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Politics of nuzusul recruitment; OR, why are there even starting PC packs?

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  • Politics of nuzusul recruitment; OR, why are there even starting PC packs?

    Every WtF game begins with a basic problem for me: What are all these freshly-minted werewolves doing in a pack together? My beginning assumptions are: A, that First Changes are distributed more-or-less evenly across time, B, that fresh bodies are one of the most valuable resources an established pack can compete for, and C, that all the territory worth holding is already taken by established packs.
    If those three assumptions are true, it seems that new werewolves will be rather swiftly inducted into established packs as they Change, and the typical player pack of brand new werewolves with their own territory are going to be almost non-existent.
    I have a few thoughts on how one would work around this problem, but I'm curious how other STs handle this.

    1: Depopulation scenario. In this case, the existing uratha population is at or near 0. Newly-changed werewolves (aka, PCs) join together with each other simply because there is no one else around. This has very obvious limitations on the kind of setting you can place them in: either a true asshole-of-the-world location (relative to uratha definitions of "central" or "valuable"), or in the aftermath of some kind of catastrophic event that has killed off most of the established packs.

    2: Balance-of-power scenario. Established packs do indeed want to recruit nuzusul, but they also don't want those bastards across the tracks to have a chance. Established packs maintain a certain status quo that prevents any of them from recruiting new members from the "freshman class" other than in specific scenarios, and so cub packs form as a means of maintaining that status quo. This scenario implies a political situation where there is significant rivalry and mistrust between established packs, but sufficient cohesion to abide by the rules. Has potential for good internecine politics as each pack attempts to bend the PC pack to their agenda.

    3: Saturation scenario. New pack members are a resources up until the point where the resources they use up exceed what the territory has to offer. For werewolves, this is primarily going to mean Essence from the loci they control. Established packs don't take on nuzusul because it costs them more in Essence, available food prey, money, or what have you than a new member is able to pay back. Implies a certain level of a incompetence or disarray in the established packs, to explain why they aren't able to parlay new members into a net benefit; or, perhaps, a fairly blighted set of territories that simply can't be squeezed for more benefit than it already provides by adding more bodies. Lends itself to stories based around desperation and poverty, telling the tale of violent conflicts over limited resources.

    4: Reject scenario. The PCs aren't inducted into established packs simply because they don't make the grade- either because the established packs maintain some kind of high standard for membership, or because the PCs have fucked up early on and earned some sort of infamy. Fun for a certain kind of game, but puts fairly sharp limitations on the varieties of characters PCs can reasonably play.

    5: PC-initiated scenario. The PCs have chosen to forgo the advantages of membership in an established pack for one reason or another, and banded together instead. This is great if players create the pack as a group, giving it a well-defined and distinct identity with strong relationships between PCs baked in from the outset. Works best if the other established packs are relatively low-powered, making the choice to go with a "start up" more plausible.

    6: Totem-initiated scenario. The PCs have been selected by the pack totem for various reasons. Implies a central role for the pack totem and whatever thematics it brings into play, and a fairly focused agenda for the pack.


    What other rationales do you guys use to get around this issue without handwaving?

  • #2
    A, that First Changes are distributed more-or-less evenly across time, B, that fresh bodies are one of the most valuable resources an established pack can compete for, and C, that all the territory worth holding is already taken by established packs.
    A: Sure, though there's exceptions. B: No. C: No.

    the typical player pack of brand new werewolves with their own territory are going to be almost non-existent.
    This is another assumption you're going off of, and the one that everything else is based off of so probably deserves the most attention. A newly made werewolf PC is not the same as a brand new Uratha. A starting PC has established itself enough to get a few renown. You can play one as new, but you can also play one as a veteran who simply hasn't earned that much renown, perhaps from being in a fairly laid-back pack, one in a safer area, or perhaps because other packmates have been stellar heroes or glory hounds. Because of this, PCs can form an already established pack, with maybe one or two PCs, or none at all, that are new to it (and werewolf life). New werewolves could be recruited because older, more established werewolves were previously killed.

    There's also social connections. A foreign PC might be directed to the pack because it ties into their backstory, or something they're hunting leads them there, or simply because whoever initiated them into their tribe thinks they would be better off with the other PCs.

