Werewolf: The Apocalypse
||This article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (June 2008)|
Werewolf: The Apocalypse (Revised edition) cover
|Publisher(s)||White Wolf (1992 to 2004)
Onyx Path Publishing (since 2012)
|Publication date||1992 (1st edition)
1994 (2nd edition)
2000 (Revised edition)
2013 (20th Anniversary E.)
Werewolf: The Apocalypse is a role-playing game from the Classic World of Darkness line by White Wolf Publishing. Other related products include the Collectible card games named Rage and several novels (including one series). In the game, players take the role of werewolves known as Garou (from the French 'loup garou'). These Garou are usually warriors who are locked in a two-front war against both the spiritual desolation of urban civilization and supernatural forces of corruption that seek to bring about the Apocalypse. Game supplements detail other lycanthropes.
In 2011 new publications for the Classic World of Darkness were announced, including a 20th Anniversary Edition of Werewolf: The Apocalypse. The Werewolf Translation Guide is the first new publication, being available in April 2012. Also older Classic World of Darkness books are made gradually available as Print on Demand-Versions, through DriveThruRPG.
The basic premise of the game is, that the player characters are Garou. Specifically player characters usually are supposed to have undergone some training as Garou and succeeded in an initiation rite known as the Rite of Passage. After this, they are considered of Cliath rank (see Rank). Usually the player characters form a pack and work together to gain renown among the other Garou, so that they can advance in rank.
A Storyteller has a detailed setting to come up with all kinds of stories for the players to live through. On the most basic level the game world is equal to our world, a fictional planet earth. However, it is only a dark reflection, filled with corruption, apathy, violence and hopelessness. The Setting is also described as Gothik-Punk.
For the most part, the Garou battle to maintain this world before all the negativity leads to a total collapse, the Apocalypse. They do so hidden from the public eye and live in secret from humanity in general. In their war the Garou often hunt down and kill humans or supernatural creatures that either actively pursue the Apocalypse or unwittingly contribute to it, due to their parasitic nature. This includes fallen Garou, vampires, evil spirits, mages/sorcerers and humans (and other creatures) possessed by demons or evil spirits. In doing so, the Garou regard themselves as the immune system of the planet, after a fashion.
Other themes of the game include the inability of the Garou to live as/among humans, although they were born in human form due to The Curse, interaction with spirits that today are separated from physical world in a realm the Garou can enter.
In general all archetypes of stories can be incorporated into a Werewolf game. Love Stories or Indiana Jones-like treasure hunts are just as possible as detective stories or basic fantasy themes like escort missions or 'Capture the Flag'-scenarios.
In the World of Darkness, lycanthropy is not a disease but an inheritable trait. As dual beings (being both wolves and men), Garou can (and do) interbreed with both species. A Garou's extended non-shapechanging family is called its Kinfolk. Most often, Garou are born to one non-Garou and one Garou parent but in families (both wolf and human) where Garou blood is especially strong, Homid or Lupus Garou sometimes are born from non-shapeshifting parents.
The circumstances of their parentage determines their breed. A Garou born in human form is called a homid; a Garou born in wolf form is called a lupus. The breed or species of the mother determines the breed of the Garou. A Garou born from two Garou parents is called a Metis and is invariably deformed as a result of this inbreeding, as well as completely sterile; however, Metis have Gifts and advantages exclusive to their breed, including the ability to regenerate in all their various forms and a deeper understanding of Garou society owing to their pre-change life exclusively amongst the Garou. Once pariahs in Garou society, trying times have led to the partial integration of the Metis breed into the ranks of the Garou. A werewolf's breed determines (to some extent) their Gnosis, or spiritual awareness (Lupus Garou being more in tune with the primal spirit world than Homids, and Metis Garou being in between).
Prior to their First Change, Garou typically live amongst their kinfolk; in most cases, non-metis Garou are raised unaware of their true nature. Garou usually experience their first change during puberty, occurring in the early teenage years for homids, around 1–2 years of age for lupus, and typically about 6–10 years of age for metis. Prior to this change, the proto-garou is usually unable to change forms, a condition that rarely causes difficulty amongst the homid and lupus, but which confines the metis to the perimeter (or bawn) of Garou-held holy places called caerns.
