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About Werewolf

- Garou - the werewolves
- Auspice
- Bans
- Bete
- Breed
- Caerns
- Fetishes
- First Change
- Gifts
- Gnosis
- Kinfolk
- Litany
- Lore
- Past Life
- Pure Breed
- Rage
- Rank
- Renown
- Rites
- Spirits
- Tribe
- Umbra
- Weaver, Wyld and Wyrm

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About Werewolf

Gaia the creator of Earth created certain shapechangers to perform functions for her, for instance the Corax (wereravens) are her eyes. Garou, the werewolves, are her warriors. The information below is a summary of some of the core concepts of Werewolf: all this information is expanded upon in Werewolf: the Apocalypse (and Laws of the Wild). While the werewolf universe is very rich in ideas and history, the following are some of the basics that you should know.

No rules are included on this page: see Expanded Rules for this information.

Garou - the werewolves

Garou are bred from two kinfolk, humans or wolves who have Garou blood in their veins (see Kinfolk below), and are part-creature, part-spirit. The vast majority of these, and most PCs, are Homid, that is their natural form is Homid (see forms below) and both parents were human. Garou have the capacity to change into five forms, including the man-wolf battle form - Crinos. They form as packs and have various goals, but these inevitably all come down to fighting the Wyrm (or occasionally the Weaver). Garou have strong ties with Spirits and the Umbra (the Spirit world). Garou are innately able to cross between the physical world and the Umbra, and many go on quests into the further reaches of the Deep Umbra and the Umbral Realms. There are spirits of Gaia, of the Weaver, Wyld and Wyrm as well as nature Spirits (naturae) and elementals. Friendly Spirits teach the Garou gifts which give them special abilities and can be persuaded to be bound into Fetishes and Talens.

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The moon a Garou is born under indicates what role they will take in Garou society and, to a certain extent, their personality.

  • Ahroun - the warrior: Ahrouns are always at the front of any battle and have the shortest life expectancy in their glorious careers. They can also be found as leaders and tacticians.
  • Galliard - the bard: Galliards are the passion and inspiration of the Garou. Traditionally Galliards pass on Garou lore and history orally in epic tales, the other half of their position being to boast the exploits of their pack. Many young Garou feel the Galliards role has been lost in the modern ages of computers.
  • Philodox - the judge: Philodoxes are taught Garou law, the Litany. They are normally called upon as judges and frequently peacemakers. They also are commonly leaders of the Garou.
  • Theurge - the seer: Theurges are beacons for spirits and they frequently immerse themselves in Spirit-lore.
  • Ragabash - the trickster: Rarely strong fighters, Ragabash seek other ways to help the Garou. Some act as scouts, others make their points known by practical jokes, frequently proving the folly of arrogance or humility.

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Spirits trade their favours for Bans, such as quests, one-time favours, knowledge, ongoing tasks, regular performing of rituals or restrictions on behaviour. The most common of these are given by pack Totems, but they are also given in return for teaching a gift, knowledge or other forms of help. A Garou who reneges on Bans earns Notoriety and finds Spirits grow wary and may withhold their help from the Garou's pack (and anyone who supports them) or even attack them.

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Garou know there are other shapechangers out there, but few know much about them. The most commonly seen are the loquacious Corax (wereravens) but there are also the Bastet (werecats), Guhrahl (werebears) and Ratkin. Rumours exist of others (such as the mythic werepenguin).

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A character's breed is dictated by his parents.

  • Homid - the child of two human kinfolk (or one and a Garou). This is the most common breed, and many get hooked on the luxuries of the modern existence before their first change. However, they are also the most adaptable breed.
  • Metis - the child of two Garou. It is forbidden for two Garou to mate, and when they do they produce these flawed children. They are born, painfully, in Crinos form and cannot change forms until they approach adulthood. Views on Metis vary from the destructive to pity. Although most Metis spend their whole childhood among their own kind, they are looked down upon and find it hard to gain renown.
  • Lupus - the child of two wolves (or one and a Garou). With wolves almost extinct in this country, they are exceedingly rare here.

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Caerns are sacred locations on Earth which tap into spiritual energies. All caerns have a focus (e.g. Strength, Visions) and aid its Garou protectors (the Sept) with endeavors that match this focus. They are also a plentiful source of Gnosis for the Garou. Garou will protect Caerns with their lives.

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Fetishes are rare objects into which a Spirit has agreed to be been bound. While there are common types of Fetishes, they are all individually made. The bearer of a Fetish is given honour, but is expected to look after it well. See the list of Fetishes for more information.

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First Change

The first change, where new Garou start running wild or ripping people apart without understanding what is happening, is usually traumatic, ending when they are found by their elders and taught what is happening to them. This happens, according to canon, around puberty, but the age of players makes late teens (or perhaps even later) a more practical time.

