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  • #46
    Australian Spirits Part 3

    So we're looking at a small brood if we look only at appropriate wildlife, so this is probably a case where we need to look at thematic spirits to provide more variety, and utilize some of the other tools provided by Axis Mundi – spirits that volunteered to be under Bunyip or which Bunyip subjugated, and spirits created by Bunyip to serve a required function.

    Rainbow Serpent is associated with rains, storms, and floods. That intrudes on Grandfather Thunder's domain, but Australia is mainly a desert continent. It's the driest outside of Antartica. Scientifcally speaking, the lack of high mountains in western Australia (since Australia is tectonically stable, all of its mountains are therefore very old and thus heavily eroded) prevents the moisture laden ocean winds from being pushed into higher, colder altitudes where it condenses and falls as rain. There are mountains in southeastern Australia that allows some rain, but it also provides a rainshadow effect that prevents rain farther inland. So mythically, we might say that Rainbow Serpent, as ruler of the land, controls what moisture is available to Grandfather Thunder, and thus it and not Thunder determines when or whether it rains. So maybe there are spirit that are “rain providers” that determine when Grandfather Thunder can summon rains.

    Some kind of warden or protective spirit of the “wards” in the penumbra that keeps the Dreamtime in stasis as it was 50,000 years ago. Around the time when mankind first appeared in Australia, Australia had higher monsoons and some sort of inland sea. But various factors created the climate we know today. So we could say the Bunyip were essential at “freezing” the Penumbra as it used to be. This would be quite an epic achievement. So there should be guardian or caretaker spirits that helped maintain this kind of “penumbral zoo or nature preserve.” There may also be some kind of time or memory spirit that perpetuates this memory. This might even explain why the Ghost Bunyip continue to exist in the Australian Penumbra.

    While there are various Australian wildlife that can be accommodated in existing broods, my tentative inclusion is that we need two additional broods to account for a lot of unique wildlife there – Bunyip and Kangaroo (or another Incarna instead, but so far I think Kangaroo fits best). Neither will get much play outside a chronicle set in Australia, but I think having these broods will add a lot to any Australian chronicles. The other prominent broods I think would include Raven, Turtle, Falcon, Rat, Owl, Shark, Dragon Kings, Cockroach,

    Uktena probably still has brood members there, but much of its normal role is otherwise usurped by Rainbow Serpent. Mainly some fish and some snakes that for whatever reason weren't part of Bunyip's brood. Stag would probably be absent, but most of its role as herbivores used as prey animals would be filled by Kangaroo instead. I don't see any real role that Fenris or Wendigo would naturally play, and their broods would be mostly absent (though there are cuckoo birds in Australia). The role of Pegasus is debateable. A sacred feminine spirit would seem to be universal, but the perculiarites of the Australian umbra assign a masculine moon spirit and feminine solar spirit. That doesn't mean Pegasus is blocked, but the way its brood manifests in Australia might be very confusing for the Black Furies. Unicorn and its brood is probably in a similar position as is Chimera – very minor and unimportant. Lastly there is Griffin, whose two main spheres of predators and extinct animals, would not find a welcome spot here. Australia lacked the kind of “predator kings” Griffin is known for, and its role as protector of extinct spirits was effectively taken over by Bunyip.

    Needless to say, this would present a very confusing umbral landscape to Garou. Furthermore, as non-native species (rabbits, foxes, cane toads, feral goats, feral pigs, feral cats) arrive in Australia that Garou Incarna broods would protect, their often destructive role in the Australian ecosystem would provoke even more anger to the two most important spirit broods there. So we have a much better understanding of why this is such a hostile landscape for Garou. Their normal spirit allies can't help them, and if they summon them to do so, they may just make the dominant spirits even angrier. This fits very well with the themes of Rage Across Australia. It even explains why the Garou there most often choose totems “native” to Australia instead of the more common totems as the sourcebook states. The Silver Fangs and Shadow Lords who continue to use traditional totems, are likely creating lots of problems for themselves.

    For roleplay purposes, I would say neither Bunyip or Kangaroo would speak the Garou tongue, though Bunyip would understand it, if in your game you keep them as Garou. Kangaroo's brood would be approachable and potentially an ally, but I don't think it would be overtly friendly. Individual relationships can be developed with chiminage, but attempting to win widespread friendship would be an epic task. Bunyip's brood, of course, is explicitly hostile and often harass or attack the Garou.

    I must say that for various reasons I had not thought much of the Rage Across Australia book except for some of the NPCs whom I liked. But in doing research for this spirit brood discussion, I am much more impressed. Things as written fit as they “should”, though I doubt much thought was really given to the spirit brood concept. I think this is one location where utilizing a spirit brood approach really pays off a lot of dividends for STs.

