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Arcane and Cinder Reread The Beast Corebook

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  • #16
    Originally posted by LostLight View Post

    So yeah, I was re-reading the introduction also yesterday, and I must admit that reading those parts made me cringe so bad. I mean, I know that the lessons are social constructs, but their presentation in the introduction was so, well, bad, that it made we wonder why do I even like Beast. Then I ran back to read the Kickstarter Preview, and it reminded me what actually drew me into the game in the first place. Then came the realization that I've never actually read the final introduction, and instead my perception of Beast relied a lot on that initial preview- which actually, I was always fond of. I mean, sure, the Lessons as a social construct to keep Beasts in line makes sense, but I had little to no issues to use the initial presentation, and I must admit that I still like the Homecoming over the Devouring. The "decision" part of the Devouring doesn't really add something to the game, I think, beside "I chose to be a monster in order to teach people through fear", so yeah, it feels a bit off, IMO. However, it seems that at the very least the whole "Oracles of Fear" thing which this introduction added eventually became the Oracles in Dark Eras 2, so I while it is problematic, good things still came out of it.
    Books further along the line refined the concept a lot, that's for sure. I'll avoid going on a tirade right now, because I don't want to repeat myself too much in this thread, but both Conquering Heroes, the BPG and Dark Eras 2 show great examples of how to adjust a trajectory and get some excellent things out of it.

    As for the Core, Lessons as something grafted on the game while things were happening works in places and I think they are a good concept to have around for multiple reasons (though I'd personally change the gameline's focus on them and try to clear a bit of confusion over them, though that's a topic for later) but yeah, the introduction itself does a poor job with them at best. It brings me no joy to say this, but I think it outright hurts the game with how it discusses them.

    Count me as another person who had a soft spot for the first introduction, though I try to not look at earlier drafts as much as I can.

    About the Devouring, that's another topic for later, but I'll say I liked the Homecoming and always saw the Devouring as a small evolution from which I took what I liked and ignored the rest. Homecoming is still there, it just hides a little.

    (Spontaneous Devourings happen quite often in my personal headcanon. Just between a Begotten and his Horror, each devouring each other and becoming a Beast.)

    The choice aspect...is a big one. I've discussed it a lot, (probably wrote a page or two about it in my essays, I think), but I'm personally ok with it. A Begotten might not understand the full ramification of the choice, how it will impact its daily life, and she sure might come to regret it, but it means she still decided to become a monster and feed on fears. Hell, as a Beast you might be even inclined to accept it, since pre-Devouring Begotten are children of the Dark Mother nevertheless, but that choice to actualize yourself into a great and terrible thing means what comes after will always be on you, at least to a certain degree. It's a complex source of conflicts and drama which asks difficult questions and forces characters to confront with themselves, their actions, and what the Myth wants them to be. With what they want and are willing to accept. With Heroes, the pain you cause, and how to find a balance. Lots of potential in there, if you ask me.

    I'm not saying that's always crystal clear, some parts of the book (like the introduction) make it look as if the choice is to be a normal person or to become "Fear teacher" just for the thrill of it, which is admittedly off, problematic, and lacking the kind of messy nuance I love Beast for, but I think the concept itself should stay there to highlight what makes Beast different. Namely, that unlike other gamelines, you became a monster because that felt like the right thing to do and, as far as that moment goes, you were ok with the terms & conditions. That at the end of the day, beyond Begotten propaganda, beyond the Lessons, and beyond the Dark Mother's love, you wanted to Become Yourself even if that meant hurting people. A choice that impacts the whole game.

    (That's a simplification of things and there's lots of counterpoints, elements from the lore, and other intriguing nuances to add to it, but it makes for a decent explanation of how I feel about the topic for the moment. At least without writing a couple of pages.)

    By all means feel free to say if that does not convince you!
    Last edited by Cinder; 02-04-2021, 10:59 AM.


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    • #17
      Well, the thing that I liked the most about the Homecoming was that it was all about a realization/acceptance. You always were a monster, but you denied that part of you trying to be "normal" until you had to face with your own dark self and accept who you are. Sure, we could find bad connotations about that view as well, but it just set well in me as "acceptance" felt like what should Beast be about. However, having the "decision" part as "deciding to accept who you are" would actually make a lot of sense, and it also paints correctly the alternative of staying a "dreamer" with no "greater calling". So yeah, my issue with the decision part of the Devouring was probably less about the act itself, and more about its presentation (which, again, could be said about a lot of things in the intro. I think I'll start reading on just so I won't end up bashing Beast just because of one part that we seem to agree wasn't that well written).


