The Wyrm

In a legendary time before the dawn of human history, the Wyrm was a restorer of balance, bringing harmony where there was none. The Wyrm ensured neither the Wyld nor the Weaver dominated all of reality. Dwelling between Chaos below and the Pattern Web above, the Wyrm only destroyed discriminately, acting as a vital mediator in the creative process. Whatever the reason for its loss of balance, the Wyrm was ensnared within the Pattern Web, and in desperation, it fragmented into three sentient minds and went insane, like a three-headed beast at the entrance to a Malfean underworld.

The Wyrm became a harbinger of the Apocalypse, spawning creatures with a new arsenal of weapons to seek and destroy: decay, entropy, and corruption. Because it cannot destroy with honor or conscience, it must corrupt from within. When it cannot slay the strong with brute force, it must seek weaker victims who succumb to hate, envy, or lust. Where it cannot strike overly, it must act unseen: victims who are strong in mind or body may be spiritually weak. Faith is fading in this world of shadows, and institutions that preserve and nurture the spirit are dying, replaced by gross satiation and material greed. Like the gods of Longfellow’s Prometheus, whom the Wyrm would destroy, it first makes mad. A mind that cannot be suborned can be shattered.

The Wyrm has found sentient creatures weak enough to surrender to temptation. It now commands a legion of malefic spirits ready to possess and exploit its army of the damned. This strategy seems to be working, as their numbers are so vast they require three heads of an unholy hydra to command it: the Beast-of-War employs brutal acts of savagery and violence; the Eater-of-Souls gluts and bloats itself while feeding on foulness in the world; and the Defiler Wyrm rejoices at the suffering of minds and souls. Each third of the trinity commands a legion of spirits within its own hierarchy, including a pantheon of Urges that cater to the sins and destructive desires of mankind.

Garou and other spiritual travelers have found entire realms conquered by the aspects of the Wyrm. Blind destruction has left these places devoid of any trace of Gaia’s presence, grace, or influence. Those who dwell there have been enslaved, punished, altered, or victimized by wicked Banes and Incarnae. If the prophecies are true, the Wyrm will inevitably triumph in a final Apocalypse. All of creation will either be remade in the image of one of those realms or be utterly and completely destroyed. Each fight, each battle, each war the Garou wage against the Wyrm forestalls that horrific onslaught. Each respite is bought with the flesh and blood of Gaia’s protectors. Garou kill the Wyrm wherever it breeds; the alternatives are corruption, annihilation, and oblivion.

Forms of the Wyrm

Many Wyrm-spirits are masters of deception and deceit in the physical world, taking false forms as they lead their victims into acts of sin and desperation. Of course, humans have enough of a survival instinct to fear or mistrust the people and places acting as hosts to these spirits. (“He was such a quiet man, officer — he kept mostly to himself.”) The sight of the Wyrm in its true and hideous guise is enough to overwhelm a human mind with the madness of the Delirium.

In the Umbra, these deceptions are less important. Wyrm spirits appear as corrupt, unhealthy, unwholesome, vile, or insane. As amalgams of all that is antithetical to the life-giving energy of the Wyld, they may appear as toxic, irradiated, primeval, diseased, engorged, tentacular, sinful, grossly monstrous, or pathetic. Like the offspring of desperately breeding horrors, articulated by an elaborate parade of Lovecraftian adjectives, they can transform any object into a personification of madness and savage horror.

Delusions of the Damned

While Garou unquestionably know the Wyrm exploits evil in the world, the enemies of the Garou Nation refuse to see creation in such black-and-white terms. Many are weak-willed enough to justify reprehensible actions with a host of rationalizations. They may know what they’re doing is wrong, but their litany of their lies is endless: “I’m just trying to survive”; “it’s not my fault”; “you made me do this”; “I can fix this later”; “they had it coming”; “better them than me”; “I didn’t really mean it”; “I just need one more fix”; and so on. Most never see themselves as villains; instead, they’re victims trying to work their way out of a temporarily bad situation. When their baser instincts overcome them, it’s easy to disavow responsibility, insisting that they’re helpless in the face of greater forces.

