Werewolf: The Forsaken
|Werewolf: The Forsaken|
|RPG published by
White Wolf / Onyx Path
|Rule System||Storytelling System|
|Authors||Justin Achilli et al|
- 1 Backstory
- 2 Werewolves and You
- 3 The Many Enemies of the Uratha
- 4 Other Shifters
- 5 2nd Edition
In the ancient past, the worlds of Flesh and Spirit were one, creating a world/time called Pangaea. In this time, the mighty wolf-spirit Father Wolf kept the peace between humans and spirits, destroying either of those that got out of line. The moon-spirit, Mother Luna, became enamored with Father Wolf's strength and took a human form to lay with him, giving birth to the first werewolves, who helped their father in his quest. These beings were special in that they were neither spirit nor flesh, but somewhere in between.
But as Father Wolf battled terrible demon-gods, his strength began to wane, and the world began to sicken, for he could no longer do his duty. Following their lupine instincts, some of these first werewolves rose up to challenge their father to step down as leader of the pack. Though he was unable to stand down by his nature, his spirit ban forbade him from attempting to defend against a killing blow made by one who could succeed him. Thus, the first generation of werewolves were forced to slay Father Wolf. His death howl tore Pangaea apart, raising the Gauntlet that formed a barrier between the worlds of Flesh and Spirit. The grieving Mother Luna cursed her patricidal children with weakness to her sacred metal, silver, and charged them to take up their father's mantle as guardians of the boundary between flesh and spirit. This oath has been upheld by the Forsaken ever since.
Werewolves and You
In contrast to their predecessor in the Old World of Darkness, all werewolves are the result of werewolf on human sex or werewolf on werewolf sex; in 1e werewolves mating together was a Harmony-shattering event that can spawn evil, werewolf-hating demons called Unihar, but this has since been retconned. Werewolves don't mate with wolves (but, if they must, all that happens is a litter of normal wolf pups - you sicko!); while one of the books does refer to one wolfborn werewolf of the Pure, he is specifically referred to as being the only known exception to the rule.
As beings possessed of dual natures -wolf and man, as well as spirit and mortal- their morality replacement is Harmony, which represents how well they can strike a balance between the two aspects of their existence. This is expanded upon in 2.0, where in place of a ladder of sins your harmony is more like a spectrum from 0-10; at low harmony you're much more connected to your spirit-aspect, and can more easily leave the Flesh for the Spirit, change more easily, but under stressful situations you might shift involuntarily and will have trouble leaving the Shadow. You'll also pick up spirit bans and start acting weird(er). At high harmony you're much more connected to your flesh-aspect, and can more easily leave the Spirit for the Flesh. It's harder to shift forms or enter the Shadow, but you don't wig out under stress and turn into a wolf. In either case, however, you'll be more susceptible to Kuruth and will be handicapped should you need to work in the realm you aren't attuned to- hence the need for balance. At the highest extremes of 0 and 10 you'll be completely unable to leave or enter the Shadow, respectively.
Most human/werewolf matings produce wolfblooded, which are basically the game's equivalent to kinsfolk; in 1e they're more resistant to Lunacy and that's about it, but 2e makes them immune to it and gives them a minor supernatural ability based on the Uratha's powers at the expense of a feature marking them as not quite human.
Werewolves have five forms; human, wolf, near-human, near-wolf and "war-form" (Gaur
ou, a humanoid wolf mixed with a walking murder-machine that is very good at fighting but is prone to going into Death Rage and trying to kill everyone around it if used for anything other than that). There's also a high-level power called Primal Form, which adds a "dire wolf" form that is... well, picture a wolf big enough to eat a human in one bite, and you got the idea.
Werewolves are protected by Lunacy, a form of Luna's favor which drives humans who see a werewolf in any of its intermediate forms (i.e. not fully human or fully wolf) mad with fear and blurs their memories if they survive the encounter. It also has the potential to open them up to spirit possession as of 2.0.
The Forsaken each have an Auspice, a blessing of Luna dependent on which phase of the moon they underwent the First Change in. This acts as their "racial" splat, and determines one of their initial Renown points, their choice of Auspice skills, their starting Gifts, and their innate racial ability. The Pure reject all of Luna's blessings, and so they don't gain benefits from Auspices.
