Werewolf Primer

What is a Garou?

'Garou' is what the werewolves of the world of Lapis Lazuli call themselves. They are either humans or wolves who can transform between five forms: the human form ('Homid'), the near-human form ('Glabro'), the monstrous bipedal wolf warform ('Crinos'), the enormous dire wolf form ('Hispo'), and the wolf form ('Lupus').

They do not require the full moon to transform. In fact, they can transform at any time, at will!

Garou form a close-knit society that are split out into tribes. Each tribe is defined by a loose group of things, such as ancestry, philosophy, or simply the way you were brought up. In addition, each Garou has a role to play defined by the moon phase they were born under, called an Auspice, which has given them some special skills. For more information, see Tribes and Auspices.

Septs & Caerns

Garou are part flesh and part spirit, a warrior for Gaia (the spirit of the Earth) and Mother Luna both. They are stewards of the world and care for it in flesh and spirit. They in particular are protectors of those few loci of power left in the world, wellsprings of Gaia's power. When enough Garou organize a single loci and feed it energy, they can conduct a ritual to bring the help of a Totem spirit to help that loci blossom into what's called a Caern. A Caern is a protected, sanctified area considered holy to Garou. Garou gather around Caerns, creating a loose society bound by the oath of protecting that area. These societies are called Septs, and they're organized into a hierarchy with leadership and direction.

New werewolves can join a sept by petitioning the leadership for a chance to prove themselves. The leadership — usually the Sept Warder — will often assign something called "chiminage" for the newcomer to perform. Chiminage merely means a favor or an exchange. Some examples of chiminage are dispatching some local baddies, teaching cubs (newly changed werewolves) about Garou society, or creating important mystical items. Chiminage is always tailored to the visiting Garou. Consider it like a job interview: what can you offer the Sept?

How Do I Make a Werewolf, Like, Genetically

95% of the time, a Garou is born. Though they are werewolves from birth, they may not know it, as it doesn't manifest until at least puberty. Not all folks who are born from Garou society are Garou though: some are merely carriers of the Garou gene, and they're called Kinfolk. They often have some traits associated with werewolves, but they can't change.

When two Kinfolk have offspring, their child can be human, Kinfolk, or Garou.

When a Kinfolk and a Garou have offspring, their child can be Kinfolk or Garou. (There is debate amongst the Garou Nation about whether Garou/Kinfolk pairings are more likely to make Garou children. The common knowledge is yes, but many just call this wishful thinking.)

When two Garou have offspring, it's a guaranteed Kinfolk child.

No matter what, when a child is born, a spirit called a Kinfetch is often assigned to them. In the world of Eternal Morning, where Spirits are as much a denizen of the world of flesh as humans and werewolves are, the Kinfetch becomes a sort of constant companion throughout their childhood. When the First Change hits, they go to find help from the nearest Garou. Their duty done, they often vanish.

Not everyone assigned a Kinfetch is Garou, however, and many Kinfolk have lifelong companions in their Kinfetches. Some Garou have been known to enact rituals to bring their Fetches back to be constant spirit companions even after their Change.

And of course, not all children of Garou are assigned Fetches: sometimes there's no ritemaster to perform it. Sometimes the Kinfetch gets lost or killed. Sometimes the ritual just doesn't take.

HOWEVER, not all Garou are born. The other 5% of the time, a Garou's bite may transfer werewolfiness to its victim and on the next moon phase of the bitten's player's choice, they will have their First Change.

The First Change

The First Change — Firsting — is what happens when a Garou finally hits the tipping point that triggers their first transformation into a werewolf. The Change happens anytime from puberty to even as late as 60 years old. There's no rhyme or reason to why or when; some speculate it has to do with your connection to your inner beast, but honestly, there's no true connection. It just happens when it happens.