If a troubled mind can’t reconcile the horrible things it’s done, a slow descent into madness is inevitable, leading the victim into greater acts of annihilation, consumption, perversion, and victimization. Some occultists are quick to point out that saying “the Wyrm is evil” is all too easy. It relies on blind faith in one’s own ability to always tell good from or evil, or at least to negotiate morally-questionable situations. All too often, one wrong call is all it takes to ensure inevitable victory for the tormented minions of the Wyrm.

Three Heads of the Hydra

When the Wyrm lost all sense of balance in the cosmos, it shattered into its own trinity: the Triatic Wyrm. The name refers to the three most powerful heads of this hydra, the first transformation it endured in the madness that followed its imprisonment. This hydra is a mockery of the Triat, a perversion of the cosmos. Tormented and insane, the Wyrm repeatedly reenacts and relives events in its myriad minds, desperately trying to figure out what went wrong with the cosmos. Fortunately for all of creation, each of the three Triatic Wyrms enacts its own purpose and plots, directing a separate army of Urges and minions. If the three ever reformed as one, it’s possible the Wyrm might possess the hideous strength it needs to swallow Gaia whole. Instead, each head of the hydra has its own identity and perverse motivations.

The Beast-of-War would be as unrestrained as the Wyld, were it not for the Weaver’s webs. Limitless rage fuels it, and destructive instincts guide it. Its minions range from self-destructive shock troops that hurl themselves pell-mell into battle to hulking brutes who delight in overpowering and annihilating their victims. Acting through humans, the Beast-of-War can degenerate healthy competition into brutal conflict, culminating in bloodlust that makes no distinction between friend and foe. To the vampire, it’s the Beast that shreds the last fragments of humanity. For the Garou, it’s liberating Rage without the mitigating wisdom of Gnosis. The Get of Fenris call this entity the Midgard Serpent, but to many occultists, it’s known as the Calamity Wyrm or the Wyrm of Destruction.

The Eater-of-Souls is a mockery of the Mad Weaver’s need to contain everything within its influence: It’s mindlessly driven to devour all creation in a desperate attempt to destroy an inherently broken cosmos. Once the Wyrm lost all sense of balance, its pain was like a limitless void nothing could ever fill, no matter how much it consumed. The Eater-of-Souls is more than the emptiness of an addict or a vampire’s thirst for blood. Its minions are fluent in the sins of greed and lust. These flaws can manifest as obsessive preoccupation or the kind of insecurity that demands meaningless status. Some of its minions have surrendered all willpower; others are as single-minded as serial killers when they stalk what they foolishly think will complete them. The Eater-of-Souls’ hatred festers as virulently as a disease that inexorably ravages infected flesh and erodes troubled sanity. Learned masters of lore can identify its many spiritual servants, sometimes referring to them as minions of the Consuming Wyrm.

The Defiler Wyrm is a manifestation of every corrupting impulse and instinct in existence. In a way, it serves as a mockery of the Wyrm itself. The Defiler’s insight is focused by the most terrifying aspect of Gnosis: the ability to see a victim’s greatest weakness, so that it can be exploited. The Defiler conquers by tempting its prey to succumb to its own base instincts, leading the defiled to take reckless risks. Its victims walk a shadowy path from personal choice to annihilation of the self. Some Uktena and Shadow Lords assert that the Defiler’s first victim was itself. They say it’s now driven by its own self-loathing, foolishly believing that if it defiles everything, it will regain control and restore balance.

Insidiously, the Defiler Wyrm seduces its victims silently from within, whispering temptations that lead its prey willingly into its maw. It’s the serpent in the Garden of Eden, the foolish ambition of a fallen angel, the hubris of a mage who summons up more power than he can control, or the arrogance of a werewolf who thinks he can master the very spiritual forces that will inevitably condemn him to damnation. When the now-extinct White Howler tribe thought they could delve deeper into the Spiral Labyrinth in their quest for forbidden knowledge, they were led on by the whispering of the unconquerable Defiler, the Wyrm of Violation.