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  • The Alpha-myth and WtA

    So, the whole 'Alpha and Omega' concept of wolf behaviour is bogus (source: http://knowledgenuts.com/2014/01/11/...outdated-myth/), this is by now pretty common knowledge luckily.

    However, the concept is alive and well in fiction, especially in WtA. This to me wouldn't be so bad, but as long as this myth is kept alive, dogs are suffering from misguided efforts by people who still believe the myth (http://content.time.com/time/health/...007250,00.html).

    I am curious, how dear is the concept of alpha to you guys? Could it be replaced with terms like 'Leader' or 'Boss'? Would you rethink the usage of the term and concept, if it would make more humane dog or wolfdog training more known?


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  • #2
    I would rather dump it. While there is a certain military focus on the Garou in general, individual packs... not so much.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Ana Mizuki View Post
      So, the whole 'Alpha and Omega' concept of wolf behaviour is bogus (source: http://knowledgenuts.com/2014/01/11/...outdated-myth/), this is by now pretty common knowledge luckily.
      I think 'bogus' is a strong word. It is artificial, but it is how some wolves act when they are forced to make packs outside of familial groups. I think there are parallels to be made with how Garou packs often form. Someone will naturally take charge and others will fall in.

      That being said, I think the idea of an 'alpha' is still somewhat overstated in a lot of people's minds (as your Times link shows, yikes). Alphaship (alphahood?) is instinctive and fluid in WtA. W20 did a reasonably good job of presenting it as whoever is best for the task of the moment should lead the pack, quickly and easily deferring to whoever makes the best calls. If you are sneaking into a fortified vault, the Ragabash might take charge- but when shit hits the fan the Ahroun calls the shots. Dealing with a cavorting enigmatic spirit would fall to the Theurge to lead, ect. Nothing too crazy and it allows for players and characters to have freedom and time in the spotlight both.
      Last edited by The Laughing Stranger; 04-28-2017, 12:01 PM.

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      • #4
        Yeah, like Laughing Strange says, the alpha concept is true when you have wolves who aren't family members forced to make packs. Which is kind of similar to what will most likely happen with most PCs - they probably won't be the same tribe, let alone the same family. And yeah, I thought W20 did a good job of examining the pack leader. At most maybe there could be a side bar saying that this doesn't represent wolves in the Wyld. Maybe if we ever get a book on the Red Talons it could go into more detail on how actual wolf packs really work.

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        • #5
          Scrub "becoming pack Alpha" from the Renown rewards to emphasize the fluidity mentioned by Laughing Stranger, and refer to natural wolf packs with family role names instead of alpha and company.

          Though, with regard to said fluidity, that's still less like a pack and more like a well-tuned unit of specialists...

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          • #6
            Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post
            ...Maybe if we ever get a book on the Red Talons it could go into more detail on how actual wolf packs really work...
            Meh. Maybe, but remember that most Red Talons in a pack (or even in an all-Talon pack) aren't going to be directly related (except due to constricted breeding pool due to shrinking number of Kin wolves). That and they also are still half human and are in some ways more prone to humanisms because they're not in a mindset to be on guard against them. For instance, the Talons are always going off on Homid Garou (particularly Glass Walkers and Bone Gnawers) for their eating habits and how it's "filthy", "unclean", and "unwholesome". Real wolves, on the other paw happily eat rotting meat because their GI tracts can handle it and because it's food.

            ​I could imagine that a scene in which a Homid starts off on something related to "Alpha Dominance" or the like and the Talon rolls his eyes (or sneezes, or whatever the wolf equivalent would be), because he knows the human-born is talking out of his a**.


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            • #7
              Originally posted by The Laughing Stranger View Post

              I think 'bogus' is a strong word. It is artificial, but it is how some wolves act when they are forced to make packs outside of familial groups. I think there are parallels to be made with how Garou packs often form. Someone will naturally take charge and others will fall in.

              That being said, I think the idea of an 'alpha' is still somewhat overstated in a lot of people's minds (as your Times link shows, yikes). Alphaship (alphahood?) is instinctive and fluid in WtA. W20 did a reasonably good job of presenting it as whoever is best for the task of the moment should lead the pack, quickly and easily deferring to whoever makes the best calls. If you are sneaking into a fortified vault, the Ragabash might take charge- but when shit hits the fan the Ahroun calls the shots. Dealing with a cavorting enigmatic spirit would fall to the Theurge to lead, ect. Nothing too crazy and it allows for players and characters to have freedom and time in the spotlight both.
              Yeah, my point was on switching the word with something else, so it would not share to connotations people uphold. Please also note that pick up artists and some others still live by the alpha male mentality, so there is that too.


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              • #8
                Originally posted by Uniform Two Six View Post
                Meh. Maybe, but remember that most Red Talons in a pack (or even in an all-Talon pack) aren't going to be directly related (except due to constricted breeding pool due to shrinking number of Kin wolves). That and they also are still half human and are in some ways more prone to humanisms because they're not in a mindset to be on guard against them. For instance, the Talons are always going off on Homid Garou (particularly Glass Walkers and Bone Gnawers) for their eating habits and how it's "filthy", "unclean", and "unwholesome". Real wolves, on the other paw happily eat rotting meat because their GI tracts can handle it and because it's food.

