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Some Assembly Required - Houserules and Beast: the Primordial

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  • #16
    The primary difference between Pack and Family deals with that choice issue.

    See, here's the thing.

    For a werewolf, there's a degree of how personal or impersonal action towards or against any action is dealt with. However much pack matters to werewolf, some people aren't pack, and therefore is personal.

    A Beast is Not Free From That Distinction (on the monster side, at least, but for everyone at most).

    A question can exist on how the mechanics of Beast reflects on this, but here's the devil of the details for a Beast: it's always personal.

    That's the point of family.

    Like, on the one hand, family is the great facilitator to interaction of others. However much any one particular's actions are, you have an excuse so long as that person is yours.

    On the other hand.

    You know everyone's bullshit.

    And because of that, you know when a line is crossed.

    I feel like it's important to iterate that Kinship is a cause of violence as much as it is a deterrent from violence.

    The keypoint of Kinship is that the externals fade away, and the personals come straight into view.

    Kinship is not a lovey dovey, all thing are good point of view. At least, not wholly.

    Kinship is a pressure cooker.

    And that's something Pack can't provide, because Pack is chosen.

    Kinship is felt.

    A Forsaken can look at the Pure, and be driven by the ideology between the two of them. It doesn't matter that one side allegedly killed Wolf and one didn't. It's not that they are, respectively one and the same. It's that one believes in the balance attained, and the other in a more atavistic world.

    But a Beast looking at a Insatiable (or, fucking hell, a Hero) in that same context?

    NO. FUCK NO. HELL FUCKING NO.

    A Beast feels the betrayal to themselves, to their Mother, to their family, both as monsters and as humans.

    And monsters outside of a Beast's Legend?

    Like, it'd be easy for anyone else, but for a Beast, who feels every vampire and werewolf and mage and Created and changeling and Deeply Supernatural Enough hunter and Bound and mummy and demon and deviant as family, as someone who should fucking get it? Who feels, on the archetypal level, which is honestly how even our own resentment towards our fellow kids is articulated even though individual kids in a family are allowed to be despite coming from the same source, that you should get it?

    Like, this simultaneously is one of the virtues and vices of Beasts-they both probably get it better than anyone else on the inside who might otherwise be biased from being inside and don't understand why your intricacies on the matter deviate from their broad understandings? That being of the kid who knows where you're coming from but not the exact whys of the matter?

    Kinship isn't just the reasons why you feel like family, it's why you would kill your family when you wouldn't kill anyone else.

    It's a feeling Pack doesn't tap into because it's more complicated, more frustrated, more wholesome and at the same time more infuriating than any other relationship.

    Pack doesn't quite tap into the same " I will kill you because you are mine" and "I'll never kill you because you are mine" Kinship does. It is infuriatingly binding, that makes any action towards or against way more personal that any logical point of view could conceive.

    That's (part of) the drama of Beast.

    You came from the same Mother. (Maybe not directly, but the Dark Mother has some measure of mechanism in any other monstrosity if by no other method than being a Form and Definition of Monstrosity that intrudes and facilitates Forms and Defintions of Monstrosity)

    So why the fuck are you like this? (to all personal defintions of "like this")

    So, five years after the matter of pretending this was a coherent argument, let's kindly stop pretending this is a fucking thing.

    Comparing Pack to Kinship doesn't work.
    Last edited by ArcaneArts; 06-26-2020, 02:55 AM.


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    • #17
      Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
      The primary difference between Pack and Family deals with that choice issue.

      See, here's the thing.

      For a werewolf, there's a degree of how personal or impersonal action towards or against any action is dealt with. However much pack matters to werewolf, some people aren't pack, and therefore is personal.

      A Beast is Not Free From That Distinction (on the monster side, at least, but for everyone at most).

      A question can exist on how the mechanics of Beast reflects on this, but here's the devil of the details for a Beast: it's always personal.

      That's the point of family.

      Like, on the one hand, family is the great facilitator to interaction of others. However much any one particular's actions are, you have an excuse so long as that person is yours.

      On the other hand.

      You know everyone's bullshit.

      And because of that, you know when a line is crossed.
      That makes me think about Mia's fiction in Beast's core book, were she attacked what was probably a Cheiron facility, as they killed her Family, only for the Dark Mother to step in and tell her that they are, too, her Family- but that doesn't mean they don't need to pay for killing her other Kin.


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      • #18
        Unfortunately, working full time means that, from my perspective at least, this asynchronous conversation has to unfold in extra slow time. Indeed I suspect it will be several more days before I can read let alone respond to whatever vitriol this response generates.

        Hence, I’m going to respond to these in the reverse order in which they were posted...

        First:
        Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
        The primary difference between Pack and Family deals with that choice issue. […]

        A question can exist on how the mechanics of Beast reflects on this, but here's the devil of the details for a Beast: it's always personal.

        That's the point of family.

        Like, on the one hand, family is the great facilitator to interaction of others. However much any one particular's actions are, you have an excuse so long as that person is yours.
        “So long as that person is yours.” --- On a friendly reading, this line (and everything leading up to it) seems okay; however, there are some people for whom this is going to be a trigger since on a “Reviewer 2” reading it can be interpreted as including some pretty awful things like human trafficking, slavery, etc. A core problem with Beast is that it doesn’t offer much in the way of treatment regarding Kinship from the Kin’s perspective (and if the Kin is a Human, well that’s not a good power dynamic in the relationship). Nothing about Kinship entails that the Kinship relationship is positive.

        (And I get that you view this as a feature since it drives conflict in the game and can serve as a good source of ready antagonists. However, this also feeds directly into the abuser metaphor that hangs around the game’s neck like a lodestone. Personally, I’d be cautious doubling down on this theme overly much. It has poor optics.)

        Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
        On the other hand.

        You know everyone's bullshit.

        And because of that, you know when a line is crossed.
        Actually Beasts have very little in their wheelhouse to support this beyond being charming to others, and if “persuasive” enough (there’s a lot of license in the system that the persuasion could come in the form of intimidation), then they might also have Family Ties with those others and only then might they insert themselves into those others’ societies and gain some information on some of those others’ bullshit.

        (Another problem here though is that the “persuasion” can come in the form of abuse. Now in a game about monsters that might be okay, perhaps even desirable, hypothetically speaking; however, the game is also a product in the real world and in the real world, abuse and abusers are a problem. And so again, the optics of Beast looks poor.)

        Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
        I feel like it's important to iterate that Kinship is a cause of violence as much as it is a deterrent from violence.

        The keypoint of Kinship is that the externals fade away, and the personals come straight into view.

        Kinship is not a lovey dovey, all thing are good point of view. At least, not wholly.

        Kinship is a pressure cooker.
        I’m going to respectfully suggest that these types of dynamics have a better metaphor, and that metaphor is marriage.

        Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
        And that's something Pack can't provide, because Pack is chosen.

        Kinship is felt.

        A Forsaken can look at the Pure, and be driven by the ideology between the two of them. It doesn't matter that one side allegedly killed Wolf and one didn't. It's not that they are, respectively one and the same. It's that one believes in the balance attained, and the other in a more atavistic world.

        But a Beast looking at a Insatiable (or, fucking hell, a Hero) in that same context?

        NO. FUCK NO. HELL FUCKING NO.

        A Beast feels the betrayal to themselves, to their Mother, to their family, both as monsters and as humans.
        Again, nothing mechanically there to enforce a feeling of betrayal and personally, I like to afford my players the right to determine for themselves what their characters feel or don’t feel. The idea that a Beast feels betrayed by Insatiables and Heroes is dogmatic at best. What happens if a Beast simply shrugs and says, “oh well” when encountering these so-called betrayers? It seems to me that this all works better as a religion that some Beasts hold dear. Certainly I wouldn’t want to mandate to my players that they have to play their characters a certain way.

        Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
        And monsters outside of a Beast's Legend?

        Like, it'd be easy for anyone else, but for a Beast, who feels every vampire and werewolf and mage and Created and changeling and Deeply Supernatural Enough hunter and Bound and mummy and demon and deviant as family, as someone who should fucking get it?
        Let’s deconstruct things a bit. Like what are my players doing “wrong” that they don’t feel this way? And conceptually, what is this “family” thing that Beast’s supposedly feel? Is it like, we have the same parents so we’re “related?” Or more like, your parents adopted me, so now we’re “related?” Or is it, we’re both human beings and, that makes us “related?” Or could it be, we’re both mammals, hence we’re “related?” Or do we have something like, we’re both vertebrates, so we’re “related?” Or perhaps it’s something like, you’re a rock and I’m a slug and we’re “related” by virtue of the fact that we’re both patterns of matter and energy?

        Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
        Who feels, on the archetypal level, which is honestly how even our own resentment towards our fellow kids is articulated even though individual kids in a family are allowed to be despite coming from the same source, that you should get it?

        Like, this simultaneously is one of the virtues and vices of Beasts-they both probably get it better than anyone else on the inside who might otherwise be biased from being inside and don't understand why your intricacies on the matter deviate from their broad understandings? That being of the kid who knows where you're coming from but not the exact whys of the matter?

        Kinship isn't just the reasons why you feel like family, it's why you would kill your family when you wouldn't kill anyone else.
        This actually sounds less like family and more like a manifesto about the badness of “otherness.” Like someone believing other than what your character believes is automatically committing base a betrayal of your character, really? Thusly, to use one reductive example, Beast crusaders from the middle ages are deeply justified in their actions and in fact, they would each cleave to the party line. (There is a problem of metaphors here. The kind of problems that get folks to ask/demand/etc. that companies to pull products. See for instance: https://comicbook.com/gaming/news/du...-of-the-coast/)

        Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
        It's a feeling Pack doesn't tap into because it's more complicated, more frustrated, more wholesome and at the same time more infuriating than any other relationship.
        The feeling not [the] Pack, right? It’s actually ambiguous in that sentence.

        Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
        Pack doesn't quite tap into the same " I will kill you because you are mine" and "I'll never kill you because you are mine" Kinship does. It is infuriatingly binding, that makes any action towards or against way more personal that any logical point of view could conceive.

        That's (part of) the drama of Beast.
        To use another reductive example, in the American revolutionary war, the Beast’s side with the British due to the whole “you are mine” mentality. Again, the abuser metaphor, not a good look for this game. IRL, family members don’t own one another. They’re not property (and it’s actually illegal to try to act as though they are). This might work thematically for a horror game but, the slavery metaphor has very poor optics (and always has), especially right now.

        Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
        You came from the same Mother. (Maybe not directly, but the Dark Mother has some measure of mechanism in any other monstrosity if by no other method than being a Form and Definition of Monstrosity that intrudes and facilitates Forms and Defintions of Monstrosity)

        So why the fuck are you like this? (to all personal defintions of "like this")

        So, five years after the matter of pretending this was a coherent argument, let's kindly stop pretending this is a fucking thing.

        Comparing Pack to Kinship doesn't work.
        Actually, I think you made my point for me rather eloquently. Far from being the final word, this is probably just the latest round in discussing problematic takeaways from problematic text (and all because YMMV for everyone who reads it). You can (and did) workably compare Pack to Kinship. Your entire essay here does just that. Personally, my key takeaway is that Pack is more reflective of real-world families while Beast’s Kinship system is deeply reflective of the kind of patriarchal, “these are mine” mentalities that drove European colonialism to such great effect for the past 500 years. Again, at a time like this, these are poor optics for a game to possess (see again: https://comicbook.com/gaming/news/du...-of-the-coast/).

        On a worst case reading, the text seems to possess (unintentionally) metaphors for abusive relationships, slavery, and colonialism. Critical reading and thinking does require that we step back from text directly and apprehend it as the product of a certain time and place while also interpreting it within the framework of our contemporary existence. No media product exists in a vacuum. You can deny that assertion as you like but, it doesn’t make it any less true. The family metaphor continues to look problematic to me (and the lessons one too). Now perhaps you could rewrite Beast’s published text into something that better explains the goals, purposes, and how-to’s of its various metaphors but, that you don’t seem to see the problematic metaphors in your own essay raises many doubts in my mind. Remember, don’t be afraid to kill your darlings. (Attachment is a mind-killer for authors.)

        Second:
        Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post
        The thing is I often see the nothing wrong camp CLAIM they want a dialogue. And then criticize anyone who likes an aspect of the game, is unwilling to rethink anything, or just using it as an excuse to shit on the game (while I dont think you are doing that last part, stuff like needlessly calling something "cringe" runs people the wrong way, as is claiming something is an allegory when the writers themselves have said it's not, only to say "well I see it this way" to evade criticism and declare it as somehow right)
        I’m afraid I’ve lost the lead here. Are you talking about the “nothing’s wrong with Beast” camp or the “let’s reboot it” camp? I apologize if you feel like I’ve been criticizing you for liking aspects of the game. IMO, Beast is a diamond in the rough with plenty of things to like. I hold it in esteem, warts and all. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to be quite frank about the warts though.

        Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post
        As for Werewolf, I've played PLENTY of werewolf. It was my favorite game before Demon released. The pack is definitely huge on bonds, but it's not in the way of family, it's like a group with a duty who have been exposed to grueling trials which in turn bonds them together. Packs are insular to an INSANE degree. They wont take anyone EXCEPT those who have proven themselves (and if you're human, even wolf blooded, you have to prove yourself beyond what's even possible, most of time. Forgot the name but the firefighter pack is fucking awesome). And above all, what really separates them from Broods, is that Packs almost never formed due to familiar bonds and are extremely averse to any "new" person.
        Actually, I think this simply boils down we have completely diametrically different experiences of family dynamics. There’s a reason why Sons of Anarchy is listed as inspirational material in Werewolf. The characters on the show definitely see themselves as a family (and the show is an allegory about the costs of toxic familial relationships). IMO, Werewolf does this very well through its Kuruth (and other) mechanics.

        Not following the “Packs almost never formed due to familiar bonds and are extremely averse to any ‘new’ person.” While this is an option for how troupes can play their Pack, it’s hardly the final word on Packs. Personally I thought the Pack book made this pretty clear.

        Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post
        A big theme of beast is that you dont choose your family (I know you know this, but for the sake of it, can also be "you DO choose your family"). Beasts are the one splat who look to being a monster and think "I'll be it". From then on, beasts feel a quite literal connection to the other supernatural templates (and I will agree, I do think the corebook would've done better if it had focused more. I now hope the possible storyteller guide will do that). In exploring this connection, beasts inevitably see a relation to other monsters and accept them. They encourage they be monsters and will readily help them. Broods can form from as little as a clever conversation, and broods also, through shared lairs (especially shared chambers), bleed their traits together, even if they ARENT beasts. Beasts can gain lesser abilities simply from being around other monsters, taking on their traits. Even if they are enemies, beasts still innately feel these connections and can gain from them.
        I’m a bit confused. Beasts feel a literal connection to the supernatural because they accept that they’re monsters? I thought both things were just a metaphysical side effect of being a Beast?

        Am also confused on how Broods are different from Coteries, Rings, Throngs, etc.

        Two things though. One, I suspect we’re talking past one another again and two, you don’t need to explain the Beast rules. I own copies and read them quite frequently of late.

        Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post
        I do understand building the Legend. It's what I focus on in beast games. But I dont see thr theme of price of fame. To become Legend is to gain power and Glory, but I dont see a price beyond "more Heroes" and even then, a well crafted legend can lead them to doubt. And then there is the fact the Beast Incarnate is almost without consequence (to be fair, that depends on how you feel about having to maintain your Myth)
        I suppose it depends on what you mean by power; however, IMO, the movie Rocketman is a good examination of what a Beast’s life might look like. There can be a very high price for achieving things like fame, power, glory, etc.
        Re: the consequences – not really aimed at you per se. Really intended as more of an explanation for the discomfort so many folks have with the game and why adopting more traditional (and hypothetically less novel) “morality” mechanics is often a cornerstone on which both various house rules and full reboot reworkings of Beast revolve around. I think(?) we agree that Heros are actually a sufficient consequence for a Beast’s actions but, I apologize if that thinking is simply a misinterpretation of what you’ve written.

        Third:
        Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
        If Beast is focusedly allegorical, then the central focus on developing Lair by creating a broad psycho-spiritual presence in the landscape of humanity* would put them up more as an allegory of celebrities and major public figures, with their major struggle being brand control. Anyone who would take such a hindersome approach to the text but still actually apply a little critical reading and thinking to the approach would arrive there in seconds.

