Werewolf: The Forsaken

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Kicking tail and taking spirits.

Werewolf: The Forsaken is the second game in the New World of Darkness line and the spiritual sequel to Werewolf: The Apocalypse.

Once upon a time, the physical world—the Gurihal—and the Spirit World—the Hisil—were one world, named Pangaea. Father Wolf patrolled Pangaea, ensuring that spirits were kept in line and did not terrorize humanity. Luna, one of the very powerful Spirits of the Moon, saw Father Wolf's duties, and fell in love with him. The children of this union were the first werewolves—beings part spirit, part flesh, charged to follow Father Wolf in his duties. But after spawning these Firstborn, Father Wolf grew old and weak, and could not fulfill his duties. So five of the first werewolves killed him, and then everything went to Hell—Luna cursed their name, the Spirit World broke from Earth, and their brothers, who refused to take part in the death of Father Wolf, swore revenge on them.

Werewolf: The Forsaken is about playing one of the titular Forsaken—werewolves who threw away the closest thing they had to paradise millennia ago because they believed it could not be maintained. Their duty in life is to serve as "border patrol" to the Spirit World, keeping voracious spirits from riding humanity like toys. At the same time, they have to protect their territories and fend off the Pure, werewolves who view all Forsaken as murderers for their complicity in the death of Father Wolf. It's a hard, bloody, and usually short-lived experience... but someone has to do it.

The various Splats of Werewolf are as follows

The Auspices: The inborn classification of the Forsaken, representing the phase of the moon under which each Werewolf endured his First Change, and the part in Werewolf society the werewolf is likely to play.

  • Rahu: Changed during the Full Moon, the Rahu are the warriors of the Forsaken. They possess powerful battlefield instincts, but also a deeply-felt sense of Purity which helps to hold these instincts (and their Rage) in check.
  • Cahalith: Changed during the Gibbous Moon, Cahalith werewolves are seers, teachers, and artists. They often experience prophetic dreams, and use those dreams to inspire the People. They seek to capture the Glory of the deeds of the Forsaken in their howls and songs.
  • Elodoth: Changed during the Half Moon, the Elodoth are judges and diplomats. They are given great insight and wisdom, which they use to arbitrate disagreements between the People and choose the way of Honor.
  • Ithaeur: Changed during the Crescent Moon, the Ithaeur are shamans, wise-men, and keepers of lore. They are gifted knowledge of the Shadow that few other of the Forsaken can grasp. They gather mystical rituals to aid their Packs, and show their Wisdom when dealing with spirits.
  • Irraka: Changed during the dark New Moon, Irraka are hunters, spies, and scouts. They perform duties which are subtle, yet necessary. They scout out dangerous territory, sabotage the enemies of a pack, and gather allies from unexpected areas. They use Cunning, rather than strength alone, to face challenges.

The Tribes: The chosen, sociopolitical Splats of the Werewolves. First, the Forsaken tribes.

  • Blood Talons: Also known as Suthar Anzuth, these warriors focus on the wild fury of the Forsaken. They seek Glory in all things, and vow to offer no surrender they would not accept. Followers of Fenris Wolf.
  • Bone Shadows: Also known as Hirfathra Hissu, these shamans study the Shadow and the Spirit, gathering the Wisdom of the spirit courts and swearing to pay each spirit in kind. Followers of Death Wolf.
  • Hunters in Darkness: also known as Meninna, members of this Tribe focus on protecting the wild and focusing on their animal natures. They vow to protect the sacred places of the world and reinforce the Purity of these areas. Followers of Black Wolf.
  • Iron Masters: Sometimes called Farsil Luhal, they blend into the human herd and learn from its ways. Their Cunning is great, and they wield mortal technology with clever skill. An Iron Master swears to honor his territory in all things. Followers of Red Wolf.
  • Storm Lords: Also called Iminir, the Storm Lords seek to rule the Forsaken in strength – or to ensure that others do so. They are bound by their Honor in all interactions, and swear to allow no others to see or tend to their weakness. Followers of Winter Wolf.

