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  • #31
    I think some kind of Hive/Territory mechanic might also facilitate the Beast v. Beast aspect. I really hope that the STG dives very deep into the Primordial Dream's ecosystems.

    (Actually as I think about it, an entire book dedicated to it a la the Hedge would be extraordinarily useful.)

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    • #32
      Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
      This is because that incredibly rich and complex tapestry is the thing that Heroes tear apart. When a Hero does show up, at the culmination of this complexity and uncertainty, they act in a way that renders the complexity of the story down to nothing. There is only Monomyth. There is only doom. All ideals of the freedom of a meaningless world crumbles, there is a meaning. All ideals of a complex and rich world of a myriad of stories crumbles, there is only one story.
      Thanks for that awesome post. I'm a big fan of Beast, but I've been struggling with the themes, and I really like a lot of the ideas you've articulated. The threat of the Monomyth and the struggle against it echoes debate within the study of comparative mythology itself. The idea of the Monomyth has been highly criticized for oversimplifying and erasing the huge differences and variations within and between cultures, vastly limiting possibilities. In other words, insisting on the primacy of the Monomyth is an act of cultural colonialism and hegemony, and resisting it comes back around to the clash of contrasting principles (masculine vs feminine, religion vs spirituality, etc.).

      Beast at its core now seems to me to actually be a game of subverting dominant narratives and ideologies. In that context, both the teaching culture of beast and the concept of kinship among supernaturals has the potential to be radically disruptive and liberating, mostly on an individual and interpersonal level, but the net effect it all has on society and reality might be deep enough to cause systemic damage to dominant power structures. Of course, teaching culture could also just play into it and end up recreating the dominant narrative, so I can see where the argument against it is. Perhaps there's more power in denying meaning and purpose altogether. There's actually some great potential for reading beasts as queer (in the sense of broader queer theory and ideas of positionality, not necessarily LGBT identity), especially with how dominant patriarchal society constructs and creates social "monsters" through the politics of morality and deviance... but that's a box that would take a quite a while to unpack, so I'll stop my thoughts there. Storytellers and players could definitely explore those concepts, whether in subtle or overt ways, rather than reduce the game down to just a violent struggle against heroes. I don't have a great understanding of the God Machine and angels yet, but I like the possibilities I'm seeing with that, which is great since I really didn't get the inclusion of angels in the core book until now.

      As a final note, I appreciate the conversations people here are having about Beast. It's giving me a lot to think about in terms of how I might want to play the game.

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      • #33
        Have you ever heard the myth of Sagittarius? The centaur Chiron was famed as a mentor to many of the greatest champions of Greek mythology. Brave and wise, a teacher without parallel.

        That was before Hercules, of course. Despite being remembered as a Hero, Hercules had a bit of an . . ."anger management" problem, one that often resulted in dead bodies. And while in one of his rages, Hercules fatally poisoned the wise old centaur with the incurable venom of the Hydra. Even though, once, Chiron had been his teacher, too

        And yet, even in his agony, Chiron taught a final lesson, as he unveiled his true power. Mocked by other supernaturals, and even the gods, he was promised immortality (and relief from his pain) if he could impress them. To uproarious laughter, he took up his bow, and fired an entire quiver of arrows into the sky,

        The laughing stopped, though, when the sky went dark. And the stars fell to Earth, each one pierced by an arrow.

        So, on one hand, we have the Hero, who never hesitated to flaunt his power, and who kept accidentally murdering friends and family throughout his career. And then there was Chiron, a Beast with terrible powers, who spent his life teaching the next generation . . . and who had zero accidental kills.

        Which of them was the real monster?

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        • #34
          What makes Chiron a Beast in the first place though? He's half man, half horse, but the ancient greeks never seemed to hold that against him.

          Originally posted by YeOfLittleFaith View Post
          For one, when Heroes have the power to inflict mythological and fairytale-like weaknesses on you that feel violating and depowering and wrong
          So could a Mage, Changeling, or half the WoD for that matter.


          “There are no rules. Only Principles and natural laws.” - Promethius
          My Homebrew no longer fits in a signature, you can find an index of it here.
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          • #35
            Originally posted by The Kings Raven View Post
            So could a Mage, Changeling, or half the WoD for that matter.
            (I think you're shifting the goalpost, but I'll bite.)

            And none of them are Heroes. None of them have the same assumed significance to a Beast's life, nor are inherently the same kind of narrative fulcrum. If they show up, they're not going to necessarily be your enemies, and Heroes most likely are. The similar curses "half of the CofD" could lay on Beasts are not the same as Anathema, and not least because not every relevant supernatural is going to have such an ability, while every Hero can place Anathema.
            Last edited by YeOfLittleFaith; 03-24-2016, 09:34 AM.

