Werewolf: The Apocalypse
|Werewolf: The Apocalypse|
|Role-playing game published by
|Rule System||Storyteller System|
|Authors||Mark Rein·Hagen, Robert Hatch, Bill Bridges, Richard E. Dansky|
|Essential Books||Werewolf: The Apocalypse|
Also known as "Furry Captain Planet." Werewolf: The Apocalypse was one of the flagship games of the Old World of Darkness (the other two being Vampire: The Masquerade and Mage: The Ascension).
- 1 The General Plot
- 2 Characters
- 3 The Litany
- 4 Breeds
- 5 Auspice
- 6 Tribes
- 7 Changing Breeds
- 8 Pentex: Evil Incorporated
- 9 End of the World as We Know It, Or, the Titular Apocalypse in Action
- 10 Edition Shift
- 11 Revival
The General Plot
In the beginning there were three aspects of the universe, known as the Triat. There was the Wyld, the force of raw creation but chaotic and without reason or structure. There was the Weaver which gave form and reason to the raw creations of the Wyld and last there is the Wyrm, a force of destruction and renewal. This cycle of creation, form and destruction eventually caused the Weaver to go mad as it saw its creations constantly being destroyed, and being a force of order and form this was counter to its very nature. In an attempt to save its creations, the Weaver tried to stop the Wyrm by imprisoning the Wyrm in a cage that was constantly being built, so no matter what the Wyrm destroyed, it was replaced just as quickly. This caused the Wyrm to go insane. The Wyrm, in its insanity, started to cause corruption and change and started to fall away from its primal role. An example of the Triat's cycle of life would be a mud hut. The mud, sticks, straw etc would be the raw creations of the Wyld. The Weaver would be the force that inspired man to use these materials in a way that created a hut from this assortment, thus giving them purpose and structure. The Wyrm would eventually cause these materials to decay and eventually fall and thus free up the existence that was the mud hut, where it can be filled again by the Wyld. In the Weaver's attempt to keep its structures from falling part, it inspired things like concrete, plastic, etc which lasted far longer. The Wyrm, now unable to destroy and maintain the balance started instead to cause corruption so you ended up with chemicals that cause cancer, radiation poisoning etc.
One of the many creations of the Wyld was Gaia, a Celestine spirit with Godlike power. She is the earth mother, the source of life and in the game, is generally the name for everything "Good" or "Pure". Gaia is also seen as the earth itself. The corruption from the Wyrm was causing the spirit Gaia pain and from its tears came the werecreatures. Each of these Changing Breeds, or Fera, were created with a role in mind. Many died off either over time or, more likely, during the War of Rage which was caused by arrogant Garou who slaughtered other shape-shifters they felt were either not doing their jobs well enough or were impure.
The War of Rage caused the death of many different races of shape-shifters, to the point that most are forgotten completely and those that survive are thought to be just a legend. Even those that do maintain some form of a relationship like the Corax, do so with trepidation and one eye on an escape route. This was done along side what is known as the Impergium, a genocidal "mass culling" of humans so extensive that even now, humans have an instinctive fear of those involved. The Kitsuni for instance chose not to participate in this slaughter of humanity and thus do no cause the Delirium that seeing others like the Garou causes. The War of Rage, the infighting of the shape-shifters, is one of the things that saved humanity from extinction, there weren't enough left to completely wipe humans out.
Moving from the past and to the present day. The Garou are still fighting to protect Gaia while at the same time their race is dwindling and a rise of corrupted humans (Fomori), twisted and corrupted werewolves (Black Spiral Dancers), evil spirits (Banes) and more are trying to destroy the world and wipe out what's left of the changing breeds. Some of these being have managed to get into situations of power both politically and economically (a major corporation by the name of Pentex features heavily in many of the games resource manuals.) In short, Gaia is dying and the Garou, aka the players, are fighting a losing battle to save her. Thus the games title Werewolf: The Apocalypse.
Each character can be described fairly quickly with their Breed, Auspice, and Tribe, with the latter two roughly equivalent to class and race. Each of these has their stereotypes, and even characters that deviate from the norms usually stay fairly similar to what you'd expect, though that's partly the fault of the players rather than the writers.
Werewolves have a Rank, a character level system alongside Whitewolf's entirely point buy experience system. Rank has a lot of mechanical benefits, and can be used as a way to measure the relative strength of a werewolf in the same manner as the generation statistic of a vampire. Rank is a socially earned, in-character statistic that comes with bunch of mechanical benefits. You gain reputation in werewolf society through your actions, measured as renown for Glory, Honor, and Wisdom. The requirements for advancement were different depending on your Auspice. So now you have four types of exp to keep track of, just like a Legend of the Five Rings player.
Werewolves are, as you're probably aware, easy to hurt with silver weapons, which causes aggravated damage (a form of damage that takes longer to heal than normal sources of damage) but can still be hurt by regular weapons. A werewolf won't survive the loss of their head, regardless from a silver sword or a RPG-7 to the noggin'. A starting Werewolf can usually kill just about any other starting character from the other Whitewolf systems. This is why a lot of people who are not familiar with Werewolf tend to see them as over-powered in the beginning, but XP for XP that edge does not last long as every other race of supernatural being finds that Werewolves aren't much of a threat. Which explains why they hunt in packs and there's not many left. An elder werewolf in general will not do well against a vampire or mage with the same amount of experience. Archmages can simply make the Garou a normal human with a flick of the wrist. A Methuselah (elder vampire) can match or beat a werewolf shot-for-shot in terms of damage AND tank all of the werewolf's hits better. That being said despite been literally purpose-built to be fighters Werewolves are one of the few supernaturals that actually die when they are killed (vampires go into torpor before death but can still die after this point; demons, banes and kuei-jin just have to seek new vessels; mages can become ghosts and can possess magically-grown clone bodies, etc.), and much of the drama of the game is supposed to be drawn from losing friends and family in a never-ending fight where your enemies can come back after getting the beating, but you can only die once.
If a werewolf somehow gets Embraced by a vampire, one of three things can happen. If they're lucky or have a strong connection to the spirit world, they get a clean, quick death. IF not, it means a long, painful, unavoidable death. A werewolf who is really unlucky (or is about as spiritually-connected as an atheist) is "punished" by turning into a being known as an abomination: an over-powered killing machine that's half vampire, half werewolf, and all edgelord. Perfect for your local powergamer! Later revisions corrected this ridiculously hard, meaning a modern abomination loses almost all of their powers, is an in-game week away from constant RAGE, has all the drawbacks of both component parts, and is (under any reasonable storyteller) basically unplayable.
- Shifting - the main feature of werewolves. All werewolves can shift into five different forms:
- Homid - basic human form, for mingling with humans. Indistinguishable from normal human from a glance.
- Glabro - "caveman" almost-human form, a head higher and twice heavier, all with muscles. Can still be mistaken for a burly human in a dark alley. Glabro can bite people with aggravated damage but as their faces are still mostly human-shaped it's still better to hit people with heavy objects in a fight.
- Crinos - 50% human, 50% wolf, and 100% murder. The giant wolfman killing machine armed with steel-cutting claws and a bite that can tear human in half. Very strong, very tough, and rightly feared. In this form Garou is filled with rage and can only Hulk-speak either human or wolf languages, although he can speak Garou language normally. Seeing it causes Delirium in humans, which mostly causes them to run for the hills and later forget it or rationalize as a big bear of something.
- Hispo - giant murderous direwolf form almost as large as Crinos with even bigger and stronger jaws. Not as strong as Crinos, but way faster, and don't cause Delirium.
- Lupus - the regular wolf form. Very fast, good for running long long distances and have the best senses of all the forms. And no, it won't pass for a dog - it's very clearly a wolf and would scare the shit out of humans.
- Toughness - Garou can soak all damage. Even aggravated, unless it's from silver. Combine it with hefty Stamina bonuses in most forms, and they're stupidly tanky compared to other supernaturals. Moreso, "killing" a werewolf with lethal damage merely puts him in a healing coma for 24 hours, although he still could be finished off while helpless.
- Resistances - Garou are immune to symptoms of all conventional sicknesses, although they still can carry them. They are also very resistant to poisons and drugs. This includes alcohol and narcotics much to the chagrin of some tribes who have strong traditions of getting drunk, high, or both, so they either have to use a lot of stuff to get their kick, use very strong stuff (Glass Walkers use synthetic drugs that are lethal to humans, while Uktena mix some killer herbs) or using the spirits of intoxication to suppress this effect for a while.
- Regeneration - Garou regenerate bashing and lethal damage for free every turn. Even aggravated damage they regenerate one point per day for free. Homids in Homid form and Lupuses in Lupus form don't regenerate, but they have something to compensate for it.
- Silver - Silver is Garou kryptonite. There's no "heirloom silver" or "consecrated silver" bullshit here - any silver would do. Werewolves can't soak damage from silver weapons, it burns them just by touch and just carrying it lowers their affinity to the spirit world. Homids in Homid form and Lupuses in Lupus form are immune to silver to compensate for their lack of regeneration.
- Rage - Luna's "blessing" to werewolves, which they spend in combat to get super-speed, ignore pain and shape-shift between forms quicker (by which I mean instantly). Unfortunately it comes with a LOT of drawbacks. It can drive Garou into a murderous frenzy from taking damage, seeing people they love get hurt or just being insulted, and it "radiates" as an aura (called Curse) that makes normal humans and animals fear werewolves as apex predators they are, making normal relationships with humans and wolves that aren't Kinfolk almost impossible.
- Animal Attraction - What werewolves use to get laid. Basically they can focus their rage on particular human or wolf and make it so they want to have sex with them, even overpowering the sense of danger from the Curse. This have nothing to do with love, and is a source of drama in many W:tA chronicles as werewolves have real trouble finding genuine love, not just sex. Also don't work very well for gay werewolves, since the purpose of this ability is to make babies, so it doesn't work properly on the same sex.
- Stepping sideways - You thought werewolves are just burly muscleheads who solve all their problems with violence? Well, you'd be right on that, but they also are spiritual beings. Quite literally - they're half-flesh half-spirits. And they can rend through the gauntlet between material world and spirit world of Umbra and step from one to another. This is useful for bypassing defenses in reality, but most things Werewolves fight have defenses on the other side too. Also some of the bad guys werewolves fight ARE spirits and could only be defeated in Umbra. And as those of you who played Magic: the Awakening know, there's LOTS of other stuff in Umbra to do. Stepping sideways usually requires a mirror or other reflective surface, but it's possible (if dangerous) to do it without one.
- Gifts - werewolf magic, taught and powered by deals with spirits. Way more flexible and open than vampiric disciplines but still nowhere near as flexible as awakened magic. Can do pretty much anything if you find the right spirit and convince it to teach you, and if you have the rank to get that spirit to listen to you, but most only teach to specific breeds, auspices or tribes, unless you're really good at convincing.
