Totems

Garou packs and Septs are something more than just a bunch of Garou who hang out together. The Rite that binds a pack together, and the Rite that transforms a place of power into a caern, also binds them to a totem spirit who oversees their actions, provides occasional inspiration and instruction, and keeps them focused on their duties. The totem often refers to its pack or Sept as its “children” and takes its parental responsibilities quite seriously.

Most totem spirits are Incarnae - most of them animal spirits, but the ranks of common totems also include mythological beasts, elemental forces and other sorts of spirit- who create Jaggling representatives known as “totem avatars” to attend to the packs which honor them. Most Incarnae have “broods” of lesser spirits who serve them in various ways, and a pack on good terms with its totem often gets along better than average with the Incarna’s brood. A pack dedicated to Rat, for instance, may find it easier to deal with Raccoon-spirits, Trash-spirits and the like, while a pack dedicated to Falcon may deal more readily with Bird-spirits of all sorts. Bonuses for related challenges are up to Storyteller discretion, based on the pack‘s roleplayed relations. A pack on strained terms with its totem, on the other hand, likewise tends to have difficulties with its totem’s brood.

All totems fall into one of five categories: Honor, Glory, Wisdom, Cunning, and Vigilance. These are all loosely associated with Renown categories.

The following list of totems isn’t exhaustive. It includes many common totems, and provides a basis on which Storytellers can build when making more. Note that while some totems are affiliated with tribes, simply being a member of the tribe doesn’t make a Garou eligible for the benefits of affiliation. It requires specific pack dedication to get the bonuses. Tribe members can and do encounter their totemic spirits in the Rite of Passage and at other key moments such as learning tribal Gifts, however.

Merit Cost and Traits

Players of characters in a pack pool the total they’ve invested in the Pack Totem Merit to “buy” the totem spirit. Bonuses and penalties apply immediately once the full listed Totem Point price is satisfied, though the telepathic communication is available to any pack member who has purchased at least one dot in the Pack Totem Merit for that totem.

The bonus Traits a totem supplies are renewed each turn, and are available to one pack member at a time. The one who currently has the power can choose to hand it off to another at any given time. Bonus Traits can make it possible for a Garou to know something she otherwise lacks any experience in, as well as enhancing her existing abilities. Renown awards are temporary Renown and given once, when the pack is accepted by the totem, unless otherwise stated.

By spending additional experience Traits and roleplaying out the process, a pack can learn more Gifts from its totem. As the totem comes to know, trust and respect the pack, instruction follows.

Every totem also imposes restrictions or Bans on its followers. Garou who violate the Ban lose all benefits from the totem - extra Traits, unlearned Gifts, etc. - until they perform a Rite of Contrition. Garou who persistently violate the totem’s wishes and commands may lose it altogether.

Personal and Sept Totems

TODO: Detail the specifics behind investing Totem Points in a Sept or Personal totem.

Totems of Honor
Bison

Held in high esteem by many Native American tribes, the Bison is both calm and warlike, serene yet determined. Garou adopted by Bison admire their spirit father for his methodical logic, stubborn survival and willful war skills. As an American Totem, he most commonly adopts Uktena and Wendigo packs.

Totem Points: 13

Renown Requirements: Honor •

Benefit: Bison grants his children a dot in Animal Ken, a dot of Occult, and a dot of Survival. In addition, they may draw on 3 extra Willpower per story.

Ban: Bison’s children must not be wasteful, and must always use part of something they kill to a practical purpose. (In the case of Black Spiral Dancers and other such enemies, the possessions of one’s kill will suffice.)

Brood: Wendigo

Falcon

Falcon is a noble spirit, looking deeply into the Garou heart and rewarding virtue and honor where he finds them. He unites the Silver Fangs in a shared vision of excellence in duty, and his tribe’s lapses do not reflect poorly on him in most Garou’s eyes.

Totem Points: 9

Renown Requirements: Honor •••

Benefit: Falcon grants his children two dots in Persuasion, a Persuasion Skill Specialty in Leadership. His children can also call upon a pool of four Willpower per story.

