No Post and an Happy New Year!

So you know what I got for the new year? Tones of homework from my university! That’s what happens when you live in a country which not only doesn’t celebrate the new year, but has stigma toward those who does. Anyway, because of that I didn’t had time to work on a new post or homebrew (that was a crazy week). I may end up pulling some cool homebrew at this weekend, so if there is something you would like to see, just let me know!

So, without further notice, have happy holidays and see you in 2018!

The Vaettir- Those Who Walk

No one knows what makes a Walker different from the rest of humanity- once, they say, they were much more common, when the world was young the the great River of Life flowed with all of its might. However, as ages passed, the world grew older, and the once mighty flow dwindled into a modest stream. At least, that’s what most of the Vaettir believe- after all, many of them lived long enough to see how cities crumble to dust and nations fall to oblivion, and how even the mighty mountains bow their proud head before time. Why should the rest of the world be different? Few, however, whisper that it is not “natural” at all- they say that something sucks away the life from the world, draining the flow in order to feed an ever hungry maw, but there are only handful Walkers who support such mad, unlikely theory.”

So, while template examination and the Open Development are fun and all, the fact is that sometimes, I just want to make a nice, small, fun homebrew to play with. As such, after seeing Mahotsukai no Yome, I’ve felt inspired to make a tribute to the anime and adapt certain aspects of it to the CofD. While mages may fulfill the same roll, the concept of long lived/immortal magicians gave me some strong Mummy vibes, and at any case I’ve always wanted to make some “sorcerer major template” to the game. While I know that some people have some strong emotions about adding new Lifeless/Deathless/other sekhem using templates to the game, I find it fun to do. Anyway, the result is here before you in the form of the Vaettir. Hope you’ll like it!

Open Development 9: Thou Shalt Not Make Unto Thee Any Graven Image (M:tC)

(Because how could we talk about the ancient Middle East without mentioning Mummies?)

Everyone remember the Exodus, right?

Enslaved people, doomed by their own God for abandoning him. Their prayers and sorrow eventually soft His heart, and he choose one of their own as a future leader- he watch him as he is sent to the river and guides the flows away from the dangerous crocodiles and hippopotami, up to the beautiful and gentle daughter of the king. When the child is about to reveal his destiny, an angel is sent to make him choose fire over gold, forever miming him. When he learns of his own true heritage, he choose to escape to the desert, where he finds solace among a Midianite and marries his daughter, becoming a shepherd- skills he’ll need when he’ll shepherd his own people. Then, God reveals himself to him in the form of burning bush, and sending him back to Egypt to free the slaves. Preforming miracles, he demands the king to let his people go. The king refuse. In turn, the chosen prophet calls upon God to bring a plague upon Egypt- and God answers. The king is frightened, but God strength his heart. God is not done yet, after all. Plague after plague sweeps through the land, turning water into blood, rising vermin from earth and water, summoning deadly diseases, and eventually defies nature itself- melding fire and ice together and turning the light into day, until eventually- he personally stalks the streets of Egypt, slaying every firstborn among beast and man who have not signed their house with blood. Then, and only then, he allows the king to surrender- only to regret a moment afterward. Using smoke and fire, he confuse the king and his soldiers, until the finale moment, the climax where the sea itself is getting cut into half, allowing his chosen people to safely go through… and drown their enemies as the ocean close his maw upon them.

That’s more or less it. We didn’t skip anything important, didn’t we?

Well… maybe one thing.

During the tenth plague, God didn’t just killed Egypt’s firstborns. He did one more, small , almost negligible thing- He destroyed the idols, masks and images of Egypt’s gods. Now, that makes sense- it is a statement of power, of superiority, an act which shows how small and powerless are those lifeless statues compared to the one true god. However, that’s, in fact, only the common interpretation of the verse- the exact words of the source material are, on the other hand, a bit different. It doesn’t say that God destroyed Egypt’s idols.

It says that he judged its gods.

Now, while in real life the text has probably mean whatever the most agree it means, the exact choice of words makes a very.. interesting consequences. After all, we are talking about Egypt, a culture which descends from a once great empire, which has since turned nameless and drowned under the sands. That empire had slaves of its own, but their were forever bound instead of becoming free. That empire had its own gods, but they searched to sacrifice their people instead of freeing them. And most important than all- that empire had Judges of its own.

As we all know, the Judges have a very.. unique way to judge- they dictate impossible rules that those who break them end up sent to be devoured by the principle of entropy itself for all eternity. Their direct servants, however, are judged by a much less permanent way- there aren’t enough of them to start throwing them to the Devourer, after all. No, when their chosen vessels betray their own Law, the Judges execute their verdict and reap Sekhem out of their body. Now, when you think about Exodus in the terms of the CofD, you must wonder how did the Israelite has managed to do what they did when there is a collection of deathless god-kings all ready for action. Their cults must have tried to bring them back from the dead, call upon their stolen names to stop the plagues and punish that stuttering prophet. And maybe they did- at least, partially and temporary, at least at the more advances stages of the ten plagues..

Until in the tenth, God has judged them, and found them unworthy.

Now, this is not the “Exodus Dark Era”, and as such we don’t need to get into details about what exactly happened when Moses demanded the Pharaoh to let his people go in the name of a god which, as far as he knew, didn’t even existed, not without a form and a name. That’s just the background material, to understand where exactly we are standing- that some mummies may have memories of that time, where some force they can’t describe through name or form (something which denies everything the Arisen know off) have crept into their tombs, slithered into their sarcophagi and stroke them down with an authority reserved to the Judges only- as not only that he made up Laws of his own, he also judged them by it.

Speaking of laws and judgement, and it should be remembered that the Old Testament is full of those- there is a reason why each of those OD chapters is named (usually) by something that God commanded not to do. It is not only about the Ten Commandments- there is, after all, an whole book dedicated for rules, punishments and how to bridge between the two. God didn’t simply freed his people, He also gave them news laws to follow.. or is it a new Law? Who knows? All that is known is that God is nameless, that he has a thing with laws and judgement (His first chosen were known as Judges, after all), that He despise slavery and that he really, really, really had something against Egypt, enough to take the time and judge each and every one of its old gods.

