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Arcane's Problem With Heroes

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  • ArcaneArts
    started a topic Arcane's Problem With Heroes

    Arcane's Problem With Heroes

    I need to be wrapping up [REDACTED] on the Clade Companion, but I smashed my head against getting that ship-shape too much today and I need a deviation, and this has been a long time coming.

    So at this point the delay in getting to To Kneel Before the Maw Part 2: Red, White, and Maw is getting to be where I feel l'm accidentally over-hyping it. Like, when I finally get around to putting that up, I hope people understand in advance that the goal is not radically change the way people look at Beast forever while also guaranteeing an orgasm when you read it-it's literally just "So Arc, you explored what Beast Society might look from the ground-up, but have you considered what it looks like from the top-down?" But if my posting habits have revealed anything, it's that if I take the time to explain anything, I put in the time to make sure context exists for that explanation as well.

    In the case of this essay, though, I'm actually having to take a step beyond explanation and instead take a stab at persuasion. Usually when these essays come up, I'm sorta open to finding out I'm wrong and learning from it, but usually need some really good arguments for that to happen-but here, the precedent I'm creating has to be something that has some agreement on, because without a strong enough consensus, that's a portion of To Kneel Before the Maw I just need to cut out-and that essay would survive without it, but it would better for the essay (and if stars align and I am nominally right, for Beast as a property).

    But that's...only part of the reason I'm writing this as well. I've also noticed a building argument that needs to be shot in the face sooner rather than later, and a case study of that helps.

    It's been put forward that Beast has two camps on the subject. What's interesting and in need of address is what those camps are. One side is, to borrow phrasing from one poster, a "Reboot Now"*. The other has been nominated as the "Nothing Wrong" camp.

    Now I have a lot of opinions about these distinction, but another thread can handle where "Reboot Now" is a misnomer (so making this clear now, if you wanna have commentary on that shit, start another thread, keep it out of this one). For now, I take more issue with the "Nothing Wrong" denomination, because as the girl who is being wildly misquoted with that appellation...

    ...Well, I'm being wildly misquoted, and I'm not a fan of that.

    I (and reasonably most other people I could assume are in this camp, but mostly me because I'm the only one I can directly vouch for) have never once said there is nothing wrong with Beast. I have said that everything Beast needs to be a good or even great game is there, but that's not the same as saying there's nothing wrong with Beast. I frequently bitch about how the information, the themes and moods and playstyle and everything is poorly communicated and represented in the core, and that while it's great that supplements are cleaning that up, what would be best for Beast is honestly getting a 1.5 core release that basically fixes that shit, with a second edition backed by about four or five supplements more than we have now as a viable second place plan. There's a lot of other, smaller issues that I get on that might go unnoticed-fans of the BPG's discussion of the Devouring might notice that I frequently ignore that section when I talk about, and that's because while I think it's good for what it is, it misses out on a much stronger beating heart that the core initially touched on, as an example.

    And then, of course, there's my perpetual enemy in squaring Beast's circle, Heroes.

    That might sound a little shocking given the number of times I have gone to bat for Heroes as working fine as is, and that's because in both a post-Kickstarter edit and post-Conquering Heroes world, what we have on Heroes is a fine start, and honestly where I have even foundational issues with Heroes just hasn't been much involved with conversations of other people's issues with Heroes-but let me assure you, any "Buy Arc a drink and ask her what is the biggest problem of Beast" with people where I don't feel like I have to explain what On The Problematic Nature of Beasts (And Why I Think That's a Good Thing) covered, Heroes is pretty much where I always start. And yeah, some of this is mechanical-like, as much as I make the case that tactics needed to be talked about before any additional powers as Heroes go, I never say it'd be bad to give them some more oomph, and am in fact a general fan of giving them Lost's Talecrafting since Second Edition Lost seems to be leaning away from the mentality that made that a thing in the First and Underhill Editions-but I actually have something of a notional issue with the foundation of Heroes.

    There's other things I have issues with, and as a recent revelation made me...realize, I'm also quite capable of seeing more issues as I go on. THe main thing though, the main take-away from seeing my position portrayed as "Nothing Wrong" when that's patently false, is that it occurs to me that some people think that's the case because I (and people like me) don't generally talk about our problems, which is probably the result of mine (and possibly others) big picture look at what Beast is and where it needs to go-because while Beast has problems, those problems aren't the things that demand a huge overhaul, let alone a gutting of themes, moods, playstyle, and more that a lot of people go looking for**.

    Now this doesn't mean I'm going to go out of my way to talk about everything that bothers me about Beast, because again I don't think Beast needs a massive overhaul-but It occurs to me that where they are interesting and beneficial to talk about, it might pay to give due to issues rather than simply keep at dealing with the nebulous other camp. And since I need to create precedent anyways, going at Heroes seems like a decent way to deal with two birds with one stone.

