Choose no life. Choose no career. Choose to live at the Caern. Choose a totem. Choose a fucking big klaive, choose breeder banes the size of washing machines, Black Spiral Dancers, weaver spiders and corrupted naturae spirits. Choose no sleep, high rage and mental instability. Choose between dedicating jeans or boots. Choose no friends. Choose challenging a Sept elder for your fucking right to exist. Choose the Umbra and wondering why the fuck you are slogging through arse deep Wyrm toxins on a sunny morning. Choose walking through a Scab looking at brain dead, spirit-stunted homids, fisting fucking junk food into their mouths. Choose being butchered to pieces at the end of it all, giving your last in some miserable Wyrmhole, nothing more than a legend to the selfish, fucked-up, Weaver-ridden spawn replacing the beloved defenders of Gaia. Choose your future. Choose to Rage.
— Damien Moore
A Storytelling Game of Savage Horror.The second tabletop roleplaying game in the classic World of Darkness line and the second or third most popular. First published in 1992, it was initially supposed to exist in the same universe as its predecessor, Vampire: The Masquerade, but their vastly incompatible cosmologies, histories and themes were among major factors that forced authors to make crossovers between the Old World of Darkness games entirely optional. In the morally-gray area that was the World of Darkness, Werewolf's protagonist faction (the Garou Nation) was one of the more outright heroic—after all, fighting to save the world from the corrupted personification of entropy is difficult to put a negative spin on. Even so, they are still very often monsters in their own right.The big thematic difference between Werewolf: The Apocalypse and Vampire: The Masquerade is that while in the latter the main source of angst and tragedy is your character's personal condition, in the former it is the condition of the world, choked by human evil and callous indifference and crumbling under the unseen but relentless assault of an insane embodiment of destruction and corruption from the Spirit World named the Wyrm. As a werewolf (Garou, as they call themselves), you have the power to fight against an enemy that the mundane humans cannot even perceive....except that it is already too late, your ancestors screwed up too badly, the enemy is too strong, you can't stop fighting with your allies, and the titular Apocalypse is inevitable. Only the heroes of mythic proportions can have any hope of limiting it to merely The End of the World as We Know It instead of annihilation of all existence. But no matter how dim your changes of victory you must fight on, and therein lies the game.Publication of Werewolf: The Apocalypse ended in 2004 with the cancellation of the entire Old World of Darkness, and it was followed up with a new game with a new setting and completely different cosmology: Werewolf: The Forsaken, which continues today. An updated, revised edition of Werewolf: The Apocalypse came out in 2013 to celebrate the game's 20th anniversary.Garou are born as the offspring of either humans or wolves (werewolves are not supposed to breed with each other, but it happens sometimes anyway, presenting a third player option) and as members of different tribes—related and vaguely similar werewolf nations that make up a character's heritage:
There are also three extinct Tribes: The Bunyip, a tribe of Australian spirit-walkers, the Croatan, a Native American tribe less extreme than the Uktena or Wendigo, and the White Howlers, proud werewolf Scotsmen. The former two were wiped out, while the Howlers were corrupted and transformed into the Evil Counterpart Black Spiral Dancer tribe.Minor sub-tribes knock about too. Most interesting of all are the 11 other types of were-creatures: Once these were the werewolves partners in the war against the Apocalypse, but most of them were wiped out generations ago by...the werewolves themselves. Long story, but the short version is: Mistakes were made. Now a handful of each lurk around as uncomfortable reminders of the sins of the past, everything from werebears and weretigers to exotic weresnakes and weresharks (yes weresharks).
This game features examples of:
Abnormal Ammo: Any kind of bullet or arrow that has a spirit bound into it. Also, Glass Walkers are particularly fond of creating weapon fetishes out of firearms, and some of the resulting weapons can shoot things like lightning bolts or clouds of shrapnel.
And naturally silver bullets come up a lot, though not usually for PCs.
Achilles' Heel: Every tribe has one, though they're generally neither combat-related, nor mechanically codified (unless the GM uses optional flaws) and more of a roleplaying challenge, such as the Uktena's curiosity and the Black Furies' intolerance of men. They're also based around one-dimensional tribal stereotypes, which isn't necessarily a good thing for roleplaying.
Adult Fear: The Seventh Generation, a cult that kidnaps and abuses children.
All There in the Manual: Curious example, as the series is mostly books. Do you want to play a Black Spiral Dancer? Do you wish to know their culture? Well, don't look at either tabletop Book of the Wyrm for it, instead, search for a Mind's Eye Theatre Book of the Wyrm. For some reason, it has more text and information on the tribe than both of the tabletop books combined.
All Your Powers Combined: Ananasa created spiders (and the Ananasi) by combining the energies of Wyld, Weaver, and Wyrm.
According to the 2000 Ananasi breedbook, Wyld created Gaia, who then accepted energies from Weaver and Wyrm.
"Gaia was the first of Wyld's children. She was bright and beautiful and vibrant. Just as with her creator, Gaia wanted things to change constantly, but she allowed Weaver to touch her, to give her form and function, and allowed Wyrm the same privilege. All things would die eventually, even Gaia herself. But Gaia was a powerful spirit, and her death would not come for a very long time."
Armoured Closet Gay: According to the semi-infamous revised Children of Gaia tribebook, the Get of Fenris outwardly scorn gay people but tend to engage in "violent homo-stuff."
As Long as There Is Evil: All forms of human evil and cruelty empower the Wyrm-spirits (appropriately called Banes), many of which feast upon negative emotions and encourage them in turn. Extreme forms of environmental destruction also allow Banes to grow and multiply. The Garou Nation has two general approaches in mind for dealing with this. The first (the default one) advocates protecting and enlightening humans to keep them morally healthy. The second calls for exterminating excess human population (only a few werewolves seriously consider it - although their number grows with the approach of the Apocalypse).
Authority Equals Asskicking: Authority in Garou's society is either almost entirely based on personal prowess, or just mostly based on it. Being born into an influential tribe has its perks, but you still need to rise in rank by yourself, if you want any real power. There is a complicated system of formal challenges in place, to minimize casualties of constant struggle for dominance. This, of course, also means that Asskicking Equals Authority.