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      • #18
        Originally posted by LostLight View Post
        Well, the thing that I liked the most about the Homecoming was that it was all about a realization/acceptance. You always were a monster, but you denied that part of you trying to be "normal" until you had to face with your own dark self and accept who you are. Sure, we could find bad connotations about that view as well, but it just set well in me as "acceptance" felt like what should Beast be about. However, having the "decision" part as "deciding to accept who you are" would actually make a lot of sense, and it also paints correctly the alternative of staying a "dreamer" with no "greater calling". So yeah, my issue with the decision part of the Devouring was probably less about the act itself, and more about its presentation (which, again, could be said about a lot of things in the intro. I think I'll start reading on just so I won't end up bashing Beast just because of one part that we seem to agree wasn't that well written).
        Oh, that realization/acceptance part was something I never forgot nor let go, trust me

        What I'm saying is that to present it along the decision aspect under the light I've described above helps to deliver it to the game with the right amount of monstrous teeth & no easy answers Beast should have, I think.

        And don't worry about saying how you feel about the text! I know you well enough to be sure it's all constructive commentary made in good faith.


        Cinder's Comprehensive Collection of Creations - Homebrew Hub

        I write about Beast: The Primordial a lot

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        • #19
          Real quick, life got busy, whence why I'm not in here yet.


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

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          • #20
            As someone who hasn't yet read the Players guide or conquering heroes, I will ask if they clarify that while Devouring concept better. The introduction outright says "anyone can become a beast", which as the last few posts have mentioned does come across as "well, you didn't HAVE to become a monster, it's all on you now". It contradicts other things in the book (The idea that you "always dreamed deep", the idea that Heroes and Beasts are related), and also seems to contradict later sidebars (the one where I think a changeling is confused as to why one beast killed another’s mortal sister or something, and how everyone just accepted it because that beast was just born that way and had no choice in the matter).

            I personally preferred Homecoming, and lean towards portraying the Devouring less as "you get to choose to become a beast" and more "I can show you what's going on with you and why you've been different if you let me", but I'm still not sure which interpretation is more sound in the later books.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
              4) The authors of this work are real people with real lives, real problems, and real emotions. Many had Beast as their first set of jobs, and as such some of Beast's roughness stems from this fact.
              As one of those poor naifs, I appreciate this.

              Originally posted by Cinder

              There are bits in there that really don't work for me. One is that "you never really fit in pre-Devouring". While I think it's good to have Beasts show sign of their nature all their lives, that paragraph does not sell the concept to me. That part about "walking among the flock"? Yeah, I don't like that one.
              Yeah, this concept really threw a wrench in a lot of things. I think I've mentioned before having trouble writing around it. It makes a lot of the book's perspective (what Beasts think they are vs. what they do) seem incoherent. And it pretty much fell away in later books.



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              • #22
                Originally posted by LostLight View Post

                So yeah, I was re-reading the introduction also yesterday, and I must admit that reading those parts made me cringe so bad. I mean, I know that the lessons are social constructs, but their presentation in the introduction was so, well, bad, that it made we wonder why do I even like Beast. Then I ran back to read the Kickstarter Preview, and it reminded me what actually drew me into the game in the first place. Then came the realization that I've never actually read the final introduction, and instead my perception of Beast relied a lot on that initial preview- which actually, I was always fond of. I mean, sure, the Lessons as a social construct to keep Beasts in line makes sense, but I had little to no issues to use the initial presentation, and I must admit that I still like the Homecoming over the Devouring. The "decision" part of the Devouring doesn't really add something to the game, I think, beside "I chose to be a monster in order to teach people through fear", so yeah, it feels a bit off, IMO. However, it seems that at the very least the whole "Oracles of Fear" thing which this introduction added eventually became the Oracles in Dark Eras 2, so I while it is problematic, good things still came out of it.
                Yeah which brings us back to the main issue with Beast:

                It's not the content itself that's the issue, but how it's presented. Me personally, especially since this is neither the first or the last time that a CofD book does this, I do think taking the initial presentation at face value is something to not be relied upon...but it's also not people's fault if they choose to take the initial read presented to them as an absolute.
                Last edited by tasti man LH; 02-08-2021, 01:12 AM.

