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  • Some thoughts on how I'd like to see Beast

    Tl;dr: letting beasts embody transgression over just fear

    Something that I've been considering as I read through Beast, and reading some of the threads here, I feel that Beast is the (intentional or not) sequel to Changeling the Dreaming that Lost is to DA: Fae. Except rather than from the brilliant and beautiful Kinain, you're playing as the Thallain, the offspring of nightmares, who are the antagonists of that game (oddly the Heroes also feel a lot like Reckoning Hunters but that's another topic entirely). One thing I noticed was the CofD seemed to move away from it's more edgy options, making them unplayable antagonists or else tame them (compare Red Talons to the Predator Kings and the Tzmisce to the Ordo Dracul) and it's easy to understand why, I think some of the more visceral reactions to Beast, despite being not really worse than vampires in a lot of ways, shows how it's important to build a sense of empathy, so I wondered if maybe bring more of Dreaming into Beast might make it more approachable.

    Alot of people I saw commented on the feeling of otherness being a major draw, or push away do to the game's context, from the appeal of Beast. One of the things I liked about Dreaming was it actually had a similar theme, just with a generally more positive depiction. I wonder if refocusing these ideas, capturing the feel of otherness as a sense of purpose as much as playing the villian, wouldn't aid a hypothetical 2e of Beast. Beast borrows a lot of it's ideas from Vampire, the idea of being the monster, the predator among humanity, of needing the harm and abuse them to survive. I wonder if perhaps drawing more from Promethean might lead to a more nuanced look at the "reincarnation of Archetypal Mythic Antagonists" idea. Capturing the feeling of Otherness not as Fear, but as Transgression.

    I wonder if the game were to have a second edition, if it would be better off harkening a bit back towards Dreaming, bringing back the 'born this way idea' the game waffled on, giving your character more control over their hunger; with Hungers that feed on more than just fears, but also specific transgressive emotions, things that snap people away from societies comforts; breaking taboos or keeping secrets [not the fear of them but also the elation that comes with it] and of course fears as well, the lack of safe places to be, so that there is more than one role to be played by Beasts as well as ditching the idea that if you don't intentionally hurt people your inner monster will go and attack random people. Maybe give them their own oneiromancy to keep the wandering in dreams but I'd ditch the idea of unintentional hunting. Give Beasts full control over their hunting (though I'd keep the satiety rules) and instead draw on something closer to Promethean's Disquiet just on a purely social level, letting people as a group come to loath and disgust you if you aren't directly influencing them, eventually creating heroes. It could make Beasts as much as a tempter or an enabler, the devil giving advice that leads people away from what makes them comfortable and safe in addition to getting to be the monster hunting them.
    This one would have nuance while encompassing most of what beast already is as one hunger type. You could easily have Beasts who antagonize others to feed on their fear but also those helping people find their place outside societies boundaries (which could be simple more moral things, like presenting differently but also just as easily be things like helping an uratha join the Bale Hounds since it's where they feel most drawn, depending on your Beast). Basically taking Dreaming's idea of playing myths that inspire creativity and applying the same idea to playing as darker characters that inspire transgression and helping people come to accept their Vice (for good or ill).

    I suppose I'm trying to say that making Beast feel like a more direct darker CofD version of changeling would appeal to me and I felt the need to share. I'm probably missing something that would make this a mess and it might alienate some of the fans the game has due to drifting from what makes it appealing to them, perhaps I'll try bringing something like this into a circle of the crone Requiem game or maybe something with Lost.

  • #2
    Four words to guide Beast forward, as I'm concerned:

    Welcome to the chaoskampf.


