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Yawatha - the Werejaguars

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  • Yawatha - the Werejaguars

    So, I've off-and-on been trying to come up with a ruleset for werejaguars that mirror the Uratha. Jaguar-myths are my bread and butter, and I wanted to try and come up with my own version. The idea is that, similar to the Uratha, there are a group of half-human, half-spirit werejaguars, descended from Mother Jaguar, a Pangean contemporary of Father Wolf, and a trickster god of darkness they call the Night Father. The Aztec skinchangers scenario in Dark Eras was great, but it isn't really what I was looking for with this project. This is more of a scenario from 1e's War Against the Pure, modified a great deal.

    The basic gist is that we have a species of werejaguars who are half-spirit and half-flesh, have five forms, have Primal Urge, Essence and Harmony (though not all of the same benefits/triggers/hindrances those stats offer), earn Renown, and use Shadow Gifts. While the Uratha have a weakness to silver thanks to the curse of Luna, the Yawatha are equally vulnerable to obsidian, to represent their dangerous relationship to the Night.

    Linguistic Aside: Now, jaguars obviously don't have a Sumerian word for them, any analogous languages for the first pre-Columbian city-states have been lost to antiquity. The best analogue among Amerindian languages is probably the Mayan word balam, but this has been used a lot in WW/OP gamelines about jaguar-shapeshifters (Werewolf the Apocalypse, Changing Breeds, the Balam-Colop from Blasphemies). I could potentially use the words for leopards, panthers, or similar creatures, but that feels inauthentic to me. Thus, I've chosen to use yawa, which is a phonetic rendering of jagua, a Guarani word from which we derive the English word jaguar ("jagua" technically means dog, or in general any predatory animal. The Guarani word for jaguar is "jaguarete", or "true predator"). Thus, Mother Jaguar is Amahan Yawa, and the werejaguars are the Yawatha.

    There are several sorts of themes I feel could be explored by a group of Uratha-esque shapeshifters...
    • Social Anxiety: While werewolves balance themselves between their human and wolf sides, at least these two sides are both aggressively social pack animals. Jaguars, on the other hand, are completely asocial solitary animals that only group together when mating or while a mother is raising her cubs. As such, the flesh side of the Yawatha crave human contact while the spirit side abhors it. If you're a group playing as werejaguars, striking a balance between these two halves would be a part of play, getting harder to reconcile as you grow in power.
    • Facing Extinction: Jaguars, the wild lands they inhabit, and the peoples who revered them are all teetering on the edge of oblivion. When playing as Yawatha, this would be a feature, with human forces, deadly spirits, Hosts, Claimed, idigam, and hostile werewolves all vying to wipe you off the map.
    • Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger: Yawatha would also serve as excellent antagonists to werewolves. Jaguars are loners, while wolves hunt in packs. Packs of wolves and dogs have been known to tree jaguars. However, one-for-one, a jaguar is stronger than a wolf. Similarly, werejaguars are usually stronger than individual werewolves, but can't take on a whole pack. So you're trying to stick together against an opponent who's trying to divide you and conquer. And Luna help you if a Yawatha manages to get a group together...
    • A Monument to Your Sins: As antagonists in a Werewolf game, the Yawatha can make a decent foil. See, the Yawatha creation myth also involves them killing their ancestor, but they tell it as a mercy-killing after Pangea was sundered and Mother Jaguar was wounded. Mother Jaguar was also an apex predator, and if Father Wolf was getting weaker, she could have served in his stead, but the Forsaken chose to kill their father, sever the worlds, and in doing so mortally wound their mother. The Forsaken then decided to take up their father's cause, and most Yawatha will find their efforts to be lackluster at best and harmful at worst. Furthermore, while indigenous Uratha were at least able to coexist with the Yawatha, after Europeans arrived in the Americas, men and Uratha from beyond the seas (Not to mention tagalong spirits and boatloads of Beshilu) ravaged their numbers. So, when werewolves confront a jaguar, they're confronting all of that history as well.
    • Necessary Sacrifices? Whether as antagonists or players, werejaguars can be brutal. Taking a page from Aztec mythology, the Yawatha have access to powers and methods that can do amazing things at horrendously high costs. A question that anyone dealing with the jaguars has to ask is, do you stop these horrible actions, or risk the ruin that may come in their absence?
    This is the beginning, but I'd love to hear feedback and criticism on this. Soon, I'll post Auspices and Tribes for these cats.