While the laws and customs of the Garou are ancient and stretch back millennia, they are still observed to this day. The vast majority is for the Philodoxes to learn and interpret, but all Garou are required to know and observe the thirteen core tenets. Naturally, all of them have grey areas for the various factions to bicker over. These are:
- Garou Shall Not Mate With Garou. When two werewolves mate the result is a Metis, a sickly, twisted and/or insane Garou whose presence disrupts the Sept and are deformed to one degree or another. Such couples are more common between two Homid Garou; because of how they are raised they have a desire for romance and love. Unfortunately for them such pairings often result in tragedy. Back in the day Metis and their parents were killed, but in modern times more of them are spared (and more are born, too!), with many Garou seeing the hate against Metis to be unfounded prejudice. How this law pertains to same-gender relationships is matter of debate in-universe, even though such relationships are never going to result in children - some more modern septs let it slide or even rule out that these case are not violations of the Litany, while other follow it to the letter and would punish gay Garou couples just as severely as straight ones.
- Combat the Wyrm Wherever It Dwells and Whenever It Breeds. The Wyrm is the main reason the world's messed up. By combating the Wyrm, the Garou hope to save the world. It seems like the easiest, most-obvious part of the Litany to follow in theory, but in practice it's a suicide run, which is why the Garou have been losing ground for millennia. How to do this is as varied an answer as their are people to ask that question. The fun way, of course, is to find some corrupt baddies and kick the tar our of them. However Glass Walkers are known to hack into systems and expose a person or companies dirty little secrets, and others try to teach humans how to better care of the world around them etc.
- Respect the Territory of Another. Before entering another Garou's territory, one should announce themselves first by howling their name, totem, tribe and home Sept (and sometimes lineage as well), though howling this in Central Park may not be the best idea. In turn a Garou is required to mark their territory with scratchings or scent. In modern times younger Garou argue that it'd be better to run territory communally, but many elders won't have any of it. The more technologically-minded Garou (mainly Glass Walkers) have opted to use email, texting and phone calls to keep in contact and announce when entering another's territory. So yes, this can mean that Garou use WhatsApp. And, of course, tribes in the midst of conflicts with one another often scrape right up to the edges of this one, with notable flagrant violations being the destruction of the Bunyip, the devastation of one of North America's native tribes, and the Roman Garou fighting a civil war with the White Howlers. All three acts had horrific long-term consequences.
- Accept an Honorable Surrender. Werewolves frequently settle their differences with duels. These last until one party either dies or submits. When done so in a physical duel this is done by exposing the throat. If a warrior accepts such a surrender he gains honor for his mercy, and the loser suffers no loss. Some Garou however have a reputation to go for the throat the moment it's exposed, so some care is advised when doing this. The same goes for non-violent conflicts. And, of course, some of the more "Rah rah warrior spirit!" tribes have very narrow definitions of an "honorable" surrender.
- Submission to Those of Higher Station. Werewolves have a strict hierarchy in their society. All are expected to know their place within the sept and follow those of higher rank to a reasonable degree. Some Garou however exploit this and make unreasonable demands or act like petty tyrants just because they've got blue blood and/or grey hairs (or the Garou equivalents). Tribes like the Shadow Lords and Silver Fangs enforce this law with an iron fist, while the Bone Gnawers, Children of Gaia and Silent Striders would rather earn respect than demand it. In the middle are most of the other tribes, which struggle with the usual human organizational problems of a stagnant top full of grumpy traditionalists often failing to listen to and/or rein in the vibrant-but-inexperienced new blood in the base.
- The First Share of the Kill for the Greatest in Station. In short, the boss gets the first pick of the loot, whether it be powerful fetishes, valuable goods, or the first cut of the meat. This tends to be mostly followed, but a wise leader will know better than to hoard all the good stuff. And, of course, it interacts weirdly with some of the other rules further down.
- Ye Shall Not Eat the Flesh of Humans. Despite evidence that Gaia did not intend the Garou to cruelly dominate humanity, this law rose from practical issues rather than moral constraints. Eating humans would only draw attention from them, would make Garou complacent and not hunt the Wyrm-spirits they should and makes them more susceptible to corruption by the Wyrm. Oh, and because of the preservatives in our food our flesh has become unwholesome over the last few decades. Go Pentex!
- Respect Those Beneath Ye — All Are of Gaia. Aka the hippie law. Don't be a dick to other people, protect the weak, be good to your equals etc etc etc. Lupus tend to have an easier time with this law because wolves aren't complete jackasses to each other like humans. Of course, well, every tribe's got it's list of people who "don't count."
- The Veil Shall Not Be Lifted. Vampires have their Masquerade, Mages have their Consensus and Garou have the Veil. Showing themselves to humans in their Crinos form will cause Delirium to kick in, causing fear and panic among the humans. This helps to protect the Garou and is part of the Veil but it does not work on everyone the same way. Most affected by the Delirium will come to think that a bear attack or something, anything, other than the truth. Humans with a very high willpower score or a very low intelligence score often fight back or remember what happened.. thus the myth of Werewolves. This also includes doing anything that would give away their existence such as leaving evidence, going on talk shows, getting caught by cameras etc. This would only aid the Wyrm or even cause the humans to try and hunt the Garou. They brought this one on themselves, really, with the whole War of Rage/Impergium thing. Interestingly, the Black Spiral Dancers, Wyrm corrupted werewolves, follow this as well because it would make their lives harder as well... but their methods of protect it differ vastly.
- Do Not Suffer Thy People to Tend Thy Sickness. In the old days, a Garou that could no longer function due to age, injury or wounds would be killed so that they would not burden the sept. Nowadays an aged Garou is allowed to choose their own death, sometimes having them set out on one last journey and vanishing forever. Others return to human or wolf society and dying amongst their kin. The Children of Gaia despise this law and will care for their infirm until their deaths, no matter how long it lasts or how many resources it diverts. There's also the unsavory whiff of actual real-world politics around this one: one of the books notoriously features a pro-eugenics rant about the "degradation of the human stock" thanks to modern medicine that really doesn't pass the smell test. Usefulness is another one of those things open for interpretation, often you can find an elder that may not be in the fight anymore but will still serve as a teacher, healer or spiritual leader, etc.
- The Leader May Be Challenged at Any Time During Peace. Packs are only as strong as their alphas. If one believes that they could run the pack better than the current alpha and there is no immediate threat to the pack a challenge can be issued. Sometimes alphas are too strong for any one Garou to beat, and as such will challenge them one by one until the old alpha is beaten. Some more tyrannical alphas declare a constant state of war so they can lord over their pack as they see fit, which, unfortunately, is all too easy given the whole "Wyrm preparing to destroy the planet" thing. It doesn't always have to be a physical contest, although this is highly variable with the tribe.
- The Leader May Not Be Challenged During Wartime. In battle the alpha's word is law. Breaking this law will have a Garou punished severely by pack or even sept. If a werewolf can prove however they were compelled to do so by magic, corruption, possession or that the alpha was extremely inept they can avoid punishment, but one who goes against the word of their alpha will never receive honor for it. (They may however gain Glory or Wisdom... a bad decision can cost a leader the same) See previous rules.
- Ye Shall Take No Action That Causes a Caern to Be Violated. Caerns are sacred to the Garou, being the wellsprings of the lifeblood of Gaia. Losing one would forever cause part of the Earth to die and diminish the power of the Garou. All Garou are in agreement that the violation of a Caern is one of the gravest sins imaginable and doing so will be punished severely, even when it was done unintentionally. Notably, the violation of all of Australia's Caerns was a huge black mark on Garou history.
Breed refers to the natural state of a werewolf. Some Garou are 'normally' in human shape, and others not. Werewolves that are sleeping or unconscious always revert to their breed form (unless they have the Merit Metamorph which allows them to retain whatever form they want). Their breed form is the shape they are born in, and are stuck in while they grow up.
The result of Being born from a Human or Homid mother. These are almost always the typical player choice. Homid werewolves grew up as regular members of humanity, because apparently the Garou can't keep track of all their kids, and even if they did, most of them don't turn out to be werewolves. It doesn't help that a werewolf parent does not automatically create a werewolf child. These children who are not werewolves are Kinfolk, they're people who lack the ability to shape-shift but can often still have Gifts and are welcome among the sept... they are highly sought after because the chances of having a werewolf child are greatly increased if one of the parents is a Kinfolk. Note however that they're not usually treated as equals; many tribes treat their kids as servants or second class citizens for a while. Instead, they wait for the kids to go through their first change, inevitably slaughtering their schoolmates, high school sweetheart, best friends, family, or whomever they happen to be around at the time. Remember, this is White Wolf so it's either an obviously-stupid position to take as a dying race or the logical result of things not being warm and cuddly... it's the World of Darkness after all. Many people may have Garou in their lineage and have no knowledge of it, and thus the change can be quite a surprise.
When two werewolves love each other very much... they end up pretty screwed up. Garou society forbids werewolves to breed with each other. In some tribes or groups the punishment is a harsh shunning, and in others it can be outright death for parent and child. The reason is, depending on who you ask, that Gaia wanted to ensure her soldiers had to stay connected to the human and wolf races and couldn't reproduce without them, or that werewolf genes are so powerful that these children are born horribly deformed and inbred because of too much concentrated greatness. Either way, a Metis always has either some severe mental issue, a physical deformity or both. These children are born in the half-man, half-wolf, known as Crinos. Fully grown werewolves in the Crinos shape stand up to ten feet tall, so a baby starts out pretty fucking big, potentially representing a threat to the mother's survival during delivery. They then revert to human form until puberty. Metis often make good warriors though, as long as the fight isn't in the streets of some human city. Even though they're supposed to be anathema, more and more are being produced as the world heads into the end times. There's even some groups of werewolves trying to increase their numbers for the last battle of the Apocalypse. All metis are sterile, which is another reason they're looked down on... when your race is dying, having sterile children does not help. Being a metis gives a PC some raw hitting power, but it also gives them a boatload of social disadvantages and at least one physical or mental deformity. And thank Gaia for that, because the so-called "Perfect Metis," one born without any visible deformities, is supposedly, in some sense, a sign of the End Times. Whether for good or ill, none can say, because Apocalypse offered opportunities for both interpretations. While they aren't really intrinsically evil, a whole lot of metis get treated like shit so much that they end up falling to the Wyrm anyway, a vicious cycle that, hitting a major theme of the gameline, almost none of the Garou have learned anything from in thousands of years.