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    • #47
      Now we're getting to the more difficult conjectural broods. So I want to talk about the spirits of domesticated animals. These generally aren't important to Werewolf sourcebooks, and I suspect most chronicles never include them. But we do see there are a number of Garou totems that have to be the spirits of domesticated animals so we have a place to start.

      Canonical spirits include Cockerel (from Fianna tribebook), Father Mule (from Children of Gaia), Horse (Werewolf: the Dark ages), Bull, and Goat (both from Players Guide).

      Where should these go? We addressed one possible placement of Bull in the Large Herd Animals thread, so we could continue to do the same and place them in existing broods headed by a wildlife spirit or similar wild spirit. However, I think most domestic animal spirits likely belong to their own brood.

      A domestic animal brood would create roleplaying challenges for PCs, and distinguish them from other spirits. Dog spirits, for example, should act very differently than most animal spirits.

      Then there are issues of spirits like Horse and Bull who now only exist as domesticated breeds with wild breeds being extinct. I can imagine that when horses were wild, they were part of Pegasus's brood. That would be the default for a long time as horses were only domesticated around 3000 BC, and for a long time afterwards there were still very large numbers of wild horses. But by now, I think Horse would not fit well within Pegasus's brood as the Black Furies have always been depicted as one of the tribes most fiercely attached to the Wyld. I think it creates an interesting element if Horse ends up leaving Pegasus and joins another, friendlier brood. More opportunity for roleplay between spirits and Garou.

      The Horse totem in Werewolf: the Dark Ages is explicit about it being a spirit of a domesticated animal, and imposes penalties on its children on non-Warders in dealing with other Garou. And its ban involves never harming domesticated animals (I doubt this extends to not eating them).

      Mules, of course, are sterile and can't even propagate without mankind. The totem description mentions that hybrids are born in the wild, but I am ignorant of this happening with mules. And in extremely rare occasions mare mules have given birth, something even attested in Classical times, but these rare exceptions needn't concern us. The Father Mule totem likes metis best because both are sterile, and this is presumably the reason it is included with the Children of Gaia, as their tribe is most comfortable with metis. But I think Mule is best off in a domestic animal brood than under Unicorn. Since Mule is the child of Horse, I think it's best to follow the precedent here. I don't think Mule was intended to be a totem only available to a pack of Children of Gaia metis, but something available to all Metis of any tribe. And while the latter does not mean Mule couldn't be under Unicorn, I still think a separate brood would work best.

      The description of Cockerel or Rooster also explicitly mentions it being a spirit of a domesticated animal. It even mentions that many Garou disdain domestic animal totems, but that the Fianna have a more open mind. This cements the idea that there is a separate brood of such spirits, but that certain tribes still have affinities for one or more of its members. The ban here is that its children do not eat domesticated animals, which likely forces them to hunt. With the bans of both Horse and Cockerel, we are seeing a deep protective instinct among these totems.

      Unlike some other spirits here, Cockerel has lots of wild relatives, as junglefowl are still plenty in South Asia and Southeast Asia. These are part of the pheasant family which includes quail, turkey, patridges and many game birds. As an aside, I wonder what brood fits these wildfowl? As mainly terrestrial birds that do not fly much often hunted for game, I am leaning towards Stag. And that could explain the Fianna's interest in Cockerel.

      Bull is more difficult. Its description makes no mention of domestic animals, and it is supposed to be a popular totem. No mention of the normal scorn of the Garou for domesticated animals. I think this indicates Bull is not a member of that brood, and remains in its original brood of wild animals. As uncastrated male cattle, bulls are extremely aggressive and dangerous. This may explain why it remains outside. Although I imagine there is feminine counterpart, Cow, that would be part of a domesticated brood. This actually makes for an interesting dynamic, as Bull while aggressive and fierce, would still have some involvement with domesticated animal spirits. Perhaps it sees itself as more of man's partner than its servant, or look down upon the more docile animals but in a protective way.

      There's also Goat of the Player's Guide, which appears to be the domesticated goat, not wild goat, but makes no mentioned whatsoever of its status as a domesticated animal. However, it is also a Totem of Cunning. Perhaps that explains it. I don't think Goat would fit well under Bison or Stag as an alternative, but Trickster could fit. For now, I'm content to leave it here.

      While that exists the known totems, we know of the other spirits of domesticated animals because there's such a tiny list for them. Besides Dog, we also have goat, pig, sheep, cat, donkeys, domestic ducks and geese, guinea pigs, camels, silkmoths, llamas and alpacas, lab mice, certain fish and birds, and various pets. The most important of such species are mentioned earlier. So it should be a relatively small brood compared to others, but one whose members an ST could quickly determine whenever needed.