        Of course, almost anyone in the business of making games could tell you the Chronicles approach does not involve such focused allegory. Some games do, but not Chronicles, and certainly not Beast, which actually hews more archetypal than most of it's peers and therefore comfortably acts as a vehicle for a wider array of readings and usages, which is essential for it's function as a crossover-interested gameline.
        Not certain how focus on fame takes away from crossover, especially in light of your subsequent (but here previous) essay on Kinship and the family metaphor.

        A potential issue is that while authors and publishers might intend for some text O to entail P, the consumers justifiably believe Q given O. Every word choice can have unintended consequences, intentions be damned. (And this is why it’s important to read everyone’s writing as kindly as possible.)

        Fourth:
        Originally posted by nalak42 View Post
        Nope still doesn't work. See the problem is that you're still operating backwards from your conclusion that you don't like them and they're bad. Because you still presented it as the dominant concept being that Lessons are a morality license to do whatever as the dominant presentation. Which is also part of the reason for it being absent mechanics on bonuses or whatever, doing so would justify it as more than a thing a Beghotten does to provide external meaning to feeding and would also invalidate feeding without a lesson . (Not counting that any bonuses you give towards it would just feed back into the narrative of Lessons justifying abuse people have about the game.)
        So, let me see if I understand:

        1) If I think something is bad, then anything I might argue about it, one way or another automatically disqualifies my arguments? This seems like several different fallacies all at once, but the most pertinent one is probably the Bandwagon Fallacy.

        2) Lessons are a part of the game to provide Beasts some internal framework to understand their monstrous actions? Is that right? What’s the incentive for players to engage with this mechanic?

        Re: abuse. The actual mechanics I’m proposing are more akin to psychic surgery. The pertinent example being how the Addicted (Persistent) Condition is resolved. Using the same framework, we could look at Feedings as Lessons as a metaphysical surgery on the “patient’s soul”, harrowing them as a means of improving Integrity. The real life antecedents are actual surgery on physical bodies. Viewed through this lens, Lessons fall away from the abuse metaphor. (Or, at least are no more abusive than clumsy surgery with improper tools. Sure you might lose the patient if you operate but, if you do nothing they’re almost certainly a goner.)


        Originally posted by nalak42 View Post
        First drop the attempt at appeal to authority it doesn't work on this subject. Why? Well for one because we're talking about scenario whereby an individual is required to induce shock, panic, and/or terror on other individuals lest their very soul go on a rampage through the collective unconcious, attempt to, and occasionally succeeding, at inflicting those same traumas without any restraint that might be applied from a human, while you're soul is also causing organ failure (or however one wants to flavor the damage taken from time at Satiety 0 at their table) because its hungry. Because, unless I have horribly mislead on the mechanics of the real world , that isn't a scenario that comes up. So you're teaching credentials are kind of pointless here.
        Pretty sure my point was that this would never work in a real-life scenario and for that reason alone wasn’t the best solution. However, simply saying that Beasts can understand their Feedings through some Lessons metaphor doesn’t accomplish much either since it begs the question of if and when we should award Beats for good roleplaying. An alternative take would be to take a page from Mage and look at Lessons as a kind of Obsession. This hypothetic mechanic works like an extra Aspiration, i.e., gain a Beat when you teach your Lesson (or as Arc would have it, stay on brand). Without further modification, this approach begins to have problematic interactions with the abuse metaphor. However, an additional repair is possible if we abandon the semantics of the word “lesson” for one that is going to be more apt for chthonic horrors that feed on fear—parable. Instead of teaching Lessons, you live the Parable that is part and parcel to your Legend. (There are likely going to still be unresolved comfort issues from various quarters though.)

        Originally posted by nalak42 View Post
        The other part, the argument that fear is not a good teacher is missing the point. We're not arguing "Beast's are excellent teachers, nothing educates people more about the importance of good hygiene like nailing them with 'Behold My True Form!'" We're saying Lessons are just something some of the Beghotten do because it helps them cope with the fact that they do need to do these things lest their other half go on a rampage. Some Beasts don't because they feel that they doing what they need to do to survive is in and of itself proper justification for the act. Others do the Lessons because it gives, because they feel that as they and their prey are both thinking, rational, sentient entities then they can't just hide behind the idea that it is needed to survive. That the Horror will feed regardless of a lesson plan, or that feeding will happen regardless of whether or not the target learns what the Beast wanted is why we don't go off saying "Scaring someone half to death is fine, so long as they learned something from it."
        I’m not seeing where Lessons help Beasts cope. It’s not like they have a traditional “morality” mechanic where a Lesson could act as a Touchstone and provide role-playing indicators like Conditions. I respectfully suggest that a patch that doesn’t fix the (debatable) problem is mostly a waste of word count. YMMV.
        Last edited by Jacob; 06-30-2020, 03:23 PM.

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        • #19
          grumble, grumble computer error posting...

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Jacob View Post
            Unfortunately, working full time means that, from my perspective at least, this asynchronous conversation has to unfold in extra slow time. Indeed I suspect it will be several more days before I can read let alone respond to whatever vitriol this response generates.

            Hence, I’m going to respond to these in the reverse order in which they were posted...

            First:


            “So long as that person is yours.” --- On a friendly reading, this line (and everything leading up to it) seems okay; however, there are some people for whom this is going to be a trigger since on a “Reviewer 2” reading it can be interpreted as including some pretty awful things like human trafficking, slavery, etc. A core problem with Beast is that it doesn’t offer much in the way of treatment regarding Kinship from the Kin’s perspective (and if the Kin is a Human, well that’s not a good power dynamic in the relationship). Nothing about Kinship entails that the Kinship relationship is positive.

            (And I get that you view this as a feature since it drives conflict in the game and can serve as a good source of ready antagonists. However, this also feeds directly into the abuser metaphor that hangs around the game’s neck like a lodestone. Personally, I’d be cautious doubling down on this theme overly much. It has poor optics.)



            Actually Beasts have very little in their wheelhouse to support this beyond being charming to others, and if “persuasive” enough (there’s a lot of license in the system that the persuasion could come in the form of intimidation), then they might also have Family Ties with those others and only then might they insert themselves into those others’ societies and gain some information on some of those others’ bullshit.

            (Another problem here though is that the “persuasion” can come in the form of abuse. Now in a game about monsters that might be okay, perhaps even desirable, hypothetically speaking; however, the game is also a product in the real world and in the real world, abuse and abusers are a problem. And so again, the optics of Beast looks poor.)



            I’m going to respectfully suggest that these types of dynamics have a better metaphor, and that metaphor is marriage.



            Again, nothing mechanically there to enforce a feeling of betrayal and personally, I like to afford my players the right to determine for themselves what their characters feel or don’t feel. The idea that a Beast feels betrayed by Insatiables and Heroes is dogmatic at best. What happens if a Beast simply shrugs and says, “oh well” when encountering these so-called betrayers? It seems to me that this all works better as a religion that some Beasts hold dear. Certainly I wouldn’t want to mandate to my players that they have to play their characters a certain way.



            Let’s deconstruct things a bit. Like what are my players doing “wrong” that they don’t feel this way? And conceptually, what is this “family” thing that Beast’s supposedly feel? Is it like, we have the same parents so we’re “related?” Or more like, your parents adopted me, so now we’re “related?” Or is it, we’re both human beings and, that makes us “related?” Or could it be, we’re both mammals, hence we’re “related?” Or do we have something like, we’re both vertebrates, so we’re “related?” Or perhaps it’s something like, you’re a rock and I’m a slug and we’re “related” by virtue of the fact that we’re both patterns of matter and energy?



            This actually sounds less like family and more like a manifesto about the badness of “otherness.” Like someone believing other than what your character believes is automatically committing base a betrayal of your character, really? Thusly, to use one reductive example, Beast crusaders from the middle ages are deeply justified in their actions and in fact, they would each cleave to the party line. (There is a problem of metaphors here. The kind of problems that get folks to ask/demand/etc. that companies to pull products. See for instance: https://comicbook.com/gaming/news/du...-of-the-coast/)



            The feeling not [the] Pack, right? It’s actually ambiguous in that sentence.



