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Revising Tribes: The Department of Redundancy Department

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  • Revising Tribes: The Department of Redundancy Department

    [Material from the old forums -- this isn't written by me but by Isabella AKA TinkerMoth, a player in my game]

    I feel like a lot of people who don't like Werewolf cite the tribes, because they're kind of... bland, and redundant with Auspices. I feel like there are good things in the writeups, but they kind of get mentioned once and then ignored in favor of how your werewolf uses a cell-phone. So I guess these are more a re-telling of the tribes. Maybe one day I'll finish them.

    Blood Talons
    Our deeds are terrible and great.

    It was Fenris, the destroyer wolf, who slew Odin, All-Father, ruler of the gods. It was his children who swallowed the sun from the sky, and caused the stars to go out. The followers of Fenris-Ur, the Destroyer Wolf, know the seed of truth in the mortal legends. They are the Suthar Anzuth, the Blood Talons, and they are destined to echo through history. Though their totem is considered to have been the strongest of Father Wolf's children, he does not favor only his warrior followers. A diplomat's word, an assassin's knife, they can be just as powerful as a Rahu's claw. The reasons, the means, and the method do not matter, only that their deeds shake the world.

    Fenris-Ur was called the Devourer of Mountains, and this is the heart of the Blood Talons. Anything worth doing is worth doing big, and with finality. No Blood Talon does anything half-way. This may lead to destruction, but this rarely troubles the Blood Talons. Destruction often leads to powerful things - in a way, this is what they're all about. People rarely like a dictator, or an assassin, or a spymaster, but a look through history sees who was remembered, and whose deeds are worth remembering. Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, Cardinal Richelieu - the further back in history one goes, the more destruction is forgiven by greatness. Villainy is no enemy to the Blood Talons, and even failure can have some merit. It is timidness that is unworthy of Fenris Wolf, and the memory of Father Wolf.

    That's not to say violence is the only path to travel. A Blood Talon might forge an impossible peace, or a turn a powerful and hostile spirit into an ally. Some consider these even greater deeds than bloodshed and war, as they are much, much harder to accomplish. But violence is powerful, immediate, and in the case of most Blood Talons, final.

    The rituals of the Blood Talons are focused on memory, destiny, and immortality. They are the ones who will reshape the world, who will change the course of time, who will live forever in song. Even if their names are not remembered and never known, their deeds will echo down through generations. No werewolf will survive past their time - it is the imprint left behind that matters.

    Bone Shadows
    It is not known until your bones know it.

    It is said that Kamduis-Ur, the Death Wolf, encircled the earth to hunt all beasts as prey - and sought to watch, to taste, to learn every aspect of life. It was not enough merely to catch her quarry, she sought to know them, inside and out, to see how all things lived, and to know how all things die. That is the question that the Bone Shadows, the Hirfathra Hissu, ask: "How does every creature face death?" To them, this asks more than if a creature fights or flees, or if they face the end with noble dignity. To face death is to have consciousness stripped away, to be laid bare, to act with the purest knowledge and as the purest self. How does one act, on that razor thin moment between life and death? How does one act, when one has no time to think, and moves only on instinct?

    To hunt and hesitate is to lose one's prey, to fight and hesitate is to lose one's life. By the time one is done considering a course of action, others have already acted. Thus the Bone Shadow ideal is to think about nothing, but simply act. This often seems contradictory to outsiders - the Bone Shadows seek to know all things, as Kamduis-Ur did, and yet their highest ideal is to act without thought. The Bone Shadows know the truth of the contradiction. Watch an eagle hunting, watch a wolf pack run, watch a master craftsman work without pausing once, they will tell you. Ignorance is not the ideal, for acting rashly and quickly is no better than acting slowly and wisely. It is Mastery that the Bone Shadows seek, to have knowledge of everything there is to know, and to know it so well they can use it without thought.

    To this end, the Bone Shadows seek to learn everything they can, to find new things, to push them, to taste them, to hunt them. To observe, to understand, to know everything that is, that is the crux of their being. Many focus on their area of expertise in the hopes of mastering it: a Rahu might seek to learn every combat style she encounters, and have an extensive knowledge of combat tactics. A Cahalith might memorize every tale he has ever heard, along with all their variations across history and culture. An Ithaeur may hunt one of every spirit she has ever heard of. The Bone Shadows push the boundaries of their knowledge hard, testing anything new they find to the limit, even to destruction. And once they truly know one thing, inside and out, they will go hunting to find another.