      I would not put these under Cockroach as cockroaches were never domesticated, and the spirit in Werewolf have very different affinities than domesticated animals. I like to vision Cockroach as a commensal animal spirit teaching the Glass Walkers how to exist alongside humanity, unseen. That's different than animals that serve man. I see many different individual personalities for each spirit – Dog being very loyal, Cat acting indifferent and more independent but liking the luxury of houses, Sheep being very submissive, Cow being very nurturing and protective of children, and so on.

      Who should be the Major Incarna of this brood? Dog, as man's best friend and longest domesticated animal, would be a natural choice. However, I wonder if the actual Major Incarna should be something like “the Master”, not a spirit of humanity, but an aspect of humanity of man molding his environment. Something similar to the Patriarch spirit mentioned by the Black Furies. I think there are good and bad points to either option. My own leanings currently is to split the difference – refer to “the Master” IC, but never ever show such a spirit. Instead, Dog is the de facto leader of the brood, but Dog makes many, many references to the Master. And all the other domesticated spirits don't question the existence of the Master, but there is never any proof provided.

      The domesticated animal spirits should still acknowledge Gaia, but they believe she has given the Master dominion over the whole world. They are probably ambivalent to Bone Gnawers and most friendly to the Glass Walkers, but likely feel increasingly rebuffed by that tribe for ignoring them (the traditional helpers of man) in favor of truly weird Weaver spirits. I think their reactions to the Glass Walkers vary by individual, but include a lot of warnings that the tribe is ignoring them too much now. The other Garou they typically dislike and think are dangerous (with various exceptions). And of course are enemies of Griffin and the Red Talons. Individual tribes could likely appeal to spirit of animals that once “belonged” to their tribal incarna, or have some other affinity for the animal.

      I see these spirits as mainly located in rural areas, especially farms. As the landscape increasingly urbanizes, their variety and numbers drop off considerably until there is only Dog and Cat in the suburbs, and only infrequent appearances of these in the urban Penumbra which is hostile to most animal spirits. Here is where we would see a lot of feral animal spirits under Rat like Lost Dogs and Feral Psychagonea.

      I believe the best “home” for these spirits would be the Near Realm Wolfhome, which they would call by a different name. Wolfhome is so named because Garou are forced to assume lupus form while there and live simply as a wolf. But it has been inconsistently depicted. At times it is boundless forest. But it also has the Town which represents the dominion of Man, and Garou experience strange experiences there just like they were wolves captured by humans and subjected to things they simply can't understand. In my own chronicles, this is the Near Realm that shows the dominion of man over nature. A skilled ST would likely prevent the PCs from ever discovering that Wolfhome is the source of domesticated animal spirits. Still, if this bothers you, you can simply create a new Near Realm where these spirits originate from and go to if they reform.

      Comment


      • #48
        Trickster Part 1

        A lot of the prior posts were merely a delay before I finally had to deal with Trickster. This was one of the first broods I tried to work on, thinking it would be easy. But it brought up a lot of questions that I was forced to answer them by developing other broods before tackling this. But I've run out of obvious ones, so I'm now back to this.

        The main issues here are the nature of Coyote, and how to approach a brood with universal nature if its Major Incarna does not have its natural correspondence in most of the world. After all, for thousands of years no one in Asia, Africa, or Europe would think “coyote” when they had a trickster figure. If they encountered a spirit of this brood, they'd have to assign it to some other figure.

        After a more detailed look at the Nuwisha Totems, I've changed my mind on some things. I really disliked the idea that we had Loki, Ptah, Kokpelli, and other human concepts mixed in an animal of North American origin that had none of that cultural baggage. It moved the totem away from Coyote. So I thought perhaps “Coyote” was actually a universal Trickster spirit who simply adopted the Coyote animal which was especially sacred to him, and he also manifested in these other ways. But that still left the problem that “Loki” couldn't actually be the “real” Loki as if that entity existed in any real way, it'd be as a spirit of the Astral Plane or High Umbra. Same thing with all the other totems. It also didn't make sense for the Nuwisa to use these terms. When would they have had the Loki totem – or any others – before they met the Europeans? I found it absurd that they would have such a totem before then. But if that is the case, what would the Nuwisha do for personal totems since all of them are based on human culture? So what to do?

        However, reading the totems more closely, I think it's less that these spirits are “Loki” or “Pan” or “Chung Kuel”. These are simply other names given by homids to certain aspects of Coyote. Instead, each of these spirits are a particular way in which Trickster manifests. What's important is identifying the role of each aspect. Then various names might be given to it.
        • Ti Malice – Coyote as manipulator; the liar; perhaps the Mischief Maker.
        • Loki – Coyote as warrior; the Monster-Slayer.
        • Kishijoten – Coyote as nurturer or caregiver.
        • Ptah – Coyote as creator.
        • Kokopelli or Pan – Coyote as lover or pleasure seeker.
        • Chung Kuel – Coyote as gambler or chance; perhaps also Coyote the Greedy
        • Xochipilli – Coyote the Bold or Reckless (the fool without fear)
        • Oghma – Coyote as wise teacher.
        By substituting these universal archetypes for the culturally biased names, it solved all the problems I had. If you had the same issues, I hope it works for you too. If you had no problems with it, you can easily ignore it. In other words, rather than Trickster assuming the form of Coyote, it was Coyote who appropriated existing names.