Scary, isn’t it?

At any case, if we return to talk about the rules that God has gave to the Israelite, it is time to return to our own Era- in those days, the Time of Judges has already passed. Oh, they are still out there, but their authority is not the highest one anymore. The King now judge the israelite, and God’s divinity is no longer primal and wild, but sits comfortably at the Temple which holds his name. The priesthood is well founded at this Era, supervising rituals and governing sacrifices. Prophets carry God’s word, seeing beyond the veil and touch the Divine itself. No, those wild times has passed, and the king is the one responsible for enforcing the laws of God- and there is one law we especially care about.

That you shouldn’t make yourself a statue.

Or a mask, or picture.

Be it of heaven, earth, to the water of the abyss bellow. You shall not bow before them, you shall not worship therm. For God is your god, a jealous god,  who would punish those who hate him and bless those who love him, who does allow the sons to redeem their fathers or share their punishment, as they choose.

That’s not just scary- that’s plain terrifying.

Why is it that God forbid the creating of graven image- not just that of other gods, but of himself too? It is up to the point that when Moses returned from Sinai and saw his people worship the golden bull- which was made in honor of God- he got so angry that he shattered the tablets and had to return all the way back to the mountain to carve them all by himself. More than that- why God has forbidden the craft of graven images, yet the act was done a number of times by His command? Like the copper serpent Nechushtan, which healed those bitten by snakes in the desert, or more than that- what about the Cherubim which guard the holy tablets? What about the artificer, Bezalel son of Uri, (literally meaning, “In God’s Shadow, son of Light”), which has crafted the holy structures which cover the Ark? Why can they do it, when others can’t?

There are many interpretations for those acts- from forever putting a reminder of what not to do before God’s faithful to the fact that such images are allowed if they were not made to be worshiped. But that’s only if you ask real world theologians. Some people in the CofD, however, may have their own opinion.

Some would say, that God just hate the competition.

As everyone know, relics are a very important aspect of Mummy- collecting the lost treasures of Irem (and other cultures) and dealing with their dread curses is the reason for the “C” in M:tC. Relics are the proof that humanity exists, that they can take the very raw powers of creation and mold them into form and give life to the lifeless. The curses they bring upon the world is the price one has to pay for such an act of hubris- for challenging the very laws of the universe (time, fate and entropy) and creating something which would last long after everything and everyone you know would turn into dust. And then, you have a culture which believes that such creations are mockery for the one and true God, and shatter the idols and figures which have gathered worshipers around them since the beginning of time. The very act of craft is forbidden, and the Arisen are the gods of crafts. However, not all forms of art are forbidden- others, more abstract arts are being used to honor God’s name and immortalize his acts. Song, dance, music, voice. Nothing permanent, nothing solid- but things which are eternal, just as the cold light of heavens, like the movement of the stars in their celestial spheres.

That’s even just terrifying- that’s already an eldritch horror.

Now, after establishing the setting and mood for the Era, it’s time to start and do some real work and examine the setting itself.

The Arisen remember all to well the so called “Blessed Land”. Some of them have even came from those lands, captured and transported buy Irem’s soldiers during one of its ages long wars of conquest. The problem was, that the people of Canaan has also remember what Irem has done to them- and with the fall of the Nameless Empire, their wise has gathered together to make a plan. That was the foundation of the so called “Maagal”- the priesthood of idol makers and sekhem sorcerers which controlled the ancient lands. Using their craft, they have started a ages long project- to create a barrier which would stop the Deathless gods from entering their lands. It wasn’t easy (have you heard about Ebla, the ancient city which was destroyed by armies and divine powers for three times? Yeah, guess why)- but eventually, they succeeded. The Gates of Heaven were established, and the Baalim and Asheroth stood vigilant at the borders of Canaan, and before their eyes the sekhem of their enemies was lost and devoured by Mot’s eternal hunger.

For centuries the barrier stood strong, blocking the Arisen and their like from entering the city states of the seven folks. As they must have felt the flow of sekhem in Canaan, like a great Lifeweb bound by Neithian Architecture, the Arisen must have despised the Maagal from the bottom of their heart- but there was nothing they could have done. Even the mightiest of Utterances would have decayed into nothing when used against the barrier, and even a freshly awakened Arisen from the grave would turn into a rotting corpse in a course of minutes. Locked outside of that playground, the Deathless could do nothing but rage in their tombs and curse the Circle, praying to the Judges to exact vengeance against their enemies.

The the Judges answered- even if not the same Judges to which they prayed to.

When the Israelite came from the desert, they waged war against Canaan’s people- and its gods. Lead by the Judges, they shattered the idols and burned the masks, disrupting the barrier which have tamed the Shadow and blocked the gods. That, for the first time in ages, has finally allowed the Arisen to enter the forbidden land. It looks like that the same God which has punished them with one hand, has decided to bless them with the other- but why?

Maybe He didn’t.

Maybe he simply couldn’t enter as well.

During the time of the First Temple, the situation has already stabilized- king Solomon has married the pharaoh’s daughter, and her gods came with her. Cults of the Arisen has started to spread through the land, putting their priests in positions of power. While the Maagal still protests for their presence, there is little they can do now- Solomon may be more accepting of foreign faiths, but he does not allow the establishment of a new barrier around the land, and even if he did it is already too late- the Arisen are already inside. On the other hand, while the cults of the Arisen are allowed to enter the Holy Land- the Deathless themselves are not allowed to enter that one place which draws them more than any other. The Temple.

There is a reason, of course- the Temple, in the eyes of the Arisen, in a fountain of Sekhem. It burns like the sun in their eyes, a channel of power which collects that energy from  the all land and send it… to somewhere else. No, not down to the Duat. The Judges are not pleased with that terrible structure. It is sent upward, to the heavens, to the starts themselves. Holy relics are hidden in there, items forged by the hands of God’s faithful without the help of iron. A Lifeweb is built through Jerusalem, one which was laid by the Maagal ages ago but was taken over by the Israelite and changed its purpose by Solomon and his Artificers. Neithian Architecture controls every aspect of the city, directing Sekhem into ebb and flow. This time, there is not barrier which blocks their way to Jerusalem. There is nothing to stop them from entering the city, robbing it from its treasures and destroy that foul structure which steals what belongs to the Judges themselves..