Also stated to be in force and Justified for the upper echelons of Pentex in the 20th Anniversary Edition.
Bears Are Bad News: Double subverted by the Gurahl werebears, who are known for their healing powers and generally retiring ways. For shapeshifters, they're downright mellow and calm. Until you piss them off, that is, then you'd better run.
The Silver Fangs married into many of Europe's royal families and shapes history as royal leaders.
Shogecka Hunter Moon's story in Garou Saga states that Wendigo warriors were among Tecumseh's followers. The Wendigo also initiated the migration of humans from northern Asia to North America.
According to Rage Across New York, the Black Furies protected the early American suffragettes. Black Fury kinfolk encouraged leaders of the early women's movement to take refuge near New York's Finger Lakes (a Black Fury stronghold), which lead to the 1848 Seneca Falls convention. Rage Across New York also states that the Children of Gaia contributed followers and protection to historical figures such as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Susan B. Anthony.
According to Rage Across New York, the Seventh Generation was behind several historical calamities. When Socrates discovered Seventh Generation activity in Athens, the Seventh Generation orchestrated his trial and execution. When Freud discovered that childhood abuse was pervasive among his patients, the Seventh Generation forced him to revise his theories and claim that his patients had overactive imaginations. According to Chronicles of the Black Labyrinth, Charles Manson was a Seventh Generation devotee, and his murders were in service of the Wyrm.
The Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico was due to sabotage by agents of the Wyrm, according to the 2013 Rage Across the World book. The spill generated a deluge of oil banes and attracted Black Spiral Dancers from New Orleans.
The Croatan, a mysterious name in real life apparently referring to a Native American tribe that disappeared without a trace along with a British colony in the Americas, was a Garou tribe who sacrificed themselves to defeat an aspect of the Wyrm.
The Ananasi werespiders claim that Monica Lewinsky is one of them, and seducing Bill Clinton was a ploy to reduce his credibility as President.
John Henry was a Bone Gnawer, Finn MacCumhail was a Kinfolk and founded the Fianna tribe. Rasputin may have been a Shadow Lord but lots of people claim him all over the World of Darkness.
According to Chronicles of the Black Labyrinth, Charles Manson and Gilles de Rais were Seventh Generation devotees.
The Gurahl tribebook strongly implies that the ancient Bear King was King Arthur. It also states that the prophet Elisha was a vampire who controlled an umfalla (werebear abomination) named Sarah Childslayer. This was a reference to 2 Kings 2:23-25 in the Bible, in which bears slaughtered a group of children who were teasing the prophet Elisha.
Beware the Nice Ones: The Children of Gaia. Don't let that Granola Girl's bright smile, dragonfly tattoo, and healing powers fool you. She can still turn into an clawed beast and tear you a new one if provoked. In fact, it is stated in several places that when the Children of Gaia do frenzy it can be even worse than some of the more warlike tribes because they've held their rage in for so long.
Beware the Superman: Ancient Garou history is a lesson on how powerful beings can easily become oppressors. In ancient times, Garou ruled over humans, even going as far as to cull the human population through the Impergium. The mistakes of the ancient Garou have had far-reaching consequences for their descendants and the human race. Unfortunately, if the tribebooks are anything to go by, many Garou still haven't learned from the mistakes of their ancestors, and still see humans as peons, breeding stock, or pests to be culled.
Black and Gray Morality: Imagine this game as Warhammer 40,000 with werecreatures, instead of Space Marines, and you won't be too far off. While minions of the Wyrm are absolutely vile and the grand goal of their master is utter destruction of the entire Universe at best, werewolves themselves are very very far from politically correct heroes by the modern definition.
Gaia herself falls into this. While she is devoted to cultivating life and is considerably more sane than any member of the Triat, Gaia is not good by the standards of human morality. For example, she assigned the task of culling humans — no matter how innocent or defenseless — to the Ajaba and Ratkin, and did not intervene during the Impergium or the War of Rage.
Body Horror: Transformation into a fomor only requires a Bane (spirit servitor of the Wyrm) possessing a person who has weakened spiritual resistance. The Bane itself doesn't particularly care (in most cases) if the recipient is willing; it moves in and starts remodeling. And the remodeling is seldom painless, bloodless, or at all concerned with being attractive by any but the most depraved of minds.
Pentex's subsidiaries, except for a handful of key corporations, are headed by people who have absolutely no idea what the Wyrm is or that there are supernatural things in the world. To them, Pentex is just an organization that is very good at covering their illegal and morally dubious business practices. And, of course, there is the board of directors of Pentex proper, that is corrupt in more than one sense of the word, consorts with the universal force of corruption and destruction, actively works to bring about The End of the World as We Know It, and hopes for a "controlled crash" scenario to get whatever remains of humanity under their thumbs.
The Corporate Wolves faction of the Glass Walkers are a heroic (in a Good Is Not Nice sense) version of this trope, as they use their corporate connections to secure funding for the tribe and to try and fight Pentex on its own ground.
Crapsack World: As with all WoD games. In this case we know why it's a crapsack; because of the Wyrm. Although the question of whether the Wyrm causes human evil or just feeds on it can become sort of a circular chicken and egg debate. And of course every Changing-Breed and Garou tribe has their own story about just why the Wyrm is so fucked up in the first place. If the ones involving the Weaver's descent into madness are even partially true, it takes it Up to Eleven: of the three primal forces of existence, two have been driven insane and the third arguably was in the first place.
Create Your Own Villain: According to "Klaital's Journey" in Garou Saga, the Garou themselves are to blame for the current state of the cosmos. At the climax of his journey, Klaital realizes that the Garou damaged the Weaver's web by attacking her servants, thereby driving her insane. The Garou's hatred also feeds the Wyrm dwelling within them.
Some of the earthly threats that the Garou have faced throughout history were in response to Garou atrocities. For example, in the Leukippes legend of Garou Saga the Wyrm-tainted priest Kamisos rallies his followers against the Garou by reminding them that the Garou culled humans and terrorized the land long ago.
Creepy Cockroach: The Cockroach is the totem of the urban-dwelling Glass Walkers. In their tribebook, a discussion between members of a Glass Walker pack on the spiritual powers of the cockroach devolves into discussing ways to keep cockroaches away without offending the tribe totem. (The alpha of the pack is unimpressed by the digressing packmate.)
