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The Humanity of Beast: the Primordial

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  • #91
    Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post

    Agreed. No hard feelings?

    Indeed. None on my end. Hopefully none on your end.

    Considering what day today is, and everything else going on around us (the COVID crisis, the [IMO long overdue] emerging national conversation on race and policing, etc.), I think we all, myself especially, need to a better job of listening to opinions other than our own, trying to thoughtfully engage with one another's positions, policing ourselves for both micro-aggressions and macro-aggressions towards others, and on the whole trying to cultivate a community that's open to newcomers. Speaking as someone who's currently employed in the education sector, it's important to recognize that no question about a text is stupid and no interpretation of a text is unfounded, especially where that text is considered by many to have issues or to be difficult to understand. A community can only survive so long as it's willing to embrace newcomers.

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    • #92
      Originally posted by Teatime View Post
      As I read your essay, several questions occured to me. You may have already addressed these matters in writing, but if you put them in different words, it may help your ideas really "click" for me. I'd appreciate if you devoted some time to answering them:

      I'm a big proponent of concrete examples. I believe they can communicate ideas in ways that more abstract writing can't. This is why I value the fragment from Beast Player's Guide where a Begotten interferes with a lovers' spat, only to be forced to do some soul-searching in a trunk of a car. What do you think could be archetypical character arcs for Beast characters - from before Devouring to after their death or transformation? I know it's a demanding question, since it requires no less than an outline of a game campaign. However, if you describe a story that engages with your endorsed themes properly, it would be really helpful in getting your point across - for me, and possibly others.

      You praise Beast and Hunter for approaching the CofD franchise from new angles, prompting a critical look at previously established concepts. However that only seems possible for readers well versed in other CofD books. Am I wrong, and these themes are clear in those two corebooks? If not, is this knowledge necessary to make Beast and Hunter thematically complete, allowing a new reader satisfying comprehension of their themes and moods?

      Next, there was a thread I wasn't part of, where you promised to address a certain matter, once you weren't tired. Does Devouring, as you understand it, constitute self-actualization in its entirety, or is it merely a breakthrough that begins a path to self-actualization, with its struggles and backslides? If it's the former, doesn't it limit the amount of conflict one can put in the game, to the game's detriment?
      Okay, let's get back to this.

      1) Okay, so proto-Devouring stories are something I wanna get back to on point three, but answering the sort of stories a Beast can tell from Devouring to death should start with a center-pole story model we can start from and deviate away from, which I can alternatively identify as the Traditional Villain Arc or The Progression of [the Christian] God-namely in that these characters don't necessarily grow in terms as a person, but increases in dominion and glory. It's a little unsexy to put it like that, and we'll weld some delicious edges and decadent whorling conflicts from there, but I bring it up for two reasons: a) because it is a true core-aspect of the game, in that a Beast makes of themselves an ecology to live in and under, as well as ideology that directs and condemns, that way in which a "king must live a life more vivid than any other and be figure for all to admire! The king is the one who collects the envy of all his heroes and stands as their guide!", to self-transcend, and b) because it ties into the critical second factor that is the basis of a Beast, which is that while a Beast has a lot of ways they can question their relationships to humanity and monstrosity and the way their actions reflect upon that, the one thing they can't do is reject their monstrosity or challenge the fundamentals of their monstrosity. I mean, okay, they can with the Life-based Inheritances, but we can very confidently call that an a-typical Beast story. So, ignoring that, a Beast can question how (and the whys of that how) and to what degree their monstrosity they play to, but they don't struggle with it the way the other splats do-again, there is a peace with the core idea of being a monster, with it being a critical aspect of their being.

