Werewolf - Intro Guide

So You Want To Be A Garou?

Welcome to the guide to creating and playing a Garou. You're reading this because you're interested in becoming one of Gaia's children on The Rock Bottom, and we are glad you do. This guide will lead you along the path to becoming the newest werewolf on the block, and some general ideas on how to RP your furry planeteer.

Creating Your Character

Step 1: Concept
Think about who your Garou is, and with that in mind, choose your concept, breed (Homid, human-born; Metis, the freak offspring of two garou; or Lupus, a wolf-born), Auspice (reflecting one of the five phases of the moon's cycle), and Tribe (one of thirteen).

Auspices: Ragabash, Philodox, Theurge, Galliard, Ahroun
Tribes: Black Furies, Bone Gnawers, Children of Gaia, Fianna, Get of Fenris, Glass Walkers, Red Talons, Silver Fangs, Shadow Lords, Silent Striders, Stargazers, Wendigo, Uktena.

Step 2: Select Attributes
Spend your points on your attributes, either through the priority system (7/5/3) or Vilkas' willy nilly point spread.

Step 3: Select Abilities
Spend your points on your abilities, either through the priority system (13/9/5) or again, Vilkas' clever point spread.

Step 4: Advantages
Spend five points on backgrounds in the following list:

  • Allies
  • Contacts
  • Fetish
  • Mentor
  • Past Life
  • Purebred
  • Resources
  • Rites
  • Totem

Choose your three starting gifts from the following lists. You recieve one Auspice gift, one Breed gift, and one Tribe gift.

Click here for the gifts index.

Step 5: Finishing Touches
Starting Rage (by Auspice):

Ahroun 5
Galliard 4
Theurge 3
Philodox 2
Ragabash 1

Starting Gnosis (by Breed):

Homid 1
Metis 5
Lupus 3

Starting Rank: 1

Starting Renown: Garou follow a Renown path that encompasses Courage, Honor, and Wisdom. All Garou start with 3 points of Renown, which reflects the actions that they took on during their task to prove themselves in a rite of passage. Garou expect for their own to act within the tenents of theur Auspice, and so each Auspice has Renown requirements in order to fit their Rank.

You now have 15 freebies to spend and may select merits and flaws per the character creation rules for TRB. You may select Merits and Flaws found in Breed Book: Garou.

I'm a Werewolf, Now What?

Here's a huge bunch of stuff to keep in mind as you are playing your Garou.

The Litany

The Litany are your ten commandments. Regardless of your tribe or your breed or whatever else might set you apart, as Garou, you follow the Litany.

Garou shall not mate with other garou. If they do, then a metis is born. This is an unfortunate, deformed being that is neither animal nor human. A Garou is as such not through biology but by a spiritual gift. If he wants to settle down with someone, then he'll have to settle down with a human or a wolf. There are those amongst the Garou Nation (particularly the Ragabash) who argue that, in the age of the Apocalypse, this tenet should be lifted, as the Garou could swell their numbers quickly by adding large numbers of Metis to their ranks.

Combat the Wyrm wherever it breeds. The Garou were spawned, say the Galliards, to fight the Wyrm, and much of their history comprises battles between their heroes and the Wyrm's minions. Garou pay at least lip service to this tradition.

Respect the territory of another. The practice of this portion of the Litany has changed over the last few centuries; humans have spread to the extent that urinating one's territorial marking has become impractical. Instead, a Garou visitor or immigrant must first ask permission by singing the Howl of Introduction, reciting name, sept, lineage, totem and tribe. Some septs, particularly those of the Glass Walkers, also accept phone calls or even e-mails, as howling in a city may be considered a breach of the Veil.

Accept an honorable surrender.
The Garou realize that they are a dwindling race and that intraspecies duels commonly occur. Realizing that continuous battles to the death would only advance the Wyrm's cause the Children of Gaia and Fianna incorporated this element into the Litany. In theory, a Garou combatant may end a duel by exposing her throat or presenting some other sign of formal surrender; the opponent is honor-bound to accept the surrender. The loser suffers no reduction in Renown for surrendering, although the winner may certainly gain Renown for winning.

Submit to those of higher station. Garou's wolf nature practically enforces a hierarchical structure within their society. Thus the Garou have implemented the concepts of Renown and Rank. Within reason, any request by a Garou of higher Rank is to be obeyed.

