The Main Idea Edit
In the game Werewolf: The Apocalypse, the Garou (werewolves) were made to defend the earth from the cosmic forces that threaten to tear it apart. The Garou fight against the Wyrm, the destroyer. It is a struggle against nearly insurmountable odds, especially considering the rivalry between many tribes. These rivalries make it almost impossible for the werewolves to present a unified front against a cosmic force that pervades reality.
From this morass of hatred and mutual betrayal, there is little hope that the Garou can emerge triumphant against a foe so well armed as the Wyrm. The Wyrm promises money, power, sex, and whatever else the heart desires to its followers while the Garou receive no reward for their striving. It drives them deeper and deeper into despair, or into betrayal so deep that they choose to serve the Wyrm instead.
The three main spiritual forces in the World of Darkness are the Wyrm, Weaver, and Wyld. The Wyld is raw unbridled creation. The Weaver spins reality into patterns. The Wyrm is supposed to destroy the excess order or the excess chaos. However, the Weaver went insane and tried to spin all of reality into its web, including the Wyrm. This drove the Wyrm mad so that it now seeks not to balance, but to destroy everything. The Wyrm has many agents and many faces, all bent on the utter destruction of Gaia, the Earth. The Garou are fighting to keep the Apocalypse from coming, but they are dying out and losing the war. Some tribes believe that the coming Apocalypse will be the end of everything, and fight desperately for even the smallest victory. Other tribes believe the side that wins at the final battle will be able to reshape the world in its own ideal. Some Garou blame the Wyrm for all evils and some blame the Weaver for spinning the world into stasis. Thus the Garou can agree on nothing and will not provide a unified front in the coming End Times.
The Garou Edit
The Garou (werewolves) believe themselves to have been created by Gaia as her defense against the Wyrm and Weaver. They are the ultimate predators in the World of Darkness. They revere the Wyld but are also steeped in millennia old traditions. They are fighting to survive in the modern world, but cling to the old ways. Adding to their troubles is the fact that only one in ten offspring of a Garou turns out to be Garou themselves.
Worse still, their kin, the wolves, have been nearly hunted to extinction, leaving them with very few wolf mates. Thus they have had to make do with humans, thinning the primal instincts of the Garou so that a Homid Garou may never have seen a forest until after his First Change. There is one way to guarantee Garou offspring, and this is to mate with another Garou. However, due to an ancient curse laid on the Garou, any offspring produced this way are deformed and sterile, marking them as obviously different. Their birth can put the life of their mother in jeopardy. Thus the Garou need to take their chances with humans and wolves to continue the line.
The Garou are a divided people, separated along lines of breed, auspice, and tribe. Each Garou has a breed, auspice, and tribe and this means that they are not even uniform along a single trait. A Lupus Ahroun Child of Gaia is a far different creature than a Lupus Ahroun Shadow Lord even though they share two traits in common. The most severe divisions are between tribes, but breeds and auspices hold different values as well, which can contribute to conflicts in ideals.
The Breeds Edit
Homid: These are Garou who were raised in human society, and often never know their heritage until their First Change. They often have trouble dealing with the wilderness and the spirit world. They are, however, deeply knowledgeable of human society and understand most technology. Homids are the most common breed.
Metis: These are the deformed and sterile offspring of two Garou. They are perhaps the best balanced of the breeds being equally likely to understand the wilderness or human technology. Additionally, their natural form is Crinos, the man-wolf form, granting them great battle prowess. If accepted into the pack, they have the advantage of being raised in Garou society and thus know its often quirky ins and outs. Once they were the rarest of the breeds. It's a sign of how desperate things have become that in some tribes, they are more common than Lupus.
Lupus: These are born of wolves and have a deep primal connection to Gaia. However, they are sadly out of place in the human world, having little understanding of human society. Some never even learn to speak a human language. Most hate technology and often blame humans for all that is wrong in the world.
Ragabash: Those born beneath the new moon are the tricksters and fools of Garou society. They challenge the Garou's traditional ways in order to help discard traditions that are outdated. Their tricks and pranks teach wisdom and humility to those who would listen. However, most Garou have little respect for the role of the Ragabash and consider them little more than pranksters. In addition, they also tend to be the assassins of the Garou, using Gifts to help them remain undetected.
Theurge: Those born beneath the crescent moon are the mystics and seers of the Garou. They have a natural affinity with the spirits and can speak with them, either persuading them to join their cause or forcing them to do their bidding like sorcerers. They are often associated with healing as well.
