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A Broken Mirror-A Fragment of a Discarded Conversation

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  • A Broken Mirror-A Fragment of a Discarded Conversation

    Soooooooooo.

    I mentioned in the last essay I had that I had plans for a second To Kneel Before the Maw essay (Part 2: The Mawquel) in response to some Admitedly Good Ideas but missing the Context to Make Them Good, and generally dealing with Beast "organizations" from the opposite tact I did before and what the would look like and what it would mean from Beast point of view.

    I actually started writing that back in May. I wrote it before my last essay (The Humanity of Beast: the Primordial, originally named the Morality of Beast: the Primordial, on record). I stopped midway through because I didn't like how it was progressing-it was, while semi-on-point, angry and drunk. A large part of which was I was angry and drunk at the time, because a lot of things had gone wrong in my life and I responded in the way I unfortunately have taken some of my worse-handled responses, including undirected anger and escapist drinking-which in the short hand is me saying I have no problem with the basis of each so long as I am the driving the both of the fuckers, and unfortunately my life at that time led to both escaping my grasp (it was a bad time).

    Since then I have had a lot of reconsideration of the subject, which includes some proper establishment of the point, which is part of the reason why I repurposed The Humanity of Beast: the Primordial for earlier than my initial expectations, because the bit about Family was something I needed...not accepted, but at least on paper, and it made way more sense to talk about it in the context of that essay than in To Kneel Before the Maw Part 2: I Still Know What You Mawed Last Summer. I also have ANOTHER Midquel that is not....setup, but consideration, but life is....not a bad time, but still not a good time to deal with that consideration. I also owe Teatime some good answers for their questions, and I DO intend to answer them (I even have them all laid out in my head and ready to go, I just need to deal with life right now).

    But recent conversations got me annoyed again on a meta part of the Beast that has lingered just out of sight, for a casual (or worse *cough cough*) reader and (more importantly) a non-participant in the original conversations about Beast. And while that initial write-up of To Kneel Before the Maw Part 2: Back 2 the Maw is cantankerous and openly frustrated, there's this bit, where I vent my frustrations about Lessons in their main game design purpose and how it answers a deeper issue than most people put their finger on and why Deviant: the Renegades proves my point about how the only thing you need is a strong central drive and someone to oppose it. And I'm still not in the right frame of mind to really go at it (look at the sloppy ending of Humanity), but this DOES grasp some of what I'm going at, which I, in my arrogance and pride- I must present as truer than most of the people who write on Beast because I put in the work, god damn it.

    So let's talk Lessons overall purpose, lightly address how it needs to be tweaked, and demonstrate it doesn't more than that because Deviant Proves Otheriwise.

    Short story: Like Nietzsche was a drunk, angry bastard who occasionally got things right, I am on occasion drunk, angry, and make good points when both of the above are referred to. This instance is one of three such things colliding, maybe. This instance is about Lessons and Deviant.

    -------------------------------------------------------------

    Aaaaannnnnnd with that.....ugh, okay, look, fine, last time I did this, I was pretty deliberately sidestepping the real reason Beast organizations comes up, which is namely not so much that people want different organizations so much as different philosophies-because for fucks' sake, the real damn issue for most people is god damned motherfucking lessons.

    At all points of time, you can reasonably assume annoyance with lessons is a big fat annoyance for me, and last time, I not only danced away from people having an issue with it, I then doubled down on it by tying into the concept of Brood Aspirations by way of comparing it to Pack Aspirations (and really, all group aspirations) as a doubling down on the group expressing themselves being a part of the game. The source of my annoyance is that I'm now at a point where I'd like to start leaning the game away from Lessons directly and more directly into mythmaking, a more palatable and organic thread to Beast that still covers the idea that the stories we consume do have an effect on us, that intention does translate through these sort of things and into consequential forms.-but also because years of this shit does wear down on you, being really fucking tired of every fucking argument about it that comes up about, whether it's the people who hate that the game demands that you dare give a thought about the morality, ethics, and reflections of your actions upon yourself and the world around, or the people who put the cart before the horse to exacerbate an overly excessive abuse-justification narrative that hyperbolizes the violence that Beast does partake in for both cathartic transgression and narrative reflection and examination [way past the point of usefulness, nevermind in the frame of textual context].

