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What Extra Totems Would You Want in Core

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  • Black Fox
    started a topic What Extra Totems Would You Want in Core

    What Extra Totems Would You Want in Core

    I thought that the W20 corebook did a good job putting together a lot of core rules that once were divided between many supplements. However, I was disappointed that we only got the traditional Pack Totems of the other corebooks. I was really hoping that the core set of rules would have an expanded totem list. One reason is to simply provide more variety in the core rules (especially since most totems are just the tribal totems), but the other is to provide equal numbers of totems for each type (Respect, War, and Wisdom). I always thought it odd that we had far fewer Totems of Respect than the other types. And let's bump up Totems of Cunning too.

    So this thread is for people to post what additional totems they would want to have been added to the core rules. In other worlds, what other Totems should be normally available in any generic game, not hidden away in Tribebooks, Player's Guides, or elsewhere. There are some rules I'd like people to use.

    First, we should have ten totems for each type (including the core totems in W20).
    • Start with the corebook totems and add to get up to ten.
    • The exception is the list for totems of Cunning which are not meant to be as popular. Limit is five here.
    • Don't have more than these. Being restricted will mean you have to choose only the best.
    • While the core totems are preferred, if you really think losing one core book totem and replacing it with another really benefits the game, go ahead. Just explain your reason why. If you are replacing one of the tribal totems, you better have a truly great reason!
    Second, the new totems should be selected with some guidelines:
    • New totems should not duplicate an existing totem on the list. For example, we have lots of published totems for cervidae – Elk, Moose, Reindeer, Roe Deer, etc. But we already have Stag. While those totems do have some variety in their write ups, it's better to use another kind of totem for diversity. Let's minimize these kinds of picks.
    • Preference is to be given to totems that are more universal than particular. Animals that are found in BOTH the Old World and New World is preferred to animals that only exist in one hemisphere or the other much less particular to one region.
    • Preference should be given to animals (or plants or whatever) that naturally exist alongside wolves. As cool as creatures like Chameleons and Crocodiles are, they generally do not live in the same area as wolves.
    • Totems should have a variety of themes in order to provide real choice for the players. The combined list for each totem type should broadly accommodate many styles of play appropriate for each theme, not just one or a few.
    • Totems should be selected on the basis of universal appeal – a totem that Garou of many (if not all) tribes would be interested in. No matter how interesting you may think the Invisible Hand, Sirius the Dog Star, or Genbu the Tortoise is, the preference is for something less specifically targeted.
    • The totem should be interesting for the Players. A totem that is too boring or selective appealing should not be included. It should be something a large part of the fan base should be cool.
    • Not all criteria is equally weighted. Some totems can't fit every criteria. But do your best to fit as many criteria as you can, with the final decision being based on what would be the most fun.
    Third, explain the reasoning for your choices. Here is is OK to list totems you wanted to include, but had to leave off. Why did the ones you did pick make the cut?

    It's OK to choose different totems than other people. It's encouraged! It is also OK to pick totems that violate one or more of my guidelines. Just be prepared to argue for it. (And have better arguments than, “I just like it.”) Convince the rest of us it is the correct choice!

  • No One of Consequence
    In my ideal world, the second year of Werewolf's releases would've included a Storytellers Handbook and a Book of Spirits, both of which would've included guidelines for making your own totems.

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  • Lian
    I'd rather see a build a totem in a future core book than any "new" totems.

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  • Black Fox
    Originally posted by No One of Consequence View Post
    ... and either Tick or Termite, as I find both interesting and I think they play heavily into the idea that Garou find totems of cunning somewhat untrustworthy and honor-less.
    I like Termite because it is far more of a Weavery animal than Cockroach is, but not something innately tied to humans like cockroaches are. I think it would be an interesting choice. Although listed in Book of the City, it's likely found more in the wilderness. I imagine its role as a destroyer of human housing, it'd be something even Red Talons would be interested in! I like it when there is tension within the game. If the Garou can have concepts like the Wyrm and Balance Wyrm, why can't they do the same with the Weaver?

    I know in setting lore the Glass Walkers are heavily associated with the Weaver and have various Gifts based on that. But cockroach is not an especially Weavery insect. Something like Ants or Bees (all eusocial insects like Termites) would make much more sense as a way for the Glass Walkers to naturally learn about the Weaver. In my own chronicle, I have the Glasswalkers' interaction with the Weaver be a definite novelty and divergence from Cockroach. It is a very successful "side project" chiminage wise, but only that risks calcifying the tribe and shows in many of their recent tribal rituals.

