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posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, Second Edition

Werewolves are savage, violent, bloody. They are dominant predators, creatures who instinctively divide the world into two parts: us and them. They are gangs, hanging together by shared blood - specifically, shared spilled blood. They are hunters and hunted, and they would go to the wire for one of their own. Werewolves find prey, run it down, tear it to pieces as it begs for mercy or tries to fight. They love violence and domination in way that their human side will never admit. They thrill in the hunt. And werewolves...well, they stand on the boundary.

Werewolves are liminal creatures, half of one world and half of the other. They are not a mixture of both, but equal parts. Some werewolves one side or the other, or try to blend them together, but ultimately, the werewolf lives on the border. They step up and take responsibility, but must never go too far. Become too human, and your flesh entraps you, unchanging, unable to grasp what you really are. Become too much the monster, and you fade from the world and your family. The werewolf must balance man and spirit, blood and essence, human and monster. But more than that, the wolf must hunt.

The wolf must hunt.

It's the core of what being a werewolf is. The Uratha, as they call themselves, claim descent from the original hunters - the wolves that hunted their own father and slew him when he grew too weak. Everything a werewolf does is seen through the lens of the hunt. They form packs to have others to hunt with. They keep territories as hunting grounds. Their spiritual side gives them a predator's instincts, and it drives them mad when they do not hunt.

When hunting, a werewolf's blood races, burning hot. When hunted, they feel the chill in their blood. Their rage is potent but ultimately transient. They change, but remain strong in any form. Their blood is weaker than their bone - the things they know deep. The things they are. Blood is what you feel. Bone is what you are. And you need to be both. Werewolves are born to Flesh, the world of meat and stone and physical things, but inherit the world of Spirit, the world of the ephemeral and the animist. These two do not mix, or shouldn't. Flesh sticks to flesh, spirit to spirit. In theory. In practice...humans cross into Shadow, by accident or with knowledge they should not have. Spirits head to the physical world for power or to hide. Werewolves belong to both, and so they can return their prey to their proper place.

Against a full pack, individual people and even most spirits can't pose a threat. The sheer physical power of a werewolf overwhelms lesser foes. Others, however, hunt werewolves - other werewolves, ancient fragments of older spirit-gods, strange creatures from beyond the moon. The pack must find the edge between hunting the worthy and gaining the notice of that which is far too powerful. Werewolves are liminal creatures, always dancing on the edge.

Werewolf inspirational media:

The game also suggests some other CofD books that might be handy - the 2e core, Predators (a book on spirits, Hosts and Claimed), Night Horrors: Wolfsbane (a book on more dangerous werewolves and the first appearnace of the idigam, of whom we speak more later), and the Idigam Chroonicle Anthology, which is the story companion to this book.

Next time: Auspice


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, Second Edition

Werewolves are blessed by the Moon. Literally. They are marked by the god-slash-goddess Luna, who is both male and female, separately and at once, as part of the moon's aspect of change. Anyway. The moon blesses the Uratha, enhancing their abilities, giving them the senses they need to kill, sending her spirits to watch them and reward them with power. It is the Moon's blessing that makes the Uratha what they are - their nature is not passed on by bite or by blood, quite. Rather, they catch the Moon's eye in the moment of the First Change. Luna is the spirit of change, after all, as well as of the physical moon. And the face of the moon during your First Change determines your Auspice - what kind of werewolf you are.

Cahaliths are the Gibbous Moon, visionaries, lorekeepers and prophets. They are the living history of the Uratha - but they are no lonely hermits or wise women. They lead the charge, screaming their fury to the moon. A Cahalith is rarely subtle. They can be stealthy, sure, but it's not their preferred hunting method. They like their prey to know they are ocming, to hear their howls and see them leap. They want their prey to understand their place as prey, and they know their own place in the story, too. Cahalith live in stories, you see, often viewing the world in them, with endings and misfortunes inevitable. The Uratha name this 'hurmas-hi' in the First Tongue - roughly, 'submitting to dreams.' Cahalith are prophets, after all, and that's a job for fatalists...or at least for people who like to plan out their own death scenes.

Luna visits the Cahalith in their sleep, informing them of the future in their dreams. Sometimes, this is clear. Often, however, these dream-hunts are symbolic and allegorical. What you do with the foreknowledge granted by the Moon is up to you...but if you're wise, you'll be careful and talk to your pack and totem to try to take advantage of what Luna sends. However, the native Renown of the Cahalith is Glory, not Wisdom. They seek to make tales worthy of being remembered, and often look to more introspective packmates for the lessons within those tales. Their hunts are memorable, often loud and horrifying. They smash through walls, show the prey what hunts them, who they are. They leave bystanders alive, often, to tell the story - even if it's unwise tactically or threatens Harmony. That's how legends are born, after all. Cahalith, however, tailor their legends to their prey. If they hunt someone they know is claustrophobic, they'll favor narrow alleys or elevators. If the prey fears water, they'll try to engineer the hunt on a bridge or riverbank. Mortal fears, to the Cahalith, are the ways people know they will die. It's a predator's responsibility to become that fear, to fulfill that compact. It's just respectful to the prey.

Cahalith, in a pack, have a tough responsibility: they're there to rally the others and keep their spirits high, pushing them to rage or retreat as needed. They must, thus, always be 'on.' They can't show weakness. A Rahu can show vulnerability without detracting from their battle skill, an Ithaeur or Elodoth can want respite from spirits...but a Cahalith has to hold the pack together, and that job never ends, never stops. They have to remember all the stories of the pack, often all the lore of their tribe. Not every pack understands that maybe tonight you're not feeling very funny and don't want to play the comedian. And yet, the more a Cahalith is needed, the more in tune with their own nature they often feel. Ignoring the stress this causes for too long can lead to violence...and the worst part is, a Cahalith is usually aware when that's coming, but feel powerless to change it. That's part of the story too, right?

Before the First Change, most Cahalith were creative, vivacious and enthusiastic people. Not necessarily extroverts - maybe they prefer to do online debate rather than beign the life of the party - but they typically seek glory for themselves somehow. They want recognition, which drives them to great or terrible acts. Under the rise of the gibbous moon, they feel the call to the first hunt. Their First Change is never subtle, and they tend to draw notice from werewolves and other supernatural beings more easily than those of other auspices.

Stereotypes posted:

Elodoth: Two sides to every story. We get that. But whose side are you on?
Cahalith respect a good Elodoth - they're often the ones that bring in the most interesting plot twist. Both a Cahalith and Elodoth are supporters of the pack, in different ways, and most Cahalith are happy to play whatever role the Elodoth needs...as long as they get their time in the limelight and don't need to keep things secret.
Irraka: I'm glad you can be satisfied with simply doing the job. I can't.
Cahalith may be impressed by the skill of the Irraka, but they don't like hiding and see little glory in it. Fighting a foe without at least announcing yourself feels wrong to them. That doesn't mean the Cahalith need fair fights - but unlike the Irraka, they like the prey to know the fight is happening.
Ithaeur: Every spirit is a story. Tell me one.
Cahalith often hold the Ithaeur in some awe. Spirits understand their place in a narrative more than most, and Ithaeur can manipulate them without losing their own roles. Cahaliths work to communicate an Ithaeur's wisdom in a way others can understand and use, helping to cut through the esoterica that most Ithaeurs are prone to.
Rahu: You are not always the hero. I don't care how bright the moonlight shines on you.
It's a cliche for Cahalith to be jealous of Rahu. Something, to the Cahalith, is missing - something the Rahu has. To them, the Rahu are chosen ones, special warriors who, through no merit or fault of their own, become the leaders. Their integrity as storytellers usually keeps them from making the Rahu appear too proud or hidebound, though...usually.

The Hunter's Aspect of a Cahalith is Monstrou. When a Cahalith hunts, the world knows. Shadows grow longer, the light always hits them just right. They are iconic monsters, inevitability made manifest. Death is coming, and the prey knows it. The innate Gifts of the Cahalith are Gibbous Moon, Inspiration and Knowledge. Their Auspice Skills are Crafts, Expression and Persuasion, and their Renown is Glory. Their innate power is...well, prophetic dreams. Their sleep is always full of vivid dreams. This has two mechanical manifestations. First, the ST can just hand out a prophetic dream whenever, as obvious or cryptic as needed. Second, after any scene following a night in which the werewolf got more than 4 hours of sleep, you can declare a particular action or event was foretold in their dream. If the action or event was foreseen as beneficial, you or a packmate gets +3 to one action, or an NPC gets -3 to one action. If the dream showed the action or event as detrimental to the pack, you can choose to automatiucally fail the action or take damage or a setback as a result of it, and get a Beat. Either way, you can only use this power once per session.

Blood Talon Cahaliths have the duty of reminding their packmates why they're fighting and who they really are, even in the middle of the carnage and mindless violence of battles between werewolves. Bone Shadow Cahalith learn the stories of spirits, to help guess at spirit banes. Hunter in Darkness Cahalith hide until the right moment, making their hunts intimate and personal. Iron Master Cahalith are unpredictable, and more likely than other Cahaliths to prefer physical art to normal storytelling. They reject the idea of prophecy as definite, and are less fatalist than other Cahalith. Storm Lord Cahalith revel in hardship and danger, believing that all things can be overcome and that disadvantages are just there to build tension. Many prefer more formulaic methods of storytelling, like genre stories or Noh drama.

Next time: Half Moon Bay


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, Second Edition

Elodoth are the Half Moon, keeping hidden as much as they show. They are perhaps not as enigmatic as the Ithaeur, but they're definitely mysterious, as often taciturn and paranoid as gregarious and charming. While they will not betray a packmate, they hold very little else to be sacred. Despite this, they are no loners - they're very social, forging connections to everyone they meet, human or spirit. They never miss the chance to master the connections that bind all things in their territory, as you never know what part of that web they will need. However, this does have the problem of making them feel personally unconnected to everything, except possibly the pack. The pack, at least, appreciates their ability to go anywhere and fit in. They can hide in any crowd, a wolf in sheep's clothing, and they have a reputation for fairness. After all, they can see both sides of an argument for their merits and make a judgment based on what is needed. Perhaps they are lawgivers, perhaps emissaries, perhaps cops. The question is just whether they believe in the rules they enforce and obey, or just use them because those around them find value in those rules. Some Elodoth have trouble seeing any given set of values as superior to any other.

One set of circumstances, though, is clear: the hunt. A hunting Elodoth has only one job: bring down the prey. To do that, they will use whatever resources they have. Maybe they bargain with local spirits to force the prey into a traffic jam, or use the local wildlife to reveal the prey's position, maybe they use Wolf-Blooded packmates on the police force to help...or on the Little League team, or in the sanitation department. They call in whatever favors they need to make the hunt successful, and they aren't shy about making sacrifices if they must. Other werewolves can find this mercilessness unpleasant, even sociopathic. Sure, any werewolf might kill or maim, but others would not set up their cousin on the police force to be torn apart by the Pure just to provide a useful blood trail. To the Elodoth, however, the Sacred Hunt is one time when the stakes, resources, options and costs all line up. It lets them take their place in the web of connections at last, for a few hours, and experience the clarity that other, less 'balanced' werewolves enjoy.

Even before the First Change, Elodoths are naturals at making connections. The most popular girl in school, the de factor mayor of a small town. Maybe they're friendly, maybe they scare people, but most Elodoth defined themselves by their place in the web of connections they built. The First Change often strips everything from them, however. All Uratha lose something, but many Elodoth, even those fortunate enough not to be around anyone fragile whenit comes, end up destroying their lives. Their plans are meaningless now, the most important people to them are no longer their old friends, but their pack. Some think of the Change as shifting from darkness into light, while others see it as light into darkness.

Stereotypes posted:

Cahalith: I can't reason with their pack. You go talk to them.
Elodoth are logical, manipulative, lateral thinkers...but they aren't usually good storytellers. It's not that they don't understand how people feel or think - they just aren't good at making people feel special. The Cahalith, to them, are focusedo n all the wrong details. They give up advantages, they monologue when they should kill.
Irraka: Damn it, where did she go?
Elodoth find the Irraka infuriating. They vanish quickly, often without waiting for instructon. A good Elodoth learns to anticipate the Irraka and plan for that, but even then, they make Elodoth nervous. After all, Irraka operate wholly in the dark.
Ithaeur: I don't care if it's a murder-spirit. We made a promise - no one dies here.
Spirits operate by strict rules, and an Elodoth can respect that...but they can't let those laws violate whatever law the Elodoth has chosen, which can lead to friction with Ithaeur that sympathize more with spirits. However, their insights are amazingly useful when it comes time to deal with spirit courts.
Rahu: I am sorry, my brother. If you would only think, this would not have happened.
Rahu are the spirit of the law, where Elodoth are the letter of it. Rahu are purely of the light. Elodoth can manipulate them easily, sure, but they often feel dirty doing so, as if using the purity of a Rahu in their plans is wrong. They usually get over it.

The Hunter's Aspect of the Elodoth is Isolating. Their prey is alone, shunned by other creatures. They seek to find a sfe place, somewhere to hide and wait, but other people ignore them, ignore the hunting howls. They have no one to turn to. The innate Gifts of the Elodoth are Half Moon, Insight and Warding. Their Auspice Skills are Empathy, Investigation and Politics, and their Renown is Honor. Their innate power is a perpetual awareness of the broder of light and dark. Once per session, they can 'cure' a werewolf of the Death Rage, causing the Stunned Tilt for the turn after they leave it if they were in Basu-Im. Alternatively, they may force a werewolf into the Death Rage, rolling Presence+Empathy+Primal Urge against Resolve+Composure, sending the target into Wasu-Im if they win.

Blood Talon Elodoth are experts in hunting those who break the Oath of the Moon, or who serve as exceptions to it. They are those who pass sentence on others of the People. Bone Shadow Elodoth learn the ways of spirits - not lore or ecology, but which spirits are dominant, which have foes, what they consider taboo. This lets them find where the prey will never go and what they never do. Hunter in Darkness Elodoth respect their prey, the Hosts, if grudgingly. After all, a Host is as much a dichotomy as an Elodoth...but a Host is a blasphemy, so they're hunted all the same. Iron Master Elodoths are often experts in human law, making sure their packs don't get arrested or don't stay that way. They also often understand human customs deeply, blending in no matter where they go. Storm Lord Elodoth learn both spirit and human behavior, but rarely seek to become part of their prey's social circles. They tend to be the least complicated Elodoths, as the Claimed they hunt have removed themselves from the protection of either human or spiritual law.

Next time: Moonless night


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, Second Edition

Irraka are the stalkers, the New Moons. Theirs is the moon of secrets and ambushes. They are the wolves that do not howl. They listen to their packmates but trust them to know that the Irraka will not answer. Instead, they streak silently, tearing out the prey's throat, crippling them, pushing them far from help. If they can kill, they will, but they're more interested in ensuring a kill happens. When they hunt with a pack, they often choose not to strike the killing blow, instead being proud of their job in crippling the prey. Let the Rahu or Cahalith tear out the throat - it was the Irraka who ensured they could. Without the pack, an Irraka's tactics change greatly. They kill swiftly and efficiently, stalking from the shadows, maximizing every advantage they could possibly use. Irraka instinctively think in terms of being able to gain advantage over those around them. Indeed - it is their ability to spot the perfect moment to kill anyone that tends to be the most terrifying thing about them. It's not that they want to, but it comforts them to know they can kill everyone around them. If they find someone they can't figure out how to kill, they tend become intrigued by them. (This includes their packmates - every good Irraka knows how to kill every one of them, they'd just never do it, and might not have a plan they're capable of implementing easily.)

Irraka test everything - people, doors, social connections. They don't want to break them, but they know everything breaks, so it's good to know how and where they'll break before they do. Sometimes...well, sometimes that means testing to destruction. Young Irraka often take the view that it was going to break anyway, so they can't be blamed. Older Irraka, more mature ones, know that this is entirely insufferable and instead learn to not break things by accident. More than any other auspice, though, all Irraka are comfortable hunting alone. They'd prefer a pack, sure. That's an advantage you can't ignore. But they are also masters of stealth, and it's always easier to hide one werewolf than four or five. Thus, they tend to hunt near their pack, trusting them to be clsoe enough to know when to come to aid. Thus, Irraka say, they are not lone wolves. They are as much pack as anyone else. They just trust their packmates a little more.

Irraka, before the First Change, are generally careful, meticulous, thoughtful types. They could be scientists, hackers, people who like to make inappropriate jokes to see who squirms or even private eyes or troubleshooters. Their First Change is rarely a bloody rampage - but that doesn't mean it's bloodless. An Irraka is a killer, almost always. They are relentless, silent, appearing from nowhere to destroy their prey. On the First Change, someone almost always dies.

Stereotypes posted:

Cahalith: Leave me out.
Cahalith want glory, fame. An Irraka knows that if someone is talking about you, you fucked up. Reputation's fine, sure, even useful...but at the end of the day, it means they know who you are and what you like to do, and an Irraka knows that's the first step in finding how to kill someone.
Elodoth: Don't worry. I'll be there.
Irraka respect the Elodoth - both look for advantages, but the Irraka operates on a much smaller scale. Elodoth consider the entire big picture. However, they're often too controlling, too obsessive. Still, an Irraka does know a good plan when they hear one.
Ithaeur: Let's go over this again. Honey in the right hand, thistle in the left?
Irraka tend to be nervous with spirits. Most don't bleed, don't feel pain. None are quite like any other prey. Irraka, thus, defer to the Ithaeur when spirits get involved. In other areas, they tend to ignore them entirely.
Rahu: Good shot.
The Rahu is the opposite of the Irraka. For the Irraka, the kill is the goal. It is quick, silent and definite. For the Rahu, the fight is the goal, because the fight sends a message. Irraka can appreciate a moral victory, sure, but they prefer a total victory - it's easy enough to spin the lesson into that after the fact.

The Hunter's Aspect of the Irraka is Blissful. Their prey is unaware they're being hunted at all. They enjoy the outdoors, take part in their vices, never notice the shadowy form that gets ever closer to their exposed throat. The innate Gifts of the Irraka are Evasion, New Moon and Stealth. Their Auspice Skills are Larceny, Stealth and Subterfuge, and their Renown is Cunning. Their innate power is tapping into the inherent uncertainty of the new moon. Once per session, they can become suddenly closer to a target. This has one of three effects:

Blood Talon Irraka are the hunters of hunters - not glorious warriors, but silver-wielding assassins that kill by darkness. Bone Shadow Irraka are obsessive eccentrics, often undergoing complex purification rituals every day and carrying a number of charms and random objects to serve as bans and banes for local spirits. They are skilled at considering not only their prey, but the kind of spirits that might also be hunting the prey. Hunter in Darkness Irraka are meticulous in their attention to detail, learning the many powers the Hosts they face might have, and how they might kill a beast that will, on death, explode into a thousand tiny, living fragments. Iron Master Irraka are...well, killers, each with a thousand ways to kill their prey, but needing to live among them. They tend either to the very careful or to resent humans. Some like to see how much they can get away with before humans start to notice. Storm Lord Irraka win by endurance, driving their prey further and further into unfamiliar ground, away from help. They strike only once the target is exhausted, and this is because they are used to having to kill twice - first the Claimed body, and just as often after that, the released spirit.

Next time: Spirit Talker


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, Second Edition

Ithaeur are the most drastically changed from their human lives. Before, even if they did believe in spirits, they didn't see them much. Now, they're everywhere. The Ithaeur know - you're never really alone. They are watched, always, by a thousand ephemeral eyes. There is nowhere, Flesh or Shadow, that is without spirits. They embrace this, having no other choice, and do their best to live in accordance with the laws of spirits, to respect them - for safety, if nothing else. Every Ithaeur is a shaman, set apart from their society. No longer human, yes, but also not a spirit, as the spirits happily remind them. The trauma of the First Change often pushes them far from humanity, however, so they identify more with spirit than flesh, forgetting at times that the middle path is best - the path of being Uratha. Even for a werewolf, they act strangely, observing bans that do not actually affect them, becoming close to the spirits. They are valued by their packs and their tribes, but even there, they are something of an outsider - sought when needed, but not the first pick for socializing. However, no matter what, the Ithaeur is vital to the Sacred Hunt. Obviously they help when hunting spirits, but even corporeal prey must fear their unseen allies. An Ithaeur can see through spirit eyes, wake the spirit of an object to betray its user, borrow a spirit's power. They can track prey by the activity of Shadow and, if they really want to fuck you up, they can call on spirits to possess or Claim you.

Ithaeur are also the best of werewolves at crafting fetishes, as they deeply understand spiritual resonance and what spirits fit best in an object. They have been known to free spirits placed in poorly fit or badly made fetishes rather than allow such an obvious insult to continue. This rarely endears them to the fetishes' owners, but most Ithaeur would happily anger a werewolf to gain favor with spirits. While weak spirits are easy enough for them to control or kill, the rulers of the spirit courts are like gods, far beyond their power to command. An Ithaeur that does not check wards and follow spirit laws is likely to be torn apart by angry spirits. What they seek, however, is Wisdom - knowledge of spirits, the Uratha, the supernatural in general. They love to learn, and they know: spirits are dangerous, and deserve respect.

Before the First Change, Ithaeur tend to be fearful, even paranoid, and definitely weird. They often think they are psychic or cursed by God, if they don't have someone around to explain the spirits they sometimes sense. Most of them experience the First Change in response to some great shift in the Hisil - the First Tongue name for the Shadow. When they do Change, they often earn a reputation among spirits based on their actions that night.

Stereotypes posted:

Cahalith: In the story, what color was her dress? Hurry!
Ithaeur, right or wrong, look to the Cahalith as loremasters. An Ithaeur knows spirits, sure, but tends to focus on the ones they've met or are likely to meet. Cahalith, in theory, know the stories of spirits worldwide, and thus should know their banes and bans, even if it's couched in metaphor. In practice, they often fail to realize that Cahalith often make things up.
Elodoth: You want it to be so simple. Grow up.
Ithaeur know that while spirits operate by law, their ecology is vastly more important. Spirits can seem to violate their own laws because of some exemption from time or place, and that seems to piss Elodoths off to no end.
Irraka: Don't kid yourself. They see you.
Irraka sometimes forget spirits exist. Ithaeur are quick to remind them that they do - and that any spirit of stealth will spot them hiding simply because they are using stealth. Hiding from a spirit requires understanding what they can't 'see' - and Ithaeur are happy to teach the Irraka what that is.
Rahu: Sorry, I'll just stay out of your way, then. Call me if you want to win this fight.
Rahu like to run facefirst into battle, which works fine against corporeal foes, but not so hot on spirits. A smart Rahu learns to ask the Ithaeur first - but the Ithaeur are often frustrated by younger, dumber Rahu, who insist that martial skill is all they need.

The Hunter's Aspect of the Ithaeur is Mystical. Their prey senses the spiritual world around them, even though they can't see it. They avoid areas of spiritual resonance, fall back on superstition, are betrayed by their senses. Spirits suffer similarly, but sense the material world instead. The innate Gifts of the Ithaeur are Crescent Moon, Elemental and Shaping. Their Auspice Skills are Animal Ken, Medicine and Occult, and their Renown is Wisdom. Their innate power is the ability to claim their place in the spirit hierarchy - that of dominant predator. Once per session, they can unleash a howl that is silent in the world of Flesh, but in the Shadow, it reverberates. Any spirit of lower Rank than you flees the area, hides or goes dormant, while more potent spirits avoid you. Spirits actively allied to your pack or totem may even help you, though not often. Only spirits outright hostile to your pack will not show deference, and even then, their Defense is reduced by your Wisdom. This howl requires no roll but does need you to spend one Essence.

Blood Talon Ithaeur hunt totems of their targets. Once a pack's totem is gone, the pack is soon to follow. They also like to hunt totems gone rogue after the destruction or corruption of a pack, or specialize in hunting werewolves so lost to Harmony that they are trapped in Shadow. Bone Shadow Ithaeur know spirits even more than most others - but that means that expectations are high for them. If they can't hold their own against a spirit, they're an embarrassment. Hunter in Darkness Ithaeur are careful in watching their territories for problems, patrolling to track the Shadow for changes that show signs of intrusion - especiually by Hosts. Iron Master Ithaeur know that humans often strengthen and generate conceptual and emotional spirits, and they make sure to 'clean up' the nascent spirits of murder, fear and revenge left behind by successful hunts. Storm Lord Ithaeur prefer to wipe out the Claimed before the spirits take full control of their hosts - which can include killing people who seem like good candidates for Claiming, on the reasoning that it's better to die then undergo that horror, or hunting down spirits with the interest or power to possess others...though figuring out which spirits want that can be tricky.



posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, Second Edition

Rahu are warriors. Every werewolf is a hunter, but not all of them are warriors. Where the others are experts in how to conduct a hunt, the Rahu is an expert in ending it. They charge into battle, never retreating until they or the prey is dead. If the pack has done its job right, the quarry is wounded, fearful and ready to die. If they haven't...well, the fight's harder, but the Rahu's going to face it anyway. Rahu do not fight for glory - that's Cahalith. Rahu fight because it is right to fight. They fight because they are Rahu. Tautology? Maybe. But it's fact, it's pure and simple - and Purity is what Rahu long for. That's not to say they're all moral beacons or fair fighters. They can be devious, underhanded and vicious. They just prefer to fight rather than murder. A Rahu wants to face a foe in battle, even if the field is rigged to blow. They want the prey to know they're dying, and why.

Rahu have an almost instinctive knowledge of the Oath of the Moon. They may not be able to recite its tenets, but they know them in the bone. They understand that battle is simple, pure. They are proud of that. In fact, they rarely leave the midnset of battle. Every interaction is framed as conflict. It can make talking to them irritating - they try to win the conversation, they use all the skill they have in friendly games, they shoot back with terrible fervor when it comes to insults and trash talk. They will not lose except against a worthy foe. The pack, at least, is something of an exception. The focus on Purity that drives Rahu to constant conflict also keeps them from fighting packmates often. Some do have trouble remembering they don't have to be in charge all the time, but eventually they learn that being forceful doesn't make them right - just loud. Some Rahu are tacticians and fight coordinators, while others just fall to Kuruth and tell everyone else to stay out of the way. Reliance on brute force and rage, however, can lead to disaster - and Rahu rarely learn except by experience. They don't trust lessons that aren't earned by hardship, and often do not trust gifts, either, if they don't have to defeat the giver in some way.

Before the First Change, Rahu were not necessarily violent, but they are almost always confrontational. Arrogant, domineering, controlling, competitive - it takes a lot of forms. Their FirsT change, though, is always violent. Every First Change is, but for a Rahu, violence is the soul and center of it. Maybe they fought to defend someone they loved or killed a perceived threat, but it's always about fighting, dominating and killing.

Stereotypes posted:

Cahalith: It's not about the stories they tell. It's about making them tell the stories.
Rahu know the Cahalith want to have their place at the center of the story - and also know that desire for glory is why they can't. They care more about being famous than getting the job done. This view is not always accurate, though - there's plenty of Rahu who care a lot about their own glory - but Rahu still hold it.
Elodoth: Wait until I get to the corner, then make me Rage.
The ability of an Elodoth to start and end Kuruth lets them wield a Rahu like a blade. The problem is that one Elodoth can't do it more than once a fight, so the decision about how to use the power is very tactical. Elodoth and Rahu do not always agree on when it is best.
Irraka: Don't kill them all. Leave me two or three.
Irraka and Rahu are opposites. One is assassin, the other warrior. And for all that, the Rahu usually has a great deal of respect for the Irraka. In many ways, an Irraka is better and more efficient and killing - but no Rahu would ever admit to that. Equal, maybe. Maybe.
Ithaeur: Just keep them solid for a minute. That's all I need.
Rahu often hate fighting spirits - they don't fight right, they don't die right. Worse still are the ones that can attack mentally. The Ithaeur are, to Rahu, charms against spirit-foes. When the Ithaeur fails in this duty, the Rahu tends to be very upset.

The Hunter's Aspect of the Rahu is Dominant. Their prey want to fight. They don't know they're going to die - they think they can win. They believe they can handle anything. The innate Gifts of the Rahu are Dominance, Full Moon and Strength. Their Auspice Skills are Brawl, Intimidation and Survival, and their Renown is Purity. Their innate power is the ability to ignore injury and distraction. Once per session, you can ignore the effects of any Conditions or Tilts hindering you for two turns. They return after that, though.

Blood Talon Rahu are the most iconic of the tribe - loud, violent and warlike. Bone Shadow Rahu are tacticians more often than beasts of rage. Fighting spirits takes prepwork, after all. Hunter in Darkness Rahu protect their territory fiercely. They hate trespassers and vandals - regardless of if they knew what they were doing. It's not about teaching a lesson, it's about holding the territory, and mercy cannot be given there. Iron Master Rahu tend to be soldiers, cops or athletes - whatever reflects 'warrior' in their human society. Some cope better than others with adding 'werewolf pack hunter' on top of that. Storm Lord Rahu fight to the end, always. They know any wounds they get will heal, as long as they live, but defeat will shame them forever. Besides, defeat to a Claimed is dangerous - Uratha can be Claimed, after all, and that is the greatest fear of any Storm Lord Rahu.

Next time: One of the Tribe


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, Second Edition

Hunting gives werewolf purpose. The Siskur-Dah, the Sacred Hunt, gives them meaning. It is what they live to do. Legend holds that Father Wolf's children saw he had grown weak, so they muredered their parent. While some of them went to hide in shame after, five saw what had to be done. Each took up part of Wolf's duty. The Uratha looked to these, the Firstborn, to teach them to hunt. They had to prove themselves worthy, of course, with those who would follow each of the Firstborn having to earn their approval. These groups would become the first of the Forsaken tribes. Some werewolves, however, turned their back on Wolf's duties. They remove the marks of Luna on their spirits, choosing instead to follow the Firstborn who felt ashamed of what they did. These were the Pure tribes. Still others ignore the hnt entirely, trying to suppress their need. These Ghost Wolves try to ignore what they are and remain human, but their life can never be the same. The wolf must hunt - it's a need, deep in the bone. Your favored prey usually determines which tribe you join, as each tribe specializes in hunting one particular type of creature over the rest.

The Blood Talons, or Suthar Anzuth, are apex predators. They hunt the greatest, most dangerous prey: other werewolves. They are violent, brutal hunters. They do not compromise, and their tribe swore an oath before the Moon: Offer No Surrender You Would Not Accept. The Blood Talons are savage and cunning, carnage incarnate. They find lesser foes than werewolves almost beneath their notice - killing humans or even possessing spirits cannot thrill them as a true battle with another werewolf does. Their rites are rites of blood and battle, and they know their prey intimately. To some outside the tribe, they seem like mad, mindless attack dogs, berserkers not to be trusted. This is not true. The Blood Talons are an army, and an army that requires thinking. Rage can keep you alive, sure, but if you can't control it and aren't reliable, you're a liability. For the Blood Talons, the pack is all. That's a standing order of the tribe: if loyalty to pack and loyalty to tribe conflict, always pick the pack. Every time. It's not something they advertise, but it's there. The Blood Talon is usually the first to try to solve intra-pack problems or offer a challenge to clear the air. It gives them a reputation as bullies sometimes, but that oversimplifies. They're focused on pack cohesion, because what they hunt comes in packs, too.

The Blood Talons pay respect to Fenris-Ur, the Destroyer Wolf. Fenris-Ur was not eldest or wisest of Father Wolf's children, but was strongest. The Destroyer does not just kill - he tears his prey limb from limb, sactters their blood and Essence, revels in the carnage. But the Destroyer is more than just destruction of flesh - he destroys all barriers in his fury.

Stories of the Firstborn posted:

  • This story is true. In the time before time, when Father Wolf led his children in the hunt, Fenris-Ur had a twin. Danu-Ur, she was called, the Creator Wolf. She alone could calm her brother's rages and convince him to quit the field. He alone could drive off the chattering spirits that swarmed her and threatened to drive her mad. They were in balance then, but the Father's death tore them asunder. Now the Destroyer rages without end, and the Creator gibbers rabidly and spreads her madness like a plague.
  • This story is true. After the murder of Father Wolf, when the Forsaken were scattered like grains across the earth and hunted by flesh and spirit alike, a great leader called Red Claw sought out Fenris-Ur and demanded the Firstborn's patronage as totem to his people. "I will bind myself to you," the Destroyer said, "if you bare your throat to me and surrender to my might." Red Claw refused. They fought for days, and each time the Destroyer demanded surrender, Red Claw refused. When at last the battle was done and Red Claw lay, broken but unbowed, before Fenris-Ur, he offered her her life if she would yield to him. Red Claw refused. In dying, she bound the Destroyer to us, blood to blood and bone to bone. It is from this story that we take our oath: "Offer no surrender that you would not accept."
  • This story is true. Ever heard of a town called Paris, Vermont? Yeah, nobody has, it doesn't exist anymore. Seems a pack of Talons around those parts had started supplementing their diets, if you get me. People, jackass, they were eating people. So anyways, this pack was building themselves a nice, tidy little empire, even had some kind of cannibal cult bringing 'em fresh meat. Then one night this big storm brews up over the mountains and wipes the whole town off the map. A buddy of mine in Montpelier swears he saw a wolf the size of a mountain moving inside that storm. Moral? Fuck, I dunno, eat your vegetables or something.