  • #2
    So, I'm gonna elaborate on some of the broad strokes, as well as some of the background mythology.

    Ngifarah, or Nox

    The sources of light, Helios and Luna, are two of the most powerful spirits in the Hisil, but these two siblings aren't alone. The jaguars claim there is a third sibling, called Nox, their elder brother who rules in the places they're absent. He and his Nocturnes prowl the Shadow (both upper and lowercase) and teach the jaguars their unique gifts and grant them their Renown. The Night is capricious and dangerous, just as willing to raise his children up as knock them down, but the Yawatha will, in general, respect and give tribute to their spiritual father, as well as his two siblings. Even those jaguars who hate or are cursed by Ngifarah still recognize his place among the heavens.

    For the wolves, there's less consensus. Some wolves do indeed recognize Nox as sibling and equal to Luna and Helios, though most of them believe Nox to be the black sheep of the family. Most, however, believe it to be an incredibly powerful void spirit, and that he, his Nocturnes, and by extension the jaguars seek to undermine the world the way those wayward spirits do, warping the world with their tainted essence.

    Which story is true? The fact is, when encountered by the Uratha, Nocturnes are extremely similar to void spirits. Similar enough that the rules for an Uratha fighting a void spirit (Night Horrors: Shunned by the Moon, page 90) apply to Nocturnes as well. However, Nocturnes tend not to behave the way void spirits do. They are no more alien than the Lunes or Helions (although that reassures no one), and they typically won't begin corrupting the Flesh and Shadow. Some wolves speculate that, while void spirits represent the outer void, Nox and his Nocturnes represent the inner void, the darkness contained within the Warden Moon's watch. As such, these void spirits are, for lack of a better term, domesticated. However, even domesticated animals can be dangerous, and there's always a chance that a Nocturne or even Nox himself may go feral.


    Mother Jaguar

    Jaguars are not social creatures. The only exception to this is when a mother raises her cubs. She births them, nurses them, cares for them and teaches them until they mature. When they do, mother and cubs separate, and afterwards are strangers to each other. Perhaps that helped the firstborn Yawatha come to terms with matricide.

    To compare them in Uratha terms, the Yawatha are all Forsaken. There are no Pure. All are culpable in the death of the Pangean jaguar spirit that birthed them, but they place the blame not on each other but on the wolves. The Urdaga severed the two worlds, and in that severing, Mother Jaguar was wounded, unable to survive. And so, her children mercifully ended her suffering.

    Of course, some werejaguars don't necessarily see it that way. Some tell that, just as with Urfarah, Amahan Yawa was getting weaker and weaker before the Fall of Pangea. Some say the Forsaken just sped up the inevitable. A number even view the death of the Wolf Father as a mercy killing equal to their own.

    And, while you would think this situation would make the Yawatha more inclined to aid the Pure, that's typically not the case. If the Urdaga ruined everything, then the Anshega made it worse. At least the Forsaken are trying to fix their mistake (though many Yawatha think their attempts are ineffectual or counterproductive), the Anshega are just digging deeper.


    Werejaguar Basics

    Most of these can be expanded later, but the basics of these are...

    Gifts - Yawatha are able to use Shadow Gifts just as Uratha do. The Wolf Gifts of Change and Hunt are available as Jaguar Gifts, but they do not have access to Gift of Pack. Moon Gifts are obviously inaccessible, but each werejaguar's Auspice has a corresponding Night Gift, that functions identically.

    Obsidian - The black volcanic glass embodies Nox as silver embodies Luna. As such, wounds made to a werejaguar with an obsidian weapon deal aggravated damage, leaving deep scars and wounds that billow black smoke.

