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  • Pack Concepts and Totems Questions

    Hi again, everybody,
    I'm new to WtA and wanted to ask about coming up with a pack concept. I'm not really familiar with what kinds of packs there are (I've only seen an Umbra pack, a caern-guarding pack, and a pack that takes the fight out beyond the caern borders, each with different pack totems). I've looked at some of the different totems and read about pack totems and I know the totem reflects the pack and the pack reflects the totem, but I'm still a bit hazy on the relationship. Is the totem the pack's spiritual guide and ultimate commander (above the alpha)? Is it like a spirit they do obeisance to? And what kind of pack concepts are out there? For instance, I'm thinking of doing a wild-focused pack, maybe sort of based off the Army Rangers and such, made up of Garou who have dots in Survival and Primal Urge and are tough fighters, but I don't know what their missions would be like. And how is the Wyld different from the wild? Is a Wyld pack the same as a wild-focused (as in wilderness) pack or are they different? Also, how do I select an appropriate totem?
    Last edited by Ruadhan; 01-09-2017, 05:58 PM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Ruadhan View Post
    Hi again, everybody,
    Hi!. You've posted a lot of questions, and I will try and provide answers to each, but keep in mind that I'm only answering from my point of view and that different people play the game differently so for some things (a lot actually) there aren't concrete right and wrong answers.

    Originally posted by Ruadhan View Post
    I'm new to WtA and wanted to ask about coming up with a pack concept. I'm not really familiar with what kinds of packs there are (I've only seen an Umbra pack, a caern-guarding pack, and a pack that takes the fight out beyond the caern borders, each with different pack totems).
    Pack concepts are fairly loose things. You gave a few good examples. For my games, figuring out if a pack is going to be tied to a Sept helps a lot. And from there, what the Sept is forming the pack for will make the biggest difference in the purpose of the pack. There are packs which are independent of any particular Sept, but I find those to be the exceptions rather than the rule.

    Originally posted by Ruadhan View Post
    I've looked at some of the different totems and read about pack totems and I know the totem reflects the pack and the pack reflects the totem, but I'm still a bit hazy on the relationship. Is the totem the pack's spiritual guide and ultimate commander (above the alpha)? Is it like a spirit they do obeisance to?
    The Totem is literally the pack's spirit guide. From here, it is worth differentiating between the Pack Totem Incarna and the Pack Totem Spirit. The Pack will dedicate itself to a Totem, and in doing so be assigned (by the Totem) a Totem avatar spirit guide (a Gaffling of more likely a Jaggling). The packs pays its respects to the Incarna and adheres to its Ban and so they get the Totem's Blessing/benefits. Here your mileage may vary, but in my experience the Totem rarely tasks a pack with specific things. Maybe once you are high enough Rank and have built up a stronger connection with the Totem it may ask things directly. But early on, you support the Totem just by engaging in a symbiotic and respectful Pact with it. The relationship between a pack and its Totem is a mutually beneficial one. The Pack Totem spirit is basically a stand in for the Incarna and should be treated with all due protection and respect that one would give to the Totem directly. So no, it isn't in charge of the pack by any means. But if it does ask something of the pack, it would be kind of foolish to deny it.

    Originally posted by Ruadhan View Post
    And what kind of pack concepts are out there? For instance, I'm thinking of doing a wild-focused pack, maybe sort of based off the Army Rangers and such, made up of Garou who have dots in Survival and Primal Urge and are tough fighters, but I don't know what their missions would be like.
    Sounds good. Maybe choose a Totem of War you think fits and have them serve as an offensive guardian pack for a Caern or group of Caerns. If this is a pack of starter characters, keep in mind the relative skill levels and have the PCs grow into being the polished military style group you have in mind.