    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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    • #3
      Originally posted by Darkfoxdev View Post
      Tl;dr: letting beasts embody transgression over just fear

      Something that I've been considering as I read through Beast, and reading some of the threads here, I feel that Beast is the (intentional or not) sequel to Changeling the Dreaming that Lost is to DA: Fae. Except rather than from the brilliant and beautiful Kinain, you're playing as the Thallain, the offspring of nightmares, who are the antagonists of that game (oddly the Heroes also feel a lot like Reckoning Hunters but that's another topic entirely). One thing I noticed was the CofD seemed to move away from it's more edgy options, making them unplayable antagonists or else tame them (compare Red Talons to the Predator Kings and the Tzmisce to the Ordo Dracul) and it's easy to understand why, I think some of the more visceral reactions to Beast, despite being not really worse than vampires in a lot of ways, shows how it's important to build a sense of empathy, so I wondered if maybe bring more of Dreaming into Beast might make it more approachable.

      Alot of people I saw commented on the feeling of otherness being a major draw, or push away do to the game's context, from the appeal of Beast. One of the things I liked about Dreaming was it actually had a similar theme, just with a generally more positive depiction. I wonder if refocusing these ideas, capturing the feel of otherness as a sense of purpose as much as playing the villian, wouldn't aid a hypothetical 2e of Beast. Beast borrows a lot of it's ideas from Vampire, the idea of being the monster, the predator among humanity, of needing the harm and abuse them to survive. I wonder if perhaps drawing more from Promethean might lead to a more nuanced look at the "reincarnation of Archetypal Mythic Antagonists" idea. Capturing the feeling of Otherness not as Fear, but as Transgression.

      I wonder if the game were to have a second edition, if it would be better off harkening a bit back towards Dreaming, bringing back the 'born this way idea' the game waffled on, giving your character more control over their hunger; with Hungers that feed on more than just fears, but also specific transgressive emotions, things that snap people away from societies comforts; breaking taboos or keeping secrets [not the fear of them but also the elation that comes with it] and of course fears as well, the lack of safe places to be, so that there is more than one role to be played by Beasts as well as ditching the idea that if you don't intentionally hurt people your inner monster will go and attack random people. Maybe give them their own oneiromancy to keep the wandering in dreams but I'd ditch the idea of unintentional hunting. Give Beasts full control over their hunting (though I'd keep the satiety rules) and instead draw on something closer to Promethean's Disquiet just on a purely social level, letting people as a group come to loath and disgust you if you aren't directly influencing them, eventually creating heroes. It could make Beasts as much as a tempter or an enabler, the devil giving advice that leads people away from what makes them comfortable and safe in addition to getting to be the monster hunting them.
      This one would have nuance while encompassing most of what beast already is as one hunger type. You could easily have Beasts who antagonize others to feed on their fear but also those helping people find their place outside societies boundaries (which could be simple more moral things, like presenting differently but also just as easily be things like helping an uratha join the Bale Hounds since it's where they feel most drawn, depending on your Beast). Basically taking Dreaming's idea of playing myths that inspire creativity and applying the same idea to playing as darker characters that inspire transgression and helping people come to accept their Vice (for good or ill).

      I suppose I'm trying to say that making Beast feel like a more direct darker CofD version of changeling would appeal to me and I felt the need to share. I'm probably missing something that would make this a mess and it might alienate some of the fans the game has due to drifting from what makes it appealing to them, perhaps I'll try bringing something like this into a circle of the crone Requiem game or maybe something with Lost.

      First off, let me say thank you so much for being one other person who realizes just how much the CofD in general became tame and watered-down Horror compared to the OWoD. As far as your idea regarding Beast and how a possible 2E might be approached: I deeply dislike anything that would make Beast any more like any other CofD game in any way, for exactly the reason you mentioned: It's the only game where you are really and truly a monster, both dealing with personal horror and inflicting the horror on others. It feels like the only Chronicles of Darkness game with any actual darkness in it on any level, unless you count the many mustache-twirling, 'evil just because/bad because bad things happened to me' antagonists. I love what you're getting at here, but as soon as you began trying to link Beast's themes to something like Dreaming you lost me immediately. I often see Beasts compared to Changelings or even see it said that they 'should be' some variety of fae. I hate that idea; Changeling (both Dreaming and Lost) feel totally different on every level from Beast.