        Of course the Nuwisha book also gave the Raven totem, which is clearly Raven and not an aspect of Coyote. However, we might saw that despite the name and identical description, this is merely Coyote as the riddler. That solves our problem. A bit lame that we'd now have two “different” totems with the same power. So a better option would be to allow the Nuwisha to have personal totems that weren't an aspect of Coyote, but were spirits friendly to him. Raven is one, but so should Fox be. Which other Totems of Cunning are included would be up to the ST.

        Another issue is what to do about Fox. Fox would be the obvious choice for a trickster animal spirit in the Old World. One nice thing is that many Coyote legends involve Fox as a companion to Coyote – they're seen as buddies. If Coyote died in one of his adventures, it was Fox who would bring him back to life. So we do have some justification of including them in the same brood. Perhaps Fox is Coyote's deputy and in charge when or where he isn't around.

        The Kitsune doesn't fit the same role in the Old World as the Nuwisha do in the New World, but there are some similarities. One issue is that the game has an undecided approach to Kitsune. The Book of Caerns and Hengeyokai books take very different approaches to them, and the Kitsune breed doesn't match well with actual kitsune legends where they are depicted more like a fairy species. But the animal of fox clearly has trickster qualities in any human culture, so ultimately I am ruling any issues that need to be fixed probably belong to the Kitsune themselves rather than the spirit.

        Another possibility is that the brood is lead not by one Incarna, but a group of them – a kind of “friends of Coyote” where Coyote, Fox, and possibly other animal trickster archetypes act as common protectors of the brood, but not one is clearly dominant. That's anomalous among spirits, but isn't necessarily out of place for tricksters. I personally would not include Raven among this group as I think it's association with Helios and the dead makes Raven sufficiently different. But different STs may have other tastes.

        Comment


        • #49
          Trickster Part 2

          So I'm now willing to go with one brood for the trickster, and that Coyote is the Major Incarna of it. I don't think there's many spirits that would fit in this category, and splitting them among two or more broods makes even less sense. I would limit the brood mostly to spirits that are clearly trickster type spirits, often inspired by real folklore, and leave out others – including some of the other Totems of Cunning that don't quite qualify for the trickster archetype. But who?

          The Rabbit totem of the revised Wendigo tribebook works. I put Hare in Raven, but rabbits are often trickster heroes in many stories so Coyote should have one too.

          Roadrunner is listed as a totem of cunning in Uktena revised. But outside of Warner Bros. cartoons, I am not sure how trickstery that animal is considered. Wikipedia simply says Indians consider the bird to be a protector against evil, so it may be best to leave him with Uktena.

          As mentioned in the previous post on spirit of domesticated animals, Goat could fit here.

          I would like to place Raccoon here, but Axis Mundi assigns him to Rat. But an ST could decide to change that, or allow “Raccoon in the city” be part of Rat, but allow Raccoon in the wilderness be here.

          Likewise Carcajou/Wolverine of Innu myth is a trickster and mentioned in Axis Mundi under Wendigo We could put the normal "Wolverine" under Wendigo, and move "Carcajou" to Coyote. That would reduce the diversity of Wendigo's brood a bit, but might be worth it.

          Otter is often a trickster animal. Earlier I placed him possibly in Turtle, but he could fit here. And like many animal spirits, we could place different spirits of the same animal in different broods to emphasize different correspondences of that spirit. Like many of these trickster animal spirits, its version (Kiunik) is listed among the spirits of Wendigo. I think this is less likely a deliberate attempt to introduce a trickster element to Wendigo (I don't recall anything like that explicitly mentioned in tribebooks or other tribal descriptions), than someone pillaging a book of Native American myths and dumping them into the “Indian tribe.” However, it could be an interesting element of Wendigo. Perhaps Coyote instructed some of his brood to join Wendigo in order that he and his children had something that could lighten their mood and fill their cold hearts with laughter. Perhaps we could build on this and explain that Wendigo and Coyote actually get along well.

          Minks and muskrats are also considered to be trickster style animals in many Indian legends. Blue Jays are too, but as they are corvids, they best fit under Raven. That might be the same for the Whiskey Jack totem also listed in the Wendigo tribebook.