      So from there, it makes sense to look at villain protagonist stories, but that has some flubby consequences for comparison, in that a majority of them either end in redemption (Life-Based Inheritances, not typical, etc, moving on) or death-which isn't a bad thing per se*, and a lot of great stories (like anime classics Death Note and Code Geass) provide fodder for that, but doesn't articulate a Beast's end goal of avoiding exactly that. Still, there's a decent bank of these sort of stories, even if we wouldn't classify a good number of them mythologically or fantastically-a lot of gangster films,shows, and games like The Godfather, Scarface, Sons of Anarchy, early Lupin the 3rd, Black Lagoon, the GTA franchise, etc (and almost all of them have some kind of play with Kinship as well!), shows like Breaking Bad, Dexter, Game of Thrones, the Sopranos are all fine, Overlord (the video game) is one source I cherry pick a lot in terms of thoughts, and games like the Borderlands franchise (though particularly the Pre-Sequel there), God of War(for certain values), No More Heroes, Untitled Goose Game, that one cult simulator game I can't remember the name of, the lot ain't bad (particularly gangster stuff).

      Of course, Beasts are more than just villains, and one thing that's important to reflect on is their nature as a source of wisdom, and there are some characters who get do a decent job of translating the self-transcendent aspect of Beast, and some even have a bit of that rogue's gallery vibe to this. On the anime side I can idly think of two, Haven't You Heard I'm Sakamoto as a hilarious example and King of Bandit Jing gives us an Ugallu Collector thief who often ends up sparking revolution and radical societal shifts by exposing the psychology of persons and peoples through the target of the week (and more people need to read the manga, seriously), while in live action land we have a majority of Doctor Who, because while the Doctor can be wrong and change and grow, a lot more of their fiction involves them being right and the way their views and attitudes infect the companions, the societies they visit, and even the enemies they cross, although not in ways you might like (New Who, for better and/or for worse, does a lot more digging into the consequences of the Doctor being the Doctor). A lot of Sherlock Holmes fictions take this angle, where Sherlock doesn't change but instigates change around him and that's why you watch/read/play (Moffat's Sherlock doesn't count and is in fact garbage).

      Going back to anime for a second, while I'm personally not a fan of the model, shows and manga that follow The Otaku Hero's Journey (mostly isekai, blegh) demonstrate a pretty usable model for how Beast operates in terms of story-a little re-reading and it starts to sound familiar for Beast, and key factors include the hope that starts from starting at the bottom (actualizing as a monster in a way that lets you own yourself and the only way to go now is Legend Status Baby), the introduction of a mechanism that, for them, levels the playing field with society and the world (the Primordial Dream), the value of the "Normies" (Humans and humanity-leaning monsters) and the Psychopaths (monstrous-leaning and alien monsters) to the spiral growth of the protagonist in regards to community, and other such details. While Digibro's angle of attack for the subject and the majority of media that fits into it makes me feel anywhere from a little sick to furiously yelling into the blagosphere, it's nevertheless a pretty useful model for Beast and with a little bit of thinking isn't hard to nudge over into more convincing and even wholesome takes, and the models does accurately grasp the bones and basic spirit of Beast, and a lot of them loosely tie into that "got the core of themselves figured out, now for the details" of the above selection.

      Speaking of models, from there we should point out that The Heroes Journey is still a stable structure to base a character on, so long as you start with the understanding on at least one level of the character is already a form of Master of Two Worlds, but with a new cycle and balance of worlds to go ahead with. Better still though, particularly for challenging Monomyth and more for more balanced and interesting stories, is The Heroine's Journey (short version here, but buy the book and read it, it's good) particularly since that encourages you to explore a lot of the inherent dualism found in Beast, between Legend and Life, the individual (Hunger) and the community (Kinship), the material ("being realistic", the mundane world) and the ideal ("being idealistic", the Astral Plane), Defiance and Acceptance (in regards to the game's themes and moods of place in the world and fatalism, respectively), transgression and empathy, etc.

