Changing Breeds by Kurieg
BackgroundOriginal SA post
When Werewolf: The Forsaken was released, it was to some contention. Some fans of Apocalypse didn't like that they got rid of all references to Gaia and the Triat. Some didn't like that they got rid of metis and lupus. And a rather vocal minority got
mad that White Wolf got rid of the Fera.
2007 saw the release of War Against the Pure, which in addition to the titular War and the Pure that it was against, included rules for 5 breeds of animal shifters. Were-Cats empowered to kill the morally corrupt amongst humanity, were-falcons who view themselves as Olympian Gods, Lovecraftian Deep Ones desperate to prove to the Ocean gods that they are worthy, Were-Cockroaches based on Kafka, and Were-Bulls that rule over humans and steal the wolf-blooded to turn into more like themselves. It also included rules to create more shapeshifting breeds in that vein. The problem was that these were all unique to the New World of Darkness, and very unlike the Fera of the Old. So someone, somewhere, got the bright idea that they should create a book that caters to the fans of the old Fera. The issue is that while some just wanted to play as non-wolf shapeshifting people(for which War Against the Pure was fantastic), the vocal minority wanted to play as sexy cat men, and sexy fox girls, and sexy bear... yeah. Enter Changing Breeds
While War Against the Pure was more intent on staying in step with the Forsaken, the Forsaken line devs wanted nothing to do with this book, hence why it's branded as a generic World of Darkness title. While the Shapeshifters from WATP were more varied in their motivations, Changing Breeds reads like every old W:TA stereotype about furry captain planet made real.
Back Copy posted:
Nature is FED UP with us.
In fact, she'd like to have a chat with you.
So lay right there
And lets begin.
I'll do the talking
And you do the SCREAMING.
This book is for the beast inside of us.
There are two things about this book's development that strike me as weird. First, War Against the Pure came out in April of 2007, Changing Breeds came out that December. Eight months is an insanely short turn around time to get feedback from WATP, spin up a new writing staff, and complete a book, meaning that work began on Changing Breeds likely began before War Against the Pure had even hit store shelves. Second, they hired back Phil Brucato to write the book.
And gave him near complete creative control.
And let him hire on four of his friends to help him write.
For those that don't know who Phil Brucato is, I'll let White Wolf's thinly veiled parody of him speak for me.
From what I understand this isn't an entirely inaccurate summary of him. While he was on White Wolf's payroll he wrote for Changeling, Werewolf, Vampire, and most prolifically Mage. But since this is a werewolf book, sort of, let's look at his Werewolf writing chops.
Black Furies 1st Edition posted:
In ancient times, Man bent his knee to Woman, believe it if you will, and his heart burned with envy to see Woman befriend the wolves. The Wyrm seized on that envy, and visited Man, teaching him the secrets of seed and womb. As the Wyrm feasted on the jealousy of Man for Woman, Man's strength was turned against his partner and the peace was lost. With his great strength and natural aggression, Man quickly turned his hand from survival to Conquest.
His Tyranny lashed out not only at his partners, but at all the Wyld. The Wyrm delighted in his new ally and set Man about the task of raping both the bodies of Woman and the souls of the Mother.
Wait what? posted:
From the Middle East came the Patriarch, the most insidious plot of the Wyrm, under many names in many forms. The bloody-minded Patriarch ripped the souls and battered the bodies of Woman in the name of his male gods. The Patriarch, the Incarna of jealous man and servant of Abhorra, the Urge Wyrm of hatred, promised Man Limitless power. For the sake of that power Man gladly bent everyone around him to the yoke of the Patriarch. Though the Patriarch's prophets spoke of kindness and good intentions, they crushed Woman beneath laws of ownership and myths of sin.
Taught from the first that they were to blame for the miseries of the world, the woman of the Patriarch wrapped themselves in cloaks of shame. The furies raged, seeking to tear the cloaks from their sister's shoulders, but the spirits of Woman were crippled as the Patriarch, in his myriad forms, rolled across the lands of Europe, Asia, and Africa.
So yes in his first book for Werewolf he claims that the Judeo Christian god is a lie put forth by the Wyrm to subjugate women and pervert them away from the true worship of the mother goddess.
He's also credited as a writer on Freak Legion, the book with vagina dentata, but so are 13 other people so I'm not sure if he's to blame for that.
After his separation from White Wolf somewhere around 1999 he went on to publish his own game, Deliria, a game about super powerful faeries who lord their power over mankind. You don't play as the faeries, mind you, you play as the humans that they're lording over.
Some of his non roleplaying writing credits include Open Your Heart to the Magic of Love , Love Wisdom – A Soul's Journey to Wellness , and Rites of Pleasure: Sexuality in Wicca and NeoPaganism .
He has also, at some point, legally changed his first name to Satyros.
The dude is fucking insane, and someone at White Wolf or CCP, specifically sought him out to write a supplement on how to play Furries in the new World of Darkness.
The book opens up with an introductory fiction, like most WoD books. But like most nWOD books it's presented in the form of a newspaper ransom note pasted over high contrast pictures.
The story is about a young Mexican woman attempting to cross over the border to America with a smuggler. For those of you who know that those who smuggle people across the border are known as Coyotes, you're half right.
So why is this young woman attempting to cross the border? "This country across the wide desert was the furthest I could imagine from the humid mountains of my childhood. Across the desert, they wouldn't curse me and spit on my shadow. If i made it, I could DISAPPEAR like SO MANY OTHERS before me. My past worn away by the winds and sand, I would emerge
BLANK AND NEW
ON THE OTHER SIDE."
The entire section is written like that, something that would take half a paragraph is instead spread out over an entire page in 72 point font.
Anyways on the fifth night the Coyote comes to rape her at gunpoint, because of course he does, and the woman flashes back to her childhood when her father caught a Gray Fox that was slaughtering their hens. He had wounded the fox with a shot to the leg, and they followed the blood trail back into the forest. Rather than wasting another bullet, her uncle held the fox by the muzzle while her father slit its throat. "When I saw the blood flow over my father's fingers, I SCREAMED AS IF IT WERE MY OWN THROAT UNDER THE KNIFE. I could not stop, even as my father shook me and held me tight."
From far away, I saw the gray fox collect its bones and leap to life. It fastened its jaws on the Coyote's throat, his windpipe collapsed in its grip, robbing him of anything but a dry, silent gaping as the fox's nails shredded the soft skin of his stomach.
When the Coyote lay still my fox fled, swift and sure-footed across the desert. As the sun broke over the horizon, the fox curled its dark tail around itself and slept. I woke on the edge of the desert, miles from my fellow travelers, naked and streaked with blood in the morning sun...
So was she the fox, was the fox her mother? Her Father? Why were the people in her village spitting on her shadow and calling her cursed?
I don't know!
Next Up: Bird Tits and Dog Dicks
Intro ChapterOriginal SA post
The introduction chapter is something else. I'm just going to quote the first bit in its entirety.
In the heart of every man and woman, there's a beast. And that truth fascinates and terrifies us all.
We like to think we're different. Unique. "Higher" in form and function than "mere" animals. And perhaps in the towering cities of our era, that's true. But in the rugged landscapes of the jungle or savannah, in the ocean depths or the forest shadows, our advantages disappear. Stripped of tools and technology, a man or woman in the wilderness becomes simple, naked prey. To survive, that person must return to the primal soul. To the beast. To the animal within.
So of course first he trots out the common chestnut of "We are animals so we must live as animals". Meaning we revert to a communal hunting tool user? Take a chimpanzee and toss it into the middle of the savannah on it's lonesome I'm fairly certain it isn't going to survive very long either. Also yes, we would die in the ocean depths, as would a great many seafaring creatures.
Some people are closer to that beast than others. In them, Beast and Man share one skin.
Man is a clever monkey. An abstract animal, he reshapes his surroundings to suit him best. Sometimes, though, he forgets that he is , at heart, an animal. In the shadows of his world, though, the beast-folk remind him. Not through crude terrorism or remote perfection but by simply being there . As always they haunt those secret places where he thinks he's in control. And as they have since Man's inception, they haunt his dreams as well.
As legends say, the beast-folk have always been with us. These days, though, they seem to be everywhere : weasels in the boardroom, tigers in the bedroom, crow-folk on the side of the road. Look carefully at the reflections of your friends and neighbors. Spot that cat-like gleam in your lover's eye? The bullish tilt in a rival's head? The feathered shadows cast behind that homeless dude in the park? You see them now, don't you - the signs of the beast? Did you, perhaps, ever see them in yourself?
And here's where the metaphor just completely breaks down. We have lost touch with our animal selves therefore people with the souls of completely unrelated animals just kind of show up and remind us that we are animals. Also cats are totally sexy, if you've ever had sex you are probably a cat furry. Just accept it now.
These "changing breeds" aren't strangers. They're us . Not some different species but distillations of our own. For whateve reason, they defy what Man calls "possible" to let a deeper truth emerge. We all have animals inside. Sometimes, that beast claws its way out, and when it does, the laws of Man bleed. Nature becomes the only Law. A man becomes an animal in fact as well as fancy.
Most folk have divided souls.
Not the beast-folk.
In them, Animal and Man are joined.
And now, you're one of them.
The next heading, however, is eager to point out that "This transformation is imaginary - the only magic working here is your mind." But in the magic and etherial landscape of the World of Darkness we can swim with the fishes, soar with the eagles, and run with the wolves!(except not really)
We also finally find out why the Changing Breeds exist. To punish mankind for his hubris. "Man has fucked Nature inside out. His boundless ego, carelessness, and absolute conviction that he is the center of his universe have torn the wild world apart. Forests Fall. Oceans have become cesspools. The weather itself screams with protest, and while it's fashionable to blame outside entities for this catastrophic state of affairs, human greed and stupidity are the real demons here. Man is the animal that shits where he eats, then proclaims himself a god for it. And now Nature has had enough." That bit at the end about blaming outside forces is yet another Dig at Werewolf: The Apocalypse. In which while mankind did terrible things, the Weaver and Wyrm were at the root of the problem. Not so in Changing Breeds! The true enemy is man, and his interior plumbing. And the Changing Breeds will see him die for it.
While lots of different creatures in the world of darkness may shapeshift into animals, the Changing Breeds are unique because they are humans who share a "metaphysical connection" with their inner animal. A connection that is "Innate, Primal, and Mysterious". Compared to their innate harmony other shapeshifters are but cheap imitations. Except Werewolves, maybe. They have gone by many names throughout the centuries but to the modern supernatural culture they only have one.
Get it? because they're humans who've gone wild again. Kill me now.
Each Feral has to come to an Accord with their animal soul. Accords are the "arbitrary division of five" that every White Wolf splat has to have. There's the Den-Warder, Heart-Ripper, Root-Weaver, Sun-Chaser, and Wind-Dancer. And while you might be able to guess what the first two do, I will forgive you for not figuring out Satyros' logic naming the last 3. He's also quick to point out that ferals do not share a common culture. They might collaborate but it is rare... outside of the fact that you're supposed to get 5 of them together to make a play group. It's rare to find more than two ferals in one place unless they're of a very social species, or they're gathered in a Bukota or common sanctuary.
Yes. Despite them not having a common culture they have a universal language.
Most shapeshifters come from the "Great Beasts", not just predators but bulls, stags, bison. horses, elephants.
The feral heart of a shapeshifter is Nature incarnate, not a "beast" as vampires understand them but a channel to animal instinct. That mixed blessing includes sharp senses, startling directness, raw physicality and a visceral awareness about the blood, breath and bones of the natural world. On the downside, a feral person is touchy about things such as pollution and other forms of human carelessness. Her ideas about hygiene and personal space can seem rather... primal, and her very presence seems attractive to some folks and freakish to others. In general, a shapechanger is quick to love, quick to bolt and quick to anger. She can sense the thrum of possibilities all around her, and can kick into fight-or-flight in no time. Just as animals, the werefolk seem very much alive . This makes them charming, puzzling and sometimes terrifying company.
Yes their true animal souls rail against the human injustices of hygiene, indoor plumbing, and pollution. Though I have to admit the idea that everyone's pets are secretly filled with a desire to murder them because their animal instincts tell them that toothpaste is wrong is a hilarious one.
The word Animal comes from anima - "Life, Breath." And just as a person breathes at her first moment of life, so the beast is with her from the beginning. That animal often slumbers until puberty, but signs of that wild heart might emerge at infancy. The child might seem curious as a cat, quiet as a mouse, or stubborn as a mule. He might have unusually thick, luxurious hair and uncannily sharp senses. He may ramble through the woods or watch the Discovery Channel with palpable longing.
All teenage angst is just your animal spirit trying to break free of the chains your parents place upon you. Also there's no real climactic first change like what Werewolves have, you just sort of wake up one day and you're a shapeshifter. Congratulations. Here we also find out that your true animal soul is actually called your Nahual which is an Aztec word that he's appropriating because it sounds cool. It more accurately refers to the person doing the shapeshifting, and would have been a better word to use than Feral.
Then he shifts topics again to talk about how all Ferals are driven to fight against human society. And that they are anguished by this because they love their fellow man even as they rip their throats out. Feel pity for the poor furry, you know not his plight.
Yes, the crow woman has tits, no, they aren't feathered like the rest of her. No, I have no fucking idea how she's flying either.
Then there's a list of myths and facts about the Changing Breeds, most of which are answered with "Well no, but Mages/vampires/werewolves/hosts/skinchangers/sorcerers can do that" But "Can you be turned into a werecreature with a bite" is answered with a No, because the animal spirit is already inside you. And "Are Ferals vulnerable to silver" is surprisingly answered with a Yes. They can't explain how but apparently Werewolves did it because they were jealous.
There's a quick Lexicon section but it's mostly going over what we already know or will be informed about later. Two things that stand out are the "Aiaetha", which is the reflection of your beast soul that you can see in the mirror. And "Alpha" which is the leader of any group of werebeasts, even if their Nahual doesn't have an Alpha, werebeasts do because that's just how it is.
I didn't censor this one, it came pre-smudged. You can still see it though meaning that the person actually drew a giant dog man's dick. And I'm not sure why but the proportions on this guy are just all sorts of fucked up. He's roughly 80% torso by mass, his head is way too small, and his limbs are gigantic. I'm also pretty sure that both hands and paws can't do what his left hand is doing in this picture. This is the quality of 90% of the art in this book, hang on folks, we're in for a ride.
Also yes that is a were-dog, while there are wolf-shifters in this book they cannot assume the hybrid form for reasons .
Next Up: The Wild Heart
The Wild HeartOriginal SA post
There's a short fiction story before each chapter. The bit before this one is about a were-bear trucker getting mad at construction workers for laying down pavement.
Some 'bear' I am! My thick ass dents a dry peeling cushion that used to be some cousin's hide. What possessed me to buy a truck with leather seats, I don't know. There's Coca-Cola aftertaste burning on the back of my tongue. That's not hibernation fat jiggling over my belt - it's 100% pure grade-a flabby American man-tit. Sure I'm a furry old cuss but if I had the slightest shred of self-respect I'd open this rattletrap's door and swipe a few of those heads right off their fucking necks.
But I need it, I tell myself. I need that road paved. So I hold my breath as the flaggers wave us by, trying not to imagine the earth screaming under her thick black skin. Trying not to think about the roadkill. Trying not to imagine the dens displaced, the streams diverted, the poisons boiling through the air or leeching intot he water table from this monument to my convenience.
And it just doesn't work. I can't not think about it. The stink of Hell is too great to ignore.
I try to ignore the itching underneath my skin. the ache in the bones beneath my face. The sledgehammer chorus in my heart and the phantom sear of asphalt stench that follows me all the way home.
I can't not think about that either.
I need to go out. Soon.
There's a billboard near my house: THERE ARE NO BEARS IN OUR WOODS. I'm not sure what it's supposed to mean. There's no attribution or advertisement attached. Is the message bragging? Mournful? Alarmed? Were the sponsors of that board saying that the lack of bears was a good thing or a bad thing?
All I know is that they're mistaken.
And tonight, I'm going to prove them wrong.
Chapter One: The Wild Heart
Man has convinced themselves that animals are just simple beasts. Being called "an animal" has becomes the insult given to serial killers and politicians. But when we say it we also hold them in admiration because they are vicious throwbacks to an older humanity. Except no? It just means we think they're subhuman, Phil.
"Before you can take on a feral's skin, you have to know at least a little bit about what's going on behind her eyes. Always, though, there'll be unanswered questions. Mystery is part of an animal's allure" ...ffffffffff.
Anyways, in older times there were great beasts that "unenlightened scientists would call dinosaurs", but the ferals know as the great old ones. With their death the great old ones came the birth of the First. But not the first Ferals, no, the first living beings... that... weren't the great old ones.
CLEAR LANGUAGE IS IMPORTANT PHIL.
It has been said that our First ancestors could shift between animal and human forms as easily as you or I can breathe. Other stories, though, speak of bargains struck, of tricksters and mothers and children born from moonlight. I have heard that we changers were shaped from Coyote's dung, or from the tears of angels cast down from heaven. Travel far enough and you'll hear about women giving themselves in love and lust to beasts, or of lost gods who spread their seeds in mortal wombs. The Snake that tempted Eve, it has been said, was her lover, too; still other legends speak of Lilith, who lay with gods, men, and beasts alike in the days before Eve was born. Perhaps the djinn cloaked themselves in flesh and took passion with all species, or the gods of Egypt rose from holy unions to stand beside men and beasts.
Why, yes that sure is an entire paragraph devoted to the various ways that humans and animals may have gotten it on.
Humanity and the beasts lived in savage harmony then, taking food when necessary, sharing favors when they could. We hunted together, loved together, fought together, died together. Love and blood were our communions, and the Clever Monkey knew his place. A pity that wasn't to last.
Again we reach a problem with the book, in the past page alone I've had about five or six different "unforgivable turning points" that set nature against man, but they keep coming up with more and more of them. Finally the game says that Nature just kind of let the Changing Breeds die out until recently to "lull man into a false sense of security" before bringing them back in abundance to punish man for his crimes. Which seems counterproductive compared to stopping the crimes from happening in the first place .
The Changing Gift
"Wow, you're weird !" That's the common litany of a shapechanger's childhood. Whether those words are spoken in Bantu, or Bronx English, the refrain's the same. That weirdness isn't always a bad thing, of course. As the child soon discovered, some people will find that oddness utterly compelling. "Animal Magnetism" is more than just a phrase to a feral person. From childhood onward it is a fact of life.
Every Feral has an animal spirit and are attuned to only one type of animal. They may feel a kinship with all animals but they only have one Nahual. Animals will also notice and respond to their inner beast even before their first change. So every cat and/or dog person is probably actually a cat/dog shifter. Other people might notice it too, and get them gifts of their animal totem or nickname them after their animal. So if your father has ever called you "Tiger" as a diminutive you had better watch out.
Also, unlike "false religions", you cannot convert a Nahual. If you have a feral soul you cannot become a mage, vampire, or werewolf.
Contradicting what he said last chapter, the first change apparently is apparently a tumultuous experience. As the time of their first change approaches, a feral enters The Storm . They will wake up from night terrors, see the shadow of their beast soul in the corner of their eye. See their Nahual in the mirror. Be stalked by beasts in the woods. Animals will attack them, their Nahual kin will try to be closer to them. The Feral themselves will begin acting like their animal, hissing, biting, digging, becoming increasingly aggressive or withdrawing entirely. In older, more enlightened, times these Ferals would be sent off to Shamans, Oracles, or Warrior-Priests.
These days they're sent to therapy. Instead of initiation, she gets medication... or worse yet, punishment. A kid might run away from home, take drugs or break every rule in sight. Cutting, fucking, praying - nothing seems to help. Until the beast and human reach harmony, self reflection is a nightmare. Even if both aspects had seemed harmonious before, the edge of the First Change cuts them like rusty wire.
I am honestly and morbidly curious as to what kind of upbringing Brucato had. He keeps trying to tie normal teenage rebellion to external supernatural sources, he paints religion as the great evil of our age, and is overly eager to point out how much sex his characters are having and how natural sex is.
Anyways, the first change is... honestly it is needlessly brutal. The beast must be free, you see. And whatever it needs to do to be free it will do, if that means slaughtering a bus full of nuns(I shit you not this is the given example), it will do it. The first change also hurts. The physical form is ripped apart, clothes are shredded, and the beast revels in its freedom while the human mind screams in terror. Eventually the beast will find a reflective surface and the human and beast will talk to each other and find their Accord , their soul song. Of course after the first change, the feral will probably be naked, miles from home, with a torn up room and a couple thousand dollars of devastation in their wake between where they were and where they are. Thankfully Ferals have The Delusion to cover for them. Which is literally nWerewolf's lunacy under a different name. There's not even a very good explanation for it, "nature covers for her own" is apparently enough to explain why videotapes foul when used to film a Feral in their war form.
Regardless of if a Feral returns to their previous life or runs away to join the wolf circus, a feral now has to balance their human and animal souls. If they do try to tough it out at home they will still be forever changed, a nerd might become an athlete, a jock might become a hippie, a stoner may go sober and become an honor student while they ponder their next move. But at night they will all slip out beneath the stars and seek the new destiny beneath their skin.
He might meditate in the dark, take up dance or athletics, join an occult fellowship or seek out others of his kind. He could adopt an animal companion, draw or paint self portraits of his animal self, make clothes or costumes that match his Nahual or even join a group of "otherkin" - people who believe (sometimes correctly) that they're not entirely human.
Regardless of what he does, the Nahual demands open spaces. He must run free on open earth beneath clear sky. Because in Nature there is harmony between the man and beast selves. "This isn't , though, a floaty New Age state. 'Feral' means 'like a wild beast,' and our feral's sense of harmony has a very wild edge." Really? It isn't new age? cause with all the sex they're having I was a bit confused. Anyways, they also can't be too bestial or too wild, if they're too human the beast will retreat and her supernatural abilities will fade. If they're too bestial the animal will take over even in their human guise. They can be trapped in one form, grow demented, or lose their ability to hide what they are. Occasionally their Aiaetha will become visible to other people. "Folk tales of Kitsune women with foxlike shadows come from such discords, which could be blamed on the culture's rigid codes of behavior." Wait. Was that just a judgement on Japanese culture? Where the fuck did that come from? I'm really glad that that's all he says on the matter because I really wasn't looking forward to typing up a 5 paragraph long screed on the fox shifters stole men's penises because Patriarchy.
A shapeshifter who falls too far out of balance renounces their changing gift. They either become an animal who forsakes humanity entirely, or she loathes her bestial self and stays locked in human form. Both are monsters. As beasts they tear humans to shreds for fun; as humans they stalk and torture animals because they can . Yup. They literally turn into puppy kicking monsters. Ferals try to hunt them down but they're clever hunters and not so easily caught.
Accords: The Heart-Paths
After roughly 3 paragraphs prattling on about the music of the animal soul in a wolf's howl (Did I mention that Brucato is trying to make an TRPG about music? Because he is.) We are finally told precisely what the Accords are. Also, unlike Nahuals, Accords can change.
Den-Warder: The Protector
The Den-Warder guards his place in the world. He nurtures and defends the things he loves, like the Guard Dog or Mother Bear, they are devotion, honor, loyalty, and affection incarnate. They're usually even-tempred, honest, and ethical. "Their voices are often melodic and comforting, like the music in their souls." They're also stubborn and gullible and if betrayed they will probably murder someone.
Heart-Ripper: The Predator
The "can I just fucking kill it already" accord. They are sadistic, violent, and cruel. Their human guise may be a serial killer, slaughterhouse worker(seriously brucato?), or gun-nut. "The blood she spills may be metaphorical most of the time (this type loves sadistic mind games!), but every so often the Heart-Ripper must kill for real."
Root-Weaver: The Builder
Remember all that shit about how humans built tools and that made us monstrous? Brucato doesn't. "If building seems to be a human trait, just watch birds, ants, or beavers at work. Innovative and industrious, the Root-Weaver creates structures and technology for pleasure or survival." "Mere nature" is not enough for the Root-Weaver.
Sun-Chaser: The Rebel
The token trickster archetype because of course there's a fucking trickster archetype . "His animal self could be seen as the playful puppy who shits all over the house; on a darker note, though, he's the rogue Hyena prowling the streets, who's not too proud to add a child to his meal." So, scat fanatic or murderer. Those are the options here I guess? Okay.
Wind-Dancer: The Seer
"The visionary vagabond who's lantern lights a distant path." "Drawn to secrets but prone to secrecy" "Her inner song rumbles like a night time storm, rich with promises and threats." "Just as the wind they blow through life, flying but never settling."
No I have no fucking idea what they're supposed to be either.
So you've got a bear living in your soul, what do you do now? Well you should probably learn to hide. Your nature-given job is probably going to run afoul of the law and Delirium or not you're going to leave behind evidence of your human self. If you keep a permanent address the cops are probably going to come knocking. Of course you could also become a "stay at home folk" who hides behind a computer screen and finds kinship on the internet.
In rural areas it's easier to hide. "Third world nations, wilderness and war zones." I.. war zones? "Perfect playgrounds for a Heart-Ripper who doesn't mind the constant possibility of death. Away from the media cirsuit, these regions provide shelter for many modern werebeasts." But what about your nature given duty to protect nature from the predations of man? Nope just gonna kill a bunch of folks that would have died anyway? Okay then.
For the flamboyant there are plenty of subcultures you can get lost in too. "Homeless folks, hitchikers, Rainbow People, Ren Faire performers, therians, entertainers, hunters, backpackers, bikers - such people slip in and out of sight by virtue of what they can do. Grab a guitar, a pack and the right clothes, and you can travel constantly." I'm reasonably certain he means the Rainbow Family not Rainbow People. Because I'm pretty sure you can't just join in with wealthy shipping magnates. "For wealthy or beautiful ferals, there's the jet-set, where entertainingly exotic company is always welcome." .... Okay fine.
Of course you could also become (gasp) HOUSEBROKEN and try and settle down. Of course a feral is a wild animal at heart.
Once changed a feral's temperament deepens. He'll pick fights, snarl, snap at jokes and cry for no reason. He may go days or weeks without bathing; if he wants to fuck he'll say so bluntly. In fights he'll bite hard and may even transform. If the feral seemed weird before, he's really weird now.
And honestly that's most of the problem with this kind of mindset, they keep talking about harmony and balance, but whenever the two sides come into conflict the book always has the animal win.
So back in the world of the book, you must always account for the needs of your beast. A hawk-soul will probably have an easier time adapting to their lot in life than an ocean born. "A land locked Were-shark, for example, should move to the coast... or find herself a really good aquarium." Not included in this book: Rules for weresharks.
While the world has millions of animals, most Nahuals are "Power Animals", read "animals Brucato thinks are cool": bears, cats, horses, hawks. "In short, they're big, strong, and often fierce." Hawks only meet one of those 3 criteria pal. "Humans revere such beasts (Symbolically, at least), and that reverence plays a large role in the werebeast bond." Wait, what? I thought mankind wasn't reverent to nature. Stop contradicting yourself! "Not all power animals, though, are large." Stop contradicting yourself! "Hares, rats, cats, and insects share close bonds with humanity, too. Shapechanger lore is filled with such creatures, and although most folks might laugh at the idea of a 'wereroach', the specter of a man dissolving into a sea of roaches is enough to send most folks shrieking towards insanity.
The breed groupings are
- Were cats, natch.
The Land Titans
- elephant and rhino men.
The Laughing Strangers
- the "Trickster" breeds, weasels, rats, hares, raccoons, and foxes. They also say Coyotes are Laughing Strangers but..
- dog-bloods, hyena-people, and wolfkin. Not werewolves, mind you, also not Coyotes.
The Royal Apes
- Yes, were apes. Yes, the art for them is laughable.
The Spinner Kin
- Were Bears
- Stags, Elks, horses, and deer.
The Wing Folk
- Anything that can fly.
Most shapeshifters only have 3 forms, the Man-Guise, the Primal-Beast, and the War-Beast which is "An uncanny synthesis of human, animal, and god ."
Some can also assume a "Throwback" form between human and war beast, and the Dire Beast form which is between primal and war beasts. Though "it's a trick that can take years or even decades to master".
It's a four dot merit and available at character creation.
Also, don't ask how shapeshifting works, they don't even try to explain it like W:TF did. "It's Nature's magic, and it works Nature's way. The so-called laws of science mean nothing when the Changing Gift takes hold." The change does have it's limits, however. There has to be room for them to assume their new form. And synthetic clothing or man-made materials don't change with them. Unless you're wearing leather, skins, or raw silk it's best to strip before changing. Anything you want to take with you when you leave must be carried in leather pouches or worked skin bags. Jewelery will stay along as long as it only includes bone and precious stones, precious metals however won't for some reason. Piercings will work
Remember, keep your human and beast lives in balance!
First off all shapeshifters have keen senses. "Shapechangers can see in near-darkness, hear outside the human spectrum and feel with devastating clarity. The flipside, of course, is that Man's world is filled with noise. Ferals in urban environments live in a constant state of sensory overload and grow twitchy as a consequence." *sigh* moving on.
They also have Beast Talents, which are the accoutriments that come with being an animal. Dolphins can swim, birds can fly, cats gots claws. Though these only apply to the primal beast through war beast forms. HOWEVER some talents DO carry over to the human shapes.
They also all have fast healing
Some species also have Symbolic Traits, like a chameleon might be able to literally turn invisible. They also may have Beast Magic which are powers ripped straight out of the mage and werewolf core books.
The beast must hunt and is hunted in return. By what? ...by something! The beast is hunted! Seriously he puts for the idea that there's someone out there who both knows enough about were-bears to want to hunt them and wants to mount their head on their wall.
They're also vulnerable to MOONBANE I mean, silver.
They also are prone to going Berserk, which comes in two forms. The Rabbit Run is a "GTFO" mode, a blind panic and a race to escape. The other Berserk mode is the Tiger Storm. Which is a "Kill everything that isn't me right now" mode. As a counterpoint to going berserk there is The Fury which is the instinctual revulsion with humanity that all ferals have. Depending on the feral's species and the offenders deeds this can range from pissing on their car, smashing their window, or killing them. It's not a wild rage, it's calm and calculated. But it's still anger so it's not precisely wise.
Friends, Family, and Companions
Feral Clans and Dynasties
So remember how sometimes the changing blood runs in families? Sometimes the families are aware of that fact. But these exist almost exclusively in rural areas. Because in an industrial society everyone knows you can't turn into an animal. Even if you are explicitly aware of that fact due to it being a family trait .
Purging the Curse
So some families might not like that they're 'cursed' so they'll try to purge it out of their children. Insert an entire half a page bulleted list of ways parents can try and torture the beast out of their children . It never works. Mind you, and all it does is traumatize the child. But they do it anyway because... again I'm questioning Brucato's upbringing here.
Supporting the Gift
On the other hand they might know about it and love it. "A known shapeshanger may be treated like a prize breeding horse or an honor student, with all the attendant pressures." They also don't want an "Unworthy" offspring to secure the family legacy. So they will be tested, prodded, watched, and trained. The truly fortunate are born into a family that values their gift and their freedom. Also, there's a list of things that this kind of family will do as well.
And then theres... what is...
What is wrong with you Brucato?
Regencies: Feral Dynasties
Hey let's get even more insane, sure. Regencies are mortal houses of humans who have shapeshifter blood running through their veins. Because Ferals themselves don't have any kind of greater organization. But the hangers on who view them as property and status sure as hell do.
To stay a regency your house needs to have had a feral birth of your house's totem animal within the last 25 years. And all of them are "power" animals, there was once a "Vulgar" house, the Divous clan who had a Boar as their crest. But they have long since fallen out of favor. Regency members are expected to be eloquent, brave, clever and intelligent whether they posses the gift or not. They act like they're "old money" even if they're not. They are expected to be vigorous and ruthless, those that do not meet those criteria are... fed to the ferals in their house .
Those that do breed true are given constant tutelage, respect, and supervision. They are living embodiments of their family's honor so they have access to all the wealth and privilege their family is capable of giving. However they must play by the family's rules or risk their wrath.
The regencies, then, meet in remote and luxurious locations, with plenty of room for their animal selves to run free. Deals are made and alliances are arranged. While it's debatable whether or not the regencies actually "control" world affairs they all command a formidable amount of wealth and influence. And just to prove that this is actually happening and I'm not just making this up.
Remember how this was supposed to be a game about shapeshifters railing against the inhumanity of man rather than men peddling the flesh of ferals like candy?
Those were some fun times.
these are 'tribes' in the sense of a grouping of people that you associate with, not the families. We just had that... and I wish they didn't. And honestly this section really isn't that necessary since they kind of went over it before already. The only bits they didn't touch on were things like a group of orphans being ruled by one feral who treats them like his children. A gang being run by a feral who uses them as his pack. And Theraians and Furries.