Born of a regular wolf or lupus kinfolk. As most player opt for a Homid for easy roleplay and a relatable background, some go for the challenge of being a wolf. Lupus are born as wolves, and live as such until they change. Even then, while they can take human shape and they aren't as dumb as a typical animal, they're still very wolf-like in thought and action. You need to remember that the change happens alongside puberty which means that your Lupus character is only a year or two old. So don't expect your Lupus to be driving a car, holding down a job or even speaking a human language well. Play them as they are, if they are in a city, they will likely be very uncomfortable and will not have concepts that most Homid characters take for granted. They can be a challenge and extremely rewarding. Storytellers should limit these to experienced players and for games that would allow for a lupus to add to the game etc. It's not a bad idea to learn about wolves and their behavior before playing as a lupus character... in other words, they are wolves, not dogs. Of course, for all the legitimate roleplaying challenges to be had in playing a lupus, they have never escaped the stigma of the fact that they are the result of literal wolf-fucking - that's a step too far even for the average furry.
Most non-metis werewolf couplings don't actually result in werewolf children, but their kids are still kinfolk. Kinfolk are basically normal humans and wolves who are immune to the werewolves' "delirium" power that makes them hard to remember. Tribes keep them around because having kids with kinfolk is much more likely to produce werewolf children. The full implications of this have been milked for all they're worth across countless septs, but here's the gist of it: some kinfolk-garou couples are good matches between people who love each other, despite the tension between their warrior ethos and living a normal life. Some garou believe that breeding with any kinfolk they want whenever they want is their "right," and that kinfolk should be grateful for the opportunity. And most of them fall somewhere in-between, with garou family members who try to be good to their kinfolk but either patronize or fail to keep their Rage in check around the people they love, leading to tragedy all around. Mistreatment of kinfolk has led many to fall to the Wyrm, or to murder their Garou kin, others even becoming "Skinwalkers" in an effort to become garou themselves, Wyrm-tainted abominations with many werewolf powers and a terrible desire for revenge. Playable kinfolk a challenge to play, since you're essentially a normal person fighting things that can kill a garou in Crinos. There's a reason that a lot of Tribes are leery of cavalierly throwing kinfolk into the fray, since they know that many of them, maybe even most of them, will never return. Of course, there is potential for a non-combat campaign, but that lovely war-form would just be sitting around if you did that! The Kinfolk book has many Gifts, rites etc that are unique to kinfolk and make them far more than just baby making machines. There are even rules for Supernatural kinfolk. A changeling that happens to be kinfolk? Not a problem!
The five phases of the moon that determines the duty of Garou. This is found on the night of birth and forges a role in their society.
This influences starting rage value, additional starting gifts, and the expected duty that you function in the pack. There is a difference if they're born on the waning (past full and moving toward a new moon) or waxing (moving toward a full moon) phases of the moon. Waning cycles tend to be more aggressive while waxing are more relaxed and light hearted.
Ragabash (The New Moon, The Trickster): The alternative name is more fitting since the position is really to mess with your enemies and sometimes even your allies. Their official duty is to question the decisions and rules they encounter, as all too often human, werewolf, and even spirit society gets gummed up with bad rules perpetuated by those too mindless and or pretentious to admit there is a problem, let alone fix it. They are also charged with being the teachers, in a "Guess what? Don't depend on that gun of yours so much, someone might steal the bullets!" kind of way. A well played Ragabash always has a point to his pranks, so that those who spend more time thinking about it rather than whining have the opportunity to become better people. Typical attitudes are questioning and going against the norms, playing devil's advocate and keeping things from going completely stagnant. Still, if you want to play them as the moron who keeps asking "Why?" like a five-year-old, someone is going to kill you.
Theurge (The Crescent Moon, The Seer): The spiritual leaders of the Garou who often appear to like spending their time with Spirits rather than solid beings. They are the guide to consulting Spirits and keep the Garou in connection with them. Oh, and they start hearing/seeing Spirits from the Umbra in reality and are the healers and rite leaders for a pack or sept. Lupus have a better time with the Theurge auspice because they are born with a closer tie to Nature (they start with a Gnosis rating almost twice as high as a Metis and five times as high as a Homid. Pick Lupus or be prepared to spend exp points to upgrade Gnosis). Probably the hardest Auspice to play well, since you will be your pack's 'broker' for dealing with the spirits, and healer... which means you cannot heal yourself, and if you screw up on the deals everyone pays.
Philodox (The Half Moon, The Mediator): The counselor/mediators of Garou society and on average are the wisest members. They are leaders in "peacetime" (I guess this means the times when they aren't fighting the eternal decaying of the world, which is never), but will defer to Ahroun or Galliards for leadership in war (which is all the time). Serving as judge and jury, knowledgeable about the Garou laws, they are highly respected. They also hold some of the most powerful combat gifts, and make devastating warriors when played correctly.
Galliard (The Gibbous Moon, The Moon Dancer): The warlord choice of the bunch, leading more towards the leader and not the warrior part. They can cheer, fight, and tell stories. Passionate fighters to the point where they feel an intense range of emotions. Their duty is as morale boosters and can move the pack through actions and words. Their gifts are more fitting as "combat mystic", giving them telepathy, mass mind control, short range teleportation, party-buffs, and other effects best used in combat. They are the keepers of legend and lore, and frequently are the voice of the group, certainly when it comes time to report on how amazing the group is (and thus why they should be given renown and rank.)
Ahroun (The Full Moon, The Warrior): The primary reason the Garou can kick ass. A young Ahroun can take on the leading members of other auspices without much trouble. The big problem with Ahrouns is that their lifespan isn't that long due to their killer instinct. Due to their high level of rage, they often are not terribly gifted when it comes to social skills and can often freak normal humans out by just being near them. They give off a serial-killer vibe. They are the most willing to take on the biggest challenges, lean towards violent solutions, and least willing to back down from a fight. Ahroun Get of Fenris and Red Talons are terrifying to behold and think they are the strongest fighters of the Garou. Unfortunately, they are also the most prone to entering berzerk frenzies, and can paradoxically be the most likely to flee for no reason (as one of the options for a Garou trying to control his Rage is to go 'Fox' and flee from stress rather than attack it, useful for dealing with high ranking mother-in-laws). Note that while Ahroun do excel at combat, the gap between them and combat oriented builds from the other auspices is slight. Any Garou can be built as a killing machine but not every Garou can be built as a healer or a spy.
While Auspice could be viewed as the "class" choice of the game, it isn't really. You can still be a Theurge and kick down the door and murder everyone or be a Ahroun who is knowledgeable and converses with spirits, thanks to the way experience points work. It just affects where you start. It is possible to join an auspice that does not match one's birth by way of a ritual, but those Garou who do so are often seen with suspicion and have to be damn good at their new jobs to not be scorned.
There are Thirteen Tribes of Garou, each with their own sort of culture and views of the world. There used to be more, but one got Wyrm'd, one sacrificed itself to keep everyone else from getting Wyrm'd, and one got ganked by the others for really petty reasons.
A tribe of all-women, who give up their male Garou offspring for adoption, but retain male and female Kinfolk and male Metis. Think Amazon-style Matriarchy, add in the proud warrior culture of the Greeks, and dash in some modern feminism for spice. Later writers also threw in some neo-pagan stuff, because they were White Wolf writers and of course they did. Very attuned to the workings of the Wyld over civilization, but the North American camp helped bring about Seneca Falls and get women the vote, and plenty of them hang out in college campuses. Somewhat unfairly seen as a big ol' bunch of butch lesbians, even in their own tribebook. (Quote: "Shit, bitch, we're not all dykes.") One of the few tribes to have actually seen a little social progress in the last few centuries (I mean, they don't even ritualistically sacrifice their male kids anymore, mostly), but their primary weakness is still a tendency to go off half-cocked at men. The first in a long line of bad, stereotypical ideas to be mostly fixed as the new editions and revisions rolled on: their first draft were a bunch of violent, bitchy dykes on a sacred quest to castrate anything with testicles for the Moon Goddess. Hilariously, the Time of Judgement scenario where they fall to the Wyrm can basically involve reverting to this initial characterization.
The rats of the city. Homeless and destitute, this tribe fights the Wyrm down in the alleys, gutters, and slums. Notable for being excellent spies and assassins within the cities. Covers both extremes of impoverished urban dwellers, from the cool, wise, elderly homeless lady who dispenses sage advice to young runaways to the crazy man living in a box who won't stop stabbing cats while screaming at passerby about the mind-control chemicals Pentex puts into their soda. Survivors to the core, but, contrary to the sneers of half their kinsmen, they have their own traditions of hospitality and egalitarianism that actually make them one of the most socially-progressive tribes: after all, if the Get of Fenris have kicked you out for having internal genitalia, or the Black Furies for having external genitalia, or the Red Talons for not being as shithouse-rat crazy as they are, well, there's always the Bone Gnawers. Rat gives everyone a second chance. Combine with their tribal traditions of pragmatism and down-to-Earth, "work on the problem in front of you and leave the big stuff to big people" mindset, and they're honestly one of the smartest tribes in the setting.
The last of the three Lost Tribes to be wiped out, but alphabetically the first. These were the Garou who hailed from Austrailia, and mostly had were-Tasmanian-tiger forms rather than wolf ones. They were the most peaceful and bro-tier of all Tribes in their heyday, hence their withdrawal from the Nation during the most violent and dickish part of its history. Unfortunately, the were-spiders got the Aboriginies to hunt them until they didn't have a viable breeding pool left, before their cousins in the whiter tribes wiped them out in a mixture of racism and greed for their land, something everyone involved now deeply regrets. And not just because their vengeful spirits hunt down any werewolves and werespiders in the Australian spirit world like slasher-movie monsters. That said, they've gotten a little love later on. The Wild West spin-off practically made a tradition out of finding bizarre ways to have Bunyip characters end up in the American wilderness to adventure with the other tribes, and while no experiments have yet been successful, the more technologically-minded Tribes are trying to re-create them via cloning. It canonically goes tits-up during the Apocalypse, but who knows what your Storyteller wants to try?
|Children of Gaia
The only Tribe to have been founded on an act of peace. Their goal is to unite the Garou Nation and prevent infighting, something which is both incredibly logical, given the oncoming end of the world and all, and damn near impossible given that practically all the other Tribes are run by squabbling Fifth Graders with attention span of fruit flies and the memory of a goldfish for anything but the thousand-year-old grudges they never forget or forgive. Though they do focus on peaceful resolution, they aren't all granola-munching peace-and-love hippies and weak fighters. Mechanically their stats support them being one of the hardest "non-warrior tribes" to kill in Anhous form, and they often act as bodyguards for great peacemakers like Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. Since they were one of the only tribes to not need lots of stupid stereotypical shit cleaned up for the first big revision, they, naturally, actually get worse in their revised tribebook. Avoid it like the plague.
