[Beast]Ready-Made Characters

Still from Drak Pack, Hanna-Barbera, 1980-1982
Still from Drak Pack, Hanna-Barbera, 1980-1982

Heya, folks. Matt here (briefly). The Beast Ready-Made Characters are now in art direction, and the author of said characters, Hayley Margules, was kind enough to take some questions about her writing process over on the OPP forums. Here are the answers. Enjoy!

Hi, everyone!  Hayley here.  Some of you may know me as the Dark Eras writer who wrote the comfort object and imaginary friend mechanics for A Grimm Dark Era.  I am an historian by trade, and I’ve written for a small collection of other projects for Onyx Path Publishing that will soon be released.  Today, I’m here to talk about my work on the Beast: The Primordial Ready-Made Characters.  I’m so excited for you to see these, and it looks like you will very soon.  I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about my process in creating them, and answer some specific questions that y’all have asked me.  I’m going to tease specifics — if you asked a very specific question or if you asked a question after I closed the Ask the Writer thread, I’m sorry.  Feel free to ask anything else in the comments.  More than happy to answer more questions there, and once the manuscript is released.

I was excited when Matt offered this job to me, mostly because y’all voted that the sixth character would be a changeling.

I’m joking.

Kind of.

Q:  Which of the characters were your favorite?  Alternatively, what was your inspiration?  What is the Families/Hunger spread?  What relationships do they have with other supernaturals?  What are their jobs?

A:  The real first thing that came to mind when I offered this job was, “how can I best incorporate a child character into this group without 2e rules for children and without the player who pulls the card thinking they’ve been cheated?”  My answer to that was our changeling character, Annika White.

I’ll be the first to say that, given the chance, I would have made all six of these characters children.  Child characters are my favorite to write for and my favorite to play.  But I didn’t even ask Matt if that were possible, because I didn’t think it would work as well for a brood of Beasts and a changeling as it might have for, say, a mage cabal or a changeling motley.  I don’t know what Matt would have said.  But suffice it to say that while Annika White, our changeling character, is a child, she is not an extremely young child, so you don’t need Innocents to use her or anything.

Annika’s Family Ties Connection is with the brood’s Makara, a beast named Maia.  I won’t tell you much about her, or about any of the other characters, but I was asked which character is my favorite.  The answer is that I have two favorites — Annika and Maia.

Our Anakim is Annika’s school principal.  Our Namtaru is an opthalmologist.  Our Eshmaki is an artist, and our Ugallu is a political tracker, a campaign staffer who follows opponents around, recording everything in case they say something problematic.  Mitt Romney’s 47% comment?  Recorded by a political tracker.  The job felt perfect for a character built around scrutinizing others to claustrophobia.  It came to mind from a story told to me by a college friend who worked as a tracker on a campaign in Texas.  I won’t give any more details there.

I chose to have each Family and each Hunger represented once to give an appropriate cross-section for players who may or may not know Beast and are trying to examine the possibility space prior to creating characters for themselves.  I draw inspiration from everything around me.  Annika’s character is based on a much younger changeling I created years ago for my own use.  Maia is one of my favorite names, and the name of my favorite character from my favorite television show, The 4400. And you should watch it, right now.  It’s on Netflix, go watch it right now.

Q:  Are any of them dating other supernaturals or Beasts?  Are any of them LGBTQIA?  Are they religious?  Where do they live?  Are they members of different nationalities? What relationships do they have with the other Beasts in town?  Do they share a lair?

A:  Two of these characters are LGBTQIA, and in a relationship with each other.  Some of them share an apartment, and all of them live in the same apartment building in a coastal, unspecified city.  None of them is particularly religious, though our Namtaru, who is Tlingit, cares about her Alaskan Native heritage and returns for important ceremonies.  I do not cover other Beasts in town — five felt like a lot to me.  The primary antagonists I cover in Story Hooks or in background are fae, heroes, mages, and vampires.

Q: How much supernatural knowledge do they have? 

A: Every character has something in Occult (obviously, since Beasts get a free dot).  The highest anyone has is two with a specialty, and that’s Maia.

Q: What are their long-term aspirations?  Are there descriptions of favorite feeding methods?

A:  Unfortunately, I can’t tell you about their long-term aspirations at this time, I’m sorry to the poster who asked.  You’ll know soon.  But there are descriptions of favorite feeding methods for some of them.  Unfortunately, I can’t elaborate on that either at this time.

Q: Team Cap or Team Iron Man?  Honey or Jam?

A: An OPP colleague asked Team Cap or Team Iron Man. The answer to that is: “Yes.” However, the same colleague’s question — “honey or jam?” — would give away too much if I answered right now.  I don’t know what he was thinking.

Q:  Is there a theme from regional mythology linking the characters together?  What genre would a film or television show with these characters be?

A:  Two lingering questions–No, there is no theme from regional mythology linking the characters together.  And a film or television show with these characters would be a political and interpersonal drama, with a distinctly disorienting horror focus and other niches depending on which characters you chose to focus on and what storylines you chose to pursue.  Sort of Black Mirror mixed with the tone from Damages, if I were running the Brood.  I’m sure that for some of you, that helps the gears turn more than any of the vague specifics I provided about characters above.

Like I said, please feel free to ask any more questions in the comments.  I won’t promise I’ll answer everything, but I’ll also be around to answer questions after release.  I know one of you asked me for the character’s perspectives on Wisdom through Fear and Heroes, but I can’t really answer that yet.  I will after release, if the question remains.

I poured myself into these characters, and I hope you love them as much as I do.  If I get another chance at a Ready-Made Characters job, I’ll ask my dev for permission to make them all child characters.

I’m joking.

Kind of.

