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  • #16
    Originally posted by 21C Hermit View Post
    It may have to do with the old question of whether a work of fiction that depicting something also endorses it. (I think there was a similar topic in the General forum, but I’m staying waaaay clear of that one)
    Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
    Of course.... if that were blanket truth the past 30 years of the WoD and CofD games would all be irredeemable because all of them are about playing morally dubious (at best) people. The whole premise of both settings has always been to flip from playing the heroes that fight the monsters lurking in the shadows, to playing the monsters in the shadows.
    CofD games (and probably also WoD games to some degree, though I'm not as familiar with them) are generally about the tragic nature of those playable monsters. Almost all of them are turned into monsters against their wills, making them victims that are forced into circumstances that facilitates monstrous behaviour. That goes a long way to make them very sympathetic even before they get the chance to do something morally questionable (or outright evil).
    Changelings, werewolves, prometheans, almost all vampires and many deviants never had a say in what they became. Mages had no way of knowing the consequences (and the Awakening Mystery Play might not put you in the most rational state of mind). Demons never intends to fall, but doing so makes them arguably less monstrous (though also often more dangerous to humans around them). I don't know much about the Rite of Return, but my guess is that if any decision was made it was probably not fully informed, and playable mummies start the game as enslaved servants and without most of their memory of who they were.
    Aside from self-made and voluntary Deviants, Sin-Eaters are the only ones that actively choose, but they do so under pressing circumstances, so to say. And more than any other splat, they have the capacity of being completely benign as they have no needs that are innately harmful for others, and no mandated major antagonist (like Conspiracies, Keepers, and the God-Machine) who would force them into desperate situations where others are liable to become collateral.
    I bring it up because the other CofD games creates a context for Beast: The Primordial. Common themes in these games naturally creates certain expectations of BtP, which I think should be considered when judging the game and how others perceive the game.


    That said, I absolutely do not think there's anything wrong with playing an actual villain protagonist. There's plenty of other media that revolves around such characters: Breaking Bad is Walter White's descent into becoming a ruthless criminal who keeps on going long after he's got the funds for his treatment. The Underwoods in House of Cards were pretty despicable from the beginning (I only saw the first two seasons but I highly doubt they were redeemed later). A lot of cRPGs with "morality systems" allows you to become just as bad or worse than the villain you defeat at the end. A lot of fighting games and RTS games have playable villains in addition to the heroes (though admittedly they're a lot more emotionally distant in such games). Hell, some people even cheer on the killer in slasher movies just because they're more fun to watch than the generally annoying and stupid victims.
    It can be quite fun and even cathartic to play an unequivocally bad guy. There's a reason a lot of actors think playing villains are a lot more fun than playing heroes. And it's honestly not that much different from playing a heroic champion in a more lighthearted RPG; ultimately you're just playing someone else who does and experiences things you wouldn't or couldn't. Someone who isn't the you who sits down to play. It's basic escapism, just like any other storytelling medium.
    (There's also an ideological factor in almost all stories, but that's about how characters are portrayed, not how they act. Unfortunately a lot of people conflate the two, which is why we have people idolising Frank Castle, a hyperviolent mass murderer.)


    Bloodline: The Stygians
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    • #17
      Originally posted by Tessie View Post
      CofD games (and probably also WoD games to some degree, though I'm not as familiar with them) are generally about the tragic nature of those playable monsters. Almost all of them are turned into monsters against their wills, making them victims that are forced into circumstances that facilitates monstrous behaviour. That goes a long way to make them very sympathetic even before they get the chance to do something morally questionable (or outright evil).
      ...
      I bring it up because the other CofD games creates a context for Beast: The Primordial. Common themes in these games naturally creates certain expectations of BtP, which I think should be considered when judging the game and how others perceive the game.
      If anything my one real pet peeve with Beast is how it was marketed as a deliberate break from that, Kickstarted with a first draft that made good on being a break from that, then suddenly got turned into not a break from that. Needless to say I live by the sidebar saying “‘Lessons’ is just what most Beasts tell themselves so they can sleep at night, some don’t make any excuses for themselves and that’s cool too.”