Except of Solomon, of course.

You may ask yourself why would the Arisen, some of the most powerful beings upon earth, be afraid of Solomon- which may be a powerful mage, but still a mortal one. That question is appropriate, and many of the Arisen have asked it themselves for than once. They think of the king, and see a person- regular mortal which may have some tricks in his sleeves, but nothing like the miracles of life and death that they command.. and then the memory flashes. Images dance before their eyes, the memories of nine plagues which swept through their lands, and of the terrible darkness which came with the tenth. Solomon may be “just” a man- but his god.. well, God is something else. They don’t know what is He- but he is something which is worthy to be wary off. Those few Deathless who have decided to see the King with their own eyes returned confused and afraid. There is something in Solomon’s eyes- he knows things he shouldn’t have, he casually mentions things no mortal man should know. His eyes seem to tear into the Arisen’s soul, read their Five Pillars and throw them behind the back like nothing special. sometimes, he looks like he is listening to someone no one can see, and then makes an almost casual comment in the middle of the conversation which refers to Irem, the Judges, or some other aspect of their first lives in an almost mocking way. Those Arisen who have came to the king with plans to cause harm to him or his Temple have suddenly felt a tremendous pressure- something that those who were awake during the Exodus remember well. Oh, their Sekhem is not ripped apart- not yet- but they are suddenly well aware that something is about to judge them, like that there is a sword over their neck, waiting to descend with the first mistake they’ll do. And then, the feeling goes away, leaving them confused and wary, not sure if that event ever happened.. until they see the smile on the king’s face. He knows. He, his Temple, and his city are protected.

But the rest of the land isn’t.

As this Era is not a part of a Sothic Turn (in fact, it is a few decades before one), we can assume that there aren’t a lot of active mummies during that time other than those awakened by their cults. Even less of those have themselves found in the boundaries of the Monarchy- perhaps only a single meret, made wholly from the player characters. Still, the word about the mysteries of Solomon and the Temple travel fast- from Africa to Mesopotamia, the Deathless hear rumors about a powerful king and an unknown threat, and come to investigate. The cults of the Arisen start to spread, lured to witness by their own eyes the man made wonder which is known as the Temple- and if by any chance they could lay their hands upon some powerful relics or settle some old debts with their enemies, the better.

And there are many of such enemies.

The Maagal of the Baal and the Ashera is the biggest, most organized group of sorcerers they need to deal with. Even though their barrier has fallen and they lost their control over the land, they are still a power to consider in the Monarchy. Their cults work constantly against the cults of the Arisen, and they know ancient rituals developed exactly in order to deal with the undying god slaves of the Judges. They have knowledge, they have numbers, and most important than all- they have the power to craft sekhem into form, something which fills the Arisen with blind hatred and envy. All of that would make the priests a powerful threat they would have to deal with- especially since that while they are no longer able to build nation size barriers like they used to, under Solomon’s policy of freedom of religion their own temples are still protected by similar, even if not as powerful, barriers.

However, the secrets of sekhem craft are not only known to the Canaanite- but to the Israelite too. The Artificers of the Temple know the secrets of craft which channel God’s divine blessings and curses. Unlike the Maagal, they are not blessed with the ability to craft relics- but they do have the ability to use the Laws of God in order to command the Shekhinah (as Sekhem is known in the Monarchy) and allow it to dwell in a new home. Deep in the basements of the Temple, the holy treasures resonant with the artifice, creating “downgraded” versions of the true relics- ones that instead of trying to force God into form, simply reflect the already captured divinity. Unlike the Maagal, the Artificers also know other secrets sorceries- Alchemy, for example- and by working the Divine Fire and the flow of Sekhem together many great wonders have been produced as they and the Brewers have combined their miracles into one, leaving the Arisen to deal with powers they can’t even comprehend. Those downgraded relics produced by the Artificers are been carried by the hunters of Yad HaElohim, and those Arisen which have laid their hands upon those “false relics” name it as an insult before the Judges, the Gods and Sekhem itself.

Those are, of course, not the only sorcerers out there in the Monarchy- even though many of the lone practitioners were killed by Saul’s purge. Some sorcerers, however, are not bound to those lands as strong as others- they are foreigners, outcasts, loners which come through the whole region.. they are Strangers. While the Maagal is a separate organization, their members do maintain healthy connections which those astrologers and philosophers- they are well aware that the barrier around Canaan has collapsed, and that the king as allowed the Arisen to enter. Each of them have their own plans and ideas about what has to be done, and some of them preform certain experiments in order to find a way to deal with the threat once and for all. Some whisper that Goliath was the outcome of one such experiments, but if so, the Strangers are not telling.

The Deceived, however, seems to feel much more comfortable in the Monarchy than their counterparts. Unlike relics, Seba doesn’t seem to interest the Artificers of the Temple- God has not forbidden the arts of song and dance, after all. While the priests hate their cults just as any pagan cult, some of them forgo the religious outlook for a more “friendly” one. In fact, the Restless Stars have some great interest in the Monarchy- some powerful songs were sang by this lands prophets, turning into Seba of great power. It has came to the point that just as the Israelite refuse of producing regular relics, they give birth to all kinds of starry wonders, which draw the Deceived to them like moth to fire. David himself is said to have produced such Seba as he weaved music into life, and Solomon has lately started to work on a similar work. And more importantly than all, if the calculations are right, some powerful Seba is destined to manifest in a couple of years in the heart of the First Temple itself- the Heart of the sun itself- and the Deceived must to be prepared. Whatever God may be, his very presence terrifies the Temakh- and they can’t let any of his kings to lay their hands over such a powerful piece.