    Regeneration - werejaguar regeneration usually functions the way it does for werewolves, healing an amount of bashing damage each turn based on their Primal Urge, lethal every 15 minutes (unless Essence is spent), and aggravated every four days. However, the Yawatha have a macabre ability to enhance this. By tearing the still-beating heart out of a human, jaguar, werewolf, or another werejaguar, and consuming it, then for 1 day, the werejaguar may regenerate lethal damage as if they have spent Essence, and may regenerate one point of aggravated damage, even wounds from obsidian, every fifteen minutes.

    Five Forms - Much the same way that werewolves have them. I'm trying to figure out First Tongue names for these but it's difficult.

    Hishu - default human form with base stats
    Itimlu (?) - "Wild Man" - Equivalent to Dalu. Strength +2, Dexterity +1, Stamina +1, Manipulation -2, Presence (except Intimidation) -1, Size +1, Bite/Claws +1L
    War Form - Equivalent to Gauru. Strength +4, Dexterity +2, Stamina +3, Size +2, Bite/Claws +3L
    Ngiriyawa (?) "Dagger Jaguar) - Equivalent to Urshul, resembling a sabertooth cat. Strength +3, Dexterity +2, Stamina +2, Manipulation -3, Presence (except Intimidation) -1, Size +1, Speed Factor +5, Bite +3L, Claws +2L
    Jaguar - Equivalent to Urhan, Strength +2, Dexterity +2, Stamina +2, Manipulation -2, Presence (except Intimidation) -1, Speed Factor +3, Bite +2L, Claw +1L


    Auspices and Tribes

    I wasn't sure how to divide the jaguars in terms of Auspice/Tribe, only that I wanted to do so. After some thought, I decided that Auspices would be based on how a person in a particular Native American culture would associate themselves with a jaguar, or how they would anthropomorphize them.
    • Jaguar as Warrior, the Ora (Yanomami word for jaguar, öra, without the umlaut)
      • Renown: Glory
      • Gifts: Evasion, Strength
    • Jaguar as Hunter, the Toleso (from the Nahuatl word for jaguar, ocelotl, reversed)
      • Renown: Purity
      • Gifts: Insight, Stealth
    • Jaguar as King, the Lamba (from the Mayan word for jaguar, balam, reversed)
      • Renown: Honor
      • Gifts: Dominance, Warding
    • Jaguar as Shaman, the Kuruntu (from the Quechua word for jaguar, uturunku, reversed)
      • Renown: Wisdom
      • Gifts: Elemental, Knowledge
    • Jaguar as Culture Hero, the Nasi (from the Juruna jaguar god Sinaa, reversed)
      • Renown: Cunning
      • Gifts: Inspiration, Shaping
    And Tribes would be based on the roles and powers jaguars had in various mythologies...
    • Jaguar as Destroyer, the Soul Eaters (Agalu Hissu, Ghost Eaters)
      • Renown: Glory
      • Gifts: Death, Elemental, Rage, Strength
    • Jaguar as Defender, the Warding Fangs (Zudal, Fang Protectors)
      • Renown: Honor
      • Gifts: Insight, Inspiration, Shaping Warding
    • Jaguar as Force of Nature, the Eternal Furies (Angikue, Roar of Heaven and Earth)
      • Renown: Purity
      • Gifts: Elemental, Nature, Shaping, Weather
    • Jaguar as Cosmic Overseer, the Star-Pelts (Mulsigi, Bright-Haired)
      • Renown: Wisdom
      • Gifts: Dominance, Insight, Knowledge, Technology
    • Jaguar as Gateway between Worlds, the Sentinels of the Way (Fuzurathu, Shadowed Doorkeepers)
      • Renown: Cunning
      • Gifts: Death, Evasion, Stealth, Warding
    Note that I came up with this before Shunned by the Moon came out, so I hadn't included the gifts featured there. In addition, I've been planning Shadow Gifts unique to each Yawatha tribe.

    I also don't know exactly how to determine Auspice. I feel that, similar to werewolf Auspice being linked to the phases of the moon, werejaguar auspice should involve types of darkness, but I'm not sure how that would correspond.