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            • #36
              Isn't that a circular argument?

              Unless I read you wrong it sounds like you're saying

              1) Heroes are significant to Beast's life because of Anthema.
              2) Anthema are more important than similar powers because Heroes are significant to a Beast's life.


              “There are no rules. Only Principles and natural laws.” - Promethius
              My Homebrew no longer fits in a signature, you can find an index of it here.
              Full length fan-books I contributed too: Princess: the Hopeful, Leviathan: the Tempest, Dream Catchers

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              • #37
                I'm saying that your counter of "Mages and Changelings and half the CofD can inflict mythological weakness on Beasts too" is false equivalence because: 1) Being able to do similar things doesn't make them narratively or thematically the same as Heroes by default; and 2) That a part of the answers to the original question of "Why are Beasts afraid of a Hero's self-importance, they're just nobodies with delusions of grandeur" can also be found in other monsters does not negate the answers in regard to Heroes.

                Heroes are significant to a Beast's life because they by design represent fatalism and inevitability, and are harbingers of the inescapability of the monomyth. Their abilities make this manifest and directly impose on the Begotten in a way nothing else in the Chronicles Of Darkness does. These things are only circular in that they reinforce each other.

                But I'm going to stop meddling in the argument now, as I'm pretty much just rewording concepts Arc already explained, and if this and prior answers aren't satisfactory I don't know what else to say.
                Last edited by YeOfLittleFaith; 03-24-2016, 11:04 AM.

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                • #38
                  When you say something like
                  Originally posted by YeOfLittleFaith View Post
                  Being able to do similar things doesn't make them narratively or thematically the same as Heroes
                  It seems like you're not actually responding to what I'm saying, because I'm not talking about narrative or theme. My point was only about the mechanics.

                  I'm not saying that heroes don't or shouldn't represent inevitability.

                  I'm saying that it's hard for me to roleplay a Beast who believes that Heroes represent fatalism and inevitability because that would require my charachter to ignore the evidence of their own eyes; namely that the Hero is obviously a loser. Fate tends to be a winner.



                  “There are no rules. Only Principles and natural laws.” - Promethius
                  My Homebrew no longer fits in a signature, you can find an index of it here.
                  Full length fan-books I contributed too: Princess: the Hopeful, Leviathan: the Tempest, Dream Catchers

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                  • #39
                    Well, to actually end the discussion in clarity: I just disagree that the Hero is "obviously a loser".
                    Last edited by YeOfLittleFaith; 03-24-2016, 12:59 PM.

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                    • #40
                      Originally posted by The Kings Raven View Post
                      When you say something like It seems like you're not actually responding to what I'm saying, because I'm not talking about narrative or theme. My point was only about the mechanics.

                      I'm not saying that heroes don't or shouldn't represent inevitability.

                      I'm saying that it's hard for me to roleplay a Beast who believes that Heroes represent fatalism and inevitability because that would require my charachter to ignore the evidence of their own eyes; namely that the Hero is obviously a loser. Fate tends to be a winner.
                      So, recently I watched a long series of review episodes about the Asterisk Wars, and towards the end it compared that series to another one called Chivalry of a Failed Knight. I haven't watched either of these series and will more or less be sharing off of what Digibro said in the review, so if someone's seen it and I'm not getting stuff right, 1) cool, 2) leave me alone, I'm making a point off of what I know.

                      So, in the first arc of Chivalry, the main character goes up against an enemy he ran away from before. Granted, he ran away because he didn't want to get into trouble, but the impact of the moment scarred the character. So, when he's put into a scenario where he has to fight him again, he starts getting freaked out. It doesn't help that the character's fighting style means he has to watch the guy's previous fights to understand his method, but the enemy's methods are kind of terrifying. So this entire time he's supposed to get ready, he's freaking more and more out. And when he gets into the fight, the enemy takes advantage of that, going and pushing all the buttons and just shooting him up left, right and center, all the while playing up the weaknesses and failures of the character, getting the crowd to chant in opposition to him.

                      Now, here's the thing of the matter: The main character is an overpowered badass. I mean, he is, by the inherent nature of the story he's in-he's a light novel protagonist, it's wish-fulfillment central. He's already beaten one of the toughest fighters in the setting. His friends don't ever question this battle, the main character is clearly stronger and more capable than his opponent. It's so obvious to them that they don't notice that he's freaking the hell out. Once they realize everything he's dealing with, they rally and silence the crowd, encouraging the main character to kick ass(Okay, all of this is his love interest, but whatever). And when their words break through, he snaps out of his funk, realizes what he's been doing wrong, and then proceeds to beat the shit out of his enemy.