Next, the Pure Tribes: united by their cause, their lack of auspices, and their dedication to Purity.

  • Fire-Touched: Also known as Izidakh, the Fire-Touched are among the most religious of the Uratha, seeing the Pure cause as a holy quest from their totem, Rabid Wolf. They fill themselves with his Wisdom, and learn Gifts of faith and disease; they maintain a sacred law to let no false statement lie.
  • Ivory Claws: Also known as Tzuumfin, the Ivory Claws maintain their purest of bloodlines among humanity, free of all Forsaken taint; they alone do not accept Forsaken converts, and follow a series of rigorous codes to keep their purity. They closely follow their Honor and have unparalleled mastery of pain. Followers of Silver Wolf.
  • Predator Kings: Also known as Ninnah Farrakh, the Predator Kings reject human society in all its forms, wearing none of humanity's trappings and fighting vigorously for the return of the unspoiled wilderness of Pangaea. In doing so, they strive to earn great Glory. Followers of Dire Wolf.

Terminology, with translations: Every Werewolf (Character) experienced his First Change into a werewolf under one phase of the moon, determining his Auspice (race). Most werewolves choose to join a Tribe (class) of like-minded changers for instruction and support. Werewolves learn Gifts (spells) from spirits, and power them with spiritual Essence (Mana) Any given territory will only support one Pack (party) of Werewolves. Some Forsaken join a Lodge (Prestige Class) to support a goal or gain the patronage of a new spiritual totem or patron.

While not officially a "limited cycle" like the later lines of Promethean: The Created, Changeling: The Lost and Hunter: The Vigil, Werewolf did have the fewest official sourcebooks of an "unlimited cycle" (like Vampire: The Requiem and Mage: The Awakening) released before White Wolf declared they were giving up traditional print for PDFs and print-on-delivery. The list of traditional print sourcebooks is...

  • Lodges—a mini-line of sourcebooks intended to present new "lodges", sort of Prestige Classes for Forsaken characters. Two were produced: The Faithful covers some basic new lodges, higher levels for the original lodges, and rules for creating lodges, while The Splintered focuses on lodges from non-American countries, such as Poland, Antarctica and Japan.
  • Hunting Grounds—another mini-line of sourcebooks, intended to cover specific areas as they apply to werewolves. Only one, focusing on the Rocky Mountains of Colorado (and simply called "The Rockies"), was produced.
  • Blasphemies—a sourcebook featuring alternate werewolf creation myths, human cults based around werewolves and the Shadow, and details on the Bale Hounds.
  • Blood of the Wolf—advanced player's guide and expanded information on the wolf-blooded and on werewolf physiology.
  • Lore of the Forsaken—a spirit magic and fetish sourcebook.
  • Predators—an antagonist sourcebook. Its follow up, part of the "Night Horrors" semi-universal mini-line, was the "Wolfsbane" sourcebook.
  • The Pure—the sourcebook for the Pure tribes.
  • The Rage—player's guide.
  • Signs of the Moon—the auspices splatbook.
  • Territories—territory designing splatbook.
  • Tribes of the Moon—a tribes splatbook.
  • War Against The Pure—outlines for mass combat between werewolves and other factions, as well as five alternate species of shapechangers and rules for building others.
  • Skinchangers—a variety of shapechanging adversaries, ranging from those possessed by spirits to those who use magical items taken from animals to stranger things altogether.
  • Changing Breeds—the much-loathed shapechangers sourcebook. Considered by many a reference to both the good and bad aspects of Werewolf: The Apocalypse; some like it for all of the new shapechanger types, others think that War Against The Pure and Skinchangers did the shapeshifter rules better, and others still dislike the Science Is Bad themes.
  • Shadows of the UK—a look at the United Kingdom in the World of Darkness, with a werewolf emphasis.

