The game takes place sometime in the second half of the 18th century, at the height of the French Ancien Regime. King Louis sits, respected and renowned, on the throne of France. Volunteer armies have just started returning from the successful intervention in America, where the French have helped the Americans win their freedom from the abhorred Brits. Over a generation ago, Louis unified France as a decidedly Catholic state. Sciences, both social and natural, are on the rise in cities; for the first time, it is becoming acceptable to criticise the aristocracy and the Church (but not the King).
But in the mountains of the Gévaudan province, these changes are coming at a slower pace. The locals can still remember the Camisard wars, in which the local Huguenots succeeded, as the only ones in all of France, to force the King to grant them religious freedoms. They now form a small, but all the more vigorous, Protestant community in Gévaudan.
Life here would have kept on going at a sluggish pace, if not for the arrival of the Beast. What started as seemingly common attacks by a rabid wolf turned out to be much more menacing. When the local nobles failed in slaying the monster, Gévaudan grew fearful – and famous. News of the Beast soon travelled across the world and drew in hunters, both renowned and unknown, who wanted to show their prowess. And when newspapers and tabloids around the world begun sneering at the country that, despite all its power, seems incapable of dealing with one oversized animal, it is said that even the King himself was angered and sent his personal hunter to Morsange.
Morsange will therefore connect the least probable of people together: Arrogant hunters and sly merchants; soldiers scarred by the American war and galley slaves forced to labour in the excavations at Morsange.
Each group and each individual will have their own story. They are connected by a chaos brought about by the arrival of the Beast and the theme of the Beast itself; although it will not always take the form of a monster from the woods, which devours man and animal both.
Our characters offer quite a diverse spectrum of class, content, physical demands, comfort, and script. Below you can download short character descriptions that give you some basic idea about what you can play in our game – however, there are almost a 100 of them and you in no way need to read all the descriptions unless you want to.
Because our game works with secrets and many characters have hidden nuances that these public descriptions cannot show, we will not be assigning you characters based on what names you pick. Instead, we will ask you about your preferences for content and try to give you character options that fit your preferences best. The following is the general descriptions that do not contain any spoilers and are not tagged for content warnings.
If you’d like to look at the version with content warnings, which may contain spoilers for the game, but give you a better idea of how many characters deal with heavy topics centrally, you can look at the following documents instead. You can also only use this document once you get into the game and get your choice of characters, to check them specifically.
These will be added later, by the time of the casting at the latest. To learn more about safety and heavy content in our game, please look at Practical – Safety.
Transparency and scripting
The organizers provide all initial game content, including the characters, their backgrounds and relationships, the core of all plotlines, and the setting. The players’ role is to interpret these stories and reflect on the key questions of their character – and ultimately, decide their story. Although some story twists are pre-designed, the players still have quite a high level of freedom and responsibility to play out the offered story and relationship lines and to move the game forward. During the game, there will also be NPC entries or letters that will move some characters’ stories forward.
Different characters have a different level of script heaviness in their game. Some are quite open-ended and only have the beginning of their plot and a few turning points that they can react to however they wish (this is also generally true for most relationship plots, many romances and a lot of personal development plots). Other characters actually get direct orders and have to follow them and their challenge lies in somehow incorporating that into their character’s development and story (this is generally true for characters included in a hierarchic structure – soldiers, secret spies, or government officials simply get their orders from above). Such characters often get more directly scripted content from us (great if you want lots of toys to play with), but in turn they cannot simply decide not to follow orders, as many other characters have their game tied to these scripts (not great if you want lots of personal freedom).
Our game also has a low level of transparency and it works with surprise and secrets. We are aware that this is unusual in many larping cultures, but we believe that the lack of transparency in our game has a purpose and that we have ways to make it work. We ask you to trust us in this. The characters have their secrets, which are to be revealed, but in time; and we believe that the game works well if the secrets are a surprise for both the characters and the players.
This also means we ask our players not to do any pre-planning of scenes or relationships before the game and once the game starts, there is no off-game negotiation except in the negotiation tent (see Game mechanics).
