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  • Hakaken

    Was Hakaken ever developed elsewhere besides the totem description for the Black Spiral Dancers? That brief description has a lot of intriguing information. Below is from the second edition Book of the Wyrm - it has some details left out in other sources.

    We're told that he was a great Shadow Lord Ahroun who lead his tribe to victory against the Wyrm for over forty years. But in his hubris he danced the Labyrinth to show he could overcome it, became corrupt, and became an Incarna (!) when he finally advanced to its center. We're also interestingly told that some cults of Shadow Lords secretely worship him.

    Do we know anything about him prior to this fall? It seems Hakaken must have lived after the fall of the White Howlers. I also don't think he's mentioned in any of the Dark Ages materials, so he might have lived in the past 750 years.

    That he became an Incarna is interesting enough, but more surprising that he was a Shadow Lord. I would have naturally assumed any such Garou totem would have been one of the original White Howlers, but that isn't so. That may explain why some Shadow Lords worship him in secret. I would have thought that would have been interesting to develop in one of the tribebooks, but I don't remember him ever being mentioned. I think BotW2e came out after the original tribebook, and in Revised such evil camps were being purged. But I think it would be an interesting faction to depict - they have to be getting something from Hakaken to risk it. Is this ever mentioned elsewhere?

  • #2
    I am taking that zero replies means nothing more is stated in any of the books. Which leaves any development to us. So let's do so. If this interests you, please post your comments and ideas!

    I think Shadow Lords who worship Hakaken are in two main categories. The first are those Shadow Lords close to falling to the Wyrm, or actually doing so. They're in the process of rejecting Gaia and Grandfather Thunder and putting their bets elsewhere. The second are Shadow Lords in the Bringers of Light camp. These Shadow Lords believe they can seek out the temptation of the Wyrm and defeat it, and thereby strengthen their soul. These could worship Hakaken, maybe even have him as a pack totem, yet stay "true" to Gaia. I doubt it, but that would be their justification.

    Hakaken is a powerful pack totem. His children get two Gifts and an extra die for Intimidation rolls. And it is said they believe he has "further powers to bestow." Plus that a (ex-) tribemate has become an Incarna is probably a powerful incentive/inspiration.

    That's reason for some packs to think by being Hakaken's children they can help the tribe assume control of the Garou Nation (at least in second edition before Revised eliminated all these interesting things).

    Of course, one issue that needs addressing is if you're a Shadow Lord that is "loyal" to the tribe, but have Hakaken as a totem, how exactly do you hide this from your tribemates and the rest of the Garou? One's pack totem doesn't necessarily need to be nearby in the Penumbra. So maybe the totem not being around isn't a big deal. Or maybe the pack totem has means/powers to hide its true appearance or Wyrm taint so other Garou aren't suspicious. Enough Totem points can justify a lot of things. And unusual totems aren't necessarily suspicious given all the totems mentioned in tribebooks and the Rage books. Still, I think these Shadow Lords need to describe/lie their totems as something else when speaking to other Garou. I wonder what would be good cover stories, as they shouldn't be spirits of Grandfather Thunder's brood or common spirits that could tell other Garou, "You know, I don't know any spirits of that type that know ANYTHING about that pack despite being broodmates." Or maybe the spirit is able to disguise itself enough that it can fool other spirits as well.


    • #3
      That’s interesting. I’ve only read the Revised Shadow Lord tribebook (and I don’t remember seeing Hakaken in the W20 Book of the Wyrm), but I really Like this. Would the followers of Hakaken have been purged after Yuri Konietzko took control of the Shadow Lords during the Revised era? Or maybe just driven underground (literally)?

      “No one holds command over me. No man, no god, no Prince. Call your damn Hunt. We shall see who I drag screaming down to hell with me.” The last Ahrimane says this when Mithras calls a Blood Hunt against her. She/her.


      • #4
        I think they would have always been underground (not literally) so Yuri would have had to somehow find them first. But he could certainly make it a priority to uncover and suppress the secret cults of Hakaken.

        So it again goes to the question if there are packs of Hakaken, how are they able to disguise themselves? Is this something that would be hard or easy to do? I haven't thought my way through this sufficiently to answer yet.

        There's also the idea that Shadow Lords could worship Hakaken, but it might not be as a pack totem, but through other means (though I am not sure what that might mean in Werewolf terms - do they summon spirits and donate Gnosis? Just do things like set up hidden shrines? Simply ask for his aid in their hearts and minds?)

        Since the cult does not seem to have been described, we have a lot of leeway. I think for the cult to exist in the first place, it has to be hard to detect them.