    So, where to start?

    Text is usually a good place to begin.

    I Hear She Can Shed Her Skin-What Beast: the Primordial's Core' Problem is with Heroes

    In order to get at my problem with Beast, you need to understand where the core book's problem with Heroes is-because my problems aren't a result of some kind of expectation that Beast didn't match, but rather a dissonance of text. A dissonance, I note, has at least a major fix in simply understanding perspective, though there are two other things that dive a little deeper into how Heroes are built up.

    The first thing that has to be noted regarding Heroes is a general disposition to cast them in dark black shades. In other discussions, I've more or less described as the general setup of Chronicles games as being one of Gray and Black Morality(er, humanity, depending on the conversation), with most protagonists of Chronicles being on the gray side of the equation and their antagonists sitting in the black side, with Beasts being unique in that their central place is on what I call the Dark Gray Line, that Primordial's character basis starts (not ends, that falls to player decisions) on the edge point when a monster goes from pushing the line to being awful, and where a terrible person flirts with having something of a case without necessarily ceasing to be terrible. We're not going into that yet, but even at this point, I find the writing direction leaning into that black shade for Heroes interesting (whether the development as supposed to point that way or not is another subject). This is one of the main cruxes of my issues.

    So the paint colors set aside, Beast's issue with Heroes can probably be summarized mostly across three broad points and a pointed method of expression in-game that is a sharp fourth point. Point point point.

    The foremost of textual grievance is the Monomyth argument, a counter-Campbellian take. In larger context, Monomyth is a literary theoretical structure proposed by Joseph Campbell in his work The Hero With a Thousand Faces, published in 1949, that attempts to put forth a lens that makes sense of all of the world's mythology, folklore, and urban legends by viewing them under a universalist structure that denotes globally shared values. This was largely debunked in intervening years and might have become a footnote in history is a little known series called Star Wars hadn't come along, revolutionized cinema, and gave massive props to Campbell's work. Beast has all of the context of that hovering like a miasma throughout the text, but doesn't dive hyper-deep into the full details of that theory and more or less hones in on the idea that all stories can be reduced down to "Any Story Is About Heroes Killing Beasts", and with that presenting Beast's conflict with a perception of the world that fatalistically spells out their role as victim's of a Hero's violence to the benefiting and growth of said Heroes, or in a more simple tone, one of the core conflicts of Beast is that they exist in a world where It's All About the Hero, and where a universal flaw with Heroes is that, even if the world doesn't bend to that perspective, Heroes fight tooth and nail to make all the world turn in their direction. This consumption of all possible stories into a heroic centerpoint was a major cornerstone of the core's presentation of Heroes, and Beast on the whole.

    The second most notable angle the text presents is what we'll call the Watchmen/Alan Moore angle, where one of the big issues with Heroes is the issue what happens when you take allegorical figures and psychological icons and apply them to reality-you know "What would [super]heroes actually look like on the streets of New York City now?" For those who have not read Watchmen***, Watchmen depicts superheroes more or less as dystopic authoritarian/totalitarian figures, that when you take these characters out of the realm of representational conflict, they end up as a bunch of might-makes-right, strength-to-be-valued, weakness-to-be-disvalued [wannabe] tyrants. Beast again doesn't rely on the exact same conclusion, but it does take a similar deconstructive look at Heroes in all their forms, stripping the allegorical layer they are portrayed in and dealing with the ideals in realistic action, and frequently comes up with ways that it's problematic.

    The third arrow in the bundle of textual approaches is what we'll call a "Ubermenschen are Assholes" lens, a counter-Nietzschien perspective applied to Heroes that closely correlates to the Watchmen take. In Nietzschien Nihilism, the world lacks a higher power-a higher authority, more directly-to provide law or morality, and that in order for such things to exist relies on individuals who are able to trans-value their values and serves as founts for morality and law-that is to say, to take truths they have actualized and have them transcend their selves, to take the personal and make it environmental, to embody meaning. Nietzsche, of course, was a drunk and angry asshole who writes too much****, but more on point, time and tide has revealed a problem with the desire to be ubermensch, from the large scale horrors of how fascism incorporates the image into their reasoning and mythology, to the small scale abusers and exploiters who dictate the rules of their houses and workplaces. In particular, Beast hones in on the idea that Heroes, whether they are actually embodying their actualized meanings or not (often not for the very thing coming up), take embodying meaning as also being above meaning, that they are free from the standards they try to enforce upon the world. Honestly, because of that notion, most Heroes are revealed to not only not embody any particular kind of meaning, but are still in need of some deep seated actualization and reconciliation with their flaws, hungers, and perceptions before they can even hope to begin the process of self-transcendence.

