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Legend, Embellishment, and the Siege of the Bright Dream [Assorted Brainstorming]

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  • Legend, Embellishment, and the Siege of the Bright Dream [Assorted Brainstorming]

    Late-night ramble that I'll likely come back to edit for readability and coherence in subsequent weeks once I've cleared various other plates on my table. Most of this is half-formed, so questions are welcome.

    Attempting to reframe the Begotten by addressing the fact that the human is not so much a skin for the beast as a proximity marker/gateway for the beast — not Bigfoot, but the guy around whom Bigfoot sightings happen who is sometimes Bigfoot.

    First thing: Fix the sliders on the emotional language being used. The nightmares a Beast inflicts aren't traumatic on the level of night horrors intrinsically, they're just memorable. The Temenos's truck with resonant ideas is at play here, and the deep-deep-depths of the Dark Dream have it that human culture is built on a bedrock of fear, but we don't judge vampires by draugr or werewolves by zi'ir. Let the Begotten play experience have middle gears. The play space is Edgy Cryptid In A Tricky Position, not Irredeemable Bastard From Day One. We have kappas and simurghs on the list of example Beasts, and one of the sample Incarnates is literally Sasquatch, if his list of names is anything to go by. Pathos is awesome, but getting in the way of readers' understanding and propagating an exaggerated view of the splat isn't.

    Second thing: Horrorspawn are a bigger deal. Horrors of the non-Begotten sort as well, because, as Arc correctly observed, it's a lot easier to run Beast independently when you have the generic monster-making mechanics at the ready. Remote feeding and red herrings let the arc of the Big Monster story play out on a more gradual timescale.

    Other second thing: Kinship Nightmares from Dreamborn, and also a system for digesting connection with a supernatural being into Kinship Nightmares. Maybe just the Investigation rules but sideways. The Unfettered can easily take up residence here, as can Temenotic Walkers.

    Third thing: greater potential emphasis on the Astral as a feeding ground. Maybe there'll be wider-reaching consequences if you do the exact sort of thing that messes with the Temenos to feed without material harm, but deliberately sowing nightmares to feed should be a thing, as should claiming Chambers in the back-and-forth between the Bright and Dark Dreams. It's novel that the Astral shamanoids do most of their work in physical reality, but the collective unconscious is too interesting a battleground to relegate to niche interests.

    Other third thing: More attention to the mid-length stuff involved in preparing the ground for you to expand your Lair (whether by forming a new Chamber or cultivating similarity to an old one). There should be a building process to drawing a target or a pursuer into your Lair before you pull the snare and open a Pathway for the big reveal. Probably also a little more shop-talk about best practices for these things — the BPG's note that spending Satiety down to 5 before attempting a High Satiety feeding is a simple example, but advice on linking feeding to Aspirations and vice-versa certainly couldn't hurt, especially when combined with feeding in the Temenos and exerting large-scale social influence.

    Fourth thing: lean into the fact that High Satiety is Stealth Mode and Low Satiety is Loud Mode. Scale the visibility of your Horror (whether through distance or obfuscation) with how well-fed you are, and tie this into the impact of your Legend on the Temenos. At a high rating, conflicting rumors and heightened feeding specificity incline you to lay low and take it easy while your Horror becomes a thing of mystery, able to be anywhere at a moment's notice; at a low rating, the sharp edge of hunger and the restless energy of desperation push you to personal action while your Horror acts as a localized and extremely blunt instrument, an awful revelation about the world racing between the Burrows and making itself a known quantity the longer it goes unfed; between these two scales, you lack the grounding in either state, and are susceptible to having your narrative co-opted. "Satiety" could stand to be replaced as a term, since it's an awkward fit beyond its role in the Hunger lens — language is tricky, but the rename I've got for the moment is "Embellishment," which I partially like because it doubles as a noun you could expend.

    More later, probably.

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

  • #2
    Continuing, with the same caveats as before.

    This could just be some combination of wanting to use the shiny new toy and mixing the two "you might want to map this out on paper" mechanics, but meshing Lair with the organization rules (more particularly Deviant's conspiracy variant with its Nodes and Projects) might serve as a solid space to fill in the gaps in Beast's social influence/magical real estate/power development/key related players systems. Possibly this turns into a sort of buffer Lair rating that you can gradually cannibalize for permanent advancement; maybe Lair Traits and Kinship Nightmares fill the equivalent of Icon slots that go away when the relevant connective tissue is broken.

    Back-filling a bit, it would be neat to see a little bit more of how the great Families of the Mother's Land interact with the Begotten (if at all), along with the Insatiable (I would be very surprised if the Insatiable's Schism and lack of personal Lair had nothing at all to do with their incarnating without a Heart or a Family); laying the groundwork for some amount of external shared agenda provides a decent jumping-off point for Aspirations, as well as a frame for Heroic involvement ("stop the primordial scions of Fear Herself from messing with the human soul" is really easy to shortcut to "kill them all and let God sort it out" when the signal-to-noise ratio is as bad as it is).

    Tense encounters in the Astral can play off the material-world contrast between how Heroes view the conflict versus how it's being experienced without relying too heavily on the abstract lens of "this person thinks they understand what's going on in a really black-and-white sense." On the other hand, the contrast in psychic variety between the visceral wild magic of the Mother's Land and the ideological warfare of the Bright Dream serves as a solid point of differentiation, and the Begotten's relative lack of expertise with the latter compared to the former makes for as good a reason as any for them to poke and prod and punch and shake the integrity of humanity in the general and personal senses — there is only so much you can do on your own to refine the ways in which you are a scary monster, after all.

    Some of this is effectively borrowing from Demon in reverse, but the angle that I'm poking towards is Legend as base-building in the collective unconscious to the ends of political sabotage, personal enrichment, private inquiry, religious pilgrimage, divine mandate, etc. You can pursue these ends without developing your support network as much, but the demands of Hunger are such that your Horror is then probably going to start showing up closer and closer to your actual position and limiting your focus until eventually it just bursts out of you and manifests from your corpse like a really nasty Horrorspawn.

    More later, probably.

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