Breeds

Werewolves are wolf, human, and spirit melded into one. But they have to come from somewhere. A werewolf’s breed is a function of immediate parentage, never perfectly balanced, always slightly askew. Each Garou’s breed is determined by his or her mother’s natural form. Homids are born to human or homid Garou mothers; lupus are born to wolves or lupus Garou. Only a metis, the children of Garou-Garou pairings, are born in a different breed form than their mother’s. The father still contributes some genetics to the child, but affects breed only if he’s a werewolf as well. A female lupus Garou who takes on human form and mates with a human will bear wolf cubs or, perhaps, a lupus cub or two.

Female werewolves who bear offspring always wear their breed form when giving birth. The only exceptions to this rule are those pregnant with metis; they give birth in Crinos for the sake of survival. Werewolves can be born without a werewolf parent as well. Some come from Kinfolk lines with no immediate Garou parentage. Every so often, a werewolf child is born to an ordinary human or wolf mother who may be many generations removed from werewolf and Kin.

Each breed has its own strengths and weaknesses, and each group has a slightly different connection to Gaia. Lupus have a stronger connection to the wild. Homids have the experience and talent to move in human society. Even metis, despite their flaws, have remarkable advantages thanks to having their natural form be Crinos war-form. Breed should inform your character both with interesting mechanics and inspiring possibilities for a backstory.

Homid

Your mother was human, Kin or not, or a homid Garou. You grew up among humans and learned how to live in their society. Yet something always set you apart. Other kids reacted unconsciously to the predator within you, and to the vicious temper that you couldn’t always keep under control. Strange dreams marked your childhood, and as you grew you remembered more and more of them - dreams of the moon, of the taste of blood, of the smell of war. Maybe they found you before your Change, maybe after, but now there’s no going back.

Homid characters begin with a lower Purity, given their background and immersion into the mundane, busy and distracted human world, but given their connections, they begin with 3 free dots of Allies, Contacts or Retainers, representing their connection with the “modern world.” No werewolf is better able to deal with the many peculiarities of human society. In their breed form, homids can also handle silver without any Gnosis penalty.

The human-born advantages at navigating human society are balanced against weaker connections with the wolf and spirit portions of their nature. Homids are generally less intuitive and perceptive than lupis or metis. Their likely to rely on what they see and hear, rather than what they feel. Moreover, their innate spiritual connections are weaker, as represented by their lower Purity. Humanity has simply grown apart from the spirit world.

Nicknames: Apes, Two-Legs, Monkeys

Initial Purity: 6

Advantage: Homid characters begin play with 3 free dots in any combination from the Merits: Allies, Contacts and Retainers.

Metis

Born to two werewolves who broke the Litany for love or lust, you were a child that shouldn’t have been — but one raised among the Garou anyway. You endured a hard, thankless life, stemming both from the deformity that is your birthright and your place at the bottom of the social ladder. Many other Garou pointed to your deformity as a sign that you, like all other metis, are a living affront to Gaia — others said it’s a likely side effect of the over-concentration of already powerful werewolf blood. Whatever the case, you’ve survived from a hard birth, through years of living only in your Crinos body (the natural form of a metis), to finally undergo your First Change. Whether your parents raised you — as an outcast among the sept — or long-suffering but devoted Kinfolk did, you’re now ready to take your place in the sept. Unlike homids, you have a lot of knowledge about werewolf society already — the nobility, the brutality, the wisdom, the spite.

Metis characters begin play with 3 additional Specialties in any Skill relating to Garou society, representing their early and integrated life with Garou and life growing up within the Garou world. Like homids, they have early experience with abstract thought, and are often introduced to technology, education, and other human creations early on as part of being raised at the sept. But like their wolf relatives, the metis also have a strong connection to their animal nature. They have the strengths of both sides to some degree.

On the other hand, all metis bear the mark of deformity. To attempt to hide this shame is considered dishonorable; to wear it openly is to attract the contempt of many other werewolves. Another flaw of this breed is that all metis are sterile; none can sire or bear children. It’s faintly ironic that Garou/Garou pairings are the only matings that invariably produce werewolf offspring — and yet they are no way to ensure the future of the People.

Nicknames: Mules, Bastards, Obscenities

Initial Purity: 7

Advantage: Metis characters begin play with 3 additional Specialties with any Skill relating specifically to the Garou society. Example Specialties include an Occult Specialty in Garou, a Brawl Specialty in the use of Claws or Teeth, or a Politics Specialty in the Garou Litany.

Disadvantage: Every metis character has at least one deformity, chosen during character creation. While some deformities may have minor benefits, the bad always outweighs the good. Storytellers should encourage players to choose defects that complement their character concept. Some possibilities for metis deformities include:

  • Albino

You have no melanin in your body, in any form. Your skin is faintly pink, and it burns easily. Your hair is stark white (not silver) and your eyes are pinkish to blood red. All Wits + Composure perception rolls are made with a -2 penalty if you’re trying to operate in bright light without your protective clothing or sunglasses.

  • Blind

Whether you have two eyes in the right place that don’t work, or no eyes at all, you are totally blind. You fail any rolls involving vision automatically. At the Storyteller’s discretion, though, you may take occasional bonuses with other sense groups.