            To use another reductive example, in the American revolutionary war, the Beast’s side with the British due to the whole “you are mine” mentality. Again, the abuser metaphor, not a good look for this game. IRL, family members don’t own one another. They’re not property (and it’s actually illegal to try to act as though they are). This might work thematically for a horror game but, the slavery metaphor has very poor optics (and always has), especially right now.



            Actually, I think you made my point for me rather eloquently. Far from being the final word, this is probably just the latest round in discussing problematic takeaways from problematic text (and all because YMMV for everyone who reads it). You can (and did) workably compare Pack to Kinship. Your entire essay here does just that. Personally, my key takeaway is that Pack is more reflective of real-world families while Beast’s Kinship system is deeply reflective of the kind of patriarchal, “these are mine” mentalities that drove European colonialism to such great effect for the past 500 years. Again, at a time like this, these are poor optics for a game to possess (see again: https://comicbook.com/gaming/news/du...-of-the-coast/).

            On a worst case reading, the text seems to possess (unintentionally) metaphors for abusive relationships, slavery, and colonialism. Critical reading and thinking does require that we step back from text directly and apprehend it as the product of a certain time and place while also interpreting it within the framework of our contemporary existence. No media product exists in a vacuum. You can deny that assertion as you like but, it doesn’t make it any less true. The family metaphor continues to look problematic to me (and the lessons one too). Now perhaps you could rewrite Beast’s published text into something that better explains the goals, purposes, and how-to’s of its various metaphors but, that you don’t seem to see the problematic metaphors in your own essay raises many doubts in my mind. Remember, don’t be afraid to kill your darlings. (Attachment is a mind-killer for authors.)

            Second:


            I’m afraid I’ve lost the lead here. Are you talking about the “nothing’s wrong with Beast” camp or the “let’s reboot it” camp? I apologize if you feel like I’ve been criticizing you for liking aspects of the game. IMO, Beast is a diamond in the rough with plenty of things to like. I hold it in esteem, warts and all. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to be quite frank about the warts though.



            Actually, I think this simply boils down we have completely diametrically different experiences of family dynamics. There’s a reason why Sons of Anarchy is listed as inspirational material in Werewolf. The characters on the show definitely see themselves as a family (and the show is an allegory about the costs of toxic familial relationships). IMO, Werewolf does this very well through its Kuruth (and other) mechanics.

            Not following the “Packs almost never formed due to familiar bonds and are extremely averse to any ‘new’ person.” While this is an option for how troupes can play their Pack, it’s hardly the final word on Packs. Personally I thought the Pack book made this pretty clear.



            I’m a bit confused. Beasts feel a literal connection to the supernatural because they accept that they’re monsters? I thought both things were just a metaphysical side effect of being a Beast?

            Am also confused on how Broods are different from Coteries, Rings, Throngs, etc.

            Two things though. One, I suspect we’re talking past one another again and two, you don’t need to explain the Beast rules. I own copies and read them quite frequently of late.



            I suppose it depends on what you mean by power; however, IMO, the movie Rocketman is a good examination of what a Beast’s life might look like. There can be a very high price for achieving things like fame, power, glory, etc.
            Re: the consequences – not really aimed at you per se. Really intended as more of an explanation for the discomfort so many folks have with the game and why adopting more traditional (and hypothetically less novel) “morality” mechanics is often a cornerstone on which both various house rules and full reboot reworkings of Beast revolve around. I think(?) we agree that Heros are actually a sufficient consequence for a Beast’s actions but, I apologize if that thinking is simply a misinterpretation of what you’ve written.

            Third:


            Not certain how focus on fame takes away from crossover, especially in light of your subsequent (but here previous) essay on Kinship and the family metaphor.

            A potential issue is that while authors and publishers might intend for some text O to entail P, the consumers justifiably believe Q given O. Every word choice can have unintended consequences, intentions be damned. (And this is why it’s important to read everyone’s writing as kindly as possible.)

            Fourth:


            So, let me see if I understand:

            1) If I think something is bad, then anything I might argue about it, one way or another automatically disqualifies my arguments? This seems like several different fallacies all at once, but the most pertinent one is probably the Bandwagon Fallacy.

            2) Lessons are a part of the game to provide Beasts some internal framework to understand their monstrous actions? Is that right? What’s the incentive for players to engage with this mechanic?

            Re: abuse. The actual mechanics I’m proposing are more akin to psychic surgery. The pertinent example being how the Addicted (Persistent) Condition is resolved. Using the same framework, we could look at Feedings as Lessons as a metaphysical surgery on the “patient’s soul”, harrowing them as a means of improving Integrity. The real life antecedents are actual surgery on physical bodies. Viewed through this lens, Lessons fall away from the abuse metaphor. (Or, at least are no more abusive than clumsy surgery with improper tools. Sure you might lose the patient if you operate but, if you do nothing they’re almost certainly a goner.)




            Pretty sure my point was that this would never work in a real-life scenario and for that reason alone wasn’t the best solution. However, simply saying that Beasts can understand their Feedings through some Lessons metaphor doesn’t accomplish much either since it begs the question of if and when we should award Beats for good roleplaying. An alternative take would be to take a page from Mage and look at Lessons as a kind of Obsession. This hypothetic mechanic works like an extra Aspiration, i.e., gain a Beat when you teach your Lesson (or as Arc would have it, stay on brand). Without further modification, this approach begins to have problematic interactions with the abuse metaphor. However, an additional repair is possible if we abandon the semantics of the word “lesson” for one that is going to be more apt for chthonic horrors that feed on fear—parable. Instead of teaching Lessons, you live the Parable that is part and parcel to your Legend. (There are likely going to still be unresolved comfort issues from various quarters though.)



            I’m not seeing where Lessons help Beasts cope. It’s not like they have a traditional “morality” mechanic where a Lesson could act as a Touchstone and provide role-playing indicators like Conditions. I respectfully suggest that a patch that doesn’t fix the (debatable) problem is mostly a waste of word count. YMMV.
            Gonna reply to parts replied to me

            I meant the "beast is bad camp" is always claiming they want a dialogue just to end up demonizing people who disagree with them.

            As for Werewolves. Sons of anarchy is part of the inspiration, but that's like saying the X Files is just like Hunter the Vigil just because it was inspired by it. Werewolf itself is still very different from sons of anarchy. The Pack Supplement made it clear that Packs can look very different from one another, but one thing they all had in common was they were all incredibly insulated and picky about who they got.

            As for Beasts and their connection with other monsters, my bad. Yes beasts have a metaphysical connection due to the astral and their unique relationship with it. As for Broods being different, Broods are influenced by their members. Vampires go into coteries due to the possible temporal gain from it and increased chance of survival. Throngs join to help each other on the pilgrimage, and packs only share metaphysics with each other due to the totem bond. Beasts themselves, in general, allow all monsters (besides demons) into their Broods. And they adopt characteristics from those monsters. Not only in ability, but in the appearance of their Lairs and even Horrors. Beasts are undeniably influenced by their connections with other monsters in a way others are not.

            Anyway, with consequences. Beast are plagued with heroes. As prometheans are plagued by Pandorans as they higher their Azoth, as demons become more noticeable as they assert themselves in the world (High Primum), and as mummies must live a life surrounded by adoring cultists who admire him for his great power, but with power that he may lose if he denies his superiors. All splats have consequences from becoming more powerful. It's not specific to Beasts in any way.

            And I must say this. I'm sorry but it seems you are just shoehorning in abuse as a theme. Vampire allows for abusive relationships as a theme a LOT better than Beast.

            Kinship CAN be abusive, but more often it's the relationship between family members. When arcane says "you are mine", she does not mean in the abusive way, but in the same a brother may say "my friends can do that, but for God's sake I'm not letting you do that" and in the way a mother says "because I said so". Its a familiar relationship, not an abusive one (most of the time). And arcane (I believe) means that beasts see other monsters as family, like cousins and half siblings and even just siblings. That's how they see each other. One big family. To say that must be more like "marriage" is just denying that that's exactly like family. Family isnt the clean happy community. Its filled with people with differing opinions who nonetheless are tied together and must learn to out aside their differences and care for each other anyway.

            I just feel like arc made a good contrast between broods and packs and you've just twisted it to make broods some perpetually abusive thing. That's honestly what I felt like.