The First Share of the Kill for the Greatest of Station. This portion of the Litany is much favored by the Garou elders, as well as such tribes as the Silver Fangs and Shadow Lords; it is grudgingly acquiesced to by the rest. The "kill clause" also applies to the spoils of war - thus, in theory, the prey's most powerful fetishes and the like may be garnered by the Garou with the highest renown. Wise elders are cautious with this tenet; a "great and powerful elder" who has claimed the greatest share of the kill to the exclusion of those who follow him may find that their followers reason that such a great Garou must not need the aid of his lessers.

Humans are not food. This portion of the Litany was first sung in the post-Impergium days; the Stargazers are believed to be responsible for its insertion. They noticed that Garou who routinely consumed human flesh often grew Wyrm-tainted; furthermore, cannibals had a hard time stalking and killing more challenging prey, such as woolly rhinos or Banes. Additionally, in these modern times, this rules serves a function similar to the "kosher" laws of the Hebrews; modern humans' chemical-laden diet makes their flesh bitter and unhealthy. The Red Talons and most other lupus Garou despise this tenet, particularly because it does not include a prohibition on the consumption of wolf-flesh. Most septs recognize that, while the consumption of wolf-flesh is not specifically outlawed in the litany, the spirit of this tenet prohibits such cannibalism as well.

Respect for Those beneath You - All Are of Gaia. Garou tend to think of themselves in communal terms, and they thus realize that most creatures have some sort of contribution to make toward the whole. When all is said and done, Garou were created to be the world's protectors. The chivalric ideal is much in vogue among some septs, and Garou who display a great deal of noblesse oblige may get Renown. This tenet also softens the edge of the fifth and sixth tenets.

The Veil Shall Not Be Lifted. This tenet was instituted after the Inquisition of the medieval and renaissance periods wreaked havoc upon the Garou population. This is perhaps the most inviolate portion of the Litany. There is no "reality" here - Garou are aware that both the Wyrm and the Inquisition hunt for them. Garou who disobey this edict die at the claws of their brethren. With the Delirium covering their actions, however, many Garou feel that it is difficult to breach the veil at all, and, in the case of Frenzy, breaches of the veil are sometimes unavoidable. This is yet another reason Garou often avoid cities; cities not only offer more provocation to frenzy (claustrophobia, surprise, street crime, frustration, etc.) but then a frenzy within a city will almost certainly be witnessed by humans.

Do Not Suffer Thy People to Tend Thy Sickness. In ancient days, an injured, infirm or aged Garou was simply torn to pieces by his peers. As time went on, however, it came to be considered more dignified to let such a Garou end his own life. In the age of Apocalypse, this tenet is softened; aged or infirm Garou who are still sound of mind are often allowed to survive and mentor younger Garou.

The Leader May Be Challenged at Any Time during Peace. Though Garou are known for their pack mentality, this does not mean they must slavishly obey their leaders. If no immediate threat is pending, any Garou of sufficient standing may challenge another's position of leadership. A contest of some sort is usually staged. If the challenger wins, he assumes the mantle of leadership; if he loses, he must accept the leader's dictates with good grace.

The Leader May Not Be Challenged during Wartime. Certain creatures of the Wyrm are monstrous in size and power, and no one Garou can best them. Pack tactics are vital to the Garou's success against such creatures, and obedience is vital to successful pack tactics. In battle, the word of the leader is immutable law. A Garou who disobeys a superior will be punished as soon as circumstances permit, assuming that the Garou in question and those he disobeyed survive the encounter.

Ye Shall Take No Action That Causes a Caern to Be Violated. Like the preceding clause about the Veil, this rule is fairly ironclad. The caerns are Gaia's lifeblood and if they are destroyed, the Garou will cease to exist. Even a Garou who accidentally leads an enemy to a caern is often severely punished. Even the most Ragabash cannot bring themselves to actively oppose this tenet.


Cosmology and Beliefs

Garou are spiritual creatures. It is said that they once were animistic spirits themselves, and upon entering flesh they retained their spiritual affinities and pacts. The culture of the Garou nation is centered around venerating various spirits (every pack, sept, and tribe has its patron spirit or totem) that can help them in their war against the enemies of Gaia. While it is Theurges who deal with spirits most often, every werewolf has to deal with spirits, in order to gain favors and knowledge, and to learn Gifts, the quasi-magical powers of Garou.
The thematic conflicts of Werewolf: The Apocalypse is largely driven by a spiritual war being waged by the Triat, incarnations of the three aspects of reality:

