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Some Assembly Required - Houserules and Beast: the Primordial

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  • #31
    Point 1 starts out by misrepresenting the opposing argument, as is par for the course, but setting aside the false claim that all in favor of kinship as family think every player has to agree, yes kinship is mechanically optional. It is however mechanically incentivized through family dinner, kinship nightmares, kinship merits, etc.

    Point 2... where do I even start? If we can provide one problematic example of [thing] then [thing] is Problematic and Needs To Be Fixed? How does one seriously put that argument forth in Chronicles of Darkness?

    Vampires can use Dominate to enslave people. Guess we better rewrite Vampire!

    Changelings can spy on people's dreams, that's a complete violation of privacy! Guess we better...!

    This is an entire fictional world built on the premise that you are playing the monster and you have plenty of options to engage in monstrous behavior. Exploring those themes is the point of the setting. Beast is more on the nose about it than most but honestly after years of these discussions what seems to be the major distinction is that Beast has more direct mechanical rewards for engaging in those behaviors (and conversely mechanical punishments for avoiding them) and the punishments for being a terrible person are more indirect and narrative in nature (as are the rewards for avoiding them). That's it. The toolkit for being awful isn't any more robust, the characters around you aren't any more or less likely to be ok with your behavior.
    A version of Beast where you don't have to wrestle with the fact that sometimes kinship isn't wanted, that feelings aren't reciprocated is an inherently lesser experience.

    I can imagine as a thought experiment a version of Vampire where Humanity is tied to how full up on blood you are, where essentially Blush of Life is a passive ongoing effect. I can see how it might lead to somewhat more monstrously amoral behavior. Do you really think it would be that much more unpalatable than Vampire as it currently stands though? To me it just looks like more of what was already there.

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    • #32
      Originally posted by HelmsDerp View Post
      Point 1 starts out by misrepresenting the opposing argument, as is par for the course, but setting aside the false claim that all in favor of kinship as family think every player has to agree, yes kinship is mechanically optional. It is however mechanically incentivized through family dinner, kinship nightmares, kinship merits, etc.

      Point 2... where do I even start? If we can provide one problematic example of [thing] then [thing] is Problematic and Needs To Be Fixed? How does one seriously put that argument forth in Chronicles of Darkness?

      Vampires can use Dominate to enslave people. Guess we better rewrite Vampire!

      Changelings can spy on people's dreams, that's a complete violation of privacy! Guess we better...!

      This is an entire fictional world built on the premise that you are playing the monster and you have plenty of options to engage in monstrous behavior. Exploring those themes is the point of the setting. Beast is more on the nose about it than most but honestly after years of these discussions what seems to be the major distinction is that Beast has more direct mechanical rewards for engaging in those behaviors (and conversely mechanical punishments for avoiding them) and the punishments for being a terrible person are more indirect and narrative in nature (as are the rewards for avoiding them). That's it. The toolkit for being awful isn't any more robust, the characters around you aren't any more or less likely to be ok with your behavior.
      A version of Beast where you don't have to wrestle with the fact that sometimes kinship isn't wanted, that feelings aren't reciprocated is an inherently lesser experience.

      I can imagine as a thought experiment a version of Vampire where Humanity is tied to how full up on blood you are, where essentially Blush of Life is a passive ongoing effect. I can see how it might lead to somewhat more monstrously amoral behavior. Do you really think it would be that much more unpalatable than Vampire as it currently stands though? To me it just looks like more of what was already there.
      ^This.

      The problem with having done this for so long is that I have done this before.

      A couple of times, in fact.


      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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      • #33
        Heh, I remember those times. Seems like they were from longer ago. It is ridiculous though. The protagonists of the other gamelines are all seen as tragic, afflicted by something not of their own fault (even in those societies that encourage the monstrous elements, ie The Circle, all Mage Orders, etc) while Beasts are simply evil beings with unforgivable urges that they must entertain in order to survive
        Last edited by Primordial newcomer; 07-10-2020, 11:05 PM.

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        • #34
          Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post

          Heh, I remember those times. Seems like they were from longer ago. It is ridiculous though. The protagonists of the other gamelines are all seen as tragic, afflicted by something not of their own fault (even in those societies that encourage the monstrous elements, ie The Circle, all Mage Orders, etc) while Beasts are simply evil beings with unforgivable urges that they must entertain in order to survive
          Wellllllllll.....

