Werewolf: The Apocalypse
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Werewolf: The Apocalypse (Revised edition) cover
Werewolf: The Apocalypse is a role-playing game from the Classic World of Darkness line by White Wolf Publishing. Other related products include the Collectible card games named Rage and several novels (including one series). In the game, players take the role of werewolves known as "Garou" (from the French loup garou). These werewolves are locked in a two-front war against both the spiritual desolation of urban civilization and supernatural forces of corruption that seek to bring about the Apocalypse. Game supplements detail other shapeshifters.
The books have been reprinted since 2011 as part of the "Classic World of Darkness" line.
The basic premise of the game is that the player characters are Garou. Specifically player characters usually are supposed to have undergone some training as Garou and succeeded in an initiation rite known as the Rite of Passage. After this, they are considered of Cliath rank (see Rank). Usually the player characters form a pack and work together to gain renown among the other Garou, so that they can advance in rank.
The game takes place in a fictional version of our Earth, a secret world, where werewolves, vampires, and other legendary creatures secretly live beside humans. However, it's a dark reflection of our world filled with corruption, apathy, violence, and hopelessness. The setting is also described as Gothic-Punk.
The Garou battle to maintain this world before all the negativity leads to a total collapse, the titular Apocalypse. They do so hidden from the public eye and live in secret from humanity in general. In their war, the Garou often hunt down and kill humans and supernatural creatures that either actively pursue the Apocalypse or unwittingly contribute to it, due to their parasitic nature. This includes fallen Garou, vampires, evil spirits, mages/sorcerers, and humans (and other creatures) possessed by demons or evil spirits. In doing so, the Garou regard themselves as the immune system of the planet, after a fashion.
Other themes of the game include the inability of the Garou to live as/among humans, although they were born in human form due to The Curse, interaction with spirits that today are separated from the physical world in a realm the Garou can enter.
According to Garou oral history, it has always been their duty to maintain the balance of nature on behalf of Gaia. They have done so by culling overgrown populations, hunting too powerful predators that would otherwise rampage unchecked, and fending off otherwordly spirits that overstepped their stance. In addition they believe in the existence of the Triat, a trio of deities that define how the world works: the Weaver is the deity of order and scientific advancement, the Wyld is the deity of creation and chaos, while the Wyrm is the deity of entropy and charged with keeping the balance between order and chaos. At some point, the Weaver went mad by trying to bring the entirety of the Wyld's chaos into order and in doing so, trapped the Wyrm in her Pattern Web, injuring it while also driving it to madness and making it seek out the destruction of the world of Gaia's creation.
The formation of nations and cities was the first radical change wrought on the Garou by humanity. The Garou prevented it by declaring a limited war upon humanity, a period known as the Impergium. During this time, Garou are credited with destroying large human cities, retarding the technological and scientific progress of the human race, and even imposing population caps upon the humans of any given area, killing and sometimes eating humans when they grew too numerous. Though the Impergium dates back to the Mythic Age before recorded history (occurring over a period of approximately 3,000 years between 13,000 and 10,000 years ago), humanity has retained an inborn fear of the Garou. Humans seeing Garou in their hybrid (Crinos) form are usually struck with a condition known as Delirium, a state of panic and denial that has been largely responsible for modern humanity's disbelief of the existence of the Garou. Most humans who have suffered from Delirium either have very little memory of the incident that caused it or they rationalize it and remember an animal attack or the work of a psychopathic human. Subconsciously, however, the human may experience an aversion to wolves and other canids in general or to the particular Garou they witnessed. The memory loss or rationalization of events, as well as the fact that the general public is unaware of werewolf existence, is called The Veil (not to be confused with the mystical barrier between material and spiritual world called The Gauntlet).
Following the end of the Impergium, the Garou maintained an active but subtle role in the direction of humanity through the Industrial Revolution and to the present. During these times, the Garou waged war with the other Fera, dramatically reducing the numbers of the other shifters as well as completely destroying at least 2 Fera breeds (the Apis were-bulls and Grondr were-boars); this time is known as the War of Rage. The War of Rage lasted approximately another 3,000 years after the end of the Impergium, and the Garou claim that it was started when the Gurahl were-bears refused their duty to teach the Garou a powerful rite.