    Anyways, that's what I have for now, I would appreciate some feedback.

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    • #3
      I for one find your product and/or service intriguing and wish to subscribe to your newsletter!

      It would be interesting to attempt to benchmark the personal power level between one of these and a werewolf. I'm not sure it's necessary, but just to get an idea of how quickly one runs out of luck when "treed".

      --Khanwulf

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      • #4
        I appreciate your patronage!

        I'm not great at mechanics and balance, but I'd say that, everything else being equal (Primal Urge, experience, etc), if you have a pack of three wolves, going up against a single werejaguar should be a surmountable challenge. It won't be a cakewalk, but it's doable. If the jaguar manages to win, they're going to be in rough shape. If your pack's goal is to kill the jag, they might get away, but rest assured their plans are ruined and the jaguar's going to be rethinking their life decisions. Pack of five wolves, that jaguar is dead if they don't get away.

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        • #5
          I have not yet gotten into Forsaken (still running an Apocalypse game) but I like the concept allot. When I finallt get around to running CoD games this is something I would love to pick up on the Storyteller's Vault!

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          • #6
            Part of my interest is a long (several years) intent to eventually detail out the rest of the mythology and mechanics for various other were-cat strains.

            My mental model had tribes replaced by cat breeds, including Jaguar, in order to keep down the number of pangaeans involved, but that's no given. Your conceptualizing the tension between the human social animal and the (big) cat NOT social animal is quite interesting indeed. And obviously not an exact one-to-one mapping of the situation to other breeds (e.g. lions).

            --Khanwulf

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            • #7
              One question: how do werejaguars interpret the story of Tezcatlipoca ? I saw you added a quiet reference to him with the obsidian symbolism. How do they interpret the myth of the first Aztec sun, the half completed jaguar sun ? Especially when Helios is still alive and it was "incomplete, like how some phases of Luna were perceived by the ancients.


              New experiences are the font of creativity, when seeking inspiration, break your routine.


              The Agathos Kai Sophos, an Acanthus Legacy of strategists

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Khanwulf View Post
                Part of my interest is a long (several years) intent to eventually detail out the rest of the mythology and mechanics for various other were-cat strains.

                My mental model had tribes replaced by cat breeds, including Jaguar, in order to keep down the number of pangaeans involved, but that's no given. Your conceptualizing the tension between the human social animal and the (big) cat NOT social animal is quite interesting indeed. And obviously not an exact one-to-one mapping of the situation to other breeds (e.g. lions).
                I'm not the biggest fan of the "species as tribe" model. Then again, I'm biased since "How do different cultures view jaguars symbolically" is something I'm obviously very invested in (subject of my thesis). It just makes the other shifters feel lesser, in my opinion. Wolves get all these unique variations, everything else is just their species.

                Yeah, jaguars are some intensely solitary beasts, but they still have human instincts (and if you're playing werejaguar characters, you do need to be in a group because tabletop games are a group activity). I'm not sure how, but mechanically I want to include some way to up the tension. My current idea that you'd use Harmony as a dicepool to resist the need to get the hell away from everyone, needing to do so at intervals that get shorter as your Primal Urge increases. Spending Willpower can delay any need for solitude, at the expense of making Kuruth a lot more likely. Escalating penalties to Resolve and Composure also seem like possibilities

                Originally posted by KaiserAfini View Post
                One question: how do werejaguars interpret the story of Tezcatlipoca ? I saw you added a quiet reference to him with the obsidian symbolism. How do they interpret the myth of the first Aztec sun, the half completed jaguar sun ? Especially when Helios is still alive and it was "incomplete, like how some phases of Luna were perceived by the ancients.
                Tezcatlipoca is the primary inspiration for Ngifarah/Nox. Some Yawatha use Tezcatlipoca as an alias for their Night Father. I think the biggest interpretations among the Yawatha are "This is a charming little story about how the Night Father held the world together until Helios was born and could do his job, whereupon Mother Jaguar helped cleanse the world of more dangerous spirits, though the humans messed up some of the details" and "This is blatant Helion propaganda, claiming that Ngifarah was an ineffectual leader who was rightfully overthrown, whereupon he spitefully convinced his wife to go on a murder-spree in retaliation."