Ban: Dishonor is worse than death, and Falcon’s followers cannot allow themselves to lose one Honor. They must put right the wrong if possible, and if not perform a Rite of Contrition and then hurl themselves against some powerful minion of the Wyrm. A righteous death may remove the stain.

Brood: None. As a Tribal Totem, Falcon is the head of his own Brood.

Osprey

Osprey is a skilled and wise hunter, able to pluck her prey from the river itself. Her respect amongst water elementals and fish spirits is high. Followers of Salmon in particular hold Osprey’s children as allies. Osprey chose House Austere Howl as her own, and for centuries she profited from her relationship as the house grew in strength and honor. Many of the underground Austere Howl packs, including Queen Mary’s own pack, still honor Osprey and she tries to guide them as they seek to clear the house’s name.

Totem Points: 17

Renown Requirements: Honor •

Benefit: Children of Osprey are granted with one dot of Athletics, an Athletics Skill Specialty in Swimming, and a dot of Dexterity.

Ban: Osprey charges her followers with protecting the rivers and the seas. They must not allow or commit any action that causes a body of water to be fouled, even as slight as urination in a river.

Brood: Falcon

Stag

Great Stag is an ancient spirit embodying masculinity, virility and the wild power of nature. He includes both light and dark, dividing the world between the wild and the tame, the living and the dead, rather than between good and evil, and his Gifts aren’t always comfortable to those with a strong ethical sense. Sometimes his avatar appears to guide or aid lost Garou – he teaches responsibility to the whole world, including humanity, as well as leading the Wild Hunt.

Totem Points: 14

Renown Requirements: Honor •••

Benefit: Stag grants his children one dot of Stamina, two dots of Survival, and can call upon three dots of Willpower per story.

Ban: Children of Stag must always show respect for prey, including the Prayer for the Prey, and must always aid the fae. (This latter Ban is seldom an issue in the modern day, but Stag remembers his commitments.)

Brood: None. As a Tribal Totem, Stag has his own Brood.

Volcano

The brother of Earthquake and Twister, volcano stands forth and demands that all respect the power and honor of the Wyld. Though easily angered and difficult to reason with, those who patiently listen to the edicts of Volcano learn that honor is found in change and righteousness. Volcano teaches: Become whatever is needed in any time, but when you have adopted your new form, announce it, stand by it with resolve and never back down from your ideals even if they too must change as you do.

Totem Points: 12

Renown Requirements: Honor •

Benefit: Volcano grants his children the voice to speak their values and make the world listen; each member of his packs receives a dot of Expression and two dots of Survival. So they can be adaptable and vengeful when needed, he also gives his packs a dot of Wits.

Ban: Volcano forbids his children to ever attack an opponent without warning, and his packs must make a burnt offering to him once each lunar month.

Brood: Griffin

Totems of Glory
Badger

A strong hunter and powerful digger, Badger isn’t a common totem, but is very pleased when a pack chooses him. His sharp teeth and strong jaws can shear bone, and he revels in being underestimated. He prefers packs that don’t charge directly into the fray but search for their opponents’ weakness and exploit them. If cornered, Badger is capable of terrifying rage – to his mind, it is better to be injured in battle than killed in captivity.

Totem Points: 18

Renown Requirements: Glory ••

Benefit: Badger’s children gain two dots of Stealth and the Spirit Deal: Burrow. They also gain one dot of Stamina.

Ban: Followers of Badger may not make their homes in pre-constructed dwellings, but must either sleep in the wild or build their own homes.

Brood: Fenris

Boar

Hunters fear Boar, and for good reasons. He’s too angry to pass up a fight, too fierce to concede defeat and too stubborn to die quietly. Combative young packs of all tribes, especially the Get of Fenris and Fianna, choose Boar.

Totem Points: 16

Renown Requirements: Glory •

Benefit: Boar grants each of his children two dots of Brawl, and a dot of Strength.

Ban: Children must never hunt or eat boars, nor can they wear anything that might be made from it’s hide.