In general, while most non-metis Garou leave their native societies to live among their shapechanging kin (engaging in a modern primitive lifestyle), they try to retain healthy contact with their Kinfolk to ensure their protection as family and the overall health and vitality of the Garou line.
Over the millennia some Kinfolk lost their connection to the Garou society and are unaware of their status as Kinfolk. If such non-shapeshifting parents have a Garou child it is considered a Lost Cub.
In character creation, a player has to choose whether his character was born in the shape of a human (Homid Breed), the shape of a wolf (Lupus Breed) or if the character is a Metis (born as Crinos). The selection has some effects on the character creation process (like determining the starting value of the Gnosis trait), the character development (like determining the experience point cost for certain magical powers) and the social status within the Garou society.
Garou can shape-shift into one of five distinct forms:
- Homid is the human form, stats on the character sheet are usually made for this form, even if it isn't the characters Breed Form.
- Glabro is a human-like shape that might be mistaken for a prehistoric human. This form also grants attribute bonuses, but isn't as strong or resilient as the Crinos form.
- Crinos is the monstrous hybrid form of man and wolf, the classical werewolf. This form also grants attribute bonuses to the character, as well as fangs and claws as a kind of natural weaponry. The form also causes a partly supernatural confusion effect named Delirium to humans who witness it.
- Hispo is a dire wolf-like form. Bonuses to attributes are greater than in Lupus form.
- Lupus is the wolf form. In this form the character gets certain attribute bonuses as well as difficulty reduction on certain perception tasks.
Within the game mechanic, a Garou can always assume his Breed Form with ease. To change into another form, some effort is needed and a roll is required. There is a fixed order of the forms: Homid, Glabro, Crinos, Hispo, Lupus. If a roll doesn't score enough successes, a Garou might not reach the form desired but shift into a form that in the given order is in between his current and his desired form. A player may also choose to spend a temporary energy point from a pool named Rage to instantly shift into the desired form.
Garou are not solitary creatures. They live in packs like wolves do and organize themselves into septs (groups of packs). In former times, septs used to be communities of one tribe only, but in modern times, septs often house garou from more than one tribe. This also led to multi-tribal packs. Some septs live around a holy site, called Caern, a place with magical properties. Besides the community the a garou lives in, the tribe he belongs to has a more or less strict social infrastructure, depending on the tribe in question.
In a Werewolf: The Apocalypse game, the players' characters usually form a pack. This pack is either wandering (not belonging to a particular sept) or living in a sept. The other garou of the sept are then Storyteller's Characters (NPCs).
The playable Tribes form a loose coalition, known as the Garou Nation. This Nation is based on two core aspects:
- the common set of laws, called The Litany
- the three virtues Honour, Glory and Wisdom
The Rank of a Garou in the society is measured by his renown as being glorious, honourable and wise.
Garou tribes resemble human tribes in that they are a community of members sharing common lineage, traditions, rites and values. The Garou tribes each claim descent from the human peoples of particular geographic areas or demographic subset of human/wolf society (or claim that the particular human culture descended from the Garou tribe). There were once sixteen tribes, but only thirteen remain servants of Gaia in the modern age. The Tribes that form the Garou Nation are:
- Black Furies
- Bone Gnawers
- Children of Gaia
- Get of Fenris
- Glass Walkers
- Red Talons
- Shadow Lords
- Silent Striders
- Silver Fangs
Three tribes have been lost to Gaia:
- The Bunyip of Australia (extinct in the War of Tears during the 1930s)
- The Croatan of North America (who ritually sacrificed themselves in 1589 to banish an evil entity)
- The White Howlers of Scotland, who were corrupted by the Wyrm approximately 200 AD and became the Black Spiral Dancers.
A fourth tribe (the Stargazers) remains loyal to Gaia but have withdrawn from the Garou Nation joining instead with the Beast Courts (a loose conglomeration of lycanthropes of other species called Fera) of Asia in an effort to reclaim and protect their native Tibet.
Garou society is also divided into five auspices, or spiritual life-paths that a Garou is born with. They are tied to the phases of the Moon and considered gifts from Gaia's sister Luna. These auspices determine (to some extent) a Garou's Rage, or violent predatory instinct. The auspice system is one of the pillars of Garou society as it helps to describe social caste, predisposition, and calling. The auspices are:
- Ragabash: Auspice of the new moon, the Trickster. The Questioner of the Ways. Ragabash have a duty to question Garou society and, by so doing to show what needs to be changed and what doesn't.
