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How do you make Tribes feel distinct and interesting?

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  • #16
    Tribal Renown is very powerful. Don't neglect it. It's the thing that helps define each Forsaken tribe from the other, and what they (as a tribal culture) value above all else. It is so strong that some of the Pure can muster respect for a Forsaken who values the Renown they also value.

    For example, Ivory Claws would likely make every effort to recruit a local Stormlord Cahalith or Blood Talon Elodoth into their ranks even if those Forsaken are flat broke and powerless. Assets can be gained and people bribed, but Renown? Renown is a wealth difficult to come by. It's like when a local gang boss brings a fresh, untested green in because something intangible reminds them of what they were like. Even if bringing them in may be more immediate trouble than its worth.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by TriCitiesLodge View Post
      For example, Ivory Claws would likely make every effort to recruit a local Stormlord Cahalith or Blood Talon Elodoth into their ranks even if those Forsaken are flat broke and powerless. Assets can be gained and people bribed, but Renown? Renown is a wealth difficult to come by. It's like when a local gang boss brings a fresh, untested green in because something intangible reminds them of what they were like. Even if bringing them in may be more immediate trouble than its worth.
      Tribal ban nonwithstanding?

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      • #18
        Originally posted by TriCitiesLodge View Post
        Tribal Renown is very powerful. Don't neglect it. It's the thing that helps define each Forsaken tribe from the other, and what they (as a tribal culture) value above all else. It is so strong that some of the Pure can muster respect for a Forsaken who values the Renown they also value.

        For example, Ivory Claws would likely make every effort to recruit a local Stormlord Cahalith or Blood Talon Elodoth into their ranks even if those Forsaken are flat broke and powerless. Assets can be gained and people bribed, but Renown? Renown is a wealth difficult to come by. It's like when a local gang boss brings a fresh, untested green in because something intangible reminds them of what they were like. Even if bringing them in may be more immediate trouble than its worth.
        Ivory Claws tribal ban would most likely have them seeking out high-renown Forsaken elders to hunt down because the thought of Lunes having the say on what exactly represents those higher echelons of Renown would be anathema to the Pure Tribe most eager to purge the Forsaken bloodlines, history, and culture to make room for their own.

        Now, I could see Fire Touched eagerly hunting down elders to recruit them because of the simple mindset of "look at what they accomplished under the limitations of the Lunes and the lies they were told -- imagine what they'll reach once they're released of the shackles of the Moon".

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        • #19
          Originally posted by nofather View Post
          Ideally it's incorporated into the oath of each tribe, as flaunting those oaths are a good way to get the sacred prey of that tribe to become more dangerous.
          I meant it a little bit futher than that. Every category of prey has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. Every Tribe thinks its own prey is the most dangerous - ergo they must also think its strengths are the strongest strengths, and its weaknesses are either the least weak or so overwhelmed by its strengths that they can be discounted - and that would probably feed into their general idea of what makes you strong. So to some extent, the Tribe will have practices that emulate the nature of its prey, whether they admit that or not.

          (I imagine the Iron Masters would, as they value adaptability, which entails not caring where a good idea comes from - while the Hunters in Darkness wouldn't, because the Hosts as blasphemous horrors - and the Blood Talons would be somewhere in between, eager to admit to being quintessential werewolves, but less so to deep down kinda envying the Pure their easy fanaticism).

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          • #20
            I think people read too much into the "our sacred prey is the most dangerous" gimmick. Idigams clearly have that distinction.

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            • #21
              To me the sacred prey were more meant to indicate how each tribes hunt rather than a competition of 'who has the most dangerous prey'.
              Then again, i'll admit that i've tweaked each tribes sacred prey slightly in order to emphasize that aspect more, so it may be just how i see things.


              Currently running: Scion 2nd Edition. Les Légendes
              Currently playing: Being a dad for a 1year old daughter and a newborn son.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Malus View Post

                Tribal ban nonwithstanding?

                Yes, tribal ban notwithstanding.