        I also think it's important to know how Hakaken is spoken of inside the tribe normally. He was after all one of the greatest Shadow Lord ahrouns before his fall, and there are probably lots of stories that he is involved in. There's a good chance he was of Legendary rank. So it's probably impossible to simply not talk about him. It'd be like talking about the Battle of Saratoga without mentioning Benedict Arnold. Even if they don't use his name and use some kind of euphemism (like how "He Who Is Not To Be Named" is used as substitute for Voldemort in the Harry Potter world), it just makes it even more obvious who he is and the power of his name. If you don't talk about all of these events that this great hero of the Shadow Lords did, you must end up avoiding an entire time period of the tribe. And that might do things like create even more curiosity about it, or anger Ancestor spirits who were witnesses or participants of events, or other spirits. So I think the Shadow Lords must still talk about him, but use other rhetorical tricks to undermine his character in order to not make him be attractive to impressionable Shadow Lords. Of course, that must not entirely succeed since he has secret cults.

        There's also the possibility that before Hakaken fell, he had already left behind a significant family of Garou and kinfolk. And therefore a not insignificant number of Shadow Lords today can point to him being their ancestor. Maybe his descendants are too numerous and too politically powerful to suppress. But some of them might be more susceptible to wanting to honor their ancestor who is now an Incarna than others, and this is one reason why these secret cults persist.


        • #5
          It isn't that hard to undermine his character. He became a Black Spiral Dancer!

          But yeah, just because the tribes* tried to kill off their fallen and nearly-fallen members, doesn't mean they fully succeeded.

          *Other than the effing Red Talons, who protect them instead.

          She/Her. I am very literal-minded and write very literally. If I don't say something explicitly, please never assume I implied it. The only exception is if I try to joke.
          My point of view may be different from yours but is equally valid.
          Exalted and cWoD book list. Exalted name-generators, Infernal and 1E-2.5E homebrew from many authors.


          • #6
            Of course, but if all you say is "He became a Black Spiral Dancer", it might backfire on you. If stories about Hakaken are about how much he kicks ass, but then he became a BSD; it might cause an inappropriate lesson that "hey, maybe becoming a BSD isn't too bad since kickass Hakaken became one!" So you have to emphasize undesirable traits even in the stories when he was still a great Garou hero so people don't try to emulate him.

            A big question is what are the nature of the Shadow Lord cults that worship Hakaken. Are they all Garou who either don't mind serving the Wyrm in actuality or potentially? Or are they deluded into thinking they can still serve Gaia while worshiping Hakaken? Maybe both? Is there an Ancesor component to this? There is potentially a lot to explore.


            • #7
              Hakaken is a figure of pride so great it led to his damnation. In his overwhelming arrogance, he thought he could outwit a member of the Triat and gain awesone power.

              Well, he was right about the awesome power, but very wrong about outwitting the Wyrm. To gain his Incarna status, Hakaken had to betray virtually everything he once cherished to gain godhood.

              He's a cautionary tale. Not a success story. Power for its own sake leads to ruination,


              • #8
                Since we don't know any details of Hakaken's story, what you said could be true. But it might also be very different. The Garou would say Hakaken was ruined and not a success story because by their definition, falling to the Wyrm means failure. But the actual story might not actually lead to that interpretation. People say treason never prospers. But that is just an aphorism. As John Harrington says, "Treason doth never prosper: what 's the reason? Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason."

                Let's look at the story of Darth Vader as an example. As a result of his turning to the Dark Side, the woman he loved died, he was horrifically burned, spent the rest of his life crippled in an iron lung, had his most cherished beliefs (in the Force) ridiculed by everyone around him, and became an errand boy for the Emperor. Vader clearly lost a lot in his decision to betray he Jedi. That is a cautionary tale.

                But let's look at another famous cinematic traitor, Jake Sully from Avatar. He gets the girl, becomes leader of a new people, and enjoys all the benefits thereby. And of course the audience is encouraged to view his betrayal as all good. Likewise, in history we can find all sorts of people who benefitted from their treason. The societies they betrayed still have good reason to disparage them, but it would be wrong to say that their treason lead to their ruination.

                So what is the case with Hakaken? We don't know. We're not given enough details. We only know he became an Incarna. We don't know if the price involved the destruction of the things he care most about like a Darklord in Ravenloft being simultaneously cursed and blessed by the Dark Powers. That's a possibility, and an ST could develop Hakaken's story that way. That would be cool. People like villains like that - Strahd von Zarovich, Lord Soth in Dragonlance, Darth Vader. They are interesting and compelling because they are tragic, but powerful and evil.

                But it's not the only model, and it is possible Hakaken's story is very different. It's not even necessarily true that Hakaken lost who he was by Dancing the Spiral and turned into something he hated. One possible interpretation is that Hakaken knew exactly what was he was doing, accepted the price, and succeeded. That would make him a colossal jerk who always put himself ahead of Gaia, but that's not uncommon. He'd be more like General Zod from Superman II. "Kneel before Hakaken sons of Gaia!" This would also make him a very interesting villain, and we could see why other Shadow Lords would want to emulate him. (Perhaps they even tell themselves that Hakaken intends to do a face turn in the Apocalypse and rejoin Gaia. People are all sorts of stupid or tell themselves lies so they can justify being self-serving.)

                Either could work, but they'd lead to very different cults. Or we might say that the first story is true and Garou are right, but that Hakaken's cultists believe the second story is true; or vice versa. Or there might be an entirely different story and angle to the cults.