Another of the three Lost Tribes of Garou, the Croatan were very much the middle ground between the Uktena and Wendigo ideologies. They were spiritual followers of the totem "Turtle" and were known to be a stalwart and enduring people with a good measure of wisdom and (like all Tribes) a warrior culture. Unfortunately, the titanic disease-fest that was the Columbian Exchange actually summoned Eater-of-Souls, part of the Triat Wyrm, into the physical world, and every single one of them, from the mightiest werewolf to the lowest kinfolk, selflessly sacrificed themselves, body and soul, to banish it back into the Umbra. This is the origin of the major rift between the Native American Tribes and the white ones, with their native brothers ignoring the fact that the Croatan (history lesson!) had interbred with white settlers in a bid for integration, and the great sacrifice at Roanoke, Virginia involved Europeans too! There might be one left, outside of time, but the tribe as a whole is just gone, souls and all.
Very, very old-tyme Irish. A very proud tribe that celebrates their victories the most fervently, and mourns their losses the most keenly. Great storytellers and fighters alike, they also take a 'holier-than-thou' attitude when it comes to the other tribes. They are also the most stereotypical sort of drunken, racist, carousing Irishmen imaginable, to the point that their tribal weakness is having no self-control and being bad at getting Willpower back. Get along very well with the Fae, which is unfortunate given the hilarious tonal inconsistencies that spring to mind when imagining a Werewolf/Changeling crossover.
|Get of Fenris
Essentially Germanic-Viking werewolves. Abhor weakness and glorify martial prowess above all else. Think Khorne-lite and you're in the right ballpark. The Get used to be incredibly, openly bigoted against women, minorities, and their metis because they believed them to be weak and useless, but they mostly sorted that out after the bloody purge of that group of renegade Get that are literally Nazis (their tribal symbol of the Get is rather reminiscent of the swastika, because hindsight is fun), and nowadays mostly stick to the kind of subtle, realistic, unconscious -isms regular people deal with. Much as you'd expect, most of the old bigoted attitudes were in early editions of White Wolf's books. The most notable of this was the narrator of the first tribebook where he condemned the pro-Nazi Sword of Heimdall, yet in the same book calls the Uktena and Wendigo to be savages and essentially calls the Shadow Lords a bunch of backstabbing jews. Revised Edition works and forward into W20 have not kept much of the attitude of bigotry, and have down-played the camps that are powerful proponents of it such as the Swords of Heimdall. Because White Wolf isn't so dumb as to not eventually realize when they've been racist twits. Incidentally, that swastika on their logo? It did represent the superiority of one race over another, just in terms of wolf over man rather than one kind of man over another.
Where the Bone Gnawers take the lower parts of cities, the Glass Walkers take the high life. They have an affinity for technology and are the Garou Nation's most prominent force in the business world. All the more-Luddite factions think they're hopelessly corrupted by the Weaver but the Time of Judgement scenario where the Weaver takes center stage as the main villain outright denies it: quite apart from their being informed enough to be careful with that sort of thing, it'd be too obvious. The Tribes' number one source of wolf-gunfighters and warriors who travel to the spirit plane of the Internet to punch out computer viruses and malware. Easily the most optimistic tribe, since they actually believe that time is making them stronger, and they've mostly purged all the crazy transhumanists and stereotypical gangsters, but their powerful humanity is also something of a weakness. For example, they treat their Metis well, but they have too many of them because they make very human romantic attachments to one another, and while their closeness to human society has ensured that they're really good with modern technology, they're also crippled outside cities, and their tribal weakness is an inability to regain Gnosis in the wilderness. Also, later writers really bought into the whole "modern civilization is evil" biz a bit too much, and actively worked to make them less-sympathetic and likable, introducing bizarre retcons like having them treat their kinfolk like shit for no reason. Thankfully, as of W20, this trend seems to be on the decline.
A tribe of almost-entirely wolf-born lupus Garou, as they aren't particularly fond of mankind and believe it is the cause of basically every Wyrm-related problem. Some of them eat people in flagrant disregard for the Litany, almost all of them want to exterminate us down to pre-Stone Age levels of population, and all of them are angry jerks about how much civilization sucks, so much so that their tribal weakness, mirroring the Glass Walkers, is an inability to recharge Gnosis inside of cities. So notoriously difficult to work with that they've become a common source of in-Tribe villains for Storytellers and are the most commonly-banned Tribe. Wanting to play one without a really good concept automatically makes you That Guy. It's telling that their Forsaken counterparts, the Predator Kings, actually are straight-up villains.
Political masterminds, masterful strategists, and general douche-bags extraordinaire. Their European branch is very Russian, and their Asian branch is very Japanese. Manipulative control freaks given to backstabbing the other tribes for their own ends, but surprisingly decent to their Kinfolk and generally okay guys once you get to know them, so long as screwing you over isn't a necessity of their grand long-term designs. While they chafe a little at the Silver Fangs' leadership, they have agreed to loyally serve them so long as they are fit to rule. It's a pity, then, that the last few of the Fangs' High Kings have been crazy, inbred, incompetent assholes, and the Shadow Lords were considering a coup for a while there. But now the current Silver Fang High King, Jonas Albrecht of House Wyrmfoe, son of Jacob Morningkill, who -was- one of those douchebags, has earned their respect, and only the Lords of the Summit splinter faction is still on about it.
Travelers and tale-tellers, they were forced from their homelands in Egypt by an ancient and powerful vampire, who cursed them to never be able to truly rest or settle down with friends and loved ones until just before they're about to die. They have since become rootless wanderers, but they've learned every trick in the book when it comes to taking shortcuts through the spirit world and they're the recognized authority on Vamp killing. Very disorganized, but their nature makes them ideal messengers, and all that time in the spirit world makes them masters of communicating with ghosts and the dead.
The natural hereditary leaders of the Garou Nation, and tend to embody both the best and the worst aspects of that "Medieval noble" mindset at the same time. Unfortunately, many have been driven insane by the centuries of inbreeding to keep line "pure" and/or an ancient curse from a powerful demon, depending on your edition. Very proud and stringent followers of tradition, though as the metaplot progressed a new, non-crazy, energetic young king, the aforementioned Jonas Albrecht, started reforming the fuck out of them and bringing the Fangs around to actually do shit. Not a bad last gasp before the end.
Basically Buddhist monks, complete with their own shapeshifting martial art and calm mindset compared to their brethren. By far the most difficult tribe to roleplay, and so light on actual interesting stuff compared to the others that the new edition literally saw them leaving the Garou Nation to join the Beast Courts. Worse, because they get more starting Willpower than any other tribe, they became pure munchkin bait, with every party's greatest nightmare being the words "Lupus Stargazer Ahroun," a combination that gets five to three stats (Gnosis, Willpower, and Rage, respectively), but is also going to be a total combat bunny who's absolutely fucked when called upon to use any skills outside of the "eatface" subset.
Spirits and secrets are their game. One of the two remaining "Pure" Native American-based tribes, though they're (usually) much more reasonable about it than the Wendigo and have been incorporating traditional "indigenous" tribes from all over the world. They practice the ancient art of trapping wyrm-spirits for shits and giggles, something which is even more dangerous than it sounds. Wisdom and knowledge are the virtues they prize above all others, and they happily cooperate with any tribe that has something to teach them. Their biggest weakness is their mad-scientist-like willingness to tamper with shit that is really better off left alone.
Anger, ice, and a warrior culture, the Wendigo of the frozen north are the second surviving "Pure" Tribe, and are far less tolerant of the others than the Uktena. Tough, fierce, and masters of ambush tactics, but also given to cultural posturing and playing misery poker with the whiter Tribes, while studiously pretending no Native Americans ever did anything wrong before Columbus. (Originally, they were right, but see above regarding fixing racist shit.) Not quite as crazy as the Red Talons, but getting there. There's this one Time of Judgement scenario where they infiltrate an nuclear submarine through the Umbra and try to kill millions of whites over a cop shooting Native American protesters - before the Wyrm corrupts them!
The former proud ancestral Tribe of Scotland, last both alphabetically and because they are the Lost Tribe that isn't quite lost enough for comfort. During the height of the Garou's power and decadence, the White Howlers discovered that a major manifestation of the Wyrm, in all its world ending power, was forming in the middle of their own domain. The Tribe, more or less en masse, charged in to what they knew was a deathtrap meatgrinder, and sacrificed themselves to stop what would have been game-over right then and there. Instead, they found out too late that when you confront corruption with violence, corruption doesn't fight fair. Far too many from that suicidal charge did return alive, but no longer sane. These hunted down the kinfolk and old Garou and other survivors of the battle, and either forcibly converted them or killed them. They became the Black Spiral Dancers, evil parodies of Garou twisted and mutated into servants of the Wyrm, Chaos-style, and some of the modern Nation's deadliest adversaries. One of the most infamous of them is the lesbian dominatrix Zhyzhik of the Green Dragon, one of the most powerful Garou alive, who has been prophesied to crush the head of the last king of the Silver Fangs under her foot. Responses to one guy wanting to play "the last of the White Howlers" were once met with beast-like shrieks of rage from the development team and in-book rants about its impossibility, but the 20th anniversary edition included an admission that they'd maybe been a little hard on the poor would-be special snowflakes and a little sidebar about how best to do it.
|The Garou Tribes|
Children of Gaia
Get of Fenris
With all this talk about tribes, Septs and packs, a couple of players immediately asked themselves: "Can I play a badass lone wolf who doesn't need anyone in their life?" The answer is kinda, because they're not badass and they do need other Garou.
For a few Garou, the life as a Chosen of Gaia is just not a good fit. They can never be truly at home within a sept or even a pack, seeing what they do as a tainted legacy. Some Ronin don't choose the life, but have it forced on them because they have committed a crime so heinous (either intentionally or by accident) that the only response can be exile, the punishment worse than death. Some just fundamentally disagree with Gaia's party line. (And, to be fair, there is much to be skeptical of from a human perspective.)
In these cases there is only one thing they can do: leave the Garou nation in self-imposed exile. This releases them from the yoke of responsibility, of political intrigue, the requirement to fight the Wyrm, and other such things. But in return, the Ronin will be alone. No humans they can connect to (even Homid Garou are inherently different from humans in some ways), no other Garou that truly understand them, no wolves to accept them. Both humans and wolves are pack animals, especially Garou. But without all this they will be forever apart from all societies. Even the spirits will mistrust them and not lend their powers or knowledge to a lone wolf.
Septs will occasionally employ Ronin as Hyenas. This makes them the bounty hunters and parole officers of the Garou Nation, either capturing an escaped Garou or bringing back their skin. They are greatly mistrusted by even those who employ them, paying them with supplies, tolerate them in the area, or rarely granting them low level Gifts, which is very tempting. They might also lend them fetishes in the hunt for a refugee, but the Ronin is required to return them. And failure is not tolerated.
Because they are alone, Ronin are vulnerable to outside forces. While Septs tend to be the primary targets of the servants of the Wyrm, a lone wolf is sometimes targeted for corruption or a budding hunter trying their luck against a Ronin before going after a pack. As such, Ronin will sometimes band together in groups called Shames, consisting of several Ronin. These groups act as mutual protection, support, and help seeking redemption. While this is laudable, there are two risks involved: that the Shame falls to the Wyrm and becomes corrupted, or the formation of a Ronin nation, with all the benefits of the Nation without the duty and sacrifice involved. This means that most Septs will have a "shoot on sight" policy regarding Shames.
