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Lupus are not hard to play- a counterargument on perspective

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  • Lupus are not hard to play- a counterargument on perspective

    One of the most common things in WtA circles you end up hearing is that 'lupus are too hard for people to play' or 'they need an experienced player.' While the latter is sort of true, it needs to be said that the arguments stated seem to always circle around one issue.

    Playing a wolf and not a human is hard.

    However, to that, I want to note that many adults have played intelligent wolves in mature stories successfully. They just haven't played them around WtA players, which makes sense. Most of these RPs take place in Deviantart. Despite the cartoony styles the wolves are drawn, these stories can be quite mature and dark indeed. I offer two examples and then go to why I feel these showcase that lupus can be played just fine.

    Defeated Warrior- A tortured warrior and a healer discuss feeling useless at the eve of war.

    Ceremonial Meal- A blood cult member teacher her daughter how to make a hallucinogenic meal.

    Now, one might argue that these wolves are fantasy wolves and are very humanized. That is indeed the point, these are humanized wolves who do not have Rage or homid form but still have a culture and traditions. They aren't shapeshifters, they do not have the Umbra, they still live in the wilds. Yet the players dig up deep stories from them regardless.

    This is the level of play I expect from a lupus character. Not the player playing a realistic wolf, but a humanized wolf that still has culture and ability to reason. Add to this Umbra, Rage and shapeshifting and you got a decent lupus character. Just like homids are not merely people who take wolf forms but lupinized humans, lupus are the opposite.

    If you ST is asking you to be even more true to life, then they want you to play a wolf-kin and not a lupus


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  • #2
    I think the problem isn't that it is hard to play them per sé, but that it is hard to match the own and the co-player's expectations of how to play such a character and be satisfied with the result.

    Imagine a young lupus cliath whose human-like brain just emerged about a year ago (which seems an appropriate amount time for a cub to become cliath) - fully formed on the level of a teenager's brain. But what can a lupus really have understood in that time. What vocabulary would he have build.

    Human and homid born garou's mental capabilities grow over a decade and a half before a player character is formed and we have all experienced it. So every player has a fundamental understanding what the range of a young cliaths behaviour is.

    How a lupus cliath's level of understanding and knowledge is supposed to be however is not that intuitive. Sure, it kind of blurs when a character is Fostern, Adren or beyond. At this age the suspension of disbelieve is big enough that a lupus might use foreign expressions correctly or has managed to learn how to drive stick.

    And I think not satisfying the expectations oneself or the other players have of the character is the part that frustrates the most about playing a lupus born character.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by heinrich View Post
      I think the problem isn't that it is hard to play them per sé, but that it is hard to match the own and the co-player's expectations of how to play such a character and be satisfied with the result.

      Imagine a young lupus cliath whose human-like brain just emerged about a year ago (which seems an appropriate amount time for a cub to become cliath) - fully formed on the level of a teenager's brain. But what can a lupus really have understood in that time. What vocabulary would he have build.

      Human and homid born garou's mental capabilities grow over a decade and a half before a player character is formed and we have all experienced it. So every player has a fundamental understanding what the range of a young cliaths behaviour is.

      How a lupus cliath's level of understanding and knowledge is supposed to be however is not that intuitive. Sure, it kind of blurs when a character is Fostern, Adren or beyond. At this age the suspension of disbelieve is big enough that a lupus might use foreign expressions correctly or has managed to learn how to drive stick.

      And I think not satisfying the expectations oneself or the other players have of the character is the part that frustrates the most about playing a lupus born character.
      This is why Rage Across the World stated that lupus get the human development on their brain and knowledge of a local language as they change.

      But also, the lupus most likely can speak garou.

      But yes, the biggest issue IS that people have built that sort of mentality about lupus. Hence this topic to dispel the myth and offer an example of how to do it easier.


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      • #4
        Is there a page reference to "Rage Across the World" stating that?

        And I think you are mistaken on the garou tongue. Iirc, it is stated that this language is only taught after the Rite of Passage. While some older kinfolk might have learned the vocabulary and are possibly even able to speak it a bit themselves, garou are expected to have learned it at character start - but it isn't inherited. So the lupus too, has to learn it - and while all cliath are supposed to be fluent the vocabulary is limited.

        There is however a initiate understanding of the body language and such a wolf (or dog) uses to communicate. Lupus of course understand this even before the first change, but homid and metis get it "for free".

        And, if it comes to a local language,well, sure a lupus should pick that up pretty easy, for convenience's sake. But WoD only discerns knowledge of language as a yes/no thing. That the vocabulary of a given language is sometimes a lot larger than the words one needs to pass in everydays life is not factored in. Other games, like Germany's favorite 'The Dark Eye', have a skill for every language indicating how fluent a character is in reading, listening and speaking a given language.
        The WoD leaves that open to interpretation and therefore diverging expectations among the players. So, should a lupus cliath adequately summarize the dialogue of two nuclear physicists he eavesdropped on, or not?
        Last edited by heinrich; 07-18-2019, 11:32 AM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by heinrich View Post
          Is there a page reference to "Rage Across the World" stating that?