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      • #18
        I think the movie Cruella sums up Beast perfectly:


        -The protagonist being bad does not matter if the villain is just as bad or worse.

        -The movie is all about embracing one's true self, Stella becomes Cruella and never even cogitates going back, Cruella was not an alternate personality that emerged as time went by, she was Cruella all along, Stella was the fake.

        -The movie has a strong "family" theme, they actually say it out loud, just because you are a bad person doesn't mean that you should hurt the ones that care about you. If your Beast character is a psychopath who does not care about anyone and does whatever he wants without consequences, you can play it like that, but it's not the intended gameplay. Vampire is about how your actions affect yourself, that's why it has Humanity, Beast is about how your actions affect those around you, that's why it has mechanics dealing with a Beast's family, sure, the mechanics may not be perfect, but the objective is evident.

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        • #19
          I think that's a totally valid interpretation, but it doesn't seem very clear.

          Like, one of the samples of text I read was about a Hero who committed a hate crime--so he's a terrible, awful person, presumably--but the crime he committed was against a Beast who happened to belong to a minority he did not. So sure, legally and in the eyes of common society, he is an awful, racist scumbag. But the reader knows the truth; he was just trying to stop a monster from causing human suffering.
          And then there's the girl in a coma. I mean. How does she deserve to suffer horribly?

          Again, I'm all for playing villains. Simple or complex, sympathetic or not. As long as the context the game presents them in its clear that you are playing a *bad guy*, and isn't condoning genuinely awful things under some guise.
          And that seems to be the point of contention for so many. The tone of BtP seems, at least sometimes, to be in the latter camp.

          But Beast with layers and acknowledgement that what you're doing is atrocious, that you *are a monster* , and that discusses the consequences of being such? Absolutely. It's just a shame that the tone and voice of the book was so muddied but what sounds like a development nightmare, and it's doubly unfortunate that the guy at the helm was accused of the very behaviors that many felt the book was promoting.

          I think the adjustments and mindsets presented here provide a much more morally stable game, and a blue interesting one as well.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Quixote View Post
            But the reader knows the truth; he was just trying to stop a monster from causing human suffering.
            Technically speaking, the reader knows the truth: he cared more about how slaying a monster boosted his ego, and any suffering he prevented as incidental.

            Heroes are caught in a cycle, and the more they engage with it, the more it drags them down from constructive motivations towards egotistical ones.

            And then there's the girl in a coma. I mean. How does she deserve to suffer horribly?
            Who on Earth said she deserves what's happening to her? She's explicitly there as an example of how to expand Heroes past their default presentation and give stories a more complex and difficult moral dilemma to tackle with rather than fending off some trophy hunter.

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            • #21
              Its covered more in the Player's Guide, but it is in the core, the complex in Beast is in dealing with what you have to do vs what you want/ what benefits you the most. A Beghotten feeds off certain stimuli and Heroes get a power boost and a drug high off killing Beasts. Now of course a Beast can go total villain and do what it wants, example from the core the nemesis who slaughters people for being too happy, but others can and will find positions that aren't anymore malevolent than normal humans do, like the Namtaru who works late night.

              Now in your best case scenario with Heroes they're going after Beghotten like the aforementioned nemesis. Your worst case scenario the Hero decides the nurse needs to die because she's a Beast and anyone that interrupts or tries to stop the killing gets killed. And then there's the spectrum, you have some Heroes who do the killing because they think its helping, then you have others like the Web Weaver who seem rather happy to go after civilians connected to the Beast first regardless of threat they might possess or Grace Teller who's just using killing Beasts as a way to get the fame she wants as a tv star.

              It's not a perfect comparison, but a line from one show kind of fits the dynamic. "He's not doing it out of altruism. He's doing it because he's a sadist who get's a thrill out of tormenting villains."

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                Technically speaking, the reader knows the truth: he cared more about how slaying a monster boosted his ego, and any suffering he prevented as incidental.
                I supposed. As I've said, I've only read through bits of the book and some reviews.
                It just feels dodgy that Heroes are created by otherworldly events beyond their control, and then (some of) the text presents them like these a-holes who deserve what they get.

                Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                Who on Earth said she deserves what's happening to her? She's explicitly there as an example of how to expand Heroes past their default presentation and give stories a more complex and difficult moral dilemma to tackle with rather than fending off some trophy hunter.
                There was a significant amount of buzz from people defending the position that she too "had it coming" for various ephemeral reasons. And it seemed like text and the lead of the development team were encouraging that sort of mindset.

                But again, if that tone is not consistent throughout the book and is a symptom of poor development, rather than an attempt to make a book with the message that being abusive is a-okay, that's a very different matter entirely. And whatever the book's troublesome past, it certainly seems that the community has made it their own.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Quixote View Post
                  It just feels dodgy that Heroes are created by otherworldly events beyond their control, and then (some of) the text presents them like these a-holes who deserve what they get.
                  But even the core book doesn't really do this for all it's bad and muddy writing. Even when the book is presenting Heroes at their least sympathetic, it's clear to state that it's presenting the Heroes that are most likely to come up in the game as the ones most likely to hunt and kill any Beast they can find instead of ones with more measured and proportionate responses to the harm Beasts do. That's why Melanie still fits in the core book: unlike most Heroes she has to hunt to survive (becoming more literal of a foil to Beasts for it) her situation. If she retires before she gets back to her body, she'd die. So she hunts whatever Beasts she can find because it's literally a mater of life and death for her. She can't afford to be picky about what the Beast did to get attention.

                  The book says, multiple times, that it's not that Heroes are assholes that deserve it, but that the Heroes who are assholes that deserve it are also the ones most likely to enter the game as antagonists because they're driven by whatever reasons to kill Beasts without regard to the consequences. More thoughtful and less egotistically motivated Heroes are less likely to come up simply because the PCs are generally pushed towards trying to find some sort of balance of the harm they do with either doing good as well, or doing harm in a socially accepted fashion; and thus not be prime targets for Heroes that are more responsible with what they do.

                  There was a significant amount of buzz from people defending the position that she too "had it coming" for various ephemeral reasons. And it seemed like text and the lead of the development team were encouraging that sort of mindset.
                  People say a lot of things, the text doesn't say anything of the sort, and implies the opposite. Given that it's left open that if a Beast were to be responsible for helping her back to her body, she'd very likely either give up being a Hero, or at least empathize heavily with Beasts (since they're stuck hunting to survive like she will have been) to not be the indiscriminate Heroes like the other core book examples and only focus on Beasts that don't try to contain themselves.

                  There are lots of problems in the text, but there's a point where people stretch them so far it actually detracts from the attempts to reinterpret the text for a better game.

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                  • #24
                    Sure. As I've said, I've only read a small portion of it.

                    The idea that the villains contain sympathetic examples but that they won't really come up in the story over their more overtly/simple evil kin feels like bad design. If you really only encounter X, it certainly feels like it's all X.
                    But that's probably more of that unfocused development stuff.

                    Again, thank you for the replies.

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                    • #25
                      Its sort of an alteration that was done as a response to complications with the original draft version, on Heroes, which were far more problematic than, "If you never run into them than what's the point of them existing" for a number of reasons that don't need expounding on.

                      Essentially its why there's the bit in the Heroes section mentioning that Heroes have undergone a similar unfocusing that the Beghotten have as humanity has grown and, as the sidebar mentioned, good ones are drawn to dealing with disturbances they feel in the Primordial Dream which may or may not involve killing something. However, that they aren't guaranteed to attempt to murder a Beghotten, and everyone connected to them, for simply existing makes them a significant improvement as far as most Beasts are concerned.

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                      • #26
                        Life has kept me busy, but man I wish I had been able to keep up with this thread better.

                        So, on the subject of Heroes, a few things need to be said.

                        First is that, despite my reluctance to mention the Kickstarter draft or earlier versions of Beast because of it's lack of relevance to the game as it is now and what it could be going forward, the initial drafts of Heroes are...an interesting idea*, but easily the worst part of that draft. A lot of the bad taste in people's mouths comes from that, and now that I have time on it, I can't blame them for that. THe artifacts of those problems that remain from the scrub to the final release also make Beast's core uneven and, despite definitely being better, still more than a little mixed on how to think of Beasts.

