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Whippoorwill as a Totem

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  • Whippoorwill as a Totem

    As a Garou totem, I feel Whippoorwill has been neglected. Yeah, she's the Black Spiral Dancer totem, but Whippoorwill should be at the power level of any of the other Garou totems with her own brood and so forth. I'd like an idea on the type of spirit brood she has - some of the other BSD totems might be part of it, but others are likely their own Incarna or serve another master.

    Despite being the totem of the Black Spiral Dancers though, we aren't given much detail about her. I would have thought the Totem would be prominently mentioned in history of the fall of the White Howlers. How maybe the totem was a common one among the tribe, who didn't know she had been corrupted. Or if she was known to be corrupted, how Whippoorwill protected or shepherded the first corrupt packs. But I haven't read anything like this? Did I just overlook or forget this, or has this been developed anywhere?

    So please enter any known canonical information on this thread. And if you've ever created your own lore, or done anything interesting with Whippoorwill, please let me know.

    One of the things I am currently doing is developing the Penumbra of my chronicles a bit more. And part of that is populating it with Banes and Corrupted Spirits to mingle with the other spirits in the Umbra. So Whippoorwill and its brood should be a major part of that - especially useful outside the city. Most Banes are supposed to be slumbering during the night, so having a nocturnal spirit out and about during the night while the Garou and other Gaian spirits are active is a useful angle.

    I do have one useful thing to add. I am not a birder and my knowledge is limited to the extent I can look things up in Wikipedia, but an interesting thing about the actual whippoorwill birds is I don't think they are actually found in Europe. It's a bird found only in North America. I think that was simply an inadvertent error by the original writers. However, whippoorwills are part of the Nightjar family, and the European Nightjar is very common and found in Scotland. And the European Nightjar has many of the same eerie or sinister connotations of the Whippoorwill does. So I think simply renaming it "Nightjar" is sufficient if that bothers you (which to be honest, did bother me since an evil tribe of corrupt Scotsmen should not have a totem animal only found across the Atlantic).

  • #2
    If I recall correctly, your Werewolf games have a very Lovecraftean slant, don't they? If that's the case, this passage from "The Dunwich Horror" offers some ideas:
    Then too, the natives are mortally afraid of the numerous whippoorwills which grow vocal on warm nights. It is vowed that the birds are psychopomps lying in wait for the souls of the dying, and that they time their eerie cries in unison with the sufferer’s struggling breath. If they can catch the fleeing soul when it leaves the body, they instantly flutter away chittering in daemoniac laughter; but if they fail, they subside gradually into a disappointed silence.
    The idea of malevolent spirits or witches that prey on the dying also brings to mind the Raven Mockers of Cherokee folklore.

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    • #3
      I know nothing about Whippoorwill but I really Like this thread.


      “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.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Matt the Bruins fan View Post
        If I recall correctly, your Werewolf games have a very Lovecraftean slant, don't they? If that's the case, this passage from "The Dunwich Horror" offers some ideas:
        Your memory is correct (although I have a lot of non-Lovecraftian inspirations as well). I'm well aware of that quote from the Duniwch Horror. I assume that is where the original game designers found inspiration as a basis for the tribe totem, although I have no reason for that belief except that it is an obvious source (the quote is very evocative) and the writers were aware of the Mythos stories of Lovecraft and Howard. After all, the entire story of the fall of the Picts that forms the basis of the White Howlers and Black Spiral Dancers is obviously inspired by Howard's Bran Mak Morn stories.

        Originally posted by Matt the Bruins fan View Post
        The idea of malevolent spirits or witches that prey on the dying also brings to mind the Raven Mockers of Cherokee folklore.
        I am aware of the Raven Mockers from the stories of Manley Wade Wellman as well as Rage Across Appalachia (which also mentions Wellman as an inspiration). In that Rage book, they are a type of Bane. I've only thought of them as a possible way to interpret vampires among American Indians, but am now considering they make a good addition to Whippoorwill's spirit brood. And possibly create a kind of fomori after them that are similar to vampires, though obviously not Kindred. And if we want to go the witch route, it's an obvious source for a type of BSD kinfolk (that may have been an independent kind of fomori or fomori cultists before the Europeans arrived and brought the BSDs with them.) So good suggestion!