During the period of the "taming of the West" in America in the 1700-1800s, the Garou engaged in a second War of Rage against not just the Fera of the New World, but against their own brethren, the Native American tribes of Garou (who call themselves the Pure Ones); in this war, the Garou exterminated the Camazotz were-bats and drove their totem, Bat, to madness and the service of the Wyrm. The careless progress of the European Garou (called Wyrmcomers by the Pure Ones) also severed the mystical bonds restraining a powerful bane (a spirit servitor of the Wyrm). This bane captured and devoured a powerful servant of the Weaver, combining their essences and becoming the Storm-Eater. The Storm-Eater whipped the Umbra (the spirit world) of the West into a terrible frenzy resembling an earthly storm, gaining it the nickname "Storm Umbra", and further threatened to bring on an early Apocalypse. The Storm-Eater was eventually re-bound by the sacrifice of 13 Elder Garou and the execution of the Rite of Still Skies (discovered by the Two-Moons pack, led by the Silver Fang Theurge Isaiah Morningkill of House Wyrmfoe).
The overwhelming societal transformation of the Industrial Revolution weakened Gaia and pushed the Umbra away from terrestrial reality, giving it less influence over the world. This period was marked by the withdrawal and extinction of many spirit varieties, but also heralded the birth of new "urban" spirits (such as glass and electricity elementals). These changes were visible in the Umbral landscape, as sites associated with Gaia became fewer and weaker, while the Pattern Web of the Weaver and the corrupt influence of the Wyrm became more prominent.
As the defense of Gaia becomes more difficult, the Garou have found their tasks increasingly harder to perform. Once able to act as silent warriors and guides, many have been reduced to guerrilla tactics and monkeywrenching. These ill omens have led to a general consensus that an Apocalypse is nigh, in which a final desperate battle will be waged by all sides. In addition to discrete threats such as the Wyrm and its minions, Garou find themselves opposed to the faceless foe of general disinterest in Gaia. Environmental disasters and modern warfare have done considerable damage to Gaia in recent decades. This callousness is sometimes spread by the Wyrm itself (as best exemplified by the Pentex corporation, a global conglomerate dedicated to spreading the Wyrm's influence). The Garou themselves are a self-acknowledged dying race; the largest Gaian tribes number 2000 Garou worldwide, with the smaller tribes numbering less than 500. The wyrm-serving Black Spiral Dancers comprise fully one-tenth of the total Garou population and are the largest single tribe.
Player character creation of the Garou
Players are given the opportunity to create Garou, the werewolves of the setting, or their allies or rivals. Lycanthropy in the World of Darkness setting is an inherited trait, and thus players are born with their abilities, although they only manifest in what the game calls the "First Change," an event generally during puberty that triggers the character's latent Garou powers to surface. Players are given the opportunity to have their character inherently know that the Garou exist, or be an effective "orphan" from Garou society and require other Garou to find him/her. It is after this point that they join Garou society and cut off their ties to their previous worlds except to make sure their blood relatives remain safe.
There are three archetypes that the player can use that define how their character was born, referred to as a Breed in the games. A Garou's parents are generally Garou and a non-Garou human or wolf with strong Garou heritage referred to as Kinfolk. Garou with human parentage (Kinfolk or not) are Homid and Garou of wolf parentage are Lupus. There is also the option to play as a Metis, a Garou born from the union of two Garou parents; Metis are born already transformed, are infertile and deformed, and usually results in the death of the mother. Such unions are forbidden in Garou society, but Metis are still born even as the Apocalypse approaches. Each Breed has its own benefits and disadvantages. Homid Garou can blend in better with human society but are not as intune with the spiritual side of themselves, Metis are more attuned to Garou society and spirituality and can recover health in all of their forms but are pariahs, while Lupus are more attuned to the spiritual world but cannot integrate into human society. The choice of Breed also determines the player's starting Gnosis statistic, or how well they are spiritually aware.