    Originally posted by Ruadhan View Post
    And how is the Wyld different from the wild? Is a Wyld pack the same as a wild-focused (as in wilderness) pack or are they different?
    Easiest terms I can think of: Wyld=creation and chaos. Wild=wilderness


    Originally posted by Ruadhan View Post
    Also, how do I select an appropriate totem?
    I usually let the players decide the Totem, and then work it out in game. You can help them by narrowing down the Totem type, based on their character concepts. If that isn't something that appeals to them, then look around and give them a short list of possibilities based on the Totem's concept, benefits and ban.


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    • #3
      Pack concepts are simply based on a "pack quest" or "pack purpose". Why do Garou form packs? Generally it is to accomplish something. It need not be long term. Packs can break up as members leave or having accomplished their mission. Others last as long as their members live. In my chronicles, I've had multigenerational packs which have existed for hundreds of years as new members always arrive and join before older members die so that it keeps being perpetuated.

      For the purposes of PCs in the game, the pack purpose is whatever idea or concept you and your fellow PCs want to use to justify deciding to be in the same pack. Usually the ST can give you some guidance as the pack's purpose will determine how the PCs interact with the chronicle your ST has created. It's a way to tell the ST what you - as the players - want to do in his game.

      A pack's totem is basically the pack's patron spirit. It looks after "its children" and dispenses advice and aid. It is NOT the pack's commander or leader, but it can become angered and withhold its favor if the pack engages in activities contrary to the Incarna's interest or in violation of its ban. It's a combination of a patron saint, fellow pack member, and Obi-Wan's force ghost to Luke. The totem spirit is a jaggling avatar of the Incarna which adopted the pack so there is an intimacy involved. The spirit choose the pack as much as the pack choose the spirit. And while I've never seen it done to PCs, a totem can theoretically reject a pack as unworthy (also mechanically the rite of the totem can fail as well).

      A wilderness based pack of fighters probably has a Totem of War as idpersona suggested, but Totems of Respect and Wisdom may be appropriate based on more details. A question to ask yourself is what will the pack be doing in the wilderness? "Fighting" is very vague. What do you intend to fight? A pack that defends a defined geographic territory near a caern is different from a pack that wanders between caerns as freebooters to augment or help existing septs fight great battles which is different from a pack that formed specifically to hunt some kind of Wyrm creature or minion, or to battle a specific PENTEXT project (say a heavily protected "oil drill" which in fact is trying to release a powerful, but sealed Bane).

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Black Fox View Post
        ...lots of good stuff...
        Not for the first time, I agree with 100% of what Black Fox wrote.

        Funny, I never considered the idea of a multi-generational pack. Very interesting story concept though.


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        • #5
          Absolutely what idpersona and Black Fox said!
          As an option how one could handle finding the right Totem for a pack: My storyteller always handled it like this in the games I've had with him where it was relevant:
          When it came to form a full pack and get a totem he asked if we wanted to try for a particular totem or if we wanted to go to the umbra in a rite performed by the septs rite-master and see which totems would present themselves to us along the way, thereby showing they are interested in entering a relation with the pack.
          He'd then roll to decide randomly which totems would show up (usually 3), rerolling results that he felt made no sense at all for whatever reason. We'd then decide and respectfully (!!!) discuss with each totem why we would feel a pack-totem-relationship between them and us would be a "good thing". If we absolutely couldn't decide among the first three he'd allow us to take the journey some further, rolling for another three but always with a higher risk of pissing someone off then.
          This has always worked pretty well and often was enough for almost a session of gaming in itself (of course depending on how long sessions are). Also you get to meet different (types of) totems and it gives the storyteller a chance to better portray what a connection to a specific totem would mean for the characters like "can you not only "live with" this totem but live in a way that honors your totem".
          Last edited by Hexer; 01-10-2017, 06:36 AM.

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          • #6
            'Pack' can also be a term of convenience for a group of Garou who are given a specific task. Not every 'pack' starts with a Totem (not unless the ST gives in to them anyway) but most 'packs' that survive tend to get one and become a true Pack. Garou need every advantage they can get and the bonuses given by Totems are invaluable, though the bans can be annoying (though I do like the Raccoon ban).

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            • #7
              Thank you very much, everyone! This has given me a lot of good stuff to think about!

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