Accidental Aesop: An obsession with racial "purity" is not only stupid, but detrimental to a group's survival. Garou tribes that insist on breeding only with members of certain racial and ethnic groups (Get of Fenris, Wendigo) are small in number and declining. The Silver Fangs, most of whom only breed with blue bloods, are small in number and inbred. The Red Talons, who refuse to mate with humans, are also on the decline. On the other hand, tribes that have mingled with a variety of racial and ethnic groups worldwide and accept converts from different racial backgrounds (the Black Furies, Bone Gnawers, Children of Gaia, and Uktena) are keeping their numbers steady.
Are the Garou and Fera noble warriors who serve as the last, best hope against the Wyrm, or childish thugs who waste so much time fighting among themselves that they neglect their common enemy? Are they atoners who are coping with the consequences of their ancestors' bloody mistakes, or potential tyrants who failed to learn from history and who would dominate humanity again if given the chance?
Are the Nuwisha a race of trickster mentors who teach important lessons to the Garou and Fera, or lazy troublemakers who would rather sit back and let the Garou do the heavy lifting in the war against the Wyrm?
Are the Ratkin and Ajaba vital tools of Gaia who keep the human population in check, or murderers from a barbaric era that has long passed?
Are the Ananasi the only faction who can see the big picture, or callous manipulators blindly obeying their goddess?
Ultimately, is siding with Gaia in the best interest of humanity as a whole? Or is she an Evil Luddite who would rather they be knocked so far back into primitivism that the Stone Age looks like a pleasant dream than enjoy the benefits of civilization?
Discussed within Book of the Weaver where the designers point out that no, they don't go around preaching how we'd be better off living in caves - they're merely telling a story in which two of the three most powerful supernatural entities have gone mad (and the third was never all that sane to begin with) and a self-destructive civilization is one of the results. To create a Crapsack World setting, of course they're going to focus on the bad stuff. That said, said book also includes a pro-eugenics rant about the evils of modern medicine saving the "inferior" that doesn't really pass the smell test, so take it with a grain of salt.
Antonine Teardrop: "Millions of people also can only survive through the intervention of modern medicine and its attendant technology; people who, even a mere century ago, would not have lived past early childhood are now living to ripe old ages. From the human point of view, of course, all this is for the best. After all, very few people wish to see their children or other loved ones die of conditions that are, in the modern age, preventable or curable, Darwin be damned. On the other hand, genetic problems that would otherwise be weeded out are instead propagated throughout the human population, weakening the species in general and making humans even more dependent on science and technology for their continued survival ... I realize that this is a disturbing point for me to argue; truly, I must sound almost like a Get or Shadow Lord when I talk about the deterioration of the human stock. But it is a real issue..."
Played straight in the Pentex splat where it has been stated that there's quite a few things in the book that are barely exaggerated and merely given a spiritual background for the real-world corruption that already exists in the name of the Bottom Line.
The Gaia-aligned factions in the game don't necessarily agree on whether human civilization is positive, neutral, or negative. For example, the Red Talon Garou and Ratkin blame human civilization for everything that's wrong with the world. The Glass Walkers, Bone Gnawers, and other city-dwelling shape-changers embrace a more positive outlook on civilization.
Book of the City is ambiguous on the subject. Several Gaia Garou describe cities as snares, "hellish dead places", and playgrounds for the Weaver and Wyrm. One Uktena even describes them as "scabs on the Mother's body made by the parasite Man whom the Wyrm infects". Other Garou depict cities in a more neutral light, likening them to battlefields, obstacle courses, and magnifiers of whatever is in humans' hearts. Some Gaia Garou describe them in glowing terms, describing them as living systems, collections of tools, or beautiful and ever-evolving abodes.
The revised Black Fury tribebook. One the one hand, some complain that it abandoned many of the feminist themes of the original tribebook — in other words, throwing out what made the Black Furies distinctive and appealing in the first place. On the other hand, its defenders argue that their initial characterization and tribebook painted them as the worst kind of Straw Feminists:
"We have every reason to hate Man. The catalogue of his outrages against us would fill the Abyss. Across the world in recent years, Man's fear of our rising power has led us into open war with him. But even if Man were faithful to the Goddess, he would still have no place with us. Our way is the way of Artemis, the Virgin huntress, and her purity is our own. We shun Man for his weakness, his place in Gaia's shadow, not for his crimes."
"Man can be kind, gentle, respectful and understanding. Like a dog, he may be a faithful companion, but will bite, and bite hard, if he feels himself wronged. Sadly, his confidence is so fragile that any hint of his weakness is often enough to bring him to homicidal rage. Man makes a good lap-dog, but far too often he has rabies, and must be put down for his own good. In the end, the choice is yours. Man is not evil by nature. The Wyrm, however, is only footsteps away from his heart."
The existence of lupus werewolves, with all it implies. A unique, clever PC background that logically extends from the idea of a "werewolf," a disgusting act of shock-jockery, or a good idea ruined by White Wolf's glee in trying to be as "punk" and "edgy" with it as possible?
The Red Talons. The vast majority want to wipe out the human race, or at the best leave maybe 10% of us around to make more Kinfolk. A lot of Storytellers relegated them to NPC-only status, because who the hell wants to play that? Or worse, mediate for that when that one misanthrope wants to play one and everyone else has to put up with it. It's telling that their Forsaken equivalents, the Predator Kings, are out-and-out villains.
