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On the Problematic Nature of Beast (And Why I Think That's a Good Thing)

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  • EDIT: Eh, overkill.
    Last edited by ArcaneArts; 05-16-2019, 02:56 PM.


    Sean K.I.W./Kelly R.A. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Sean, Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
    The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
    Male/neutral pronouns accepted, female pronouns enjoyed.

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    • So, a bit of DL;DR here...

      I still recall the first edition of Mage, and how the Atlantean mythology hung over the game despite the first few supplements offering a course correction; so I’m well aware that some problems really can’t be fixed by supplements, because the core book is a player’s first impression — and if you blow it there, it doesn’t matter what the supplements do, because the reader won’t get that far. I’m also very much aware that a game can have a lot of untapped potential that needs some... selective amnesia to bring out: my own view of Mage: the Ascension is based on a subtle but important reinterpretation of some of the game’s ideas, and I suspect that Beast may also be dealing with a similar issue.

      So with that in mind: let’s say for the sake of argument that OPP was greenlighting a second edition for BtP despite being so early in the game’s lifecycle, and they’ve asked you for advice on what to change in the core. What advice would you give them? What needs to change in the core book in order for the “diamond in the rough” to which several of you have alluded gets a chance to shine?


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      • Arc, come on, dial it back. Him completely bombing talking appropriately about BDSM on the forum doesn't mean get into his personal life. The post was bad enough on its face for us to both spend a page of the thread dissecting it and showing every problem in excruciating detail if we wanted to.

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        • Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
          I still recall the first edition of Mage, and how the Atlantean mythology hung over the game despite the first few supplements offering a course correction; so I’m well aware that some problems really can’t be fixed by supplements, because the core book is a player’s first impression — and if you blow it there, it doesn’t matter what the supplements do, because the reader won’t get that far.
          It is worth noting Beast is in a bit of a unique situation because there's a lot of stuff that hangs over it from a preview of the manuscript that was rewritten during the Kickstarter in response to fan feedback. There's a whole set of issues hanging over the game-line that predate the book even being published.

          It's still the first impression issue, but in a more nebulous area than just cleaning up the core book.

          I’m also very much aware that a game can have a lot of untapped potential that needs some... selective amnesia to bring out: my own view of Mage: the Ascension is based on a subtle but important reinterpretation of some of the game’s ideas, and I suspect that Beast may also be dealing with a similar issue.
          This feels a bit... overly stated I guess.

          Beast's biggest problem is that the writing in the core book didn't have the editorial oversight the lead developer should have exercised to ensure a smooth and consistent tone and fidelity to theme over the course of the book.

          In the analogy of a diamond... it's less finding the diamond in the rough of the rest of the book, and more having an uncut diamond that needs a jeweler's attention. The good stuff is there staring you in the face, but it's not in the refined form it should be.

          So with that in mind: let’s say for the sake of argument that OPP was greenlighting a second edition for BtP despite being so early in the game’s lifecycle, and they’ve asked you for advice on what to change in the core. What advice would you give them? What needs to change in the core book in order for the “diamond in the rough” to which several of you have alluded gets a chance to shine?
          Put Cinder or Arc in charge of it. They have the chops to do the refinement, and the trust of the Beast fans to not try to change it into something else.

          Comment


          • Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post

            It is worth noting Beast is in a bit of a unique situation because there's a lot of stuff that hangs over it from a preview of the manuscript that was rewritten during the Kickstarter in response to fan feedback. There's a whole set of issues hanging over the game-line that predate the book even being published.

            It's still the first impression issue, but in a more nebulous area than just cleaning up the core book.



            This feels a bit... overly stated I guess.

            Beast's biggest problem is that the writing in the core book didn't have the editorial oversight the lead developer should have exercised to ensure a smooth and consistent tone and fidelity to theme over the course of the book.

            In the analogy of a diamond... it's less finding the diamond in the rough of the rest of the book, and more having an uncut diamond that needs a jeweler's attention. The good stuff is there staring you in the face, but it's not in the refined form it should be.



            Put Cinder or Arc in charge of it. They have the chops to do the refinement, and the trust of the Beast fans to not try to change it into something else.