The Shadow Lords' tribal totem, Grandfather Thunder, is served by spirits called Stormcrows. They also have a camp called the Children of Crow, whose members focus on being The Lancer - as long as The Hero is doing his job.
Culture Justifies Anything: In ancient times, Homid Garou took part in some of the uglier activities of the societies they lived in. For example, Garou Saga reveals that the Black Fury Leukippe took part in raids against the Medes and Macedonians alongside her Scythian kin. Gunnar Draugrbane and his fellow Get of Fenris took part in raiding and pillaging, much like the Vikings of yore.
Dark Is Not Evil: The Silent Striders are well known for their affinity with the spirits of the dead, and their fascination with death itself. The other tribes tend to be somewhat off-put by their dark demeanor and generally morbid attitude, which stem largely from the tribe's Batman-esque tragic past. Be this as it may, their hatred of vampires, and indeed all things of the Wyrm, proves them to be unambiguously good.
Demonic Possession: All types of spirits can merge with material beings (usually humans), but Wyrm-spirits do it most often, transforming their victims into deformed, deranged horrors called fomori, which serve as cannon fodder of the Wyrm in the material world. Sometimes the possession results from More Than Mind Control, sometimes it happens simply because many things in this world May Contain Evil (thanks to Pentex).
Supplemental materials reveal that spirits serving both the Weaver and Wyld could also do this to anyone, with the results just as horrific.
Dinosaurs Are Dragons: The Mokole were-reptiles are the keepers of racial memory all the way back to the time of dinosaurs, and when their first change comes they tap into this racial memory and dream of their battle-form. Mechanically speaking, this is represented by pulling a certain amount of traits off a menu. When doing so, it's very easy to come back with something distinctly draconic, rather than dinosaur-ish.
Divine Chessboard: The Wyrm, the Weaver, and the Wyld are all manipulating characters to their own ends. Queen Ananasa uses then entire Ananasi Changing-Breed as her agents to manipulate the world as her chessboard, with the ultimate (long long long term) goal of freeing herself from the Wyrm's grip and restoring the Triat to balance.
Dramatic Irony: The Rokea's sole task is to survive, but they're currently unwittingly engaged in slow and elaborate suicide, as they scapegoat and kill the only ones among them who have any real chance of understanding the threats to the Rokea and the sea and mounting a more effective response than "Kill random people who are doing bad things, and make humanity hate and fear sharks even more in the process."
The Wyrm, the spirit of destruction whose unchecked actions are destroying the world. Its peers in the Triat of the greatest spirits are just about as alien and uncaring, although much less immediately hostile. Unfortunately, all of them are absolutely integral to the very existence of the universe, and their insanity in an animistic world means that the fundamental fabric of the universe is inherently broken, self-destructive, and evil. Yes, this game is set in a World Half Empty.
Enemy Mine: Went from a strong undercurrent in first and second edition to possibly the main theme of the game in the third and 20th Anniversary editions. The Garou are confronted with a literal world-ending crisis, and even in their weakened state would probably win handily if they could just work together. But, of course, they can't. Word of God became fond of observing that the Garou Nation would not stop the Apocalypse... but a pack might.
The Black Furies hate the Get of Fenris, the Shadow Lords hate the Silver Fangs, the Red Talons really hate the Glass Walkers, and the Wendigo hate everyone except the Uktena, but it's not uncommon to find members of opposing tribes in the same pack, where they put aside their differences for the greater good. Individual members can become friends even if they hold that other tribe's general views in low regard. Except the Red Talons, whose genocidal hatred of humanity makes them so difficult to work with, storytellers often forbid them as player characters and might even cast them as villains. In W20, it's stated that a number of other werewolves have fears that the Red Talons will fall to the Wyrm due to their hatred and brutality, or that they may have already started to... and that these fears are definitely not baseless.
And everyone hates the Bone Gnawers, except the Glass Walkers and Children of Gaia. The Gnawers just shrug.
Even within tribes, the Uktena — who have long embraced oppressed minorities — have had to deal with young Garou from opposing gangs in the same pack.
Equal-Opportunity Evil: The Wyrm isn't picky about those it recruits into its ranks. Corrupted shapeshifters, spirits, and humans of diverse backgrounds can be found among its minions. Compare this to various Garou tribes that limit membership due to breed, class, sex, or ethnic background.
Everything's Even Worse With Sharks: The Rokea are weresharks, and they're very very dangerous. They stop aging after their first change, can literally eat anything at all (and consider this the go-to answer to most threats), and have nothing resembling human morality. And they can turn into sharks or tall hulking shark men with CLAWS AND RAZOR-SHARP SKIN.
Evil Makes You Monstrous: Fomori, humans and animals possessed by Wyrm-Spirits, are almost all physically deformed into hideous monsters sprouting malformed limbs and orifices, rotting inside from infectious fungus or pus-filled tumors, and/or dripping acid and mucus from six-inch barbed talons. In very rare cases fomor are nearly-human in appearance aside from an Uncanny Valley effect.
Extra-Strength Masquerade: The amount of supernatural weirdness ordinary people are able to ignore gets a little extreme. Of course, the Delirium inflicting amnesia and panic on any human who sees shapeshifting helps out, and most shapeshifters go to great lengths to minimize even the occurrance of Delirium.
The werewolves against most of the other werepeople, such as the spiders, hyenas, aurochs, cats, bats, boars, bears, snakes, crocodile/dinosaur/dragon hybrids, coyotes, and rats. Only the ravens, sharks (for being in the middle of the ocean), and foxes (for not existing at the time) were unaffected. Three were totally wiped out by werewolf genocide and as a result, there is much mutual distrust to be had. It's one of the reasons why the Apocalypse is approaching in the first place, because the various shapeshifters are supposed to be working together.
Ratkin (wererats) want to exterminate most of humanity, werewolves, and everyone who objects; and for Ananasi werespiders and Nagah weresnakes "Better Than You" is not only their motto, but their way of life. Such sentiments exist all around, it's just that the non-wolf shifters lack the power to really act on them.