    The fourth and final sticking point is not necessarily a deep one to explain, but is nevertheless the most critical aspects to the rest of these flaws-in order for a Hero to grow in their metaphysical paradigm, and often done in accordance to a Heroes worldview, Heroes seek to kill Beasts. They don't get to shock them or spook them, possibly doing minor harm or inconveniences for them-no, they have to kill Beasts. A Hero who doesn't kill Beasts is a Hero who is stagnating, who is not gaining Gifts, not getting out there and answering the call from within. And hey, some do that with some clarity on the big picture, but a lot of them give into their flaws and kill away.

    So, that's the book. Soooooooooo....

    Anything You Can Do-Arcane's Problem with That

    So am I really going to tell you that all of that is a problem, that this is just the wrong way to go about it and I know a different way for Heroes to be criticized?

    Well. No and yes.

    All of those are actually really good ways to look at Heroes, with a solid and applicable critique that has a lot of play value. They're things that people should hear, and I think creates some room to explore in game. By themselves, they aren't the problem.

    But when you deal with Beast: the Primordial on the whole and with understanding, two things start to plink the strings in your head-or at least they did for me.

    That first one being the black take on Heroes, because....uh. Gee. How do I put this. You might have noticed some familiar phraseology and angles of attack in my presentation up there, and that's not an accident, because, uh.

    Those three big points all apply to Beasts as well.

    Beasts on the whole may have an angle of self-awareness and -reflection that isn't noted in Heroes, but fundamentally:

    1) If Beast is a game about Building Your Lair, about increasing your presence in the psycho-spiritual plane of collected humanity....doesn't that mean that each and every Beast is trying to make the story about themselves, to make all the world turn in their directions?

    2) If Beasts are as much a psycho-spiritual symbol taking action in the waking world in a body flesh and blood as much as they simply are a mythic monster...doesn't that mean that Beasts are themselves a testament to the consequences of taking an allegorical figure and their conflicts when applied to the real world, that the ideal of such a figure may be worth upholding but the portrayed actions aren't worth emulating?

    3) If Beast is a game about starting from a point of actualization and working to become self-trascendent, to embody meaning...don't they run the same risk of overstepping and violating the very meaning they seek to create, that in their own pursuit to effectively become ubermensch, they also as likely (more likely, actually) to become assholes?

    There's some added layers here that make problems for Beast, so getting that out.

    The Monomythic take, while it's reductive state is a functional short hand for "Heroes murdering Beasts because Heroes, Am I Right" as a issue with layers, kind of can't escape the fact the rest of the issues that come along with explictly calling out Monomyth as a problem, which is largely that the Monomyth lens tends to lead toward a whitewashing of mythology on the whole, which includes a lot of culture-erasure, feminine- and queer-erasure, minority-erasure, etc. While that's all good things to tackle and fight in the current landscape of fiction and Beast should never ignore that, Beast's initial takes did suffer a prevalent reading as "LBGTQ and other minority superheroes with fangs" on the audience's part, and I think the emphasis on Monomyth contributed to that problem. Borrowing from a take on how Deviant was written, Beast is a non-SJW game written by SJW's-it should present and address those issues where it can do so tastefully, but is' not about those things per se.

    The Watchmen take is actually pretty fine as it is, as it is thematically on point for Beast to wrestle with how some real world actions are both consequential with actual victims and such while also exploring the way actions can have a symbolic and psychological impact that can even lead to positive reflection and growth.

    The Ubemensch take actually has an address that could probably better explored (and hey, I'll talk more about that in to Kneel Before the Maw), in that Beast culture does have a strong undercurrent that a Beast is subject to any meaning they create and enforce, and offers just as much freedom for a Beast to ignore that and do the same thing as Heroes, or throw the entire thing out the window-but it's woefully textualized with that understanding.

    But on the whole, it's hard to take the black angle on Heroes with these shared issues, even if Beasts are in a position to be more aware of them and therefore careful in approaching them. I'm not against Primordial being critical on these fronts or using it's characters to show how to salvage those angles into more useful and beneficial angles, as Beast characters often encouraged to do-but it loses some

    And dealing with that cognition creates a minor issue for the fourth point, because if all of the above aren't exceptional excesses unique to Heroes, then the need to kill Beasts as a further expression of them loses teeth, which is a problem because the need to kill Beasts as opposed to how Beasts feed and build is a solid difference in action, but without something to ground it in is just a thing done because, and that's kind of weak worldbuilding.

