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An Alternate to the "Alpha" Paradigm

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  • An Alternate to the "Alpha" Paradigm

    So, I am running a game with fairly inexperienced players. I ran them as humans and now they have all gone through their First Change and Rites of Initiation. They've come up with a pack concept and a totem, however when it comes to whoever is the alpha things have degenerated quickly. You see, one of the players is rather overbearing and makes rash decisions often to the detriment of everyone else. Yet, this player feels entitled to the role of alpha (the idea that leadership is mantle bestowed not one taken is beyond him) and won't back down even though NO ONE ELSE in the player group wants him as or trusts him to be "alpha." As you might imagine, this left the last game session without resolution and with a TON of tension.

    No one wants to hurt his feelings and two other players who are willing to be "alpha" have agreed to a challenge to decide who is alpha. Of course, the overbearing one is arguing that there shouldn't be a challenge at all.

    So, I wanted to explore options for NOT having a pack alpha. Are there options? Has anyone else wrestled with this?

    I personally want to intervene and tell the overbearing one to grow up and step aside, but I'm afraid that'll compromise my integrity as a Storyteller where I should be equally impartial with all the players.

  • #2
    Why does that one player feel entitled? To the point that they don't even need to prove themselves by coming out on top from a challenge?

    On non-alpha packs, it's clear that not all packs have an alpha. Sure, someone would end up being seen as a leader or mentor among them, but that doesn't bear the same authoritarian and dictatorial connotations as "alpha" does. Leaders and rulers are different.

    MtAw Homebrew: Even more Legacies, updated to 2E


    • #3
      The 'alpha paradigm' isn't a given one. If you look through the Pack book, for instance, you'll find only maybe one of the packs really go by it. It's not a thing all werewolves do, even the Pure. I'd argue most don't do it, with the caveat that we're talking about second edition. The Pack also goes into why the alpha myth is an incorrect one to attribute to werewolves.

      We had a similar thread here. And another here.

      As the 'alpha' thing is something that only pops up in wolves in captivity, and generally werewolves aren't actually wolves or in captivity, this isn't a 'natural' thing for them. Having a leader, sure, but that leader can be limited to the extreme, like only deciding what they're going to go on a sacred hunt over, or just being the one who gets to make decisions on the sacred hunt, providing they show they're good at it. If a werewolf reveals they're not good with leading, no one's going to let him lead.

      Speaking as a Storyteller, I'm guessing there's more than two players. If the other players don't want him to be the alpha or leader or whatever, that's all that needs to be said. It would be harsh of you to to tell him to grow up, but it would be harsher to let them think there needs to be an alpha in the first place.
      Last edited by nofather; 04-03-2017, 10:12 PM.


      • #4
        Since wild wolf packs are just nuclear families (papa wolf, mama wolf, the young pups, the teenage pups, maybe a cool loser uncle or weird aunt who lives with the pack and pup sit while mom, dad and the older pups are out hunting) I have always wanted to run a chronicle where the pack literally is a nuclear family, or even play in one (knowing me, I would either be the too Cunning for his own good teenage Irraka son, or the overly housewifeish Rahu mom (like so houswifeish that sitcom spirits follow her around and act like a studio audience watching a live taping of her life).

        Despite the user name I am actually bigender.

        My Savannah Setting for CofD can be found here

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        • #5
          Originally posted by FossMaNo1 View Post
          I personally want to intervene and tell the overbearing one to grow up and step aside, but I'm afraid that'll compromise my integrity as a Storyteller where I should be equally impartial with all the players.
          I just want to focus on this for a second. Telling a disruptive player that their behavior is negatively impacting others' enjoyment of the game is in no way compromising your integrity as a Storyteller. In fact, talking to players, out of character, like mature adults when they are causing friction within the group is an important part of a good Storyteller's job. More often than not, the problem player doesn't want to ruin their friends' fun, and simply having one of their friends point out politely and respectfully that they're doing so is enough to get them to re-evaluate and try to meet others half-way. Now, there's certainly nothing wrong with playing a pack that doesn't use the alpha/beta pack structure, especially considering that social dynamic is only present in wolves in captivity, and werewolves are neither of those things. But whether or not you choose to go this route, it's still important to address this out-of-character issue. Talk to this overbearing player and let him know that you and the other players find his play style overbearing, and remind him that he is participating in a group recreational activity and is therefore partially responsible for everyone else's fun and not just his own.

          Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.


          • #6
            The 'alpha' concept is explicitly not the assumed standard in 2nd edition.

            - Chris Allen, Freelance Writer & Developer

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            • #7
              Even in packs with that sort of dynamic, well...


              • #8
                Also, Forsaken promote even in 1E times idea of 'dynamic Alpha' - in that model, you have specilized 'Alpha' for one thing in Pack life. One 'Alpha' for direct combat ( probably Rahu ), one 'Alpha' for negotiation with spirits ( probably Elodoth or Itheur ), etc. Then you will only want one 'Alpha' to make final decisions, like choosing what Prey to Hunt.

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                • #9
                  And if you even go for classical Alpha model, you need to respect it. If now Alpha is challenged and defeated, he must accept he is no Alpha now. Challenge of Alpha is classical resolution of inter-Pack conflicts - not obeying this is only pointing that obsessive player is power hungry d#$k, not respecting even game world logic.

                  My stuff for Scion 2E, CoD Contagion, Dark Eras, VtR 2E, WtF 2E, MtAw 2E & BtP
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                  • #10
                    I woudl say to explain the options to them, out of character... Tends to work well for ya.

                    The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary. - James. D. Nicoll