- Theurge: Auspice of the crescent moon, the Seer and Shaman. The Searcher of the Ways. The Theurge serve as intercessors between their Garou brethren and the spirits.
- Philodox: Auspice of the half moon, the Mediator, Counsellor and Judge. The Keeper of the Ways. The Philodox are tasked with knowing the laws of the Garou by heart, thus discerning right and wrong as well as settling disagreements.
- Galliard: Auspice of the gibbous moon, the Bard. The Lover of the Ways. The Galliard remind the other Garou of their heritage and history with their passion for the ways of the garou.
- Ahroun: Auspice of the full moon, the Warrior. The Protector of the Ways. While all Garou are warriors, the Ahroun excel at the arts of war, even if they are often unstable. Their task is to enforce the ways with skill, tactics and, if necessary, with brute strength.
These auspice names, the ones most widely used, were originally devised by the Fianna; and several of the other tribes (particularly the Get of Fenris and Wendigo, who have grievances with the Fianna) use their own nomenclature when referring to auspice. Some garou also use the associated moon phase instead of the auspice' name, as in "I'm Evan-Heals-The-Past, a half moon."
As a Garou performs deeds fitting with their auspice, they rise in rank in Garou society. While Garou can renounce their auspice and select another more suited to their true calling, this is a grave action, done only in cases where a Garou's auspice truly does not fit their destiny. Such a Garou turns his back on his former life completely, renouncing not only his auspice, but his renown and even his spirit-granted gifts as well.
Auspices are not the end-all-be-all role of each garou. In fact each garou is expected to serve small functions of each auspice. Ahrouns are usually the leader, and therefore must be able to sometimes perform mediaton. Other garou besides theurges are expected to deal with spirits, even though it is not their primary function. This is why many tribes and other auspices have gifts specifically to deal with spirits (example, call to duty, a philodox gift, and spirit speech, and Uktena gift). All garou are expected to fight for Gaia, not just the Ahrouns. Some tribes, the Get of Fenris in particular, expect all of their members to be adept at fighting.
As a whole, the Garou Nation follow a set of rules called the Litany as listed here. Adherence to the litany ranges between individuals and tribes from strict obedience to simple lip service.
- Garou Shall Not Mate with Garou
Garou are forbidden to mate with their own kind. Many Garou believe that this is because of the deformities and psychoses displayed by metis werewolves (and the age-old prejudice correspondingly levied against metis). But some legends tell that the law is older and that the deformed metis child is the curse and punishment to those breaking it.
Werewolves must instead seek mates around either human or wolf society. Some garou argue that this law exists so that the garou focus their attention on wolf and human.
This tenet embodies one of the great Garou tragedies; Moon Dancers often move audiences to tears with ballads of Garou who fell in love and could not express their passion—or who did and were torn to pieces by their outraged tribe. The existence of the Metis, however, is evidence that this law is broken often. There are those amongst the Garou Nation (particularly the Ragabash) who argue that, in the age of the Apocalypse, this tenet should be lifted, as the Garou could swell their numbers quickly by adding large numbers of Metis to their ranks.
- Combat the Wyrm Wherever It Dwells and Whenever It Breeds
The Garou were spawned, say the Galliards, to fight the Wyrm, and much of their history comprises battles between their heroes and the Wyrm's minions. Most Garou pay at least lip service to this tradition.
- Respect the Territory of Another
The practice of this portion of the Litany has changed over the last few centuries; humans have spread to the extent that urinating one's territorial marking has become impractical. Instead, a Garou visitor or immigrant must first ask permission by singing the Howl of Introduction, reciting name, sept, lineage, totem and tribe. Some septs, particularly those of the Glass Walkers, also accept phone calls or even e-mails, as howling in a city may be considered a breach of the Veil.
- Accept an Honorable Surrender
The Garou realize that they are a dwindling race and that intraspecies duels commonly occur. Realizing that continuous battles to the death would only advance the Wyrm's cause the Children of Gaia and Fianna incorporated this element into the Litany. In theory, a Garou combatant may end a duel by exposing her throat or presenting some other sign of formal surrender; the opponent is honor-bound to accept the surrender. The loser suffers no reduction in Renown for surrendering, although the winner may certainly gain Renown for winning.