Who better to chose as a feral tribe than people who already believe they're animals at heart? Whether they take the idea seriously or regard it as a playful kink, furries and various therians (People who feel like animals at heart) envision themselves as non-human souls trapped in human form. They share a feral's deep affinity for certain beasts and animal behavior. True, the furries and therians' idea of "animal" is often idealized, but such folks make excellent friends for people with truly wild hearts... so long as they don't wind up with real hearts bleeding on their living room floors
Caretakers, Lovers, Devotees and Kin
So rather than societies, these are the individuals that a shapeshifter tends to attract into their life. And I do mean attract because he uses "Animal Magnetism" here again.
Even the most ferocious beast can invoke a "Dawwwwwww..." response when it is wounded. These are the people who help a feral when they are in need. They might find the feral when they are injured or in distress, probably looking human at the time, "But it's usually the animal that gets their attention." They help out despite their best interests because they're attracted to the beast within. Depending on how the Feral handles the situation it will grow into a more permanent relationship or end in bloodshed and tears.
Human lovers, thankfully. But while you might hope that this is about having a healthy loving relationship it is instead four paragraphs about sex. The mating drives of humans and animals are very different, and when they're both happening at the same time they can cause problems.
Animals are rather... direct about their desires. Feral people are often the same way. An amorous shapechanger could purr, lick, sniff or bite the object of her attentions. She might head-butt him, preen like a mating bird, or simply grab him by the collar and slam him into the nearest wall. As usual, the ways in which shapechangers behave when they're affectionate depend a lot on the inner beast - a courting crane and a lusty Rajan will handle their desires very differently. In both cases though, the animal instincts show, and by human standards, they can seem embarrassingly forward. Sure the human side can bridle the beast's passions, but it takes a bit of effort to do so... and removes some of the fun from the mating game.
From there, things hop on a "Roller-coaster ride through heaven and hell." Some breeds mate for the moment, while others mate for life. And yes, spider-shifters may try to eat their mate afterwards. Depending on the feral's devotion to the relationship it can be abusive, affectionate or a mix of both. "Either way it won't be boring." Also, ferals tend to be jealous lovers... just putting that out there.
Devotees are people who are people who know what the shapeshifter is and revere him for it. But they can't know too much or they might be in danger. They're also kind of redundant because next we have.
Kin know what the changing breed is but they're family . Not literally family, though they can be. They can be relatives, friends, lovers, groupies, cultists, or even slaves... What? If they are your family why are they your slaves!?
Either way they're still considered part of the shapechanger's "Family," and will be protected and cared for as low-status but valued members of his band.
Kin know the score. They recognize, respect, and often revere the Changing Gift. True ferals hold higher status in the social pecking order... but that is as it should be. A shapechanger, after all is incredible , while kin are "ordinary". Some kin get jealous or discouraged, while others accept their lot. Smart ferals, meanwhile, treat their kin respectfully. Disgruntled kin can be incredibly dangerous, as they know a feral's strengths and weaknesses. The most fearsome hunters began as abused kin, and they carry that grudge to any werebeast they can find.
But where people fail, animals come through. Indeed beast-friends are often trusted more than human kin can be. If possible a feral often keeps one of more of his Nahual species close at hand. Some have an easier time than others. A Bastet or Pack can keep their Nahual around as their pets. A Gator shifter is gonna have problems if he isn't in the bayou. And a land titan isn't going to keep an elephant in Manhattan. So most shifters live in their Nahual's natural environment. Beast companions are like siblings , not pets. Any harm that comes to one will evoke an immediate response from the other, usually a fatal one. And their relationship will seem odd to human eyes, sniffing, licking, rough housing and curling up together.
But no it doesn't stop there.
Not only can ferals breed with their animal kin, they can have animal babies. They can get pregnant with animal babies. And on occasion their feral mates will birth a human child.
Finally the game is going to explain how the fuck people are supposed to play this game together.
Hopefully with their pants on.
Bands are the small tribes formed of shapechangers from different species drawn together for a common purpose. They maintain their cohesion through dominance, submission, and overall cooperation. A band always has an Alpha , who leads through force. Either of personality or might. If there is a disagreement the alpha will end it swiftly, not with death but his opponent will know he is beaten. Occasionally a pack will have a pair of alphas, and regardless of gender they will usually be mates.
Beneath the alpha(s) everyone else sorts them self out in the group. And such appointments are practical. A werecrow doesn't care that you're a CEO in your former life, just about what you bring to his flock. Vital members rise to the top, hangers on sink to the bottom. Weaker members will be teased, hassled, and beaten by stronger ones. Until they toughen up, leave the group, or accept their rightful place at the bottom. Still a pack takes care of their own. Only they get to beat up on the scrawny guy. A packs "Social personality" depends on the alpha. A spider-led group will be subtle. a bull-led group will be brutal.
Also, it can happen that predators and prey find themselves in the same Band... it rarely works out well. A Lion will not accept a Rabbit as his alpha, and in the heat of battle a Lion may accidentally eat his gazelle packmate. Nature is not kind.
And here we find the major problem with were-apes.. that's literally just a dude with a baboon mask. Look at those feet.
Here we find out that when Brucato says "Band" he means it in the "Musical Group" way because it is apparently the alpha's job to "Call the Tune" of his band. He determines how they live, how they work, and what they do. Usually it's a good idea for him to pick a vocation that allows them to live relatively normal lives. Be that as a construction crew, a hiking troupe, or wealthy CEOs.
Every Band needs new blood from time to time and newbies will be initiated in a fashion according to the Alphas tastes. Usually involving 3 tasks, including one task that runs counter to their nature. A tiger will be forced to sneak small items past human guards, a werefox will be forced to face off against a powerful brute. These tasks aren't impossible, but only just. If an alpha didn't want them in their pack they wouldn't even give them the chance to prove him wrong. If an alpha likes the candidate the tasks may be easier than if the Alpha were hostile. Some Alphas will play good cop/bad cop, or be mean to someone they like just to see how they're react. Either way the entire pack tries to provoke and unnerve the candidate because if they can't be trusted in a pinch then they won't be counted on at all. Assuming they're accepted their initiated with a ritual of some kind then the entire pack goes beast and runs together.
Even family has limits and if someone pisses off the Band too much they might get run off. Usually after a few warning and one good ass-kicking. If they don't get the message they're taken down, hard, given a formal renunciation of status, and run out on pain of death.
Bands and even solo Ferals also have territory that they own and patrol. Yes, they mark their territory, Yes, they do it how you think they do.
A bukota is basically a feral house party. Some generous feral will open up his territory to guests for a time. The idea is incredibly ancient and rules of predation go out the window. In a bukota no vistitor gets eaten. Hospitality bans violence so long as guests follow the rules of the host. So, yes, in a pack a lion will not abide a hare. In a bukota they're probably fuckbuddies. (He literally says "The lion can lay with the lamb") However if you're not beast blooded you are probably dead, even Kin are forbidden from a bukota.
In addition to "Shit-speak" (dropping a load in someone's bed is an excellent way of saying "I hate you") Ferals also have a common set of pictograms that work like hobo code. And these are universal across all the breeds because sure why not. They can also speak the first tongue of the spirit world. Why? Because werewolves can, of course.
The Quiet Codes
Of course they have a rip off of the litany too. It's not an official one, hence why they're 'quiet', it's just the ones that everyone adheres to because they should and because they're animals they do.
The Tiger feeds the Worm
"Don't get too proud of yourself", more or less. When you die someone will eat you no matter how high you are on the food chain.
Revere the gifts and ways of Nature
Enjoy the sunshine because man doesn't.
Don't Shit where you Eat
This is both metaphorical and literal. But mostly literal.
Let Night Be Your Concealment
Translation, "This is the world of darkness, nothing interesting ever happens during the daytime." To the storyteller it is "If they do anything during the daytime make sure there's a human there to notice."
Balance Beast and Man as one
The Man-Hunter becomes the Man-Hunted
That... is stupid wording. Basically no matter what you do there are more humans than there are werebeasts, and if you bring down the wrath of all of humanity on your head you will die.
That man does not look fearful, he looks like he's in awe of the lion-man's junk which is being conveniently hidden by the flames shooting out of the hood at right angles.
The World: Hunters and Prey
So let's go over the enemies of the beastfolk
I'm not going to write down another 3 pages of this. Basically, man has done terrible things to the world, man has also done wonderful things for the world. He is both the cultivator and the despoiler. You cannot just wipe him off the face of the earth without destroying something beautiful. So kill the despoiler, and help the cultivator.
Werewolves are supposedly stronger than the other changers. That is explicitly not the case, sadly, but that's how the Changers act. So just avoid them if possible.
Either friends or enemies depending on the mage! They can bend nature to their will but don't really like dump pollution out of their ass when they do it so it's sort of okay?
While they are consummate social alphas, and thus worthy of respect. They are hideous monsters outside of the normal cycle of life and death. They are also undead. So destroy them
While they can't step into the shadow world, some shifters do deal with spirits. And are able to learn werewolf gifts from them. How? Iunno, game doesn't really say, it can just happen.
There are other things, you should probably kill them too.
Up Next: Rules stolen from better games
Character CreationOriginal SA post
Chapter 2: Character Creation
The character creation chapter opens up with all the basic nWoD stuff, right up until the "apply supernatural template" step. Ferals gain Shapeshifting, accelerated healing, Berserk and "The Fury", a weakness to silver, and the Delusion. They all have Nahuals and Accords, All of this is stuff we've gone over before. Then we get into the new stuff.
Favors are just things that animals have. Extra limbs, being huge, the ability to fly. But the game then helpfully points out that "These favors aren't always balanced in game terms, no more than a mouse and lion are 'balanced' in real life. Even so, the human element provides a certain balance among beasts; a shapechanging hare, for example, is much more clever and magical than a normal bunny." So yes, there's the central conceit of the new world of darkness thrown right out the window. Vampires, Werewolves, Mages, etc are all sort of balanced, or at least meant to be. This, however, is a game with were-elephants with the mass of a large dump truck.
Aspects are anything you get that isn't a part of your breed favors, anything that's distinctly supernatural. Some species get discounts on different aspects. The thing that makes this insane is that any Favors that are not a part of your breed count as Aspects. Yes this does mean that you can create an 8 armed were-bear with 13 legs and an elephants trunk if you have enough experience.
Ferals also get Essence, because werewolves get Essence. There's basically no explanation beyond "It's a measure of spiritual power." Feral Heart is your power stat, and it's basically Primal Urge by a different name. Their Morality stat is Harmony, again, like werewolves. But because they wanted to be confusing, it's something incredibly different under the same name.
They also saw fit to bring along one of my least favorite parts of Forsaken, Renown, in the term of Respect. They'll get into it later but trust me when I say it's very dumb.
Finally we get into the actual descriptions of the different Accords.
All of these pictures are full bleed artwork that goes under the text at points, so I'm going into my PDF copy directly and assembling the page images like a jigsaw puzzle. It's more effort than it really deserves but this art is terrible enough that you need to see it.
"Place your feet carefully if you walk along the edge."
The archetypical protector. "He's the bulwark against chaos, whose strength safeguards the weak. Both provider and protector, he feeds others with his labor and wards their future with his life. Honor is his birthright in both human and bestial forms. If a Warder offers you his word, he may die to keep that oath". of course this is immediately followed by "but they're human so they're fallible". All warders have made an "oath" to protect something, even if it's only to themselves. Be it their herd, or the kids in a neighborhood.
Their human archetype is a Knight, they "Bear an Armored Burden" and said burden "Weighs heavy on their back" causing them to sometimes be snappish or tyrannical, "'Am I good enough?' is a constant question with such a person, and sometimes the answer sounds like 'No'."
Their appearances tend towards "Conservatism" which apparently means that they always dress like Cowboys or blue collar workers, despite the fact that one of the sample careers is "Idealistic Lawyer". They're often bulky and strong and bigger than everyone else in their band.
Their Musical Tone is "harmonious", their skill specialties are empathy medicine and survival, and they take a -1 dice penalty on degeneration rolls because they hold themselves to a higher standard.
And of course, because this is a white wolf game, there are stereotypes of the other Accords. And of course, they're antagonistic, which seems doubly bizarre because your Accord seems like something you don't really have control over, seeing as how it's literally an agreement your souls are forced to make with each other. This is basically getting mad at someone for being good at math.
Heart-Rippers: Their bones are good for games of catch and not much else.
Root-Weavers: Strong minds and strong backs build solid dens for both.
Sun-Chasers: Bullshit served on a gold tray doesn't become caviar.
Wind-Dancers: Fine - you read the stars and I'll watch the shadows. Guess which one of us sees something first?
Heart Ripper: The Predator
"Life's a thorn thicket. You move, you bleed.
The ultimate predator, "The Ripper is Cruel, but not always Evil." The ripper is also, uhh..
Despite her bloody reputation, the Ripper doesn't always kill literally. She couldn't survive long in man's world if she did. Her specialties are fear, pain, and challenge, and her hunting grounds are everywhere. From boardrooms to bedrooms to distant jungles and island depths, her shadow falls on the beak. She mocks, blocks, frustrates and enslaves - and often makes folks love her for it. The beast dares people alike to be strong or be prey . If they can't stand up to her, they're not worth her respect.
Given trust, this Ripper betrays it; given love, she exploits it and then demands more. She's a sweet killer, the walking heartbreak whose scars burn on the inside but leave the outside clean. There are many ways to rip one's heart and this beast knows them all.
Why tolerate such a creature? Because Nature isn't kind. There are times when it's good to have a demon at your back, and the Ripper is an honest demon. She's not without love or compassion, though she has odd ways of showing them. Deep down, she might even know remorse. Don't expect that from her, however - expect defiance. This accord lives to challenge you. To survive her, companions must get touch or die.
Since they are "imposing monsters" they dress to make a statement, biker leathers, fetish gear, rock star flash with a mohawk, etc. Others prefer a subtle buttoned-down look because you'd never expect it .
Their musical tone is "Sharp or Ominous" and their specialties are brawl intimidation and subterfuge. They also get an additional die on degeneration checks so they're better able to rationalize their behavior.
Den-Warders: Oaks crack loudest when the storm blows in.
Root-Weavers: Industrious little buggers. Their toys break almost as easily as their hearts.
Sun-Chasers: Fun to run in circles. They depend on the kindness of strangers and I just don't have much to offer.
Wind-Dancers: Be careful with these folks. They're as apt to blow you over as drift away.
Root-Weaver: The Builder
"The Artistry of Nature is the purest proof of god."
That quote seems odd considering that people beleiving in god is what pissed off Nature enough to make murderbeasts.
Their description is also hilariously weak. It's basically "BEES! SPIDERS! BEAVERS! BIRDS! ANIMALS BUILD! BUILDING GOOD! WHOOPS I ACCIDENTALLY MADE A BOMB!"
Their musical tone is "Fugues and complex harmonic patterns", their skill specialties are Academics Crafts and science. They don't have any special degeneratoin thing.
Den-Warders: The foundation of any tribe lies in the strength of parents and protectors.
Heart-Rippers: Entropy walking with a smile on its face.
Sun-Chasers: Did somebody miss that whole "Ant and Grashopper" thing?
Wind-Dancers: Each city begins with a vision. These folks see forests that once were, and cities that have yet to be.
Sun-Chaser: The Rebel
"Nature did not birth us to weep."
There's a feather on your bed in the morning. Your best jewelry's gone, along with the stranger who charmed his way home last night. On the bathroom mirror is one word, written in toothpaste: Sorry . He's off the(sic) chase the sun again. That's his way - and your regret
Their musical tone is "Light and airy, or low and seductive"(????????) and their skill specialties are Athletics Expression and Socialize. They get One more dice for degeneration rolls because they're assholes .
Den-Warders: Loosen up before your bones crack, dude!
Heart-Rippers: All that beautiful passion, all those ugly wounds.
Root-Weavers: Cool! Can I take it for a spin when you're done?
Wind-Dancers: Real wisdom dances at the crossroads at dusk.
Wind-Dancer: The Seer
"To know man's future, ask a beast.
The wind dancers are the eternal wanderers and seers. Which means they're like The Sun-Chasers except they're seers this time. They are beset by otherworldly visions and insights that they do not want. The slight problem with all of that is there is no mechanical benefit of wind-dancer that makes you any better at those things than a member of any other accord. Since the powers you get discounts on are determined by your breed, not your accord. The favored skills are Investigation, Occult, and Stealth so they get a higher investigation for cheaper, but that's it. Their musical tone is "Low and Lonesome" and they have the same chance at degeneration as anyone else
Den-Warders: Fine walls, fine doors, but still a trap when life is burning.
Heart-Rippers: Harsh winds full of sand and fire
Root-Weavers: Pretty bars still form a cage.
Sun-Chaser: All the grace of a bee with one wing missing.
AKA: the rules stuff that isn't covered in the WoD core book.
Feral Heart is your 'power stat', the higher this is, the more powerful a Feral you are. it is the "Cry of Nature in a character's soul". Everyone starts at 1, but can buy more with your starting bonus dots. Feral heart determines how long you can stay in your war form. which is Human Stamina+Feral Heart rounds. You can also focus to add your feral heart rating to any wits+composure rolls to perceive something, which 'brings out the beast' for [Feral Heart] minutes. Meaning you start acting a bit more like an animal. Higher ratings of Feral Heart also allow you to exceed the human maximums in attributes and skills, and store more essence/spend more essence in a turn.
Animals also excel at manipulating people, by focusing you can add your rating in feral heart to any social dice pool to represent your "Animal Magnetism". This lasts for [Feral Heart] Turns.
There are some downsides, because it's a World of Darkness game. Mainly that the higher your feral heart is, you start taking penalties acting with normal humans in social situations because you're acting like a beast, or you smell like a beast. The thing is, this penalty is always lower than your "animal magnetism" bonus, so it might as well not exist. And depending on how you read the rules, using "animal magnetism" makes it so the penalty doesn't apply anyway so you just use the full bonus.
"Nature's power surges through her werebeasts. Called Essence, this power helps them bend those polite suggestions that Man calls 'Physics'." Shut up phil.
You can spend a point of essence to change form automatically as a reflexive action, you can spend a point of essence to regenerate a lethal wound as a reflexive action, you can spend a point of essence to activate your respect(which is explained later) and you can use essence to enter the spirit world or activate gifts if you've somehow bludgeoned your Storyteller with enough blunt objects to make him think that crossing over with werewolf is a good idea.
Essence is recovered in a couple of different ways. Meditating in a natural area lets you roll your harmony dots and regain the successes as essence, which takes 1 minute per point. There's no limit on the number of times you can do this so you could theoretically just sit there and regen to your hearts content. "Going wild" can also regenerate essence, which means resting and running in your breeds preferred wilderness. Two days gains you one essence, five days restores three, and a month gives you back all of your essence. Saving nature from man or man from nature restores some essence as you "Rebalance your animal and human souls". Buuut so does turning cannibal and eating a human or your beast blooded animal.
And here is our morality stat, ostensibly it's meant to represent the degree to which your human and animal halves are in balance. In practice, not so much. Whenever you commit a harmony sin, you roll a certain number of dice based on that sin's level, success means you just feel bad but haven't slipped down the scale, failure means you lose a point of Harmony. Lower levels of harmony make it easier to sin, but harder to resist sliding down for doing the truly monstrous shit you do. It also makes it easier to go berserk or fall to The Fury. Also falling down the Harmony scale makes your Aiaetha visible to others for some reason.
10 Accidental disregard for property or wilderness Yes, this is the "You broke a vase" level of petty morality
9 Not Shapeshifting for more than a week; disrespect towards people You didn't hold a door open for john, roll 5 dice for your sins.
8 Gross misbehavior; carelessness resulting in harm to man, beast, or nature And here's where things start to get hilariously bad
The feral who shits in a corner, accidentally breaks a person's arm or runs over a raccoon feels genuine regret. If that harm is serious (major injury, dead raccoon babies, brush fire started by a cigarette) that guilt may feel more like killing(Sin level 5 or 6)
7 Intentional theft or injury; disrespect towards Nature; eating your own animal species this is the 'makes normal people feel bad' level of sin. and 'disrespect towards nature' is here because 'that makes you as bad as a human ' uuggghh
6 Killing "important" living things if you're a hunter This basically means that eventually a heart ripper is going to slide down to morality 5 no matter what they do. This is stupid. "important" is defined as "a mammal if you're not a reptile or insectoid breed, if you are then those things and also mammals"
5 Killing "important" living things if you're *not* a hunter Except for everyone else, you are a giant fuck-off murderbeast, killing things is ostensibly what you are meant to do. the text for this is just "THIS FEELS BAD"
4 Killing your own kind; using silver against other shapechangers so yeah you can eat your breed species all day long at morality 6 as long as you weren't the one who killed it. Sure.
3 Torture; intentionally killing your own kind Oh and it had to be an accident.
2 Betraying man to beast or beast to man "Selling out your own kind to hunters of another species feels treacherous... and it is ." How the fuck do you betray man to beast? Leading some rube into the wilderness and leaving them there?
1 Sadistic murder; cannibalism of your own kind But.. eating them is a level 7 sin? is this "eating them while they're alive"? sure, whatever
I don't know what the fuck species those are meant to be, they look like baboon/dog/lions
They then go on to describe how a feral might act at the various levels of harmony, which is more or less what you'd expect. Harmony 10 is better than jesus. Harmony 3 doesn't care about a little blood on the ground when nature is on the line. Two and One are where they decide to introduce new shit randomly in the text that you probably decided to skip over after Morality 6 preached at you for making omelets because that meant you were torturing chickens.
At harmony two your beast and man halves start to grow apart, and you drift further towards one or the other. You're either proudly human or a ravening beast, and shifting between forms at all costs one essence. At harmony one you're brutish and sadistic regardless of which side you have chosen, and it costs one willpower to shift forms at all. At harmony zero you are either locked in human or beast form, you lose the changing gift entirely and pass into the storyteller's control because you are now a monster.
And this is where things go from "Huh maybe I should think about the choices that I've made" to "Wait, Brucato, what?" Because each time you downslide, you roll your new morality stat as a dice pool. If you succeed, you never have to roll at that level again, if you fail, any time you are at that level of morality or lower you have a derangement.
And Brucato's derangements are fucking ridiculous. First the "too much beast" ones.
Cage Shock (mild): Similar to a caged beast, your feral grows distressed. Pacing back and forth, he whines or snarls. Enclosed spaces feel constricting; clothes feel too tight. Anything less than open sky seems like a cage, and if forced to remain indoors, clothed, or otherwise confined,
your beast gets restless.
Effect: On a failed Resolve + Composure roll, your character acts out and complains loudly about his “imprisonment.” He may strip or bang around his “cage.” For the rest of that scene, all that character’s Social rolls suffer a –3 penalty from his extremely annoying behavior.
Feral Frenzy (severe): It’s all a trap. The beast must be free. Tearing at any barrier between himself and freedom, this werebeast acts . . . well, feral. Pissing and shitting, he abandons human speech and restraint. Anyone who sees him will assume he’s insane, and they’re not really wrong.
Effect: On a failed Resolve + Composure roll, your werebeast goes utterly wild. Until he escapes “confinement,” he’ll act like a trapped and wounded animal. You can spend a point of Willpower to bring him out of it, but until then he’s dangerous to himself and anyone who comes too close.
First of all, these are really bad derangements. They don't have anything that would trigger the roll, and the failure on the roll basically means that you can no longer contribute to the game until you stop. Also if you fail on the severe derangement you shit yourself.
Neoprimitivism (mild): The modern age is bullshit to your character. She affects tribal fashions, sports tattoos, goes barefoot everywhere and yammers about “the Pure Ones” — ancient people who supposedly lived in perfect harmony with Nature.
Effect: This feral misses no opportunity to criticize everything about the modern world and people in general. Unless she stays cool (a Resolve + Composure roll), objections to her attitude may drive her to say the wrong thing to the wrong person, inciting a loud and potentially violent confrontation.
Feral Antics (severe): Like a wild animal, your feral bites, scratches, shits on the floor and generally behaves in counter-civilized fashion. She sheds as much clothing as her companions will tolerate, and speaks as little human speech as possible.
Effect: Isn’t it obvious? Unless she controls herself (the usual roll), this character will be utterly unable to deal with most people.
Yes that is apparently the more 'severe' version of the same derangement. You go from an annoying hippie to shitting on peoples rugs while maintaining eye contact to establish dominance.
One with the Bears (mild): He’s not half-animal — he’s all animal. Trouble is, this feral’s view of animals is extremely idealistic. He talks with them as if they’re fellow humans, yet holds real humans in contempt. He might be a furry or therian with elaborate garb and mythic history; or he’s renounced the human world and lives sort of a New Age dream in the deep wilderness. Either way, he’s disconnected from the truth of his situation.
Effect: Aside from neurotic and often unsociable behavior, this feral can function in Man’s world. He hates Man’s world, though, and prefers to spend time in the wild . . . where he may or may not know what he’s doing. In bad situations, the player might need to make a Composure + Survival roll; failure means he’s in over his head and may not be able to get back out without help.
Hate of Man (severe): People suck. All of ’em. Overwhelmed by the stench and disregard of modern Man, the feral avoids people as much as possible. When forced to confront human company, he shivers with hate, spews insults and might even attack for little or no apparent reason.
Effect: In human company (including, perhaps, his friends), this feral trembles with loathing. He trusts no one who’s not a beast at heart. His Social rolls suffer a –3 penalty from his undisguised hatred, and he could get violent if provoked. A spent Willpower point might keep him in check, but his disgust for humanity is clear. Unless circumstances demand, he remains in Primal form. Odds are good that he’ll soon lose the ability to change back . . . ever.
Who thought these were worthwhile in a group game? "Welp, talk to you later guys, I'm off to go live in the forest. I might be back later once I've somehow become a more moral person by shitting everywhere and not wearing pants.
Anyways now we're into the "Too much human" side of things.
Beast Fears (mild): This person’s afraid of animals, including the one in the mirror. Around beasts or fellow shapechangers, he seems agitated; if one confronts him, he may panic. This derangement is common among “little animal” ferals such as foxes or hares. It’s workable, but highly inconvenient.
Effect: Essentially, this is a phobia of animals — see the World of Darkness Rulebook, p. 97. Without a reflexive Resolve + Composure roll, the character trembles fearfully around other beasts, even sometimes himself.
Obsessive Humanity (severe): b Conflicted about his own nature, this werebeast dresses expensively, uses big words and refuses to look in the mirror except to groom his perfect hair. It’d be funny if he wasn’t so obsessed about his humanity. Even the slightest challenge to it makes him sick with nerves.
Effect: Your character is obsessive compulsive (see the World of Darkness Rulebook, p. 98), “managing” his conflicted nature by controlling his environment as much as he can and freaking out when he cannot.
Filthy Brutes! (mild): Your character doesn’t fear animals — she hates ’em. Lashing out subconsciously at the beast within herself, she teases and torments animals whenever possible. Flicking cigarettes at zoo beasts, kicking dogs and throwing water at kitties is normal fun for her. Naturally, this slides her further down the scale of sins.
Effect: Unless the player makes a Resolve + Composure roll when given an opportunity to abuse a helpless animal, she’ll inflict some probably non-fatal punishment on it. Even though she’ll often be excused because “they’re just dumb animals,” the fallout from this sort of thing can get really messy . . .
Hunter King (severe): The worst hunter of all is the one who’s killing her own reflection. This shapechanger murders animals with extreme cruelty. Only rarely does she assume beast-form to do it. Proud of her bloodlust, she becomes a warped reflection of Man the Conqueror. She kills because she can, and may be highly acclaimed among humans who don’t know her true nature.
Effect: This character is a serial killer of animals. Given a chance, she’ll hunt, torture and murder as many animals as she can manage. She’ll often take a career that requires her to kill often and messily — a seal-clubber, vivisectionist or big-game hunter whose appetites astonish even her human companions. Yes Storyteller, this type makes an excellent villain for a changing breeds chronicle.
I’m No Animal (mild): In a constant state of denial, this shapechanger refuses to . . . well, change shape. Unless extremely stressed, he won’t assume an animal form — and if he does, he immediately regrets it. In human form, he does everything he can to distance himself from his true nature. All traces of his double life are hidden with obsessive zeal.
Effect: In addition to compulsive behavior with regard to his animal self, your character resists all but the most extreme motivations to change shape. To force himself to assume that hated form, he must make a Resolve + Composure roll; failure means he’ll face his death like a man.
Banish the Beast (severe): He won’t Change. At all. Obsessive to the point of insanity about his role as a man, goddammit, your shapechanger utterly forsakes his true nature. Suggestions that he embrace his wild self make him violent; he smashes or withdraws from every trace of his feral life, including the people he once held dear.
Effect: This character won’t change unless forced to do so; even then, he must make the usual roll and spend a Willpower point to assume beast-form. Anyone who tries to remind him of what he is will probably be attacked — first non-fatally, possibly with lethal intent if that doesn’t shut them up.
If you get either of these derangements then why the fuck are you playing a changing breeds game. Congratulations, you can no longer shapeshift, ever. please hand in your tail and ears at the door.
Respect is... it's a thing.
The Respect Advantage isn’t a measure of fame, although fame can figure into it. Rather, Respect is a combination
of rumors, bearing and the impression a werebeast projects. A Clever beast, for example, comes across smart and devious, while a Ferocious one is scary even when he’s calm. Rightly or wrongly, other characters judge a feral character by that impression, which may be helpful in some situations and devastating in others. To understand Respect, think of the wily coyote, loyal hound or sagacious old bear. The animal might not actually be any of those things, but those impressions count.
Respect comes across in certain cues: the look in a feral’s eye, the way he stands, the scars on his body or the tone of his voice. A high-Respect werebeast seems formidable. He radiates supremacy. Imagine the sleek young cub, then contrast him with the grizzled veteran. A high-Respect character has lived, and that experience is apparent whether anyone knows him or not.
It's also almost completely pointless.
In certain circumstances, your Highest respect will either add or subtract to various dice pools. You can try to play up a different respect than your highest one but your roleplaying is supposed to support it. Or, you could spend time focusing yourself and just apply your Feral Heart instead, because the rules for feral heart say they supersede the rules for Respect if they're higher. It also helps when dealing with werewolves or spirits since Respect is sort of like renown except not.
Respect is also sort of determined by your Accord, you get a free dot in whichever respect your Accord has and two dots that float until you make an impression that would give you a place to put them. "For the storyteller, Respect reflect the things other charcters believe about the beast. Whether or not they are true doesn't matter - people will trust those impressions unless they're given a good reason not to. Respect also provides a social meter for the feral's accomplishments. That meter might not be accurate but it offers clues about their personality and experience." Read: Fuck we have no way of actually enforcing social pecking order and we've got two weeks till we're supposed to ship. Buying up your Respect actively harms you, I cannot think of a situation where you would want to buy it up unless you're dealing with werewolves and spirits a lot. Just use your Feral Heart instead, it has almost no downside.
Cleverness is associated with root-weavers, it gives a bonus when you're trying to impress others with your intellect or awareness and a penalty when you're trying to gain their trust. Ferocity is associated with Heart-Rippers, It gives a bonus to indimidation rolls and subtracts from any attempt to make someone feel likeable or safe. It can also give a bonus or penalty to seduction rolls because fuck you Brucato. Insight is associated with Wind-Dancers, and gives you a bonus when you offer advice, wisdom, or just "cut through the crap" and becomes a penalty when people nearby "do not want to hear the truth". I know Bruc wants these guys to seem like wizened seers but he has to actually give them the tools to do that, not just a "you seem like a wizened seer" stat. Loyalty is associated with Den-Warders. It is a bonus when you're trying to get folks to trust you or playing on your loyalty to convince someone of something, and a penalty if you're trying to seem streetwise or cool because you just aren't with it man . Passion: is associated with the sun-chasers. and gives you a bonus to attempts to seduce, entice, or inspire people. But a penalty to seem sober, level headed, or wise. Because how can such a volatile creature be taken seriously? Right?
This uses the werewolf system word for word except substituting "Feral Heart" for "Primal Urge" you roll human stamina+Survival+Feral Heart, success means you shapeshift as an instant action, exceptional success makes it reflexive, failure imposes a -1 cumulative penalty on future attempts until you succeed, dramatic failure deals you 3 bashing damage as you shapeshift into a pile of limbs and flesh and remain so until you succeed at a shapeshifting check. Fantastic.
The Man Guise
You look like a human, you can walk, talk, and have hands, next.
The War Beast
The form for killing shit. The game tries to imply that the Changing breed's war-beast form is "A promise of holy terror walking" where as the Uratha Gauru form is "One long scream for blood", the issue is that the rules don't really support this distinction, or any distinction.