Even those non-wolf shifters who aren't pretty much automatically hostile to all or almost all outsiders still are often portrayed as major dicks, particularly towards werewolves.
The Simba werelions committed genocide against the Ajaba werehyenas, who now are almost extinct as a result. This, of course, led the Ajaba to universally hate all werelions and kill them without mercy whenever possible.
Werewolves have a wealth of derogatory terms for their enemies and even their own breeds. "Leeches" for vampires is perhaps the most famous. Other shapeshifters, due to the above genocidal wars and Fantasic Racism, tend to call Garou "dogs."
Inversion: "Bitch" is used in a totally non-derogatory way.
Fate Worse than Death: Being turned into a fomor (for humans) or forced into the Black Spiral Labyrinth (for werewolves) are just the most common of many examples the World of Darkness offers. Werewolves that have walked the Black Spiral (willingly or no) can also be turned into a formor, for double the horror.
For the Evulz: Upheld, in that this seems to be the primary motivation of most Wyrm-creatures, like Banes, Fomori, and Black Spiral Dancers. Subverted, in that this is NOT the primary motivation of the Wyrm itself. As its core, the Wyrm just wants to escape from the pain of being trapped forever in the webs of the insane Weaver.
Fragile Speedster: Corax wereravens and Nuwisha werecoyotes, befitting the two archetypal trickster breeds. Their half-beast forms aren't significantly stronger than normal humans, but they make up for it with maneuverability and magical Gifts.
Fur Against Fang: Werewolves and vampires hate each other. Werewolves see vampires as agents of their sworn enemy, the Wyrm, and since most of the vampires in the setting see killing as just another thing after a while they're not entirely wrong. However, their tendency to strike at vampires regardless of how corrupt they are is more than a little extreme. Vampires, for their part, don't have any special hate for werewolves. What they have is pure, unmitigated fear since your average werewolf is stronger, faster and tougher than your average vampire, deals aggravated damage (damage a vampire can't soak away with unnatural strength or outright ignore) and can seemingly appear from thin air at claw distance.
Gaia's Vengeance: That's your characters (and werepeople in general). Bonus points since the chief spirit of the Earth (or the Universe, depending on interpretation) is actually named Gaia. The Black Furies in particular think of themselves as Gaia's Vengeance. Red Talons, too. Perhaps even more so. Their primary suggestion for defending the world is "kill and eat all of those fucking Earth-murdering idiot humans".
Genetic Memory: Expressed through the Garou's Past Life trait (whether it's Reincarnation or ancestral memories varies by edition), the Mokole werelizards' Mnesis (much more powerful ancestral memories), and — due to shapeshifters' past cullings of humans — Muggles' delirious reaction upon seeing werecreatures' war forms, often compared to baby mice running from a hawk's silhouette. They often forget what they see afterwards. Werecreatures call this effect the Delirium, and consider it very helpful in maintaining the Veil.
Retconned for werewolves in Revised. The "Past Life" background was changed to "Ancestors", and involves direct communication with literal ancestor spirits (which better explains the Bone Gnawers, Glass Walkers, and Silent Striders lacking access to the background; the former two are too modernist to care, the latter are cursed).
God Is Flawed: The three members of the Triat are supposed to be collaborating to keep the forces of the cosmos in balance. Unfortunately, they're either too busy struggling against each other or too indifferent to perform their tasks properly. For example, the Weaver imprisoned the Wyrm in the web of creation, the Wyrm is slowly killing Gaia in his attempt to break free, and the Wyld could care less about the situation.
Some sources suggest that Gaia is flawed, or at least shortsighted. The narrator of the Corax tribebook speculates that Gaia lacked foresight when she created life.
"Gaia's not an omnipotent, omniscient God, not in the sense in which you learned the drill in Sunday school. I mean, she created everything, including all forms of life, but it's almost as if she didn't recognize, in a gut kind of way, that everything she'd created would have consequences."
The Gods Must Be Idiots: The three members of the Triat are extremely powerful but lack common sense. The Weaver decided that it would be a good idea to bind the Wyrm in the web of creation, then ignored the huge problems this created for Gaia. The Wyrm has been bound in the Weaver's web for eons but can't seem to extract himself from it, despite being a powerful Eldritch Abomination. The Wyld has been standing by while all of this has been going on, too stupid or apathetic to do anything about it. Even the Corax tribebook speculates that the Wyld was off "picking his toes" during the primordial incident with the Weaver and Wyrm.
The Black Spiral Dancers are completely insane, thanks to dancing the Black Spiral Labyrinth. This is a nightmarish spirit-scape in which their minds are ripped into little bits, exposed directly to the agony and hate and rage of the Wyrm, force-fed divine revelations of its plans for destroying the world, and then more-or-less stapled back together. Not that insanity stops them from being cunning and extremely dangerous foes.
The Wyrm, according to many shapeshifters, broke and went insane when the Weaver caught him/it in her/its spirit-webs too tightly and crushed it. All the horror and evil cooked up by the Wyrm is both an expression of its insanity and agony, the result of its frenzied writhing around trying to escape, and its attempt to blow up the world so it can escape and/or cease to exist.
The Delirium is basically this trope, applied to humans. Any normal (non-kinfolk) mortal who sees a shapeshifter in its war-form, or witnesses a were-spider disintegrating into lots of little spiders, gets unhinged. Usually they run away in a mindless panic or turn catatonic, and afterwards they either forget what they saw or hallucinate that they saw something else entirely.
For that matter, some of the stories suggest that the Weaver went mad first, after an existential crisis brought about by the realization that it could never make a timeless, beautiful structure due to the mutations of the Wyld and the destruction of the Wyrm.
Gaia is good, but she ain't nice. She created said werewolves, and such things as pain spirits.
The Grotesque: Garou are forbidden from mating with each other. Whether that means any romantic involvement or just making babies depends on the tribe, but the products of such unions are known as Metis and are sterile and deformed wretches that often rip through their mother's womb upon birth. For most shapeshifters that even can produce babies from such unions, the resulting Metis are just as deformed.
Healing Factor: One of the things that makes the various Changing Breeds so powerful compared to other supernaturalsin the old World Of Darkness - they can shrug off most forms of damage very quickly, and they can heal off even aggravated damage much more easily than anyone else. The exception is the Kitsune, who are vastly more squishy as a result.