                Originally posted by Aynie View Post

                Ivory Claws tribal ban would most likely have them seeking out high-renown Forsaken elders to hunt down because the thought of Lunes having the say on what exactly represents those higher echelons of Renown would be anathema to the Pure Tribe most eager to purge the Forsaken bloodlines, history, and culture to make room for their own.

                Now, I could see Fire Touched eagerly hunting down elders to recruit them because of the simple mindset of "look at what they accomplished under the limitations of the Lunes and the lies they were told -- imagine what they'll reach once they're released of the shackles of the Moon".
                They would give an ultimatum. Even though they won't bring them into the Ivory Claws proper, they aren't averse to bringing in outsiders to the Pure in general, handing them off to another tribe, like the Fire-Touched or Predator Kings, or even under their own service but likely placed the lowest of the totem pole. In The Pure sourcebook, within the section on Ivory Claws, it discusses the Pure tribes feelings on the other Uratha. They are not averse to recruiting previously Forsaken.

                The Pure, pg 83, second paragraph of Storm Lords, "Ambitious Storm Lords are among the easiest recruits for the Ivory Claws. The Pure Tribes are a larger group than the Forsaken, and a young Storm Lord who wants power among the Forsaken, but is stymied by an already existent power structure may be seduced to the side of justice by the promise of power."

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                • #23
                  Ivory Claws would probably search out werewolves with famed lineage, than a particularly renowned individual. This is even mentioned in their write-up and the blood-hunter's in the core.

                  Originally posted by Malus View Post
                  I think people read too much into the "our sacred prey is the most dangerous" gimmick. Idigams clearly have that distinction.
                  Yeah but it's entirely possible to live for hundreds of years without ever knowingly encountering one, while the others are at least more common.

                  Originally posted by SunlessNick View Post
                  I meant it a little bit futher than that. Every category of prey has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. Every Tribe thinks its own prey is the most dangerous - ergo they must also think its strengths are the strongest strengths, and its weaknesses are either the least weak or so overwhelmed by its strengths that they can be discounted - and that would probably feed into their general idea of what makes you strong. So to some extent, the Tribe will have practices that emulate the nature of its prey, whether they admit that or not.
                  They don't necessarily think their strengths are the strongest strengths, but they are things that can get out of control, especially in cases like the beshilu, spirits or humans.

                  The tribal bans each point to a different enemy. Storm Lord's eschews showing weakness, because showing weakness invites spirits in. Hunters don't let sacred places be violated, this being the primary motive of the shartha, wrecking the Gauntlet. Dishonoring one's territory can drive humans to paranoia and mobs of hunters, leaving open debts to spirits allows them to call upon you or take advantage of you at their whim, as opposed to being restrained by their own metaphysical checks and balances, and the Blood Talons have to strike their own balance between becoming a merciless slaughterer-of-all or someone who allows enemies to rise up and never finishes them.

                  Really if you want more unique or driven characters that's basically what lodges are for, and why there's tribal lodges that form from strong aspects of a tribe.
                  Last edited by nofather; 02-16-2018, 05:45 PM.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Malus View Post
                    I think people read too much into the "our sacred prey is the most dangerous" gimmick. Idigams clearly have that distinction.
                    The claim is objectively false, but subjectively true. It is as true as the contradictory "This story is true" origin stories for the Tribes: mythical foundations for belief, not factual analysis.

                    Idigams are out-of-context problems. If a Tribe actually understood them as the threats they were, they wouldn't be out-of-context anymore. The sacred prey are in-context problems. They're understood within the mental framework for everyday Uratha, and a natural part of their comprehension of the world.


                    I call the Integrity-analogue the "subjective stat".
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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by TriCitiesLodge View Post
                      Yes, tribal ban notwithstanding.

                      They would give an ultimatum. Even though they won't bring them into the Ivory Claws proper, they aren't averse to bringing in outsiders to the Pure in general, handing them off to another tribe, like the Fire-Touched or Predator Kings, or even under their own service but likely placed the lowest of the totem pole. In The Pure sourcebook, within the section on Ivory Claws, it discusses the Pure tribes feelings on the other Uratha. They are not averse to recruiting previously Forsaken.