The PDF-only sourcebooks are...

  • Forsaken Chronicler's Guide—a variety of different takes on the game to use as the basis for chronicles.
  • Ready-Made PCs—a ready-to-use pack.
  • Storyteller Adventure System (SAS) modules—ready-to-go adventures. There are two Forsaken-specific: "Coyote Falls" and "Parlor Games".
  • Werewolf Translation Guide—two-way conversion between Forsaken and Apocalypse.

Tropes used in Werewolf: The Forsaken include:
  • Animorphism: Werewolves. Of course.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: Nearly everything—animal, plant, landmark, machine, emotion, belief, memetic—has a spirit. And they're hungry.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The Nidmuzug, from the War Against the Pure. They're human beings who can turn into either a swarm of five hundred plus 4-6 inch long cockroaches... or a human-sized and crudely anthromorphic cockroach. They're surprisingly pitiable creatures, because they didn't ask to be like this (all they did was eat a perfectly ordinary piece of food...but there had been another Nidmuzug within a mile or so, so it was tainted and turned them into more were-roaches) and they're still fairly human in terms of mentality—they don't even get the healing powers that all other shapechangers do. Their name translates as "the Unclean".
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: Wolfblooded lineages are often like this, but Ivory Claw ones tend to be the biggest and screwiest.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Part of the horror of this game line is that werewolf packs rarely get a happy ending. The Uratha world is a cruel and ruthless one. As members grow older and weaker, a pack is commonly wiped out by its enemies (Spirits, Hosts, Pure Tribes, or even rival Uratha packs).
  • Can Not Tell a Lie: Fire-Touched. They can't even let anyone within earshot tell one.
  • Church Militant: Fire-Touched again. They're quite happy to receive conversions from the Forsaken instead of just killing them, but that doesn't make their preaching any less militant.
  • City of Adventure: Denver and the surrounding areas.
  • Les Collaborateurs: The Bale Hounds. They're a group of werewolves who, seeing how malevolent spirits are continually gaining ground, came to the conclusion that the world is naturally inclined to evil. And they want to be on the winning side. They became Maeljin cultists and act as The Mole among other tribes. For the record, both the Forsaken and the Pure loathe them with a burning passion, and with good reason...
  • Crapsack World: Part of the horror of this game line comes from the fact that all Uratha are painfully aware that the spirits of anger, hate, and excess are more common and more powerful than spirits of love or joy.
    • And even if they find spirits of love and joy, there's a very good chance they've turned someone into a Stepford Smiler or a person who will never, ever leave their abusive spouse "because he means so well."
    • Not to mention that the wolves themselves are cut off from humanity and can easily lose their temper and kill everything within reach.
  • Cult Colony: The Pure are both an army and a cult, and they regularly make bunkers/forts in the deep Hisil.
    • The Lodge of the Lake. That is all.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The idigam, spirit-things that are ancient, powerful, and mysterious - they appeared in the mid-twentieth century, and took over entire regions of the Shadow, turning them into twisted abominations. Oddly, unlike other spirits, the idigam don't have analogs in the physical world - in spirit terms, they have no natures of their own, which should be impossible. They've been hypothesised by fans to be linked to the Abyss, from Mage. The final books revealed that the idigam originated on Earth, but were banished and imprisoned on the moon by Father Wolf and Luna, until they managed to escape their prison in the wake of the moon landings.
    • Also magath, normal spirits who ate something so directly inimical to their natures-usually machine and nature spirits, but not always-that they are driven Ax Crazy by their conflicting desires. At least normal spirits are predictable. For certain values of "predictable".
    • And then there are Maeljin, spirits that are revered by the Bale Hounds who've become twisted inwards to the point that they're just wrong. The Seven Deadly Sins are well-represented among them.
      • Fun fact about the Maeljin: they got mentioned in Inferno. You know what that book's about? Demons.
