Despite being far better able to interact with their breed (species) than Garou of the same breed, neither human or animal kinfolk belong purely to their respective species. Human kinfolk generally had a bit more spirituality and connection to nature, being slightly of the wolf, than did the masses of humanity. Animal kinfolk had more cognizance than their non-Kin fellows and thus had a bit of human in them, separating them from other wolves to a degree.
Kinfolk are related by varying degrees to the Garou by blood, but do not possess the spiritual component necessary to undergo the First Change. They are divided into two breeds, human or wolf (or appropriate animal species for kinfolk of Fera), which are not to be confused with the homid or lupus breeds that are specific to Gaia's chosen. No kinfolk possess Rage, nor are they blessed by Luna or Helios with an Auspice.
This lack of favor also means that they're immune to the effects that silver (or gold for some fera) has on their true breed kin. Gaia does favor kinfolk above normal humans (and animals), thus a very small minority of kinfolk who aren't also Awakened beings may possess small degrees of Gnosis. A very rare kin learned rudimentary Gifts. The Children of Gaia are exceptional to the rest of the tribes for their general endorsement of their kinfolk learning healing and social gifts.
Social role of the Kinfolk
Once identified as kin, a kinfolk is considered to be a part of (or property of) a Tribe and owe loyalty to that Tribe above all else. The most common extra-normal ability, inherent to all kinfolk is that they're immune to effects of the Delirium, although they're still appropriately prone to fear of an enraged being in Crinos.
Though opinions of and attitudes toward kinfolk vary by individual Garou, Septs, and Tribes, kinfolk are recognized as members of the Garou Nation. Under no circumstance may kin hold rank, regardless of how renowned, respected, or beloved they may be to their Garou masters. As rank is everything in Garou society, kinfolk (of both genders) have traditionally been regulated to a general status in the Garou Nation perhaps best described as "valuable second class citizens" as women are considered in chauvinistic cultures.
The primary role of Kinfolk to their Tribe was breeding stock. Gaia needed warriors for the impending Apocalypse and mating between Kinfolk increased the slim odds of offspring breeding true or, more likely, being Kinfolk themselves. Garou-Kinfolk pairings greatly increased the still-slim odds of offspring breeding true and leaving the remainder likely to be Kinfolk. A Kinsman or Kinswoman's degree of Pure Breed also raised these odds, making the purity of tribal blood in a Kinfolk an important commodity and giving those more refined in the Tribes inherited features greater stock as it did with their true breed kin.
An individual Kinfolk's Renown (particularly within the Tribe) was greatly impacted by his or her fertility, particularly by how many offspring of her/him breed true, and to a lesser degree by how long the Kinfolk had been honorably mated and breed offspring. Refusal to breed was generally viewed as dishonorable within the Garou Nation and sterility made Kinfolk far less valuable to that community.
Kinfolk held other roles and responsibilities within their Tribes, Septs, and the overall Garou Nation however. Childcare was of course an obvious role. Financing, politicking, and bureaucratic maneuvering on behalf of the Garou, directly or in their interests, made certain Kinfolk indispensable to their true-breed kin, spirit-warriors who Rage separated from humanity and its world. Since silver had no impairment to Kinfolk, certain rare individuals acted as Fetish-crafters, particularly klaives. Whatever their calling, Kinfolk were expected to care for and provide services for and to their true-breed relatives.
Many Kinfolk, at some point in their lives, joined Fellowships, groups of Kin allied either because of family/social bonds or more often, specific goals such as a communication network for the Garou Nation or genealogical research and data storage.
Kinfolk can only learn Level One Gifts, never Level Two or higher. Teaching/Cost
- Gift is of Kin’s breed or tribe, or is a gift specifically made for Kinfolk: 15 points
- Gift is outside Kin’s breed or tribe: +5 points
- Gift is taught by a Garou rather than a spirit: +5 points
Unless a Kinfolk has the Merit: Gnosis, she can only learn Gifts that do not require the expenditure of Gnosis. This imposes a severe limitation on the Gifts available to a Kinfolk. Gifts such as Blur of the Milky Eye (W20 Corebook, p. 161), Falling Touch (p. 170), or Lambent Flame (p. 193) do not require Gnosis to invoke. These, therefore, are the most common Gifts for Kinfolk to learn. Kinfolk who possess Gnosis have a much wider choice. In theory, they can learn any Level One Gift with the exception of those that require the user to spend Rage or require Rage rolls. Since Kinfolk do not possess Rage under any circumstances, these Gifts remain beyond their ken.