      And beyond that, again Beast's just have a lot of room to play in. Any media you can think of where consequences manifest socially rather than have some blind allegiances at work (surprisingly, a lot of slice of life and romance gives cues here), or where learning how to do a thing to better get across the idea, or reshifting the idea without straying from the core to better be who you want is all fine work. Add in some toothsome horror and action, some heartwarming connections and moments of character breakthrough, and just a dash of Dudes of Legend flippancy here and there** and you've got the gist.

      But for one final jab-I keep a number of particular works as my "slot into inspirations section for hypothetical 2nd Edition", and one needs to be mentioned here: Cobra Kai. Johnny Lawrence's return to a militant American Exceptionalism driven karate and trying to make a better form of it for himself and for his students while undeniably still returning to it because he's good at it and it's very much a part of who he is is great Beast-based drama all on it's own, but where it sings is how it conflicts and mirrors with the other two major characters of the series-Danny Laruso as our Hero revealing the damaging edges of perception while reconciling with the consequences of his own "righteousness" is a brilliantly bright-but-dirty reflection of Johnny that fuels both the conflict and the comparisons, and John Kreese's cold and calloused take of the world challenges Lawrence's ideas and attitudes from the opposite angle perfectly reflecting the Insatiable or the darker cast of Beasts. The three create an unmoored balance of philosophy and ethics that escalates the stakes and spills out onto the community of Hill Valley and their students, reflecting the fatalism of current being through the mirrors of those who learn from it. It's wonderfully empathetic and transgressive in kind, deeply thoughtful while also a hell of a lot of fun, and Johnny Lawrence is absolute the man being who he is while still trying to make sense of what is the best version of that by learning from how who he is affects those around him-and how who they are affect in kind- at the center of the storm of all these conflicts, contrasts, and comparisons. Just Primo Beast right there.

      Anyways, second part.

      2) So for the second concern, I need to take a step back and look at another aspect of what a hypothetical second edition would look like. It would be a whole other rant to get into how people are half right and half wrong when they mentioned that Beast First Edition was presented as being a game that relied on Beasts being injected into the other settings, but I'm gonna take a slice of that said rant and get into here by saying Beast would obviously benefit from a corebook that centered on understanding the world through their eyes, with a thorough exploration of how the family culture of Beast manifests both internally and seeping outwards, proper exploration of the Primordial Dream and the rest of the Dreamtime***, and what the wakened flesh world everyone else looks like to them.

      Before diving into that particular last bit, it's worth noting that this take would mean some structural reinterpretation of importance in how it talks about crossover-namely, first thing that's just gotta be said, Beast core needs the Horror Creation System in it. Beast needs to be able to run out of the gate on it's own, and if you don't have the other books, you still have tools for monsters that beasts can seek out and Kin It Up With (maybe even including a advancement sheet to make them viably playable). The text of the rest of the book would probably benefit from a Hunter based perspective (at most, a Contagion Chronicle style examination, where it's more synthesized than examinatory), with only maybe a significant part of Storytelling or Antagonists going to the other gamelines outright-the sort of stuff we have is supplement and Companion material. Otherwise, it probably pays to paint monsters in broader and murkier tones.

      But anyways, part of what the World Outside the Beast Corner should look like and perform is in directly examining that monsters span from the human end to the alien, including how some corners of the world Beast calls home includes weird, alien, and oft inhospitable angle ("Dis" is as much a part of Beast's world as the Hedge is, even if a Beast can't just reliably dive in there.) The Beast Core Has To Feel Playable On It's Own More So Than It Does Now, while keeping the elements that make it a crossover game still present and active, and even built upon by taking cues from Contagion and Dark Eras 2.

      Now, coming back around to how this works for the question at hand is that it comes around to just showing it through the way that Beast presents the wide world and their relationships to other, taking a lot of advantage of allusiveness the same way Hunter and Neil Gaiman do. There's enough of the world to inform you for what you're dealing with and how it goes on it's own, but enough tease-in-text that people who have read the rest of Chronicles will immediately go "Oh. Okay, I get it."