    I'm not here to prove or disable the lesson mindset and what I think it should flower into-that's more the project of actually revising Beast-but in my quest to explore the former [, the subject of To Kneel Before the Maw Part 2: Seventh Inning Maw], I hope to also expose the real limitations and the realistic options of what emerges out of the family dynamics.

    So, here we are. Consider this the second unofficial side of why I think [REDACTED]: The Brood needs to be a supplement. And before we actually do the deep dive in to the Astral Mechanics, allow me to just lay out a comparison that should help contextualize the way I look at Lessons.

    Let's Talk Deviant.

    Through Broken Mirrors-Lessons (and Organizations) as Directions and why Renegades is the Only Faction Deviant Needs

    Yes, I realize that's technically inaccurate, I'll get into it.

    At the time of the previous topic, we existed in a fairly different world than we do now-namely, the second editions of Hunter: The Vigil and Mummy: the Curse and newcomer Deviant: the Renegades hadn't come out yet. Thus at the time, there was actually something of a minimal case study to be made about the "organization question" in the context at the time -namely, organization as gaming directive, an answer to the "What do we do?" of the game. I have this whole rigmarole explaining that perception and the limitations of it here, but the general gist of is that most games present both a style of character and, through their "y-splats", a "what do we do and why" that directs players to do what they...do.

    The introduction of Lessons to Beast: the Primordial is almost undoubtedly mostly a response to the amorality of Beast as initially presented in the kickstarter, but what is less clear after the fact due to the time window that would have allowed the proper fermentation of the argument but was notably there while you were part of was that there was a notable cry of "So what the fuck do I actually do as a Beast?" With the introduction of Lessons, that cry shifted over from that into "Well, I don't do that, what else do I do?" which is where a lot of the various philosophical organization topics came from since the game's inception. But at all times, it reveals that the real core of the problem is not just the content, but that the direction of gameplay was missing from presentation of the Primordial as a whole.

    This has been the thrust of a lot of my dialogue that has gotten a lot sharper over time, with that line being that what a Beast Does is Build Their Lair, and that the main ingredients for that include Sating their Hunger, Developing their Kinship, Accruing their Chambers, and Conflict Against Significant Foes, and that, yes, the fact that all of these impart Lessons whether you want them to or not, that how you are and what you do say things about you and the world (particularly if they succeed) that can be taken advantage of or blindly followed by others is an important underline to Build Your Lair.

    That said, at the time, the argument of Personal Directives as Gaming Directives was lost in how the two strongest comparisons were Packs from Werewolf, which has this fudgey element of Tribes on top of it, and Krewes from Geist, which, while not all that heavily opposed, did get some backlash in the conversation of the time of it's Kickstarter, so it does fall short to argue that players aren't to look towards organizations for their direction.*

    Enter Deviant: the Renegades.

    Now, let's get some important contextualization out on the table-it feels like there's been a lot less talk about Deviant then the major releases of Beast and Demon (and Mummy, if we wanna stretch our view to a proper decade), or even the conversations that existed for Changeling and Geist had at their more recent releases-and by fair comparison, the chatter around Mummy 2nd (originally a niche interest as it went) and Hunter 2nd (fairly popular puppy, all around) was also diminished. My point is that maybe with what feels like a change in traffic, the option for an iceberg issue just hasn't come up. Fair cop, as that goes.