      Heck if anything, i wish the other CofD games would be more like Beast: Unafraid of letting PC's be truly monstrous.

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      • #4
        Problem with true monsters, they're shallow, they get boring after about an hour. How many horror film sequels can you play before you're either retreading old ground or taking the game in directions it was never meant to go (like space). Playing a group of hellraisers who both lack empathy and you have no empathy for is not a recipe for a deep or nuanced chronicle, and anything else... eh. I'd rather build it with a nice PbtA one shot, that would be fun for a night with friends and likely only last 6 hours all tolled up.

        I didn't mean that the antagonists were tamed as a criticism but as an observation of need, villians who are villians for the sake of villiany is something stories tend to outgrow as we leave childhood, playing groups wholly defined by their need to hurt others isn't... well human enough. You aren't a person, you aren't a being with connections to a setting, you are a tool with which a problem can be solved or exasperated. The strix, the demons of inferno, even spirits aren't really playable because they aren't true characters. They're static. Either they make like a strix and find new people to hurt or they make like a spirit and sit in one spot and soak up the fruits of villiany.

        When stories were told about the villian it works to make them either sympathetic, or it gives them little character, treating them as a force of nature. Compare the original Dracula to the Bram Stoker's Dracula film or Interview with a vampire. Villians need nuance to be people, and people need sympathetic motives to be empathetic. Even Paradise Lost gives Lucifer a motive that seems sensible at face value (and shaped demon the fallen).

        My statement of wanting to draw on changeling the dreaming is for just that, getting beasts out of a rut, they are limited in ways alot of the other games are not. They must play the sole role as terrorizing antagonist, and only terrorizing antagonist, no other form of villian. Only the stories of Prometheans are more restricted but their stories have a clear end goal and a thousand ways to reach it. Dreaming had basically the same idea as Beast (that of mortal incarnation of an archetypal dream spirit) but has far more nuance to the idea and I feel bringing some of that nuance in would add to Beast's breadth if it can find a strong theme to build from; such as being a voice of transgression against comforting norms.
        Last edited by Darkfoxdev; 04-04-2019, 09:24 PM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Darkfoxdev View Post
          Problem with true monsters, they're shallow, they get boring after about an hour. How many horror film sequels can you play before you're either retreading old ground or taking the game in directions it was never meant to go (like space). Playing a group of hellraisers who both lack empathy and you have no empathy for is not a recipe for a deep or nuanced chronicle, and anything else... eh. I'd rather build it with a nice PbtA one shot, that would be fun for a night with friends and likely only last 6 hours all tolled up.

          I didn't mean that the antagonists were tamed as a criticism but as an observation of need, villians who are villians for the sake of villiany is something stories tend to outgrow as we leave childhood, playing groups wholly defined by their need to hurt others isn't... well human enough. You aren't a person, you aren't a being with connections to a setting, you are a tool with which a problem can be solved or exasperated. The strix, the demons of inferno, even spirits aren't really playable because they aren't true characters. They're static. Either they make like a strix and find new people to hurt or they make like a spirit and sit in one spot and soak up the fruits of villiany.

          When stories were told about the villian it works to make them either sympathetic, or it gives them little character, treating them as a force of nature. Compare the original Dracula to the Bram Stoker's Dracula film or Interview with a vampire. Villians need nuance to be people, and people need sympathetic motives to be empathetic. Even Paradise Lost gives Lucifer a motive that seems sensible at face value (and shaped demon the fallen).

          My statement of wanting to draw on changeling the dreaming is for just that, getting beasts out of a rut, they are limited in ways alot of the other games are not. They must play the sole role as terrorizing antagonist, and only terrorizing antagonist, no other form of villian. Only the stories of Prometheans are more restricted but their stories have a clear end goal and a thousand ways to reach it. Dreaming had basically the same idea as Beast (that of mortal incarnation of an archetypal dream spirit) but has far more nuance to the idea and I feel bringing some of that nuance in would add to Beast's breadth if it can find a strong theme to build from; such as being a voice of transgression against comforting norms.