The game is of a “come and play” sort and only light preparation is expected of the players. You will get a full character sheet and you will not be asked to participate in writing it; however, we will ask you to read it thoroughly, think about your interpretation, and consult with the organisers about any issues that might arise.
We will also not expect you to study detailed historical information on your own; we will supply you with our own comprehensive materials, summarizing what you need to know and what might be useful. There will also be pre-game recaps of all the necessary information.
All the costumes, props and food will also be provided – we will only ask you to bring shoes, sleeping equipment and food utensils.
The goal of De la Bête is not to portray history in a completely accurate way. Instead, it sees it as a background for fictional stories that could have taken place at the given time. Drama and stories are always more important than historical accuracy. The way we approach history is therefore more similar to novels, rather than, say, history books. The game does not happen in a specific year, in fact it intentionally connects various events, which, in reality, spanned over a few decades.
We do want to game to look historical, but our goal is not reenactment or full authenticity – only a good level of visual immersion. We will therefore ask you to try and help us by, for example, getting good, non-disturbing looking shoes and covering any off-game items, but we do not want to limit people by getting stuck on details. We also do not cast the characters according to players’ looks, age, gender or anything like that.
Red stop: A play-stopping safety mechanic. If you feel uncomfortable at any point in your play and you do not want to stay in the game or in a specific scene, say the words “red stop”. If you hear these words from one of your fellow players, stop any scene you are engaging in with them and let them do what they need – leave the scene, go find an organizer, take a breath.
Sex: We do not think realistic expressions of a high level of physical intimacy really suit our game and played out physical intimacy should not go beyond hugging or a kiss on the lips (although there will be time before the game to talk about personal boundaries). In the rare cases where it is really necessary to play out that intercourse has happened, we use a simple visual mechanic where the two players in question lie down facing each other with hands on each other’s shoulders. This will be shown in the workshops.
Fighting and violence: We will explain fighting further in the workshops and later player documents. However, we use stage fighting techniques for brawling, softened weapons (similar to boffer) for fencing and sound projectile gun replicas for shooting. The galley prison then uses some slightly more physical brawling techniques, which will be workshopped thoroughly.
The passing of time in the game corresponds to the real world – the two days in the outside world are two in-game days. However, they are naturally in-game days in which an exceptionally high amount of interesting things will happen.
Acts and story escalation: The game will be divided into six acts, during which stories will be gradually developing. There is no overarching story concerning all the players and some story archs will end sooner than others.
In-game/Off-game: We want to maintain a clear divide between the player and the character at all times. Outside of the game – in the pre-game workshops and free time and the post-game reflection and after-party, you will always be off-game, not playing your character, unless we specifically state otherwise (such as for short scripted pre-game scenes). Once the game starts, you will be in-game, playing your character, until the game’s end or your character’s death. There will be times of ‘practical suspension’ where we do not necessarily expect you to engage in heavy roleplay while washing dishes, getting to sleep or brushing your teeth, but we would still prefer if you didn’t go completely off-character in those situations (no banter about your flight). The only times when you can be off-game during the game itself are when you want to calibrate with another player in the negotiation tent or when you want to sit for a bit in the off-game space or consult something with the organizers.
Negotiation tent – if you find yourself in a situation in which you would really like to negotiate with you co-player about how your game will go, you can invite them to the negotiation tent. This is fully opt-in: they can and don’t have to accept. In the tent you can talk off-game about your stories and how would you like to approach them.
Religion is a major part of De la Bête. Most of our characters will be Catholics or Huguenots, with a handful of Christians of other denominations and a few atheists. Religion was a huge topic of the time and the conflict between Catholics and Protestants is one of the biggest underlying conflicts of the game. We will be playing religion very actively and we will also workshop it.
We understand that this is a sensitive topic for many and we do our best to take it very seriously; the team that wrote the game included historians of religion and other experts on the topic. There will be some characters who do not see religion as central to them at all, but it will not be possible to avoid some casual play on it – for example, everybody goes to mass in the morning. The Catholic characters’ mass will in fact take place in a real church – a beautiful baroque church that we are allowed to use for these purposes. We think this can give a very strong experience, but if playing in a real church is a major problem for you, please take note of this and let us know in the signup.