Whatever the reason, Ronin will forever be mistrusted, but not quite given up. When a Ronin is created the tribe in question tends to keep a close eye on them by way of spirit, tattoo or other ways. This is done in the hope that they will one day attempt to redeem themselves to tribe and totem. Only very infrequently does a Ronin try to redeem themselves, and even less that actually succeed. But in those very rare occurrences that they do so they will create a legend worthy of song.
The Changing Breeds, AKA the Fera, are the various exotic types of Werecreature other than the Garou. Each of them were created with a specific role in mind by Gaia, and for the most part, they played these roles well. But the Garou then thought, with all the intellect that comes with their dog-brains "God, we are just SO much better at fighting, why do these other weirdos exist when WE can do it?". And so, the War of Rage began, and it completely fucking decimated the other breeds. Some managed to get out of this relatively unscathed, while some poor fuckers were literally driven extinct. It's because of this monumental arrogance, the breeds were in too short a number to help in the War against the Wyrm.
The Werehyenas that were, some say, meant to be the equivalent of the Garou in Africa, since the continent has no Wolves. They are always strongly divided between gender roles, with Males often being the Mystics whilst Females are the Warriors and breadwinners. They almost got wiped out recently, due to Black Tooth of the Simba werelions leading what was basically a holocaust against them.
Considered alien, terrifying, and plain unnatural by the majority of other Fera (and not without good reason), the Werespiders are Children of Ananasa, a powerful Weaver spirit. This only adds to how fucking horrifying they are; they're already an Arachnophobe's worst nightmare, they can turn into a swarm of little spiders or a fuck off-huge one, their first change basically removes their ability to feel empathy or real emotions, they drink blood like a vampire instead of having rage, it goes on. They are masters of making complex plans, tricking Garou during the War of Rage into chipping the prison Ananasa was trapped with and provoking them into attacking the other FERA as hard as they did. Instead of paying homage to Gaia, they assume the "true" aspects of the Triat, ie, the Wyrm-followers are more balancing than just straight up corruptive. Most Fera think they're extinct or so few are left they hardly matter, while in reality they're one of the most numerous breeds, they're just working from behind three to four degrees of separation (including from each other, as they often eat each other) for anyone to find out. They're also one of the few supernaturals who regularly (almost routinely) infiltrate vampire society without the leeches finding it out.
Not of the housecat variety, the Werecats are great sorcerers and Mystics who gather knowledge as Gaia's eyes. Split into tribes like the Garou, they actually have a pretty consolidated system of communication through clicks and meows. The Simba (the Werelions) are currently recovering their reputation form the tyrannical reign of Black Tooth, one of their own.
Do you want to play a sarcastic blabber mouth that literally never shuts the fuck up? Then oh boy, the Corax are for you. As Gaia's messengers, they are genetically programmed to pry at secrets and never stop talking, meaning that they often end up pissing off fellow Fera. They are associated with Helios instead of Luna, due to a little incident back in the day which charred all their feathers black.
Healers, Gaia's Original Protectors, and generally quite nice guys, the Werebears were made to be Gaia's healers, to ward away the taint of the Wyrm and keep everything generally in good health. Sadly, the Wolves decimated them quite badly in the War of Rage, and some have depressively gone into a deep slumber. They too are divided into tribes, mainly as different types of Bear.
In the far away lands of Asia, the Kitsune (or Werefoxes) are what holds the East Asian Beast Courts together. As master politicians and tricksters, it's their job from Luna to take care of those who would threaten the Heavenly Mandate.
The first of the Changing Breeds (aside from the Rokea, who appeared around the same time), the Werecrocodiles remember a lot of weird shit. They were around when Dinosaurs (and Lizard people) ruled the earth, they were there when the meteorite hit, they were there during the War of Rage, and they'll probably still be here after the Apocalypse. Their numbers, however, were horribly reduced during the War of Rage, meaning they can't just sit idly by much longer.
The breed that everybody thinks has gone extinct. But that's just what they want you to think, since they have the very important job of being Gaia's judges. The Weresnakes are the deadly assassins sent after targets by the Wani, which are spirits they revere. Some appear in the Beast Courts, though their existence is kept a secret from any outside them.
The Werecoyotes are Gaia's extremely dickish teachers, preferring to "teach" others through pranks and pissing literally everyone off. They also like to piss all over the Umbra, due to them having an affinity to the spirit world. They're so good at tricks, that their Crinos form doesn't induce as much delirium, due to people literally being unable to comprehend that they exist.
Free guesses as to what these guys turn into. The Wererats are, for lack of a better word, living population control, existing to spread chaos and pestilence to the humans so that they don't spread too rapidly. They've taken a break for a bit, and are currently concocting a plan to rise up from the sewers and rip apart the Weaver's web for the glory of the Wyld (or, Chaos). Sound familiar?
Dun-dun. Dun-dun. DUNANNA! Protectors and guardians of the Ocean, the Weresharks have been here from the very beginning. They even have their own localised version of the Triat; Kun, C'et, and Qyrl. Interestingly, they have never had a Homid member, and if they did, it would presumably either not go down very well, or go somewhat similar to Aquaman. They don't put up with shit from any other breed. You trespass? You dead. No buts about it.
The War of Rage, as previously mentioned, had absolutely decimated the Changing Breeds, but these fuckers were hit the hardest to the point where they don't even exist anymore. These are the poor saps known as the Lost Breeds, testament to how utterly retarded the Garou were at that time.
The midwives, healers, and generally nice people, the Wereaurochs (extinct relatives to bison) were a case of wanting to do what was right (via challenging the Garou and expecting them to not murderfuck them all), but tragically going wrong. A combination of complicitness, lack of aggression, and extinction of Kinfolk was what put these poor bastards off of this mortal coil.
DANANANANANANANA BATMAN! The Werebats were always a little shifty; like the Corax, they were Gaia's messengers, but instead of loudly blabbing and gossiping about it like the Ravens, they lurked in the shadows and quietly snitched to Gaia. Their association with darkness and bloody rituals lead to the Garou slaughtering them, driving Bat (who, like Raven, was key to creating more Camazotz) mad. This means that if someone somehow heals his madness, they have a shot at bringing the Camazotz back... If they realise it was a mistake killing them in the first place.
The Fera equivalent of the Grey Knights, the Wereboars were the ones that rolled up their sleeves, asked someone to hold their beer, and ran straight into the source of Wyrm-taint and legit ate it. Their strong constitution meant that they could digest it all easily, whilst the Gurahl, who they worked with closely, could heal the aftermath. However, they were suspected to be tainted by the Wyrm (even though they were designed to be the explicit opposite) and were subsequently genocided. Ironically, those that survived became the Skull Pigs, Wyrm-tainted monsters.
Pentex: Evil Incorporated
What do you get when you take large corporations as painted by hippies and cross it with cartoonish evil? What, the villains from Captain Planet? That's true, but in Werewolf this end result has a name, and the name is...
More of a holding company than a business in its own right, Pentex is everything wrong with modern businesses cranked up to 11. Of course, all of the megacorporations of our world have at least some skeletons in their closet, but Pentex takes it to the extreme. Its goal? Nothing less than the spiritual, moral and environmental degradation of the planet for the glory of the Wyrm, engineering a "controlled crash" scenario in which human civilization comes to an end, and Pentex alone survives to rule over the rubble. This is done in one of three ways: corrupting the world directly via pollution, selling Wyrm-tainted products to an unsuspecting public, or by subtly altering the minds of humanity via metaphorically poisonous messages. Most of the people working for Pentex don't know any of this, or even that they work for Pentex. They are regular people doing regular jobs (but depending on the writers Pentex leadership are varying levels of petty, exploitative assholes towards their employees), either unaware they are actively working to make the world a worse place or just too jaded and desperate to care.
Those elements of Pentex who are in the know are all corrupted sooner or later. If they aren't already part of the big happy Wyrm family like Banes or the Black Spiral Dancers, they can look forward to being turned into Fomori, horrific monsters warped by Banes into something more fitting to serve their master, and rather capable in their own right. Pentex is run by the secretive Board of Directors: six managing directors supported by five subdivision chiefs, all of whom directly worship the Wyrm and are beholden only to their master and their peers. Notably, the Director of Acquisitions and Information Collection is at odds with the Director of Human resources: the latter rather openly wants the former removed or dead, with the former being more covert with his plots to remove the latter. Then there's the likes of Harold Zettler: the Director of Special Projects. He has been a monster for almost four centuries now, has overseen the production of the most horrific Fomori and can keep them under control with his terrible powers. Zettler's appearance with his blue, icy skin, cold stare only interrupted when he remembers to blink, his unnerving way of talking and the rumors of him having been a cannibal, Nazi doctor, cult leader, serial killer and far more (and worse) lets him creep out even the most monstrous of his peers.
This is likely helped by the fact that Harold Zettler is a Malkavian Antitribu of the 5th generation, well-respected by the Sabbat and rumored to be the same person as the ancient Harold of Zettler, who alongside his cabal dove into the terrible secrets of Dark Thaumaturgy to aid their Salubri allies to stand against the onslaught of the Tremere and their blood magics. According to legend this ancient betrayed his cabal to the Wyrm in exchange for the secrets of the Path of the Tyranny of the Wyrm. A few of the ancient's writings remain to this night, tempting Kindred to Infernalism. If these rumors are true, Harold Zettler is likely a millennium-old Methuselah, one of the most powerful servants of the Wyrm and a Kindred that even the Baali would be wise to avoid. He holds immense respect with the Sabbat, even with his rather limited participation within the Jihad. He has been offered the title of Priscus, a title he's considering. It's within his madness to spread the taint of the Wyrm even more, but this would expose Pentex to the Sabbat and he's lucid enough not to do so on a whim. Nobody on the board knows of this, and Zettler's currently debating the issue with his only Childer, Persephone Tar-Anis, the Pentex Chief of Security. She further complicates the matter by being loyal to both Pentex and her Sire, but doesn't care at all about the Wyrm. On top of all this, Harold Zettler also has given council to a subordinate regarding the various tribes of the Garou.
Subsidiaries: the Many Faces of the Wyrm
The Wyrm possesses many subsidiaries, each corrupting the world in its own way. For every of these subsidiaries to be exposed, ruined or outright destroyed, Pentex has two ambitious new startups that it's soon going to integrate into its web to aid in the corporation's ultimate goal. A few of these subsidiaries are:
- Ardus Enterprises has their evil take the most basic and cartoonish form: dump toxic or radioactive waste wherever they can to infest as much land and as many people as possible without getting caught.