Philodox: Those born under the half moon are the arbitrators and judges of the Garou. They are charged with keeping the traditions of the Garou. However, they also strive for balance and harmony amidst the hot tempers of Garou. They are often jacks of all trades and can speak with the spirits almost as well as a Theurge, yet fight just as well as an Ahroun. The Philodox are the traditional leaders of the Garou.
Galliard: Those born beneath the gibbous moon are filled with passion that bursts forth in glorious song and hot tempers. They are the warrior-bards of legend taking time out from their art to fight and from their fighting to sing rousing tales or weave intricate stories. They are often joyous and make good company.
Ahroun: Those born beneath the full moon are the natural warriors of the Garou. No Garou is incompetent at fighting, but the Ahrouns excel at it. They often lead the Garou during times of war or when there are no Philodox in the pack.
- Black Furies: Composed almost entirely of female Garou, the Furies are staunch defenders of the Wyld. They rage against slights done them by male society. For all their battle prowess, the Furies are a deeply mystical tribe and their rituals are mysterious and hauntingly beautiful. The only males among the Furies are Metis.
- Bone Gnawers: The Gnawers are mangy dog-like Garou who live in the poorest, burnt out parts of the cities. They live literally paw to mouth. However, the Gnawers are supremely informed about anything and everything that goes on within their cities. The other Garou consider them mange-ridden dogs however and have no respect for their urban skills. They are known for taking excellent care of their families, both human and Garou, and in times past were considered to be the most loyal friend one could have.
- Children of Gaia: The Children believe that all Garou are really Children of Gaia who have not realized this yet. They strive for harmony between all the tribes and shun unnecessary violence. The Garou see their peace-loving ways as utter foolishness and consider the Children weak. However, when the Children do strike in battle, they do so with the deep conviction that they are truly Gaia's chosen and fight with the madness of religious zealots.
- Fianna: Traditionally from the British Isles, these Celtic Garou are fond of song and strong drink. They are often seen as drunken fools, but take their fighting just as seriously as their partying. They know much forgotten Garou lore and are considered the lost cousins of the Fair Folk.
- Get of Fenris: The Get are harsh warriors who embody the Norse ideals. They value battle prowess above all else, but also put great stock in personal honor and cleverness. Most Get of Fenris hail from the Norse homelands of Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Scandinavia but have seeped into more Germanic countries like Austria and Germany over the centuries via migration. Some Get have embraced the concept of white supremacy and National Socialism in both past and present and have since given the rest of the tribe a reputation that is riddled with misconceptions and stereotypes.
- Glass Walkers: The lords of the cities, the Walkers are always on the cutting edge of technology. They are deeply involved in human society and control much of the human business world as well as the Mafia. They love the toys of the Weaver and are often associated with computers and guns. Some are even partially cybernetic. Many Garou hold the opinion that Walkers serve the Weaver, which is considered just one step above serving the Wyrm. However, this is not the case; Walkers do maintain unusually good relations with Weaver spirits, but serve only Gaia and police themselves against Weaver corruption. The tribe has changed names many times, the most well known prior names being the Warders of Men (Dark Ages and Renaissance) and the Iron Riders (Industrial Revolution and Wild West).
- Red Talons: The Talons consist almost entirely of Lupus with a few scattered Metis thrown in. There are no Homid Red Talons. The Talons believe that the only way to heal Gaia is to kill every human on the planet and to let the Wyld balance things out. The Red Talons despise humans with a passion and have been known to attack humans on sight, even going so far as to devour their flesh. Their participation in the devouring of humans has been both a tribal tradition and pastime since nights gone by, and has proven to raise the suspicion of the other tribes since the act of cannibalizing humans goes directly against the Litany. How a tribe of feral beasts can still manage to fight the Wyrm and not succumb to its influence is perplexing, to say the least. They are known to revel in the hunting of humans and destroying technology but because of their tribes traditional "Lupus cubs only" rule, the wolf population dying off, the destruction of wildlife, and the Wyrm's near victorious status; they are sadly(?) dying out.
- Shadow Lords: The Lords consider themselves to be the only tribe fit to lead the Garou in these dark times. They openly despise the Silver Fangs and seek to overthrow them at every turn. They are seen as ruthless, backstabbing, and manipulative, which is very often the case. However, they have great tribal unity. The Lords are not often respected but are almost always feared.
- Silent Striders: Romani and vagabonds, the Striders originally hailed from Egypt and the Middle East. They were cast out of their ancestral homeland by the vampire Set and have been searching for a new homeland ever since. They are the messengers of the Garou and are always on the move. The Striders very rarely share their secrets, yet conversely are also known for their skill at prophesy. They hate vampires with a passion.