      And with that comes a carefully cultivated selection of norms for Beasts that give both the sense of space they occupy on their own while also pointing at specific taboos, presented with a sort of blase that hits it perfectly, finding that particular balance between appropriate targets and inappropriate responses(at least as a base) Cannibalize a rapist, rip the free will away from a tyrant, get an abuser addicted to you, biopsy a living mad scientist, emotionally devastate a gaslighter, murder a fascist, imprison a ghost-eater, trap an immortal terrorist under a mountain, debase the altar of a religious fanatic with the gore of their unswaying devotees, sew living animal heads onto the bodies of human traffickers so they can be bitten forever and always stuff like that delivered with more deftness and tact than I can illustrate in a quick sampling. Where they do a good thing, there should be an touch of the willingness of being the adversity in how it's done, when they do a terrible thing, it should have it's roots in understandable emotional cues from personal relationships-and it should always have a touch of being just a hair too far. I have some crass examples here, but if you want a more benign violation example, consider Nightmare Before Christmas and how the citizens of Halloween Town try to communicate the ideas and themes of Christmas-even where it's well meaning, you can't keep the fear and subversion of expectations out of the presentation.Beasts need to be written as just being a little bit extra, and it needs to be rooted in the psychology of their Devouring (which needs to be explored better in Family and Hunger sections, and I have Thoughts On How That Should Be Structured To Get It Accross).

      Point is, in exploring the world, part of the goal is to show through how they see things and the sample actions they take how they occupy that line, with enough allusion to make it clear for experienced players to tie it into other games while still being vague enough that a newbie will still get that vibe.

      3) Okay, for articulating how Devouring works, we're gonna have to go to my second centerpiece-inspiration-thing-that-I-would-put-in-the-Inspiration-Box-in-a-second-edition, the Monogatari Franchise. Specifically Bakemonogatari, Nisemonogatari, Nekomonogatari Black, and Monogatari Second Season (so, like, the majority of what Crunchyroll has).

      If you don't wanna watch that much or you have problems with Monogatari's admittedly more problematic elements (and boy howdy are there problematic elements), I'll idly point you to Under the Scope's videos, particularly for Tsubasa and Nadeko (and also Kaiki, and Nisemonogatari for broader Beast Application), but for our purposes, I'll also try and condense it into the point for Beast. And, taking a second to acknowledge facts here, I know this part was mostly satisfactorily answered last time, but it never hurts to make it clear.

      So, okay, a brief rundown of Monogatari and connecting it to Beast. The Monogatari franchise is predicated upon, beneath the fanservice and the otaku fetishism, a core cast of characters who initially seem to be dealing with the cursed presence of monsters who latch onto character flaws and conflicts and exacerbate those problems. In the first round of the show, most of these are tackled by the main character (ish, a number of them are actually directly handled by his much more complex girlfriend, but the main vibe is still the main character's) who heroically subdues or redirects these monsters out of the scene....initially. As you go further in the series, it becomes clear that while the supernatural side of the setting does facilitate the action, the monsters are more realistically exactly manifestations of those character flaws, traumas, and conflicts, and as things escalate, the main character's ability to deal with things clearly diminishes in the face of the supporting cast coming to terms and accepting these monsters and what they embody in a way that is wholly their own, and making those monsters part of who they are. Where their stories end, it's clear that they've learned a core aspect of themselves that will always be there for them to draw strength from, but that there is more for them to do and to grow into.