                      Again, would mechanical support for Heroes help? Sure, I think a lot of people have an interest in buffing them up. But the place where it gets fuzzy is in how much a roleplaying game should be mechanical. Sure, stuff like Shaken and such help. We have a few good tools.

                      But really, those tools, and any other tool we have, doesn't work as well if we don't deliver on the narrative. For a game like this, mechanics should arise from the story. And in reality, Heroes and Beasts plays out a lot like that story from Chivalry. The epics, the myths, the noble quests, they all pit someone weaker against something greater, and that weaker person wins. Now, you're the Beast, and what's more, you're genre savvy. You know these stories, in fact you know them better now because they are in your bones. This Hero-this self-important, deluded, sadistic person in front of you-is weak. But he doesn't feel weak. His methods are terrifying-Heroes are, in fact, terrorists. They crash cars into buildings, they turn your water heaters into bombs, they lure you out of your safe place and tangle you up in weakness. And all this time, as he's taking potshots and you just can't stop him because he's vicious and relentless, humanity cheers for the hero. You see it in the movies, read it in your books, hear in the casual language of humanity. You might not have even wanted a fight, but now you're in one, and the stones of civilization sing your defeat. This is a tale as old as time, and in this tale, you lose. You are the strong, the mighty, the roar of the world. You are the hand that keeps humanity in check, that reminds them of important things they'd rather forget. You are the ancient and terrible, and here before you is someone who, from the dawn of time, has always been you appointed executioner. It doesn't matter that he's weak. It matters that everything you have ever known says he wins in this fight.

                      This goes beyond fighting a tiger. This mortal dread is deeper, for it is existential dread. You can be the top of the world, you could be second only to the Dark Mother herself, and none of that matters.

                      Because the whole of existence is singing, jeering, mocking-the whole of existence is singing of your inevitable loss.

                      And this is where the problem comes in. By giving them a mechanical oomph, we ensure that they have the power to ensure the execution of that inevitable loss...but at the loss of the existential dread, because he's no longer the weak thing that just happens to have the grace of narrative behind him, he's actually strong. But if they don't get a mechanical oomph, then we face the two fold problem of players not being afraid of them, which means their characters aren't afraid of them, and disregarding that, a conflict with a Hero just might not have enough dice slung around to make it feel that way.

                      I do want to give Heroes some oomph, but more importantly, I think a good Storytelling section that discusses tactics and ways for a weak character to win against a strong one would do a whole lot better.

                      I'm not even sure why this is a question, in some ways. Players have been playing games of weak things taking on strong things for ages. Adventurers against a dragon, hunters against the immortals, the neonate against the elder-haven't players done this song and dance enough times to know that just because one is weak doesn't mean they don't have a chance? Doesn't all of this mean they know exactly how to move Heroes in such a way as to make them terrifying?

                      So yeah. I would like to see some oomph added, sure. But more importantly, I want people to stop thinking about Heroes in terms of mere power and start thinking of them in the terms they exist in. I want players to look beyond stats and recognize themselves in their enemies and know that they are fucked.
                      Last edited by ArcaneArts; 10-23-2018, 12:02 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
                      Male/neutral pronouns accepted, female pronouns enjoyed.

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                      • #41
                        Excellent writeup Arc, but if I may add something, it would be that players would feel cheated. Let me explain.

                        We play Hunter. We spot a vampire and we start following him. We discover his hiding place. We buy bombs, we trap his house, we wait for the day and we blow the place up. We won, nice!

                        From the Vampire's point of view, it's basically an unfair fight, and if we were playing a Vampire game, I'd feel cheated if my ST went "Take 6 points of aggravated damage from a sudden explosion in the middle of the day. You wake up burned and charred, the whole building is in fire and it's the middle of the day. Take an extra 4 lethal due to sunlight. Trying to get out, 4 humans with shotguns are waiting for you outside, you die, good night"

                        Now, the same applies to Beast and Heroes. Sure, they can bomb your place. Sure, they can kill family members. Sure they can snipe you from afar. But would it feel like a cool story for the players? I don't think so. Players want a face to face battle, and that's where the problem lies. The problem is not that Heroes can't use tricks and traps, but that if they do, it might fall into the ST VS Player territory.


                        Why do Strixes strike fear into players? Because their presence means everyone is a potential traitor. Idigam? It can take on a pack of werewolves in a direct conflict and still be dangerous. Huntsmen? They keep coming back, and they have a very good bribe to turn your friends against you. So I think what's really needed is not more raw power as much as a reason for players to fear them. Anathemas do not feel like that, sadly.

