Beast: the Primordial

[Let’s Study Beast: the Primordial] Part 7: Conclusions and Review

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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.

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

[Let’s Study Beast: the Primordial] Part 6: Heroes

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If the player characters take on the role of the monsters in Beast: the Primordial, then it only stands to reason that their opponents should be Heroes.

Heroes are similar to the Beasts in the sense that they too experienced the Nightmares of the Primordial Dream. But instead of surrender and The Devouring, the Heroes acknowledge these as opponents, things to confront, defeat or destroy.

This manifests as an obsession. Heroes are flawed in the sense that to a normal bystander, they’re obsessive psychopaths hell bent on the murder of their chosen target. While the Beast hides in the guise of people, the Hero sees through the illusion, and is driven to put an end to the monster.


Heroes in Beast are not normal people, and this is reflected in turn with a few intresting advantages.

Hard to Kill

Heroes are surprisingly hardy against damage, and do not suffer the Beaten Down Tilt and never Surrender to a Beast unless they can turn that around as a chance to kill the Beast.

Heroes are immune to mundane illnesses and never require medical attention for injuries. When injured, a Hero heals at accelerated rates.

Legend and Life

Heroes have a Legend and Life trait, like Beasts do. A Hero’s Life regains 1 Willpower when they put themselves or their mission at risk to break with the narrative of a Hero and act in accordance of what is humane.

A Hero’s Legend on the other hand gains 1 Willpower by acting like a Hero. They regain all Willpower by pursuing a Beast into a risky or unfamiliar situation where are at a disadvantage.

Heroic Tracking & Stalking

Given their targets, Heroes have a knack for being able to find and follow their chosen foes. Heroes zone in on Beast activity and given time, a Hero can track down the Beast and eventually start gathering information on it.


Heroes triumph by identifying the bane of a Beast, secret weaknesses that can enable a Hero to stop a beast more powerful than them. System-wise, a Hero is able to apply an Anathema to a beast, in the form of a condition. This will only work on a Sated beast, one that isn’t too hungry or too full.

These Anathema can take multiple forms from a Bane, to Entrancement, Phobias, Rage, Weak Spots or even weaknesses to a specific weapon.


In addition to all of the above, Heroes can also gain Gifts, which are specialized means to enhance themselves. These range from being able to discover a powerful weapon meant to slay a beast, or some means to follow a beast through to their Lairs.

I know the Heroes are meant to be the nemesis of the Beasts. Their very nature compels them to hunt down the characters and obsess over killing them for the good of mankind. It’s a classic role and subverting it by making them broken people trying to commit murder adds a particularly nasty twist to it.

At the same time, you know that the ugly truth is that the Heroes, however driven to take on questionable methods, aren’t completely wrong. While at the same time they’re not right in their methods too.

It’s an ugly struggle that has been the narrative of many, many stories over and over again. And that’s probably what makes it tragic. I would probably play up Heroes as otherwise normal people who slowly lose themselves in their obsession. But I am a little worried that my players won’t appreciate the tragic nature of these opponents.

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

[Let’s Study Beast: the Primordial] Part 5: Character Creation

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Hey everyone, today we’re taking a look at character creation for Beast: the Primordial. While admittedly this game’s premise and default behaviors expected of the player characters are a little more monstrous than I am used to (and am comfortable with) I’ll give this one the old college try.


As with all games, it’s best to start with a concept.

I’m thinking along the lines of a monster that teaches people to distrust. Trust is a weakness that needs to be clipped from society before they grow fat and weak and easy.

I think I’ll play a cop. Let’s call him Officer Riley.


CoD games always have 9 attributes, spread across 3 categories of Physical, Mental and Social. You then distribute 5 dots in one, 4 dots in a second and 3 dots in a third according to your preferences. Each of the Attributes automatically start with a free dot in each of them. For our police officer, let’s go with:

Mental: Intelligence 2, Wits 2, Resolve 2
Physical: Strength 3, Dexterity 2, Stamina 2
Social: Presence 3, Manipulation 3, Composure 2

Riley is built to be a bully. He’s used to using his strength, and intimidating presence to force people into making bad decisions with manipulation. Having authority by being a police officer helps too.


Characters also get to spend dots across skills, who share the same category types as Attributes. This time you get to spend 11/7/4 dots according to priority.

As a cop, Riley gets:

Investigation 2 (Fabricate Evidence)
Politics 2

Athletics 2
Brawl 2
Drive 1
Firearms 2
Larceny 1
Weaponry 3 (Nightstick)

Empathy 1
Intimidation 2 (Force Confession)
Streetwise 2
Subterfuge 2

As you can see Officer Riley is a cop who doesn’t really care much for justice but enjoys the perks of getting physical on the job.