          And I think you are mistaken on the garou tongue. Iirc, it is stated that this language is only taught after the Rite of Passage. While some older kinfolk might have learned the vocabulary and are possibly even able to speak it a bit themselves, garou are expected to have learned it at character start - but it isn't inherited. So the lupus too, has to learn it - and while all cliath are supposed to be fluent the vocabulary is limited.

          There is however a initiate understanding of the body language and such a wolf (or dog) uses to communicate. Lupus of course understand this even before the first change, but homid and metis get it "for free".
          Chapter 4, page 61.

          How does the First Change feel to a lupus? Take
          all the cognitive development a human child goes
          through from her first birthday to about twenty years
          old — from facial recognition to “cogito ergo sum”
          — and cram it into a few minutes. All that happens
          at the same time thatyour body completely changes
          shape and size. Throw in a surge of rage that no wolf
          and certainly no human can comprehend. Sound
          terrifying? That’s because it is

          Okay, it does say in W20 that the language is taught, but it does also say that most of it is instinctive. I do find it rather strange, as generally you'd think it would be taught ASAP so the cubs would understand each other and the concepts presented before them. Nevermind metis who literally only have garou tongue as their only language.

          I do wonder if it is meant that the more proper version is taught.

          EDIT: The arguments you have presented here also very much are the reason why people see playing lupus as hard. In the end, who cares if the lupus can speak fluent english(/local language), who cares if they know some basic human things? People are not asking this out of a metis character, even though they too couldn't speak English until post-first change.

          This is why I made this thread, to offer a far less stresful method of playing a lupus that does not include the language issue or how much are they mentally developed. Which makes playing them much easier.
          Last edited by Ana Mizuki; 07-18-2019, 12:39 PM.


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          • #6
            As for lupus coming up to speed on things like human language (or any Garou learning the Garou language) and certain aspects of human behavior, I handwave that as the lupus Garou's spirit half assisting that. Gaia knew that would be essential and made sure would happen. But it only works for the dominant local human language, and universal human behavior. And for all tribes other than the Red Talons, you even have things like having tribal Ancestor spirits that can help.

            As for people's complaints about lupus are too hard and should be restricted, I feel 90% of that are STs and players making sure to stop power gamers from getting an easy 5 Gnosis to start while portraying their "lupus" PC more or less as a homid. People want lupus PCs to primarily be playing a "wolf" rather than a human. (Another 5-8% is probably not about the player, but about the ST and other players not wanting to be bothered by including lupus style material into the chronicle).

            I do think someone new to roleplay would find it hard, simply because there is already a lot to learn if you are playing for the first time. But it wouldn't take too many playing sessions before they understand the basics and are ready to take on more challenging character concepts. However, I think it is more about what the players wants to play that is important. And most players really don't want to play a wolf. However, there are those that do. And I think if they are creative and stick to playing a wolf minded character, and work within guidelines they establish with an ST, that it can be done. You just need to do a little reading on wolf biology and behaviour, and then read some things like Bambi or Watership Down, and that is plenty of preparation.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Black Fox View Post

              I do think someone new to roleplay would find it hard, simply because there is already a lot to learn if you are playing for the first time. But it wouldn't take too many playing sessions before they understand the basics and are ready to take on more challenging character concepts. However, I think it is more about what the players wants to play that is important. And most players really don't want to play a wolf. However, there are those that do. And I think if they are creative and stick to playing a wolf minded character, and work within guidelines they establish with an ST, that it can be done. You just need to do a little reading on wolf biology and behaviour, and then read some things like Bambi or Watership Down, and that is plenty of preparation.
              Look at what I linked in the first post, there are VERY MUCH people who want to play a wolf and have done for for years. Hence why I used them as an example.

              It is just that these people often do not play WtA or know about it. But I came from that world and I very much wanted to play wolf. Just different RP circles.


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              • #8
                Honestly.. I wish they had made Lupus Kinfolk intelligentish I mean this is a universe with anthropomorphic spirits that animals might secretly have full complicated lives we are just blinded to by our removal from the spirit world wouldn't be a huge thing..

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                • #9
                  One of my favorite archetypes to have people worried about getting a lupus "right" to have people try?

                  Lupus Philodox that are actively studying human and Homid cultures to better do their job as arbiters, mediators, and adjudicators. While I like a good hard ass Lupus Philodox that believes in a more brutal and direct form of keeping people in line, playing something of an anthropologist helps put the player in the mindset of an intelligent outsider. It also means a character that can be easy to justify as a Cliath that can "act" human enough to at least blend in around local human cultures.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Lian View Post
                    Honestly.. I wish they had made Lupus Kinfolk intelligentish I mean this is a universe with anthropomorphic spirits that animals might secretly have full complicated lives we are just blinded to by our removal from the spirit world wouldn't be a huge thing..

                    Well, there's some leeway for that if one feels like, i guess. I know not few ST friends who did exactly that without batting an eyelash over the issue.