31 thoughts on “[Beast]Ready-Made Characters”

  1. Well I mean there’s always the chance that you will get to do an Innocents Ready Made Character slate. I’d love to see Innocents make it into 2e. While I haven’t played with that book (I only recently learned about it’s existence) I found the read rather fascinating).

  2. Thanks for the answers!
    What do you find compelling about creating young characters?
    Any reason the non-Beast member is a Changeling?

    • Hayley can tell you what she finds compelling about young characters, but I’ll answer that second one: During the Beast Kickstarter we took a vote to see what kind of non-Beast character would be part of the brood, and Changeling won.

    • I like making sense of the world with young eyes. My favorite is very young children, aged 3-5. And that’s just in general, for everything. I have an ongoing Star Wars fanfiction about institutional failure, and some child characters have material just waiting to be uploaded there.

      For horror and dark fantasy, I think child characters are particularly poignant. There’s less of the cynicism that adult mundane characters would have, but children aren’t stupid. Psychologically, I like examining their headspace. They’re not fully developed like adult characters, and these dark otherworldly Others are shaping them during their most important stages of development, compared to adults, who are reacting after the fact.

  3. So excited to see these characters! Will the Changeling brood member be built using Changeling the Lost 2nd edition playtest materials?

    • To be completely honest with you, I can’t remember. It was September. But off a quick count, she has more than seven Merit dots, so I’m going to assume yes. I can’t look into it in-depth at the moment, though.

    • She’s made using the “upgrade a game that isn’t 2nd Ed yet to 2nd Ed rules” procedure in Beast; CtL 2nd Ed isn’t out yet, open dev aside, and I don’t want to put something into publication when the rules are still in flux.

    • You’ll have to wait and see for most of this, I’m afraid =).

      I’ll tell you that the final question there is a Story Hook.

  4. Wait,the Anakim principal,they doest hurt kids do they? i mean,i know its a horror game but i’m kinda sensitive to certain stuff

    • Not at all. Thank you for bringing this up.

      He does not hurt kids. He is accused of sometimes picking favorites, though (like all principals and all teachers).

      If anyone else has questions related to possible triggers, please post them in this subthread.

        • To be honest, this might not be the best game for you. One of the sample characters in the core book, for example, feeds her Hunger by punishing misbehaving kids and neighborhood bullies.

          Instead, you might want to look at Hunter, or Vampire, or Mage . . . Something that deals less directly with kids, and/or where the characters can be more traditionally heroic.

          (Although Batman works very well as a Beast-character)

  5. Do your characters have any Mortals that are important to them and vice versa? How have their relationships changed after the Devouring?

  6. If the characters are all adults except for the changeling, how do they get around people noticing a bunch of adults hanging around with an unrelated child and then notifying the authorities?

  7. How well developed are each character’s Horror compared to them – and how seperate do the characters see themselves from their Horrors?

    Other than Changeling, what other crossover do you reference?

    • Some of them see themselves in their Horrors more than others, like Maia, who references her nature in her daily dress and appearance. She takes the mermaid thing pretty literally.

      Other than Changelings and fae in general, you’ll see content around vampires and mages. And hunters. And heroes. Yeah, that’s it.

      • Here’s a question of a different stripe: why does Beast appeal to you? The game is maligned by many while others (myself included) don’t really understand the appeal.

        Also, is there a wider theme the Brood embodies? Is there anything on a metatextual level you wanted these characters to say to the reader?

        • Anything that subverts tropes makes me happy.

          My very first contract with the company was for a Changeling manuscript. I was a backer for Beast long before Matt hired me to write for the line, and I was around for all of the ahem. Negative, poisonous criticism. There was some positive and constructive criticism too. When OPP posted the original text, I messaged Matt to bring up some content I thought needed to be revised for various reasons, but I did so in a constructive way. Personally, I think the book we have now is in a much better place than the book we had before.

          I think a lot of people tend to expect a formula when it comes to horror. I’ve mentioned before that I have experience with cultural history. As an undergrad, I took a history class called Vampire Narratives, and that’s perhaps the most appropriate for this topic. Tropes have their place. The formula has its place. But so does subversion of the formula. Nothing happens in a vacuum, and most academics agree that horror fiction (some more than others, like vampire texts) manifests sociocultural fears and shifts through a supernatural Other. I think that Beast fits in well with the likes of other horror texts examining new fears in new ways, while still using tropes when relevant.

          Of course, people are always entitled to their opinions. I can think Twilight, for example, is written poorly and still examine what it did for the vampire genre in my academic work. I do think Twilight is written poorly. But let’s be clear–texts like Twilight did do something for their respective genres, and vampires glittering in the sun or not, Twilight kept a lot of what does make vampire texts vampire texts. Great article on this called “Twilight Follows Tradition: Analyzing Biting Critiques of Vampire Narratives for Their Portrayal of Gender and Sexuality” by Melissa Ames.

          Anywho. I’m kind of onto a tangent, but the short answer is that I like how Beast subverts traditional tropes while still delivering a game that uses some of them. It’s fresh, to me, while not so away from the familiar as to feel alien. I respect everyone’s right to have their own opinion, but I think a lot of the anger towards what Beast is now (not saying yours) came from people not wanting a change.

          NOW. Onto your second question. Not as original as it could be (here, we’re back to the tropes the game does use, point) but I wanted to look at how families form, and how family members relate to each other. No one here was born to the same mundane parents, but all except for Annika (maybe even Annika) have the same Dark Mother.

  8. Today I was having dream that I was ‘rewarded’ by my forum behavior in to making extra character for the Ready Made package. Maybe I really should do one… 😉

    • Thank you, Peter! I’m excited that you’re excited.

      I can’t say when it will be out, it’s in Matt’s hands now. (Matt, any thoughts?). But believe me, I’m excited for everyone to read them. And my parents are badgering me for a version they can keep on the coffee table.


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