    But that said, Deviant: the Renegades lacks in demand for either organization or in directive. It can be argued that it does have organizations, in the division between the Renegades and the Devoted, but fans of that gameline can readily recognize the factionalization that breaks up the meaningfulness of that interaction in a wide point, and that these bits of nomenclature are more just a fancy way of "against Conspiracies" and "with a Conspiracy", with only minimal direction on where to go. The bigger point of that, though, is that the thrust of what a Deviant does is baked into the core of Deviant as a game- you flee from a conspiracy until you have an ability to strike out against it (and then you do) and develop relationships worth protecting outside of it, or visa versa if you're Devoted. No one asks for organizations because they know what to do in Deviant, crystal clear and radiant, and getting into the specifics of Conspiracies and the action against it is just the personal element that you develop and direct at table level, not within the book's text.

    And it's never questioned-It's just understood.

    Now the primary difference between Beast and Deviant is that Deviant is reliant upon External Motivators to drive the plot of it's story, deliberately so, in that their psychospiritual composition is dependent on their targets and their protectorates, where as a Beast is driven by Internal Motivators-that need to express and make use of their actualization of monstrosity and humanity beyond themselves, to tie themselves into the larger picture as who they are. That said, the need to Build Their Lair is as good as the inherent game direction baked into Deviant, that what needs to happen is that central aspect just needs to be communicated more clearly and strongly in the text of Beast than it was in it's First Edition.

    And I don't think it's unbiased to say that, yes, that Lessons, though an awkward way of having approached that subject, are very much a part of Building your Lair, as you take your perception and things that you value and dis-value and turn them, wittingly or unwittingly, into action, that is then reiterated across the spectrum thanks to local gossip, spreading of the news, and your simple psychopspiritual presence as it grows-but I ranted about that in the last one, so I'll stop there.**

    *Modern Arc on Past Arc: Notice how I, in my anger and druken stupor, did not mention Demon. This is because I am sometimes stupid.

    **TL;DR: Lessons are intended to occupy a core space description of what to do that is akin to Deviants "run from Conspiracies, make Meaningful Friends, also occasionally fuck up Conspiracies", which is also parallel to things like "Find Your Home" from Changeling or "Determine How You Handle the Next Night for the Rest of Eternity" from Vampire. I am not arguing Lessons do this perfectly, just that is does perform and it does point the way to a better way to do this, see Deliberately Mythmaking.


    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.

  • #2
    About to go to bed, but I agree with Lessons contributing to Mythmaking. Due to "subverting the monomyth" from the corebook and the Lessons section on the Player's Guide, I've always seen Lessons as a for Beasts to simultaneously build their legend, bring doubt to Heroes, and keep themselves fettered.

    And to be honest, and I'm sure this ties into it what with you talking about deviant, this post reminds me of when you stressed the fact that what beast has is there, it's just the matter of communicating it where it gets bad.

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    • #3
      Someday, we have got to track down and compile all your rants on Beast, ArcaneArts.
      Still in order to approach the actual topic, I would like some acknowledgement from...certain parties, that in-universe one of the reasons for the culture of Lessons is as a coping mechanism. That 'Lessons-as-rationalization' is a thing and that it is ok to portray that in a healthy and unhealthy light.

      To quote a character I once had
      "Mother's own blessed beasts don't teach others because she demands it, but rather to give themselves a purpose beyond just life. She doesn't want you to learn, I do. But she is happy that I am happy to share my lessons. If I were merely content to slay those who trespass into my domain, or demand tribute from my neighbours, Mother would be just as pleased. I choose to be constructive, because otherwise I would truely be a monster in my own eyes. What do you choose?"

      So if Lessons is just one philosophy (and let's be honest, not just Lancea Sanctum without the Christianity trappings), what other philosophies do people think are missing? Ascension is already available to everyone via ...

      Actually, that might be a thing in the Begotten community; which Inheritance is considered the best and why? Might be a good way to spot common schools of thought.