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                    • #11
                      I think if you are going for a situation like the animals in Bambi (the original novel, not the Disney film), Charlotte's Web, Mrs. Frisby & the Rats of NIMH, or Watership Down, that's OK. It's just enough "intelligence" in these to allow conversations and distinct personalities. But for the most part, the animals are written to behave like animals, and to have the limited understanding of animals. That is very hard to pull off, but good STs can do it.

                      That gives just enough leeway that Gifts like Beast Speech can become useful. I've rarely had a PC play a lupus (OK, I once ran a LARP which had plenty of lupus because Red Talons was one of the allowed tribes), but I've had plenty of experience with players wanting to talk with animals, or animal spirits in the umbra (which I try to play like animals in the above books where one animal species can talk to all the others).

                      However, I think it's a problem if people wants animals to be as intelligent as humans, or to think like humans. I've had various arguments with players about that because they want animals with the mental capacity and understanding of humans. Animals that can count to more than a few numbers, animals that report back as if they were human spies (instead of what interests them as animals), and the worse abuse - animals that truly understand human language. Players in my game learn to animals that the number "five" means any number above 4, that animal spies routinely don't report things that PCs want to learn about, but will get plenty of information of things that the animals found interesting (like if there were squirrels or other prey animals in the vicinity, or if cats were nearby, or if food was plentiful), or that unless the animal is domesticated, they have no understanding of human speech, and even domesticated animals really only pick up words when humans are giving them food, letting them out to relieve themselves, or were angry with them.
                      Last edited by Black Fox; 07-23-2019, 08:56 PM. Reason: typos

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Ana Mizuki View Post
                        Okay, it does say in W20 that the language is taught, but it does also say that most of it is instinctive. I do find it rather strange, as generally you'd think it would be taught ASAP so the cubs would understand each other and the concepts presented before them. Nevermind metis who literally only have garou tongue as their only language.

                        I do wonder if it is meant that the more proper version is taught.

                        EDIT: The arguments you have presented here also very much are the reason why people see playing lupus as hard. In the end, who cares if the lupus can speak fluent english(/local language), who cares if they know some basic human things? People are not asking this out of a metis character, even though they too couldn't speak English until post-first change.
                        I disagree on the Metis. A metis grows to young adulthood in a few years. And I'd assume the local language is used most of the time by the majority of the sept, who are homid usually. So the metis hears, learns and understands that local language. Even with problems articulating it, do to physiological reasons, the metis can be fluent in understanding, reading and writing, just like a person who is mute for physiological reasons.
                        I, personally, find it more believable, that a metis gains that sort of knowledge over a couple of years - compared to a lupus wo needs somewhat between minutes and days.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by heinrich View Post
                          I disagree on the Metis. A metis grows to young adulthood in a few years. And I'd assume the local language is used most of the time by the majority of the sept, who are homid usually. So the metis hears, learns and understands that local language. Even with problems articulating it, do to physiological reasons, the metis can be fluent in understanding, reading and writing, just like a person who is mute for physiological reasons.
                          I, personally, find it more believable, that a metis gains that sort of knowledge over a couple of years - compared to a lupus wo needs somewhat between minutes and days.
                          Depends heavily on how the metis is treated, while some are certainly living in a sept, others are kept in basements. Plus, metis have 10 years to teen years, lupus have 2. A lupus, with added intelligence, can pick up a language within a couple of years. Given how young they'd be post-first change (around 14-17), I'd say they would be under teaching for a couple of years. Unless Red Talon.

                          Another question is, of course, why does this language thing matter so much? I understand people want to play to realism, but garou all are part spirit and it is that spirit part that allows them to transition between animal-minds. Red Talons have to actively surpress their human-mind and even then they still have writing, songs, secret societies and so on. If we treat lupus like the wolves in my examples, it would not ruin the realism at all, as we'd be still discussing intelligent wolves.
                          Last edited by Ana Mizuki; 07-22-2019, 07:42 AM.


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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Black Fox View Post
                            I think if you are going for a situation like the animals in Bambi (the original novel, not the Disney film), Charlotte's Web, Mrs. Frisby & the Rats of NIMH, or Watership Down, that's OK. It's just enough "intelligence" in these to allow conversations and distinct personalities. But for the most part, the animals are written to behave like animals, and to have the limited understanding of animals. That is very hard to pull off, but good STs can do it.
                            .
                            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lobo_t...g_of_Currumpaw This is kind of my go to for Lupus and kin level intelligence.. Lupus just come to "Understand" human stuff like they come to connect to the umbra.. its completely unrealistic but.. fuck it.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Lian View Post

                              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lobo_t...g_of_Currumpaw This is kind of my go to for Lupus and kin level intelligence.. Lupus just come to "Understand" human stuff like they come to connect to the umbra.. its completely unrealistic but.. fuck it.
                              We are playing magical werewolves who go into spirit worlds and are joined by a slew of other animal changers. If wolves are smarter than IRL, I don't think it breaks the game.


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