            Comment


            • #21
              Originally posted by Jacob View Post
              1) If I think something is bad, then anything I might argue about it, one way or another automatically disqualifies my arguments? This seems like several different fallacies all at once, but the most pertinent one is probably the Bandwagon Fallacy.
              That's not what bandwagon fallacy means sparky. Second, no your argument is disqualified because it is still written poorly. "I said many not all" is not a good defense of a grotesque misrepresentation of an argument, not counting the other issue being that the phrasing you chose on the initial statement can be interpreted as either the argument conclusion that is dominant among people or that you are summarizing a large number of debates . Then you go from there with this idea that ultimately Lessons must exist as a way to objectively improve the human condition and need a mechanic to be of any good or of use. Example your thing down below on running it as psychic surgery and therefore justified because even a shit surgeon is better than not operating at all.
              .
              Originally posted by Jacob View Post
              2) Lessons are a part of the game to provide Beasts some internal framework to understand their monstrous actions? Is that right? What’s the incentive for players to engage with this mechanic?
              No, nothing I wrote even approaches saying it is a means for Beasts to understand feeding. (That's a path on Incarnation in the Player's Guide.) It is an excuse for one to do the things that they do while attempting to maintain whatever perception they have that they are a decent person. If one must tie the mechanics into then the obvious contenders involve Life/Legend and of course feeding level as a Lesson can complicate a feeding and the amount of effort and planing to teach that concept.



              Originally posted by Jacob View Post
              Pretty sure my point was that this would never work in a real-life scenario and for that reason alone wasn’t the best solution.
              Real life scenario your soul doesn't go about causing potential psychological breakdowns because it hasn't eaten in enough time. :3 But also your argument amounted to the idea that fear doesn't teach or accomplish anything when it is still used as an educator for deterrent of various behaviors. Example safety videos demonstrating how improper use of power tools gets you maimed, fear of being maimed or arrested are the force behind "Beware of dog" or signs warning of security systems. 100% effective? Nah, but it does act as a deterrent and a bad encounter with one serving as warning to others or the individual not to do so again.

              Originally posted by Jacob View Post
              However, simply saying that Beasts can understand their Feedings through some Lessons metaphor doesn’t accomplish much either since it begs the question of if and when we should award Beats for good roleplaying. An alternative take would be to take a page from Mage and look at Lessons as a kind of Obsession. This hypothetic mechanic works like an extra Aspiration, i.e., gain a Beat when you teach your Lesson (or as Arc would have it, stay on brand). Without further modification, this approach begins to have problematic interactions with the abuse metaphor. However, an additional repair is possible if we abandon the semantics of the word “lesson” for one that is going to be more apt for chthonic horrors that feed on fear—parable. Instead of teaching Lessons, you live the Parable that is part and parcel to your Legend. (There are likely going to still be unresolved comfort issues from various quarters though.)
              Nah cause then you're forcing all Beasts into this by forcing a mechanic that all Beasts have to encompass and interact with.

              Originally posted by Jacob View Post
              I’m not seeing where Lessons help Beasts cope. It’s not like they have a traditional “morality” mechanic where a Lesson could act as a Touchstone and provide role-playing indicators like Conditions. I respectfully suggest that a patch that doesn’t fix the (debatable) problem is mostly a waste of word count. YMMV.
              Same way some Vampires try to restrict their feeding to animals, defensive, blood donations, or volunteers. Its a roleplay thing that doesn't need to have a mechanic forcing it on everyone like Epic Motivation.
              Last edited by nalak42; 07-01-2020, 02:20 PM.

              Comment


              • #22
                Hey. You're putting words in my mouth. We agree to disagree on how the argument was represented and I suspect there is no way to fix that loggerhead.

                Originally posted by nalak42 View Post
                Same way some Vampires try to restrict their feeding to animals, defensive, blood donations, or volunteers. Its a roleplay thing that doesn't need to have a mechanic forcing it on everyone like Epic Motivation.
                Ironically the things you mention have a large number of mechanics that force players into a number of situations that demand they confront certain aspects. Since the blood thickens over time, feeding on animals is a temporary solution unless one wants to spend time in frequent torpor. Blood donations and volunteers eventually run into the same problem--in time, you graduate from human blood to needing the blood of other Vampires (your kindred) at which point you deal with needing torpor or potential blood bonds. I'm not actually sure what "defensive" refers to.

                The rub is, if your Humanity has sufficient dots, even feeding on animals and volunteers can cause degeneration because Frenzy is often going to be a risk unless your Storyteller is kind enough to let you frequently keep the Vitae tank topped off.

                Conversely, Lessons don't have any of these issues. However, from a morality and ethics point of view, there are still problems. As I understand it, Beasts sans Lessons are "amoral" (personally I don't see this but YMMV) and for the sake of argument (assuming my understanding is correct) let's say that Beasts sans Lessons are amoral creatures. This renders them at worst antiheroes. They might do seemingly terrible things but, their very survival is at stake if they don't. Now some might argue that a Beast that teaches Lessons or uses Lessons as a framework to understand its Myth/Legend/Parable thingy has somehow gained the moral high ground. However, this is not necessarily the case unless the Beast teaching the Lessons is teaching them for the right reasons and/or (depending on the ethics you subscribe to) the right results. Simply teaching Lessons isn't going to be enough to move the needle from amoral to moral. Much worse, since a Beast's natural equipment is causing fear so that they can feed on that fear (i.e., torture, abuse, whatever you want to label it), simply justifying the behavior in the framework of Lessons is actually going to move the needle from amoral to immoral and the Beast is going to fall from antihero to villain.

                "How?" one might ask. Because the ends don't match up within anything any existing ethics theory is going to recognize as moral. This is a space where a more traditional approach to soul health and degeneration facilitates players hooking into their ethics of choice because all of the broad categoricals (virtue, deontological, consequentialist, and care approaches) mesh with soul health degeneration mechanics. Beast lacks this equipment. And at best, Lessons is going hew towards consequentialist ethics with a special focus on utilitarianism. Unfortunately, if the Beast's approach to Lessons is that Lessons alone makes them a better Beast vis-a-vis morality then they'll have missed the forest for the trees hard since it's difficult to say that feeling better about oneself at the expense of someone else is the best outcome of an action or series of actions. It's a slippery slope straight to a privileged person metaphor.

                Trying to compare Lessons to an overarching roleplaying perspective like Requiem doesn't help much either. A Vampire's Requiem is literally their night-to-night existence. Whatever they do, all of their choices and the consequences of those choices are their Reqiuem. Lessons on the other hand are more definitive (and more narrow thematically)--what does the Beast do in their day-to-day existence? They teach Lessons. It begs the question of what the rest of their Myth/Legend/Parable thingy was for, what they're doing when they aren't teaching Lessons (you can't teach all the time any more than you can feed all the time), and a million other things that Beasts are all quite capable of.

                This is one of the drawbacks of developing novel mechanics that fall too far afield from audience expectations. And, much like the Star Wars community, the Beast community is one that's deeply divided because of notions like Lessons. IMO, the best solution would be the development of a Storyteller's Guide that contains a large number of modular variations on Beast's core rules and guidance on applying them.

                Part 2:
                Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post
                I meant the "beast is bad camp" is always claiming they want a dialogue just to end up demonizing people who disagree with them.
                I had suspected as much.

                Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post
                As for Werewolves. Sons of anarchy is part of the inspiration, but that's like saying the X Files is just like Hunter the Vigil just because it was inspired by it. Werewolf itself is still very different from sons of anarchy. The Pack Supplement made it clear that Packs can look very different from one another, but one thing they all had in common was they were all incredibly insulated and picky about who they got.
                I'm not seeing how this contradicts Pack as family metaphor. Most families are actually quite insular. Family-like things that aren't insular pretty much all hew to religious-based organizations (and even these can be fairly insular).

                Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post
                As for Beasts and their connection with other monsters, my bad. Yes beasts have a metaphysical connection due to the astral and their unique relationship with it. As for Broods being different, Broods are influenced by their members. Vampires go into coteries due to the possible temporal gain from it and increased chance of survival. Throngs join to help each other on the pilgrimage, and packs only share metaphysics with each other due to the totem bond. Beasts themselves, in general, allow all monsters (besides demons) into their Broods. And they adopt characteristics from those monsters. Not only in ability, but in the appearance of their Lairs and even Horrors. Beasts are undeniably influenced by their connections with other monsters in a way others are not.
                Re: Packs, I'd like to point out that every member in a Pack has a particular role that they play, even Wolf-Blooded, Human, and other members. There's more to Pack dyanmics than a shared Totem. Shared Totem may form the root of their bond but it hardly defines the extent of it.