Garou manifest their latent powers in an event called the "First Change", a traumatic event where their Garou form becomes necessary. It is after this point that they are found by their Garou relatives and integrate themselves into Garou society, only making sure that their Kinfolk are safe from time to time. It is also possible to have a Garou born of two Kinfolk who are cut off from Garou society, resulting in what is a "Lost Cub".
Garou have the inherent ability to shapeshift into one of five distinct forms. Aside from the human form, each changes the characters' inherent Attributes such as Strength, Dexterity, or Appearance:
- Homid is the human form, completely indistinguishable from other humans in most cases.
- Glabro is the "near-human" form, one that is described as resembling a prehistoric human, although slightly taller than their human form.
- Crinos is the monstrous form resembling a traditional werewolf, usually growing to nine feet tall and made of pure muscle. This form is what most Garou prefer to fight in. In this form, any weak willed human that sees it will resort to a genetic memory-induced state of pure fear and terror known as the "Delirium". Metis are born in this form.
- Hispo is a massive dire wolf-like form, usually preferred by Lupus Garou for fighting.
- Lupus is the wolf form, granting certain abilities that stem from the wolf's greater senses than that of humans.
In the game mechanics, Garou can transform to their Breed form with ease, but it is more difficult to transform into the other forms across the spectrum from Homid to Lupus.
In addition to these, players also choose the character's archetype known as an Auspice. This is defined as the lunar phase that the player's character was born under. Each defines the player character's general role in the game, as well as the player's Rage status, or violent predatory instinct.
- Ragabash are Garou born under the new moon. They are defined as the "Questioner of Ways" and are usually played as trickster or rogueish types who excel in chicanery and subterfuge.
- Theurge are Garou born under the waxing or waning crescent moon. They are defined as the "Searcher of the Ways" and are the seers and shamans of Garou society who most directly intercede with spirits.
- Philodox are Garou born under the quarter or half moons. They are defined as the "Keeper of the Ways" and serve as mediators, counsellors, and judges amongst Garou society, discerning right from wrong just as their lunar phase is half lit and half dark.
- Galliard are the Garou born under the waxing or waning gibbous moon. They are defined as the "Lover of the Ways" who serve as bards and teachers amongst the Garou.
- Ahroun are the Garou born under the full moon. They are defined as the "Protector of the Ways" and are the warriors of Garou society whose Rage is strongest.
By performing acts that fit their Auspice, player characters advance in Rank and Renown. It is possible in the game to change Auspice, but it is seen within the fiction as a grave act and only performed if the character's destiny does not seem to fit their assigned role.
Garou society has since been divided into several Tribes that define the character's ancestral or racial background. Within the fiction of the game, there were 16 Tribes that served Gaia, but three have since become extinct. Tribe determines the Willpower stat of player characters.
- The Black Furies are a Tribe of solely female Garou who are most in tune with the Wyld and claim to be descended from the mythical Amazons.
- The Bone Gnawers are a Tribe that reside in slums and poor areas of human society.
- The Children of Gaia are a Tribe of pacifists who believe that war is not the way to stave off the Apocalypse.
- The Fianna are a Tribe originating from the Celts who are the carousing storytellers of Garou society who claim to have had the first Galliard. They also have a connection to the fairy-folk (Changeling: The Dreaming).
- The Get of Fenris are a Tribe with Germanic roots who believe physical strength and fighting prowess are most important, often coming to head with other Tribes who disagree with their warmongering ways.
- The Glass Walkers are a Tribe who are most in tune with the Weaver, directly involving themselves in human society and having technological prowess. In the various settings set in the past developed for the World of Darkness, the Glass Walkers' name has changed to reflect the technological advancement of the era. In Dark Ages books they are known as the Warders of Men, during the Renaissance they are called the Tetrasomnians, and during the Wild West books they are the Iron Riders. A sect of Glass Walkers is also involved with the Asian sphere of other lycanthropes and are called the Boli Zouhisze.
- The Red Talons are a Tribe of Lupus-only Garou who are highly separatist and see humanity as an example of the Wyrm's effects on Earth and seek to wipe them out. A group with Lycaon pictus Kinfolk exist as part of Africa's Ahadi coalition of lycanthropes.