- Avalon Incorporated takes a more dated route: it's toys and TV that make children misbehave. Inserting Wyrm taint into the cheaply made toys designed to influence children and make them more pliable in the future. Products include the hideously violent Action Bill and the Danger Squad, a borderline R-rated G.I. Joe parody who is often pitted against shape-shifters to condition the public to despise them (gee, I wonder how Pentex profits off of that); the Cici line of dolls meant to convey unhealthy self-images to impressionable young girls, the Pocket Beasts collectibles which are the target of Pentex-backed skinners to drive up the prices of certain figures to make more people want them (which should be eerily familiar if you're into Amiibo and the likes), the Nuke 'Em board/card game meant to teach the inevitability of nuclear war to spread despair and many more. The problem with Avalon is that the Garou can't just destroy all their stuff and kill everyone who uses it: there's just too much and they'd be killing kids. Aside from guiding moral authorities and fanning the fires of moral outrage there's little that they can do to directly oppose Avalon.
- Black Dog Game Factory is White Wolf making fun of themselves and the industry of a whole. Black Dog is also the imprint used for White Wolf's more risqué (read: adult and-or mature themed) books so as to not tarnish their good name. The logos of the two companies are also identical. To illustrate the former point, in-universe the company claims their games are far cooler since, instead of "geek romps through Arthurian landscapes" or "nerdy interstellar politics", they deal with REAL issues in the Real World™, despite most of their plots and characters being shamlessly cribbed from the in-universe equivalents of Terry Brooks novels and Star Trek. They even go so far as to resort to Satanic Panic-esque propoganda, as shown on the right.
- Endron Oil forms the heart of Pentex and is the most overtly destructive of all the subsidiaries. Remember that South Park episode where an accidental oil spill summons Great Cthulhu? Not only is that Endron's goal, they've made sure that the oil will spill. Valuing profit over safety, a large number of oil spills, humanitarian disasters and even the appointment and fall of despots can all be lead back to Endron if you know where to look. As it turns out, people don't really care about how workers are treated in some far-off African nation as long as oil prices stay down, and workers are willing to overlook a thing or two if it means the plant remains operational. On top of being the world's largest oil company Endron is a large player in the alternative energy industry, with geothermal energy being a favorite (because it requires highly polluting energy plants to harness this power) and (expensive and faulty) electrical cars coming into focus as well.
- Incognito is the Pentex Internet Defense Force combined with an anarchist hacking group. It's pretty obvious who they are based on, Guy Fawkes mask and all, and between doxing sexual predators and providing sauce they attack anyone they like, including other Pentex subsidiaries. Certain elements within Pentex don't agree with this, but the ensuing chaos and the impotent rage of Incognito does more than enough to feed the Wyrm.
- King Distilleries is a collection of breweries, distilleries, moonshine stills and other booze manufacturers that make alcoholic beverages. From cheap beer to a variety of wines and a whole bunch of hard liquors, King makes it all. Owned by the King family, its former patriarch Dexter King was a stern but upstanding and fair man who ended up in a hospital and died of a lung disease. This was convenient for his son Jeremy King who not only sold the company to Pentex but also signed on for the whole Wyrm business. Overall King's plan to serve the Wyrm is simple: sell beer that's just a bit stronger than anyone else's, put in just a bit of Wyrm taint and let the ensuing rampant alcoholism do the rest. Because of this simple strategy paired with a clever marketing scheme and only the most basic of additional Wyrm-based enhancements has King rolling in money. Massive sums of that money goes into lobbying and bribes, they also publicly perform alcohol awareness campaigns and back AA groups to improve PR. But when push comes to shove King employs its massive cash reserves to fun an army of lawyers, headed by Dexter's slavishly loyal younger brother Louis, to beat the fight out of their opponents with settlements and appeals until even the most hardened attorney backs down.
- Magadon Pharmaceuticals run the gamut of medical sciences. From vaccines to dermatology, vitamin pills and psychological treatment to even planned parenthood and veterinary care: Magadon does it all. While most of the people here truly want to make the world a better place, it's very easy for the servants of the Wyrm to mess with the things they make to have either minimal effect or even the opposite: downers become uppers, anesthetics tend to fail, antibiotics have something else in them, psychiatric therapy leaving people prone to possession and so on. This has the useful side effect of funneling already-skeptical humans down the dark roads of germ-theory denialism, alternative medicine, essential oils, and other such mommy-forum guff, undermining public faith in true medicine as a whole and letting other subsidiaries peddle their shady snake-oil. They are also very useful for the other subsidiaries: Magadon is the market leader for Bane-in-a-Bottle that makes the lives of their fellow Wyrm-worshippers so much easier.
- O'Tolley's is what animal rights groups will tell you what McDonald's is. Sure they might appear healthy and eco-friendly these days, but their farms and slaughterhouses are places of death and disease, with animals and workers alike being sickly, tortured and covered in filth. The minimum-wage workers meanwhile are suffering because of the low pay and soul-crushing despair that comes with being a burger flipper. And the meals themselves... well, take Supersize Me and make it the norm. That's what O'Tolley's is like.
- Sunburst Computers combines everything wrong with Microsoft, IBM and Apple rolled into one. One of the world's leading manufacturers of computer hardware and software, Sunburst's profits shot up dramatically in the last decade by selling not only cheaply made computers to users all around the world, the smartphone and tablet business boomed and Sunburst boomed with it. Of course because this is Pentex Sunburst's computers crash all the time with all customer support being outsourced, their cheap SunPads having the nasty tendency to leak private information like browser history to people who really shouldn't see it and their Solaris phones being very expensive, built to exact specifications and are made under appalling conditions. The Glass Walkers are best suited to combat them, and they often have to resort to MAGICAL WEREWOLF HACKING to enter their phones and PUNCH OUT THE MALWARE.
- Tellus Enterprises is everything wrong with the video games industry combined with poking fun at CCP Games, the current owners of White Wolf. Their games include the highly addictive Biological Warfare series (whose latest installment made $1 billion in under two weeks), the popular space MMO Eden Online (no points for guessing that one), The Clones and its spinoff Clones Online: both of which relying heavily on microtransactions to make a profit. All their games are designed to be highly addictive, have subtle anti-environmental messages, allow players to act like utter jackasses to one another or any combination of the above.
- The RED Network consists of conservative and other far-right/left talk shows and other programs that feed hatred, distrust and ideological zealotry while at the same time shilling the various subsidiaries of Pentex.
End of the World as We Know It, Or, the Titular Apocalypse in Action
Like Vampire, Werewolf came to a definitive end in the Time of Judgement books. And, like Vampire, it did so in the Storyteller's choice of many different scenarios. However, while Gehenna features a number of different playstyles, from wholesome redemption therapy to planet-wrecking, Masquerade-smashing Antediluvian throwdown, most of Apocalypse is at least fairly combat-heavy, though they remain reasonably distinct from one another in actual plot and themes.
Some of them do have a few problems with making the characters a big part of the story, but there are frequent sidebars throughout the book to show that it was at least a concern on the writers' minds.
The Last Battleground
All the Wyrm's plots in the physical world were actually attempts to weaken the guardians of the spirit realm by spawning banes and/or to mislead the progressively-minded tribes into trying to fight the disease rather than the symptoms by swatting and Pentex and its ilk. Now, things come full circle, as the stockpiled armies of evil spirits come home to roost, as the three components of the Triatic Wyrm, Beast-of-War, Defiler, and Eater-of-Souls each seek a sacrifice, a monster in body and soul, that embodied the bit of the Triatic Wyrm they were being sacrificed to. Eater-of-Souls already feasted on the dead Antediluvian who rose in the Week of Nightmares, since it was a vampire that ate other vampires that ate human beings, and also Pentex was involved in the missile strike that killed it, meaning the most HFY moment in the World of Darkness could potentially prove to actually be a plot in another gameline. From there, the other bits of the Wyrm unleash the primordial super-banes known as Midnight Shadows, hideous centipede-slug-children armed with razor-shadow tentacles and super-hunting powers, to kill all the Nushiwa before they can warn the other shapeshifters, then fashioning their corpses into a powerful artifact in the Umbra, and set about sacrificing infamous dominatrix murder-rape machine Zhyzhak of the Black Spiral Dancers (via letting Jonas Albrecht shrug off his crushed skull long enough to literally drown her in the blood of her victims) and the infamous Perfect Metis, who in this scenario is a super-evil monster by the end, as she's an innocent child found by the Black Spiral Dancers and horrifically corrupted into the worst monster imaginable before being killed. This gives Beast-of-War and Defiler, respectively, similar anchors.
And, well, that's that. The Wyrm explodes into the Penumbra, planning to destroy Gaia at the head of a seemingly-limitless army of banes let by the Black Spiral Dancers, and with a brand-new boss monster called the Nightmaster whipped up to make up for the previous boss monster getting killed, throwing the physical universe into chaos without actually, you know, having kaiju walk the streets. The head of the Shadow Lords takes over as warchief over all the Garou, pausing only to quietly assassinate the head of the Fianna before his wacky fae-loving Irish ass could ruin everything, and the tribes gear up for an epic final battle across the Umbra, as they try to snap the Wyrm's tethers before it can destroy Gaia outright. In the process, millions of spirits die, turning forests into dead wood, bodies of water into stagnant, unlivable stillness, and air into screaming windstorms full of dust and poison across the physical world... but not all. And the world is less fucked than in a lot of other scenarios.
Now, this doesn't sound like there's a lot of room for the players to get involved, but the book insists that, damn it, they're supposed to be. They're there with Jonas Albrecht and the other named characters during the final battle with Zhyzhik, and hell, if one's a Silver Fang, they might even get the Silver Crown from him as he dies. They try, probably fruitlessly, to save the Perfect Metis in a hopefully-touching character study, and hell, they might even succeed, forcing the Defiler to instead sacrifice all of Pentex. They help or hinder the head of the Shadow Lords as he unites the forces of Gaia to stand against the Wyrm, maybe even taking the job themselves, and they explore whichever of the Spirit Realms they care about for allies, powers, and other stuff to help the war effort, without which the battle is almost certainly lost. The Nightmaster explicitly exists so that they can have a personal nemesis for this finale, and whichever other personal nemeses they have are supposed to get in there too. And, if they fuck up hard enough, they're given the chance to go out in a blaze of glory despite knowing their position to be literally hopeless. Yeah, it's not perfect and relies on a lot of storyteller fiat, but at least its heart is in the right place.
A Tribe Falls
...Yeah, title says it all, huh?
