Rage Across The Rockies
PACK TOTEMS (W20 pgs 371-372)
The binding force that holds a pack of werewolves together is their association with a totem spirit. Although a pack of werewolves chooses the totem that they feel best represents them, a quest to find a totem also gives the spirit a chance to decide whether it really wants to adopt the Garou. It’s for this reason that totems often refer to their packs as their “children.”
Totem spirits are almost universally Incarnae. While many are animal spirits, a number of packs hold to mythological beings, elemental forces, and even stranger spirits as totems. When a spirit chooses the pack, it sends a totem avatar — a Jaggling—to attend to the pack. The devotion of the Garou gives the totem and its representative power, and their actions further the totems’ goals. In return, the totem empowers them to carry out its goals in a direct fashion.
Background Costs and Traits
Players use their pooled points in the Totem Background to “buy” the totem spirit that has chosen their pack. Each pack can only be affiliated with one totem. Each totem in this section lists the benefits that the pack gain when accepted by it; unless the totem’s description says otherwise, all bonuses and penalties apply as soon as the totem accepts the pack.
Example: Ali’s pack has just been accepted by Falcon. Each member of the pack immediately gains two points of Honor Renown. Every scene, one member of the pack adds three additional dots to her Leadership until she passes it on to another packmate. Any member of the pack can draw on the totem’s pool of four Willpower points — at least until they’re all expended.
Players can enhance their pack’s totem by spending experience points to increase their characters’ Totem rating, per the Background’s description (p. 140). Totem spirits can also teach Gifts relating to their affiliation and powers. Some totems allow their children to use a particular Gift without teaching it to them, channeling the spirit’s power directly.
A totem does not just grant power to a pack; it also has restrictions that the werewolves must follow. These constraints on the pack’s behavior form part of the totem’s Ban.
If the pack members don’t follow the Ban, their totem will cut off assistance. In this case, the werewolves lose all of the benefits of their totem, including access to extra Willpower, Gifts, and Traits, until they undertake a Rite of Contrition to appease their totem. A pack who repeatedly offends their totem may find that the spirit abandons them entirely.
The totems that follow are among the most common patrons to Garou packs. Several of these totems act as tribal totems, but members of that tribe don’t gain the benefits of that totem. Only individual packs who ally with an avatar of those totems gain the benefits. Most cubs learn their tribal Gifts through the spirits that they meet during their Rite of Passage.
Totems can give members of a pack a wide range of Traits. These Traits come in two forms: Individual Traits and Pack Traits.
• Individual Traits: Every member of the pack gains all of a totem’s Individual Traits as soon as they gain the totem’s favor, and retain these Traits while they remain allied with the totem. The most common Individual Traits include temporary Renown, but some totems offer Attribute dots and even Gifts as Individual Traits.
• Pack Traits: Any member of a pack can draw upon a Pack Trait, but only one at a time. If a totem grants dots in a Skill, or a Gift, the first werewolf to draw upon the bonus in a given scene holds on to that specific Trait until the end of the scene, or until they relinquish it. In combat, relinquishing or claiming a Pack Trait is a reflexive action.
A pack member can’t “pass on” a Pack Trait to another member of the pack, it instead goes back to the totem spirit, who gives it to the next packmate who requests it.
A pack can’t divide a Trait between members — one of Falcon’s children who claims his totem’s Leadership dots gets all three. He can’t take one or two and leave the others for another packmate.
Pack Traits that include pools of points, such as the Willpower pool granted by Falcon, are available to any member of a pack to draw on. If the totem’s pool has any points remaining, any member can choose to spend a point from the pool rather than his own pool. Such pools of points refresh at the end of each story.
Totems of Cunning
Coyote Background Cost: 7
The ultimate trickster, more Ragabash than Ragabash, Coyote is an avatar of chaos. Utterly unpredictable, often foolish, but undoubtedly brilliant, Coyote is both a master of deception and a very clever warrior.
Individual Traits: Each pack member subtracts one from any awards of temporary Wisdom Renown.
Pack Traits: Coyote’s packs gain three dots of Stealth, three dots of Streetwise, one dot of Subterfuge, and one dot of Survival. Coyote’s avatars can always find their packs — the pack does not need to spend Totem points on that ability.
Ban: The very idea that he would limit his packs runs against Coyote’s nature.