Blood Talons hunt other werewolves as their sacred prey. They hunt those who reject the Moon's blessing, those that would serve alien gods, those who have lost their way. Of course, it's the Blood Talons who decide what 'losing their way' means. Why werewolves? Because they're they only prey that can stand against a Blood Talon's fury. Lesser prey is barely challenge. Only a werewolf gives them the chance for real battle and Glory. For some of them, especially Rahu, the Siskur-Dah also has a spiritual element. Hunting werewolves who defy the Oath of the Moon is an expression of Purity. For others, it's a chance to match Cunning against the greatest hunters that have ever existed. The Blood Talons have always, though, had an element of the unnatural around them, which can make other tribes uneasy. Apex predators are not meant to hunt their own, and the Blood Talons consciously choose to go against that. They insist it's a sign of respect, that the only truly worthy prey is prey that is your equal. Other Uratha are not so sure - after all, it's hard to feel comfortable around someone devoted to finding the best ways to kill you.

The Blood Talons are also known as the Destroyers by other Forsaken, the Service by themselves, Rippers by spirits and the Pure, and Rat Squad by Forsaken that want to insult them, especially those that see themselves as keepers of the Oath of the Moon. Their tribal Gifts are Inspiration, Rage and Strength. Their Tribal Renown is Glory. Blood Talon gatherings tend to be part bloodsport, part morale-building and part strategy session. Their moots are about swapping stories and tactics, relaxing and testing themselves against each other without killing for once. These moots are always full of good food, alcohol and fun - the Blood Talons know they aren't immortal, so life should be enjoyed. On the hunt, they move with almost military precision, rather than the long chase other tribes prefer - after all, their chosen prey is neither weak nor isolated. They need to find the fracture points and then hit hard and fast, wasting no time. Off the hunt, they tend to see all of life as a battle, and believe that combat strategy can be applied to any aspect of life.

Stereotypes posted:

Bone Shadows: If you absolutely have to hit your prey on the Shadow-side, get them to back you. But really, don't hit your prey on the Shadow-side.
Hunters in Darkness: Don't play with your food.
Iron Masters: Please, tell me more about how humans are "the most dangerous game."
Storm Lords: The object of war isn't to die for your country, it's to - ah, fuck it, I'm wasting my breath.
The Pure: Good hunting.
Vampires: Creepy dead bastards do half our work for us.

Next time: Bone Shadow


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, Second Edition

The Bone Shadows (First Tongue: Hirfathra Hissu) are the werewolves who most understand both worlds they are part of. They open and close the way, gazed into Death and remained whole. They know the hidden paths, and those who do not understand them think them mad. But they hunt the most dangerous, the cleverest of prey: spirits. What could be more dangerous than that which walks unseen? They keep the secret wisdom, plumbing the depths of Shadow and stranger worlds. They know the laws of these worlds and the rites that let them punish lawbreakers. The world has gone out of balance since the death of Father Worlf, and the Bone Shadows dance to balance the scales, holding the line between flesh and spirit. Other tribes treat symptoms - the Bone Shadows strike the source. Long ago they swore an oath: Pay each spirit in kind.

The Bone Shadow is a hermit and shaman, a hunter of things that cannot be slain with mere fang and claw alone. They trap ghosts and bind spirits, they cast out angels and speak the language of the dead. They have a reputation for strangeness, but it's a product of their greater understanding of Shadow. Spirits and other ephemeral beings obey bizarre laws and compulsions, and to the Bone Shadows these things are natural, instinctive. Taboos have power, in the keeping and the breaking, and the Bone Shadows know how to call on that power. While Ithaeur of all tribes can command and use spirits, the Bone Shadows do more than command. They curate, managing the boundary of worlds in the name of Father Wolf, seeking to understand the secrets beyond the visible in the name of their tribal totem. They seek out that which is unknown, study and catalogue and bind it away or cast it out.

The Bone Shadows follow as their totem the Firstborn Kamduis-Ur, the Death Wolf. She was the most curious of the Firstborn, ranging deeper into Shadow than any other. She sought out ancient spirits, questioning them about their secrets and ways. When the first Bone Shadows bound themselves to her, the Death Wolf gave them her secret knowledge.

Stories of the Firstborn posted:

  • This story is true. In the time before time, Kamduis-Ur was called Kig-Ur, Seeking Wolf, for she was ever searching for more knowledge. One day, as she explored the Shadow, Seeking Wolf found a cave that led deep into the earth. Curious, she went inside, and she died. This was quite alarming, of course, and so she hurried back out again. All the spirits that dwelt by the cave marveled at this, for never before had someone come out of the cave. "It is no great thing," she said, "to return from that place. One only need not be afraid of changing." So it was that Kamduis-Ur gained wisdom.
  • This story is true. After the murder of Father Wolf, when the Forsaken were scattered like grains across the earth and hunted by flesh and spirit alike, a great host out of the Shadow stalked our ancestors without mercy. They cralwed out of mirrors to kill us, they drove the men of the cities and the beasts of the field against us, and we could do nothing to stop them. In despair, our ancestors sought Kamduis-Ur, from the depths of the Hisil to the forgotten places where the dead do not sleep, to places stranger still. At last they found her and begged her aid. Death Wolf told them that theirs would be a hard and thankless road, but that all debts would be honored and all accounts balanced at the end of all things. It is from this story that we take our oath: "Pay each spirit in kind."
  • This story is true. Down in the storm drains under New York, I found a door to nowhere. It wouldn't open for me, but a dead man I know taught me the trick of it, and on the other side I found a place of darkness, of caves and rivers and strange, angry shades. I wandered there for many lightless days, but when I made to return I found I oculd not cross the rivers. A woman stitched together from the parts of other women offered to take me across, but only if I gave her my right leg, as hers had gone gamy. Not wanting to pay such a bargain, I sang out a call to Death Wolf, asking for her aid. It seemed then that a vast shadow passed over me, and when it was gone, I was back in the storm drain - and my right leg was gone, neatly severed at the hip. Do not forget, brothers and sisters, that Kamduis-Ur is a spirit as well, and our oath yet holds.

Bone Shadows hunt spirits as their sacred prey. When they cross the Gauntlet to feast on mortal Essence, when toxic shades pollute the Shadow and the loci, when the unquiet dead rise up to choke the world with necrotic Essence - then come the Bone Shadows. Their howls echo through two worlds, and when they hunt, spirits huddle in their dens and pray their names are not spoken on the wind. Bone Shadows hunt spirits not only as threats, but for knowledge. Many spirits are old beyond measure, and many claim to hold knowledge of the time before, when Father Wolf lived and the two worlds were as one. Ghosts and other ephemera know secrets Uratha can but guess at. It's a rare hunt where a Bone Shadow goes for a kill without at least trying to bind the prey and steal its secrets first. Sometimes, that means the hunt ends with the prey released or bound to a fetish rather than dead or banished, which can bother other tribes, but the Bone Shadows count such bargains as victories - new wisdom is forever, while a spirit's death is generally temporary.

The Bone Shadows name themselves Seekers, and are called Spooks by other Forsaken, or Binders by spirits and the Pure. Their tribal Gifts are Death, Elements and Insight. Their Tribal Renown is Wisdom. Bone Shadow moots are intricate, ritualized and fraught with metaphor. The forms and rituals change, but they must always be kept. Often, these moots are held for specific and practical purposes, unlike other tribes, who prefer them as social events. Twice a year, for example, the South Dakota Bone Shadows gather in the Badlands to renew the bindings on an ancient spirit-god beneath the hills, while in Rio, they use Carnival as an excuse to drive out spirits of violence and desperation in the slums. On the hunt, a Bone Shadow is as much detective as killer - it's never good to be surpriused by your prey. Even when you know their nature, you must learn their bans and banes with observation and research - both specialties of the Bone Shadows. Even hunting other prey, Bone Shadows like to learn and take advantage of weaknesses - whether that means a supernatural weakness or just blackmail. Off the hunt, a Bone Shadow tends to be superstitious. They all have their own little luck rituals and special charms, which may or may not actually have power, and even when not laboring under bans brought by low Harmony, they often follow strange taboos.

Stereotypes posted:

Blood Talons: What do you do when claws and teeth alone are not enough?
Hunters in Darkness: Our goals are the same, but they take the narrow view and we the wide.
Iron Masters: Harmony has two sides, little sisters.
Storm Lords: Because it anchors in flesh rather than stone, the prey is yours? I think not.
The Pure: How easy it is to become a slave.
Spirits: Let's strike a deal.
Mages: Their knowledge is born of books and logic. What do they know of blood and bone?

Next time: And in the darkness, bind them.


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, Second Edition

The Hunters in Darkness (First Tongue: Meninna) are trained in terror. They guard their territory as holy, stalking the night to keep out intruders - but while they'll kill any intruder, the hunt is special. They choose only the foulest, most dangerous of prey: the Hosts. The Hunters in Darkness are the pop culture werewolves - cunning, savage, brutal in their treatment of intruders. They stalk and harry, isolating and picking off the weak before they strike down the now-terrified strong or drive them off. They swore an oath, after all: Let no sacred place in your territory be violated.

The Hunters in Darkness claim territory like any werewolf, and all respect it, but they take it to another level. Their territory is theirs, as much as their body, and by that virtue, it is ssacred. Their name for it in First Tongue, mus-rah, translates as 'holy killing ground.' Any violation must be avenged on that same ground. Letting the prey escape violates their oath. Thus, they tend to fill their territory with traps, dead ends and other ways to keep the prey from escaping. Of course, what counts as violating territory varies wildly. Obviously, despoiling a Locus or bringing in toxic resonance, yes. Maybe chasing prey onto the territory without permission. For some packs, even entering the territory unwittingly counts, while others will let humans pass through safely - just watching them, either personally or with bound spirits.

The totem of the Hunters in Darkness is Hikaon-Ur, thge Black Wolf, whom they also name the Silent Mother or Mother Wolf...which can annoy others, who hold that 'Mother Wolf' or 'Father Wolf' are titles that belong only to Urfarah. The most withdrawn of the Firstborn, Black Wolf was also the finest hunter among them. Her praises are sung by every silent kill, every trap, every terrifying glimpse of the hunter by the prey.

Stories of the Firstborn posted:

  • This story is true. In the time before time, when Father Wolf hunted the blasphemous spawn of the Plague King and the Spinner-Hag, the great hunter found himself stymied. Each time his jaws closed upon a furred throat, each time his claws slashed through a chitinous shell, the prey simply burst into a swarm of vermin that skittered away and vanished into the dark. Father Wolf could not kill them, and his howls of rage shook the sky. It was Black Wolf, quiet, clever Black Wolf, whose run crossed the world to map all of the hidden burrows and crevices where the shartha might hide. She taught her Father not to kill but to harry, to drive the swarms into dead ends and empty places where fire and falling rock could do the work of killing them. And the eldest of the Uratha saw this weakness on the Father's part and wondered. Silently.
  • This story is true. After the murder of Father Wolf, when the Forsaken were scattered like grains across the earth and hunted by flesh and spirit alike, the land was plagued by rats and spiders, crows and locusts. The People did not yet understand the gauntlet, and so the Hosts made the world an unclean place. In despair, a young hunter whose name is lost to time howled out a prayer to the greatest hunter among the Firstborn, and Hikaon-Ur answered. She showed the young hunter the same tricks she taught her Father. The hunter and her pack, with Black Wolf's aid, drove back the shartha. It is from this story that we take our oath: "Let no sacred place in your territory be violated."
  • This story is true. War is hell on the landscape. If it's not the spirits of violence and fear that spring up like weeds, it's artillery barrages churning the earth into a broken hellscape or the hungry ghosts trapped on the battlefield. Lots of our brothers and sisters have gone mad trying to uphold the oath in a war zone. Others pack up and move on, or retreat deeper into the wilds, abandoning urban territory to the humans. I've heard rumors, though, of a secret rite passed down from pack to pack in war-torn parts of the world, a great hunt that draws the eye of Hikaon-Ur herself. They say if it's performed properly, Black Wolf will scoop up your territory and bring it deep into the Shadow, where it becomes part of her domain. It's supposed to have happened in Sarajevo in '94, and supposedly some patches of forest near Bastogne haven't properly existed since early 1945. Nobody seems to know what happens to the packs that claim that territory - or what happens to the ones that fuck up the rite.

Hunters in Darkness hunt anything that violates their territory, but their greatest rage is saved for the Hosts, shards of Essence that once made up ancient gods of Shadow, creatures not quite spirit and not quite flesh. They are blasphemy incarnate, a reminder of the Father Wolf's greatest failure. That their infestation fouls the Shadow is only further insult. Shartha, as they are called in First Tongue, are insidious. By the time they are obvious, they are dug in deep, nearly impossible to remove. Thus, the Hunters in Darkness must be deeply attuned to their territory. The shartha are elusive beasts - one spider demon can easily become a swarm of thousands of tiny spiders. The survival of even one of those means the Host may someday reform. That is why the Hunters in Darkness must know both land and Shadow intimately, so that they can isolate, contain and destroy the entire swarm. Shartha are infectious, crawling inside living things and hollowing them out to hide in. That is why the Meninna are so wary of all outsiders in their territory.

The Hunters in Darkness are known as Ghosts by other Forsaken, and are casually called the Slashers. They know themselves as the Mother's Children, and are known by spirits and the Pure as the Chasers. Their tribal Gifts are Nature, Stealth and Warding. Their Tribal Renown is Purity. Hunter in Darkness moots are never just to swap stories. They come together at times to hunt prey that needs more than one pack to deal with, or to explore a new place, or sometimes for the sheer joy of a run. They are always mobile, even under ritual, and by tradition a Hunter in Darkness tribal run can enter any of the tribe's pack territories without reprisal, often showing their presence as a run by carrying a representation of their prey on a long pole. Mixed tribe packs, however, may or may not honor the tradition. Depending on how urban the area is, these runs can be quite complex - Hong Kong's Hunters in Darkness prefer 'rooftop runs', in which one must cross the island without ever being seen by humans or touching ground, while Paris' Hunters prefer runs that never go above ground. On the hunt, a Hunter in Darkness stalks prey in a way that reflects classic werewolf stories. Thye herd them to a killing floor, always a place of spiritual significance to the pack, and even when not hunting shartha, they have an uncanny knack for steering the prey and controlling their movement. Their own territory will be full of traps, blind alleys and other ways to hobble and slow the prey - but never kill them. The killing blow is, after all, holy. 'Off the hunt' is a concept that most Hunters in Darkness barely understand. If they arne't pursuing a quarry, they're looking for the next one.

Stereotypes posted:

Blood Talons: Violence is only the end.
Bone Shadows: If it bleeds, we can kill it. If it doesn't, you can.
Iron Masters: I respect what you're doing. Damned if I understand it, but I respect it.
Storm Lords: Seems to me if you have to stoically endure all that, something's already gone wrong.
The Pure: Heh. Heheh. Hahahaha!
The Hosts: We don't talk about that in mixed company.
The Fae: It's not fair when the prey can change the terrain around you.

Next time: Wolves of Iron and Steel


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, Second Edition

The Iron Masters (First Tongue: Farsil Luhal) embrace change. It's in their blood. They walk among humanity and are not known. They hunt the most dangerous prey: humans. Laugh, go ahead. But humans are dangerous - they are everywhere, can do anything. And so can the Iron Masters. They're as at home in the boardroom as on the killing ground. They adapt, becoming what they must be to hunt. Humans are the most cunning of prey - and so the only worthy prey for the Iron Masters. The Iron Masters adapt, survive, innovate. They question everything, preserving that which is useful and culling which is not. Traditions, institutions, even people only have value temporarily. Iron Masters dwell amongst humanity because humans are the leaders of innovation, like it or not. They aren't the 'modern' tribe - all tribes are modern, living in the modern world and using modern conveniences. What the Iron Masters are is the adaptive tribe. They judge all changes to see if they are good or bad, embrace the good and reject the bad. They change things in their territory or protect them from change, because they swore an oath: Honor your territory in all things.

Other tribes believe the Iron Masters are too human, too atched to their old lives, too scornful of the ancient. But to the Iron Masters themselves, it's simply acknwoledging - change is constant. They are not neophiles, embracing all that is new slavishly - that's as rigid and inflexible as tradition for tradition's sake. Rather, they question all things they find, and accepy only that which is found worthy. What is left is to be cast aside, forgotten or destroyed.

The Iron Masters follow Sagrim-Ur, the Red Wolf. Sagrim-Ur was the youngest and wildest of the Firstborn, never happy with tradition, and she constantly questioned the nature of the world. Where Kamduis-Ur delved into ancient places to find the forgotten, Sagrum-Ur celebrated the discovery of the new.

Stories of the Firstborn posted:

  • This story is true. In the time before time, men were little more than clever beasts, and the Firstborn gave little more thought to them than men do to ants. Yet one day while Sagrim-Ur was out hunting, he came across a spirit the like of which he had never seen before. It was a thing of wood and stone and sharp points. Red Wolf, thinking it was some strange new magath, made ready to destroy it. But the spirit cried out to her, begging her to stay her terrible jaws long enough for it to show her whence it came. Intrigued, Red Wolf agreed, and the spirit took him to a strange place that was home to many new kinds of spirit: hollow boxes with fires for hearts, stones that flew like birds, beasts that danced on the walls of caves. Delighted, Red Wolf asked where these spirits had come from, and his guide showed him the tiny, hairless apes that had made them. From that moment even unto today, Sagrim-Ur was delighted by the humans' cleverness, and he took special care to look after them.
  • This story is true. After the murder of Father Wolf, when the Forsaken were scattered like grains across the earth and hunted by flesh and spirit alike, Sagrim-Ur rejoiced, for nothing would ever be the same again. But as she crisscrossed the world, delighting at all the wonderful newness she saw, a small, piteous howl caught her ear. It was one of Father Wolf's half-breed children who sat, howling his grieft into the night. "Little brother," Sagrim-Ur said, "why do you mourn?" "I mourn because my family, and all the families of men I dwelt among, are dead," said the Uratha. "The spirits of the sky have choked them, the spirits of the water have drowned them, and the spirits of their spears have pierced them." And Sagrim-Ur understood that change was not always for the better. It is from this story that we take our oath: "Honor your territory in all things."
  • This story is true. The other tribes hear us talk about change and adaptation and they think we're all magic cell phones and plastic knives and shit. They don't get it. Modern technology, sure, that's one thing that changes - but as neat as people are, they're not the only force for change. We were there after Krakatoa, after Katrina and Fukushima, studying how the ecosystem adapts to unexpected catastrophe. It's all really interesting and worth knowing, especially after that dream I had the other night where Red Wolf showed me this big asteroid that's hanging out near Jupiter right now.

The Iron Masters hunt humans. Other tribes laught - after all, any given human is no threat to a werewolf, physically. Even armed, they're helpless. But what makes them dangerous is their unpredictability and their influence. A serial killer left to their own devices can poison an entire city's resonance with pain and fear and death. A corrupt councilwoman can, with one penstroke, demolish your Locus. Sure, neither can face you in battle - but that's not the only place of danger. Iron Masters also claim as their sacred prey other supernatural beings that hide among humans - vampires, mages, stranger things yet. Most see this as a natural extension of their oath rather than a sacred duty, however, and most are content to let monsters lie unless removing them would be positive for the territory. This ca cause tension with Hunters in Darkness or Storm Lords, whose own prey often hide in human society as well.

The Iron Masters are known as Wardens to themselves, Zookeepers when others want to insult them and Slinkers to the spirits and the Pure. Their tribal Gifts are Knowledge, Shaping and Technology. Their Tribal Renown is Cunning. Iron Master moots range from formal meetings to casual chats, and their main job is to trade information, favors and stories. They're social events more than anything else, though they can be highly formal - the London Iron Masters actually run a vanity press trade journal with peer-reviewed articles, while the Iron Masters of the German town of Bodenwerder are expected to make shit up to see if anyone spots the lies in their stories. The tribe has also held online moots before - it's kind of a logistical nightmare, but gives them international contact. One of the larger communities is 300 wolves strong and hidden in a locked subforum of the Iowa Cat Fanciers Monthly site. On the hunt, an Iron Master tends to focus deeply on their own territory, like a Hunter in Darkness. They tend to be more poactive, however, looking for prey whose removal will improve the territory somehow, and sometimes this doesn't resemble a hunt at all - they're often comfortable invoking Siskur-Dah to block critical legislation, just as much as hunting down a spirit cult. Even when not hunting humans, they have a knack for using human society against their prey, disrupting resources, bribing people and using mundane methods to cut off supernatural strength. Off the hunt, an Iron Master is usually very inquisitive, fascinated by how systems respond to new things. They're as interested in human psychology as evolutionary biology, and any time the world goes through chaotic change, you can beat there'll be an Iron Master around to see what happens next.

Stereotypes posted:

Blood Talons: When these guys get to town, it's like dropping a boulder into a lake. Not so much ripples as tidal waves.
Bone Shadows: If it's been buried and forgotten for thousands of years, how cool can it be?
Hunters in Darkness: Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other - actually, that's kind of a fucked up rhyme.
Storm Lords: Hey, it was pale and it drank blood. How the hell was I supposed to know it was a guy possessed by a leech spirit?
The Pure: Talk about living in the past.
The Created: These things may not look like much, but they're trouble. One of them shows up on your turf, you break out the torches and pitchforks and angry peasants.

Next time: Lords of thunder


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, Second Edition

The Storm Lords (First Tongue: Iminir) are unstoppable. Lesser predators get tired, feel pain, eventually stop. The Storm Lords do not. They endure, no matter what is done to them. They kill anything in their way. But only the must brutal prey is worthy of such devotion - the most dangerous prey: the Claimed, unholy union of flesh and spirit. The Storm Lords are cold and ruthless, seemingly calm even in the throes of the Death Rage, even as they slaughter all around them. Pain and pity mean nothing to them, and they never stop. The prey can run and hide - but eventually, fear and fatigue will drive them mad...and the Storm Lords will keep coming, for they swore an oath: Allow no one to witness or to tend your weakness.

Self-reliance and personal strength are the greatest virtues of the Storm Lords. They expect all Uratha to push themselves beyond their limits, for only in enduring hardship can they approach the glory of Urfarah. They hold themselves to an even higher standard than they hold everyone else. They know secret rites, which teach them to be heirs to Father Wolf, rising beyond flesh and becoming more. It is said that a Storm Lord who masters their Harmony and becomes one with their Primal Urge can one day ascend to take on the place of Father Wolf as Lord of the Boundary. Among others, Storm Lords have a reputation for trying to claim leadership for themselves and refusing any offer of help, no matter how small. If so, that's more ego than ethos - a Storm Lord expects everyone, including themselves, to know their place and do their job. If that means leadership, fine, but it doesn't always.

The Storm Lords follow Skolis-Ur, the Winter Wolf. Skolis-Ur is the eldest of those Firstborn bound to the Uratha, and he sees himself and his children as those who must live up to the legacy of the Father Wolf. Their distance from that goal is a challenge, not a failure, and the Storm Lords have never shrunk from challenge.

Stories of the Firstborn posted:

  • This story is true. In the time before time, the world was forever green and sunny, and the bounty of the hunt was without end. Father Wolf and his children hunted then, for sustenance, to keep the Marches, and for the sheer joy of it. Then Skolis-Ur was born. As his mother labored, the world grew cold, and the Firstborn marveled to see their breath escaping like a steaming cloud. When the pup opened his eyes, snow began to fall in great flurries. At his birthing howl, a great wind tore through the world, and flesh and spirit alike knew the bite of winter. "This cold will destroy the world," said Fenris-Ur. "It is the chill of death," said Kamduis-Ur. "The prey will leave a trail even a child could follow," said Hikaon-Ur. "The prey will adapt," said Sagrim-Ur. And Father Wolf looked upon his child and was pleased.
  • This story is true. After the murder of Father Wolf, when the Forsaken were scattered like grains across the earth and hunted by flesh and spirit alike, a clever hunter chased a monster. The monster was stronger than the hunter, but the hunter endured its blows, though they tore her flesh and spilled her blood. The monster was faster then the hunter, but when the monster stopped to rest, the hunter pessed on, though her muscles ached and her very bones were weary. At last she chased the monster up a great mountain, where the bitter cold froze it stiff and slowed its pace so that the hunter caught up. After a great battle, the monster lay dead, but the hunter was mortally wounded. It was then that Skolis-Ur emerged from his den, drawn by the noise of battle. He offered to bind the hunter's wounds, but she refused and packed them with snow to numb the pain. He offered to carry her down the mountain, but she refused and began the torturous climb herelf. When she could walk no further, he offered to end her pain, but she refused and lingered for a full day and night before dying. As her spirit rose from her body, Skolis-Ur bowed his head in respect and said, "here is a true scion of Urfarah." It is from this tale that we take our oath: "Allow no one to witness or to tend your weakness."
  • This story is true. Everybody knows the Firstborn can't come to the physical world anymore. They're just too big, too mighty - any one of them would suck the world dry of Essence in a heartbeat. Skolis-Ur is no different, but sometimes, when the winter storms rage or the snow falls silent and chills to the bone, he's able to reach into the world, just a little. Sometimes he appears as a Storm Lord with a coat of pure white fur, other times as a wolf made of ice and bright, painful light. I've even heard that sometimes he chooses a Wolf-Blooded to ride for as long as the storm endures...but what does that say about the hunt?

The Storm Lords hunt Ridden and Claimed. For a spirit to cross the Gauntlet is wrong - but to steal human flesh and twist it into a mockery? That is an insult to the memory of Urfarah. The Claimed are dangerous - they could be anyone, at any time. Even those you thought were friends, lovers or packmates can be possessed and Ridden. When a Storm Lord loses kin to a spirit's claiming, they are expected to lead the hunt themself. Their tribe will mourn with them, sure, but not hunt with them. It's respect - an acknowledgement that, where loved ones are concerned, we're all a little weak. If no one is there to see the hunt's end, no one sees a moment of wekaness.

The Storm Lords are known as the Scions of Urfarah to themselves, Cold Bastards when others want to insult them and Howlers to the spirits and the Pure. Their tribal Gifts are Evasion, Dominance and Weather. Their Tribal Renown is Honor. Storm Lord moots are preferably in high, cold places. If you can't manage a frozen mountaintop, at least go for the top of a high rise with the AC cranked all the way. Storm Lord moots are about constantly testing each other for weakness. In Kuala Lampur, Storm Lords play a game they name sugrah - after an evening of socializing, they pair off at random and take turns naming the weaknesses they saw in the other and how they'd use them to defeat each other. The most creative and incisive wins a small boon. Storm Lord moots also often hold a strong religious element - ecstatic ordeals and sacrifices to Skolis-Ur are common, but never to Urfarah. Urfarah is dead and gone, after all, and it's their job to replace him. On the hunt, a Storm Lord has to be ready for anything. The powers of one Claimed or Ridden will vary wildly from another's. Storm Lords are cautious, gathering what information they can before going in for the kill. When possible, they like to harness the local environment to hamper their prey and take advantage of its weaknesses. Even when hunting others, they know what warning signs to look for in case a spirit decides to Claim someone. They are experts at finding the people who are weak-willed and vulnerable, and are more than happy to use those needs against their prey. Off the hunt, Storm Lords are rarely idle. They seek self-improvement constantly, developing skills or pushing themselves to survive greater dangers. They are the most likely to go off and hunt alone, without a pack backing them, to see if they can handle it. If they survive, they are worthy of Skolis-Ur. If not...well, too bad.

Stereotypes posted:

Blood Talons: Killing was only one part of our Father's duty.
Bone Shadows: Chase your ghosts, brothers, but when they walk as men, you yield the hunt to us.
Hunters in Darkness: The dark and the cold go hand-in-hand.
Iron Masters: You walk among the herd - but don't forget what you are.
The Pure: They're like neglected children, acting out for attention.
Sin-Eaters: Claimed by the dead is still Claimed.

Next time: Ghost wolves


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, Second Edition

The Ghost Wolves (First Tongue: Thihirtha Numea) are...well, the wolves who don't join a tribe. They lack purpose. They wander in the dark, they kill what is in their way, but they have no clear idea of what they should be doing. They are not a tribe at all, but those who reject the tribes. Many are just ignorant - the Uratha can't be everywhere, and sometimes a werewolf goes through the First Change but is not found after. Others want to deny their nature and cling to their humanity, or find nothing to relate to in the Forsaken or Pure tribes. Ghost Wolves generally are not respected much by the Forsaken. After all, they turn their back on their ancestral duty. Those who do uphold their legacy and just don't feel they fit into any one tribe are slightly more respected. They often join mutli-tribe packs are packs of likeminded Ghost Wolves. However, lacking the support structure of knowing their tribemates means they often have a disadvantage in making alliances - though many see that as fair trade for total freedom.

I am a furry killing machine, please ignore my combover.

Ghost Wolves, lacking a tribe, have no Firstborn patron. Most are fine with that. Others form lodges to achieve some sort of spiritual support, and there are stories of Ghost Wolf packs heading into deep Shadow in search of a lost Firstborn, hoping to make it totem to a sixth tribe. So far, no such hunt has succeeded, but it is not impossible. Ghost Wolves have no special sacred prey - they hunt whatever they want to. Often their hunts are instinctive and driven by simple desires, sometimes even choosing their prey in the blind madness of Kuruth. Others attempt to deny the raging instincts within...but that never works for long.

Ghost Wolves are also called the Unbound, the Lost Pups, or the nuzusul - an insulting First Tongue term when applied to any but newly changed werewolves, whom it refers to literally. Ghost Wolves have no special Gift affinities nor Tribal Renown, and so begin play weaker than werewolves in a tribe. They are strictly worse.

Stereotypes posted:

Blood Talons: I've seen this Band of Brothers shit before. Didn't buy it in Afghanistan, not buying it now.
Bone Shadows: Did you miss the part where deals with the Devil always fuck you?
Hunters in Darkness: You're psychotic.
Iron Masters: If anybody but me is sane here, it might be you.
Storm Lords: Alpha-male macho bullshit? Pass.
The Pure: No, I take it back. These guys are psychotic.
Vampires: Sure, why not? Wouldn't be the craziest thing I've heard.
Wolf-Blooded: Nobody gives you shit for not joining a crazy wolf-cult.

Next time: Lodges


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, Second Edition

Lodges are somewhere between pack and tribe in terms of social importance to a werewolf. They honor lesser aspects of Forsaken society. They may form around an auspice, a tribe or just a common ethos. Some focus on some particular aspect of a tribe's oath or sacred prey - the Storm Lords, for example, have the Lodge of Thunder, who believe only the mightiest werewolves are worthy to lead. Others take a broader view - the Iron Masters have the Lodge of Wires, who focus on understanding the spirits born of the information revolution. While lodges are smaller than tribes, they tend to have a wider social net. A Blood Talon probably knows most of the other Blood Talons in the state and sees them at moots. However, they probably know every other member of their lodge in America, and even beyond, thanks to the internet. Lodge members are more likely to keep in touch, you see.

The Lodge of the Einherjar tackle a basic problem: werewolves are secret and their lives dangerous, so it's not really surprising that many packs are lost in battle. The Blood Talons want people to remember them...and so the Lodge of the Einherjar was formed. They're based in northern Colorado, and they devote themselves to finding the stories of the 'lost packs' and sharing them with the rest of the Uratha. They use a mix of Insight Gifts, spirit bargaining and detective work to hunt down the forgotten tales of the glorious dead. They don't limit themselves to Blood Talon packs, either - everyone deserves to be remembered. Even if other tribes don't fully appreciate the Glory inherent to a dying stand, they value the Einherjar for relaying the news. Of course, not all of what they uncover is glorious...but tales of cowardice and betrayal must be told, too.

The Lodge of the Hundred Days is born of Rwanda. One hundred days from April to mid-July, 1994. 800,000 people died, nearyl 20% of the Rwandan population, and nearly 70% of the minority Tutsi. The killings were highly organized, planned by the leite Hutu-majority government, and mostlyk illed woman, children and noncombatants. The actions of the physical world ripple into Shadow, and the Rwandan Genocide produced enough spiritual evil to poison the Shadow many times over. The Lodge of the Hundred Days workes endlessly to draw out that poison, binding and destroying the pain, death and terror-spirits grown fat on the Essence of atrocity, laying to rest the ghosts of victims and perpetrators and hunting down the darker, weirder things that came out of the dark in the wake of the genocide. They cleanse the Wounsd formed in the hundred dies and reunite families torn apart by the chaos. It's been 20 years, and they're making progress, but there's a lot left to do.

The Lodge of the Hook Hand are Hunters in Darkness, finding their calling in their tribal oath. They started in rural West Virginia and have spread through the South, seeing the narrative of protecting territory as part of an older story - the kind that warns kids away from strangers or straying from the path. They find local legends and folklore, stories of killer ghosts and psychos, and then use those stories to their own ends. Withg a mix of Gifts, rumors and murder, they add useful details to the legends - Old Bill can't smell you if you hide in a pine tree, the Coulee Ridge Cannibal won't return to the cabin he ate his family in. You know the deal. Now, this is all total bullshit. What it actually does do is give the Lodge more tools. Kids hide from the Coulee Ridge Cannibal - and so they run into the waiting jaws of the pack in the cabin. People carry shards of glass to avoid the Nursery Girl ghost and think they are safe. Everyone knows if you don't leave fresh meat for Bloody Bones he'll drag you to hell - and so there's always food ready for a wounded Uratha. The Hook Hands seed their legends across the American South, making the nights just a little darker and more fearful - and so they make the hunt easier.

