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  • Any chance of a Beast rewrite/reboot?

    I do kind of see a "need" for Beast. Every other game line pretty well covers the classic monster/horror types: vampires, werewolves, ghosts, golems/frankenstein/constructs, faeries, demons and finally mummies. Even Deviant deals with the "person twisted by science/weirdness into a monstrosity like the Invisible man, the Fly, etc." And Hunter not only deals with the people who hunt monsters, it brings in the idea of the modern slasher types as well (though generally not as PCs). The only thing lacking (beyond full-on extraterrestrials) is the dragon/eldritch monstrosity/mythic monsters that cover everything from sea serpents to shit from Lovecraft. So, yeah, there is kind of a hole there in terms of a monster type, and especially a PC monster type.

    However, the actual game with Hunger and the horrifying abusive shit that must be done to satiate it just sucks every last bit of fun and goodwill out of it for me. It makes wonder if we'll get some spin-off games in the same vein. Perhaps, Stalker: The Pursuit, Rapist: The Ravaging, Batterer: The Bitch-slapping or Pedophile: The Molesting.

    I mean, yes, give me a cool way to portray Dragons, Medusas, Sea Serpents or even full-on H.P. Lovecraft weirdies, but please don't make into something like way too many real-life monsters.

    As is, Beast absolutely has a huge crossover aspects in that if a Beast shows up, realistically every other supernatural type will move to destroy it due to the damage it does to all and sundry.

  • #2
    This, give me a game where PC's are born monsters and have to choose either to live as men or beasts. Not edgelord revenge fantasy simulator


    You've been playing around the magic that is black
    But all the powerful magical mysteries never gave a single thing back

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Dwight View Post
      This, give me a game where PC's are born monsters and have to choose either to live as men or beasts. Not edgelord revenge fantasy simulator
      At the risk of being rude, how do you propose to make a meaningfully-monstrous monster without making them, well, driven in some way to pursue abhorrent things? If you just take a person and slap on fire-breath, scales and wings, that's a dragon-themed superhero. Not that I wish to denigrate your problems with the gameline - it certainly is very edgy in places - but personally I find the idea of characters driven to monstrous acts interesting, in part because there's no mechanical punishment for doing it, as most of the other gamelines have in their morality meters. The only thing holding you back from becoming a true monster is your moral compass - your own and that of your character. That says something.

      That said, I can see possibility in a paradigm of Hunger or some other equivalent which drives more with carrots than sticks (I'm reminded of the masterful way in which Exalted's Infernal Charms tempt you to imitate the demon kings by making it so that your powers are simply most effective when doing so - though I'm not calling 2e Exalted a masterclass in anything but that). And, let's face it, playing the big mythic monsters is something everyone whose souls haven't been worn down to a funless vestige can get behind.

      On a more practical level, though, wishing for a 'reboot' of Beast at this point is - forgive me - wishful thinking. Perhaps in some glorious future where 3e of CofD has happened and Demon's Pact mechanics aren't as hilariously broken as they presently are, but for the moment I doubt this will be the case.


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      • #4
        I've said it before, but the skeleton of Beast's design is sound, it just tries to have both a power fantasy and a horror game at the same time and does not strike the balance well. Which is fair, given it's almost impossible to play as both powerful monsters who do monster things and still be sympathetic characters. I can see a couple of solutions that could be explored in a 2e without fundamentally changing the basic skeleton of the game.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Professor Phobos View Post
          I've said it before, but the skeleton of Beast's design is sound, it just tries to have both a power fantasy and a horror game at the same time and does not strike the balance well. Which is fair, given it's almost impossible to play as both powerful monsters who do monster things and still be sympathetic characters. I can see a couple of solutions that could be explored in a 2e without fundamentally changing the basic skeleton of the game.
          I'd be curious to hear about your solutions. And I mean that genuinely - I do see the issues with Beast, and I'm an avid homebrewer. Beast isn't too mechanically complex, so there's a reasonable chance of being able to cook up a patch for the thing without throwing the baby out along with the bathwater.


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          • #6
            Originally posted by ajf115 View Post
            I'd be curious to hear about your solutions. And I mean that genuinely - I do see the issues with Beast, and I'm an avid homebrewer. Beast isn't too mechanically complex, so there's a reasonable chance of being able to cook up a patch for the thing without throwing the baby out along with the bathwater.
            The way to make a monster sympathetic is to give them no good solution to their situation but assume that (at least the PCs!) are trying their best to find the least harmful route. Then you throw drama in the mix and boom, there's a reason this style of game launched two Vampire: The Something franchises.

