there's a chance that might eventually grow into something bigger (and that's why I don't regret doing so and I'm glad I got that opportunity in the first place and still pull it off no matter what), but I admit that I did let you people down when it comes to forum content.

                              Sorry about that, I mean it. I hope that life will eventually get easier and allow me once again to hang around here more often
                              Last edited by Cinder; 12-16-2018, 07:19 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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