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The Garou have five forms:

  • Homid - the human form
  • Glabro - the near human form: the Garou grows larger, uglier and hairier, but can pass for human if not seen close-up; human speech is possible but guttural and feral-sounding.
  • Crinos - the wolf-man battle form; the Garou turns into a 9-foot monster covered in thick fur and with a canine head. Claws and fangs grow for lethal effect. Human speech is restricted to one or two short words and skilled tasks become difficult. A frenzied Garou turns to Crinos immediately.
  • Hispo - the dire wolf; a large wolf-form which ways almost as much as the Crinos form, and does Aggravated damage with its jaws. Gains Heightened Senses.
  • Lupus - the wolf form; these forms vary from Garou to Garou, depending on the blood of the parents. Gains Heightened Senses.

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Gifts are mystical abilities taught to Garou by spirits. They can be quite powerful, but come at a cost: the spirit doing the teaching not only needs to be persuaded to teach the Garou in the first place but inevitably wants something in return - a Ban. Rank 1 gifts may require a once-off action, Rank 2 gifts may require a quest, or a ritual action done regularly.

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This is the Garou's connection to Gaia and the Umbra. A higher Gnosis implies and requires a higher spiritual awareness. It is used to cross into and out of the Umbra, to manipulate the Umbra, as currency among spirits, to activate some gifts and to activate Fetishes and Talens.

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The relationship between Garou and their kinfolk (human or wolf family) is variable: many Garou view their weaker relatives as valuable allies, others as charges needing to be protected and some see them as nothing more than breeding stock or useful tools. Kinfolk are required to keep producing Garou for the Apocalypse to come.

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The Litany is Garou Law. There are many laws, most of which are expanded on in great depth (and even moderate depth within the White Wolf books). Key laws are:

  • Garou shall not mate with Garou
  • Combat the Wyrm wherever it dwells and wherever it breeds
  • Respect the territory of another
  • Accept an honourable surrender
  • Ye shall not eat the flesh of a human
  • Ye shall take no action that causes a Caern to be violated

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Lore is a summary of all the knowledge a character may possess about Garou, their history, their rules, famous Garou, other shapechangers, Spirits, the Umbra, the Wyrm, Wyld and Weaver. Auspices specialise their Lores so not all Garou know the same things. Few Garou know more than two levels of Lore per Rank.

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Past Life

The Garou can channel the spirits of ancestors. Most of the time they are happy to help and provide their knowledge to help the Garou. Occasionally, one may actually take over the body of their descendent. Those with the greater Past Life background frequently have conversations with their ancestors and know many of them by name.

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Pure Breed

Garou acknowledge the purity of blood. Historically, the Garou were ruled by those of purer breed. Now only the Silver Fangs reliably hang on to their purity, in most cases at the cost of their sanity, and the Bone Gnawers have no pure breed left. Garou will automatically register the presence of pure breeding in their presence.

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The Garou have been gifted by Luna with Rage which enables them to move exceedingly fast. In combination with their physical might, this makes them extremely dangerous (fatally in most cases). Unfortunately, it also makes them prone to frenzy and they must test against frenzy in any strongly emotional situation (the first wound in battle, if taunted, jealousy, love-making etc).

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A Garou's experience is rated by his Rank. When a Garou has enough renown, he may petition an elder to increase in Rank. Most Garou are Rank 2 (Fostern), with a lot more at Rank 3 (Adren) - Garou just past their Rite of Passage are Rank 1 (Cliath). Higher Rank also enables the Garou to learn more powerful gifts and rites. In return for higher Rank, more is expected of the Garou, normally in an official position.

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When a Garou performs a worthy deed, he may ask to be given a point of Renown. A good Galliard can improve the chances of this happening, although in cases of great deeds, the Spirits may automatically grant the renown themselves. Otherwise, Renown is granted through the Rite of Accomplishment. Note that Renown can be removed as well as awarded. Renown is divided into three types, and each Auspice requires a different combination of Renown to increase in Rank.

  • Glory - represents bravery, prowess and success against the minions of the Wyrm (and other enemies). It also may represent bravery of other sorts, such as stepping into the unknown. Ahroun and Galliards strive for Glory.
  • Honour - represents ethics, upholding ideals and adherence to the litany. Teaching, holding positions, reciting the litany and performing an epic tale will also gain you Honour. Philodoxes and Ahroun concern themselves with Honour.
  • Wisdom - represents cunning and knowledge. Spiritual understanding, resolving conflict without bloodshed, giving true prophecy, giving good advice all earn Honour. Theurges, Philodoxes and Galliards strive for Wisdom.

Ragabash do not require any particular Renown.

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Garou rites cause effects using their Spirit side. Simple rites only require one participant, larger rites require many Garou and are led by a ritemaster. Like gifts and fetishes, the effects of rites vary considerably.

