- Garou - the werewolves
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.
The moon a Garou is born under indicates what role they will take in Garou society and, to a certain extent, their personality.
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.
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).
A character's breed is dictated by his parents.
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.
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.
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.
The Garou have five forms:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Ragabash do not require any particular Renown.
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.
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).
The Garou are divided into 13 tribes each of whom have their own history.
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.
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 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).
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.
All new material ©copyright 2002 Aidan Bowes. All rights reserved.
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