            I'd divide the life cycle into "Fasting", "Foraging" and "Feasting."

            If a Beast deliberately avoids feeding entirely, lives as a human being, they don't fill up their power meters and aren't particularly dangerous in terms of supernatural power. The Horror gets hungry and leaves to hunt in the dream world of the surrounding community. This leads to all kinds of problems and triggers the emergence of Heralds and Heroes. So the most ethical choice on a personal level - not feeding at all - carries with it adverse consequences that are arguably worse for people and certainly more dangerous. Do it long enough, pretend hard enough, and the Beast can almost forget the truth of their condition. Until the first episode of our Beast: The TV Series where the main character gets pulled back in to the horror underground after years away from the life when they discover their Horror caused so many nightmares there was a mass suicide in their home town. So he has to go home, unlock his now dust-covered Lair, and get back into the game.

            The Beast can also Forage, which is feed juuust enough to keep the Horror quiet, but not really enough to be all that powerful. Because the default player character in a World of Darkness game is a private investigator, as an example, say we have a Beast PI who gathers blackmail information and uses the fear created by that to keep their Horror quiet. Still a bad thing to do, but this character is the kind of morally compromised film noir / urban horror / crime drama protagonist everyone's comfortable with playing. You can gather enough power to do monster badass stuff, but not enough so the occupational hazards of a professional blackmailer isn't a problem for you. High end Foraging involves really messing with people, like "bury someone alive, dig them up before they suffocate to feed off the fear" style stuff, but we can expect our player characters not to go that far on a regular basis. But throw in some dramatic necessity to power up and make the victim a tempting target (local mob boss, perhaps) and you could see even PCs going this far.

            This is actually the most dangerous zone and the one that will require lots of negotiation at the table, because many of the "reliable ways of causing a person to experience fear" in the real world are...abusive practices that almost everyone experiences at some point and mostly do not show up as characters we root for in fiction. I chose the blackmailer because at the very least he's picking on people who have already done something and because it's a crime story archetype; WoD urban horror is film noir with fangs most of the time anyway. I say most dangerous because the next level can fit comfortably into the action-fantasy-popcorn-horror style; when John Wick kills a metric ton of mobsters we cheer, but if John Wick was leaving threatening notes on his neighbor's front porch to feed off the resulting anxiety we'd not have any fun.

            Then for our actual monster move, you can Feast, which is straight up bringing someone into your Lair and killing them, monster style. As an example, our private investigator snares people in a web of compromises and blackmail, but in their Lair they are a literal giant spider with literal webs. A hit man hired by one of their victims goes after him, the PI lures him into their Lair, webs him up, and eats him. For PCs, we can assume that going all in like this is a self-defense move, used against bad guy NPCs (action-fantasy-popcorn horror). For a risk/reward, immediately after feeding you are in a food coma and vulnerable, but after some digestion you've filled up your powers. Luring people to their death in a haunted nightmare dimension attracts attention, and you'll be dealing with hunters, monster-slaying Adamantine Arrow, investigating authorities, etc. Beasts who do this to innocent people get got by other beasts, hunters, etc, but for PCs, well, if you lure a group of Russian mobsters into your chicken-legged witch's hut because you're actually Baba Yaga I think we're all fine with this as a character concept.

            Vampire is honest about blood drinking. Beast should be honest about fear harvesting. PCs should absolutely be happy to find those situations where scaring someone is also the right thing to do but they should have to work at finding those "vigilante monster" moments.

            Just admit that these are people who are in a terrible situation and have to do monstrous things to survive. The drama comes with how they bend the curve of monstrosity as much as possible. That's sympathetic and there are lots of ways to keep the player characters on the right side of the morally-ambiguous-protagonist-sympathy bell curve with pretty stock standard urban fantasy tropes. You don't have an easy out, because not feeding causes your Horror to wreck havoc on the collective subconscious. You can feed just a bit but it makes you a slimeball blackmailer. And you can Feast, but how often can you get a squad of mob hit men to raid your decrepit farmhouse on the edge of town so you can eat them with a clear-ish conscience?

            EDIT: Basically, the paradigmatic Beast story is something like LA Confidential. Bud White/Ed Exley/Jack Vincennes are not good people, they are each horribly compromised. But we follow those three and root for them because their compromises have a limit; they each hit a point where they say "Oh no, not any further than this."