In this scenario, one of the tribes who hasn't already falls to the Wyrm (or, potentially, the Weaver, if you go by the sidebar), and the Apocalypse involves the Garou fighting some of their own number as the worst impulses of whichever tribe proves the true final boss. Obviously, this has like a million variations, assuming you go off the examples in the book rather than the very-exhaustive notes to cook up your own scenario, so Cliff Notes:
- The Black Furies become the Widows after the Metamorphic Plague that's been ravaging them since the second edition started drives the tribe's leadership to privately decide that, well, since the Wyld is killing them and the Weaver is anathema to their Earth Mother shtick, they've gotta betray everything they hold dear and sell out to the only male cosmic force in the universe to save themselves: the Wyrm. They try to only treat with the ancient remainders of the Wyrm of Balance, but inevitably they are tricked and led down the path of corruption. From there, they either end up trying to destroy all complex infrastructure and civilization to wound the Weaver or, for kicks and giggles, reverting to their 1e characterization and going on a quest to kill or castrate anything with balls for the moon goddess.
- The Bone Gnawers have been slowly falling to the Wyrm for years, as it feeds on the resentment of their rabble and taints many, before they murder Mother Larissa and purge the loyalists and reveal themselves as the Plague Rats. During the Super Bowl, for shame. From there, they subvert both vampires and Glass Walkers to seize modern weapons and armor, even willingly abusing the balance system to create Abominations, then unleash an horrific bio/spirit-engineered disease that decimates mankind, as the other tribes and their own survivors try to unite against attempts to scatter them so that they can pin them down and destroy them.
- Lured into a false sense of security by the false Bunyip they failed to clone, the Children of Gaia try really hard to heal the injured Wyrm and bring the universe into balance in an epic ritual involving most of their tribe... then, as the rule book puts it, someone botches a roll (maybe intentionally), and the Eater-of-Souls appears in the physical world. Whelp. Knowing that the other Garou will never buy that it was all a horrific accident, or maybe even care, a plurality becomes the Reavers and throws in their lot with the Wyrm to survive. As a miasmic fog that causes despair and an inability to metabolize anything but human flesh spreads across North America, the other two parts of the Triatic Wyrm launch assaults in Asia and the Middle East, with the Reavers able to prevent Delirium and spread terror in the populace on all fronts. Then, the Reavers, demonstrating what crap villains the Children of Gaia make, come to their senses and sacrifice their whole tribe, Croatan style, to bind the Eater-of-Souls back in the Deep Umbra.
- The long-absent Fianna leader returns, fallen to the Wyrm, and unites with the critics of Changeling: The Dreaming within the tribe to take over in a coup that causes them to become the Black Stags. They try to sow dissent among the other Garou with their civil war, but fortunately, armies of sleeping warriors stockpiled for the Apocalypse awaken and assault the Wyrm-tainted ones, revealing their true nature. They quickly turn the British Isles into a storm of rapine and plunder, then attack the Uktena to try to awaken the ancient banes they're keeping asleep. Unfortunately, this scenario doesn't really have an ending beyond this.
- The Get of Fenris stop beating around the bush and fall to
Khornethe Wyrm in the most Get of Fenris way possible: upon discovering a massive series of underground tunnels leading to a Wyrm stronghold, the leader beats up anyone who tries to point out this is literally what happened to the White Howlers until pretty much the whole tribe charges in there and turns into the Pure. They wait juuuust long enough to get enough of their own into position around Cairns of peace and healing, before launching a massive ambush assault supported by hordes of Black Spiral Dancers and other Wyrm monsters against them. They launch a massive crusade across Europe, Hitler-style, killing Margrave Konietzko, before the other tribes manage to unite in a counter-crusade against them.
- The Glass Walkers fall because Pentex creates a mighty Corporate Father spirit, which purges the leadership, takes over the conglomerate, and initiates a hostile takeover of the most-modern Garou tribe in the most-corporate manner imaginable, with the majority of the tribe, including their totem, Cockroach, choosing survival over principle and becoming the Raiders. They go loud to kidnap the Perfect Metis, then force it to walk the Black Spiral, heralding the beginning of the end. It shows up, Zhyzhak impossibly pregnant with its child, and give a victory to their master, causing it to become a true dark god of the Umbra, turning all Pentex subsidiaries and employees into a hive mind and itself into a living avatar of the Wyrm. The Garou must carve it up piece by piece to strike at the incarnate master.
- The Red Talons, in breaking the Litany and eating human flesh, have infected themselves with a horrible wolf-lethal disease. They are immune. Their kinfolk are not. As the wolf population is quite-literally decimated, and thus leaving them with the impossible (in their eyes) choice of mating with humans to survive or going extinct, they blame humanity for their own mistakes and turn to the Wyrm en-masse for revenge, becoming the Predators. After sending emissaries to all the other tribes to say that they should just get out of the way and let them kill mankind down to about half-a-billion people or so, they set out to trigger a massive string of volcanic eruptions around the Ring of Fire that should destroy mankind, then go on to unleash Wyrm-spirits bloated with the orgy of destruction and death that results. And the scenario makes stopping them almost-impossible. God-damn is White Wolf ever kind to the eco-terrorist factions.
- The Shadow Lords fall when their totem, Grandfather Thunder, attempts an epic task Gaia has set before him to finally let him get a piece of that sweet Earth-mother ass again and make him a Celestine, and they narrowly fail him, letting their plots go to shit in the process. Incensed, he falls to the Wyrm and takes them with him, leading them to... not really bother changing their already-ominious name. He takes over the Black Spiral Dancers completely by killing old Whippoorwill, then plunges the planet into darkness in which vampires and banes crawl out like cockroaches. As he lashes out at Helios, who he sees as his rival for Gaia's love, the other Garou, who have been uniting in secret, have a chance to strike back when this briefly causes some sunlight to filter in.
- The Silent Striders think they've found a solution to dealing with two gamelines at once: siccing Grandmother on the Wyrm, then cleaning up the survivors. Unfortunately, well, they take the first step of falling to the Wyrm first, becoming the Hungry Ghosts and using their (comparatively) more lucid and organized minds to easily dominate the Black Spiral Dancers. As the Wyrm attacks the lands of the dead and the Grand Maw starts licking her chops, the other Garou declare war, and the Hungry Ghosts counterattack via the Cairn of the Great Wheel of Ptah. Sutekh also shows his ugly mug, and he may or may not be Grandmother. It ends in blood and mess.
- The Silver Fangs attempt to get their madness and inbred gene-degradation cleared by their patron spirit for just long enough to fight the end of the world. It ends up making them go off the other deep end, since he's tampering with Gaia's work, causing them to decide that Gaia's cause is hopeless and they must instead hasten the end as the Fiery Crown. After slaughtering the Black Spiral Dancers for being too crazy to work with, they attempt to summon a massive asteroid to destroy all life on Earth, while engaging in open war with the Shadow Lords. Hilariously, the book not only jokes about potentially introducing space-werewolves, but almost sarcastically notes that averting the asteroid strike and defeating the Fiery Crown leads to "peace and joy to all living things."
- The Uktena are corrupted when the various Maeljin Incarna of the Umbra set out to corrupt all Garou tribes, and all but Lady Aife waste their energy backstabbing each other. (Hilariously, two of them actually make zero effort to actually proactively corrupt their tribes and instead entirely focus on fucking over the others, meaning two of the tribes don't even have to worry about it.) However, while they fail utterly, they create such a mess that other tribes can't see what's going on as she taints their ancestor spirits while sapping the strength of the Bane Tenders with her Dream Makers, while enacting false-flag operations to turn the Wendigo and Uktena against one another. In the end, they give in, and become the Snakes, and the other tribes have barely pulled through the ineffectual but chaotic assault of her peers. From there, it's open supernatural war across the globe, with Lady Aife, of all the goddamn background characters, as the major ringleader and chessmaster of the bad guys. It is surprisingly awesome.
- The Wendigo take matters into their own hands after a violent shoot-out between armed Native American protesters and cops, and decide to take the entirely-reasonable step of taking over a ballistic missile submarine via various gifts and magics and trying to start World War III by nuking a bunch of cities off the map... before falling to the Wyrm. Then, the other tribes and the U.S. military attack them, and they become the Devourers as Eater-of-Souls takes revenge on the dead Croatan by corrupting Great Wendigo at his weakest moment. They unite with the Black Spiral Dancers and storm out of the north ahead of a seemingly-endless winter for the final battle, as the world teeters on the brink of nuclear Armageddon and total chaos.
It's not a bad scenario(s), really. It hammers home the idea that the Garou mindset isn't necessarily fixing the problems it rages against, and it has a lot of writing on how to handle, say, a PC being in the tribe that falls, even mentioning that the game might be taking place online. But, well... it's also pretty fractured, since it has to cover so many possible outcomes, including factoring in the Black Spiral Dancers' reaction to each outcome, not all of them are created equal (the Fianna one doesn't have a good ending scenario and contradicts itself, at once claiming that the Black Stags and the Black Spiral Dancers can't stand each other, and that they have more support from the Black Spirals than other tribes), and answering the question of how to factor in the players is mostly-confined to the opening rather than listed in each scenario.
Also, well... some tribes are better-suited to the role of villain than others. And some have in-house fans and haters. The Glass Walkers in particular get fucked over in terms of characterization, with even the much-loathed Red Talons getting a more-sympathetic treatment, and the Children of Gaia were always going to make crap villains.
In which the writers stop beating around the bush and just make modern life the final boss.
Yes, in this scenario, the Weaver steps onto the stage as the main villain, with her own never-before-mentioned megacorporation, Shinzui Industries, buying out or taking apart Pentex and preparing to conquer the world and crush all things beneath her oppressive conformity and rigid need for order and calcification. The Machine, the evil and mindless id of the Weaver, has become ascendant, and now everyone's fucked as it sets out to kill every single supernatural creature in the world or convert them into more Drones of the Weaver while the spirit world starts to get harder and harder to visit or influence as the Gauntlet increases everywhere, with the Weaver actively trying to invade each discrete part of the Umbra.
But, as the tattered remains of the Garou gather to assess the damage and figure out what to do next, the Black Spiral Dancers, of all the goddamn villains, show up having made a face turn, with the Perfect Metis at their head. In this scenario, the Perfect Metis is nothing less than the savior of the world, the incarnation of the true Balance Wyrm, and he's got a plan. The Weaver's overreached, he says, and they have one last opportunity to fix all creation by first weakening her with a strikes in the physical world, then launching a suicidal all-out assault on Malfeas to pour their power into the Wyrm and give it a chance to shatter the Weaver's web and fix things for good.
In an epic show of unity, assuming the players are up to it, all the various shapeshifters of the world pool their talents and weaken the Weaver just enough with a mixture of surgical strikes, sabotage, turning other supernaturals onto Shinzui, and just starting some good-ol'-fashioned chaos. Mokole turn into kaiju and rampage across the world, bastets and corax rile people up into riots against the new world order, ratkin and Red Talons bury the hatchet to slaughter tons of humans with plagues and bioterrorism (...yeah), and hell, even the poor gurahl are seen as prime allies in the coming strike on Malfeas. Ananasa tries to make her move to take her mother's place as the new Weaver, and tries to get the party to help her, which is... debatably a good move.
