Beast: the Primordial calls itself “A Storytelling Game of Endless Hunger” and it’s easy to see why. The role you play is that of a creature driven by the unending need to feed, mechanically simulated by the Satiety system.
It is perhaps the Chronicles of Darkness game that adheres strongest to its themes. The Beasts are helpless to the call of their nature, while their opponents, the Heroes are subject to the instincts driven into them by who they are.
To side with “higher” human qualities like free will and determination in the face of your impulses is to lose, as both factions are brought together to enact an eternal cycle of hate and violence.
Let me get this out out of the way: Mechanically, Beast: the Primordial is evocative, interesting and has a lot of cool powers and options. The artwork is definitely creepy, and the layout is decent, with perhaps a few fiction pages looking a little bit too busy and distracting.
Gameplay-wise it fits perfectly withing the power levels expected of most Supernaturals, and Beasts can run with the best of Vampires and Werewolves and still be able to bring something interesting to the table.
But I can’t run it.
This is where I will go firmly into opinion mode, so please bear with me. I find Beast a truly disturbing book, with the implications of the loss of control and being unable to change your place in destiny (and where transcending it only makes you a WORSE sort of creature) bothers me deeply.
I believe that the game itself is good, and for certain players, who are responsible, mature adults, can do it a great deal of justice to explore their darker sides.
However in the hands of a less mature group, this game is an invitation to commit imaginary atrocity and revel in it. There’s potential here to go very, very wrong.
Can I recommend it? As a system, then yes. It’s well written, creepy in all the right ways, and has potential to stick with you long after you’ve played it. If you and your group have the trust, and emotional fortitude to tackle some really disturbing facets of a Beast’s existence then by all means, get this game.
But will I ever run Beast? I’m going to have to give this one a pass.