The origins of this tribe can be traced back to the days of the Roman Empire, when legions of soldiers struggled to build a nation that would place Rome at the center of the known world. In distant lands, generals conducted campaigns against chaos and barbarism. After 80 CE, their most valiant enemies were the fierce tribes of Scotland and Northern Britain. While the southern tribes quickly fell before the Roman advance, the stalwart defenders of the north held off the assaults of the Romans for over two centuries.
Hadrian's Wall marked the furthest limit of this empire with a boundary of stone and mortar. The edifice was originally constructed to defend Roman settlements from the raids of the northern tribes. On the north side was Caledonia, where dozens of tribes warred incessantly against each other. To the south, the furthest outpost of the empire served as refuges for Roman civilization.
The last defense of the northern caerns depended on the White Howlers, a fanatic and dangerous tribe stalking in the Scottish highlands. Long after the Impergium, the Howlers remained isolated in Northern Britain. This desolate landscape was also home to the Picts. Legends tell of a hero named Cluid who led them on an epic journey to these lands - thus, their descendants referred to themselves as "The Children of Cluid" or "Cluithi." The greatest Pictish warriors became Kinfolk to the White Howler tribe.
Aided by Pictish Kinfolk, the Howlers were truly awesome in battle. They demonstrated courage and ferocity in action. Their greatest totem, Samladh (pronounced SAU-lah), represented these qualities. While Roman centurions hid behind armor and shields, the Picts often fought in the nude, proudly displaying warpaint and tribal tattoos. Invigorated by the chilly Scottish winds, they raced each other across Roman battlefields, screaming horrible war cries. Many warriors painted themselves a fierce shade of blue before battle to draw upon their deepest energies. This use of warpaint and tattoos inspired the Roman name for their tribe: the "Pictii" or "Painted Men."
The white-furred Howlers fought without restraint, reveling in savagery and brutality. Ancient rituals and violent Rites of Passage had made them incredibly vicious. The most arduous of these rituals involved spirit quests into the darkest reams of the Umbra. Cubs proved themselves not only by defeating physical foes, but also by descending into the dark heart of the underworld to prove their worth. The greatest arena for these ordeals was a Malfean realm known as the Spiral Labyrinth. Picts knew the spiritual tradition of confronting these spirits as "walking the spiral"; Howlers used Gaia's blessings to travel further into the spirit world than any human mystic ever could.
While the White Howlers were masters of shocking violence, the Wyrm's legions were more subtle. Many thought that continual assaults on the realm of Malfeas would strike at the heart of hell, weakening the Wyrm's strength and purifying the bawns of their caerns. Unfortunately, Banes from outside the Malfean labyrinth had already begun to seduce and possess their Pictish Kinfolk. Slowly, they tainted the Picts, stunting their growth and corrupting their minds. While the werewolf rulers of the tribe maintained the purity of their own blood, their Pictish Kinfolk became bestial and degenerate.
From this point on, legends differ. Some modern Galliards believe that the Wyrm's servitors spawned in the Scottish moors faster than the White Howlers could slay them. Others relate that a few enemy spies within the northern septs betrayed the Howlers to their undead enemies. Allegedly, vampires and the Garou they subjugated opened Moon Bridges to call down diabolical allies. In these tales, the loyal White Howlers were completely overwhelmed and the Wyrm's assault completely eradicated all traces of the tribe.
Though the original tribe is indeed extinct, these stories are not entirely correct. By completely abandoning themselves in combat, the White Howlers' Rage became utterly uncontrollable. Their beliefs also insisted on the tradition of descending into the Malfeas to improve their spiritual insight and martial prowess against the Wyrm, placing them at spiritual risk. By following these two practices, the White Howlers succumbed to the Wyrm's temptations.
As their heroes' journeys into darkness became more perilous, the warriors who returned understood many dark mysteries of the underworld. Blasphemous revelations tested their sanity. In glimpses of insight, some survivors argued that the Wyrm was not a force of corruption, but merely one of Balance. Those who rejected this idea responded with overwhelming Rage, but as the Howlers indulged in violence, forces unseen preyed upon their Kinfolk. The tribe was never destroyed from without. It was corrupted from within.