The Wyld
At once the most simply motivated and the least understood of the Triat, the Wyld is an unpredictable force that has little interest in hierarchies, fixed domains, or even names (Naming, according to myth, is a creation of the Weaver). At its most extreme it represents creative chaos unbridled by rules. At more subdued levels, however, it is associated with untamed nature. As such, it does not so much create realms for itself as it brushes past places, objects, and beings, leaving its mark on them. In keeping with its total disinterest in civilization, its few servitors in the physical world (labeled "Gorgons" by the Garou) are wild animals blessed with unique abilities, acting as paragons of their species. Needless to say, no two Gorgons are alike, and many seem not to have a clear purpose - they simply exist.
In the Deep Umbra, the Wyld is the most powerful member of the Triat. In the physical Realm, however, the Wyld is the least powerful of the Triat. Its very essence, limitless possibility, is constantly forced from the physical world by the Weaver and humanity's focus upon "logic" and "reason." As logic is forced upon an illogical world, there is less and less room for the magic of uncaused change. The last remaining true servants of the Wyld, rather than of the Wyld's Celestine daughter Gaia, are the Changelings: faerie souls forced to seek shelter by melding themselves with the souls of young children, mostly losing all identity but retaining a fragment of the glamour of their lost Arcadia; the faerie realm, which shut itself off from the world long ago. Within the Umbra, cosmological worlds separated by a spiritual barrier from our physical world, there still existed free Wyld spirits and entire realms dedicated to this force of nature.

The Weaver
According to Garou myth, the Weaver is responsible for three things inescapably associated with the rise of civilization: Dogma (the superior virtue of one idea over another), Science (a process for evaluating empirical knowledge about the universe), and Technology (the use of tools of increasing sophistication to enhance the abilities of an individual or group). Unlike the Wyld (which has no clear agenda) and the Wyrm (which is too schizophrenic to pursue a unified agenda), the Weaver pursues its agenda of rigid stasis (i.e. an eternally unchanging universe) with total clarity.
To achieve its goals, the Weaver primarily relies on a vastly complex hierarchy of hyper-specialized spirits. These spirits engage in such diverse actions as "calcification" (transforming non-Weaver spirits into a part of the Pattern Web), conquest, and the subversion of existing resources and groups. Apart from the Technocracy (who do not believe or even seriously suspect that the Weaver exists), no group in the World of Darkness is wholly dedicated to the Weaver's goals. Many, however, take advantage of those aspects of reality it claims as its own (the Glass Walker Tribe of the Garou being a good example).

The Wyrm
The Wyrm is the bringer of the apocalypse. Trapped in a prison since named Malfeas, the Wyrm has formed a microcosm of the Triat. The Wyrm within the Wyrm is the Defiler Wyrm, the face of corruption. The Weaver within the Wyrm is the Eater-of-Souls, the face of consumption. The Wyld within the Wyrm is the Beast-of-War, the face of calamity. The spiral-shaped labyrinth that the Black Spiral Dancers follow to the heart of the Wyrm consists of various tests for each of these faces, and for lesser spirits ("Urge Wyrms") that belong to each.
Though the Wyrm makes use of a powerful army of spirits in a manner similar to the Weaver, the Wyrm favors, more than the rest of the Triat, the subversion of existing entities. To this end, groups of shapeshifters (the Black Spiral Dancers), mages (the Nephandi), and wraiths (Spectres), as well as entire human organizations (Pentex) have turned themselves over to the Wyrm and represent many of its most powerful servitors. The Wyrm employs this strategy (a) because non-spirits do not have their nature written in stone, and are therefore easier to subvert and (b) because Earth as a physical domain is the Wyrm's primary battleground. If Earth falls to the Wyrm, the spirit world (which reflects reality in large part) will fall as well.
The Wyrms bears some similarities with Judeo-Christian mythology; the Wyrm is sometimes identified with both the serpent in the Garden of Eden and the dragon in the Book of Revelation of John.


Points in History

According to Garou oral history, it was always their duty to keep the balance in nature on behalf of Gaia. They did so by culling overgrown populaces, hunting too powerful predators that otherwise would rampage unchecked and fending off otherwordly spirits that overstepped their stance.

The Impergium
The formation of nations and cities was the first radical change wrought on the Garou by humanity. The Garou prevented it by declaring a limited war upon humanity, a period known as the Impergium. During this time, Garou are credited with destroying large human cities, retarding the technological and scientific progress of the human race, and even imposing population caps upon the humans of any given area, killing and sometimes eating humans when they grew too numerous. Though the Impergium dates back to the Mythic Age before recorded history, humanity has retained an inborn fear of the Garou.