    And with that, Heroes feel a little unmoored. They should be natural enemies of Beast, there should be an inherent animosity between them, yes, but within broad text that can anchor individual characters, it's hard to keep them all pegged, to know how Sleeping Beauty and Thaddeus Peterson sit on the same bench.

    So How Fix-The First Step Is Stupidly Obvious and Kind of Already Done

    Before I get constructive, one thing I gotta admit is that I can live with this problem. Hell, I'm for once willing to own the idea I'm over-reading it. If no one agreed with me, or it was acknoweldged but handled as not enough of a problem to try and address it, I could go on with that. Double hell, it's an accepted outcome for this essay, that I might need to take all of the above and all of the following, shove it out the window, and deal with Beast ignoring the fact I have that as an issue.

    But okay, I spilled words on the problem-now how would I fix it? Well, I would do it in three steps, and as I have point out, step one is already ahead of me and is stupidly simple. In short, it is:

    "Just treat Heroes as being on that Dark Gray Line as well-make it clear that Heroes and Beasts are about the same level of asshole, at least on the broad, generic starting point"

    Most people who are fans of Beast have already had this assumption since even before the Kickstarter edit, and are probably looking at me like I'm an idiot for presenting it as some grand revelation. And to be fair, I sort of am, because Conquering Heroes and the BPG already do that to some degree. So it's less "Start doing that" and more "Keep doing that". But to make it clear how much of a boon this angle is, some words:

    1) It's a still unique angle that may actually get Beast in line with the direction the rest of Chronicles is idly pointing towards. See, before hand, about the closest you had to characters being possibly about as bad as each other but with different angles was Descent with the relationship between demons and angels, and even that's a little muddled by presentation-the text still keeps the God-Machine as the antagonist, but isn't afraid to say that the God-Machine's projects can often be for the benefit of humanity while demons' desires and designs can have them end up as being wildly counter to humanity's well-being, and that that's a viable approach to play the game. Beast flopped the initial premise, but was still the first one to present that same dynamic but (in it's flawed way) hold it's protagonists openly accountable. Since then, though, both Forsaken and Created have laid the ground work for having protagonists and antagonists of the main splat bent share more even footing when it comes to the moral argument-The Pure and the Centimani can actually both behave more beneficially for their community (and even morally/heroically) than the Forsaken or normal cast of Prometheans do (though being a Centimani is still, from the grand perspective, ultimately not a good end for the Created), and the same can possibly be explored in Deviant. Hell, it probably will. So Beast can maintain it's flavor of "We're no so different" while being perhaps more in line with some of this overall bend in trend (I doubt it'll become an all consuming tidal direction for Chronicles, but it is still a thing that is happening.)

    2) It reinforces Beast's themes about the cycle of violence. While I wouldn't call it a theme that would need listing on a core edition's introduction, there's no denying that cyclical violence is a big theme of Beast, and it's easier to understand that cycle if it's also clear how both sides contribute to it, with both the sympathetic and condemning presentations applied to both side. It keeps the fatalism of the large scale conflict in focus and present, feeding into a significant part of the dread that is prevalent in Beast.

    3) It's a dynamic take that invites details. In dealing with with people who have the same broad sins in the direction their nature is going to take them, there's a lot of interesting things to with "Welp, I'ma do this, how do I make it justifiable, or even wholly converted into a positive?" that leads to a lot of creative characters and conflicts, that allows for learning and growth, and sometimes just some plain old executing or suffering the consequences.

    And there's more, but honestly, this one is such a gimme I almost feel embarrassed to say it out loud ,like it's something I have to explain when it pretty clearly isn't-but clarification and context. I at least owe it address if for no other reason than also acknowledging that it is being done.

    Acceptance and Denial-Fear the Second Step

    So a lot of my problems are easily dealt with via "It's not a flaw, it's a feature" mentality and leaning into it, fair enough. But that still means there's no point that draws a divide between Heroes and Beasts, particularly not one that calls for one side to kill the other while not demanding it the other way around. It would be tempting to just scrap that need in the vein of Step One, but honestly that's untrue to sources and feels like kneecapping the game series for no good reason. To make the issue more complicated, it should also probably be simple with deep implications and "gray" enough to warrant debate over it. What do?

    Well, I have an idea, and it's way more radical than the first. You're gonna see why I feel like this one is more persuasive than explanatory.

    See, in order to really get at something that fits the bill, it pays to go to the roots of the character and the gameline and lay down opposing points of views on that core. Kinship is floopy enough I wouldn't really get at it, and I consider Hunger to be the single most important lens to Primordial-like, if there is one lens to use everywhere and anywhere in Beast content, it's seeing the world through the Lens of Hunger, that all things can be brought back around to that. I personally wouldn't hinge a difference on that.

