Mystic Rites

These rites bring the Garou into direct contact with the Umbra and its denizens. Unlike most other rites, mystic rites are generally performed alone.

Baptism of Fire (●)

Most tribes attempt to track down all children born to their Kinfolk within one a month of the child’s birth to see if they “share the blood.” (Most commonly, this inquiry involves the Gift: Scent of the True Form.) Those who are Garou are “baptized” in the light of their auspice moon, beside a ritual fire. Such a baptism most commonly involves mingling ashes with a few drops of Garou blood; the mixture is then touched to the child’s ears, nose, eyelids and tongue.

In the presence of a lesser tribal spirit known as a Kin-Fetch, the babe is then held up to the moonlight while the baptizing Garou howls Gaia’s greeting to the newborn. The ritemaster then has the Kin-Fetch kiss the infant. The spirit’s fiery kiss inscribes a spiritual brand upon the babe in the form of the newborn’s tribal glyph. This mark is invisible — a thing of pure spirit — and impossible to remove. It can be traced and recognized by all Garou (including Black Spiral Dancers, who target such cubs and capture them in order to swell their own vile ranks).

The participating Kin-Fetch spirit is assigned to watch over the young Garou as she grows to maturity, so that the tribe may always know the child’s location and whether she is endangered. When the First Change is imminent, the spirit alerts the tribe. Unfortunately, such minor spirits are notoriously weak-willed and easily distracted.

System: Only one success is required on the Standard roll, but additional successes improve the chance that the Kin-Fetch will keep track of the child. The rite must be performed at night under the child’s auspice moon. Although generally performed within a month of birth, it remains effective at any time before the First Change. The brand vanishes after the cub’s Rite of Passage.

Rite of Binding (●)

This rite binds a spirit to a werewolf, making it his servant. The more powerful the spirit is, the more difficult the process is. Although any encountered spirit is subject to binding, the Garou generally feel that spirits should be bound only when needed. Binding spirits for excessive lengths of time is generally viewed as callous abuse of those who should be the allies of the Garou. This point doesn’t go uncontested, however, particularly by the mystics of the Uktena tribe.

Spirits trapped through this rite may be bound into temporary service or into objects to create talens (see p. XX). No spirit allows itself to be bound unless it is friendly to the binding character’s totem. Spirits can be bound into objects, places, and people, although the Garou generally don’t perform the last feat unless the need is great. Failing this rite can be dangerous, for the spirit is very likely to become hostile and attempt to harm the mystic.

System: A Garou can attempt this rite only in the presence of a spirit, and it is usually performed in the Umbra. When attempting to bind a spirit, a Garou must first spend a number of Gnosis points (minimum of one). Each point of Gnosis spent reduces the spirit’s effective Resistance trait by one. The Garou’s player must then roll Resolve + Composure - the spirit’s adjusted Resistance. The number of successes indicates how long the spirit may be forced into service, with each success binding the spirit for one week. In the case of a talen, the spirit is bound until the object is used.

Rite of Growth (●)

This favorite of urban Garou, particularly Glass Walkers, allows plants to grow in strange locations. The plants don’t grow unusually quickly, but can grow in plastic, concrete, or other unusual places, drawing nutrients from the source. Three Garou are needed to make this rite work.

The ritemaster makes an indentation in the surface using a claw, and plants the seed of the plant into it. The three then hold hands in a triangle around it, kneeling, and request the spirit of the material that it nurture and care for the plant. If the spirit agrees, a small green shoot will appear immediately.

System: The resistance to the Standard roll depends on the surface and area; an abandoned lot is -1, a typical city building is -3, and an oil spill would be -5. Each success guarantees the plant’s survival for one month. After that, as much regular watering and care as for any other plant is required.

Rite of Heritage (●)

Galliards and Philodox alike favor this genealogical rite, albeit for slightly different reasons. Some Garou use it to verify the identity of a hero’s descendants before passing on an inheritance; others use it to identify the father of a metis cub if none is forthcoming. The ritemaster draws the blood of the subject with a silver knife and sings a long paean to the ancestor-spirits of his tribe and any others that might be watching over the subject. As he completes the song, the ancestor-spirits whisper the subject’s heritage into his ears.

System: Success on the Standard roll reveals the subject’s true heritage for one generation back per success (for example, two successes would reveal the subject’s heritage as far back as his grandparents). In addition, the ritemaster receives the answer to one specific question about the subject’s heritage per success; e.g., “What was this cub’s paternal grandfather’s profession?” or “Does the blood of any other tribe run in this cub’s veins?” The answer will be accurate, as long as the answer can be found within the number of generations revealed; if the ritemaster gained four successes, for example, he could not ask “Is this child descended from Frode,” but he could accurately tell if the child’s great-great-grandfather claimed descent from Frode or not.

The Rite of Heritage works just as well with humans or wolves (although wolves, lacking names, are harder to accurately identify), even non-Kin or mages. It does not, however, work on the undead or on fae.