            James Ellroy novels in general seem to be Beast in a nutshell; at least how I'd see a less problematic Beast. They're all about morally damaged people finding a line even they won't cross and making a stand. Usually a self-destructive and ultimately unsuccessful stand, but they're compelling protagonists, monstrous as they are.
            Last edited by Professor Phobos; 02-14-2020, 06:05 PM. Reason: the lesson digression served no purpose but to make someone real mad at me

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Professor Phobos View Post
              What'd I'd drop entirely is the cultural norm of "lessons" and any semblance of there being a "Greater Good" to Beast actions. The "for your own good" rationalization towards abuse is just about the most off-putting thing Beast introduced. It'd be fine for NPCs-who-are-jerks but as a cultural norm and as an actual setting conceit with grounding in the metaphysics? No thank you.
              To repeat the correction that keeps getting missed or forgotten in this line of discussion:

              It was never about a greater good or "for your own good." The Begotten culture of lessons has nothing to do with the victims of feeding except that it means they survive the experience more often.

              Beasts are the human-adjacent monsters closest to native to the Temenos, where ideological conflicts play out as literal warfare and Essence is less important than real estate and the particulars of a metaphorical means of affecting change has knock-on effects.

              "As a person with a piece of powerful mental iconography where your soul is, the people around you are learning something from your activities whether you want them to or not, so it's better to keep your hand on the steering wheel in that regard."

              That is the context in which lesson culture exists — for the Beast's sake far moreso than for humanity's, in much the same way that Requiem's version of the Masquerade is far less concerned with people knowing that vampires exist than that you are a vampire (and so are the fifteen people pulling strings in the city government and the criminal underworld). To my knowledge, nobody's yet posited that the Masquerade exists for the good of blood dolls and ghouls.

              Beasts are teachers in the sense that they're particularly compelling active storytellers. That doesn't give them moral absolution, it gives them a lever in the collective unconscious that they can't put down, and the game has never pretended otherwise.


              Resident Lore-Hound
              Currently Consuming: Hunter: the Vigil 1e

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              • #8
                If it keeps getting missed or forgotten, doesn't tell you something about room for a rewrite?

                EDIT: I don't mean that to be smarmy or anything. I found much of Beast to be incoherent and contradictory, none more than in respect to the "lesson/teacher" aspect. It feels self-serving and a thin attempt to avoid grappling with the logical moral consequences of the Beast condition. If anything, it makes them even more unsympathetic and obnoxious. The distinction you're drawing between Beasts as some kind of necessary evil and Beasts as abusers with a cover story is so subtle I don't see it as having much value.
                Last edited by Professor Phobos; 02-14-2020, 02:33 PM.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Professor Phobos View Post
                  If it keeps getting missed or forgotten, doesn't tell you something about room for a rewrite?
                  …I'm just gonna point out that I didn't say anything about the value of a rewrite in response to your repetition of a common assertion of content that doesn't exist and move on.

                  The distinction you're drawing between Beasts as some kind of necessary evil and Beasts as abusers with a cover story is so subtle I don't see it as having much value.
                  The distinction between "Hey victims, we monsters are doing this to help you" and "Hey monsters, have some care for the bigger picture of your victimizing" is not subtle.

                  It has almost nothing to do with the victims besides "leave them alive so you don't lose control of the only part of the narrative you have direct influence over, i.e. your Horror." This is not a moral element except in the very broad sense that it asserts having control over the consequences of your actions is better than not having control over the consequences of your actions, particularly when the drawbacks of the Begotten condition are almost entirely comprised of unintended consequences.

                  "Misinformation outside of the book itself is leading people to persistently fail to actually read the book" is not a thing that speaks to the necessity of a rewrite any more than any other gameline's "there's some stuff that could stand to be clearer in the first edition that a rewrite could get clear right away from being included in plain terms at the start."


                  Resident Lore-Hound
                  Currently Consuming: Hunter: the Vigil 1e

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                  • #10
                    I don't know if that interpretation helps resolve either the confusion or the underlying problem?

                    But I don't have enough of a dog in this fight to argue further.
                    Last edited by Professor Phobos; 02-14-2020, 03:39 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Professor Phobos View Post
                      I'm not sure resolving the confusion between "I'm doing this for the greater good!" / "I'm doing this for your own good!" / "I'm doing this for my own good!" help resolve the underlying problem? Why include it at all?
                      Well, for starters, it gets people to stop making infuriating mischaracterizations like "Beasts think they're doing the right thing by inflicting cruelty upon the people around them," but also it gives them an actual direction besides "Your Satiety's getting low, do you want to top it off in one major go or budge it up a little bit every day for a week? (Who you're getting it from is basically irrelevant.)" That bit's important because the culture of lessons offers something resembling an explicit directive framework in a game where a lot of the story complications are player-pursuit-generated.