But, in the end, the strike comes, with all the changing breeds charging into the hellish spirit world. Since the Balance Wyrm's freedom would cause them to cease to exist, all the Triat Wyrm and their servants fight to stop them. Fortunately, between the Weaver invading them like every other spirit world, the Anansi undermining them to in the name of her own power grab, and the inevitable problem of the Wyrm factions all backstabbing each other raw, this is not quite the impossible obstacle it seems. Once they get where they need to be, the Garou need to start a massive ritual to free the Wyrm, which requires one thousand successes to go off, must be led by a rank 5 theurge making a Difficulty 10 Wits + Rituals extended test, and then needs to be fed five thousand permanent gnosis points. And instead inflicts aggravated wounds if it's not being fed enough. The book sarcastically notes that, yes, you're reading those numbers right, and that if it were easy to do people'd have already done it. (It goes on to clarify that the requirements, while daunting, aren't unmanageable so long as you're under no illusions about getting out of there alive, and it's much easier if you managed to befriend some were-bears and bring them along.)
If everything goes tits-up, the ritual fails or doesn't get attempted in the first place, then the Weaver goes on to either fuck up so hard that the spirit world and the real world get too cut off and everything in both dies, or manages to keep the doorway just open enough to turn both into nightmarish, soulless dystopias devoid of feeling. However, if you do manage to pull it off, then while everyone's definitely going to die, the Wyrm shatters its prison, tears apart the Pattern Web, and restores the world as it should have been... which unfortunately turns every building and tool in the world into dust, but humanity survives, and will probably build a better future guided by the spirits of the changing breeds. Close on an image of the Wyrm and the Weaver, now healed from her madness, deciding to just settle down and watch. And maybe, it's implied, make a little love. (No, seriously, the fact that the two of them kind of want to fuck each other and always have has been a background element since forever.)
Of all the endings in this book, this one's probably the most popular. It has its problems: even the book acknowledges that Shinzui kind of comes out of nowhere and should show up in some adventures leading up to the End Times so it doesn't feel forced. It focuses a lot on the what of what's happening rather than on what, exactly, the party should be doing, aside from a few clever ideas here and there and inserting them into scenes from the worldwide war on the Weaver. And, well... it's not as depressing as some later endings, and the writing tries to be more-optimistic and less anti-humanist than a lot of other Werewolf stuff, but it still ends with life sucking for most of humanity, man. Plus, the Black Spiral Dancers making a face turn is a bit much. The Balance Wyrm should probably have just abandoned them to the corrupt forces of the Urge Wyrms, the way the denizens of Malfeas are later.
But, well... it's also an ending that actually addresses the core problems of the Werewolf cosmology, and it ends with the idea that the Gaia tribes of all stripes can and should always have put aside their differences to work together for the greater good, and on the idea that personal sacrifice to build a better future is more-important than petty grudges or spiteful raging against past wrongs. And the ending is actually pretty beautifully written, in its own way.
Rorg, the Celestine of the asteroid belt formerly known as Torog, concocts a plan with the utterly-flawless logic of a being whose brains have been dashed across a huge swathe of space: if Gaia's an uninhabitable wasteland, then maybe the Wyrm will stop hurting her! So, he flings a massive civilization-ending rock at the Earth.
From there, wacky things happen. The players can try to avert the strike, by clearing the dangerous spirits off the asteroid so it can be busted with astronaut-planted nukes, but unless the Storyteller isn't actually doing an Apocalypse game, they either fail or don't succeed hard enough. The asteroid either cracks the moon or just rains unearthly, potentially-radioactive matter across the globe, turning the whole place into a dystopian, post-civilization shithole. As the Garou and other shapeshifters scramble to save whatever they can from the ruins, and while many fall into Harano or, worse, to the Wyrm, the mass death of most of the Earth's population tears open a portal into the spirit world, and the Horde of the Wyrm appears physically upon the Earth to take ownership of all that remains; all the Princes of Malfeas marching beside the Wyrm with all the Fallen Tribes and banes under their banner, with the bulk of their ranks filled with the evil among the human race, because the real monster is man, yadda yadda.
The Mokole reveal that all of this has been before and all of this will be again: that this "Wonderwork" is the death of an old world fueling the birth of a new one. If you have been paying attention, you just realized the FUCKING DINOSAURS were a canon civilization of... weredinosaurs hundreds of millions of years ago, named Dragon Kings. Somebody better make a World of Dinosaurs book somewhere. Oh wait, the setting is dead...
The Black Furies sacrifice themselves en-masse to blind the Horde, breaking down its ability to command and control, and all the remaining Gaian factions join together with what little remains of the governments and noble among mankind who have not knelt before the Wyrm into the Gaian Hosts. Together, a massive, epic battle is fought across the entire dying world to see what will be made after the dust finally settles.
If the Wyld wins, then all civilization dies out forever, and the mutilated earth returns to nature as a weakened Gaia slowly heals. The Weaver's ending is the Good Weaver Ending, unlike the gloomy results of the Weaver Ascendant; a world where Gaia is dead and magic and the supernatural are gone forever, but humanity survives and will build a better world not unlike our own. The Wyrm ending is a nightmare of pants-shitting grimdark, where the dark masters of the world torture its diseased corpse forever in an orgy of rape and violence, hate and filth, with the few remaining humans either Mordor-like slaves or forced to work for "wages" of food by some Pentex-successor in exchange for horrible acts. And, well, the "secret ending" leads into something more like Exalted, or some other post-apocalyptic science-fiction where mankind rebuilds in a "scrapiron age" of heroic fantasy, where the Garou now carry on as they always have, only in something out of Thundarr the Barbarian or Mad Max.
Now, edition shifts in general catch a lot of flak, and the NWoD is notorious for the amount it initially took, but WtA fans are particularly belligerent about the creation of Forsaken. Why? In general, two reasons.
Firstly, the fluff. WtF abandoned the bloody-handed green-party morals of its predecessor, changing the fluff from "you are avenging angels of the tormented, dying spirit of the Earth" to "you are the bastard children of the mad goddess of the moon, working to atone for divine patricide by serving as the Border Patrol between Earth and Animistic Hell while at the same time dealing with your racist relatives. Werewolf for the Millennial generation." Whether the new idea was good is immaterial, because it was so very different from what came before.
Secondly, the crunch - Uratha are/were (See below) a lot weaker than Garou. Partially this is due to the difference between editions, which nerfed all supernaturals in comparison to how they dominated humans before. However, whereas Garou started out as the meanest bitches on the block in the OWoD (assuming a vampire didn't get them or a mage didn't get the first shot in, because mages will pretty much pub-stomp any other super if they do... etc), and even if they fell off later there were well-documented stories of lucky Garou downing whole coteries of young Kindred singlehanded, as depicted by the invincible boss in Bloodlines, Uratha are... well, not. They're deadly pack-hunters, but one on one, they're not the nastiest supernatural splats. Mummies and Prometheans are better at tanking damage than Forsaken are, just for starters.
That said, they did get a major upgrade in combat beefiness in Forsaken 2e (they now only take Aggravated damage from damage roll-over, silver, and supernatural attacks), but still, that initial presentation soured a lot of Apocalypse fans. Whereas in OWoD a Werewolf lived up to the legendary hype of "you have to shoot it with a silver bullet", in NWoD you could actually just bludgeon it to death with a baseball bat, if you kept at it with determination and had some way to avoid dying horribly trying.
Another reason was that they could only maintain the combat form for a short period of time in nWOD where this was just part of what you were in WoD. Seems like a bad thing, but it fits the more personal scale of NWOD and makes it far easier to actually challenge players. And then the second edition made them regenerate all non-agg damage instantly.
On the other hand, a lot of people who weren't already ride-or-die for Apocalypse actually prefer Forsaken by a wide margin, generally people that were/are into any other WoD/CoD line, because of the aforementioned fluff change. WtA has the exact same core problem as Mage: The Ascension, in that by default it has your player character fighting against everything vaguely associated with modern civilization with the goal of bringing back something unspeakably worse for the majority of humanity, except it has this problem scaled up to eleven... million. CoD/nWoD addressed this issue in basically all of its lines, but while it was pretty easy to do this with Ascension (which was itself dialing back on the rabid anti-modernism in later editions anyway), it was baked too deeply into everything about the Garou.
Werewolf: the Apocalypse has recently seen a revival of sorts, with Onyx Path publishing taking up the task of printing "Werewolf: 20th Anniversary Edition" or "W20," a re-revised edition of Werewolf that ties a lot of the otherwise spread-out information of the earlier editions into one core book. While it does have its supplements, it is far more capable of standing alone than the previous editions. Much of the contradictory nature has been removed from the rules, and minor changes have been made to the mechanics of the game for enhanced game-play. Plus, most of the worst problems of story and setting from old editions have been slowly and systemically excised as new books for it came out. Perhaps paradoxically, if one wants to get into Apocalypse, now might actually be a better time. Unfortunately the good people at Onyx Path did not understand the nature of the White Wolf combat system, and have unintentionally buffed several of the more obscure powers, such that they are now overwhelmingly broken. Take for example the rank two gift Beastmind, a truly potent attack that can, on a line of sight effect that has no costs, no gestures, and no indication it is being used, reduce the subject to "the mental faculties of a beast", in previous editions only lasted for a few seconds. In the new 20th edition rules, it can now last for several minutes per application, allowing a Garou with that, Jam Technology (for the cameras) and a halfway decent plan to rob a bank by walking in wearing a hoodie and using those two gifts from the corner, then carrying out the cash in a duffle bag. To say nothing of the terrifying power a rank 2 Garou could exert by using such abilities in combat application.
In addition, there has also been work done on a new version of the Apocalypse LARP (Formerly "Apocalypse" by Mind's Eye Theater, under the title "Laws of the Wild") This new version is being made by By Night Studios and Onyx Path Publishing publishing with consent from White Wolf, and in LARP "lingo" is usually referred to as "BNS Werewolf." Early play-testing has shown a dramatic shift away from the original stories of the Garou to a semi post-apocalyptic setting wherein many of the Tribes are far different from their original incarnations. ((Source: BNS Werewolf Alpha Slice: Bone Gnawers and Get of Fenris play test.))
In addition to a departure from the original stories, the world (so far) has seen a huge revision in the mechanics, such as an entire restructure of the Gift system (including all new gifts, and the removal of the formerly known ones,) and the Rage system (which as currently proposed, Rage no longer gives Garou the risk of going berserk from anything but direct, extended, unchecked combat... though they have options to take actions or use gifts to reduce their "current" rage, which is now based on a "sliding scale" rather than a permanent number granted to a Garou by their Auspice.) BNS Werewolf has found mixed reviews thus far, but it is expected it will find success, following in the trend set by White Wolf's earlier attempt at a conversion, BNS Masquerade.