By the time Roman legions finally broke through the Picts' defenses, the vampires who came with them were unprepared for what they found. The White Howlers had descended further into corruption than their Cainite invaders. To secure the freedom of their homelands, many within the tribe had made dark pacts with infernal forces. After witnessing the true nature of the Wyrm, they willingly opened gates and portals leading to infernal depths. These spiritual visionaries destroyed those who questioned their desperate defense of their homeland. By the time the Romans arrived at the first corrupted caern, hellspawn waited to shatter their minds and consume their souls.
The last caern to fall was the Sept of the Mile-Deep Loch, an island where the purest members of the tribe ruled over the White Howler werewolves. Elders looked out over the bleak moors of Scotland from a high peak at the center of the lake. When they learned of their brethren's treachery, they tried to summon reinforcements from distant septs, but by then, it was too late. Outsiders could do little but watch as wave after wave of Wyrmish forces assaulted the sept's defenses.
When the sept was finally defiled, black tendrils reached out from the depths of the lake and dragged the tribal elders into the underworld. Destiny awaited them in the greatest gateway to the Spiral Labyrinth, a Malfean fortress known as the Temple Obscura. There, the last heroes of the White Howlers prepared for spiritual corruption.
In the weeks that followed, the Romans were driven back past Hadrian's Wall, but at a perilous cost. The Picts had secured their Scottish homelands again, but their Garou guardians had fallen prey to the conqueror Wyrm. The caerns of the north became breeding grounds for Banes, which werewolves immediately bound into Wyrm-tainted fetishes. Eventually, the elders of the tribe returned from their final journey into the depths of Malfeas, but when they did so, they emerged as werewolves of the Black Spiral tribe.
In their early struggle, the Black Spiral Dancers were mostly confined to their Scottish territories. The arrival of Caledon the White from the Silver Fangs started several campaigns against them, in joint ventures with the Fianna, who had learned of the fate of the Howlers through one of its last Tribe members, Coruroc; and with the Get of Fenris. Unfortunately, these three parties squabble as much against each other as they fought the Wyrm-tainted Spirals. Garou and Kinfolk bred with the tainted lines of the White Howlers and amassed enough Wyrm taint that they deserted their former tribes to join the Black Spirals in their tunnels.
The Tribe itself mostly expanded its underground network, digging tunnels that connected them with the mainland and by 1230, they had come as far as Eastern Europe. The Black Spirals mostly consorted with lepers during this period, taking them under their wing and instructing them in the way of the Wyrm as a means to get revenge at the people that had shunned them. Many were also used for experiments to create fomori or breed special Banes to carry the disease on.
The Black Spiral Dancers were hit hard by the Inquisition and mostly forced back into their underground tunnels. Most took this as a lesson and dedicated themselves to the preservation of the Veil, if only to protect their own interests. During the Age of Exploration, quite a few Hives emigrated to the New World, to find new places of corruption to nurture away from the eyes of the Garou Nation.
The Black Spiral Dancers thrived in the colonization of America, mainly in the conflict between the Pure Tribes and the Europeans. Black Spiral cultists practiced foul rituals in the woods, stalked the unprotected colonies, and sought foolish mortals to abduct and suborn. By infesting carefully chosen Europeans with Wyrm-taint, they brought fresh blood into the sinister black covens of their Kinfolk. Men and women of weak virtue were also offered places of honor in the tribe's orgiastic procreation rites.
One of the greatest legends of the tribe's unholy activities concerns the village of Roanoke. There, Black Spirals harried and hunted the isolated colonists for months, summoning Banes to spread madness and hatred. The demented werewolves performed the bidding of the Eater-of-Souls, an aspect of the Wyrm that physically manifested itself in the fields outside the colony. Its efforts continued until the members of one Garou tribe — the Croatan — overcame the local Black Spirals and sacrificed themselves into the very maw of the Wyrm. Despite this, the entire village was destroyed. Though human history does not offer an account of this tragedy, the bloodshed that resulted is recorded in the Garou epic known as the Croatan Song. Others made careful alliances with other creatures of corruption, namely Sabbat vampires on the Path of Evil Revelations.