The Lodge of the Shield is primarily Iron Masters - and exclusively law enforcement. A badge gets you into a lot of places and a lot of information. The idealistic even like to use the idea of community policing as an example of honoring their territory in all things. The Lodge of the Shield is primarily a support network for its members. It was originally just an informal network of a dozen or so LAPD Iron Masters in the 50s, but has since spread to other state, local and even federal agencies. They help explain why you abandoned your patrol to hunt down a Ridden, ensure your unorthodox tactics go unquestioned, and so on. Technically, any tribe can join, but so far, almost all of them are Iron Masters. Since the late 80s, the Wolf-Blooded members have outnumbered the actual Uratha, and they are notable for the fact that Wolf-Blooded can outrank werewolves within the Lodge.

The Lodge of the Roman Ritual are exprcists. They are Storm Lordss that claim an ancient tradition, but the truth is that they, like most 'exorcists,' were inspired by Max Von Sydow in the 70s. They use a mix of Catholic ritual and Uratha animism to 'hunt' their sacred prey via forcible extraction of spirits from those they ride. All members of the lodge are ordained priests authorized to perform exorcism. They operate out of dioceses around the world, but their heart is in Rome. Lay brethren, as they name their Wolf-Blooded members, also operate hospices to treat the spiritual and physical scars of possession. In most of the world in which the Catholic Church has a major presence, odds are at least one Storm Lord knows a number to get a lodge member in if needed. It doesn't get used much - Storm Lords often see asking for help as violating their tribal oath - but when the prey's your son, your brother or your friend...well, it can be tempting.

The Eaters of the Dead (First Tongue: Ki Anagh) are Ghost Wolves, but not ignorant ones that hide behind human faces. They seek a different truth. They are led by a Mongolian Rahu by the name of Dorj Tserendjav, who beleives that somewhere in Central Asia's Shadow is the lair of a forgotten Firstborn - Isim-Ur, Ravening Wolf. If he can bind her as a totem, the Eaters of hte Dead will become a sixth tribe. Usim-Ur consumes, and in consuming, she gains the knowledge and power of her prey. Tserendjav has no evidence she even exists, but his core of followers believe. Despite their lack of totem, Tserendjav has made them swear a tribal oath: Leave no kill to rot. They don't literally eat all they hunt - especially not humans - but are obliged to make as much use of every kill as they can. They claim the hungry dead as their sacred prey - vampires and so on. As Isim-Ur consumes prey for power, so vampires steal power from the living.

The Lodge of the Chronicle exclusively accepts Cahalith as members. It is more than 700 years old, and while its origin is fantastic, many of its members believe it. The story goes that a young Cahalith joined a Sacred Hunt that ranged across an entire continent, chasing down a disease-spirit - perhaps an idigam, though the lodge denies it - that as potent enough to destroy entire human populations. It spawned Claimed, Hosts, hundreds of minor spirits, and even traitor Uratha that preferred to live deformed than die sick. By the time the hunt was over and the battle won, dozens of werewolves lay dead and the lore and history of two generations was almost lost. The founder, horrified, decided this must never happen again - and so the Lodge of the Chronicle was born. Their patron is the spirit Crying Owl, and their numbers have grown over time. They seek to preserve the history and knowledge of the Uratha, and members often display perfect recall and an amazing understanding of history. However, they also have an unfortunate tendency to become lost in stories and be easily manipulated.

The Lodge of the Gargoyles only takes Irraka, and barely exists outside New England. Formed by a werewolf who lost a leg fighting an Azlu, they train Irraka in the art of attack from above. They favor long-range weapons like bows or rifles, sniping prey silently and effectively. Many also practice free-running, letting them cross a city by rooftop. Their patron is Black Rat, and the story the lodge founder tells is that she was on the hunt and found herself aiming from atop a gargoyle. The prey was about to break her line of sight with a door, but then a huge black rat came from the shadows and startled him, allowing her to take him out with one shot. She found the rat after, and saw that it, like her, was missing a hind leg. And so the lodge was born. They train members in acrobatics, parkour and use of gravity and height to your advantage. Rumor has it that they cannot be killed by any fall...and darker rumor claims that Black Rat demands sacrifice in flesh after a certain amount of kills, and that the founder had both legs when she met the rat.

Lodges have no mechanical weight in the core; that waited until the Pack supplement.

Next time: Chapter 2, in which we define terms


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, Second Edition

Werewolves, on a fundamental level, are not human - physically or psychologically. A werewolf, when they possess something, instinctively feel they must be strong enough to keep it. They are born to hunt and kill. Physically, they change shape, heal at an amazing rate, can step into the spirit world and can use powers based on the power being literally ripped into their soul. You know, just for a few tricks. All of their forms are optimized for use in hunting, and the hunt almost always ends in a kill. Werewolves are not human.

For most, the First Change - the first time they change form - is a defining moment in their lives. It is the first time they see the world as it truly is. Their senses go into overdrive, able to see and hear things far beyond the human senses they once had. They instinctively begin to view humans not as friends, but either threats or prey. They begin to learn that the spirit world exists, entirely apart from the world of flesh. And yet, all this pales against their body's rebellion. Before the First Chgange, the nuzusul - the werewolf about to Change - may believe they are going mad. Depending on their auspice, they may catch glimpsed of Shadow or spirits, may begin to hear or smell things outside their experience. They may be followed by strange, intimidating figures, may see bizarre gremlins in the corner of their eye. These things start small, infrequent. The closer the Change gets, the more common they become. The changes torment them, until they reach a breaking point. They either go mad...or they Change.

The stereotypical First Change is an unleashing of rage and fury, a whirlwind of killing claws and fangs. It is fairly common that this is the case, but there are other First Change experiences, too. None are more 'correct' than others, and in some way, each event is unique and defining. The phase of the moon it occurs under has a profound effect - it determines your Auspice, and that affects your Change more than anything else.

Werewolves and spirits share an ancient proto-language - Uremehir, the First Tongue. Legend holds that humans, spirits and werewolves all spoke it prior to the breaking of Pangaea, as the werewolves name the world before the Gauntlet formed. Immediately after the First Change, all werewolves can understand the First Tongue, at least enough to get the gist of any message. Another werewolf can teach full fluency easily - or a spirit can, for the right price. While spirits and werewolves speak different dialects (due to the fact that werewolves have, among other things, vocal cords), they can understand each other perfectly. For Uratha, however, communication differs by form. Hishu form - that is, human - can speak any human language you know, and can very roughly speak the First Tongue. Dalu and Gauru forms speak the First Tongue more fluently, while Urshul form can speak it roughly again. Urhan form cannot speak the First Tongue at all. However, both Urshul and Urhan forms can speak to wolves via body language and vocalization. (Fun fact: First Tongue follows a rough logic. Most of its words are vaguely related terms in Sumerian that are then backflowed through Grimm's Law. The more you know!)

Then we get a bunch of IC stories of the First Change. One woman cannot recall the actual act of the change, just that she got jumped by a group of men and then transformed and terrified them into running, swearing she would never herself be made afraid again. A boy went into a haunted house, got lost, and Changed. He ran into his friends and accidentally attack them in his fury. It is unclear whether they survived, and he never wants to hurt his friends again. A man goes to a bunch of parties, meets a woman he thinks is hot, and suddenly enters sensory overload, Changing rapidly through each form, then massacring the party in Gauru form. He keeps a piece of the woman's dress to remind himself to maintain control. Another man begins hearing whispers from all the objects around him, gets attacked by a spirit and Changes, driving it off. A pack finds him and teaches him not to kill himself over the whispering of spirits. A final man realizes he's planning how to kill everyone around him, even his friends. He leaves, finds a man attacking a woman, then Changes and kills the man, only to find the woman is also a werewolf and that he fucked up a sting operation.

When humans get hurt, they need medical attention. Werewolves do not. A normal human takes days at the least to recover from injury. Werewolves take hours at worst for the same one. However, this healing is neither pretty nor painless. Their regeneration doesn't care about looks - just fixing the body. Broken bones will shove through skin as they knit back together. Torn skin reaches for itself as it heals, and healed injuries are white and pale for only moments as the body replenishes missing blood. The exception is when a werewolf spends Essence to heal. Instead of feeling the body put itself back together, the werewolf instead feels only a refreshing chill, which can be addictive in the same way as a morphine high. Because of these capabilities, newly Changed werewolves often feel invulnerable - and against humans, they aren't really wrong. Even a weak werewolf can, with Essence, go from the brink of death to fully healed in 30 seconds or so.

Hishu is the form that werewolves often feel most comfortable in. It's human shape, after all. To others, though, it's just another hunting tool. In Hishu, a werewolf hides amongst humanity. Efforts to find them or pick them out as supernatural fail, even supernatural efforts. Dalu is for when you want to hunt in human society and not draw too much attention. You use it to finish a fight or intimidate people - it's basically a big, muscular, hairy form. Gauru is your archetypal werewolf form. It ends a hunt, making the kill. It is a massive wolf-monster, shattering bone with its jaws and practically immune to pain. Gauru form, for most werewolves, feels right, natural. It completes them. Urshul is a massive wolf, used to harry foes before the kill. Its huge jaws are nearly as powerful as the killing form's, perfect for tearing flesh. It's most often used against larger prey, to weaken it and wear it down. Urhan is the wolf shape, perfect camouflauge. It cannot be told from a true wolf, avoiding attention in wild places, and it has incredible endurance when running.

Werewolf senses are also vastly more potent than humans, and they get much more sensory input. Human experience is unable to comprehend it. Wolf forms grant them the power to smell prey, to hear it coming, to chase it for miles without tiring. And more than that, they notice why humans are 'prey'. Most humans are complacent, blind to threats. They think they're safe. They have no overt predators, so they live without fear of predation. While not all werewolves hunt humans, and certainly no werewolf hunts all humans, the Uratha can't help but notice prey behavior. People notice violence and shy away from it, keeping together in herds for protection. Werewolf instincts can't help but respond to it. The fact that these cues are often caused by a werewolf's presence just exacerbates the problem. And of course, the senses can't be turned off. They're always there. You can always smell the delicious meat, the sweat, the fear. You notice the nervous tics, the desire to flee. An Uratha can eventually discover just about anything their prey would want to hide, any clues to their behavior. But they can never go back to being human.

Next time: Packs


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, Second Edition

Werewolves are social animals, and that's why they form packs. Wolf-blooded and humans can fill out a pack, but the core is pretty much always actual werewolves. There's a few reasons for it. First, packs defend a territory. To do that, they need to hunt, and werewolves are the hunting party. When the Gauntlet is threatened by the shartha, they hunt them down. When a murder spirit perpetuates death in the area, they hunt it down. The Wolf-Blooded, however, perform valuable service. No pack can survive just on hunting. They need homes, food, and with the hunt coming at any time, it's not easy for an Uratha to hold down a job. Besides, Wolf-Blooded provide moral and emotional support, and help keep you connected to the world of Flesh. And, of course, some skilled Wolf-Blooded can and do join the hunt. It is rare, especially to take them into Shadow, but Flesh-based threats are just as well-handled by a bullet as a claw.

Packs do not go unnoticed, and against a threat, you have only your pack to rely on. One werewolf is powerful - a pack is beyond that. It centers you, lets you have people who will understand your problems. They are your family - indeed, some packs are literally family. Often, a werewolf finds they can only be themselves with the pack. No one else has the frame of reference to understand them. Most would think them insane - but the pack supports them. In a very real way, Uratha are like soldiers. They see hell, sometimes get PTSD. The pack is there for them then.

Outsiders are going to notice the pack's actions, though. Sooner or later, people will notice the group that's always around and is together all the time. Packs are like that, after all. They rarely let you act alone. Still, werewolves do have other friends and family - people from before the Change. For the young, it's often hard to cut those ties, even if the pack's ties are much deeper. For the safety of those loved ones, however, the ties must be severed. Werewolves make enemies that love to strike at weak points like your human family. A young werewolf might try to go it alone, concealing themselves from their family and trying to suppress what they are. They might act as a sort of vicious neighborhood watch, gathering up spirits of secrecy, paranoia and murder by their actions. But eventuelly, they'll realize they're drawing those spirits to their family. Most will just disappear, not even trying to explain. No one could understand, after all. They leave, taking the spirits with them. A pack can help drive the spirits off, but if you don't have one, you have to just deal with them yourself...and hope you took them all with you.

Every werewolf feels the urge to hunt. Their senses are tuned to finding and tracking prey. They sense weakness all around them, and even the newly Changed pick up on it quickly as a survival tool. While each tribe prefers a particular prey, none constrain themselves to it. Werewolves will hunt whatever they find suitable, with the help of their pack. Hunting and killing stronger prey is especially thrilling, affirming that a pack can defend its territory against any threat. But it's more than that. Werewolves hunt because they must, because it's sacred. It is what they were made to do. At no time besides the hunt do they feel as natural, as right. That is when they know for certain what they are and why they exist. Instinct takes over, and they feel the sheer joy of their existence.

Werewolf history is mostly oral - legends and stories passed on by packs, protectorates and tribes. It keeps the culture alive, but does mean actual fact is somewhat hard to come by. Still, most werewolves do get to hear tales of the time before time, how the Forsaken lost paradise. It's a common theme to werewolf history. The worlds of Flesh and Spirit used to be close enough to touch, and then they were ruined by the actions of the werewolves. Typically, the lesson is 'they fucked up, do it better now.' Broadly, this brand of tale is known as the Sundering.

Once, the Uratha could run and hunt through the worlds all over. Father Wolf maintained the balance of the world by predation, hunting spirits who grew too bold and thinning humans when they threatened to produce too much Essence, even driving off other great spirits that would exploit the borderlands for themselves - the creatures that would eventually become the Hosts. This ancient world is known to the Forsaken as Pangaea, a universe where spirit and flesh could more freely mix. The Sundering, which ended Pangaea, began with love.

Amahan Iduth - Luna, the warding moon - was a great spirit, protecting Shadow from the chaotic spirits of the void by her army of Lunes. Urfarah, the Wolf, was the spirit of hunting, watching over the Border Marches with his brood of wolf spirits. They were the two greatest guardian spirits of the Shadow, each preserving existence in their own way, and so they fell in love. Often Luna is spoken of as the mother, Wolf as the father, but in truth they were both spirits, neither beholden to any one shape or gender. The moon's protean nature merged with the Wolf's hunting instinct and guardianship, creating the People. Uratha. Bound to the earth, they joined Wolf's pack and received Luna's Gifts via the Lunes.

There are many stories of why Wolf began to weaken. Some say the creation of werewolves diminished him somehow, or that his Essence was weakened by his large brood. It doesn't matter why. All that matters is that he grew slow and weak, and both worlds suffered. Spirits set themselves up as gods among humans, and the progenitors of the Hosts escpaed total death by shattering themselves into too many pieces for Wolf to catch. The Uratha and the Firstborn knew that the young and strong must replace a weak elder. Like all spirits, Urfarah had a ban and bane. His ban was that he could not defend himself against a killing blow if challenged by those who could replace him, and his bane was the teeth of his children. Only a killing blow would work, so the Uratha and five of the Firstborn went for the throat. Urfarah's death howl shattered the Border Marches, killing everything within and raising the Gauntlet between worlds. Flesh and Spirit were forever divided. Luna saw what Wolf's children had done, and she cursed them with madness and to burn at silver's touch.

Even today, the Sundering divides the people. Those who believe killing Urfarah was a mistake follow Firstborn who did not take part in the murder. They name themselves Pure and obey the commands of spirits. Those who took up Father Wolf's role and have pledged to Luna that they will follow her lover's duty in guarding the border name themselves Forsaken. When the Uratha killed their father, the Gauntlet was raised, and now, open crossing between Flesh and Spirit is rare. Most travel requires a Locus - an object or person in the material world with a strong connection to shadow. Around a Locus, the Gauntlet is thin, and spirits flock to feast on the fountain of its Essence.

Next time: Life as Uratha


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, Second Edition

A werewolf's hunting grounds lie in many worlds. Their place is found in a pack. And every pack needs a territory. Choosing that territory can face a lot of problems. Most common is the presence of other werewolves. Rivals will fight over the best territory. Because each tribe and even each pack has different ideas on the best prey, 'best' territory may not even exist, but that doesn't mean there's no conflict. There's always going to be arguments, and for werewolves, that often means fights. Packs stake out territory as large as they feel they can hold and hunt. Too large, your pack gets stretched too thin. Too narrow, they feel cramped. Werewolves, like humans, use landmarks to master an area's layout - so they might mark the edge of their territory with a tree covered in scratches, or an abandoned home. Even a 'small' territory for pack will cover several neighborhoods, while the largest and strongest packs cover most of a county or several rural towns. They'll hunt for days or weeks, crossing the entire thing. Only the most dangerous, however, hold such large territories - their prey will learn not to overstep in their absence.

Territories are fluid. A pack that gets stronger can expand in a week or two, and the expansion isn't really formal - it's just, they hunt further and get to know more of the land. Eventually, they just understand their territory to include the new area - and so do their neighbors and their prey. The loss of pack members or the emergence of new threats, like a Pure pack in the area, can diminish territory. Relations with neighbors can sour, and they might aggressively intervene if they feel you can't handle the job. Maybe two packs compete over the same prey or locations - especially in a city, where hunting's a bit trickier. Methods might clash. What works for one pack won't for another. Some packs encourage crime and violence to cover their tracks, while others prefer quieter neighborhoods, to better notice the arrival of foes. One pack might bloodily battle a Pure pack and drive them off, gaining three blocks. Another loses three in a similar war. Three blocks might sound minor - but it could be a warzone. The Shadow's hungry, too, and you always need to think of the Shadow in your territory. You might also make deals with neighbors - not so much as a protectorate, but enough for a little breathing room, especially if your favorite bar or convenience store is in their territory. Just don't fuck up.

Werewolves live in a world with solid lines. Everyone is either predator, prey or rival. Stronger or weaker. They're not mad and overcome by bloodlust...but they do filter the world in those terms. Humans talk about equality, but werewolves know in the bone it's not real - not for them, at least. You rise to power with others at your heels. If you're weak, you get replaced it. It's the same with territory. Most packs try to maintain at least neutrality with their neighbors - few need even more enemies. But even so, growth of one territory comes at another's expense. Humans, other packs, other supernatural beings - they're all potential prey or rivals.

At least, that's what the older, stronger werewolves want you to think. Elders often enforce this sort of tooth and claw philosophy, but younger or more thoughtful werewolves see it as stupid. It's just falling back on base instinct - the basest of instincts, in fact, in which dominances is its own justification. Uratha can rise above this...in theory. When multiple packs coexist, the idea of dividing them into stronger or weaker often falls apart. The predator-prey dynamic requires there to be prey. Any region with multiple packs must have plenty of prey - and that means it's full of dangers. Fighting each other all the time just weakens every pack, and the prey is not simple and easy to cull. Packs weakened by infighting are not predators - they're prey. Sometimes, they even face challenges more than any one pack could ever overcome. And so, werewolves form protectorates.

On the basic level, a protectorate is a gathering of packs. They don't travel or hunt together except out of dire need - an idigam shows up or war is declared on the Pure, say. A protectorate's not even a democracy, at least in the human sense, and it needn't be a peaceful alliance. Meetings are full of arguments, even brawls. In many ways, a protectorate is a pack of packs. But what the protectorate brings is understanding. The packs within it come together because they can't afford to fight all the time. No one wants to try to hunt everything because noo ne can. Even a pack of Uratha can't rule a whole city...and so protectorates form the basis of a larger hunting ground.

Unlike a tribe or human hierarchy, a protectorate is formed bottom-up. Packs come together, exchange ideas, fight for territory, butt heads. Some have more formal systems, sure, with loose titles and duties, but most operate out of necessity. If one pack hunts the Hosts in the gutter trash neighborhoods, they need their neighbors to keep their own prey in line. If that doesn't happen, the Host-hunting pack has to take up their slack. The packs in their protectorate exchange stories, information, even small favors. Rather than a collection of disparate groups meeting only to fight each other, the protectorate grants some stability. They also help overcome problems too big or too abstract for any one pack. Maybe the city's politicians condemn the minority neighborhoods to destruction...or abandon them to drugs. One pack findds the results too hard to deal with - the spirits are too numerous, too fat on the Essence of suffering. Hosts thrive in the moldy basements, the people are apathetic or violent. A pack can't just kill its way to success - just killing the mayor gets him replaced.

But a protectorate? They can devote multiple packs to the problem. They cull the worst elements - removing dirty politicians, sure. But also hunting down their lawyers, the dirty cops making money off drugs, the greed spirits feasting on all of it. Multiple packs can hit all of these simultaneously, striking when they are vulnerable. They hunt like wolves, but they plan like insurgent cells. Most protectorates, of course, have an entire region or city to care about. Some even cover areas the size of entire US states or small countries. Individual packs within have to carry their own weight. When problems arise that concern everyone, that's when the protectorate comes together. War coming, urban expansion. They bat around ideas and solutions, then decide which pack will handle which part of the problem. If necessary, they team up. It's in the name - it's about protection. Packs form protectorates to protect each other form outsiders and themselves. Like a territory, a protectorate is a fluid construct, born out of need and ability - and like a territory, they need maintenance by the members or the whole thing will fall apart.

Next time: Spiritual cleansing for fun and profit.


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, Second Edition

Werewolves need to maintain their territory on both sides of the Gauntlet. Both halves of the world are linked, but each takes a different approach. A pack in the heart of a city probably has a harder time hunting, Flesh-side, than one with territory in an old forest. On the other hand, the urban pack has a lot of dark alleys, hiding places and other tools at their disposal that aren't available to the forest pack, plus contacts in various communities. In either case, their spirit prey will be more at home in the Hisil than the werewolves - and spirits are very dangerous, and as important to an area as its human and animal inhabitants. Packs vary in how they approach spirits and their territory. Some realize that humans effect great change with the Essence born of their actions, and that the Shadow reflects and reinforces this in a cycle. A poor and rundown area attracts crime and reeks of misery, and its spirit reflection is a place of dark alleys, sagging buildings and grime. The local spirits take forms reflecting urban decay. They might be exaggerated personifications of violence, creatures of greed or hunger, or immense masses of flesh covered in drug sores.

Changing one world requires changing the other. IT's not fast, it's not easy. If it were, Uratha would not be needed. You can't just kill the problematic spirits. It's about the ephemeral ecosystem - and thoughtless violence won't change the resonance. You also can't just kill the problem humans - that just gets hunters on your ass, plus other monsters. You need to choose your prey carefully, split it from the herd, then drive it to ground. This applies even to prey that is less a living being and more a concept or attitude. To fix the problem, you have to view it from all aspects. People turn on each other because they need to survive, their lives of desperation generate Essence of pain and suffering. Spirits fed by this use their power across the Gauntlet to reinforce it. Some werewolves want to end this cycle of abuse out of a sense of justice, but many just want to improve the area they live in. Driving off the spirits or killing them won't fix it, however. Before long, new ones will be drawn in or created. Killing all the humans will just draw authority down on you and spread death and suffering.

Some packs are okay with this. Violent, bloodthirsty werewolves who don't care about those around them might appreciate the cover they get, the freedom to kill. Others, however, want to clean things up. But if they attack the local spirits, they'll just wear themselves out...though, on the other hand, the spirits can't just be allowed to do as they will. The werewolves must establish themselves as the top predators, hunting the spirits that go too far in their gluttony. In the material realm, they have to end the things that cause the conditions suitable for the spirits. That means driving off or killing vicious gangs and corrupt politicians, organizing volunteer work (with or without Wolf-Blooded help), fixing up homes, and so on. Change is steady, but slow. The seeds of joy Essence grow into joy spirits. These spirits are easy prey for the darker spirits - and so the werewolves must protect them. Keep it up, and change comes on both sides of the Gauntlet. It's a tricky balancing act. Even joy spirits can grow out of control, and they're as happy with the rush a burglar feels when succeeding or the physical pleasure of an addict as they are with genuine happiness. They push the things that strengthen them, and no spirit really has the ability to empathize with humans - or even other spirits. If you're not careful, you can go too far and make just as big a problem for the area.

Even within a protectorate, attitudes towards territory vary wildly. Some take a balanced approach, others gravitate to an extreme. Not all werewolves actually like humans outside their own packs. One pack might try to make a neighborhood better, but others don't care as long as their goals get accomplished. Some protect humans, others don't give a shit or even hunt them actively. Some do it because they like humans, others because a healthy community makes for an easier territory to control. A few packs don't even hold territory at all. They may call somewhere home, but they'll use it only as a base to wander a large area, even a whole county or more, hunting at will and trespassing as they like. These packs make many enemies. Only the strong or those who hunt very, very specialized prey survive very long.

Sometimes, however, a pack with a set territory will go a-wandering. They chase down a particularly dangerous piece of prey, or one whom they owe a debt of vengeance. It drives them to tear apart those who wronged them - or anyone in the way. Werewolves are rarely very trusting, after all, even of each other. Maybe the pack that's stopped by says they plan to move on soon. And if that's true after just a few nights, well, that's fine. But staying too long, asking too much? That starts fights.

Tribes can help. Werewolves join tribes for several reasons. Tribes encompass far more than any one territory. They're part tradition, part military veterans. They follow special rituals and tell old stories. Even within a pack, members of different tribes often don't entirely understand each other. The tribe understands. They provide a way of connecting packs, but it goes beyond the need that drives protectorates. Werewolves join tribes by choice, out of belief in the tribe's views, methods or favored prey. They're almost religions, with totems that embody their laws and leaders that enact secret rituals only the tribe understands. Maybe you share a tribe with a packmate, and you probably know maybe a dozen or two tribemates in the state. At times, you gather in moots to share lore and experiences. This lets you call on the tribe's resources, such as they are, and so you can maybe get some trust from them when your pack needs to use their territory.

Tribes also produce lodges - cult-like groups with specific goals and purposes, which share secrets and develop a closer bond than tribes do. To the lodges, a tribe may have part of the truth, but the lodge has the whole of it. Lodges ultimately represent an ideology greater than a tribe's. The bonds of a lodge are stronger, and no one understands you like your lodge - except for your pack, and even then, not always. A pack is your family, but a lodge is the people who share your beliefs.

And yet, beyond pack, tribe and lodge, there is a set of laws and traditions that hold all the Forsaken together: the Oath of the Moon.

Next time: The Oath of the Moon


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, Second Edition

Werewolves are passionate creatures, with a lust for life few can match, or even understand. They are monsters that hunt monsters, and they love it, but without a guiding purpose, many would descend into atavism and madness. The Forsaken, thankfully, have a purpose: the Oath of the Moon, sworn to Luna in the name of dead Urfarah. The Oath binds the Uratha to a code that grants them harmony - savage, but harmony. It defines the Siskur-Dah, the sacred hunt. It helps the Forsaken to find their place in two worlds...and above all, it keeps them from becoming mindless beasts. By the Oath, they are made more than humans, wolves or spirits. They gain strength, an outlet for their rage and their devotion. Even the Pure swear a variation on the Oath, though each Pure Tribe has its own version and none of the Anshega, as the Pure name themselves in First Tongue, would ever swear to Luna. Other spirits, who hate the Forsaken for their role in the death of Urfarah, judge the Pure based on the Oaths they do take.

The Oath is a chain that binds the inner monster, but it also drives the Uratha to be better than they are. Luna watches over her children still, sending the mad Lunes, the moon spirits that judge the Oath, exalt its champions and condemn those who transgress it. Each Lune is just as bipolar and insane as its mother, and while one might become angry that the Oath is not upheld strongly enough, it might also barely react to great success. Spirits - especially moon spirits - are capricious beings, after all. Not all punishments, however, come from the Lunes. Those that reject the oath become lost in thier hunts, without guidance or help from the Firstborn. Some reject the Oath from wickedness and become killing beasts that sometimes wear human skin. After all, ignoring the Oath is a sure way to lose your grip on what makes you a 'who' and not a 'what'. Without balance, werewolves can even become trapped in one form or even one world. In time, they forget what they were and become as singleminded and inflexible as any spirit.

The Oath has severel tenets. Each tribe - each pack, even - will place greater importance on some than others. Some werewolves barely pay lip service to one tenet, while the more devout take each as sacred. In the end, not even your packmates can determine how you should interpret the Oath - that's your decision and yours alone.

Urum da takus. (Trans: The wolf must hunt.) No werewolf can actually transgress against this tenet - it's the heart of what a werewolf is. They hunt. They treat the sacred hunt as their most holy purpose. To them, it is not just way of life, it is their life. Only werewolves can hunt as Father Wolf once did, and each pack has its own hunting rituals, as does each Ghost Wolf. Like any religious law, of course, the tenet is a point of contention at times. A pack's duty is to hunt, whether they hunt flesh, spirit or both. Failure to do so makes other packs doubt their commitment, giving an excuse - real or not - to take their territory. Bloody battles usually follow, which often threaten other parts of the Oath.

Imru nu fir imru. (Trans: The People do not murder the People.) This is the subject of a shitload of debates. After all, it is both highly specific and pretty ambiguous. Most agree that it is taboo to kill any Forsaken save in great need. Many Uratha also think of Wolf-Blooded and human pack members as part of the People, so their lives are equally sacred. However, there's a ton of interpretations. Open challenges of dominance that risk death may be acceptable to some, others believe murder of an unaware victim is a sin and crime. Lunes offer little help in interpretation - they seem to be as contradictory on it as anyone else. Most assume that beating another werewolf is acceptable, but slaying a defeated foe is murder. Killing when unnecessary - even prey - is a sin, but especially when the victim is a werewolf. There is some debate over whether the Pure Tribes count as the People, as well. Some Pure seem to believe killing Forsaken is taboo, though they don't mind torturing them. Likewise, some Forsaken refuse to kill the Pure except when the Pure would murder them - and even then, they mourn the fallen Pure.

Sih sehe mak; mak ne ish. (Trans: The low honor the high; the high respect the low.) Uratha instinctively understand dominance and submission. Hierarchies rule people, even if humans prefer to deny it. The world does not allow for total equality. If the prey is stronger, it must be weakened. If one pack is stronger than another, that pack will win. It's just how things work. Young and proud werewoles rebuke the authority of their elders, feeling that the elders use this law, even made it up, just to keep power. In turn, the elders talk of their glories and take what they feel is their due. Wise elders know the second half of the this clause demands they show respect for young hunters and show it to their less experienced kin. Even the old and strong, after all, can be defeated. Attitudes towards this law vary by protectorate. In some, elders are given deference for their ability and wisdom. Some elders become cruel or brutal, and die at the hands of those they would oppress. Some keep young werewolves in line even when the Oath is no help. All, however, respect the Firstborn and the traditions of the Forsaken. If wise elders know they should respect the young, then the young and wise know they should respect the veterans for their skill and knowledge.

Ni daha. (Trans: Respect your prey.) Humans abandoned this idea long ago, but werewolves know the danger. If they become imbalanced, they weaken, as Urfarah did. They die. Wisdom teaches them to respect their prey. Strong prey makes strong predators, and vice versa. It's a dangerous balance. A callous, brutal pack gains enemies among spirits, even loses respect for the hunt itself. A true predator kills out of necessity, not desire. Respect the prey and it will respect you. Spirits will lash out against the needlessly vicious, but those who respect the hunt earn spiritual respect in turn, if grudgingly. Even the most selfish spirits can recognize savage honor. Some Uratha take this a step further, treating any kill as a matter of necessity. Respecting the prey, for them, means respecting the need for werewolves to hunt it. Hosts and Claimed, for example, must be killed to keep them from killing werewolves, and should be respected for their deadly powers. Even humans are not exempt, though some werewolves have trouble with that. Humans can, even must be prey at times - but the Oath forbids consuming human flesh. Older werewolves and those that take to their roles quickly feel no more remorse for killing humans than anything else. Merciful werewolves might, however, warn humans off first by terror. Just as many, however, kill as easily as anything.

Nu hu uzu eren. (Trans: Do not eat the flesh of man or wolf.) Human and wolf flesh grant power and pleasure - a rush of Essence and satisfaction. It's a surrender of control, and no meat is better. The rush of power, though, is too much. Eating your kin is a grave temptation that drags you closer to the realm of spirit. Forsaken lorekeepers have long wondered why this clause exists. It's old and very clear. Some wonder, then, if the temptation has always existed, deliberately left by Luna in her madness, or if it was born in the death of Father Wolf at the teeth of his own children. It may be an eternal reminder of that patricide. Whatever the case, it is a dangerous temptation. In the madness of Kuruth, even the most disciplined might devour their kill, and remember the delicious taste later. No werewolf is truly safe from temptation, even those who never tasted the power of human flesh.

Nu bath githul. (Trans: The herd must not know.) Werewolves are stronger than any human, but they are not invincible. Angry, determined humans can threaten even a skilled pack. Guns and bombs even up the score fast, and those hunters that can stand against the Uratha know some of their weaknesses. Young werewolves think they're immortal. They are wrong, and this law is meant to protect them. It is out of need to protect werewolves, not humans, that it exists. A large-scale war with humanity would be a war that, even if the Uratha won, would devastate the world. The cunning instead stick to the shadows, hunting by moonlight or across the Gauntlet. It's easy to dismiss isolated attacks, and danger comes with any increased scrutiny. You already have enough problems - don't add more for yourself.

Uratha safal thil lu'u. (Trans: The Uratha shall cleave to the human.) This is a pretty simple one: don't fuck wolves. Uratha mate with werewolves and humans. Wolves may be kin, but they aren't the same sort of kin. Keeping in touch with humanity keeps you in balance. You cannot forsake your human side, or you will become a monster as selfish as any spirit.

