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Some thoughts on how I'd like to see Beast

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  • Eternal Darkness
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    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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  • Darkfoxdev
    replied
    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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  • Eternal Darkness
    replied
    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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  • ArcaneArts
    replied
    Four words to guide Beast forward, as I'm concerned:

    Welcome to the chaoskampf.

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