    Bone Shadow rituals often involve object animism. Tools used to repeat a task, over and over, must still hold some of that motion and skill within themselves. Bones are also highly prized - a swift hare still holds some essence of running within its remains. For this reason, Bone Shadows typically wear masses of trinkets and charms that bewilder werewolves of other tribes. They are mementos, fetishes, and power objects, protection from danger or a chance to reclaim - or steal - the power of others.

    GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
    New System and Setting Material

  • #2
    Once again, probably the least re-imagined tribe. Less about "city-slicker", more about "both man and wolf". A touch more revolutionary. Not sure if this violates cannon, and do not plan to search through five books to find out if it does. Still really wanted to make the motto "Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted." Have resisted so far.

    Iron Masters
    The Law of Nature remains the same. Adapt or Die.

    In the days of Pangaea, the Red Wolf, Sagrim-Ur, held a strange curiosity that none of his family shared. While his sister, Death Wolf, wanted to know what things were, Red Wolf wanted to know why things were. Why did they rain fall? Why were wolves predators, and others prey? But for every question, Father Wolf told him, “Things are as they are, and it is good. Nothing more need be known.” The answer never satisfied, and Red Wolf would spend hours wondering. How would things be different, if these things changed? Would they be better? Would they be worse?

    When Father Wolf died, Sagrim-Ur was the first to accept Pangaea was gone. He was the first to accept that the wolves were no longer the kings of creation. And he was the first to give his aid to Father Wolf's children, the new successors to Father Wolf's legacy. His followers became the Farsil Luhal, the Iron Masters, and they hold to Sagrim-Ur's wisdom. Things change, times change. The Iron Masters change with them, for to do otherwise is to face extinction. Those who survive are not the strongest, but the ones who adapt. Though the world has changed, this basic truth remains the same.

    For this reason, the Iron Masters have watched humanity rise, and they learn from humanity's strength. After all, they're half-human, and their humanity is not a weakness. Technology, ingenuity, curiosity, these things have just as much to offer as their spiritual gifts. But they also remember Father Wolf's final words to Sagrim-Ur: “Note well how things go, and remember what I told you was good.” They do not blindly follow humanity, they do not forsake their duty or their people. They are both human and wolf - they are Urathra. Only by embracing both sides of their nature can they master their own potential. Only by understanding both spirit world and mortal can they change things for the better.

    This way of thinking does not always endear them to others. They treat humans more like equals than other werewolves do. They know the Uratha will never again be the lords of the Earth, but they see the potential for humanity to fill that role. To suggest that humans have taken this crown - mere prey! - often angers other werewolves. And while the Farsil Luhal find strength in curiosity, curiosity leads to questions, often questions that aggravate other Urathra. Like their totem spirit, the Iron Masters always ask why things are they way they are, and they are not satisfied with being told things are fine and that is enough. While they may not even disagree with something, they do not blindly accept anything. They want a reason, and they are the first to slaughter sacred cows if they feel things are not working out. Other Urathra often consider them radical and revolutionary, and they are not always far off the mark.

    GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
    New System and Setting Material


    • #3
      Thanks for the kind words, and to those happy with tribes as W:tF presented them, cool! In the end, I think 'making Tribes matter more' and 'changing the Tribes' are just two different solutions to the same issue.

      Storm Lords
      The weakness of one is the weakness of all.

      This is the story that Skolis-Ur tells: when Father Wolf still lived, Skolis-Ur, Winter Wolf, was second only to him. When Father Wolf died, even as Dire Wolf swore his undying vengeance, the others turned to Winter Wolf for guidance. But Winter Wolf could do nothing but howl in grief, and the Firstborn panicked, some following Dire Wolf, some scattering across the world, their pack shattering in uncertainty and confusion. When he finally came to grips with his own sorrow, he quickly realized how much his weakness had cost his siblings. He returned to them to take his place as leader - and when the Urathra came to him, he challenged them, to prove they were strong enough to replace Father Wolf. They did, and became the Iminir, the Storm Lords.