Herbivorous ferals apparently tend towards rampages of raw distruction, whereas more timid creatures "Invert their usual natures to become trap-and-torture killers". Scavengers "Play mind-games, taunting prey fromt he shadows, herding them into traps and striking from ambushes tot ear their prey apart." Except this is literally impossible. While they are in their war form they must spend their turn attacking something be it the environment, or a person, unless they succeed on a Resolve+Composure roll. So you can hide, I guess, but if you fail your roll you've just punched a hole in the tree you were hiding behind as a 9 foot tall rabbit man. Also, whenever you assume the war-beast form for any reason you must roll to see if you enter a Tiger-Storm Berserk frenzy. So yes, using the war beast for any reason risks going going into a killing frenzy. Also, you can only remain in your War-Beast form for a number of turns equal to your human stamina + Feral Heart. Why would you waste precious turns hiding when you are in a "Kill everything that isn't you" form. Once your turns run out you cannot shapeshift back for the rest of the scene unless something else prompts you to go into a berserk frenzy. Regardless as long as you're in War-Form you ignore all wound penalties until you reach your last two boxes of health.
You're an animal. Congratulations.
There's an aspect you can buy that allows you to assume the Hybrid Forms, not everyone gets it, but it's available to everyone.
The throwback is a slightly less effective war beast. You're only supposed to look sorta-animal-ish, but you invoke the delusion on people. Small breed creatures get +1 strength and stamina, -2 manipulation, +1 health, +2 speed, +2 to perception rolls, and can deal lethal damage. Large-breed creatures get +2 strength, +2 stamina, -3 manipulation, +1 size, +3 health, +3 speed, +1 to perception rolls, and access to their fang and claw favors.
The Dire Beast
The dire beast is your animal form just with a little more umph, adding +1 strength, +1 stamina, +1 size, +2 health, and +2 speed to your base animal form. it doesn't involve the delusion as hard as the other two forms, giving the viewer a +2 bonus to their dice pool.. Unless you're a rat, bug, or "Creepy" animal, in which case they take a -2 penalty. Meaning your "Slightly larger than average bat" is just as horrifying as your human-bat hybrid form.
When seeing a werebeast shift a witness must roll resolve+composure - your feral heart score. If they witness your War-Beast form, they subtract an additional 2. Dramatic failure reduces them to a catatonic mess that takes a -5 penalty to all actions and will do their best to mentally resolve the issue. Failure means they take a -3 penalty to actions and will do their best to get the fuck away. Success means they can act normally with a -2 penalty but will still rationalize it away. An exceptional success means they can act without penalty and remember with perfect clarity. The Throwback form gives them their entire resolve+composure pool, not accounting for your feral heart dots. If their worldview allows for the existence of werebeasts, then they get an extra dice, if they're literally scully from the X-Files they lose one more dice.
Ferals regenerate one point of bashing every other turn unless they have a merit that lets them go every turn. They regenerate one point of lethal every 15 minutes, and they can spend a point of essence to heal lethal immediately. They heal Aggravated damage normally. A feral who is knocked unconscious or killed reverts to human form immediately, a severed limb reverts to human as per usual. You are also immune to all conventional diseases and parasites.
Finally we get the rules for this. When faced with a threat you cannot pacify you are force to either flee or run.
The Rabbit Run
The "Get the fuck out of here" berserk, and more often than not the default one. When confronted with a serious threat most ferals would rather run than fight, they revert to their primal beast form and gtfo. If something prevents them from fleeing however
The Tiger Storm
It's Murdering Time. Everything is a valid target, friend, foe, innocent, anything that gets in their way will be destroyed. If things get really bad the Feral will shift to the War-Beast form. In Tiger Storm a feral is immune to all wound penalties. Until they take a point of health damage in their last three health boxes then they will shift back to their fastest form and try to run away. The game is also quick to point out that this fear is not rational, if their fastest form is their man-guise they will shift into that and probably die from all the bashing damage upgrading to lethal or aggravated. If they do choose to assume the War-beast form, it will last for twice as long as normal, but if the War-Beast turns run out they will fall unconscious, which means human form, which means you're probably dead.
Resisting the Urge
When confronted by a trigger according to your Harmony, you need to roll Resolve+Composure, Failure means you either need to spend a willpower point or begin raging. At Harmony 10 it's things like "Love one slain, tortured, or betrayed; betrayed by a loved one" but at harmony 1 its "Taunts or insults; perceived disrespect; startling movement, loud sounds, or bright lights"
The Rage lasts until the beast escapes, all your threats are dead or gone, someone else uses calming magic on you, you run out of energy and fall unconscious, or you die.
And we finally get to The Fury, AKA the only thing about the game that actually imposes any sort of meaningful conflict between nature and man. Mainly, if you ever witness a human doing something mean to nature, you are filled with an unshakable compulsion to do something . Roll your Resolve+Composure and subtract your Feral Heart dots. Yes, the more powerful you get the more likely you are to unleash THE FURY .
Animals aren't shy. When they send a message, they use direct methods: biting, scratching, spraying musk or defecating where someone will see it Humans find such behavior revolting. Beast-folk understand both sides. When annoyed, they use an animal's instinctive behavior to offend human sensibilities in return.
The Fury's response is as immediate as the feral can make it. That response might demand cunning, but it comes from the gut, not the head. Most often the "message" arrives without words, threat, or context. The feral simply responds as an animal might... if that animal could rake paint from a Lexus
Minor Offenses: Arrogant or careless behavior; tossing cigarette; reckless driving; dumping trash in wilderness; teasing helpless animal
Minor Responses: Sudden snap or snarl; leaving claw marks, scat or urine; “liberating” pets; loud cries in middle of the night
Significant Offenses: Deliberate insult; starting small fire; hitting animals with car; dumping dangerous trash (broken glass, sharp metal, nail-studded junk, rotting biomass); abusing helpless animal
Significant Responses: “Returning” trash to “owner”; inflicting major property damage with claws or bodily waste; chasing offender in beast form
Intolerable Offenses: Slaughter-hunt; burning woodlands; deliberate attacks with car; toxic waste spill; animal cruelty or blood sport
Severe Responses: Mauling offender in beast form; extensive fouling of property; long-term “beast-siege” on offender’s home; chasing offender into hazards; wounding or killing offender’s loved one(s)
This creates a situation where you can save someone from a raging lion because you're a harmony 10 saint, then immediately shit on their shoes because they lit up a cigarette in celebration of their not-dying-at-the-hands-of-a-lion and degenerate down to harmony 9. The storyteller can just kind of go "oh and you saw a car accident earlier, so what kind of premeditated murder are you going to be enacting and when do you want to make the degeneration roll?" This is not fun or interactive, this is the storyteller going "You are going to do this now, because nature demands it". Given that just being around humanity fills you with an overwhelming need to literally shit on them, I can see why most ferals would flee to the woodlands. And you know what? There is absolutely nothing in the harmony hierarchy that compels you to interact with humans. It just dictates how you should act if you decide to do so.
The game as printed actively wants you not to interact with it in any meaningful way.
Let's start on actual mechanical stuff now.
Favors are the stuff you're born with... unless you buy them with experience points later. Buying a new favor that's in your breed costs "New Dots X 5", buying one that's not in your breed costs "New Dots X 7". Since there are a ton of favors that are just "at" a certain number of dots, this means that you'd need to pay 7+14+21+28+35 XP for a new 5 dot favor that's out of breed.
Aquatic: ** to ***
Your character is naturally aquatic in beast form for the 2 dot favor, you're aquatic in human form as well for the 3 dot favor. Though if your Nahual is naturally aquatic you can dive deeper than animals who aren't who buy this favor.
Uhm... sure? It lets you see in darkness for a scene, but then you have to 'recharge' for 10 minutes. "It makes an excelent prank for trickster ferals to employ" somehow. and I can't really think of a way that isn't completely ludicrous or kinky.
I'm not sure if he actually understands how animals that can see in the dark see . Because you take no penalties for operating in darkness, or "in visually-adverse conditions, such as dense fog, smoke, or a heavy downpour." You also gain a +2 bonus to stealth rolls in these conditions because?????
Echolocation * or ***
This functions more or less how you expect for the one dot version... The three dot version somehow means that you can no longer be surprised while asleep and you gain a permanent +1 bonus to your defense because you can hear attacks coming.
Extra Limbs * for the first limb, * per set of two afterwards
No you don't always get an odd set of limbs, it's just that your 'first' extra limb only works like an extra hand and you can't really attack with it or do fine manipulation. However for each pair after that you gain one extra action a turn that can only use that set of limbs. But, still, you are getting extra actions *FOR FREE*. The only thing that is stopping you from turning into a hecatonchier is your storyteller, and fuck the guy who actually decided to try running this game.
Fang and Claw * to *****
This is the "Deal lethal damage" favor. if your breed gets it for free it gives you +1 dice for claws and teeth +2 dice for horns and antlers. One dot will give you an extra dice on all your attacks if you already get it, or give you damage at all for those who don't get it for free OR allow you to use your claws in man guise. Those who don't get it for free can buy it again to get the extra damage dice. for two dots you can sheathe your claws even if your animal species can't normally do so... which ..okay? and three dots lets you sheathe your claws in human form and gives you an additional +1 damage die. Which makes little sense. If you buy the 1 dot favor does that mean your claws are *always* out in human form unless you then go on to buy the three dot version?
You're a snake, fish, or some other limbless creature, sucks to be you!
Many Legged ****
Extra limbs, except only for walking. You increase your speed by 4 on top of your normal speed increase. You can also walk on water(???) Also your hybrid form subtracts two dice from someones pool when resisting the delirium.
This is skunk-stink. Anyone within 300 feet of you when you use this must roll composure or suffer from dizziness and nausea immediately. You can choose to hose people down with it by rolling Dex+Feral Heart, each success allows you to hit a character inside of a 15X15 foot square, anyone hit takes a -3 penalty to the composure roll. Anyone who fails their roll takes a -3 penalty to their dice pools(!), and take a -1 penalty to defense, speed, and initiative. Using this ability costs one essence. The serious effects last one scene but the stench lasts for days.
Natural Armor * to *****
Everyone gets a non-rated 1/1 non-bulletproof armor for free. * is bulletproof. *** is 2/1 bulletproof, **** is 3/2 bulletproof, and ***** is 4/3 bulletproof. Yes, that is absolutely fucking ludicrous.
Even more insane is that you can choose to have this apply to your human form as well, but it looks like you've got very rough skin. Giving you a -2 penalty on any social roll where having a pleasant appearance might help.
You have strong sharp teeth that can ignore 2 points of durability when you're biting through objects, though this doesn't deal any extra damage to living creatures. Because sure.
Quills ** to *****
The free version (E.G. you are a porcupine, hedgehog, or whatever else) means that anyone who hits you with a hand to hand attack(or gets hit by a hand to hand attack) needs to roll stamina against the ferals Dex+Feral Heart with any extra successes being reduced by the attackers armor. If the feral wins the extra successes are dealt as bonus bashing damage that can't heal until the quills are removed. Removing quills takes a minute per quill and deals an extra point of lethal on top of the bashing. So basically this is the "Fuck you any other creature with regeneratoin" favor. The Two dot version gives you the free version and also lets you fire quills up to 15 feet with a Dex+Feral Heart roll. each additional dot gives you an additional dice to this pool. And if you have the "Venomous Favor" aspect then these quills are now poisonous.
And then at the end they state that "As a weapon these spines have no effect whatsoever on opponents who feel no pain, wear thick or solid armor or have skin that cannot be pierced by thin sharp objects". Which is ludicrously open ended, and also means that a werewolf can heal this damage until they shift out of Gauru form in which case he takes the damage but doesn't and the system implodes.
Razorskin *** or ****
The "I'm a shark" favor. Anyone who attacks you with brawl, or is grabbed and pressed against your skin, automatically takes 1 point of lethal. Any weapon that is used to attack you takes 2 points of damage to it's structure. The three dot favor costs a point of essence to turn on for a scene, the four dot favor is always on. This gift works in all forms except the man guise.
Pictured: the gift working in the man guise.
This is 'always' free. Meaning that you always get your beasts base size, you can pay four dots to increase your beast forms base size by one. It then includes a size chart which tops out at "African Elephant/Orca" at 15 size. The favor only increases the size of your war-beast and primal forms, to increase your human form you need a completely different favor from the core WOD book which just seems like nitpicking.
Isn't a favor that you can buy! I don't know why it's here other than to make the fairly obvious claim of "your animal speed differs from your human speed"
Water Breath *
"The character can hold her breath or breathe underwater for as many hours as she has feral heart dots. This power costs one point of willpower to use."
That's not how anything works. Either you can breathe underwater or you can't. You can't will yourself to breathe underwater.
You basically need to be a spider to have this. It doesn't even talk about any other species that could concievably have this. And since it's essentially "Grapling rules in a roleplaying game" the rules for how it works are complex. A web has durability 3, no matter what. You roll Dex+Crafts+Feral Heart to determine how much structure the web has. Anyone wrapped in your webs gets two chances to escape with strength/dex+athletics, if they fail then they're trapped. Anyone who's trapped needs to deal double the structure of the web in damage to escape. Anyone who's not trapped only needs to deal structure rating in damage. Bizarrely, blunt weapons seem to work if you're trapped but not if you aren't. sure.
It's fucking wings, what did you expect?
If you're in your primal beast form you always succeed at flying. War beast form must succeed on a Dex+athletics check every turn. Human form can't fly at all but has "hollow bones" which let you jump twice as far as a normal person. Sure.
Now let's move onto Aspects
Next Time: Holy shit there are a lot of Aspects
Aspects and MeritsOriginal SA post
The Aspects part of the chapter opens up by contradicting information we were given earlier
In game terms, the player buys the Favor or Aspect with experience points. That Favor or Aspect must be a trait her feral could acquire without physically mutating - that is, she could learn darksight (which might be a really good trick) but not Natural Armor (which she would have to grow)
And yes he does interchangeably call Favors Aspects and Aspect Favors.
For a willpower point you can double your speed for as many turns as you have dots in this aspect. This is just your landspeed, not extra actions, so while it might be good in certain situations I'm not sure how many times you'll need to run away fast and your animal form won't cut it.
Fun fact: if you're allergic to an animal, odds are that you're probably allergic to their saliva, rather than their fur or dander. So for the cost of an essence point and a Dex+Athletics roll you can spit on someone and cause them to break into a coughing fit as they're afflicted by supernatural asthma. This gives them a decreasing penalty to all rolls over three turns, -3 on the first turn, -1 on the last. When on the fourth turn it vanishes... however the pain of coughing over the past 3 turns suddenly manifests itself as 2 points of bashing damage.
Yes, it is presented with the Italics. You are adowable . And get a +1 bonus per dot on any social roll that emphasizes your cuteness, but only half that bonus in human shape.
I don't care how cute a bunny is, it's not going to sweet talk it's way into a building if it's not actually able to talk .
Bare Necessities(* or ***)
Discount Rite of Pants. One dot version lets you transform without tearing your clothes (they just disappear until you need them again) Three dot version lets you bring along additional items like weapons or backpacks. A snatched up item has to be size 1 or 2, and a container can only hold up to four size 1 items.
Of course if the item is an Artifact of Man, which he describes as anything more complicated than a watch, you need to fail a Stamina+Feral Heart roll, or the item is ruined forever when you change back. Considering how mechanical watches are amazingly complex devices, and electronic watches can be more complicated than most simple phones, this is basically just a "Fuck your phones and computers" thing.
You can pursue the forbidden arts of magic, emulating the arcane secrets of human wizards. Yes, you can pick up Mage Rotes. However using these "Forbidden Arts of Man" mean that you will never be able to raise your Feral Heart above 3 because you can never fully embrace your beast. I thought the point was supposed to be balancing your man and your beast?
Anyways, it costs a number of dots equal to the level of the rote to learn it, you can only ever learn rotes (not arcana), and it costs an essence point and a wits+occult roll to fire off the spell. You also can't have more than one spell going at one time, and you can't ever learn spirit magic if you ever know one Beast Magic spell. Also, other Ferals can smell the "Wrongness" on you and will shun you with no actual social mechanical effect.
Basically this could be a neat way to cover for shortcomings in power sets that aren't covered in the game, but you're not supposed to take it because nature hates you.
You can engage in a staring contest with another Feral (opposed Composure+Feral Heart rolls) and if you win then the person you're staring at is forced into their animal form. This is meant to be a dominance display, but you can also do it just to dick with other ferals by forcing them to shift in the middle of a city.
By spending a point of essence and kissing the mother on her belly/kneeling before her in animal form you can ensure that she has a healthy pregnancy and birth.
Thanks for the 5XP!
You can shift your skin/fur to blend in with the dominant surroundings. It can happen for free over a day or two, or a point of essence can speed it up to be instantaneous. You get a +2 bonus to all dice pools that involve sneaking or hiding in your surroundings. Of course, if your breed's natural counterpart already changes colors to match the season, this favor is free. Which casts some doubt on the "Can't mutate to take an aspect/Favor" thing.
Burrowing(** or ***)
You can burrow through soft earth for two dots, or concrete and metal for three dots (though it's slower). You can't burrow in your human form but if you have the Throwback form and really want to you can burrow in it, but you take a point of bashing damage every turn because you're tearing your teeth and fingernails out.
Yes, you can be a bat, they get lumped in with the birds and you'd be forgiven for missing them since this is the only bat artwork in the book
You can regain essence by eating hearts. Invoking Kali is optional and discouraged. The bigger the animal the more essence you get(essence = size/2) but devouring human or animals of your "own kind" are a harmony violation still.
You get +1 die per dot to stealth and balance rolls so long as you're moving on your feet (not climbing, swinging, or swimming), even in your human form.
You get +1 die per dot to climbing/swinging/grasping rolls. This is also always on, but "beasts with hooves or walking paws can't learn this trick", even if you could use it in your human or war beast form.
Remember how the game shat on humans earlier for being too smart and making tools and farming?
You get +1 die on any intelligence based dice pool involved solving a puzzle or solving a dilemma that has an achievable end state goal. You can't create peace in the middle east but this does let you repair an engine or solve a sudoku. Oh, and anyone can pick it up, not just monkeys.
Culling the Weak(**)
By spending an essence point and rolling wits+empathy you can determine the weakest member of a group. But someone can roll Strength+Subterfuge to feign weakness (I'm not sure how they're supposed to know they're being observed but okay) and the game flat out says that "weakness" is subjective and gives the Storyteller free reign to dick with players.
Durgas Blessing (** or ***)
Durga once rode into battle on a tiger. This means that Were-Tigers can regenerate aggravated damage for one essence. Other were-creatures can learn this gift but they have to pay Three dots rather than two, also you can never regenerate more than your feral-heart in aggravated damage during one combat.
Roll Wits+Composure to learn of all potential threats, trespassers, or meals within 500 feet of you. You get a bonus depending on if you're in natural surroundings or the city, or any other perception based penalties. I can only really see this being useful to people who want to pull this one off in human shape because this really should just be a scent roll or something.
It's time for Biology Lessons with Brucato
Bugs crunch when you step on them because they wear their skeletons on the outside, like chocolate-covered cherries. With the expenditure of a single essence point, a character can cause his skin to harden with a waxy brown residue, thereby gaining an additional 1/1 armor. There's a tradeoff, however: the exoskeleton lowers the character's defense and speed by -1 each. This aspect is available in any form, and stacks with the natural armor of the hybrid form. This aspect lasts for one scene, and looks (and feels) utterly disgusting.
You are the complete exemplar of your totem animal, meaning your strength and size in your primal and dire form are increased by one. Even if your totem animal survives by being small and sneaky.
It's a prophecy power with no actual mechanical impact or interaction in a system where the players don't have direct narrative control.
How good do you think it is?
Fortune's Favor(** or ***)
The feral spends a point of willpower and wishes for something good to happen to someone (3 dot lets them choose themselves, otherwise it has to be someone else) and the storyteller will make something good happen to them at some point. Like they win a lottery ticket, or get a new job or something.
The same thing except bad luck.
Gross Eater(* or **)
For the one dot version, you can eat anything organic, living or dead. Including bio-hazardous waste, a mouldering corpse from a grave, or... (sigh) feces. Damn it brucato, you were doing so well. Two dot version lets you eat inorganic stuff as well as long as you're able to fit it down your throat. It doesn't actually protect you from it though. You can eat ground glass and derive nourishment from it but it'll still tear up your intestines. Yes, I am aware that those two occasions should be mutually exclusive, but Brucato isn't.
Your resolve+composure pool to resist frenzying is reduced by one, and you have to spend a point of willpower to even think about assuming the tiger storm.
+1 dice per dot to perception rolls by scent in any form. That's it really.
Throwback and Dire beast are now available for shapeshifting. Good for you.
If abusing the Feral Heart rules weren't good enough for you, there's this power. Roll Presence+Persuasion opposed by the Resolve+composure of a target (or the highest target in a group of people) and the extra successes are granted as a bonus to all future social rolls as you immediately become the center of attention. It does say that this favor can't be "turned off" but there's not really a reason to outside of not being able to do something sneaky while they're staring at you.
Thankfully this doesn't involve pissing on things. You can just rub your hand or cheek against something and leave behind an 'excretion' that your breed or band members can notice with a wits+survival roll. Somehow you're able to encode a single word or name into this scent.
Keen Sense(* or **)
The One dot version gives you a +2 bonus on reflexive wits+composure rolls to sense something. The two dot version also allows you to ignore up to 3 dice of distance related penalties on any perception roll "For the senses of sight, smell, and hearing only ". I'm trying really hard to figure out a situation where a distance related penalty would be applied to a touch roll that wouldn't just preclude success entirely.
You need to buy this favor separately for each sense: sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and "energy awareness(the hunch for 'vibes')". The fuck are vibes?
Leap(* to ***)
Your jumping distance is doubled, tripled, or quadrupled. Also your jumping distance in human form is now half your beast form jumping distance. I'm not sure if there's a beast form who's jumping distance is less than a humans but that seems kind of odd.
Long Life(* or **)
"Like Old Man Possum, this character should enjoy an especially long lifespan." One dot increases your lifespan by 50%, two dots double it. Because who doesn't want to play a functionally amoral trickster?
Your fur shines, your eyes glow, you are perpetually surrounded by your own sublime presence. You are fantastic and amazing and get a +4 bonus to social rolls in which you stand to make a powerful impression.
As long as you're in one of your animal shapes.
Given the aspects we've seen so far it should theoretically be possible to make an utterly adorable flying squirrel who flits about New York convincing people to change their lives forever by posing majestically. Before being compelled to pee on them for some random perceived slight
You lick, nuzzle, or curl up with a sick or injured person, spend a point of essence, and roll Composure+Medicine, healing one lethal per success. Which is neat, but you can only heal as many dots as your Feral Heart trait. Which isnt.
Mimic(* or ***)
You can mimic the sound, smell, or appearance of any animal, including a human. You can mimic sound and smell in any form, but to mimic the appearance you have to have at least the same general shape as the thing you're trying to appear as. It takes either a Wits + Animal Ken+Feral Heart or Wits+Subterfuge+Feral Heart roll, depending on which one you're doing. And the target gets a +3 bonus to their dice pool if you're standing in good light. Also you can only maintain the deception for <Feral Heart>X2 turns.
One dot lets you mimic either appearance OR sound OR Scent, three dots lets you pull off all three at once.
YOu can always find your way home, eventually. Because you are never lost. You can roll Intelligence+Composure+FH to speed up the process... somehow.. but an american feral with this gift who's lost in the Outback could just go four-legged and they'd be in new york eventually... somehow.
With some eye-contact you can now telepathically speak with a single person as intelligibly as if you were speaking aloud. Meaning that if you only speak French, and the other person doesn't, you aren't really going to get anywhere. You also get a +2 bonus on empathy rolls while you're speaking directly to their mind. And can maintain the "conversation" to a distance of 100 feet or so once it's established.
So finally we have a way for the amazing flying squirrel to convince people to give up smoking. We're well on our way kids.
Mother's Fury(* to *****)
You get a +1 bonus per dot to your hand-to-hand combat dice pools whenever you're defending your family, your lover, or children in general. Unfortunately this is also limited to <Feral Heart> turns. You don't need to be female to take this aspect but the person you're protecting has to be genuinely helpless against the attack, and can't be another supernatural creature unless they're also your specific child.
You can come back from the dead... unfortunately not nine times, unless you're amazingly fucking lucky.
When your last health box fills up with aggravated damage, you die. 10-Harmony hours later, you reawaken at the cost of one point of Feral Heart. If you only had one point of Feral heart then, well, sorry.
Also you only get a guaranteed resurrection the first time. Each time after that requires a Resolve+Composure roll with a cumulative -1 die penalty for each time that you've come back from the dead, including the first time you got for free, and it also still costs you a feral heart dot.
Also if someone inflicts even as much as 1 structure damage to your corpse, you're dead forever.
You can transfer a point of essence or willpower to another creature of your animal species as long as you both share a common bond and are in line of sight to each other. You can also communicate telepathically for 10 seconds as long as you are within 1 mile of each other and spend 1 willpower point each. You can *also* send out a telepathic SOS to every creature of your breed within a 10 mile radius for one willpower point. It will continue to sound constantly until you shut it off or die. Also it can affect your lovers, former loves, best friends, parents, and children even if they're not of your breed species, maybe. The game isn't quite sure.
You can change only part of your body when you shapeshift. Meaning a human can grow a claw, or an animal can grow a human face to speak with. Naturally this freaks people the fuck out, giving them the Delusion, and animals run the fuck away.
You can tap into the neural network of any animal within a square mile. In this case animal is "Any creature with less than human intelligence that isn't an insect." The game goes into two paragraphs trying to explain how this is is because insect minds are too jaaring and alien when the actual reason is "Otherwise you could just tap into that fly that is literally on the wall and find out what's going on in that room over there because insects are fucking everywhere"
Anyways, you can sense what they're sensing, including emotions, pain, and instinctive impulses, but you have no control over their body. Birds or mammals cost a willpower point, Fish cost a willpower and an essence point, reptiles and amphibians are mysteriously not given a cost. It lasts for an hour either way.
If your animal health is lower than your human health you can take this merit to increase your health by one per dot up to your human maximum. Reads like an experience point tax to not immediately die when you get put into rabbit run.
Righting Reflex(* to ***)
That thing cats do. One dot cuts fall damage by half, even if you're at terminal velocity. This has prompted me to look up the nWoD rules on falling damage, mainly in that they made "Terminal Velocity" damage lethal by setting it to a flat 10 damage, the normal human maximum health. Anyone with the huge size merit and 5 stamina could survive a fall of any height even without this merit. You could toss a fucking elephant off of the empire state building and it would grumble and trot away with barely 2/3rds of it's health gone.
Anyways, the two dot merit gives you a +2 to defense while you're in your primal or dire form... because you're graceful. Three dot gives you this benefit in human form as well. However, only "Graceful Creatures or Magical Thieves" can take this merit, despite the fact that it wouldn't require you to mutate. Consistency!
Sense of Familiarity(**)
This is a "Somebody Else's Problem" field. People just don't really notice what you're doing, though if you're doing something severely out of place it requires a Wits+Subterfuge-Resolve roll(crowds use the highest resolve of any observer). The issue is that the game implies that this only works in animal form. And it's not a reflexive action, it needs to be activated. And if your animal form is something that would damage it's physical environment by being there, like say, a rhino, it costs one essence point.
You retain some of the traits from your feral species' sexual dimorphism in your human form. "A bird with extravagant plumage will take particular care with his dress and appearance. Others may like to sing, preen, or display physical prowess." Whatever it is, you get a +2 bonus on *all* social rolls dealing with someone of the opposite sex.
This brings our hypothetical god-squirrel up to a +11 on his social dice pools, before he uses his feral heart.
You can "Step Sideways" into the spirit world like werewolves do. If you're at a locus, and roll Intelligence+Presence+Feral Heart. When you come back you "smell" of the spirit world, and ferals who know what that smells like will judge you differently. For reasons.
By stalking, killing, skinning, and tanning a victim (Not necessarily in that order) you can steal the identity of a victim. Putting aside the fact that you apparently tan the hide in "your own blood, urine, tears, saliva, and sweat" the game points out that "This is probably a Harmony violation".
Spending a point of essence allows you to turn into your victim, and a second point allows you to take off the skin without ruining it. You are almost a perfect copy, height, weight, age, etc. all adjust giving you 4 automatic bonus successes on any disguise roll. But there's at least one tell: a foot that's still a paw, a sheen in the eyes, a tendency to eat meat raw. Someone who spots the flaw based on the circumstances of the feral's story can figure out that something's up. Otherwise the deception lasts as long as the Feral wants to pretend to be Edgar.
Spend a point of essence and roll Resolve+Stamina+Feral Heart, you can put one person to sleep per success. They must all be within 100 feet of eachother and within 300 feet of the werebeast. If they're already tired or inclined to sleep it happens automatically. if someone's trying to actively resist the sleep they roll Resolve+Stamina. Aside from it's sudden onset the sleep is otherwise perfectly normal.
Snatch and Carry(**)
So if you didn't want to take that other perfectly functional aspect that allowed you to take items with you while shapeshifting, there's this one. You must 'prepare' the item beforehand with a point of essence and (sigh) "Blood, urine, or saliva". It doesn't say that technology breaks when you do this but I'm pretty sure soaking your cellphone in your own blood voids the warranty.
Go for the neck! Spend a willpower point and make a targeted attack at the neck (which imposes a -3 penalty) but if you succeed, all damage is aggravated . You can only do this once per scene, and you need to have long sharp somethings, but still it's aggravated damage.
You have an affinity for another animal species. No, not that one, another one. You can get a bonus on a favored skill equal to the number of dots in this merit as long as that skill fits with the animal, and is chosen when you pick the aspect up. (So you'd have spirit animal 3:Lion, Intimidation). It lasts for a scene and costs an essence point.
If you have at least one dot in Language(First Tounge) and a working relationship with the spirit world, you can take some Werewolf Gifts. Some, however. Each dot represents one gift, and each dot over the *** level costs two dots instead of one. This is rather poorly conveyed though. Does this mean each Feral can only get 5 gifts maximum? Or can they have multiple 5 dot runs each one accounting for five gifts? He will not explain.
You can steal spirit numen. Which are a different thing. Each numen requires a different aspect and each use takes an essence and a willpower to use.
You can sense areas of spiritual disturbance with a Int+Occult+Feral Heart roll. What's the radius of this sense? It doesn't say. It does however say that a successful roll lets you peer through the gauntlet, which is a completely different thing.
Spook the Herd(***)
Roll Presence + Intimidation against the highest composure of anyone within 300 feet. If you succeed, they flee for a number of turns equal to your Strength + intimidation. It does note that other supernaturals, including other ferals, are not immune to this power, and have to roll composure+resistance to resist it.
Stampede Rush(** or ***)
When charging and making an all-out-attack you gain a +4/+6 bonus instead of the normal +2, also you can use this against heavy doors or walls and get a +1/+3 bonus to knock them down. But you have to be in an animal form and that form has to have hooves, horns, antlers, or a thick skull.
Stash(* to *****)
You're really good at hiding things as long as there is a reasonable hiding place for them. You get +1 to your dice pool per dot in this merit when hiding things. You can't, say, hide a car in a tree. But you could hide that car in a parking lot, or a person in a Mall.
What the hell is going on in this art
You can dissolve into a swarm of tiny Nahual animals, becoming effectively immune to all damage short of an explosion, flood, or building collapse. doing so requires a composure+feral heart roll and an essence expenditure but is otherwise instantaneous, it can be done in response to an attack to avoid it entirely. Changing back requires another essence. Normal humans suffer the delusion at a -2 penalty. supernaturals must roll composure+Resistance to avoid being rattled for a turn. But the trick only works once before they get used to it.
This merit reduces any social penalties you may have by -2. This doesn't add anything, just reduces any penalties you might have. The usefulness of this merit is somewhat situational considering you can, again, just focus for a turn and negate your feral heart penalty and add it as a bonus instead. So it would have to be from external social penalties.
By spending a willpower point you can charge at three times normal speed while flying. And rather than having zero defense against incoming attacks, you can instead add... one.. of your defence die. Yeah not that worthwhile.
You've got a tell that people can pick up on. Upon first meeting you, people get a reflexive wits+composure roll at a -2 penalty to notice your tell. If they do notice it, and see you again in one of your other forms, they get another wits+composure roll to make the connection. If the first roll fails they'll never figure it out, but if the second one does then someone else can grant them extra rolls by pointing out the similarity. This is a lot of rules for something that probably won't come up much.
Territory Bond(*** to *****)
You have a supernatural link to your Territory. You know, that thing they went over in the first chapter that doesn't actually have any mechanics applied to it and is of nebulous size and shape. for 3 dots you can make a wits+comp+FH roll to notice that you have intruders if you're within 100 miles of your territory. 4 dots let you spy on anyone in your territory as long as you're within 10 miles. 5 dots let you spend two willpower points to make fog rise up out of the ground, trees make odd sounds, winds shift direction, whatever, to waylay anyone trespassing in your lands.