- Silver Fangs: The ancestral leaders of the Garou, the Fangs are slowly rotting from within. By breeding with only the noblest of humans and by breeding with their own family members, they have bred weakness into their house. Many have mental disorders of some sort and more than one Metis has come about from a Silver Fang's incestuous habits. The rest of the Garou consider the Fangs doddering kings who should be overthrown. The Fangs will not let such a thing happen. Younger Fangs have been trying to fix what's wrong with the tribe and bring in fresh blood, though they haven't had much success as of yet.
- Stargazers: The smallest of the tribes, many Stargazers are actually converts from other tribes. They are concerned with balance in all its forms, seeking for perfect harmony both within and without. They often lose themselves in philosophical thought however and most Garou think they spend too much time contemplating their navels and not enough time acting. They walk alone and join packs only long enough to try and impart their wisdom to other Garou. They are deadly when forced to act, for they are the originators of Kailindo, the Garou martial art.
- Uktena: Originally Native American, the Uktena have taken in every minority that has come to the Americas. The Uktena delve into dark secrets, from vampires to ghosts to things that go bump in the night. These dark mystics are often feared by other Garou who think they walk too close to the Wyrm.
- Wendigo: All Wendigo are of Native American stock. They have not forgiven the European Garou (the "Wyrmcomers") for invading their homelands. They consider the Uktena their somewhat misguided brothers, and tolerate the Striders, but dislike most of the other tribes. They particularly loathe the Gnawers, Get, Walkers, Lords and Fangs.
Garou have several special abilities. They heal damage incredibly fast, and can be killed by little but silver or the claws and fangs of other supernaturals. They can change shapes at will and step into the Umbra, the spirit world. They are granted Gifts by the spirits; these are special magical abilities or spells. They are generally instantaneous effects. This can be anything from being untrackable to conjuring a fireball to the ability to speak with animals. Each Breed, Auspice, and Tribe has its own set of Gifts. Common to all Garou are Rites, magic that requires specific things to be done to invoke them and have oft-bizarre effects. A common Rite is that which allows you to change form without shredding your clothing, while a rare and potent rite allows a group of Garou to build a caern, a gate between the physical and spirit world. Rites take time to learn and to enact.
It is a gift of madness from Luna (the Moon) that allows the Garou to do truly spectacular things. Too much Rage is extremely dangerous and will result in frenzy, a maddened state where the Garou can lose all control. There are two forms of Frenzy that commonly occur: Berserk and Fox. In a Berserk frenzy, the Garou will attack everything in sight regardless of allegiance, if her spiritual side, Gnosis is werak. In a Fox Frenzy, the Garou will flee in terror and will do anything to get away. Truly horrible frenzies are known as going into the Thrall of the Wyrm. The details surrounding as to what will happen when a Garou enters the Thrall of the Wyrm frenzy is dictated by a Garou's Breed. Thralled Homids will cannibalize fallen enemies (or packmates), Metis will do perverse and twisted sexual things to enemies and packmates (regardless of whether they are alive or dead), and Lupus will attack and destroy anything and anyone who can't defend themselves, particularly packmates. The Thrall of the Wyrm is one of the most dangerous, destructive, and twisted forms of frenzy known amongst the Garou, which may be the reason why some Garou vent their Rage regularly, lest they endanger their allies.
Gnosis is similar to the Polynesian concept of mana, or the Eastern concept of chi. While all creatures have some spiritual component, Garou can consciously control and use it. Garou are quite literally half-spirit already and Gnosis reflects how connected they are to their other half. Gnosis can't be precisely measured, but if you think of it like water, it makes comprehending the difference between a Garou and a human easier. A human has a cupful to last a lifetime, a Garou has access to an endlessly replenishing river.
Gnosis is a renewable, but dwindling, resource. Garou can regain it at sacred sites, by meditating, or bargaining with spirits. Sacred sites provide Gnosis, but if they become defiled, it can corrupt the Garou, or there simply may be no more available. The water analogy works well here. They need water, but they need to protect their sources because drinking tainted water may make them sick, and if they aren't careful, their well may go dry.
The Umbra Edit
- Main article: Umbra
The Umbra is the spirit world, a land filled with spirits, sometimes friendly, but more often hostile in these dark days. It is divided into several layers around the earth (frequently called The Realm, or the Gaia Realm), like an onion. Closest is the Penumbra, the reflection of the real world. In the Penumbra, things are revealed as they are in spirit. Technological items such a computers, or even buildings, are covered in the webbing of the Weaver, while objects of the Wyrm are covered in a thin film of slime and foulness.