- The Shadow Lords are a Tribe of Slavic Garou who seek to usurp the Silver Fangs as Garou society's leaders, and often have ulterior motives to their actions. A Japanese sect of Garou resembling the Shadow Lords are known as the Hakken, and hold the codes of bushidō as important.
- The Silent Striders are a Tribe of Egyptian origin who have been exiled from their homeland by a group of Vampires and are most in tune with the Umbra. Silent Strider characters are usually most involved with the Vampire: The Masquerade, Wraith: The Oblivion, and Mummy: The Resurrection books.
- The Silver Fangs are considered the leaders of Garou society, often having relatives who were members of royal families. They have since been the result of heavy inbreeding and many members possess mental illnesses.
- The Stargazers are a Tribe of Hindu origin named for their proficiency in astrology. They have since parted ways with the Garou Nation for perceiving the others as having lost their way in protecting Gaia, and instead align themselves with the Beast Courts of the Emerald Mother.
- The Uktena are a Tribe of Garou who originated in the indigenous peoples of the Americas, but have since allowed other animistic peoples into their fold. They are the "Older Brother" of the Garou known as the Pure Ones, Garou who claimed the Americas as home, and also are more into mysticism than their closest relatives.
- The Wendigo are the "Younger Brother" of the Native American Garou, who have human Kinfolk amongst people who inhabit the Arctic and Subarctic regions of North America. They hold a grudge against the European Garou, whom they call the Wyrmbringers, for the events of the European colonization of the Americas that resulted in deaths of the native peoples and the extinction of the third group of North American Garou.
The extinct Tribes of Garou are as follows:
- The Bunyip were a tribe of Garou who made it through the Umbra to Australia where they interbred with the Aboriginal Australians and the thylacine. They were killed off during the colonization of Australia when the invading Garou were tricked by a group of Black Spiral Dancers into believing the Bunyip were enemies. Their ghosts haunt the Australian Umbra, the Dreamtime, despite Garou attempting to apologize for the mistakes of their ancestors.
- The Croatan were the third tribe of the Pure Ones, the American Garou, referred to as the "Middle Brother". They sacrificed themselves to protect the world from an aspect of the Wyrm known as Eater-of-Souls that had been awakened during the colonization of the Americas.
- The White Howlers were a tribe of Garou of who were descended from the Picts in Scotland. They attempted to battle the Wyrm directly by seeking it out directly in its lair known as the Black Spiral. They were driven mad by the Wyrm and only survive to modern times as the antagonistic Black Spiral Dancer tribe who actively foster the Apocalypse and are heavily deformed due to their devotion to the Wyrm instead of Gaia.
In addition to these groups, other groups of Garou exist but are not part of the greater Garou Nation aside from the evil Black Spiral Dancers.
- Ronin are Garou who have been expelled entirely from Garou society for grievous acts that violate the very laws of the Garou Nation.
- The Siberakh are a disavowed group of Garou who are allegedly the result of a breeding program between the Silver Fangs and Wendigo to produce a hardy group that can survive in Siberia as well as lack the insanity plaguing the inbred Silver Fangs. The Silver Fangs acknowledge them as Ronin, while the Wendigo accept their reluctance to join the Garou Nation.
- The Skindancers are disenfranchised Kinfolk who have learned a forbidden Rite that allows them to become Garou after killing five other Garou to become one themselves, tainted by the Wyrm itself.
- The recent 20th anniversary edition of Rage Across the World has introduced a dwindling tribe of Garou living on New Guinea who have the Indonesians, Papuans, and New Guinea singing dog as Kinfolk.
Breed, Auspice, and Tribe all affect the various other stats, such as Abilities and Backgrounds a player can choose, as well as the Gifts, or special (often magical) skills the player's character can perform.
In addition to the Garou, several other groups of shapeshifters known as the "Changing Breeds" were also developed for the Werewolf: The Apocalypse games. Most despise the Garou for having decimated their numbers during the prehistoric War of Rage, which also claimed some Changing Breeds, or Fera to the Garou, to extinction.
