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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.


    • #92
      Need to pick up with this, but on an unrelated note to self, Branches. Grandpa's in the attic, there are serpents in the trees.

      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.


      • #93
        So, Themes:
        Okay, picking up with Themes.

        I suppose before digging into this, I should briefly layout my current thoughts on themes as actually matters to Beast. So, Hunger & Kinship, which carries Self/Individual and ...Sort of Service/Community Definitely is the first one I think has to be mentioned, because Beast is all about that tension between the extent of a Beast's family and being there for others versus being there for yourself and who and how you are-the games humanity/monstrosity scale REALLY relies on which sort of people are attracted to the Beast in question. Acceptance & Defiance, which TvTropes would define as Harmony versus discipline, to accomodate the complicated themes around fatalism, nihilism, and absurdism-this is where the horror becomes really deep-seated and mind-fucky. I'm lolling Individuality & Archetypalism around on my tongue as a third set, because while it's kind of subset of Hunger and Kinship, but it is an overt statement of the surrender to symbolism (and stereotyping) or to the rejection of existence beyond the self (so in to be all the more Yourself). I don't wanna rest on No Neat Little Boxes anymore, but...well, hey, the first theme it talks about.

        No Neat Little Boxes is a good theme in general, and a particularly good one for Beast. It encapsulates both a real and sincere fact of life, and also the reality of the Chronicles universe. The entirity of this mystery-driven universe is fucking messy even with the collision of stratification between various gamelines, but for a lot of us older gamers who remember directly what first edition was like where Blue Book Books were a lot more common, there's this real and deep space where nothing actually...makes sense? It it solvable, but it will never wholly connect, and it's just fucking weird and discordant and YET it BELONGS because IT EXISTS. Beast is one of the three big gamelines that can really rediscover and dive into that messy, weird world where things just ARE regardless of the predisposed point of view(the other two being Mage and Demon, in my estimation, also why the fuck are these all high end power tier shit[duh, position Past Kelly]).

        But also, Beast is just really messy, and (despite being simple) hard point of view to think about. Beast rejects a world of logic and reason and linear conception in favor of emotion, psychology, dreams, zeitgeistal feel. It's not about simpler morality's and more about the infinite individual moments of questions about who and how to be, and it takes a VERY TOUGH position to handle all of that from, because it takes the position of people who have difficult shit to deal with-difficult shit to BE. The entire point of Beast, and Chronicles on the whole, is to be cathartic and sort of, at it's deep level, demon-banishing. Chronicles is place where we can be a lot of things we need to be as well as want to be, but it is place to really get with and confront both who we want to be and who we DON'T want to be. It is a game for dealing with, naming, and properly understanding what our demons are-hell, I'm a fucking genderfluid girl(yes, aware of the contradiction) of spiritual omniglotism now because I had this space to learn and grow and confront who I was, as the BASEST level of realization of who I am and who I could be, and that's the SIMPLEST of layers of being confrontation Beast handles, because Beast dives Deep and Dark and Black and still asks for Humanity.

        But Leaving it at No Neat Little Boxes feels like a cheap trick, both for Beast and in that larger conception of what Chronicles works to say and explore. It implies that Beasts are, paradoxically, ABOVE it, that they KNOW better. And there's way, in universe, they sort of can-but to dwell on that is to ignore the way that they HAVE their own bias, that they have their own diametric point of view on reality and their own interests. They are as IGNORANTLY EXPLOITATIVE as they are CONNECTIVELY UNDERSTANDING-they understand EVERYONE on an INTUITIVE level, but in the ABSTRACT and IMPERSONAL. By Contrast, they understand people on the SYMPATHETIC and EMPATHETIC level, but not neccesarily on the MORAL and ETHICAL level. There's...

        If I would retranslate this concept into a Second Edition form, I would address it as Reality & Conception-because we all need to draw our borders and close in the wagons to handle things as they happen, but that very essential act has it's own problem in that it recognizes we always are never gonna have the whole picture JUST BECAUSE we need to draw a line to handle that reality before it overwhelms us, and that dealing with life means both having to draw lines and also not being willing to die for them, but also realizing we have our own horizons and journey that cannot acknowledge the whole. Living is learning, and you'll never know the whole.

        On record, I'm basically listening to the Achievement Hunter Turnaround Videos, videos from the last year where AH basically decided to take a hard stance and fucking hard turn to be who they want to be and condemn who they were, if yer wondering about the tenor.

        ANYWAYS, where are we?

        You Don't Choose Your Family.

        ohhhhhh fuuuucking god.


        I should Read This before I respond.

        Okay. So.

        There's no way I can address this part without addressing my real world relationship to the theme.This one is controversial.

        So, my middle brother and I. The equal and opposite near-twins.