                        Throwing an idea (it might be a shitty idea, but still): what if the Hero could recruit your family members to his cause by defeating them? Beasts would have to take care of Heroes quickly or risk having to fight their own family and friends. It would reinforce the theme of narrative defiance, of being more than what you are, because the goal of the Hero (when recruiting your monster friends) is to show you the monster you really are: you're such a Monster that even your monstrous friends think you should die. Even they see that the winning side is the Hero's. Go on, fight them, show me how right I am.


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                        • #42
                          Going into the cheating thing, this is where a bit of storyteller grace is useful. I don't remember where it said, this, but I once read some advice for GM's that basically said "Always give your players a chance to react." Traps, sniping, poisoning, and any number of other things happen all the time in stories, and they make for much more interesting scenarios than just plain ol' combat. On the other hand, like you said, the players feel a significant risk of being cheated, particularly if they weren't being overly paranoid bastard living in a bunker, which is not a scenario you want to put you player characters in.

                          So, you give your characters a chance to deal with it. In the case of the water boiler bomb, wake up the characters with someone and give them a legitimate reason to leave the house. Maybe an associate of the Hero decided it would be easier to slit your throat, woke you, and you chase them outside just in time for your house to explode. In the case of sniping, you don't even to do a lot of damage or even hit. You don't need to kill them, you just need to establish how very close to death they came, and then give them a chance to run, recoup, and counter.

                          The big thing is making sure that there's tools to deal with setbacks. You get sniped, you're now aware of someone coming after you, and you give them the tools to start searching. You can bleed them a little here and there, so if you ever end up in a direct conflict, the tension is high because the person in question is still fine and you're not. But the big thing is show the logical progression of things, help them see the sense of it. You don't even have to hurt players, so long as they get a real sense that they just missed the mark. Again, play beyond the dice and play to the psychology of the players, as you would with readers. It's a matter of framing, approach, deceptive consequences(6 bashing feels like a lot, but about an hour and a half of rest deals with that-scary moment, not devastating), timing.

                          Basically, it's less about everyone playing a game and more about everyone telling a story.

                          And this is the sort of stuff that needs to be talked about, helping storytellers and players find that edge of "Heroes are terrifying" and "Heroes are beatable" on top the thematics going on. That's not something mechanics can help a whole lot of.

                          The danger of mechanics is that we can sometimes think of them as a patch to slap onto problems that are really wounds of narrative. This is something we saw a lot of in the Huntsmen thread, where people felt like they were underpowered in aspects and immediately started fixing them mechanically without considering the context in which their powers and approaches were used and what that would mean to a person in those circumstances, or how such a being would operate. After some discussion about said powers and their context, a lot of people started getting why what they had was more than enough. In a similar way, people seem to be looking at Heroes and the way they function and swinging to two extremes, neither of which actually captures what's going on with Heroes, and all of this betrays the notion of how people view roleplaying games on the whole-namely, that they are more game-y than roleplay-ey. And that's a problem for Chronicles of Darkness, which from the word go has always been a more artistic, stortyelling game than many of it's peers.


                          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
                          Male/neutral pronouns accepted, female pronouns enjoyed.

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
                            And this is the sort of stuff that needs to be talked about, helping storytellers and players find that edge of "Heroes are terrifying" and "Heroes are beatable" on top the thematics going on. That's not something mechanics can help a whole lot of.
                            It seems a rather straight forward mechanical design to fulfil.

                            The common factor for monomyth stories is that the Hero is on a journey of self improvement. The Hero gets stronger over time - which works great for your concept of inevitability. If the Hero is constantly getting stronger, than eventually they'll be stronger than the Beast. So create a mechanic where by a Hero advances, not by killing Beasts, but by having a significant encounter with them. Luke Skywalker witnessing Darth Vader killing Obi Wan, that's a pile of exp. Enough to make him capable of fighting Darth Vader next time they meet.

                            Next you need a reason why genera savvy Beasts and players don't kill Heroes quickly before they get powerful. So going back to Luke Skywalker; Obi Wan sacrificing himself to let Luke escape, Luke jumping off the bridge in Cloud City to escape. Model a universal Hero ability on these, the Hero sacrifices something - an arm, a mentor - makes a contested roll, if they win they escape the Beast.

                            Combined you have the perfect tools to create that fearful inevitability you want. All that's needed to complete the design is a way for players to win out in the subverting the Hero's story is the obvious choice here. Darth Vader and the Emperor tried so hard to corrupt Luke because they knew they couldn't kill him, if Luke was in mortal danger he'd escape and come back even stronger. But if they subverted his Legend, they win. It was only after they failed to corrupt Luke did they seriously try to kill Luke, and (in Beast) that was a desperate last gamble, the result was inevitable. Vader and the Emperor both died as a result.