                      The Begotten have an impact on their communities, and the nature of their feeding makes abstaining from community a non-option. Feeding in ways that progress or fulfill their Aspirations is more likely to be filling. Feeding in ways that involves their Lair or drains their Satiety is more likely to be filling. Accompanying other monsters in their processes of hunting and/or feeding is filling without risk of overfilling, particularly when Family Ties come into play.

                      The dichotomy of the Satiety scale is "you're more susceptible to supernatural mental influence, but you're a booster for other monsters, you're subtler, and your own supernatural mental influence works better" and "you're stronger on your own turf, but you're a more obvious threat and you're more likely to drive away any help you've got that isn't resigned to being with you."

                      The pieces exist for a Begotten character to be a primary or secondary driver in the local supernatural scene as it relates to mortals and monsters, and lessons narrow the scope a bit for a player who doesn't know what that means — "What lessons are you trying to teach?" is a framework of Aesop's Fables by way of gang activity and organized crime with a side of psychic landscaping.

                      "What lessons are you trying to teach?" unfolds into "What are the Aspirations you're trying to feed through your Hunger?" "How are you trying to get specific mortals/monsters/groups thereof to behave?" "What imagery and activity are you hitching your reputation to?" and a bunch of other questions that inform the actions of a Beast, brood, or hive more thematically than "You're hungry. How do you feed and on whom?"

                      You're a storyteller because you're attached to an ongoing story. You can try and make it mean something or it can be one more hungry shape in the dark corners of the world, but people are going to take something from it regardless, because it's in their heads.


                      Resident Lore-Hound
                      Currently Consuming: Hunter: the Vigil 1e

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                      • #12
                        I haven't cracked open my copy of Beast in years, so I'll defer on how to characterize the "lesson/teaching" thing. I will say that in a game where the protagonists are by necessity abusive to less powerful people, using that language as a framework that guides their behavior has some adverse consequences to how sympathetic those protagonists can be because of real-world connotations and context.

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                        • #13
                          Does Beast need a rewrite? Yes.

                          Is there a chance of it happening any time soon? Not really, even with active OPP freelancers that want to do it, it's doesn't seem to be high on OPP's priority list compared to all the other books in te works.

                          Is it going to make Beast into a different game? Nope. I'd love to sell more people on Beast, and I wish there wasn't a constant stream of Internet third hand stuff going around scaring people away from the game. It has some warts, but it's a strong game. But all of the complaints that amount to "Beast needs to be a completely different game," aren't going to get what those people want.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Professor Phobos View Post
                            I will say that in a game where the protagonists are by necessity abusive to less powerful people
                            "Abusive" is one of those hot-button words that only serves to obscure the actual extent of the harm necessarily being done.

                            The Begotten can feed by stuff as petty as a person realizing their watch has been stolen or a person seeing a broken window or a person nearly getting hit by a car after they jaywalked or a person realizing the cab they just took dropped them off in a bad part of town. They gain sustenance from shocks of fear; the inclination of their Horror to go to known sources of sustenance when it wanders during extended lean times and the fact that more personally monstrous Beasts better manage to keep their relationships through abusive tactics does not make the whole "species" abusers by default in any sense where the term is useful to the discussion.

                            By default, a Beast is powerful in the sense that it has supernatural powers. As a monster that can easily gain and leverage fame and notoriety, they is in a sense also capable of preying on people with less social power than them, but feeding that entails extended preparations and greater difficulty is another one of those things that makes a meal more likely to be filling and people in power tend to have more things to feed on, whether it be stuff or secrets or standing.

                            By default, the needs of the Beastly constitution make you necessarily a nexus of nightmares and/or kind of a shitty person, and not even the kind particularly out of place among drug-peddling vampires, gristly trophy-displaying werewolf gangs, changelings running protection rackets, power-hungry mages, etc. A rewrite could stand to make that clear, but that's already how it works now.


                            Resident Lore-Hound
                            Currently Consuming: Hunter: the Vigil 1e

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                            • #15
                              This is why we generally direct people to the Player's Guide it does a pretty good job of being your clarificational rewrite for people. Like there's an entire section on Lessons just because people seem so keen to ignore everything else and argue that the Core says "It's alright to be the most horrible abuser because you've decided its for their own good." Which is weird since the other easy interpretation of lessons in the core was "Well if the Horror is going to try and feed regardless of my input- and I need to do it to live- I might as well try to do some good , or at least minimize damage, in the activity."

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