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                • #9
                  Fluffwise, it's not very creative except where it concerns to Nox. Jaguar doesn't strikes me as a pillar of creation (ie, what defines a Pangaean as such) considering they're limited to America. Might wanna broaden the feline pangaean in scope. Also? Gifts are the sole province of Uratha essence as shaped by renown. Yes, it's easier to co-opt them, but still, not really creative. Fun if you don't mind the lack of originality, tho. Like what you did with the naming conventions.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Malus View Post
                    Fluffwise, it's not very creative except where it concerns to Nox. Jaguar doesn't strikes me as a pillar of creation (ie, what defines a Pangaean as such) considering they're limited to America. Might wanna broaden the feline pangaean in scope. Also? Gifts are the sole province of Uratha essence as shaped by renown. Yes, it's easier to co-opt them, but still, not really creative. Fun if you don't mind the lack of originality, tho. Like what you did with the naming conventions.
                    Wow, someone must have chewed on your favorite shoes for you to respond so negatively. So, two big rebuttals:

                    * Jaguars are represented in the creation myths of Mesoamerican cultures from the Aztecs down to the most obscure Amazonian basin cultures. Denying them as a "pillar of creation" is putting a Western bias onto a non-western mythos.

                    * Giving werejaguars gifts do absolutely nothing to harm werewolves, and I'd really like to see the pages you're citing concerning gifts belonging to werewolves as I skimmed through all the 2E stuff and couldn't find it. Calling it non-creative is just being needlessly petty (not to mention mean-spirited).

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Malus View Post
                      Gifts are the sole province of Uratha essence as shaped by renown.
                      I do believe thread-shitting is verboten here, Malus. Otherwise, your feedback that could be useful is lost in backhanded snark. If you're having a bad day please don't bring it here.

                      To the point of your quote above, the assertion is demonstrably false by observing that human/whatever and wolf-blooded pack members (The Pack) may acquire gifts with the right pack merits. That merit does not provide a pool of essence, of course, just the right to have their souls flayed into an appropriate shape for the Gift.

                      griffinguy24 I fully agree that using cat species as tribal shorthand as I suggested is lazy and does not provide parity with wolves. "Done right" there'd be a whole book of various were-cats. Wolves are easier because their morphology is so similar across the planet--they are clearly optimized predators physically and tactically, so the core game doesn't have to deal with issues such as "timber vs black wolf" and the like. While with felines your jaguar, tiger and lion are each very different (though jags and tigers are more similar).

                      The pushback to rolling out all the different varieties of cats is, again "why so many pangaeans?" Technically based on the published lore you could point to Cat as the progenitor of all felines, but that's ... unfulfilling. Trying to avoid that my best suggestion amounts to "feline species as Cat firstborn reflections." Or something.

                      Anyway, you've done good work and it looks quite a useful foundation for the game that needs it.

                      --Khanwulf

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                      • #12
                        Look, you're ripping off the theme of patricide of Forsaken (but without it being the character's fault, so it's watered down); the notion of Tribes; Renown and Gifts. I'll give you some quotes on Gifts when I'm home.

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                        • #13
                          Malus, There actually was a Eurasian jaguar species that existed through the Pleistocene (Panthera onca gombaszoegensis). I was going to bring that species up to say that, while the Yawatha mostly come from humans with Amerindian descent, not all of them do, and that this may be an explanation. Indeed, among the canon Pangeans found in Dark Eras, Bull, is absent in the Americas, Australia, and sub-Saharan Africa. Even if similar animals like bison and buffaloes count, that still excludes Australia and South America. Hell, Wolf himself has no presence in Australia and South America (thylacines are marsupials, dingoes are feral dogs, and maned wolves are unique canids closer to foxes).