    But how about fear?

    Beasts, of course, embrace fear. They embody it. They carry one of the sub-themes of the game, living with fear*****, as an open issue all the time.

    So what is Heroes reject fear? And not just from the angle of fear being a problem, but being in active denial about their ability to feel fear? That they, for one reason or another, take a stance against it so direly that it calls metaphysical change*******?

    Now that has some teeth.

    For starters, there's a lot of positions on the role of fear in our lives and how much we should or shouldn't allow to factor in, from a psychological perspective, and there's an even wider array of perspectives from a sociological angle, ranging from taboos to unspoken expectations, that can also interlink with a wide number of other perspectives.

    Secondly, You can easily imagine how that framing would lead to instinctive antagonism between the two, and how the manifestation of that instinctive antagonism would lead to a variety of conflict while each side still fundamentally believes the other is, at the core of their being, wrong.

    Thirdly, if you still want to lean into the "yeah, but Heroes are just that much more assholish than Beasts"-well, this is personally anecdotal, but in my experience, every person I have personally met who has basically said "I'm not afraid of anything and I don't think anything ever will scare me" tend to at minimums be dicks and at most read almost as being psycho- or sociopathic******, and if there's meaningful correlation between the two, it can be used to explore how emotional weakness contributes to Kinship and meaningful communal ties in general, and how a rejection of the full emotional range through toxic ideology can cripple a person and seep out into a community if given too much glamour.

    Fourthly, I hear y'all like splats. Well, it wouldn't be hard to cast Heroes as having become heroes against a particular kind of fear in specific, like, I dunno....Hopelessness, Darkness, the Depths, Revulsion, Exposure, the Other, and/or Confinement.

    Fifthly, doesn't it just feel Heroic to reject fear? Doesn't that feel on point? I feel it.

    Sixthly, tying back into "Why kill Beasts when not the other way?", well, you know how there are those people who feel they have to keep proving they're not afraid, that they've conquered their fears? Well, this angle takes that to an extreme-it's not enough to just not be afraid of being afraid, Heroes have to go and conquer those fears again and again, getting empty calories of affirmation by going to the extreme and killing the embodiements of those fear again and again without ever actually addressing the real problem of "Yes, I am afraid of that, and I need to learn how to live with that."

    Unimportant to actual Beast writing and development, but still a seventh I'll note, It lalso leaves room for Princess: the Hopeful to operate as a Astral Splat with some push-and-pull towards Beast, since Princess allows for healthier relationships to personal emotions while still leaning into it's Fighting Fear (environmentally) gig. Again, not at all a priority for Beast as a thing, but let it never be said I don't think about the fansplats.

    If I wanted to sit here and just keep going at the benefits, I'm sure I could. I just really feel like it neatly ties a lot of the issues together in a fun, explorable, and playable way. Hell, some of the points haven't gotten into touch on semi-positive takeaways from the mentality (not that I think you should reject fear, but there's room to explore when fear does get in the way). I just think there's a lot to that angle.

    So anyway, something for y'all to think on as we close out.

    Wait, I Thought You Said Three Steps-To Be Continued!

    No, this is not like Humanity where I got tired and had to quit just cause. I do have a third step to consider for how I would deal with my problems with Heroes, but it's a) possibly the most unnecessary, and b) definitely going to be the most controversial. So for now, I want people to stew on what I have here already and get feedback on if I have a point or if I'm wildly off base before going at it. If the conversation hews where I think it'd be at least of some debate instead of outright rejection, I'll talk about it, if not, I'll just put in a drawer.

    Honestly, I think we've got enough to go on as is, so I'll leave it as is for the conversation.

    *No, this is not a petition for a revival of beloved 90's CG show ReBoot, I'm disappointed too.
    **Cough.
    ***Not watch Watchmen, because Zak "I dedicated Sucker Punch to my mom" Snyder is less interested in how Watchmen criticizes the myth of the superhero and more interested in "Oh my gosh, this is so dark and edgy, isn't it cool how dark and edgy Watchmen is, isn't it awesome how dark and edgy and not mom-appropriate Watchmen is" and it shows in his cinematography and visual design choices.
    ****as opposed to I, an enlightened drunk and angry asshole, because self-awareness also makes for great jokes, such as the notion that I am somehow enlightened.
    *****which in today's environment is a subject well worth discussing.
    ******sociopathic is probably more accurate since there's a strong element of toxic-nurture over nature to the Heroic condition
    *******Which is not to say that Heroes literally end up being unable to feel fear, but they would definitely end up with a skewed reaction to confronting it.
    Last edited by ArcaneArts; 07-23-2020, 01:13 AM.