Each tribe also maintains its own vow, in honor of their Firstborn totems.

Of course, everyone's fallible. Oaths are broken. Uratha lash out, fall prey to temptation. Sometimes they even willingly forsake the Oath. This invites punishment. An oathbreaker must first answer to their own pack, especially if they did not partake in the crime. Breaking the Oath reflects poorly on your pack, and most werewolves outcast from packs are outcast because they are oathbreakers. Lone werewolves, already something of a sorry lot, must answer to the packs they hurt most with their crimes. Custom forbids the breaking of the Oath in relatiation, but you can stretch it just shy of that. Less serious crimes must still be seriously considered. When one werewolf harms another pack, they have a right to judgment. They may be overly brutal, and that often causes bloodshed if the offender's pack supports them. Elodoth of both packs might settle on a judgment, or failing that, call on their neighbors, the Lunes, or even tribal totems for counsel. Crimes range from minor to unforgivable. Defacing property in another's territory might mean only light penalty - painful, perhaps, but temporary, like a broken leg or ritual cut, or even just a harsh rebuke from an elder in front of others, to stain your honor. Maybe you are temporarily denied the right to see your human family or leave your territory. However, willingly breaking the most important laws means a harsher justice. Cannibalism, murder for petty reasons or betraying the Oath for personal urges all invite terrible punishment. You might have limb removed with a silver blade, or be cast from your pack. The latter is often the worse punishment. Defiling the honor of the Uratha and the Oath's soul and meaning earns the worst sentence - deliberately exposing the People to humanity, say, the willing betrayal of your pack. Punishments can be death, exile or imprisonment by the Lunes. None can guess what is done to those last.

Next time: The world of Shadow


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, Second Edition

The Hisil, the Shadow, waits across the Gauntlet. Depending on where you cross, it can be very similar to the material world or very different. The thinner the Gauntlet in an area, the more they will tend to resemble each other. In the deep wilderness, far from humans, the Shadow is shaped only by the feelings of animals and the environment, while in the heart of a city, the crowds stir it into chaos. However, no matter where it is, the Shadow makes the inner nature of a place obvious. A hidden drug lab in the material is a festering hive of addiction spirits in Shadow. A burned-out and abandoned wreck in the woods might become a site of joy and imagination as the kids use it as a secret fort or playground. The Hisil remembers what is forgotten in the material. Demplished buildings stay until something happens flesh-side to replace them. Ancient forests, long since cut down, sprawl in Shadow, and remote regions host ancient spirits that can recall the world before the Sundering.

To a novice traveler, the Shadow seems empty. Despite the spirits spawned by human activity, no spirit of humanity itself exists, anywhere. Roads, towns, cities, farms - all sorts of human creations are reflected, but no people. Where humans have not made enough spirits to push the nature spirits back, the Shadow feels wild and overgrown. A busy highway that has generated no new spirits might be a tiny, cracked road in Shadow. This lack of people, however, doesn't mean the Hisil is unpopulated - human travelers just often have trouble telling spirits from landscape at a distance, especially dormant spirits. Tree branches sway in response to the sleeping spirits' dreams. Animals watch visitors with eyes too intelligent for beasts. Rivers and lakes whisper to each other in First Tongue. To the Uratha, these spirits are obvious - given away by the scent of their Essence unless they deliberately hide. The Shadow has a hierarchy entirely unrelated to the material. All spirits belong to broad categories or collections, which the Forsaken name umia - a grouping of weather spirits, say, or animal spirits. Spirits of like nature gather together in ilthum, close-knit groups that only accept those they trust. The spirits of any given area form a court, with the more potent holding sway over the weaker.

To a human or Wolf-Blooded packmate who enters Shadow, it is eerie and unnerving. Light is pale and thin, even at noon. Sounds echo and carry further than they should, and the sky is perpetually gray clouds that part only occasionally to reveal Luna or Helios hanging in the sky. The atmosphere always feels charged, like an oncoming storm. When the sky changes, it is dramatic - flash floods, dust devils, torrential rain and multicolored lightning. To the werewolf, however, the Hisil is like coming home. The Essence in their blood makes them feel alive and vital. The instinct to hunt and to run is intoxicating, as the wolf spirit within rises. Scents are stronger, they carry further. The spirit senses of the Uratha are interpreted as a sort of synesthesia, thanks to the varied nature of spirits as scent and taste. Werewolves can smell the euphoria on joy spirits, taste the anger in a murder spirit when they devour it.

Experienced Ithaeur often advise that young Uratha avoid Shadow during daylight hours. The Uratha are children of the moon, and they hunt best at night. The demands of tending one's territory and the needs of Siskur-Dah, however, will eventually cause you to cross over under the light of Helios. The first thing to notice is that the Gauntlet is harder to cross by day, at least when entering Shadow. There is a current to the Gauntlet, pushing away from Hisil. Once in, experienced travelers will notice that the place seems subdued. Fewer active spirits, and those that reflect nocturnal beings are sluggish. Gaps in cloud cover are marked by great shafts of pale light - and where they touch, the gravity of Shadow increases, making you feel heavier. This grows stronger the higher up you are, but passes immediately once the clouds obscure the sun.

At night, the Hisil lives. Essence flows slightly more easily, dormant spirits twitch in their slip, and Luna casts her light into the dark. Werewolves enter Shadow at night to hunt, to bargain with spirits, to perform rites and to summon Lunes to increase their Renown. Their closest relatives, the wolf spirits, run in pack-like groups of their own in the wild places. Some Uratha join them, emulate the Firstborn or to shift their Harmony towards Spirit. While Helios drowns out all other powers in the Shadow sky by day, the sky of Shadow night is awash in color and light, More stars appear than human eyes can ever see in the material, decorating the void around Luna, while the Northern and Southern skies show the aurora constantly, casting Shadow in ever-changing color.

Humans shape and twist Shadow out of all proprotion. People dwell on pain and happiness, feel nostalgia, wonder about places they haven't been. The Shadow of a town or city is warped by the many viewpoints within it, birthing a horde of spirits that organize, loosely, into a collection of umia, ilthum and spirit courts. However, counter to many werewolves' expectations, it is the edges of human civlization that are most dangerous in the Hisil, not the centers. A city's heart is usually old enough to have established courts. The Shadow still changes far faster than the wilderness, sure, but the largest and most potent spirits are relatively stable, and easier to deal with than their more elemental cousins of the mountains and forests. Outbursts of strong emotion upset the order of things with new spirits, sure, but at least the spirits of buildings or roads understandh uman perspective. For a new suburb, however, the clearance of land may be the most traumatic change to happen in a thousand years. New builds and demolitions orphan spirits linked to the old landscape, often awakening them, and they take out their anger on those around them. Those that do not starve find alternative Essence sources, sometimes becoming twisted, hybrid spirits known as magath.

In the city proper, the established courts of elder spirits preside over countless new-spawned Hursahim and Ensihim, born of the ever-changing resonance of humanity. Urban packs must keep track of spiritual politics, not just maintaining relations with the courts but tracking the growth of the lesser broods. The majority of urban spirits and most of their courts are from artificial umia - buildings, roads, vehicles. The most potent spirits are those of landmarks, with rarer spirits of famous roads or notable objects making up the rest. Cities built on or near famous natural features often include their spirit in the politics, if at a step removed from the other courts. The spirit of the Thames, for example, is aloof to the artificial umia of London, but all spirits of London know to avoid her anger. The real wildcards of urban Shadow are the conceptual spirits. Wise packs keep track of murders, disasters, terrorist threats and festivals, preparing for the inevitable upheavals they cause in Shadow. Even something as innocuous as a major concern or sporting event can keep you hunting for months after all the revelers have gone home, and Beijing, Athens and London are still dealing with the spirits left over by the Olympics. Despite humanity's resonance, however, the urban Shadow is not solely shaped by man even in the heart of the city. Parks, zoos, urban farms, botanical gardens and even animal research ceneters all provide enclaves of animal and plant resonance. The slow and wasting madness of imprisonment in badly kept zoos can breed potent spirits, while a famous park's spirit may be leader of a nature umia...but it's still more than able to dominate Shadow within its bounds.

Rural Shadow, on the other hand, has a longer memory and a simpler nature. Rural spirits fit into cleaner umia and ilthum than their urban counterparts, and the courts may be centuries, even millenia old - sometimes older, in the most untouched places of the world. The resonance of animals and plantsi s less complex than that of humans, and rural spirits are more likely to look like the things they feed on than city spirits are. The combination of simplicity and old, potent spirits of natural features makes for simple courts. Might makes right, and there is a clear pecking order of power. This has its own challenges - the wild courts are often ruled by very old and very potent spirits, old enough to bear grudges for deeds of Uratha of ages past. The eldest remember the Sundering, if not always with anger. Father Wolf had enemies and friends alike, and the spirits of mountains or oceans could have been either. In the wilderness, the Hisil changes slowly, and spirits can hang on far past the features they represented. A forest burned or a lake dried up may still be present in Shadow. Distance is deceptive, as the simple views of animals conceive of their ranges as the entire world, and the Shadow stretches in response to this.

Next time: Hunting Grounds


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, Second Edition

The Shadow is full of beautiful, powerful and dangerous places. For example: The Places-That-Aren't. In most places, the Shadow is roughly analagous to the material world. If it'd take three hours to cross a forest, it'll take three hours to cross that forest in Shadow. If a location is seen as larger or more important than it actually is, howevever, it will grow in Shadow - and if two places are thought of as close, the distance between them shrinks. These are, usually, minor details to use to your advantage. The Places-That-Aren't, however, are places that bend distance out of all semblance of the material. A murderer's basement may be 500 square feet...but in Shadow, it is a warehouse-sized space, full of gore and the spirits of pain and blood attracted to its resonance. Some of these Places-That-Aren't are entire apocryphal - if enough people hear there's a mysterious island or that a building on the edge of town has a secret nuclear bunker, the Shadow may include those places even if they never actually existed in the material. These places make excellent fortified locations - both for Uratha and for spirits looking for a place of safety. Many potent spirits that desire privacy live within them, and Cahalith tell tales of the Ilusahim living in vast palaces that have no physical reflection and can be reached only by secret ways.

Shoals are caused by upheavals in Shadow, so terrible that they injure its very fabric and disrupt its connection to material resonance. This forms a wasteland of emptiness - a shoal. Within a shoal, listless spirits inhabit a colorless, fragile landscape. Travelers feel their emotion draining away the longer they stay, until at least they cannot muster the will to leave and the shoal claims one more victim. Brave packs will trick prey into the shoals as part of the hunt, driving them like an animal to quicksand, and trust in their own will to let them enter, kill and leave without being trapped.

Glades are parts of the world so blessed that their Shadow reflections are idyllic, peaceful and harmonoous, full of the resonance of growth, healing and friendship. Glades are very rare, and prized by packs that claim them. Within a Glade, the sky is always empty, allowing the light of Luna or Helios to shine through, and violence seems unthinkable - even Kuruth is but a memory. Many packs try to make Glades, but causing the needed changes to the matieral world to have somewhere become known as an oasis of peace is very difficult, so it rarely works.

Wounds are shoals so damaged that the Hisil ruptures, opening gateways to...somewhre else. They form in the midst of tortured landscapes, and fill with the worst, most negative and destructive spirits. Wounds open at the sites of atrocities, at places of prolonged cruelty, suffering and hatred. Gulags, torture chambers, sites of genocide. Spirits of pain, hatred, violence and just about any other malevolent concept flock to the Wounds, but the resonance the flows from them is not of the material. Spirits of any kind that feed from a Wound become tainted, twisted, violent. They are overcome by the negative energy within. Packs avoid Wounds unless they need to go to them, to hunt a spirit lairing within or to try to heal the Wounds by changing the material world.

Barrens form when the Gauntlet grows unnaturally thick, choking the Shadow of Essence, or when the Shadow is so scoured of Essence by devastation - often the rampage of an idigam or the presence of an Ilusah - that it results in a spiritual desert. Barrens contain only faint traces of Essence at their edges, forcing spirits to flee or starve. Indeed, they are so dead that even using Gifts is not easy. Some Barrens heal over time, slowly. A few packs have even succeeded in weakening the Gauntlet and using rare rites to flood the Shadow with Essence, jumpstarting the healing process at great cost to themselves. In Shadow, a Barren is bleached, sterile, bare and without spirits. In the material world, animals flee and plants wither, while humans living the area feel passionless and apathetic.

So, some useful terms now!

So, chargen! Up to step 5, a werewolf is made as per any normal human. Step five is where you add the Forsaken template. First, you choose your Auspice. You get a free dot in one of the Auspice's skills (which can't take you over 5 dots), and a dot in the Auspice's Renown. You should also note the Auspice's innate power and Hunter's Aspect. From there, you choose your Tribe, or be a Ghost Wolf. Members of a Tribe get a dot in the Tribe's Renown and should note their Tribal Gifts. Ghost Wolves do not get anything. (Do not play a Ghost Wolf; there are literally no advantages to doing so.) From here, you then get a dot of Renown to put in any Renown of your choice, but you cannot start with a Renown higher than 2.

Rather than a Virtue and Vice, werewolves get a Blood archetype, which reflects their behavior and identity on the hunt, when claws are out, and a Bone archetype, which reflects their sense of self-identity, who they are behind the anger and the instinct. More on those later. Each Uratha also has two Touchstones, things that pull them between spiritual and physical and help them balance the two extremes. More on those later, as well. Last, werewolves have Gifts. Gifts are not taught - they are literally given. You start with a dot in the Moon Gift reflecting your Auspice, and a facet of two Shadow Gifts from your tribe or auspice. If you have two dots in your Auspice renown, you get the second dot of that Moon Gift; otherwise, you get a facet of a Wolf Gift. You can't take a facet from a Gift you have no dots in Renown for. Note: Ghost Wolves only get one Shadow Gift. Because again, don't play Ghost Wolves. Also, every werewolf begins play with two dots of rites. More on Gifts and Rites later.

Werewolves can spend 5 merit points to raise their Primal Urge (their power stat) by 1. You can also spend up to five dots of Merits, 1 for 1, to get more dots of Rites. Every werewolf also gets a free dot of Totem and the Language (First Tongue) merit free. Handy! Rather than Integrity. werewolves have Harmopny. It starts at 7. More on this later.

After all the PCs are made, you also get to design the pack. More on that later.

Next time: Blood and Bone


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, Second Edition

Blood and Bone replace Virtue and Vice for werewolves. Blood is the chaos, the frenzy that consumes you on the hunt, the instinct that drives you to kill. Bone is who you are, your conscious identity, the person behind the fur and the fury. When you make a clear bad decision in the heat of the moment in accord with your Blood, you get 1 Willpower. When you submit to Kuruth or call a hunt on a whim in accordance with your Blood, you regain all Willpower. When you force down your rage and do something you know is fundamentally true in accordance with your Bone, you get 1 Willpower. When you stand your ground and let your rational self interfere with the hunt or cause conflict in the pack, you regain all Willpower. In both cases, the Willpower is from a reinforced sense of identity that supports you, either by instinct or sense of self. I'll be honest - I don't like Blood and Bone. I don't believe they add anything that Virtue and Vice weren't already doing, and often better. But hey, it is what it is.

Example Blood archetypes:

Example Bone archetypes:

Touchstones are the things you want but cannot have. An Uratha walks a fine line between flesh and spirit, and some things they just can't have unless they fall off that line. Their nature pulls away from the material and spiritual simultaneously, and the unending tug of war leaves them feeling they don't belong anywhere. A physical Touchstone keeps you from slipping too far from humanity. It could be a person, a place, a thing, an idea...but to give it the attention you feel it deserves, you'd have to give up your spirit side. A spiritual touchstone is a spirit, totem, locus or philosophy that draws you closer to the Hisil, but devoting yourself to it entirely would leave you a hermit. Touchstones aren't formally recognized in character - it's not an IC term. It's abstract, but werewolves do know that their important relationships are anchors for their Harmony, and will talk about the people and things important to them. Mechanically, Touchstones help resist breaking points. If you have a physical Touchstone, you get +2 to all rolls to resist Harmony loss from breaking points towards Spirit. If you have a spiritual Touchstone, you get +2 to any rolls to resist Harmony gain from breaking points towards Flesh. However, with Harmony 8+, you lose access to any spiritual Touchstones, and with Harmony 2-, you lose access to any physical Touchstones. If a Tocuhstone is lost somehow, you fall one level of Harmony away from the side it represents - if your physical Touchstone dies, say, or your spiritual Touchstone fades. You can replace a Touchstone, but it's a breaking point in the other direction to do so, as the effort taxes your balance. Any time you reinforce a bond to one of your Touchstones, however, you regain 1 Willpower. The interaction should be meaningful, but the GM is told to err on the side of allowance. If you put your life or pack on the line to defend a relationship with a Touchstone, you regain all Willpower.

Example Touchstones:

Now that your PCs are ready, it's time to make the pack and tie them together. You figure out your Touchstones, decide how the PCs relate to each other. You make the pack in tiers - first the Uratha, then the Wolf-bloods, then the humans that don't really grasp the full nature of what they're part of, and then the totem. During this process, keep the totem in mind - it's a concept that should bring the pack together, so it might come up at any time, after all.

First, Uratha. You made 'em already. Now, introduce them to the rest of the group. Give their name, auspice, tribe, some personal specialties, anything the others might know and how you think they relate to the pack. Ask qeustions about the others, bring up potential hooks. Go around the table and build at least one connection per character. When it's your turn, you propose any connection, superficial or deep. You go back and forth a few times with who you're trying to connect to, see how they feel about it. Build up the story. If anyone doesn't like something added, they can veto it and propose a replacement. This is a collaborative process. Everyone should have at least one tie to another character, and they don't all hve to be positive...but you're going to want about 2:1 positive to negative ratio, so the pack doesn't immediately fall to infighting.

That done, it's time to make the Wolf-Blooded. They know they're part of the pack and they share your wolf blood. They have strong roles to play, which they are aware of. The game suggests one per Uratha, but you can make more if you want, as long as they all have a distinct role. These are supporting cast Wolf-Bloods - if you want one to be your main PC, there will be rules in the appendix for it. Anyway, you go around the table and get ideas for the Wolf-Bloods. Not everyone needs to make one, but everyone should contribute to the discussion.

Supporting Wolf-Bloods have two Aspirations, one of which must relate directly to their orle in the pack and the other helps define them personally. Wolf-Bloods have a Virtue and Vice, like normal humans. All of them also have a Tell, a supernatural trait that marks them as different from other humans. More on these much later. Wolf-Bloods are also immune to Lunacy. Wolf-Bloods get five dots of Merits, but supporting Wolf-Bloods cannot have more than 1 dot in Totem. Attributes are assigned normally, 5/4/3, but for skills, they just get 15 dots, assigned however you see fit.

Finally, we have the human periphery. They're pack, but aren't quite aware that they are, or that Uratha exist. They're the friends, family, coworkers and others that fall under your protection. You can and should make between one and three each. They're bit players, mostly. They can be elevated in play, sure, but they're mostly there to define the setting and expand the pack. They are far simpler than other characters. They have one Aspiration reflecting their role in the pack, and then three dicepools. They do not have Attributes or Skills - rather, you pick three actions, like Deal Drugs, Dirty Fighting or Ride. You assign five dice to one, four to a second and three to the third. Any other actions are at 2 dice. All supporting periphery pack have 2 Willpower. Unless you decide this is everyone in the pack, more can show up later on, as a note.

All this done, it's time to make the totem. The totem helps define the pakc, give it purpose and identity. It's effectively a member with a highly specific role: it helps hunt in Shadow. In return, the pack always has the Resonant condition for it. You come up with your concept for the totem. It has one Aspiration, which acts as an Aspiration for any pack member to use and get Beats from. It has a ban and a bane, like any spirit. The pack must uphold its ban. Any member that breaks it once gains the Ban condition. If they break it again while they have that condition, they lose all dots in Totem. The ban should be something logical for the spirit. Then, you add up the total dots of Totem the entire pack has, including any Wolf-Bloods. The number tells you how much benefit the totem can give to the pack. 1-8 points means it has 1 XP worth of benefit. 9-14, 3 XP. 15-20, 5 XP. 21+, 10 XP. You take this pool of XP and use it to buy traits - merits, skill specialties, skill or attribute dots. Every member of the pack, including human and Wolf-Blooded members, gain all of the traits bought. If they already had them, they get a similar merit or skill specialty instead. If they would be taken over their normal limits...well, werewolves and wolf-bloods can go one dot over those limits, and humans get 8-again on any rolls involving the trait instead.

Once the benefits are ready, you stat up the totem. It is statted as a spirit, but its total Attribute dots are equal to the total number of Totem dots for the entire pack, and its maximum Essence is the lower of its tottal Totem points or the max Essence for the Rank its attribute total gives it. It gets one dot of Influence per Rank as normal, and starts with one Numen, plus one per four Totem points.

Next time: Primal Urge


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, Second Edition

Primal Urge represents your inner instinct, the fire inside you that yearns to kill and devour. It is the wolf within. Normally, it's just a whisper in the back of your mind. When you see your auspice moon in the sky, however, the voice rises to a constant bellow. As your Primal Urge increases, you get less human, closer to Wolf, the ultimate predator. A few werewolves even feel the drive to become something more, something like the Firstborn or like Father Wolf himself. Primal Urge grants a number of beneifts, but also some weaknesses.

The benefits are:

The downsides are:

Being a werewolf means several physical benefits. First up: Regeneration. Werewolves regenerate from damage, though it's not a peaceful healing process. It is the wild instinct to survive, taken to a violent extreme. Anything but a superficial wound heals in a way that looks unnatural and perverse to most people. Muscles grind and twist, bones fuse with a faint hiss, torn skin wraps around until it crosses a wound. Uratha avoid hospitals at all costs, as witnessing the regeneration of Lethal damage causes Lunacy as if you were in Dalu form, regardless of what form you are in. Uratha heal Bashing damage per turn based on their Primal Urge. They heal 1L every 15 minutes, or can spend 1 Essence reflexively to upgrade their healing that turn from Bashing to Lethal. Aggravated damage heals more slowly - 1A per four days. Only silver and certian supernatural powers will cause them aggravated damage directly, however. Any source of harm that would cause Aggravated damage to a human and isn't supernatural causes them only Lethal damage. Werewolves who suffer Tilts from Aggravated damage, such as missing arms or eyes, heal them when the associated wound is healed. In Gauru form, all Bashing and Lethal damage is healed at the start of every turn. Poisons can still affect the Uratha, but subtract (Primal Urge) from the Toxicity of any poison or disease that would harm them.

Werewolves also have improved senses - actually, three sets of them. Human, wolf and spirit. In any form, a werewolf can tap into all three sets of those senses, if with some effort depending on the form. Uratha have human senses like any person, but the First Change perfects them. They have 20/10 vision, perfect hearing, good sense of smell. If they lost a sense before the First Change, it comes back within days of the Change. This will even force regeneration of lost eyes or damaged sense organs. Even if you were born blind or deaf, the Change will give you the senses you never had. Human senses are the default in Hishu and Dalu form, and in those forms they must consciously choose to activate the other two, though this is reflexive and takes no roll.

Wolf senses are still constrained by the world of Flesh, but they are more intuitive and holistic. They are default in Urhan and Urshul forms. Wolf senses give a bonus to Perception-based rolls depending on the form, and they negate all penalties for sensory deprivation - if you get blinded, overcome by strong scent or made deaf, your other senses compensate under the Wolf senses. Further, a wolf's sense of smell is very important in many things. You may use Primal Urge in place of any roll to identify someone you remember, even when they're hiding or disguised. If you smell a scene and later meet an Uratha that was present, you can identify the connection with a Wits+Primal Urge roll - or free, if they deliberately left their scent. Further, you can recognize another werewolf or a Wolf-Blooded by scent using a Wits+Primal Urge roll, but this takes an instant action and you must be close to the target. Wolves also have excellent hearing, and under the Wolf senses, you can hear a distance of (Primal Urge) miles, and may hear frequencies beyond the human range. You ignore all penalties based on quietness or range of hearing. In the city, however, this is largely academic and does not apply, due to the sheer number of sounds - you can only use the bonus in your immediate surroundings. Anything beyond that is lost in the jumble. Wolves have excellent night vision, though less color vision than humans, and great vision for movement. Halve all darkness penalties, rounding down, and ignore any visual penalties due to rapid movement. (Handy for reading license plates off speeding cars!) Lastly, if a werewolf has ever tasted the quarry's blood, they can use the Wolf senses to gain a rough sense of location. This is not limited by distance, but only gives exact direction, ignoring all barriers and dangers. This applies to any living thing with blood, but you can follow only one victim at a time. You will lose that trail when you taste the blood of another creature or after one lunar month.

Uratha are tied to the world of Spirit, and may peek across to experience it, extending any or all of their senses across the gauntlet with their Spirit senses. However, they cannot exist in both places at once. With an instant action, you may send any of your senses across the Gauntlet, or spend 1 Essence to do it reflexively. This can extend either Human or Wolf senses in either direction. Without a Gift, however, each sense is binary - you can only use it on side of the Gauntlet at a time. If you send some but not all of your senses across, you get -2 to any actions relying on Perception or concentration, and you lose the ability of the Wolf senses to ignore sensory penalties. You may only send your form's default senses across the Gauntlet, too - no sending Wolf senses across in Dalu form. Further, all Perception rolls suffer a penalty based on the Gauntlet's strength in the area. You do not, however, need to focus to sense spirits inn Twilight. Using the Spirit sense, you can sense spirits in Twilight as well as you can when they are manifested, unless they are intentionally hiding.

Werewolves are excellent trackers, and we get a brief overview of the tracking rules. But that's boring, so let's talk about shapeshifting! All five forms of the Uratha are natural and have their own uses. Nothing can detect them as unnatural, and they are entirely physically natural, just...well, monstrous in some cases. High Harmony Uratha have trouble shapeshifting. It is painful on a level that is impossible to describe. Their body, mind and soul shatter and reform, tearing themselves apart and refitting. Sure, it all regenerates instantly, but it hurts like hell. At balanced Harmony, the transformation is uncomfortable, but it's a natural discomfort. It's right, if not ideal. At low Harmony, there is no pain of discomfort. The transformation is, in fact, a warm relief. You feel discomfort instead when you spend more than a few hours in any one form, and the chance to change forms is like getting a massage or hot bath after exertion. They must change form at least once per scene, or spend Essence to avoid doing so when unstressed. When stressed - such as during combat, a chase or when you feel threatened - you must change form one step at a time towards your goal form - Urhan if you need to run, Hishu to hide, Gauru to fight and so on.


Next time: Forms of the Wolf.


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, Second Edition

Hishu is the human form. It looks human in every way, and it's the form you're born in. It has no inherent stat bonuses...but it is very human. More human than actual humans. And so, it blends with crowds. Hishu gives a +1 to Perception rolls when using the Wolf senses. Further, it has Sheep's Clothing: any effort to find you in a crowd or chase you in populated areas gets a penalty equal to your Primal Urge.

Dalu is...relatively subtle. You go up to about 150% of your Hishu body mass, growing rock-hard muscle and increasing in size. Your jaw extends slightly, and your teeth elongate and sharpen. Your fingernails harden into claws, and your Wolf senses sharpen. Dalu is meant for urban hunting - at a distance or without inspection, it can pass for human. Big, ugly human, but human. However, drawing too much attention can be a problem. Unarmed attacks using your claws in Dalu deal Lethal damage, and in a grapple you can bite for Lethal damage. Your instincts are heightened against attackers, allowing you to apply Defense against Firearms attacks. You get +2 to Perception rolls when using the Wolf senses. You get +1 Strength, +1 Stamina, -1 Manipulation and +1 Size. However, you cause mild Lunacy when dealing closely with humans. Lastly, Dalu form gets Badass Motherfucker - when you chase prey into a crowd, you can roll Presence+Primal Urge against the prey's Composure+Primal Urge. If you win, anyone surrounding or protecting the prey will back down or offer them up to you.

Gauru is your classic wolfman. Huge, ferocious, destructive. In Gauru you weight pretty much four times your normal Hishu form and are about one and a half times as tall when standing bipedally. You're bulky, with arms the size of most waists, legs like tree trunks and teeth like knives. Gauru is for making and dodging the killing blow, to end a hunt or battle quickly. It only communicates to help with the kill, and you can only control the primal beast for so long. You can take Gauru form once per scene, for turns equal to your (Hishu Stamina+Primal Urge). After that, you either shift into Dalu or Urshul, or you go into Kuruth. If you do not shift, you roll Resolve+Composure reflexively. Succeed, you get one more turn of control, then must shift to Dalu or Urshul, and you enter Wasu-Im. Fail, you go directly to Basu-Im. While in Gauru form, you regenerate all bashing and lethal damage every turn. Your claws deal +2L, and your bites do +2L and need not have a grapple first. Either can establish grapples on top of causing damage. You get +3 Initiative when using teeth or claws. Your Wolf senses give +3 to Perception rolls. As in Dalu, you apply Defense against Firearms. You cause severe Lunacy on sight. You must attack a foe in striking range every turn, though you can move on from a crippled foe if another one exists. If there are no foes in range, you can move towards them or throw things. If you have no foes to attack, you must attack anything you can reach. If you do anything else, you must roll Resolve+Composure to avoid Kuruth. You get +3 Strength, +1 Dexterity, +2 Stamina, +2 Size. You automatically fail any Social roll that isn't Intimidation, and any Mental roll that isn't Perception or Resistance-based. Last, you have Primal Fear: All lesser foes - including most humans, spirits of lower Rank and non-supernatural animals - use Down and Dirty Combat rules when you fight them, and in normal combat, foes do not add Athletics or any other skill to Defense against your attacks.

Urshul is a legendary beast. It's a wolf the size of a horse, double the body mass of Hishu form, as tell at the shoulder as a human. Urshul harries the prey, leaving vicious wounds to weaken it for Gauru's kill. Urshul cannot communicate in human language, but can speak First Tongue easily. Claws deal +1L, bites deal +2L and do not require a grapple. Bites can establish grapples in addition to damage. As in Dalu, you apply Defense to Firearms attacks. Your Wolf senses give +3 to Perception rolls. You inflict moderate Lunacy. You get +2 Strength, +2 Dexterity, +2 Stamina, -1 Manipulation, +1 Size and +3 to species Speed factor. Finally, you get Weaken the Prey: Once per scene, you may cause Arm Wrack, Leg Wrack or Knocked Down when you deal damage with an attack using your teeth or claws, without need for a targeted attack.

Urhan is the normal wolf form. In a pack of woles, it blends in seamlessly, at least depending on regional markers and coat colors. Urhan covers long distances very quickly and blends in with nature. It cannot speak human language and can barely manage a few simple First Tongue words. Bites deal +1L and do not require a grapple, and they can establish a grapple as well as cause damage (but not both at once). You get +4 to Perception rolls from Wolf senses. You get +2 Dexterity, +1 Stamina, -1 Manipulation, -1 Size and +3 species Speed factor. Lastly, you get Chase Down: You can spend 1 Essence to preempt another character's combat action with your own, which takes up your action for the turn. If others are able to preempt actions as well, it goes to Clash of Wills. If you have already acted this turn, you can't use this trick. Either way, in a foot chase, you roll your Speed instead of Strength+Athletics.

Uratha can sense each other. Apex predators know their own, after all. This comes from all three of the Uratha's senses. Everything a werewolf senses can identify another, as all parts of them carry a prominent and forceful predatory aura. By invoking the Hunter's Aspect, they take this further, unleashing their predatory nature on the prey to cow them. Their auspice determines how this manifests. This allows them to demolish the prey's resolve, ruining their chances before the fight even starts. The hunter's aspect works against anything - humans, spirits, Uratha, other supernatural creatures. Anything. It's rarely subtle, and using it against other Uratha will always lead to a grudge even at best, and can start a pack war for years at worst. It's a clear statement, after all, that the target is prey, not an equal. When using your Hunter's Aspect, you roll (Power Attribute+Skill+Auspice Renown) as an instant action. The Attribute used depends on the interaction. If you use it in a physical chase, use Strength. Staredown, use Presence. Outsmart the prey, use Intelligence. Most werewolves outside Hishu form prefer to engineer chances to use Strength. The skill similarly reflects the nature of the ineteraction. Intimidation, Persuasion and Subterfuge are common, followed by Brawl, Athletics or Survival. In theory any Skill could work, so be creative. A chase through city streets might usE Intimidation as a threat or Streetwise to cut them off or Stealth if you scare them by leaping out of nowhere or Survival if you're homing in on their scent. No matter what, the prey contests with Composure+Primal Urge. If you win, they get a Condition based on your auspice for the rest of the scene, or (Primal Urge) days on an exceptional success. If the condition just times out, they get no Beat from it. However, a victim can only suffer one Hunter's Aspect at a time - if they're under one already, all attempts to inflict others fail. Cahalith, with the Monstrous Aspect, apply the Resigned condition. Elodoth, with the Isolating Aspect, inflict the Isolated condition. Irraka, with the Blissful Aspect, cause the Unaware condition. Ithaeur, with the Mystic Aspect, grant the Mystified condition. And Rahu, with the Dominant Aspect, give the Submissive Condition.