      Thoughts ripple out, birthing others

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      • #4
        Originally posted by FallenEco View Post
        So if Lessons is just one philosophy (and let's be honest, not just Lancea Sanctum without the Christianity trappings), what other philosophies do people think are missing?
        I think it's best to look at what place monsters have in stories to help build an idea for that... And in many myths not all "monsters" are strictly antagonistic or even really considered "monsters" strictly... I'm thinking of stories of divine beasts, sacred guardians and such of important places, and I'm rather enamored with the idea of some capacity to tap into such a zeitgeist to draw power from the capability of being a protector of something important to a culture.

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        • #5
          Okay Paradim; I guess the logical extension of that is why*? What is the motivation of a sacred beast what kind of actions do they take?
          This isn't intended as preachy 'play it in different ways' thing. If that is an archetype you want to explore, then the question of why some Begotten are divine beasts or sacred guardians rather than consequence enforcers or nightmare monsters needs to be addressed.

          *Why does the Beast take on that role? Not...why explore that idea. My phrasing is poor. Go home Eco, you're tired.
          Last edited by FallenEco; 07-06-2020, 04:43 AM.


          Thoughts ripple out, birthing others

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          • #6
            Originally posted by FallenEco View Post
            Okay Paradim; I guess the logical extension of that is why*? What is the motivation of a sacred beast what kind of actions do they take?
            This isn't intended as preachy 'play it in different ways' thing. If that is an archetype you want to explore, then the question of why some Begotten are divine beasts or sacred guardians rather than consequence enforcers or nightmare monsters needs to be addressed.

            *Why does the Beast take on that role? Not...why explore that idea. My phrasing is poor. Go home Eco, you're tired.
            Honestly, I think it could be a growth or a refinement of the "Teaching Lessons" principle... A method of providing focus and reason that is greater than the Beast's own concerns. Why would a Beast take on the role of a Sacred Guardian for protecting a location? Because it's important to them, something that they willingly lay a stake on an area as a vital part of their Legend that they're actively cultivating and embracing.

            I'm still puzzling through it a bit... But the idea of "Teaching Lessons" being something Beasts use to help manage their Hunger in a way never really felt complete to me. It feels like it's missing an actual purpose to it. Like... If "Teaching Lessons" is "How" a Beast reins in their Hunger, it doesn't explain the "Why" they're reining in their Hunger. Maybe a development of what Beasts do for "Teaching Lessons" might help better refine this idea into something more workable, with the idea of "Sacred Guardians" being one path a Beast could walk if they choose to.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Paradim View Post

              Honestly, I think it could be a growth or a refinement of the "Teaching Lessons" principle... A method of providing focus and reason that is greater than the Beast's own concerns. Why would a Beast take on the role of a Sacred Guardian for protecting a location? Because it's important to them, something that they willingly lay a stake on an area as a vital part of their Legend that they're actively cultivating and embracing.

              I'm still puzzling through it a bit... But the idea of "Teaching Lessons" being something Beasts use to help manage their Hunger in a way never really felt complete to me. It feels like it's missing an actual purpose to it. Like... If "Teaching Lessons" is "How" a Beast reins in their Hunger, it doesn't explain the "Why" they're reining in their Hunger. Maybe a development of what Beasts do for "Teaching Lessons" might help better refine this idea into something more workable, with the idea of "Sacred Guardians" being one path a Beast could walk if they choose to.
              Besides as a way to frame and control their feeding, I think it would be cool if Lessons could influence the astral.

              Basically, Lessons are still purely a cultural thing. However, after enough time, the collective conscious of the astral begins seeing patterns in a Beast's attacks and begins to perceive Lessons. Of course, a beast better hope his Lessons arent misunderstood, lest he takes on a wholly different mythology to maintain. Oh, and maybe effecting Heroes influence on people or making them doubt their conviction of your Lesson is particularly benevolent

              I dont know what the outcome of that would be sadly. Maybe these lessons soften the reverberations in the Dream, making it harder for Heroes to track them, perhaps it makes it easier to make and maintain cults. I just dont know what benefits it would give

              Oh, and a "Lesson" could be as simple as "dont go here". I mean, that's what Charybidys and Scylla were for

              EDIT: my main issue is that I REALLY dont want it to become a way that Lessons are justified. One of the themes is no neat little boxes" after all
              Last edited by Primordial newcomer; 07-06-2020, 01:17 PM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by FallenEco View Post
                Someday, we have got to track down and compile all your rants on Beast, ArcaneArts

                So if Lessons is just one philosophy (and let's be honest, not just Lancea Sanctum without the Christianity trappings), what other philosophies do people think are missing?
                This is part of what I want to talk about with To Kneel Before the Maw Part 2: Maw Control, because there are alternatives.

