Werewolf: the Apocalypse
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Werewolf: the Apocalypse (or W:tA) is a roleplaying game, originally published by White Wolf studios from 1992 to 2004. A new 20th Anniversary edition was released in 2013, and a 5th edition is due in 2021. In it, players play members of the Garou, a race of wolves who, despite being almost wiped out from generations of internal struggles, have become aware that the apocalypse is approaching.
The roleplaying game could be called the "lifestyler's RPG," in that its major themes include striking a balance between one's human and animal sides, struggling to find friends and live despite a heavy secret, and searching to find a group you could call family. Of course, lifestylers don't have to deal with fending off the end of the world too often, but a game purely about introspection wouldn't sell very well.
WtA uses the Storyteller system, a d10 dicepool system. Characters are rated from 1-5 in nine stats (three each in Physical, Mental, and Social groups), spent various amounts of points among three types of abilities (Talents, Skills, and Knowledges), and could buy extra special abilities, stats, or skills with 'freebies.'
The Player's Guide added a virtually-required expansion to character creation in which characters could also take "merits" (advantages) and "flaws" (disadvantages) with their freebie points.
Resolution was by rolling dice equal to a stat plus a skill, and getting a 'success' for every die that showed up higher than a target number (6 for average rolls, but ranging as high as 9 or as low as 3). Die rolls of 1 were worse than normal failures and rolls of 10 were better than normal successes. The results aren't all black and white: you can have a minor, normal, or superhuman success. This gives more freedom to the storyteller, and only she can decide the results for your character. Some rolls, like gift activation, are precisely documented but their exact effects varied between different editions of the system (and indeed, individual groups).
W:tA, in addition to the standard stats of the Storyteller system, added two new stats specific to the Garou: Rage and Gnosis. Rage was the connection to Luna's anger, while Gnosis was the connection to Gaia. This gave the game the occasional nickname of "Werewolf Wizards & Warriors," since Rage and Gnosis were heavily tied to combat and mystical actions respectively, and characters who had a high score in one usually didn't bother to attain a high score in the other.
In W:tA, all werewolves share some common powers. These include shapeshifting, regeneration, the Delirium, and the ability to learn special abilities (known as gifts).
Shapeshifting takes five forms: Pure human (homid), near human (glabro), mixture (crinos, or wolf-man), near wolf (hispo, or dire wolf), and pure wolf (lupus). Shapeshifting normally takes time, but Rage can force an instant change from one form to another.
The Delirium is a special form of horror; humans who see werewolves are panicked, and lose some or all their memory of seeing the werewolves afterwards. However, the potency of the Delirium is based on the human's willpower; a strongwilled human will be affected less than a weakwilled human.
- Main article: Character groups in Werewolf: the Apocalypse
Most werewolves believe that the Apocalypse is game over: the Wyrm wins, the Garou lose, Gaia is killed, and eventually all of existence ceases to be. If the Garou can defeat the Wyrm, the Apocalypse will be stopped. The Children of Gaia, Get of Fenris, Red Talons, Shadow Lords, and Silver Fangs hold this belief. However, this belief is not universal.
Some factions believe that the Apocalypse is natural, and automatic -- the natural result of the actions of the Triat. After the final battle, the winners will get to decide who wins. The final battle, then, will be the chance for the nature of reality to be decided... and those Garou do not want the Wyrm to win. Most of these are members of the more mystic tribes, such as the Silent Striders, the Stargazers, and the Uktena.
Finally, others think that, while Gaia is doomed to die, there will be a chance to escape; they plan to use the Apocalypse to fight past the Wyrm and flee to a land out of reach of Wyrm, Gaia, and other Garou. Most of these pessimists are Bone Gnawers.
GURPS Werewolf: the Apocalypse
GURPS Werewolf: the Apocalypse (ISBN 1-55-634276-4, shown) was an adaptation of the Werewolf game to the GURPS system. Although it had promise, the adaptation showed some critical misunderstandings of the Storyteller system (such as treating Rage and Gnosis as just special pools of 'fatigue points'). The book sold only lukewarmly, and a predicted companion was canceled after Steve Jackson Games and White Wolf had a falling out.
Werewolf: the Wild West
Werewolf: the Wild West (ISBN 1-56-504340-5) was a roleplaying game cast in Deadland's mold. Although the setting was well-received (replacing the untouchable Wyrm as the main enemy with a single exceptionally powerful but ultimately defeatable Bane), much text was copied and pasted directly out of the second edition of the original Werewolf roleplaying game. This caused the book to seem cheaper than it actually was, and ended its run prematurely. Several supplements were produced for Wild West, including a series of crossovers with Deadlands.