          We know that Raven is particularly close to the Wendigo like he is to the Get of Fenris. So maybe both Coyote and Raven are very close to Wendigo. Earlier I mentioned that Wendigo was a brood I found very hard to expand. Maybe the solution to provide Wendigo Garou more spirit allies is not to expand Wendigo's brood. But to acknowledge the tribe is also particularly close to the brood of Coyote and Raven. The ancient Wendigo might have determined that Wendigo's brood, while potent, was also limited. And in response forged very close ties to the broods of Coyote and Raven. The tribe could be said to already have strong affinity with these broods, and the spirits might treat the tribe almost as if they were their children. That would serve the purpose of providing the Wendigo with more spirit allies, while still keeping its brood appropriate, and add some strong roleplay elements to these spirit broods. I will need to ponder this idea a lot more, but my initial thoughts are that I like it and think it has a lot of potential. But let's get back to the topic.

          Monkeys are often considered to be silly or foolish animals, and they would fit among coyote. Maybe not all monkeys, but a selection of the most “foolish” among them. These might include the capuchin monkeys, but there are other candidates among New World and Old World monkeys. We might even want to say that Monkey King totem, mentioned in Glass Walkers tribebook, is part of Coyote's brood. Maybe even one of “Coyote's friends”.

          It'd be nice to have some sort of spider figure given the tales of Ananse (or Iktomi of the Lakota Sioux), but I don't think that's an existing totem or spirit that qualifies. Something for the ST to create themselves. Give Ananse's importance as trickster hero in much of Africa, this spirit should be around the equal of Coyote and Fox. But the game has a were-spider breed with its own game legend around Spider, so it's a neglected aspect.

          Comment


          • #50
            Trickster Part 3

            Trickster has many angles – clown, malevolence, discord, problem solver, bringer of fire, teacher, and many more. In terms of Coyote's role among Garou and the spirit world in general, I can see a variety of spirits that could be based on these correspondences – created by Coyote to fill one of his purposes. We just need to think of what kind of spirit could be a helper in one of his totem aspects.

            The totem spirit Momentum, mentioned in Book of the City, could easily be one such spirit, especially for Chung Kuel/ Coyote the Gambler. There could also be spirits of mirth similar to the Bragir spirits of Fenris. I think an ST can think up a large number of appropriate spirits that could serve a need to one of Coyote's aspects.

            I originally felt it would be difficult to round out a brood for Trickster/Coyote. But after going through this thought process, I am surprised at how many spirits I can easily fit, and see open spots where I can probably create more spirits if needed to fill them. By combining Coyote with his powerful deputies of Fox and others, I think this is a very strong brood with lots of different spirits that most tribes would find very useful. I also liked the inadvertent connection to Wendigo (along with Raven) which supplements Wendigo's brood nicely and offers lots of good roleplay opportunities.

            The first edition Players Guide has a story that explains the Nuwisha once had auspices like the Garou, but Luna cursed them to be only Ragabash after Coyote played a trick on her. I like that tale a lot, and use it as justification that one time the Nuwisha “were” a tribe of Garou just like the jackals of the Silent Striders were (during the “time before time” mythic sense), but as a result are now accounted as one of the Fera. So Nuwisha may have allies among the other Garou totems still, just like they were any other tribe. Given the Nuwisha's reputation as umbral travelers, such an interpretation could support that.

            Comment


            • #51
              I think that may have been the last of the spirit broods that I develop to any degree. A summary post will come up at some point. But this certainly isn't the limit of possible spirit broods. After all, there are lots of other wildlife and functions not covered. But just like the various ocean Major Incarna are probably insufficient to cover the fullness or marine life but it's irrelevant given the nature of the game and most chronicles, so are these other types. But let's give some brief thought to them.

              An obvious gap are terrestrial arthropods – wildlife of insect, arachnid, and myriapod origin. Cockroach is an obvious totem with a spirit brood among them, and we have other Garou pack totems detailed in sourcebooks like Tsetse Fly, Scarab, Dragonfly, and Butterfly. But overall these aren't typical spirits encountered in the game, and while some should fall in broods lead by more traditional animal spirits (or others), I think it's obvious more would fall in broods lead by spirits of arthropods. So let's do a little creative brainstorming.

              Obviously Spider should be one. The Ananasa breed book should be mentioned here. It introduces a lot of new concepts, most of which I do not like. The most important being that the breed's creator/ruler is NOT Spider, but Queen Ananasa who was created directly by the Weaver and is kind of an ersatz ruler/creator of all the various arthropods (insects as well as spiders, though spiders are her favorite). And there's a lot of other dubious things like introducing the Insect Wars and how the Ananasi (which really can't be Ananasi since this happens long before mammals or mankind is even around) killed the equivalent insect breeds. I have massive problems with this which would require its own post or even thread. But in the end, the result is that there is absolutely nothing we need to take from the breedbook into this discussion since there's nothing in it that is useful except that Queen Ananasi is not Spider (though it is mentioned Queen Ananasa mated with Spider in order to create the Ananasi). In fact, the breedbook is explicit that the Ananasi do not worship any other totem spirits – that is strictly forbidden – their equivalent Litany mandates that only Queen Ananasa should be worshipped. That would exclude the Spider spirit as well!