      Beast is like if the girls of Monogatari did that but were still also able to be the Snake God and the Tiger and Cat and all that jazz on top of becoming the manga artist and the one at home and all that bebop. In figuring that sort of stuff out, they get a direction on where tgo and who to be, but it's clear there's so much more to do, and in the extended case of Beast, that just because they found their home in one entity doesn't close the involvement with the supernatural from there on. To borrow from Mage, there's a strong "The Supernal is the Self" element to Beast, where in the world can be seen and treated as an aspect of the self, and that finding the balance and connection to more of the world is intimately entangled in learning, owning, and unleashing the self. The Devouring is the core experience that allows for that realization and enables a Beast to begin meaningfully contributing back to the world, and in becoming a world unto themselves-but part of that also involves navigating the dark places that are both external peoples and places and internal thoughts and digestions of influence, to make more of themselves by becoming more of the world and thus more able to become microcosmic worlds growing into whole environments of their own.

      Okay, hopefully that better answers the questions, or at least creates context for arriving at understanding. Why do I talk like this. Anyways.

      Now where did I leave that Hero thread?



      *In a hypothetical 1.5/2nd Edition, the storytelling section would have a How to Be a Transgressor/Monster without Being an Asshole, and the last suggestion would probably be Plan Out Your Death because a) much like in narratives where it's easier to stomach a villain's actions knowing they'll get karmic comeuppance, a play group can let some of the rougher edges of a Beast's actions if everyone's looking forward to that death scene, and b) the meta game becomes the fun push-and-pull of both trying to avoid your fate and delectably diving into it, and as an aside this is my favorite form of character story setup-create terrible fate, fight to keep from it.
      **Because let's be honest, this is a game where you play monsters, it's supposed to be fun, and part of the fun is flipping a bird to the seriousness and the angst and the meaning and societal niceities and instead have fun kicking ass, raising hell, and damning the consequences, and Beast is definitely a game that can host that right alongside the seriousness, angst, and meaning of it all.
      ***Currently my fanon name for the Astral Plane from the Beast perspective, do not confuse with World Soul Layer of Astral. I dunno if I'd make a major push for it become a canon name, though.
      Last edited by ArcaneArts; 08-10-2020, 02:12 AM.


      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
      Feminine pronouns, please.

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      • #93
        ArcaneArts, I...

        It would take hours for me to adequately address every point you've made and I don't know when I'll have that kind of time. Until then, thank you for the time and thought you've spent on writing this.


        ~

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        • #94
          Originally posted by Teatime View Post
          ArcaneArts, I...

          It would take hours for me to adequately address every point you've made and I don't know when I'll have that kind of time. Until then, thank you for the time and thought you've spent on writing this.
          Hey, no rush. I primarily just wanted to try and answer your questions, and this one ended up kind of rambly trying to do that. Nailing moths to the board as they fly sort of thing.


          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
          Feminine pronouns, please.

          Comment


          • #95
            Loved what you had to say, and may I ask, what do you mean by putting in a Hunter perspective for hypothetical 2nd edition? And do you think that with death scenes for Beast, they could have a possible pseudo Doom to avoid? To be clear, I actually often make my characters with their death in mind, and I think Horrors all having this mythological Doom being forced upon them (from Heroes, dont know how it would work specifically) would work.

            And finally, do you think the Monomyth should be ridden of in future edition? Personally I like the Monomyth as a theme, but if you truly think it just does not add to beast, I am willing to see your reasonings. The main reason i still think it's relevant is that while it is true Beasts seek to enhance their own stories to become Legend and Myth, they do this while seeking out Family on equal grounds and considering them as just as important. Not only that, but to build their Legend also means to build upon their victims, not to tear them down into on league dimensional beings. Whether it be from a Beast who is big on Lessons or one who finds that cult worships him for having done "good", Beasts have depth to what could be called the supporting cast.

            Heroes contrast this. They make it all about them. They take away whatever nuance there was turn the Beast into a monster of no motive who has only caused havoc upon civilization. Everyone in their story is there merely to build upon him and no one else.

            That's why I see the monomyth as a relevant theme. But I would love to see why you think it should not be as big a focus

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            • #96
              Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post
              Loved what you had to say, and may I ask, what do you mean by putting in a Hunter perspective for hypothetical 2nd edition? And do you think that with death scenes for Beast, they could have a possible pseudo Doom to avoid? To be clear, I actually often make my characters with their death in mind, and I think Horrors all having this mythological Doom being forced upon them (from Heroes, dont know how it would work specifically) would work.