        The Raven Mockers in Rage Across Appalachia are an odd breed. The description of the Bane mentions a group of Umbral Wyrm Spirits that made a pact with the Nosferatu antedeluvian (!) - or possibly one of its progeny - so that the potent vitae could allow the spirits to exist in the Realm as well. Its an unnecessary complication - they could have just created a type of fomori - but the obvious vampiric nature of the Raven Mockers called out for some connection. But this is something we could potentially build on to develop Whippoorwill's brood and allies. For example, maybe the Raven Mockers are a type of Bane, but also a small group of "native" Nosferatu vampires that are also cultists of Whippoorwill. Maybe a type of infernalist heavily flavored with Indian folklore.

        If we are looking for inspiration for the Black Spiral Dancers, I think we'll need to look at the European Nightjar because everything associated with Whippoorwill should be North American in origin!

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        • #5
          Adding the Raven Mockers to Whippoorwill’s brood is a great idea. Also what if Nightjar and Whippoorwill are two slightly different aspects of the same Totem - Nightjar followed by European Black Spiral Dancer packs and Whippoorwill by American packs (who are probably the ones most likely to ally with the Raven Mockers).


          “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.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Penelope View Post
            Also what if Nightjar and Whippoorwill are two slightly different aspects of the same Totem - Nightjar followed by European Black Spiral Dancer packs and Whippoorwill by American packs (who are probably the ones most likely to ally with the Raven Mockers).
            I think there are multiple "solutions" which are functionally the same, so use whatever you like best. There could be one totem known by two different names (much like Owl represents all owls, Stag represents all deer, Falcon represents all falcons, etc.). One totem with two aspects. One totem with a powerful jaggling handling things elsewhere. Or something else. So if you have a favorite, use that. I don't think there should be any real distinction since it is just an oversight.

            I'd probably just pick one totem with two names that represents the entire Nightjar family of birds, and local Garou refer to him as whatever local species best known to them. The BSDs should have originally referred to him as Nightjar as that's the only bird they have in Europe. But in America, they began referring to him as Whippoorwill. Possibly because BSD packs with that totem have to hold two moots a year dedicated to the totem, and it's possible he sends a spirit that has the form of the local bird.

            = = = =
            Some interesting things about Nightjars (and by extension Whippoorwills)

            They are usually a ground nesting bird.

            They have natural camouflage that makes them look like bark or leaves.

            The term Nighthawk is sometimes used for them historically, but now refers to a specific scientific branch of the family.

            The European Nightjar was known as the "goatsucker" from ancient times in Europe because of a belief it sucked goat's blood and caused them to be blind or stop providing milk.

            They are also known as corpse fowl or lich fowl because of their association with the dead, particularly the souls of unbaptized children.

            They are crepuscular or nocturnal, and as a night flying bird was popularly associated with witchcraft.

            Many birds in this family are able to go into torpor to save energy.

            = = = =
            Tribal Totems are also known for certain spiritual correspondences as well as the creature they represent. In that respect, Whippoorwill Incarna seems to be best associated with the idea of "finding souls weak enough for the Wyrm to corrupt," particularly Garou close to Harano. So that is something we could use to build up a spirit brood as well. Totems have many such spiritual correspondences so we're not limited to that. We know that Bat fell to the Wyrm in similar way that the White Howlers did, so perhaps Bat was a part of Whippoorwill's brood. Since they're both nocturnal flying animals, they have other similarities.

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            • #7
              Maybe Whippoorwill corrupted Bat?


              “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.