    There are certain animals - like Tick - I'd like to show as fallen to the Wyrm rather than still aligned with Gaia. Or perhaps in the process of falling. I like how it was handled in the Skinner.

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  • No One of Consequence
    Several years ago, I did an outline for an alternate version of Ways of the Wolf, which would've been one of the earliest books released for an alternate Werewolf back in 1992 (yes, I had a lot of free time), along side the core book, a Storytellers Secrets/Secrets of the Moon booklet to go with the ST screen, Rage Across New York, and Wolfsbane (the book of dangers and potential enemies).

    While I'd made the decision to not have tribal totems sponsoring packs, I had I think about fifteen pack totems in the core book and then another 8 to 10 in Ways of the Wolf. I remember Flea, Wolverine, Harrier, Mammoth, Hare and either Moose or Elk, I forget which. Bat may have been one of the others. I think I may have also saved Bear for Ways of the Wolf, on the idea that lupus Garou were less prejudiced against it than homids.

    I think I had Old Wolf of the Woods as an ancestor spirit, one that either predated or had sort of transcended tribal boundaries to be an ancestor of all lupus.
    Last edited by No One of Consequence; 05-22-2020, 06:49 PM.

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  • Black Fox
    I agree that the three natural disaster totems of Volcano, Earthquake, and Twister are pretty cool. If I was bumping the # of totems to 15 each, I'd definitely include them as a group.

    Originally posted by No One of Consequence View Post
    Likewise Old Wolf of the Woods.
    I think it's an interesting totem, but handicapped by him only accepting Lupus (or at least not homids) if I remember right. I've contemplated whether the three wolf totems (Fenris, Old Wolf of the Woods, and Winter Wolf) are a triad aspect of Father Wolf.

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  • No One of Consequence
    Let's see ... War is the four tribal totems of Rat, Fenris, Griffin, and Wendigo, plus the two others of Bear and Boar. I like Badger and Flea a lot, mainly for the reasons you mention. Porcupine and Adder are also really good ones. I'm also a big fan of Earthquake (and I think it would be kind of cool to have a non-animal/force of nature one for each), Weasel, Wolverine, Hummingbird and Clashing Boom-Boom. However, Badger and Wolverine cover some of the same tropes, and Badger would be more widespread. I would probably have to go with Badger, Earthquake, Clashing Boom Boom (as a universal concept of the violent sound and din of conflict that has always had its adherents among Fianna, Fenrir, Shadow Lords, and the Beast Courts as well as Warders) and Flea. And maybe perhaps swap out Boar for Porcupine. I'm not really sure about the last one.

    For Respect, that's Pegasus, Stag, Grandfather Thunder, and Falcon, and I'm actually a little surprised the core book doesn't have at least one other non-tribal one for that. Bison I am a big fan of, as well as Mammoth (especially the idea of extinct creatures being totems, usually as part of Griffin's brood). I also like Volcano, although that's much more Pacific Rim oriented than Eurasian. But I think some kind of geothermic energy totem that split the difference between Volcano and Sulis/Hot Springs would be fairly cool. I kind of want to include Lion, as both a widespread cultural thing as well as a nod to the lost White Howlers, but I'm not sure he'd be part of my ten. Likewise Old Wolf of the Woods. And I like Snow Queen. I'd include Turtle, but I think it's reappearance/reawakening should be one of the harbingers of the apocalypse, so I'm not sure I'd want to do that. So, I think Bison, Mammoth, North Star, a Volcano/Sulis mix, Lion and Snow Queen.

    With Wisdom, it's the five tribal ones, Unicorn, Cockroach, Owl, Chimera, and Uktena, plus Raven. As much as I'd like to use Twister as part of the natural disaster trinity, I thing Fog is more widespread. Hare is also a good one. I'd like to have Rattlesnake, but since those aren't in Europe, maybe a more generic "Serpent"? I also like Toad, for the whole healer/natural medicine/poison angle. Beaver is also a good one. So, maybe the five tribals plus Raven, Fog, Beaver, Hare, and Toad.

    As far as Cunning, I think there's an argument that Coyote and Fox overlap too much, both physically and culturally, and since coyotes are only in the Western Hemisphere, they lose out. So, I'd probably got with Fox, Cuckoo, Goat, Raccoon, and either Tick or Termite, as I find both interesting and I think they play heavily into the idea that Garou find totems of cunning somewhat untrustworthy and honor-less.