Just as the Deceived feel comfortable in the United Monarchy, the Shuankhsen feel disturbed. They can feel the Devourer rage inside of them, making their Sekhem stir and boil. She hates the Temple with passion- an uncommon reaction to a being which usually cares only about her own hunger. No two Lifeless can agree why- some say that the Temple tries to become as eternal and Nameless as the Empire without paying her the price needed to do so. Others say that it is because the Temple steals Sekhem which rightfully belongs to her. At any case, it is clear that the rage of the Devourer would not calm down as long as the Temple stands still, and the accursed king still holds the reigns.

There are, of course, other threats to consider- the amkhata aren’t common sight in the Monarchy, with the ages old supervision of the Maagal and the fact that both them and the Artificers object the creation of such foul beings. Still, with the crumble of the Maagal’s power and the end of Saul’s purge, more lone sorcerers were able to practice their rituals in any way they see fit, creating dread monstrosities which could make both Canaanite, Israelite and Iremite to work together. Few of the Visitors have found their way to the Monarchy, wishing to see by their own eyes the so called “wonders of the Temple” and laugh among themselves as they always do when they see mortal attempts to mimic the eternal glory of heavens.. even if they must admit that this time, something looks different. Sure, the Temple would eventually fall- but even they can’t fully understand what is going on…

And then, you have the Cult of Moloch.

Some of the Arisen have memories of a strange relic, an idol forged to judges the wicked and burn the innocents into pure sekhem- relic which, after so many sacrifices, may have gained life of its own. They look at the rituals of the cult and their great bronze bull upon which life are being sacrificed and find it as familiar.. and strange. And horrifying, almost as God himself. The idol which stands in the center of the cult, one which was crafted by the Maagal’s loving hands only for them to regret it, looks so much like the Bull that it hurts- but its function is way different. It doesn’t generates Sekhem from life- it devours it, like an whole in the fabric of the universe. Surrounded by fire and smoke and drums and screams, it is impossible for the cultists to notice the flow of Sekhem- but the Arisen do. They see the River dance to the rhythm of the drums, they see it carried in the smoke and see it burns in the fires of Moloch. Some cultists don’t sacrifice just their children- but relics, items which has passed for generations in their families and were crafted by the greatest of their kind. Only the Arisen can hear the screams of those artifacts beyond the sound of drums, only they can feel their pain. Moloch loves humanity- and it looks like it also loves the proofs of its existence. Worse, the fires of Moloch don’t contain themselves to the Valley of Hinnom- they move through Neter Kheret, consume lives and souls and whatever else they can touch. Those given to the flames don’t go to Duat to be Judged by the Law, they don’t have their chance in A’aru or are sent to feed the Devourer. They are gone, taken by Moloch, outside of the eternal circle. Anpu seems to be worried about the Cult and its demonic patron, and the most powerful Amkhata of the land end up being born from those flames themselves- incarnations of corrupted sekhem created from stolen lives and shattered relics. Some worry about what would happen if The ancient Bull would fall to the ends of the Molochite- where the Principle of Sacrifice would become full and complete, binding heaven and earth. Some think it has already happened, and that this is the source of the Cult’s power. And some, just a few, wonder about an even scarier possibility..

That if God and Moloch both steal the Sekhem from the world, what if they are both are one and the same?

Well, that’s it for this week! Next one we’ll examine Werewolf’s Antagonists, and then we’ll work on Demons during the First Temple- which is bound to be interesting. Stay tuned!

Chapter 16: Costumes of the Shadow (Tribes)

(yes, it is a pun. No, I’m not apologizing)

The Uratha are social creatures. The Pack is as important as, if not more important than, the individual. The hunt is not the act of a lone wolf- it is a social gathering, a cultural act by which the children of Father Wolf meet together and hunt down their prey, creating bonds of trust and mutual respect between each other. the bonds between pack members become even more complicated when different packs meet together, creating an whole new level of pack to pack dynamics. Some are seen as threats or rivals, but others become allies or friends. When the social customs of the individual pack become shared between a number of such social structure, bonds start to form, creating Lodges. Lodges by themselves are whole subcultures, bound together by certain shared faiths and ideals. Yet, even lodges can’t exist in vacuum, and they have either to form alliances or fight to the death. And eventually, when enough lodges agree with each other to share some basic customs, Tribes form- social constructs on a national level, with each being its own culture and faith.

Of course, the process is nothing nice and neat- very rarely a certain pack comes with the intention to gather others into making a new Lodge, not to mention a new Tribe. The very act is complicated and chaotic, which happen simply when a certain pack becomes heroic enough that others want to follow its footsteps, when a certain lodge become widespread enough that it turns from a cult to a religion. When enough Uratha through the whole world swear allegiance to one of those pillars of the werewolf society. Through the whole history of the People, only eight-to-nine times (depends on who do you ask) did such event occurred, and all of them track their origin back to the mythical past of the Uratha.

But why?

Why only nine tribes were ever born? Why all of those tribes are based around Father Wolf’s great children? Why haven’t any other pack, through the course of thousands of years, has managed to immortalize itself in the same way as the founders of the tribes did?

Because the Tribes aren’t just a social; structure.

They are a spiritual one too.

Essence is in the quantum of Existence, with Spiritual Essence being a specific sub-set of Existence- which is “physical existence”. As we have already established, a spirit exists because what it symbolize exists. There will be no spirits of trees in a world were all trees were cut off, and no spirit of birds in a place were nothing flies in the heavens. The social structures of the Uratha- from the smallest of packs to the greatest of tribes, is bound by shadow and spirit. The totems serves not only as a powerful ally to the pack, but also cement its Existence to the Shadow. Recognize us!- they scream at the spirit world- Acknowledge our existence through fang and claw! The Uratha define their hunt into the fabric of Hisil, and the Shadow bows its head before them.