                          Nothing in canon states that Pangeans need to be rare, or that Renown and Gifts are necessarily the sole province of the Uratha (Okay, War against the Pure in 1e did, but that's a different edition and Gifts weren't faceted through Renown then). Renown may be given to werewolves by Lunes, but that doesn't exclude another type of spirit from granting it (as I did with my Nocturnes. Helions could work for another group of shifters). Shadow Gifts are given by/taken from all kinds of Spirits. Moon Gifts themselves would be Uratha-exclusive, but like with Renown, you could have another type of Spirit provide their own class of unique gifts (Sharks with Ocean Gifts, Bulls with Sun Gifts, that sort of thing).

                          But yeah, as Aynie said, jaguars are indeed a big deal to a lot of cultures, and would indeed be a pillar of creation to those people the way Wolf is to others. Even in places where wolves live, they aren't necessarily the biggest deal.

                          EDIT: Fair point that the theme of killing one's parent is repeated. Mother Jaguar could have become a spirit as other Pangeans did. I mostly did it to add more personal stakes to conflicts with the Uratha, as well as a legitimate grievance. "We used to rule our neck of the woods in Pangea and thanks to you, we don't and it sucks" is less impactful than, "Thanks to your foolishness, our mother was wounded beyond hope and we had to mercy kill her." But yeah, perhaps there is some other way to have the Sundering impact the jaguars. Suggestions would be appreciated
                          Last edited by griffinguy24; 07-26-2019, 01:39 PM. Reason: Reply snuck in while I was writing this up

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Khanwulf View Post
                            The pushback to rolling out all the different varieties of cats is, again "why so many pangaeans?" Technically based on the published lore you could point to Cat as the progenitor of all felines, but that's ... unfulfilling. Trying to avoid that my best suggestion amounts to "feline species as Cat firstborn reflections." Or something.

                            Anyway, you've done good work and it looks quite a useful foundation for the game that needs it.

                            --Khanwulf
                            I do not see how it's wrong for there being Cat as Pangean on Wolf level - remember, ALL Dogs are coming from Wolves - so there could be one great Cat Pangean, with it's Firstborns - Jaguar, Lion, Tiger, etc.


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

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Giver of Gifts, part 1
                              Gifts are groups of supernatural powers that werewolves can acquire in Werewolf: the Forsaken. There are three categories of Gift – Moon, Shadow and Wolf – each with their own characteristics. Every Gift is split into five individual Facets, each of which is a separate and unique power. Shadow and Wolf Gifts have one Facet assigned to each of the five Renown, whereas a Moon Gift is associated entirely with one Renown. Moon Facets come in ascending order, but Shadow and Wolf Gifts have no associated dot rating and no set purchase order. Moon and Wolf Gifts are inherent to the werewolf; Shadow Gifts need to be acquired through spirits.

                              So what is a Gift? A Gift is not a spiritual bolt-on; it is not a spell, nor a magic trick. A Gift is like a wound or scar – it tears or wrenches through the werewolf when it is marked, changing the very pattern of Essence flowing through her body. A werewolf does not ‘learn’ a Gift – it rips into her. A Gift marks itself in blood and Essence, pain and adrenaline. A Gift reflects the nature of the Uratha rather than being an alien alteration. A werewolf is a hunter and predator, and Facets reflect that.
                              Originally posted by Giver of Gifts, part 2
                              A Shadow Gift is the fusion of a spiritual concept with the werewolf’s primal power, letting her tap into a symbol through the lens of her Renown. Only werewolves can use Shadow Gifts and they aren’t appropriate for use by other supernatural creature (with very, very rare exceptions like an idigam using the Thief of Gifts power)*. A Shadow Gift’s power is defined by the meshing of werewolf and concept.
                              *= Or being a literal pack of mary-sues blessed by Luna herself in perhaps, a stroke of madness, like Khanwulf pointed out. Not, like, a whole new race of changing breeds.

                              Your template is a lone predator, with at least a dozen facets revolving around being in a pack, beyond the excluded Wolf gift. (Memento Mori, Lead the Lesser Pack, Pack Triumphs Together, Unity, Pack Kin, Pack Stalks the Prey, not to name the new Shadow Gifts in Shunned by the Moon.)

                              Sources: Here and here.
                              Last edited by Malus; 07-26-2019, 03:17 PM.

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