          I don't see any way at all in which Beasts are more limited than other character types. Having played close to a dozen now, and run for/played with many more, most of them have been downright heroic or at least just pragmatic and self-serving. They were human, nuanced characters; people who happened to be Beasts and sometimes monsters. I think the problem you and many others are having is that you focus on the monstrousness as the be-all, end-all of the character and utterly downplay any and all humanity. Even real-life villains, killers and generally horrible people don't spend every moment thinking of new ways to do and be horrible. Heck, most people - even the ones we'd all consider monstrous - will have some redeeming quality to someone.

          Horror films are a bad example anyway, because a horror film isn't about the monster. It's about the protagonists, with everything shown from the protagonists perspective and the monster or killer rarely ever gets seen outside its role as the antagonist. We don't see the inner monologues of Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers. We don't get any background on Freddy Krueger that tells us why he became the reprehensible person he ended up being. We know nothing about them but what the people out to stop them (Heroes) tell us in the plot exposition.

          So, i guess what i'm saying is: Beast is fine. The problem with lack of nuance isn't a problem; rather, it's peoples' lack of imagination and inability to step outside their own perspective that needs fixing.


          Edit: As a matter of fact, i've played a lot of traditionally villainous and/or monstrous character types, and found the major difference is not in motivation or even morality, as much as it is in circumstance. But that probably means very little, being anecdotal - i'm the guy who played a Slasher that was aware of just how problematic his nature was and was actively getting therapy...but still couldn't just stop being a Slasher just because he wanted to. Because mental illness doesn't work that way.
          Last edited by Eternal Darkness; 04-04-2019, 09:42 PM. Reason: Added a bit

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          • #6
            I was actually thinking something along the lines of expanding what Beast is capable of. Though I was thinking more about the types of dreams that stay with you when you wake. So sorrow, anger, confusion, jealousy, and fear. The idea being to give a little more substance to the "teaching lessons" ideology by giving them grounds to claim they are reminding you that you are an animal with instincts and emotions. Those aren't wrong and abandoning them in favor of logic does not improve your life, it just leads to sociopathic corporatocracy.

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            • #7
              really I just want more mechanics on the primordial dream and using it to spread your Horror into the sub concious of humanity

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post
                really I just want more mechanics on the primordial dream and using it to spread your Horror into the sub concious of humanity

                This is actually more easily accomplished via the Bright Dream. Rules for doing so are in the BPG, pg. 154-155. Just travel into the bright dream's reflection of a place and start doing things to change perceptions there same as you would anywhere else, and with enough effort and good rolls peoples' beliefs in that area will begin to shift.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Eternal Darkness View Post


                  This is actually more easily accomplished via the Bright Dream. Rules for doing so are in the BPG, pg. 154-155. Just travel into the bright dream's reflection of a place and start doing things to change perceptions there same as you would anywhere else, and with enough effort and good rolls peoples' beliefs in that area will begin to shift.
                  well that is true, but allow me to be more specific. I would like mechanics (and I suppose by extension storyhooks) that allow you to explore Primordial dream and have your horror actually begin to manifest into the nightmares of humanity that show its legend (and how your Life has put nuance into its story). I think this would also allow more varied interactions with Heroes.

                  I will be going to bed, but will reply if you send a reply back

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post

                    well that is true, but allow me to be more specific. I would like mechanics (and I suppose by extension storyhooks) that allow you to explore Primordial dream and have your horror actually begin to manifest into the nightmares of humanity that show its legend (and how your Life has put nuance into its story). I think this would also allow more varied interactions with Heroes.

                    I will be going to bed, but will reply if you send a reply back

                    That sounds interesting, but how would it manifest in a practical sense, and what would it do? Knowing that would be very helpful in coming up with good ideas to put forth as regards how to do that.