                      The Pure, pg 83, second paragraph of Storm Lords, "Ambitious Storm Lords are among the easiest recruits for the Ivory Claws. The Pure Tribes are a larger group than the Forsaken, and a young Storm Lord who wants power among the Forsaken, but is stymied by an already existent power structure may be seduced to the side of justice by the promise of power."
                      The Pure quote only makes sense if the Storm Lord actually belongs to an Ivory Claw bloodline (a deserter), assuming they give a shit about their tribal oath, that is.

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                      • #26
                        I would begin with developing what you think a "tribe" is. As the term is used by anthropologists, it's very poorly defined, and is generally used to describe ethnic polities that lack the features of a state or chiefdom (ie, institutionalized leadership with legitimate powers of coercion). Human tribes generally share a single language, or at least closely related languages, a general set of accepted social practices, endogamy (in-group marriage, and therefore some degree of genetic relatedness), and some vague kind of geographical cohesion (although this is highly variable). For people without a state, the tribe is usually the highest level of organization that can be called "us" (although, again, tribal confederations break this rule).

                        Within the context of W:tF, endogamy/kinship and language aren't really valid criteria for the tribe concept. Furthermore, tribes in WtF are something you choose, rather than something you are born or married into. In many respects they function a lot less like a human tribe, and a lot more like the secret societies and cults that are pervasive in many tribal societies. You ask for membership, are tested by higher-ranked members, undergo initiatory rites, advance through ranks and gradations of status which are accompanied by increased access to the secret knowledge of those groups, and gain authority over lesser-ranked members. Each secret society obeys different taboos and strictures, enters into particular relationships to other societies, has different bodies of knowledge and belief, etc. Society membership can be revoked, unlike tribal membership (you can be ostracized from a tribe, but they can't change the language you speak or who your mother is).

                        So with that in mind, things I would use to differentiate and elaborate tribes:

                        Organization/structure: By WtF default, tribes have no real hierarchy to speak of, and very little organization even within a given domain or region. I tend to consider this a matter of leaving room for players to worldbuild, and of saving wordcount in the core book. Without having some kind of world-spanning tribal government, you can still incorporate elements of tribal structure to your setting.
                        Consider the mores and themes of each tribe, and the kinds of political problems that could result from those. Werewolves are people and people develop societies to solve basic problems of interaction.
                        For example, the Blood Talons have other Uratha as sacred prey. This entails significant risk for loss of Harmony, or just plain old psychopathy. Perhaps the Blood Talons have something like the review boards that many police departments use when officers fire their weapons or shoot civilians. Following the killing of any Uratha by a Blood Talon, the highest-ranking Elodoth in the region acts as judge in reviewing the facts and determining whether the killing was just. A "prosecution" is established by the highest-ranking BT Irraka. The killer makes his case, and the prosecution attempts to cast it in the worst light possible. A Cahalith is appointed by the judge to observe, record, and publicize the outcome- BTs who kill frivolously will quickly develop a reputation as "mad dogs" and have their Honor and Purity suffer accordingly. (Note that I specifically avoided any kind of "trial by combat" trope. We already know BTs are fighters- this institution is a way of dealing with the consequences of that, not amplifying it).
                        Bone Shadows value knowledge, particularly of the spirit world. Mentor-student relationships are likely to be extremely important. While mentors and students may not be in constant contact, or even live in the same area, they will meet at least once per year to exchange knowledge. A Bone Shadow introduces himself as "X, disciple of Y", and his accomplishments and wisdom add to the Renown of his mentor.