Typically, a First Change is triggered when a moment of high emotions reaches critical mass. It could be anger or misery, joy or pleasure, frustration or elation. The emotions build up over time, frequently over a period of a week or two, as the proto-Garou feels a little unmoored and uncontrolled. Finally, it spills out in a confrontation.

Sometimes, a First Change is watched over by elder Garou if they're aware the child (whether they're a child or not) are likely to be Firsting soon. They may guide them through the steps and keep them calm, or they may attack until the kid boils over and explodes.

Either way, a First Change comes with a hard frenzy.

Frenzy

Frenzying is what happens when a Garou loses themselves to the predatory beast within. There are typically two stages of frenzy: hard frenzy and soft frenzy. Usually when a Garou frenzies, they have a short period of time in Soft Frenzy to find someplace safe before they go to hard frenzy.

Hard frenzy is a state of mind where the Garou needs to attack and preferably maim or kill every turn. They are lost to the beast, unable to reason, unable to see anything but violence and pain. There are no friends or foes in hard frenzy: just murder.

How you frenzy is managed by two things: your Harmony score (which fluctuates depending on the situation), and your personal frenzy triggers. For more information, see Werewolf Mechanics.

Not every Frenzy is vicious. Sometimes a Garou is driven into Fox Frenzy, which sends them fleeing as far and fast from the confrontation as they can. This kind of Frenzy is frequently seen as dishonorable.

The Litany of the Moon.

All Garou are bound by their law called, colloquially, the Litany. Punishments for breaking these tenets vary, but are always doled out by the resident Philodoxes and councils.

Combat the Weaver and Wyld Wherever They Live or Dwell

Gaia created the werewolves to protect the world, and the imbalanced forces of the Wyld and Weaver are the greatest enemies the Garou have. The fastest way for a werewolf to become respected is to prove himself in battle against the servants of the Wyld or Weaver. If any Garou neglects this duty, the Apocalypse was all for naught and evil will once again reign.

Garou Do Not Murder Garou

With their numbers at an all time low, this is not time for Garou to start killing each other over stupid spats. It is supremely dishonorable to murder another Garou in cold blood. Does it happen? Absolutely, often in the thrall of Frenzy. But those who violate this tenet are frowned upon fiercely and often turned away from the group.

Accept An Honorable Surrender

A warrior people typically settles its grievances with bloodshed. The Garou have a long dueling tradition, stressing trial by ordeal and single combat. Many werewolves have lost their lives to overzealous practices such as these; they may have died honorably, but their losses are keenly felt all the same. A werewolf being attacked by another Garou can traditionally end a duel peacefully by exposing his throat. The loser shouldn’t suffer a loss of reputation or renown for doing so, but a victorious Garou should be praised for his mercy. Theoretically, any dueling Garou is honor-bound to accept a surrender.

In practice, peaceful werewolves invoke this law freely, but some are far more selective. After all, in the heat of battle, anything can happen. Even the most feral and violent werewolf struggles to obey this law, but when blood begins to flow, instincts overcome reason. Some warriors are infamous for “accidentally” overlooking a surrender and sinking their teeth into an exposed throat.

The Low Honor the High; the High Respect the Low

Garou are intimately familiar with dominance and submission. Many humans and spirits feign distaste at the idea, but they, too, abide by hierarchies. The world simply won’t allow equality for everyone, and the Forsaken know it. If the prey is stronger than the pack, the pack must bring it to its level. If one pack is stronger than another, the stronger will wins out. It is the law of the wild. Younger werewolves with heads full of pride rebuke the authority of the elders. They feel the elders enforce this law, or perhaps made it up entirely, simply to wield power. In turn, the elders bear their scars, sing of their bloody glories, and take what they feel is their due. Wise elders know that the second half of the clause demands they show respect for pups and young hunters, and afford their less experienced kin that respect. Even the old and strong can have their throats torn out by angry pups.