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                    • #11
                      basically it would give the local population a Legend In their collective sub concious. not only would this spread the influence of your horror in the story sense, but also give rise to cults.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Eternal Darkness View Post


                        I don't see any way at all in which Beasts are more limited than other character types. Having played close to a dozen now, and run for/played with many more, most of them have been downright heroic or at least just pragmatic and self-serving. They were human, nuanced characters; people who happened to be Beasts and sometimes monsters. I think the problem you and many others are having is that you focus on the monstrousness as the be-all, end-all of the character and utterly downplay any and all humanity. Even real-life villains, killers and generally horrible people don't spend every moment thinking of new ways to do and be horrible. Heck, most people - even the ones we'd all consider monstrous - will have some redeeming quality to someone.

                        Horror films are a bad example anyway, because a horror film isn't about the monster. It's about the protagonists, with everything shown from the protagonists perspective and the monster or killer rarely ever gets seen outside its role as the antagonist. We don't see the inner monologues of Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers. We don't get any background on Freddy Krueger that tells us why he became the reprehensible person he ended up being. We know nothing about them but what the people out to stop them (Heroes) tell us in the plot exposition.

                        So, i guess what i'm saying is: Beast is fine. The problem with lack of nuance isn't a problem; rather, it's peoples' lack of imagination and inability to step outside their own perspective that needs fixing.


                        Edit: As a matter of fact, i've played a lot of traditionally villainous and/or monstrous character types, and found the major difference is not in motivation or even morality, as much as it is in circumstance. But that probably means very little, being anecdotal - i'm the guy who played a Slasher that was aware of just how problematic his nature was and was actively getting therapy...but still couldn't just stop being a Slasher just because he wanted to. Because mental illness doesn't work that way.
                        Just wanted to say i think you make some very good points, but your second post seems a bit contradictory to your first. Characters only feel monsterous when they're compared with the rest of the world, sure oWoD had some more, overt, horror aspects, but if you overplay them they just dull themselves down.

                        I think the fact CoD plays more to the comparison between being a monster and being human makes the times when some horrific happen all the more impactful. Your Slasher character sounds like a really cool and interesting character but it's the fact that he's knows that being a Slasher is wrong that gives someone like that depth.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Kargle18446 View Post

                          Just wanted to say i think you make some very good points, but your second post seems a bit contradictory to your first. Characters only feel monsterous when they're compared with the rest of the world, sure oWoD had some more, overt, horror aspects, but if you overplay them they just dull themselves down.

                          I think the fact CoD plays more to the comparison between being a monster and being human makes the times when some horrific happen all the more impactful. Your Slasher character sounds like a really cool and interesting character but it's the fact that he's knows that being a Slasher is wrong that gives someone like that depth.

                          I won't argue opinion and preference, but the idea that the only good horror is subtle horror or that any amount of it 'gets old' is very, very subjective. Why does it need to be 'impactful'? Why does there have to be some deep meaning? There are many types of horror and very few characters can't touch on more than one, especially Beasts who are by their nature adept at hitting on many different flavors of horror. It's worth noting that when you play as a Beast you are also partly playing a thriller. Examining your monstrousness in comparison to the rest of the world is purely up to you and the storyteller, and it is no harder - and arguably a good deal easier - than with any other character, including an ordinary mortal.