                        Knowledge/Belief: Again, by WtF default, there is a fairly homogeneous mythic dogma shared by all the tribes (including the Pure). I would open this up a bit (in my games, the default dogma is sort of analogous to Christianity in modern America- widespread and influential, but by no means pervasive, and not at all internally monolithic). Each tribe is going to have its own spin on the origin myths of the Forsaken. The way to make these differences in belief really pop is to connect them to the in-the-moment concerns of your PCs. (Again, compare to Christianity- it's not just about whether or not some carpenter from way back was a wizard or not. It's about abortion, capital punishment, society's duty to the poor, the proper role of government in peoples' lives, etc.)
                        Things to think about:
                        What are the Hosts, exactly, and what do you do about them? Perhaps in Meninna lore, the Hosts are actually part of Luna's punishment for the killing of Father Wolf, and eradicating them is not really an option, any more than lifting the curse of silver or Lunacy would be. For the Bone Shadows, on the other hand, the Hosts are evidence of a great and dark secret, and interrogating captured Hosts is a greater deed than slaying them outright.
                        What about the Pure? What exactly are they wrong about, and what are they right about? To the Iron Masters, perhaps, the slaying of Father Wolf was in fact a great mistake, but once done, the only thing to do was to adapt and take up his mantle as best as they were able. The Pure are right to fault the Forsakens' ancestors, but wrong to shirk their duties here and now.
                        What does a "healthy" domain look like? Iron Masters and Hunters in Darkness are probably going to have very different ideas about what it means to "honor one's territory" and what counts as a "sacred place" or a "violation" thereof. Obviously a Murder-Claimed pit bull rampaging around the suburbs eating plump little boys and girls is a Bad Thing. What about an Oak-spirit that Urges people to protect and care for its physical reflection? The easy answer is that the Uratha can do that job so the spirit will quit mucking about with peoples' heads, but that's time and energy taken away from other concerns, like rooting out that Beshilu infestation... Set up conflicts around these questions.

                        Apart from ideology, tribes may also have specialized, secret knowledge. Certain kinds of fetishes or rites may be known only to members of certain tribes. Particular spirit bans/banes may be the secret knowledge of a given tribe (affording them special leverage when dealing with those spirits). Tribes may have specialized means of communication- ciphers, Internet chat rooms, unique howls, scent-marking practices, slang, etc.
                        (I strongly encourage spicing up your setting with slang that is evocative of the setting and distinguishes different groups from one another. In one game I ran, the dominant pack in the region controlled a locus in a hospital, and referred to loci in general as "the doc's").

                        Rituals and practices:
                        ​I'm out of steam for this part, but will expand on it later.
                        Storm Lords are forbidden to allow others to witness their weakness. This presents an obvious problem, since one of the most important functions of any society is to provide mutual aid in times of hardship and distress. In order to allow for the distribution of resources without the shame of asking for help, Storm Lords hold regular communal potlatches, where individuals donate material resources to a common pot, and then each attendee discreetly takes what he needs. Honorable and/or Glorious attendees are likely to make a big show of how much they bring and how little they take away.

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                        • #27
                          Great post robothedino! I espeically would still Blood Talons part for the Lodge of Shield practices.
                          Originally posted by robothedino View Post
                          Organization/structure: By WtF default, tribes have no real hierarchy to speak of, and very little organization even within a given domain or region. I tend to consider this a matter of leaving room for players to worldbuild, and of saving wordcount in the core book. Without having some kind of world-spanning tribal government, you can still incorporate elements of tribal structure to your setting.
                          Consider the mores and themes of each tribe, and the kinds of political problems that could result from those. Werewolves are people and people develop societies to solve basic problems of interaction.
                          For example, the Blood Talons have other Uratha as sacred prey. This entails significant risk for loss of Harmony, or just plain old psychopathy. Perhaps the Blood Talons have something like the review boards that many police departments use when officers fire their weapons or shoot civilians. Following the killing of any Uratha by a Blood Talon, the highest-ranking Elodoth in the region acts as judge in reviewing the facts and determining whether the killing was just. A "prosecution" is established by the highest-ranking BT Irraka. The killer makes his case, and the prosecution attempts to cast it in the worst light possible. A Cahalith is appointed by the judge to observe, record, and publicize the outcome- BTs who kill frivolously will quickly develop a reputation as "mad dogs" and have their Honor and Purity suffer accordingly. (Note that I specifically avoided any kind of "trial by combat" trope. We already know BTs are fighters- this institution is a way of dealing with the consequences of that, not amplifying it).


                          My stuff for Scion 2E, Dark Eras, VtR 2E, WtF 2E, MtAw 2E & BtP
                          LGBT+ in CoD games

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