Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Gorgon Archer - Beast: The Primordial - Character Creation Analysis

Beast is one of the more recent splatbooks put out by Onyx Path for their Chronicles of Darkness line. For those that are unfamiliar, Chronicles of Darkness is the rebranded line of games that used to be known as the New World of Darkness including Vampire the Requiem and Werewolf the Forsaken. With the return of their original line of World of Darkness into print due to customer demand, they changed the name of their newer line to make it easier to differentiate. 

In comparison to the original line of games, the mythology of CoD is left deliberately vague the better to allow individual GMs to work out how they want to run the game. Likewise, the various splatbooks have fewer defined relationships between them. The major splats like vampires and werewolves are more like to just hold each other in disdain than to be in outright war. There is also no established doomsday situation in play. This combines to allow you to play CoD more in the vein of urban fantasy than horror if your group prefers. CoD is also better designed for allowing disparate groups of characters to work well together.

Beast specifically is designed for you to play an embodiment of horror from what is called the Primordial Dream, where all the raw instincts and fears of humanity pool together. As with most things in CoD lines, the nature and origin of the beasts is left deliberately vague. Some Beasts think that they are born what they are, others think that were transformed. Regardless, the event that triggers the trade over from human to Beast is referred to as "The Devouring." Beasts are stand-out in that they gain specific benefits from working with other types of supernaturals and thus really encourage multi-splat parties. (I'm currently playing a Sin-Eater in a campaign with a Changeling, two Mages, a Beast, and a Lucifurge Hunter). However, key to our project here, one of the category of Horrors available is modeled on the gorgons and other such entities focused on a primal nightmare of revulsion.

Beast uses the Storyteller system as with most of the games produced by White Wolf / Onyx Path. Instead of having a flat pool of points the way Hero System does, Storyteller systems have set packages of points assigned to each category of character feature. The player creates a base character and then applies a template on top of that based on the sort of supernatural creature they were planning to play. This is an interesting model of play as it is entirely possible to play a game using no templates. It would put the players at something like the level of a Call of Cthulhu investigator. In any case, on to the creation.

The first thing you do is to come up with a concept for your character, we have done that. You also come up with three Aspirations which are character goals. They can be either long-term goals or short term goals and it is suggested that you have them as a mix. In addition some games make suggestions about having Aspirations that may present pessimistic expectations such as having an Aspiration where you fail to accomplish some task. Aspirations are an important part of character advancement.

After you've gotten your concept worked out, you move on to setting your attributes and skills. There are three categories: Physical, Mental, and Social. You prioritize these three categories with the highest priority getting 5 dots to assign, the second getting 4 dots, and the lowest priority getting 3 dots to assign. Each attribute also starts at 1 dot. Skills are similarly split into three categories and prioritized gaining 11 dots, 7 dots, or 4 dots respectively. Skills do not start with 1 free dot the way attributes do. Attributes and Skills range from 1 to 5 dots for human level and getting past human level takes a fairly long time.

Once you've assigned all your dots, you choose three skill specialties. These are one or two word descriptions that define a particular application or situation in which your particularly competent with a particular skill. This could be like having a specialty in Pistols for Firearms or Finances for Academics. These specialties give a character a bonus die to use when that specialty comes up.

This brings us to the point when the supernatural element of the character creation is added and we have to add the Beast template. This template is applied in several steps.

Most Chronicle of Darkness supernatural templates operate on a five by five structural method. For example, there are five clans of vampires matched with five covenants and five mage paths matched with five orders. There are notable exceptions to this basic structure, possibly more exceptions than regular followers by this point, but Beast is not one of them. There are five Families and five Hungers.

The Families represent the nature of the the fear that the Beast's Horror represents. Anakim, also known as the Giants, represent the nightmare of hopelessness. They are the vast entities that seem too large to even think about challenging.

Eshmaki, also known as Lurkers, represent the nightmare of darkness. Their nature is that of the creeping thing that one is actively hunting you.

Makara, also known as Leviathans, represent the nightmares of the depths. This is both the Horror of the physical depths and also the greater idea of unknown things and stepping outside one's depth. 

The Namtaru, also known as the Gorgons, represent the nightmares of revulsion. They embody the instinctual revulsion when humanity is faced with vermin, filth, rot, and other such things. 

The Ugallu, also known as Raptors, represent nightmares of exposure. These are the Horrors born of people terrified that there is no way that they could hide, that there is something always watching.

Hungers represent how the Beast keeps their Horror satisfied. These do not require that death happens though that does happen at times. Most Beasts are of the idea that they exist in order to teach mortals lessons necessary to advance and improve themselves though in the modern age, their Lessons are mostly no longer necessary. 

There is the Hunger for Power, held by those referred to as Tyrants, who feed when they can exert power over others. They focus on the idea that the lesson they're teaching is that one should know one's limits in order to make appropriate plans and advances.  

There is the Hunger for the Hoard, who steal precious things for a collection. They are known as Collectors and convince themselves that they are teaching the lesson of being free from such obsessions. 

There is Hunger for Prey who feed by the hunt and are referred to as Predators. They teach lessons of mortality and that nowhere is safe.

There is Hunger for Punishment who hunt those that have broken some rule or code of some sort. These Nemeses teach either that sin is punished or, sometimes, that justice is arbitrary and unreliable.

Finally, there is Hunger for Ruin who feed during scenes of wide-spread havoc and destruction. Ravagers teach that disaster cannot be prepared for, it can only be endured.