Hindu Mythology: The Wyld is the creating chaos, the Weaver molds the chaos into a form, and the Wyrm destroys what has to be destroyed. That may be based on The Theme Park Version of the three main Hindu gods - Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, Shiva the destroyer. Many Indian Shapeshifters explicitly link the Triat with the three deities.
Hulk Speak: The Garou do this when in their Crinos form, at least when trying to speak human languages.
Humanity Ensues: Garou are just as likely to be wolves who turn into human form. They've become the minority in recent nights, however, thanks to the near-extermination of wolves.
Humans Are Bastards: And the werewolves are bastards toonote though at least they care about the fate of the world, unlike humanity...though that still motivates them to act even worse at times. As well as almost everyone else. At least the approaching Apocalypse forced most shapeshifters to seriously rethink their behavior.
I Love Nuclear Power: Wyrm minions do. Nuclear explosions are considered sacred to Furmas, the elemental Wyrm of Balefire. The balefire burning in Black Spiral Dancer caverns is radioactive, producing mutations in some of the the werewolves who reside therein.
One of the Black Spiral Dancers' holiest caerns is a nuclear testing site in Alamagordo, New Mexico, where a colossal Thunderwyrm nests underground. The original nuclear blast blinded one of the Trinity Hive's elders, and hive members who guard Grammaw are frequently hairless and pale due to the effects of residual radiation.
I'm a Humanitarian: There's a rule in the Litany (the werewolf code of laws) specifically forbidding Garou from eating people. However, falling too deep into frenzy may (if you're playing a human-born werewolf) result in your character sampling the long pig in the throes of your frenzy.
The Black Spiral Dancers, on the other hand, have no qualms about eating humans or fallen Garou opponents.
Some of the other Changing Breeds, such as the Mokole and Rokea, are perfectly content with eating anyone, human or otherwise, that ticks them off.
Internalized Categorism: In one of the official collections of short stories, the hero goes through severe identity confusion and self-hatred as he discovers that he's actually a child of the evil werewolf clan, the Black Spiral Dancers. (He eventually snaps out of it and concludes that he doesn't have to be like his ancestors.)
Kissing Cousins: The Silver Fangs are quite, quite inbred, prompting the predictable round of commentary from the other tribes. (Also, if you read the writeups for Yuri and Sophia Tvarivich — twins who were arguably the tribe's greatest heroes — they come off more as a passionate romantic couple than as staunchly loyal siblings.)
Kryptonite Factor: Guess. It's worth noting that the Corax and Mokole are allergic to gold, and the latter have an additional weakness against silver. However, whereas Silver Bullets are inexplicably all over the place in the World Of Darkness, gold weapons are rare in the extreme.
And by inexplicably we mean One of the major movers and shakers of global economy with a couple of arms manufacturers under its wing has a massive feud with werewolves and knows exactly what helps against nine-foot-tall killing machines that can appear from thin air and rip your head off. The actual prevalence of silver weaponry varies depending on the setting and the GM, obviously.
Werewolves themselves use it as well. Their finest and most legendary weapons are Klaives, essentially silver swords with a spirit of war bound to them. They're mostly used for dealing with the Black Spiral Dancers, but do come out unfortunately often when Garou duel over grave insults or positions of leadership. Certain tribes have other silver weapons, the best-known of them being hammers for the Get of Fenris and Labrys (double-headed axes) for the Black Furies, but there's also the african Hakarr, a hunga-munga or throwing iron (well, silver) that is used by Bastet.
And finally, werewolves are not averse to finding out the Kryptonite of other supernaturals and using it against them, leading to for example a whip with a spirit of Helios bound into it that burns vampires like actual sunlight.
It is said that if someone has the slightest bit of Wyrmtaint or is the kindest Friendly Neighborhood Vampire, most Garou tend to claw it first and ask questions later. Except the Children of Gaia, who are sometimes Stupid Good and would sooner have tea with the monsters they're supposed to kill. The truth is more complex, of course, but these are stereotypes commonly held by outsiders to both werewolves as a whole and the Children of Gaia specifically.
"Lawful Stupid" describes the Weaver, with added paranoid schizophrenia and Control Freak.
Level-Up at Intimacy 5: The "Rite of Clouds and Rain" involves Garou having sex in Crinos form to decrease their chances of frenzy. Since this directly breaks the Litany, its existence is the subject of considerable contention (and some Fanon Discontinuity).
Light Is Not Good: The Wyld opposes the Wyrm and the Weaver. That does not make it safer to stick your nose in the Wyld than into a vat of acid. Werewolves that make this mistake seldom get a chance to make it twice. Even spending too much time near the Wyld is enough to permanently change you into a completely different person.
Lighter and Softer: The 20th anniversary edition's espouses a less bleak view of the setting. Yes, it's still a Crapsack World, but the seven signs of the apocalypse are now amended by an eighth one that boils down to "Stop moping around, get your shit together and you just might win!"
The Mafia: The Glass Walkers, drawing from their roots from Italy, have deep ties with the mob. This branch, the Wise Guys, controlled the tribe for most of the 20th century before the Walkers shifted their focus to legit business and technology.
Magic Dance: Dancing is a component of several Garou rites.
Supernatural dancing can also be used by Wyrm minions. In Rage Across Appalachia a bluegrass band called the Pigeon River Howlers (comprised of Black Spiral Dancers) perform at square dances and barn dances. Their kinfolk circulate among the unsuspecting crowd, teaching newcomers dances that mimic the Black Spiral. The evil dances plant seeds of decay in the newcomers' souls.
Magic Knight: The Uktena Garou and some Bastet are known for practicing sorcery. Their magic isn't as strong as the Tremere'sBlood Magic or Mages' True Magick, but they still have all the physical advantages of werecreatures.
Mana: Here called "gnosis". It represents your character's sprituality. Gnosis is used to fuel less agressive powers, but it also represents a character's ability to empathize with the land. When you're wading through knee-deep toxic sewage, that is not a good thing.
Massive Race Selection: All 12 surviving Changing-Breeds are playable with their own set of rules and Gifts. Fomori, Gorgons, Drones, Kami, and Kinfolk also have rules for playing them. And with the anniversary Changing Breeds out, even the extinct breeds got stats.