Numina fall into three categories: hedge magic, psychic phenomena, and True Faith. Players use freebie points during character creation to purchase Numina. Later they may improve these abilities through experience points or, with Storyteller approval, learn new Numina. Having more than one type of Numina, however, is extremely rare. A talented psychic may possess Psychology and Animal Psi, both of which belong to the psychic phenomena category, but will rarely know any of the hedge magic paths. Numina cost a lot to learn, and operate under different and, often, mutually exclusive paradigms. Learning too many mystical powers from disparate sources puts a strain on the character’s mental health. See the following chart for costs for purchasing psychic phenomena and hedge magic with freebie points and for purchasing or raising them with experience point, True Faith increases only through Storyteller awards for good roleplaying.
Relations with other supernaturals
Vampires were probably the least likely of Kinfolk, though some did survive the Embrace. Gaia was merciful to most Kinfolk (having a greater spiritual connection to her then other humans) and granted them quick death upon Embrace. Those unfortunate enough to survive had a deeper understanding or feeling of the loss of their soul and spiritual ties and were thus more likely to feel condemned to eternal misery than the average Kindred.
For obvious reasons, any Garou, particularly the family of the Kinfolk on whom the Embrace was attempted, successfully or not, would go to extremes to avenge their Kin-person by the Final Death of the (would be) sire. Of course the undead status of a beloved Kinfolk would be so abominable to Garou that they'd slay the former Kinfolk outright and hunt them down if the vampire resists, assuming of course that the vampire-Kinfolk hadn't already committed suicide.
While obviously a minority within the minority of the population, some human Kinfolk were also Awakened beings. Mage Kinfolk aren't unheard of, though Garou were very suspicious of anyone who wielded such power. Manipulation of spirits was apostasy to most Garou. The Verbena and other Tradition mages were those most likely to have Changing blood. It was virtually unheard of for Kinfolk to be inducted into the Technocracy, even with some shared interest between that order and the Glass Walkers tribe.
Nothing prevented deceased Kinfolk from becoming Wraiths.
The Changing Breeds, particularly the Garou, mingled blood with the Fae many times throughout history. Changelings and werewolves, being both creatures of the Wyld, found much in common to celebrate or unite for. The Fianna in particular have had the most contact with and mated with Changelings. The Noble (Sidhe kith) House Fiona holds a shared history with the Fianna. The Noble House Gwydion held ancient pacts with the Silver Fangs and interbreed with them.
Most fae found some common ground with Garou in reverence of nature, particularly pooka, satyrs, and trolls. A slim majority of kithain-Kinfolk were of kith that shared an ethnic tie to their tribe, such as troll/Get of Fenris, sluagh/Silver Fangs, eshu/Silent Striders (especially those of Rom blood), etc. The Wendigo and most especially, the Uktena shared caerns and sometimes genes with Nunnehi, a Garou-fae connection only rivaled by the Fianna's history with the kithain.
In the Autumn, the age of approaching Apocalypse, there were three known families who were both Kinfolk and kinain producing both Changelings doubling as Kinfolk and Garou doubling as kinain. Garou can't ever utilize Glamour, and those born with Fae souls are condemned to never experience their Chrysalis if, by extremely improbable odds, they also possessed Gnosis. Changeling-Kinfolk tended to be Seelie in their views and court allegiance. The most notable exception to this occurred from interbreeding between Black Spiral Dancers and House Balor.
While Changelings were the most likely of Awakened beings to also be Kin, it should be noted that only a very small percentage of them were and only a very small percentage of the Kinfolk populace were Awakened beings of any type.
No Hunter was ever imbued who had Changing Breed blood.
- Nephthys, Silent Striders Kinfolk who was Embraced by Set
- Fionn MacCumhail, Fianna Kinfolk and legendary warrior
- Evan Stump, Black Spiral Dancer Kinfolk and developer of Lycanthrope: The Rapture for Black Dog Game Factory
- Charles Manson, Black Spiral Dancer Kinfolk
- Princess Anastasia of Russia, Silver Fangs Kinfolk who was secretly saved from the Russian Revolution