[Let’s Study Beast: the Primordial] Part 1: Introduction

Posted: April 20, 2016 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Beast: the Primordial, Let's Study, Roleplaying Games
Tags: , ,

beast logo

Today we begin our look at the latest in Onyx Path’s Chronicles of Darkness core books, a game called Beast: the Primordial.

Here’s a quick look at their marketing blurb:

You are one of the Begotten, the living embodiment of a primal nightmare of humanity. Your soul, your Horror, is a monstrous creature – maybe something that humanity dreamed and wrote down and still speaks of in legends, or maybe some outlandish horror that no living person has ever seen.

You are a Beast, and you must feed. Your Hunger drives you, and your Hunger might damn you. Indulge too lightly and your Horror will take matters into its own hands, roaming the Primordial Dream for sustenance and awakening murderous hatred in spiritually weak individuals. Feed too deeply and too often, and you become sluggish, sacrificing the raw edge of Hunger for the languor of Satiety. You must decide how to grow your Legend – will you be the monster incarnate, the thing that all other monsters fear? Or are you doomed to die under a Hero’s sword?

CONCEPT

Like a lot of the denizens of the Chronicles of Darkness, Beast assumes that you were once human, but were irrevocably changed by a harrowing experience.

The humans that become Beasts remember their mortal lives as being constantly under the effect of terrible nightmares. These were not simply bad dreams, but a glimpse of the things that existed in the Primordial Dream. These Horrors are the monsters of legend, and they have offered you a chance to become one of them and guide humanity to wisdom.

By agreeing to them, your soul was Devoured, and you awake not as a human, but as a Beast.

HUNGER

Being a Beast isn’t easy. As a creature that feeds on fear (and certain rarefied forms of fear at that,) you walk a tightrope between starvation and becoming overly full. Each of these states changes the way your powers work, and influence what options you have in terms of actions you can take.

PURPOSE

Beasts believe that their role in the world is to serve as humanity’s teachers. Like the monsters in cautionary tales, the Beasts strike fear into humanity to hammer home lessons of solidarity, safety, common sense. Behaviors that have served mankind well enough to live this long.

This is not to say that the Beasts are benevolent. Instead their lessons are brutal, painful and traumatic. Their lessons are for humanity at large, not for single victims, after all.

HEROES

Because of the Beast’s activities, mankind reacts in the form of heroes. These are unhinged individuals who

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have developed a violent obsession to the idea of killing Beasts.

NIGHTMARES

Beasts are nightmares made flesh, and this manifests in their powers as well. They have the inherent ability to create Nightmare, calling upon primal fears to terrorize and harm their victims. These take the form of daymares that can physically injure those experiencing them.

ATAVISMS

Beasts also manifest Atavisms, where a Beast is able to bring out a fraction of their Horror’s nature to the real world. This can be a manifestation on the Beast’s body or their surroundings, and is often very disconcerting to victims of such… assuming they survive the experience.

Overall, Beast: the Primordial paints an interesting picture and an admittedly creepy premise. Much like Demons, Beasts are NOT nice people, and while they might couch the benefits of their existence to humanity (via the wisdom and teaching angle) there’s nothing to justify what they do.

Beasts are perhaps among the most monstrous of the Chronicles of Darkness line and already I can feel it hitting the very edge of my comfort zone. But let’s forge ahead and find out more about them in our next entry which will deal with Families and Hungers.


Interested in checking out Beast: the Primordial? You can grab a PDF for only $19.99 over at DriveThruRPG!

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Comments
  1. i’m actually using this series in a different context for fantasy. It’s going to be a narrative-based in nomine crossover that focuses on the absolute terror of the beast’s craving for fear. i’m also thinking about a curse the darkness nwod campaign where the pc’s are defending/breaching a lair that is simultaneously the only “actually scary” haunted house that is still in the neighborhood.

  2. That’s pretty cool! I’ve yet to run a multi-game crossover, so that sound really ambitious to me.

    I’m slowly going though the book, but I’m honestly getting a red flag warning in my head that this game can go to some truly disturbing territory if left unchecked. Something about being a real monster in the form of a normal person is deeply unsettling and the fact that you feed on fear can enable for some utterly sadistic play.

    Onyx Path’s team did a great job in making a truly monstrous character concept.

    • the sadism aspect does tend to make beast problematic for immature gamers. my personal solution is making a house rule in which hunger can only refueled by a narrowly defined concept that all the player agree to explore together. nemesis punishment only extended to punishments player are comfortable with, for example.

    • Red flag is one way to put it. There is a lot about the game that makes it a no go for me and the others at Darker Days Radio. I would have to make some serious fixes to the game for it to run – tapping into the idea that Beasts once did have a role in the world, a sort of defence mechanism to teach humans how to fight the real monsters – but have, due to unknown reasons, become broken, or redundant.

  3. So part of the curse the darkness crossover idea is that beast has rules for incorporating a four-act structure to the game. the acts basically break down into:
    Act 1. Introduce the PC’s – The players demonstrate what they are capable of doing without the Beast or Him getting in the way. They each basically decide if they are going to take their chances in town or try to enter the lair after which the adventure goes to…
    Act 2. Character Development – The players get to detail the everyday lives of the people that don’t go near the house and decide if they should interact with the beast. At this phase they can get Wick by attempting to change the mind of the people around them until they have enough between points to be noticed by Him at which point the adventure proceeds to…
    Act 3. Consequences – The player’s suffer the consequences of their actions. If the PC’s attacked the beast, it attacks them back, if the PC’s performed too many ideological acts they undergo removal challenges at this point, if they made trips to the between They start following the PC’s, etc.
    Act 4. Resolution – Since the PC’s can get wick before facing a removal challenge in this variant this act is basically summing up what “actually” happened. PC’s basically explain whether they “died” in a fatal removal challenge (detailed in the curse the darkness expansion), became a beast themselves, or some other, stranger fate. This also is basically the point at which the less proactive players can choose to have a memory conversion before making the essential choice at the end of the act, and the pattern basically repeats with different characters in the next part of the game with the question “are trying to protect the house or destroy it?” replacing “what are you trying to do?”.

  4. basically you can get wick in act 2 by taking a risky action before He notices, but you’re literally “rolling the dice” and hoping that he doesn’t catch wind of what you’re doing preemptively. basically act 2 is like “did He see me?” and act 3 is like “boo! you’re removed! goodbye!”

  5. I actually think i know why this splat bothers people so much, the fans are constantly focusing on a subversion narrative when the game is actually an inversion. the heroes are “unsympathetic” but the beast is still trying to survive anyway. subversion is when an event is expected to happen but the narrative implies that it won’t, inversion is taking an narrative that is happening and making the opposite happen “he attacked him in self-defense, but he could’nt prevent his obession” with basically no reason why the tormentor could ever change. i think a new fix is needed from one of my other friends subjective vs. objective truth, basically the beasts are right because the heros will be extreme, and the hero’s are right because they believe people will be harmed it’s just that harm is relative to the hunger and heros only attack beasts because the hunger reaches the point that it’s untenable basically the feast is for a thing contributed by the player (like stealing a measurement device, which spawns a hero once the beast takes a measurement device needed to properly build a person’s home, and the hero basically saying “but why would the beast want to do that” to justify the hero’s crime.) just my thought on fixing the lack of any actual subversion but i could use some advice on if this makes any sense.

  6. i’ve decided to not use this material until dark eras beast is released. their are better ways to run a haunted house campaign (demon, geist, etc.) and i don’t really see any point in GMing this nonsense if the pdf is just “beast’s post-civil war reskin”.

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