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    • #3
      To add to Nofather's points, some packs are by nature nomadic, either because their choice of prey requires them to, or because their totem demands as much (look at the Ten Thousand Steel Teeth Lodge, for example; or to a pack level of organization, The Slaughterhouse Five from Chicago). The primary reason you observe impending Nuzusul is because they're about to cause a rampage, more often than not. An inducted werewolf is less likely to go off and murder dozens of people while out of control, thus exposing your own pack in the long run. Nevermind the notions of charity individual Uratha may feel. Ghost Wolves are also incredibly susceptible to being urged or claimed, and the resulting abomination would become a thorn on the collective Forsaken community's side with alarming ease.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by robothedino View Post
        2: Balance-of-power scenario. Established packs do indeed want to recruit nuzusul, but they also don't want those bastards across the tracks to have a chance. Established packs maintain a certain status quo that prevents any of them from recruiting new members from the "freshman class" other than in specific scenarios, and so cub packs form as a means of maintaining that status quo. This scenario implies a political situation where there is significant rivalry and mistrust between established packs, but sufficient cohesion to abide by the rules. Has potential for good internecine politics as each pack attempts to bend the PC pack to their agenda.
        2.5: New werewolves just don't jive with established pack. Pack is primary Totem cult and, sometimes, you just find people that not work with your own cult. If pack is 'motorcycle club after Fenrir' then literature academic Nuzusul will not work in this religious family. Better is to, after few days of revision, to 'send' new wolf to friendly pack of newcomers literature, occult and religious learners - than to rise tensions in your own pack that can lead to split. Newcomer will be glad and will thank you later on - and you got ally in another pack in region. Win-win.


        My stuff for Scion 2E, CoD Contagion, Dark Eras, VtR 2E, WtF 2E, MtAw 2E & BtP
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        • #5
          I think there is a misconception here: inducting a nuzusul into Uratha society does not imply joining the pack.
          Now, there is a real necessity of finding and training any new nuzusul near a pack's territory, because new werewolves are extremely vulnerable and extremely dangerous, too. The First Change provokes strong ripples in the Shadow of an area, and the risk of Lunacy (or worst still, discovery) is a very real concern around humanity. It is only sensible, really, to hunt and help all nuzusul to cope whith their new reality as much as possible.
          However, not all new indoctrinated Uratha are a good fit for a pack. After all, a pack is a family of sorts, and at times a cult, a business and a warband too. Some new "cubs" are just ill-suited for a pack, sometimes there's just a case of bad timing due to personal issues within a pack, or sometimes the pack is under direct threat and bringing the newbie in is too dangerous.
          To care and train a nuzusul is a way for a pack to earn prestige, honor and goodwill among the rest of Uratha society. Being able to offer a new recruit to another pack who may be a better fit can earn said pack with a few favors of their own, or the retribution of a more suitable recruit offered later on.
          I agree that a whole pack of complete newbies is not very common, but remember that a) a PC pack can be as exceptional as the game needs, b) sometimes mutual distrust among established packs mean that a neutral, new pack is a better compromise than swelling the ranks with more rage-prone monsters, and c) there always are degrees of experience and seniority between new werewolves, and what could be considered a seasoned uratha in one territory could be seen as a poorly-trained pup in another.

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          • #6
            From most of the examples in the books it seems that newbies usually do join existing Packs (Coteries, Cabals etc..) with the PCs being an aberration based on the fact that it is boring to play the Pack gopher.
            Also in the case of Werewolf I would argue that the Pack is a closed structure, sticking to the Wolves you know and trust with everyone outside being a possible challenger or threat.

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            • #7
              I was reading the Idigam Chronicles and one story went something like this...

              you're a Werewolf? So am I!

              You're hunting a strange spirit? Me too

              let's form a pack and we can hunt it together

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              • #8
                I bet this guy who hasn't logged in for 7 months appreciates your helpful answer, wyrd!


                I call the Integrity-analogue the "subjective stat".
                An explanation how to use Social Manuevering.
                Guanxi Explanations: 1, 2, 3.

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                • #9
                  The original poster isn't the only one who might gain from this, especially when some people came to the table later.

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                  • #10
                    I think it's a major problem of the 2e core, that at character generation the PCs have to have an extensively developed pack structure with themselves and non-werewolf people involved. It's fine as a choice for gameplay but I think that you can approach it like a part of play which will come later in the story rather than frontloading so many relationships and narratives.

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                    • #11
                      Elzopilote, I omit building the Pack on the start in my 2E games. I only point players to put general idea of the Pack strukture - gang, sect, academic circle, itp. Players are slowly expending it in the play, later on.
                      Last edited by wyrdhamster; 07-03-2019, 02:38 AM. Reason: EDIT


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

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