The Uratha are werewolves, creatures of flesh and spirit whose duty is to protect the world from creatures of the Shadow Realm.
While several alternate creation myths exist, most Uratha accept that the death of Father Wolf is the true account of their origin. According to the story, long ago the world was a paradise known as Pangaea, where the spirit and material worlds mingled freely. Balance was kept by Father Wolf, a being of great power who patrolled the borders between the worlds. Luna, spirit of the moon, was impressed by his strength and wisdom and, in her human form, took him as her lover. From their union the Uratha were born: part spirit and part flesh, part human and part wolf.
As the years went by, some of Father Wolf's children saw that he had become weak, and to prevent him failing in his duties rose against him and killed him, intending to take his place. Their rash action had unforeseen consequences: the death of Father Wolf raised a barrier between the worlds, making it impossible for any being to cross except at certain places. Pangaea was lost, and gradually became the world we know today. Luna, stricken with grief, cursed all Uratha, though those who participated in Father Wolf's death later swore an oath to her to carry on Father Wolf's tasks, regaining some of her favour - but costing them the enmity of the spirit world. These Uratha became known as the Forsaken. Those who did not participate in his death also did not swear the oath to Luna; they are much more numerous in the modern world, and are known as the Pure. They seek to destroy the Forsaken in retribution for Father Wolf's death.
Any human with Uratha heritage may undergo the First Change at some time in their life, becoming a werewolf, though what triggers the change is unknown. Most Uratha join a tribe, a group of more-or-less like-minded werewolves who follow the same totem, one of the great wolf spirits known as the Firstborn. The Forsaken also have an auspice or role, linking them to one of Luna's phases.
Unlike the werewolves of folk tales and superstition, Uratha may change at any time into various forms between man and wolf, though Forsaken do find this easier when the phase of the moon matches their auspice.
Uratha are fierce territorial predators who feel the compulsion to hunt. Many have trouble containing their aggression, hindering their ability to live normal human lives. Like wolves, the Uratha form packs in order to hunt more efficiently and better guard their territory.
Uratha are also spiritual creatures, able to channel spirit energy, which they call Essence, to make use of supernatural powers called gifts to aid them in their hunts. They also possess an instinctive (if rudimentary) understanding of the First Tongue, the language spoken by their ancestors and still used by spirits (it is possibly also the original language of all humans). Many Uratha learn to speak the First Tongue fluently.
Every Uratha may change at will into five distinct forms. The forms, named in the First Tongue, are:
- Hishu — human form. An Uratha appears to be a normal, if very fit and healthy, human. An unconscious or dead werewolf returns to this form.
- Dalu — near-human form. The Uratha is slightly bigger, hairier and stronger.
- Gauru - wolf-man or war form. Half-human, half-wolf, Gauru form Uratha are generally 8 to 9 feet tall and much heavier and stronger than any human. In this form a werewolf's blood-lust rises to the surface and is much harder to control. Uratha can only channel the power of the Gauru form for a limited time, and generally only take this form to kill.
- Urshul - near-wolf form. An Uratha in this form is a huge wolf 3 to 5 feet high at the shoulder.
- Urhan - wolf form. The Uratha is indistinguishable from a normal wolf, though different Uratha resemble different breeds or species of wolf.
Each Forsaken Uratha has an auspice, a traditional role in Forsaken society, tied to one of five phases of the moon. Luna decides each individual's auspice, based on their personality and abilities; accordingly, a Forsaken Uratha will go through the First Change during the corresponding moon phase. (Most of these auspices differ from those of Werewolf: The Apocalypse in subtle but important ways.) The five auspices have names in the First Tongue:
- Rahu (The Full Moon, The Warrior) - warriors of all kinds from brawlers to seasoned commanders.
- Cahalith (The Gibbous Moon, The Visionary) - seers, storytellers and lorekeepers.
- Elodoth (The Half Moon, The Walker Between) - diplomats to the spirit courts, judges and arbiters.
- Ithaeur (The Crescent Moon, The Spirit Master) - occultists and keepers of spirit lore and rituals.
- Irraka (The New Moon, The Stalker) - scouts, spies and trackers.
- Main article: Tribe (WTF)
Tribes are groups of Uratha who have chosen to follow the teachings of one of the totems, powerful wolf spirits who were among the original children of Father Wolf, also known as the Firstborn. Each promotes a certain attitude to or agenda behind the hunt.
The Pure Tribes
There are three Pure Tribes (First Tongue names in parentheses):
- Fire-Touched (Izidakh) - followers of Rabid Wolf; the spiritual leaders of the Pure.
- Ivory Claws (Tzuumfin) - followers of Silver Wolf; planners and schemers with pure breeding.
- Predator Kings (Ninna Farakh) - followers of Dire Wolf; savage hunters without peer.
The Tribes of the Moon
The Forsaken have five tribes, known as the Tribes of the Moon:
- Blood Talons (Suthar Anzuth) - followers of Fenris; warriors who emphasize their wolvish aspects.
- Bone Shadows (Hirfathra Hissu) - followers of Death Wolf; occultists who seek to repair relations with the spirit world.
- Hunters in Darkness (Meninna) - followers of Black Wolf; guardians of the loci.
- Iron Masters (Farsil Luhal) - followers of Red Wolf; choose to adapt to the modern world; closest to human society.
- Storm Lords (Iminir) - followers of Winter Wolf; noble leaders of the Uratha.
- Main article: Lodge
Lodges are groups within Forsaken society for Uratha with very specific agendas. Most Lodges are sub-groups within particular tribes, though some transcend tribe boundaries. Members must usually pass some form of strict initiation, but membership provides benefits which help the Uratha fulfil the lodge's goals. This generally includes easier access to an additional Gift list, but may also be anything from bonuses to traits to a special pack totem to patronage from a spirit in addition to the Uratha's tribal totem.
- Ghost Wolves (Thihirtha Numea) - Forsaken werewolves who do not belong to one of the Tribes of the Moon.
- Bale Hounds (Asah Gadar) - the Bale Hounds do not serve a single patron, but have allied instead with the dark and evil spirits of pain, suffering, fear and all the negative aspects of the world, which they see as ascendant on Earth. They frequently masquerade as members of other tribes among both the Pure and Forsaken.