You reduce your resolve+composure pool to resist going berserk by 1, and you have to spend a point of willpower to willingly enter rabbit run, otherwise you will always enter tiger storm. WHY WOULD YOU TAKE THIS!?
You have an Uratha Totem. Somehow. It costs double the dots though.
Truth Sense(* to *****)
You get +1 die per dot to determine if someone's lying or to pierce an illusion
You can speak in animal form! Except since you're an animal you can only speak animal concepts, animals don't have a word for "accelerator" and birds don't have words for "Deep".
Omitting the fact that you're still a fucking human brain speaking human words in a human language.
You howl, roar, or make some other scary sound. Roll Presence+Feral Heart and spend a willpower point. Everyone within 200 yards must resist with a resolve(+resistance) roll or their next action takes a -2 penalty. -4 if you got an exceptional success.
Activate this gift (for free) and double your intimidation dice pools because you're just that freaking scary. This basically guarantees you will always get an exceptional success which means they will remain helpful to you indefinitely.
Unspeakable(*** or *****)
While in animal/war forms you get 1/2 automatic successes on attempts to indimidate people and reduce their resolve+composure pools to resist the delusion by 1/2 dice. Because you are either freaking ferocious, or the sorriest looking animal that anyone has ever seen.
Venomous(*** Or ****)
At least he got the definition of Venomous right... Either your fangs or claws are venomous, if you want both you have to take the aspect twice. He mentions stingers and spines once but not in the description ever again. Anyways, spend an essence point and for one turn your selected attack is venomous, any damage afflicts them with a toxicity level 5 venom. The three dot version deals lethal damage and lasts for a number of hours equal to your feral heart score unless they succeed on a stamina+resolve roll. The four dot version is a level 5 aggravated venom that only deals its damage once.
You get a +2 bonus to climb dice pools and can hang on surfaces too step or smooth to climb. And you can do this in any form.
For every lethal damage you take in a turn, your strength and speed is increased by 1 in the next turn, to a maximum of +5. The next turn it's lost but you gain more for any extra damage you may have taken.
You heal a bashing damage per turn, and one point of lethal every 15 turns. You not-werewolf you.
You are immune to temperature extremes and the effects of weather because you're super furry or whatever.
Weaver's Wisdom(* to *****)
A +1 bonus per dot to all pools based on construction, craftwork, or architectural design. This does not apply to advanced or abstract technology (Computer networks, astrophysics, biotech, etc) because YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BUILD THINGS! WITH YOUR HANDS! Assume some science is evil rant was cut here for space.
The Wild Cry(* to *****)
A really granulated and complicated merit which basically means that you can empathically communicate with one specific group of animals. Like dogs, cats, or corvids. The higher levels let you give them orders. the 1 dot version is just kind of a general animal-kingdom psychic sense.
Bag of Tricks
Only tricksters get these aspects, Corvians, Sun-Chasers, Celican Werecats, and Laughing Strangers. Because sure they needed something special.
By ducking into a hole, niche, hallway, or other hiding place and spending an essence, you teleport to any other such place within 50 feet. This works in any form except the war form.
You fake a sudden burst of bravado to throw your attackers off guard and then run the fuck away. Roll Wits+Intimidation+Feral Heart+3 additional dice to indimidate your foes. The next turn you double your speed for every point in Feral Heart, meaning that someone with 10 feral heart would multiply their speed by 1024 for one turn. This has absolutely no cost. I imagine you could just alternate intimidating blank air and dashing the next turn to get wherever the fuck you want super fast.
Pearl of Great Price(**)
Roll Intelligence+Subterfuge+Feral Heart to imbue an object with illusory value. Unless a mark gets more successes on their Intelligence+Subterfuge+Resistance roll, they believe it's worth whatever you say it's worth.
You make a fake baby-thing that sort of passes for a living thing if you squint at it in dim light. It costs an essence and a craft roll. Anyways, if someone sees the tar baby, they have to focus their attention on it unless they succeed on a wits+Composure roll at a-2 penalty. if that fails they get angry at the tar baby and have to make another roll at -3, if that one fails they fall into a deeper rage and must make another roll at a steeper penalty, falling further into apoplectic idiocy. Usually the trickster is using this time to get the fuck away.
Toss the Scent(*)
you can "throw" your scent away from yourself with a wits+subterfuge+FH roll. If you get an exceptional success you can throw it onto another person.
No new splat would be complete without a bunch of new merits to spend your precious few 7 starting points on. Of course all of these have a drawback of some kind because everything is a double edged sword. Or something.
Animal Companion(* to ****)
You have a particularly intelligent animal companion, it doesn't have to be one of your breed form. Might just be a pet that isn't particularly bothered by the fact that you're a bearman. Dots represent the relative size of the animal. One dot is a smart rat or a clever bird. Two dot is a cat. Three dots is Lassie. Four dots is a bear, tiger, chimpanzee, or dolphin. Something in that range. Unless they're killed or driven off by poor treatment the animal is loyal and will help its master as best it can. But it's still an animal, it can't drive to the bank and cash a check for you. And you're probably going to have trouble with your hyper intelligent tiger in the middle of New York.
You're related to a Feral, but you haven't changed and probably never will. Upside, you're immune to the Delusion. Downside, basically everyone wants to kill you.
It's a private place where you can be yourself and people can't find you. People who are trying to find you take a -2 penalty to do so. But they will probably eventually find you.
Pack(* to *****)
You have a pack of animals, higher dot numbers mean either a larger swarm of smaller animals or a smaller pack of more powerful ones. They aren't as devoted as an animal companion but make up for it in sheer numbers. Downside: You have a horde of wild animals living with you and following you around at all times. These aren't semi-tame like animal companions are. So.. yeah.
You get a +1 bonus on any social dice pool related to riling someone up. (Sigh) Yes, including seduction. You take a -1 penalty when you try to appear innocuous.
You're good at getting lost in a crowd, so much so that you get a +1 bonus to any roll that could benefit from being lost in a crowd or looking harmless... Yes... including seduction (I don't know either, like a pity fuck I guess). People also take a -1 penalty to remember what you look like. But you also take a -1 penalty to being taken seriously. "And would-be lovers might forsake him for more dangerous playmates."
The gift runs in your family. This provides no actual benefit. other than the fact that your kids will probably be changers too.
Also your family might hate you and want to beat the devil out of you.
Next Time: We finally get into the breeds. We're starting with cat people. Prepare for sex.
you have no idea how soul-numbing it is to transcribe someone talking about how sexy cats are and how much sex cats are having with peopleOriginal SA post
I've had this half-written for a while now, you have no idea how soul-numbing it is to transcribe someone talking about how sexy cats are and how much sex cats are having with people.
Bastet: Art with Fatal Grace
You could see the notches on his ears through the barroom haze. The smoke didn't seem to bother him at all. An LED cast lit his pantherish features, its green glow accentuating his mahogany skin. He smiled as Race stretched towards the deejay booth, up on her toes like a curious mouse. "Emile Autum?!?" she shrilled through the thumping roar. Ghost nodded, still smiling, but said nothing. His eyes held hers like destiny fulfilled. She took the bait, a goner. I knew then where she'd sleep it off tonight.
I shook my head. Another one. Lucky bastard! Ghost didn't have to say a word, and they came to him like catnip. It wasn't just the deejay aura - it was him. I grimaced ruefully, half-amused, half-jealous. I'd lost the Race, so to speak. Time for another beer.
Breed Traits: Bastet are all smooth and elegant, there are some "Fat Cats" but 'by and large they are all strikingly attractive.' "The Housecat and the Tiger share the same design, one of the most perfect in all Nature."
Habitats: After about half a sentence stating the 'ancestral homes of catfolk' it abandons all pretense and and states that cats like to roam. The only real concern of the catfolk now is that they want to be kept and comfortable, housecats might like a cluttered apartment but a Jaguar would demand a mansion.
Predators and Prey: "Cats are the perfect land-based predators, and cannot survive without at least a bit of meat in their diets. Most werecats prefer much more than just 'a bit.'" Prey animals are 'fascinated' by bastet, this includes humans, because all humans are prey to the bastet.
Spirit-Ties: As a rule catfolk don't have strong spiritual connections but what kind of cat obeys rules?
Kin: Catfolk are promiscuous and rarely stick around, but they are fiercely loyal to their kin, so they watch them from afar.
Society: A cat chooses her company, so basically whoever the cat feels would make a nice 'kin' will be the cat's kin.
Alphas: Catfolk will rarely listen to alphas, so any decision is usually come to with a lot of unnerving screaming, hissing, and swatting as they fight for dominance.
Man: "You might be lord of half the world/ You'll not own me as well."
Mages: Such lovely tricks. I wonder how they do it.
Vampires: *purring* Everything that's bad about creation, wrapped up in the prettiest packages. Even the most revolting of them is worth the price of his acquaintance.
Werewolves: If they keep to their side of the rug, I'll keep to mine. If not, someone's gonna bleed.
There's also a bit where they go intot he various accords, and point out that while a catfolk might be a fierce protector of their own kin, "cats will abuse or kill a rival's offspring", so ex-boyfriends are fair game.
I hate full bleed artwork
Rajanya: The Ghosts Next Door
To be Rajan is to be blessed by the bloody side of Heaven. Regal as the gods themselves, these beasts embody majesty. Tales claim Tiger's breed sprang up from the blood of Durga as she battled demons at the beginning of time. Other versions have Rajanya sired by the union of a great hero and his former enemy, a tiger, or spilled from the eyes of Kali as she beheld Shiva's broken bones. No version of their myth shows the Rajanya as anything less than the offspring of Gods. It's an attitude they carry even now.
Appearance: Most Rajanya are from Indian, Chinese, or South Asian stock. Though there are some Russian(Amura), English(Hu), and American(Khan) were-tigers as well. Their war-form is almost 10 feet high, 1,000 pounds, and has 6 inch claws. Amura were-tigers apparently don't assume the war-form instead turning into giant siberian tigers (I.E. they have dire instead of war forms) "Who needs two-legs anyway, tovarishch ? There's also a rare Chinese sub-breed, the Fujian Ghost-Tigers with blue fur and black stripes that also just go dire instead of war.
Breed Favors: Fang and Claw 2(L), Keen Senses(all), Size 7
Breed Bonus: All Rajanya and Fujian Ghost-Tigers *must* buy the Striking Look merit(they don't get it for free)
Form Adjustments: War-Beast: Str+5, Dex+2, Stamina+5, Size 8, Health+8, Speed+7, +2 to Perception Rolls. Primal Beast: Strength+3, Dexterity+2, Stamina+3, Size+2, Health+5, Speed+8, +3 to perception rolls
Judging by what he'll state later, yes, he is implying that all were-tigers just start out at size 7 to begin with (normal humans are size 5, Andre the Giant would be on the upper reaches of size 6) which is, frankly, ludicrous. This also means that they could pick up the "Giant" merit and go up to size 8 in human form . The tallest human being alive topped out at 8'11" and had lots of problems just existing . Someone really needs to smack Brucato upside the head with the size chart. Also: Yes, the observant amongst you would note that the War-Beast form blows the Gauru war form out of the water The only thing it doesn't have better is Armor, but it also has 3 more stamina so who cares .
Bubasti: Hungry Ghosts
Were-Khypur Cats, the Bubasti are all cursed with an endless voracious hunger. During Egypt's golden age, they were the favored sons and daughters of the city of Per-Bast. And since they were Bast's chosen children, they had lots and lots of sex. Then the Persians sacked the city, and slaughtered all the Khypur cats. Giving Rise to the Bubasti curse, somehow. "Perhaps they could move forward if it weren't for the hollow-bellied curse they share. However, they are no longer bound to the land of Bast; children who have never known the kiss of Egypt cry restless in their cribs, starving from infancy from a birthright they cannot understand. So when the Gift of Bast descends and a hungry boy or girl sees visions of their goddess... well, she could be excused a bit of fanaticism. If only it made the hunger fade..."
Appearance: All Bubasti, regardless of their origins, are rail-thin and 'exotic' which means that they're 'beautiful' to the modern celebriculture. "The exotic cast of their features plus their exquisite thinness and temperamental ways make these folk irresistible." Their primal forms are huge whip-thin felines, and their "war-Form" are nightmarish cat-people rather than .. big.. cat-people. I guess
Background: The Bubasti are quite organized with a bunch of names for a bunch of different hierarchical positions. "If these numbers are correct, it would make the Bubasti one of the most numerous breeds - and certainly the most organized." The Khypur Cats are heirs to ancient magics. "Using statues, scrolls, amulets, hieroglyphs, unguents, incense and elaborate rituals, the Hungry Ghosts seek wealth, revenge, and an end to gnawing hunger."
Breed Favors: Beast Magic(5 dots of spells), Clever Monkey, Fang and Claw 1(L)
Breed Bonus: All Bubasti have to guy Striking Looks(not free), but they do get three free specialties in academics.
Form Adjustments: Throwback: Str+1, Dex+3, Sta+1, Health+1, Speed+4, +5 to Perception Primal Beast: Strength-1, Dex+3, Sta-1, Health-2, Speed+6, +4 to Perception
So, yeah, "OH WOE IS US WE ARE CURSED WITH ETERNAL HUNGER AND BEAUTY!" Also, apparently they are human-sized black cats, but the health math implies they're only size 4? Have I mentioned that Brucato has no idea how the size/health/speed math works in the nWoD? Also they all have to have magic, so goodbye Feral Heart.
Hatara: Please to See the King
Were-Lions who are children of the sun itself. Of course the only beast to challenge Lion was Man.
Called "the Golden Dangers,"these ferals trace their ancestry to the sun itself. Long ago, the Great Creator called together the chiefs of Man and Beast. To force an accord between them, he took blood from each king, stirred them up in a calabash and invited each one to drink. So the spirits of one entered the other and sired children of both within their queens. In the desert where this took place, lions and humans live in harmony to this day. Elsewhere, though, the lineage went sour. Brothers fought as brothers will, and they're still fighting even now.
Appearance: Most are of african origins, but a few 'white-lions' have been born in recent years. They're all tall and boast lean muscles and thick heads of hair. "Since hair is regarded by many black Africans as a sign of animalism, Hatara often shave their heads clean; some, however, grow dreadlocks in the modern age, and honor their feline ancestry with a sacred fashion statement." Apparently their war-beast forms literally glow "Blazing with heat and inner light, they rise up on their back legs and stand erect. A godlike fusion of Beast and Man bellows with regal rage."
Background: Like everyone else, the Hatara are super charismatic. "Kings, however, make grand fools. Here,too, the Hatara are notorious. Literal, stubborn and set in their ways, they provide excellent fun for tricksters who are brave enough to tweak their manes. Hatara trust too much and question too little, and are often led astray. The sun may have let its mark in them, but in the process the sun might have struck them blind."
Breed Favors: Fang(bite)3(L) and Claw 2(L), Keen Senses(all), Size 6
Breed Bonus: All Hatara gain a fre social specialty, and subtract 1 die from dice pools to spot a con job, lie, or illusion.
Form Adjustments: War-Beast: Str+4, Dex+1, Stam+5, Size 8, Health+8, Speed+5, +2 to Perception. Primal Beast: Strength+2, Dexterity+2, Stamina+2, Size+1, Health+3, Speed+7, +3 to Perception
Again, 'tall' translates to 'has gigantism', they're also deadlier than Gauru again, and have a bite that's more powerful than Ferals are actually supposed to have access to so sure I guess.
MY PERSPECTIVE IS FUUUUUCCCCKKKEEDDDD
Bahgrasha: Hidden Fears
Say "Panther" if you will, but these flk prefer Bahgrasha (bog-ROSH-uh). When serpent-demons stalked the land, a human woman dared the love of beasts to stop them. Two leopards came to her - one black, one spotted. She bore children to them both, and those bloodlines became the Bahgrasha.
Appearance: Snow Leopards, Clouded Leopards, and black panthers are "the most glamorous type of all".
In War-Beast form, these ferals recall the leopard-steed of Dionysus: quadrupedal, with huge mad eyes, hooked claws and slavering fangs, the beast seems to go berserk even if she resists the tiger storm. Her demons seem to run-loose under her skin. Foam seethes from her muzzle as every shred of her balanced self is lost.
Breed Favors: Catwalk, Fang and Claw 2 (L), Keen Senses(All)
Breed Bonus: Baghrasha start with their harmony one point higher than normal. They also 'commonly' have spirit based aspects but they still have to pay for em.
Form Adjustments: War-Beast: Str+3, Dex+5, Sta+3, Size 7, Speed+8, +1 to Perception. Primal Beast: Strength+2, Dexterity+3, Stamina+2, Size 5, Health+2, Speed+8, +2 to Perception
Nothing really stands out, they're still overpowered but at least they aren't 10 foot tall rail-thin humans.
These ones don't get full write-ups, but they're still Bastet.
Balam: the Obsidian Echoes
Shortly after the gods created man, they took white and yellow corn from the place where the waters divided. They mixed teh corn together, ground it up and brewed it with nine broths. From the broth came four jaguars, and such was their intellect that the gods grew frightened. The god Hurakan breathed on the four brothers and clouded their vision. Each brother was given a human wife, and from them came the Balam.
To make things even more confusing, even though Hurracan is a Mayan god, they worship the Aztec gods, and live in the Amazon fighting against the human predations of the forest. And since "Aztec" is lazy developer speak for "human sacrifice" the Balam kill people basically at random to appease the gods. Hooray.
Breed Favors: Fang and Claw 2(L), Keen Senses(all), Needleteeth
Breed Bonus: A free stealth and survival specialty.
Form Adjustments: War-Beast: Strength+3, Dex+2, Sta+3, Size 6, Health+4, Speed +5, +2 to Perception. Primal Beast: Str+2, Dex+2, Sta+3, Health+3, Speed+6, +4 to Perception.
So other than being 3 different kinds of racist, they're just super bland and a rip-off of what the Balam were in the old world of darkness.
Cait Sith: The Noble Rogues
Fuuuuuuuu this is going to be terrible isn't it?
When the lions of Old Europe went the way of ancient Rome, their kin were left clinging to the ruins. Adapting with outlaw acumen, they wove themselves into noble families, Gypsy bands, rural tribes and holdouts from the pagan age. Immortalized as Cait Sith, Dinsele, Lionhearts, and Ceilican, these cat-folk hid in plain sight and held back extinction through force of will.
Seducing and raping their way through a long Dark Age, these dapper devils appear in gruesome tales not told to children. Inquisitors raised their pyres, but the Cait Sith endured. These days the bloodline still holds strong.
Breed Favors: Fang and Claw 1(L), Keen Senses(all), Sweet-Voiced Fiend
Breed Bonus: four free specialties in social skills and they have access to the "bag of Tricks" list
Form Adjustment: Throwback: Str+1, Dex+5, Stam+1, Size 4, health+0, speed+6, +3 to Perception. Primal Beast: Str 2, dex+3, stamina 3, size 3, health 6, speed+4, +3 to perception.
Just give puss-in-boots here an AK-47 and you've got yourself a rapist gun nut. Fantastic.
Qualm'a ni: Riddlers of Dust
Brucato's just scraping the bottom of the barrel with "terrible character archetypes from the old world of darkness that every sane person hated" isn't he? The Qualm'a ni are that really annoying stereotype of a native-american character who speaks in riddles and then gets mad at the person for not figuring out what their riddle meant. With the added bonus of failure usually resulting in death.
They've also got very punchable smug faces. And since they were running out of page space and didn't want to come up with were-pumas... the Qualm'a ni aren't just lynxes, they're also pumas, bobcats, or... maine coons.
Breed Favors: Clever Monkey, Earthbond, Fang and Claw 2(L)
Breed Bonus: Two free physical and social specialties. And add +1 dice to any dice pool involving earthbond or territory bond. And Qualm'a ni consider any rural or wilderness area in the Americas their territory.
Form Adjustments: War-Beast: Str+2, Dex+3, Sta+2, Health+2, Speed+5, +2 to Perception. Primal Beast: Str+1, Dex+3, Sta+3, Health+3, Speed+7, +2 to Perception
Klinkerash: The Devil-Fire Breed
Because apparently the Bubasti weren't enough. We need two "evil black cat" breeds. Except these ones are super evil, and associate with satanists and pagans. Also they're all descended from witches and their familiars. Yes in that way. No I don't care anymore.
Breed Favors: Beast Magic(five dots), fang and claw 1(l), Keen Senses(all)
Breed Bonus: Two skill specialties in Occult. And the don't have a war beast form. Also their primal beast form gets a +2 bonus to hide from anything size 5 or larger.
Form Adjustments: Dire Beast: Str+2, Dex+4, Sta+2, Size 4, Health+1, Speed+9, +2 to Perception. Primal Beast: Str 2, Dex 5, Sta 3, size 2, health 5, speed 12, +4 to perception Rolls.
Next up: Were Elephants, and all sense of balance goes out the window.
The Land Titans: Thunder Walks on Royal FeetOriginal SA post
The Land Titans: Thunder Walks on Royal Feet
It seemed impossible. How could such a body support such a head? In dim light the man turned, his tusks glowing like things afire. Bright robes shimmered as his bulk moved with silent grace. All thoughts of laughter fled Sir William's mind. It was clear that the rumors had not lied. He raised his Martini-Henry, but before Sir William could sight down the barrel, the god-man huffed. The torches guttered and the very air swirled. "Think not," a thick voice rumbled in thick Punjabi-accented English, just before the beast's trunk flashed across the space between them and snatched the Englishman's gun away....
So, we've cranked the racism all the way up to 11 from the start. A British hunter with a period weapon hunting an Indian elephant-man. Fantastic.
In ancient times the Land Titans were seen as gods. Kings amongst men. "Even now they bear a quiet grace". Because 10 ton animals with inch thick skin are possessed of such grace.
Not remotely what I meant.
Traditionally these animals were associated with wealth, health, luck, and power. Elephants decorate the Banners of Thailand, India, and Burma. Of course they're also hunted for their tusks and horns for increasingly spurious reasons. Which drive the Land Titans to take revenge. In war beast form the Land Titans look profoundly strange, as you would imagine giant elephant men with elephant heads.
Breed Traits: Even in their human forms, Land Titans are huge, over 6 feet tall(who isn't) and 300 pounds. The Jhaa are shorter and lighter but still powerfully built. "Land titans always seem to feel hot, and favor fans or air-conditioning when in their human forms, water and mud otherwise." ....what?
Land Titans speak in deep, fluid voices, and the elephant-folk tend to talk a lot . Surprisingly they're light on their feet, and can be almost silent when they walk. When angry or aroused, a Titan rumbles in an almost subsonic voice; when happy, he purrs.
Habitats: Native to Africa, India, and South Asia. Though sometimes they wind up in a menagerie, zoo, or work camp. Though they escape easily considering the massive size and strength difference between their human and animal forms.
Predators and Prey: Land Titans don't eat meat in any form. At all. Even if they use their mouths in battle they spit out the meat afterwards. Some people even claim that their flesh kills land titans if it hits their stomachs.
Spirit-Ties: They deal with ghosts, rarely spirits.
Kin: Land Titans inspire great loyalty from both their human and animal kin. Though beast slavers use their kin as bargaining chips from time to time. All Land-Titan kin are endangered.
Society: Land Titans are always matriarchal, and only the females will gather for any appreciable length of time.
Azubuike: The Burnt Horn People
The rhinos are the rarest of the Land Titans, and the text tells us that they're the "Strongest beast folk on land", but they're not stronger than high powered rifles, even worse when they have silver bullets. They're often accompanied by bird-folk, or true pilot birds.
They all have terrible eyesight and, unlike other land titans, are solitary, and not matriarchal. Because why the fuck do we make generalizations anyway? They also have terrible eyesight and are terse and angry. They also hate fire. No reason given.
It's been said that an Azubuike (a colloquial though not technically correct name meaning "Your past is your strength") snaps at the present because he still smells embers of the past. Despite their sorrows, these Titans are a proud breed. Even with their decimated numbers, they retain a formidable presence to those who truly know them.
Before we get into the nitty gritty, I'm going to quote myself from earlier in the thread.
I'm actually gonna have to mea culpa this, apparently the size increases is supposed to only apply to the animal forms, not the human forms. The reason I got confused is that he's not consistent in any way with how animal forms work. Some have +2 or +3 size (meaning 7 or 8) others say you just are size X. It also doesn't mesh with his hit point calculation as people get more or less HP from their size/stamina increases than they should. And the size is sometimes given as an aspect instead of a racial trait.
So, basically, I was wrong, but fuck Brucato for making it so easy to be wrong in the first place.
Appearance: Bulky and slow, they have large noses that turn into their horns when they change... that is not how horns work. They're also nearsighted or blind. Their primal form is a huge rhinoceros that can dent asphalt and run at 35 mph. Their war beast form is 10 feet in height, covered in body armor..... and then his skin turns into embers and bursts into flames.
"A furious Azubuike burns with the fire of his ancestors, and anyone who touches it bare-skinned will feel their pain as well."
Background: All Azubuike have been born to African or South Asian families. No white Azubuike have ever been born. They specialize in physical vocations and medicine. Their horn isn't a cure-all but they do appear to make good healers, some how. Azubuike never initiate their own, they change on their own in a traumatic event involving fire. Their elders are either kind healers who comfort and guide the newcomer. Or brutal dictators who beat them into child soldiers and war slaves. There is apparently no in between.
Breed Favors: Fang and Claw(Horn)3(L), Natural Armor 3/2, Size 12.
Breed Bonus: Huge Size, horn and strength
Common Aspects: Earthbond, Mercy's Touch, Razor Skin (embers), Stampede Rush, Tiger Heart, Unspeakable, War Heart, Warrior's Restoration.
Form Adjustments: War-Beast: Str+5, Sta+5, Man-4, Size 10, Health+15, Speed+7 Primal Beast: Str+6, Sta+5, Man-5, Size 12, Health+17, Speed+8
I love the fact that they burst into flames but don't actually get to damage people with those flames unless they spend experience points on it. They're huge, but they're not as strong or dextrous as tigers, and that's mostly what matters. Though they are durable as hell.
Jhaa: The Swift and Brave
Jhaa are the Indian Elephants...well.. one of the Indian elephants(Yes, there are two. You run into these problems when you divide up your groups like this, Brucato). They're apparently the most numerous of the Land Titan breeds, they trace their lineage to "The god kings of old south Asian empires", but now they favor the best and brightest cities in Burma, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. They supposedly fought during the wars in asia over the last century, usually on whichever side was killing US Troops. (Yes, it says that).
They are fond of good living and live close to their human and animal kin. They're also exclusively south asian, never any other race. Each one is a thoroughbred born under an auspicious sign. To non-asians they're always haughty and unnervingly direct, because they're dealing with lesser beings. But every silver lining needs its cloud, and the Asian governments are notoriously corrupt, and their kin have died out in recent years.
Appearance: Both men and women are lithe and ruggedly beautiful. They wear their hair long and are shockingly immodest unless formality requires different clothing. In elephant form they're small asian elephants, with males having smaller tusks and female tusks usually being absent entirely. Their war form glows with silver white light and their skin sparkles like diamonds
It's like the book mocks itself
Background: If a child looks like he'll be undergoing the first change, they're sent to live with a mentor of the same sex. After the change they will remain that Elephant's alpha. If they don't have an alpha pre-change they won't accept one because they're stubborn as hell. Anyone who even seems like he possesses the gift is sent to live with rural elders so they can be raised with "Good rural values and a sense of spiritual reverence for their animal kin."
Breed Favors: Extra Limb(Trunk), Fang and Claw (Tusks) 2(L), Size 13
Breed Bonus: You're a fucking elephant. You don't get one.
Common Aspects: Birth Blessing, Durga's Blesing, Earthbond, Magnificence, Mother's Fury, Natural Armor, Pack Bond, Stampede Rush, War Heart, Warrior's Restoration
Form Adjustments: War-Beast Str+4, Dex+1, Sta+3, Man-3, Size 8, Health+11, Speed+7 Primal Beast: Str+4, Sta+4, Manipulation -1, Size 13, Health+17, Speed +5, +1 to Perception Rolls
They're not anything exceptional, unless you compare them to anything not in this book. Especially compared to the next two guys.
Mholé-Rho: Mountains that Walk
The African Elephant shifters, the Mholé-Rho, are massive. Massive in size, massive in personality, massive in appetites, they always dominate the space that they're in. They avoid civilization normally, but those that choose to play the game excel at business and politics. Empathy is their strong suit and they historically bring prosperity in their wake. However, because tragedy , they now bring war, famine, and disease to Africa.
Appearance: "Huge in all aspects" if you know what I mean.
And almost all of them are black.
I think he's implying they have massive penises.
They're all taller than 6 feet, some topping out at 7, and all will weigh at least 300 lbs. Most will dress in the loose and bright colors "Of their people", others will wear European business suits. Their primal shape is between 10 and 14 feet tall, 20 to 30 feet long, and two or three tons. The War form is massive, 15 feet tall, over a ton, with a massive elephant head on their shoulders. And they're ghost white.
Breed Favors: Extra Limb(Trunk), Fang and Claw (tusks) 3(L), Size 15
Breed Bonus: You're yet another giant elephant man.
Common Aspects: Birth Blessing, Earthbond, Fortune's Favor, Magnificence, Mercy's Touch, Natural Armor, Pack Bond, Spirit Gift, Spirit SIght, Stampede Rush, Unnerving Cry, War Heart
Form Adjustments: War-Beast: Strength+4, Stamina+4, Manipulation -3, Size 8, Health+13, Speed+5 (species factor 6) Primal Beast: Strength+5, Stamina+5, Manipulation-1, Size 15, Health+20, Speed+6, +1 to Perception Rolls
They're Not stronger than the previous guys, but they do deal more damage with their tusks.
Iravati: The Holy Thunders
The other Indian elephant guys. They're reserved and not very social. They're all uncannily vital and have shimmering golden brown eyes. They're sober and hard working, and will work any task to their death if they agree to do it. Some Irvati hire themselves out as mercenaries to the highest bidder for radial political factions or magic wielding masters. They're implacable foes and will chase enemies to the other side of the world if necessary. Their primal form is second only to the Mholé-Rho. Their War beast form looks like Ghanesh in a bad mood, bone white hide, burning white tusks. Slow yet powerful.
Breed Favors: Extra Limb (trunk), Fang and Claw (tusks) 2(L), Size 14
Breed Bonus: LOOK AT THAT GUY
Common Aspects: Durga's Blessing, Earthbond, Magnificence, Natural Armor, Pack Bond, Spirit Secrets, Spirit Sight, Stampede Rush, Tiger Heart, War Heart
Form Adjustments: War-Beast: Strength+4, Sta+4, Dex+1, Man-4, Size 8, Health+12, Speed+5 Primal Beast: Str+5, Sta+5, Man-4, Size 14, Health+19, Speed+6, +1 to Perception Rolls
Not much difference to the other guys, honestly. They do get an extra point of Dexterity. But they all pale in comparison to the Tigers in their war forms. But they're better than the tigers in their beast forms. And they didn't need 3 different nearly identical elephant men. They really didn't.
Next Up: "Tricksters"
The Laughing Strangers: Dancing at the CrossroadsOriginal SA post
Sorry for the delay, being sick fucking sucks. Let's continue.
The Laughing Strangers: Dancing at the Crossroads
Well, good morning, Mr. Congressman! By my ears, I am bettin' you got just a ceiling full of thoughts right now, all tied up like you are. I swear you look like a denim full of concern! It is almost memorizing how sweat and worry just seem to fall out of you like penny candy stolen from the five and dime. I bet you hadn't even felt the dangers coming on since you were sleepin' all deep, It was like they had walked up a dusty road from a long way away and now are tracking fret across your bedroom floor. Of course, I can understand wakin' up knowin' you tried to cheat me might be a bit of a jangle on the nerves. Ain't that just the thing about makin' deals ya got no intention of keepin', though?
When you up and forgot to pay the piper, the piper ain't gonna ever forget about you.
Who's up for some pretentious trickster bullshit? And yes, all those typos and mixed metaphors are copied straight out of the text.
Behold the Beast:
Laughing Strangers believe they are the living soul of Tales. The Laughing Strangers are questions that lead to more questions, trials of faith challenged and bright days in epiphany. To Laughing Strangers, all life is a story, and the spicier it is, the more it settles like a warm sun across your belly when it's done.
Of all the breeds, the Laughing Strangers are the ones most likely to drag a soul kicking and screaming down the road less traveled. Tricksters, thieves or creatures of your worst and best intentions, Laughing Strangers will always be more than you bargained for.
If you choose to scuff through the gravel disturbing quiet roads, sparkling red eyes will glint away your expectations and peace of mind. Hare, Rat, Raccoon, Fox or Coyote all have been associated with wisdom, courage, and the price of desire. To keep counsel with them is to finally breathe the air of lessons well learned.