                Re: Beasts adopting characteristics from other monsters. Generally this is limited to Kinship Nightmares and Kinship Merits. If the goal is to better thread Kinship throughout the game then doubling down on this approach by adding in Kinship Atavisms, Kinship Lair Traits (I feel like this might already be in the game but I'm a bit pressed for time and can't look it up atm), and even adopting your kins' feeding methods (as an alternative to feeding on fear) would be helpful to the cause. The last thing could potentially fix multiple issues by:

                1) Dividing Beasts into 2 overarching groups: those who ground themselves via their Kin and those who do not.

                2) Eliminating the need for Lessons as some kind of psuedo-Requiem / moral compass thingy (since better alternative feeding methods exist).

                Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post
                Anyway, with consequences. Beast are plagued with heroes. As prometheans are plagued by Pandorans as they higher their Azoth, as demons become more noticeable as they assert themselves in the world (High Primum), and as mummies must live a life surrounded by adoring cultists who admire him for his great power, but with power that he may lose if he denies his superiors. All splats have consequences from becoming more powerful. It's not specific to Beasts in any way.
                I agree and have said as much. However, there remains a block of the community that doesn't. Supplying additional and/or alternative rules via a storyteller's guide can and does address the very real and valid concerns that others have. Just because you don't share those concerns (and I don't share them as much as folks might assume) doesn't make them any less valid. Until such a book is forthcoming, house rules and hacks are equally valid approaches to addressing concerns and growing the community base. Positions like, "if X doesn't like M, then X shouldn't play M" aren't really constructive. TTRPGs are maleable (and that's for the best since broad appeal generates profits and profits keep businesses like OPP in business).

                Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post
                And I must say this. I'm sorry but it seems you are just shoehorning in abuse as a theme. Vampire allows for abusive relationships as a theme a LOT better than Beast.

                Kinship CAN be abusive, but more often it's the relationship between family members. When arcane says "you are mine", she does not mean in the abusive way, but in the same a brother may say "my friends can do that, but for God's sake I'm not letting you do that" and in the way a mother says "because I said so". Its a familiar relationship, not an abusive one (most of the time). And arcane (I believe) means that beasts see other monsters as family, like cousins and half siblings and even just siblings. That's how they see each other. One big family. To say that must be more like "marriage" is just denying that that's exactly like family. Family isnt the clean happy community. Its filled with people with differing opinions who nonetheless are tied together and must learn to out aside their differences and care for each other anyway.

                I just feel like arc made a good contrast between broods and packs and you've just twisted it to make broods some perpetually abusive thing. That's honestly what I felt like.
                I'm sorry you feel that way; however, my personal experiences have generally been "you are mine" means I lose both autonomy and the ability for actualization (and admittedly, part of my negtivity towards Arc's text is that I've been the victim of many abusive familial relationships; the abusers all adopt the exact positions that you and Arc have). Controlling the actions of others is a slippery slope straight to abusive power dynamics and relationships. How do you expect enforce things like "my friends can do that, but for God's sake I'm not letting you do that" or "because I said so?" These positions stop working as soon as the person on the receiving end realizes they have the agency to say, "no!" And are unenforceable unless someone wants to resort to violence (or abuse).

                My point with marriage is that while the prevaling text describing Kinship (using the family metaphor) takes a wholly one-sided approach to familial relationships, a better approach would address the fundamentally multi-lateral nature of familial relationships. One does not get to say, "because I said so," to adults. And if that's fundamentally a Beast's approach to building Kinship (i.e., "we're family because I said so") then its doomed because that's a problematic view of what familial relationships are and what roles they play in society.

                And again, IMO, the best method to retain Kinship as it is, is to shift text describing it from a family metaphor to a religous one. Even then we're left begging the question of what to do with Beasts that simply don't believe. Metaphysical links are deniable ones.

                Re: Broods vs Packs - I think you're confusing Kinship with Broods. Broods remain an odd kind of thing in Beast. The text describing them is somewhat at odds with other text, like the text describing apexes. This is generally attributable to the game's and text's troubled development history. I wouldn't and don't believe I did say that Broods = abuse metaphor. I mean to say that the one-sided nature of text describing Kinship lends itself to abuse metaphors. This is a problem.
                Last edited by Jacob; 07-08-2020, 02:20 PM.

                Comment


                • #23
                  Jacob, I have a freaking huge headache right now, so I'm gonna respond to the werewolf and Family thing. Sorry it's just that for tonight, I promise I'll try to answer the rest tomorrow

                  Packs are Insular in the way that they are picky. You choose your pack and they have a well defined role. They operate as a unit. Indeed, the relationship with members can be incredibly deep. But, to me at least, this is like that of soldiers. Its fire forged friendships.

                  Beast Broods are family in the way that all these supernaturals are seen in that lens. It does not matter if they hate them or like them. The Lucifuge that killed your vampire friend is still Kin. The Mage that seemed to alter the metaphysics of your horror is still Kin, and the promethean who constantly asks for a place to crash is Kin. Enemy or ally they ARE family and they cant ignore that. But that shouldn't be mistaken that they arent insular. They indeed can be just as much as any family. That promethean who wants to be human? What the hell is with that? That vampire who is scared to feed? He needs to accept he is a monster who HAS to do that. Beast are Insular in the familiar sense of "you're one of us, why are you acting like this?"

                  Again, I'm sorry I cant respond to everything else. My head just freaking hurts

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Sorry you have a headache but, Beast's can ignore it. It's the nature of relationships. Beasts might feel some kind of metaphysical connection but that's little better than the metaphysical connection that all humans have...which again--religion is the better metaphor. (All the better considering the whole sacred beast angle and semi-mythical nature of the Dark Mother.)

                    BTW, I might not deny soldiers their deep familial relationships to one another. It's kind of silly to claim that a relationship that seems unconventional to you is not, in fact, a familial relationship. Packs are family units. Deal with it.

                    Ultimately, you can't really force a familial relationship on someone. Either you get it or you don't. Relationships are two-way streets. The game's text repeatedly fumbles the ball on this fact. Attempts to explain it away have failed to ameliorate the problem.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Jacob View Post
                      Sorry you have a headache but, Beast's can ignore it. It's the nature of relationships. Beasts might feel some kind of metaphysical connection but that's little better than the metaphysical connection that all humans have...which again--religion is the better metaphor. (All the better considering the whole sacred beast angle and semi-mythical nature of the Dark Mother.)

                      BTW, I might not deny soldiers their deep familial relationships to one another. It's kind of silly to claim that a relationship that seems unconventional to you is not, in fact, a familial relationship. Packs are family units. Deal with it.

                      Ultimately, you can't really force a familial relationship on someone. Either you get it or you don't. Relationships are two-way streets. The game's text repeatedly fumbles the ball on this fact. Attempts to explain it away have failed to ameliorate the problem.
                      Ok, just read this and I'm not dealing with it. I was being nice and just saying I would respond later, meant no hostility, but you're just being a dick. I'm not gonna discuss if youre gonna be like this. Now for the final time, I'm getting off so I can rest

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post

                        Ok, just read this and I'm not dealing with it. I was being nice and just saying I would respond later, meant no hostility, but you're just being a dick. I'm not gonna discuss if youre gonna be like this. Now for the final time, I'm getting off so I can rest
                        The moral of the story.

                        EDIT: Context-I wasn't kidding when I said this shit has been going on for five years.
                        Last edited by ArcaneArts; 07-09-2020, 12:02 AM.


                        Kelly R.S. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
                        The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
                        Feminine pronouns, please.

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Alright, fuck it. I've been brewing a different thread for days on how a game where one of the most powerful "chthonic nightmares" in the setting is literally Bigfoot could probably stand to soften the language it uses to describe its relation to negative emotions, but this is arguably more important:

                          Beast: the Primordial is not a game where you are playing the hero. You are not in this game to play A Good Person, else you would have set your character's trajectory the moment their prelude saw them identify with their lifelong fear in a way that allowed it to keep spreading to other people. You do not have to be good! The world goes on! Come see the violence inherent in the system!