  • Neos01
    replied
    Originally posted by Paradim View Post

    I don't really see it as being an issue of low integrity. But more a factor of the Primordial Dream pushing Heroes to kill.
    Considering how high integrity heroes works, i would say that the Primordial dream push heroes to React, what kind of reaction they will take are heavily influenced by integrity level

    Leave a comment:


  • Paradim
    replied
    Originally posted by Mr.F.I.X. View Post

    Id say, the different motivations that drive both and the difference in abilities is already enough to seperate them. You can, and likely do, have low integrity hunters after all.
    I don't really see it as being an issue of low integrity. But more a factor of the Primordial Dream pushing Heroes to kill.

    Leave a comment:


  • Mr.F.I.X.
    replied
    Originally posted by Paradim View Post


    A problem here... Is that the position of a character that can be a lighter shade of grey than a Beast and is open to being convinced that the Beast isn't strictly just a monster, would probably be a lot better served by a Hunter, than a Hero.

    When you have Hunters and Heroes in the same system, they need important distinctions, not just system effects but what they can do for the story overall. Where that falls might be open to a lot of interpretation and preference, though.

    But I think it's important to consider the place of Hunters when talking of Heroes as well.
    Id say, the different motivations that drive both and the difference in abilities is already enough to seperate them. You can, and likely do, have low integrity hunters after all.

    Leave a comment:


  • Paradim
    replied
    Originally posted by Mr.F.I.X. View Post
    Very minor I'll add, it is too bad that heros are called out to only be low integrity. Or at least heros who answer the call are pretty much only low integrity. At least last i looked it was that way and unlike other gamelines, beast does its best if its antagonist isn't necessarily a bad guy. With Arcs talk of shades of grey, honestly its more dynamic if the hero can be a lighter shade of grey than the beast. The struggle then can be convincong the hero you are not the monster. Not every hero should be this way but some should unlike the book calling out that high integrity hunters don't answer the call.

    If I've read that wrong or that has changed I'd be happy to hear so.

    A problem here... Is that the position of a character that can be a lighter shade of grey than a Beast and is open to being convinced that the Beast isn't strictly just a monster, would probably be a lot better served by a Hunter, than a Hero.

    When you have Hunters and Heroes in the same system, they need important distinctions, not just system effects but what they can do for the story overall. Where that falls might be open to a lot of interpretation and preference, though.

    But I think it's important to consider the place of Hunters when talking of Heroes as well.

    Leave a comment:


  • Primordial newcomer
    replied
    Originally posted by DreadQueen View Post

    Yes, antagonist is not necessarily = bad guy.

    There is a Integrity 7 Hero in Conquering Hero who still actively hunts Beasts, but only those who are direct menaces.
    Do note though that Beast was written during a period of transition to the 2nd edition rules, so even though it uses Integrity instead of Morality it feels like the Kickstarter version wasn't entirely written under the new perspective for the system.

    The 2nd Edition rules removed Morality as a game mechanic, it uses Integrity instead which is more akin to mental health. Instead of looking at a sheet stat to determine who is a "good guy" and who is a "bad guy", you are now supposed to ascertain that through a character's perspective, after all, good and bad is subjective, even Hitler was a good guy to some people. From a Beast's perspective a Hero is a guy who comes from nowhere bent on killing him/her, you don't need to delve into philosophical questions, that guy wants you dead and you need to do something about it.
    Ehh, I think it's still important to note that whether or not integrity is morality, low integrity tends to translate as someone who's shredded sanity/flawed perspective affects them in ways that lead to what most define as evil actions

    Leave a comment:


  • DreadQueen
    replied
    Originally posted by Mr.F.I.X. View Post
    Very minor I'll add, it is too bad that heros are called out to only be low integrity. Or at least heros who answer the call are pretty much only low integrity. At least last i looked it was that way and unlike other gamelines, beast does its best if its antagonist isn't necessarily a bad guy. With Arcs talk of shades of grey, honestly its more dynamic if the hero can be a lighter shade of grey than the beast. The struggle then can be convincong the hero you are not the monster. Not every hero should be this way but some should unlike the book calling out that high integrity hunters don't answer the call.

    If I've read that wrong or that has changed I'd be happy to hear so.
    Yes, antagonist is not necessarily = bad guy.

    There is a Integrity 7 Hero in Conquering Hero who still actively hunts Beasts, but only those who are direct menaces.
    Do note though that Beast was written during a period of transition to the 2nd edition rules, so even though it uses Integrity instead of Morality it feels like the Kickstarter version wasn't entirely written under the new perspective for the system.