Rite of the Cardboard Palace (●)

A Bone Gnawer favorite, this rite allows the Garou to transform any flimsy structure into a decent place to sleep. This often involves a lot of cardboard and newspaper, but this rite can be invoked just about anywhere a werewolf needs to call home for the night — a few torndown branches arranged into a messy lean-to in the woods functions as well as a pile of converted trash in an alley. The “walls” of the dwelling become water-resistant and insulated, keeping everyone inside warm and dry. The rite can even be performed in full view of humans without breaking the Veil.

For powerful Theurges, the cardboard palace is even a place of healing, as well.

System: One success on the Standard roll is all that’s needed to create a comfortable place to sleep. If a point of Gnosis is spent before making the roll, the shelter is more than just comfortable — the Garou (and any other Fera) living inside the cardboard palace can roll Stamina after a full day of rest within; three successes heals one aggravated health level. A cardboard palace lasts for one full day per success on the activation roll.

Rite of the Questing Stone (●)

This rite allows the werewolf to find a person or object (but not a location). She must know the name of the object or individual, and must dangle a stone or needle from a thread while concentrating on the item or person sought. Glass Walkers often use maps and substitute a compass for the traditional stone and thread.

System: If the Garou has a piece of the item or individual (a clipping of hair, a piece of cloth), the ritualist receives a +1 bonus to the Standard roll. The werewolf gains only a sense of the object’s general location, not its exact position.

Rite of Talisman Dedication (●)

This common rite allows a werewolf to bind objects to her body, allowing them to fit her various forms (jeans will grow to accommodate the Crinos form rather than splitting at the seams, for example) and accompany the Garou into the Umbra. Such talismans are most commonly mundane items, for spiritual items such as fetishes and talens remain with the werewolf in all forms and in the Umbra automatically. A werewolf most often performs this rite during the phase of the moon under which she was born. Each auspice has its own peculiar ritual.

System: The cost is one Gnosis point per object dedicated, and a character may never have more objects bound to himself than his Gnosis pool. Conceptually linked groups of objects may count as a single object as the Storyteller’s discretion. For example, as a set of clothing would be considered one object rather than one shirt, one pair of pants, two socks, and so on; or a box of ammunition might be dedicated to the character, rather than requiring one dedication per bullet.

Objects will generally resize themselves to accommodate the character’s various forms (such as a backpack’s straps lengthening to accommodate Crinos form), but may simply meld with the character in forms where they can be of no use — for example, a knife may become a knife-shaped tattoo in Hispo. Others must spend a point of Willpower to attempt to steal dedicated objects from the werewolf.

Rite of Becoming (●●)

Werewolves must perform this rite at an Anchorhead Domain. Once completed, it enables them to travel into the Deep Umbra. The most common version of this rite requires the Garou to make a braid from three of her hairs, three pieces of fine copper wire, and three tendrils of ivy or other vine. Lengths of silk thread are sometimes substituted for the hair or wire. When the braid has been constructed, the Garou ties it around his own wrist and howls three words of power.

System: If the braid is destroyed while the Garou is in the Deep Umbra, the werewolf takes one level of Aggravated damage and risks becoming lost forever if she doesn’t return quickly to the Near Umbra.

Rite of Spirit Awakening (●●)

This rite is used to awaken a sleeping (inactive) spirit. To perform this rite, a Garou must play a rhythm on some form of instrument (drums are the most common). While the Garou plays, any other participating werewolves pace around the ritemaster, howling and growling in counterpoint to the beat.
When performed on a mundane item, this rite enlivens the object’s spirit, causing it to awaken and appear in the Umbra. For example, if the rite is performed on a VW bus, any Garou stepping sideways could see the bus as a true part of the landscape. However, it would appear as a stationary object in the Penumbra unless someone on the physical plane began to drive it, in which case it would appear as a driverless vehicle to anyone in the Umbra.

When performed on plants, this rite is known as sanctification. Plant-spirits are generally benevolent, and an awakened plant spirit will lend its powers as though it were a talen (one use). Different plants grant different abilities when sanctified. For example, sanctified foxglove protects against faerie magic (adding two to the difficulty of any faerie spell).

System: The ritemaster must play a musical instrument or sing a song (talent doesn’t matter); the resistance to the Standard roll is the spirit’s Power trait. Failure means that the spirit remains dormant. The Storyteller must decide whether the spirit is hostile or friendly to its awakener. Awakening a spirit doesn’t allow any control over it. Commanding an awakened spirit requires either a Rite of Binding or a Gift. This rite doesn’t work on sentient beings such as humans. Such individuals are already as “awakened” as they’re going to get.