The War of Rage
Following the end of the Impergium, the Garou maintained an active but subtle role in the direction of humanity through the Industrial Revolution and to the present. During such time the Garou waged war with the other Fera, dramatically reducing the numbers of the other shifters as well as completely destroying at least 2 Fera breeds (the Apis were-bulls and Grondr were-boars). The Garou claim that it was started when the Gurahl were-bears refused their duty to teach the Garou a powerful rite.

The War of Moar Rage and Storm Eater
During the period of the "taming of the West" in America in the 1700-1800s, the Garou engaged in a second War of Rage and invited the Native American tribes of Garou (who call themselves the Pure Ones) to the party. They destroyed the Camazotz were-bats and drove their totem, Bat, to madness and the service of the Wyrm. The careless progress of the European Garou (called Wyrmcomers by the Pure Ones) also severed the mystical bonds restraining a powerful bane (a spirit servitor of the Wyrm). This bane captured and devoured a powerful servant of the Weaver, combining their essences and becoming the Storm-Eater (HAY GOOD JOB, GUYSE). The Storm-Eater whipped the umbra of the West into a terrible frenzy resembling an earthly storm, gaining it the nickname "Storm Umbra," and further threatened to bring on an early Apocalypse. The Storm-Eater was eventually re-bound by the sacrifice of 13 Elder Garou and the execution of the Rite of Still Skies.


Traits

The Garou themselves are a self-acknowledged dying race; the largest Gaian tribes number 750-1,250 Garou worldwide, with the smaller tribes numbering less than 500. The wyrm-serving Black Spiral Dancers comprise fully one-tenth of the total Garou population and are the largest single tribe.

Garou regenerate from wounds at alarming rates (specifically, one health level per turn). Silver, just as myths report, is very harmful to a werewolf.

Delirium
Humans seeing Garou in their hybrid (Crinos) form are usually struck with a condition known as Delirium, a state of panic and denial that has been largely responsible for modern humanity's disbelief of the existence of the Garou. Most humans who have suffered from Delirium either have very little memory of the incident that caused it or they rationalize it and remember an animal attack or the work of a psychopathic human. Subconsciously, however, the human may experience an aversion to wolves and other canids in general or to the particular Garou they witnessed. The memory loss or rationalization of events as well as the fact, that that the general public is unaware of werewolf existence is called The Veil (not to be confused with the mystical barrier between material and spiritual world called The Gauntlet).

Rage
Rage is a gift of madness from Luna (the Moon) that allows the Garou to do truly spectacular things. Too much Rage is bad and will break loose in frenzy. The drawbacks of high rage exist. For each rage above character's WP, one takes 1 die off of their pool for all social rolls with other Garou (and vampires) and 2 for all rolls with humans, as the strangely predatorial nature of that person is disturbing to the subconscious.

Uses of rage:

  • Frenzy - Ignore wound penalties and be horrifying.
  • Extra Actions - 1 point per action, max 1/2 of permanent Rage.
  • Insto-Shift Instead of rolling stam + primal
  • Null dazes/stuns - Spend 1 pt to anull effects from stuns
  • Keep Going - At Incapacitated, popping 1 rage roll vs. 8 heals a health level once per scene

Regaining rage:
The Moon - The first time a werewolf sees the moon at night, the Beast inside stirs, and Rage floods back into her. Under a new moon, the character gets one point; under a waning moon, two points; under a half or waxing moon, three points, and under a full moon, four points. However, it the moon phases corresponds with the character’s auspice, she regains all of her Rage. This phenomenon occurs only at the first sighting of the moon each night.

Not having fun: Rage will also come rushing back if anything a Garou does proves particularly humiliating or dangerous.

Gnosis
Gnosis is a reflection of how in-touch a Garou is with the spirit world. Just as Rage fuels battle and the physical world, the uses of Gnosis tend toward affecting insight and the spirit world.

Uses of Gnosis

  • Carrying Silver. For every object with silver a character has, she loses one temporary Gnosis point. It lasts only a day after the silver is discarded. Garou can feel when large amounts of silver are near.
  • Using Gifts.
  • Activating fetishes. One success on a gnosis roll is necessary unless otherwise stated.

Regaining Gnosis

  • Mediation: Must spend at least an hour staying in one place and focusing on his deeply spiritual side, then roll Wits + Enigmas vs 8. 1 Gnosis point per success, and only one point per hour of meditation. Once per day limit.
  • Sacred Hunt: The Sacred Hunt is one of the most frequently performed activities at Garou moots. It has to do with a hunt and a ritual expression of thanks to the spirits for the fruit of their efforts.
  • Bargaining with Spirits: Must be able to speak in the spirit language through the use of a Gift or some similar method.