Brood: Stag

Earthquake

As the Messenger of the Wyld’s Glory, Earthquake has little of Volcano’s codes and ethics, or Twister’s mysteries. He is bent on one goal only - the destruction of anything and anyone that displeases him. Earthquake has little metaphysical knowledge to offer his children, instead he teaches them exactly how to hit something so that it will be hurt as much as possible, and that is all. And in the presence of Earthquake, who would dare argue his decisions?

Totem Points: 3

Renown Requirements: Glory •

Benefit: Earthquake teaches each of his children a dot of Brawl, so that they may act as his fists. In addition, he grants his pack a dot of Stamina.

Ban: Children of Earthquake may never travel by air.

Brood: Griffin

Fenris

The all-devouring god of wolves was a totem long before the Norse began to spin tales of the Fenrir, but their hymns and stories captured his essence so well that they’ve become nearly universal among Fenris’ children. He is powerful, bloodthirsty and completely devoted to combat without mercy. He especially favors the Get of Fenris, but is willing to accept other packs who reject giving or receiving quarter and who frequently blood themselves with the life essence of their foes.

Totem Points: 11

Renown Requirements: Glory ••

Benefit: Each child of Fenris gains one dot in their choosing from any of the Physical Attributes. Get of Fenris respect non-Get followers of Fenris more than most of other tribes, and like to test them by inviting them to participate in wild hunts and battles.

Ban: Fenris’ children must never pass up the opportunity for a worthy fight.

Brood: None. As a Tribal Totem, Fenris has his own brood.

Griffin

Griffin mourns extinct species, and carries a special rage against the human beings responsible for so many extinctions. His Red Talon children share this anger, and his Gifts make them better instruments of revenge. Note that to Griffin there’s precious little difference between the European land developer who wipes out species for housing tracts and the aborigine who kills species with slash-and-burn agriculture or over-hunting, no matter how much the targeted humans might try to make distinctions.

Totem Points: 13

Renown Requirements: Glory ••

Benefit: Each member is granted a two dots of Wits, and are capable of communicating with birds of prey without requiring a Gift or Deal. Red Talons respect Griffin’s followers.

Ban: Griffin’s children may not associate with humans. Griffin almost never accepts homid Garou as his children.

Brood: None. As a Tribal Totem, Griffin has his own brood.

Totems of Wisdom
Chimera

Chimera is an enigma. She of Many Faces is the master example for the Stargazers tribe, who earn her special favor for their willingness to pierce through layers of illusion and confusion to find inner wisdom.

Totem Points: 5

Renown Requirements: Wisdom ••

Benefit: While Chimera is an enigma, she wants her children to be able to see through them; she grants her children three dots of Occult, and an Occult Specialty in Enigmas.

Ban: Chimera requires only that her children must seek enlightenment.

Brood: None. As a Tribal Totem, Chimera has his own brood.

Cockroach

Cockroach is perhaps the definitive totem of the modern age. (Glass Walkers say there’s no “perhaps” about it.) It is hardy, quick and persistent, and its kin are everywhere in the city.

Totem Points: 12

Renown Requirements: Wisdom •

Benefit: Cockroach grants it’s constituents two dots in Computers, one dot of Science, and the ability to, with a successful Harmony roll against the local Gauntlet, enter the Umbra and view data stored in digital media or being transmitted electronically.

Ban: Cockroach’s children must take pains not to kill cockroaches.

Brood: None. As a Tribal Totem, Cockroach has his own brood.

Owl

Owl watches and strikes silently. He holds hidden wisdom, and inspires his favored children, the Silent Striders, to do the same. He flies with death even into the Dark Umbra; the widespread belief that owls are spirits of the vengeful dead aren’t completely baseless.

Totem Points: 8

Renown Requirements: Wisdom ••

Benefit: Each pack member gains wings in the Umbra, and two dots of Stealth. Silent Striders may mysteriously appear to aid an Owl pack in danger.

Ban: Owl requires that the pack leave small rodents in the wood for him and his children. Ratkin and other followers of Rat are particularly hostile to Owl

Brood: None. As a Tribal Totem, Owl has his own brood.