- The Ajaba are a group of were-hyenas in Africa who have a matriarchal society. They are claimed to have been created by Gaia to serve as the Garou in Africa, where no wolves lived, and thus she made them to be more like the feline Bastet, but the Garou slaughtered them for being different as did the Simba amongst the Bastet. They have a set of five forms like the Garou.
- The Ananasi are a group of were-spiders who are grandchildren of the Weaver and serve her daughter the Queen Anasasa. They were previously aligned with the Wyrm because Anasasa was imprisoned, but have since freed her and attempt to be part of Gaia's grace, again. They differ from other Changing Breeds in that they require Blood to power their abilities, and they possess the ability to transform into a swarm of small spiders in addition to a spider-human hybrid and a massive spider form. Amongst the Hengeyokai of Asia, they are known as "Kumo".
- The Bastet are a collection of werecats who seek out Gaia's secrets and usually work alone. There are nine surviving Tribes amongst the Bastet based on the different species of cat they can transform into. They also possess five forms like the Garou and Ajaba.
- The Bagheera were-leopards of India and Africa.
- The Balam were-jaguars of Central and South America.
- The Bubasti werecats of Egypt whose feline "kyphur" Kinfolk are thought to be extinct.
- The Ceilican werecats of the British Isles who are thought to be extinct, much like their white lions of the Fae Kinfolk, but have since gained feline forms resembling large domestic cats.
- The Khan were-tigers of India and Eastern Asia.
- The Pumonca were-cougars of North and South America.
- The Qualmi were-lynx of North America.
- The Simba were-lions of Africa who claim to be the leaders of the Bastet, and most often work together in Prides.
- The Swara were-cheetahs of Africa who are most in tune to the Umbra.
- The Khara are an extinct Tribe who took saber-toothed cats as Kinfolk.
- The Corax are a group of were-ravens who act as messengers and have been most resistant to the acts of the Triat. In the Hengeyokai, they are known as the Tengu. They only possess three forms, a humanoid form, a bird form, and an anthropomorphic bird form.
- The Gurahl were-bears are the Healers of Gaia and are most tied to her. They possess a Gift that allegedly brings the dead back to life, and their refusal to teach this Gift to the Garou led to the War of Rage. A group of panda Gurahl once lived in Asia, but have since gone extinct. They have a set of five forms like the Garou.
- The Kitsune were-foxes are the most recent of the Changing Breeds, having allegedly been created by Gaia after the War of Rage after she saw that the others were not worthy and claimed they will survive the coming Apocalypse. They are most interested in magic in all its forms. They have a set of five forms like the Garou.
- The Mokolé are ancient were-reptiles of various species who possess a deep genetic memory of their ancestors the Dinosaur Kings and tap into their Mnesis ability to recover memories of the ancient times. They can come from monitor lizard or crocodilian stock, known as Varnas, and their war form, the Archid, is formed from their ancestral memories and can resemble an amalgamation of various dinosaur traits. They are divided into four Streams based on their homeland: the Gumagan of Australia and Oceania, the Mokole-mbembe of Africa and the Americas, the Zhong-Lung of East Asia, and the Makara of India. A group of turtle Varna Mokolé previously existed, but they have disappeared into the Umbra and no one has heard of them since.
- The Nagah are were-snakes who act as the judges and executioners of Gaia and possess a potent venom that they use in their duties. They possess 5 forms like other Changing Breeds.
- The Nuwisha are were-coyotes of North America, who are the epitome of Ragabash as they possess no Rage and seek to prank the Wyrm in their lives, owing to their ancestor Coyote having done something so reprehensible to the moon's Incarna Luna.
- The Ratkin are wererats who dwell in the slums of cities and were made to cull human populations by eating grain and spreading disease, although in modern times they have lost this role. They possess only three forms like the Corax. The Ratkin of the Hengeyokai are known as Nezumi.