The body of the wolf is not all werewolves get. They also have spirit. While many of their physical qualities are enhanced versions of normal things, their relationship with the Hisil is unique. Their nature is mystic and spiritual. It is half of what they are. It is what keeps their Renown. This tracks their progress and accomplishment in life. It is measurable, even in character. Lunes award Renown for achievement, branding it into your flesh in silver runes. These First Tongue runes appear only in the Hisil, but they mark you as Forsaken. Mechanically, when you achieve a Renown-worthy task, you can spend 3 XP to seal it. Renown comes in five types: Cunning, Glory, Honor, Purity and Wisdom, each of which can be between 0 and 5. As you increase Renown, your Gift rolls get better, as does your Hunter's Aspect, and you gain new Facets to your Gifts. Every time you increase your auspice Renown, you gain a new dot of your Moon Gift. Every time you increase any other Renown, you gain a Facet of a Shadow or Wolf Gift. Further, your total Renown determines your effective Spirit Rank. 0-3, Rank 1. 4-7, Rank 2. 8-12, Rank 3. 13-18, Rank 4. 19+, Rank 5. Once per day, you can spend 1 Essence to intensify your brands. This makes them faintly visible even in the material world. Uratha, spirits, Wolf-Blooded and anyone attuned to the spirit world intuitively understands not only what Renown the brands reflect, but also what you did to earn them. When you display your brands this way, you choose a Renown category and gain a Condition based on it. You don't have to use your auspice Renown, but since the rating determines the Condition's strength, your auspice or tribal Renown will often be the best option.

Using your Renown this way tempts others to challenge you. Most Forsaken do not see these challenges as a hostile act. If you push your Renown to the surface, you expect them to respond so you can prove your ability. To outsiders, including even some Wolf-Bloods, this appears to be a hostile confrontation. To the Uratha, it's a sign of respect. In fact, a leader who punishes that kind of challenger will face censure, mutiny or at the least dissent. Uratha might, soon after the First Change, go for massive efforts to impress the Lunes and their peers. Many young Forsaken die within a year as a result of this. The problem is, you set your own bar for Renown. Every time you increase it, you raise the bar. To go further, you need to beat your last accomplishment. Some Uratha paint themselves into a corner that way, doing something so great they can't ever beat it. It's good to consider in chargen what you did to achieve your starting Renown, especially if you have more than one dot in the same category. As for what constitutes an additional dot...well, that's up to the fickle Lunes and how the Uratha tell the tale. It's the Cahalith's job to sing the pack's virtues, but the Lunes love sacrifice above all. Acts of great virtue are meaningless if there was no chance of loss. Loss, or risk of it, impresses them as nothing else does. Without stakes, there is no Renown.

Cunning is earned by clever planning and raw creativity. You might earn it by infiltrating the foe, luring prey into a trap, convincing the Pure's Wolf-Blooded to betray them, tricking a spirit into a bad deal, using legal loopholes to get the deed to your territory or proving something doesn't need to be done instead of doing it. Its condition is Cunning. Glory is earned by strength, combat, fury. You might earn it by defeating a usperior foe, facing overwhelming odds whether you win or not, holding off a potent foe to save lives, facing down an Uratha in Kuruth, taking part in a suicide mission with the intent to survive, remember and tell the story, or challenging a leader. Its condition is Glorious. Honor is earned by doing what is right, holding to your ancestral duties and standing as judge and shepherd, You might earn it by acting as a neutral party when a packmate is judged by outsiders, mediating an in-pack dispute, submitting yourself to judgment, making restitution to victims, announcing your attack before you do it, seeking diplomacy with a rival, weakening yourself to ensure a fair fight, being honest even when it might hurt your pack, ceding territory to one more suitable to it or refusing to hunt an inferior foe. Its condition is Honorable. Purity is earned by adherence to the Oath of the Moon to the exclusion of other things, placing ancestral duty before personal desires and acting as Father Wolf should. You might earn it by sacrificing in the name of the Oath, showing deference to foe of higher Renown, showing respect to the prey, taking a mate, killing witnesses to an Uratha revealing their nature, sparing an enemy Uratha, fasting outside the hunt or losing face in order to uphold your totemic ban. Its condition is Pure. Wisdom is earned by holistic approaches to problems, esoteric answers and using logic and reason over the violent blood of the wolf. You might earn it by making a deal with a dangerous spirit, healing negative resonance, seeking nonviolent solutions, making a fetish, discovering and exploiting a spirit's ban, helping to find and earn a rare Gift, securing a territory, creating a new rite, discovering hidden lore or bolstering the power of a Locus. Its Condition is Wise.

Next time: Essence


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, 2nd Edition

Essence is the energy of the Hisil. It is the food of spirits, and their currency, the resource that motivates the entire Shadow food chain. To the Uratha, it fuels powers, heals, activates fetishes. You can gain Essence in several ways:

Uratha can spend Essence for a lot of reasons, but the amount they can use in a turn is limited by Primal Urge. If you need to spend more Essence than that, you can spend it over a number of turns, and the power activates when it's all spent.

Crossing the Gauntlet is known as Reaching. To an outsider, it appears that you just disappear with a quick 'pop'. Normally, a werewolf must be in a Locus to Reach. The dicepool depends on the direction you're trying to Reach in. To enter the Hisil, you roll (10-Harmony), and to enter the Flesh world, you roll Harmony, in either case applying the Gauntlet modifier to the dicepool. At Harmony 3-, you don't need a Locus to enter Shadow, and Harmony 8+ lets you enter the physical world without a Locus. A reflective surface to stare into gives +1, entering Shadow during the day is at -2 and entering Flesh during the day is at +2. Crossing takes 2 turns per level of Gauntlet strength, with you vanishing at the start and reappearing on the other side at the end of that period. If you roll an exceptional success, it's instant, and if you spend 1 Essence it's instant.

Being a werewolf's not all good, though. They have weaknesses. Most prominent is silver. Silver weapons deal aggravated damage to Uratha. Non-damaging touch with silver doesn't hurt them, but does cause intense pain as long as the contact remains. It does need to be real silver - silver nitrate won't work, nor any alloy or mixture less than 80% silver. Weapons with silver coatings work for one hit before they lose effectiveness. Unless it's a weapon forged of silver, it counts as an improvised weapon.

Second up, we have Lunacy. Lunacy is the ancestral fear of the wolf. When a person sees Dalu, Gauru or Urshul at close range, or witnesses shapeshifting or regeneration of more than bashing damage, they suffer a breaking point. This roll is not necessarily immediate - it comes at a dramatically appropriate moment when the witness would otherwise stop and take a breath and think about things. Primal Urge causes a penalty to the roll, and it's modified by form. Dalu gives +2 to the roll, Gauru gives -2. Further, if you have dealt Lethal damage to the witness, they get +1 - the prey's less likely to respond to Lunacy. If they have any wound penalties, the penalty applies instead as a bonus to the roll, too. If they witness succeeds at the roll, they get Guilty, Shaken or Spooked as norml, and suffer -2 to all actions for the scene, as Lunacy presses at the back of their mind. They will probably rationalize thins later to better understand the events. With exceptional success, the witness gets no Condition and no penalty, and instead regains all Willpower. They will remember things perfectly. Failure causes the victim to lose a dote of Integrity and gain the Atavism, Delusion or Reception condition, depending on circumstances. They either flee or panic, and afterwards they're going to rationalize what they saw to fill in the blanks and keep themselves sane. If the Lunacy condition lasts for (Primal Urge) days without resolving, it fades without resolution. On a dramatic failure, the witness becomes Wolf-Blooded. Note: groups working together suffer less from Lunacy. When two characters are working on the same task together, each gets +1 to the breaking point roll. A group of five or less fives +2, a group of 10 or less gets +3 and any larger group gets +4. Wolf-Blooded do not suffer Lunacy, nor does anything that does not use Integrity.

Third, werewolves suffer Kuruth, the Death Rage. It is fury that lies in every werewolf, a icking time bomb that always ends in death - usually of your foes, sometimes your friends or even yourself. There are two phases to it. The first is Wasu-Im, the Soft Rage. In this phase, you have some semblance of control, allowing you to find a safe place to unleash yourself. Basu-Im, the Hard Rage, is the second stage. It is what most werewolves think of as Kuruth - you just try to kill and destroy, without control. Both stages rely on your Harmony and Primal Urge. What draws you into Death Rage and how long control lasts depends on your Harmony, but the length of the Hard Rage is entirely on Primal Urge. Normally, a werewolf that finds a Kuruth trigger enters Wasu-Im. If they take Gauru form, or enter Kuruth while already in Gauru form, they immediately enter Basu-Im, however.

In Wasu-Im, you immediately shift to Urshul or Dalu form and remain in it for the duration. You suffer a modified form of the rage of Gauru form, but if you fail the Resolve+Composure roll to take any non-attack actions, you enter Basu-Im. Instead of attacking, you can roll Resolve+Composure as an instant action. Each success gives you one turn of lucidity after that, and exceptional success ends Wasu-Im if you want to. Your Harmony determines how long Wasu-Im can last. If you haven't ended it by then, you enter Basu-Im. You can also voluntarily enter Basu-Im at any point in Wasu-Im.

During Basu-Im, you are in the true Death Rage. You immediately shift to Gauru and remain in that form for the duration specified by your Primal Urge. This happens even if you've already hit your 'limit' for Gauru turns this scene. While in basu-Im, you ignore all wound penalties and any attempt to influence, intimidate or otherwise change your actions by mundane or supernatural means suffer a penalty of (Primal Urge*2). This is on top of any other resistance you might have. When an Uratha enters Kuruth, it's contagious. Werewolf packmates within 10 yards that can see or hear you fall into Basu-Im after one turn, resistable with a Resolve+Composure roll. You need 1 success per character in the scene currently in Kuruth, and you make the roll every time a packmate falls to Basu-Im. While in Basu-Im, you suffer rage as per Gauru form, except that everyone except other werewolves in Basu-Im is considered an enemy, even packmates. If there's no prey around, you will break things until find prey. Once your time is up, you collapse into Hishu, lacking any memory of what happened, though learning of your deeds is probably going to be a breaking point towards Spirit.

The game suggests that some players may prefer if entering Kuruth causes the scene to fade to black and they find out what happens later. And, side note, Wolf-Blooded that arise out of Lunacy are not transformed instantly. Rather, it occurs at a seemingly random moon phase within the next lunar month, disproportionately favoring the auspice of the werewolf they saw. As the change overtakes them, they become Wolf-Blooded and gain a Tell and all other traits of Wolf-Bloods.

Next time: Harmony


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, 2nd Edition

Harmony is what werewolves have instead of Integrity, and it tears them between two extremes - the Flesh and the Spirit. Harmony goes from 0 to 10, with 0 being a werewolf locked to the world of Spirit and 10 being one locked to Flesh. Your ideal is Harmony 5, the balance between the two. PCs start at 7, being not that long after the First Change and so still mired in the physical. You can't spend XP to raise or lower Harmony - you just have to do breaking points, in either direction. Werewolves can suffer breaking points towards Flesh and towards Spirit.

Breaking point rolls are Resolve+Composure, but you can't use Willpower on the roll. Some breaking points will have modifiers. When you hit a breaking point towards Spirit, you get -1 to the roll for each point of Harmony below 5. Fail, you lose a point of Harmony. Towards Flesh, you get -1 per point of Harmony above 5. Fail, you gain a point of Harmony. All breaking points on the list below apply to all Uratha, but they aren't definitive - the GM and the players work together to figure out what might be a breaking point for each PC specifically, based on their auspice, tribe and Touchstones. Break points towards Flesh usually involve actively denying your Uratha nature, while those towards Spirit require you to turn your back on your human heritage. (And yes, if you'll note, one of the ways to raise your Harmony if you are dangerously low is, in fact, to be hurled into a sealed room with the pack's supply of emergency Slim Jims.)

Harmony determines your ability to Reach. At Harmony 10, you can't Reach, period. At Harmony 0, you can't Reach out of the Hisil. Harmony 8+ werwolves can Reach out of the Hisil without a Locus, and Harmony 3- werewolves can Reach into the Hisil without a Locus. With Harmony 4 or lower, however, you gain bans, much like a spirit has. The ban may have something to do with a spirit you've dealt with before, your personality or story events. You get the persistant Ban condition, resolved only when you raise Harmony enough to lose it. Further, the more distant your Harmony is from 5, the more severe your personal Kuruth trigger - while at Harmony 5, you don't get affected by the personal trigger at all. Further, the closer you are to 5, the longer your Wasu-Im control period lasts.

From here, we get new Werewolf merits!
Anchored (1 or 2 dots): Werewolves only. Pick one of your Touchstones. For 1 dot, that Touchstone gives +3 to resist breaking points. For 2, it gives +4. However, the 1-dot version makes your other Touchstone only give +1, and the 2-dot makes it give +0.
Blood/Bone Affinity (2 or 5 dots): Harmony between 3 and 8. For the two dot, pick Blood or Bone. Five dot covers both. Once per chapter, when doing something that'd recover all Willpower for the covered trait(s), you can apply the rote quality to the roll. However, any time you have the chance to fulfill the covered trait(s), you must spend 1 Willpower not to do so.
Code of Honor (2 dots): Harmony 8+. You have some kind of code of human honor and role that you stick to - a knightly oath, a secret society, whatever. You get a Virtue in addition to your Blood and Bone. On top of all the normal benefits of this Virtue, you get +3 to Stamina, Resolve or Composure rolls to uphold your code. However, any time you are faced with a challenge to your beliefs or a chance to betray them, you must spend a Willpower not to uphold and defend your beliefs at any cost. You cannot use the benefits of this merit or regain Willpower until you make a show of defending your beliefs against adversity.
Controlled Burn (2 dots): Resolve 3+, Composure 3+. When you enter Wasu-Im, you shift to Hishu or Urhan, not Dalu or Urshul. If you succeed in getting a turn of lucidity at all, you can spend 1 Willpower to end the Rage. However, you can only shift to Hishu or Urhan for Wasu-Im, which can cause problems at times.
Creative Tactician (3 dots): Purity 2+. Any time you act as the tactician or organizer in a teamwork action, participants ignore up to your Purity in penalties. Once per chapter, the primary actor also gains a Beat if they follow your guidance. You do not need to be the primary actor to use this Merit.
Dedicated Locus (1-5 dots): Safe Place 1+. You have a Locus attuned to your totem's resonance, with rating equal to the (potentially pooled) dots in this merit. Further, members of the pack can use the Locus' Essence faster than other Essence. Collectively, any pack member with this Merit can spend up to (Merit dots) Essence per day outside the normal per-turn limits...but this total is shared over the entire pack. So if your pack has Dedicated Locus 3, you could spend 4 Essence in one turn - 1 of your own, plus 3 from the Locus - and that'd be fine, but use up the ability for the entire pack for the rest of the day. Only pack members that contribute dots can use the Locus' benefits, and the Locus needs a Safe Place of at least equal dot rating. Also, the Locus is going to draw attention from local spirits.
Embodiment of the Firstborn (5 dots): No Ghost Wolves. You are the very likeness of a Firstborn. Pick one Attribute reflecting your ties to that Firstborn. You get a free dot in it, and you can go one dot above the normal maximum for it. Further, any time you spend a Willpower, anyone trying to attack you in the same turn gets the Shaken condition. However, spirits with old grudges will probably try to settled them through you.
Fading (3 dots): Cunning 2+. Any time someone fails to notice you in a scene, all future attempts in the same scene suffer a cumulative -1 penalty. Once per scene, you may add your Cunning to any roll to be unnoticed or unobtrusive.
Favored Form (1-5 dots): Requires Primal Urge at 1 higher than your dots in the merit. You pick one form other than Hishu. For each dot, you get a specific benefit in that form:
However, for each dot in this merit, choose a Mental or Physical Attribute of a different form and reduce it by 1, including all derived traits. You can spread the penalties around different forms, at least. You can only ever have this merit for a single favored form.
Fortified Form (3, 4 or 5 dots): Stamina 3+, Survival 2+. Choose a non-Hishu form when you take this. For 3 dots, it has 1/0 Armor. For 4, 1/1. For 5, 2/2. You can take this multiple times for different forms.
Hearing Whispoers (2 dots): Bone Shadows only. With a turn of scrutiny, you can identify any Persistent Conditions the target has. If you suspect other weaknesses, you can identify them with a Wits+(Skill) roll, but each weakness takes a seperate roll and at least one turn of scrutiny. The ST picks an appropriate Skill for the weakness - and for this purpose, having no dots in a Skill is a weakness, as is anything else the ST deems fit, but you can't identify a spirit's ban this way. Note that except for the Condition-identifier bit, you need a reason to suspect the weakness exists before you can confirm it.
Impartial Mediator (3 dots): Honor 2+. When you step into an argument or debate and spend time listening to both sides, you can roll Presence+Persuasion+Honor vs the highest Resolve+Honor of each side. Any side you beat accepts your interpretation of the truth.
Living Weapon (3, 4 or 5 dots): Stamina 3+, Survival 2+. Pick a non-Hishu form, and then bite or claws. For 3 dots, that attack gains 2 levels of Armor Piercing. For 4, it gets +1L on top of its normal advantages. For 5, it ignores any nonmagical armor. You can take this multiple times to enhance different attacks and forms.
Moon-Kissed (1 dot): You must have the chosen Skill at 2+. Pick one of your Auspice Skills. You get 9-again on all rolls of that skill. If you already have 9-again, you get 8-again instead. When your auspice moon is visible, spending Willpower gives +4 on rolls of that skill, not +3. You can take this multiple times for different skills. However, each time you take this merit, you must choose a non-Auspice Skill you have dots in. You lose 10-again with that Skill.
Nowhere to Run (2 dots): Hunters in Darkness only. You have an instinctive awareness of the prey's safe spots. With a turn of scrutiny ,you learn the basic details and rough location of any Safe Place the target has. With a Wits+Investigation roll, you can identify other boltholes, hiding places and dedicated sites, IDing one per success. However, you must leave a mark somehow on any of those locations you visit - a scent at least, but anything as long as the prey might be able to notice it.
Pack Dynamics (3, 4 or 5 dots): You intuitively understand your pack. Any time you participate in a teamwork actions, you get a bonus to the roll - +1 for 3 dots, +2 for 4, +3 for 5. This also adds to any rolls using Resistance ATtributes when defending your pack. However, whenever a member of the pack is missing, the bonus you get on teamwork becomes a penalty to all rolls.
Residential Area (1-5 dots): Your pack's territory encompasses a residential area you've secured well. Once per session, you can access Merit dots equal to those in this Merit, split however you like between Allies, Contacts and Retainers, so long as they make sense within the scope of the territory. However, any time you use a Merit through this Merit, the characters you call on will want some token favor in return.
Resonance Shaper (3 dots): Wisdom 2+. You may roll Manipulation+Occult as an extended action, with each roll representing one hour at a small Essence wellspring or one day at a Locus. You can change a single point of the Essence's resonance with 5 successes, or the resonance of a locus with 10 successes per Locus level. The method is unique to you and your relationship with the Shadow.
Self-Control (2 dots): Resolve 4+. When compelled to shift in a stressful situation due to low Harmony, you may spend 1 Willpower instead of 1 Essence. If you do, you may remain in your current for for the entire scene. This is a breaking point towards Flesh.
Song In Your Heart (3 dots): Glory 2+. This is identical the Inspiring merit, but without the prerequisites, but can only be used when singing, howling or storytelling. Listeners can take the Inspired condition as a Persistent one, gaining a Beat every time they take a significant action inspired by your tale.
Sounds of the City (2 dots): Iron Masters only. You may spend a turn studying someone and roll Wits+Politics to identify one Social Merit they have, chosen by the ST. Further, you may spend a scene's effort to shut down up to (Cunning) dots of their Social Merits, so long as they somehow reflect human influences. The target loses access to these merits for as long as you wish, but you can only lock out (Cunning) total dots of Social Merits at a time. Further, while you are shutting down any Social Merits, all of your Social Merits in human spheres are considered 1 dot lower for all purposes.
Strings of the Heart (2 dots): Storm Lords only. You may spend a turn studying someone to instinctively sense what they most want, even if they don't know the context of it. When using this information, you are considered one stage of impression better for Social Manueivering against the target, and they cannot defy your threats, offers or temptations without spending Willpower. However, you always have one fewer Door than normal against the target, forever.
Totem (1-5 dots): You contribute your dots in this merit to the pack Totem. Further, you add your dots in this merit to any Social actions with the Totem spirit.
Weakest Link (2 dots): Blood Talons only. You can study two or more associated characters for a turn to identify the weakest of those characters by whatever criteria the ST feels is most appropriate at the moment. This takes no roll. Note that this depends entirely on narrative context - what determines 'weakest' is entirely based on what the situation is.

I really don't like how many of the Werewolf merits have drawbacks because I often see no actual reason for the drawback to exist. This will continue to be a thing in combat merits. Anyway, new combat merits!

Call Out (2 dots): Honor 2+, Intimidaton 2+, Composure 3+. When you use an instant action to call out a foe, they get your Honor as a penalty to attack anyone else, and if they do attack someone else, you add your Honor to any attack rolls against them. However, if anyone else attacks your chosne foe, it ends the challenge, and they get your Honor as a bonus to any roll against you for the rest of the scene.
Efficient Killer (2 dots): Purity 2+, Brawl 3+, Medicine 2+, Strength 3+, usable only in Gauru form. When in Gauru, any time the opponent would be denied Defense for any reason, you may sacrifice your Defense to deal a Killing Blow instead of a normal attack. This works only on living targets, and whenever you use it, you immediately enter Wasu-Im.
Flanking (2 dots): Cunning 2+, Wits 3+, Stelath 2+, Brawl 2+. Any time you make a successful attack, you can choose to apply successes from it as a penalty to the victim's Initiative and Defense for the turn rather than causing damage.
Instinctive Defense (2 dots): Primal Urge 2+, Athletics 2+. In Urhan and Urshul forms, you use the higher of Wits and Dexterity for Defense rather than the lower.
Relentless Assault (1-5 dots): Strength 3+, Stamina 3+, Brawl 2+. You are a ruthless killing machine. This can be used in any of your forms, but only with Brawl attacks. However, it can be used during Kuruth.
Spiritual Blockage (2 dots): Wisdom 2+, Brawl 1+, Occult 3+, Wits 3+. You may use this any time you make a Brawl or Weaponry attack against something that uses Essence. If you do, your attack is at -2, but if it deals damage, the target loses 1 Essence, or 2 on an exceptional success. The Essence is considered spent for purposes of how much the victim can spend per turn.
Tactical Shifting (1-5 dots): You have learned to shift in combat to maximize effectiveness. Shifting up, for this Merit, is assuming a form with higher Size than your current form. Shifting down is going to a form with lower Size than your current one. You may use multiple levels of this merit together as long as they all require you to shift in the same direction. Note, however, that all maneuvers require reflexive shifting - if you can't do that, you can't use the Merit.
Warcry (2 dots): Glory 2+, Presence 3+, Expression 2+, Intimidation 2+. You can only use this in Gauru, Urshul or Urhan forms. You may howl as an instant action, rolling Presence+Expression. You affect (successes) listeners of your choice. The affected get -1 Defense, -1 to attack and -2 Initiative for the rest of the scene. Someone can only suffer the effects of this once per scene. However, within 3 turns, curious spirits will arrive to see what the hell you're howling about, and may or may not be hostile.

Next time: Gifts


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, 2nd Edition

Gifts are the magic powers of werewolves. They are borne of scars in the spirit, torn into your blood and Essence. These scars give power, granting strange abilities that are entirely natural to a werewolf, reshaping the Essence flowing through them. Despite their source, these are not alien powers grafted onto your soul - they are a reflection of your nature as a predator, and the power of their symbols shines through your spirit to create an ability to hunt and kill. There are three types of Gift. Moon Gifts are granted directly by Luna, and your first Moon Gift is burned into your soul during the First Change. They are Luna's mark and reward, a scar to show your harmony with her vast power. Shadow Gifts are given by spirits - or torn from them via Siskur-Dah. Because they lack the Moon's ties to the Uratha, other spirits must rend your flesh and Essence together to make their mark, scarring you painfully in exchange for mystic power. Wolf Gifts are born of Uratha Essence directly, manifesting naturally from the lineage of Wolf and Moon.

Using a Gift is entirely instinctual. There is no incantation, no concentration - you just will it, and the Essence makes it happen. The presence of a Gift's mark on your soul, however, is not enough to give complete mastery. Every Gift is split into five Facets, each an expression of the Gift's meaning interpreted through a different Renown. These Facets are intertwined with your Gift-brands and Renown-brands, drawing strength from them. An Uratha who has a Gift can only use the Facets they've earned from it. Some are permanent, others require Essence to activate, and often a diceroll. A number of things can modify Gift rolls:

Gifts cannot be taught or learned. They are symbolism made real in your flesh and soul. They are vital and primal, carved into you directly. Gaining a Gift is a moment of adrenaline and invigorating pain. Your first Moon Gift is granted by Luna herself when you receive your auspice. It resonates deeply with the Renown brands that mark your auspice's virtue. You begin with a single Moon Gift of oyur Auspice. All Moon Gift Facets are tied to your Auspice Renown, and are ranked from 1 to 5 dots. Whenver you earn a dot in your Auspice Renown, you get the equivalent rated Facet of your Moon Gift - so an Ithaeur at Wisdom 3 has the first three dots of the Crescent Moon Gift. This costs no XP - it's automatic. However, you might discover other Moon Gifts of your Auspice. These cost 5 XP to unlock the first dot Facet, and 2 XP for further Facets, which must be purchased in ascending order. You may never raise the dots of any Moon Gift over the rating of your current Auspice Renown.

Shadow Gifts, on the other hand, are earned from spirits whose symbolic nature matches the Gift you want. You can bargain for a Gift, coerce a spirit into giving it, coax them into wanting to, even trick them or force them to give it up by Siskur-Dah. The one constant is that no spirit can give a Gift that does not reflect its own nature. A spirit of ash and burning flesh might teach you the Elemental's Gift or the Gift of Death, but it could never give the Gift of Warding. Once a spirit agrees to give a Gift, it physically tears the symbol into you. Luna's ties to the Forsaken are pure and close, so she can grant Gifts from afar, without tearing your flesh. Other spirits lack this connection and must work upon your Essence with more primal tools. They inflict 1L in a generally agonizing process of ripping, carving or tearing your flesh and spirit into shape. This ritual can leave scars that never properly heal, and it is not unknown for Uratha to tatoo over the healing flesh of a Gift-mark or to ritually reopen the wounsd for scarification. Shadow Gifts cost 5 XP to unlock, or 3 if favored by your Auspice or Tribe. Once you gain the Gift, you get a single Facet for free. You must then pay 2 XP per additional Facet you want...and you can never unlock a Facet associated with a Renown you have no dots in. However, every time you earn a new dot of any Renown, you may choose to unlock a single Facet of that Renown in any Gift you already know, for no cost. This makes the Gift-marks squrim and cut their way deeper into you, opening fresh Essence flows. If you have already unlocked all the facets of that Renown for all Gifts you have, the free unlock is 'stored' and applies to the next new Gift you gain with a suitable Facet.

Wolf Gifts need no spiritual intervention from anyone. They are natural paths of spiritual development for the Uratha, changes born of their hybrid nature. An Uratha can unlock a facet of a Wolf Gift at any time, provided they have at least one dot in the relevant Renown. A Wolf Gift Facet costs 1 XP, no matter what.

Moon Gifts
Crescent Moon's Gift
Ithaeur Only

Full Moon's Gift
Rahu Only

Gibbous Moon's Gift
Cahalith Only

Half Moon's Gift
Elodoth Only

New Moon's Gift
Irraka Only

Next time: Shadow Gifts


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, 2nd Edition

Shadow Gifts!
Gift of Death

Gift of Dominance

Gift of the Elementals

Gift of Evasion

Gift of Insight

Gift of Inspiration

Gift of Knowledge

Nature's Gift

Gift of Rage

Gift of Shaping

Gift of Stealth

Gift of Strength

Gift of Technology

Gift of Warding

Gift of Weather

Next time: Wolf Gifts


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, 2nd Edition

Wolf Gifts!
Gift of Change

Gift of Hunting

Gift of Pack

Besides Gifts, werewolves have access to Rites - special rituals that they can use to enact magical effects. There are two kinds. Wolf Rites are potent, calling on the Uratha's spiritual nature, and must be led by werwolves. Pack Rites instead call on the bonds of the pack, using them as a channel, and affect all members, even non-werewolves. A Wolf-Blood can lead those. All Rites rely heavily on symbolism, and the exact details can vary wildly between tribes and packs. However, all components of the symbolism must be included in the ritual performance for the rite to work, even if the actions that symbolize these things only make sense to the ritemaster. Typically, werewolves learn new rites from other werewolves or from spirits, but some werewolves have recorded rites in writing, as well. Rites are almost exclusively Extended actions, and usually done with help from the rest of the pack.

Wolf Rites
One Dot

Two Dots

Three Dots

Four Dots

Five Dots

Pack Rites
One Dot

Two Dots

Three Dots

Four Dots

Five Dots

Next time: Fetishes


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, 2nd Edition

Fetishes and talens are the two types of magic items that werewolves make and use. They are quite valuable - talens make good items to trade, while fetishes are carefully guarded and protected. They often look unusual, as they have to reflect the symbolism of the power inside them, and often bear glyphs or runes. The power within can be sensed at a touch by werewolves, and you can make an Occult roll to tell what, generally speaking, they do. To make a fetish requires use of the Fetish rite to cage a spirit inside an object. While some spirits will be okay to do this temporarily, some have to be hunted down and chained by force - though that can be dangerous, since you feed the spirit within Essence, so an unwilling one can eventually break free. Talens are simpler - they're a portion of a spirit's power stored in an object, usually, though weaker spirits might be entirely imprisoned. Most spirits will still not make talens without good cause, though, as it weakens them. Most often, it is forced out of spirits in tribute.

One dot fetishes have minor or specialized effects - a minor bonus, a free specialty, access to a weak Influence or some simple utility trick. Two dot fetishes are more useful - they might inflict a minor Tilt on their first hit, give a moderate bonus to a Gift Facet or be usable like a modern technological item with a bonus. Three dot fetishes have more power - a vehicle with a bonus, a movement boost in Shadow, a moderate Influence or a change to how a Facet works. Four dot fetishes are either very strong or very broad. A weapon with a bonus, a bonus to all Social rolls, a bonus to defend against spirits of a certain type. Five dot fetishes are legend - weapons that can cut Essence and flesh alike, rote quality on something, a major bonus to an entire Gift or something that lets you break the game rules, like using Defense against mental attacks or being the bane of something that doesn't usually have a bane. However, the more dots a fetish has, the harder it is to use.

Talens can also be made by a rite, but they rarely involve binding anything. Instead, they come from a spirit painfully ripping out part of its power and putting it in the object, which doesn't take a rite if you can convince them to do it. Some talens also form from objects that are left in an area with powerful Resonance for a while. Talens also have a dot rating of 1 to 5, and usually contain the power of a Facet or Influence, though not always. When you activate the Talen, you can use the power in it as if you had it. Talens work once, and then lose their power.

Example Fetishes and Talens
One Dot

Two Dots

Three Dots

Four Dots

Five Dots

From here we get a chapter that just goes over the basic rules for Chronicles of Darkness. We'll skip that. Worth noting, however, is that it tells us that you don't autoheal damage that was in extra boxes you lose by shifting forms. If you shift out of a form that got extra Health, it causes your existing wounds to worsen if you had damage in the boxes you lost. We'll pause for an expanded talk on spirits and Loci, however.

Loci are very handy for spirits and werewolves - spirits that match the resonance can possess pretty much anything in the Locus, and they heal twice as fast as normal and get a bonus to cross the Gauntlet. Spirits do not need the Reaching power to use their powers across the Gauntlet in a Locus, no matter what, and those with matching resonance can hide themselves perfectly within one as long as they don't do anything. Uratha can use them to cross the Gauntlet. And on the Shadow side of the Locus, a Locus generates three times its level in Essence each day for anyone to take, with the Essence matching its resonance. Loci are rated from 1-5 dots, with one dot being around 2 yards across and five dots being an entire city block or lake. Loci form when large amounts of Essence build up around a focal point without attracting any spirits. Individual tragedies or triumphs are more likely to become Loci than public events. Uratha can force spirits away to allow Loci to form more easily, but it takes a hell of a lot of Essence. If the focal point is destroyed, all Essence bound into a Locus is released, but unless the Essence is removed quickly, the Locus will probably reform into a new focus item within a few weeks, especially if the place remains heavily resonant.

Spirits come in Ranks, which the Uratha divide into five main groups. Muthra are barely formed newborns, mindless and without rank. They aren't even potent enough to awaken, and instead just settle down in Shadow close to Essence. Other spirits eat them as easily as a human might eat an apple. Hursihim are the weakest spirits to fully awaken, many still bound to one place, creature or object, and they act more on instinct than thought. While they have rank, they are more like children or animals than full people to other spirits. Most Totems are of this level, at least at first. Ensihim are fully formed and independent spirits, no longer tied to one Essence source, and are most of the spirits you find. They teach Gifts, give information and help make alliances between umia. The most potent Totems are of this kind. They are the most common prey of werewolves, as well, being the majority that flee to the world of Flesh. Dihim are extremely powerful, paid tribute by lesser spirits. Even the weakest dominate the Shadow and must be respected. They teach the most potent Gifts, and when they come into the world of Flesh, it's always a major event. Ilusahim are the gods of Shadow, spirits of global phenomena and rulers of whole umia. The 'weaker' types are things like the Firstborn, while the strongest are Luna and Helios. They are almost never seen in person and are too powerful to cross the Gauntlet personally.

