Garou (Werewolf: the Apocalypse)
Garou are werewolves in Werewolf: the Apocalypse.
All werewolves came from one of three breeds.
- Homid: This breed represents Garou born to humans. Although they were the most civilized of the three breeds, they also lost the most, and are more likely to be hunted -- unlike the lupus, the First Change of homids often happen in front of many witnesses, and frequently with the Black Spiral Dancers attending, violently tearing the homid from his or her human life.
- Lupus: This breed represents Garou born to wolves. In many ways, their life was the easiest -- by the time the lupus had made his First Change, he or she already knew how to hunt, and how to socialize in packs. It was learning how to be human that was difficult...
- Metis: Metis are malformed purebreeds, the result of a forbidden tryst between Garou (by the Litany; see Society, below). To a wolf, the metis are deformed; even the 'benign' changes (such as having horns on your head) made you stand out, and the extreme changes were damning. Choosing to be a Metis gave the character an unique insight into the Garou world, as they are often singled out for harassment. (The exception to this are the Black Furies and the Children of Gaia -- see Tribes, below.)
If breeds are a garou's physical phenotype, auspices are a garou's spiritual archetype. There were five auspices, each somehow tied to the moon, and each with their own advantage:
- Ragabash: Born under the new moon, Ragabash are scouts and rogues. Although their Rage was the lowest, they were also the most flexible, and many of their gifts came in handy in roleplaying situations as well as combat situations.
- Theurge: Born to the crescent moon, Theurges act as healers and shamans, learning the ways of the Umbra (and not occasionally of human mysticism). Theurges are the closest to the spirit world. Their gifts are the most mystic of all.
- Philodox: From the half moon come the Philodox, the judges, arbitrators, and problem-solvers. Their rage is dead center, as their role is that of balance: there is a time for war and a time for peace.
- Galliard: The Galliard come from the gibbous moon, acting as the teachers and the storytellers of the Garou race. They are full of Gaia's rage. Their gifts are more geared towards dreams and diplomacy.
- Ahroun: Children of the full moon, the ahroun don't understand Gaia's rage... they feel it. Although they are the most powerful, with the highest Rage and extremely potent combat gifts, they are also the most straightjacketed as characters.
In all, there were sixteen tribes: thirteen had survived for the timeline of Werewolf: the Apocalypse, while three more had been killed or subverted.
- Black Furies: They represented the interests of the Wyld, the most powerful but also most dangerous member of the Triat. They are also an exclusively female tribe, with one exception: male metis were accepted, as the Black Furies did not believe in dumping their own problems on other tribes.
- Bone Gnawers: Born to poor homids and to lupus whose homes were replaced by cities, Bone Gnawers represented survivors. Where Glass Walkers embraced the Weaver, the Bone Gnawers sought to understand her only to learn how to fight her.
- Bunyip: One of the Lost Tribes, the Bunyip were the Garou who inhabited Australia. They were a tribe focused on fertility and transformed themselves into marsupial wolves (thylacines). When the European Garou came to Australia, they were tricked into killing their Bunyip kin, believing they were Fera.
- Children of Gaia: Often depicted as a pacifist tribe, the Children of Gaia called for unity in the face of a common enemy. They could force peace among warring factions, and were the diplomats of the Garou race.
- Croatan: One of the Lost Tribes, the Croatan were one of the Pure Ones, or indigenous American Garou. Where the Utkena were "Older Brother" and the Wendigo were "Little Brother", the Croatan were "Middle Brother" and acted as an intermediary between the other Native American Garou. They sacrificed themselves to keep the Wyrm from taking hold in the New World when the Europeans arrived.
- Fianna: Celtic, the Fianna were the tribe most connected to the Fae. They coined the modern words for auspices. They were also noted as drunkards and playboys, despite being among the best warrior (behind the Get, and on par with the Red Talons and the Wendigo).
- Get of Fenris: Dedicated to the Wyrm's utter destruction, the Get are considered savage and bloodthirsty. This tribe is primarily of Germanic and Scandinavian descent, and Fenrir take great pride in their heritage.
- Glass Walkers: The Glass Walkers have adapted more closely to city life than every other tribe (except the Bone Gnawers), and they are not considered trustworthy. Glass Walkers tend to gravitate toward high technology, high finance and the criminal underworld.
- Hakken: A subtribe of the Shadow Lords, these strictly homid Garou are found in the Beast Courts of the East and can be called Shadow Lords with bushido morals.
- Red Talons: A tribe unique in that it is composed almost entirely of lupus members (with a very small but growing number of metis). Red Talons live in the wilderness among their lupine Kinfolk, and they believe that Gaia's only hope is the extermination of all humans.