When Laughing Strangers are in War-Beast form, any breath of softness mistakenly associated with Laughing Strangers is choked away. These are not the ferals who deal death mercifully and quickly with sheer brute strength. No, Strangers offer their wrath with different teeth. They will bring it in razor cuts of forever... switchblade knives of please-let-me-die.
Breed Traits: An entire paragraph that's best summarized as "Since this is a giant pile of animals that are only related by the fact that they're tricksters we can't make sweeping generalizations."
Habitats: So now we have sweeping generalizations. Thanks to zoos and ship travel, all Laughing Strangers can be found all over the world.
Predators and Prey:
Raccoon and rat are omnivores... if it is edible, they will try it. Fox is a carnivore, yet is also so famous a token of prey there's a sport tied around the hunt. Hare is a vegitarian, yet for the changing breeds, he has no compunction against killing as long as it's creative and makes his point.
Spirit-Ties: Legends state that when the tales are no longer told about the animal tricksters, they will cease to exist. Which is why they're so insufferably annoying, if people can't stop talking about them they'll live forever.
Kin: The only generalization that can be made is that you can't make generalizations. Yeah that's basically what they say.
Society: Despite their perception of lone travelers they crave companionship. They're caring parents and either raise their young themselves or let hand-picked guardians take care of them so they can take over later in life.
Man: Have you ever noticed they all taste like chicken?
Mages: You have to admire the kumquat-shaped balls of those crackpots. You would think they don't realize the universe is keeping score.
Vampires: Two Words: Road Kill.
Werewolves: Hard to respect a critter who's big claim to fame is getting down with his mangy trans-gendered self in granny's old flannel pajamas....
Again, there's descriptions for the five accords. It's more of Brucato verbally masturbating all over the page with the most absurd metaphors I've ever seen.
I'll just quote the sun-dancers.
The spinning penny on the sidewalk has more worries than the Laughing Stranger basking in the Sun-Dancer accord. Vertigo delirium paints itself sky-bright over all the lives she wriggles through. Nipping at heels till the blood stains her lips, she keeps those around her jumping - and aching for a moment of predictability.
Minjur: Charan's Children
Rats. Originating in India where rats aren't viewed with the same negative esteem compared as the rest of the world. Minjur are believed to be the reincarnated souls of childre, humans who become Minjur are held in the highest esteem. They're treated as royalty, educated and guided in wealthy pampered homes until they decide to leave and make their own way in the world.
According to legend, death is the only place they can't go. Their gifts allow them to go anywhere, at the least they will never get lost. At the best they can simply go from place to place without bothering with the niceties of 'everywhere in between'. They're headstrong and arrogant and unlike other changing breeds they actually don't care much for their animal kin. If they were worthy of respect they would have been born Minjur.
Appearance: They're all Indian. "Dark of eye and brown of skin. Slender, elegant and yet still too angled and sharp to ever be considered classically handsome." Their primal form are foot long rats. Their war-form isn't much bigger than a human, and "looks like a mangey chow dog" also apparently in war-form they're plague carriers, and any wound will bring forth toxic vengeance.
You're correct, there aren't any rules for that.
Breed Favors: Darksight, Fang and Claw(bite) 1(L), Needleteeth
Breed Bonus: They get 9 dots for aspects rather than 7 because they're so physically weak. And can take bag of trick aspects. THey also get a +2 bonus when hiding from creatures size 5 or larger.
Form Adjustments: War-Form: Str +1, Dex+2, Sta+1, Man-5, Size 5, Health +1, Speed +2, +2 to perception Primal Beast: Strength 2, Dex+3, stamina 2, size 3, health 5, speed +15, +4 to perception rolls.
That wasn't a typo, since they're so small their stamina is set to a value when they shapeshift. Meaning that going into a fear frenzy will more than likely straight up kill a ratfolk. Otherwise there really isn't much that's great about Ratfolk.
Baitu: The Luck Keepers
Wherever there is temptation, so are there the baitu. Lauging strangers born from Man and Hare, the Baitu are the keepers of crossroads and the watchers of time. Though their animal kin are disturbingly numerous all over the world, the Baitu themselves seem as unusual as the last perfect, desperate moment. Rarely appearing when you still feel you have other choices, they're deal-makers, luck-changers, birth-blessers and devilish agents of fortune. Powerful allies and fatal enemies, Baitu bring legend into the lives they run past
I have no idea what any of that is implying.
The text goes on to imply that most stories of Loki or Satan were actually Baitu "testing" people. But they're also the store clerk who insists that you buy a lottery ticket because you 'feel lucky today'. They use their gifts of luck to help people but never themselves, because Hare are prey, and the Baitu honor those old traditions. Sometimes the people they're helping will take credit for the Baitu's gifts and pass them off as miracles. But there's a price for all miracles, and the Baitu will always collect. Also: All baitu are vegitarians.
Appearance: Baitu are always either ebony black or Albino in their human forms. Their primal forms are rabbits.. and.. uh
In War-Beast form, Baitu are all that wingless devils should be. Long, lean and knife-like, they appear as convivial as a syringe. Their ears lengthen and grow sharply pointed. This often gives the impression that they wear horns... a misconception most of the Luck Keepers find humorous. Bipedal, these creatures stand about six-and-a-half feet tall. Still they weigh amost nothing given their height; most do not reach 120 pounds. This leaves them the dexterity of a whip and the speed of the blooming pain that follows a single-tail's bite in the skin.
Background: Most offspring of baitu are the children of parents who cut a deal with a mysterious stranger and "paid the price in bed"... what the fuck Brucato I thought you were better than this. Considering how fecund rabbits are the Baitu gift runs surprisingly light in their children.
Breed Favors: Keen Senses(All), Nine Lives, Speed 10
Breed Bonus: They have access to bag of trick merits, the +2 bonus to hide from size 5 creatures, and 9 dots to spend on aspects, not 7.
Form Adjustments: War Form: Str+1, Dex+4, Sta+1, Man-2, Size 5, Health +1, Speed+2, +4 to Perception Rolls, Fang and Claw(Bite) 1(L) Primal Beast: Str 2, Dex +4, sta 2, size 3, health 5, speed +15, +4 to perception rolls, bite (L).
Their speed shouldn't increase that fucking much, Brucato keeps forgeting that humans do, in fact, have a speed factor. where as for the math for that Primal Beast speed to actually make sense that human speed factor would have to be -1. In a rather astonishing show of restraint, Brucato didn't call them sexy once. And the only real mention of sex is the fact that almost every human Baitu is born because their human parents sold their body for luck.
Which is kind of terrible.
Archunem: Moon's Masked Children
Raccoons! The "Scratching Hands" naturally range from Mexico to southern Canada, but they roam as far as russia and china. Social to a fault, they prefer to travel with other Archunem. If they aren't avaliable they'll travel with normal Raccoons, failing that they'll just gather up groupies from wherever they happen to be. "If other breeds feel cocky enough to have a Hand in their midst, the Archunem will gladly share their experiences, test the breeds' patience, and teach them lessons they probably need, yet don't really want."
You know, this character archetype wasn't funny in the old world of darkness when it was attached to the Nuwisha and the Qualmi, it didn't need to be attached to a giant pile of animal breeds and an archetype that's also avaliable to all characters.
"Witty, inquisitive and - plainly said - snarky , Archunem call a wily trickster tune. Humans flock to Archunem for as long as their skin lasts. There's something intrinsically desirable about the ones your mother warned you about."
Quote what I just said again.
Appearance: They tend towards native american blood. Their primal forms are large northern raccoons, apparently 100 lbs heavy raccoons, 3 times larger than the largest Raccoon ever seen in the wild. Their War-beast form is..
Distantly related to the bear, furious Hands grow into their heritage. Bipedal, most stand at almost seven feet in height and weigh close to 450 pounds. THeir needle sharp teeth lengthen; their dark masks stretch back and flow into their hairlines. Leaving most of their humanity behind, Hands in War-Beast form look as though they have forgotten their dual nature. Their hides toughen, their muscles become granite, and their limited manners disappear
Background: Now Brucato is writing stories.
When the Moon was not yet old enough to choose her heartmate, her gaze fell upon the Earth and all the jewels of Life he wore within his fur. He was strong and solid and already wed to the Sky. Moon was still intrigued. She watched and teased and lit His mountains with Her impish intentions. She stole away Sky's eyes by outshining Her stars, and then she went to Him. She was too young and he was too merciful. He held her wrists and took Her hands away from his face when she Approached him. His displeasure was a low rumbling, a warning, a voice low in tone and rich with threat. From the sound of Earth's growl, Bear Became. From her reply, she laced Bear's Becoming with Her curiosities and fevered needs to test the boundaries of Earth.
Displeased with her rejection, Moon still returned to her place in the Sky. Her fickle eyes turned to Ocean, but she waited to approach until She was older. When She did, she knew Her match. In Her wisdom, She turned her eye back to Earth and Bear. Still burned with His rejection, She stole part of His creation and made it Her own. Raccoon is Moon's desires torn from Bear. Yet just as two lives meet, they cannot undo the meeting; neither could Bear be completely free of her rage nor could Raccoon be completely free of Bear's nobility. Bear will always find wrath within himself when pushed too far. Raccoon will always love his own bloodlines too deeply.
This is the Telling and so it is so.
I hate Brucato so much right now.
Anyways, the Archunem try not to love anyone, for once they do they love deeply. If they find a mate they mate for life.
Breed Favors: Fang and Claw (bite) 1(L), Size 3, Nine Lives.
Breed Bonus: 9 dots, bag of tricks aspects, +2 to hide, same as everyone else
Form Adjustments: War-Form: Str+1, Dex+2, Sta+1, Man-2, Size 5, Health+3, speed+2, +2 to Perception Rolls Primal Beast: Str 3, Dex+2, Sta 2, size 3, Health 5, speed +7, +2 to Perception Rolls.
Once again, Brucato forgot how the rules to the damned game work. War-Form shouldn't have +3 health with only +1 stamina and no increase to size. And the Raccoon's speed increases to an absolutely ludicrous degree when they're not any faster than humans by default.
Reynardi: The Beautiful Rogues
Foxes... and not only that Reynard the fox, I'm not going to like this am I?
Oh, the merry trials of Fox! Of light, of breath, of taking and knowing, these are the children with souls as bright as a thousand new penny-whistles. They are Lazarus' first chuckle freed from the grave. They are Lucifer's last sigh of resigned acceptance. Wanting to know the Truth is wishful thinking. No longer noticing the blood on your legs from the thorned brambles you had to run through to find it is the ecstasy of Answers. This is where you come to know the Reynardi. TO learn from these rusty rogues is to hear the first sweet notes of wisdom in the laughter of the wind.
Let's just summarize the rest. Unlike those "dishonorable Kitsune", Reynardi have a code of decorum and honor. A trick isn't worthwhile unless it's a trick with style, and it's only okay to lie if that lie has a kernel of truth. They always show courage. Even if it's only in those brief moments before they run the fuck away.
Appearance: "The fox-gift manifests most often amongst people who have been pushed too far too long." I wasn't aware that oppression was a genetic expression. Primal form can be either arctic, gray, or red foxes. the war-beast form... appears to have been formatted wrong as it's a smaller, thinner font size to squeeze more text into the column width. Anyways, They turn into fox-people. "All lightness, grace and speed, their ancestors may have educated the finest swords to glow dangerously as they slide from the scabbard." This purple prose is growing increasingly tiresome.
Background: Usually Caucasian, sometimes asian. "Reynardi are the sort who would crap on a king's throne while he stood for applause"
Breed Favors: Fang and Claw (bite) 1(L), Nine Lives, Speed 9
Breed Bonus: EXACTLY THE SAME AS EVERYONE ELSE MOVING ON
Form Adjustments: War Form: Str+1, Dex+2, Sta+1, Man -2, Size 5, Health +1, Speed +2 Primal Beast: Str 3, Dex +3, Sta 3, Size 3, Health 6, Speed +7
So these stats are actually correct, which makes me think that they were one of the breeds Brucato stole from war against the pure, and then copy pasted them for *everyone else*. Seriously, the "whip thin swords" that are the Reynardi have the exact same stats as the "Stolen Bears" that are the Were Raccoons. And so far every single trickster has had the exact same damned breed bonus.
Mistai: The Laughing Strangers
Oh fuck me it's the Coyotes.
As other beasts fall back further into a disappearing wilderness, Coyote's brood advances. In trashcans, parks, and back yards, they creep through the night, facig down dogs and mocking humans at every turn. Is it any wonder that Coyote's get appear so frequently in folk tales? The changing gift embraces him, or perhaps it is Coyote who has embraced the Gift? He's randy enough to have done it, to be sure.
"These lonesome folk share survivor morality, not guilt. Just as so many tricksters, Mistai know what it is to live between glitter and gultch." So did Banjo and Kazooie.
Some folks claim that Coyote's brood reincarnates the souls of America's First People. Picking hungry through the ruins of their old land, they have no great love for their conquerors. Whether those claims are true or not, these tricksters hone their jests with a cruel, symbolic edge. Mistai pranks inspire bitter lessons for those who care to read past the bloodstains. Occasionally, these ferals bring down a child and feast - whether out of revenge, hunger, or some combination of the two is left, as usual, for other folk to answer. Coyote's folk are not in the habit of giving answers to the ignorant.
I withheld the Mistai artwork until now
In human form, Mistai tend to be just a little bit darker than most folk find comfortable to be around. Mistai might be the street person sitting on the brick wall watching with eyes too clear and hands too trembling, or the woman in the grocery store at 4AM, pregnant and soft and hungry still. Costumes and illusions are Mistai talents and their gift. Behind their masks, however, Coyote-folk seem rangy, underfed, underloved. White or native, Latin or black, Mistai live off the scraps of a larger world even before Coyote's gift transforms them.
Just as other trickster breeds, Coyote's brood have no War-Beast form beneath their skins, instead Mistai favor their human aspect, but with lean and beastly features. Softly furred with silver-gray and dry grass brown fuzz, Mistai wear their Coyote heads proudly. Seen so often in shadow, these faces look like masks from a Western fever dream. Tall - seven feet from soil to hat - Coyote's children remain slim. They are never idle chatterers; their silences let other tell too much.
The other Trickster breeds *do* have war forms, and your 'throwback' is bigger than half of them.
Background: Remember that joke I made about them fucking their way across the disenfranchised of America?
Just as their fabled progenitor, Coyote's brood are fiercely carnal. Folklore professors scrubbed those legends clean, but the truth's still walking and fucking its way across America. Like so many tarnished dreamers, these ferals are often gone by daylight, leaving behind regret, perhaps a musky smell and the occasional baby to raise. That child, born on the wandering side of a sheet, may inherit his sire's Changing Gift more often than not. This venereal prolificacy could be the key to the Mistai's survival
Breed Favors: Alarming Aclarity, Fang and Claw (Bite) 1(L)
Breed Bonus: They get 9 dots for aspects, and their bag of tricks shit. They also lack a war beast form but that apparently doesn't hurt them much.
Form Adjustments: Throwback: Str+1, Dex+2, Man-2, Health+1, Speed+2, +2 to Perception Rolls Primal Beast: Str-1, Dex+4, Sta 3, Size 3, Health 6, Speed +7 +2 to Perception Rolls
So the STDs of the american west have a phantom health point that comes out of nowhere. Can this chapter be over now?
Oh god why
Wapethemwa: The White Beast
Opossum-shifters. Fantastic. Guess what? They also live off of the dregs of human society and suffer for their ignorance of their condition. They thrive in the rural areas where it's easier to steal what you need to get by. And the older possum folk often move to the mountains where they live in "Splended dirt-poor isolation" because we need to solidify the stereotypes we're reaching for.
They can arise from any american ethnic group, but are primarily Anglo and scottish-Irish, with a significant African American presence. Regardless they're Barbwire thin with beady eyes that are "Their most attractive features", sure. "In primal form, White Beasts grow to many times their size. Their beady eyes grow darker and rounder, and they develop the characteristic possum 'waddle'." What? No? Primal form is the beast form, brucato, they wouldn't grow many times their size to become smaller . And they develop the possum waddle because they are possums in that form . Their war beast form is six feet tall with "weight proportionate to their size", since that's within the human norm I have no idea what he's implying. but they have possum heads.
Breed Favors: Extra Limb(Tail), Fang and Claw (Bite) 1(L), Nine Lives
Breed Bonus: They all have one dot in survival, and a free speciality in survival, in addition to all the other standard trickster shit.
Form Adjustments: Str+1, Dex+2, Sta+1, Man-4, Size 5, Health+1, Speed+2, +2 to Perception Rolls Primal Beast Str 3, Dex+e, Sta 2, Size 3, Health 5, Speed +4, +2 to Perception Rolls
Another war form that's almost identical to every other war form. A primal beast form that doesn't mesh with the actual description of it. And we round out this incredibly uncomfortable chapter.
Next Time: Badly Airbrushed Dog Dicks
The Pack: Loyalty asks no questionsOriginal SA post
Being sick continues to fucking suck, but I'm keeping to my once a month posting schedule?
The Pack: Loyalty asks no questions
Inside the abandoned warehouse, a babble of cheers and hisses competed with the snarling of dogs. Smoke hung heavy in the air, mixing with the air of man-sweat and dog-blood.
Cord Chambers turned away in disgust, dragging his defeated bulldog by a loop of chain toward the back door, leaving a trail of blood from the animal's many wounds. "Fuckin' loser," he swore, knowing and uncaring that the wounded animal couldn't understand his words. The dog's eyes hadn't opened since he went down; the lids had swollen into two puffy lumps, oozing red. Cord kicked open the door to the alley and spotted the Dumpster, halfway up the alley on the opposite side. Brutus had fought his last fight. Now all he was good for was taking up Dumpster space.
"I lost four-hundred goddamn dollars on you, you fucking blood bag-" His voice stopped abruptly as something coalesced out of the shadows and stood between him and the Dumpster.
"Drop that chain," a voice growled from within the inky blackness. Cord sensed a physical presence looming over him. For an instant, a flash of heat lightning flared, illuminating what looked like ... like nothing he could name. The massive body, covered in patchy fur and marked with heavy scarring, advanced toward Cord, it's clawed forearms outstretched, fangs dripping hot saliva from a bull mastiff's face. "Your turn to fight," the creature said, and Cord felt the world grow very small and hot and dark....
It is worth noting that this chapter, unlike the ones we've had so far, wasn't written by Brucato, but instead Jackie Cassada, who's a fairly prolific main line White Wolf writer. Though her writing chops tend towards Mage nowadays than Werewolf. So the content's more well written but also still somewhat reprehensible cause, well, it's this book.
Behold the Beast:
The Canine-shifters, unsurprisingly, live in packs. "They embody the phrase 'to protect and to serve' with every fiber of their being, for frew enemies can stand up to these ferals' united strength." That's... no? I'm pretty sure the point of that motto is that a smaller force stands to protect a larger one, not everyone standing together. Did you mean "United we stand, divided we fall?"
They, of course, resemble werewolves, but they "Bear no curse other than those they place on themselves" because fuck werewolves, right? "The Canidae do not come to human commands, they do not fetch or sit or stay." except when the group explicitly devoted to protecting humans is described later in the chapter.
Whatever their origins, Pack ferals have kept track of their human and animal kin throughout the long centuries. Lately, though, these ferals have had cause for concern with the growing instability of Man. As environmental ruin shrinks the habitats of wolves and hyenas, draconian legislation seek to “neuter” the warrior blood in canine species by making certain “gladiator dogs” illegal even to breed. As always, Man seeks to remake the world in his image. And now, even his deepest companions wonder if the time has come for Man to fall. . . .
"If Man’s so quick to spay and neuter his territorial competition, some ferals snarl, why can’t Man spay and neuter his own kind?"
Ahh Eugenics, that old chestnut.
Man: Loyalty should bind both ways.
Mages: Big dogs looking for bigger bones, digging up everyone else's yard.
Vampires: Just as Alphas without a pack, the suck the life out of everything they touch.
Werewolves: Truly a breed apart, for all the best and worst that this implies
Here we have the accord descriptions, unsurprisingly the den-warden description is basically "COP COP COP COP COP COP COP COP COP" over and over again.
Maerans: The Faithful
The most numerous of the Pack, Maerans have lived side by side with humans since man first domesticated a dog. They rarely reveal their true form to their non-shifter companions but people tend to notice something is different about them, and they usually possess an inner strength that catapults them into positions of leadership. They attach themselves to a person or a group and treat them like pack, whether or not they realize that they have the dog-blood's loyalty. The Maerans are incomplete without something to be loyal to.
They detest being truly alone, and try to keep another person or animal around them at all times. Some will even struggle to keep a cat nearby, but even Bastet shy away from the dog-bloods.
And yes, the "Dog-Blood" does appear to have a pedigree, if your grandfather was a bull mastiff you're probably going to turn into one too. Appropriately, most Maerans are 'old world' breeds, Elkhounds, Wolfhounds, Wild dogs, basenji. Though the occasional German Shepherd, pit bull, bulldog, saint bernard, or collie will show up. Either through their close spiritual association with humanity or "Rumored Bestial Couplings" hooray! Bestialty my old friend, I missed you after the entire chapter of fucking insufferable assholes.
"Chihuahuas, however, remain unknown among the changing breeds, which is probably for the best."
Appearance: In human form, Maerans favor the breed of dog they will eventually become. A statuesque man with keen eyes and thick hair will become a wolfhound. A whipcord-thin dogblood with a sprinters build will become a grayhound. It also seems to follow ethnic lines as well(because racism) so German Shepherds look like a Nazi's dream, Irish people are always Wolfhounds, and "Bulldog ferals seem inescapably English "
Their primal forms resemble their mortal stock in everything but size, even the smallest dog is large in this form, and something like a Tibetan mastiff would probably crush a man's windpipe with their paw.
Their war-form is a werewolf.. except a dog.
Background: Most Maerans pursue vocations that place them in the company of others, teachers, security guards, policeman, or soldiers. Some are hunters, bringing home food for the table. Others use their talent for leadership to form gangs or cults.
Breed Favors: Fang and Claw (Bite) 2(L), Keen Senses, Speed 8
Breed Bonus: They gain a free Keen Sense aspect, and their primal forms are usually well accepted in man's world.
Form Adjustments: War Beast: Str+2, Dex+1, Sta+1, Size 6, Health+2, Speed+3, +2 to Perception Rolls Primal Beast: Dex+1, Sta+1, Size 4, Speed+4, +4 to Perception Rolls, Lethal damage with bite attack
Unsurprisingly, they're substantially weaker werewolves with no real upside. Also they're entirely devoted to humanity and seem to rarely run in packs of their own, going against everything written in the preceding blurbs!
Riantes: The Laughing Ones
Hyenas, Yup. They're scavengers living off the scraps of society and rarely leaving their own social groups except to forage. They hide their bitterness in caustic laughter and bury their tears in scorn and disdain for that which they cannot have. Within their own bands they're gentle child rearers and protectors of their young. Most project a furtive hungry aura that keeps others away but some are passionate, charismatic and witty. As humans they live just above the poverty line or far below it. Some have proven successful and live in desert palaces rival those of human sheikhs. In Africa though, hyenas are treated with the same disdain that some European cultures hold for the black cat. Some older cults revered the Hyena, but nowadays most claims of Hyena blood are put to a swift and bloody test.
Appearance: Wiry to the point of boniness, males are only slightly better than females. The females are lithe and graceful and sexually attractive to humans of both sexes (because of course they are). They're almost exclusively african or indian, and their hair varies from dark gold to rusty red. In western africa red hair is a often a sign of Hyena blood. Their primal form is a giant fucking Hyena, no surprise. And their war beat form is, well, that thing up there.
Background: Riantes tend to undergo their first change in late adolescence, though they may show signs far before that. A partial change for an instant, mocking laughter from a toddler. Some pariah families welcome these signs as a show that they have a new protector. Others try to drive the demons out of their children, or simply kill it themselves. Very occasionally they will bring their children to shamans or witches, offering to bind the hyena to them for bribes or services. Because of course there are shamans and witches in Africa.
Among African Riantes, males and females tend to deal with each other on equal footing. Homosexual pack-bonds are common among this breed. In India most Riante packs favor female leadership instead, and the Gift passes easily between mothers and daughters. In many cases Riantes arise from lower-class families; a few wealthy packs, however, exist in the Middle East and especially in India. (one up-and-coming oil dynasty is said to bear hyenas in its midst
Breed Favors: Fang and Claw (bite) 2(L), Keen Senses, Speed 8
Breed Bonus: A free keen sense aspect, as per usual, and one free dot in crafts?
Form Adjustments: War Beast: Str+3, Dex+1, Sta+3, Size 6, Health+4, Speed+3, +2 to Perception Primal Beast: Str+1, Dex+1, Sta+2, Size 4, Health +1, Speed+4, +3 to Perception Rolls
Not much to say, they're werewolves with some of the numbers shuffled around. More importantly there's very little reason for them to ever interact with humanity to a level that would actually make for interesting storytelling beyond shitting on their lawns because gaia demands it.
Vargr: The Forgotten
The Vargr.... exist. They're Were-wolves that aren't Werewolves. Their blurb is basically "They don't know where they came from, they have no claims to father wolf, most of them are lone hunters and almost all of them are Sun-Chasers". They're basically just here because you can't have a game with shapeshifting animal people without having wolves, but they're ridiculously redundant compared to the Uratha and decidedly so.
Appearance: Because they don't get a war form or primal form, instead they only have a dire beast form. They can come from any nationality.
Background: They have no common background! The first change can occur whenever it fucking wants! They're all unique and loners!
Breed Favors: Fang and Claw (Bite)2(L) (Claw)1(L), Keen Sense, Speed 8
Breed Bonus: They have a free keen sense aspect!
Form Adjustment: Str+2, Dex+2, Sta+2, Size 5, Health+2, Speed+5, +4 to Perception Rolls.
Seriously why are they here.
Warrigal: The Singing Ones
A Dingo is my Baby!
Born in the Dreamtime, where forms shift and change, where human spirit and animal spirit meet and consume one another, the dog-headed children crept into the world from the shadow of the red rock. They sang, and their songs drew forth dog from human and human from dog. Seeing this as a sign from beyond, the people raised them as their own.
They utterly shun society and never interact with it. Only going through their Aboriginal intermediaries. When breeding they have sex in all combinations of their avaliable forms to maximixe the chance of a Warrigal birth. And they probably kill the children that don't breed true.
Breed Favors: Fang and Claw (bite)2(L), Keen Senses, Speed 8
Breed Bonus: A FREE KEEN SENSE ASPECT! WOWEE!, and one dot in survival.
Form Adjustments: War Beast: Str+1, Dex+1, Sta+2, Size 5, Health+2, speed+3, +2 to Perception Rolls Primal Beast: Dex+1, Sta+1, size 3, Speed+4, +4 to Perception Rolls, Lethal bite
The math here only makes sense if humans are size 4 for some reason. Also why the fuck do these exist.
Seriously most of the pack chapter is written from the point of view of "LOOK AT HOW TERRIBLE HUMANS ARE TO DOGS! DOGS SHOULD RISE UP AGAINST THEIR OPPRESSORS!" and then only 1 of the four breeds presented is dogs, and the dogs are fanatically loyal to humans. Of the other ones, two don't even interact with human society and the other one is a token hand-out to wolf otherkin.
Up Next: Monkey shifters, and me asking even more why the fuck does this exist.
Royal Apes: Man's Shadow, Man's MirrorOriginal SA post
Royal Apes: Man's Shadow, Man's Mirror
The aye-aye crooked its spindle-thin black finger toward us from its perch in the tree 10 yards away. We all stopped to stare. It gazed back at us through bulging eyes and a mat of stringy hair.
“He’s pointing at the doctor,” Josoa, our guide, murmured. He shouldered his rifle and took aim at the creature. “Wait,” I said, but it was too late. The aye-aye fell dead from its tree, and the forest went quiet in the aftershock of Josoa’s rifle shot.
“He was pointing at you, sir,” Josoa said, seeing the stricken look on my face. “Don’t pity it. That devil bears the mark of death.” He tramped through the underbrush and pulled out the lemur’s carcass by its hair. “For your studies,” he said.
Late that night, I awoke to the rattle of overturned trays and broken glass. I hurried to my temporary lab, a military surplus tent with a single folding table and all the equipment my assistant and I could carry. We had left the aye-aye’s body there, meaning to take measurements and bury it in the morning.
I don’t remember clearly what I saw: A small dark form crouched over the aye-aye’s body. The gold lanterns of its eyes as it turned toward me. A look of grief and rage.
I told the others a monkey had stolen into our tent and destroyed our equipment. Random mischief. It was to be expected. But I dreamed of a flame-eyed beast with golden fur and gold scale armor, cradling the broken aye-aye to its chest, its outstretched finger pointed at me.
This chapter is also written by someone new, one Alexa Duncan, who as far as I can tell has not written anything RPG related before or since.
Behold the Beast: "More than any other creature, our simian cousins embody the dichotomy of Man and Beast in a single form. Stripped of human social mores, they are man at his most tender - and his most rapacious. From the peaceful yet promiscuous bonobo to the warlike chimpanzee, the powerful silverback giant to the dexterous tamarin, primates run the same gamut of physical capabilities and mental dispositions as humans, and much more" Sure they do, particularly when you lump an entire Taxonomic order into a single group. Yes, despite the fact that they're "Royal Apes" this group encompasses all of Order Primate, which is just poorly researched and dumb. Since they're usually apex predators their only real universal predator is man, and the book harps on that for a few paragraphs. Then it goes on about all the legends about monkey as a trickster god and warrior king in various Asian Cultures. Note that they will lump all of these legends into two distinct groupings and completely ignore the actual species therein. Because it's easier that way. Also yetis and Sasquatch, excuse me, the SHADOW-MEN, find themselves in this group. Or they don't. Because they probably don't exist, or maybe they do?
More than any other species their human form tends to look normal. Though gorillas are more broad shouldered than a macaque. "The clues to their nature are more subtle: something in a person's grim smile that conveys more menace than amusement, his penchant for going barefoot, the way he hurls paperweights and crockery when something displeases him, or his uncannily long, limber arms and legs..."
So what I'm getting is that this
are the epitome of were-ape culture. Got it.
Their primal forms also tend to have opposable thumbs, and they're absolutely insufferable about it to other Primals. They also feel 'bald' in their human forms so they love styling whatever hair they have. They don't outright state it but manscaping is implied.
They can be found anywhere Primates show up, and everywhere else because airplanes exist. But they tend to concentrate in Asia, Africa, and South America.
Just as humans, simians are omnivores. Most days, they forage for plants and the occasional bird’s egg. But those incisors aren’t for nothing. Sometimes a Royal Ape craves meat. If he’s lucky, he can walk into a restaurant and order plate after plate of ribs and steaks, or pick up an antelope carcass where a pack of lionesses left off. Other times, eating the meat isn’t enough: he has to catch it with his own hands. Even the most civilized of baboons simply can’t help himself from feasting on a tender, succulent baby chimpanzee every once in a while. He may feel remorse later, but at the time it feels so right. . . .
The apes long to return to a time when humans worshiped Sun Wukong, which as far as I can tell is a time that never actually happened. Their society either adores groups, or hates them, depending on which paragraph of the text you're reading. But they do adhere strongly to their oaths of brotherhood once given. Their groups adhere to a rigid hierarchy with an Alpha keeping his "Or in the case of Bonobos, her " subordinates in check. Baboon ferals keep a harem of females for their own personal use, and will bite or kill any that they feel are getting out of line.
Man: Poor cousin! He fancies himself the ruler of the world, yet all the while the ground crumbles beneath his feet.
Mages: Parlor tricks bore me. Our own witches are far more fearsome.
Vampires: What the undead do is their business, as long as they keep out of my house.
Werewolves: Any fight between us would leave each side too bloody to be worthwhile
Hanumani Brahman: the Golden Lords
And here we run into the major problem I have with the Royal Apes, they aren't divided by species like the other Ferals are. The Hanumani Brahman are a collection of most of the feral families that exist within India and the former British Empire, that claim to be descended from Hanuman. When a monkey or Ape feral is born into one of these families he immediately ascends to the head of the household unless it is already occupied. And any marrage between two Hanuman ferals is a week long celebration. So it's good that they're also all rich as hell to support themselves. That said they are on the decline because they still hold to the caste system and refuse to admit new members into their house. The younger members want to 'search for lost blood' but the elders refer to this as 'promiscuous fraternization'.