            Seconded on this. When writing or re-writing a game, It should always be someone who is a fan of a game and understands the game doing much of the writing for it. Anyone else is very likely to turn it into something the people who already love it don't want while still failing to attract the people who either ignored it or actively hated it.

            Proof: Guess who wrote the best story in the Primordial Feast with an amazing depiction of what it's actually like to be a Beast, from pre-devouring and many years on into her life? I just now realized my favorite poster wrote that, and i've been referring my players to it for a couple years now.
            Last edited by Eternal Darkness; 05-16-2019, 11:01 AM.

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            • Welp, that's flattering.

              Anyways, the obvious answer is a crystal clear bible, but if I were setting the direction for said bible, the two main things needed to get Beast on track are basically a new set of themes and moods.

              For themes, the big one is What We Owe Each Other, directly tackling the ideas of participating in and giving to a community versus the need to direct, express, and be true to self, pitting selflessness and selfishness against each other in the stew pot to ask questions of how much of both attitudes is needed. I'd follow it up with This Is My Story vs This is The Story, tapping into ideas of harmony with the world and questions about self-determination where it conflicts with accepting the world and things as they are, particularly at their most brutal and low points. I'd round it out with No Neat Boxes as both to emphasize both the literal goal of exploring the Chronicles World and the murky and hard-to-answer questions of Beast.

              For Moods, I'd want to lean heavily into Transgression, Compassion, and Fatalism. Beast should be a game where you do get pumped to play the bad guy(in your way), but also understands and demonstrates that being a community builder is also badass. Beast should be a game where you kidnap one person so the other person comes to rescues them and, and in so doing they learn their better traits in the process, that they can Do The Things, and also learn the perspectives to keep them grounded. Beast should be a game where you're equally excited to kick a police officer in the balls then give them the worst wedgie AND give the biggest hug to someone, just squeeze them until their broken heart is back together again. This should be balanced against the feelings of an unfairness in the world, where you've become everything you could be and still aren't enough, where sometimes it doesn't matter what you do because it's all going to go to pot anyways, that everything you do won't amount to anything because someone else got the cheat codes and secret phrases-that fate will see you end and you feel like you can't win against it(You can, but it shouldn't feel easy)

              The storytelling chapter would start with a damn good set of safe table practices and probably be followed up with a damn good look at how to be transgressive without being an asshole. Hopefully you get the idea of that long before then, but I'd want to be clear about it.

              The main motif of Beast would be Chaoskampf-in fact, I'd work hard to have one of the first sentences in the Introduction be "Welcome to the chaoskampf". I'd lean heavily into the idea of destruction-as-revelation-and-opportunity, and build into the idea that What You Are Doing As A Beast is Building New Worlds. Beasts are the third answer in the fight between Heroes and Insatiable, a Storm God and Chaos Serpent all in one rather than pitted against each other, a darkling enlightenment about to go into action. Beasts Battle For Creation.

              I would fight to get a music suite and have one sick saxophone focused piece in there.

              I'd probably grab Cinder and try and get him to be the lead developer unless he was really uncomfortable with that, because Cinder is THE Beast Guy and a badass motherfucker.

              I haven't seen Cobra Kai, but if I were to develop Beast, I'd probably immediately watch it and make it one of the main Inspirational Sources, because Johnny Lawrence's struggle to reconcile the strength he got from Strike First, Strike Hard, No Mercy with the damage that wrecked on his life and others is Hella Beast, and Daniel Larusso is probably one of my main go-tos for looking at Heroes. Baccano would also probably end up in there as well if for no other reason than the first half of this video (Though the second half isn't out of spec either).

              So That's what I think would probably be the Big Things To Get Beast Right, and other things.
              Last edited by ArcaneArts; 05-16-2019, 01:18 PM.


              Sean K.I.W./Kelly R.A. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Sean, Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
              The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
              Male/neutral pronouns accepted, female pronouns enjoyed.

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              • ArcaneArts Watch Cobra Kai. It's super good and worth the YouTube premium sub just for that show alone. I did not regret one second of that show; Jonny and Kreese are actually great inspiration for Beasts.

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                • It's the sub that's keeping me from it. It looks really good and again feels like one of the most Beast shows I've ever seen.


                  Sean K.I.W./Kelly R.A. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Sean, Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
                  The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
                  Male/neutral pronouns accepted, female pronouns enjoyed.