Rite of Summoning (●●)

Garou mystics are adept at calling spirits, be they minor Gafflings, totem spirits, or even Incarna. Summoning spirits involves complex rituals, long periods of meditation, and tribal mantra chanting. Within the Umbra, this process is far easier. This rite compels spirits to seek those who call them. Furthermore, the spirit cannot escape its caller once the summoning is completed successfully, and it must attend the mystic. Many spirits, particularly minor ones, are too weak to resist a powerful summoning. Powerful ones come out of curiosity. The chance of a successful summoning depends upon the skill of the mystic, the power of the spirit, and the strength of the area’s Gauntlet.

System: The ritemaster must first pierce the Gauntlet just as if he were entering the Umbra (Purity roll against the local Gauntlet level). A mystic already within the Umbra is not required to pierce the Gauntlet. The power level of the spirit determines the resistance to the Standard roll. The Storyteller can determine difficulty from the following chart:

Spirit Type Resistance
Gaffling (lesser and greater) -0
Jaggling, lesser -1
Jaggling, greater -3
Incarna (minor, lesser, and greater) -5
Celestine avatar -10

For each hour the Garou spends invoking the spirit, he gains a +1 bonus to the Rite’s roll (maximum of +3). The player must then make a Purity roll and achieve as many successes as possible, with the following results:

Successes Effect
1 Spirit comes eventually and is initially hostile
2 Spirit manifests quickly, but it is still initially hostile
3 Spirit comes immediately and is neutral
4 Spirit comes immediately and is passively benign
5 Spirit comes immediately and is friendly

A Dramatic Failure on the roll is likely to have disastrous results. Often a Dramatic Failure summons the wrong type of spirit - or even Banes - in great numbers or with great hostility.

The Storyteller should feel free to adjust the previous tables as she wishes, particularly as appropriate to totems. In certain cases, a Garou who attempts to summon a specific spirit will have no chance of success. At other times, he will have almost no chance of failure. The Storyteller is advised to treat each use of this rite individually and to use common sense in her decisions.

A Garou who summons an Incarna or Celestine avatar successfully gains two Legend Beats, unless the summons is done frivolously.

Descent Into the Underworld (●●●)

Most Garou think of the Umbra, the Gaian spirit world, as the only spirit realm that sits close to the physical world. Most Garou are wrong. The Underworld — the Land of the Dead, the Dark Umbra — sits astride the physical realm just as the Umbra does. Within it are trapped the ghosts of countless humans who died unable to let go of their lives and pass on into the cycle of souls, as Gaia intended.

The Underworld is a bleak landscape mirroring all that is decayed or departed in the living world, as the Penumbra is a reflection expressing the world’s spiritual nature. Terrible, unstable portals lead deeper yet into the Underworld, a land of spirit-storms and nightmare mazes where few Garou have ever ventured and from which fewer still have ever returned.

This rite is primarily known and used by the Silent Striders, but a few other tribes and camps make use of it as well (most notably the Black Furies and Uktena).

System: The ritemaster must sacrifice a living mammal and touch every character to be affected by the rite with at least a fingerprint of its blood. He then draws sigils on the ground nearby with the remaining blood. The player then rolls the Standard roll, resisted by the local Gaultlet rating. Success on this roll takes the ritemaster to the Underworld; each additional success takes one of the other characters marked (if there aren’t enough successes to go around, those with the highest Rage are transported first).

Rite of the Fetish (●●●)

This rite allows a werewolf to create a fetish (an object with a spirit bound into it). To do so, the Garou must first cleanse the potential fetish by placing it under running water (sufficiently drinkable flowing tap water counts), burying it in pure earth, exposing the object to constant breezes, or suspending it above flame for three consecutive nights. The Garou must then force or persuade a spirit to enter the prepared object. The Fianna claim that cajoling or flattering a spirit produces the best results, while the Bone Gnawers and Silent Striders claim that bribery (expending Gnosis) works best.

System: Each point of permanent Gnosis that the character spends during the rite grants the ritualist a +2 bonus to the Standard roll. Other bonuses may be granted by the Storyteller if the ritemaster does a good job persuading the spirit to enter the fetish (by providing chiminage, undergoing a quest to prove her sincerity or worthiness, flattery, etc). If the Garou attempts to force a spirit into the fetish, she must first attack the spirit and reduce it to zero Corpus before attempting to bind it into the fetish.

Rite of the Totem (●●●)

This rite binds a totem to a group of Garou, joining them together as a pack. During the rite, all werewolves who wish to bind their destinies to a particular totem spirit must coat their eyes with an infusion of saliva and mugwort, tobacco, or a similar substance holy to Gaia and step sideways into the Umbra. In the spirit world, the ritemaster leads the Garou in a hunt for the spiritual spoor left by a totem spirit. Such evidence varies with the spirit, but Garou worthy of the totem’s attention can always find it. Even tracking down the spirit doesn’t guarantee success, for the totem must decide whether the Garou are worthy to become its fosterlings. An undecided totem may require a quest of the supplicants, although one is almost never required if the pack has just completed a Rite of Passage successfully.

System: Characters must purchase the Totem Merit to benefit from this rite. Otherwise, the rite is simply not performed.