The Pack

More important to the Werewolf chronicle than any of the individual characters is the pack they form. Among Garou, the pack is the basic social unit; Garou who are not part of a pack are practically social outcasts. For a pack to work, the characters must cooperate together with each other. Pack unity is important to success among werewolves.
It may be difficult to conceive of playing a group as closely knit as a pack, but consider that the Garou who make it up have been through hell (also called the Rite of Passage) together. They’ve lived with each other, breathed the same air, eaten the same food and lived with the same decisions. They came together after respective First Changes, and they have spent nearly all of their time since working (or playing) together.
By stressing the importance of the pack member’s relationships, we do not say that all the characters must like each other unreservedly and get along in all things – this is impossible. In fact, it’s more interesting if the characters do disagree over some things and experience conflict. After all, every family has its problems. The fact is, though, that a pack is more than the sum of its members. It describes those Garou as a group with common goals, motivations, enemies and background.
It may help players to visualize the pack as a character unto itself and work out its nature before they even begin to create their characters. The Storyteller and players should discuss the pack’s purpose for existence (all packs have one) and how it was formed. What must it accomplish? How does it interact with other packs? With the sept? Once the players decide upon a pack concept, they can decide who will fill which roles within the pack and what kind of characters they want to bring into it.

The pack serves as the chronicle’s center, the axis around which everything else revolves. Characters can join or die, but the pack remains. Because of its nature, it’s extremely important that the players agree on the sort of pack they want to play, as that will impact directly the kind of stories they will play. If a player decides that she doesn’t like her character two stories into a chronicle, it’s easy enough to let her switch in a new one. If the players decide they don’t like the pack’s nature, though, it may be necessary to overhaul the chronicle completely.
Most packs in the Final Days are formed during a Rite of Passage as the characters band together in the interests of survival. In past times, such packs were formed from members of a single tribe. Now, however, the Garou are too few, and the End Times too near, for elders to continue this practice. Modern packs are usually formed from members of several tribes, in the hope that they may support each other’s strengths and cover each other’s weaknesses.
When they create the pack, players should answer several questions. Players should answer these questions before they create their characters or play out their preludes, but they may change the specifics afterwards. The important goal is to establish a firm pack concept to give each character context.

• Where is the pack based? – What territory does the pack claim? Where does it range? Does it even claim territory? Do the pack members patrol their territory, or do they even acknowledge such responsibilities? Do the members have their own homes or do they live together? Is the pack urban, rural or wilderness-based?
• What is the pack’s mission? – What goals and motivations unite the pack? Do the packmates seek to destroy a particularly powerful Bane? Do they exist simply to protect their territory? Do they seek vengeance on someone in particular or upon anyone who defiles Gaia?
• Who, if anyone, is the pack alpha? – Who makes decisions? Who leads the pack? How does the pack decide? Some packs choose the alpha through violent challenges, allowing the victor to lead. Others designate different members to lead during different missions. The Ragabash may lead scouting missions while the Ahroun leads in battle.
• What is the pack’s totem? – Does the pack have a totem? If so, what is it? Why do the characters follow this totem? Did it choose them, or did they choose it?
• What is their sept like? – What kind of sept does the pack belong to? Does it give characters additional responsibilities? What is its name? Who are the leaders? The elders? Does the sept have a totem? Do sept members have certain duties that they must fulfill to appease certain spirits? Why?
• Does the pack have friends and allies? – Does the pack have any friends beyond its individual members’ contacts and allies? Who are they? Does the pack protect them?
• What about enemies? – Does the pack have any enemies? Who are they, and why do they hate the pack? What are their motivations? Are they Garou? If not, what are they?
The pack concept is lodged deeply in the Garou psyche – everyone is viewed in that context. Garou view solitary werewolves as creatures to be pitied or cursed; they’re certainly not whole. Of all Garou, only elders live without packs, and they do so (hopefully) because they’ve fulfilled their sacred mission. In all too many cases, though, such is not the case. Few Garou survive to become elders, and few elders have surviving packmates.
According to Garou tradition, Gaia charges each and every pack with a purpose that draws its members together; a purpose they are meant to serve and fulfill. In fact, potential packmates often experience visions or dreams guiding them together and revealing their purpose, before the pack is even formed.