After the dawn of the 20th century, the Black Spiral tribe found another method of spreading the Wyrm's influence. Wherever the Earth is poisoned, Banes thrive. By spreading toxic waste, radiation, and filth, these warriors' "ecoterrorist" activities despoiled and corrupted the Wyld. In recent years, Black Spirals have begun infiltrating extreme environmentalist organizations as part of this crusade, exploiting the hatred of truly fanatic activists. The advent of Pentex and its associated subsidiaries also aided their cause, especially when Walks-in-Sewage managed to organize several biohazard strikes across the American East Coast. During the mid-1980s, the first Black Spiral Dancers climbed the corporate ladder and begun to insert themselves into Pentex in ways beyond simple skirmishes.
The evolution of the Black Spiral Dancers continues. Only a century ago, the Black Spirals only formed about one-fourteenth of the world's werewolf population. Now they're equal to one-tenth of the Garou population, easily outnumbering any other tribe. The Black Spirals are the only tribal society that is growing instead of decreasing, thanks to their uninhibited breeding practices, recruitment of discontent and outcast Garou, alliances with other supernatural factions, and higher birth rates.
Black Spiral Dancers are organized into septs called Hives. Caerns where they raise their young are called Pits. Black Spiral Dancers have lived underground among foul and cancerous children of the Wyrm for centuries. Their Hives are nestled amidst labyrinthine cave systems, most of which are filled with industrial waste and monstrous things.
The Dancers are quite insane, and usually sadistic; however, the Wyrm has given its slaves terrible powers of their own, as well as a violent hatred for the Gaian Garou. The average Black Spiral Dancer has a short and violent life, their goals bringing them into direct conflict with the remaining Garou tribes.
Black Spiral Dancers roughly resemble other Garou; however, many of them are malformed, either through metis birth or close proximity to the radioactive balefires of the Wyrm. The heads of their Crinos forms are often huge and slaver-jawed, resembling a hyena's, while their ears are frequently hairless and pointed like a bat's. Their eyes are huge and round, glowing with red or green luminescence, while their fur is patchy and usually either albino-white, grayish-green, or jet-black. Black Spirals' human forms are usually twisted and deformed, but some are quite beautiful.
- Hive of the Glowing Sea, (northern coast of Russia near Novaya Zemlya)
- Hive of the Unleashed Atom (Ukraine, site of the Chernobyl disaster)
- Hell's Hand Hive (Amazon Rainforest)
- Spider's Bile Hive
- Hive of the Thrashing Serpent (Giza, Egypt)
As a group, the Black Spiral Dancers blame all other Garou tribes for abandoning the White Howlers when they descended into the depths of the Earth and refusing to save them when it became clear that the future Black Spirals Dancers would find only madness there. While it is a rare Spiral that actually survives from those days, this belief does translate into who the dark tribe targets for recruitment; they will happily offer revenge to any werewolf who joins them.
The Black Spiral Dancers may revel in their uninhibited passions, but they are not without guidelines. The Dark Litany stands as a means of unifying the disparate Hives and spiritual allegiances into one consecutive Tribe.
In their arrogance, the Gaian Garou have written the Spirals off as puppets and handmaidens of the Wyrm, monsters more vicious and personal than Banes, but monsters nonetheless. The Spirals, however, are creatures born of two parents, an unholy union of blessed Mother and dark Father. Even if the Wyrm should fall silent under the Weaver’s webs, the Black Spiral Dancers will exist as the living seed of his acrimony. The insidious truth is that the Black Spiral Dancers owe much of their existence to Gaia. It is through their connection to her that they may carry on the Wyrm’s war and the Wyrm’s mission even if the Wyrm ceases to matter. Through their connection with Gaia, the Spirals have discovered a breed of spirits that precede the natural world, superseded by the course of nature. These spirits are rare, vast, and immensely powerful; they dwell in darkness and are older than biological life. The Spirals venerate these beings and seek to rouse them, much to the chagrin of the Garou.