Each of the Tribes represents not only a certain culture- it also defines what kind of prey does the werewolf hunts, and as such what kind of hunter are they. Supporting such a grand concept requires a great spirit of the Hunt itself to cement those principles into Hisil, for any lower one would be devoured by them- for that’s how spirits work. Existence draws existence, and the Firstborn, the pillars of the Hunt, have it in their nature to devour any spirit of lower importance, or submit it to their rule. Without a Totem of equal power to that of the Firstborn (and there is only a limited amount of Father Wolf’s children which has survived to this day), the Uratha simply can’t cement their social structure’s existence to the Shadow- the spirit world would simply not recognize it any more than it recognize things like companies or states or some international structures. The nine tribes exist, and any lower custom of the Shadow would be either devoured and absorbed, or hunted down and forgotten.

As the Forsaken are our protagonists, and the Pure and the Bale Hounds will get full treatment only in the upcoming new Night Horror book, we will focus on the five Tribes of the Moon- the five tribes which has devoted themselves to fulfill Father Wolf’s ancient duty after his death. Each of the Five has a certain supernatural prey which they hunt as a sacred duty, something which their techniques and views of the hunt as well as their relationship with their Firstborn. By hunting like their Firstborn, the tribe manifest its Existence, granting them all kinds of Gifts and taboos they must follow  in order to enhance who they are, who their Totem is and how they bound it to their will. Break those ancient customs of the Shadow, and you break everything which ties the Firstborn to its tribe- and by doing so, break the tribe itself. In this post, we will investigate each of those tribal aspects, and how they influence the life of the Uratha.

First, a general review- unlike other social constructs, the benefits and drawbacks granted by the Tribes are much more unified- each Tribe has a Firstborn (their Patron), a prey (what that Firstborn hunt, and as such what its followers hunt), Gifts (which are how the Firstborn Exist in their followers) and Renown (which is the form of interaction which binds the Firstborn’s residual Essence into the Uratha), as well a a Tribal Ban (which is how the Firstborn define their connection to their followers) and some history/setting material. As the Patron of each tribe is clear (the Firstborn) and intertwine into the Tribe’s writeup, we are going to cover both sections as one, instead of making a specific Cosmology section. Hope you would be fine with that 😛

Anyway, it’s time to start investigating the tribes themselves, isn’t it?

The first Tribe almost the archetypal werewolf- the Blood Talons. Defined through violence and death, the Blood Talons exist to wage war, make battles and fight until their last breath. Among all the different tribes, their are engines of violence, and they are bound by one oath- offer no surrender you shall not accept. While that means, in theory, that you could be a merciful Blood Talon- but its actual meaning is that the Blood Talon has to be a werewolf of honor. You don’t just destroy everything without purpose and then when the odds are against you drop on your knees and beg for mercy. If you are a psycho killer, expect to be killed by one. Their prey, other werewolves, enhance that aspect- you hunt your own kind as a sacred duty, just as Destroyer Wolf hunted his. Be wise about how and who you hunt, know who and when to kill. Destruction has a reason, and madness would simply mean you have became your Tribe’s next sacred prey.

That’s why their defining interaction if Glory- Destroyer Wolf’s Essence attach themselves only to those who proof themselves in battle. You can’t just kill- you must kill with a style, kill the toughest prey of all, kill that one prey who actually has a chance against you. Otherwise, you are nothing but a murderer, and there is no Glory in such hunt. The destruction of Fenrir must have a reason, his rage acts like the fire which moves the engines of destruction- but if you let the fire consume you, you no longer model your Firstborn. After all, Fenrir in the Norse mythology was destined to destroy the world during Ragnarok so other would be born- and that simple, almost naive taboo is the very essence of that great wolf of cataclysm.

The three Tribal Gifts which symbolize Destroyer Wolf’s nature are Inspiration, Strength and Rage gifts. Rage in the principle of Fenrir’s nature- again, it is the fire in the engine, the force which drives Fenrir to destroy his kin. Without rage, Fenrir would not have the needed motivation to destroy the world, remaining bound and empty. Strength models Fenrir’s brutal nature- you are a creature of brute, unstoppable force, and nothing can stop you in your path of destruction. Inspiration is the reminder that destruction has a reason- breakers of the Oath, betrayers of the Moon and any other werewolf which goes against the natural order is the focus of their hunt. Their hunts are inspiring, spectacle events of blood and gore. It is not the type of bloodshed which leaves you disgusted and shocked- it is the art of war, the heroic battles from legend where the good guys fought the bad guys and won because they were in the right side. It is the heroic battles of mythological heroes, which their legends would echo through all eternity. When Destroyer Wolf destroys, it is an act of awe, and all bow their heads before him as her devours the world. That’s also why their Sacred Hunt bonus allows them to see the Renown of others- they have the power to read their prey’s legend, so they’ll know if they are worthy to be included in their own.

I must say I like the mention of the Blood Talons as being an ancient tribe, even when compared to the other tribes. That setting hook about Odin worshipers or Mithraic legionnaires also sounds interesting, moving from the primal warriors of Scandinavia to the disciplined war masters of Rome in the same breath. Their aspect of celebration makes sense- after all, those who win the war deserve the trophies, and when you exist in a constant battle who would know what would happen tomorrow? Now you are an hunter, next you are a prey. eat, drink, laugh and fuck as long as you can, cause who knows when Fenrir would claim you has his own. Also, must say that having their stereotype around vampires makes sense- after all, they are the archetypal werewolf, and everyone knows what werewolves think on tricky blood suckers who never battle a fair fight in their unlife?

As for Fenrir’s plot hooks- I must say that I do like the potential connection to Rabid Wolf and the Fire Touched. Rabid Wolf’s madness gives a nice mirror to Destroyer’s, and the idea of Creator Wolf was mentioned a number of times, both in canon and homebrew. The two once made a cycle, with Destroyer bringing death against all who challenge him and Creator reminding him when to show mercy. Without that cycle, Rabid Wolf turned mad because her gentle nature didn’t allow her to protect herself from the swarms of spirits who wished to torment her, while Destroyer Wolf could no longer stop butchering his enemies. I wonder if there are some among the Tribe who wish to try and heal Rabid Wolf, and as such bring her followers to the Forsaken, or even unit the two tribes into one- or maybe even former Fire Touched may find escape among Destroyer Wolf’s chosen. The story about the binding of Fenrir is nice, and examples the principles behind the bond between the totem and the tribe. The modern mention of Destroyer Wolf is easily the coolest of the three- for it reminds you that by not following your bond to him, by betraying the ideas you swore to the Destroyer, you have turned from an hunter to a prey- the lesson is not eat your veggies. It’s to respect who you are, and never cross the line between a warrior and a murderer. By betraying the Oath you betray yourself- you surrender to yourself- and by offering such a surrender you would not accept from another you not only betray yourself. You betray Destroy too- and he accept no surrender at all.