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  • Black Fox
    Yes, a system to mechanically design totems along a Totem background cost would be great. It's relatively easy to assign a spirit and flavor text around it. That should have been something found in the Storyteller's Handbook along with chiminage guidelines and more renown challenges examples.

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  • Heavy Arms
    I could come up with some picks, but I'd rather just have a decent Totem creation system over the dozens of options in the books over the years and trying to pick just a few.

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  • No One of Consequence
    I actually missed this thread when first posted. I'll try to post my picks tomorrow, as it's late and I'm too tired to think clearly.

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  • Black Fox
    Wow, given the importance of pack totems, I'd thought I'd see lots of opinions on which additional totems should be considered core, but I guess not.

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  • Black Fox
    The Three Stooges
    • Coyote
    • Cuckoo
    • Fox
    The Dynamic Duo
    • Raccoon (Player's Guide)
    • Goat (Player's Guide)
    The Cunning totems have always been something of an oddball choice. I think very few Garou, even in the modern day, select one of them, but there are some fun and interesting totems.

    The easiest pick was Raccoon. It is an iconic animal, and one that can be found in both wilderness and urban environments. It's native to North America, but in modern settings it's also an invasive species in Europe. I think its iconic status more than compensates for its general exclusivity in America. How can you not have an animal that looks like a cartoon bandit in the Totem of Cunning list?

    The last pick was Goat. It's an iconic animal found in Aesop's Fables, fairy tales, cartoons, and world mythology. Goats pulled the chariot of Thor. A goat is associated with the foster mother of Zeus either providing him milk directly, or as a goat herding nymph. As a domesticated species it is found worldwide, and as the wild goat is extensive throughout Asia and Europe. If you extend it to the separate species of Mountain Goat, it is in the Americas as well. They are known for being aggressive and nimble along with their ability to eat anything (not exactly true).

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  • Black Fox
    The Set Six
    • Chimera
    • Cockroach
    • Owl
    • Raven
    • Uktena
    • Unicorn
    The Fantastic Four
    • Beaver (Wendigo Tribebook)
    • Fog (Player's Guide)
    • Hare (Ways of the Wolf)
    • Squirrel (Ratatosk) (Get of Fenris Tribebook)
    This is another totem set that was hard for me as there are many interesting Wisdom totems. I juggled between these four and Cockerel, Goose, Salmon, and Sea Otter. Probably the hardest for me to pick, and if you ask me on a different day of the week, I might select a different group of four. I really wanted to pick Goose!

    I like Beaver because it is another iconic animal with obvious themes. It is also found all over the world, and is a keystone species. The totem's write up granting dice in Crafts and Science makes it unique. And because of that and that it is a natural spirit, it might be appealing to both Glass Walkers and Red Talons. We need more totems that might bring packs of different tribes together.

    I picked Fog because as a weather aspect it is different from the normal animal totems. I also think its power set is very interesting. This was definitely the easiest pick to make.

    I think the game really need a either a rabbit or a hare totem, and I like the Hare totem in Ways of the Wolf better than the Rabbit totem in Wendigo Tribebook. It is a universal totem with lots of tales being told about it from Brer Rabbit to Bugs Bunny, not to mention Watership Down (though all of these are rabbits that burrow, not hares who nest above ground).

    I also think the game needs a Squirrel totem, an animal that can be found almost anywhere. And not just in the wilderness. It is the quintessential animal in city and suburban parks. The closest we have is the Ratatosk totem which is really just the Squirrel totem with a culture specific name. Giving a universal totem a culture specific name is something that happens constantly in the sourcebooks, but I think it is a mistake. It was obviously intended to make these totems more appropriate to the tribe the tribebook is in, but I think it instead undermines the use of some great totems.

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  • Black Fox
    The Standard Six
    • Bear
    • Boar
    • Griffin
    • Fenris
    • Rat
    • Wendigo
    Pick Four
    • Adder (Player's Guide)
    • Badger (Red Talon Tribebook)
    • Flea (Player's Guide)
    • Porcupine (Wendigo Tribebook)
    This was hard for me since I think there are many great war totems. I wanted include Bull and Weasel, but eventually went with other totems I thought were more thematic and popular. I really like Bull, but since it is a domesticated animal, it lost some points for me that dropped it out of contending status. I am sad to see that Skunk is not listed as a totem anywhere in the books I've read. While Skunks are only found in the Americas (despite Pepe Le Pew being French), they are very distinctive for their spray weapon. It's ridiculous this is not a Wendigo totem!

