Caern Rites

These rites are of vital importance to Gaia, for they aid in the opening, protection, and renewal of her most sacred spaces. Without such rites, the mystical flow of Gaia’s spiritual essence might cease, bringing spiritual barrenness and eventually death to even the most ferocious of werewolves.

System: These rites can be performed only within a caern.

Moot Rite (●)

A moot cannot open until this rite is completed, recharging the caern with Gnosis. The rite always includes a prolonged howl led by a werewolf known as the Master of the Howl. This howl varies by tribe and sept, but always expresses the unique nature of the sept. All werewolves present must form a circle within the caern itself before they commence howling. Numerous variations on the basic requirements exist: The Red Talons often bite their paws and scratch blood into the earth, while Uktena pass their most powerful fetish from one to another as each in turn adds her voice to the howl. However it is done, the howl must echo forth and the eternal circle must form.

System: The rite must be performed at least once per month to keep the caern consecrated. During the course of a moot, the participants must empower the caern with a combined total of five Gnosis points per caern level in order to replenish it fully.

Rite of the Opened Caern (●)

Each caern has a specific power associated with it, generally of a beneficial nature. Thus, there are caerns of Rage, caerns of Gnosis, Strength, Enigmas, and so on. If a character is knowledgeable enough, she may tap into the caern’s power and use it herself. Doing so is commonly known as “opening” a caern. Such a feat shouldn’t be attempted lightly — Gaia’s sacred places don’t give up their power easily, and failure to harness such power can seriously harm the Garou.

Each caern has its own requirements of the ritemaster. In order to open a caern of Enigmas, a Garou might walk a spiral path while calling out the Greek myth of Persephone; to open a caern of Rage, the Garou might change into Crinos and chant the litany of his ancestors who have fallen in battle against the Wyrm. The key is forging a connection to the particular spirit of the caern.

System: Standard roll as an extended action, contested by the caern spirit’s Resistance + Caern Level. The number of rolls made during this extended action is equal to the caern level. The party that has more successes after the last roll triumphs.

If the character wins the test, she can add the caern’s rating to her dice pool when performing actions appropriate to the caern’s focus. If she loses, she takes Lethal damage equal to the number of successes by which the caern beat her; a Dramatic Failure makes this damage Aggravated.

Rite of the Glorious Past (●●●)

A caern has its own history and heritage, regardless of the Garou that currently inhabit it. Learning the history of a caern is a fascinating undertaking that can take years. However, this rite allows the Garou to experience the nuances of the caern’s development as a fever dream, causing those years to seem to pass in a few short moments.

To enact this rite, the ritemaster must draw up a map of the caern as it was when it was first founded (which may require some research). This map is then burnt at the center of the caern. As the map burns, all Garou present growl quietly as the ritemaster recites the history of the caern. All werewolves present see the caern’s formation and any other important details in its history as though in a dream.

System: The number of successes necessary on the Standard roll is equal to the level of the caern. If performed successfully, each participant receives an additional dot of Ancestors until the next dawn; this occurs even if the character is normally incapable of possessing this Merit (as the ancestors thus contacted are former guardians of the caern rather than a given character’s personal forebears). This ritual also “primes” the caern; the next caern rite performed therein receives a +1 bonus.

The Badger's Burrow (●●●●)

The guardians of the caerns become so connected to their bawn that they can sense all that goes on within its boundaries. The ritemaster enacting this rite gazes intently into a bowl of water, pool of ink, mirror, or some similar focus. At the same time, the werewolf pours a small amount of witch hazel or other strongly scented astringent (even urine) on the ground in front of her. Any other Garou watching or participating encircle the ritemaster and growl softly in the backs of their throats. Some of the younger Garou (Glass Walkers and Wendigo in particular) enhance the ritual through the use of mild psychotropic drugs, although many werewolves frown upon this practice.

System: Resistance on the Standard roll is based on the size of the area the ritemaster is intent on learning information about. Each success on the Standard roll enables the ritemaster (or the caern Warder) to ask one question regarding a defined area. Failure indicates that the Garou sees nothing.

Area Resistance
Small room -0
Ballroom -1
House -2
Acre of land -3
Small forest -4
Large forest -5

Rite of the Opened Bridge (●●●●)

This rite creates a moon bridge, a shimmering portal serving as a mystical means of transportation between two caerns. Such moon bridges are vital links among the sacred spaces of Gaia. Once per year, a caern must renew its connection with other caerns to which it wishes to maintain moon bridges. This rite is always held during a moot, and it must be enacted simultaneously by both participating caerns.

The primary requirement to open a moon bridge is a pathstone. Pathstones are found in the Umbra, and they are often the objects of quests. These extraordinarily rare stones resemble flat pearls with the imprint of a wolf’s paw on one side. It is possible to steal a pathstone from a caern, but such a theft is considered blasphemous, and it may well result in war between two septs.

The rite establishes (or reestablishes) a spiritual connection between the pathstones of two separate caerns by way of the caerns’ totem spirits. At the rite’s culmination, a moon bridge opens between the two participating caerns. During this time, Garou from both septs can travel between the caerns to join in a wild revel. Moon bridges allow Garou to traverse distances in 1/1000th the normal time required. This rite must be renewed once every 13 moons (roughly a year).