      This is not the same story that all the Firstborn tell, but it is told all the same.

      Everything has a weakness, and the Storm Lords know it keenly. A weakness of the self, a weakness in allies, a weakness of territory - what kind of weakness it is doesn't matter, it can still bring you down in the end. It is the duty of the Storm Lords to ferret out and remove these weaknesses, either in themselves or others. If a weakness is found, it must be fixed. If it cannot be fixed, it must be accounted and planned for. If it cannot be accounted for, it must be cut loose. This does not always make them the most popular among others, but they do what they think must be done, and carry out their duty without fear or complaint. The Storm Lords are cold, but they are efficient.

      The focus of a Storm Lord depends on their own personal strengths - a Rahu may seek to eliminate personal weakness, while a Cahalith might constantly check her allies, and bolster them when they waver. A Storm Lord Ithaeur might be more concerned with the spirit landscape of his territory. The important thing is to know what flaws are present, so that they can be covered by the strengths of others. If a packmate is bad at stealth, then it is foolish to send them undercover, if they are bad at keeping a cool head, the pack needs to plan for this - and it is the duty of the Storm Lord to make sure the pack knows this. That includes their own weakness as well, though there are many flawed Iminir who are much keener on the flaws of others than their own.

      In their personal lives, Storm Lords strive for self-sufficiency, doing their best to be aware of their shortcomings and work to correct them. Storm Lords tend to have many backup plans and redundancies, to ensure they can tackle anything if they must.

      The Hunters in Darkness
      The land and I are one.

      Hikaon-Ur, the Black Wolf, was the Firstborn most at home in the night. It was her task to stand sentinel over her brothers and sisters, defending them as they slept. When night fell, she was as a shadow, and even her siblings had trouble finding her. She was not the strongest, but she knew every path and river, which made her silent and swift. Her followers, the Meninna, echo her example. They are the Hunters in Darkness.

      Territory is a concept that is many things to an Urathra, but to the Hunters in the Darkness, it takes on an almost sacred meaning. It is a hunting ground and a home, it provides and must be provided for. It has a pulse, a rhythm, from the cycles of the seasons to the turning of the stars, from the sounds of the city to the beat of drums. The Hunters in Darkness understand they are a part of these rhythms, a smaller piece of a greater whole. What kind of place it is isn't important - they might be the wolf in the sacred glade, or the Projects city planner, or the homeless man in the run down slum. Their territory isn't always a location, either - the Hunter might find their place among others, from a group of army veterans to a pack of orphaned children. What matters is the ecosystem, tending it, living it, understanding it, and protecting it. What matters is that feeling of a tugging in one's spirit, a resonance with one's very being. These are sacred things and sacred places, and the Hunters protect them, physically and spiritually.

      That the Hunters favor a subtle approach stems directly from this reverence, for a member of this tribe would sooner destroy themselves than their home - they are a part of their home, and the difference is largely academic to them. Should something trespass, they stalk it carefully, making it clear the intruder is not wanted - or safe. In the forest, piles of bone are left as warning. In the city, tires are slashed. Claw marks are left on trees, property is vandalized, people shut their doors and refuse to speak. The Hunters are unseen, because they are a part of their environment, and it is a part of them. These are their people. This is their land. They know it, inside and out. And when they are threatened, they turn it against their foes.

      Though the Hunters are found in cities and can be quite modern, there is a general stigma against being "too modern" - many places count as sacred in this new age, but they are Urathra, and their souls are more drawn to the earthy, the gritty, the feral and the primal. For this reason they can be overly traditional and resistant to change, especially where their territory is concerned. Meninna rituals are meant to reinforce the nature of things, to strengthen the spirit of the place, and to keep its sacred nature strong. There are some misguided Hunters who take a place and try to make it sacred - perhaps they are grieving for something they protected but lost, or they are young and misguided. These Urathra are viewed as regrettable, but opinions vary on whether they are necessary or a menace.

      GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
      New System and Setting Material


      • #4
        I actually hadn't intended to do anything with the Pure, since they seemed interesting enough, at least from their small write-ups in the Core. I did wind up making brief alternate write-ups for our game, however, so I figured I'd post them here for completion's sake.