                          Beast: the Primordial is a game I have looked at to make direct comparisons to the feeding habits and therefore alien priorities of vampires and spirits. It is a game where you are directly encouraged to reduce people's Integrity and create Aspirations that are facilitated and fulfilled by assault, blackmail, corruption, entrapment, sabotage, stalking, and theft. It is a game where you generally pick between tacitly or openly encouraging the worst impulses of other monsters or running on cheaper fare that attracts obsessive serial killers hellbent on your destruction for their own glory; you can split the difference between these things, but that means feeding even more directly into the game's system where you're outright rewarded for burning bridges and causing trouble for people close to you. The primary way out of this is to claw your way to the top of the shitheap, become a legendary beast by hook or by crook, and hypothetically spend the rest of your life living up to your reputation as the cost of partially escaping the crab bucket.

                          Beast is not a game about being an abuser, but it's definitely not obliged to separate itself entirely from the possibility that its toolkit can produce abusers in its fiction, any more than Vampire's easy access to mindbending substances or Changeling's wealth of consequence-evasion methods need to make spurious claims that their own connective tissue isn't just as likely to be Proper Fucked in the dynamics of it all. Being a game whose more traditionally-sympathetic angle is that you're the tyranny of evil men trying real hard to be the shepherd still involves you being the tyranny of evil men.

                          Beast is a game where a place is set aside for you in the world — a place that is inhospitable and inhuman and very much not conducive to a healthy life among humanity where nobody gets hurt, and a place that is a place, tied to your physical location and the locations of the greatest failures and triumphs you have witnessed and visited upon others and otherwise been present for. It's a king-and-the-land-are-one situation except you've already been fed to the stone and the land is never quite even remotely in the territory of fucking around; you can back it off a bit for guests and lodgers, but the burning factory you've incorporated into your soul is still on fire and still serves as a means to visit the ghosts of its blazing terror on the site it came from rather than a simple Safe Place in the dreams of humanity.

                          Beast is a game where the primary points of traditional morally commendable behavior attached to you as a monster sum up with the old kaiju film refrain: "[How terrifying!] Man, I'm glad she's on our side." It is a game that tilts toward, as John Darnielle puts it, "a clannishness that can feel real safe in an unsafe time." That is an angle that is really easy to turn into abuse, because, as Changeling has already amply reminded us (and Deviant picks it up just as appropriately), there's a why-doesn't-Cinderella-just-leave element to the familiar torment a character may have been learning to deal with for huge portions of their lives.

                          It's easy enough for individual characters to avoid that pitfall and try to maintain healthier relationships with their Kin, but a brood is, as with many other supernatural groups, a collection of volatile monsters balancing inhuman metaphysical needs and urges with human social needs and urges. The siren song of the Beast and the Hunt and the Mysteries calls to you? The Begotten get it — their Mother loves them no matter what they are, and that's a comforting sensation in times where more fulfilling fare is unavailable. The freehold or the Guild or the remnants of your old cell have cast you out for transgressions and appetites that they don't agree with? Same shit — your Family Ties are a lifeline supported by a Beast who keeps a place in their heart for you, because you're Kin and they've been with you long enough for that to matter.

                          You can talk all you want about Family Dinner being stalkery, but the important aspects of it are that it works better on monsters with Family Ties and that Family Ties are easier to acquire with monsters you've used it on — and both Family Dinner and applying Family Ties require your character to be present. Like other creatures, monsters are often vulnerable or at least investing effort when they're hunting and feeding, and while it's possible for a Beast to just tag along, remora-like, to gain secondhand satiation from another monster's meal, their participation is more likely to swing the attempts of a monster they're familiar with toward success, which, as with most Social Maneuvering attempts, is liable to garner them some goodwill.

                          You can talk about religion being a better angle for broods than family, but as it's been observed, Obcasus Rites are religious aspects as much as they are a system of ritual magic — and lo and behold, vital elements of this particular niche in Begotten culture concern themselves with the local hive and its contributing monsters, whether it be the need for a spiritually significant consecrated temple or a grimoire collecting stories of all the major supernatural beings in the area. Comparing broods to packs and saying religion is a more appropriate lens doesn't really work when Werewolf also does the family-in-the-spiritual-sense thing with werewolves and their totems and progenitors and religious organizations have a rather common habit of using familial language for both their membership and the subjects of their worship — being an Iron Master means being like Red Wolf to some degree, having a pack totem from the beaches informs your priorities as a member of the pack, and the entire reason the Forsaken/Pure divide came about is because the creations of a pair of boundary-guardians looked at their ailing progenitor and decided they needed to pick up their slack.

                          Hell, saying that Beasts are enforcing their claim of family doesn't work as a claim because the Family Ties Condition is very clearly not a fully diegetic phenomenon — the text becomes contradictory in particularly absurd fashions if it does, and troubled development history does not override what writers have stated to be a deliberate disjunction between how Beasts approach Kinship and how it actually works. You don't choose your family. Birds of a feather flock together, and the Begotten do not add to their branch of the family tree by performing a ritual hunt and bribing or blackmailing another monster into sympathy with them — they expand their base of Kinship by spending time with monsters whose nature resonates with theirs and not driving them to cut all ties with them. It's mere-exposure mixed with common interest and some amount of mutual benefit, which feeds into the text's general vibe of Begotten culture's fatalist "this is what it's like and you just have to live with it" approach to many ingrained problems. You don't get that from opt-in structures with formal initiations like packs and krewes and covenants, no matter how ride-or-die they are.

                          The Begotten notion of family is that things are. The world is. It's not going anywhere from your locality, and you and yours need to eat. Loki Fire-Touched went haring off after a Mystery on the other side of the world with scarcely more than a letter? Well, we're sorry to see him go and we'll keep his room tidy at the Athenaeum, and if he decides to never come back to us from what he learns then, well, we'll be right shook up about it, but he was always a distant little brother and we'll manage next year's caper with or without his help, because he's clearly standin' on his own two chicken-feet without ours. Young Gathers-Up-The-Runaways may disagree with his decision, but she can see sense well enough to know there's no use draggin' the whole brood down to Argentina to bring him back by force; he's got a place here, and if he misses it or screws up bad enough out there then he'll be back soon enough.

                          They're patient like that, and that's not an unqualifiedly positive trait. It doesn't have to be — they're a messy sort of people, and that's kind of the point.


                          Resident Lore-Hound
                          Currently Consuming: Demon: the Descent 1e

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                          • #28
                            1) Satchel I need a love button.

                            2) I have nothing to add to that-but since I'm compelled to try, I'll just point out that the sky may be full of teeth, but they are bright all the same.

                            3) but seriously, I am gushing and if I was drunk I would be crying.


                            Kelly R.S. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
                            The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
                            Feminine pronouns, please.

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                            • #29
                              Incredibly well put and I rather like the little asides. I know they take extra effort to add, so thank you for that.

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                              • #30
                                Rather than directly reply any of the remaining (hyperbolic or not and vitriolic or not) remarks in this thread, I'm going to make a last reply to the thread in general, delivering some closing remarks on this (possibly inane, but only if you accept the banality of it all) discussion.

                                Throughout this discussion, the various proponents the Kinship family metaphor camp have rather obstinately taken the position that what I don't understand is that Beast's just feel the way that they do.

                                I get it.

                                So. What.

                                The position is problematic in (at least) two manners. I will expound upon the problemitazation:

                                1) It's a generally accepted standard within the TTRPG medium that players play these games because of the sense of agency they have over their character's lives. Areas, where that agency is lost, is typically focused on the archetypal committments players make when designing their characters (e.g., through traits like race, career, ethical code, attributes, skills, etc.). The claim being forwarded by the Kinship family metaphor camp is that every player of the Beast game commits to the Kinship family metaphor the way the members of the camp have described it, i.e., "you are mine."

                                This is an extremely narrow interpretation of what family is conceptually (i.e., metaphysically). I contend that players don't have to make any such commitment. For why? Generally speaking, with respect to Chronicles of Darkness (CoD) games, when players are asked to roleplay certain aspects of their archetypal decisions CoD games use game mechanics to provide incentives, and those mechanics specifically are Conditions (and Tilts).