Werewolves often have to negotiate with spirits, and they name this kind of dealing 'gathra'. The more powerful a spirit and the more it hates the Uratha, the more it will demand in gathra for its help. Some want service, others Essence or assistance in spiritual politics. This is Social Maneuvering, but spirits, unlike mortals, cannot agree to a deal until paid or forced. Anyway, from there it's the rules that've been talked about already.

Next time: The Pure


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, 2nd Edition

Uratha need prey - and some of that prey is incredibly dangerous. Powerful spirits, shartha that seek to reunite into their deific progenitors, human institutions larger than any pack. This chapter's all about those - and the things that even Uratha don't know how to hunt: the idigam, spirits of things that don't exist, banished the moon, each unique and dangerous. But more on them later. Right now? The Pure.

The Pure are werewolves, just like the Forsaken. They have all the strengths of a werewolf - physical and spiritual. They reject the Forsaken beliefs and their bond with Luna. Some want to return to the paradise of hunters that was Pangaea and blame Luna and the original Forsaken for its loss, while others reject the idea that the Shadow must be kept in balance. The rift between Pure and Forsaken is a brutal war that has been going on for millenia. There are three Pure tribes to the five Forsaken ones, but each is quite large.

The Fire-Touched, or Izidakh, are mad zealouts. They follow the Firstborn Rabid Wolf, and serve as the priests of Shadow and spirit. Their sacred prey is those who dishonor and disrespect the Shadow. They see the Forsaken as deluded betrayers, but they believe that their lost cousins can be saved, if they'd just listen. The Fire-Touched are armed with many Rites and esoteric lore, making them very dangerous, especially in Shadow. They are the largest of the tribes and wield spiritual disease and madness against the Forsaken. The worst thing about them, however, is that they love to talk to you, and they can be distressingly persuasive.

The Ivory Claws, or Tzuumfin, follow Silver Wolf. They are obsessedf with having a pure lineage, believing that the heritage of Father Wolf is in the blood, and so with pure enough blood they might build a new Pangaea. The Ivory Claws track their lineage amazingly, keeping track of the supernatural bloodlines of the human population and culling where they see ift. Their sacred prey is those who do not honor their lineage - which the Ivory Claws define to include most Forsaken. The trick with hunting an Ivory Claw is that they are wealthy and wield their human kin like weapons. They aggressively recruit new werewolves and Wolf-Blooded, stealing them away from the Forsaken, and they're masters of rituals of pain and blood, using them to call on the potential that lies in their spiritual inheritance. Some claim they practice cannibalism of other werewolves for power, and their goal is simple: breed Werewolf Jesus.

The Predator Kings, or Ninna Farakh, are the most savage of werewolves. They follow Dire Wolf, and care only for hunting. They see human efforts to tame the world as an affront to the paradise Pangaea, and they name as sacred prey all those who fail to honor the hunt appropriately - including both the Forsaken and modern humans. The Predator Kings are unrivalled in physical brutality, but not stupid. Their message of surrender to the predatory urge is an attractive one for werewolves, and their rejection of civilization means they don't hold back against your human allies. And perhaps weirdest of all, they aren't entirely wrong in their belief that Pangaea can be found in savage revelry, because their Sacred Hunts can and have changed the relationship between Flesh and Shadow before.

A few things differentiate the Pure from the Forsaken, mechanically. The Pure reject Luna, and have neither auspice nor Moon Gifts. They have stronger ties to Shadow than the Forsaken, and instead of the Moon Gift, they get an extra Shadow Gift and a free dot of Totem. Last, the Pure react much more strongly to silver than the Forsaken. Merely touching silver causes 1B per round, and during the full moon, this increases to 1L. The Pure tend to have potent totems and unusual Gifts, and they always have more spirit allies than the Forsaken. It should be noted that the Pure do not always want to kill the Forsaken. The Fire-Touched, especially, prefer to recruit them and sway them. The Ivory Claws are happy to spare you if you: A. have strong lineage and B. are happy to join their bloodline cult. The Predator Kings will kill you if you get in the way, but are always happy to have another hunting alongside them. Just carve out Luna's marks on your soul first - don't worry, they'll show you how. And it'll hurt like hell...but hey. You'll be Pure, right?

The Pure aren't the only danger that the Uratha hunt, however. Spirits are ore numerous, harder to categorize and always hungry. Even one spirit can have a lot of power, thanks to its Numina, Influences and raw physical strength. A powerful Ensah can take on an entire pack and not always lose. Worse, spirits are elusive, difficult to track. You have to use their weaknesses against them and learn all you can to be able to win. Without knowledge of a spirit's nature and abilities, you have little chance. It's also important to remember that not all spirits are prey - they can be allies, totems and resources. They are used to gain Essence, Gifts and rites, to bind talens and fetishes. Spirits don't work for free, though, and often wouldn't be capable of it even if they wanted to. Even so, they can be used quite well in your hunt - spies, scouts, fighters and more, if you offer them the right gathra. Influences are especially potent and often overlooked - an emotional spirit can strengthen rage within the prey, a fire spirit can make flames fly out, a raven spirit can call on entire flocks to harry the prey. Never forget how useful a spirit can be.

Then we've got Hosts. Hosts are incredibly dangerous, the fragments of ancient gods who, by fragmenting, survived even Father Wolf's fury. They are eternally trying to reforge themselves from their shards, able to hide in human flesh yet also become monster of immense size. They twista nd warp the Gauntlet, and just killing them is rarely enough. They come in two main varieties. First are the Azlu, the Spider-Hosts, who are shards of the Spinner Hag. Each is a spider that seeks to devour other spiders. Individually, they are tiny, but they can crawl into a human's skull, burrow into their brain and take them over. Soon, the body fills with spiders and, by absorbing other shards, they transform into a horrific spider-human hybrid of immense power. The primary goal of the Azlu, besides reunification, is to entirely split Shadow and Flesh, weaving their webs into the Gauntlet to strengthen it. They can even web out Loci into traps that snare those that try to use them, and they leave areas spiritually dead, without Essence. Even the humans and animals living in these areas become listless. It's said that within the Gauntlet itself are entire Azlu settlements, full of spider-hybrids building webs to somewhere the Uratha can never go.

The Beshilu, or Rat-Hosts, are the other primary type of shartha. They were once the Plague King, and they are rats that nestle in the hollowed-out hearts of humans, turning them into rotting bags of flesh full of other rats. The transformation continues until all that is left is a mix of rat and man, full of pestilence and madness. They have a strange mix of paranoid panic and religious mania, with each following their own bizarre heresy. They gnaw at the Gauntlet, trying to merge Flesh and Spirit, then return to the Plague King before a new Great Wolf can destroy them. Their hives are often within large tunnel networks or abandoned buildings, and they spread disease and insanity as well as allowing spirits to easily spread through the material world.

The shartha life-cycle roughly goes like this: First, a single shard infests a human, pilotng them around and using their body to host more shards. As the body gets more infested, it becomes clear to onlookers that they're actually a skin-bag full of monsters, but their power grows, gaining more abilities. Eventually, with enough shards, meat and Essence, the body grows into a true abomination, as the shartha merge with what's left of the human to create a hybrid monster that will, left to its own, continue to grow even more powerful. They're hard to kill because the early stage is very hard to spot, and the later stages are very resilient. Their ability to discorporate is a real challenge as well, and once beaten, you have to be ready to kill the mass of spiders or rats that emerge from the corpse, because if even one survives, the shartha lives on.

The next major prey of the werewolves is humanity. There's plenty of reasons to do so, and they're plenty dangerous. Surveillence is everywhere these days. Get careless, you get recorded, and then animal control is coming in, and you have humans breathing down your neck all the time - to say nothing of what happens when you piss off organized crime by trying to clean up your area. They're as vicious as you are and have no qualms about hitting your human friends and family. And that's before spirit cults get involved. Sure, any one human is no challenge for you, even if they're a hunter with lots of guns...but humans working together can overcome Lunacy. A hunter cell or paramilitary squad is often more than able to keep going after seeing a werewolf...and they cheat. Just like you. They build traps and ambushes, they stack the deck, the strike at weak points with overwhelming force. Humans that know werewolves exist play really, really dirty - and that's when it stays physical. Humans in positions of influence can ruin your day by accident, just via public works projects - and you can't easily deal with them by just killing them. That leads to martyrs whose cause gets taken up, or just someone replacing them. You need to find a better way.

Once a spirit and human get together, however, they become something new - the Ridden, the final major form of prey that the Forsaken recognize. Each of them has violated the laws of Wolf, breaching the gauntlet and taking a human as their body. They're a problem, though. The Urged are hard to track - they're normal humans with a spirit whispering to them, and they don't necessarily stand out in a world full of other mental health problems. Tehy're a danger, though, because each day they exist, the spirit is getting stronger and will soon be able to take control.

Eventually, they become the Claimed, in which the spirit and human fuse into a single being, changing them both mentally and physically. They can be extremely powerful, using abilities that neither human nor spirit had alone. The domain of the spirit generates new powers in the Claimed, and often they can ignore simple attacks as they try to push the spirit's agenda along. Their actions often imbalance the Shadow as they change their environment to fit their desires.

Last are the Spirit Thieves, or Nanutari, who are fugitive spirits with no time for Claiming or Urging - they just possess someone and shove their consciousness aside to take control of the body directly. They are often easy to track because they leave a trail of chaos, but the problem is, they're never really the danger themselves. Nanutari happen when a spirit decides to run from something, after all.

Next time: Idigam


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, 2nd Edition

The idigam are contradiction. They are an impossibly ancient threat, but they have only been around for around fifty years. They are everchanging spirits, known also as the Formless. Unlike all other spirits, their natural state is a roiling chaos of Essence, changing at every moment. At least, until they find something that sparks them, an indefinable thing that holds their attention and begins to transform them. It anchors and calms them from utter chaos into something new, something entirely unique. The idigam are primeval creatures who find the modern world a rich ground of experience to experiment with and wander through. Werewolves are coming for them, assuming they are tracking a prey they can understand. They do not realize they are up against a foe that even Father Wolf could not kill, that Luna had to seal away forever. One that despises them.

So, once upon a time in Pangaea the idigam wander around, offending Father Wolf with their total chaos. But he could not beat them - each time he caught one, it changed and went away, defeating his attempts to corner and run them down. He could not complete the hunt, but he could not give up, because giving up went against all he was. After countless years, Luna found a solution, perhaps after Wolf asked for help or perhaps because Moon wanted to protect the idigam, or perhaps some other reason. It doesn't matter. Luna gathered up the Formless and imprisoned them on the moon. Physically. The moon had no Essence, no spirits - nothing. They stared at the stars and the void and the light of Earth, and some went into slumber. Others danced out of madness, loneliness and emptiness. Others stared at the lights of Earth and listened.

Jump forward to 1969. The first human lands on the moon, and the silence of the Hisil there is broken by it. Many idigam flee the initial rush of Essence and spirits, unable to handle it. The strongest stay and devour the new sustenance. Four of them manage to get into the lander and ride back to Earth with it, landing in the North Pacific. Several lunar missions have happened since, bringing other idigam to the world. Some escaped by reaching out to the information streaming between satellites. They flew to freedom on that infromation. Those few idigam that remain on the moon are nearly insane with how close freedom is - and terrified that the Lunes will notice and make a new prison for them.

Not, mind you, that all of the idigam were on the moon in the first place. Those that remained became the Earth-Bound, held captive in other ways. The Moon-Banished idigam remained Formless, but the Earth-Bound were trapped by humanity itself. Only a few scraps of stories explain their nature.

Tales of the Earth-Bound Idigam posted:

This story is true. The Earthbound took on the duty of serving as monsters for humanity to hunt and battle. Their changing natures made them the perfect opponents to test the species' mettle, always returning in a new form when defeated. Perhaps Father Wolf looked fondly on the people amongst whom his Uratha children dwelt, and wanted to give them the only gift he understood - the hunt. Perhaps the idigam were just supposed to be a distraction for humanity from deeper horrors in the darkness, defeated puppets set to an undignified task.
This story is true. It was humanity that saved the Earth-Bound. Far from being ignorant primitives, humans were hewing their claim to the world through strength of arm and mind. They saw the hunted idigam and offeredthe spirits a pact - they would protect and conceal the idigam in return for the Formless Coalescing to help humanity. Humans would need many new concepts to gird themselves against the world, concepts that did not exist yet. The first of the idigam to agree to this pact eventually became the spirit of tamed fire.

Anyway, the Earth-Bound idigam ended up going into slumber as civilization became more static and no longer needed monsters. They preferred slumber to risking pissing off Wolf and getting sent to the moon. So, where the hell did the idigam actually come from? They reflect nothing of the physical world, and the Uratha that know anything about them are baffled. A few theories have been produced, but none have any strong evidence to suggest they are correct.

Pick your favorite! Mine is #6. Anyway, idigam are an out-of-context problem for the Uratha, who must adapt to deal with them or inevitably lose. The thing is, most Uratha that face them never understand what they are. There's no lore to fall back on - they are both too old and too new. They aren't just spirits, and treating them as mere spirits is asking for trouble, because their nature is change. Formless idigam, fortunately, are rare - but exceptionally hard to defeat. These are idigam in their protean state, and whatever you do to them, their weaknesses change moment by moment, their strengths adapt. They are infinitely variable. The Coalesced are much more powerful idigam, in terms of raw numbers, but they lack the constant change of the Formless. They have immense capabilities that are rarely seen elsewhere, they create retinues of bizarre creatures, but they at least have one weakness. However, while idigam must be defeated by ban and bane, trying to detect their bans and banes is impossible for Gifts, and other spirits are unliekly to know a damn thing. Instead, you might want to capture and study the creatures they spawn, which might give some hint. The Coalesced have a ban and bane that are often only tangentially related to what they are, tied more to their surroundings during Coalescence - which means you're going to have to figure out their 'birth' to be able to figure out how to beat them. As for the Formless...their ban and bane shift constantly. Find it, it's useless in ten seconds. The best thing you can do is just hurl as much raw power as possible and hope they get driven off or can't adapt quickly enough.

In the time since the return of the Moon-Banished, a few stories have started to circulate and build the beginnings of what will be idigam lore. No one really agrees on where they came from or what they want, besides 'killing all werewolves.' Some wonder if they are born of the planet's anger or corruption of Lunes by the Maeljin, or if they are space aliens. No one has yet figured out the whole story. (Funnily enough, the Pure are the closest, having suffered the worst so far - they tend to want to seek patronage from an idigam, and that never ends well. The Lunes also know what's going on and the idigam seem to fear them, but they show no interest in telling anyone else.)

The Lodge of the Quicksilver Children are a lodge that crosses tribal boundaries in search of the answer to why children of Wolf and Moon are born human. They believe they have an answer from the scraps of lore they've been able to find on the Formless and other idigam. Their conclusion is that the true child of Wolf and Moon was an idigam, which was itself the true progenitor of the Uratha, with help from some kind of human sorcerer. They believe they even know where this progenitor sleeps, and think that Wolf refused to harm it. Specifically, they believe it's in France, in Gevaudan. They intend to awaken and study it, or even get it to serve as a totem for the Forsaken as a whole. (Unsurprisingly, they haven't spread their findings very far, and their conclusions are rather iffy at best.)

Mechanically, Formless Idigam are spirits that have no influences and which lose Essence at double normal speed. However, their ban and bane change every scene, without any relation to what's going on around them. They cannot shape the Essence of others, and only have the power to shift their form. If the Coalescene, their Rank increased by 1, and they gain Influences, static traits, ban and bane, as well as getting full access to any power the GM wants to give them. Both types of idigam are immune to any power that commands, masters or reshapes them, no matter what. They can be bound or sent dormant, but never tamed. A Coalesced can return to Formlessness by spending (Rank*2) Willpower when sent into dormancy by damage or Essence loss, but most have no desire to do so. The weakest idigam are Rank 3, while the most potent ever seen was Gurdilag, a Rank 6 Coalesced. It is feared that even stronger ones are out there.

When an idigam Coalesces, their ban and bane are set by the circumstances. Eguriduth-Dur Coalesced in a prison riot, drinking in the Essence of the chaos. Its ban is that it can't be in an enclosed space and must try to escape, while its bane is manacles. Shendenna Gaskalla landed in the ocean and Coalesced next to a ship in a storm. Its ban is that it must flee any heat hotter than blood, and its bane is metal from the hull of the Arctic research vessel it Coalesced next to. Earth-Bound idigam are an exception to the lack of rules - all of their weaknesses involve humanity in some way. Lulusumhul Coalesced in a goat herd, and its ban is that it can't harm human animal-herders, while its bane is goat wool spun and worked by human hands.

All idigam have a great ability to manipulate and shape Essence, though the Formless can target only themselves with such powers. Other idigam usually have Essence shaping abilities equal to their Rank, but that's not a hard rule. Essence Shaping can be used to attack others by altering their Essence flows in a grapple, to lay a trap in someone's Essence that explodes when they use it, to corrupt their Essence and sicken them, to create a void that draws in Essence from others, to tear a hole in the Gauntlet or manipulate its strength, to alter the stats of ghosts, to manipulate and control Loci, to warp creatures into servants, to extend their senses into any creature they've warped, to manipulate local Shadow or to steal Gift Facets from werewolves until the idigam is killed or used the power once.

The most terrifying power, though, is the servant warping. See, it works on anything. They can force a spirit to Claim a creature, or even force multiple spirits to Claim a creature, forming a 'Hive-Claimed' that is an insane, ravenous mix of all the spirits within it. They can corrupt a werewolf, tearing out the soul and replacing it with a spirit, creating an Empty Wolf - a unique Claimed that retains some Uratha powers, like regeneration and Gifts. They can also just turn spirits into physical beings permanently, though the spirit will be forced to consume flesh for Essence. They can turn willing werewolves and humans into Heralds, sort of assassin-envoys that serve the idigam's goals with their own initiative as telepathic slaves. And last, they can create spawn, spiritual beings in their own image that share some of their power. (Also fun - some idigam can call down void spirits - alien spirits that live beyond Earth and ride in to serve by crashlanding inside a meteorite.)

Next time: Deceiver Lune


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, 2nd Edition

The game presents five example idigam, and each of them is essentially an entire campaign to take on and defeat. First is Lu'im Iduth, the Deceiver Lune. It never appears the same way twice, an existence of light and shadow with shimmering tendrils that trail behind it, or a muscular form covered in moonlight. It can appear as any sort of Lune and is often mistaken for a real one. Its servants claim it is potent enough to have transcended phases and that it is one of the maslunim, or Hidden Lunes. At least, those that know the word. Even the idigam has forgotten its true appearance, an amorphous quicksilver form that changes shape and color constantly. Those that have studied ancient werewolf history may or may not have found references to it as a spirit of breaking and/or madness, found in the empty spaces of thought. The Deceiver Lune gathers followers and hides among them, keeping at least three werewolves with it at any time, all driven insane by its presence. It refuses to stay in one place long, toa void being hunted down and to add to its cult.

As is appropriate to an idigam, Deceiver Lune has both complex and yet simple plans for the cult. It believes that a werewolf's life is dangerous and hard - it'd be easier to just give in and take an offer of forgiveness. It can't be everywhere, so it will recruit mouthpieces to spread its message. Thus, it has recruited the Urdam, or Believer Wolves, who are Ghost Wolves that believe it to be a powerful Lune. It considers these servants valuable, using them to bring in new converts who aim to create a new tribe of Uratha with the Deceiver Lune as their 'totem.' It will then use this tribe to destabilize Uratha society and destroy it. Once that's done, it will drive its followers mad so they kill each other. It isn't really sure what it wants - it's not doing this because it has some kind of agenda, but because that is its nature and obsession. Or, perhaps, because it is so broken that it believes this will put it back together.

The Deceiver Lune was not one of the first idigam to return to Earth. It feared a trap by the Lunes and that the potential freedom was a lie. It held back and waited, watching every time the humans came and left, as a few idigam went with them each time. At last, in 1971, it concluded that the Lunes were not, in fact, going to do a damn thing, and it boarded Apollo 15 to get back to Earth. On Earth, it fled from splashdown and remained Formless for a long time. It hid in the darkness, but was eventually discovered by a Lune in the Himalayas. Panicking, it Coalesced around the Lune and absorbed it. As it gained the Lune's memories, it pieced together how the Uratha and Lunes interacted, for the most part. Then, it found a broken, insane werewolf in the foothills, more spirit than flesh, who was the last survivor of a pack war between the Uratha and the Pure, maddened cannibal who had retreated into Shadow to hunt for Essence. The Deceiver Lune saw a kindred spirit in this werewolf, and made him the first servant it took, giving it the name Ili Sugin'dah, the Penitent.

Deceiver Lune, unlike most idigam, goes out of its way to not leave a presence on the world. That is the job of its followers. The Ghost Wolves that believe in it do not understand what it truly is - they are devoted to it and its offer of 'forgiveness' from Luna. Most are tilted towards spirit, so it has a bodyguard in Shadow at all times. Primarily, the idigam uses its powers to taint Loci, making it so that when the Urdam take Essence, they become more faithful to it and are protected somewhat from silver. Despite its lack of raw physical power, Deceiver Lune has the dangerous ability to create Su'ur - that is, Empty Wolves. It only ever uses Lunes as the spirit half of these creatures, and they are inevitably driven insane, though the rest of the Urdam see these beings as a sort of holy order they hope to join. Otherwise, it only ever uses its ability of Essence Shaping to accomplish immediate goals, in order to avoid attention.

You might run into Deceiver Lune when the Urdam set up camp in your town, or when you hear rumors about them preaching Luna's forgiveness. Or maybe you hear about Lunes going missing, kidnapped by other werewolves. Fighting Lu'im Iduth isn't easy. It's not a warrior, but is extremely good at disorienting people and running away. When it does have to fight, it will fight hard and nasty, but the actual battle is the easy part. The problem is the Urdam - they're still the People, and most of them are merely deceived, but more than willing to kill to protect their spirit-leader. They're idealists, and if their 'god' dies, they'll try to get another Lune to serve as a new one, and likely won't believe it when the Lune tells them they were lied to. Besides hunting Lunes, they continually try to recruit other werewolves. Without Lu'im Iduth backing them, that'll be harder, but they can be quite eloquent and will remain a threat if they aren't somehow stopped.

Deceiver Lune, unlike most idigam, only wants werewolf serrvants. It ignores humans and Wolf-Blooded, even if they're part of a pack. Its servants currently follow willingly, believing it to be a Lune leading them to forgiveness. Most are normal werewolves, untainted by its touch, and while they are dangerously unbalanced, they are fully functional. Most of their leaders, however, are hollowed it and made into Empty Wolves, wom the Urdam know as the Devoted, or Zid Gissu - literally, loyal shadows. The Urdam are persuasive when dealing with Ghost Wolves who have no pack. They claim to follow Numun Sala, the Lune of Mercy, who offers the forgiveness of the Moon to those that follow. Their doctrine is simple - the Forsaken and Pure are wrong, spurning Luna. They align with the Firstborn or the spirits. Luna, however, can give forgiveness to any werewolf that seeks Her out properly, using a ritual they call the Purity of Moon's Heart. It's a sham, a bullshit ritual that never does anything and has its results entirely decided by the Deceiver Lune and its Empty Wolf servants. The 'tribe' remains small enough that no one has yet argued over this, and seniority is respected to the extent that abuse of authority is rampant. Only a few Empty Wolves exist, and they all follow the Penitent when Deceiver Lune is not actively around.

The Penitent himself claims to be date back to the year 1300 in Germany, but no werewolf has ever lived that long. Sometimes he claims he was a Pure forgiven by Luna, who returned his Auspice. The only common thread he's got is the Pure - he's fixated on them, perhaps due to his half-remembered history with them in the Himalayas. He is the last survivor, and in his more lucid moments he believes he killed his old pack himself. When he met the Deceiver Lune, it told him that he was the Lune of Mercy, and by promising him forgiveness, it has enslaved him. He is a true believer, but he can't tell his hallucinations from his memory any more. He is the only one of the Devoted that is not an Empty Wolf, but his years of service to the Deceiver Lune mean he might as well be.

Deceiver Lune itself is a rank 4 spirit, powerful but not unstoppable. Its ban is that must obey anyone carrying part of the actual Falcon landing module or an authentic Apollo 15 mission patch, so long as it is not asked to do anything suicidal or impossible. Its bane is sunlight, and it travels only by night.

Next time: The Endless


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, 2nd Edition

The second sample idigam is Sag'suga Isim, the Endless or the Empty Hunger. The Endless prefers to hide in decaying areas, as they are comforting and familiar to it. It is not so much interested in death as the idea of material breakdown - rot, decay, entropy. Necrotic tissue, decaying buildings and ruined networks are all equally interesting to it. The Endless loves decay, both physical and metaphorical, and it likes to study these things. It prefers to avoid werewolves, who tend to tamper with its experiments and are naturally resistant to the degeneration that it is interested in. They heal, they live longer, they resist poison and disease, and they get in the way of the Endless' investigations of rot and destruction. It is far more interested in these experiments than any revenge, however, unlike most idigam. Occasionally, though, it does capture a werewolf and use them as a test subject for all kinds of decay, as they are quite durable. The Endless studies them occasionally to learn more about the limitations of their regenerative ability, sot hat one day it can find a way to nullify them and accelerate necrosis. Despiteh aving Coalesced in the darkness, it has no ties to the dark but instead to the ideas of entropy and decay. Eventually, all things will break, and it wants to understand that process. If it can find ways to sustain entropy indefinitely, it can turn everything into something like itself - an indefinite state of necrosis that it can control.

The Empty Hunger is an idigam that was never Moon-Banished. Rather, it hid deep in the earth and in the dark places of Shadow. It waited until Father Wolf died, then came forth. Or, rather, most of the Earth-Bound did. The Endless did not. It remained in the dark, studying how things broke down, and even took spirits apart to better understand the process of entropy. Despite all that, it never comprehended it. All it found was that it became emptier and emptier as it consumed. It Coalesced, trying to become entropy that it might understand. It built the first of its entropy elementals from other spirits, and emerged to find the modern world, with few Earth-Bound left. It never bothered to find out why. It's a quiet sort of idigam, unlikely to be noticed except by the effects of its actions. It can't really help but to break things near it, causing chaos and entropy. It takes human prey for preference - usually those with set schedules. It disrupts them, first subtly and then more and more, then strikes only when they are at their wits' end, consuming them for Essence or turning them into the Empty. This makes its activities easy to track...but only once it's already done them. Being proactive is much harder against the Endless. However, it always sticks around to observe its experiments and their results, which can prove useful if you survive the first fight.

Between its entropic nature and curiousness, the Empty Hunger cannot help but break things. Its careful in its study, but it changes the subjects entirely, wearing them down and rotting them away. It doesn't limit itself to physical things, either - it will happily decay relationships or intangibles, if it can, and it's a master manipulator, with an interest in anything orderly or resistant to decay. It doesn't act at random, however. Every choice it makes is deliberate, an experiment in some aspect of entropy. It wants to understand entropy, so that it can understand itself. Part of that is in observing entropy on others, and it doesn't ever wait for volunteers.

Noticing the Endless is the hard part. It leaves a trail of devastation, but it's a very subtle idigam. You might notice it as it destroys a community's order or sets about putting a normally more routine situation into utter chaos and devastation. The Endless is not infallible, and it can be lured into laces it cannot easily flee out of, with care. Another situation might be a pack showing up tracking the thing into your territory, regardless of who stands in the way, or the thing deciding to camp out on your lawn and destabilize your territory to see how you react. It will, in any case, avoid combat if possible - it'll straight up offer to leave and will give any reasonable concession, on the basis that it's immortal and you aren't. If that won't work, it will study the area for blackmail or to turn others against you. If that fails, it will finally fight, and in combat, it is a bitter foe, but it will run at the first chance it gets.

Primarily, servants of the Endless are spirits that it warps into entropy elementals. In Flesh, it will hollow out humans and use their bodies as servants - or, more rarely, animals. These, which are called the Empty, are used primarily to find other subjects to experiment on. All of its servants are both experiment and tool, as it studies the necrosis within them. It uses them as necessary for its plans, but prefers to rely on its own abilities when it needs something done right, hollowing out humans and turning them into heralds. Note that the entropy elementals aren't actually entropy spirits - they're spirits corrupted and warped by the idigam. The Empty, meanwhile, are literally empty - they are inflated bags of flesh surrounding necrotic energies, and when killed, they deflate, with no bone or muscle. They appear identical to humans, save that their eyes are replaced by empty, blank holes of blackness, they have no souls, they are immune to any mental domination because they're puppets being piloted by an idigam and they have no memories of their lives, though they retain any skills they had. They can communicate, but rarely do.

Sag'suga Isim itself is a rank 4 spirit, quite potent, but subtle in its powers. Its ban is that against a truly inspired creation, it cannot defend itself. It can't use its (considerable) Defense against attacks from those who are inspired to create or repair - doctors, construction workers, artists, chefs, performers, that kind of thing. Anyone with three dots and a specialty or four or more dots in Crafts, Expression or Medicine certainly counts, unless symbolically they destroy rather than creating, such as a demolitions expert. Its bane is any freshly-made handcrafted item - a sword fresh from the forge is fine, if it wasn't mass-produced, but so is a handmade wicker basket. The basket just won't last very long as a weapon.

Next time: The False Father


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, 2nd Edition

Third up: Lul'Aya, the False Father. Once, it was called Imadih Shedu, and it was dedicated to change and chaos. It tried to tear down the boundary of Flesh and Spirit, to create a storm of matter and ephemera. It was weak for an idigam, but very ambitious, and it loved to create strange amalgams of flesh and spirit that broke all rules. Eventually, Wolf came for it and easily hurled it to the moon. It raged for a brief period, but as more idigam joined it on the moon, it calmed. It began to realize that Wolf's strength and dedication were a pure thing, a thing it had never matched in anything it made. Wolf became something to envy, and Luna something to desire. When humans came and freed the idigam, Imadih Shedu saw a chance to take Wolf's place. It managed to escape by piggybacking on the communications stream of a satellite with some information and discovery spirits. Once it returned to Earth, it cast aside its name and tried many shapes as the deep envy of Urfarah consumed it. It learned that Wolf was dead, slain by the Uratha, and it even sought out the Wound where the bones of Wolf still lie. It claims it found Wolf's bones rotting in the First Wound, realizing that Wolf had failed - that something better had to take Wolf's place. (That is, it tells this to werewolves it captures and corrupts.)

And so, the idigam decided on its form. It became what it called Ghal'urfarah Aya, the Great Wolf-Father. The Uratha call it Ninglul Aya, the False Father - shortened to Lul'Aya now by those that know of it. It claims it first Coalesced around Father Wolf's bones, copying them and covering them with flesh - and then improving on the form. Fur became fleshy tendrils coverd in stinging barbs, jaws became impossibly huge, muscles were left exposed to increase gait. Its true nature, however, is shown through as eyes, mouths and grasping arms manifest at times along its body. It has none of Wolf's noble features. It preaches, mostly to unwilling captives, of a new pack, a pack it will lead to hunt the greatest prey, which it creates itself to provide the best hunt. It even twists and warps its 'adopted children' into freakish wolf-slaves, Empty Wolves who cause righteous fury in any werewolf that sees them as the Heralds spread seeds of belief in the new Father.

Rumors spread now about a great wolf-good of the spirit, which some fearful spirits name Father Wolf. You might hear about it anywhere - a giant wolf followed by gigantic, monstrous prey and savage battles. It destroys the land and enrages both Pure and Forsaken alike. It hunts out Ghost Wolves and offers them a place in its pack - and those that refuse, it turns into Empty Wolves, while those that accept become Heralds, which it names the Inim-Galag. They have had only minor success in recruiting Forsaken and Pure alike, but Lul'Aya does not mind. It creates prey worthy of hunting, as so many of Wolf's foes no longer exist. It tracks down apex predators - spirit or animal - and warps them into horrific creations, poisoning the local Essence and hunting its newly made prey. It doesn't care about the consequences or the balance of worlds - it just thinks that Wolf hunted, so it will hunt.

Lul'Aya is a warped perversion of the Siskur-Dah and the balance Wolf maintained. It does not respect anything, and everything it does undermines all that the Uratha stand for. It doesn't understand what it wants - it just tries to dominate and enforce its will. It loves its Heralds, sure, but for their loyalty and their ability to warp minds. Those that believe its promises will soon find it impossible to disobey, and most of its 'pack' is Empty Wolves or corrupted spirits, which bear the scars of its 'improvements.' Mass die-off and withering of life occurs arround it, both in Flesh and in Shadow. The Lunes are enraged by its mere presence, its terrible lust for Luna, and it loves to taint Lunes, because it feels this improves them and gets it closer to Luna, whom it seeks to possess and 'love.' It does not understand why Luna dislikes this. The only thing keeping it under control at all is its desire to be Wolf, and so to have a purpose in its hunting.