    • And then there are the primordial spirits from the back of Predators—not quite idigam, but very old and very dangerous. These include: a spirit that is completely invisible and very large; a toxic cloud of gas that even werewolves need environmental protection from; and a shapeless form that keeps finding new and disturbing ways to give birth to twisted, mutated children.
  • Emotion Eater: Some spirits embody emotional concepts. Mind you, being spirits, they don't have any idea of restraint; they just know that things like love, anger or sadness taste really good.
  • Expy: One of the supplement books, Skinchangers, has a character in it called Shuichi Kurama; who is possessed by a fox-spirit named Yoko. The manga/anime series Yu Yu Hakusho has a fox demon named Yoko Kurama who was mortally wounded and took refuge in the womb of a pregnant woman, Shiori Minamino, and was reborn as her son, Shuichi Minamino. Even the description of Shuichi Kurama -long black hair, a pleasing face, a friendly demeanor, dresses in traditional clothes when he can get away with it and school uniforms when he can't- matches the one of Yoko Kurama in the manga (anime changed his hair color from black to red).
    • The Brineborn from War Against the Pure are basically shapeshifter expies of the Deep Ones. Only they aren't hostile towards humans as a rule and are, in fact, pretty pathetic. Their own legends say that Mother Ocean has forsaken them and they have no place amonst humanity, they can't get more than ten miles away from a large body of water without getting weaker and weaker, they can't swim for more than a couple of hours before having uncontrollable panic attacks, they can't even breathe water for longer than an hour or so even in their fishy forms.
  • Fetus Terrible: If two werewolves have sex and bear a child, they produce an unihar, or ghost child. Once it bursts forth from its mother's womb, it takes off to the Spirit World, where it waits until it's powerful enough to return and wreak havoc on its parents. For extra fun, it's immune to werewolf Gifts, making an already powerful spirit even nastier.
  • From a Single Cell / Asteroids Monster: This is a distinctive ability of the Hosts, races of Puppeteer Parasites created from the shards of potent spirits slain by Father Wolf-kill an adult one, and it's body dissolves into a swarm of the animal it represents, one of which contains it's soul (and don't think you can get lucky by looking for it-they can Body Surf between their components). Let it get away, and eventually it will evolve back to it's original power, and it's going to be pissed.
  • Functional Magic: Gifts and Rituals (Theurgy, learned from spirits).
  • God Save Us From the Queen: The Pure believe that Luna slept with Father Wolf and birthed the Firstborn specifically to drain his power, so she could take over the world by proxy when they killed him. It didn't quite work out.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: The Forsaken are far from saintly, and the Pure don't go out of their way to sin against Harmony: they see sin as a regrettable, often-necessity to stop the Forsaken's false balance. Notably, both sides will quickly work together against the Bale Hounds or idigam.
  • Healing Factor: Werewolves have quite a potent healing ability, being able to recover from blunt trauma in a matter of seconds, and injuries like cuts, burns or bullet wounds as though they were bruises (Essence can be spent to make healing even faster).
  • I Did What I Had to Do: How most Forsaken view the death of Father Wolf. If someone did not take Father Wolf's place, one of the nastier spirits might have killed him and caused all kinds of hell to break loose. It was a horrible thing, but it beat the hell out of the alternative—according to the Forsaken, anyway. Course, the Pure don't give a shit and still want them dead.
    • What the Pure think about killing Forsaken in their war.
    • Sometimes a possessed human can't ever get his original personality back, leading to this trope.
    • Note that werewolves have no compunctions against killing humans if it's necessary, and no convenient memory erasure powers. As an example, in one game, an entire village had to be wiped out because "The Herd Must Not Know".
      • They have Lunacy on their side, it pretty much sends Primal Fear through all the nearby humans and makes them forget what scared them so much, but there are those who have enough willpower to resist or outright ignore Lunacy, THEY usually are the ones getting killed to uphold things.