Attitudes toward this law vary within Septs. In some, elders are given proper deference both for their ability as hunters and their wisdom as Forsaken. Some grow cruel or brutal. They fall out of balance and meet their ends at the claws of the oppressed. Some keep young werewolves in line when even the Litany can’t always guide them. All respect the Garou and the ways they have followed since prehistory. If wise elders know that they should respect the young hunters, then wise pups know to respect the scarred veterans for their knowledge and prowess.

Garou Shall Cleave to Humanity and Wolf Both

Garou mate among themselves and humans. They count humans among their packs, including Kinfolk. They crave socialization among humans. It grounds them, keeps them in touch with humanity, helps them maintain balance. Werewolves cannot forsake their human sides, lest they become remorseless monsters as selfish as spirits.

On the other side, holding too closely to humanity can drain the Garou of their instincts and make them grow soft and disillusioned. The Garou must not neglect the call of the wild within, and must embrace their Wolf and run among them. The Garou is a creature of delicate balance, and they must take care not to slide too much either way.

Do Not Eat the Flesh of Man or Wolf

The act provides power and pleasure, a rush of Essence and a perverse satisfaction of basest urges. It is a surrender of honor and control, and no meat is sweeter upon the tongue of a hungry werewolf. The rush of power is too much, though.

To a werewolf, eating her own kind, or her close kin, is a grave temptation that also drags her closer to the spirit than the flesh. Garou lorekeepers have long wondered at the truth of the matter. This clause is one of the oldest and certainly the clearest. It is an outpouring of the Beast within, the monster that claws within your breast, demanding to be sated and fed. In the throes of Frenzy, even the most disciplined Garou might devour her kill — and remember the taste through the mists of Rage. No werewolf is safe from this temptation, even those who have never tasted the power of the sweetest meats.

Respect the Territory of Another

When one werewolf approaches another’s territory, he must announce herself first and ask permission to enter. The traditional method involves the Howl of Introduction, reciting one’s name, sept, totem, tribe, and home sept. Many Silver Fangs and Shadow Lords also insist on a visitor reciting her lineage. In addition to these precautions, a werewolf should mark her territory, whether with scent or clawed sigils, to keep peace with other Garou.

As the population of humans in the world keeps growing, A Garou’s howling and urinating on trees to mark territory becomes impractical. In urban caerns, some technologically proficient werewolves (like the Glass Walkers) prefer telephone calls, the post, or Western Union. As pressure mounts from outside, many young Garou argue that the territories that remain should be more communally managed — though progressive human-influenced thought has a difficult time winning over a wolf’s territorial urge.

The First Share of the Kill to the Greatest in Station

This “kill clause” originally applied to hunting, but has also had a long tradition of being invoked regarding spoils of war. In theory, the most renowned Garou has a right to the most powerful fetishes or other valuable goods found by her packmates. Silver Fangs and Shadow Lords demand what they see as their due; other tribes accept grudgingly.

Pack mentality may be a strong instinct, but not everyone thinks the same way. Again, modern concepts of egalitarian or democratic philosophy tend to get in the way. Only the strongest or the most trusted Garou are able to repeatedly invoke this tenet for their own benefit, and even then it can strain the bonds of a pack.

Take No Action That Causes a Caern to be Violated

No Garou argues against this tenet. Caerns surge with mystical energy and the lifeblood of the Earth. If one is destroyed or corrupted, part of the Earth dies, and so does the power of the Garou. A werewolf who leads a proven or potential enemy to a hidden caern is punished severely, even if the act was unintentional.

Werewolves in the World

The Supernatural is not a secret in this world. Garou can recognize each other on the spot, once they've had their First Change. Nothing protects prying eyes from when you shift into something different.

Human society, in general, view the Garou as powerful allies who have a regretfully short trigger. Garou understand the spiritual state of the world better than most mortals, and they have powers that help them interact with and coordinate with spirits. The Silver Fangs and the Warders of Men work very specifically with humans, the first to coordinate efforts and the second to defend and speak for the humans to an often biased Garou Nation.

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