A Hanumani Brahman’s Primal Beast self may take the form any number of apes or monkeys native to India, particularly the macaque or the gibbon. In their wiry and ferocious War-Beast forms, they prefer to go naked or wear silk lungis or kurtas. After several spectacularly failed experiments with a Kevlar-silk hybrid armor, the elder Hanumani declared modern body armor “an unnatural contrivance.” Many families still keep traditional quilted silk and leather armor, but this is mostly for show these days, much as a European noble family might keep a dusty suit of plate armor in the library.
Their human forms are always impeccably dressed, and employ several servants for the expressed purpose of dressing them because that is servant work .
Background: Most Hanumani maintain shrines to Hanuman, or at least make pilgrimmages to the shrine often with their children to "encourage the gift". They're also trained from an early age to accept the change and the near-worshipful attitude of their families make it much easier to settle into their role.
Breed Favors: Clamber, size 4, speed 6
Breed Bonus: All Hanumani Brahman have the Magnificence Aspect for free.
Common Aspects: Alarming Alacrity, Bare Necessities, Clever Monkey, Durga's Blessing, Fortune's Favor, Hybrid Forms, Magnificence, Righting Reflex, Sexual Dimorphism, Unsettling Eye, Weaver's Wisdom.
Form Adjustments: War-Beast Str+2, Dex+3, Sta+2, Man-1, Size 5, Health+7, Speed +6, +1 to perception rolls. Primal Beast: Str+1, Dex+3, Sta+1, Man-2, size 4, Health+0, Speed+5, +1 to Perception Rolls
So he got the health calculation wrong the first time, and right the second time? Also, all hanumani Brahmen are size 4 regardless of their species. So those are either some freakishly huge lemurs or small gorillas.
The Order of the Luminous Way of Sun Wukong: Turned Tricksters
There is no way I'm going to type that out every time, assholes. More a vocation than a breed, the Order sees themselves as intermediaries between the world of beast and man like the original Sun Wukong eventually became. And any tailless simian of roughly human size is welcome to join. Why? Because we need as large a bucket as possible to fit all these groups into. Also I'm pretty sure that's a spider monkey up there which is neither human sized nor tailless. They must also accept the ascetic lifestyle and teachings of the Buddha. Using those teachings to keep them from the lower end of the Harmon scale at which point they turn into a rampaging engine of chaos, "the worst of man and beast combined".
Appearance: As fitting their ascetic lifestyle, they favor simple, colorful robes in their human guise. In their war beast guise they emulate Sun-Wukong. Though an actual suit of golden armor would be impractical, they choose to interpret that bit of the tale a bit more liberally and instead their fur takes on a golden sheen and they literally glow with an aura of golden flame.
Background: They used to keep separate monasteries for their male and female students, but their numbers have dwindled to the point where that's no longer feasible. The closed nature of other sects and the apparent need for companionship that all royal apes feel (Which they didn't have earlier in the book so sure?) drives primates from all over the world to the Order's doors. Some abandon their training after days or weeks but those who remain emerge deadly zen-like warriors. In addition to the principles of Buddhism, they also practice Shaolin Kung-Fu
I'm seriously beginning to think that this entire thing only exists because Brucato wrote "Black Kung-Fu Gorilla Monk" on the whiteboard and continued underlining it until someone finally acquiesced.
Breed Favors: Clamber, Fang and Claw1(L), Speed 6
Breed Bonus: Members of the order can use Kung Fu in their beast forms.... fuuuuckk yoooou whatever editor let this go to print.
Common Aspects: Alarming Alacrity, Catwalk, Hybrid Forms, Keen Sense, Magnificence, Pack Bond, Resilient Form, Unnerving Cry, Warrior's Restoration, Weaver's Wisdom.
Form Adjustments: War-Beast Str+2, Dex+3, Sta+2, Man-1, Size 5, Health+7, Speed +6, +1 to perception rolls. Primal Beast: Str+1, Dex+3, Sta+1, Man-2, size 4, Health+0, Speed+5, +1 to Perception Rolls
Why yes, that is literally the same stat spread as the Hanumani.
Abathakathi: The Witch-Apes
Oh boy it's time to get super racist.
Shapeshifters in West Africa have a hard lot. Between the belief among some Muslims that monkeys were once humans transmuted into animal form as punishment for theirs sins, and local superstition mixed with Christianity, any being with the Changing Gift lives in constant fear of persecution. Remote villages employ the most brutal means of driving shapeshifters and other anomalies from their midst.
Villagers saddle odd or uncanny children with the name Abathakathi (Ah-buh-tha-kath-ee; singular, umthakathi), which literally means “a mixer of medicines” but connotes an evil sorcerer or malicious being intent on harm. Cancers, AIDS, all manner of blight: Man lays blame for these at the Abathakathi’s feet. Those accused are almost exclusively girl-children. Such evil is inborn, men say, and must be snuffed out as quickly as possible. What better time than when the umthakathi is a child,when she has little
defense against fire and crowds?
Far from human society, the umthakathi cares little for the conventions of human dress. The clothes she wore when she fled quickly become a patchwork of torn cloth, bloodstains, bone and woven plant fiber. Her hair
becomes a matted nest of fleas and other insects, and she paints her skin with gray mud to disguise its natural tone.
She prefers to wander the forest in her Primal form, which often takes the shape of a mandrill. Her War-Beast form is a terrifying mixture of the Primal form and human guise. From afar, she gives the impression of an unusually tall man, but aside from her human eyes, her face is that of a mandrill: a long red stripe of nose flanked by blue flesh, and below it, a maw of saberlike incisors.
Breed Favors: Clamber, Darksight, Fang and Claw 1(L)
Breed Bonus: All of them have an affinity for Beast Magic because duh.
Common Aspects: Alarming Alacrity(again), Beast Magic, Beast Surge, Blend In, Clamber, Clever Monkey, Earthbond, Keen Sense, Nine Lives, Righting Reflex, Territory Bond, Unnerving Cry, Unsettling Eye, Weaver's Wisdom
Form Adjustments: War-Beast Str+2, Dex+4, Sta+2, Man 2, Size 5, Health+7, Speed +6, +2 to perception rolls. Primal Beast: Str+1, Dex+3, Sta+1, Man-1, size 4, Health+0, Speed+5, +1 to Perception Rolls
That isn't a typo, it just says "Manipulation 2" in the book, and the stats are almost identical to the previous two breeds except for an extra point of dex and the Manipulation, and they got the health wrong again .
As an aside, I'm willing to bet Brucato creamed himself when he got to this breed in the writer's spec.
Tothians and Babi-Ahsh: The Mane and the Stone
So the baboons are important enough to get two sub-breeds but aren't important enough to get a full writeup for some reason.
It was not Man who discovered magic, but the baboon. One of the first children of the sky, the first baboon Ahnkan-Ka mated with a falling star and produced two brothers: Aki-Toth of the Brightfi re Mane and Babi-Ya the Hooded Stone. All three baboons understood instinctually the secrets of the universe, and their descendants have used those arts ever since.
Ages later, two baboon breeds carry on that legacy. The scholarly Tothians draw inspiration from Thoth, the Egyptian god of magic and wisdom; steeped in ritual and finery, they preserve ancient rituals in the hidden heart of the Old Land. Babi-Ahsh, in contrast, run naked and screaming under an open sky; their sorcery writhes with entrails and raw meat. The eerie tales of wizard-apes beneath Cairo or rampant witch-apes in Mpumalanga may find their truth in these related breeds. Although the cousins approach their magic differently, each boasts an innate talent for the art.
The Tothians are master of captial M Magic, and are scholarly antiquarians. The Babi-Ahsh snatch baby animals and humans to sacrifice to their dark gods and are instead masters of Spirit Magic.
Breed Favors: Clamber, Darksight, Fang and Claw 1 (L)
Breed Bonus: Their Beast/Spirit magic aspects are what count here. apparently.
Common Aspects: Bare Necessities, Beast Magic, Blend In, Earthbond, Hybrid Forms, Keen Sense, Nine Lives, Shadow Bond, Truth Sense, Unsettling Eye (Tothians), Alarming Alacrity, Blend In, Catwalk, Clamber,
Culling the Weak, Earthbond, Skin Double, Spirit Gift, Spirit Secrets, Spirit Sight, Territory Bond, Unnerving Cry (Babi-Ahsh)
Form Adjustments: War-Beast Str+2, Dex+3, Sta+2, Man-2, Size 5, Health+7, Speed +6, +2 to perception rolls. Primal Beast: Str+1, Dex+3, Sta+1, Man-1, size 4, Health+0, Speed+5, +1 to Perception Rolls
My, these look suspiciously familiar. All they did was swap the manipulation penalties, somehow making them more adept at manipulating people in beast form, must be the giant red asses.
Hugranja: The Hairy Men
Their logic here appears to be "No, bigfoot doesn't exist, but if he did this is his statline". It just takes them 3 paragraphs to actually get to that point, lingering way too long on 'well man says that were-apes don't exist either, huh!? HUH!?'.
Breed Favors: Darksight, Fang and Claw 1 (L), Size 7
Breed Bonus: Since they're so good at hiding they receive two extra successes on any attempt to evade detection. I'll admit it, it's sort of clever.
Common Aspects: Blend In, Catwalk, Earthbond, Hybrid Forms, Keen Sense, Nine Lives, Shadow Bond,
Spirit Sight, Territory Bond, Weatherskin
Form Adjustments: Their primal form is the Sasquatch, which triggers the delusion as normal. The War-Beast is an even bigger angrier Sasquatch with glowing eyes, huge fangs, and a dense hide that exudes mist and smoke.
War-Beast Str+4, Sta+3, Man-2, Size 8, Health+8, Speed +4, +1 to perception rolls. Primal Beast: Str+3, Sta+2, Man-2, size 7, Health+4, Speed+3, +1 to Perception Rolls
Blessed be they got the health calculations right finally, probably because they stopped copy-pasting the first mistake.
Up Next: Arachnophobia
The Spinner Kin: Eight in Infinity for the Tying of the WebOriginal SA post
The Spinner Kin: Eight in Infinity for the Tying of the Web
Reinventing physics is not as difficult as one might think. Darkness is a crutch for those that cannot hide. Today I am feeling indulgent. I dangle in plain view, if my victim would merely look.
He pays no attention as he sighs through the boredom of his money. My contract states that he must be identifiable when I bring him in. My legs extend, and I become the poisonous compass to his well-deserved judgment. When one shops little girls out for sex and profit, it is wise to know all of your enemies . . . and potential enemies.
Some of us might be amused to liquefy you from the inside out.
I have heard he is afraid of spiders. If he wasn’t before, he will be when I am done.
Behold the Beast: Unlike other changing breeds, Arnae(for that is what they call themselves) only live for 5 years after their first change. Which seems kind of shitty just from a Player Character perspective. "Alright guys, here's the group, now you've got two years of in game time before Bob dies, hope you didn't want any downtime." In game this means that the spiders are creatures of action, they strive to be certain of the consequences of their actions before doing so, but to them inaction is literally death. Since they're such a short lived species they don't get to raise their own children, they do their best to make sure that they're cared for but the cycle of abandonment has created a society of self important loners who don't trust anyone.
To the Spinners, Arnae kin (both animal and human) are viewed more as social network ties rather than friends and family. Great tangling interconnections in business, science, literature and political manipulation are decidedly natural, yet interpersonal relations are not. Individuals are fragile; developments that bend cultures endure.
If spider-kin appear cold, it’s only natural. How could a masterpiece love lesser works of art? Certainly, the other beings that shamble and stumble through the night are worthy in their way. Sentiment, though, for such things is unseeingly. Best to discard it, as a man would put cows from his mind as he unwraps a cheeseburger.
It takes a great deal to impress an Arnae. Most beings that do catch the attentions of Spinners are generally viewed as competition for food, information or life-experience. If a person wishes to stay in the presence of an Arnae for any real length of time, she must prove herself useful, independent and intrinsically aware. Grandmother’s brood are not a forgiving lot. Forgiveness takes time and long-term patience. It is easier and more efficient to dismiss (or disembowel) problems as necessary.
I'm having trouble thinking of a reason to play as these things in a group game. Played as written they're short lived loners who kill anyone who catches their eye. In their own society, such as it is, they tend not to gather. If they do gather the eldest is in charge, unless it's a group of mixed gender, in which case it's the strongest female "as is always understood and respected."
In their human forms they show the sexual dimorphism of their animal breed. Men top out at 5 foot and 90 pounds, women average about 6 feet and 130 pounds. They're also "Lithe and beautiful" but that strikes me as more dangerously malnourished. They possess spinnerets in all of their forms because I'm sure someone, somewhere, loves the idea of a dudes pulling down his pants to squirt out a length of rope.
Their prey is everyone, they're sadistic killers who suck out organs, or poison to chase down later. They have a particular dislike for Werewolves, since they associate them with the Azlu Spider Host that thickens the walls of the world. That said the Arnae aren't exactly forthcoming with their acutal natures and try to kill Werewolves first so... They do hate the Azlu but they're not equipped to kill them as efficiently as Werewolves are.
In turn everyone hates them, because they're spiders. They're also the weavers of fate and while that makes them feel full of themselves it also makes everyone else hate them because they have those silly little notions of free will and the like. Still others would like to see Grandmother Spider's poison finally kill off the infestation known as man.
Man: Bulbous and deaf are these. They could not hear the sound of the Web singing from their actions if it was as loud as the Bells of Saint Michael’s. However, they are fun to watch.
Mages: Invest your days toward the Fates, or do not. Dabbling in the sticky oil of the Universe is a game only for children and suicidal flies.
Vampires: For all that they have a delicious sense of style, they completely lack the manners to know when they should leave the party.
Werewolves: Does doggie want to play in the big sticky net? Good boy!
Nanekisu: The Eight Nives
I think around here is the time the Editor really stopped giving a fuck because there is no consistency in this breed whatsoever.
As rare as truth, the Nanekisu are called rather than born. Warrior scholars all, these single-minded Arnae define their purpose in the defense of genuine knowledge. Found in every major center of faith and learning throughout the world, the Nanekisu are the knives that cut away the gangrene spread of propaganda and misinformation.
No single genus now claims the spear of the Nanekisu. In the beginning, all these spiders were native only to the Mediterranean regions. When their Gift manifested, they were revered as gods, monsters or both. It was a glorious time, but time has always quarreled with Spinners. As all things do, that period passed. When exploration became more and more possible for normal man, the Nanekisu bloodlines stretched across the globe. False teachings and ignorance flayed hot the souls that bore the blood and brought the Eight Knives up into every land. For those that call themselves Nanekisu (Non-eh-kee-SU), the word “calling” is too tame a word. Their vocation is more of an epiphany or divine order. Their souls demand they follow. Their skins melt to meet the needs required to do so.
Simply put, these Spinners gather information, root out falsehood and preserve what passes for “truth” as best they can. Their short lives are dedicated to this greater goal. Some enrich themselves through this calling (information may want to be free, but access to it can be quite expensive), filling huge penthouses with elaborate webs of computer networking and sticky webs; others assemble archives and place them under the keeping of human kin.
A few erase the distinctions of mortal morality, becoming syndicate bosses extraordinaire. These spiders hide their true natures in catacombs deep below their chosen cities, or fill warehouses to brimming with sparkling masterpieces. Their underlings learn quickly that finger-joints are small prices to pay for failure, compared to others that might be required. Informants and crusading cops wind up as desiccated husks or incubators for fresh generations. And then there are the gatherers themselves — restless artisans of the silent kill. Venturing out in human guise or picking their way through skyscraper landscapes, these Arne(ED: Yes, they mispell their own name) find the answers they seek. If screams are not easily understood, then such is the cost of a job well-done.
Nanekisu have long proved themselves zealots of education and dauntless defenders of the intellectual arts. Often versed in the hard sciences, history, theology or sociology, these Spinners aim to be definitive experts in their fields of choice. As warriors, they are dispassionate assassins. Just as panic murders rationality, Nanekisu kill just as quickly.
fantastic. Now let's throw all that out of the window.
As mentioned previously, there is no set racial or animal stock among the Nanekisu. All races, nationalities and arachnid species have equal chance of
serving. Continuity between their generations comes through listening, not seeing. Nanekisu believe that wisdom is found in limited speech. When one is not talking, after all one may hear. These Spinners rarely, if ever, speak . . . and if they do, it is never idle conversation.
Only in animal form is there a sign of affiliation. A scar shaped like a hand (usually in silvery white) appears on the Nanekisu cephalothorax undercarriage. This is the sign of the poisoning and the death that followed.
In War-Beast form, Nanekisu take on the appearance of information itself. So many voices, so many theories, so many arguments have made up what is now seen as the truth. So it is with the wrathful shape of its protectors. Becoming a skittering, twitching, climbing jumbled mass of arachnids, the overall shape mimics a single massive spider. Thinking as one, acting as one, the millions of tiny bodies redefine ghoulish retribution as they strike venomously against those who oppose them. The Arnae appreciate the symbolism of many lives weaving into the actions of one and the actions of one weaving into many. Those who face the horror of that War-Beast rarely do. . . .
(It’s important to note that the individual arachnids in this body are not independent. Similar to the millions of cells in the human body, one spider cannot crawl off and act in a solo capacity, and the mass cannot alter its shape. This form is, for all purposes, a single massive entity.)
Breed Favors: Fang and Claw, Many-Legged (adds +4 to Speed), Nine Lives
Breed Bonus: Their Nine Lives aspect is represented by the fact that they're really just a sentient spider swarm in human skin. They're impossible to kill.
Common Aspects: Alarming Alacrity, Blend In, Catwalk, Clever Monkey, Darksight, Earthbond, Invisible Marking, Keen Senses, Mindspeech, Natural Armor, Sense of Familiarity, Skin Double, Slumber’s Touch, Spook the Herd, Swarm Form, Truth Sense, Unsettling Eye, Unspeakable, Venomous, Wallwalking, Weaver’s Wisdom, Webbing
Form Adjustments: War-Beast : Str +3, Dex +4, Sta +3, Man –5, Size 6, Health +4, Speed +13 (species factor 9), +2 to perception rolls, Fang and Claw (bite) 1 (L)
They got the health calculation right. And they're pretty good physical powerhouses, not bad. And they've got the creep factor with the whole "spider made out of smaller spiders" thing. I just wish they were written better.
Carapaché: The Hidden Children
Before the World writhed out of its laying silks, there was Fate, waiting. As always as beginnings and as never as the ends, she watched the World struggle onto the threads of the Sky. She watched the infant World seize and devour space so it could have a place to set its traps. World wove beauty onto its face with webs of light pulled from within its own innocence. She considered her circular intentions and understood that World did not worry about consequences because it had no fear. All that it needed had been provided for it. Fate knew this should not be the way of things.
She turned upon it jealousy because jealousy takes, but does not give. She told the webs of Light that Darkness was better because it was never-ending, not trapped within the virtue of the World. She told Darkness that Light was better because it was not heavy with cold. Both Darkness and Light looked upon the other with hatred because it is easy to hate those who have what you cannot. The war began, as it had been fated before the always of beginnings and the nevers of ends.
Vibrations of war between Light and Dark sang through the web. No longer did World’s threads feel strong or its traps hidden. No longer did World feel alone and peaceful in its own self-reliance. Fear came soon after, and Fate smiled. World offered up humanity and spiders to appease the war between Light and Dark. No one knows which gift was meant for whom. Light and Dark took World’s gifts, but left Fear to lay her eggs in World’s paralyzed belly. This was the way of things, and remains so even now.
The Carapaché are almost exclusively South American, shortly before the first change they wander into the jungles get caught in a spider web, wrap themselves up, and emerge as giant recluses or tarantulas. And they rarely, if ever, change out of that form. They're all Wind Dancers and adore watching humans and supernatural creatures fight it out on the global stage. And they interfere to keep it going. A Vampire may find prey already wrapped up in webs for him. A cop may find bureaucratic red tape falling away because all his detractors are now dead. A reporter might find an envelope of evidence webbed to their car. Not a one of these people live in Marvel's New York City and should probably be suspicious of this.
They're universally Latino (or Nativo ) and preternaturally thin. They rarely wear clothing(They remind them too much of the webs from long ago) and go naked unless forced otherwise. Also they speak Spanish only if pressed. "English is a novelty at best." Their war form is a giant spider, their animal form is a significantly less giant spider.
Breed Favors: Many-Legged (adds +4 to Speed),Venomous, Webbing
Breed Bonus: They get a +2 bonus to hide from larger creatures, and all Carapaché characters have Survival and Stealth, and receive free Skill Specialties in Hiding and Jungle Survival. Basically they're so good at hiding it's actively uninteresting.
Common Aspects: Alarming Alacrity, Blend In, Catwalk, Clamber, Culling the Weak, Darksight, Invisible Marking, Keen Senses, Natural Armor, Nine Lives, Resilient Form, Spook the Herd, Truth Sense, Unsettling Eye, Unspeakable, Wallwalking
Form Adjustments: War-Beast: Dex+4, Man-5, Size 5, Speed+12, +2 to Perception rolls, Fang and Claw (bite) 1(L) plus venom Primal Beast: Str 2, Dex 4, Sta 2, Size 2, Health 5, Speed 11, +4 to Perception, Bite plus poison.
Well, one, you got the health wrong, but I'm sort of okay with that because only having four health is essentially a death sentence. Also who the fuck would want to play this character?
Chi Hsu: Mystic Webs
Yeah this is going to be super racist.
In the grand towers above Hong Kong and the vaults below Singapore, a fatal game of Go has been waging for nearly 1,300 years. Open the wrong door in Beijing or turn your head in San Francisco just a moment too soon, and you may see one of the 10,000 secrets of old Qin. Neither Communists nor emperors nor Western oafs could untangle the web of the C’hi Hsu, a venerable breed whose alchemies stop the tread of time. In the centers of those webs sit vampiric spider-witches whose arts stave off the frailty of their kind.
Not all C’hi Hsu are so blessed, of course. To reach the exalted thrones of the Great Hakka, an Arne must pass 1,000 tests as presented by a master of the breed. Given the short lifespan of spider-kin, this requirement is even more arduous than it seems. Yet some few succeed; learning the sacred alchemies of Five-Web Magic (a uniquely arachnid take on Taoist alchemy), they prolong their years and powers to impossible lengths. So doing, these “Jeweled Queens” command other, lesser C’hi Hsu to carry out mundane tasks, secure cooperation from the local communities and bind rivals in webs both symbolic and real. When an outsider meets a C’hi Hsu, it is almost certainly one of these “Young Silks.” Their elders are far too elevated to sully their feet in the gutters of Man; to even enter the presence of a Jeweled Queen’s web, a visitor must fast for three days and be perfumed in seven kinds of smoke.
Young Silks and Jeweled Queens alike, the C’hi Hsu love conspiracy. Their long lives give them much to remember and much to avenge. This may be the reason Spinner-Kin are so short-lived. Perhaps their webs were not meant to last, their poisons meant to boil in mortal frames. The Great Hakka weave a web of insult and intrigue that reaches back to the Qing Dynasty and spans from the boarders of Russia to the shores of the United States. The venerable House of Zhî even counts itself among the so-called Regencies. Yet so subtle are these designs that the flies trembling at its corners never see the spiders in the strands. The Jewel Queens have no need for haste, after all. Unlike their kin, the Jewel Queens have time.
Breed Favors: Many-Legged (+4 to Speed), Venomous, Webbing
Breed Bonus: C'hi Hsu don't have a war-beast, only having human and giant spider forms. They also all have the Occult skill and apparently get free Allies and Contacts in corporations and criminal syndicates but it doesn't describe how or how much.
Common Aspects: Alarming Alacrity, Beast Magic, Carnivore’s Puissance, Blend In, Catwalk, Clamber, Culling the Weak, Darksight, Earthbond, Invisible Marking, Keen Senses, Mercy’s Touch, Natural Armor, Nine Lives, Truth Sense, Unsettling Eye, Unspeakable, Wallwalking
Form Adjustments: Dire Beast: Dex+3, Man-5, Size 4, Speed+16, +2 to Perception rolls, Fang and Claw (bite) 1(L) plus venom
They should have lost a point of health here, but whatever. I don't forsee these guys actually ever engaging in combat.
Sicarius: Poison's Voice
Well we had Racist, now let's be sexist.
Legends claim that Poison was once the concubine of Sleep. Dressed richly in the fever dreams and delusions of early Man, she wooed Him into a false peace. She brought wakeful dreamers into states that mimicked dreaming and death. Sleep had more territory with which to travel due to her ministrations. He fell for Poison’s affections. Unfortunately, this is a legend for spiders. Poison acted as a female should. Sleep has never forgiven Her. He sent dreams from beyond the Web to his children to bind her in the hatred and death of Man. Forever in the darkness, She has grown mad. The Sicarius are Her voice. How organized madness can be if hate leads the way.
Sicarius have worked for centuries to prefect the magic of toxins. From herbalists to pharmaceutical chemists to the lethal red back spiders, these Spinners hone painlessness into pain. Understanding the power of sex as well, they are hauntingly alluring. In their bravest shape, these “spider queens” arch a full eight feet in their slender yet formidable arachnid forms. To see a Sicarius in her full glory is to finally understand hopelessness in love.
Until the turn of the 19th century, no males were born under the venom of Sicarius. Now still rare, males who are so blessed must constantly prove themselves useful and keep a watchful eye on the affairs of their betters. Some Sicarians believe that the breed’s toxins had grown too weak to pass on without the male counterpart. Many others still resent that implication. . . .
Breed Favors: Many-Legged (adds +4 to Speed), Venomous, Webbing
Breed Bonus: They only have a Dire Beast form. Also all Sicarians have Science, with a free Skill Specialty in Toxology. Which doesn't make any sense. I salivate, that doesn't mean I know how to perfectly reproduce saliva in a laboratory environment. They pulled that trick in Spider-Man and it worked because he was a fucking boy genius.
Common Aspects: Alarming Alacrity, Blend In, Catwalk, Clever Monkey, Culling the Weak, Darksight, Exoskeleton, Grave Misfortune, Hypnotic Allure, Invisible Marking, Keen Senses, Natural Armor, Partial Change, Sexual Dimorphism, Spook the Herd, Sweet-Voiced Fiend, Unsettling Eye, Unspeakable, Wallwalking
Form Adjustments: Dire Beast: Dex+4, Man-5, Size 6, Speed+8, +2 to Perception rolls, Fang and Claw (bite) 1(L) plus venom
I guess we can add speed to the list of things they don't understand. Since Big Spiders in Little China had speed 16 but these guys only have speed 8.
Regardless I think only the Spider made of Spiders even approaches a playable character and this whole chapter could have been safely excised if it wasn't pretty much required so Brucato's pack of one-shot authors could jerk off over Black Widows.
Up Next: The last chapter written by a decent author before the plunge into madness.
Ursara: Be Still! A Mountain Passes ByOriginal SA post
Ursara: Be Still! A Mountain Passes By
Denny cursed as he felt his legs go out from under him, pitching his body into the 12-foot-deep pit trap he’d set up early last evening. He landed hard on his ass, the wind knocked out of him but not much the worse for wear — other than a seriously turned ankle. He’d have to have Marva fix him up a soak when he got home after checking all his bear traps.
“Need a hand up?” a gruff voice called down to him from the forest floor.
“Yeah,” he said, extending his arm toward the proffered hand, a broad, firm-gripping appendage that hoisted him out of the pit with no apparent effort.
“Thanks,” he said, once he stood on his feet again. “My name’s Denny Gorvis,” he said. “What’s y’orn?”
“You don’t need to know that,” the big stranger replied. “I moved the deadfall to the pit,” he said, “just so you’d land in your own trap. I figured I’d give you a little taste of your own medicine before I give you a good dose of mine.” His broad face broke out into a smile that somehow wasn’t happy and cheerful but grim and justified.
To Denny’s horror, the man grew in size until he lowered over Denny like an avenging mountain. The trapper tried to scream, but no sound came out except a tiny, mewling plea
“Sorry,” a voice growled in his mind. “Sorry was yesterday. Today it’s goodbye.”
Hooray for having the Writer who wrote the Pack chapter back. Sadly she'll be going away after this, enjoy it while you can.
Behold the Beast: The Bearkin have both aided and hindered man in their time upon this earth. They watched from afar as Man fought their way from cave to castle, but they push back when they see their Ursine kin displaced by man's advancement. Legends of the Bear-Folk stretch back into ancient times, when man first moved into caves to find shelter. There they fought bears, or came to terms. Shaman burned fires and cast ancient rituals to appease the beasts inside. To face a Bear and Live marked you as divine. And the ancient Nords wore the bear shirts into battle, filled with a primal fury and insanity that drove them to the brink of madness. Few blessings are as powerful, or dangerous, as bears. Bear is a powerful totem in almost every culture it appears in. Only Lion, Wolf, Tiger, and Raven can match his hold on Man's imagination. But bear is as much a totem of lonesome solitude as he is one of rampaging might. And having man's respect is not the same thing as having his devotion.
Also they don't explicitly mention bestiality. So
The bears tend not to stray far from their native lands, though some do travel. They see more value in staying home and fighting tooth and claw (literally) for the land lost by their endangered kin. Bears can fight a mountain lion and live. But pollution, deforestation, and climate change are not things with a throat you can rip out, so the bears must use other means.
In their human shape, the Ursara tend to tower over normal humans. Even those kin to Black Bears make up in mass and presence what they lack in height. They're exceptionally strong and deliberate in their movements. They tend towards deep voices. Men growl, and women "speak with the vocal range of a coloratura soprano and the carrying power of an Amtrak." They tend to make supporting and nurturing mates and parents. Excellent teachers and doctors. But even the kindest bear has an edge, a limit that you do not want to push it past.
Thematically Bears have often been associated with Death and Rebirth, through their process of Hibernation. Even the most spiritually tonedeaf Ursara tends to attract spirits, and they're second only to the Uratha Werewolves in their faculty for spirit magic.
Ursara prefer to live alone, except when raising their children. Once a Mountain Claw reaches self sufficiency they tend to move out on their own. This is normal for Bears but not so much for their Human kin. Though they do still visit their human relations, there's always a certain edge to such visits that means that while their presence is welcome, their leaving is moreso. Bears tend to accept the presence of the Ursara, provided they don't overstay their welcome or eat all the game. The exception to this rule is, of course, Polar Bears, which tend to live in groups anyway.
What culture they have of their own is one of solitude and isolation, but they're not idiots. They know the internet exists, and will use technology to stay in touch and call for help if necessary. They do not gather unless necessary, but when they do it is a celebration with feasts, storytelling, gossip, gift-giving, and ritual dances. If they do need a leader, it is almost always the eldest amongst them. But if there is a challenge for dominance it is almost always to the death. When the need for leadership passes the Alpha steps down and the Bears go back to their homes.
Man: Long ago, Man looked to us as gatekeepers to the lands of Death. Perhaps he needs to be shown the way there more often.
Mages: Too much power in such a small vessel. Who picks up the pieces when it explodes?
Vampires: Only Man refuses to die. We can fix that.
Werewolves: The bond between us is as ancient as the hills. Their teeth are sharp, but I will not “forsake” them.
Yonah: The Dead Daughter
The unfortunate end result when you drop a Dragon in downtown Japan.
Cosby: The Black Neighbors
You're pretty sure the dad is a rapist.
Yonah: The Black Neighbors
The Black Bear kin are the most even tempered of the Ursara. And sometimes choose to live in the fast paced world of man if need arises. Otherwise they prefer their rustic cabins, or to live with their Native American kin.
As youths they have an uncanny sense of wonder and play, almost as if they know they need to cram their childhoods full of as much youthful joy as possible before they need to take on their adult responsibilities. With their first change the weight of the world falls on their shoulder, and they begin to find their purpose in life. Some choose to look after their Bear-kin specifically, ensuring their survival and cracking down on those that over-hunt or exploit them. Others plunge into environmental issues and (groan)"Inconvenient Truths". And...
Others, less civic-minded, retreat to the wilderness to reclaim the name of Bear from such over-coddled ninnies.
Anyways, they prefer to keep their claws clean but they will, when forced, remind people that Nature does still have claws at it's command.
Appearance: Their human appearance depicts their rural pedigree. Native American stock with a little bit of european settler mixed in. They prefer cloting made from natural fibers and I guess you would too if the alternative was running around naked. Their primal form is a regular black bear. And their War-Form is a huge bipedal man-bear 7 feet tall at the shoulder and weighing in at nearly half a ton with 5 inch claws. So don't cuddle the teddy bear unless you're damned sure it's not going to eat you.
Background: The Yonah are more personable than most, even their Bear-kin are more accepting of them than the would be of the other Ursara. To a native family that has a Yonah born amongst them constitutes a great honor, but they always recognize that the child does not belong only to them. In such families their first change is a bittersweet celebration. But outside of such upbringings they can turn into bitter loners after their family casts them out.
Breed Favors: Fang Bite 3(L) and Claw 2(L), Natural Armor 2/1, Size 6
Breed Bonus: One free social skill specialty!