  • Immune to Drugs: An extension of their Healing Factor makes them virtually immune to all manner of drugs and poisons. Many werewolves get very frustrated by this.
  • In the Blood: Werewolf-ness is inheritable. Also, exclusively how Ivory Claws add new recruits, which is why their tribe is by far the smallest of the Pure Tribes.
  • It Got Worse: Merciful Storytellers may not want to pick up the Spirit Slayers splatbook, advertised as suitable for both werewolves and hunters. Why? Task Force: VALKYRIE has a bomb that does in the spirit realm what a nuke does in the material world, intended specifically for use against werewolves and their spirit allies. And they intend to use it.
  • I Thought It Meant: A Fetish is a magic item. Get your head out of the gutter.
  • Karma Meter: Harmony, a measure of how well a werewolf balances his human and spirit halves. Notable among New World of Darkness games in that it emphasizes how different werewolves are from normal humans—for instance, killing humans isn't necessarily a sin, just killing them for no good reason.
  • Lunacy: Each werewolf has his role in society determined by the phase of the moon (Auspice) when he first changes—full moons are warriors (Rahu), gibbous moons are bards and prophets (Cahalith), half moons are judges and arbiters (Elodoth), crescent moons are mystics (Ithaeur) and new moons are spies and tricksters (Irraka). One weakness of the Pure Tribes is that they do not have Auspices, said to be because they refused to accept any guilt for Father Wolf's death and thus never got back on Luna's good side.
    • They also actively hate Luna, and reject any association with her or her laws. One of the conditions for Forsaken uratha to defect to the Pure is to undergo a ritual which permanantly destroys their auspice.
    • Then there's the more traditional interpretation of "Lunacy": werewolves politely refer to their patron goddess as "Ever-Shifting Luna", and the reason no werewolf packs try to take a Lune as a totem is because continued exposure to the Lunes makes you crazy.
  • Mad Oracle: Where Rabid Wolf's name comes from, according to the Fire-Touched. He was the most honest and wise of the Firstborn, according to the legends, but the knowledge of just how deceptive and short sighted the world is drove him beyond sanity. They also believe that it's impossible to possess both perfect clarity of thought and visions of the future at the same time-you need to be delirious to perceive the flow of fate or commune with Rabid Wolf. Fire-Touched oracles usually do this via self-inflicted torture and Disease Gifts.
  • Mad Scientist: Most idigam are some variation on this, what with their Baleful Polymorph ability and intelligent natures. Why do they do this? Actually a variety of reasons:
  • Magic Pants: The shift from human to 900-pound killing machine usually destroys clothing utterly, but werewolves can learn a ritual known as the Rite of Dedication that allows clothing to become a part of their identity, causing it to change with them. Needless to say, it's often referred to as the "Rite of Pants".
  • Masquerade: One of the basic laws of werewolf society: "The Herd Must Not Know". In addition, werewolves have the gift of Lunacy bestowed on them by Mother Luna—people who see them in their war form automatically go into a fearful panic, then forget what exactly it was they saw. Most of the time. There's a reason they have to consciously suppress their existence.
    • And then there's the Bale Hounds, who must uphold a masquerade even to other werewolves, lest they be lynched as soon as they blow their cover.
  • Meaningful Name: The children of Father Wolf, who also lead the tribes, have names that are a dead give-away to what they are or what they do.
    • Dire Wolf is a savage beast. Death Wolf is obsessed with the dead. The patron of the Bale Hounds tribe is named "Soulless Wolf". Guess why.
  • Multiform Balance: Whether the Uratha's five forms are better balanced than those of its spiritual predecessor is debated by many; but the effort is there.
  • Mysterious Antarctica: The aforementioned Lodge of the Lake was originally dedicated to keeping something locked in Lake Vostok. Then they found something that may be a Maeljin, went collectively nuts, and started alternating between refined salons and slaughtering whatever expeditions they find.