                            It's not about making the Hero's stronger. It's about giving Heroes mechanics that create the stories you want. Hero's in the monomyth never kill the Beast in their first fight. That's why powers that let them escape a fight and come back stronger are much more fitting than badass combat powers.

                            Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
                            So, you give your characters a chance to deal with it. In the case of the water boiler bomb, wake up the characters with someone and give them a legitimate reason to leave the house. Maybe an associate of the Hero decided it would be easier to slit your throat, woke you, and you chase them outside just in time for your house to explode. In the case of sniping, you don't even to do a lot of damage or even hit. You don't need to kill them, you just need to establish how very close to death they came, and then give them a chance to run, recoup, and counter.
                            If my storyteller said I suddenly took damage from a sniper round, and they didn't roll a reasonably sized dicepool when I can see them, I wouldn't be scared. I would mediately know that the Storyteller is rigging things in the players favour. I could roleplay my charachter being scared, but I wouldn't think the Hero's victory is inevitable. I would know the Beast's victory is inevitable because of player charachter plot armour will keep us alive until the final confrontation, where Beasts have the upper hand.

                            I could roleplay my charachter being scared, that's easy, but unless I also felt the emotions out of charachter it just wouldn't be much fun.

                            That's why mechanics are so important, why game vs story is the wrong way to think about it. The game and story sides of things need to work together. Good mechanics allows the Storyteller to introduce genuine danger to my charachter, danger that would let me as a player feel scared, without it feeling like they're cheating.

                            Demon does this brilliantly, with Conditions like Hunted and rules for when you get them. Mechanics don't need to mean cool powers, if you want Heroes to use snipers or bombs create a Condition that can be Resolved by rolling a dicepool vs something representing a Beast's security arrangements. If the role is goes the players way they might take 1 damage from a badly aimed sniper, a bad roll might result in the player character's house exploding with them inside it. Genuine danger and no one feels cheated.


                            Though to be honest I'm not a fan of your tactics focused approach to Heroes. It makes them strongest when they're unkown and weaker after they've tipped their hand where as in the monomyth they start weak and get strong.. Feelings of dreadful inevitability don't come from a foe you don't see coming, they come from a foe you see coming and can't stop.
                            Last edited by The Kings Raven; 03-24-2016, 08:05 PM.


                            “There are no rules. Only Principles and natural laws.” - Promethius
                            My Homebrew no longer fits in a signature, you can find an index of it here.
                            Full length fan-books I contributed too: Princess: the Hopeful, Leviathan: the Tempest, Dream Catchers

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                            • #44
                              Originally posted by The Kings Raven View Post
                              Combined you have the perfect tools to create that fearful inevitability you want. All that's needed to complete the design is a way for players to win out in the end; making the escape power require a contested roll is an option, but subverting the Hero's story is the obvious mechanic here. Darth Vader and the Emperor tried so hard to corrupt Luke because they knew they couldn't kill him, if Luke was in mortal danger he'd escape and come back even stronger. But if they subverted his Legend, they win. It was only after they failed to corrupt Luke did they seriously try to kill Luke, and (in Beast) that was a desperate last gamble, the result was inevitable. Vader and the Emperor both died as a result.
                              Something in line with inheritance could work here. Heroes tap the Primordial Dream, not all their strength is theirs, even if the Beast outright kills the Hero that legend does not end, it passes on. Soon enough another hero will come along (either newly born or having finished some other hunt) and 'pick up' that legend, inheriting Anathem and advantages against the Beast. If a Beast really wants to be free of a Hero they have to be free of the Legend. Options like corrupting the hero, creating a false conclusion, or shuffling that Heroes hatred off on other Supernatural 'kin' should be available, as should half-way options like 'coming to terms' where the Beast sacrifices a bit of themselves, either physically (Grendel loses an arm) or socially (by agreeing to terms "never return to this city", "never again taste virgin flesh", etc.) in which case the legend is temporarily stayed.

                              Put differently, if a Beast insists on continually being the villain (e.g. killing heroes) eventually a "chosen one" will come along, and the Beast will die.
                              Last edited by PenDragon; 03-24-2016, 08:23 PM.


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                              • #45
                                not to rattle the goalposts.. but uhm.. I kinda feel the godmachine itself is a more.. over arching antagonist.. considering the relationship they have with its agents and rogue agents... Like demons and beasts are dynamicly opposed forces. Beasts being a 'natural' mechanism.. and Demons/Angelsbeing part of a foreign invader...


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