                  Comment


                  • I'm pretty sure they offer a free trial period, which you can use to binge the show. For what it's worth, I don't exactly have the most flexible finances; but Cobra Kai got me to sub, and I haven't regretted it.


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                    • Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
                      It's the sub that's keeping me from it. It looks really good and again feels like one of the most Beast shows I've ever seen.

                      It really is. Character growth happens from the first episode to the last episode of season 2, though there is some backsliding here and there for the sake of entertainment. Some people complained about gratuitous action scenes, but it's a friggin' highschool drama + martial arts flick with kids practicing karate; of course there's gonna be lotsa fighting (and none of the fight scenes are in any way bad). Hawk is another good example of a Beast gone off the deep end, and possibly my favorite character on the show despite him becoming a grade-A asshole. he is quite possibly the most 'Beast' character on the show.

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                      • Anyways, getting back on track...

                        ​Hey, Cinder , how'd you go at a second edition of Beast?


                        Sean K.I.W./Kelly R.A. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Sean, Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
                        The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
                        Male/neutral pronouns accepted, female pronouns enjoyed.

                        Comment


                        • The interdimensional exploration element of Beast could get more use in the flavor text, considering its one of their most amazing abilities, and one all beasts have, but that sees almost no attention.

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                          • Perhaps it wasn't my best idea to link to BDSM. But linking it to the gay community or race is no better.

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                            • Originally posted by Omegaphallic View Post
                              Perhaps it wasn't my best idea to link to BDSM. But linking it to the gay community or race is no better.
                              That really depends on how you compare them. Your BDSM comparison was bad because it painted sadists as monsters who have no choice but to non-consensually inflict pain on victims rather than being part of a (most often but sadly not always) mutual relationship where both parties consent to the activities and both receive enjoyment from it.
                              Comparing the Devouring to self-realisation or actualisation of someone within the LGBT community (lets not play into erasure or invisibility problems by reducing it to a single letter when still relevant for the whole group) isn't bad by itself, as long as you focus on the emotional process of that moment. Comparing Beasts on a whole to LGBT people, however, will end up in a comparable state of don't do that.


                              Bloodline: The Stygians
                              Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
                              Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)

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                              • Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
                                Anyways, getting back on track...

                                ​Hey, Cinder , how'd you go at a second edition of Beast?
                                Ok, this counts as my name being spoken three times so the summoning is complete. First of all, thanks to those showing me appreciation. It means more than what I can put eloquently into words.

                                I'm being rather quiet on the Beast side lately because while I can write other things and be satisfied with the results, there are a couple of things, Beast & Cosmic Horror, for which I need to sit down and unlock a certain vault within myself in order the let the good stuff out (or at least what I consider to be my best efforts). I have playlists to help me do that, but just have not managed to do it recently.

                                Anyways, How I'd do second edition. I have thoughts, of course, and I'll try to open enough of that vault's door to give them shape. *Cue Persecution of the Masses and You Say Run*

                                - Central themes.

                                What We Owe Each Other is a theme I'd also want to be there because Beast have, despite all their shackles, more responsibilities for their actions and the impact their lives have on those of others. Arc said it best.

                                Which brings me to the other big theme I'd propose: "What Are You?". Not "What Are You in the Dark?", but "What Are You?". Beast, by their very own nature, are the intimate made manifest. Each Begotten is a song praising itself, a storm barely concealed by flesh, the cacophony of dark woods at night, a volcano that threatens to destroy those around it. They're chaos and glory, desire and thought, hunger and personality. Power gives them the choice to decide what sort of story they want to embody, which tropes they are willing to accept and which they want to subvert. Because the universe wants them to be monsters, but they get to decide if that role can coexists with the world and which shape it will take. Heroes will hunt you down, Hunger is not difficult to satisfy, the weight of the whole human subconscious is breathing on your neck and yet, even when you're covered in blood and crying, the question is still there and it's still up to you to reply: "What Are You?"

                                I'd keep the Devouring, but be more clear of how it's an evolution of what the Homecoming was and an improvement over the concept rather than its denial.