                        The second main thing that has to be mentioned is that it hasn't really had room to get better-Conquering Heroes had some space, but honestly not enough, seeing as I don't think anyone was thinking of that the way, say, Shunned by the Moon or Nameless and Accursed did, and the BPG and Building the Legend keep them in context of the protagonists and setting respectively, and then Beast became really and truly unpopular. A lot about Beast got better in the three supplements, but Heroes just have not gotten what they need (which is why when Cinder and I started pitching pitches at each other, our first subject was Squaring the Hero Circle).

                        But the third thing that's gotta be noted is that Heroes just don't have the same sort of antagonist relationship that the other gamelines protagonists have to comparable antagonists. They are much more comparable even in their oppostional positions

                        I've posited in another thread** that one of the consequences of the Kinship theme is that where, broadly and notionally, most of the games protagonists sit in a grey area of moral and ethical actions that are contrasted with enemies who firmly show a black, and then have some types that lurk closer to a "dividing line", Beasts sit squarely on that line and proceed to blur everyone else's lines-and their relationship to Heroes is a similar sort of matter. There's no clear cut moral high ground between the two, because one of the things that Beast does really well on the ideological level is resist the ways such an approach can be an oversimplification and neglects empathy and perspective, as well as the long term consequences for the justifications of the cycle of violence-or, at the very least, the really bad arguments.

                        Putting that a little more groundedly, where The Diamond and Free Council has some clear ground on the Seers, and the Lost may understand the Loyalists and sympathetic but wrong, Beasts and Heroes are fundamentally not supposed to have ground on either one or the other-Beasts often have and represent good points Heroes need to cope with, while Heroic opposition to a Beast's developing Lair and Legend should ultimately be used to challenge the Begotten's definition of self and world (as one and other are twixt and twain) and present a fork to work around in that way. Heroes should be used to explore a lot of the toxic culture and mindset that can organically emerge from the various heroic mythic mindsets and philosophies, and should more or less never be willing to run away from that (beacuse Beast can't be Beast if it doesn't do that), but it should also being willing to not only address but own why it's so pervasive, particularly as it relates to the positive ways it can influence people, including, yes, Beasts.

                        The main role Heroes serve is the most familiar outsider-someone who the audience (and the characters of the Beasts) are painfully aware of the whys and the hows that drive that person, and yet still alienated and ultimately ostracized from and by them. They aren't playable because the game needs you to look at them from outside, and for them to look at your and your characters from the outside as well. They are your ultimate enemy because-well, not not because of the acceptance and rejection of fatalism themes in Beast, or because structures of your lives move to create a commentary on the cycle of violence, but also because they are the fundamental foil, a you that must you must also contradict, conflict, and come to terms with, another persona or shadow to actualize a new layer of self to be....or forever resist in fear of accepting yourself.

                        Beasts and Heroes both make good points and bad points, not out of some kind of moral equivalency, but as a way to address things we might otherwise neglect. And so, it's no wonder that Beasts kinda of see Heroes in a bad light. It says just as much about them as it does the Hero.

                        And yes, I have a lot of ideas on how Beast could do that going forward.. But in the mean time,

                        1) Kickstarter Draft fucked up and we still have to deal with some of that.
                        2) Beast hasn't really had to opportunity to really address how it thinks about Heroes.
                        3) For a lot of reasons that emerge from Beast being it's best self going forward, Heroes must occupy a equal-yet-different place in the conceptual placement of the Dark Gray Line between traditional Chronicles protagonists and their antagonists. Beast's definitely need to have a point where Heroes are concerned, but it should also be pretty obvious that's not a one-way street, even if the basis for that is also the grounds for conflict.

