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Possible to run Beast: The Primordial straight from the book as is?

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  • Possible to run Beast: The Primordial straight from the book as is?

    I've always been intrigued by Beast, but I find it daunting to wade through the overwhelming amount of information of homebrews, fixes, and changes to make the game work. What I would like to know is, is it possible to run the game straight from the book as is without any band-aids on it? I am aware of the Beast Player's Guide, but my question is for the corebook itself.

  • #2

    Mechanically, the basics of what's good about the game is there, you don't need to do any exceptional work to make the systems work. You can plain enjoy the game out of the box in that way.

    In terms of Beast does narratively, that's where it's a bit murky. The corebook is the worst written book in terms of presenting it's themes and ideas and portraying what the gameplay is actually supposed to be like, the sort of headspace you want players to adopt while playing. That's not to say it's not usable, but it is riddled with problems and I would advise caution for the corebook as a way to get into the character type's headspace.

    If I can offer a brief panacea to that problem, as brief and usable as possible, I will offer the following in a spoiler as a touchstone for getting the most of of the corebook's mixed messaging, a way to reconcile the text as you read it:

    Beast: the Primordial is fundamentally a game about the struggle of trying to be true to yourself and defying fate in a scenario where you character is your fate. Central to that is trying to find a way to make your Hunger and the fear you represent by way of your Family work conductively towards your own ends in the community you take up in, and dealing with the consequences of how you try to make that community have a place for you. At times that will include leaning into compassion and empathy, using the fact that you are a living avatar of peoples fears and methods of being secure to help them work through fears, traumas, hangups, unfairnesses, etc. At other times, that will involve you acting as you will and damning the consequences of any boundaries you cross doing, transgressing to express you power, your wants, your place as you need it to be. There are consequences to how you do things, and a big part of being a Beast is handling those consequences, particularly as they affect your social and parasocial relationships. The ultimate external reason you'll want to do that is because Heroes* will pick up any slack you leave over and use it against your place that you carve into your community and ultimately pave it into a way to kill you for their own self-actualizing reasons. The ultimate internal reason is that, like it or not, you are now a creature that will just inherently shape where-ever you settle into, and the world will shape itself around the way you define and portray yourself, for better or for worse-so it pays to decide that for yourself.

    *and Insatiable, but we're trying to keep to the corebook.

    Hopefully that helps to make reading the corebook be a much easier task.

    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.


    • #3
      The core book has some problems with the Primordial pathways rules, if you fix them you can play with little or no problem


      • #4
        OK, so beyond all of the many Internet words about Beast, here's my thoughts about trying to run it out of the core and core alone:

        1) Beast is kind of the Scream or Cabin in the Woods of the WoD/CofD lines. it's very much meant for people that already know the games, and a lot of what it does requires a level of familiarity with the rest of the concepts, conceits and systems of the other games. You don't need to have watched every horror movie to get meta-heavy movies like the two I mentioned, but you need to have a grounding in a decent number of them to really get why horror fans like the movies as much as they do. If you've never done anything in this family of games before, Beast is a really hard place to start because the good stuff in the game needs a certain amount of common reference points in how the * of Darkness concept has existed for so long.

        2) Tying into this, one of Beast's biggest issues with running just out of the core book, is that it's meant to be a game with a lot of crossover elements with other supernatural beings. It didn't really have space to do a Vigil and have a robust NPC monster building package (which you can get in the CofD 2e core book, but then that's two books not one book), so without having more books bringing that part of the game to life is probably the biggest mechanical hurdle.

        3) Heroes are also really poorly calibrated to the fact that Beast assumes a group of player characters. Making Heroes threatening to one PC Beast can be a bit rough without it taking over the game. Trying to make Heroes pop as antagonists with five Beasts that all watch each other's backs means inundating your game with Heroes and mortals stirred up by Heroes to a level that's hard to avoid getting tedious and repetitive (even if this is thematic... monsters have piles of would-be-hero-bones and all that). With #2, it means the only robust antagonists that aren't just tossing lots of humans at the PCs are going to be other Beasts unless you're really good at making up other supernaturals without dedicated rules for them.

        So, yeah, you can. But in reality, I think any fun game of Beast run out of core alone means having a bunch of other CofD books, but just not opening them and using memory as inspiration.