- The Rokea are were-sharks who do all they can to protect the Sea and have no relation with the Unsea (land) and mostly exist as shark- or Rokea-born. In fact, Rokea hunt down any of their race who have decided to live on land, instead, and most importantly any Homid-born Rokea that may have been born from their Kadugo Kinfolk. A group of Homid Rokea exist amongst the Hengeyokai and are known as the Same-bito.
Three groups of Changing Breeds have since been made extinct through the War of Rage.
- The Apis were-aurochs were the matchmakers of the Changing Breeds, possessing several rituals to celebrate the cycles of the Earth. They had three forms, of which their Crinos was known to humanity as one Apis went into the Umbra to seek knowledge during the War of Rage and returned thousands of years later driven mad by his people's extinction and became the Minotaur of myth.
- The Camazotz were-bats of Central America who served Gaia in a similar fashion to the Corax. They were driven to extinction as they were thought to be vampires, but some Shadow Lords seek retribution for their act by pledging their totem Bat. They possessed four forms, of which their Crinos and giant bat forms could fly; a fifth form of a swarm of small bats was possible if the Camazotz knew a particular Gift or had the ability inherently.
- The Grondr were-boars who were the purifiers of the land, doing their best to root out nests of Wyrm tainted spirits, believing they were immune. They were wiped out by the Garou for their relation to the Gurahl during the War of Rage.
The first title in the series, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, was published by White Wolf Publishing in 1991. The game was the second to use the fictional universe and game system (the Storyteller System) which had been introduced in the Vampire: The Masquerade line released earlier in the year.
Starting in 2011, as part of the "Classic World of Darkness" series, Werewolf: The Apocalypse books have been sold as PDF downloads through DriveThruRPG. DriveThru has also made some older books available as print on demand.> New titles in the series have also been released, such as the Werewolf Translation Guide in April 2012.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse was ranked 33rd in the 1996 reader poll of Arcane magazine to determine the 50 most popular roleplaying games of all time. The UK magazine's editor Paul Pettengale commented: "Being the second game in the Storyteller series - which includes Vampire, Mage, Wraith and Changeling - Werewolf shares the same system and setting, the World of Darkness. It contains lots of background for the Garou, and their struggle to fight the forces of the Wyrm. It can be fast, vicious, or tragic and thought-provoking."
Tie-ins and adaptations
- In 1995, White Wolf Publishing released Rage, a collectible card game based on the Werewolf property.
- A PC adventure game named Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Heart of Gaia was developed by DreamForge Intertainment but the company went bankrupt before it finished.
- A PlayStation/Sega Saturn game by Capcom titled Werewolf: The Apocalypse was announced but cancelled in early 1997.
- A game is now in development by Cyanide and to be published by Focus Home Interactive, the same team that developedCall of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game.
- PDF became available to backers 2013/03/06 as shown on Kickstarter Update Page
- Werewolf Storyteller's Handbook revised - page 23 - FAQ section
- Brian Campbell, et al. Werewolf: The Apocalypse Revised Edition (White Wolf Publishing, 2000, ISBN 1-56504-365-0) - Page 30
- Rein-Hagen, Mark (1991). Werewolf : the apocalypse. Stone Mountain, GA: White Wolf. ISBN 1-56504-027-9.
- White Wolf Release Schedule 2011-2012 Archived 2011-09-10 at the Wayback Machine.
- DriveThru RPG White Wolf "Now in Print" Products  (retrieved January 20th, 2012)
- Werewolf-Translation-Guide Werewolf Translation Guide on DriveThru  (retrieved April 17th, 2012)
- What is the Onyx Path? Panel from GenCon on YouTube
- Pettengale, Paul (Christmas 1996). "Arcane Presents the Top 50 Roleplaying Games 1996". Arcane. Future Publishing (14): 25–35.
- "Next Wave". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 75. Sendai Publishing. October 1995. p. 88.
- "E3: Werewolf: The Apocalypse". GamePro. No. 95. IDG. August 1996. p. 48.
- "Parade of Popular PC and Arcade Titles Coming to Home Systems this Winter". GamePro. No. 104. IDG. May 1997. p. 24.
- "Werewolf: The Apocalypse". Werewolf: The Apocalypse. Retrieved 2018-02-12.