At this point we start shaping up Riley as a Beast. For his Family, I’m going for Anakim as Riley seems to be the sort to prefer ugly, brutal and direct methods to shatter the hopes of his chosen victim.

His Hunger is that for Power. As a Tyrant, Riley enjoys exerting control over his victims so that they are terrified of fighting back.

For his Lair Rating, we’ll go with Lair 1 for now.

Riley’s Legend is “Vicious”, which allows him to gain Willpower when going over-the-top when hurting someone physically or emotionally. He further gains all Willpower when doing this with witnesses who are neutral or sympathetic to the victim.

Riley’s Life is “Parental”, which allows him to gain one Willpower when stepping forward to protect an innocent. He also Regains all Willpower when he takes care of a creature that other could use to get to him.

Next up are picking out his 2 Nightmares and 2 Atavisms.

For Atavisms, Cyclopean Strength and Looming Presence seem appropriate for Riley.

For Nightmares, we’ll go with: Everything You Do Is Worthless and You Deserve This.


We also have 10 dots in Merits to spend

Allies 2 (Police)

Spoor 3 – Riley isn’t a physical monster as much as he’s a bully in mindset. As such he has to be careful and his nature as a cop makes him hard to discover.

Fast Talking 5


Now to go over the rest of the derived attributes.

Willpower is 4
Size is 5
Health is 7
Speed is 10
Defense is 4
Initiative Modifier is 4
Satiety is 5

All in all, Officer Riley is the epitome of the cop you don’t want to meet. He’s cruel, excessive in his violence, and just occasionally displays enough humanity and kindness to make you think you can trust him. It’s the kind of personality that can quickly turn around and hurt someone badly.

[Let’s Study Beast: the Primordial] Part 4: Kinship

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One of the more unique aspects of the Beasts is the ability to form close bonds with other Supernatural. This Kinship mechanic is what makes the game so crossover-friendly.


In fact, Beasts normally always give at least a good impression for the purposes of Social maneuvering when it comes to most other supernatural beings, including other Beasts. This applies to Mages and psychics as well, but only bestows an average impression rather than a good one.


Furthermore, Beasts have an instinctive sense for who other Beasts are. They can also detect Vampires, Werewolves, Changelings or other full-fleded supernatural beings as an automatic success. Again, Mages, Psychics and other fundamentally human types are harder to detect.


What ties this all together is the fact that Beasts can boost the capabilities of other supernatural creatures that aren’t Beasts. To bestow this benefit, the Beast has to be in the presence of her target. This grants the target a rush of power, gaining a dice pool equal to the Beast player’s successes that can be used to roll for a supernatural power.


Another edge that the Beasts have is that they can actually defuse suspicions of other Supernaturals by registering as one of them, for as long as the Beast has had a chance to bond with a member of that community beforehand.


The purpose of all of this, of course is the fact that Beasts can feed off another Supernatural Creature’s hunting and feeding. A Beast can accompany a supernatural being as he hunts or feeds, and if the Beast witnesses it, the Beast automatically gains 1 Satiety for the hunt and another for the feeding.

The stranger thing is that the Beast doesn’t even need to make her presence known. In a supernatural voyeur sort of way, the Beast can track and observe the Supernatural and then feed off their actions even without introducing himself.

These mechanics pretty much sum up how the Beasts get in on the action in any group where you want to throw in something different in a CofD game.

Beasts being what they are can be enigmatic allies of a party of player characters, all while still sharing similar stakes. It’s important to note that these Kinship are a great way to expand the range of supernaturals to interact with in an All-Beast chronicle as well.

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

[Let’s Study Beast: the Primordial] Part 3b: Predators, Nemesis and Ravagers

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And we’re back to Beast: the Primordial! Today we’re continuing our look at the various Hungers available for the Beasts.

PREDATORS: Hunger for Prey

Perhaps the easiest to understand, these Beasts feed on the terror of being hunted, of being reduced to running for your life.

The desire to hunt can take on different forms, from the classic literal chase you down and eat you, to the more elegant use of beauty and charm to lure victims away from the safety of the herd only to devour them when they have nowhere to go.

The lessons that the Predators teach is the most apparent to anyone who has seen any wildlife or nature shows: In the end, people are just helpless little monkeys against a true predator.