  • Nature Hero: The Hunters in Darkness tend to be like this.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The whole premise, in a way. Altough the Forsaken adopt a staunch I Did What I Had to Do stance about it, the fact still remains that they ruined Pangaea, killed their own father, sent a large part of their brethen into exile for NOT partaking in the murder, and apparently, the world has only got worse after that point...
  • No Biochemical Barriers: Averted; shifting to wolf form right after drinking coffee is a very bad idea.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: They're part-human, part-wolf spirit. Their society is divided up into five major tribes, and the phase of the moon under which they change determines their basic role in society.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: One werewolf lode, the Lodge of the Fallen Idol, is dedicated to bringing an end to all religions because they view them as the most dangerous and destructive of all human concepts. They began as a lodge for "alternative beliefs" in medieval Europe, but after Christian werewolves helped the inquisition kill off most of the members, the survivors regrouped, took a serpent spirit of truth as their totem, and vowed to bring down religion by any means neccessary. Their symbol is even a snake coiling around a shattered cross.
  • Plaguemaster: Some Fire-Touched are like this; even the ones who aren't masters of disease literally view faith as a metaphorical disease, in how easily it spreads. And every Izidakh is enthusiastic about spreading their faith as far as possible.
    • And then we have Beshilu Hosts, for whom spreading disease is their reason for existing, more or less.
  • Post-Modern Magik: The Iron Masters are all about this. Their driving ethos is blending with the Herd and learning from it, they favor Gift lists that allow them to command technology spirits, and their Lodges are dedicated to everything from "creating an online database of assembled Uratha lore" to "use the Internet to become Big Brother."
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Storms Lords and Blood Talons.
  • Silver Bullet: Silver is precious to Luna, which means it turned against the Uratha when she cursed them. Silver makes the Forsaken's blood boil on contact, dealing aggravated damage. On top of that, in rare cases it turns their Healing Factor cancerous. They still get a better deal than the Pure, who never sought Luna's forgiveness; the Pure can't even touch silver without getting hurt.
  • Snakes Are Evil: The Razilu snake-hosts are among the most evil of the hosts...maybe...
  • The Social Darwinist: The Predator Kings. The Blood Talons have some shades of this as well, though a bit more restrained.
  • Spirit World: The Hisil (also known as the Shadow, or the Other). Given that it's the twisted reflection of the World of Darkness, it's not really surprising that it has more in common with Silent Hill than most. To give you an idea of the things that happen in there, mall-spirits lure other spirits and Werewolves into them. Where they are then devoured by the greater building spirit.
    • Rather like the mall in Reaper Man, actually.
    • To be specific, Silent Hill is a Verge keyed to the protagonist's emotional state. The normal town is in Twilight—unrelated to the terrible books, it's a different layer of the world that spirits exist in when they're not in Shadow—and the Verge opens up, taking the character into Shadow for the Otherworld.
  • Storyboard Body: A werewolf's Renown appears as silver brands on their body whenever they enter the Hisil.
  • Unstoppable Rage: When a werewolf enters war-form, he automatically goes into Rage; he fails all mental or social tasks, and must attack something. Then there's Death Rage, where the werewolf can't distinguish friend from foe and must attack everything.
  • You Dirty Rat: All the Beshilu.
  • You Killed My Father: The Pure tribes' thoughts on the Tribes of the Moon.
    • The Predator Kings are the exception. They aren't angry about Father Wolf - if you can't protect yourself, then you die, it's how nature works. What they're pissed about is that Pangaea was lost in the process. They used to rule Pangaea, and they want it back. The problem with that is that it just CAN'T come back, the Spirit World and Human World are separate, and cramming them back together is gonna cause some serious problems even if its possible at all.
  • Zerg Rush: The Pure tribes outnumber the Forsaken roughly 2 to 1. The Fire-Touched in particular command a huge army of followers which makes the other tribes look tiny by comparison, so their default war tactic is to overwhelm their enemies with sheer numbers.