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How “dark” the early Werewolf is?

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  • How “dark” the early Werewolf is?

    Especially 1st and early 2nd Edition.

    I haven’t read many older books, but I heard that in earliest editions, the whole atmosphere is darker and subtler.

    For example, gaian warriors deal with and tolerate dark force more often, and always do things which is nigh impossible in latter stuff.

    For all I know, They make deals with wyrmish things like vampires (Rage Across New York); One of Grandfather Thunder broods, Typhoon, turned to Wyrm secretly (Rage Across Russia); Some gaian garou even learn gifts from bane (Mask Taint in Shadow Lord Tribebook), etc.

    In latter editions these elements are largely weakened, most of them are wiped out or even deleted, the whole game is more fantasy.

    IIRC some guys had discussed and collected these but I can’t find it now.

  • #2
    This sounds a lot like some of the comments I make. For example, deep into this thread (go to the fourth tab) I talk about how the Bone Gnawers of the Sept of the Green have many questionable dealings, and in this other thread I mention some of the issues with other tribes. These could very well be some of the threads you are remembering.

    The Garou are definitely portrayed as more morally conflicted characters in the early game. Every tribe has at least one camp that is either obviously of the Wyrm (in the sense that they appear treasonous), criminal in nature (though perhaps not treasonous), or obviously bad (by human standards, if not of the Garou). There is a lot of intrigue and politicking between tribes because the Silver Fangs are obviously failing, and the scramble is on to replace them with someone who will be more effective. And there is a much greater tendency to have NPCs involved in dubious activities - they aren't traitors or outright criminals, but they obviously are not sticking to the letter or spirit of the Litany while they struggle for power or some other interest.

    As the game continued and more players cemented the idea in their heads that the Garou were "good guys", the depiction of the Garou changed so that they became more outright heroes and the more morally objectionable camps and characters were eliminated.

    1e/early 2e is more like Greek myth and legend with all the rapes, murders, incest, hubris, betrayal, etc.. Revised is more like Silver or Bronze Age superhero comic books governed by the Comics Code Authority.


    • #3
      Originally posted by Black Fox View Post
      Thanks very much! That’s exactly what I looked for.

      I also read some early books and think their writings (and even paintings) are very different from latter. Even the whole gaian ones have more problems. Another example, in 1st ST Handbook where level 6 gifts first appears, it says to learn Break the Bond (users can literally break any bond), you must be enslaved to an Incarna first, ironically. Of course all later updates drop this idea.

      I know WW changed style due to players, but in some ways early setting may be more “realistic” and “attuned” to whole theme.


      • #4
        Yes, the tone in earlier works was really different, and that wasn't necessarily a bad thing.

        I often find that starting with revised there were a lot of concessions made for political correctness, and to downgrade some of the restrictions the earlier versions had. Also it moved more from a sept focus to a global focus on the metaplot level...
        Last edited by heinrich; 09-15-2021, 05:10 AM.


        • #5
          Early Werewolf also painted a more dire picture of the struggle against the Wyrm. The War was pretty much lost and Werewolves were either going through the motions, giving into the Wyrm, or falling into Harano. Both the desire of players to be active forces and the need for an advancing Metaplot started pushing that back.

          Mage: The Ice-ension: An Epic Game of Reality on the Rink


          • #6
            Well, that mostly the ST's not the edition's decision. I personally like to put the characters in the no-win situations, regardless of edition or even the game (even my Toon game would be dark).

            Warrior of the Rainbow
            Saint among the sinners
            Pure among the dirt
            Loser among winners


            • #7
              Another example is that in early Werewolf, there is an explicit or implied element of human sacrifice in a lot of tribes. Besides the Red Talons, it is mentioned in other places that the Black Furies and Shadow Lords do so, and clearly the Get of Fenris don't mind murdering humans. And it can show up in surprising places. At the Sept of the Green it says one of the caern totems, Mera, requires an annual ceremony when she asks the sept to perform a service. That service is typically to punish someone who has polluted her waters. While "punish" is fairly vague, I always imagined it often resulted in the death of some person. And the Sept of the Green is dominated by Bone Gnawers and Glass Walkers.

              There is a lot of casual violence, and the game just accepts that as part of the werewolf/horror genre.

              Of course, there were always counter-examples as well. Children of Gaia and Stargazers would not have done such things. So the game always had tension. But over time the more morally objectionable portrayals of Garou were jettisoned to form a Lawful Good of the Garou vs Chaotic Evil of the Wyrm. Dubious characters, instead of being the norm, then became foils or adversaries to defeat and overcome.


              • #8
                It depended on the writer. For example, the 1e player's guide had an essay by Andrew Greenberg (a forrmer Vampire developer) about how the Garou were werewolves and being a werewolf meant being an evil bastard who treated others as if they were meat, but his "me and my pack ate this guy" take on the setting seemed like it was on the way out before the essay was ever published. This might have been that most instances of corruption tended to be very, very slippery slopes, so if you had any kind of dealings at all with the enemy or ate even one human, that was it, you might as well just go off and join the Maneater Bone Gnawers or something. The Eaters of the Dead even had it mechanically outlined that they became wholly taken over by Foebok if they used their signature rite.