    The 2nd Edition rules removed Morality as a game mechanic, it uses Integrity instead which is more akin to mental health. Instead of looking at a sheet stat to determine who is a "good guy" and who is a "bad guy", you are now supposed to ascertain that through a character's perspective, after all, good and bad is subjective, even Hitler was a good guy to some people. From a Beast's perspective a Hero is a guy who comes from nowhere bent on killing him/her, you don't need to delve into philosophical questions, that guy wants you dead and you need to do something about it.

    Leave a comment:


  • Primordial newcomer
    replied
    Originally posted by Mr.F.I.X. View Post
    Very minor I'll add, it is too bad that heros are called out to only be low integrity. Or at least heros who answer the call are pretty much only low integrity. At least last i looked it was that way and unlike other gamelines, beast does its best if its antagonist isn't necessarily a bad guy. With Arcs talk of shades of grey, honestly its more dynamic if the hero can be a lighter shade of grey than the beast. The struggle then can be convincong the hero you are not the monster. Not every hero should be this way but some should unlike the book calling out that high integrity hunters don't answer the call.

    If I've read that wrong or that has changed I'd be happy to hear so.
    It's that most Heroes that run into beasts are low integrity. It is not a prerequisite to have high or low integrity.

    As for making the morality less black and white, Heroes usually having low integrity (and I would like to point out that low is mostly only 4, which is pretty close to middle) are STILL the people going out killing monsters that feed on fear alone. Monsters that, unique from every other gameline, go in accepting monstrosity and usually looking to build a reputation of that same monstrosity that makes them. The fact they do this, while so very easily turning the people against them, is why they are great at keeping to the grey area. It should also be important to note that Beasts, when hunting, tend to build a Legend that transcends usual human morality and paints a picture. When a Hero comes in, they will more than likely see what the beasts do, whether that is stealing what's valuable to everyone or controlling them through force of will and fear, as just that. They won't see what they do as "showing what is truly valuable" or "protecting the masses with an iron fist" they will tell the Beast they "no, you simply take what you dont have" and "you rule for the sake of being able to".

    As much as Heroes are grandstanding and destructive, they are able to make themselves on even moral grounds with the beast, by forcing them to reconsider if all they do really is just horrid acts of hunger and selfishness, all the while not realizing their own evils

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  • Mr.F.I.X.
    replied
    Very minor I'll add, it is too bad that heros are called out to only be low integrity. Or at least heros who answer the call are pretty much only low integrity. At least last i looked it was that way and unlike other gamelines, beast does its best if its antagonist isn't necessarily a bad guy. With Arcs talk of shades of grey, honestly its more dynamic if the hero can be a lighter shade of grey than the beast. The struggle then can be convincong the hero you are not the monster. Not every hero should be this way but some should unlike the book calling out that high integrity hunters don't answer the call.

    If I've read that wrong or that has changed I'd be happy to hear so.

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Kind of like the distinction between Oracles and Heroes in Dark Eras 2. Not all people who have that connection to the Primordial Dream are necessarily opposed to the Begotten. Some might just see them as part of the cycle, like the Oracles did in ancient Egypt before the reign of Sobekneferu.

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  • DreadQueen
    replied
    I don't think there's anything wrong with Heroes lore-wise, except the books not making it clear enough that Heroes don't actually go around calling themselves Heroes, most don't even realize they are Heroes, they aren't necessarily organized, there's no specific unifying motive for them, they don't have to work together because there's no unifying "point" to Heroism. "There are people sensitive to the primordial dream, among them some do X", it's purely an archetype, and there's nothing really that differentiates a Hero from an Oracle, it's purely in the behavior.

    My proposed fix is to simply have a word for people who have the connection to the Primordial Dream that Heroes do in general, and then save Hero as a term referring specifically to the ones that act like antagonists, it would save a lot of effort by not having to describe the horrible things Heroes do to deserve being called antagonists just to later add "wait, but not all Heroes...". Yup, my gripe with it is that small.

    It would change the whole discussion from "I'm a X, so I must do Y" to "I do Y therefore I am X".
    And just to be clear, I know this is technically already done, so just read this post as "there's no problem with Heroes" as they are.

    Apply Occam's Razor here, you don't need to think too much about WHY Heroes should be antagonists, because they CAN be antagonists, and since Beasts can't detect Heroes at all the only way for a Beast to come across one is for that Hero to come to the Beast first, so the only ones likely to appear in a game are the ones who want to interact with Beasts, and it's just very unlikely that one would want to befriend Cthulhu if one chooses to interact with him.
    Last edited by DreadQueen; 07-30-2020, 02:58 AM.

