Most Ronin breached a tenet of the Litany too often, antagonized an elder or their pack and some even chose this life in order to escape the harsh, hierarchical society of the Garou or because they were overwhelmed by Harano. The Garou are not solitary creatures. Every instinct of human, wolf and Garou alike demands the companionship of other members of their species. As such, banishment from others of their kin is one of the most terrible judgements a Garou can face.
According to the legends of the Garou, the First Ronin was also the First Metis. The Garou had never before seen a metis, and they were disgusted by his appearance, with his warped spine and his pale white, furless skin. He lived with the Garou for almost 10 years before the truth of his parents’ sin became known. When the elders of his tribe decided to punish the incestuous mates, their child savagely attacked the sept’s leader. The leader survived, but his outrage was such that he demanded the misshapen creature begone, sending him to live out his life in solitude. Humans and wolves rejected him, because he was neither of them. At last, he allied himself with the Wyrm in order to get his revenge on those who cast him out. Because of this, Ronin are often mistrusted as possible harbingers of corruption.
Many Ronin do not realise at first how much they depend on others of their own kind for companionship. The Garou’s entire culture is built around the tribe. One of the many reasons the tribes shun their outcasts is for fear of their corruption. A solitary werewolf is more susceptible to the Wyrm’s seduction and suffers a greater deal of Lunacy.
Ronin are without Renown. They cannot turn to an elder who has judged and guided them to learn new Gifts or rites. For that reason, spirits will rarely deal openly with them. Many Ronin must barter their services to a more experienced Garou or find new spirits who are willing to teach them. Dealing directly with spirits can be dangerous for the untrained Garou and is one of the Wyrm’s favoured methods for tricking a Ronin into corruption. As a result, Ronin are often forced to work as mercenaries, chasing down other Garou who have offended a sept in return for learning Gifts. For many of them, it is a full-time occupation. It is a living, but it is a dangerous one. Most Garou frown on this, especially the more traditional Garou. But this method of learning Gifts is considered acceptable and is often the only safe way to avoid Wyrm-corruption. These bounty hunters are called Hyenas.
In a few isolated areas, some septs are known to let Ronin use their caerns, but only after paying a substantial fee in chiminage. They sept might demand a fetish the Ronin carries, or they might want him to perform several services before they consider him worthy to enter their caern.
As a result of the rising numbers of tribeless Garou, some of them have gathered together in so called Prides, in an imitation of the pack. The elder and conservative members of the Garou Nation call these groups "Shames".
The biggest worry to the Children of Gaia and a few of the more tolerant tribes is that these Prides will stay together and fall still further from the Way. Many can see their point, as what purpose is enforced solitude if the Ronin are not alone to endure it? To ostracism forced on Ronin by tribes has less impact when there are other expatriate Garou with whom they can associate. Loneliness is lessened when there are Prides. On the hopeful side, the Ronin who run in these outcast packs have a far greater chance of avoiding the Wyrm’s corruption. Others who are versed in the Way, but do not always enforce all aspects of the Litany, can still offer companionship and a sense of balance. It is the solitary Garou who suffer the loss of equilibrium, but even small packs would make it possible to maintain the connections with Gaia and the Umbra that are so essential for all Garou. On the other hand, it alienates the outcasts from the rest of the Garou,possibly turning them against those who have outcast them or even let them pursue alliances with Black Spiral Dancers.
It is possible for an outcast to return to the tribe. Theurges of every tribe have ways of keeping track of their Ronin, watching from afar to see if the Ronin fall prey to the Wyrm or learn to follow the ways of the tribe. Some use spirits to watch over their Ronin, and others just keep listening for news from other tribes who’ve run across them. Some use special skin fetishes. In this way, the 13 tribes watch over their lost members, hoping that the outcast can someday return.
The Ways of the Garou are not gentle in these last days. The Garou often require evidence of a change in mannerism, proof that the Ronin has learned from her previous follies. The confirmation is seldom a mere apology. Ronin have lost all honour, and their words are no longer enough to prove their intent. For that reason, a sacrifice is often required, one that shows physical confirmation of the changed ways. For example, a Ronin who has shown disrespect to the tribal elders might be required to show strict obedience for several months before being formally welcomed back into the tribe. During the months of obedience, any and all efforts on the part of the Ronin go unmentioned and unrewarded. Ronin among the Wendigo and Get who flee from battle might be required to hunt down and kill a greater minion of the Wyrm in single-handed combat in order to prove their courage and loyalty. Worst still, they might be required to prove their courage several times in the same manner. This practice can be fatal, particularly among the Get of Fenris.
Dancer Ronins Edit
Sometimes a Black Spiral cub never dances the Spiral. Most often, it's because this cub was born to wayward kin or because some glimmer of conscience drives her to escape her tribe befoure initiation. And sometimes, even long-corrupt Dancers can be purified of their taint (althought the only proven way of doing so is a long strecht in Erebus). Needless to say, very few of these "faux" Dancers survive such "betrayal". Ones who do, however, sometimes flee to other tribes. Although it usually takes some time to earn a tribe's trust enough to warrant adoption, Dancer Ronin who are later inducted into a tribe can prove loyal to the point of martyrdom, so elated are they to find acceptance at last.
Dancer Ronin begin play with 4 Willpower. They may not purchase Fetish, Kinfolk, Mentor or Rites Backgrounds; they also may not purchase Pure Breed less than 5, if they buy any at all. Many are mad (purchase the Flaw: Deranged), and most bear the twisted, grayish forms of their ancestors. A very few resemble the White Howlers of old; the Black Spiral Dancers hunt these throwbacks even more fervently than they do other Dancer Ronin. To date, not one of these "mock Howlers" has survived for more than a year outside the Hives.
- , p. 41-65.
- Werewolf The Apocalypse: Players Guide 2nd Edition, p. 79.
- , p.129, 130.