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How many Fetishes/Tallens/gifts to give?

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  • How many Fetishes/Tallens/gifts to give?

    I've seen fetishes as rare items of veneration, I've seen them drop commonly as if we were in a high fantasy-high magic setting (and a rite of cleansing easily fixes the BSD origin)

    I've seen lots of talen settings and sat at tables where the gm would be really anal about me trying to make the rite of binding work.

    as for gifts, again, few or many, hard or easy. what is right, what is reasonable, what is best?

    Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.

  • #2
    Well as your own post implies, this is the sort of thing that depends on personal taste and what is best for your table, so I'm not going to pretend to be speaking gospel here, I'm just going to say what feels the most right to me.

    I personally feel that fetishes should be treated with reverence and respect at all times. These are the magic items of human legend and fantasy works. They have histories, they have capacities, and in many ways they are characters themselves. They have spirits, they have personalities, they have histories that are closely tied with changing breed and spiritual communities.

    Fetishes don't come from nowhere. Someone made them. Some theurge convinced some spirit at some point to join with some object. Of course, none of these things are just "some thing". Every element effects the fetish and it's nature. The theurge imprints themself on their creations, the spirit must be placated and respected, they had to be brought into the object at some point and they have a long history from that moment, and the object must be appropriate for the spirit.

    I feel that talens are the objects which can be used *more* casually but cannot be used casually. They still require work and working with spirits. They must be respected. They can be more prolific and be used for a wide variety of things. They fulfill various niches that fetishes are too potent to fulfill.

    Your sept might have enough talens for everyone to have some to use but they must be respected and used with care. The spirits won't consent to be used if the garou use the talens frivolously and if they are forced to be used the spirits will grow even angrier. It's a short road to real nastiness. Yet with care and respect... talens can be extremely useful.

    Gifts I treat more similar to Fetishes yet naturally they are also different. While different levels of gift will naturally require different scales of feat to earn, but I do believe that all gifts must be earned. You must placate a spirit or an elder and have them believe they should teach you something sacred.

    It's not simply about proving yourself and doing some random task to appease the elder or spirit, you must prove that you have the respect and dedication to please the spirit. Every gift is just that: a gift. One that is sacred and must be respected, for once it is given, the garou is fundamentally changed as their spirit accepts the gift.


    • #3
      This is how I run it.

      Fetishes are generally rare. The rules for NPCs having them are based on the following: Cliath generally have none. Fostern usually have none, but a few may have one fetish of low rank. At rank 3 and above, NPCs on average have twice their rank level of fetish levels (so an Adren has six levels of fetish; which may mean 6 rank one fetishes, or one rank 1 fetish and a rank 5 fetish, or any combination). That is just an average so any individual Garou may have less or more than the average. I got this average by looking at many NPCs in the Rage books. So I decided to use it.

      It's probably not a perfect system. Many of these NPCs don't have fetishes I would think are rather standard like Magpie's Swag. But I think it's a good guideline.

      And it is what I use to gauge when PCs should be getting fetishes and how much of them (of course, being PCs they tend to be on the outlier of getting more fetishes than is normal).

      Some of these fetishes are old, but others must be new. Fetishes get lost and destroyed, so there needs to be some amount of replacement. But in general, there isn't an increasing accumulation of fetishes. So creation must be relatively rare - covering replacement, but not providing much more.

      In terms of economics to actually make the items, this is hard to explain, so I resort to chiminage explanations. Chiminage requirements for making fetishes should be substantial enough that most Garou do not want to make them despite the nice Renown you get for it (4 wisdom). So they have to be the kind of things that debilitate characters - ongoing activities the character have to perform which become a pain in the ass for a while. Garou who become dedicated fetish makers tend to act very strangely in my chronicles as they have all these taboos or odd behaviors. So if a PC wants to make a fetish, keep boosting the chiminage requirements so they are reluctant to do it. A PC probably shouldn't want to create more than 1 to 3 fetishes over their entire lifetime in my opinion, and most PCs should never make fetishes at all.

      Another option is to have a certain amount of fetishes available at any sept according to its caern level. After a certain # of fetishes (within a range) is possessed by that caern, the spirits become very reluctant to allow you to create more fetishes. It's beginning to affect the spiritual environment. And the spirits start talking amongst themselves why these Garou are so greedy that they keep wanting even more fetishes when they clearly have enough. As a result, fetish makers find it even more difficult and they just give up. If at some point enough fetishes get destroyed, the spirits loosen up and allow themselves to be bound to fetishes once more.

      If you want more fetishes or less fetishes, adjust accordingly.

      However, when it comes to talens, have as many as you need. Garou are supposed to use Talens as a kind of cash - they trade them to favors to Mentors and the like. And since Talens can only be used once, spirits are less likely to be as concerned about them. Even a pack of Cliath PCs likely want someone making Talens so they can get favors and such.

      So there needs to be enough "cash" to make that economy work. Talens are going to flow "upward" to elders who get them for favors. But those same elders are going to hand them back out to the young warriors when they go out (in exchange for political loyalty) so things get recycled. There will be some stockpiling at the caern for Bane Arrows, Gaia's Breath, Chiropteran Spies, Moon Glows and Wyrm Scales - these are almost always useful and would be needed in case the caern is attacked, or for war parties going out. There will be a high demand for them. And individual Garou might stockpile a handful of these fetishes themselves as well as others they really like.

      I imagine that these Talens are also used very often. What pack wouldn't want several talens of Gaia's Breath, a few Chiropteran Spies, a Moon Glow, and a Nightshade or Death Dust at any one time?

      So work backward from that in terms of determining how many Talens should be available at any one time. Figure out what a good stockpile is for the caern, what the typical pack should have in your game, and perhaps a few individual stockpiles for prominent NPCs. Of course, if you think it seems too much or too little, then make adjustments.

      You should have a much larger number of Talens than Fetishes, but again this should not be something as always increasing. There needs to be a plateau at some point. Again, a good way of controlling this is to make the spirits unwilling to be used as Talens at any one caern after a certain amount is in circulation.

      Making Talens also grants Wisdom renown. At 1 Wisdom a piece, a Talen crafter could potentially earn a lot of Wisdom that way. So you may want to cap things after a certain point, or require even more Talens to get that 1 Wisdom so there is a diminishing return. But Talen crafting is probably a major way Theurges earn that Wisdom renown, so don't be too stingy.

      You can deviate from these guidelines, but doing so will impact the game in some form. Just decide what kind of game works best for you, and you can deviate as needed to get that. If you want a more fetish or talen starved sept, kill off the NPC Theurges who would make them. Want a particularly rich sept - then have them dominate their neighboring septs and have them receive tribute in Talens. Want to suddenly change how many Talens are available - then cause a Glen to disappear that the sept used to bind Gafflings. And without that, their Talens are now dwindling.

      No RPG is meant as an economic simulator, so anytime there are "Crafting" rules it can get out of hand. So be willing to change as you need.