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Gaining a Totem

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  • Gaining a Totem

    So I guess I should say hi, since this will be my first post on this forum...

    So anyway.

    I'm running a Forsaken 2nd edition game and I've run into a bit of a conundrum. This is the first game of werewolf I've run and its the first game of werewolf for my players so I figured I should start my players before they've formed their pack, including gaining a totem. So they decided to find a bull totem and they went off to find it. The problem is I can't find any rules in the book about how you gain a totem. It gives tips to roll playing the encounter for sure but it's not clear to me about how it works mechanically. If my players decide they'll beat their prospective totem into submission do I just assume it becomes their totem if it runs out of corpus? If they decide to negotiate it into their pack would I use social maneuvering rules? Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    There isn't a specific rite to bind a spirit as a totem, but it would likely be depicted as a sort of solemn thing, a moment of gravitas. Once the deal is made, everyone would feel different, not just because they're connected to the totem, but because the spirit's presence as totem binds them all together in a 'true' pack.

    The Pack book goes into some more detail for it Acquiring a Totem, though it doesn't really offer a mechanic for it. Here's the relevant excerpt:

    Originally posted by The Pack, p42
    Even spirits that want to help the Uratha — fairly rare — make the pack prove that they know the value a totem brings. Most spirits choose one of three ways.
    Force: If a spirit does not want to join the pack, the werewolves must force it. The spirit may have an ancient and lingering resentment toward Father Wolf. Perhaps the spirit court it belongs to frowns on cooperation with werewolves, and it needs to make its aid look coerced, or the spirit values strength, and wants the pack to prove that it is strong enough to earn the spirit’s patronage.
    Bribery: Gathra is a traditional way of enticing a spirit to serve as the pack’s totem, along with promises of future gifts. Most bribery starts small, a simple payment for the chance to make the request to the spirit. The payment for becoming totem is much larger. Spirits that want to help may ask for a token payment in exchange for becoming totem. For others, it’s another form of cover with their disapproving siblings: if the bounty of Essence is large enough, other spirits will have trouble condemning the new totem for accepting the bargain — or at least they’ll be less vicious about it.
    Trial: Less commonly, a spirit demands that the pack succeeds at a trial (or several) before it becomes their totem. This is often a test of worthiness, but sometimes blurs the line into bribery. The spirit requires a service that brings it some material gain, that it could not (or chooses not to) complete on its own. It reaps the rewards of a success and joins the pack. A spirit may also subject the pack to a trial when it has no intention of becoming their totem, choosing a trial so dangerous it believes they will back out or fail.
    With the Force example, running out of corpus might be one thing. If the bull spirit has spawned from the arenas of matadors, it may require the werewolves to 'kill' the spirit, discorporating it so that it will be reborn in their pack. It might not require so much of a fight to the death, however, as a show of strength, similar to Mithras and the wrestling of the bull, where they just have to knock it down or manage to dominate it in a physical act somehow like in a grapple. The social thing may work, bulls are often symbolic of stubbornness, and it's possible just showing one can be stubborn as the spirit desires can mean much, maybe they have to keep breaking down doors until they're all exhausted and show they're willing to keep at it even then. A lot is going to depend on how what the bull spirit is like. The way it's recruited can depend entirely on you or what you think is good. I'd try to make it memorable, though, like the book says, Celebrate the Awesome.

    I strongly recommend the Pack book, for more than this part, it does get into what a totem is like as part of a pack.

    Depending on the culture of the area you might have a 'running of the bulls' so to speak, where the bull chases the PCs through their territory and they have to show off their agility, stamina and knowledge of the area to escape it. Or if the bull is a sinister or more mythical type, like Moloch, it might demand a human sacrifice.
    Last edited by nofather; 04-29-2017, 10:55 PM. Reason: Added those last two.


    • #3
      Thanks for the advise. I'll probably go with something similar to the bullfighting idea you gave since that's where the players went hunting. Though I do like the idea to emphasize the spirit's stubbornness, so I might mix these ideas a bit.