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  • Primordial newcomer
    replied
    Originally posted by HelmsDerp View Post
    Additionally, and worth a separate post: In terms of giving Heroes some more mechanical support what if we leaned into the parallels with Slashers and divided them into two tiers? The first being the enhanced mortals already in the book, no need to to complicate things by changing the base functions. It would be pretty easy to then add a second layer of Legendary/Demigod Gifts more in line with what we would expect from Hercules and his ilk to the existing base.
    I'd be careful with that to be honest. I always found it understandable but annoying with "heroes are slashers" it oversimplifies them in my opinion

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  • HelmsDerp
    replied
    Additionally, and worth a separate post: In terms of giving Heroes some more mechanical support what if we leaned into the parallels with Slashers and divided them into two tiers? The first being the enhanced mortals already in the book, no need to to complicate things by changing the base functions. It would be pretty easy to then add a second layer of Legendary/Demigod Gifts more in line with what we would expect from Hercules and his ilk to the existing base.

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  • HelmsDerp
    replied
    I think it's pretty telling that all this time later and we're still struggling to make sense of Heroes. I wish my thoughts on the topic were a little more ordered; I have two parallel lines of thought, and I feel like they come together into something important but I can't make them connect smoothly.

    So first off, Heroes as a metaphysical rejection of fear: Yes, absolutely. I see this and I mostly agree, but I do have one small point of contention. I'm not sure Heroes need necessarily entirely reject the idea that they can feel fear at all. There's plenty of space to get lost in the idea that "oh I feel fear it just doesn't control me"
    It's certainly something I have personal experience with. I was a horrifically anxious child. Couldn't go near the bookshelf with dad's Stephen King novels because the covers gave me nightmares. Struggled to fall asleep because I was afraid of something coming in the window to kill me. Genuinely freaked out by the dog with glowing eyes in the Goosebumps tv intro the one time I didn't change the channel fast enough.
    It went on like this until one Halloween when I was, I dunno, nine probably? There was a big community party with a fake graveyard outside, and every time I tried to read the graves a person in a grim reaper costume chased me. Around the third or fourth time something snapped and instead of running I turned and started hitting them with my plastic costume sword, and lo and behold they ran away from me
    It felt like this glorious lightbulb moment, this sudden blazing revelation that I could be scarier than the monsters, if I could only remember how to hold onto the feeling of being even more angry than I was afraid. I didn't have to be afraid of the dark if I was resolved to punch anything that frightened me squarely in the face. Monsters hate that, apparently!
    And that did wonders for my fear! It also had the unfortunate side effect of leading to a laundry list of incidents where I nearly decked: friends, family members, my youth pastor, at least two deer, all because they had the misfortune to spook me in the dark.
    I never really felt like I stopped feeling fear, just that I figured out how to convert it into rage. And that felt good! It felt powerful! But while I changed my reactions and gave myself an illusion of self control I was still stuck with an impulse response, and it took a long time to unlearn.
    So all that to say that yes, Heroes being extremely susceptible to ambient astral fear and lashing out because lashing out feels like taking control makes total sense to me

    In addition to rejecting fear I think Heroes are a rejection of monstrosity. Beast is a game of looking at the monstrous and being able to say, yes, that is me, and I am it, and we are all of the same cloth. Heroes see monsters too, but they say that is not me, that could never be me, that is Other, and we cannot share a space, one must die. Where Beasts are deeply inclusive in their view of Kin Heroes are highly exclusive.
    This is the part of Beast that speaks to minority experience. It's is absolutely not an allegory, in specific or in general, but it does dig into that sentiment of seeing yourself portrayed by the social powers that be, distorted and caricaturized, labeled as subhuman and a threat to Morality. Beasts are able to look past that warped image and with varying degrees of comfort see themselves. Heroes absolutely cannot do that, all they can see is an Other that needs to be destroyed. They can't see their own potential monstrosity at all. Beasts are conversely somewhat better equipped to still see themselves in humanity, at leas those that haven't lost that part of themselves to inheritance.
    In a world where most people don't want to acknowledge that monsters exist, or at least pretend they're something that only happens to other people in other places, Heroes take it a step further, trying to make it a reality through violence. Killing a monster just makes a dead monster though. The real way to get rid of a monster is to bring it into the firelight and show it was never really monstrous to begin with. Maybe there's some potential for gradual shifting of cultural perceptions, like how Godzilla started as this terrible icon of destruction and in later movies morphed into a protector

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  • Primordial newcomer
    replied
    Another angle that could possibly be explored with Heroes is that most of them dont just feel the need to prove themselves Heroes. Many NEED beasts to feel meaning in their lives. A Hero does not have a story of his own. A Hero's life is not special without a beast. A Hero is a broken person who only feels whole by destroying his other half, the Beast.

    It's just a suggestion, but it's one I think has some merit (or none. I'm not a storyteller at all. So I'm bad at the more broad idea stuff)

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