Rattlesnake

A venerated spirit of the Pure Ones, Rattlesnake has both compassion and fury in tremendous amounts, and while his followers (like him) often have great patience, they do not forget a slight easily and seldom leave many foes standing when they finally choose to strike.

Totem Points: 18

Renown Requirements: Wisdom •

Benefit: Rattlesnake’s children gain the Gift: Pulse of the Invisible without needing to meet the prerequisites. They may also entrance listeners by singing or howling with a successful Manipulation + Persuasion roll. Subjects do not become willing slaves or easy targets, simply a bit more pliant to carefully couched suggestions, giving the character a two die bonus on subtle Social rolls (seduction, casual cons, etc.). The pack also gains three dots of the Merit: Ancestors. Wendigo and Uktena tend to look favorably on children of Rattlesnake.

Ban: None of Rattlesnake’s children may attack a serpent, and they must honor the Pure Ones whenever they can.

Brood: Uktena

Twister

The Wyld’s keeper of Wisdom and brother to Earthquake and Volcano, Twister appears to offer little but destruction and incoherence. But listen to his mad ramblings, and you may hear the very secrets of creation itself. Twister leaves his mark on all he touches, tearing apart the transient things that surround us and reforming the world in his wake. Perhaps of all his lessons, this is the most pertinent: Nothing stays the same. He is favored most by the Black Furies and Red Talons.

Totem Points: 14

Renown Requirements: Wisdom •

Benefit: Twister teaches his children how to perceive the world without preconceptions. Because of this, each of his children gain one dot of Occult. He also grants his packs one dot of Strength and one dot of Dexterity.

Ban: Twister’s children may not leave a dwelling without destroying something significant and obvious.

Brood: Griffin

Totems of Cunning
Coyote

Coyote is the ultimate trickster, the perfect outlaw, the transgressor who makes Ragabash seem hidebound and conventional. He is unpredictable, lusty, sometimes even foolish. He’s also a clever warrior as well as a master of deception.

Totem Points: 20

Renown Requirements: Cunning •••

Benefit: Coyote grants his children two dots of Stealth and two dots of Subterfuge. Coyote can find his pack wherever they are.

Ban: Coyote wouldn’t think of limiting his children.

Brood: None. Coyote is a lone wolf, and he prefers his trickster ways to be solitary. It grants him more freedom that way. That, and he trusts no one, even other spirits.

Fox

Fox confounds prey and enemy alike, luring the weak into danger and the strong into confusion. He loves to trick opponents into trusting him, then snaring them in traps, particularly if the experience can teach the foe a lesson.

Totem Points: 11

Renown Requirements: Cunning ••

Benefit: Fox grants his children one dot of Subterfuge, one dot of Stealth, and one dot of Persuasion.

Ban: Fox’s packs must never hunt his true children, and must actively prevent the success of any foxhunts they encounter. Children of Fox are often seen as untrustworthy, reducing any potential gains in Legend Beats for a given session by one.

Brood: Stag

Grandfather Thunder

Grandfather Thunder is more feared than respected. His patience and subtlety set the example for his Shadow Lord children. He seldom sends one of his own avatars to packs that serve him; his Stormcrows usually act on his behalf.

Totem Points: 15

Renown Requirements: Cunning •

Benefit: Grandfather Thunder grants his children two dots of Politics and two dots of Intimidation. The pack may also call upon 5 Willpower per story. Shadow Lords find the pack interesting and watch its progress.

Ban: Thunder’s children should not tell the truth to anyone except those they respect, which in practical terms means anyone they can’t dominate.

Brood: None. As a Tribal Totem, Grandfather Thunder has his own brood.

Rat

Rat is fast and quiet, the master of hit-and-run warfare and the neutralization of the enemy’s strength. He fights to weaken, then destroy.

Totem Points: 15

Renown Requirements: Cunning ••

Benefit: All pack members gain a two dots in Stealth, and the pack can call upon five dots of willpower per story.

Ban: Rat’s children must never kill vermin.