Common Aspects: Beast Surge, Birth Blessing, Culling the Weak, Durga’s Blessing, Earthbond, Hound’s Honor, Magnificence, Mother’s Fury, Sexual Dimorphism, Shadow Bond, Spirit Animal, Spirit Gift, Spirit Secrets, Spook the Herd, Tell (Powerful Frame), Territory Bond, Twisted Tongue, War Heart, Warrior’s Restoration, Weatherskin
Form Adjustments: War-Beast: Str+4, Sta+4, Size 7, Health+6, Speed +7, +1 to Perception Rolls Primal Beast: Str+2, sta+2, Size 6, Health +3, +2 to Perception Rolls.
They actually got the Health Calculations right! And the breed as written isn't terrible! Huzzah! Though having access to a 3(L) attack seems a bit much, all the bear folk get it so I'm not going to hold it against them specifically. They are a bit more powerful than Uratha but they're not the strongest thing in this writeup by a large margin.
Nanuq: The Icy Hearts
As the biggest bear this side of the Grizzly, the Ursara that share Polar Bear blood are Apex-Predators. But their "Icy Hearts" name describes more their love of cold climates than their temperaments. They love traveling in groups and they never lose the sense of "play" that they have as children. Unfortunately their preferred prey don't exactly survive "playtime". Their harsh living conditions have turned the Polar Bear almost entirely carnivorous to get the large concentrations of meat and fat it needs to survive the winters. And..uhh.. "Nanuq aren't shy about adding humans to their diet of seals and walrus. Given recent events, humans may, in fact, be the first items on a Nanuq's menu." I'm not sure if the person who wrote this chapter was consulted when they wrote the Hierarchy of sins for Harmony.
Despite the popular apeal of Polar Bears, the Nanuq are exceedingly rare. Born almost exclusively to Inuit or Yupik people, the "gift" of a white pelt seems reserved for those who have lived on the ice for ages. But a smattering of "White-White Bears" have been born in recent years, and they face scorn from their "pure-blood" cousins. Seen as interlopers at best, and spiritual opponents at worst, the European bear-folk find themselves chased southward or killed as harbingers of the final age of the Ghost Bears.
Appearance: As mentioned, they tend to be of Native blood. Short and stocky they prefer the clothes of their tribal past rather than modern gear. Oilskin clothing, parkas and windbreakers made from sealskin and dog fur. They are consummate artists and excellent survivors, smiling easily but holding resentment deep when it is justified. Their beast form is a polar bear, so they're huge, over 1300 pounds and from 7-10 feet in height. Their War-Beast form is even bigger, 10 feet in height, doubling their weight, and turning their rage up to 11.
Background: After their first change, the Nanuq are 'adopted' by a Mated Pair of Icy Hearts and perhaps one or two other "Foster Children". THey spend the next several years traveling and learning the lore of the Nanuq and their human tribes. Unfortunately they also learn that the ice caps are melting and their ancestral cultures are being lured away by "technology" and deceptively easy living. If there is ever a war between the Ursara and Man, the Nanuq will be the ones leading the charge.
Breed Favors: Fang Bite 3(L) and Claw 1(L), Natural Armor 2/1, Size 7
Breed Bonus: One free survival specialty in arctic surroundings
Common Aspects: Aww!!!, Beast Surge, Birth Blessing, Blend In, Culling the Weak, Durga’s Blessing, Earthbond, Keen Senses, Magnificence, Mother’s Fury, Sexual Dimorphism, Shadow Bond, Spirit Gift, Spirit Secrets, Tell (Silver-white Hair), Territory Bond, Twisted Tongue, Unspeakable, War Heart, Warrior’s Restoration, Weatherskin
Form Adjustments: War-Beast: Str+5, Sta+5, Size 8, Health+8, Speed +6, +1 to Perception Rolls Primal Beast: Str+4, Sta+4, Size 7, Health +6, +1 to Perception Rolls.
At first I thought "wow this is kind of racist" but it does seem that's somewhat the point. They're basically a slightly better written Wendigo from W:TA. And using the metric of "Everything else written in this book", "resents the encroachment of the white man on their native lands" is well written.
Storm Bears: The Howling Heart
These guys are basically were-dire-bears, or Ursus Spelaeus. It doesn't really matter. 10 feet tall in Primal Beast and 15 feet tall in the War-Form. If while they may be a loving parent, and a good friend, if they get pissed off your best chance is to point them at someone you hate and run
Breed Favors: Fang Bite 3(L) and Claw 2(L), Natural Armor 3/2, Size 8
Breed Bonus: ...
No he does not.
Common Aspects: Beast Surge, Culling the Weak, Durga’s Blessing, Earthbond, Keen Senses, Magnificence, Mother’s Fury, Needleteeth, Nine Lives, Sexual Dimorphism, Shadow Bond, Spirit Secrets, Spook the Herd, Tell (Burly and Surly), Territory Bond, Tiger Heart, Unnerving Cry, Unspeakable, War Heart, Warrior’s Restoration, Weatherskin
Form Adjustments: War-Beast: Str+6, Sta+5, Size 8, Health+8, Speed +6, +1 to Perception Rolls Primal Beast: Str+4, Sta+4, Size 7, Health +6, +2 to Perception Rolls.
These guys are a collection of stats masquerading around as a breed. And to their credit they didn't try to mock up some fake justification. They're just angry super-bears that are probably there to kill people.
Up Next: Deerhoof Antlerdude's Beercan Penis
Wind-Runners: Who Can Tame the Wind?Original SA post
Wind-Runners: Who Can Tame the Wind?
So you know how you guys were complaining about the Nanuq?
“His leg is shattered beyond repair,” Marcannon told the attending veterinarian. “I brought him home, but you need to put him down. He’s no good to himself or to me.”
Dr. Steed looked down at the injured horse, its flanks heaving in pain, then at the stable owner. “I think I can save him,” she said, her voice steady though her eyes misted over.
Marcannon shook his head. “It would cost more than he’s worth. Now do what I’m paying you for.”
Epona Steed rose to her full height, facing a man whose judgment she had occasion to question more than once. “No,” she said. Before the stable owner’s eyes, the slim animal doctor grew taller and bulkier, sprouting a second pair of legs along a lengthening backbone.
Marcannon’s eyes widened in fear. A creature out of myth stood before him. “My friends are coming to take him off your hands,” she said, using her physical bulk to back the cowering man into a corner of the stall. She reared up on her hind legs and tapped the man with a hoof, sending him down to the ground in a groaning heap. “I’ll bill you for the cost of his death,” she said. “Now he belongs to me.”
Behold the Beast: The really bad part of the book again.
They speak to us of a swiftness we can never know except through them, a speed that comes from surging muscles, powerful hindquarters and relentlessly pounding hooves. They endow the role of quarry with nobility. Within their blood courses the essence of the Hunt — but from the view of the Hunted. In their feral forms, they appear as horses, stags or deer, elk, zebra and other species that reach perfection of form only when they run. Yet they also stand for freedom, the reward for surviving a hunt or the sheer joy of galloping far and wide, either alone or with a group.
Anyways, the legend goes that All the Wind Runners gathered to talk about what they should do with this crazy new creature named "Man". The wind runners include Horses, Zebras, Elk, and Deer.
I'm just going to step aside here and say that these thematic subdivisions are stupid as hell. Genetically, Horses and Cervidae are about as distantly related as you can get with non-carnivorous mammals. Deer are more closely related to Whales and Hippos than they are to Zebra. Not included in this book: Rules for Zebra, Whales, or Hippos.
Anyways, back at the meeting of "Four legged animals that are mostly brown except when they're Zebras", horses said that Mankind are touched by the divine, so they will work along side them and teach them the wisdom of the wild. The Deer/Gazelle/Okapi/Elk/Reindeer/Caribou spirits (uggghhhh) all joined together and said "hey these assholes hunt us, fuck this shit." and ran away.
A very few others placed themselves in the hands of the Wind Daughters, their patrons. “Let those who we honor most choose our position in the lives of fearful men.” The Daughters turned these Wind-Runners over to Lightning, who called them Sukuku after himself, and then set them in the heart of Africa with instructions to remind the people that life consists of constant changes, that drought gives way to sudden rains, to recall that prosperity spirals downward into failure, and attest that no one can ever rest totally without fear. These few gave rise to the zebras, whose black-and-white coats are constant testimonies to the duality of existence.
Unlike many other feral breeds, whose War-Beast stands upright (or nearly so), Wind-Runners often retain the quadruped form that seems to fl ow from the torso of their human form. These are the centaurs of myth, part man and part-horse, wise in the ways of learning and war. In wilder and sometimes two-legged guise, they become the Master of the Wild Hunt or the Horned Man with the body of a giant stag and the head and torso of an antlered man.
The herd instinct is strong so they like to stick with their family, friends, and kin. "Kentucky horse farms managed by Wind-Runners and their human companions rarely sell their stock to other humans, but work instead through careful breeding to improve and strengthen the blood." to what end, precisely? Weren't you guys railing against the "Folly of man imposing his will on beasts" earlier? It's okay when you're doing it to your direct spiritual relatives I guess. Eugenics is fun! Cervids sometimes live with their wild herds, or take jobs in wildlife management. Equines gravitate either to the "horsey set" whose lives gravitate around horse racing, dressage, and steeplechases, or the "Ranchero" societies who adhere to the spirit of a bygone century (weren't you guys just complaining about people abusing horses?) In the wild females will group together but males will maybe have one or two friends but treat all other men as rivals. How many fucking Wind-Runners are there that they can gather in numbers populous enough to be a herd and for there to be several of them?
All Wind-Runners are attractive "sometimes to a fault" and project an aura of tightly coiled power. They look strong but "light" like they could walk on the wind who's name they bear. Also everyone who isn't a fucking horse are "caged power and nervous energy, combined with hyper-awareness of their surroundings." They're all also super intelligent and have quick minds because, again, Chiron. "Though not always contemplative or philosophical, these folk excel in strategy and tactics, intuitive flashes of brilliance and associative leaps of though and practical (if sometimes unusual) applications of theory." They mention that the Equestri are usually powerfully built in their human forms, descended as they are from Draft Horse breeds. But there are no draft-horse equestri anywhere in this book.
Most Wind-Runners are strict vegitarians, and prefer bland food to keep in "running trim". They're often the prey of wild wolves and other predators, but they mostly win out unless they're being hunted by another shapeshifter."
For this breed, as with so many others, the greatest danger comes from Man. The allure of trophy-hunting and the rituals of “manhood” — survival traits turned to vanity — have turned the forests into slaughterhouses. The vast difference between one man with a bow and five men with submachine guns sets a hostile edge to the hunter-hunted equation. In recent years, Wind-Runners have begun to settle that score with increasing ruthlessness. Traps, ambushes and the popular “helpless-human-becomes-trampling-monster” ploy make up for the breed’s traditional lack of aggression.
Man: For better or worse, our fates are intertwined. Yet until they learn better respect than what they have shown, we rush toward an abyss.
Mages: Capable of greatness, yet often blinded by their own splendor.
Vampires: Their death-stink sticks like shit to ragged hooves.
Werewolves: Wolves are wolves. We may share a fated dance, but they don’t always have to lead it.
Uchchaihshravi: The Sharp-Eared Ones
These are based off of Uchchaihshravas the 7 headed winged horse of Hindu mythology. To their great detriment, they aren't 7 headed winged death monsters, they're just centaur. According to them, Indra tore off the horse's wings and gave them to humanity, they are the result of that and see it as their duty to return freedom to all horses. They hate all confinement and long to run free and compete with their peers.
Appearance: They're almost entirely of Indian or Semitic descent, though those descended from the Arabian horse look middle eastern. Their primal form is just a really big horse. "Anyone who knows horses, and many people who don't, can understand that a sharp spur dig at such a creature would be suicide." Spurring any wild horse would probably be an intensely bad idea, yes. Their War-Beast form is a Centaur.
Background: They're gregarious, and form their own societies within human cultures. They instincitvely gravitate to all things equestrian even before their first change. The men often lead even in less patriarchical societies but "females press their advantage, often becoming champion riders or trainers by early adolescence."
Breed Favors: Fang and Claw (bite) 1(L), Size 7, Speed 12.
Breed Bonus: They can knock people down with their hooves, and have 4 legs which means they move faster!
Common Aspects: Alarming Alacrity, Aww!!!, Durga’s Blessing, Fortune’s Favor, Magnificence, Pack Bond, Shadow Bond, Spirit Sight, Stampede Rush, The Wild Cry (Equines), Unsettling Eye, War Heart
Form Adjustments: War-Beast: Str+3, Dex+1, Sta+3, Man-1, Size 8, Health+6, Speed+11, +1 to Perception Primal Beast: Str+2, Sta+3, Man-1, Size 7, Health+4, Speed+9, +1 to Perception Rolls.
Why the hell is the archetypical Centaur given a Hindu name , even if they apparently stretch from India to Palestine shouldn't the Centaur be Greek? Or at least from Europe? They're smacking together Greek and Indian mythology very sloppily and it bothers me.
Alces: The Horned Harbingers
You know why there are two different animals called Elk? Early european explorers came to the Americas, saw a larger deer, and said "yeah that's an elk", but then they saw what was actually an elk, a Moose, and no one actually bothered to make any of this less confusing. Also apparently no one told the artist who drew this what an Elk actually was because she drew this guy with deer antlers.
Also these guys are what happens when a god uses the pull out method.
Long ago, it’s been said, the Horned God lay with the Great Earth Mother. Where his seed scattered, beasts sprang up with vast antlers like the Lord himself. Although their antlers could not span the sky as his did, they nevertheless challenged the trees to grow to ever-more luxuriant size. The hooves of these mighty beasts shook the grown, and where they struck, springs fl owed and fl owers grew. Such was the creative power of the Elken-volk that Man himself was both humbled and aroused. To capture some of that virility for himself, the bravest hunter stalked the largest elk. They fought until sunrise, shattering the forest as they fought, and when the Great Mother saw what had been done, she turned them both into a single beast and charged him to watch over Nature’s restoration. In time, as dying souls lost their way to the Otherworld, the elk’s descendants took that duty on as well. In the process, some Harbingers became heralds of prophecy. To this day, the Alces roam the forests and hidden places, guarding Nature’s secrets and helping those forests bloom again.
Appearance: They're tall and lanky with big bones and handsome faces. Both male and female exude auras of unbelievable fertility. Their primal form is a fucking huge moose. 7 feet tall(!) at the shoulder, and 12 feet long. Their war beast form...
In War-Beast form, this beast displays his lineage to the Horned God. Growing to eight feet or more in height, the beast bulks up to monumental proportions. Unlike many other Wind-Runners, this beast remains bipedal but bristles with muscles and fur. Both male and female Elken-volk sprout tremendous antlers in the War-Beast shape, and these horns crackle with tiny bolts of lightning across their surfaces. All impressions of thoughtfulness depart from the Alce’s face in this form. All that remains are menace and imminent attack.
Background: They occasionally gather in groups, usually of the same sex, for mutual protection. Mating is a formal affair wrapped in age old customs, but pair bonds are short lived. Usually long enough to sire a child or two and then they go their separate ways. "For this reason, unmarried mothers were often called Sky-Bearers by the Scandinavian and Slavic tribesmen who knew the Alces well" My bullshit sensors are going off...
Breed Favors: Fang and Claw (antlers) 3(L), Size 10, Speed 10
Breed Bonus: They're freaking huge, also hooves so they knock people down.
Common Aspects: Beast Surge, Birth Blessing, Blend In, Earthbond, Keen Sense, Magnificence, Shadow Bond, Slumber’s Touch, Spirit Gift, Spirit Secrets, Spirit Sight, Stampede Rush, Territory Bond
Form Adjustments: War-Beast: Str+4, Sta+4, Man-2, Size 10, Health+9, Speed+9, +1 to Perception Primal Beast: Str+3, Sta+3, Man-3, Size 10, Health+8, Speed+8, +1 to Perception Rolls.
While I agree that moose are the heavy hitters of the Cervidae world, those are some insane stats, also 3L horns? fuck.
And if you thought it was odd that the god of fertility wouldn't have an absolutely massive schlong, you're not the only one. Because apparently fans of this book got in touch with the author.
The original to this didn't have the penis as it was for a book interior. After I read a comment that said, It looks like he has a tribble on his crotch, I knew I HAD to give him his manhood back. So far, everyone seems pleased with the results.
I could go off at length about how the art director shouldn't have asked for a piece with a horse man thrusting his groin at the camera, or that he probably shouldn't have asked for said artwork from a woman with an unhealthy obsession for my little pony but I'm just going to leave that picture there and move on.
Flidaisin: The WIld Watch
The Flidaisin are were-deer, all were-deer. Yup let's just slap an irish name onto a breed that steals inspiration from greek culture. They are consummate hunters... of man... killing enough hunters to make sure that their animal kin stay alive. Which seems to me like a bunch of bullshit.
Appearance: North American Flidaisin can come from any ethnic background, but tend to have large eyes, alert expressions, and placid seeming natures. Their primal beast form is a larger deer, males have massive racks (12 or 14 point bucks) while females have prominant nubs. (I'm sure their human forms also have massive racks, fortunately they did not make that joke here)
Their war beast form, however.
The War-Beast (or Cernunnian) form resembles a naked human with the head of a deer. As with the Elken-volk, both male and female Flidaisin exhibit formidable antlers, which form their most effective physical weapons. The more impressive armaments of this breed, however, come from inside their heads. Such beasts are fabulously cunning, and despite their “meek and mild” image, there’s nothing gentle about a Flidaisin in her War-Beast form.
Perhaps it’s their affinity for human beings, but for some reason many Flidaisins attain intermediary forms in addition to the usual three. Throwback deer-folk resemble slender, graceful humans with large eyes, thick hair, elfin features and a deeply feral scent. Meanwhile, the Dire Beast form resembles a gargantuan deer with exceedingly large, thick antlers.
Background: They're universally excellent athletes, excelling at running, hurdling, and any other test of endurance. Also in any social grouping the strongest male is the de-facto ruler.
Breed Favors: Keen Sense 2, Size 6, Speed 10
Breed Bonus: Males have 3(L) antlers, all of them get the Striking Looks merit in human form, and they have hooves.
Common Aspects: Aww!!!, Beast Magic (black deer tend toward Death, Fate and Time; white deer have Life, Spaces and Spirit), Birth Blessing, Blend In, Catwalk, Earthbond, Hare Heart, Mercy’s Touch, Pack Bond, Spirit Secrets, The Wild Cry (Deer), Toss the Scent, Truth Sense, Unnerving Cry, Unsettling Eye
Form Adjustments: War-Beast: Str+2, Dex+3, Sta+2, Man-1, Size 6, Health+3, Speed+5, +3 to Perception Primal Beast: Str+2, Dex +3, Sta+3, Man-1, Size 6, Health+4, Speed+10, +3 to Perception Rolls.
Whatever, I just want this chapter to be over with.
Takuskansa: The Raging Storm
Fun nature fact: while horses were originally native to North America, they died out roughly 12,000 years ago. They were re-introduced to the Americas with Columbus.
So the fact that they're doing Native American Centaurs anyway is kind of doubly dumb. Even more so because they're apparently just European centaurs that came over with their horse kin and started breeding into the Native Americans and adopting their culture. Also they all have a strong bond with the spirit realm.
Breed Favors: Fang and Claw (bite) 1(L), Size 7, Speed 12
Breed Bonus: All of them have Empathy 3 or higher, also hooves.
Common Aspects: Alarming Alacrity, Earthbond, Leap, Magnificence, Mercy’s Touch, Shadow Bond, Spirit Sight, Stampede Rush, Unsettling Eye, War Heart, Warrior’s Restoration
Form Adjustments: War-Beast: Str+3, Dex+2, Sta+3, Man-1, Size 8, Health+6, Speed+12, +1 to Perception Primal Beast: Str+2, Dex+3, Sta+3, Man-1, Size 7, Health+4, Speed+12, +1 to Perception Rolls.
They're more dexterous than baseline Centaur, that's it. There is no reason for this breed to exist separate from the normal Centaur write up. Also why do they keep depicting people in their war forms doing things that the war form explicitly prohibits them from doing?
Next Up: Phil Brucato's The Birds
Wing-Folk: Thieves and Tricksters, allOriginal SA post
Wing-Folk:Thieves and Tricksters, all
Note: Not all wingfolk are Thieves or Tricksters.
Mickey Frank woke on a metal cot in the field hospital. He looked down in fascination at the band of cotton dressing wrapped around his middle, darkened in the middle where blood was beginning to seep through. He could feel the morphine coursing through his bloodstream. Adele, the nurse he had taken to the USO show not a few days ago, stood at the foot of his bed, watching him sleep. But wait, no, the woman at his side wasn’t a nurse. His watcher was clothed in white, like Florence Nightingale from his boyhood history books, not in the dull army green he knew so well. And yet, something in her reminded him of Adele. The sharpness of her dark eyes, the downy skin of her long neck as she bent over him, tender and powerful. “You,” he whispered against her skin.
She spread her arm as if waiting for his embrace, and here her limbs multiplied into hundreds of pale arms, ending in fingers shapely as feathers. Beyond her head, the field hospital was gone, transformed into the eternal twilight at the end of the world, shot through with magnetic bands of shifting color. “Come,” she said. Not-Adele twined her neck around his throat, enfolded his body in her million-fi ngered arms, pressing him to her breast. “No, wait,” he said, but the muscles of her neck and wings tightened further, until he saw only blackness and stars, and the beat of wings bore him away.
Behold the Beast: So apparently man has always looked to the beasts of the air for signs and portents of what to come, since man cannot govern the flight of birds and bats they therefore are the surest way to divine one's fate. And since they are the diviners of fate man has rarely sought to do them harm. I don't think "Sought" is the thing to take away here, more like "was unable to", we've hunted birds ever since we figured out how spears work. The ones we don't hunt either don't have enough meat to be worthwhile, or are right bastards like the Swan.
Mankind has turned birds into their gods, or relations to their gods, since the dawn of time. And bats as well, though in lesser number due to bats being less widespread. Wing-folk give no fucks about that because they can fly, they don't have to give a fuck about gravity or what stupid land bound mammals think. Which is good because man is forever jealous of the bird, cause it can fly. But they don't kill birds because of ANCIENT SANCTIONS. anyone who violates these ANCIENT SANCTIONS is usually paid a visit by the wing-folk and killed. They don't give a fuck about chickens, though. We can eat them.
They tend to live in cavernous spaces, or high places. The Vagahuir bat-folk apparently love huge open rooms with lots of soft spaces where they can nest and cuddle with their kin, both human and beast. Bird shifters are kelptos and decorate their nests with all sorts of shiny stolen things. Since apparently they're all Corvids. All wingfolk have an elevated opinion of themselves, so whenever multiple breeds gather they all argue about who's the best at everything. They mention the Fraternal Order of Horus were-falcons who are basically the freemasons. But they don't get writeups.
Wing-folk are very territorial, and since they can fly everything is their territory if they want it to be. As far as what they eat.
Their dishes are as varied as those of humans, though many Wing-Folk prefer a diet heavy in meat. Most Westerners would consider their specialties “weird”: poached mouse, live ants wrapped in succulent leaves, fricassee of rattlesnake. However, Wing-Folk also enjoy fresh fish and eel, making sushi and sashimi restaurants popular gathering places for Wing-Folk worldwide.
Naturally, the Spinner-Kin and smaller specimens of the Riverkin and Serpentine breeds feel uneasy around the Wing-Folk. Although it’s unlikely that a winged feral would eat another feral of a different breed out of mere hunger, they do feed on ferals’ animal kin. Larger Wing-Folk, such as falcons, bats and owls, have been known to cannibalize smaller winged ferals in fits of rage.
They talk at length about Wing Folk society but it can be summed up as "Bird are all fucking assholes and schemers who actually do not care if their followers and kin die, as long as they aren't their direct relatives. Also they hate each other and have no real solidarity in any form." Which contradicts the whole "Avenge bird murder" thing they were talking about in the first few paragraphs. However it then says that birds are loyal to their mates and mate for life and.... Fucking christ this is the very next paragraph Either they care or they don't! Make up your minds! Avian ferals almost always have female alphas. And they don't give two fucks about challenges for dominance, because they think they're awesome and need to be repeatedly beaten back down if they get uppity.
Man: Man is a mere page in the vast tome of our people’s history.
Mages: They could achieve more if they weren’t afraid to get their hands messy. True magic requires sacrifice.
Vampires: No good for food, no use as servants. What use is something undead?
Werewolves: What have we to fear from creatures bound to the earth?
Gente Alada: The Bright Assassins
Aztec Warrior Hummingbirds, yeah this is going to be ridiculously racist.
The people of Guatemala say the quetzal bird once sang more sweetly than any other beast in creation. But when the Spanish conquered the Americas, the quetzal ceased to sing, its melodies replaced by a harsh cry. Men say the quetzal will regain its beautiful voice only when its people are free from bondage. The Gente Alada, literally “winged folk,” are echoes of the quetzal’s promise. Warriors in the form of quetzal and hummingbird ferals, this “breed” (really a sect united by common origin) fights under the banner of ancient Aztec deities: Huitzilopochtli, god of war and the sun; Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent, who embodies both heaven and earth in his form; and Mictlantecuhtli, lord of the dead.
The Aztecs believed Huitzilopochtli called the souls of warriors killed in battle and women who died in childbirth to serve him. These souls could later return to earth for a brief time as hummingbirds or butterflies. Hummingbird warriors among the Gente Alada believe themselves to be these spirits, returned to earth for a brief tenure and charged with bringing about an end to Man’s dominion over Nature. When the regional headquarters of a multinational corporation poised to clear-cut a forest mysteriously catches fire, or explosives rock a mile-high dam, devotees of Huitzilopochtli are certain to have had a hand in the destruction.
Mictlantecuhtli also attracts his share of followers from the ranks of the quetzal and hummingbirds, as well as some owls. Devotees of the lord of the dead have gone beyond the ritual cardiophagy popular among the quetzal to full-out cannibalism of their human kin. Unlike the quetzals, the devotees of the lord of the dead don’t confi ne themselves to strategic murders of powerful men. To these hummingbird warriors, all humans are a threat to the devotees’ kind. They move in darkness, picking off members of the human race at random. Often, the victims are the poor and vagrant, whose deaths are unlikely to attract attention to their murderers. The more the devotees of the lord of the dead kill, the more souls they have delivered to serve the lord of the dead.
Apperance: When Tecún Umán, the warrior prince of the Maya Quiché was slain by the Spanish, his Nahual, a quetzal, flew down and dipped its chest feathers in the prince’s blood, marking its kind with blood-red chests for all time. So they all wear red shirts. The Quetzal War-Beast form sprouts verdant green wings and a spiked crest of feathers, though they keep their human legs and chest. So they paint their chests red. The Hummingbird War-Form has a needle thin beek which they use to spear their foes hearts in battle. Devotees of Mictlantecuhtli clothe themselves in drab colors so they don't draw attention to themselves. Oh, also i should point out that they don't have hands in their war forms... so...
Ferals who take hummingbird form populate all of Central America. They are the most numerous among the Gente Alada. Meanwhile, the heart of quetzal culture radiates from Guatemala, where people regard the bird highly. The cult of Mictlantecuhtli has followers throughout the world, and though they are less numerous outside of Central America, their doctrine is beginning to catch on among young ferals of other nationalities and species. Followers of Mictlantecuhtli may be rare in Poland or Japan, for example, but thanks to the “virtual wings” of Internet culture, they’re beginning to make their presence known.
Unlike other Gente Alada, Mictlantecuhtli’s followers kill their human progeny at birth, delivering them directly into the hands of their god. Thus the world is rid of Man’s evil, and Mictlantecuhtli’s kingdom prospers. Initiates into the cult of the death god often must kill a human relative in order to be accepted into the fellowship of Mictlantecuhtli’s followers. Devotees of Huitzilopochtle and Quetzalcoatl regard these practices as barbaric. In fact, most Wing-Folk would consider the murder or ritual sacrifice of their own relatives, especially their young, a sacrilege.
By comparison the Gente Alada just teach their human children how to use demolitions since their Shifter children can't set dynamite without hands... also they can't do that in the war-form anyway but I really need to stop being surprised when they forget about the whole "battle rage blood lust" thing.
Breed Favors: Fang and Claw (Beak) 1(L) (Talons)2(L), Speed 10, Wings
Breed Bonus: All ferals of the Gente Alada are required to take Brawl, Weaponry, and Academics, but they get free specialties in Close Combat, Silent Kills, and Aztec History. (which is an incredibly clunky way to do things, just saying) also they're all tiny as hell so they get +2 to hiding.
Common Aspects: Alarming Alacrity, Carnivore’s Puissance, Earthbond, Grave Misfortune, Keen Sense (Sight), Mindmap, Resilient Form, Size 3, Swift Wing, Tell (Bright Colors), Territory Bond, The Wild Cry (Birds), Totem Guardian (Hummingbird), Truth Sense, Unsettling Eye
Form Adjustments: War Beast: Str+2, Dex+4, Speed+7, +2 to Sight Perception Primal Beast: Dex+5, Size 3, Health 4, Speed 12, +2 to Sight Perception
Uhhh.. They didn't give them set Strength and Stamina adjustments. So they shouldn't just have 4 health. Also that means that you can have a swole as fuck hummingbird with 5 strength, so we can laugh at that right after the whole... racist murder cult thing.
Corvians: Dark and Pretty Thing
In the days before Creation, when all was black and void, a part of that black void detached itself from the rest and began to fly. Its first caw cracked the Nothingness, and all other things began. So goes the tale the crow-folk cackle to themselves. Whether or not they believe the story or consider it one more raucous joke at Man’s expense remains a mystery.
So yeah, raven/crow shifters. He's apparently the original creator deity, he found humans, stole the sun from it's original keeper, cracked the egg that held our world, dropped the stone that became land into the sea, etc. He's also the devil's wingman, Lilith's lover, a stealer of souls, a demon. Or he's none of those things, BECAUSE ISN'T THAT THE BEST JOKE OF ALL!? LYING!?
They're soul-guides and spies, if they can keep their interest in anything long enough for it to matter. They're also all perceptive and good at solving puzzles. And they pay some lip service to Huginn and Muninn, because it would frankly be weird if they didn't.
Appearance: Regardless of what kind of Corvid they are (magpies, rooks, jackdaws, ravens, and crows are all namedropped) they're all beautiful . In human form they all wear at least some article of black, be it jewlery or clothing. Some are consummate goths, others dress in finery, but again they're all beautiful .
They don't have a war form, instead they've got a humanoid crow-man throwback. And either a giant human sized crow dire-beast form, or they turn into a flock of birds. But not both.
Background: So in addition to being universally beautiful. They're all smart. And they're all rebels, breaking ALL the rules and mocking EVERY convention. But of course even that's a fucking contradiction because they're "Frustrated idealists who wouldn't dare reveal how much they truly care about the world."
But they also have a mean streak because they're contradictory . "Don’t leave your illusions laying around when a crow’s nearby — she’ll smash them, laugh and cut your with the shards. It’s said that Crow’s children are all teachers, and Lesson #1 seems to be this: Live like you know you’re dying. Because, as any crow can tell you, we all are. And in the end, it will be Raven’s wings that enfold Creation’s finale, just as they did in its beginning." And then everyone at the poetry slam clapped.
Breed Favors: Fang and Claw (Beak and Talons) 1(L), Speed 10, Wings
Breed Bonus: As mentioned, they don't have a war form. They're also tricksters so they get access to the bag of tricks, but since they've got throwback and dire raven/flock forms they only get 7 free dots instead of 9. Also they can hide really well in beast form cause they're small.
Common Aspects: Alarming Alacrity, Bare Necessities, Blind Burrow, Brave Escape, Carnivore’s Puissance, Clever Monkey, Culling the Weak, Earthbond, Fortune’s Favor, Grave Misfortune, Keen Sense (Sight), Magnificence, Mimic, Mindmap, Mindspeech, Nine Lives, Pearl of Great Price, Resilient Form, Size 2, Shadow Bond, Spinebite, Spirit Sight, Spook the Herd, Stash, Swarm/Flock Form, Swift Wing, Tell (Black Feathers or Eyes), The Wild Cry (Corvids), Truth Sense, Twisted Tongue, Unnerving Cry, Unsettling Eye
Form Adjustments: Throwback: Str+1, Dex+2, Sta+1, Man-2, Health +1, Speed+8, +2 to Sight Perception, Talons and Wings Dire Beast: Dex+1, Sta+1, Size 6, Health+2, Speed+6, +2 to Sight Primal Beast: Str 2, Dex+1, Sta 2, Size 2, Health 4, Speed 14, +2 to Sight Perception
This.. is fine, i mean yeah they're giant assholes but they're crows so that's expected.