Some of the more ruthless Fera, such as the Ananasi, Ratkin, and Ajaba, also qualify. The game presents them as servants of a goddess who seeks to restore order to a broken universe (Ananasi), creatures of the Wyld (Ratkin), or agents of the natural order (Ajaba), but their cruel and deadly actions make it very difficult to cheer for them.
Esoteric Happy Ending: In the Time of Judgment scenario in which the Wyrm is released from confinement in the Weaver's web, the Weaver and Wyrm become sane again, and the cosmos is restored to balance. However, virtually all the changing breeds have been killed and the human race has been hurled back into the stone age. While it's implied that the spirits of the breeds will be able to help humanity rebuild a better world in the long term, things kinda suck for everyone right now.
At the end of said scenario, the Wyrm and Weaver are symbolically depicted as a man and woman at the edge of reality, watching over the cosmos and finally at peace with each other and themselves. In other words, all the pain, struggle, and death of the Apocalypse was nothing more than a cosmic lovers' quarrel.
Fanon Discontinuity: Several books are considered this for one reason or another, but the revised Children of Gaia Tribebook especially, for drastically misunderstanding the Tribe's character and including all sorts of badly-designed rituals.
Also, read the Galliard chapter of Book of Auspices. The debate between Samir the Jackal and Malcolm Night-Smile is thick with Ho Yay.
And it doesn't stop there. The narrator of the Ahroun chapter (a Get of Fenris writing it just after World War II, no less) takes a look at all the various romantic possibilities for high-Rage Garou and admits that same-sex loving between two Garou is probably the best option one can get while technically not breaking the Litany.
They still don't hold a candle to the Nuwisha, who have a high level gift called "Teasing Mate", which their Tribe book specifically says is for attracting lovers of the same gender. That's right, they have an actual Gift for getting some gay lovin'.
Humor Dissonance: The Nuwisha are presented to readers as hilarious trickster mentors, but your mileage may vary as to whether they're funny or just annoying.
This also occurs in-universe. The Nuwisha see themselves as humorous, but many Garou find them obnoxious or baffling.
Rorg, the Celestine of the asteroid belt. He's a savage, unstable deity, but it's difficult not to pity him. His realm was destroyed by the Wyrm eons ago, and he's been in physical and psychological agony ever since.
Among the tribes, the Wendigo and especially the Red Talons are violent, angry, and deaf to reason and attempts to reconcile, but the former have been traumatized by the horrific treatment of Native Americans over the last few centuries and the latter are slowly going extinct as the wild wolves of the world die out.
Misaimed Fandom: Despite the genre-criticism not exactly being subtle, the game still had a strong group of fans who loved it as a hack-and-slash combat game, and an even larger group of detractors who saw it as nothing but this. This is despite it being a game that is, explicitly, a game in which absolute evil exists, and you play creatures designed to kill it, to the end result that the world ends and nothing is fixed.
Old Shame: The Fianna again. In the Second Edition, a large part of the Fianna's internal tribe politics and background was tied up and interlinked with The Troubles. Come The Revised Edition (post 9/11) most of this was excised and glossed over, with an apology and admission that terrorism wasn't big and clever, mirroring the real life shift in attitude towards the troubles, due to the uncomfortable reminder about Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters.
In the Gurahl breed book, a Wyrm-corrupted Werebear attacks two campers: one wearing a UCLA jacket and a Chicago Bears sweatshirt. The other is wearing a Prophecy: The Horror Movie shirt. Prophecy is about a pollution-mutated bear attacking people in the wilderness.
A narrator/character in the Black Fury book tries explaining its Hecate Sisters-styled caste system through the use of the Norse dieties Urd, Verthandi, and Skaldi. The narrator/character is surprised that the person being educated knows of them—and how.
"Mother, maiden, and Crone. Ah, you're familiar with the concept; yes, it's like Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, or if you prefer, Urd, Skuld, and Verdanda. I'm glad they still teach the classics in public schools—eh? A comicbook? Well, I'll be."
A Nuwisha offers the following line when asked of the Rokea (were-sharks) in the 20th Anniversary-edition book:
In the revised Black Fury tribebook, one of the character templates is a middle-aged philodox holding a labyrs axe. She bears an uncanny resemblance to feminist author Mary Daly, who wields a labyrs on the cover of her 1999 bookQuintessence.
In Titus Germanicus' letters in Chronicles of the Black Labyrinth, the Romans invite Brennus to a meeting at Eboracum. The appendix of Chronicles of the Black Labyrinth identifies the White Howler chieftain Brennus with the ancient Pictish king Bran Mak Morn and contains a brief note about Titus Sulla. These are references to "Worms of the Earth", a short story written by Robert E. Howard and published in Weird Tales in November 1932. In "Worms of the Earth", the Pictish king Bran Mak Morn seeks the aid of evil chthonic creatures to destroy the Roman governor at Eboracum, Titus Sulla. One of Brennus' warriors berates him by saying, "You have called them and they will remember", a reference to Atla's line to Bran Mak Morn in the story.
Tear Jerker: In a game rife with cosmic tragedy and horror, sometimes it's the little personal tragedies that hit the hardest. One of the sample characters in the 2nd Ed. Red Talons tribebook is a metis with the Hairless deformity. The character's one-and-only listed possession is a nature magazine full of photos of wolves with beautiful, glossy coats.
Wangst: Subverted. Oh, werewolves (and others werepeople) have ample reasons for sorrow and despair, but they're certainly not supposed to spend their time Wangsting when the world burns around them. In fact, losing one's will to act and succumbing to Wangst is an actual werewolf-specific psychical disorder in this game (and a pretty serious one).