Mega Corp.: One of the game's primary antagonists is Pentex, an enormous corporation run by minions of the Wyrm to carry out its dark schemes under the guise of big business. Pollution, manipulating Washington, hostile takeovers, you name it.
Its subsidiaries often satirize real-world Megacorps, such as the fast-food chain O'Tolley's (three guesses about what it represents), which is rumored to brainwash its employees and customers, and sell the other white meat.
Funny side note, White Wolf's World of Darkness counterpart, Black Dog, is a Pentex subsidiary noted for degredating the human spirit with dark and violent RPGs.
And as of W20, they've been taken over by creatures previously slumbering beneath the Scandinavian ice, with it left deliberately ambiguous whether they're ancient Banes or some entirely different brand of unwholesomeness.
Minmaxer's Delight: Three words universally loathed by Werewolf players: Lupus Stargazer Ahroun. Starting Gnosis is determined by breed (Lupus get the most), starting Willpower by tribe (Stargazers get the most) and starting Rage by auspice (Ahroun get the most). Of course, taking this combination may prove short-sighted to the extreme if your GM enforces at least a modicum of roleplaying: Lupus often start play unfamiliar with basic human concepts and Stargazers are a classic pastiche of far-eastern monks. It doesn't get much more removed from regular human society unless you're going for a Red Talon. Additionally, this locks you in on three specific gift lists - good if your concept is that of a savage kung-fu fighter, less so if it's anything else.
Miracle Food: There is a Gift the Bone Gnawer tribe have called Cooking. It allows the Bone Gnawer to turn anything into bland but nutritious food. Anything.
The Missing Faction: There are Apis [wereaurochs], Camazotz [werebats] and Grondr [wereboars] who were wiped out by the Garou [werewolves] during the Wars of Rage. Likewise, the Gurahl [werebears] were believed extinct since then, but resurfaced in modern times, while the Nagah [weresnakes] have just let everyone believe they went extinct. All Ratkin expressing the Bard aspect were exterminated as well, leaving the race with only a hazy grasp on their own history. Also, among the Garou themselves are the extinct Bunyip and Croatan tribes, as well as the Black Spiral Dancers (formerly White Howlers) who fell to the Wyrm.
Neurodiversity Is Supernatural: If a human child fails to become a wereraven (because their magical spirit egg was stolen before their first transformation) they tend to become autistic suddenly (despite autism spectrum disorders being congenital in Real Life).
The werewolves' mistakes and misjudgements helped to create many of the dooms that threaten the World of Darkness. The Impergium alienated humanity and afflicted humans with the Delirium, while the War of Rage created animosity between the Garou and other Fera who didn't end up entirely extinct.
The Shadow Lords and Red Talons contend that ending subjugation of humans might well be their biggest collective mistake.
Several of the Changing Breeds claim that it was some error or slight on their part that kicked off the War of Rage. Meanwhile, some other changing breeds claim the Nuwisha were responsible, but the werecoyotes themselves put little stock in this claim.
Noble Savage: Native American werecreatures call themselves The Pure Ones, and the Western Hemisphere was supposedly a perfect utopia where everyone lived in harmony before White people (known as "Wyrmcomers") showed up. While the White settlers certainly did subject the Natives to slavery, disease, rape, and genocide, the Native American tribes still had their fair share of wars, slaves, and concubines among themselves. Eventually subverted, as sourcebooks described this as more Cultural Posturing on the part of said werecreatures than honest historical fact, and depicted some of the problems that did occur before the European invasions.
Noble Wolves: All Garou who fight for the sake of Gaia regard themselves as such. The degree objective outside observers would do so varies from individual and tribe to individual and tribenote (Children of Gaia tend to get high marks, Red Talons rather low).
No Delays For The Wicked: One sourcebook claimed the Black Spiral Dancers invariably track down and kidnap those incredibly rare White Howler throwbacks born outside the tribe, using corrupted guardian spirits called Kin-Fetches who've stuck around for centuries just waiting to squelch Special Snowflake Syndrome. Meanwhile everyone else's uncorrupted Kin-Fetches, which are specifically assigned to each infant cub, are known to have trouble sticking around just for the years until the kid hits puberty.
No Indoor Voice: Zhyzhak, one of the highest-ranked Black Spiral Dancers, perpetually screams at the top of her voice to drown out all those other voices in her head.
"Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: Every shapeshifter has the power to inspire lust in a chosen onlooker. The intent is to help along reproduction, since werewolves are born, not made, but it's still essentially a free rape card. The only restrictions are that it can't alter a person's sexual orientation or sway them if taken and firmly monogamous, but these just play into the trope even more.
As of W20, it can't make anyone do something that they don't, on some level, actually want to do. A successful application can win over someone who's interested but hesitant, but "just not into you", for whatever reason, is sufficient to keep it from working as intended. This is intended to be less creepy but it backfires completely, since it still alters a person's ability to consent with a clear mind, and it lets the offending Garou say "You know you wanted it all along."
Oireland: You did see the tribal description for the Fianna, right?
One Stat to Rule Them All: As is traditional for pre-nWoD White Wolf games, Dexterity is better than any two other Attributes combined.
Our Dragons Are Different: One of the other groups of shapeshifters are Mokole werecrocodiles, whose warforms combine traits of dragons and dinosaurs, with Asian Mokole being more draconic while the Western and Australian varieties are more saurian. Pound for pound, they are more powerful than the Garou but always lacked the pack mentality, hence their downfall.
Our Werebeasts Are Different: In addition to the titular werewolves, there are 11 other breeds of shapeshifters, described in their own Splat books: Ajaba (werehyenas), Ananasi (werespiders), Bastet (werecats), Corax (wereravens), Gurahl (werebears), Kitsune (werefoxes), Mokole (werecrocodiles/lizards/dragons), Nagah (weresnakes), Nuwisha (werecoyotes), Ratkin (wererats), Rokea (weresharks). The Apis (wereaurochs), Camazotz (werebats), Grondr (wereboars), and Bunyip (werethylacines) used to exist to, but the Garou genocided them.