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There are animal spirits (Stag, Mole), plant spirits (e.g. the tree spirits Glade Children), Wyld spirits (Wyldings), Weaver spirits (e.g. Spiders and Geomids) and Wyrm spirits (Banes).

  • Gaia, Wyld, Weaver and Wyrm can all be considered spirits, although far to powerful to be further defined. Helios (the sun) and Luna (the moon) are also at this level.
  • Celestines are fundamental aspects of life, an many were worshipped as Gods by ancient man.
  • Jagglings the servants of Celastines, often realising one aspect of their masters.
  • Gafflings are the weakest of spirits and are focused almost entirely on one objective.

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The Garou are divided into 13 tribes each of whom have their own history.

  • Black Furies - passionate defenders of the Wyld and the inadequacy of men: all women except for the occasional Metis male
  • Bone Gnawers - the scum of the Garou, experts at survival at the bottom of the pack
  • Children of Gaia - sympathetic and advocates of reason, at least until they frenzy
  • Fianna - Celtic Garou renown as bards, storytellers and passionate warriors
  • Get of Fenris - Norse Garou famous for being fierce and strong and their firm belief that every problem can be solved with brute force.
  • Glass Walkers - The only Garou that thrive in the urban environment, although many think they love the Weaver too much.
  • Red Talons - a Lupus only tribe who believe that killing all humans is the only way to defeat the Wyrm
  • Shadow Lords - ambitious Garou who are prepared to do almost anything to pursue their goals
  • Silent Striders - Egyptian Garou forever cursed to wander: they frequently act as messengers and scouts
  • Silver Fangs - the traditional leaders of the Garou, although there are rumours they are losing their marbles
  • Stargazers - enigmatic and wise Garou that spend much time in contemplation
  • Uktena - The eldest of the American tribes, they are rumoured to specialise in dark magics
  • Wendigo - The youngest of American tribes still seems embittered by the European Garou

In addition there are the lost tribes, the Bunyip and Croatan, and the fallen tribe, Black Spiral Dancers (BSDs). The Black Spiral Dancers are thoroughly lost to the Wyrm and are the Garou's most bitter enemy.

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The Umbra is the spirit world that exists in parellel with the physical. It consists of many areas, but the most well known are:

  • The Penumbra - this is a spiritual reflection of the physical world; not everything in the physical world exists in the umbra - only those objects with strong emotions attached. Gaffling spirits are also drawn to areas associated with their concept (e.g. Hoglings - smog spirits - are drawn to heavily poluted areas, Pattern Spiders are drawn to cities) which may make spiritual travel in those areas difficult (or easier).
  • The Near and Deep Umbras, specifically Umbral Realms - the Umbra is full of realms created by powerful spirits or by mass-belief in certain concepts, or just existing because. Many of these realms are self-contained realms with their own rules of existence (e.g. the Battlegrounds). The realms of the Near Umbra are relatively well known, while those in the Deep Umbra tend to me much more dangerous and enigmatic.
  • Moon Bridges - connect two Caerns which garou can use to travel from Caern to Caern relatively safely and quickly.
  • Moon Paths - similar to Moon Bridges but not so secure. Many are protected by Lunes, Luna's servants, but these get weaker the nearer the Luna cycle is to the New Moon. Moon Paths connect all parts of the Umbra and their routes change eratically - it takes great skill to find the correct Moon Path, although many spirits know their way around the Umbra.

The umbra is separated from the physical world by the "Gauntlet", and most Garou refer to crossing it as "stepping sideways". This is easier the greater your spiritual nature (Gnosis).

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A member of the Triat. The Weaver embodies stasis and endeavors to make the Tellurian uniform. On Earth, cities are physical manifestations of the weaver and are filled with weaver spirits, and the Weaver created the Gauntlet that seperates the physical world from the Umbra.


A member of the Triat. The Wyld embodies creation and change. Garou frequently view the Wyld as the victim of the Weaver and the Wyrm and many, noteably the Black Furies, struggle to defend it. Wyldlings are the most unpredictable spirits a Garou is likely to meet.


A member of the Triat. The Wyrm originally embodied destruction and decay and sought to return the creations that the Wyld had created and the Weaver had Named to the essence from which they came: this was part of the natural cycle. Lore reveals that the Wyrm went mad and now seeks the destruction and corruption of everything. The Wyrm is now the Garous' main enemy. It's minions are the Black Spiral Dancers (see Tribes), Banes (Wyrm spirits) and Fomori (twisted Bane-possessed humans with special powers), as well as humans who willingly or accidently serve the Wyrm's purpose.

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All new material ©copyright 2002 Aidan Bowes. All rights reserved.
Werewolf the Apocalypse and Minds Eye Theatre are trademarks of
White Wolf Publishing, Inc.