System: The Standard roll is resisted by the caern’s level; if the ritemaster’s pack totem is the same as the totem of the caern, she receives a +3 bonus to the roll. If the rite was unsuccessful previously, the resistance to the roll is doubled. The ritemaster needs to obtain a number of successes equal to the target caern’s level to complete the rite.

If the rite succeeds, the moon bridge opens immediately, and the spirit-bond between the two pathstones is established. Moon bridges may now be opened at any time between the two caerns. The bridges may be opened with the Rite of the Opened Caern or the Gift: Open Moon Bridge (if performed at the caern). If the rite fails, no moon bridge opens, and the rite must be tried again next year. Moon bridges to the caern may still be opened, but they aren’t as safe as they might otherwise be.

Rite of the Shrouded Glen (●●●●)

This rite causes an area within the Umbra to become invisible, so that it cannot be seen from any other part of the spirit world. At least five people must participate in this ritual, and they must fast for at least three days to purify themselves. The Uktena, who are particularly adept at this rite, maintain that all participants must come to the rite with their bodies clad only in painted symbols representing earth, air, water, fire, and (for the ritemaster) the spirit world.

System: The resistance to the Standard roll is the caern’s Gauntlet + 4. Any participating Garou can contribute Gnosis to this rite. The participants must spend a total of 20 Gnosis points to make the effect permanent. Otherwise, the number of successes achieved equals the number of hours the Umbral Glen remains hidden. If the area the Garou attempt to hide is larger than the caern itself, the amount of Gnosis required increases by four for each mile (1.6 km) radius the participants attempt to enshroud.

Rite of Caern Building (●●●●●)

This powerful rite creates a new caern by drawing the spirit world and the physical world closer together. Simply reciting the rite draws the attention of the Wyrm’s servants, and actually performing the rite has been known to prove fatal. Only the most powerful and wise mystics dare lead such an undertaking.

A powerful Theurge is almost always selected to perform this most sacred of rites. Many Garou must channel their energy through a powerful leader to have even a hope of success. Whole packs have been known to die in the agony of failed attempts.

Once the physical focus for the heart of the caern is chosen, the area must be cleansed of all taints in preparation for its transformation. All Garou participating in the rite must undergo a Rite of Cleansing, at minimum. The ritemaster performs a series of minor rituals, meditations, and other physical preliminaries to prepare for her awesome task.

The sept must post sentries, for servants of the Wyrm almost invariably attempt to disrupt such a great rite. Only the mightiest warriors are chosen for such an assignment, and their protection is critical to the success of the rite. The leader of the rite is helpless while he chants a long litany of verses designed to draw a great spirit into the prepared caern. Although it is possible to create a specific type of caern, most leaders leave this choice to Gaia and accept whatever caern she grants the sept.

The rite must be performed between the hours of sunset and sunrise during the waxing of the moon. Only the Black Spiral Dancers create caerns during the moon’s waning.

System: The rite lasts from dusk until dawn. As the sun breaks over the horizon, the ritemaster makes the Standard roll, receiving a +1 bonus for every five Garou participating in the rite above the requisite 13 participants (maximum of +5). The number of successes gained determines the level of the resulting caern:

Successes Level
1-3 Level one
4-6 Level two
7-8 Level three
9+ Level four

Because an enormous amount of Gnosis is needed to break through the Gauntlet and empower the new caern, a minimum of 13 Garou, one for each moon of the year, must participate in the rite. At the end of the rite, the participating Garou channel Gnosis into the nascent caern — a total of 200 points of Gnosis is necessary to awaken the sacred site. If an insufficient amount of Gnosis is offered, the rite’s participants begin to suffer aggravated wounds as their life-force is sacrificed to create the caern. Each wound counts as five more Gnosis points toward the total. The complete the ritual, each of the 13 core participants must sacrifice a dot of permanent Gnosis.

Such is the damaged state of the world that the Rite of Caern Building can no longer naturally awaken a level five caern — only an additional offering of Gnosis can bring that sort of purity and power back to the dying earth. Offering an additional 200 points of Gnosis — 400 Gnosis in total — empowers the rite, creating a caern one level higher than the ritemaster’s successes would otherwise indicate.

The dangers of the rite are many. Failure scours the bodies and spirits of all Garou involved in the rite, both those donating Gnosis and those protecting them, inflicting four levels of Lethal damage from spiritual backlash. A Dramatic Failure inflicts seven levels of Lethal damage; those driven below Incapacitated by this damage suffer severe Battle Scars (see p. XX).

Minions of the Wyrm ultimately pose the greatest threat to the rite. As soon as it begins, all Wyrm-corrupted beings (Banes, fomori, Black Spiral Dancers, even particularly degenerate vampires or depraved ghosts) for miles around become aware of the rite; many will stop at nothing to prevent its completion. The Garou can expect a siege lasting at least until dawn, and likely longer.

If a player’s character should somehow assume the role of ritemaster and succeed, she receives 1 Legend Experience and 2 Legend Beats. Anyone else participating in the rite receives 4 Legend Beats. This task is a legendary one that deserves a suitable reward.