- Submission to Those of Higher Station
Garou's wolf nature practically enforces a hierarchical structure within their society. Thus the Garou have implemented the concepts of Renown and Rank. Within reason, any request by a Garou of higher Rank is to be obeyed.
- The First Share of the Kill for the Greatest of Station
This portion of the Litany is much favored by the Garou elders, as well as such tribes as the Silver Fangs and Shadow Lords; it is grudgingly acquiesced to by the rest. The "kill clause" also applies to the spoils of war - thus, in theory, the prey's most powerful fetishes and the like may be garnered by the Garou with the highest renown. Wise elders are cautious with this tenet; a "great and powerful elder" who has claimed the greatest share of the kill to the exclusion of those who follow him may find that their followers reason that such a great Garou must not need the aid of his lessers.
- Ye Shall Not Eat the Flesh of Humans
This portion of the Litany was first sung in the post-Impergium days; the Stargazers are believed to be responsible for its insertion. They noticed that Garou who routinely consumed human flesh often grew Wyrm-tainted; furthermore, cannibals had a hard time stalking and killing more challenging prey, such as woolly rhinos or Banes. Additionally, in these modern times, this rules serves a function similar to the "kosher" laws of the Hebrews; modern humans' chemical-laden diet makes their flesh bitter and unhealthy. The Red Talons and most other lupus Garou despise this tenet, particularly because it does not include a prohibition on the consumption of wolf-flesh. Most septs recognize that, while the consumption of wolf-flesh is not specifically outlawed in the litany, the spirit of this tenet prohibits such cannibalism as well.
- Respect for Those beneath Ye - All Are of Gaia
Garou tend to think of themselves in communal terms, and they thus realize that most creatures have some sort of contribution to make toward the whole. When all is said and done, Garou were created to be the world's protectors. The chivalric ideal is much in vogue among some septs, and Garou who display a great deal of noblesse oblige may get Renown. This tenet also softens the edge of the fifth and sixth tenets.
- The Veil Shall Not Be Lifted
This tenet was instituted after the Inquisition of the medieval and renaissance periods wreaked havoc upon the Garou population. This is perhaps the most inviolate portion of the Litany. There is no "reality" here - Garou are aware that both the Wyrm and the Inquisition hunt for them. Garou who disobey this edict die at the claws of their brethren. With the Delirium covering their actions, however, many Garou feel that it is difficult to breach the veil at all, and, in the case of Frenzy, breaches of the veil are sometimes unavoidable. This is yet another reason Garou often avoid cities; cities not only offer more provocation to frenzy (claustrophobia, surprise, street crime, frustration, etc.) but then a frenzy within a city will almost certainly be witnessed by humans.
- Do Not Suffer Thy People to Tend Thy Sickness
In ancient days, an injured, infirm or aged Garou was simply torn to pieces by his peers. As time went on, however, it came to be considered more dignified to let such a Garou end his own life. In the age of Apocalypse, this tenet is softened; aged or infirm Garou who are still sound of mind are often allowed to survive and mentor younger Garou.
- The Leader May Be Challenged at Any Time during Peace
Though Garou are known for their pack mentality, this does not mean they must slavishly obey their leaders. If no immediate threat is pending, any Garou of sufficient standing may challenge another's position of leadership. A contest of some sort is usually staged. If the challenger wins, he assumes the mantle of leadership; if he loses, he must accept the leader's dictates with good grace.
- The Leader May Not Be Challenged during Wartime
Certain creatures of the Wyrm are monstrous in size and power, and no one Garou can best them. Pack tactics are vital to the Garou's success against such creatures, and obedience is vital to successful pack tactics. In battle, the word of the leader is immutable law. A Garou who disobeys a superior will be punished as soon as circumstances permit, assuming that the Garou in question and those he disobeyed survive the encounter.
- Ye Shall Take No Action That Causes a Caern to Be Violated
Like the preceding clause about the Veil, this rule is fairly ironclad. The caerns are Gaia's lifeblood and if they are destroyed, the Garou will cease to exist. Even a Garou who accidentally leads an enemy to a caern is often severely punished. Even the most Ragabash cannot bring themselves to actively oppose this tenet.