    Adder, as a serpent, represents a very different kind of totem. It's a different kind of animal, very powerful (and costly in terms of Totem points), and would lead to different style of war packs than the others. There are Rattlesnake and Cobra totems as well, but those snakes are very distinctive to specific regions while Adder is more generic and thus can be found anywhere. The Player's Guide description unfortunately focuses on the British Isles, and it could use a more general write up.

    I think Badger is one of those iconic animals that needs to be included. Its found in many stories from Wind in the Willows to Redwall to Narnia Chronicles and many others. It's easy to put a personality to it. It's found worldwide. And I think as a burrowing animal, it is distinctive. Since Badger is a member of the Mustelidae, I ended up not picking Weasel which is also a member. If there was more room, I would have included both.

    Flea was picked mainly because it's unusual and distinctive. The write up is also interesting and shows it could appeal to several different tribes. Its emphasis on guerilla warfare and hit-and-run tactics isn't typical and therefore offers a real choice of strategy. I thought about dropping Flea, but ultimately decided that another totem that would be well suited for Urban packs as well as the wilderness was necessary. I think it could be something lupus could appreciate which makes it a totem with varied appeal.

    Porcupine is also a very peculiar animal, but in good way! I'm not fond of its actual write up, but it is a cheap totem and open to lots of creative development. As a primarily defensive kind of animal, it would make an interesting choice of war totem. With a better write up, it would great.
    Last edited by Black Fox; 05-26-2020, 06:37 PM.

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  • Black Fox
    Here are my picks to get them out of the way. Feel free to comment and tell me why I suck, or if I made any interesting choices that made you think.

    The Core 4
    • Falcon
    • Grandfather Thunder
    • Pegasus
    • Stag
    My selected 6
    • Bison (Player's Guide)
    • Frog (Player's Guide)
    • Mammoth (Player's Guide)
    • North Star (Silent Strider Tribebook)
    • Sulis (Player's Guide)
    • Sable (Player's Guide)
    The totems of Respect needed the most totems added, and it wasn't easy to pick the ones I liked best.

    The Bison's description in the Player's Guide only references its North American version, but it has a European counterpart (also known as the Wisent). The totem should apply to both versions. Both were almost hunted to extinction and have ongoing efforts to save the species and increase its population. In past ages when both species were far more numerous, they were known for their strength and magnificent size. Its an iconic animal with special cultural importance to North America and Poland/Lithuania/Belarus. Its quiet majesty and size mark it apart from the traditional totems of Respect.

    Frog is an important animal from a spiritual perspective, and vastly different from the other totems of Respect. It is associated with rain and rivers and so is a symbol of life and fertility – important for anyone to survive. And despite its small size and ugliness, many stories show how it has hidden talents. It's an important totem of Respect because of how much it can teach you. Since charismatic megafauna predominate in Totems, I think it's small size and appearance is a good distinguisher.

    Mammoth is unique because it is an extinct species, and because it is one of the most famous animals of the Ice Age. It was found in both hemispheres and thus all tribes should have stories of them. It is also an important one in Garou lore because its extinction is often given as a reason for the Impergium (although it survived on Wrangel Island until about 4000 years ago). Even as an extinct species it has relevance because of continuing debate whether it is possible to clone a mammoth from preserved remains in ice. I think it has a lot to offer to players and the game.

    I liked North Star because it has immense significance to any human cultures in the northern hemisphere where all wolves are located (if you don't count the Garou in Australia). Although depicted in the Silent Strider tribebook, the significance of the North Star certainly isn't limited to them. As a celestial object, it is very different than the other totems. And its role as both a navigation tool and its immovable position in the heavens (not really, but you know what I mean) gives a lot of heft to its totemic significance.

    It is known as Sulis in the Player's Guide, but it is really just the spirit of Thermal Springs. I don't know why the sourcebooks give totems names that seem to grant one human culture primacy over the other. As Thermal Spring, it's pretty neat. It's a unique geographic feature universally thought to have healing properties. And it's a cool place that brings together many of the elements – earth, water, air, and fire (for heat). Besides being popular among humans, such areas are also vibrant ecosystems of its own attracting many different kinds of animals.

    Finally I picked Sable. Sable is only found in Russia, but it is part of the Marten genus which is found everywhere. And the description for Sable still fits all types of Martens. So I'm renaming it, but keeping the write up. They are best known for their luxurious pelts which I assume is their link to Totems of Respect. They are also an arboreal animal, and we have few totems that live in trees. And it has a nice niche of also being a predator as well as a prey species.

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