Fox Background Cost: 7
Fox is used to being both predator and prey and outthinking everything that he faces. Whether he creeps up on a rabbit without his prey being aware, or leads a pack of hounds into a hornet’s nest, he loves to trick and trap his opponents. He loves it even more if that trap also teaches a lesson.
Individual Traits: Each pack member gains a dot of Manipulation, but subtracts one from any awards of temporary Honor Renown.
Pack Traits: Fox’s packs can call on two dots of Stealth, two dots of Streetwise, and three dots of Subterfuge.
Ban: Children of Fox can never participate in a fox hunt, and must sabotage any hunts they encounter.
Totems of Respect
American Dream Background Cost: 3.
The American Dream isn’t dead — it’s just been lost. Followers of this totem quest to find it, sometimes by reliving quintessentially American experiences. For a while, only Garou born in the 50’s and 60’s could dedicate themselves to the Dream, but thanks to an epic quest by a few Bone Gnawer heroes, a new generation has discovered it again. For the vast majority of the denizens of the World of Darkness, the American Dream is just that — a dream. The future is bleak, the world holds little hope, and suffering is commonplace. Especially in the slums, backwaters, and inner city hellholes that many Bone Gnawers frequent, America is a dying nation that’s neglected its own citizens. As amazing as it may seem, followers of the American Dream are still optimistic about the world around them. With the help of their totem spirit, they seek out the few basically good folk left in the world and fight to help and protect them. After a pack dedicates itself to the American Dream, they rarely see their totem spirit — until it’s needed, that is. Incarnations of the Dream wait until the best possible moment to show up with a bit of advice, a handout, or a helping hand. However, the Dream always appears in disguise, usually as an American citizen. Garou without much Gnosis have trouble recognizing a manifestation of this spirit when it’s nearby. Accordingly, they initially treat every human stranger they meet with respect, since any one of them may be an avatar of their Incarna. Most of the time, the world around them is a bleak and dismal place, but there’s always a chance that help will show up when least expected. Garou known for their sagacious wisdom and considerable Gnosis report seeing a wide array of personas for their totem spirit. these appearances always correspond to people who represent the American Dream or America at its finest (at least, from the Storyteller’s point of view). For instance, it might appear as an All-American athlete, a young child eager for her first day of school, an elderly black man who can remember ever detail of the civil rights movement, or just an average Joe on a coffee break at a construction site. For Garou who rely on Gnosis too much — typically spending too much time in the Umbra or away from the company of other Garou — these visions involve the Dream as it appeared in the 1950’s, whether that’s a fresh-faced young housewife, a gee-whiz teenager, or a suburban Dad in his smoking jacket with a pipe full of tobacco. Fortunately, only followers of the American Dream can see its more surreal manifestations, and even then, only when they’ve been overpowered by the maddening influence of the Wyld. As a controversial totem, the American Dream has staunch allies and dedicating enemies. American Silver Fangs, Glass Walkers, and Bone Gnawers gain 5 Honor when they ally with this totem. Other non-American Garou, especially European Silver Fangs and Shadow Lords, lose 5 Honor instead and are immediately marked as troublemakers.
Individual Traits: A major benefit, Dreamer packs get Athletics 2 and Empathy 2. (At the Storyteller’s discretion, the Athletics bonus may not apply to sports like hockey and socker, and the Empathy bonus may not apply to anyone who isn’t an American.) As a minor benefit, for any Social-based dice pool for interaction with American “officials,” reduce the difficulty by 3. This includes confrontations with police, public servants, bureaucrats, public officials, or government figures. Anyone who has sworn an oath to uphold the US Constitution also qualifies.
Pack Traits: As long as a follower of the Dream is in the USA, he’ll never get lost. This cancels out any Gift, rite, or supernatural ability that causes Garou to “get lost,” as defined by the Storyteller. Even when the Garou is traveling abroad, certain other Americans will make an extra effort to help him. Sometimes these are merely manifestations or incarnations of the American Dream; sometimes they’re actually humans with a great deal of sympathy for its ideals. Every session, the Storyteller should hide one character in the story that’s actually a manifestation of the pack’s totem spirit. That one person may offer help at a critical time, but only if he’s asked, recognized, or treated with respect. The game stats for this manifestation are the stats for the pack’s totem spirit.