There is a lot of crossover in these Hungers and this is deliberate. Tyrants and Ravagers both destroy, but Tyrants do it in a targeted manner for a specific targeted effect where as Ravagers just tend do widespread havoc. All the Hungers may justify their feedings as punishment as well as teaching, but the Nemeses are completely focused on that aspect entirely.

You then choose a Legend and a Life, which are virtues representing the reputation and story surrounding your Horror as well as the daily life which keeps you anchored to your former humanity. You then mark down the Kinship powers which are an automatic part of any Beast. These help a Beast recover Willpower.

You then choose your Atavisms and Nightmares which are specific powers and are mostly associated with specific Families or Hungers. As a side note, Beasts that interact frequently with other supernaturals have access to Kinship Nightmares as they start being able to tap into the primordial fears of their werewolf and vampire kin. (Beasts tend to view other supernaturals as distant cousins or younger siblings.)

Lair is the power stat for Beasts similar to Blood Potency for Vampires. It represents a metaphysical lair within the Primordial Dream. You start with the heart of your lair and an extra chamber and slowly grow from there. The chambers are born out of physical locations where some human experienced an intensely upsetting event such as what would feed a Beast. Lairs have certain characteristics as well and when a Beast is in a physical setting that demonstrates such a characteristic then they can use that to manifest the Lair into the real world to varying degrees or even draw prey entirely into the Primordial Dream, though that can be dangerous.

Following the application of the Beast template you have 10 points to spend on Merits. Merits can represent physical, mental, and social qualities or connections that help you in certain situations. This is normal for most Merit situations. Every supernatural template also generally has a list of merits that are only available to their particular template. For instance, at a cost of 5 dots each, you can increase your starting Lair. In general, however, I find it more interesting to spend those points on other things.

Once you have your merit points spent then you turn to Advantages. This set of stats are mostly figured and can't be increased at this point. It includes Willpower, Speed, Health, Defense, Initiative, and a Beast-specific stat called Satiety. Satiety is a measure of how well fed your character's Horror is. 

There are advantages to both ends of this last stat and you generally don't want to be at either zero or maximum Satiety. At zero Satiety, your Horror takes over and will seek to feed until you get fed enough to be able to wrest back control. At maximum Satiety your Horror slumbers and might as well be a simple human as it will take a lot of effort to rouse the Horror to action if you get into danger. High Satiety makes your Nightmares more effective while Low Satiety makes your Atavisms more effective. Medium Satiety is considered to be the most dangerous point to sit at as it leaves you both a bit off-guard and a bit under-powered. 

This is an interesting design choice. A lot of previous characteristics in Storyteller games that served this function were created as flat resources to be spent. However, the Satiety is designed to make you way your options and decide whether or not you want to risk your beast getting off its leash, or else risk being a bit sluggish in reacting to danger based on the benefits each side provides.

Gorgon Archer

Family: Namtaru, Nightmare of Revulsion
Hunger: Nemesis, Hunger for Punishment

Legend: Merciless
Life: Lonely 

Aspirations: Learn who betrayed my unit. Protect the rangers in the woods. Investigate the odd events at the camping grounds.

Concept: War Veteran

Intelligence: 2, Wits: 2, Resolve: 3
Strength: 2, Dexterity: 3, Stamina: 3
Presence: 2, Manipulation: 1, Composure: 3

Crafts 1
Investigation 2
Medicine 2
Occult 2

Athletics 2
Firearms 3 (Archery)
Stealth 2 (Forests, Stalking)
Survival 2 (Forests, Hunting)
Weaponry 2

Animal Ken 2
Empathy 1
Intimidation 1

Thicker than Water - Allows for aiding peaceful meetings with the supernatural.
Family Resemblance - Allows the Beast to detect supernaturals.
Mother's Kiss - Allows the Beast to enhance the abilities of other supernaturals.
Passing Resemblance - Allows the Beast to pass themselves off as a different supernatural.
Family Dinner - Allows the Beast to sate their Horror by watching another supernatural feed.

Shadowed Soul - The Beast can sense through darkness and merge with it.
From the Shadows - The Beast knows how to maximize the benefit of shadows for stealth and hunting.

Behold My True Form! - Reveals the Beast's Horror in all it's horrific, primordial glory to deal lethal damage.
You Deserve This - Inflicts the target with intense feeling of guilt and that everything happening to them is something they learned.

Lair: 1


Professional Training: Soldier *** - Asset Skills: Firearms, Stealth, Survival - Bonus Asset Skill: Firearms, Two Free Asset Skill Specialties, 9 Again on Asset Skills, Military Contacts ** (Professional Training is amazing.)

Area of Expertise * - Archery specialization grants +2 dice instead of +1.

Anonymity **** - Almost non-existent in paperwork.

Indomitable ** - Resistance to mind-control.

Willpower: 6
Health: 8
Defense: 4
Speed 10
Initiative 6

Satiety 5/10

Five Questions: (Minimum Satiety 2, Maximum based on the answer to questions)
Who is your family? The rangers, regular patrons, and werewolves of the national park. - Includes a supernatural creature +1 Satiety.

Does your belly fill easily? Not really. She stays in the wilds and is rarely presented with the sins she seeks to punish.

Are you a social predator? No, she rarely hunts or feeds alongside others.

How frequently do you show your true face? Very rarely, there are usually other means to use for feeding. +1 Satiety for the attitude of conserving power.

How drawn to your lair are you? It calls, but the physical world is a stronger pull yet. Lair 1 grants +1 Satiety as higher powered Beasts spend more Satiety in general.

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