Dark Ages: Werewolf
Dark Ages: Werewolf (ISBN 1-58-846284-6) was the sequel to the widely successful White Wolf game, Dark Ages: Vampire. It was never received well by the fans of the original, however; it was seen as a quick attempt to cash in on the success on its predecessor. However, it has experienced a minor comeback as it is now available in PDF format.
Werewolf: the Forsaken
Werewolf: the Forsaken was a 'reimagined' version of the original game, covered in fuller detail in W:tA and furry gamers, below.
Rage was actually two different collectible card games (or CCGs) based on Werewolf, but with totally different rules. The first version (Rage: Apocalypse) was produced by White Wolf Game Studios and had five sets. The second version (Rage: Tribal War) was produced by Five Rings Publishing Group which became a division of Wizards of the Coast.
Both versions are currently out of production, but have found new life with fan made cards that White Wolf recognizes for use in tournaments. Many furry artists have worked on the fan made sets for Rage, including artists such as Dark Natasha, Roz Gibson, and Ursula Vernon. All the fan produced sets are available online from the central Rage website, River Von. Rage has also been developed for online play on Lackey.
Rage tournaments have been held at several conventions since 2004, including Further Confusion, Anthrocon, and FurFright. More tournaments are planned. See the central Rage website for a tournament schedule or visit the Rage Forum.
Werewolf: the Apocalypse: Heart of Gaia
Werewolf: the Apocalypse: Heart of Gaia was a short-lived attempt at producing a Werewolf video game by ASC Games. Based on the Quake II engine, the system would have been true to the Storyteller system, while simultaneously answering some of the more common complaints from the first Storyteller games, Vampire: the Masquerade: Redemption. However, ASC closed its doors, taking with it the code to Heart of Gaia. Since this time, White Wolf has not shown interest in licensing out WtA to another company.
W:tA and furry gamers
In 2005, W:tA was nominated as the 'furriest RPG in existence' by an informal study at RPGnet. Ethan Skemp, then line editor for Werewolf, replied by saying: "God damn it." He then later went on to say that Werewolf could not be a furry roleplaying game "because werewolves don't have breasts," implying he associated "furry" with furverts.
In the sequel to Werewolf, Werewolf: the Forsaken (or WtF), most of the elements that made it appealing to the furry fandom were removed. This included changing many aspects of the game; rather than fight against corporate (and mainly human) opression, the main opponents now come from the spirit world, which is described as a Darwinistic nightmare; all werewolves are derived from human stock, to focus on the "human comes to grips with monstrous urges" aspect of werewolf lore; and the focus is now local, with a more realistic (and uncertain) pack mentality.
Further, the primary non-spirit antagonists of werewolves in the new game are the Pure Tribes; wheras the player-characters are Forsaken, a minority among werewolves, the Pure Tribes did not "betray Father Wolf" in the past, and believe themselves to be the "true" werewolves. Ironically, the mother of all werewolves has condemned the Pure Tribes, with the Pure Tribes responding by no longer venerating their creator. The Pure Tribes are depicted as merciless horrors, alternating between violating their own oaths of harmony and enacting rites of gruesome penance. The archetypical Pure Tribe werewolves described in the book have such lurid titles as "Fire-Touched Deacon" and "Elder Man-Eater."
Without actual quotes and specification of the sources involved, the "WtF is less furry than WtA on purpose" statement can be dismissed as rumour. Many players, among them furries, believe that WtF was a welcome nerf of the incredibly high-violence high-drama cineastic world of WtA. That said, the great majority of WtF playing furries seems to indeed come to the conclusion that W: the Apocalypse just was a lot more fun to play than W: the Forsaken. The same has also been said countless times by non-furries - as has the opposite. Basically, WtF is a very debatable topic, and rumor freely mingles with fact in most discussions about it.
Some comparisons have been made to (Vampire: the Requiem), as the new Werewolf has a much more local focus and is geared towards personal tragedy and noble sacrifice. Ethan Skemp would later go on record as saying that it was the appeal of WtA to the furry fandom that fueled the changes in WtF. Reactions among the fans of Werewolf have been mixed; it should be noted that many non-furry Werewolf fans prefer Werewolf: The Forsaken, or consider the game equal to its predecesor.
Ironically, though the game's setting is less friendly to furry fandom, its spirit world is technically much more anthropomorphic than the previous edition; everything has a spirit, even locations, domestic appliances, and concepts like "greed" and "friendship."