The pack can actively look for the totem spirit, but this requires is members to meditate for a few rounds before rolling their temporary Gnosis. Homids need three successes on a Gnosis roll (difficulty 6) to recognize an incarnation of the Dream. As outsider to human culture, metis and lupus Garou have a tougher time recognizing it (rolling Gnosis against difficulty 8). A character can’t try more than one “recognition” roll per scene to identify his totem spirit. this benefit is purely at the Storyteller’s discretion; it should save the pack from difficulties or inconvenience no more than once per game session. Dreamer packs tend to treat all humans they meet with respect, just to be sure.
Ban: Followers of the Dream must accept the fact that their totem spirit can’t always be with them. The chance of it manifesting depends on how fervently the pack upholds the nation’s dreams and ideals, no matter how they may interpret them. As a result, most American Dreamers are patriots, crusaders, and idealists. Even in their native land, many find these traits annoying at best, and foolish at their worst. If the pack doesn’t display them, the totem spirit won’t manifest. In addition, when traveling abroad, followers of the Dream can’t help but openly exhibit the worst tendencies of Americans. They speak loudly and coarsely, insist that everything back home is better than what they can find while traveling, and have a tendency to debate the merits of American culture, foreign policy, and military action. When a follower of the Dream deals with people from other countries, increase the difficulty for all of the “ugly American’s” Social-based dice pools by 1.
Pegasus Background Cost: 4
Pegasus is a protector of sacred places, much like the Black Furies it supports. Appearing as a winged horse
with fire in its eyes, Pegasus can teach Gifts of travel and air to those it chooses. The Get of Fenris have long troubled Pegasus, possibly due to their rivalry with the Black Furies. As such, Pegasus has not yet accepted any pack that counts one of the Get as a member.
Individual Traits: Pegasus’ children gain two points
of Honor Renown.
Pack Traits: Pegasus’ packs can call on three dots
of Animal Ken and three points of Willpower per story.
Black Furies are well disposed towards the pack.
Ban: Children of Pegasus cannot refuse offer help to
females of any species, especially young females.
Totems of War
Black Unicorn Background Cost: 5
Black Unicorn is called by some “Unicorn’s Shadow” his coat is as dark as Unicorn’s is white, though his eyes shine with the same reverent love for Gaia. He’s a noble spirit of war, created by Unicorn to help defend her children in times of need and to teach the Children of Gaia how to fight with nobility and chivalry.
Individual Traits: Each member of Black Unicorn’s pack gains a dot of Brawl and a point of Glory.
Pack Traits: In addition, any one pack member at a time may gain three extra soak dice; Black Unicorn prefers that these dice go to the pack member currently defending an innocent, if any. His pack may call on 5 extra Willpower Points per story.
Ban: Black Unicorn demands that his children defend those who are unable to defend themselves, a duty that’s often more demanding than it would seem.
*Euryale* Background Cost: 4.
“Euryale, also called the Far Springer, is the eldest of the Five Gorgon Daughters. She often serves as the matron spirit to Black Fury packs of Amazons of Diana; she sympathizes with their general feeling that Man is the weaker sex, and deserves to be subjugated by Woman. Despite her role as older sister, Euryale is a New Moon. She encourages Furies and female packs to deliberately violate social conventions imposed by patriarchal society whenever they can; Euryale can almost be heard cheering when a human woman walks down a New York street topless, or when a lesbian couple adopts a child.
*Individual Traits:* Packs devoted to Euryale receive the Gifts called Fatal Flaw and Leap of the Kangaroo.
Pack Traits: +3 dice when using Intimidation on males.
Ban: Packs of Euryale can never contain male members, and will only subject themselves to a male sept officially if he defeats the pack’s alpha in an open challenge.
*Helena* Background Cost: 4.
Helena, the Crescent Moon of the First Gorgon Daughters, holds a great deal more respect for Man than her older sister Eurydale does. She knows that both sexes are equally parts of Gaia, and it’s simply the misguidance of the Patriarch that leads Man astray. Packs devoted to Helena probably tend to err on the side of harshness when it comes to females’ weakness. Helena’s daughters, for instance, are sure to hold a mother partially culpable if her husband is abusing their children. However, they’re sure to ferret out the truth of such a situation, and come down most harshly on the more serious offender of the couple, regardless of gender.
Individual Traits: Each pack member gains +1 to Charisma, and +3 dice to Investigation rolls. Members also gain one temporary Wisdom renown.