- Lunar phase: New Moon
- Gifts: New Moon, Stealth, Evasion
- Skills: Larceny, Stealth, Subterfuge
- Renown: Cunning
Unlike their oWoD counterparts, the Irraka have a well-defined role. Specifically, they serve as trackers, scouts, and silent hunters whose prey never knows that they're being hunted until it's too late for them. Other Uratha can be a bit unnerved by them due to their habit of observing others (including their packmates) to determine the ideal ways to murder them, and they have a bit of an undeserved reputation as lone wolves since they're best at what they do when on their own.
An innate connection to the new moon's uncertainty allows Irraka to get much closer to their quarry than they might seem to be, both literally and metaphorically. In practice, this translates to an initiative boost, a few less Doors in Social Maneuvering, or a surprise attack against an unwary opponent.
- Lunar phase: Crescent Moon
- Gifts: Crescent Moon, Elemental, Shaping
- Skills: Animal Ken, Medicine, Occult
- Renown: Wisdom
The Uratha are half-spirit, and this is especially clear in the case of the Ithaeur. Whether it takes the form of negotiations, fetish-crafting, or flat-out combat, the Ithaeur are the auspice that specializes in interacting with the denizens of the Shadow. But they do tend to be a little bit crazy. Being around spirits as long as they do has some rather unusual effects on their behavior, and some of them are far more comfortable with spirits than they are with humans or even other werewolves. Still, they're highly effective in their role as shamans and spirit masters.
The Ithaeur's howl resonates through the Shadow, causing lesser spirits to fall dormant or retreat before the werewolf's passing. Even stronger spirits feel compelled to allow the Ithaeur to pass by peacefully, which can be a valuable asset when pursued by some of the nastier murder-spirits or pain-spirits.
- Lunar phase: Half Moon
- Gifts: Half Moon, Insight, Warding
- Skills: Empathy, Investigation, Politics
- Renown: Honor
Counselors, mediators, and negotiators, the Elodoth try to see both sides of every story and are trusted as expert judges on account of their reputation for fairness. Against their prey on the other hand the Elodoth will use every one of his contacts to make the prey's life a living hell long before the werewolf himself shows up. Some might consider this sociopathic, and there are a few Elodoth who find that they're better as manipulators than they are as arbitrators.
The connection to the fine line between light and dark Elodoth possess allows them to relieve other werewolves of Death Rage. It also allows them to induce Death Rage as well, and while this may sound like an extremely bad idea it can be surprisingly useful in the right circumstances.
- Lunar Phase: Gibbous Moon
- Gifts: Gibbous Moon, Inspiration, Knowledge
- Skills: Crafts, Expression, Persuasion
- Renown: Glory
Part loremaster, part prophet, and part warleader, the Cahaliths are visionaries who both rally their kin in battle and keep track of their legends and exploits. But the Cahalith's own story has to be a memorable one as well, and as such they give up subtlety in exchange for just scaring their prey shitless before going in for the kill. Or not necessarily killing them, at that matter- after all, what good is a story if nobody is able to tell it?
Cahaliths are prone to receiving prophetic dreams in their sleep- a part of their blessing from Luna, some say. While these dreams are often cryptic and difficult to figure out, the events they portray always seem to come true for better or for worse.
- Lunar Phase: Full Moon
- Gifts: Full Moon, Dominance, Strength
- Skills: Brawl, Intimidation, Survival
- Renown: Purity
Though they're warriors first and foremost, the Rahu shouldn't be written off as dumb brutes. The werewolves that change under the full moon are often expert tacticians and leaders as well, and their inclination towards Purity means they also can act as the moral center of the pack- at least as far as the Oath of the Moon is concerned. However, they do tend to be stubborn and at times they need to learn that they don't always have to be in charge.
The Rahu's sheer stubbornness lets them fight on through even the most grievous of injuries as if they weren't even there. In crunch terms, they can ignore the effects of negative Conditions or Tilts affecting them for up to two turns in combat. It's not long, but it can be just enough to make the difference.