The second tribe is the Bone Shadows- hunters of the unseen world. Spirits, ghosts and stranger things which lurk beyond the veil are their prey, and the great Wolf of Death is their patron. Where the Blood Talons are all rage and brute force, the Bone Shadows are elusive and subtle, for they are working against an elusive and subtle prey. In their hunt, knowledge is literary power- and ignorance is death. They maintain the boundary between world, make sure that spirit remains among spirit and flesh among flesh, using great magics and forgotten spirit rites to do so. It is Death Wolf’s nature to go between worlds and learn the laws which rule them in order to harness their powers. The boundaries are her realm, and as she roam between worlds she change herself and submit herself to even new laws and taboos- only to use them to her benefit and hunt its denizens. To be her followers means accepting the rules of the game- and play according to them to win. No cheating, no marking cards, hiding chips in the sleeves or using an unfair dice. If you wish to hunt the creatures of the Beyond, you must change the way your mind works in order to understand the new rules and play according to them. That’s the reason for their tribal ban- pay each spirit in kind, that is, play fair and square with the spirit worlds. Trying to cheat would end up with your own doom.

It is no surprise that the defining Renown of the tribe is Wisdom- understanding the rules of the Shadows and accepting them takes a great measure of wisdom, and not just in order to solve mysteries or understand the situation (that’s more Cunning, actually), but to understand what you are doing- what is the effect of your actions, read the signs to know what you actually deal with and how open your mind is in order to accept the idea that methods which work in one world are useless in the other. Death Wolf’s Essence binds itself only to those who understand the power of boundaries, and those who can’t read the omens end up abandoned by her. That power over boundaries is what that grants her followers their Sacred Hunt bonus, allowing them to naturally interact with beings of the two worlds freely.

The defining tribal Gift of the Bone Shadows is, of course, Death- after all, death is the power which separates between worlds, defining when flesh turns into spirit. Death Wolf herself died once, and the experience has marked her for all eternity. Death is the ultimate understanding of boundaries, and it is no wonder that Death Wolf’s children would be gifted with it. Elements serves as the other side of the coin, for where Death deals with the change of flesh to spirit, Elements deals with the change of spirit to flesh- to beings of the Shadow influence the physical world, manifest and transform its elements to make it dance to their will. As the wardens of boundaries, the Bone Shadows are able to invoke those powers and call upon the Shadow to change the physical. Finally, Insight in a natural Gift to those who need to live in two (or more) worlds. Death Wolf reads the signs, and she gifts her followers with the same understanding of the secret workings of the world.

I do like the connection between the Bone Shadows and dance- after all, dancing with the spirits is a great metaphor, and there is something about dance in culture which allows one to move from one world to the other. The idea of Bone Shadows using an ancient dance to maintain the sleep of a bound god spirit is cool setting hook, as well, as using Rio’s carnivals in order to preform their Sacred Hunt under disguise. Even things like story swapping and blood spilling sounds like nice ways to connect between the worlds.

As for to Death Wolf herself, her “origin story” sounds like a really good lesson for every Bone Shadow- every creature which entered the cave died, and only Death Wolf returned, for she was the only one to understand the rules of that other world and play according to them to win, while those who weren’t wise enough got stuck in the Underworld for all eternity.  Death Wolf’s binding story elaborates that the life of the Bone Shadows would be that of an outcast and loner, one which is trapped in the boundary between worlds without belonging to any of them, but it would pay off for every debt has to be honored. As for her modern story- it is once more meant to remind what the point behind the tribal ban- you shouldn’t cheat the spirit worlds, and you shouldn’t escape your debts. You chose to got through the gate and cross the river without thinking about the potential consequences. It was your responsibility, and you fucked up- so pay your debt fair and square. Be thankful that she asked only for your leg, and not for something more important- like your brain- and learn from it for next time.

Also, love the mage’s stereotype :P.

Next we have the Hunters in Darkness, children of the Black Wolf of the Forest. Hunters of the dread Shartha, they are the masters of their territory which work to cleanse it from the taint of the Hosts. Even among the Firstborn, Black Wolf is considered to be the mistress of the hunt, using ambushes, strategy and traps in order to capture her prey and bring it down. As she is focused around the Hosts, she in fact put herself above Father Wolf- for she succeed where her father failed. Their top priority is to protect the sacred places, cleaning them from both spiritual and mundane pollution and live in the primal wilderness. That would almost make them Pure in their outlook and ideology, if Black Wolf wouldn’t have focused so much around fixing her Father’s failures, for it means her followers must acknowledge that Father Wolf has failed, and had to be replaced.

Black Wolf is, by her nature, mysterious and hidden- she always watch from the shadows, striking those who violate her territory once they let their guard down. Her followers must be them same- their ban is to not let any Sacred Place in their territory to be violated, turning them into guardians of places of power and maintainers of natural harmony. They are the “Big Bad Wolf” of legend, creatures of primordial and virgin nature. Nothing escape their notice, and all paths are bound and lead to the same place, where they lie waiting under cover. There is reasons that their tribe name is the “Hunters”- other tribes may hunt, but only they hunt properly. That control over their territory presents itself in the form of their Sacred Hunt- nothing escape their notice, and intrusions from beyond this world are easily tracked down by those hidden predators.

