The American Dream is a Totem of Respect.
The American Dream isn’t dead; it’s just been lost. Followers of this totem quest to find it, sometimes by reliving quintessentially American experiences. For a while, only Garou born in the 50s and 60s could dedicate themselves to the Dream, but thanks to an epic quest by a few Bone Gnawers, a new generation has discovered it again.
For the vast majority of the denizens of the World of Darkness, the American Dream is just that: a dream. The future is bleak, the world holds little hope and suffering is commonplace. Especially in the slums, backwaters, and inner city hellholes that many Bone Gnawers frequent, America is a dying nation that’s neglected its own citizens. As amazing as it may seem, followers of the American Dream are still optimistic about the world around them. With the help of their totem spirit, they seek out the few basically good people left in the world and fight to help and protect them.
After a pack dedicates itself to the American Dream, they rarely see their totem spirit – until it’s needed, that is. Incarnations of the Dream wait until the best possible moment to show up with a bit of advice, a handout, or a helping hand. However, the Dream always appears in disguise, usually as an American citizen. Garou without much Gnosis have trouble recognizing a manifestation of this spirit when it’s nearby. Accordingly, they initially treat every stranger they meet with respect, since any of them may be an avatar of their Incarna. Most of the time, the world around them is a bleak and dismal place, but there’s always a chance that help will show up when it’s least expected.
Garou known for their sagacious wisdom and considerable Gnosis report seeing a wide array of personas for their totem spirit. These appearances always correspond to people who represent the American Dream or America at its finest (at least, from the Storyteller’s view). For instance, it might appear as an all-American athlete, a young child eager for her first day of school, an elderly black man who can recall every detail of the civil rights movement, or just an average Joe on a coffee break at a construction site.
For Garou who rely on Gnosis too much, typically by spending too much time in the Umbra or away from the company of other Garou, these visions appear to be surreal. Some of the most disturbing visions involve the Dream as it appeared in the 1950s, whether that’s a fresh-faced young housewife, a gee-whiz teenager, or a suburban Dad in his smoking jacket with a pipe full of tobacco. (Gosh!) Fortunately, only followers of the American Dream can see its more surreal manifestations, and even then, only when they have been overpowered by the maddening influence of the Wyld.
As a controversial totem, the American Dream has staunch allies and dedicated enemies. American Silver Fangs, Glass Walkers, and Bone Gnawers gain 5 temporary Honor when they ally with this totem. Other non-American Garou, especially European Silver Fangs and Shadow Lords, lose 5 temporary Honor instead when they ally with the American Dream and are immediately marked as troublemakers.
Note: Fianna Tribebook describes the American Dream as a totem of Wisdom instead of Respect. Whether this is an editing error or the Fianna truly acknowledge the American Dream as a totem of Wisdom is unknown.
- Background Cost: 3
Traits & Ban
- Individual Traits: As long as a follower of the Dream is in the good ol’ U.S. of A, they will never get lost. (This cancels out any Gift, rite, or other supernatural ability that causes Garou to “get lost,” as defined by the Storyteller.) Even when the Garou is traveling abroad, certain other Americans will make an extra effort to help him. Sometimes these are merely manifestations or incarnations of the American Dream; sometimes they’re actually humans with a great deal of sympathy for its ideals. Every session, the Storyteller should hide one character in the story that is actually the manifestation of the pack’s totem spirit. That one person may offer help at a critical time, but only if they are asked, recognized, or treated with respect. The game stats for this manifestation are the stats for the pack’s totem spirit. The pack can actively look for the totem spirit, but this requires the pack members to meditate for a few rounds before rolling their temporary Gnosis. Homids need three successes on a Gnosis roll (difficulty 6) to recognize an incarnation of the Dream. As outsiders to human culture, metis and lupus Garou have a tougher time recognizing it (difficulty 8). A character cannot try more than one “recognition” roll per scene to identify his totem spirit. This benefit is purely at the Storyteller’s discretion; it should save the pack from difficulties or inconvenience no more than once per game session. Dreamer packs tend to treat all humans they meet with respect, just to be sure.
- Pack Traits: As a major benefit, Dreamer packs get Athletics +2 and Empathy +2. (At the Storyteller’s discretion, the Athletics bonus may not apply to sports like hockey and soccer and the Empathy bonus may not apply to anyone who is not an American.) As a minor benefit, for any Social-based dice pool for interaction with American “officials,” reduce the difficulty by 3. This includes confrontations with police, public servants, bureaucrats, public officials or government figures. Anyone who has sworn an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution also applies.
Followers of the Dream must accept that their totem spirit cannot always be with them. The chance of it manifesting depends on how fervently the pack upholds the nation’s dreams and ideals, no matter how they interpret them. As a result, most American Dreamers are patriots, crusaders, and idealists. Even in their native land, many find these traits annoying at best, and foolish at worst. If the pack does not display them, the totem spirit will not manifest.
In addition, when traveling abroad, followers of the Dream cannot help but openly exhibit the worst tendencies of Americans. They speak loudly and coarsely, insist that everything back home is better than what they can find while traveling and have a tendency to debate the merits of American culture, foreign policy, and military action. When a follower of the Dream deals with people from other countries, increase the difficulty for all of the “ugly American’s” Social-based dice pools by 1.