              But Spider should still be important even if it is never mentioned as a Garou totem. But if you go by the breedbook, it is likely not as powerful as it should be given that the Ananasi don't actually make any devotions to it.

              Spider might just include spiders, but it might include many other arachnids as well including scorpions and ticks. Or if you want to keep the weaving web theme for Spider, then maybe dump most other arachnids into its own brood maybe under Scorpion. Scorpions are important because they are often associated with treachery and malevolence. Aesop's Fable of the Scorpion and the Frog is well known. I like to roleplay scorpion spirits as Gaian, but inherently treacherous. They'll always turn on you regardless of their agreements because that is their nature. Tick is interesting just because of its role in the W20 SAS of the Skinner when it appears as a spirit hoping to get its own Garou tribe and propel it to Incarna status. Is it an independent spirit, or currently under some other spirit's brood? It's plot in the Skinner does lend it a somewhat treacherous nature that would work well under Scorpion.

              I found it interesting that Tick was only a Jaggling spirit, and not an Incarna in its own right as leader of its entire species. I'm not sure that I like that as Jagglings are potentially easy to destroy, which means alltick species could be conceivably wiped out if that Tick jaggling is destroyed. I'd probably just make Tick in that scenario an important Jaggling avatar sent by the Tick Incarna to do its bidding in the rest of the Umbra. It's just a very lesser Incarna, in the same class as other Incarna, but having little power compared to others. Since Incarna are not supposed to be approachable anyway, perhaps that was even the intention.

              We should probably have some sort of spirit for the most weavery of the insects – ants and bees and other eusocial insects. That would include Termite which is mentioned as a Garou totem in the Book of the City. And if Termite is a totem, then Bee and Ant should be as well. I can't see Termite as having more spiritual power than them. Personally I think Ant would be the superior choice as Major Incarna. One thing I did not know until now is that ants, bees, and wasps are actually part of the same order – hymnoptera. Although Termites aren't, it's a good basis for the brood. The creatures here have very distinctive cultural qualities being associated with strong work ethic, social cohesion, and extensive colonies.

              What else? I think Fly would make a good choice. Flies are a heavily symbolic animal – usually negative, but not always. Again, we have Tsetse Fly as a pre-existing totem, this time mentioned in the Silent Striders tribebook. Although not a pack totem, we know Mosquitoes are part of Wendigo's brood (there are lots of moquitos on the tundra). All of these are under the order Diptera. In my own chronicles, I use Fly as an Incarna corrupted by the Wyrm, and I think this fits well. If Fly is now allied to the Wyrm, then its Gaian counterparts need to go to other broods. Tundra based mosquitoes could go to Wendigo, and other spirits might go to Dragon Kings, Cockroach, Turtle, or more unusual broods. The need for certain fly spirits to find safe homes could even lead to strange alliances that otherwise might now make sense, like sticking Tsetse Fly under Owl if you want to go that route. Of course, if you want Fly to be Gaian, that works too. I just like having some other corrupted spirits out there besides Bat. Flies are single wing insects, so Diptera doesn't include a lot of insects with “fly” in its name like Dragonfly.

              There are more types of Beetles in the world than any other. 25% of all animal life forms are some form of beetle! And Scarab – an exotic name for the dung beetle – is a pack totem in the Silent Striders tribebook. Maybe we want Scarab explicitly as leader of that brood. Beetles don't usually have negative connotations (though some are pests) and lack the disgust reaction many insects have. In fact another well known beetle – the ladybug – has very positive connotations. A lot of insects seen as beneficial or friendly could go here.

              These are very obvious associations. Ant, Fly, and Scarab have very obvious correspondences, and they all have obvious hooks for roleplaying them. But they likely don't include all other insects. What other ones might be distinctive enough to be their own thing? In my opinion, other distinctive insects include Mantis and Grasshopper. They not only look different, but also have distinct cultural associations – the grasshopper species with making sound (music) and the mantis as an animal that prays, devours baneful insects, and also known for its cannibalistic mating. Though I won't spend further time developing these broods, I think they have potential Major Incarna for those STs that need additional insect spirit broods.

              I think there are many more potential broods out there, but the five already identified should be more than sufficient for any needs in game. Spider, Ant, Fly, and Scarab (and maybe Scorpion) cover a lot of ground, and I think it'll be the rare chronicle that needs more than that. But if you need more go ahead! I'd love to hear why and what you picked.