          I mean, going back to Satchel's masterpiece up there, let's be clear: Chronicles may be a game about monsters, but Beast is a game about not being the good guy. It is a game about characters who have come to peace with their monstrosity in the same act where they take it up-a point where they could easily see themselves in the monster that is them and then back away, transformed by the experience without devouring the serpent's tail.

          I frequently describe Beast as being the only game that is actively about villain protagonists, that this is a game about being the bad guy-but the catch to the matter is that there are degrees and forms of bad guys. Jayne from Firefly is a bad guy-hell, the entire Serenity crew are bad guys, as are the crews of the Bebop and Outlaw Star. Any of the main characters from the GTA franchise are bad guys. Kratos and Booker DeWitt and THe Overlord and Dante are bad guys. Dexter and Walter White and Danny Soprano and most of the cast of Game of Thrones are bad guys. Maleficent and Adrian Toomes are bad guys. There's a spectrum.

          But Beast are character who, from the broad overview, sit with a deeper comfortability in their monstrosity than others, and that means they are more at ease with being, well, evil.

          THere's no flaw in that. Where the fault comes in is failing to see the value in it.

          We have a narrative that supports the Circle of the Crone, being Uratha or Awakened, being Plubbum and Stannum and Cobalus, being Autumn and Winter Courtiers, being a Conspiracy hunter, being an extremist even as a Sin-Eater, being an Arisen or an Unchained, being a High Conviction Renegade. Beast just makes a lot more of this line than the other games does, it expands it and thoroughly explores and up front honest about what that means. It doesn't really pretend that it's anything else.

          Now, for some people, that's uncomfortable, and I get that.

          But games can't be for all people. Beast, by it's nature, by the things that are the strongest parts of it's narratives, is not going to be for everyone, because it is very much about being some shade of Bad Guy that goes beyond simply being a Monster. Transgression, as in being a transgressive figure, a person who does transgressive things, is as much a part of Beast's narrative as compassion, as in being a compassionate figure, a person who does compassionate things.

          But a) as Disney put it, just because you are bad guy doesn't mean you are bad guy(if you don't want to be), and b) just because some people aren't comfortable with being the bad guy means Beast is doing it's thing wrong.

          Except for where it is, because the presentation of of it's themes with maturity is lacking and insert all the ways where the presentation of Beast sucks even if the core material is fine, we've gone over this song and dance.


          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


          • #35
            Gonna just reel off some bits of the Satiety Conditions and Family Ties for no real reason:

            Originally posted by Slumbering (Persistent)
            Beat: Experiencing a meaningful failure due to human limitations or weaknesses (at Storyteller discretion) grants a Beat, as does being rejected or left behind by supernatural kin.
            Originally posted by Starving (Persistent)
            Beat: If the character takes an irrational, clearly dangerous, or deeply risky behavior in pursuit of Satiety, take a Beat. As well, if your character hurts a loved one, broodmate, or a character with the Family Ties Condition in pursuit of Satiety, take a Beat.
            Originally posted by Family Ties (Persistent)
            Your character has become closely bonded to a Beast and finds great (if sometimes grudging) strength in that connection. While in his immediate presence, she may use the Beast's relevant Resistance trait value instead of her own when defending against supernatural powers. In return, both she and the Beast receive a +1 on any rolls made to directly assist each other, or as part of teamwork actions undertaken together. You may have this Condition with multiple Beasts simultaneously.
            Resolution: Your character severs her association with the Beast.
            Beat: Your character encounters trouble with others of her kind or forsakes an important obligation to her supernatural culture, due to her connection with the Beast.


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

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            • #36
              Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
              Wellllllllll.....

              I mean, going back to Satchel's masterpiece up there, let's be clear: Chronicles may be a game about monsters, but Beast is a game about not being the good guy. It is a game about characters who have come to peace with their monstrosity in the same act where they take it up-a point where they could easily see themselves in the monster that is them and then back away, transformed by the experience without devouring the serpent's tail.

              I frequently describe Beast as being the only game that is actively about villain protagonists, that this is a game about being the bad guy-but the catch to the matter is that there are degrees and forms of bad guys. Jayne from Firefly is a bad guy-hell, the entire Serenity crew are bad guys, as are the crews of the Bebop and Outlaw Star. Any of the main characters from the GTA franchise are bad guys. Kratos and Booker DeWitt and THe Overlord and Dante are bad guys. Dexter and Walter White and Danny Soprano and most of the cast of Game of Thrones are bad guys. Maleficent and Adrian Toomes are bad guys. There's a spectrum.

              But Beast are character who, from the broad overview, sit with a deeper comfortability in their monstrosity than others, and that means they are more at ease with being, well, evil.