                ​I could imagine that a scene in which a Homid starts off on something related to "Alpha Dominance" or the like and the Talon rolls his eyes (or sneezes, or whatever the wolf equivalent would be), because he knows the human-born is talking out of his a**.
                Well, to the first one, that is due to WtA suffering from the sad case of 'noble wolf'-itis. As in, TRUE wolves don't scavenge, TRUE wolves don't roll in poop to gather scent, TRUE wolves always look majestic and do not fall accidentally into a lake and climb up all rat-like. Even though in the wild, all of those things happen.


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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Ana Mizuki View Post
                  Well, to the first one, that is due to WtA suffering from the sad case of 'noble wolf'-itis. As in, TRUE wolves don't scavenge, TRUE wolves don't roll in poop to gather scent, TRUE wolves always look majestic and do not fall accidentally into a lake and climb up all rat-like. Even though in the wild, all of those things happen.
                  I mean, at the end of the day we are playing Werewolf: the Apocalypse, not National Geographic: the Explorer.

                  Werewolf is supposed to be a game where you play a badass manwolf eco-terrorist who gives the bad guys first hand experience with the phrase, "nature is red in tooth and claw." It's not necessarily supposed to strictly reflect reality and there are plenty of times where it is going to err on the side of, "cool" even if its not entirely realistic. It will play up certain ideas or play down others. So they tend to play up the idea that wolves are really cool and awesome and play down the idea that say, wolves roll around in poop, because many players might not want to do that - and certainly when you're at a LARP you really don't want the other players doing that.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post

                    I mean, at the end of the day we are playing Werewolf: the Apocalypse, not National Geographic: the Explorer.

                    Werewolf is supposed to be a game where you play a badass manwolf eco-terrorist who gives the bad guys first hand experience with the phrase, "nature is red in tooth and claw." It's not necessarily supposed to strictly reflect reality and there are plenty of times where it is going to err on the side of, "cool" even if its not entirely realistic. It will play up certain ideas or play down others. So they tend to play up the idea that wolves are really cool and awesome and play down the idea that say, wolves roll around in poop, because many players might not want to do that - and certainly when you're at a LARP you really don't want the other players doing that.
                    Except that the game also has a history of deeper reading about real world wildlife. The "rule of cool" cuts off well before that.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Saur Ops Specialist View Post
                      Except that the game also has a history of deeper reading about real world wildlife. The "rule of cool" cuts off well before that.
                      Real life forms the background and influences many decisions. But at the end of the day you're playing a part-man-part-wolf-part-spirit who flips out and kills people. Werewolf, as a game, is focused more on ensuring players can make fun characters to play in a cool setting, rather than carefully replicating the real-life actions of animals. Those actions are certainly useful to know, but they're also absolutely of secondary importance to the gameline. I never had a problem with WW fudging a few facts here or there to make things cooler and more interesting, as long as the majority of the subject matter was grounded in fact.

                      So playing up wolves as being somewhat more noble than they actually are was always perfectly fine in my book.

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                      • #12
                        Ana Mizuki just because some douchebag in a bar or redpill idiots on Reddit call themselves alpha males doesn't make me dislike the word itself. An urban-fantasy werewolf calling itself an alpha (male or female, doesn't matter) is a far cry from some psychopathic Elliot Rodgers wannabe throwing the term around IRL. Of course, if you want to change the term to try and make it more palatable, go for it. You do you.

                        Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post
                        I never had a problem with WW fudging a few facts here or there to make things cooler and more interesting, as long as the majority of the subject matter was grounded in fact.
                        I think this is where you and Saur differ... I don't think a meticulously realistic take on the WoD is necessary, but some like that approach. Which is fine, but it isn't the One True Way to play WtA.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by The Laughing Stranger View Post
                          [I think this is where you and Saur differ... I don't think a meticulously realistic take on the WoD is necessary, but some like that approach. Which is fine, but it isn't the One True Way to play WtA.
                          Fair enough, but if you are looking for a meticulous and realistic take on the WoD, then you're probably going to end up a bit disappointed with what ends up in print. Realism always took a backseat to whatever the authors thought would make the game more interesting.
                          Last edited by AnubisXy; 04-29-2017, 03:46 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by The Laughing Stranger View Post
                            Ana Mizuki just because some douchebag in a bar or redpill idiots on Reddit call themselves alpha males doesn't make me dislike the word itself. An urban-fantasy werewolf calling itself an alpha (male or female, doesn't matter) is a far cry from some psychopathic Elliot Rodgers wannabe throwing the term around IRL. Of course, if you want to change the term to try and make it more palatable, go for it. You do you.
                            If it was JUST some idiots, sure. But there is the dog training aspect, the aspect in fiction where an alpha position can be based on utter dominance of others. And so so so many others. That is kind of the wider issue here, wolves are cool, alpha wolves are cooler.

                            As for realism vs fantasy, I tend to go with realism with wolves to basically make them less srs bsns and more relatable. I mean, my Red Talon digs trashcans for food XD


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                            • #15
                              My preference is to keep all the Alphaism stuff for Lupus Garou and run Wolf Kin as natural wolves. Gaia knows Homid Garou are disruptive to Human Family structures. Why wouldn't Lupus Garou be just as disruptive to Wolf Family Structures?



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