        Rejected quotes for the Predator Kings were "You keep what you kill" and "I pay the price of Iron."

        As the Forsaken tell it, most of the First Pack of Uratha rose up and slew Father Wolf — but not all. Some raised no claw against their Alpha - they were cowardly, or feared to pick the losing side, or refused to see that it was necessary. But they suffered Luna's curse, all the same, and Pangaea was lost to them as well. It was not their crime, they cried - why should they have been punished with the others, when they were loyal to Father Wolf? This resentment boiled over into hatred for the Forsaken, and even more for Mother Luna. Why should she have forgiven the traitors, and not the children who had been true? Why should she demand that no other spirit hold power on the Earth? Why should she demand the Urathra swear oaths to her, if not so that she could reign over Earth as well as the Shadow? These werewolves will accept nothing from Luna, cutting their bonds with her, if they originally had them. They call themselves the Pure, absolved of any guilt over Father Wolf's death, and the Forsaken are their sworn enemies.

        The Pure are either descended from the werewolves who did not join the attack on Father Wolf, or they are Forsaken or ghost wolves who have turned apostate. "True" Pure are born without any auspice - any converts must sever their connection to Luna. This is done in painful fashion by flaying off the werewolf's moon brands, and is often performed by the Fire Touched. Destroying the connection is an irreversible process. The Pure, like the Forsaken, have many differing goals and rivalries, but they share one thing in common - they are all willing to tear open the Gauntlet and let spirits conquer the Earth.

        There are three tribes among the Pure.

        Without guidance, the Earth is lost.

        The Fire Touched are sworn to Rabid Wolf, and they are the Pure Tribe most likely to take converts from the Forsaken. Because of this, their views are much broader and more varied than the other Tribes, but there is one sentiment they seem to hold in common - the Earth, and the Urathra themselves, are horribly lost. Spirituality is forgotten, mankind despoils all that was once good, and the Forsaken simper and let them, with their tails between their legs. The very concept that the Forsaken have taken Urfarah's place is laughable, the very notion an insult. The Forsaken royally screwed up, betrayed their Father, destroyed Pangaea, and ran to Luna to fix it. But Luna is quite satisfied with this state of affairs, and so the Fire Touched turn to other spirits. They worship the Old Gods, serve the ancient spirits, and keep their traditions alive to keep Pangaea alive. They brand each other with fire, and practice painful and powerful rituals. They hunt the Forsaken, in the hopes this will avenge Urfarah's murder, and reverse the crime that broke the two worlds apart.

        Predator Kings
        You deserve what you can take.

        The Predator Kings are wolves, and the wolves must hunt. These wolves hunt man, spirit, and even their own kind. The follow Dire Wolf, the oldest and fiercest of the Firstborn, and the eschew the soft convenience of modern life. The strong survive, and the weak die, and the Predator Kings do not accept the weak. They care nothing for Father Wolf's death, but they hold a grudge against the Forsaken for the loss of Pangaea. The Predator Kings sing of that lost time, when man cowered in fear and the savage reigned, and they want nothing more than to bring it back. To this end they seek to conquer the Earth, to terrorize mankind, even to tear down the Gauntlet, with the aid of their spirit allies and equals - at least, those spirits who prove themselves strong enough to be considered equals.

        Ivory Claws
        We will reclaim our rightful land.

        The Ivory Claws follow Silver Wolf, and they hate Luna with a passion. Where the Fire Touched burn over the loss of spirituality and the Predator Kings curse the loss of Pangaea, the Ivory Claws seethe over their perceived betrayal. Luna had no right to curse them for a crime they did not commit. She had no right to grant Urfarah's role to the traitors who slew him. Some among the Ivory Claws have even become convinced that Luna was the one who convinced the Forsaken to kill Father Wolf. Why else would she bestow her blessing on murderers? The Ivory Claws will not forgive this betrayal, and they seek nothing less then her destruction. All who serve her or are marked by her must die as well, and that includes the Forsaken. The Ivory Claws seek out servants and allies among the spirits, to overthrow Luna and reclaim the Earth, with themselves as the rightful rulers.

        GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
        New System and Setting Material