                          Now, you keep mentioning Horror 'getting dull' and i have to ask what your definition of horror is and how you expect it to play out in an actual game. As i said earlier, horror takes many forms and nonstop villainy, blood and gore and overt cruel antagonism toward others are not its only forms; just a few of the most obvious ones. And even if you were right, how is making Beast more like something else supposed to help that? You can already use the fear and horror angles as much or as little as you please, zoom out of that part and zoom in on something else. I do it all the time. So what are we actually trying to accomplish, here? Your OP didn't actually help me comprehend aside from 'Transgression over fear' (There's a Hunger for that, by the way - and it works nicely for Beasts who want to focus on that specific brand of Horror). The rest sounds like standard 'Beasts should totally not have to hurt anyone in any way ever' that every single person who didn't really like Beast for what it is has tried for years now to sell on this very forum. So how is your idea any different? Sell me. Because so far, it looks like more of the same. It's not even the first time we've specifically heard 'Beast should be more like Dreaming'.
                          Last edited by Eternal Darkness; 04-05-2019, 04:37 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Eternal Darkness View Post


                            I won't argue opinion and preference, but the idea that the only good horror is subtle horror or that any amount of it 'gets old' is very, very subjective. Why does it need to be 'impactful'? Why does there have to be some deep meaning? There are many types of horror and very few characters can't touch on more than one, especially Beasts who are by their nature adept at hitting on many different flavors of horror. It's worth noting that when you play as a Beast you are also partly playing a thriller. Examining your monstrousness in comparison to the rest of the world is purely up to you and the storyteller, and it is no harder - and arguably a good deal easier - than with any other character, including an ordinary mortal.

                            Now, you keep mentioning Horror 'getting dull' and i have to ask what your definition of horror is and how you expect it to play out in an actual game. As i said earlier, horror takes many forms and nonstop villainy, blood and gore and overt cruel antagonism toward others are not its only forms; just a few of the most obvious ones. And even if you were right, how is making Beast more like something else supposed to help that? You can already use the fear and horror angles as much or as little as you please, zoom out of that part and zoom in on something else. I do it all the time. So what are we actually trying to accomplish, here? Your OP didn't actually help me comprehend aside from 'Transgression over fear' (There's a Hunger for that, by the way - and it works nicely for Beasts who want to focus on that specific brand of Horror). The rest sounds like standard 'Beasts should totally not have to hurt anyone in any way ever' that every single person who didn't really like Beast for what it is has tried for years now to sell on this very forum. So how is your idea any different? Sell me. Because so far, it looks like more of the same. It's not even the first time we've specifically heard 'Beast should be more like Dreaming'.
                            You are aware that Kargle18846 is a different person from myself and has only made 1 post on this thread?

                            To address your confusion; my point was that Beast's could add to the roles of mythic antagonists they take on by being able to encompass more situations that just fear, or to expand the situations they should be working towards beyond scaring people. I compared Beasts to the fundemental ideas of changeling (being a mythic dream creature in a human vessel that gains power from myths and emotions), particularly that they are specifically the Thallain, creatures of primordial nightmare born from a time when fear was humanity's most common driving force. My argument was that drawing on more antagonist myths (such as tempter, and keeper of secrets) with a focus on being a threat to societal norms, safety and welfare over individual safety and welfare. While these ideas (secrets and transgression both being hungers) they are rooted in the idea that they should inspire fear, an almost inherantly abusive state, which limits the roles they can play in mortal lives and undermines the idea of acting as a mentor the game fiction espouses.

                            On Kargle's comment; Kargle is correct that your statements were contradictory, in your first you endorsed beast as a game where charaters are truly monsters and having to deal with that (much like requiem which Beast has very similar themes to), and in your second you make the point that in many of the games you've run the players have been actively heroic or at least pragmatic. My point is that by focusing on beast as a subversive, as well as terrifying force, you enable this and other forms of play better.
                            You are also being a bit rude, please calm down, I'm as entitled to my opinion on my problems with the game as anyone and I said at the start I wasn't expecting everyone who was a fan of Beast to like it. This was based on my feelings as someone who was a fan of many of the worlds and chronicles of darkness, and reconciling why the game holds only mixed appeal for me and what would increase that appeal to me and those who share my tastes. I don't think Beast is a bad game, just a narrow one that doesnt quite match it's mechanics to its intentions.
                            Last edited by Darkfoxdev; 04-05-2019, 07:01 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Okay. Good luck.

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