              Comment


              • #8
                I think it definitely fits as an option. It'd be an interesting addition to the lore. Just like Lion losing his children became part of Griffin's brood, then Bat losing his children might become part of Whippoorwill's. The BSD's tribal gifts often evoke bats, so it'd make sense if Bat was part of the brood (though these gifts are generally of everything that fall under the Wyrm, and aren;t necessarily indicative they are part of his brood). Of course, at the time of Bat's fall, Whippoorwill was not a tribal totem, but there are ways around that. Perhaps not until Whippoorwill obtained its own tribe that it became dominant - prior to that maybe they were just allies.

                I did find some possible additional to Whippoorwill's brood of using canon spirits.

                In Axis Mundi, there is a spirit under Rat called Feral Psychagonea. They are the spirits of abused or neglected animals. However, in the spirit write up, it also says there is a Wyrm corrupted type called Feral Psychomachiae. The difference is that Psychagonea basically just want to be free, while Pyschomachiae have lost all trust and hope and react with rage towards everyone. I don't think it's a perfect fit for Whippoorwill's brood, but it does fit the idea of creatures being weak enough to surrender to the Wyrm.

                In Rage Across Appalachia were given spirits called Fire Carriers which are the will o' wisps (and many other names) who are spirits of the Wyld. However, legends associated with will o' wisps are very similar to legends on Nightjars/Whippoorwills of lost souls and such. So we could have Wyrm corrupted Fire Carriers who belong to the brood. We could name them Corpse Candles or similar to distinguish them from the non-tainted spirits.

                In the W20 White Howler tribebook, we're told that the Carrion Bird totem now predominantly acts as a patron for Wyrm oriented packs (but not entirely as it seems Gaian packs can still do so if they want to take the Honor renown loss and be suspected of bad things). So while it may not be completely fallen, it could be a spirit close to be subsumed into Whippoorwill's brood. Or if you want that totem to be fallen, then put it right there right now.

                The White Howler tribebook also specifically mentioned the Green Dragon as being a member of Whippoorwill's brood. However, I won't be using that as this is one of several issues I have with that tribebook. In other sourcebooks we're given the name Mahstraac to the Green Dragon, and this is the name of the Urge Wyrm of Power. So the Green Dragon is either an independent Incarna or directly tied to the Urge Wyrm. I think this is something the author of White Howler tribebook overlooked when he assigned it as a pack totem of the White Howlers. But I'm mentioning it for those who like it.

                In the second edition Book of the Wyrm write up of the totem, it mentions Whippoorwill sends a spirit to Garou who has begun to question his own values in order to guide them to the Shattered Labyrinth, similar to a Kin-Fetch. This would probably be its own spirit type (even if in the form of a Whippoorwill), but we'd have to come up an evocative name for it.

                I looked at other types of Banes and spirits for inspiration, but couldn't find any other obvious matches.

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                • #9
                  Which happened first, Whippoorwill becoming the BSD Totem (Second century CE when the tribe fell?) or Bat falling to the Wyrm (shortly after the destruction of the Mexica/Aztec civilization in Mexico?)?


                  “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.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I thought Bat fell to the Wyrm after the War of Rage in the Neolithic which would place it thousands of years before the fall of the White Howlers. But I must admit this is just an impression in my head as opposed to specific lore in the books. I thought the destruction of the Werebats in the New World was something invented later on. So much lore ends up changing as a result of later writers. I could be easily mistaken. Does anyone know when it was first mentioned why and when Bat fell to the Wyrm?

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                    • #11
                      I thought Shattered Dreams said after the slaughter of the Camazotz by the Shadow Lords during the Mexican Conquest, but A. I could be wrong and B. Shattered Dreams isn’t technically canon.


                      “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.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Regardless, it's easy to make any adjustment or decision you want in your own chronicle.

                        Looking at some of the example spirit broods in Axis Mundi, a lot of the writers were very creative at the type of spirits they included. They didn't just take some animal or nature spirits and stick them in. They put a lot of thought as to what the totem meant, and created some nice spirits to support it. A good example is the Twice Born for Owl. I'd like to do that here for Whippoorwill, but am just too lazy for the moment. Even if we come up with just four interesting concepts, with some of the canonical spirits we listed, it'd be a decent start for a brood for any ST.