              THere's no flaw in that. Where the fault comes in is failing to see the value in it.

              We have a narrative that supports the Circle of the Crone, being Uratha or Awakened, being Plubbum and Stannum and Cobalus, being Autumn and Winter Courtiers, being a Conspiracy hunter, being an extremist even as a Sin-Eater, being an Arisen or an Unchained, being a High Conviction Renegade. Beast just makes a lot more of this line than the other games does, it expands it and thoroughly explores and up front honest about what that means. It doesn't really pretend that it's anything else.

              Now, for some people, that's uncomfortable, and I get that.

              But games can't be for all people. Beast, by it's nature, by the things that are the strongest parts of it's narratives, is not going to be for everyone, because it is very much about being some shade of Bad Guy that goes beyond simply being a Monster. Transgression, as in being a transgressive figure, a person who does transgressive things, is as much a part of Beast's narrative as compassion, as in being a compassionate figure, a person who does compassionate things.

              But a) as Disney put it, just because you are bad guy doesn't mean you are bad guy(if you don't want to be), and b) just because some people aren't comfortable with being the bad guy means Beast is doing it's thing wrong.

              Except for where it is, because the presentation of of it's themes with maturity is lacking and insert all the ways where the presentation of Beast sucks even if the core material is fine, we've gone over this song and dance.
              You do have a point. Beasts are undeniably in acceptance of their monstrosity. I suppose that does make it understandable as to why the other gamelines are initially seen in a "better" light.

              But, to me at least, the fact that beast accept this and (many) still TRY and be constructive should be enough where people understand they are more than one dimensional monsters. Beasts know what they do is horrible yet most TRY to allow something positive from it. That's different than a vampire rationalizing his feeding as "feeling good" to the victim or a Hunter literally changing his innate morality to suit his outlook.

              But then again, as it has been said indeed many times before, the corebook does not do a good job of presenting this. I was lucky to have been on this forum before having bought it

              EDIT: let me reiterate. I'm aware that Beast is the most clear cut of "you are the bad guy" of the games, and I love that. I love villain protagonists. It's just I tend to have trouble seeing how others demonize them so easily compared to the other splats because I like their honesty. To me, the fact Beasts are ultimately HONEST about what they are and what they do is what makes it so easy for me to see them in an equal light with the other gamelines

              ONE MORE EDIT: And I am aware that Hunger haunts many beasts, and many cling to Lessons because of that, as per the Players Guide. But the players guide makes it clear Beasts make use of this as a means frame their feedings, NOT as a way to say "it's fine I'm hunting you down because you may learn something" but "what I'm doing is horrible, but I'll do so in a way SOMETHING positive may happen. If it does not, well so be it. I'm a monster, after all"
              Last edited by Primordial newcomer; 07-11-2020, 01:00 AM.

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              • #37
                Ok in fairness Beast has one other major difference, and that is the muddled focus on morality and how Heroes are not the Good Guys. As we are well aware at this point it could use another editing pass; the viewpoint sometimes veers too close to a direct role reversal and that's a problem because Beasts aren't the good guys either. There aren't any categorical good guys, that's the point. The places where it loses sight of that understandably rub people the wrong way.

                In expansions or a second edition I would like to see more words dedicated to dealing with the complicated truth that Heroes might not truly be heroic but they aren't necessarily villains either. Sometimes they're doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, sometimes they're doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. Let's really commit to No Neat Little Boxes.

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by Satchel View Post
                  Gonna just reel off some bits of the Satiety Conditions and Family Ties for no real reason:




                  Context is refreshing!


                  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


                  • #39
                    I'm very new to the CofD community and so far have only played Geist. But Beast: The Primordial was my initial inspiration the pulled me into everything else. I loved the idea of being a 'Boogeyman' and the idea of just a stereotypical monster. There are very few games that just flat-out state "You are a monster." Even the other splats have little notes that boil down to "You're a monster, but..." I'm nowhere near qualified to begin really discussing or debating the main points I've seen presented. So I'm going to focus on the homebrew rules as a newer Storyteller (but have been gaming for over 15 years).

                    In my opinion; these homebrew rules are way too over engineered. You clearly explained why you made the changes you did, but the solutions are way too complicated. The idea of adding an entirely new stat to track with new mechanics is very off putting. Maybe it's because I don't have enough experience with the Storytelling system and it's not actually that much more effort, but I would rather put my effort into building stories than tracking more mechanics.