Lul'Aya is exceptionally dangerous - not as strong as Wolf, thank god, but definitely powerful and definitely warping the world around it, damaging the Gauntlet. It's easy to track, but catching it is harder - you definitely can't let its creations run rampant while you chase it, and by the time they're dealt with, it's moved on. Ideally, you want an alliance of packs or even a protectorate to deal with it, since it is a multifaceted problem. That said, alliance, clever plans and the pack bond are all major advantages it cannot reproduce. It has minions and monsters, but it lacks the family that the Uratha have and power of cooperation. It understands only dominance, and scorns humans and Wolf-Bloods as weak and inconsequential. It doesn't understand their value in the pack, or the power of teamwork. Even the Pure might be convinced to help fight the False Father and its monstrous creations - though that has its own dangers and problems. Alliances of that kind are always tense.

Because Lul'Aya believes itself the apex of hunters and alpha of all werewolves, it believes it is strong...but it remembers that Wolf died too, and to the werewolves. If it is truly endangered, it will flee. If cornered, it will use everything it has to fight its way out. It is not as strong or brave as Wolf, but it is just as vicious, and in combat it could take on even multiple packs, especially with the help of its Empty Wolves and Heralds. It might even spawn spirits mid-battle to fight with it. There is good news, however. Its false pack of spirits cannot stand sunlight or the touch of weapons made from animal materials, while silver is even stronger against its Empty Wolves than most werewolves.

Lul'Aya itself is Rank 4 and extremely dangerous in a fight. However, it does have weaknesses. Its ban is that it must hunt worthy prey every lunar cycle and cannot refuse a challenge to hunt worthy prey. It is also repelled by images of Father Wolf's death. Its bane is silver, which harms it much as it does werewolves. Further, it also suffers a second bane - werewolves with Purity 5, who are the true inheritors of Urfarah and so burn away its blasphemy.

Next time: The Second Sun


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, 2nd Edition

Idigam #4 is Ansar-zalag, the Heavnly Fire. It is light and heat and fire, glowing from within like a star. Its core is vaguely humanoid but indistinct in the glow it spreads. All that is able to be seen is that it is muscular - everything else is radiation and fire. When it speaks, it has no mouth - its voice comes from all places and no place. It rarely speaks, and then only to boast. All other creatures are beneath it. Its presence is an uncomfortable heat, though not enough to burn - usually. It seems to fill any space it inhabits, and it is exceptionally unsubtle. It enjoys taking werewolf territory and raging against the werewolf descendants of its captor. It doesn't really care where or why - it just wants to destroy its foes.

While on the moon, Ansar-zalag called out to the void. Eventually, something came - a star spirit, remnant of a supernova, traveled to the moon on a chunk of rock. It awoke in time to be enslaved by the idigam. When the Heavenly Fire came to Earth, it brough the star spirit, if only as a snack if required. When it Coalesced while trying to eat the spirit, it did so on the Moruroa atoll in the Pacific, reborn in fire and light. It charred the local plants and destroyed an entire forest, laying the groundwork for its own weakness behind. Now, it travels the globe, seeking nothing more than vengeance on the Uratha. It does not talk, except to praise itself as it kills. It might try to get you to surrender, but it will kill you anyway. That is all it wants.

The thing about Ansar-zalag is that it is one of the few idigam that learned how to call out to the void and get a response. The star spirit that crashed into the moon was dying, but in its Resonance, Ansar-zalag tasted destruction, heat and fire - and it saw potential, in enslaving the remnant of one of the most potent events in the universe. It nurtured the spirit to health as best it could...and when Apollo 11 came, Ansar-zalag was one of the first idigam to make it aboard, one of the first to go back home. It and the spirit landed on the atoll, once used as a nuclear test site - perhaps drawn by a similar resonance to the weak star-spirit. Whatever happened, the star spirit was strengthened by it, enough to escape the idigam. Ansar-zalag gave in and Coalesced into its current form, and the star spirit probably escaped, hiding in the Shadow. Or perhaps it was consumed. No one can really say for sure, but Ansar-zalag sometimes seems to be searching something - perhaps that same spirit.

The Heavenly Fire destroys and lays waste - that's it's nature now, a sort of spiritual equivalent of nuclear fusion, but not bound by scientific laws. If it were, the Earth would have been sterilized and destroyed already. However, its core is still heat and fire that can break down just about anything. It is an arrogant spirit, and so the idigam largely moves in straight lines towards whatever it wants, destroying anything in its way. It doesn't hide its path - but then, it doesn't need to, given the thing is both incredibly powerful and unlike any other spirit on Earth. It could briefly be mistaken for a fire elemental or a Helion, but it isn't really like them at all. Rarely, it will spawn lesser spirits from its own form to serve it. Sometimes, it runs into people that want to worship it. Usually, it destroys them, but if it needs someone to speak for it, it will make a herald. It rarely needs this. Occasionally, it will skip a territory entirely, for reasons no one can figure out. It appears to be entirely random, and finding out the reason might be very useful. One thing that is true, though, is that it never really goes after the Pure unless they happen to be in its way to where it wants to go. No one seems to know why, but the Pure believe it's because their ancestors did not help jail the idigam.

Obviously, the Fire is not subtle. It's big and angry and it kills werewolves. It is always out there, killing werewolves somewhere. At least one pack, an Irish group called the Family, is dedicated to taking it down. They've not come close to managing it yet - indeed, they don't even know the idigam's ban and have yet to get a chance to learn it. They're forming an alliance against the idigam, but it's tenuous at best. Werewolves might learn of the Heavenly Fire from the Family and their leader, Euan, or they might run across the scorched earth it leaves behind it in Shadow. Maybe they run into one of the cults that form up around visions of its coming, hoping to placate and serve it.

Taking down Ansar-zalag is a real challenge. It is extremely capable of defending itself, and can ignore most lesser attacks. It is gigantic and more than able to withstand a concerted assault. Fortunately, it largely acts alone - it has few servants and never keeps them for very long. It isn't good at delegating and doesn't enjoy doing so. In the rare cases it does require servants, they are mostly its own spirit-spawn, which it trusts more than enslaved minions. Its offshoots are named the Lilia'izi, and they mostly work as scouts. Occasionally, it acquires cults that tie it to various local religions. Apparently its coming is always heralded by prophetic visions, though the idigam doesn't seem to realize that. Some believe it may be the star-spirit trying to communicate and warn people. However, it does cause cults to spring up that worship and try to supplicate the idigam, and occasionally the spirit will enslave them and use them as Mulan Namnigir - 'Star Heralds.'

The idigam itself is rank 5 and extremely powerful. Like, Armor 12 powerful. It is very dangerous no matter who you are. Its ban, however, is that it cannot harm anyone who carries a piece of meteoric iron - its attacks do not touch them, it cannot grapple them, it can't hurt them with area attacks. It can still target their mind, though - this is just physical attacks that it can't do. Its bane is any natural material from Moruroa atoll. In fact, weapons made from the atoll's rocks, coral or wood also bypass its Armor.

Next time: The Mouth of the Depths


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, 2nd Edition

The final example idigam is Gagh-Azur, the Mouth of the Depths. In spiritual form, it appears as an evil whirlpool or a maw swallowing everything. Materialized, it is a misshapen mass of dark flesh and parts of various ancient, slimy animals. It oozes green liquid from ugly orifices, and it has an immense, toothless maw to swallow...well, everything. It grabs stuff with tentacles and shoves it into the maw, using razor-edged fins to weaken its prey. It secrets paralytic venom, as well, because this wasn't monstrous enough. It spends its time at sea, deep in the dark, where it feeds on things and experiments, as it has done since prehistory. It consumes, and within its gigantic stomach, it reshapes Essence and flesh into new forms. In prehistoric times, some of its creaitons were recorded in fossils like the Burgess Shale.

The Mouth of the Depths envies normal life. They have color, symmetry, variety - everything it lacks. Its own body is imperfect, no matter how much it changes. Life continues to create new things, and all it can do is steal the traits of what it consumes. Perhaps in mockery of this or perhaps in search of its secret, Gagh-Azure consumes and creates. When the moon grows full, it rises to the surface and spits out its new creations - fishmen, squid creatures, horrible amphibian monsters. They crawl from the sea to the beach and beyondd. Most die in short order, but not before they get to kill and eat some people or drag them back to their creator. None last more than a month, though, as the Mouth of the Depths has not mastered creation of life and can only give them its own insatiable hunger. It prefers humans as prey, because while their forms are fixed, they reshape the world around them. By devouring them, it hopes to learn how to make true life.

Its origins lie in the oceanic depths of Shadow, in a time before even Wolf. Its original form, if it ever had one, is lost. It might have been one of the first magath, or perhaps it was always a hungry maw. When it rose into the waters, it ate everything it found, converting flesh, inanimate matter and Essence into new forms within itself. Its goal was simple: make the perfect life. No one knows why - it hardly bothers to talk to people, after all. Maybe it wants to end its hunger or create a perfected form for itself. By making something permanent and pure, maybe it can learn to make itself a better form. Or maybe it just wants new things to eat. Its early works are some of the weirdest animals in the fossil record, and many never ended up there, eaten by their creator. It drew Wolf's attention with its mad creation and destruction, and Wolf stalked and fought it for many days before hurling it to the moon.

Gagh-Azur returned to Earth on Apollo 11. At first it fled to the depths, to escape Wolf. Eventually, it rose again in hunger and learned of Wolf's death and the raising of the Gauntlet. It took form and fed on the Gauntlet itself, so it could eat both flesh and spirit. Every full moon it rises again, to feast on anything it can catch and then reshape it. It makes sea monsters and bizarre things as the ride rises, drawing attention. Coastal people notice a rise in rogue waves and 'shark' attacks, as well. The entire ecosystem is the prey of the Mouth of the Depths, and it spreads ecological disaster on both sides of the Gauntlet. Its creations are no better - horrific Claimed and other monsters follow it about, with forms of all kinds, each more disgusting than the last. Fish whose eye sockets absorb light, jellyfish with distended maws and giant tentacles. They kill out of pain and fury, not hunger - and they are the simple ones, the onesl eft to guard Gagh-Azur as it creates its next generation of new, monstrous ideas.

When it awakens, it takes out entire populations of sea life and sends its creations onto land to catch prey there and bring it home. Preferably, human prey. It is extremely creative when it comes to horrible ocean-creature monsters. Kelp-humanoids with horrible sphincter-mouths, octopi covered in suckers that drag themselves along with human hands, flying jellyfish with human faces and electric tentacles. It especially loves the many ways living things kill and eat each other, and it has begun to hunger for a new prey: werewolves. Its fear of Wolf keeps it at sea, even now that Wolf is dead, for it also fears Wolf's children. However, it wants to use them, making use of their flesh and spirit to make something new and worthy - and to take revenge on Wolf.

Gagh-Azur is not an easy idigam to take on. Its natural environment is one that is largely foreign to werewolves, and it is extremely well-adapted to the sea and commands a horde of killing monstrosities. Brute force will not be enough. However, it cannot hide forever, given its urge to take form and feed. It's pretty easy to notice when it's around - the coastal spirits begin to fear the high tide under the full moon, rumors of magaths spread and the spirits may even ask werewolves for protection. Maybe you run into one of the idigam's creations at night. Tracking it from there isn't hard - it moves up and down coastlines, spreading devastation in its wake. Easy enough to spot. Catching it is the hard part. It's not a subtle creature, but it spends much of its time sleeping in the depths, and oceanic spirits are often hard to bargain with for aid. You can hurt it when it comes to the beach to send forth its monsters, but it'll flee any losing battle. And once you do manage to corner it...well, if you can keep it beached and in Flesh, you have a chance, because it was not made to survive well on land. But it's still dangerous there, and it will absolutely send forth its spawn to fight for it and try to eat you whole. It can manifest almost any natural trait that helps eat things, and it will. The good news is, it fights in a way you can understand. It fights like an animal, not something entirely foreign. If you can keep it from the sea and handle its creations, you can win, with help from allies.

The spirits name its creations Mawspawn. Tehy come in many ways, but a few shapes repeat themselves. The Ge'endumun, or Brine Walkers, are...well, they're the Weird Claimed that it creates. It likes to shove aquatic spirits into landbound bodies, and they tend to be poorly suited to land hunting, but are very dangerous. They also don't live very long, and all inherit a terrible hunger and a desire to attack anything they see. Humans are the preferred host body. Some of the more common are the Ig'amargha, or Suckling Face, which are humanoid forms with squidlike faces, covered in tentacles that drip ink and slime. They tend to eat themselves to death and don't survive well on land. There's also the Mur'hal Gushu, or Shelled Crawler, which are basically giant crab centaurs, except the human part of the body just kind of slumps over uselessly and moans in constant pain. They have an unfortunate tendency to split and rupture after a while, but while they survive they are insane berserkers. Its greatest creations, though, are the Has'bar'dumu - the true Mawspawn. They are neither spirit nor Claimed nor normal flesh. None has a soul or spiritual reflection, and none lives more than a month. Each is unique, a new creation in an attempt to create a perfect predatory life, and each tends to be equally good at fighting on land and water. They aren't stupid, but lack human intellect - they instead operate on a raw, bestial cunning.

Gagh'Azur itself is a rank 5 spirit of immense size and power, especially in the water. It is, frankly, probably the toughest idigam in terms of raw defenses in the entire book. However, it does have weaknesses. Its ban is that it must rise to the shallows and remain there for at least a week at the end of each lunar month, if it wishes to retain its Essence...and while there, it must eat at least five spirits and living beings. Its bane is coral, and weapons made of coral penetrate its otherwise immense Armor.

Next time: Locations


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, 2nd Edition

The first example location in Forsaken 2e is probably not one you expect: Basra, Iraq. Tehre is only one tribe in Basra: the Blood Talons. Werewolves lived in Iraq, of course, and others came to Basra out of inspiration by the tenacity of the local humans, working to cull the local despair spirits. They came also because they were called. They feel the urge to build - something unfamiliar to the children of Fenris-Ur. Fenris-Ur demanded the Blood Talons come and had them drive out all other tribes - but no the Ghost Wolves, whom they allowed to stay. They cleanse the Shadow to make way for something they don't understand. Now that the Blood Talons have driven away the other tribes, they are arrogant and overconfident - and several have died in crossfire or to IEDs as a result of that. After all, heavily humans are everywhere, even if the Blood Talons think they're beneath notice.

The Uratha of Basra do not understand how deeply ancient history is guiding them. In a lesser-known legend Fenris-Ur had a counterpart - Dana-Ur, the Creator Wolf, the other half of his duality. The Destroyer Wolf tore down the old and the Creator Wolf filled the void with the new. Some stories claim they were mates, others siblings. The details don't matter. What is true is that Fenris-Ur left Dana-Ur behind when he gave the Blood Talons his patronage. He is not a spirit prone to introspection, but he is not stupid, and he has relaized something is missing, has been missing so long he does not remmeber what it is. He isn't sure what made him remember it now - that was lost in the chaos of the Iraq War. The moment was some time after the American invasion, but was not tied to any major event of the war. Fenris-Ur does not especially care why he remembers - only that he feels empty now, and the answer lies in Iraq.

Destroyer Wolf's first instinct was to revel in the destruction in Iraq, feasting on the spirits of violence there, but it didn't help. His second instinct was to call the Blood Talons to him. Across the globe, Blood Talon Cahaliths awoke, knowing that they should go to Iraq. This happened night after night. Not all came - not all could come. They contributed to the terror and destruction of the war as they came, however. Many cities were laid waste to, and after nearly a decade, most of them left. The urgency of the clal had faded. Those who stayed watched for more signs - and they came in 2009, when huge projects began rebuilding Basra. The new dreams were felt by every Blood Talon in Iraq, not just the Cahalith, and the message this time was clear: take Basra, drive out the other tribes. The Blood Talons did, driven by the proximity of the Firstborn, first wiping out the Pure and then turning on the other Forsaken tribes - and even those Blood Talons who refused to take part, few as they were. After years of battle, they finally drove the last of the tribes out of Basra, allowing only the Ghost Wolves to stay at Fenris-Ur's instruction. However, the tribe is beginning to crack under the strain.

Fenris-Ur's attention to the area makes the Blood Talons more bloodthirsty, closer to frenzy. Most revel in this primal nature, though ti does not excuse the terrible things they have done. Fenris-Ur himself is said to stalk the Shadow of Basra, but even his children give him a wide berth - he cannot contain his destructive nature, even for them, after all. Even the non-Blood Talon wolves have trouble with compassion or tolerance in Basra, thanks to his presence. However, with the other tribes gone, the spirits mostly beaten into submission and no other eal threats, there's little left for them to fight. Small disagreements among the Blood Talons are growing into duels and battles. And even without that, they're burning themselves out. Even the Blood Talons can't sustain the bloodlust and adrenaline of Destroyer Wolf indefinitely. Either they or Fenris-Ur will need to leave, soon, but neither will. That would be an unacceptable surrender for the Blood Talons, and Fenris-Ur does not have it in his nature to stop. The Ghost Wolves of Basra are terrified thanks to the Blood Talons and the presence of Destroyer Wolf. Some have tried to flee, but the Blood Talons force them to stay.

There are three main types of spirits still in Basra: those too weak to be a problem, those that are nominal allies to the Blood Talons and those who were strong or clever enough to fight back effectively. The Blood Talons mistakenly believe only the last are a threat to them. They don't realize that the biggest threat is actually Vahestabad, spirit of Basra itself. It doesn't claim the entier Shadow of the city, but is patron to lesser city spirits. Its nature has changed with that of the city - whenever the city changes, it discards its old self. It has been soldier, imam, storyteller, merchant, tyrant and terrorist by turns. As the spirit a crumbling city of war it welcomed the Blood Talons. Now, it has changed again and seeks regrowth. The Blood Talons are incompatible with that - but it is not stupid enough to challenge Fenris-Ur and his brood directly. Rather, it draws on its surviving followers and its own power to obstruct the Blood Talons subtly. The humans of Basra, meanwhile, have started to realize there are monsters around. Luna smiles on the armed, coordinated groups of the city, who remind her of the Uratha, and so sometimes they are given immunity to Lunacy for a period. Most of them still suffer it, but enough are putting together their memories and their knowledge of horror movies to begin stocking up on silver to make into bullets, though they've yet to speak the word 'werewolf' aloud to others. The Blood Talons have yet to face hunters armed with silver in Basra, and they're not ready for it.

Basra's Shatt-al-Arab River is also full of shipwrecks which are becoming hives of angry, hungry ghosts that have, in places, grown very powerful - powerful enough to kill. The Blood Talons have yet to notice them and are not exactly good at handling ghosts even when they do. Outside the city is the werewolf Hassan ibn al-Ab al-Dh'ib, leader of the Betrayed - the survivors of the tribes cast out of Basra. The pack is huge, and only together until the Blood Talons are dealt with. Hassan knows that, but likes being in charge, so he is trying to arrange it so when the city is retaken, each of the new packs that form will be indebted to him. The nominal leader of the Blood Talons is Fatima 'Ahlaam al-Dam - Fatima Dreams of Blood. She is a Cahalith who foresaw Fenris-Ur's arrival before he'd even decided to come. She has built a cult of personality around herself in Basra, speaking and dreaming of a healed wound she doesn't quite undertand, and her presence is basically the only thing keeping the Blood Talons from going into civil war over their own petty arguments. Nat Dory is a British Ithaeur of the Iron Masters who believes he knows what the Blood Talons want, but not why. He found a hidden place in the Hisil full of half-finished construction and strange chimeric spirits. He's in Basra for the Lodge of Scrolls, trying to recover lore before it's destroyed, and he's calling home for help right now in hopes of finding that pocket again before it's destroyed by the Blood Talons. Last, there's Abdul Rahman bin Ishaq, one of the Ghost Wolves of Basra who has been found by...something, and now sees the Basra that could be, if rebuilding was allowed. He's an engineer and architect by trade, and he's what's keeping the Ghost Wolves of the city from going mad with fear, with his words of renewal and protection for the local humans.

So yeah, while the game never straight up says it: Basra's where an ancient Firstborn is lying in slumber, and Fenris-Ur is apparently planning on waking her and getting a new Forsaken tribe started...except he's no good at doing that or at explaining to the Blood Talons what's going on, and everyone involved is only good at violence, when the new Firstborn is a creator.

Next time: Belfast


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, 2nd Edition

Belfast, Ireland has had werewolves for years - and while the Troubles have calmed now, friction remains between packs, who give up grudges with somewhat less ease than most. Ireland also has no wolves - they're extinct there, since 1786. Fortunately, there are wolf spirits left in the Hisil, but many have become magath in order to survive. Many others are sought as pack totems. Anyway, back to the Troubles. They started in the 20s when Northern Ireland was made part of the UK, and factions rose to oppose or support the decision, largely along religious lines. Belfast was a warzone, and areas known as the 'peace lines' were made to try to reduce bloodshed - walls of iron or brick, 25 feet high in places. Werewolves, too, understand territory, and their turf wars often mirrored the Loyalist and Republican ones. It's only increased the violence of Belfast, and while the Troubles officially ended in 1998, the werewolves haven't really forgotten, even if other violence has mostly ceased.

Factional loyalties remain among Belfast's people, particularly the werewolves. Blood Talons and Hunters in Darkness both tend to be more distrustful of those on the opposite side of the Loyalist/Republican divide, given their tendency to fight over talking. They're less numerous but quite paranoid. Iron Masters and Storm Lords tend to cooperate more easily, however. The decline of the semi-organized militias on either side of the conflict have left a lot of trained fighters with little to do, and the Iron Masters and Storm Lords feel that recruiting these new armed gangs can be useful. The Bone Shadows tend to ignore the conflict entirely in favor of dealing with spirits and other Shadow threats - including the Shartha, given the Hunters in Darkness tend to be rather distracted by the Troubles-based conflict. Most of those uninterested in the conflict besides them are Ghost Wolves - they tend to see tribal allegiance as similar to the sectarian ways of the past.

Belfast does have one side benefit - there's no Pure. Their last attempt to settle a pack in the area ended when they died in the crossfire of a turf war between two Forsaken pacts. There are other problems, however - spirits have been taking the form of selkies to prey on men, hiding in the River Fast under the city. Largely, they are river spirits turned magath by devouring anger and lust spirits, luring men into the waters and drowning them. There's also the occasional exotic animal loose in the streets - see, for a while, local laws let anyone keep any kind of animal they wanted as a pet, and sometimes those pets get loose, or the Bellevue Zoo has an escape. Perhaps the most dangerous problem, though, are the Azlu - something about Belfast draws them to the area, and even the humans have noticed the desiccated corpses they leave. (Some blame vampires.) The Azlu are very hard to defeat in total, and some wonder if they have a tie to the Peace Lines.

Some of the more notable packs include the Irregulars, in an old Republican neighborhood called New Lodge. They're led by an Iron Master named Nathan Herron who is waging a quiet war against drug dealers, no matter what side of the Troubles they used to be on. See, the IRA's ex-members often turned to crime, as did some Loyalist thugs, and they formed the Brigade, a sort of criminal network of drug dealers. Nathan really doesn't like them. Then there's the Blood Oath, led by a Wolf-Blooded woman named Laura Fitzpatrick. The pack is mostly Wolf-Bloods and their werewolf children. They live out of West Belfast, and most of their adult Uratha were killed in truf wars. They're seen as weak, but Laura's protected her kids so far by being very good at turning packs against each other.

Belfast otherwise apparently has little of interest.

So we hop just a little ways east to Bristol, UK! Bristol's built on the River Avon and the Forsaken Protectorate there is one of the longest-lasting in the world. However, there's problems. The Protectorate of Bristol is a good 250 years old, having first begun when a Bone Shadow named Thomas Carr came forward and sold his own life to the twin spirit of the River Avon for her protection - Jenny Greenteeth, the Lady Avona. Bristol's a very traditional town, and the Protectorate has held ever since...not least because those who push for change get slapped down hard. They're very organized for a werewolf community, assigning territory to packs and allocating ritual duties. They expect werewolves to listen to them. This doesn't exactly please most Forsaken, but it works.

The thing is, Thomas Carr never told the other Uratha his full plan. Well before the Protectorate sought her blessing, Carr sought out the river spirit to make his own pact at the cost of his life. The rituals of the Protectorate are a symbolic act that gives power to Lady Avona, and Jenny Greenteeth gains power when werewolves shed blood in the city. In exchange, they leech away the rage of the Uratha, allowing their community to last with less argument. The Forsaken know the river spirit is potent if volatile protector, but do not realize she's the only reason the Protectorate has been able to exist without blazing into civil war at least once over the centuries.

The Blood Talons are largely the ones in charge. They're the Protectorate council's favorite thugs and first line against the Pure. They also allow Wolf-Bloods to fight for them - and any Wolf-Blood that can take down a werewolf is, to them, an honorary werewolf. The Bone Shadow are not numerous in Bristol, and they tend to be very busy, as most other tribes assume the spirit world will just be kept in line by the rituals. It is, for the most part, but the Bone Shadows are always running around doing maintenance, and they've begun to notice more problems lately. The Hunters in Darkness, meanwhile, specialize in dealing with Beshilu - the Rat Hosts are a major problem for the city, as are the Drowned - a sort of undersea zombie that they believe to be a form of sea-dwelling Host. The Iron Masters have become complacent under the weight of tradition, and their last big risk was during the iindustrial revolution, when they secretly chained and trapped a spirit of industry in order to control the impact of industrial change on Bristol. The Storm Lords, meanwhile, live mostly on past glories - Claimed are quite rare in Bristol, and they crave the day that they can actually take charge in a Crusade against the Pure and Claimed. (They tend to be very deeply Christian, in a uniquely Forsaken way).

Jenny Greenteeth/Lady Avona is a single spirit with two faces, shifting and flowing with the tide. She is the only spirit with true freedom in Bristol, thanks to the pact. Jenny Greenteeth is a bloodthirsty water spirit, feared even by the Pure, but she's disturbingly friendly with werewolves when in a good mood. They kill people, and that blood feeds the river. Lady Avona, meanwhile, is a cold but serene spirit, who treats everything as something to be traded. None have yet realized that her lantern contains the soul of Thomas Carr.

The Beshilu in the warrens under Bristol arem uch more numerous than the Hunters in Darkness realize. They've grown fat and overconfident in their seasonal culls, and do not treat their task seriously. The Drowned are equally a problem - shambling corpses from the sea, always missing a body part but otherwise appearently normal humans until you get close. They've shown up for centuries, but their numbers are rising now, and no one's sure why. If they are a sort of fish-host, then there's going to be bigger problems soon. Meanwhile, the Gull are a group of slavers and vampires that operate out of the underbelly of Bristol, led by an old sea captain named August Selsby, who is cursed to sail a rotting hulk of a ship, attended by ghosts slaved to his will. And while the Forsaken believe Bristol is safe from the Pure, and the local Ivory Claws and Fire-Touched keep their distance, it's largely out of fear of the spirit patron of the Protectorate. The Ivory Claws, however, are starting to realize that the city is a vast bounty of Loci, and may be worth going to war over.

The strangest place in the city is a Locus called the Bear Pit, a sunken area at the center of Bristol whose resonance is a swirling mix of...well, everything around it. Something's infected the stone and concrete it's made of - it's full of entirely unplanned hexagonal patterns that ended up built into the design somehow, and the place is far quieter than it should be, at the center of a roundabout. Some Uratha claim they've seen something scuttling about at night, but no trace has ever been found of it in the Shadow, despite it appearing to flee there when chased. There's also an ancient power in Temple Meads, a rail station built near a bombed-out church. The place is still haunted by ghosts from the Blitz, but the real problem is that something ancient there causes spontaneous possession of humans by spirits apparently summoned outside.

Oh, and the big problem? There's an Earth-Bound idigam living in the middle of the Bristol Channel: Afzu'Umm'Ia. It is a patient but vengeful creature that once walked the boundary of land and sea, hiding underwater form Wolf. It became a fishlike being that would emerge to be worshipped by humans in return for teaching them to hunt, fish or do magic. It is the source of some stories of Oannes, the Fomori, Atlanteans and other sea-people, but over time, it fell into slumber. Now, it has awakened and gone back to its old territories, looking for the civilizations it believes it built. Bristol is its first target - it wants to destroy the river-spirit and let them tear themselves apart so that they stop mocking it by playing at the civilization it considers to belong to it. Then it will remind humans of their debt in blood that they owe it. The Drowned? They're its creations, and it has worse waiting in the wings.

Next time: Detroit Werewolf City


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, 2nd Edition

Detroit, Michigan is not a happy place right now. But you knew that. Its founding in the early 1700s was just a tiny little town, but by the 1770s it was over 2000 people, and in 1796 it was given to the US by treaty with France. The Uratha came around then, with the city's first pack arriving in 1800 - and, to their surprise, it seemed as though no werewolves had ever been there before them in the memory of any spirit they found. Five years later, the city catches fire due to, according to history, a man smoking his pipe and accidentally lighting up a nearby barn. The Uratha remember slightly different events - the fire, they believe, could have been contained if not for spirits attracted to the excitement. The founding pack tried fight back both spirit and fire, but were losing until they made a hasty deal with the spirits of the Detroit River. With their protection, the werewolves beat back the fire spirits and managed to keep the blaze from lighting up the local forest as well. Since then, the fire spirits have longed to set the city on fire a second time.

Jump forward to 1903 and Henry Ford's factory in Detroit. He never knew that he profited from the employment of several memebrs of a local werewolf pack. To help the manufacturing, the pack made a deal with the fire spirits, and the Ford plant's fires burned hotter and purer than their competitors. The cost? Every year, for one night, the fire spirits are allowed into ther world of Flesh - October 30, from dusk to dawn, they are allowd to burn any building neither owned nor occupied by a resident of the city of Detroit. But hey, good times can't last. They waned after WW2, especially suffering from white flight in the 70s, which removed most of the city tax base. In the 80s, the Pure showed up - especially the Predator Kings. The rise in gang violence in the 90s helped hide the shadow war between the Predator Kings and the Detroit Forsaken - and the Predator Kings won. If it hadn't been for a chance meeting with some local hunters and one of the surviving Forsaken packs, the Forsaken might have been driven out entirely - but instead, the Forsaken and the Hunters made an alliance against the Pure, and even now, they work together to try to reclaim Detroit.

Few Forsaken remain in the city, and they're still under siege by the Pure. The largest pack is Cadillac's Company, which claims descent from the original Detroit pack. Working with them is the Rock City compact, which has many cells and greater numbers than the werewolves. Cadillac's Company, or just the Company, is at constant war. They never stay in one place long and are always alert for the Pure and the human gangs that run with them. They claim all of Detroit as their nominal territory, and so far, smaller packs have yet to make an issue of it, since dealing with the Pure is more important than arguing over who theoretically controls what turf. Their leader is an Irraka Blood Talon named LeShawn White, who leads them on nightly raids against the Pure. He knows he can't win a straight fight, but he believes a guerrilla war of attrition will work, especially if he goes after the Wolf-Blood families of the Pure. The Company is especially good at drive-bys, poison and other nasty tricks.

The Rock City compact, meanwhile, began as something of a neighborhood watch following budget cuts to the police. They took up patrolling in groups, armed with baseball bats, tasers and a few guns. It didn't take long to drive out addicts and drug dealers, and the cops turned a blind eye to their work. Eventually, however, the Predator Kings got annoyed with them. They sent a pair of werewolves to take on the group...and it ended with two dead werewolves, at the cost of several dead humans and several more hospitalized. The leader of the group, Rafeeq Jackson, remembered enough of the fight to realize something was weird, and his digging taught him more about werewolves, especially after he hooked up with Network Zero. Armed with the information they gave him, he mobilized the watch and taught them to fight werewolves The group renamed itself Rock City, largely to confuse eavesdroppers and spies, and when a cell led by Rafeeq found the Company fighting the Predator Kings, it didn't take much for him to help. While Rock City knows that hunting werewolves isn't easy, even with the info from the Company and NetZo, they have figured out some useful tactics. For example, weed or other low-grade downers mixed with terrified survival instinct actually helps protect against Lunacy and fear. They've also found that using an SUV with a silver-plated grille works really, really well. The Company goes out of their way on joint efforts to protect Rock City from friendly fire or extra Lunacy exposure. Usually, the Company is bait for the Pure to draw them into a Rock City ambush, as Rock City has assault rifles and those SUVs. This lets both sides fight without killing each other.

The Predator Kings have run Detroit for 20 years, at least on the streets. They aren't the cause of its problems, but they're definitely a contributing factor. They control the largest territories and occasionally even fight the other Pure over it. They run a number of gangs, using them as spies and cannon fodder against the Forsaken and Rock City. Their leader, if any leader could be said to exist, is Enrique Lopez, or "Reek." He's a Mexican werewolf who brought his pack, El Muerto Negro, north when he heard about the opportunities in Detroit, and his arrival has made the Predator Kings even more brutal. He runs the worst slums in the city and is practically an open warlord. It also didn't take him and his boys long to learn about the pact with the fire spirits - which they then coopted, loosening the deal to increase the amount the spirits could burn. Devil's Night, as it has come to be called, is now associated with random acts of arson, and the fire spirits will go after any building that they can't obviously tell is inhabited or claimed. It never threatens the whole city, but each year so far has made it more expensive and gotten closer to the suburbs. The Forsaken still see firefighting on October 30 as part of their job, and have even turned to drawing on the old, near-forgotten pacts with the river spirits, while the Predator Kings just use the night to attack their foes when they know where they'll be.