The primal state of grace present itself through them favoring Purity- the tribe of Black Wolf must dedicate itself to the ancient, untouched purity of the wilderness. Black Wolf is the guardian of the sacred places and of the ancient sites untouched by man. As such, one must be pure in body and spirit in order to draw Mother Wolf’s Essence and bind it to their flesh- for the dread huntress queen would not express herself in a tainted body. That also easily explain her favored Gifts- Nature is the essence of what is “sacred” in the Mother’s eyes, Warding represents the power she has over her territory and Stealth is for the best of hunters is not seen or heard, and anyone who shares Black Wolf’s existence would gain affinity to those features.

I must say I like the connection between the Hunters and pre-Irish traditions. It works- I can’t point out why, but it works. The Rocky Mountains’ “Wild Hunt” sounds both awesome and terrifying, and I wonder how to incorporate my homebrew Church of the Blood Moon to it, as they would undoubtedly try to manipulate the event in order to lure the Uratha to their doom. The races of Hong Kong and New Yrok’s “sewer hunts”/Paris/Rome’s “catacombs hunts” also sound like interesting setting materials to use.

As for Black Wolf’s hooks, her “origin story” is the first one to make a Firstborn which leans toward being a Forsaken Totem (the other two feels like they could have turned out either way, being much more neutral in attitude). No wonder she answers her People’s call and taught them the skills needed to fix her Father’s failures. As for her modern story- the story both gives a great story hook, and it examples Black Wolf’s tribal ban. It is better to send the territory to the Shadow world, where it would remain pure and protected, then to let it be violated by death and war. The ritual is, undoubtedly, terrifying one- for it literally means you send a chunk of Earth’s fabric to Hisil, you with it- and once it does, what are the chances that Black Wolf would view you as a violator of sacred ground?

The fourth tribe is Iron Masters, children of Red Wolf. For them, change is the key- the world is always changing, and a good hunter must adapt to every new situation. They accept the world they live in- they honor it, in fact- instead of denying its changing nature. That makes them into the direct opposite of the Hunters in Darkness, but their Firstborn is also a purely Forsaken one. After all, she delighted in her Father’s death, for it would bring change to the world. The unique part of Red Wolf’s perspective- and as such, of her Tribe- is that she recognize the fact that humans may not be the strongest ones out there, but they have the greatest influence on both the physical and spiritual worlds. Spirits are bound to the physical, and the physical responds to the spirit, but humans shape both through their actions and deeds. They even include other, human monsters as their prey, making them the ones most likely to know about the other denizens of the darkness after the Bone Shadows- only that they also have some practical knowledge about the politics and social structures of those monsters.

Being the Agents of Red Wolf, their totem expect them to be adaptable and changing, clever and wit. As such, Cunning defines their connection to their Patron, for change must always have a reason- it’s all about evolution. Those who fit the situation survive. Not every change is beneficial- on the contrary, the most are highly dangerous. Mutations in real life don’t grant you superpowers, they grant you death. Recognizing what change in your territory and adapt accordingly is the ideology of Red Wolf, and her children must be clever enough to know how which changes are the most needed in order to survive in the new world. Not all succeed, however- and those who fail would simply die out, killed by their own actions when they act against their territory. That view once more puts them the closest to the Bone Shadows in ideology- which makes sense. The Iron Masters are the flesh for the Bone Shadows’ spirit. That mastery over change also express itself in their Sacred Hunt, allowing them to choose how to inflict madness upon their prey.

As for Gifts, Technology is only a natural choice for Red Wolf’s children. It is not about techno-shamanism or adapting to the modern world- it is that technology is the mean through which one change the world around him. Technology is what that allowed humanity to adapt to new situations, survive impossible situations and evolve beyond their physical limitations. Technology is not about smartphones and computers- it is about forging metal into shovels, or binding wood into wheels. It is about taking nature and turn it into another form, and by doing so adapting to your surroundings where it should have killed you. Shaping, however, takes a much more direct path for change, exampling Red Wolf’s chaotic and changing nature alongside the adaptive and clever nature. Finally, Knowledge is the last aspect of Red Wolf, for she is the smartest among her kin- she is curious, wanting to learn more, never having enough of what she knows. Again, that puts her as a mirror to Death Wolf- but where her sister is more about personal wisdom and finding the answers inside yourself, Red Wolf never search for an answer: she just wants to find new questions to ask, leading her to gather new information and learn new things about the world she lives in.

Information swaps makes a great sense as Iron Masters gatherings- something which both works in their themes and also something very human to do, compared to the other tribes. The scholarly and formal London Wardens makes just as sense as the bardic songs and stories of the German ones, and the fact that they have already adapted to use the internet in order to manage online future hunts through the world is just so Iron Masters that it hurts. I wonder if they would develop an app which is parallel to “Pokemon Go”, only that it is meant to help the werewolves to track down and hunt their prey, or perhaps something more in the style of the CROWDS from Gatchaman or Dollars from Durarara.

As for Red Wolf herself, her origin story shows the interest she had in humanity since almost the very beginning. Her binding puts her immediately on the side of the Forsaken, and also enhance her chaotic nature- she didn’t care for her father’s death, but she did care for the humans who suffered from the change and wanted to help them to adapt to the new world. That also makes her the most relatable of the Firstborn- but to a limit. As her modern story presents, she delights in natural catastrophes just as she feels sorrow for those who suffer and die for them. She does gives a fair warning- but how much can you protect yourself from a freaking asteroid, ah? The world is changing, she warns, and there is nothing you can do about it- so you better start to think now how your are going to deal with the threat.

(also, can we agree that the Iron Master’s art is the best one in the book?)