                Two of them, in fact. The fanbase actually already knows what they are-and they are not better options, per se.


                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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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post
                  Oh, and a "Lesson" could be as simple as "dont go here". I mean, that's what Charybidys and Scylla were for
                  So this gets into something I really love about Beast [and why I instantly liked what we got far more than what I read during the Kickstarter, which I still loved]. Specifically, lessons actively engage in Beast's meta deconstruction/defiance of the monomyth and other traditional storytelling structures. Because, really, monsters usually end up becoming teaching tools. Monsters say, "Don't go here. Don't do this thing. This thing is immoral. I am a symbol of this culture's dominion over yours. It is right and good that the hero of this story overcomes me."
                  But Beast is not about that. In Beast, the monster is the storyteller, and we're getting its side of the story. And in doing so, the monster is given control over what its story says.
                  And I think that's neat.

                  [I also think any reexamination of the value, mechanics, or role of lessons should keep this meta element in mind. Which, as far as I've seen, everything ArcaneArts has had to say on the matter only makes the meta more explicit and grounded in the gameworld, which is awesome.]


                  Consistently Inconsistent
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by SomethingFishy View Post

                    So this gets into something I really love about Beast [and why I instantly liked what we got far more than what I read during the Kickstarter, which I still loved]. Specifically, lessons actively engage in Beast's meta deconstruction/defiance of the monomyth and other traditional storytelling structures. Because, really, monsters usually end up becoming teaching tools. Monsters say, "Don't go here. Don't do this thing. This thing is immoral. I am a symbol of this culture's dominion over yours. It is right and good that the hero of this story overcomes me."
                    But Beast is not about that. In Beast, the monster is the storyteller, and we're getting its side of the story. And in doing so, the monster is given control over what its story says.
                    And I think that's neat.

                    [I also think any reexamination of the value, mechanics, or role of lessons should keep this meta element in mind. Which, as far as I've seen, everything ArcaneArts has had to say on the matter only makes the meta more explicit and grounded in the gameworld, which is awesome.]
                    Yup, the tragedy of the monomyth is Heroes can simply change the narrative to "it's all about me" and take away from everything meaningful that the Beast wanted out of his crafted story. Admittedly, I think it gets even weirder for those beasts who dont care for Lessons. Imagine a Beast with the Hunger of Prey, just hunting targets he considers "fun". Suddenly, he notices one day in the Astral that his local area considers him a cunning, impish creature who plays cat and mouse with those of high intellect and status, challenging them to see if their talents can truly protect them from harm.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by FallenEco View Post
                      Someday, we have got to track down and compile all your rants on Beast, ArcaneArts.
                      Came back to this thread idly after writing tonight, caught this line, and, uh.

                      Checking, is there actual demand for this, or is this an isolated event?


                      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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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
                        Came back to this thread idly after writing tonight, caught this line, and, uh.

                        Checking, is there actual demand for this, or is this an isolated event?

                        I have interest in that as well.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
                          Came back to this thread idly after writing tonight, caught this line, and, uh.

                          Checking, is there actual demand for this, or is this an isolated event?
                          I certainly think there is demand for the content. You say a LOT of interesting things about Beast and it has been useful for fleshing out aspects that have a tendency to be overlooked by the community at times. Please at least consider it.
                          After Maw 2: The Mawing at least.


                          Thoughts ripple out, birthing others

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