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                • #23
                  First time posting in the forums in a long time!

                  I don't have much to say right now since I haven't started a re-read yet. But just popping in too say I'm looking forward to the conversation.


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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by tasti man LH View Post
                    Yeah which brings us back to the main issue with Beast:

                    It's not the content itself that's the issue, but how it's presented. Me personally, especially since this is neither the first or the last time that a CofD book does this, I do think taking the initial presentation at face value is something to not be relied upon...but it's also not people's fault if they choose to take the initial read presented to them as an absolute.
                    I'd disagree with you there. I think it is the content, though it's less about it being bad than it's all the various, and often contradicting, ideas. After all, one of the major developers said it was the "worst case of design-by-commitee that [they'd] ever seen". With so many ideas presented, an individual could latch onto a particular set of ideas and ignore or downplay anything that contradicted it. For example, some people took the subtext as making very unfortunate implications (I don't believe I need to go into detail about that for most of you here, but for those out of the loop, just ask and I'll send you a PM about it) and it's true, to an extent. Others took it as ultimately about accepting yourself for who you are and anyone saying otherwise can go take a hike. This interpretation is also just as true. The book is like one big Rorschach test; with everyone taking away what they initially latched onto and ignoring/downplaying the rest.

                    It also explains why so many people (me included) want to, or at least wanted, to make alternate takes of the game or 'fix' it. Such a diversity of ideas means hardly any of them will be fully developed if you're lucky. So some people take the ideas they really like, fully develop them, and ditch the ones they don't. Looking at my project of Monomyth as an example: I decided to fully develop the Monomyth idea, which in Primordial is a backdrop part of the lore and used as more of a possible explanation of the situation Beasts and Heroes find themselves in, and make it an actual metaphysical force that directly influences both of them into a cycle of violence. Ditching Primordial's mystery of Beasts as either born or made, I determined Beasts as born to amplify that whole what-makes-a-man-a-man theme ('cause I like Hellboy and I liked how some parts of Primordial emulates that). I also changed Beasts as completely inhuman (with a human form, though) rather than humans with monstrous souls simply because I find it more appealing for Beasts to be full-on monsters (besides, you can have the whole human-with-monster-soul with a half-Beast or something).

                    But hey, that's just my theory. Take it for what you will, especially considering how it's centered on various interpretations of the text.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by crapcarp View Post
                      After all, one of the major developers said it was the "worst case of design-by-commitee that [they'd] ever seen". With so many ideas presented, an individual could latch onto a particular set of ideas and ignore or downplay anything that contradicted it.
                      ...except that this was what I was referring to by the presentation leading to misleading interpretations.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by tasti man LH View Post
                        ...except that this was what I was referring to by the presentation leading to misleading interpretations.
                        Oh, then I misunderstood. My bad.

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                        • #27
                          I'm dealing with some deadlines right now, folks. I'll get back to the thread as soon as I can and address the various questions & comments that happened in the meantime. Then move forward with the commentary too.


                          Cinder's Comprehensive Collection of Creations - Homebrew Hub

                          I write about Beast: The Primordial a lot

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                          • #28
                            In a house with no wifi until....Next Saturday on my end. Should have some notes to play with by then, though.


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

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by tasti man LH View Post

                              ...except that this was what I was referring to by the presentation leading to misleading interpretations.
                              Yeah, I agree.
                              When I first heard of the premise of Beast, what I heard was "humans with the souls of mythical monsters", and what I thought was "That sounds cool, you can play as a Dragon or a Kraken (more or less), I expect mythological vibes about it, like Scion meets World of Darkness but with the monster's p.o.v.".
                              Beast the Primordial doesn't have mythological vibes at all. Which was a bit disappointing to me.

                              Presentation has a huge impact. Even just the aesthetics, color, fonts, illustrations can contribute a lot to making that first impression which is sometimes hard to get rid of. And that's because it is dependent on the chosen Theme and Mood, which lie somewhere in between presentation and content (which is why it may feel like the issue is the content, as crapCarp said).