Chevaliers Rapace: Ministers of War
Were-Raptor(The birds, not the dinosaur) War profiteers. They used to actually take to the battlefield and lead armies themselves beneath the banner of the proud eagle, but that's just not necessary anymore when they can just buy a politician. They say that they were originally formed as an order of crusading knights under Charlemange, pitted against the Lombards, Saracens, and Saxons. Then they travelled to Australia and the Americas, bringing with them civilization and killing any were-raptors who chose not to join their holy order.
Now they're not so much an order of knights as much as a loose confederation of ridiculously rich and powerful people. Those who wish to join form smaller crime syndicates and try to make a name for themselves, or apprentice themselves to someone in power and try to join their flock. They are notoriously litigious and have several in-house lawyers. In fact they often send their unchanged children to law school so they can at least be somewhat useful. Their lawyers are well regarded, but short lived since the Chevaliers have a bad habit of killing the messenger.
Appearance: Literally aquiline. They're old money and they dress like it. In the presence of other humans they often forget themselves and stare without blinking in a challenge display. Their primal form is a single large bird. Their war form is a large humanoid bird with wings "coming out of it's back instead of arms" which... shows a severe misunderstanding of how wings are supposed to work. "Women retain their human hair and breasts, but they are covered in a lighter, softer layer of feathers than their wings." Faaaantastic.
Background: Women play an important part in their First Change rituals, because their first transformation is a private, messy affair and apparently it's embarrassing to change in front of your father? Members rarely meet in person, each administers affairs of war in their own territory (Selling arms, buying politicians, ordering executions and smear campaigns) and meddling in another's affairs is a serious breach of etiquette. On rare occasions they'll set up a merger via marriage of their children. Though the children's opinions don't actually factor into things, if they don't like it their parents will simply kill them.
Breed Favor: Fang and Claw (beak) 1(L) (Talons) 2(L), Speed 15, Wings
Breed Bonus: All have Academics with a free skill specialty in Military History, but they have to buy Brawl, weapon skill, and the fighting finesse merit(dive and claw) not for free.
Common Aspects: Alarming Alacrity, Keen Sense (Sight), Magnificence, Mindmap, Sexual Dimorphism, Size 6, Spinebite, Spook the Herd, Swift Wing, The Wild Cry (Birds), Truth Sense, Unnerving Cry, Unsettling Eye
Form Adjustments: War Beast: Str+4, Dex+1, Sta+5, Size 6, Health+6, Speed+11, +2 to Sight Perception Primal Beast: Str 4, Dex+1,Sta 5, Size 4, Health 8, Speed 20, +2 to Sight Perception
That's.. a lot of stamina for a bird. Also a very big bird. But why give them stats anyway? They're NPCs and no one would or should actually play them.
Vagahuir: Songs of the Sky
Behold the were-bats. They apparently have the most to fear from man because they are the most feared. "Bearers of evil magic and disease". But of course that's all lies, they want nothing to do with real magic. Despite their predjudices they don't mean man any real harm, though they may "Skim the Cream" from an unsuspecting businessman's pocket...
Oh fuck they're Romani
They avoid Man and his gathering places whenever possible, preferring the open road (or sky) to cities. If they traverse into Man’s territory, it is out of sheer desperation — a family member fallen gravely ill or a streak of bad luck that leaves their children starving — or by pure accident.
When the Vagahuir do show their faces, either in Primal or human form, the Vagahuir often find themselves run out of town by exterminators or angry mobs. Moving from small town to small town, sleeping in rented campsites and abandoned houses, these ferals seldom find a place unsullied by the ancient and unfounded hatred humans bear for their kind. “Rest your weary bones by day,” the old Vagahuir proverb goes. “For by night, we fly this place.”
They have apparently found some success in China, where the bag was seen as a symbol of prosperity, and used to roam the country in caravans. However the one-child restriction hit the Vargyr very hard, as has westerinzation. As modern chinese don't see bedding a Vagahuir woman as the honor it should be.
Appearance: In primal form they're a bat. In War-Beast form smaller breeds turn into a swarm of bats, but larger ones turn into Man-Bat from that one episode of Batman. In human form they prefer to dress in leathers, they don't care that leather is drab because it can be dyed and embroidered, which is a highly valued craft for the Vagahuir. Mothers teach their daughters a wide variety of patterns. Curved lines facing downward are their wings, and each circle under the wings is one of their children. This is a symbol of pride to show that they have many daughters and are worthy of respect. Tatooing is also popular since it's "Embroidery of the skin".
Background: Mothers are the center of Vagahuir culture because of course it fucking is . But young are raised communally since everyone is "Of the blood". That said actually popping out children is what's important, and prolific mothers gain scads of honor for doing so.
Because children are relatively rare among their kind and are a mark of prestige, Vagahuir girls begin trying to conceive early in life. As a means of increasing reproduction, their culture also encourages polyandry. A Vagahuir woman will bed many men in her life, both human and feral, leaving a trail of broken hearts behind her. While she may fall in love from time to time, her people won’t encourage her to mate with the same man for long. To do so would be unlucky, they say, and might even make her infertile.
Song is also important to the Vagahuir. Normal bats may shriek, but human and feral Vagahuir alike raise their voices in pure melodies. Music helps pass the time on the long road between safe nesting places, but music is more than mere entertainment. The songs of the Vagahuir tell the story of their history, rolling along to the steady hum of tires on pavement, or beating out in time to the sound of footsteps in the rain. The Vagahuir teach these songs to each new child, in the hope of “singing out the Gift,” causing the feral form to blossom in their young. Whether or not this works, singing out the Gift leaves the child with a rich sense of her family’s history, binding her to them through clear nights and bad days. Even if she feels any misgivings about her family’s traditions ask of her, she will never leave them for a life among other ferals or humans.
Breed Favors: Echolocation, Speed 10, Wings
Breed Bonus: If they have Expression, they get a free specialization in Song. And they're small so they hide well.
Common Aspects: Clamber, Culling the Weak, Darksight, Fang and Claw (Bite, Claws) 1, Fortune’s Favor, Grave Misfortune, Gross Eater, Keen Sense, Mercy’s Touch, Mindmap, Size 6, Spook the Herd, Swarm/Flock Form, Swift Wing, The Wild Cry (Bats), Unnerving Cry, Unsettling Eye, Unspeakable
Form Adjustments: War Beast: Str+3, Sta+4, Size 6, Health+5, Speed+10, +2 to Sight Perception Primal Beast: Sta +1, Size 3, Health 5, Speed +5, +2 to Sight Perception
That's... Well we've got swolebat again. Just... Fucking Gypsy Bats.
The Strigori: Splended Isolation
Owls have always been thematically associated with death. "Lilith, Mother of Demons, is named for the screech owl, and the children of Israel clutched at copper amulets to keep her at bay. The Greeks made her the noble companion of Gray-Eyed Athene, goddess of Wisdom and War, but her reputation had already been made." So if you combine "Keepers of the Dead" with "Wisdom and War" you get Necromancers. Right?
They've been Necromancers for so long they've actually sort of become bored with it, to the point that they torture ghosts just because it amuses them and the ghosts don't expect it. They lavishly decorate their lairs with preserved organs, skeletons, and stretchings of cured skin. Because the spirits of their former owners keep them company. They function as information brokers for supernatural creatures and humans alike. Though they're shut ins and thank god for the internet.
Appearance: They don't give two fucks about how they actually look. They'll wear the same clothes until they become stained and threadbare and no longer functional. And they don't bathe unless they have to. So they're not usually welcome in public. This suits them just fine and this leads to them usually being obese slobs. Their primal form is a screech owl. And their War-Form is a big Gryphon thing.
Background: Strigori are solitary to a fault. They only take other Strigori as mates, if they take a mate at all. This isn't out of any form of endearing love but because if they're going to spend time vetting someone they only want to do it once. Children born outside of such pairings are sent to live with their "Aunts and Uncles" where they're instructed in the lore of their kind and the discipline of research. And necromancy. If they don't show the gift they get to serve as a buffer between the Strigori and the outside world, sent out to get groceries, information, or proxies in matter of business.
When, in 1957, a secret auction was held of the “evidence” found at Ed Gein’s Wisconsin farmhouse, the mortal children of the Strigoi were waiting, briefcases in hand.
Breed Favors: Darksight, Fang and Claw (beak)2(L) wings 3(B), Wings
Breed Bonus: Two free skill specialties in either Academics, Investigation, or Occult
Common Aspects: Beast Magic (Death Spells), Carnivore’s Puissance, Clever Monkey, Culling the Weak, Earthbond, Grave Misfortune, Gross Eater, Hypnotic Allure, Keen Sense (Sight), Skin Double, Speed 8, Spook the Herd, Spirit Sight, Sweet-Voiced Fiend, Swift Wing, The Wild Cry (Owls), Truth Sense, Unnerving Cry, Unsettling Eye, Unspeakable
Form Adjustments: War-Beast: Str+2, Dex+3, Man-4, Size 6, Speed+8, Health+1, Speed+3, +2 to Sight Primal Beast: Dex+4, Size 4, Health 5, Speed+7, +2 to Sight perception rolls
They're obese goon necromancers, who, as a rule, smell. Who is going to willingly play these guys.
Brythians: Wings Heavy with Grace
Swans, Valkyries Valkyries Valkyries Valkyries Valkyries VALKYRIES VALKYRIES VALKYRIES VALKYRIES VALKYRIES Swans
There I just saved us both 5 paragraphs, they don't even describe their War-Form.
Breed Favors: Fang and Claw (Beak) 1(L) (Wings) 3(B), Speed 13, Wings
Breed Bonus: Nothing, there's not even a joke or anything it's literally blank.
Common Aspects: Culling the Weak, Earthbond, Foretelling, Keen Sense (Sight), Magnificence, Mercy’s Touch, Mindmap, Size 7, Spirit Bond, Spirit Sight, Swift Wing, The Wild Cry (Birds), Truth Sense, Unnerving Cry, Unsettling Eye
Form Adjustments: War-Beast: Str+2, Dex+1, Sta+5, Size 7, Speed+15, Health+6, Speed+3, +2 to Sight Primal Beast: Str+1, Dex+1, Sta+3, Size 5, Health 2, Speed+11, +2 to Sight perception rolls
That's one hardy swan, and they fucked up the health calculation. Such a waste of a neat concept.
Up Next: We end this thing, Finally
Shadow BreedsOriginal SA post
So here are all the things that wouldn't fit in anywhere else. Which is dumb considering they stretched out some of the breeds far more than they needed to. They ask the question "Where are the lines drawn between a selkie, a feral orca and a shapechanging sea lion?" Well, the fact that they need to ask "What's the difference between a seal, a sea lion, and an orca" betrays how terrible they are at this.
The Cold Kings: Primal Legacy
Reptile shifters with a long memory. Were you expecting dragons? There aren't dragons... there's.. something else
Whiskey Croc: The Beast in your Belly
Alcoholic sewer crocodiles. Apparently at some point before their first change, they run away from home and instinctually drink themselves into a stupor in the slimiest sewer they can find. How the fuck did these guys develop naturally?
Warmed by alcohol’s kiss and human metabolism, these shapechangers fear the sun but emerge at times to join the night-hunt up above. . . . In human form, they appear degenerate, like the castoff parents who bore them. In Primal form, they’re sewer-sized crocs with smarts to spare. And in War-Beast form, they swell like DTs into man-like shapes with gaping mouths, short claws and scales sheened with whiskey and shattered glass. Though they almost never speak in any form, these ferals recall what the cities have forgotten.
Breed Favors: Darksight, Fang and Claw (bite) 3(L)/(rake)1(L), Natural Armor 4/3
Breed Bonus: They recieve the Eidetic Memory merit for free, but in all forms they reek of alcohol and sewage.
Common Aspects: Blend In, Carnivore’s Puissance, Culling the Weak, Earthbond, Extra Limb (Tail — attacks only), Gross Eater, Mercy’s Touch, Nine Lives, Razorskin (Broken Glass Shards), Size 6, Spinebite, Stash, Tell (Alcohol Stench, Drunken Mannerisms), Truth Sense, Unsettling Eye
Form Adjustments: War-Beast: Str+4, Sta +4, Man -4, Size 7, Health +6, Speed +3 Primal Beast: Str+3, Sta+4, Man-4, Size 6, Health +5, Speed+3
I feel we've rather heavily departed from the book's original presence. How are these guys in any way serving nature by literally living in shit? Also they actually have glass shards for skin, how does that work? Regardless they're combat monsters, 3L bite and 4/3 armor with 4 stamina? Get bit on everyone else.
The Horned Folk: Saints and Satyrs
From golden fleece to black sheep, the Horned Folk garner a mixed reputation. Stubborn as hell yet offered up to heaven, their sardonic ways mock the sanctity of Man. He cannot deal with them easily, yet finds he can’t do without them fully. Their bleating grates upon his nerves, yet when the wind turns cold, it’s their warmth and wool that he seeks .
Mendeans: Dark Teachers of Desire
It may have been propaganda that burned the Templars alive, but the conflation of goat-worship and left-hand mysticism bore fruit around later infernos. Named for an Egyptian city dedicated a ram-headed god, the infamous Mendean breed takes up the mantle of Shadow-Teachers. Bearing satanic horns and hermaphrodite anatomy, these pansexual shapechangers lead sabbats on the outskirts of Man’s world, conjuring dark dreams of forbidden knowledge and carnal ecstasy. Yet despite these ferals’ sinister allure, the Mendean excel at healing arts and show compassion to life’s outcasts. Does human perversity guide their birthright? Or is something deeper at work? To Baphometian goat-folk, all things are of Nature. Wisdom comes with embracing fear.
Breed Favors: Darksight, Fang and Claw(horns) 3(L), Territory Bond
Breed Bonus: Free skill specialties in Occult, they don't have a war form instead they turn into satyrs. Their animal form is a gigantic black goat.
Common Aspects: Beast Magic, Carnivore’s Puissance, Clever Monkey, Culling the Weak, Earthbond, Fortune’s Favor, Grave Misfortune, Gross Eater, Hypnotic Allure, Mercy’s Touch, Mimic, Needleteeth, Shadow Bond, Slumber’s Touch, Spirit Sight, Spook the Herd, Sweet-Voiced Fiend, Tell (Goatish Smell), The Wild Cry (Goats and Sheep), Truth Sense, Unsettling Eye, Unspeakable
Form Adjustments: Throwback: Str+1, Sta +3, Health +3, Speed +1 Primal Beast: Str+2, Sta+3, Man-2, Size 5, Health +3, Speed+4
The Oceanborn: Drawn Below
Sea Creature Shapeshifters! They don't even go with the easy lovecraft dig, it's kind of sad.
Olutakami: The Delvers
Dolphin shifters with the gift of foresight. Their War-Form is a giant Orca. Also they're almost entirely of Asian/Polynesian descent, which works considering that their name is Japanese.
Breed Favors: Aquatic, Echolocation, Fang and Claw (Bite) 1(L), Waterbreath
Breed Bonus: They can ram people for 3 bashing damage, and they're all limbless.
Common Aspects: Aww!!!, Birth Blessing, Culling the Weak, Foretelling, Fortune’s Favor, Keen Senses, Magnificence, Mercy’s Touch, Mindmap, Mindspeech, Pack Bond, Shadow Bond, Size 6, Speed 8, Spirit Sight, Stampede Rush (Water Only), The Wild Cry (Dolphins), Truth Sense, Unsettling Eye
No that's not a typo they just randomly have size and speed in their aspect list.
Form Adjustments: War-Beast: Str+3, Sta +3, Man -2, Size 7, Health +5, Speed +6, +2 to Perception Rolls Primal Beast: Str+2, Sta+2, Man-1, Size 6, Health +3, Speed+5, +2 to Perception Rolls
Does your campaign take place exclusively on the water? Will you use the Olutakami? The answer to these questions is the same.
The Riverkin: Forsaking the Land
Animals live in the rivers! That's basically all they say.
Kinno'balo: Bright-Colored Pain
"Hey, people lick poisonous frogs to get hallucinations, right?"
"Poison Dart Frog Oracles, Boom."
"No, no, they're bullfrogs.. that turn INTO humanoid Poison dart frogs in their war form."
I'm pretty sure I just replicated the process that brought these into being.
Breed Favors: Size 2, Venomous, Truthsight
Breed Bonus: they're even tiner than other tiny folk and get a +4 to dice pools when hiding
Common Aspects: Aquatic, Darksight, Earthbond, Foretelling, Mimic, Mindspeech, Spirit Animal, Spirit Gift, Spirit Secrets, Spirit Sight, Sweet-Voiced Fiend, Territory Bond, Unsettling Eye, Unspeakable
Form Adjustments: War-Beast: Dex+2, Sta +1, Man -5, Size 5, Health +1, Speed +1, +1 to Perception Rolls Primal Beast: Str-2, Sta-2, Man-2, Size 2, Health 4, Speed -2, +2 to Perception Rolls
That's not what Venomous means... also these guys suck. That health calculation is wrong they can probably actually accidentally kill themselves by switching into frog form on a regular basis. In addition to it being ridiculously slow.
Serpentines: Wisdom with Teeth
You know the snake from eden? Eve fucked the snake. Enter the Serpentines.
Mélusinae: The Singing Serpents
Charismatic seductor snakes that have a gift for music. "Their songs spill over with carnal passion and religious fervor," "Are the descendants of Eve’s serpent trying to atone for their progenitor’s misdeeds? Or does a golden road to Hell follow their enchanting song?" Hilariously it says that their voices always carry a slight echo as if they're being constantly auto-tuned, which is apparently sexy. Also their primal form is an 8 foot long golden snake, which is apparently also sexy. And their war-form is a scaled human with a snake head and tail. Somehow also sexy.
Breed Favors: Alarming Aclarity, Fang and Claw (bite)2(L), Hypnotic Allure
Breed Bonus: They must buy two dots in expression, but they gain a free specialty in song. Also their primal form ain't got no limbs.
Common Aspects: Darksight, Earthbond, Keen Sense, Size 6, Speed 8, Spinebite, Spook the Herd, Sweet-Voiced Fiend, Truth Sense, Unnerving Cry, Unsettling Eye, Unspeakable
Form Adjustments: War-Beast: Str+2, Dex+3, Man -4, Size 6, Health +1, Speed +5, +1 to Perception Rolls Primal Beast: Str+2, Dex+4, Man-5, Size 6, Health +1, Speed +9, +2 to Perception Rolls
DO YOU WANT TO FUCK THE SNAKES YET!? Also they screwed up the size/speed again.
The Swarm: Surivor Types
Insect shifters... "Is it the rapid grace of a centipede that shocks us to amazement? Or does some odd glint of envy pick its way across our consciousness when the small survivor darts off to a crevice and disappears? If only human life could be so simple. . . ." DO YOU WANT TO FUCK A BUG YET!?
Mimma Lemuna: The Hungry Darkness
There is crime, and there is punishment. When a now forgotten king of old Akkad withheld his blessing from the crops, the people starved in droves. Children perished, and elders withered in the beds. Meanwhile, the king and his court gorged themselves on fine wines and honeyed wheat cakes. They never noticed the clicking and skittering of 10,000 little shadow breeds legs, or the hard eyes that gathered until the sun had passed. Nor did the king and his court note the serving girl with equally hard eyes noting each one of them as she fed them succulent dates. When two-score skeletons, stripped as clean as bleached reeds, awaited the morning servants, no one thought to search the darkest corners of the rooms, or find the hard-eyed serving girl whose name no one recalled. And if those servants had, the previous night, heard muffled coughs, as if a fat man or woman were choking on some thick morsel, the servants thought no more about such things. For there is crime, and there is punishment. And sometimes Justice crawls.
So they're a beetle swarm, they don't have a war-form, but they're damn near impossible to kill.
Breed Favors: Fang and Claw, Pack Bond, Swarm Form
In Primal form, this feral is smaller than Size 1, and can scatter in all directions yet stay connected through her hive-mind bond. The swarm cannot use human manual skills, but ignores Defense when attacking. To attack, the swarm must surge over the opponent and remain in place for at least one turn. Once in place, the shapechanger inflicts one lethal Health point per turn until the shapechanger retreats or is harmed by fire, electricity or some other attack that inflicts equal damage on the target.
Form Adjustment: Swarm!
Mental Attributes: Per character
Physical Attributes: Strength 1, Dexterity 5, Stamina 4
Social Attributes: Presence 3, Manipulation 0, Composure per character
Size 5 (of swarm itself), Health 8, Speed 9 (species factor 4 + Dexterity)
You know, RAW there's not actually a way to inflict their venom on anyone anyway. But these guys seem broken. Unless you have fire or electricity, which will probably still hurt the guy they're attacking. They just get to kill a dude no questions asked.
Taurae: Bearers of Time
Bovine Shifters, but you know what? We don't get Minotaurs. Instead we get more native exceptionalism.
Yumni: Tornado Walkers
Loud is the drum that brings passion. Humbling is the dance that challenges fire. So it is with the Yumni. Native Americans all, they are Bison’s blood-inheritance. By heritage, Tornado Walkers are usually only born to Kiowa, Aisca or Dakota tribe; by legend, Yumni shoulder the weight of the wind. Theirs are the hooves that pound down the rock so it can be carved into rivers by the floods. Given sacred purpose to serve both the land and the air, Yumni balance carefully the mysteries bestowed on them.
Yumni are often handsome, but never classically beautiful. Male or female, human- or sometimes animal-born, these folk are all treated as holy protectors. When a child or calf is born with the mark — a white streak down the left side — she is taken from her birth-parents and reared by a shaman until it is known whether or not the Changing Gift will manifest. This white streak stays with her in all forms. It is believed to be smoke that rose when the White Calf Woman brought magic to her people. Writhing silver
white toward the stars, it is the very breath of Grandfather Mystery.
Breed Favors: Fang and Claw (horns)3(L), (trample) 3(B), Natural Armor 3/2
Breed Bonus: They project a sacred aura at all times that give them two automatic successes in social rolls with native American mystics.
Common Aspects: Alarming Alacrity, Birth Blessing, Culling the Weak, Earthbond, Foretelling, Hybrid Forms, Leap, Magnificence, Mercy’s Touch, Nine Lives, Pack Bond, Size 10, Spirit Animal, Spirit Gift, Spirit Sight, Spook the Herd, Stampede Rush, Territory Bond, Tell (white hair or fur), Totem Guardian (Buffalo or White-Bison Woman), Truth Sense, Unsettling Eye, Warrior’s Restoration
Form Adjustments: War-Beast: Str+3, Sta+4, Man -2, Size 6, Health +5, Speed +3 Primal Beast: Str+3, Sta+4, Size 10, Health +9, Speed +6
With that we're finally done with the changing breeds.
Which means it's time for the Sample Character Bonus Round!
I'm just going to be quoting the more choice bits from these backgrounds, they're all insufferable assholes but I just want to point out how these people think beast society is run.
Felipe Miguel Santiago Bandaris, “Keeper of the Family Crest”
Note: he's Equestri, he's not one of the other two centaur breeds, and his form statistics don't match up eith either of theirs. So he's a completely separate splat that isn't described anywhere in this book .
At first, the young Felipe believed that his ancestors shared the blood of the old Spanish royal family. On his 16th birthday, his grandfather awoke in Felipe the dormant potential of his kingly blood. On the pretext of having the boy assist with the midnight birth of a foal, the elder Bandaris summoned Felipe to the birthing stable. Once the boy arrived, the old man shoved him into a stall and followed him inside, a heavy training whip coiled in his hand. Without a word of explanation, Felipe’s once-kindly grandfather lashed him with the whip, driving the panicked boy from one end of the large stall to the other, giving him no rest from the relentless swish and crack of the whip.
Felipe tried to protect himself. His grandfather (who had obviously gone mad) only directed the whip to areas the boy could not protect. Then Felipe felt a stinging slash sharper than the others: he felt hot sticky wetness trickle down his arm from where the whip had broken the skin. A voice within him said, This is the blood of kings. Be now a king , and Felipe felt something inside give way as his battered body twisted and swelled, his hands hardening into hooves, his body growing larger and more powerful. With an angry snort, he reared up on his hind legs and batted the air just inches from his grandfather’s face with his fore hooves. His grandfather dropped the whip and fell to his knees.
“The blood of the Bandaris Andalusians runs true. We have an heir!”
As an added perk to his position, Felipe enjoys the droit de seigneur , or “lord’s right” among the residents of the villages adjoining the Bandaris farm and among the young mares in the family’s herd. Several children in the towns of La Palla and Sangrillo bear a distinct resemblance to Felipe. Should any of them show a kinship with the family Gift, the lucky ones will find themselves literally saddled with a new family, new responsibilities and the searing inner fire that marks the bloodline of the mighty Andalusians and their human counterparts.
Mélusinae Wind Dancer
William had just begun to learn to play the saxophone that became his signature when an especially nasty schoolyard fight revealed his literally venomous nature. He bit a boy, who later died. Just before the cops picked William up, his inventive schoolmates nicknamed him “Copperhead” for the deed, his skin tone and the unusually long canine teeth he’d bitten the boy with. On William’s way to prison, he suffered his First Change in a cell, turned into a snake and slithered free. His parents never heard him come home, but they noticed the missing clothes and sax. Wisely, Mom and Pop McCain didn’t say a word.
Years passed in a blur of blues. Young William worked hard, shook out some rough deals and earned a place in the traveling blues scene. Folks commented often on his pearly skin and prominent teeth. He learned never to smile, and let the sax speak in his place. Women came and went: the Jewish writer from the Bronx, the radical sistah from Watts, the slinky Asian chick with a fondness for ropes . . . Copperhead let his fingers, sax and tongue do the talking, then split when he heard hissing in the back of his mind.
This is just a naked woman with some really bad grooming habits.
Flidaisin Heart Ripper
Rennie and his boys were the same age as Fawn. She’d known them since childhood, and detested them entirely. When Rennie got his first gun, he took it to the woods and . . . well, the carnage spoke for itself. No huntsman, Rennie liked to kill shit. One evening, Fawn found their handiwork, still alive and badly suffering. A deer — a large female, rich with child. She’d been an illegal target, but that hadn’t stopped the boys. When Fawn found the doe, she hung tangled in barbed wire, shot to bits but still alive. The girl’s hands tattered as she worked to free the deer. Sure, it was heroic, but the effort was wasted. Before the deer died, though, she locked eyes with the girl and breathed her wild breath into Fawn’s face. Something passed between them then. Even now, Fawn couldn’t tell you what or why, and she wouldn’t if you asked her. In blood and breath, they’d shared a secret.
A day later, Fawn awoke deep in the woods, naked and covered in scratches and dirt. It took her another day to get home, with clever efforts to remain unseen. The skills she’d sharpened as a childhood sneak served her well from that point onward. It didn’t take long to discover her new talents; who could resist a cute little fawn like her? It didn’t take long, either, for her to lead poor Rennie off the edge of a cliff. Now she’s after the other boys, too . . . and any hunter she can find. Girls are clever, and deer are quick. Fawn is both — and bloody-minded, too. These days, she’s a predator who looks like prey. For fun, she hunts the sportsmen. With traps, deceptions, fast kicks and other “accidents,” she sends them to slow and nasty deaths. No, no one ever fears the quiet ones. But in Fawn’s case, perhaps they should.
Sovah followed her mother to a tall, walk-in enclosure.“We’ll have to wait a few minutes before he shows himself,” her mother said. “He’s probably seen you from a distance, but he’s not used to your closeness.” She sat on the ground and motioned Sovah to take a place at her side. Mystified and still resentful, the girl obeyed. “You know, you weren’t always an only child,” Sovah’s mother said. “Your brother Kyle was eight years older than you. Like you, he was smart and dreamed of big things. We took him with us on a trip to Chicago when he was ten because he begged us to take him to see the Sears Tower and the other skyscrapers. He loved heights. . .” She fell silent.
“That night, as we crossed the hotel lobby on the way to our room, Kyle discovered the family gift early, and suddenly,” she said. “It frightened him so much that he got away from your father and me. Kyle made it as far as the revolving doors and got trapped inside . . .” She paused, looked over her shoulder and smiled, holding out her arm, where a leather arm-guard shielded her skin.
“Here he is now,” she said, as a large golden eagle zigzagged crazily down from a foliage-filled corner of the enclosure to rest on the woman’s forearm. Sovah had seen many eagles at the habitat, but this one was . . . different.
“Sovah,” her mother said, “this is Kyle, your brother. One day, probably soon, you will discover our gift for yourself.”
A few nights later, Sovah took her maiden flight as a great snowy owl. Later, she met her mother in her falcon form and her father as a great horned owl. Sovah studied at a local college and got a degree in ornithology. Now she joins her father in working with the problem birds, and shows a real talent for bird rehabilitation. She has grown close to her brother, though he rarely flies at night and she is exclusively nocturnal. Once she asked him to show her his human shape, and he agreed.
She never asked him again.
Old Man Possum
Wampathemwa Den Warder
Possums may be ugly as adults, but as babies, they rank right next to kittens and puppies on the cute scale, with big, bright eyes, tiny faces, pointed pixie noses and round chubby bodies. The people who run possums down with their cars don’t care about that, though. Big or little, the critter’s a possum, and no one brakes for possum. That’s what the man from Richmond in his fancy canary yellow Passat thought as his headlights caught the familiar outline of a possum — a halfgrown one — making its way slowly across the road. He lined the critter up and gunned his engine. He felt the slight bump under his left front tire that told him he’d gotten the creature square. He smiled in his rearview mirror, complimented himself on his deadly aim and focused again on the road ahead — and tried to swerve out of the way of what must have been the biggest possum in the world, standing more than five feet tall and as broad as a brick wall.
He doesn’t remember much after that except that his car careened over the side of the twisty mountain road, leaving him behind about halfway down the slope. The car landed in the gorge, one more scrap for trees to grow on; he lay where he fell, unable to move, for what seemed like days until help came. Now, confined to a wheelchair, he no longer drives. Instead, he sits outside the general store in Logan’s Holler, not far from the crash site, and tells his story to anyone who’ll listen. Some people do, and nothing happens to ’em. Some people don’t, and they invariably meet up with Old Man Possum. Few of ’em walk away.
He's still a fucking terrible character.
Qualm'a ni Sun-Chaster
On the road, good company is a blessing — especially for folks with the Changing Blood. And so, when a ragged assortment of backpackers appears deep in the mountains or forests, full of song and shots of good booze, who’s gonna complain? Rucksack Mary’s band of rovers has been wandering in various configurations for the better part of a decade. Folks who give ’em a ride or grab a spot by their fire are treated to raucous stories and a noseful of hiker-musk. Those who meet ’em in emergencies find a helpful bunch of hands. And those who meet ’em doing something wrong or stupid . . . well, those folks don’t often meet anyone else again.
A freckle-faced malcontent with bare feet and elfin smiles, Rucksack Mary is the heart of this motley bunch. She hit the road last decade and hasn’t called anywhere “home” since. Driven by a restless itch, she left home at 16 with the rucksack she still wears. Hiking on the Appalachian Trail, she met up with a dude called “Bear.” That name held more truth than poetry, and the two became fast friends. Later, when her own Change overtook her, Bear helped her through the Storm and set her right about the Gift. Her new feline temperament, however, clashed with Bear’s breed. The two fought bitterly one night, and he left her in the woods. She hasn’t seen him since then, but Mary’s never stopped looking, or wanting to apologize for the scars she left across his face.
In the years since, Mary’s been wandering: Europe, Asia, India, all Americas, even parts of Africa. A year in Australia brought her some new mates. Two of ’em roam with her to this day. Mary’s infectious laugh, good looks and head full of tales make her a natural hiking buddy, and she grows a tribe of “protectors” wherever she goes. These days, that band counts Hyper, Mandrill, Crash and Steve-Steve as its core. Each one bears the Changing Gift, and they’re not shy about sharing it when they must. Mary and her bunch are wanderers, not warriors. Even so, there’s times when a set of claws or a sharp beak sets things right.
Restless in the ways a cougar gets, Mary never sets down roots. She’ll snuggle close to anyone who smells right, but deep down she misses Bear. Every so often, she’ll catch his scent, or find a footprint in moist ground. He’s there, she knows, but won’t come out. Is it love he’s after, or revenge? In either case, Mary wishes he’d just get it over with. Her Aussie lover Crash (a falcon with a curious taste for walking) has seen Bear himself, but isn’t talking. It’s hard to keep secrets by firelight, but birds are better than most folks at such things. In the meantime, Mary’s walking, making friends wherever she goes. There’s a stone in her heart that won’t dislodge, but maybe that’s just the price of the road.
And with that, this book is finally done. And I'd like to say we're done with Brucato, but he's been brought back to work on the 20th anniversary changeling book, and it's already shaping up to have his unique flavor of writing. I won't be covering that though. That can be someone else's grenade to jump on. I've got blacker pastures to graze.