NEMESIS: Hunger for Punishment

These beasts are the boogeymen of the world, creatures that exist for the purpose of disciplining the guilty.

Their methods vary, some prefer to jump in and punish immediately, while others will bide their time and set things up before bringing righteous punishment upon the heads of the guilty. In both cases, these monsters will always make sure that the victim knows why they are going to die, and will leave a trail that will make it obvious for witnesses that the victim died for a reason.

The lesson of the Nemesis is that no transgression goes unpunished. Break the rules and someone will be there to break you.

RAVAGERS: Hunger for Ruin

The Ravagers are the monsters that are walking natural disasters. They destroy things to remind us that nothing lasts forever, and whatever comforts we enjoy can be taken away in one violent encounter.

The Ravagers are vicious individuals who sow chaos in their wake. Arson, a violent attack, or starting a riot or stampede in a packed venue are all hallmarks of this Beast. In some ways, think of the Joker, Batman’s nemesis in the comics and the movie. Their very presence sets everyone on edge, and they know that they will never be safe. Ever.

At this point, I’m almost sold on the idea that the Beasts are better off as Antagonists. They’re broken individuals with terrifying powers and powerful urges for ruining lives. While it’s possible to tell stories of redemption with them as protagonists, that’s not what Beasts are about.

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

[Let’s Study Beast: the Primordial] Part 3a: Tyrants and Collectors

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Hey there, welcome back to the next installment of the Let’s Study series of the deeply disturbing Beast: the Primordial RPG. I admit that this is probably the one game that has really pinned down the concept that you’re playing a monster really well, and part of that is in the Hungers.

We talked about Hungers previously, but we’ll be taking a look at two of them in further detail today.

TYRANTS: Hunger for Power

Those who associate themselves with this Hunger crave power, and feed off the act of beating someone and proving their own superiority.

These Beasts are the vainglorious, whose only purpose is to crush their victims to the point where the victim acknowledges their inferiority to the Beast. It’s an ugly hunger, and one that could be sated somewhat with anything from beating someone up until they beg for their lives, to tormenting someone with humiliation on a daily basis to reinforce the Beast’s status in the totem pole of school or work.

The Lesson that such monsters teach is there is always something bigger, meaner and stronger than you. It forces victims to accept their limits, and to work within them (or to push against such limits as the case may be.)

COLLECTORS: Hunger for the Hoard

Beasts that associate themselves with this Hunger crave for material objects, specifically the ones that mankind places importance upon.

As living, breathing manifestations of Greed, the Collector looks for and takes away things that are of great worth to their victims. These can be anything from jewels and gold, to rare books, and even prized odds and ends. What matter is that that the item will be sorely missed. What satisfies them is knowing that their victims will be placed under great duress by this loss, and will struggle in vain to try and get it back.

The Lesson of the Collector is that nothing lasts forever. Objects, relationships, memories, everything can be taken away.

As I noted in my last post, I can sort of see where the Hungers are going. The beasts are the bullies in the playground of life to force the other kids to learn the harsh lessons that they need to know to get along in the world.

Beasts go out and deliberately cause suffering as a means of feeding themselves, then come up with an after-the-fact explanation to try and justify their behavior. It’s definitely disturbing and I’m seeing how a Beast can make for an interesting non-sympathetic villain for a Mage: the Awakening campaign.

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

[Let’s Study Beast: the Primordial] Part 3: The Hungers

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As mentioned before, the other half of your Beast character concept is that of their Hungers. If their Family dictates a Beast’s form, then the Hunger dictates the kind of fear they prefer to draw out from their victims.

Each of the five Hungers are meant to teach a kind of Lesson to the rest of humanity. There’s no nice way of putting this, but the Beasts justify their actions by saying that it teaches humanity to better themselves.

It’s a vicious means of teaching, and there are few teachers less harsh than the Beasts, who view Humanity as a while as their students, rather than one or two individuals. More often than not they prey upon people to teach a community a lesson.

In some ways this is probably my biggest problem with Beast. I understand the justification for them doing what they do, that they’re victims of their nature, but it doesn’t compel me to sympathize with them.

There’s a bit of “victims of abuse grow up to be abusers” in this that leaves me somewhat bothered, and in submitting to the Horror and the Devouring, you’re essentially someone who gave in, gave up and surrendered to being someone less than what they could have been.

It’s an ugly state of being. THEN you’re mandated to be  a force of even more terror and abuse in the rest of the world because “you can’t help it.”

There’s a lot of parallels to abusive behavior I’m seeing here and that definitely makes me uncomfortable.

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

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