Thursday, May 28, 2020


"Just because it's pathetic doesn't mean it's not dangerous" is the book's tagline, and it's very . . . interesting to me what it considers  "pathetic." The Church of Astaroth's incoherent creed is almost exactly the same thing as what Divis Mal preaches.
It is the WILL TO POWER that hath made us GODS. "DO what thou WILT" is no longer our refrain. Rather, let us WILL what we DO and forthwith do greater and greater majesties than ever we had once considered possible.
 I ask for dragons and thunder and raging seraphim and I get petty, unkind, backstabbing children . . .When will you speak to the angels with me? When?! My gods feed me blood and mangoes, and I laugh, I weep, I dance. Your gods feed you Kool-Aid and white bread and you crawl, you buzz and you quarrel like fractious children. I am as godlike as any being on this planet, and I still cannot speak in a language you understand . . .
Tip: one of these people is a deluded megalomaniac who appropriates religious language in service to his violent fantasies, and the other is the setting's designated anti-villain.

I guess if you're White Wolf c. 2000 CE, maybe you've got some first-hand experience with intense "satanist" weirdo and so a villain group that comes out of the more awkward corners of the black-metal and renaissance fair scenes is familiar enough to breed a certain contempt. However, from the perspective of a stuffy book nerd, 20 years on, I can't actually say that their half-baked occultism is notably more half-baked than the Teragen's nova mysticism. And I don't need a snarky aside to make me frightened of a charismatic nihilist who stokes the passions of white-supremacist subcultures. Also, Astaroth's spiked penis is a detail I'd have been happier not knowing about.

I could probably just leave it at that, seeing as how this is another one of the 24-page pamphlet books (my last until I get so drunk on my own mission that I decide to drop 20 dollars for the remaining one), but I do have a couple of things to say:

It's very uncomfortable the way they try to portray Beltane as the most sinister of the Church of Astaroth novas. It almost sounds like they're blaming her for getting her parents arrested by calling social services . . . after they repeatedly beat her. I guess she's a masochist that enjoyed beatings (the last one was called "a particularly satisfying whipping" - ew) and that's why it was wrong to "[have] her parents convicted of child abuse." Let's make our succubus-inspired character a 17-year-old runaway. It's not creepy because she's "the true evil behind"

The background info where Belial is homophobically bullied because of his slim frame and delicate features was probably okay. That is definitely one of the ways toxic masculinity can hurt straight guys, but maybe the message is muddled a bit when you go on to conspicuously emphasize how much totally heterosexual sex he starts having once he escapes his abusive father and ignorant classmates.

Overall, this is actually a surprisingly good villain book. Little did they know when writing this that, in 2020, it was more likely to inspire a story where heroic satanists clean out the vipers in their own community than it was to be about laughing at the nerds who took the occult thing a little too seriously, but I remember those days well, and I can't entirely blame them for being touchy about it.

Ukss Contribution: This is a difficult one because the entire point of this book is to be deliberately uncool. That said, I liked that one of the faces of ultimate destruction was "the Black Cow, aaa'llagg'nhaa." Something about the end of the universe being brought about by an animal normally noted for its docility and associations with fertility really strikes me as an authentic spiritual detail, one of the apparent contradictions that drives religious mystery.

I'll have to do something about the name, though.

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