                        *Believe it or not, but the idea of some kind of antagonist creation from Satiation is an idea I think that has some room to explore interesting things, but a) I wouldn't make them Heroes, and b) their creation would basically necessitate being a clear and open call that a Beast has fucked up royally where just fighting or killing them is kind of unapologetically the wrong answer, which has the added complexity of b1) playing with the concept in such a way that it doesn't come off as a tool to let a Storyteller just smack their players down and around, and b2) the only fucking antagonists anyone'd fucking use (within the confines of player bases that don't already do a form of that). I'm not sure it'd ever coalesce into material I'd include in a pitch, but it's definitely fun as a design playground.

                        **I need to go to sleep soon, but I promise I'll grab a link for relevance to the post.


                        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.

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                        • #27
                          There's always a resistance for that take on Heroes.
                          Look at Tom King's Batman run (a good inspiration for Heroes IMHO), it had mixed reception because fans felt uncomfortable with the portrayal of Batman as a flawed man, specially that scene where Batman punches Robin, many fans felt like Tom King was ruining Batman, they wanted Batman to be this good perfect Hero guy who saves Gotham for purely altruistic reasons. The funny thing is: it's not the first time Batman punches Robin like that, and it won't be the last, that's just how Batman is.

                          The truth is that Batman does not fight crime to make Gotham better, he does it purely for personal reasons, he doesn't care for Gotham, if he did he would try to tackle the cities problems in a way that actually matters, like, he is a billionaire and he does nothing to solve the cities' major poverty problem, which is where those villains get all their henchmen from.

                          In the The Dark Knight, Batman is not above using questionable methods to reach his goal, he literally built a system to spy on the entire city just to find a single villain, he also believes that lying to the public and creating fake narratives are essential "for the greater good".

                          While this portrayal of Batman is not unanimously appraised, there is a public for this kind of mature take of Heroes and it's growing. It just has to be done well, Beast is not an unsalvageable concept, far from it, it's a necessary game, it has reasons to exist.

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                          • #28
                            That's silly. Batman punched Robin because they are often pitted against each other and spied upon while it's done. It's a form of sign language, to communicate what is happening without letting the observer know the Batfamily is onto them. They explain as much.

                            Also the idea that the scene was considered as part of the 'reception' when it was literally in the last 15 issues of an 85 issue run.
                            Last edited by nofather; 06-12-2021, 05:12 PM.

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by nofather View Post
                              That's silly. Batman punched Robin because they are often pitted against each other and spied upon while it's done. It's a form of sign language, to communicate what is happening without letting the observer know the Batfamily is onto them. They explain as much.

                              Also the idea that the scene was considered as part of the 'reception' when it was literally in the last 15 issues of an 85 issue run.
                              Look how quickly they come to explain.

                              This is not the public that Beast should be fighting for.

                              To get Beast's take on Heroes you have to remember the prisoners' dilemma scene from The Dark Knight.

                              Batman didn't rescue them, Joker couldn't corrupt them, both failed, but the victims managed to resolve the problem themselves.

                              That's what people struggle to accept: BOTH Beasts and Heroes are obsolete, humanity has moved on from both of them, all they have left is their violence cycle which justify each other's existence.

                              And lastly, it really needs to be stated over and over again, Heroes' agenda is to have humanity depend on them, they DON'T represent "courage", their goal is not to encourage regular people to fight fear, that's the last thing they want to.

                              Heroes often send their troops to suicide missions when they know they will get slaughtered just to reaffirm that they, and only they, can fight Beasts. They are just another facet of fear that prevents humans from acquiring true emancipation.

                              True courage is when you feel fear and act despite of it, and in fact, in a more careful and planned way because of it. Heroes are fear in a state of denial, they say to humanity "fear not, I will come to rescue you", they deprive regular people of their personal journey to self-realization, they steal other people's stories and make it all about themselves. If you can't see how it's a bad thing to make humans unable to defend for themselves in the long run, then you won't get why Heroes are, in fact, just as bad as Beasts. Jesus, this the setting that has actual monsters out there, not just humans with the soul of one.
                              Last edited by DreadQueen; 06-12-2021, 06:34 PM.

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                              • #30
                                Let's avoid discussing Tom King elements in the thread about fictional creatures. This won't be repeated.


                                Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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