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Spirits and the Garou Tongue

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  • Spirits and the Garou Tongue

    I've recently been thinking about what spirits should be capable of using the Garou Tongue, and which will require actual Spirit Speech. There's various places int he sourcebooks where it's mentioned some spirits use the Garou Tongue. But of course, the Gift Spirit Speech is limited to Theurges and Uktena even though it's mentioned any spirit can teach it.

    To me, this issue is really one of out-of-game considerations. First, you don't want everything dealing with spirits to be limited to a small selection of PCs. Other characters need to be able to deal with spirits. Second, that being said, you don't want Theurges (in particular, but other characters as well) to have their thunder taken from them. So it's coming up with a practical distinction that allows everyone to participate while still keeping those Spirit Speech characters distinct and special from the others.

    So I have some ideas, and am looking for feedback.

    The general scheme is to divide the spirits into several groups. First are spirits that will resort to the Garou Tongue (or Changing Breed tongues in general) without question. Second are spirits that can use the Garou Tongue, but find it impolite and will react with social penalties to the Garou. The last group are spirits that won't know or use the Garou Tongue at all.

    In the first group are obviously Pack Totems, the Caern Totem, and Ancestor spirits. Probably Englings and Moon spirits too as these have long associations with the Garou. I would also include in general all the spirits of the Tribal Incarna spirit broods, and any additional spirits who normally dwell within the caern bawn. However, since even Pack Totems must "buy" the ability to speak with pack members without the use of Spirit Speech. So this ability is not automatic to all spirits of a tribal spirit brood. However, many of these spirits should have that ability, and others can "pick it up" if they interact enough with Garou. These spirits will be the ones non-Theurges commonly interact with. So it won't paralyze PC packs who don't have a Theurge, or the player of the Theurge can't make it to that game session.

    Possible thought in terms of limiting Garou Tongue to Jagglings since they are intelligent, while Gafflings (most? or all of them?) can't.

    In the second group are spirits aligned with Gaia, but not particularly close to Garou. These would mostly be the Naturae. As a result, for practical sake they might know the Garou Tongue but prefer not to communicate with it. When they do use it, it's because they choose to - not because the Garou want them to. These would be any Animal, Plant, and Mineral spirits not belonging to one of the Garou tribal Incarna spirit broods. This would force the ST to determine what general spirits belong to broods or not, but I don't think that is as arduous as some might think. You don't need to memorize a list. Just make a quick determination based on the type of animal, plant, or mineral spirit. There's a good chance a lot of animal spirits will fit in that first group. But much less plant spirits (except for some well known exceptions). And very little mineral spirits. If an ST wants a spirit in this group to talk with Garou, it can. It's just a Theurge using Spirit Speech will get a more favorable reaction.

    I could be convinced to move Mineral spirits out of this group and into the below one.

    It's the last group where the Theurges really shine. These are spirits that either aren't aligned with Gaia, or have little direct contact with Garou. I would put Elementals, most Enigmatics, and Epiphlings in this group. I would also include all Triatic spirits (Banes, Weaver spirits, Wyld spirits). Obviously, there are some exceptions. Spirits once Gaian but corrupted by the Wyrm would still retain ability to use the Garou Tongue. And all STs will want certain enemy spirits to speak to the PCs even if none of them know Spirit Speech. But as a general rule, I think this domain works best when only those who know Spirit Speech can communicate with these kind of spirits. It's the type of specialist knowledge we expect only Theurges (etc.) to know, but are relatively rare or special enough that other PCs won't become frustrated with the game.

    Did I miss any spirit groups? Would you organize it into different tiers? Disagree entirely? Let me know.
    Last edited by Black Fox; 10-08-2020, 04:54 PM.

  • #2
    We assume, in our LARP, that jagglings might speak the local (if penumbra) human language. That is' unless it is inappropriate for the spirit in question. If PCs travel further into the Umbra, we usually do not define the language a spirit communicates in, but garou tongue seems to be a good choice.

    In any case, the story progression is the main factor, when deciding if a spirit can communicate with the PCs. If the STs want communication problems to be a story element, then it is difficult and players might use mime-like actions to communicate, if not, then the spirits just talk, with more or less sophisticated vocabulary...