              And finally, do you think the Monomyth should be ridden of in future edition? Personally I like the Monomyth as a theme, but if you truly think it just does not add to beast, I am willing to see your reasonings. The main reason i still think it's relevant is that while it is true Beasts seek to enhance their own stories to become Legend and Myth, they do this while seeking out Family on equal grounds and considering them as just as important. Not only that, but to build their Legend also means to build upon their victims, not to tear them down into on league dimensional beings. Whether it be from a Beast who is big on Lessons or one who finds that cult worships him for having done "good", Beasts have depth to what could be called the supporting cast.

              Heroes contrast this. They make it all about them. They take away whatever nuance there was turn the Beast into a monster of no motive who has only caused havoc upon civilization. Everyone in their story is there merely to build upon him and no one else.

              That's why I see the monomyth as a relevant theme. But I would love to see why you think it should not be as big a focus
              On Hunter Perspective: You know how Beast's core covered the other splats by going through Vampire: The Requiem, Werewolf: the Forsaken, Mage: The Awakening, etc.?

              Contrast that with Hunter looking at monsters (i'm gonna use Hunter 1st because I have that on my desk), where it's The Dead, They Walk featuring vampires, ghosts, zombies, Those who Change Shape, including lycanthropes, the possessed, the demonic, fairy tales, Human Hearts Grown Dark, featuring witches, sorcerers, magicians, cults and cultists, slashers, and none of the conversation is explictly about the Kindred, the Uratha, the Awakened, the Created, the Lost, etc.

              That's what I mean by the Hunter Perspective: clear allusions without directly talking about them. Beast needs to operate well regardless if the vampires are hombrewed variations or the Kindred, and it's probably easier to talk Beast's point of view by centering on that angle of attack rather than getting explicit.

              ON Monomyth: oof, big subject, not something I'm gonna be able to talk about in this sitting. But as a short hand answer, I think Monomyth gets in the way, and that everything it brings can be tackled in another way that works better for Beast. "The Hero Wins In The End" is mostly the big thing that Monomyth reinforces anyways, and you don't actually need Monomyth for that.


              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
              Feminine pronouns, please.

              Comment


              • #97
                Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
                On Hunter Perspective: You know how Beast's core covered the other splats by going through Vampire: The Requiem, Werewolf: the Forsaken, Mage: The Awakening, etc.?

                Contrast that with Hunter looking at monsters (i'm gonna use Hunter 1st because I have that on my desk), where it's The Dead, They Walk featuring vampires, ghosts, zombies, Those who Change Shape, including lycanthropes, the possessed, the demonic, fairy tales, Human Hearts Grown Dark, featuring witches, sorcerers, magicians, cults and cultists, slashers, and none of the conversation is explictly about the Kindred, the Uratha, the Awakened, the Created, the Lost, etc.

                That's what I mean by the Hunter Perspective: clear allusions without directly talking about them. Beast needs to operate well regardless if the vampires are hombrewed variations or the Kindred, and it's probably easier to talk Beast's point of view by centering on that angle of attack rather than getting explicit.

                ON Monomyth: oof, big subject, not something I'm gonna be able to talk about in this sitting. But as a short hand answer, I think Monomyth gets in the way, and that everything it brings can be tackled in another way that works better for Beast. "The Hero Wins In The End" is mostly the big thing that Monomyth reinforces anyways, and you don't actually need Monomyth for that.
                Thank you for taking the time to answer, and no problem on the Monomyth question! I actually appreciate you want to save that for another time. As for the original question, now that I understand what you mean I fully agree. And now that you mention it, it is kinda funny that in the game where you play as Beasts with forms called Horrors, that there are no horror creation rules

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