Breeds

The breed or species of the mother determines the breed of the Garou.

Homid: This is a human-born garou.

Metis: This is an 'inbred' garou who is neither human nor wolf, the product of two garou. He is invariably deformed, as well as completely sterile, but Metis gifts and advantages are very exclusive to their strange breed, including the ability to regenerate in all their various forms and a deeper understanding of Garou society owing to their pre-change life exclusively amongst the Garou. Once pariahs in Garou society, trying times have led to the partial integration of the Metis breed into the ranks of the Garou.

Lupus: This is a wolf-born garou.


Auspices

Garou society is divided into five auspices, or spiritual life-paths that a Garou is born with. They are tied to the phases of the Moon and considered gifts from Gaia's sister Luna. These auspices determine (to some extent) a Garou's Rage, or violent predatory instinct. The auspice system is one of the pillars of Garou society as it helps to describe social caste, predisposition, and calling. The auspices are:

  • Ragabash: Auspice of the new moon, the Trickster. The Questioner of the Ways. Ragabash have a duty to question Garou society and, by so doing to show what needs to be changed and what doesn't.
  • Theurge: Auspice of the crescent moon, the Seer and Shaman. The Searcher of the Ways. The Theurge serve as intercessors between their Garou brethren and the spirits.
  • Philodox: Auspice of the half moon, the Mediator, Counsellor and Judge. The Keeper of the Ways. The Philodox are tasked with knowing the laws of the Garou by heart, thus discerning right and wrong as well as settling disagreements.
  • Galliard: Auspice of the gibbous moon, the Bard. The Lover of the Ways. The Galliard remind the other Garou of their heritage and history with their passion for the ways of the garou.
  • Ahroun: Auspice of the full moon, the Warrior. The Protector of the Ways. While all Garou are warriors, the Ahroun excel at the arts of war, even if they are often unstable. Their task is to enforce the ways with skill, tactics and, if necessary, with brute strength.

Forms

Homid
The homid form is the standard human form for all garou.

Glabro
In glabro form, a werewolf gains height and weight as compared to homid form, as well as added strength. Werewolves in this form tend to take on some characteristics that of old werewolf horror movies; additional hair, sharp nails, sharp teeth, etc. Most people can realize that a werewolf in this form is not a normal human. However in some uncommon cases, a garou is able to take this form and still pass for that of a bulky human.

Crinos
The crinos form is the war form of the werewolves. They rocket in muscle mass and height (somewhere around nine feet tall) and is a digitigrade, bipedal, fur-covered bastion of shitripping curbstompery with claws and teeth that can cut through anything like butter.

Hispo
A werewolf in hispo form resembles that of a dire wolf. It appears to be a large, prehistoric-looking beast with great power. The hispo form is quadrupedal, however the claws are capable of massive damage similar to that of the crinos form. The hispo's jaws are stronger than Crinos jaws, and thus ravaging an opponent with even more damage. This extra damage makes this form more attractive to Lupus garou and a preferred war-form.

Lupus
The lupus form is the standard wolf form for the garou.


Renown

Renown refers to a social summary of your accomplishments — what you're known for, and whence you garner respect (and rank). The requirements for advancing in rank differs from auspice to auspice when it comes to the renown they need (because one who exemplifies their nature is to be respected). To gain renown, you amass 10 points of temporary Renown by being awesome (storytellers and fellow RPers will +vouch for you), and then it gets turned into 1 permanent Renown point. If you're unfortunate enough to lose renown (much easier!), your temporary pool suffers the deficit. If you can't make up the points in temporary renown, though, you loose your hard-earned permanent renown. The standard Renown types are Glory, Honor, and Wisdom.

Sample behavior for earning…
Glory: Proving your badassery in the physical sense. Surviving an incapacitating wound, participating in a just challange, or even going toe-to-toe against crazy odds and surviving the risks. But, if you suffer a fox frenzy, display cowardice or run from a fight, especially if the consequences harm others, then you LOSE renown.

Honor: Being Mr. Stoic Hero. Performing chores and duties for your sept on a regular basis, protecting others and the helpless, performing a moot or punishment rite, and other duties of altruism will earn you some Honor. But, speaking ill or out of place at a moot, participating in an unjust challenge, harming the Veil, and other such behaviors will make you lose Honor.

Wisdom: Making yourself a mental asset. Learn rites, create talens, give advice that becomes a boon later, discoverg awesome things like caerns or gifts, become prophetic! These are the things on the wisdom to-do list. Try to avoid frenzies, missing moot rites, breaking fetishes and being Mr. Bad Decisions.