Garou are spiritual creatures. It is said that they once were animistic spirits themselves, and upon entering flesh they retained their spiritual affinities and pacts. The culture of the Garou nation is centered around venerating various spirits (every pack, sept, and tribe has its patron spirit or totem) that can help them in their war against the enemies of Gaia. While it is Theurges who deal with spirits most often, every werewolf has to deal with spirits, in order to gain favors and knowledge, and to learn Gifts, the quasi-magical powers of Garou.
The thematic conflicts of Werewolf: The Apocalypse is largely driven by a spiritual war being waged by the Triat, incarnations of the three aspects of reality:
The Creation Myth of Werewolf: The Apocalypse
According to Garou mythology created as backstory for the game:
- In the beginning there were the three members of the Triat: the Wyld, the Weaver, and the Wyrm. They were balanced with one another in the beginning. Creation began with the Wyld. The Wyld is chaos and the vast endless of possibility, constantly swirling with change, shifting forms endlessly. From the Wyld's heedless creation came growth. Gaia sprang from the Wyld.
- The Weaver, the embodiment of order, selected portions of creation from the Wyld and gave them structure; kept them from dissolving back into chaos at the moment of their birth. In doing so, the Weaver began to create the fabric of the universe - the Pattern Web.
- The Wyrm was once the restorer of balance. Residing between the Pattern Web and the chaos of the Wyld, it ensuring that neither the order of the Weaver nor the chaos of the Wyld prevailed throughout reality, removing all that was not harmonious.
- According to Garou myth, this was the true cosmological cycle of chaos, creation, and destruction. It lasted an eternity, but was ultimately shattered when the Weaver gained consciousness. The Garou disagree on exactly how this happened.
- Regardless, the Weaver subsequently tried to spin the entire Wyld into full, patterned existence. The futility of such an impossible task drove the Weaver insane. In its desperation, the Weaver ensnared the Wyrm within the Pattern Web in its pursuit of the Wyld, in turn, driving the Wyrm insane as well.
- Now the balance of pattern and chaos has been replaced by stagnation and decay, as the Weaver madly weaves its patterns unchecked or balanced, while the Wyrm, trapped within the Pattern Web, works to devour Gaia and destroy all of creation from the inside out.
According to Garou oral history, it was always their duty to keep the balance in nature on behalf of Gaia. They did so by culling overgrown populaces, hunting too powerful predators that otherwise would rampage unchecked and fending off otherwordly spirits that overstepped their stance.
The formation of nations and cities was the first radical change wrought on the Garou by humanity. The Garou prevented it by declaring a limited war upon humanity, a period known as the Impergium. During this time, Garou are credited with destroying large human cities, retarding the technological and scientific progress of the human race, and even imposing population caps upon the humans of any given area, killing and sometimes eating humans when they grew too numerous. Though the Impergium dates back to the Mythic Age before recorded history (occurring over a period of approximately 3,000 years between 13,000 and 10,000 years ago), humanity has retained an inborn fear of the Garou. Humans seeing Garou in their hybrid (Crinos) form are usually struck with a condition known as Delirium, a state of panic and denial that has been largely responsible for modern humanity's disbelief of the existence of the Garou. Most humans who have suffered from Delirium either have very little memory of the incident that caused it or they rationalize it and remember an animal attack or the work of a psychopathic human. Subconsciously, however, the human may experience an aversion to wolves and other canids in general or to the particular Garou they witnessed. The memory loss or rationalization of events as well as the fact that the general public is unaware of werewolf existence is called The Veil (not to be confused with the mystical barrier between material and spiritual world called The Gauntlet).
Following the end of the Impergium, the Garou maintained an active but subtle role in the direction of humanity through the Industrial Revolution and to the present. During such time the Garou waged war with the other Fera, dramatically reducing the numbers of the other shifters as well as completely destroying at least 2 Fera breeds (the Apis were-bulls and Grondr were-boars); this time is known as the War of Rage. The War of Rage lasted approximately another 3,000 years after the end of the Impergium, and the Garou claim that it was started when the Gurahl were-bears refused their duty to teach the Garou a powerful rite.