        I won't bore you with the full details of just HOW near it can be perceived, but my brother and I have always been the closest persons in each other's lives, even when we listed apart. If there is a person who's opinion I know I should hear even when I don't wanna hear it, my middle brother is it. If there is someone I could just undress myself and pretend to be, I could walk onto military bases as my middle brother. If there is one person I could trust to pretend to be me for a day, even if I wouldn't like the results of it, my middle brother is that person. I would describe no one else as being the closest person to me.

        He is also on the list of people I'd like to personally kill. Because We are the same person UNTIL we diverge. And then we're not. By wide margins.

        My brother believes a lot of actively harmful and hateful things. He ACTS on them. He always has. He's always been exploitative and maipulative and selfishly malicious. He's the reason I'm not openly genderfluid. The rest of my family is recalcitrant, but could come to terms with it, but he won't. He's a racist, a sexist, a classist, a bigot of all the stripes you'd expect from the worst that America can be. And I am kind of ALWYAS ANGRY about that. I am so FURIOUS someone in my family is like that.

        And here's where the realistic, the honest and idealistic should, would, will, and MUST say: you should stop caring about that. Leave him behind, stop caring, treat him as he is. And I know I should.

        But he is my brother. I have other siblings, but this is the guy I faced the world with, when no one else, and sometimes LITERALLY no one else, was by my side, and for what can be called no other reason than because he's my brother. And I've done the same.

        I could kill him. I would also shield him from anyone trying to kill him.

        He' brother. He's complicated and extreme and anyone interacting with my brother after dealing with me is going to have a myriad of reactions.

        And that-that is what Beast needs to really communicate about Kinship. Kinship is about people you love and people you hate and people who are completely one in the same, and it is you making excuses for people who don't deserve it and explaing the reasons behind people who do deserve it and those two things not being unrelated from each other and people just being people and the human family being the fucking human family.

        It's about how the only right person to defend and kill a person is a sibling to the person in question. It's about how the only people who can defend or kill a person is someone who is NOT a sibling to the person in question. It's about how no ONE ANSWER can ever be the right answer, but sometimes, that ONE ANSWER is what needs to be acted on.

        Beasts see everyone as family. It doesn't make things easy. it doesn't make things PEACEFUL. It makes them feel like they're the only ones who can act-and it often demonstrates both how right and wrong they are.

        It's about being personal and intimate, the way it can't HELP but be that way, and the way that can ABSOLUTELY fuck everything up.

        (Also, heh, look, another reason Beasts and Demons are twain despite the twixt)

        Beasts seeing everyone else as family not everyone else's problem, it's theirs. Whatever you might think is an obvious solution requires a second thought from a Beast. What might be a forgivable slip is an unforgiveable slight to a Beast. EVERYTHING is Heightened. EVERYTHING is reflective. EVERYTHING is personal. Nothing is simple ,everything is emotional.

        So, final one...

        To Thine Own Self Be True.

        So, fun and unrelated fact, a tradition in the Mormon Church is that one of the many accessories you must obtain before going on a Mormon Mission is a ring related to the Church's values. My mom has forgotten this story, but we went to go buy my ring, and she wanted me to buy one of the other trite statements that Mormons claim as their own, like Choose the Right, or some shit about the temple, or whatever.

        The ONLY quote I would allow was To Thine Own Self Be True, and apparently this was such a soft-but-drawn-out conflict we left without buying a ring, because she apparently didn't agree with my logic. Also tangentially funny, my middle brother LOVES THIS NOTION, and so do I.

        For Beast, it is an....interesting one, becuase it is very core to Beast's conflict(s), but it doesn't really capture it AS conflict. Because the core Beast, where all horror and tragedy derives from, is the claimancy and ownership of being a monster versus WHAT THAT MEANS and just at what point in that claimancy/ownership do you start drawing lines who and what you will be, who and what you'll allow yourself to be...who and what the world and circumstance demand you to be.

        There's a point where Beasts are who they are, a point they can't back way from, a point many of them won't even try to pretend to-but that point can exist in a lot of different ways, and the readiance or reluctance towards those many points should be the point of interest, which drives them towards conflict (or alliance) with Heroes and the Insatiable. It's about,however and how much you define the place and difference in position in a community you have, you HAVE a place and relationship and differential postion to/from to that community. It's about where that lines exists, and what's worth the cost of that relationship.

        So after this, it's influences and all that other jazz. I should address the Six Moods at some point, and I should address Inspirations and Sources I suppose....But Chapter 1 is calling. We've been in the intro WAY too long.

        We'll see.

        PS: BTW, I write these things in Notepad and sometimes I edit them aftewards. Othertimes, I go to sleep.
        Last edited by ArcaneArts; 06-12-2021, 03:36 AM.

        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.


        • #94
          I'm at work, so this'll have to be later, but we should probably talk about Transgression, Compassion, Fatalism, Fearfulness, Mythicality, and Introspection.

          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.