              Whether these broods include non-insect animals is up to the ST, but I would likely rule them not. That makes insect based broods fairly limited, but I think that is OK. In the vast majority of chronicles, these spirits won't play any role, much less an important one. But if any come to prominence, the ST can quickly assign them to their own brood, and roleplay them as being distant and alien to the Garou, though still approachable. And as for Fly, any disreputable corrupt insect spirit could be shown there.

              Another thing you might want to do is keep these spirits and their broods in their own little micro-world that rarely intrude on other spirits. Make them very alien and difficult to communicate with except for those few that have explicit alliances with the Garou (pack totems), making them something as odd ducks among their broodmates.

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              • #52
                Plant Spirits 1

                Next comes one of the other great kingdoms – plants. Plants as spirits are treated very differently than others. Animal spirits and animals are separate things, but plant spirits reside in plants and can be awakened. We're even told that these spirits do awaken independently on the first day of spring and that they slumber in winter. The first Wendigo tribebook says some plants are "natural fetishes" that any Garou can use. And certain plant spirits seem to be fairly important in the Umbra and can even be Garou pack totems. Some such spirits are part of existing broods. Let's start with those.

                Grain is part of Stag's brood, although she is primarily a spirit of grain alcohol. She does have some sway over actual grain fields. That fits in a “Stag represents the bounty of the land” aspect. Axis Mundi also gives us “Corn”, but this would be the spirit better known as Grain or perhaps Cereal as it represents all kind of domesticated plants of the harvest – wheat, rye, rice, maize, etc. (this appears to be an indepdent spirit) And the Croatan had Corn Maiden which was the explicit spirit of maize. Although she can be a pack totem, and was probably popular with the Croatan, the totem description mentions she is explicitly affiliated with the Weaver. That means she is probably not part of Turtle's brood. Perhaps all domesticated crops are part of an independent brood that has the taint of the Weaver on them, perhaps lead by “Corn”/Cereal. This brood offers some good roleplay opportunity. They aren't hostile to the Garou, although except for Corn Maiden might not be especially friendly. But they're a very useful group of plants for obvious reasons as they feed humanity.

                Axis Mundi gives us Psychedelic Plant Totems who have "powerful enigmatic spirits" that reveal visions. Tobacco, Ayahuasca, Peyote, and (some) Mushrooms are mentioned, although only Ayahuasca and Peyote are listed as possible pack totems and spirit descriptions. We're told consuming such plants are a sacrament, but that the rite of spirit awakening must be performed on them first. I think these are very powerful spirits and separate from usual broods. Whether each one is independent, or they belong to a single brood is probably best left decided by individual STs. I'm not sure what common Incarna they might have unless it is something very nebulous. Given they are supposed to be enigmatic, it may be best to leave these a mystery. Although this may have some relevance to the Dark Fungus pack totem of the Black Spiral Dancers. Likely it is a corrupt version of the same “class” of spirits.

                The Oak tree spirit is especially important. Oak has an ancient alliance with Stag made when the world was young. While it's said that Oak and Stag made alliance with the Fianna. Therefore Oak sometimes extends his help to Fianna. We're also told that they won't break alliances with Packs of Stag. I like the idea that Oak has its own pact with the Fianna and Stag. Players and STs can do a lot with this.

                We're also told that Oak and all other tree spirits serve the Incarna of the World Tree (also known by various names like Tree of Life, Cosmic Tree, etc.) Maybe it is World Tree that is the Major Incarna of trees and all trees are part of its brood. But the World Tree has lots of correspondences with it. Its subservant spirit don't need to embody all of them, but there's going to be a lot of additional spirits in that brood.

                If not, then perhaps Oak is the incarna of all deciduous trees, and a spirit like Spruce or Pine is the incarna ruling over all evergreen spirits. I like the distinction between evergreen and deciduous plants, but perhaps it's best to not make them separate broods. Just roleplay them differently. What do people think?

                So we have World Tree and probably a spirit I will call “Cereal” for the domesticated harvest crops. What else makes sense? Plants are incredibly diverse, so I'm not so concerned with trying to organize the entire Plant Kingdom into a brood just as larger or larger than we've done for Animals. That isn't needed. We just have to concentrate on the most likely plant spirits to be encountered in game, and be able to help them. That limits our needs to obvious plant spirits encountered in game (like Glade Children) and those plants that could be used through the Rite of Spirit Awakening or perhaps as “natural fetishes” by PCs.

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                • #53
                  Plant Spirits 2

                  This is even more subjective than usual, but I would want to divide plants (or Incarna) into the following groups – Trees, Crops, Grasses, Cacti, Shrubs, Herbs, Nightshades, Fungi, and Poisons. I think that should cover most of what we need. Explanations are below.