                    Honestly; almost all of your homebrew rules are more easily fixed by just changing the way you think about the game. It's very easy for me to have a session 0 and just tell the players; "I understand that the rule book discusses X, Y, and Z. I've interpreted them 'this' way and so in the game that's how you can think about it." That's way easier than trying to completely rewrite the game's mechanics.

                    Don't get me wrong, all discussion helps me as a Storyteller understand how I want to run a game. It's good to know when multiple people read the same text and come to different conclusions. It makes those conversations with my players easier. But the idea that a main mechanic of the game (e.g. Kinship) can be easily slotted in or out is a strength of the system. It tells me the mechanics are so clean that I don't have to worry about homebrew. I feel I can be more adventurous and deviate from RAW and not break my game.

                    I appreciate everyone that's taken the time to clearly explain themselves. I've found a lot of what I've read helpful in helping me think about my games. My main issue with the house rules boil down to; it can all be fixed by just reskinning. None of the problems are limited by the game's mechanics, just how the lore of those mechanics are presented.

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                    • #40
                      This is much-delayed because of computer problems that made essay-writing impractical, but I'd like to speak to HelmsDerp's points from the 10th and talk about Kinship. So, to begin from the end:

                      Kinship is a background element. It informs the characters' social and metaphysical context in a way that does not need to be central to the gameline for it to be important.

                      Kinship exists as a ludonarrative element in Beast that assumes that not only are your characters inhabiting the same general sort of Chronicles of Darkness that the bluebook implies by the "What has your character forgotten?" Integrity question, but that the organized and pseudo-organized social monsters of the other gamelines are also present to the same variable degree and uneven distribution as they exist for each other, i.e. there are enough of a given type of monster for there to at least be player-group-level social structures if not larger societies in a given locale and few enough of them that not every area includes such structures as a matter of course. The supernatural makeup of your characters' city is not uniform, and that already narrows the scope of its potential influence on that city and your characters even before getting into the matter of specific individuals who contribute to the parts of the cosmology that Beasts are concerned with.

                      Most of the supernatural societies that exist among gameline-level supernatural beings have some investment in secrecy and subtlety as operative concepts, be it for one reason or another. Many of them also exist in some part to facilitate the needs of the monsters that belong to them, if only by arbitrating territories and providing a safe court in which to to settle disputes. Monsters who exist outside of these societies, whether by chance or deliberate isolation, therefore tend to be more visible and more in need of fuel and sustenance than their better-integrated fellows; monsters of greater power tend to be commensurately hungrier, more ambitious, and/or more volatile, which may contribute to existing divides between a given specimen and the rest of their societies.

                      We can already see that Uratha society helps to ground its members against the imbalance that causes them to most resemble the werewolves of popular culture; the two demonic Agendas that do Typical Demonic Stuff are the ones that humans are most likely to be aware of; and the changing shape of vampire fiction has been discussed within Vampire as something its characters might have a direct hand in. Controlled and uncontrolled exposure of the supernatural is part of the collective mortal image of what monsters are, and that image mostly exists independent of the proper functioning of those monsters in their own gamelines. Mostly.

                      Recall that supernatural power and frequency of human exposure are the main contributing factors for whether a monster becomes the Apex of a hive — to approximate, a monster who forms a lot of Chambers by prompting Integrity breaking points in the same broad area is more likely to come to the attention of a Beast through its influence on the landscape of local nightmares. Recall what I've said above about how much easier it is to find monsters who aren't involved with like-minded peers in the same area. That's one half of the easy equation for Kinship's involvement in the game: even without leaning into the Begotten's status as unattached third parties to supernatural political drama, the monsters that it's easiest for them to make inroads with at a practical level are the ones who don't have more familiar options to lean on for support and assistance because they're on the outs with their Caucus or they're the last survivor of a purge of their clan or they're literally the only Sin-Eater in town. While it's by no means essential, integrating another supernatural into a Beast game (rather than vice-versa) works out nicely enough when dealing with unaligned monsters and other Y-splat-neutral characters.

                      The other half of the easy equation, of course, is running into a monster who is plugged into the local supernatural framework appropriate to them — the method better-suited to incorporating a Beast character into another supernatural game. As mentioned above, many supernatural societies are pretty well concerned with secrecy, which makes having a close relationship to a member of one of those groups both a handy way to find new sources of nightmare fuel and a good way to get people in those societies to start asking some awkward questions, like "What is this creature you've brought to the pack meeting?" and "Why did I see a dragon when that lady stopped a knife with her bare hands?" Fortunately, as a child of all monsterdom's universal missing link, having Family Ties with a monster lets you pass for something like it to casual inspection, and the state of being that this disguise is most effective in is the one where you're encouraged not to do much personally and the powers you're best at using are the ones that don't announce to anyone with the right eyes exactly what you are. For all intents and purposes, a well-hidden Beast among a supernatural society avoids burning too much energy while they soak in proxy-satisfaction from the hunters they're using as the models for their own nightmare-sorcery — some of which they may have experienced firsthand from powerful monsters they've attached themselves to.