The allegiance splat for Werewolves is the Tribe, a sort of extended spiritual family/club you become a part of after being initiated. There are five (known) Forsaken tribes, which owe their allegiance to Luna and take the Oath of the Moon, and three (known) Pure tribes which owe their allegiance more directly to their Tribal Totems or an ideal of Father Wolf - it varies between region. Each Tribe is bound to a Firstborn, which depending on your interpretation are spirit children of Father Wolf, primordial Werewolves, or unique beings - their origins are contradictory and vary between regions. Each of these Firstborn has chosen a Sacred Prey that its tribal members are ordered to focus The Hunt on. They also have a tribal oath that can be kind of convoluted despite its seemingly straightforward wording.
- Totem: Fenris-Ur (Destroyer Wolf)
- Sacred Prey: Other Werewolves
- Oath: Offer no surrender that you would not accept. (In other words, don't give someone terms of surrender that you wouldn't take in their situation. This is complicated by the fact that most Blood Talons don't like the idea of surrendering at all, and thus will offer no surrender themselves.)
If the name didn't give it away, the Blood Talons are the meathead all-war violent soldiers of the Forsaken. On the more bloodthirsty end of Forsaken ideology, these guys tend toward pursuing the Hunt as some form of warlike activity. Their initiations tend to be hyper-violent, bloody affairs, they like the color red...generally speaking the more Metal of the tribes. They hunt other Werewolves as their Sacred Prey (most often the Pure, but sometimes other Forsaken that are thought to have violated the Oath of the Moon- this second part does not endear them to the other Tribes) and on the Hunt they can see another werewolf's Renown to determine how powerful they are and which faction they're a member of.
Their Totem, Fenris-Ur, was renowned for the extreme violence he displayed in bringing down his prey.
- Totem: Kamduis-Ur (Death Wolf)
- Sacred Prey: Spirits (possibly other denizens of Twilight)
- Oath: Pay each spirit in kind. (An eye for an eye, etc.)
Bone Shadows are the necromancers of Werewolf society, in addition to fulfilling a role of mystic, secret-gatherer, wanderer, and everything else involving interaction with spirits. This tribe values the gathering of secrets, Shadow Lores, bans and banes that are hard to discover (weaknesses of spirits who are otherwise quite stolid), crazy rituals of power...you get the idea. This tribe hunts spirits that are being troublesome or ghosts that won't fuck off to the hereafter, and on the Hunt they can strike incorporeals with their natural weapons.
Their Totem, Kamduis-Ur, was known for chasing metaphysical impossibilities and posing mind-bending questions to her children.
Hunters in Darkness
- Totem: Hikaon-Ur (Black Wolf)
- Sacred Prey: Hosts (See "The Many Enemies of the Uratha)
- Oath: Let no sacred place in your territory be violated. (This is subjectively interpreted, but in general you should try to keep out of their territory if you haven't been specifically invited.)
This tribe seems to have a thing for fear. In 1.0 they represented the more wolf/rural leaning Uratha, in 2.0 they still have a bit of a rustic thing going on but their focus has been shifted more toward the archetypes of fear, darkness, and paranoia to dissuade their victims and make them pee themselves. Their Sacred Prey as Hosts, the fragmented remains of the ancient spirits that Father Wolf fought against. Rather than detail an entire foe unique to Werewolf the Forsaken here, suffice to say on the Hunt this tribe can sense where they've either eroded or over-reinforced the wall between the Flesh and Spirit worlds. Their Totem, Hikaon-Ur, was even more obsessed with hunting than her siblings, giving her a certain purity of purpose that other Firstborn seemed to have lacked.
- Totem: Sagrim-Ur (Red Wolf)
- Sacred Prey: Humans (as well as Vampires and Mages when warranted)
- Oath: Honor your territory in all things (Similar to the Hunters in Darkness, but with a greater focus on making your territory a better place instead of blindly defending it.)
Associated primarily with Change and Adaptation rather than being the 'technological' or 'humie-focused' tribe, the Iron Masters nonetheless excel in screwing with technology and harnessing the changes that Humanity makes to the Spirit World. Consummate wolves among sheep, Iron Masters pare down the Herd when it threatens territories or spirit domains. Serial killers, slashers, dirty cops, and other Supernaturals closely associated with human society are their prey.
Their Totem, Sagrim-Ur, was always asking questions, never satisfied with the way things were, and welcomed the change that came with Father Wolf's death because to him Change is all that matters.