Finally, the last tribe is the Storm Lords, children of the dread Winter Wolf. Cold, ruthless, unstoppable and the winter itself, the Storm Lords carry a sense of pride with them- they are royalty, if not by right than by virtue. Winter Wolf is not a kind master- like the winter itself, he is a power of frost, of pain, of never ending, white darkness. It is not out of hate or cruelty- it is to train his followers, as lesson for them to carry along. Those who survive the winter won’t fail in the summer. Those who lived through the storm won’t collapse in the sun. Winter Wolf acknowledge that his followers aren’t perfect- heck, he knows that he isn’t perfect!- but you can’t let other sniff your weakness. Once they do find a weak point, they’ll strike it to spill blood, and then crawl through the wound to sleep inside your heart, poisoning your soul. By letting another to know your weakness, you become exposed to be exploited by it, and so you must not let anyone else to know about it- but you must know your own weaknesses. Don’t know yourself good enough, and you would be left wide open, unable to protect yourself. Acknowledge your own flaws, but make others think you are perfect. That’s the burden of Winter Wolf’s chosen, and the lessons they learn from his deadly frost.

That’s why the Claimed are their favored prey- those creatures are formed when someone allows the spirit world to know their weaknesses, and the spirit find their way into their body and soul. The very ability of the spirits to reach through the Gauntlet and Claim victims as their own is by itself a weakness of the boundary between worlds, and the very act of spirits Claiming meat suits is an eternal proof of Father Wolf’s weakness. The Great Hunter allowed others to see his weakness, and so he was struck down. He allowed the world to see his weakness, and so the world was shattered. He allowed his weakness to create a legacy in the form of the damaged Gauntlet, and so his weakness will be known through all eternity. That alone goes against everything which Winter Wolf represents, and as such it is no wonder that he became one of the Forsaken Totems.

It is no wonder that Honor serves as their defining Renown- being a part of Winter Wolf’s tribe demands that you will act honorably, like a regal king or guardian knight. You need to be perfect, an exemplar of your ideals, unbending and unbroken. Surviving the eternal winter means surviving in the most hostile environment which ever existed, and as such it draws Winter Wolf’s respect and force him to honor you- and his Essence can’t be bound to those who does not respect. Their Sacred Hunt ability also manifest his themes of hidden weakness, for it allows the Scions to see the spirits which lurk in the hearts of others- that is, literal expression of their inner weakness being exploited by the unnatural.

The Gifts which Winter Wolf grants to those which survive the storm are Weather, Dominance and Evasion. Weather is clear as ice- Winter Wolf is a storm spirit, and the storm is the act which tests one’s nature and abilities. The ability to control weather is a manifestation of Winter Wolf’s test of his prey’s character- show yourself worthy by surviving in the winter, or die out by the fangs of my children. Dominance is an example of Winter Wolf regal nature- those who see the great cold hunter have to respect him, bowing their head before him even as they cringe their teeth. You can’t not to respect a being which not only survive in an eternal winter all by itself, but also that prosper in that eternal cold. Evasion is a bit tricky- for why would something so powerful as Winter Wolf would express itself through such a Gift? However, after giving it some thought, it becomes clear- the storm mutes all sounds, blinds sight and freeze the skin so it feels nothing. No one sees Winter Wolf- only the storm which engulf it. No one sees his weakness and pain which he suffers from in the cold. People only see the storm, the rage, the deadly danger which looms upon the world- and so his children should be, showing only power, without weakness, and allow the cold to rub the senses of their prey so it would never see the weak opening before it is too late.

As for gatherings, it makes sense that they would search for the coldest, most extreme place they can- after all, only those who can reach those places deserve being a part of the meeting. Using tests and games, such as those done in Kuala Lumpur, works for those werewolves, especially as it gives a whimsical sense to the otherwise proud and cold hunters of winter. Their religious themes also makes sense, and the fact that they do not worship Father Wolf as the other Uratha does only express their themes of seeing him as someone who failed the most basic test of hiding his weakness- something which puts them at odds with the Pure. The way that the drive themselves to the edge in order to show that they are worthy of Winter Wolf’s attention both reinforce their tribal ban and their tendency toward honor.

As for Winter Wolf himself, the fact that he is the youngest of his kin gives an interesting tone to his possession and royalty- he earned his place, didn’t gained it as a birthright. It also puts him as an antithesis to Silver Wolf, the “other royal Firstborn”. It also shows how right from birth, the other Firstborn saw the traits they admire in him, enhancing his place as leading through example and a being to be admired. I wonder how did the three Pure Firstborn (or the others) have reacted. The binding story gives a really different perspective than the other tribes- the other Firstborn were sought after by the Uratha- but the lone hunter didn’t. He offered her help, but she denied it to the very bitter end, gaining his respect by doing so. Winter Wolf bound himself to the service of the Forsaken for they didn’t asked for his help- and as such showed they were worthy to gain it. The modern story shows that the Uratha don’t really know science 😛 After all, it is not that the Firstborn would suck the world of Essence, it is that the world can’t support the Existence of such powerful beings-n it simply takes too much energy to stabilize their forms outside of the Shadow, making it so they simply can’t cross the Gauntlet. Anyway, the way that Winter Wolf manifest himself in the world does makes sense- after all, when the world is cold enough and the storm rage enough, his nature is expressed enough that some part of him suddenly manage to Exist in the physical. The way that he sometimes ride a Wolf Blooded through the storm shows that Winter Wolf isn’t perfect- he never claimed to be. He knows he is a spirit, and as such he has the urge to take over a body- but he only takes those who show their weakness before him (just like any other ridden/claimed), and of course that he hides it- it is ok to be weak. It is not ok to let others see you in your weakness. That’s the lesson he wish to teach his followers through the act, and that through understanding that lesson they may understand themselves a bit better.

Well, that’s it! next week would be Mummy during the First Temple, and then the Antagonists chapter for Werewolf, including all the different kinds of terrors which hide beyond the veil- except of the idigam, which deserve their own section. Meanwhile, feel free to check my review of Half Damned! See you next time!

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So, it was a week from hell- an unexpected event has consumed a considerable chunk of my free time, and then I’ve started to re-read the Darksword Chronicles once more which devoured the rest like the sword devours magic. Then, Half Damned was released, and I had to buy it. All in all, it ended up with me not having enough time to review the Tribes of the Moon and make the appropriate post. Oh well. Anyway, I’ll make a blog post next week- which should be a much more relaxed compared to the one I’ve just went through, with all of my research group (but me) going to a meeting with some Chinese scientists. Anyway, see you soon!