Brood: None. As a Tribal Totem, Rat has his own brood.

Uktena

Uktena is an ancient water spirit with the features of a spirit, a cougar and a dear. He inhabits river beds and dark places, where he seeks out secrets.

Totem Points: 9

Renown Requirements: Cunning ••

Benefit: Pack Members of Uktena gain two dots in Occult, and gain an additional Armor Rating of 1/1 while in the Umbra. Uktena tribe members usually regard Uktena packs as long-lost relatives.

Ban: Uktena’s children must try to recover mystical lore, objects, places and animals from the Wyrm’s minions.

Brood: None. As a Tribal Totem, Uktena has his own brood.

Totems of Vigilance
Bear

Bear is wise in peace and fierce in war, renowned as a master of healing who also knows when to attack. Few Garou favor him as a totem; his true children, the Gurahl werebears, do not love the Garou and do not welcome competitors for their father’s attention.

Totem Points: 12

Renown Requirements: Vigilance •

Benefit: Bear grants his children three dots of Medicine, and allows the pack to call upon the Gift: Mother’s Touch once per story. Pack members can also hibernate up to three months at a time without food or water.

Ban: Bear asks nothing of his children beyond their usual duties, knowing they are burdened enough. Garou who serve Bear earn a measure of respect from the Gurahl and tribal peoples who worship Bear, but always look to undermine and discount the Garou due to the fierce competition they feel with their wolf cousins. Further, each session’s Legend Beat award is lowered by one.

Brood: Unicorn

Pegasus

Pegasus is concerned with sacred places above all else, and gives its Black Fury children gifts to let them move to sacred places in danger and defend them. Pegasus will not accept a pack with any Get of Fenris members.

Totem Points: 14

Renown Requirements: Vigilance ••

Benefit: Pegasus grants each pack member with three dots of Animal Ken, and the pack can call upon three dots of Willpower per story. Black Furies are well-disposed to the pack.

Ban: Pegasus’ children must aid females of all species, particularly young ones.

Brood: None. As a Tribal Totem, Pegasus has his own brood.

Unicorn

Unicorn is a wise spirit of peace, purity, healing and harmony. She leads her favored tribe, the Children of Gaia, toward the all-encompassing love of Gaia… while recognizing that it comes only at great cost.

Totem Points: 19

Renown Requirements: Vigilance •••

Benefit: Unicorn grants her children with three dots of Medicine, and two dots of Empathy. Children of Gaia always aid and usually side with the pack in disputes.

Ban: Unicorn’s children must aid and protect the weak and exploited, except when doing so would aid the Wyrm (and Unicorn isn’t easily fooled about this, either).

Brood: None. As a Tribal Totem, Unicorn has his own brood.

Wendigo

Wendigo descends from the north, wrapped in ice and roaring like the wind. He teaches his children the relentless fury of the storm and the power that comes in the utter frozen desolation of passion.

Totem Points: 16

Renown Requirements: Vigilance ••

Benefit: Wendigo grants the pack members two dots of Intimidation and two dots of Survival. The Wendigo tribe respect non-tribe members who serve Wendigo, though the tribe remains distrustful until the outsiders prove themselves worthy.

Ban: Wendigo’s children must always aid native peoples in need.

Brood: None. As a Tribal Totem, Wendigo has his own brood.

Wolverine

Wolverine has been spurned for his furious anger and straightforward approach. Wolverine fights rabidly, exuding Rage in every movement, fighting long after all others have dropped due to exhaustion, injury or simple common sense. Almost mindlessly violent, Wolverine remains an outsider totem spurned by most, only showing his sympathy to the rogues and misfits of the Garou Nation.

Totem Points: 18

Renown Requirements: Vigilance •

Benefit: Wolverine’s Rage exudes into his children, granting them one dot of Rage on top of their natural rating, and cannot “lose the wolf” from filling her Health Boxes with lethal damage.

Ban: Wolverine’s children must spend at least 2 Gnosis in every battle for extra actions, and may never show mercy.

Brood: Fenris

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