Michigan Central Station, a train station meant to help push Detroit's expansion, was closed down in 1988. However, it became a Locus of expectation based on the number of people moving through it before then, and it was one of the first places taken by the Pure from its original owners, a pack called the Movers. The Movers chose to utterly drain the Locus rather than let it fall into Predator King hands, and even now, the resulting Barren makes the Hisil of the MCS mirror its desolate ruins in the physical. Rock City uses the place as an ambush site, since the barrens make it slightly to their advantage. Also notable is Belle Isle, in the Detroit River. A number of imported European deer were brought in when it was opened to the public, and the place has largely become the favored rest area for the Company, given the cops actually patrol it fairly well due to its status as an entertainment hub and the limited approaches to it. A number of white deer were included in the herds, and they've bred true. While they died out in the 1950s in Flesh, the white stags remain in shadow, and when one is spotted every few months or so, the Company drops everything to hunt it. Success brings blessings from Luna.

Let's head over to Ohio now. Holmes Coutny, Ohio. It's a rustic sorto f place, and it's got the largest population of Amish in the US - nearly half of the county is Amish. For the Uratha, the place is a deeply powerful environment - pure, simple, reminescent of Pangaea. The coutny started in 1824, cut up from the surrounding larger counties. It was mostly woodland, though somewhat cleared for farming, and even now, it's mostly woodland and farmland. The Uratha came with the Amish settlers, and they mostly coexisted without problem - or the Amish knowing about it. They only occasionally had to mess with the humans, because most of the Amis hwere deeply superstitious, distrustful of outsiders and unlikely to poke their noses into spirit affairs. While the population changed from being all Amish, most folks in Holmes County still just want to be left alone. They're deeply conservative and had little patience for troublemakers.

Problems began in 1851, with the arrival of the Pure tribes. They loved the area, too, you see, and the two largest packs that moved in were Ivory Claws and Fire-Touched. The Ivory Claws actually weren't a problem - they were happy to run their isolated homesteads and maintain the purity of their blood. The Fire-Touched, however, liked the deep religiosity of the area and began to infiltrate the Amish, subtly altering their beliefs to better serve the will of the Pure. Disease inevitably followed - but never touched the families protected by the Fire-Touched, who claimed God was rewarding them. In truth, the Fire-Touched just inflicted disease on the others, and a war broke out between the Forsaken and the Fire-Touched, with both sides using human allies. The Pure poisoned wells, causes livestock disease, butchered the unwary. The Forsaken burned entire farmsteads and killed any human with Fire-Touched beliefs. Things threatened to get out of hand until the Ivory Claws decided out of nowhere to barter a peace between the two factions, to keep all werewolves from being driven out by human authorities. Since the time of hte Accord, the Pure and Forsaken of Holmes County have had a wary peace, with little more than a border skirmish for the past century.

Jump forward to 1863 and the Civil War draft. It was extremely unpopular in Holmes County - the Amish don't fight wars, even at gunpoint, and the Uratha and Wolf-Bloods didn't want to go to war, either. On July 5th of that year, a mob of Holmes County residents even attacked Elias Robinson, the local draft official. Whether or not this was orchestrated by werewolves is unknown. Things escalated to the point that 900 dissidents even got holed up in a fortified farmhouse and a squad of soldiers from the Ohio Volunteer Infantry came in to end the rebellion. It might've worked if the Uratha hadn't prepared an ambush for them - and that would've been a blodoy slaughter if not for the Ivory Claws, who threatened to end the Accord on the basis that the US government might be a little mad if they killed an entire infantry company. The dissidents scattered rather than face the soldiers and the entire incident became known as the Battle of Fort Fizzle and helped to cement the Ivory Claws as local authorities.

While they may be the most powerful local tribe, they are generally happy to be left alone, and the Pure and Forsaken rarely mix. The Hunters in Darkness and Bone Shadows are most common of the Forsaken, watching the Gauntlet and ensuring the night is safe from spirits and Hosts. The Hunters in Darkness also keep an eye out for humans wandering where they don't belong, making heavy use of Private Property and Armed Response signs as well as threatening people with shotguns - they've learned to let them run away these days. The Bone Shadows keep watch over spirits and spiritual problems, and most of their work is in finding bans and enforcing centuries-old pacts with the ancient spirits of the land. The smallest Forsaken tribe in the area is the Blood Talons - the countryside's too quiet for them, and the Accord means they have less prey to go after regularly. The last real serious threat from other werewolves was caused by a transient pack hiding in the town of Charm and killing people - this brought even the Ivory Claws out to hunt down and deal with the problem. One werewolf, Steven Yoder, claimed a single member of the transient pack escaped, but died shortly after, and it's never been clear if he was right. The Accord still largely works, keeping the Pure and Forsaken peaceful. Leaders meet once a year to hash out grievances and threats, though they're not exactly friendly. Anyone caught trespassing on a pack's territory is fair game, and boundaries are very clear.

The truth is, Yoder was right. One werewolf did escape Charm - Janice Haven, who'd been on a beer run when Holmes County's werewolves took out her pack. She and the rest of the pack were Bale Hounds, werewolves corrupted by the Maeljin, and she ran Yoder over with a truck, which is why he died. She fled afterwards, but is still very angry. She's rented an apartment in Millersburg, the largest city in the county, and has pretended to be a Ghost Wolf ever since. She's biding her time, trying to corrupt the other Ghost Wolves of Millersburg in an effort to get revenge on the local Uratha. As soon as she gets up enough strength to hunt werewolves, she's going to start. Another ongoing problem is that development of the county has pissed off the spirit of the Mohican River, and this spirit, Uru Kaith, has been causing more flooding lately and forcing some homes to be abandoned. So far, it's done so far away from most pack territory, but it's not content. It's begun thinning the Gauntlet in order to allow nasty spirits to invade the physical, which will devastate the area around the river and kill lots of people. Without interference, this is going to be a big problem.

There are three major packs in Holmes County, plus two smaller ones. They generally get on fairly well with each other thanks to the Accord, with friction largely being interpersonal rather than interpack. The major Ivory Claw pack is called Absent the Father, based out of the wilderness south of Welcome. They're happy to just live as they always have, and while their leader, Larry Reber, is growing old, he's respected. He spends his time largely searching for more Wolf-Bloods to bring back to the pack in the Ivory Claw extended families and ensuring that inbreeding doesn't occur too much. Absent, as the pack is known, takes its duties of maintaining the Accords very seriously and make a big effort to keep the peace. Even when some young idiot Forsaken decides to go to war on the Pure and invades their territory, Larry just has them soundly beaten and returned home with an angry note. The next one is the Shadow Stalkers, a Hunter in Darkness pack out of Mt. Hope, which controls most of western Holmes County and largely works in jobs as county maintenance employees. They are fanatical about hunting down the shartha after an Azlu outbreak a few years back, and their leader is an Elodoth named Jenny Yurzy, who fears that others think she is weak because her mother was the last leader, dying in battle against the Azlu. She has strong ties to the local Sherriff's Department, which has several Wolf-Blooded members, and is thinking of running for office as long as she can find a way to do so that won't piss off the Pure. The last major pack is the Silver Scars, which runs southwestern Holmes County and is mostly Hunters in Darkness and Bone Shadows. Their leader is an Ithaeur Bone Shadow named Two Moon Smith, who indignantly claims Native American blood when asked about it. He is, hoever, quite good at managing spirits. The pack bans all humans from the Wolf Run locus they control, and are known to dump bodies in the local swamps when they have to.

(The truth about Wolf Run is that Smith and his pack aren't the killers - normal humans attract attention from the local violent spirits, and tend to die as a result, as the Locus is a home of hunt, pain and fear spirits. Two Moon believes that humans high on drugs might be able to approach safely and act as hosts to the spirits, and that the Native Americans of the area, long since gone, may have once used the place for that purpose to get warriors of extreme strength, and he's occasionally thought about kidnapping humans to test this, but has not done so yet because he's afraid of being caught. Two Moon's kind of a weirdo.)

Next time: Australian Werewolves


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, 2nd Edition

The MacDonnel Ranges of Australia are a mountain range at the heart of the Australian desert. The desert is full of life, in fact - just, you know, not full of humans. The entire range has around 40,000 humans, total, most of whom live in the Alice - that is, the town of Alice Springs. It's a mix of old and new in a way that doesn't really work all the time - racism, povery, addiction, privilege and entitlement don't help. The Forsaken, Pure and Ghost Wolves all hunt in Australia, and any of them could belong to the Dreaming Lodge, a group that often is more important than pack or tribe.

The original Uratha of Australia do not really follow the standard mythology of the Uratha in that their creation myth claims that the Diharim they call the Numakulla created the world and everything in it, but in doing so they also made dangerous spirits, and so they made a barrier between flesh and spirit and set Luna and Wolf to guard it. They did, but Wolf needed help - and so the People were created, born from Wolf and Moon's children, the female Ingwarelhe and the male Ingwartwe. These native Uratha were never numerous, and spirits of the Australian wilderness went into flesh with essentially impunity. Sure, the Uratha fought them, but then the season changed, they'd move on with their human groups and the spirits would come back. These Uratha were neither Forsaken nor Pure - they did not feel the need for tribes. They dealt with those spirits that could limit themselves and fought those that could not. Their packs never had more than one werewolf - most human groups had not even one. They would live on the edge of the human tribes, protecting them but always somewhat uneasy in their midst. There were rather more Wolf-Bloods than werewolves. They would share their knowledge of spirits and stories with each other when they met, and this network of songlines became the Dreaming Lodge. Each region and aboriginal nation had their own approaches and purpose, but the Dreaming Lodge united the continent with a shared goal. Even with it, however, they were too thinly spread to control predation - and so they would tolerate spirits that did not grow too arrogant and would destroy Loci that were difficult to protect. Most spirits embraced the freedom offered but hated having to put up with the rules. Wolf-Blooded were especially valued by both sides, especially those that could serve as a gate to the Shadow.

The Forsake and Pure tribes came with the European arrival in Australia. Both came in numbers to recruit the Ghost Wolves of the aborigines - by threat or persuasion. Neither understood the Dreaming Lodge network or the way tribal knowledge would spread. The first recruits inducted other members of the Lodge, as the pragmatic Uratha of the natives recognized the strength tribes offered. After early contact showed no tribes, the European werewolves were often shocked to find tribal Uratha waiting for them as they pushed further into the continent. The Forsaken integrated better than the Pure dead - the Pure hatred of Luna and rejection of auspice were strange to the Australian Uratha, and most of their encounters were hostile, though a few Pure did resolve their differences. The Predator Kings were and are the most likely to join the Lodge - the vast expanses of wilderness and overt influence of spirits are some of the closest things to Pangaea they've found, and they don't need to cause trouble in the Outback. The Dreaming Lodge is weaker now, in modern times. The urban Uratha of Australia tend to follow the way of packs and smaller territories. In the Outback, however, humans and werewolves are still rare enough that the Lodge endures with them, keeping them connected.

Rather unique among Lodges, the Dreaming Lodge has no one totem. Instead, it has a number of powerful Australian animal spirits that serve as its patrons. Uratha choose a totem to follow, and different totems have different importance in various regions. Central Australia's key totems are Arlewatyerre (Goanna), Irretye (Eagle), Apmwe (Snake), Artnwere (Dingo) and Aherre (Kangaroo). Since the recent migration of the Azlu to the area, Inutle (Spider) has fallen from favor, and its followers are relentless in hunting down Azlu nests. The Lodge teaches al lof its members a rite that lets them call out to each other for help or to share information, and each member knows the general focus of all tribes in the lodge and who belongs to which. They may even know the basic information on new prey if anyone in the Lodge has hunted it before. It's not exhaustive or firsthand, but it's handy. Anyone hearing a Lodge summons via the rite knows who's calling, from where and how far away, as well as how urgen it is. Temporary packs are usually formed for specific threats, then dissolve again. When the lodge calls, every Uratha close enough to help is expected to answer.

Of the Forsaken Tribes, the Blood Talons and Iron Masters are most common. Iron Masters were on top for a while due to their adaptability, but when the Fire-Touched came to Alice Springs, they took the brunt of the fight, and now the Blood Talons are most numerous. Hunters in Darkness are the next in line, but a ways smaller - they don't like the large, hard-to-patrol desert territories. The Bone Shadows are rare, and tend to favor their own goals over the Lodge's duty. They're useful, but most of the Dreaming Lodge finds them weird and offputting. Storm Lords are also rare because many dislike asking for help, which is a key thing for the Lodge when you need it. The Predator Kings are also occasional joiners, but mostly just like hunting things. It works out.

The Ivory Claws, generally speaking, have less interest in Australia than most of the Pure, largely because they found the local Ghost Wolves' embrace of Luna to be offputting. The Predator Kings sometimes cause conflict because of their claiming of hunting grounds, but that's about it. The Fire-Touched never got a foothold, really, until Alice Springs' rapid growth in the 70s. They quickly dominated the town and set about fighting the Forsaken. Their leader right now is 'Reverand' Lauren McLeroy, a charismatic and maniacal woman who is very good at swaying listeners. She heads up coordination for the three packs of Fire-Touched in the Alice and the nomadic Pure around it. She allows any Forsaken the chance to repent and become Pure - but she tests them with fire and then indoctrinates them if they accept. The other most powerful Pure in the area is Nick 'Wildfire' May, leader of the Black Earth pack, a group of fanatical Fire-Touched pyromaniacs. They love fire in all its forms, but Nick's managed to focus his pyromania to Forsaken territories. Ultimately, however, he'd be just as happy to see his tribe and the Alice burn.

There's a few other problems. The Kadaitcha, for example, are ancient vengeance spirits. They've been a problem for centuries, and the rite to summon them is widely known among several indigenous tribes' menfolk. They're being called on increasingly often to help deal with the rising violence in town. The ritual involves carving a killing bone which you use to curse a target - but the death of the target doesn't get rid of the Kadaitcha, which tend to fixate on some theme in their cursed victim and use it to choose new ones. They are shapeshifting spirits that can take any form, though they can never cross a line of feathers soaked in the blood of the family of their next victim. Their bane is the bone that summoned them...but the modern ritual involves destroying that bone.

There's only one 'normal' pack in the area - the followers of Angepe Ngalyarre, an old Rahu who really didn't take Spider's loss of status well and has gathered up five of Spider's followers to help him, hunt down and destroy all the Azlu in the area. Beyond that, the only real 'pack' is the Fire Walkers - entirely Wolf-Bloods and their human allies. They operate in Alice Springs, behind enemy lines, to learn about the Fire-Touched movements and their plans. They have people everywhere in town, but so do the Pure, and they know they don't know all the Pure followers. They live in constant fear of exposure and kidnapping. Some want to expose the Fire-Touched and their activities, but the rest are sure that'd get them killed. The last major figure in the area is Simon Weir - better known as Deathtrap. He was a Bone Shadow Ithaeur whose pack came out to the desert and got murdered by local spirits for wandering too close to a hidden Locus. He fled, and the shame of it broke him. He now traps every part of his territory - but his territory moves, as he keeps hunting for that Locus again so he can get his revenge. He leaves the traps behind, and as he's gotten closer to popualted areas, he's started being a danger to local humans.

The Alice isn't a big town, and it is very spiritual. The Fire-Touched like it that way, and like to recruit the desperate there. The weak Loci in town also tend to form around social tragedies, which gives the Fire-Touched an advantage. Out in the mountains, meanwhile, are huge cave networks. EVery year some tragedy leads to a new Locus out in the dark, and the Forsaken watch them closely. At leasto nce a year, some kind of monster will come out to hunt, and usually the Lodge is not fast enough to stop them before someone dies. The real danger, though, is the Gap - an American military base near the Alice. A few years ago, a farmer found a burned out metal container after a fireball crashed into the ground. He gave it to the cops, who gave it to the soldiers, who sent it to the Gap. Now...well, last time some Fire-Touched thrill-killers went to mess with the soldier boys, the humans opened fire as soon as they cleared the outer perimeter, and every fifth bullet was silver. The Pure died horribly, and the humans took their bodies. Today, the Gap is locking out the townsfolk that normally work there, increasing guard patrols and sending scouts out to town. Everyone's uneasy, and the soldiers stare at everyone with cold, cold eyes. Someone opened the container, and now whatever was in it is loose again.

Next time: Tokyo


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, 2nd Edition

So, we've had a spate of real good setting stuff, so it's time for a pretty bad one: Tokyo, Japan. Tokyo's Uratha face challenges based on, uh, the fact that apparently up until very recently almost all of them were Ainu, and while that is no longer the case, most supernaturals will assume any werewolf is Ainu and will probably be racist about it. Because that's where we're going here. Apparently, a Hokkaido myth of the Ainu claims that the White Wolf God Retaruseta Kamuy wanted a wife, but could find none on the island, so he called a goddess from across the sea, and the Ainu were born of the union. It is apparently considered completely and totally true by the Tokyo Forsaken, who hold that the White Wolf, whom they name Ebba-Ur, is a father figure and may in fact have been Father Wolf. The goddess serves as a mother figure, and foreign Uratha tend to assume she's Luna, though the natives apparently don't. The extended Uratha myth holds that all Ainu have the White Wolf's blood, and so any Uratha native to Japan will have Ainu heritage, and apparently some of them believe that non-Japanese werewolves are an entirely different kind of being. Because yeah, we're going there.

Tokyo's had werewolves forever because it's had Ainu forever, though many Ainu prefer not to self-identify for fear of persecution. Tokyo has more packless Uratha than pretty much anywhere else in the world, apparently, and this has left them without much in the way of history - no protectorate ever really forms. Since the 90s, however, they've been studied by a corporation called the Hototogisu who are intersted in bribing and blackmailing werewolves, apparently because they want to know how to make fetishes and travel in Shadow, though I've no idea what use these would actually be to them, as they'd be unable to use them. There is no formal Uratha society in Tokyo - packs are rare, and only one tradition holds: no religious shrine must ever be violated. This applies to Shinto and Buddhist shrines, but also Catholic churches and other religious places. The Uratha name these places 'tur', safe places, and almost every local will fight to protect them. Many of these places are also Loci, and there's more of 'em than there are werewolves, so most Forsaken dedicate themselves to caring for at least one shrine.

Tokyo's packless culture is highly informal. The Forsaken run some dead drop boxes that anyone recognized by Minato Ward can get one of. I have no idea who organizes this, since there is explicitly no organization. Likewise, some Uratha apparently make Uratha-specific zines to keep people aware of ocal threats and help communication. But there's no one organizing them besides these handful of people. The largest pack does help out - they're called The Few Against Many, and they sneak coded messages into tape loops of trucks that blare out political messages. Werewolves also use graffiti a lot to communicate. The Pure and Forsaken kind of get along in Tokyo, if not well, for no adequately explained reason. The Few Against Many are trying to consolidate the place into a collective protectorate, but its not really working.

The biggest problem for Tokyo werewolves is that it's overpopulated with spirits, and this produces a hell of a lot of magath, who are unpredictable, destructive and generally have eyes bigger than their spiritual stomachs, which ends with them going out in a blaze of glory. That's not the only problem, though - there's also a human cult dedicated to tearing down the Gauntlet. They refuse to name themselves, but practice chants they call a Notoba no Kokai, or Word Voyage and...and these guys are Les Voyageurs from hunter, but with more sacrifice of their own blood to feed spirits. Tokyo also has shartha problems like anywhere, but has three unique types of Hosts, which...I'm gonna be honest, they suck. First up are the Karasu or halaku, crow-hosts that enslave humans and force them to make nests out of human bone, then moves on to a new family to fuck up. For no reason. Also they don't kill their hosts somehow despite pecking out their eyes and living inside them. They're still better than the Semi/Sidalaaghu - the Cicada-Hosts. They make noise. That's it. They appear between August and September, and all they do is make noise. The game's suggestion for defense against them is literally this: "the best defense against the Semi is thick walls, coupled with passionate, nubile neighbors to drown out the noise." last are the Kani/alaghidam, the crab-hosts, which destroy fishing boats. They apparently have a major, known nest in Odaiba that the werewolves believe is impossible to deal with and so only go to if they feel suicidal. This is all that is said about them.

Besides the Few Against Many, there is only one other pack in Tokyo: 36LOVE, a group of 36 werewolves spread across Japan that are attempting to control the Japanese entertainment industry, and apparently have enough power to force their Wolf-Blooded family into bands, news positions and film jobs. Because if there's one thing that werewolves are good at, it's conspiring to control the media.

I hate Tokyo. This feels like it was written by a particularly wordy anime club rather than anyone who knows anything at all about Japan.

Next time: Poland, which is actually really good, unlike Tokyo


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, 2nd Edition

Wroclaw and Lower Silesia, Poland have a lot of history, but almost no tradition, thanks to the scars left by WW2 and the Soviets. Wroclaw is the city at the heart of Lower Silesia, and it has endured by changing itself year after year. The local werewolves are as displaced and broken as the humans, with little tradition to cling to and little history to draw on. Pure and Forsaken alike are doing poorly, struggling to consoldiate after seventy years of blodoy chaos. Neither faction is in control - if anyone is, that'd be Lycaon-Ur and his Ghost Wolf servants.

Lycaon-Ur claims to be the fallen king of Arcadia, cursed to become a werewolf by Zeus. That is the story he tells his followers. And they also say that in 1109, when the Polish crushed the Imperial troops near Wroclaw, the slaughter was such that the bodies piled high and hounds gathered to tear at their flesh. The battlefield became known as the field of dogs. Among them were Ghost Wolves, hunting the wounded in shame and hunger. They were desperate for Essence, enough to eat human flesh. The Pure and Forsaken of the tiem controlled anything worth having. But a proud hunter appeared to them, claiming to be Lycaon of myth, that these Ghost Wolves are blessed, that the true purpose of the Uratha is to devour human flesh and so feed the gods themselves. The lodge forms, but they keep their cult secret. The Pure and Forsaken bicker, but neither would allow such a heretical group. The Lodge of the Field waits. Jump forward. It's 1945 now, and the war is destroying centuries of lore and tradition. Many werewolves lie dead in the fighting Breslau - the name then of Wroclaw - is the last German city to surrender, and its siege leaves it in ruins. The Uratha find the Shadow overrun by fire and death spirits. There is no time to repair, as Poland claims Lower Silesia and the symbolic identity of the land shifts. Commnusim comes, displacing the Germans from the region with forced immigration. The werewolves largely leave with their human kin. A few hide in the wilds, but the Red Army swpeeps through, and while it takes many lives, the Uratha 'partisans' die. All that's left are the Ghost Wolves, hardy and strong. When new werewolves come, they find Lycaon-Ur and the Lodge of the Field waiting, dug in at the best territory. They are few, but have Wolf-Bloods and Claimed supporting them, and prove very good at recruiting newly Changed. Jump forward again. It's 2014. The Pure and Forsaken have both fought into Lower Silesia, paying for every bit of ground in blood. The Lodge of the Field still holds most Loci, and their numbers are growing. Their feasts on human flesh are no longer secret, and they opnely preach Lycaon-Ur's blasphemy. His cult grows, his message spreads.

The Blood Talons lead the Forsaken in the area, with both the Pure and the Lodge of the Field as their main targets. The problem is that they help perpetuate the violence and sabotage any negotiations with other factions - and worse, some find Lycaon-Ur's doctrine of cannibalism appealing. The Bone Shadows, meanwhile, have lost all their lore in the area, and they are trying to record new knowledge. It's not enough, and the spirits of Silesia are wild and untamed. They often travel the area in search of new discoveries. The Hunters in Darkness are busy fighting the Spider-Hosts that have flourished since the 30s, working with the Blood Talons to reclaim sacred sites when they can. The Iron Masters do their best to hunt down the Wolf-Blood and human cultists of the Lodge of the Field...but unfortunately, they wasted much of the 50s hunting Communist officials in the mistaken belief that the Lodge had orchestrated the purges. Now, they have also turned to dealing with the local ghosts, given how busy the Bone Shadows are. The Storm Lords, however, are what keep the Forsaken going. They hunt the Lodge's Claimed, but increasingly they focus on the big picture. They're building a protectorate, coordinating packs and sharing information in the war against Lycaon-Ur.

The water spirits known as rusalka and wodnik are common in the area and very dangerous, though only the Bone Shadows and Ithaeur seem able to tell them apart. They cross the Gauntlet often, appearing as monstrous creatures, equal parts fish, water and human. Attempts to defeat them have failed so far, and it is believed that the flooding of Wroclaw in 1997 may have been their revenge. Poludnica, called Lady Midday, is a powerful spirit that appears in summer, coming to kill by heat stroke. She appears as a feminine shape with terribly scythes and a cloak of dust, and she is merciless in hunting Ithaeur that try to learn her weaknesses. The Azlu are all over, and have made some strange alliance with the spirits called kikimora, spidery creatures of empty dwellings. It's unclear to the Hunters in Darkness why the spirits allow the Azlu to use their homes as lairs. The leshy of the forests are believed to be some kind of consistent form of nature-Claimed, but others think they are some kind of shartha or Claimed that breed true. Either way, they're rough-skinned bark-creatures that can take animal form and try to drive people and werewolves alike out of the forests. Unfortunately, the rites used to approach them in peace were lost in the 40s. There many legends of giants, and the Bone Shadows and Storm Lords hunt a real one - the Hive-Claimed creature called Gur Mussakana, an immense monster made of many spirits in a Claimed, which hungers for human flesh. They fear Lycaon-Ur has learned to make things like it.

The major packs of the area are very diverse. The Bridge Witches are a Wroclaw-based pack of Ghost Wolves that serve Lycaon-Ur by choosing which humans to take and sacrifice to the wolves. They look for those who will not be missed and who can disappear, and so they have high status in the Lodge of the Field for their sacred task. The Weles are a pack of Fire-Touched and Predator Kings that serve a spirit of the same name that claims to have been worshipped by Slavic pagans. The totem hates Lycaon-Ur and sets its pack against him with a terrible fury. They're the strongest Pure pack in the area, and for now, the other Pure are happy to follow them. They don't like the Lodge of the Field any more than the Forsaken do, finding them to be a blasphemy against Father Wolf, the Shadow and the hunt itself. The Amber Howlers are a group of Iron Masters and Bone Shadows who believe that without more lore, the Forsaken can't win. They are reaching out via their tribes to get more help - more information, more werewolves. They believe that news of the Lodge of the Field will get allies to come, but they aren't just waiting. They're also working to conquer and exloit the new spirits in the region as infrastructure contineus to be built, hoping to turn the new highways and roads into a network of spirit allies.

Psie Pole, the Field of Dogs, remains, but now it is a set of shops in Wroclaw, masking the existence of a powerful Wound torn open long ago. The Lodge of the Field has carefully nurtured it with a Resonance of Hunger, and Psie Pole attracts those with sinister hungers. In the 1500s, a meteor struck the ground in the area. The Lodge recovered it, finding within it an egg of lightning and gears, which they gave to Lycaon-Ur. The Lodge's secret heart is the Lost Bunker, an underground site built by the Germans - a warren of damp concrete that was never found after the war. Lycaon-Ur lairs there, guarded by wards and Claimed.

Whether Lycaon-Ur is what he claims to be or not, he is undeniably ancient and powerful. He is a creature of eternal hunger, and his maw leads...somewhere, to something else, some terrible and angelic furnace of Essence. If he is a werewolf, he has long since begun to turn into something more. He himself is the patron of the Lodge of the Field, needing no spirit totem. What will happen next is up in the air. Lycaon has been sending envoys to other regions' Ghost Wolves. He may hope to turn them into a true tribe and become as potent as a Firstborn - Devourer Wolf, a ravenous creature of biomechanical flesh, steel and lightning. Maybe he hopes that if enough devour in his name, he will be freed of his hunger. Whatever the case, the Lodge of the Field does have strange powers. They gain double the normal Essence from devouring human flesh, and each time they do, Lycaon-Ur himself gains 1 Essence. Further, they can hold more Essence than most werewolves, and can spend it to inflict hunger in the humans they touch. Potent ones can even force spirits of hunger to Claim humans. The Lodge is fanatically devoted to the cause of fuelling the divine by consuming human flesh. They reject the myth of Wolf and Luna, instead believing that werewolves exist to devour Essence and feed it to the gods.

Next time: Blood of Wolf and Moon


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Werewolf: the Forsaken, 2nd Edition

We'll be skipping over the ST advice section, except for one bit on the end that brings up a change between 1e and 2e that...is kind of weird, as a result. See, back in 1e, if two werewolves had sex and one of them got knocked up, the baby automatically was stillborn and also became an angry werewolf rage ghost because Werewolf has traditionally been really weird about two werewolves having a kid, ever since Apocalypse. This is no longe rthe case in 2e, and so the game has a short section on pregnancy and how it works for werewolves and transforming. First: only do it if the player really wants to go through with a story about a pregnant werewolf. Second: gender has no bearing on whether they can become pregnant thanks to shit like the Luna's Embrace facet and other magical weirdness. Third: discuss this shit with your players because this should be treated seriously. Conditions are provided for each trimester. And yes, you can shapeshift while pregnant, the condition just sticks around. This is weird, but frankly speaking after the whole dead baby ghosts thing from 1e, it was a thing that had to be talked about a little.

Anyway. Onto the appendix: Wolf-bloods. Wolf-Blooded are, essentially, touched by the blood of Wolf or Moon, but not both. If it was both, they'd be werewolves. Those who favor the spiritual side of things are said to be the children of Father Wolf. They can see things others can't, and often have trouble socializing and come off as really weird. This may be the source of folklore claiming werewolves are Satanic. They never really fit in to human society, no matter how hard they try. The children of Luna are those whose power is physical, who are terrified of their own strength. The feel the rage and the power of the Uratha, in a lesser way, but they lack the understanding to accept it fully or the strength to use it as well. They rarely fit in either, given their tendency to fly off the handle and their abilities that usually let them hurt people easily.

While a lot of Wolf-Bloods are Wolf-Blooded from birth, they aren't all. Sometimes, they'll have been an entirely normal person, until some run-in with the Forsaken or spirits. This changes them, turning them into a Wolf-Blood. Given how traumatic being born as one can be, these folks have it even harder, and it's something of a miracle if they come out the other end with life and sanity mostly intact. Experiencing Lunacy, being possessed by a spirit, having a severe reaction to a werewolf bite or even, on rare and bizarre occasions, having sex with a werewolf can turn you into a Wolf-Blood. There's no pattern or clear circumstance, and it doesn't seem to be doable on purpose. It just happens sometimes. Even with those that are Wolf-Blooded from birth, not all come from Wolf-Blood families. Sometiems, someone is just born an 'orphan' Wolf-Blood, touched by Wolf or Moon for no clear reason, and with no one to help and guide them.

Wolf-Bloods are drawn to werewolves. They are some of the only people who can understand the needs and feelings of the Uratha, and being around a werewolf puts their problems in a useful perspective. Being part of a pack feels natural to Wolf-Bloods, and most are intensely loyal to the pack itself, treating it as their home and their family and the sanity that they've never found anywhere else. They can be as fierce as the Uratha in protecting their packs. Those that never manage to find one often go into isolation, becoming hermits in order to avoid harming others. They don't often understand what they are, save that they are dangerously different. Some choose isolation, others are driven to it, some are thrown in prison. The system doesn't understand Wolf-Bloods, and they tend to end up abandoned in prisons or psych wards if they get into trouble. Some, however, grow to enjoy their natures, even embrace the violent bloodlusts and become monsters. Not just metaphorically - sometimes, they will warp into something new and terrifying, a creature unlike anything else that revels in its monstrosity. Others become werewolf hunters, driven by a poor experience with the Pure or even the Forsaken. They are uniquely qualified for the job, after all.

Wolf-Bloods can also experience the First Change and become full werewolves. It can even come late in life, and there's no rhyme or reason to it. It can't be triggered on purpose and the chances of it are impossible to guess. Sometimes, Lunes have implied that there are rituals to gain favor in the First Change, but to date, any Wolf-Blood that's tried to follow through with this has ended up dead or worse.

In a pack, Wolf-Bloods tend to have a set of jobs. They tend to and care for the territory, keeping it productive and going. They run the front companies, bring in the cash, take care of the mundane details the werewolves aren't really all that good at most of the time. They maintain the territory, taking care of the day-to-day work that, again, werewolves tend to be very bad at thanks to their lack of patience and rage issues. It's work that must be done, but not work that the big ol' killing machines can do well. So the Wolf-Bloods do it, with help from some of the fully human pack members. They take care of any 'harvest' the territory produces - money, crops, tribute offered by spirits. The werewolves are often gone at odd hours, and the Wolf-Bloods usually end up in charge of things for days, even months, so they end up taking care of the payments and tributes that come with running the territory. Often their most satisfying task, however, is culling threats. Werewolves are great at killing, but Wolf-Bloods live in the human world almost entirely. They clean up after the kills, drive away minor problems, make sure the cops don't ask the questions. They handle your fallout and they're damn good at it. They also often work in setting traps, researching prey and even helping to capture or kill the prey if they're good at it.

Wolf-Blooded are mostly human, but they have access to special merits...and, more importantly, every one of them has a special trait that gives them power, at a cost. This is their Tell, and they retain even if they become another kind of supernatural creature, with one exception. If they become a werewolf, the Tell fades away.


Wolf-Bloods can also get unique merits! First, they can take one from a set of two-dot merits reflecting an affinity for a tribe. This usually involves their background and bloodline, but not always - some show no signs of heritage, or have an affinity that follows no pattern.

Certain Wolf-Bloods are born with a strong tie to Luna, resulting in them getting a blessing that is similar to an Auspice, in some ways. Again, each is a two-dot merit and they're mutually exclusive.

There's a few other wolf-blood merits:

The End!

Next up: Demon.