Pack Traits: Helena’s packs receive the Gift called Name the Spirit
Ban: Helena’s packs much contain an equal number of male and female Garou. if there’s an odd number in the pack, the odd Garou can be other either gender (if the pack has seven members, there can be 4 male and 3 female, or 4 female and 3 male, but not 5 and 2 in either direction). The males can be Fury metis or members of other tribes, if Helena accepts them.
*Isthmene* Background Cost: 5.
Isthmene the Axe-Maiden is the youngest and most beautiful of the Gorgons; she’s also the most fierce in battle. She wields a labrys of pure silver, and encourages her daughters to wield a labrys as their primary weapon. Despite her kindly appearance, Isthmene brooked no insult or back-talk from any man while she walked the Realm, and she doesn’t handle rebukes from her older sisters much better. Garou legends have it that whole forests were felled in ancient days as Isthmene worked off her Rage at her older sisters’ condescending ways.
Individual Traits: Each member of one of Isthmene’s packs receives one Glory Renown, +2 dice to their Melee dice pools when wielding a labrys, and +1 Rage.
Pack Traits: They can’t enter Fox frenzies; when they do frenzy, it’s always a frenzy of bloodlust.
Ban: Isthmene’s daughters won’t tolerate any abuse from a male of any species, and they pay back such abuse in disproportionate fashion: Insults are repaid with bruises; bruises with claw and tooth.
Panther Background Cost: 5
Panther is a rare totem for Garou, given the bad blood after the War of Rage and subsequent cascades of anger. Panther guides a few packs of Black Fury Freebooters, Bacchantes, and Amazons of Diana, but hasn’t taken a new pack of Black Furies in several years; surely any pack she was to take on would have to be exceptional in the traits that Panther favors: Grace, speed, and cunning.
Individual Traits: Panther gives her children the Gift called Eyes of the Cat, and reduces the difficulties of all rolls involving stealth, grace, or balance by two.
Pack Traits: Many Red Talons and Get of Fenris despise followers of Panther, primarily due to their distrust of the Bastet. The Bastet consider Panther packs kindred spirits and may call on their sisters in time of need; in particularly rare circumstances they may come to a Panther pack’s assistance.
Ban: Daughters of Stheo must accede to any request to stand as arbiters, particularly in conflicts between men and women. They must endeavor to learn the truth of these conflicts before rendering judgment.
Tasmanian Devil Background Cost: 7
Despite their affection for American pop culture, Bone Gnawers don’t venerate a cartoon character, but the actual scavenger. Tasmanian Devil lends the Gnawers the wisdom and strength he once lent to his Bunyip children, giving them the resolve to fight on in the name of the fallen tribe. The Bunyip’s fate gives Tasmanian Devil’s packs all the more reason to survive.
Individual Traits All Garou in the pack gain the Gift called Hare’s Leap (once known to the Bunyip as Leap of the Kangaroo), Enigmas 2, and an increased affinity for the Dreamtime, which lowers the difficulty of all Gnosis rolls to cross the Gauntlet by 2.
Pack Traits: A pack dedicated to Tasmanian Devil also gains an additional five Willpower Points per story.
Ban: Tasmanian Devil hates the Black Spiral Dancers for tricking the other Garou into wiping out the Bunyip, and demands that his children pass up no opportunity to slay a Dancer unless the circumstances would make such an effort nigh suicidal. In addition, the pack must strive to make sure the Bunyip’s legacy isn’t forgotten; this may entail anything from telling the tale of the Bunyip’s fall to as many listeners as possible to undertaking Umbral quests to reclaim some of the Bunyip’s forgotten Gifts and rites.
Totems of Wisdom
Bacchus Background Cost: 5.
Though much older than the Ancient Romans, this ancient Incarna of intoxication, sex, and fertility has been dubbed with the name Bacchus ever since, and does not object. Always known as a mad wanderer, he has traded favors with the Black Furies as a fertility god, been pleaded with to bless the brews of the Fianna, and these days seems most at home among the raves and innumerable narcotics of the young Glass Walkers. Those who see Bacchus only as a reveler miss the darker mysteries into which he inducts his children and the terrible rage he can bring upon those who would deny him. What’s more, those Silent Striders interested in the Dark Umbra often see the once-dead Bacchus as a guide.
Individual Traits: Bacchus immerses his children in he mysteries of life and death, giving them +3 Occult and +2 Enigmas. These are far from trivial and he prepares them for the shocks they will face by giving each of his children +1 Stamina (which also enables them to withstand greater intoxication before passing out).