- Totem: Skolis-Ur (Winter Wolf)
- Sacred Prey: Claimed (humans/animals/werewolves possessed by spirits and mutated into fucked up hybrids)
- Oath: Let nobody witness or tend to your weakness. (Never let others see your resolve falter; as a leader, this would only demoralize those who follow you.)
The Alphas of Forsaken society, Storm Lords are flinty eyed commissars and merciless monsters. Forced to endure really trying ordeals involving lightning and snow and storms, their Totem's primary fetish, these wolves lead by example of being noble badasses and excelling as paragons in their roles (think Emperor's Children minus Slaanesh). The Sacred Prey of the tribe would be Claimed, horrific fusions of spirit and flesh which occurs when a spirit decides to possess a body and melds with it, gaining dangerous new powers in the process. Although not very often explored in other games, Claimed are a serious threat due to their ability to warp the Shadow in a way that suits the spirit and its meat-suit.
Their Totem, Skolis-Ur, is the eldest of the Firstborn aligned with the Forsaken, and is considered to be the protector of his siblings; it is said the only time he ever showed weakness was after the death of Father Wolf.
A brief note: as the Auspices are a gift from Luna meant specifically for the Forsaken, the Pure Tribes neither have Auspices nor do they particularly want them. Any Forsaken who wishes to join the Pure must first discard their Auspice, which is about as painful as you might expect it to be. Additionally, they are more vulnerable to silver than the Forsaken due to their rejection of Luna.
- Totem: Gurim-Ur (Rabid Wolf)
- Sacred Prey: Those who disrespect the Shadow and its denizens (Forsaken, and also humans/mages who mess with the Shadow)
- Oath: Let no false statement go unchallenged. (Do not lie, and do not allow others to lie in your presence without denouncing their lies as such. This applies to "white lies" as well.)
The Fire-Touched ask for only one thing of their members: absolute faith in the wisdom of their totem and the cause of the Pure. Though at first glance they may seem like a bunch of fanatics, they believe that any Uratha can be restored to spiritual wholeness if they would only accept it. Consequently, they are more than willing to accept any Forsaken willing to repent of their service to Luna into their tribe. And their proselytizing can be surprisingly persuasive, too. If that fails, there's always their other preferred weapons of choice: fire and disease.
Their Totem, Gurim-Ur, is said to be the omega of the firstborn on account of his sickly constitution. The Forsaken claim that he shirked the duties given to him by Luna out of cowardice and instead sided with the Pure. The Fire-Touched, on the other hand, say that Gurim-Ur never trusted Luna due to her ever-shifting nature, and when Father Wolf was slain he decided he would not suffer any more of Luna's falsehoods.
- Totem: Hathis-Ur (Silver Wolf)
- Sacred Prey: Those who disrespect their lineage (This means the Forsaken most of the time)
- Oath: Call no whelp of lesser blood your equal. (They will tolerate working with the other Pure Tribes, but only reluctantly. Forsaken, on the other hand? They won't even consider it unless they absolutely have to, and even then they'll make it clear they're the ones in charge. There's also a bunch of lesser oaths they follow, like a ban against consuming plant seeds.)
The self-proclaimed purest of the Pure, the Ivory Claws hold the purity of their bloodlines above all else. As a result, they take great pains to track their pedigrees, as well as those of other supernatural beings. Though they're as dangerous as the other Pure Tribes if crossed, they tend to be more isolationist than actively aggressive and can be somewhat reasonable as long as they're left alone.
Their totem, Hathis-Ur, is said to be the proudest and most pained of the Firstborn. The Forsaken say this is because he once fought Father Wolf and lost and is now jealous of the Forsaken for succeeding where he failed. The Ivory Claws, on the other hand, say that he once loved Luna but was enraged when she commanded her children to kill Father Wolf; in revenge, he sought to kill her, but was defeated and had his coat turned into pure silver, leaving him in constant pain.
- Totem: Huzuruth-Ur (Dire Wolf)
- Sacred Prey: Those who do not properly honor the hunt (Primarily humans, but also Forsaken)
- Oath: Honor nothing of human craft. (Predator Kings cannot use any man-made objects unless they intend to destroy them; they may only use tools made by werewolves or spirits.)