Book of the Wyrm 20 has now thrown in two man-made, wholly Wyrm-claimed Changing Breeds - Anurana (werefrogs, a failed experiment that escaped into the wild but still remains loyal to the Wyrm) and Yeren (wereapes, debauched predators of the boardroom).
Our Werewolves Are Different: Characters can shift at will into any form attributed to werewolves: hairy and slouching wolfman, tall lupine-headed wall of death, giant wolf, and normal wolf. Plus, their spiritual nature gives them a plethora of magical abilities. Being a werewolf has a lot to do with the moon, but full moon transformations are not the norm. This is also true for the other shapeshifters, each of which has at least three forms.
Partial Transformation: Aside from their three hybrid animal-human forms (only one or two hybrid forms for some werebeast species), werewolves can learn the rare ability of shapeshifting one body part at a time.
Physical God: Grammaw, a colossal Thunderwyrm revered as a goddess by Black Spiral Dancers. Grammaw nests underneath a nuclear testing site in New Mexico and serves as a living caern for the Trinity Hive. Grammaw exists simultaneously in the physical world and Umbra, houses elemental spirits throughout her body, induces terrifying visions and disfigurements in those passing through her system, and can even grant rebirth to Garou she deems worthy.
Poisonous Friend: The original role of the Shadow Lords was that of the eternal Beta, the ones that do the things that are necessary, yet sufficiently atrocious that their Alpha (nation-wise the Silver Fangs) can't be seen doing them. By now, part of the tribe sees this devotion as misplaced due to the Silver Fangs being considered inept, so the tribe has some factions that stay with the traditional Beta role and some that try and make a grab for power themselves.
Rated M for Manly: The Get of Fenris. It's hard to create female characters from this tribe without wondering if they'd fit better with the Black Furies. The Get of Fenris do have their own all-female camp, the Valkyria of Freya though. And the tribe book does say that this is a result of the human norms affecting the tribe members, not the other way around.
Reality Retcon: In the Caerns sourcebook, the Trinity testing site in New Mexico is one of the holiest caerns of the Black Spiral Dancers. The impact crater receives no human visitors, and the Black Spirals use the crater as an amphitheater for large gatherings. The McDonald ranch house, where the atomic bomb's core was assembled, is now the home of White-Eyes-ikthya, a Trinity Hive elder. In real life, the Trinity testing site and the McDonald ranch house are a historical landmarks that receive thousands of visitors each year. Trinity's ground zero crater was bulldozed in 1952.
Recycled INSPACE!: Werewolf: THE WILD WEST!, Werewolf: THE DARK AGES!, and Hengeyokai: SHAPESHIFTERS OF THE EAST!. And quite literally IN SPACE with the Rage Across the Heavens book described below.
Retcon: W20 has done a few — most notably, it outright states that the Black Spiral Dancer involvement in the extinction of the Bunyip is exaggerated at best, and is more an excuse to reduce the culpability of the Garou in the crime of annihilating one of their own tribes out of racism and intolerance than an accurate accounting of events.
Savage Wolves: Due to Rage, most Garou have to struggle against becoming this at least sometimes... that is, if they do not embrace it.
Science Is Bad: Kind of. The Weaver is the patron of science, and she's a reckless nutcase who is largely responsible for the Wyrm going crazy and evil. Still, Book of the Weaver makes it clear that Science is actually her least maleficent aspect, and in fact it being choked out by Dogma (blind faith) and Technology (which isn't curious about the world at all) is a symptom of her increasing despair and Control Freak tendencies.
Science Marches On: Rage Across the Heavens deals with Garou astrology and assigns each of the 13 tribes and a patron spirit to the most significant planetary bodies in the Solar System. However, it relies on concepts that have been outdated for years. Namely, the Uktena's patron planet is Vulcan, a theoretical body on opposite end of Mercury's orbit, to explain how it revolves so fast, but it's been proven to not actually exist. The book also states the once-popular theory that the Asteroid Belt is the remnants of a destroyed planet, which we also know is not the case (Pluto gets a pass, since the Planetary Incarnae don't necessarily have to represent full-size planets). One could argue that the Garou zodiac system was set up centuries before modern astronomy, except you can actually visit Vulcan despite its nonexistence on the physical plane.
Sex Is Evil and I Am Horny: The book Possessed features an old man who spent many years standing with Bible in hand at the college gates, berating female students for their skimpy clothing. Turns out that his true motivation was that he enjoyed staring at beautiful young women and commenting on their bodies and clothing. The whole moral superiority thing was merely an excuse that he used to trick everyone (surely including himself) that his behavior was acceptable.
To make it worse, indulging his hatred of beautiful young women and his self-inflicted sexual frustration opened him up to what can be called demonic possession. Having turned into a Formor minion of the Wyrm, he ends up attacking a young beautiful female co-ed werewolf, making himself the first kill in her new career as a slayer of wyrm-tainted monsters.
In the earlier-edition Freak Legion sourcebook about Fomori, one of the NPC's is the director of a Cure Your Gays compound, who has sex with many of his clients while turning them into Wyrm-possessed monsters.
The Social Darwinist: Shadow Lords and Get of Fenris sometimes fall into this philosophy, due to liking their Asskicking Equals Authority ways a bit too much. The Silver Fangs don't allow anyone with "low breeding" into their tribe. Black Spiral Dancers and other Wyrm-servants don't particularly bother with justifications like this.
Special Snowflake Syndrome: Modern-day White Howlers, anyone? However, what's worse is when a player wants to be a Bunyip in the Wild West setting since they were still alive back then, and gives a convoluted story of how an Indigenous Australian wound up in Texas in 1850. And then there are players wanting to play a werewolf who's also a ghoul, sorcerer, medium, and/or fae-blooded.
The Fae-Blooded aspect isn't entirely unreasonable due to the Fianna having a history with the fae, and their...common means of recreation
In one of the supplementary books, it lists that in order for a player to play a relic White Howler (actually a Black Spiral Dancer Ronin), they have to fill up an entire Pure Breed background stat, and that labels them as someone to be hunted down by the Black Spiral Dancers at all costs.