During the period of the "taming of the West" in America in the 1700-1800s, the Garou engaged in a second War of Rage against not just the Fera of the New World, but against their own brethren, the Native American tribes of Garou (who call themselves the Pure Ones); in this war, the Garou exterminated the Camazotz were-bats and drove their totem, Bat, to madness and the service of the Wyrm. The careless progress of the European Garou (called Wyrmcomers by the Pure Ones) also severed the mystical bonds restraining a powerful bane (a spirit servitor of the Wyrm). This bane captured and devoured a powerful servant of the Weaver, combining their essences and becoming the Storm-Eater. The Storm-Eater whipped the umbra of the West into a terrible frenzy resembling an earthly storm, gaining it the nickname "Storm Umbra," and further threatened to bring on an early Apocalypse. The Storm-Eater was eventually re-bound by the sacrifice of 13 Elder Garou and the execution of the Rite of Still Skies (discovered by the Two-Moons pack, led by the Silver Fang Theurge Isaiah Morningkill of House Wyrmfoe).
The overwhelming societal transformation of the Industrial Revolution weakened Gaia and pushed the Umbra away from terrestrial reality, giving it less influence over the world. This period was marked by the withdrawal and extinction of many spirit varieties, but also heralded the birth of new "urban" spirits (such as glass and electricity elementals). These changes were visible in the Umbral landscape, as sites associated with Gaia became fewer and weaker, while the Pattern Web of the Weaver and the corrupt influence of the Wyrm became more prominent.
As the defense of Gaia becomes more difficult, the Garou have found their tasks increasingly harder to perform. Once able to act as silent warriors and guides, many have been reduced to guerrilla tactics and monkeywrenching. These ill omens have led to a general consensus that an Apocalypse is nigh, in which a final desperate battle will be waged by all sides. In addition to discrete threats such as the Wyrm and its minions, Garou find themselves opposed to the faceless foe of general disinterest in Gaia. Environmental disasters and modern warfare have done considerable damage to Gaia in recent decades. This callousness is sometimes spread by the Wyrm itself (as best exemplified by the Pentex corporation, a global conglomerate dedicated to spreading the Wyrm's influence). The Garou themselves are a self-acknowledged dying race; the largest Gaian tribes number 750-1,250 Garou worldwide, with the smaller tribes numbering less than 500. The wyrm-serving Black Spiral Dancers comprise fully one-tenth of the total Garou population and are the largest single tribe.
List of books
Print on Demand
Werewolf: The Apocalypse books are, like all Classic World of Darkness books, still available as PDF download through White Wolf Publishing's exclusive marketing partner DriveThruRPG . DriveThru also makes them gradually available as Print on Demand books under the label „Now in Print”. Such books are usually identical to the original versions in content. However, DriveThru's printing partners do not offer full bleed in Black&White books, so „Now in Print”-books have a white border and are therefore printed on slightly larger pages. Also, some previously hard covered books are now available as both hard and soft covered versions.
Tie-ins and adaptations
- PDF became available to backers 2013/03/06 as shown on Kickstarter Update Page
- Rage article states, that two games by that name exist.
- White Wolf Release Schedule 2011-2012
- Werewolf-Translation-Guide Werewolf Translation Guide on DriveThru  (retrieved April 17th, 2012)
- DriveThru RPG White Wolf "Now in Print" Products  (retrieved January 20th, 2012)
- What is the Onyx Path? Panel from GenCon on YouTube
- Brian Campbell, et al. Werewolf: The Apocalypse Revised Edition (White Wolf Publishing, 2000, ISBN 1-56504-365-0) - Page 30
- Ethan Skemp, et al. Storyteller's Companion (page 59) (White Wolf Publishing, 2001, ISBN 1-56504-323-5)
- Ethan Skemp, et al. Guardians of the Caerns (page 84) (White Wolf Publishing, 2000, ISBN 1-56504-360-X)
- Chris Campbell, et al. Tribebook: Get of Fenris (revised) (page 56) (White Wolf Publishing, 2002, ISBN 1-58846-312-5)
- Brian Campbell, et al. Werewolf: The Apocalypse Revised Edition (White Wolf Publishing, 2000, ISBN 1-56504-365-0)
- Official website
- Werewolf: The Apocalypse in The official World of Darkness Wiki
- Werewolf: The Apocalypse in The unofficial White Wolf Wiki