Take the Red Talons, remove even the possibility they could be interpreted as protagonists, and you have the Predator Kings in a nutshell. Apart from their oath, the only law they recognize is the law of the jungle: the strong live, and the weak die. To them, the Forsaken are deluded fools attempting to fill in for a weakling father at the behest of an insane mother, and they despise them further for causing the loss of the hunters' paradise that was Pangaea. Though their oath makes it all but impossible for them to live among human society, their contempt for civilization means they couldn't care less about such things anyway. Worryingly, their belief that Pangaea might be restored through savage revelry might be true; their hunts have been known to change the relationship between the Flesh and the Shadow in the past.
Their Totem, Huzuruth-Ur, is the eldest of the firstborn and the bitterest by far. According to the Forsaken, he merely scoffed at Father Wolf's death, believing that anything that could be slain by its own children was unworthy of mourning; he turned from the Forsaken only because their actions had created the Gauntlet and brought an end to Pangaea. The Predator Kings do not deny this story; they merely ask why the Forsaken would disagree with Huzuruth-Ur.
The Many Enemies of the Uratha
These are the most common threats a werewolf will most likely face off against in its (nasty, brutish and short) life.
Spirits are everywhere. They define and promote aspects of existence and do so to monomaniacal fixation; they are NOT good guys, and even spirits of things like Joy or Love are dangerous if they're left to their own devices due to their complete disregard of anything not directly relating to their nature. The nature of the Forsaken's oath to Mother Luna compels them to guard humanity from their influence, and many spirits hate them for it. Though they are difficult to harm by conventional means, each spirit has a ban and a bane. The first restricts a spirit's behavior by by dictating things that it must or must not do (e.g. a spirit of fire cannot enter a place that is colder than room temperature), and the second is a substance or object that causes the spirit extreme harm on contact (such as the Uratha weakness to silver). In many cases, a spirit can only be dealt with if its ban and bane are used against it.
Hosts are the shattered shards of the demon-gods that Father Wolf slew, which mostly exist as roving swarms of creepy-crawlies that occasionally hijack people's bodies for use as meat suits. If they get strong enough, they can forcibly merge with a victim and absorb their flesh to become grotesque half-human half-beasts. Slaying them in this form doesn't guarantee that they're gone- they break into a swarm of vermin upon "dying" and can only be destroyed permanently if every single one of those vermin is killed quickly.
The two main ones are the Azlu (brain-eating spiders with a hybrid form that has razor sharp forelegs and can be as large as a fucking cars and strengthen the Gauntlet with their webs) and the Beshilu (plague-spreading rats with limited precognitive abilities that gnaw through the Gauntlet, letting spirits pass through to the mortal world- especially the spirits of disease they ally themselves with). The other ones include the Srizaku (flesh-eating locust swarms spawned by an Idigam that devour every plant, animal and person in sight), the Halaku (crows that eat peoples' eyes to turn them into their slaves for fuck-knows-why), the Razilu (snakes who your Storyteller gets to decide what the fuck they want), the Adarusharu (fear-eating wolves who can merge into giant multi-headed wolf-monsters), the Usudwirku (fungus-spirits that infect the victims of werewolves so they can drive wolves batty whilst the fungi-spirits take over their loci), and the Uglathlu (worm spirits who steal the bodies of utter scum so that they can create Wounds - basically, little pockets of Hell).
Finally, one of the most depressingly common enemies for werewolves are other werewolves. Squabbles over territory, pride, all that good shit is normal. But, there's two groups of werewolves who are pretty much always enemies to the Tribes of the Moon.
The Pure are the werewolves who claim they're innocent of murdering Father Wolf, and so they hate Mother Luna for demanding they atone for a crime they never committed and hate the Forsaken even more for killing Father Wolf- and taking Pangaea away from them by doing so. They reject Mother Luna, which among other things means silver hurts them worse, and they want to tear down the Gauntlet between worlds so the spirits can take over, hoping that this will restore Pangaea and allow them to become rulers. Thing is, there's a lot more of these bastards than there are of the Forsaken (that is, the good guys), and the spirits like them more since they aren't interested in bossing them around like the Forsaken do.