  • Fits of Madness

Mental illness plagues you on a periodic basis. Whatever your malaise, you tend to fall to pieces when you get stressed. The Storyteller may call on you to make a Resolve + Composure roll whenever situations get tough. Scoring fewer than three successes means that you become non-functional for a period of time, losing your lucidity.

  • Hairless

You have no hair or fur in any of your forms. Take a -2 penalty to all Social rolls. You might be able to avoid this penalty among humans when you’re in Homid form, although some people may be put off by your complete lack of hair even then - you don’t have body hair where it’d be expected, not even eyebrows.

  • Horns

You have a pair of horns in every form. They may be like those of a ram or goat, or like a small pair of antelope-like antlers. You might even have a single short horn like a unicorn’s. Whatever the form, you suffer a -2 penalty to all Social rolls, and you are likely to be even more heavily scorned by your fellow Garou. (Horns are a mark of prey, not of a predator, after all.) If you actually try to attack with your horns (which has a Damage Rating of 0 and may only do 2 levels of Bashing damage at best), you will likely lose some amount of Glory Renown for fighting like a prey animal instead of a Garou. Passing as a human is particularly difficult for you.

  • Hunchback

You were born with a front-to-back or side-to-side curve of your spine that’s worsened as you’ve aged. It gives you a negative social stigma (-1 penalty to Social rolls), and it also impedes your movement, adding a -1 penalty to all Dexterity-based rolls.

  • No Sense of Smell

Your sense of smell is nonexistent, even in Lupus form. You fail all Wits + Composure rolls involving smell automatically, and you suffer a -2 penalty to track prey using Survival.

  • No Tail

Not having a tail creates serious communication problems with others of your kind. You take a -1 penalty in all social situations while in Lupus, Hispo or Crinos forms. In addition, your sense of balance suffers. You take a -1 penalty to Dexterity rolls as well while wearing those forms.

  • Seizures

When you’re under the gun, you lose control of your body. When you suffer a Dramatic Failure on an important roll, make a Resolve + Composure roll. Scoring less than three successes makes you writhe uncontrollably until the Storyteller tells you to make another roll. You can take no actions while experiencing a seizure.

  • Tough Hide

Your skin is tough as old leather, and considerably less attractive. You have no coat to speak of, merely a few patches of fur here and there across your wrinkled, dry hide. You suffer from unbearable itching and hot spots are constant aggravations (which, at Storyteller discretion, may require a Resolve + Composure roll to allow you to keep your attention on certain tasks), and your Presence can never be higher than 1. On the positive side, you get a natural Armor Rating of 1/0 that may stack with other armor, but it’s only a small advantage to weigh against your smelly, scratchy hide.

  • Wasting Disease

Your constitution is notably weak. You cough and wheeze, and have extreme difficulty with the long-term hunts and endurance runs where humans, wolves, and Garou normally excel. Take a -2 penalty on all Stamina rolls, as well as to other rolls involving physical endurance.

  • Weak Immune System

Werewolves are normally very resistant, even immune, to ordinary disease. You lack that level of supernatural constitution, and in fact are more vulnerable to ailments than most humans are. Because of your condition, you begin every night with 2 levels of Bashing damage filled in. This damage may be healed, but you are always noticeably weak, suffering a -2 penalty to all Strength rolls, even if the Bashing damage is healed.

  • Withered Limb

You have four limbs, but the muscles of one are atrophied, leaving it withered or paralyzed. Depending on your form, you can’t walk well, and you run more slowly than other werewolves. You incur a -2 penalty on all Dexterity rolls when trying to use this limb, and your Speed trait is determine by straight Strength + Dexterity (instead of Strength + Dexterity + 5).

Lupus

None are closer to nature and the hidden face of Gaia than you are. You were born a precocious pup, already showing remarkable intelligence above that of your siblings. When the Change overcame you, and you discovered your true nature, the world itself became something you had never expected.

Lupus are quite capable of abstract thought, but much of their experience with the concepts governed by such thought comes after the First Change. They pick up the basics of Garou speech very quickly, and the basics of human languages with surprising speed, but the small nuances and connotations frequently elude them. They are accustomed to the socialization of a pack, not of a greater society — which can be particularly problematic if they were raised in a traditional wolf pack, which is more of a nuclear family than anything else.

The advantages of the lupus are several - many of them spiritual. The wolf-born lack the spiritual disconnection that the homids have gradually developed, and they are also free of the spiritual “static” that comes with the blood of the metis. They have a knack for mastering the animistic rituals of the Garou, as they are closer to “spirit logic” than the more educated reasoning of humankind. Some of this is reflected in their high starting Purity.

Nicknames: Ferals, Four-Legs, Fleabiters

Initial Purity: 8

Advantage: Lupus characters begin play with 3 free dots, chosen in any combination, in the Skills Animal Ken, Survival, or Brawl.

Disadvantage: Lupus characters may not begin play dots in any Skills solely representing a life in human society. These skills include Academics, Computer, Science, Drive, Firearms, Weaponry, Socialize and Streetwise. They also may be restricted in which Merits they can begin play with, at Storyteller discretion.

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