The Dancers' totem is Whippoorwill, whose mad call the Dancers emit during their hunts. They name themselves after a mysterious Labyrinth that exists in the realm of the Wyrm; they are said to "dance" this Black Spiral to gain dark powers and wisdom. Indeed, to dance the Black Spiral and survive is considered by the Black Spiral Dancers to be the most sacred of feats.
The practice of "dancing the Spiral" to find communion with spirits can be traced back to many ancient spiritual traditions, including those of the Picts. Led by the guidance of their spirit totems, those who walked the spiral could commune with the elemental forces of the world. As part of this, saner Black Spirals profess that the Wyrm originally represented a force of Balance, not only between the Weaver and the Wyld, but between light and shadow. The Wyrm's servitors prevented either force from growing too powerful and upsetting the balance of creation. When the Weaver trapped the Wyrm, this balance was shattered. To being anew, the Pattern Web has to be torn down and the world be reduced into its basic components.
The Chronicle of the Black Labyrinth presents a complex theology. The ultimate goal of all Black Spiral Dancers is to enter the Black Labyrinth and confront their 'Urge', a negative emotion that binds them to the physical world. Confronting, acknowledging, and transcending one's Urge frees one of material constraints, and allows union with the 'Soul of All', the Dancers' name for the Wyrm.
W20 presents an additional perspective: To the Black Spiral Dancers, the Apocalypse has already happened. They believe Gaia is in Her last throes and that the Garou merely protect a corpse. Nothing they can do will avert this. The Black Spirals believe this utterly and live accordingly, without restraint and wild self-aggrandizement. In the past, the Black Spiral Dancers defined themselves through continual guerrilla war against their Garou counterparts. However, this more recent stance has proved a thousand times more potent. Though they still plot, plan, and attempt to destroy the Gaian Garou, they outwardly profess the pointlessness of the struggle, because the battle has already been decided. This has the twofold effect of rendering the Garou’s courageous piety moot, as well as sapping the resolve of the most exhausted, battle-weary werewolves. That some of them choose to fight on regardless is a source of constant frustration for the Black Spiral Dancers.
- Generation Hex
- The Genetic Irregulars
- The Princes of Ruin (W20)
- The Seekers of the Ancient (W20)
Individual Black Spiral Dancers
Early material, like the Chronicle of the Black Labyrinth, implied that one cannot enter the Black Labyrinth unless one consciously wishes to. If one truly refuses to confront their Urge, it is impossible to enter the Labyrinth. This information seems to contradict material presented elsewhere, like the Book of the Wyrm Second Edition, where Garou and even Bastet can be forcibly hurled into the Labyrinth, and are driven mad by what they encounter there. It is possible that later authors felt the Chronicle of the Black Labyrinth presented the Black Spiral Dancers as too sympathetic, and perhaps even justified in their desire to escape from a material realm filled with pain and suffering, and undergo a cosmic union with the Soul of All/The Wyrm. Later material most frequently presents the Black Spiral Dancers as universally insane, adhering to misguided, objectively evil beliefs. The complex, nuanced philosophy presented in the Chronicle of the Black Labyrinth is rarely revisited.
|Werewolf: The Apocalypse Tribes|
|Garou Nation||Black Furies · Bone Gnawers · Children of Gaia · Fianna · Get of Fenris · Glass Walkers · Red Talons · Shadow Lords · Silent Striders · Silver Fangs · Uktena · Wendigo|
|Beast Courts||Hakken · Stargazers|
|Independent||Boli Zouhisze · Siberakh · Singing Dogs · Skin Dancers · Ronin|
|Fallen||Black Spiral Dancers (White Howlers)|
|Extinct||Bunyip · Croatan|