For W20, the team in charge noted they felt they'd been fairly punitive on people who wanted to play 'last White Howlers' and so on, perhaps as an attempt to avoid SSS, and decided to take a different approach. You want to play one of the Lost Tribes or Breeds? Cool, go ahead. Might not be what they'd do, but it's your game, and that's what matters. A White Howlers Tribebook is even on the schedule of upcoming books.
It does, however, note that a last White Howler or reclaimer of the Bunyip/Croatan heritage is probably going to be central to any campaign they're part of and the Storyteller and other players should be prepared for dealing with a de facto "main character" before allowing it.
Spirit World: The Umbra. Besides including a reflection of the material world, it features many, many fantastic (and often dangerous — the Wyrm and his chief servants reside in the Umbra) Umbral Realms, each with its own different set of physical laws, as well as strange, Lovecraftian deep regions.
Squishy Wizard: The Kitsune werefoxes. By far the physically weakest of the Changing Breeds, and the only ones with no Healing Factor, they're arguably the most powerful sorcerers.
The Starscream: The Shadow Lords, whose Manipulative Bastard mindset has more in common with vampires than werewolves (though this can be an advantage), plus they've long despised either the Silver Fangs' traditional leadership or their ineptness, depending on the source.
Supernatural Phone: The supplement The Book of the Wyrm gave us the Umbraphone, a mobile phone which can call up spirits across the Gauntlet (the spiritual barrier separating the real world and the Umbra).
Several Glass Walker Gifts were originally treated as binding a spirit to the character's PDA. With W20, the Gifts have since been rewritten to allow players to equip their characters with spirit-infused smartphones and tablets.
Toxic, Inc.: Pentex and many of its subsidiaries intentionally destroy the environment to make The Wyrm stronger.
The Trickster: This is the job of Garou of the Ragabash auspice — to play devil's advocate, drag secrets out into the light, challenge old traditions to make sure they're still relevant in modern times, and keep the leaders and warriors from getting too full of themselves. It's also the role played by the Nuwisha werecoyotes (who are all Ragabash), and to varying degrees the Corax wereravens and Qualmi werelynxes.
True Companions: Werewolf packs have a tighter bond than the parties in any other Old World of Darkness game. Whether or not they see each other as true friends or simply coworkers depends on the pack in question, but their tactics and totemic bond gives them an edge (and a connection to each other) that others can't beat.
Unknown Rival: There are some elements of this in the relations between the Black Furies and the Get of Fenris. Stereotypically speaking, the Furies loathe the Fenrir for their intolerant ethos and their entrenched macho misogyny; their totem spirit, Pegasus, doesn't even allow Fenrir in the packs it patronizes. The Fenrir, meanwhile, think they've taken care of their sexism and racism issues (whether they actually have is another story) and wonder what their problem is.
Unstoppable Rage: Werewolves can attempt to shrug off fatal wounds at the cost of entering berserk frenzy and attacking everything in sight, except (usually) their packmates.
Values Dissonance: The source of many, many In-Universe conflicts. Some tribes are pretty much opposite to each other in every way, except for their general goal to protect Gaia, for example Glass Walkers/Red Talons or Silver Fangs/Bone Gnawers. Also can happen with players, as some tribes have pretty radical or even literally inhuman anti-human worldviews.
Vulnerable To Itself: In one of the published Apocalypse scenarios, the Wyrm has grown so powerful only its own weapons can harm it.
Weaksauce Weakness: Life as a werewolf hunter (especially if he's a mage) is much, much easier once you know that werewolves are vulnerable to radiation.
We ARE Struggling Together: The thirteen tribes have a combined set of rules called the Litany, but all have different ideas on which rules are important; there's also a lot of struggle within most tribes; and the fact that all werewolves are prone to berserk frenzy if mildly provoked doesn't help. As a result, the werewolves have all but annihilated all non-wolf shape-shifters, and completely wiped out one of their own tribes, the Bunyip.
We Have Reserves: Wyrm forces outnumber the Garou and their allies by a considerable margin. When they see something they want or need badly enough, they'll just throw troops at it till they get it.
Wendigo: One of the tribes follows the Wendigo as their totem, and named themselves after it. The Wendigo are not evil, in fact they're staunch advocates for Native American rights and culture, but they're warlike and isolationist in the extreme and the Apocalypse scenario where they're subverted by the Wyrm (there's one for every tribe) is disturbingly easy to imagine.
Western Terrorists: The Glass Walker Tribebook notes that there's a very dirty word for people fighting a private war, unsanctioned by any government, using asymmetric tactics and often hitting targets that are not even aware of having chosen a side in a cosmic struggle. The Garou may be heroes, but they're also very much monsters, and monstrous.
Rage is one of the most important combat stats for werewolves, but it is also rolled to enter frenzy. Having a reserve of superhumanly intense anger and aggression on tap is useful, but it makes werewolves almost completely unsafe to have around squishy mortals. If you roll too many successes on any Rage roll, very bad things can happen. When frenzy gets especially deep it becomes the Thrall of The Wyrm, which is so horrific some Garou commit suicide over what they've done under it.
Also, the Silver Fangs tribe as a whole suffers for this — after their ancestors tried to sit on both sides of the fence between Luna (spirit of the Moon) and Helios (spirit of the Sun), to cement their rule over the Garou Nation, they got slapped with a curse, which drives a sizeable percentage of them to insanity (for Silver Fang PCs being crazy is strictly optional).
World Half Empty: This is the Old World of Darkness, but the setting got increasingly depressing with each new edition. Then again, the Apocalypse book that finished the game line confirms that victory is still possible for the Garou, albeit requiring several miracles that (naturally) the PCs would be called on to provide. Of the three scenarios, one (roughly) defaulted to a victory for the Garou, one damn nearly completely ruled out a victory, and two found the idea of a victory very, very unlikely but possible.
The 20th anniversary edition actually covers this shift in the opening comic, first suggesting that victory is impossible and the world is ultimately doomed, before showing that if the Garou get their act together, triumph over the Wyrm is still possible.
The World Is Always Doomed: The Dark Ages and Wild West spin-offs border on that. Particularly the second iteration of the Dark Ages setting, which suggests the probability of the Apocalypse 800 years before the normal schedule.
Yakuza: Asian Glass Walkers are sometimes members, but in the Revised edition found the Yakuza to be unchanging and very different from the Italian mafia.