The Bale Hounds, meanwhile, have taken one look at the shithole they live in and come to the conclusion that evil is winning, and they want to be on the winning team. So, they've allied themselves with the Maeljin - the Spirit Kings of Lust, Pride, Wrath, Envy, Avarice, Gluttony, Sloth, Deceit and Destruction - and work to make the world even more of an utter shithole, creating pits of hell that the werewolves call "Wounds". Even the Pure think these guys are fucking dangerous, so much so they have been known to team up with the Forsaken to kill the bastards. Mostly because if they had their way, there wouldn't be a Pangaea left for the Pure to rule.
But perhaps the most dangerous are the Idigam, the spirits who embody concepts that existed and faded away long before the world was fully formed. To survive, they became the incarnations of chaos and gained the ability to mimic the characteristics of anything mortal or spiritual. Between that and their unmatched ability to manipulate Essence, even Father Wolf was unable to slay them. Instead, they were sealed away on the moon where there was nothing for them to copy; Luna saw to that when she bound them in a prison as formless as they were. However, a relatively recent internecine war among the werewolves gave them an opportunity to escape back to Earth during the first manned moon landings. And they're VERY interested in making up for lost time now that they're back on Earth- as are the alien spirits that they've encountered and allied with during their banishment and the armies of minions they can create by corrupting other spirits with their Essence.
A lot less focused on in this setting, but still present. There were two excellent books - Skinthieves, for "humans who change shape through magic" and "spirit-melded shifters" types and War Against The Pure for more "mythical shapechanger" types.
There's also the absolute atrocity known as Changing Breeds, which is basically every single fucking awful thing about Werewolf: The Apocalypse wrapped up in one shittastic package. Don't believe us? It was largely written by Phil Brucato. Still not convinced somehow? Or maybe you just want to witness the Goatfucker at work. In any case, these two poor saps who dared to try and dissect its awfulness chapter by chapter.
Needless to say, nobody talks about Changing Breeds, mainly because War Against the Pure did the concept a whole lot more justice and wasn't nearly one-tenth as shit besides.
Like Vampire: The Requiem before them, the wolves got themselves a 2nd edition, and they got a hell of a lot more badass in it. Some of the highlights:
- Werewolves now only take Aggravated damage from damage roll-over, silver, and supernatural attacks. This means werewolves are a lot tougher to fight.
- Gauru form got massively beefed up. Among other things? Instant regeneration of all non-Agg damage. Combined with how tough werewolves can be, and it's almost impossible to kill a werewolf while it's in war form. But it also causes instant Death Rage any time it's used outside of combat, so don't try and use it to cheese your way out of danger.
- Wolf-bloods went from just getting +2 Willpower to resist Lunacy to full-fledged immunity and at least one (and potentially more) of several possible supernatural powers, from shapeshifting to werewolf-like regeneration. Of course, it's now possible for werewolves to make Wolf-bloods with bad Lunacy rolls and each of said powers comes with a noticeable drawback, so it's not all good news.
- Harmony acts a little differently, with 5 being the ideal score and breaking points either increasing or decreasing it based on which part of a werewolf's nature it places undue importance on. A Harmony of 4 or less is imbalanced toward the aspect of Spirit, and a Harmony of 6 or higher is skewed towards the aspect of Flesh; as all starting werewolves start at Harmony 7, they begin play imbalanced towards Flesh but not excessively so. Having a high Harmony locks a werewolf out of the Shadow and prevents them from shapeshifting without the use of Essence, while having a low Harmony effectively traps a werewolf in the shadow and causes him to reflexively transform when stressed. (In both cases, the triggers for Death Rage also become less specific as well.) Consequently, maintaining an ideal Harmony level requires a degree of finesse and a willingness to deliberately hit breaking points of one extreme as a way of countering the other. That being said, having it somewhat extreme isn't all bad. With a Harmony less than 3 or greater than 8, a werewolf doesn't need a locus to enter or exit the Shadow (respectively).
- Death Rage now has two stages- "soft rage" and "hard rage". "Soft rage" allows a werewolf to try and reassert control over himself, but "hard rage" is basically the classic Death Rage. The catch is that "hard rage" is contagious, so if one werewolf in a pack enters "hard rage" the others will either enter it shortly afterwards or run the risk of being slaughtered by their packmates.