                                I'd still make room for Family in there, because the Family you make for yourself is where I think an important portion of Beast's emotional core is and the gateway for the Begotten to be something more than solipsistic monsters, If even Beasts can have a Family who accepts them the way you are, perhaps there's something good under the teeth and tentacles. Perhaps there's a reason to try and not fuck up the world more than it already is.

                                Combine those three themes together and you have the foundation for Beast to think about how their actions impact others, the world around them and the impression they leave behind. That actions have consequences and they get to live with those.

                                Plus No Neat Little Boxes to let them explore the wider darkness of the world and shed a light for others to follow in.


                                - My Moods are not much different. Some are almost synonims, in a way. Rebellion, Acceptance and Anti-Nihilism.

                                Beast should give the opportunity for you to behave as you want because you care about the results. The Begotten have a way to deal with things other supernaturals don't have. Might not be the best one, it sure is not the kindest one, and it's messy and almost always wrong from someone's perspective, but it's there. Presented with the Gordian Knot, Beasts don't try to disentangle it nor to cut it down: they barge in the king's palace, slam the guards into the walls and shout "there are things that need your attention now". Yes, you are not exactly a good guy for behaving like that (and people have the right to call you out on that), but in this game, you get to explore that. The lessons you teach and the ways your nature allows you to behave are monstrous, but you can get some of the results you want to obtain. Is it worth it? How morally culpable you are for them? No easy answers here: that's the point.

                                Beast also lets you tell others it's ok. You fucked up, I don't care: I'll still hug you. They hurt you? Come rest under my wings, I'll incinerate them if they ever try to come near you again. You want vengeance? If you feel that way, I can help. Beast would be massive hypocrites to judge other monsters. You suck blood to survive? It's ok. People take out the pitchforks when you hang around too much? It's ok, I won't. You let rage take over and slaughtered those who angered you? It's ok, let me help clean up. You refuse to go near mirrors because you're afraid the Lady of Reflections might be looking and try and take you back to her realm? It's ok, I'll break those mirrors for you. I know things might look terrible now, but it's ok. We'll make it ok together. It won't be perfect, won't be painless and you'll have some scars to prove it, but we'll get through this.

                                (Of course that lends itself to a wider discussion about boundaries, what are we willing to accept in others, what goes too far and what's wrong but allows redemption and what does not. It's a tough discussion, with potentially very dark overtones. Stuff that requires words about safe table practices for sure.)

                                The world is fucked up. You're fucked up. No matter how hard you try, you'll hurt people eventually. Even those you care for. Things won't always work out your way, no matter how hard you try. And when others say you're a monster they're kinda right, aren't they? You have all the justifications to surrender yourself to the state of things and just let things happen. There's even a little voice in your head that reminds you just how easy and fulfilling that can be. And yet, there are reasons in this world to care, there are reasons for you to try and wield this power you have and try to build something with it. To not only destroy and hurt. Even if you're going down, you'll make sure to let others hear you roar before the end.

                                I also have some more tricks up my sleeve. One I was glad to discover to have in common with Sean is that we both have ideas about the Chaoskampf. Creation is still happening, concepts are still being given shape. And while Heroes and Insatiables have a role in its creation, Beasts are the ones who reveal them to the world in their rawest form, agents of a dark gnosis the Dark Mother promotes. Unknown becomes known, fear brings knowledge. Plus many, many thoughts about what we can do with Nightmare Mom, the Primordial Dream (I want it to bleed into our world in many different ways), what mankind gives back to Beasts and Heroes being important because they're a part of the equation, even if they have more trouble to notice and cut off the strings.

                                The thing I often talk about, the fact Beast works better on an intimate scale? I'd make sure to explain why. To give people reasons to believe that these legendary monsters have reasons to care about the world that surrounds them and how they shape it with each of their choices.

                                Yeah, the Storytelling chapter needs a deep discussion about safe table practices, social contracts and how a game that lets you play a monster is fucking fiction and not an excuse for you to be awful, hurt others, or indulge in the vilest things you can imagine without having to think about those who play with you. If any other horror games need that, Beast does too.

                                I'd make both Nightmare Mom and Cradle of Nightmares canonical nicknames for the Dark Mother.

                                And that's about it? It would be my starting point, at least.
                                Last edited by Cinder; 05-17-2019, 03:51 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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