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Arcane and Cinder Reread The Beast Corebook

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  • #91
    Speaking of inspirational material, I did catch that Wreck It Ralph quote slipped in a couple pages back

    Anyway, Heroes. There's so much to say on the topic. I know we're technically just on the short segment in the introduction, but the disjointed approach to Heroes permeates Beast and of all the places the splat could improve I think Heroes are second only to Lessons. Beast has a tricky line to walk here: In a game about playing the villains (by societal designation, at least) you need to have clear reasons why those are more interesting characters to explore than the Heroes.

    The problem with that is that swapping perspective doesn't change the fact that to make an interesting story protagonists need interesting antagonists. Well, that's not strictly true, protagonists need to be confronted with interesting problems, which don't need to be caused by antagonists but often are. Beast mucked this up in its first outing by painting Heroes as shallow, one note glory hounds and then failing to sell other, more interesting problems in their stead. Seriously, how many of the story snippets are a nameless Hero trying to kill a Beast and getting killed instead, with next to no broader context? That's possibly the most boring kind of interaction from a social or metaphysical standpoint, and given the power disparity it would be a struggle to keep such encounters menacing beyond the first tier of play. Yes, I know Heroes can be played much more interesting than random back alley attackers; Conquering Heroes gives us plenty of examples. The core, however, doesn't do enough to showcase it. There's so much of it that it can seem like the game is mainly about these randos trying to kill you because you're a monster, but you kill them in self defense instead. As subversions go that's... pretty shallow and limited. Mechanically it doubles down, with Gifts that are almost exclusively useful for killing Beasts and are only ever acquired through... killing Beasts. That does a good job reinforcing how monomaniacal Heroes can be, but it also reinforces the perception that encounters mostly start with an attempted murder and end with a successful one.

    Actually, the Wreck It Ralph reference is relevant here because it's a good example of an interesting problem that doesn't involve a homicidal antagonist. Ralph's desire for recognition isn't supported by any of his existing acquaintances and his skill set isn't particularly conducive to achieving recognition elsewhere. Not all Beasts are going to care about being a good guy in spite of social perceptions and a tool kit much better suited to breaking things and terrorizing people, but it's certainly one of the compelling narrative options the game can offer.

    Sidenote, I very much like the idea of Heroes facing, and rejecting, a Devouring of their own. Would this necessitate killing the larval Horror, or just driving it away? Beast decided to not codify the precise means by which Heroes arise, which was better than the original version, but it intuitively makes a lot of sense to me that if s Beast is created by a Horror devouring and replacing a soul then aborting that process partway through would likely mean a damaged soul with nothing to fill the void. Which would give Heroes something in common with Deviants.