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                        • #13
                          I found another canonical spirit I think would fit well in Whippoorwill's brood. It is the Howling Insanities described in Freak Legion. It is the base responsible for the Garou fomori called Howling Shamblers. Howling Insanities were Banes that helped corrupt the White Howlers. Their insane screaming erodes their foes sanity, and they feed upon the insanity they create. Given this historical role, I think it's easy to imagine them as part of Whippoorwill's brood. The book also mentions PENTEX use them to create these fomori, and perhaps they learned of these Banes through their alliance with the BSDs, or they have some rogue spirit servants of this type.

                          I also settled on a name I can use on those servants of Whippoorwill who guide falling Garou to the Shattered Labyrinth. I will be using the term Harrow-Guides. If you like it, feel free to use it.

                          So this gives us a nice list. I think it can help STs when using the BSDs in their games, or just as spirits out there in the Umbra that can be used as antagonists that have allies.
                          • Whippoorwill/Nightjar Gafflings (not listed, create your own bird gaffling stats)
                          • Raven Mockers (Rage Across Appalachia)
                          • Carrion Birds (White Howlers Tribebook - totem only)
                          • Feral Psychomachiae (Axis Mundi)
                          • Corpse Candles (corrupted Fire Carrier spirits in Rage Across Appalachia)
                          • Harrow-Guides (my name for the spirit mentioned in Whippoorwill totem description in Book of the Wyrm, 2e)
                          • Bat (totem description only in various Book of the Wyrms)
                          • Howling Insanities (Freak Legion)
                          Considering the average number of spirits for each tribal totem in Axis Mundi is around 6, our list is about equivalent to that. Not up to the many spirits listed for Stag, but more than the 3 or 4 some of the tribal incarna had. (I know such lists are only examples of spirits, not a complete brood list, but really!)

                          Bat is probably a Lesser Incarna with the potential of being its own major Incarna, and it obviously once was when the Camazotz still existed. So Bat has its own mini-brood following it that is also part of Whippoorwill's brood.

                          I also created a new spirit I am tentatively calling the Silent Creeper, which is a spirit created by Whippoorwill to observe unseen in the wilderness. It skulks about silent and unseen to spy on behalf of its master. It's also a spirit that causes sudden panic to people or small groups alone in the woods despite (or because) them not observing anything around them to indicate danger, but they feel a malign presence watching them anyway. I wanted at least one new spirit to add. People are certainly welcome to add more of their own creations if they want.

                          I will also add that it's possible to have a European version of the Raven Mockers as well since the Germanic peoples have a somewhat similar creature called the Nachtkrapp. The Nachtkrapp is known to cause death, abduct and eat children, and terrorize people. Mention this only so people feel they should only use Raven Mockers in the Americas - they can be a general spirit).
                          Last edited by Black Fox; 01-13-2021, 05:36 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Black Fox View Post
                            I also created a new spirit I am tentatively calling the Silent Creeper, which is a spirit created by Whippoorwill to observe unseen in the wilderness. It skulks about silent and unseen to spy on behalf of its master. It's also a spirit that causes sudden panic to people or small groups alone in the woods despite (or because) them not observing anything around them to indicate danger, but they feel a malign presence watching them anyway. I wanted at least one new spirit to add. People are certainly welcome to add more of their own creations if they want.
                            The Hidebehind!

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                            • #15
                              That's a great suggestion! I love the tales of the Fearsome Critters, but never worked to incorporate them into the game. I'll definitely change the name to the Hidebehind.

                              At the time, I was going more for the sudden, uncontrollable panic people sometimes feel in the wilderness despite not seeing anything threatening. Traditionally ascribed to the god Pan, hence the word for panic. But I think this works very, very well.

                              There's probably a few more of the more malevolent kinds of fearsome critters we could steal for Whippoorwill or another Wyrm Incarna.
                              Last edited by Black Fox; 04-16-2021, 05:11 PM.

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