Pack Traits: Finally, Bacchus is wise but furious in his anger. His packs may draw on 3 extra Rage per story.
Ban: Those who follow Bacchus tend to be strongly connected to their baser natures. If a character has a chance to indulge a strongly felt desire, they must succeed in a Willpower roll (difficulty of their own Rage) to do otherwise.
General Lee, Background Cost: 5
While Civil War heroes are certainly very interesting, this great spirit has nothing to do with the War between the States. The General Lee is actually an automotive totem, deriving its name from one of the most famous white trash vehicles ever: The orange muscle car featured on the Dukes of Hazzard. Followers of this totem quest for the car of their dreams, one that they can worship far more than any animal spirit or urban Incarna. After dedicating themselves to “the General,” the pack hunts to find a neglected, rusting hulk of a car. Typically, a Bone Gnawer or Glass Walker in the pack begins slaving over this monumental gift to at least get the deathtrap running. Some Bone Gnawers or Glass Walkers transform these cars into shrines to the totem, often by propping them up on cement blocks in their front yards. With the help of their pack totem, it’s gradually transformed into a paragon of automotive excellence. There’s a reason for this: The car serves as a temperamental totem-spirit, one that can’t enter the spirit world, but can still serve as reliable transportation.
As the pack’s Theurge advances in rank, the lemon is gradually transformed. A Fostern (Rank 2) can actually drive his “totem car” around, although it’s still a sputtering heap held together by spit and bailing wire. Adren drive masterworks of automotive engineering with whisper quiet engines; reduce all Driving rolls for the car by 1. An Athor’s car never runs out of gasoline, while an elder can actually drive her car into the Umbra. If the car is actually destroyed, its spirit “slumbers in the Umbra” for a full cycle of the moon, then returns to a new set of wheels (and the rusting chassis attached to them) chosen by the pack. Most worshippers of the General can be identified by the wrenches in their back pockets, oil stains on their clothing, or the thunderous sound of their stock cars tearing through the streets.
Individual Traits: Once accepted by the General, everyone in the pack gets an additional two dots of Drive and two dots of Crafts (if this would grant them a specialty, they automatically get the Repair specialty). All pack members have the difficulty of any Drive rolls related to tricky or dangerous maneuvers reduced by 2.
Pack Traits: The pack alpha gains an intuitive knowledge of all of America’s highways, along with many back roads in the Deep South.
Ban: Worshippers of the General endlessly tinker with their cars. As part of this, at least one member of the pack must have mechanic’s tools ready at all times. There’s a good reason for this: The pack’s totem spirit lives in the car they care for. Tinkering with the pack’s chosen car gives spiritual strength to the totem spirit. For all practical intents and purposes, the totem spirit is bound to the car, and it can only go where the car goes. Each day, a member of the pack must spend at least an hour making repairs, improvements, and modifications to this shrine. If the pack skips a day, the car begins to degrade, gaining one temporary fault. Each day, someone in the pack can attempt a Wits + Repair roll (difficulty 6) to fix this. This is a sizeable ban, but it has its benefits as well. After years of reverent worship, these vehicles can reach a peak performance of mythical proportions. With a capable driver behind the wheel, some are capable of performing stunts rarely seen outside of ’70s car chases. As part of this, when the driver is Rank Three or higher, anytime he fails a driving check, the totem spirit can then attempt a second roll using its Willpower as a Dexterity + Driving dice pool.
Winter Wolf Background Cost: 7.
Winter Wolf is the master of survival in harsh conditions. His domain consists of some of the harshest land in the world, and there he has managed to live as a king. He’s very in touch with the Wyld; his animal nature is strong and cunning. He’s as fierce as any creature can be, yet he knows when a hunt should be left to more foolish creatures.
Individual Traits: He teaches his children how to endure harsh conditions, granting them +1 to their Stamina and two points of Survival. He also shows his children the Wyld within them, granting them an extra level of Primal-Urge and Animal Ken.
Pack Traits The greatest gift of Winter Wolf, however, is strength of will. He gives his followers access to three extra points of Willpower per story. To gain this extra Willpower, however, the child must grant Winter Wolf the temporary gift of one Gnosis Point.
Ban: Winter Wolf asks that during the harsh months, food should be left out for those of his kin who didn’t find the proper rock under which to dig.