                                Vis-a-vis Beast, the primary Conditions that players need to contend with are Satiety Conditions. And that is because the primary commitment players make when they choose to play a Beast is a nigh-insatiable Hunger that they must carefully manage. Hunger is a necessary part of every Beast Chronicle and every Beast Story and, it is present in every Beast Chapter, every Beast Scene, and every Beast Turn (because once one Satiety Condition is resolved another, different Satiety Condition arrives in its stead). This is not the case for Kinship.

                                The only relevant Condition for Kinship is one that is completely impossible for players playing other Beasts (or Demons and things in their sphere like Angels [which ironically begs the question if other Beasts are more like Demons]), optional for players playing things that fall outside of Beasts (or Demons, etc.), and applied to (non-Demon, etc.) NPCs on the basis of Social Maneuvers. And so the game lacks any rules to situate Kinship as a necessary part of every Beast Chronicle, Story, etc. Hence Kinship is not a necessary part of Beast, the TTRPG. It's a side theme that players and storytellers are invited to explore but not one they have to deal with. There are no helpful Conditions saying, "dear player, address this issue through your roleplay, we'll reward you with a Beat (or other mechanical advantages)."

                                The optional thing remains optional.

                                2) The "you are mine" / all Beasts feel X "family" of issues. Setting intentions of vs execution in text vs interpretation by readers aside, since for X to be problematic, one only needs to showcase one example of X being problematic we'll jump to showcasing with examples:

                                Example A: A boy meets a girl (we're going to use this analogy but folks should feel free to envision two boys, two girls, or whoever, the point is unreciprocated feelings) and falls in love at first sight (i.e., Kinship). The girl doesn't feel it. However, the boy feels as though he needs the girl in his life (he's in love afterall) and so, he approaches her in an attempt to woo her. She's really not feeling it though and tells him no (Social Manuever failed). He's still in love though. He has not outlet and so he spies on her. It so happens, that spying on her takes the edge off of the very unnatural hunger that he feels (Family Dinner [and we have arrived at the stalker metaphor because while one must be present, one does not have to be seen or perceived to be present]).

                                Additional issues--let's say the boy succeeds in browbeating her into a relationship (successful Intimidation Social Maneuver [arrived at a #metoo moment]). This is a potential situation for any TTRPG, mitigated in other CoD games by Integrity-like mechanics. Excused by some here because Beasts can seem like begin in the fail state (i.e., they're more like Draugr, Enraptured Mages, etc. than they are like Vampires, regular Mages, etc.). But should it be excused?

                                No means no. This is a problem for Kinship as written and is not fixable via the addition of context alone.

                                Example B: A rich white guy (a Beast) meets several members of the Cherokee tribe (potentially any cultural/racial groups can be substituted in for this example [call them Vampires but any other supernatural works]) and instantly feels a kinship with them. He insinuates himself into their group, adopts their mannerisms, etc. After a while, he starts to think of himself as a Cherokee. The Cherokee don't see him that way. What they see is another white guy taking things he hasn't earned and that he doesn't really understand. This is cultural appropriation.

                                It doesn't matter that a Beast feels related to Vampires. Beasts aren't Vampires. This is also a problem for Kinship as written and is not fixable via the addition of context alone.

                                Taking a "Beast's just deal with it" and "they'll be back" position makes Kinship sound like a much more laissez-faire and less central part of the game than some have made it out to be. Ultimately, familial relationships are invited and not asserted and if it's important to the game then it shouldn't be free lunched.

                                Can these things be fixed?

                                Yes, but it requires more than just adding context to the game. It requires at a minimum, the alteration of existing mechanics. And, overarchingly, will require the addition of new mechanics.

                                I've already demonstrated one possible fix in the original post -- change Kinship into a mystery religion (via a Merit) that many Beasts are likely to purchase and to ritualize the relationship making (i.e., Family Ties Condition giving) through a sacrifice both Beast and kin must make (with the higher burden being on the Beast's side since the Beast realizes so many more benefits from someone else's [as in someone else possesses it not give it] Family Ties Condition).

                                Other potential fixes take on the form of pseudo-soul health mechanics (i.e., they're Integrity-like).

                                One approach would be to make a new trait, call it Kinship (perhaps too on the nose). Kinship is a trait that ranges from one to ten and starts at 7 (a Beast having been human before Devouring after all). Kinship has a hierarchy of sins, all arranged around family themes and all designed cause degeneration when the Beast does something to make their built family environment toxic. Things like:
                                - feeding on someone the Beast has given family ties to (i.e., your kin)
                                - feeding on their kin's kin
                                - feeding on someone else in their kin's cultural group (e.g., feeding on some other Werewolf not a member of your Werewolf kin's pack)
                                - feeding on their kin's minions (e.g., retainer, staff, etc.)
                                - participating in Family Dinner when not invited
                                - getting involved in their kin's intra-group dispute (e.g., diving into Kindred politics)
                                - same as above but the interference is uninvited
                                - their kin loses a dot of Integrity (or the like) because of their (the Beast's) actions [if using the Lore mechanics in the OP]
                                - Etc.

                                Kinship Degeneration:
                                A successful roll vs degeneration results in Conditions like Guilty, Shaken, or Spooked. A failed roll results in one of the above Conditions but also loses a dot of Kinship and the affected kin resolves their Family Ties Condition. A dramatic failure results in the loss of a dot of Kinship, the affected kin resolves the Family Ties Condition, the affected kin gains the Jilted Kin (Persistent) Condition (gaining a Beat every time they succeed in disrupting one of the Beast's aspirations), and the Beast gains the Broken Family (Persistent) Condition (gaining a Beat every time they suffer a setback due to the interference of anyone they've given the Jilted Kin Condition to. The conditions can be resolved only by the two (or more) parties meeting and negotiating a resolution.

                                Kinship Effects:
                                Like a Vampire's Humanity, a Beast with a high Kinship gets bonuses to Social rolls with anyone that qualifies as Descended From the Dark Mother but penalties for rolls with entities where Kinship Does Not Apply. A Beast with median Kinship has neither bonuses nor penalties for social rolls to those who are Descended From the Dark Mother but gain penalties for social rolls with those who are Fundamentally Human and automatically fail social rolls with those where Kinship Does Not Apply. A Beast with low Kinship suffers penalties on social rolls with those Descended From the Dark Mother and automatically fails all social rolls with those who are Fundamentally Human or with whom Kinship Does Not Apply. Finally, a Beast who degenerates to Kinship 0 fails all social rolls with anyone who isn't another Beast.

                                Another approach would be to rework the Lore trait proposed in the original post better signal fail states. This reworking would eliminate the XP bits and remodel Lore as a kind of Harmony, starting at 7 (because again, Beast's start out life as Humans, just like Werewolves [there are more than a few parallels really]). A series of fail down (to human) and fail up (to fulfillment) sins would need to be worked out (many having to do with Kinship in some way if it's to be preserved as is). Lore becomes a measure of the Beast's impact on their environment. A Beast at Lore 0 risks Retreat, Divergence, or Erasure while a Beast at Lore 10 risks the Merger but can also achieve Inversion and Subversion. I'll start another thread in the future exploring this option more since there are, with and without Kinship permutations that can be realized, and since I have elapsed the amount of time I can spend on posts this week (and possibly next week too).

                                Ultimately, one of the other problems with Beast is that it starts players in what already seems like a fail state since to many the fluidity of Satiety Conditions is going to feel nothing like Degeneration (even though that, and regeneration, are what's really happening--the issue is that behavior that causes regeneration in Beast frequently causes degeneration in other CoD games). Lessons don't ever manage to address this.

                                Adoption of either approach presented here (or even the Lore approach in the OP) is something of an admission that the novelty of linking your "supernatural fuel" trait with your "Integrity-analog" trait didn't really work out and that more (or minimally help from more [Lore as written in OP]) traditional CoD degeneration mechanics was needed unless one wants to accept that Beasts are intended to start in the "fail state" and fail into deeper fail states as they go. Since this is obviously not going to work for everyone in the community, those for whom it doesn't work are completely justified to work out what "pre-fail state" Beasts look like with those mechanics they feel accomplish the task.

                                I don't feel like there's anything further to say in this particular thread and so will refrain from further posts here. Others should feel free to continue the discussion (though I suspect some echo chambering may occur as it has a tendency to do). The respective camps are deeply entrenched in their various positions.

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