- Shadow Lords: The Silver Fang's primary rival for leadership of all Garou. Shadow Lords are seen as cunning, deceptive and domineering - judgments that are not far off the mark.
- Silent Striders: OExiled from their original homeland, the Silent Striders choose to live solitary lives on the road, traveling constantly. Some work as couriers between septs. Silent Striders have learned many secrets of both the physical and spiritual worlds in their travels.
- Silver Fangs: he rightful rulers of the Garou Nation, they preserve impeccable breeding through both their lupine and human lineages. Most can claim descent through various European noble and royal families. This exclusionary behavior has led to imbreeding, and the Silver Fangs are tainted with madness because of it.
- Stargazers: Leaving the Garou Nation, the Stargazers and their divinations believed that the infighting among the tribes would lead to the death of Gaia, and so left the Garou Nation (and indeed, for a while, Earth itself), preferring to take the fight to the Umbra.
- Uktena: The Uktena are the most mysterious and mystical of the tribes. They have charged themselves to guard the resting places of many powerful Banes, and some fear that this association taints the tribe. Once, this tribe's human blood was entirely Native American. In recent decades, the Uktena have begun to breed with other races.
- Wendigo: The Wendigo are the only Garou tribe composed primarily of Native American members, but a few have bred outside their traditional lineages. The Wendigo resent the other tribe's presence in North America, and they guard their caerns from all others.
- White Howlers: One of the Lost Tribes, the White Howlers were related to the Picts of Scotland. They were fierce warriors who entered the Wyrm's realm in the Umbra called the Black Spiral. As such, they fell to the Wyrm and became the Black Spiral Dancers, highly mutated and corrupted Garou and one of the Garou's worst foes.
At the uppermost level, Garou life is organized into tribes. However, for most Garou, these are merely "team colors," and your standard Garou does not have a say in their tribe's politics.
Tribes are composed of a number of septs, which are themselves composed of packs. Packs are groups of werewolves with something akin to a familial relationship, although (especially in modern years) blood relations are probably not present.
Garou society is governed by a group of edicts known as the Litany. Somewhat like a constitution, the Litany lays down basic conduct that all Garou must adhere to. However, especially in modern-day games, the Litany is open to interpretation.
Each pack can have its own guardian totem, and individual Garou can have their own personal totems in addition to their pack's. These totems grant special blessings, impose certain restrictions, and may teach special esoteric abilities (known as gifts) to worthy Garou. In addition, in rare cases, the Phoenix totem will accept a werewolf into what is known as a Silver Pack, a specially-conviened pack created to handle some particularly arduous or dangerous task.
Depending on the Garou in question, a garou may have a group of what might be called living "demi-werewolves," or Kinfolk. Although only 1 in 10 who have lupine blood in them will ever Change and become a full Garou, these Kinfolk (when human) are generally are told of their partial-werewolf heritage -- after all, half a Garou is better than none for those who hunt werewolves. Those lucky few Garou with extended Kinfolk families, homid or lupine, are fortunate indeed; they gain a much-desired social outlet outside of their packs.
The Tirat is a group of three spirits which most Garou believe to be reality's greatest forces, who once kept existence functioning normally. (Some Garou believe Gaia is above the Triat, some believe her to be equal, and some believe her to be lower.) The Wyld reflects creation; the Weaver represents adaptation; and the Wyrm reflects destruction. In effect, the Triat was a macrocosm of all life: birth, growth and adaptation, and death, as it should be.
The Wyld is served most by the Black Furies. The Weaver is most venerated by the Glass Walkers. Besides the dark Black Spiral Dancers, no group in the Garou Nation openly supports the Wyrm, although some renegade groups in the Silent Striders, Stargazers, and Uktena are searching for a way to restore sanity to the Wyrm.
The main enemy of the Garou is the Wyrm. The Wyrm (which is composed of three lesser aspects, the Eater of Souls, the Defiler, and the Beast of War) uses humans (via pentex), spirits (banes), and other supernaturals (vampires) in an attempt to defile reality. Not even the Garou are safe from the Wyrm's corruption: a tribe from Scotland, once known as the White Howlers, have been perverted into a twisted mockery of their former selves known as the Black Spiral Dancers. The Wyrm's ultimate goal is the creation of an Apocalypse in which all reality ceases to be.
As noted above, the Wyrm was formerly a functioning member of the Tirat. However, it was trapped in a prison (Malfeas) by the Weaver, and in its imprisonment, it went insane. Now, it cannot leave its prison directly, but it can use its many minions to cause destruction.
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