                              Personally, I've found the game more interesting than I first thought after reading it more in-depth. Also browsing this forums and the point of view of its fans (like Cinder's essays) has shed some light, made me look at it from a different perspective. And yet, it doesn't click for me, I still think of it like a missed opportunity. Am I still clinging to that first impression I had? Probably. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is not discussing about personal preferences, but to make a point on how big of an impact the presentation has.

                              Originally posted by crapcarp View Post

                              With so many ideas presented, an individual could latch onto a particular set of ideas and ignore or downplay anything that contradicted it.
                              [...] The book is like one big Rorschach test; with everyone taking away what they initially latched onto and ignoring/downplaying the rest.
                              Exactly.
                              In a sense, a mix of ideas is not a bad thing per se. It adds flexibility to the game. Requiem has room for both underground-lurking splatter horror and Sexy Teenage Vampire tropes (if that's your thing).

                              I think one thing that could benefit Beast is what they did in some books for Vampire (one of them is Chronicler's Guide, but there are a couple of others): provide storytelling suggestions and mechanics to take the setting of the game into a completely new direction.
                              For instance, I remember some examples in Requiem Chronicler's Guide include focusing on the "Cursed by God" theme, or making a setting where there is no Masquerade and everyone knows about vampires, or one where there are no Covenants, and there is only one family of vampires in a very isolated and claustrophobic setting.

                              Because Beast contains so many ideas, and everyone seems to have different expectations or interpretations, a book that allows to take the game's Themes and Moods into different directions could really help. No need to "fix" the core game, just provide more options.
                              Last edited by moonwhisper; 02-23-2021, 06:30 AM.

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                              • #30
                                I'm trying to remember the discussions my group had when the BtP Kickstarter was going. We decided pretty early that we simply had more fun games to play. Iirc correctly we had two primary reasons:

                                The first is that most of us (not quite including myself, but I definitely see where they're coming from) would prefer to play a human turning into the actual monster rather than a human channeling the idea of a monster having taken up residence in their mind/soul space. It's not that it's not an interesting concept, but it's a concept that might work better for NPCs/antagonists in other games, especially MtA.

                                The second and definitely much larger reason is the lack of an obvious interesting gameplay loop.
                                Mage has a great one because you have a huge carrot and a toolbox designed to investigate Mysteries, and each Mystery points towards the next and can form an overarching story, with a lot of setting stuff sprinkled on top to make it even more interesting. The setting parts can even be used to point towards the next Mystery if the PCs would run out of them.
                                Vampire has two loops that feed into each other. The base loop is that you need to feed, and anytime you feed you risk consequences that requires spending more Vitae and dealing with your Humanity. The other is that you're by default assumed to be smack in the middle of a web of social intrigue where every actor is a predator. Anything you do will lead to consequences that leads to reactions and almost always a greater need for blood. And if feeding ever becomes tedious (which it can become quite quickly) there's tools for handling it quickly between scenes so that you can continue to focus on the main crux of the campaign.
                                Deviant has a wonderful gameplay loop. You're straight up told to fill in your character's goals and you can immediately start working towards them. Doing that will lead to exposing yourself to the Web of Pain, which will supply a basically endless amount of new goals if you succeed in your original goals. And unlike Vampire, it does so without handing you a set of standard factions.
                                Beast has a feeding system, but no obvious driving force for engaging with it. Yeah, you could attract heroes that requires spending Satiety to defeat, but that's hardly an interesting core loop. I see no carrot like in Mage unless the player specifically choose to chase one of the given Inheritances. There's no default setting elements to interact with like in Vampire, nor is there a framework for building up any such elements of your own design like in Deviant. If I were to try to ST this game, I would be at a complete loss when deciding what the driving force of the campaign would be and have trouble building up any kind of social network of NPCs. I could be completely reactive to the PCs and improvise, but without a main goal to work towards players themselves tend to become completely reactive so that wouldn't work.

                                Note that this is what we thought when the original manuscript came out (assuming I haven't grossly misremembered anything). Since then there's been a rewrite and a praised BPG, but nothing I've heard about those has adressed the above concerns so I haven't really cared for delving back into BtP more than for mining things that can be used in other CofD games.
                                While I get these concerns might not be the primary reason for this thread, I do hope that we get to see some musings about gameplay rather than only high concept thoughts about the game.


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