                  Trees and Crops are already covered.

                  Grasslands are a very important ecosystem, and that lends itself to some kind of Wild Grass to be its own Incarna. They cover around a third of all land areas and support the greatest number of wildlife on Earth. Since “World Tree” is very generic, I think the equally generic “Wild Grass” is fine too. And if Oak/Tree is corrected to Stag, then maybe Wild Grass is connected in some way to the Bull/Bison/Elephant lead brood of large herbivores who are best known as grass eaters.

                  Cacti are very distinctive. Except for one species, all are native to the Americas. They probably deserve their own brood lead by Saguaro. I don't think they get much coverage though Aloe should have been listed as one of the plant examples for the rite of spirit awakening in my opinion. Peyote is a cactus, but per above should be in its own special category.

                  Shrubs are just woody plants that don't get to be trees, and some species can either become shrubs or trees depending on how much water they get. Other than I think they should be covered separately, I don't have many ideas on what to do with them. This is really just a default category to dump stuff into. However, the Hawthorn plant is usually a shrub (or small tree) and has lots of folklore attributes to it. Among other things hawthorm is said to make entrance to the fairy otherworld, and said to be useful against vampires. So we have something potent. Both hawthorns and roses are part of the Rosacae family, and roses can be shrubs too.

                  Herbs are another generic category of many herbaceous plants that often have medicinal value and many folkloric attributes. Many plants that are useful talens by the rite of spirit awakening are based here. Many of these are in the mint/sage family. So we might want to use Mint.

                  Nightshades cover a wide variety of plants that are both poisonous and used as food. They are the Solanacae family and include tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, and many kinds of peppers. I would keep only wild species here; domesticated versions should go with Cereal. Tobacco is found here too, but since it is considered so spiritually potent, I would place it with the other spiritually powerful and enigmatic spirits like Peyote and Ayahuasca. And of course there is belladonna, or deadly nightshade. Unlike other members of its family, I don't think any cultivars ever became edible by humans. But the plant is very well known in folklore as both a potent poison and as an essential ingredient in magic. Most recipes of the flying ointments of witchcraft include belladonna, and it's believed it is the hallucigenic ingredient that caused people to believe they were flying. It's also known as having many medicinal properties. I would put Belladonna as its Incarna.

                  Science has now demonstrated that fungi aren't plants, and in fact are more closely related to animals. So perhaps its wrong to put them in the plant category technically, but why discuss them separately? They come in all sorts of varieties – edible, medicinal, poisonous, and many others. Clearly they should be represented. Just to keep things generic, like with World Tree and Wild Grass, I may just call its Incarna to be Toadstool.

                  Lastly are the Poisons which cover all those plants that are considered poisonous to man or animals. We can also put skin irritating plants like poison ivy and poison oak here. I wanted this as a separate category for one simple reason – I wanted Wolfsbane, also known as aconite, as a Major Incarna in charge of its own brood. Werewolf: the Apocalypse has been strangely silent covering this iconic plant with much folkloric association with werewolfery. By cementing its status as a Major Incarna, I think we can promote it to having a stronger use in game.

                  I don't think plant Incarna and their broods will get much use in chronicles, but some people might find some sort of schema useful when running games. If you have players who like to make talens using the Rite of Spirit Awakening, or want to make plant spirits more important by distinguishing between certain biomes or landscapes versus other types, this could help you.

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                  • #54
                    That may be it for me. I covered a lot of ground here, and provided a lot more detail and depth than intended. It's probably too much for most STs (I doubt I'll ever use some of the broods I've explored here), but there could be others out there who could use even more broods!

                    But for now the question is did I miss anything obvious? Is there any wildlife which is clearly not covered? Or any new function in the spirit world that should be represented by its own brood, or assigned to an existing brood?

                    There are other Incarna spirits mentioned in the sourcebooks, but they aren't ones I think need much development. Charyss is the Incarna that rules the Near Realm of Erebus. The Black Furies tribebook mentions the Patriarch Incarna (said to be a servant of Abhorra, the Urge Wyrm of Hate, so this is more likely a spirit like Misogynist and would have a counterpart like Misandrist, as well as every other kind of hatemongering spirits). Bone Gnawers mentions the Great Trash Heap. The description of Heap gafflings of Rat's brood in Axis Mundi implies that most of these spirits are part of an independent brood of the Great Trash Heap. Insofar as these oddball Incarna might have broods, they are probably limited to immediate servitors. I'm sure there lots of known Incarna I missed, but I think most would fall in this category.

                    Any way, now is the time to add your comments, suggestions, and ideas before I do a summary post. I don't think I have any more ideas on this in me, but who knows what might spark an idea. I'm very interested in any contributions.

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