                      Because the knife cuts both ways — a Beast who is best equipped to use their own mental- and social-influence powers and draw inspiration for new ones is also the most susceptible to the mental- and social-influence powers of other monsters around them, and the least inclined to stop their kin from turning their powers on them in turn. The way Satiety Conditions work means this is one of the circumstances in which the Begotten tend to thrive — the combination of mechanical focus on resilience, cultural disposition toward fatalism, and metaphysical alignment with Bad Places puts the Children of the Dark Mother in a very particular corner of human-supernatural dynamics, and while they don't necessarily all live on that block, a lot of them know the way there. You don't look at someone in that situation and expect archetypes fluffier than Problematic Fave.

                      The archetypal Beast spends some portion of their life dealing with unsavory urges and/or premonitions they can't warn others about in direct terms until they come to terms with their fear and hunger, at which point their tendency to settle into locations means they pick up on what the local monsters are like, starting with the hungriest and the most obvious because those are the ones that are most relevant to the Begotten niche as creatures of human fear and local geography. Depending on how their encounters go, they likely either draw some of those monsters into their orbit or are drawn into those monsters' orbit in turn, at which point the tension between Hunger and Kinship eventually strains and/or breaks the relationship between the Beast and the monsters or the relationship between the monsters and their direct peers; while this is going on, the Beast has an extra source of sustenance and superpowers, and the monsters they're associated with have the benefits available to those beloved by A Very Persuasive Mothman With A Pocket Dimension And Magical Blood. It is very possible that things get ugly during all of this — likely, even.

                      What's not likely to happen is that a Beast thinks of themself as the same type of monster as their kin are in more than broad conceptual terms, because the Begotten's monster-detection toolkit specifically differentiates between Beasts and other monsters; even if being a changeling and being Chinese were remotely comparable qualities (they're not), a Beast who spends time among a freehold has to engage in an act of will to present as a changeling and has very probably seen firm evidence that changelings don't function like Beasts beyond the lack of Horrors to glimpse. The Begotten approach other monsters from the general standpoint of "I am a missing link between this and the Mother Of Monsters," based on intrinsic supernatural qualities that largely exist irrespective of those monsters' cultural practices — bringing up cultural appropriation in this context is nonsensical, because the things Beasts get out of close association with other monsters have only the barest relation to appropriatable culture and the things they can pass as have even less to do with it.

                      Other things so unlikely to happen that I wouldn't believe it was being suggested as a serious analogy if not for multiple existing instances of trouble with metaphors: Beast browbeats another monster into a Family Ties-level relationship using a trust-based mechanical system after witnessing that monster drinking human blood/eating human flesh/flensing human wills/hunting people down for sport and/or sustenance, all the while managing to keep said monster from cutting ties with them and/or petitioning aid from other monsters and/or using their own preternatural abilities to drive the Beast away. That kind of situation requires the assumption of a specifically vulnerable target and an unusually persistent actor acting in ways that are both counter to the implied tenor of Kinship's toolkit and not unique to the Begotten; even under the assumption that toxic relationships were the standard for Beasts and other monsters, "I can't stand this person but I'm getting something I need out of them" is a valid dramatic tool to be used by consenting adults portraying characters in a storytelling game.

                      The dramatic nature of some of the language used tends to obfuscate the fact that Beast's Classic Monster Niche at the sub-legendary level is basically "local cryptid." You're Old Man Jenkins what knows where the witches do blood sacrifice and you're also the giant carp in the lake that parents warn their kids about that can control the weather. You can sustain yourself on petty arson and secondhand cannibalism if you don't get greedy. Stepping aside so your cousins can pursue their own ambitions is something you manage because the bunch of you are stuck with each other unless one of you wants to move, and until then there's a certain amount of give-and-take y'all're prepared to engage in. You can be patient. The self is a deep road with many turnings, and belonging to a community frees you from some of the burdens of hunting until somebody stops pulling their weight; once you hit that point, you can either solve the problem, solve the problem, or find another place to call home — and since you carry your home with you, you may or may not have something of an advantage in negotiations.

                      Still, better the devils you know, yeah?


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

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