Werewolf: The Forsaken
is a role-playing game
set in the new World of Darkness
created by White Wolf Game Studio
. It is the successor to Werewolf: The Apocalypse
, the "game of savage horror" from the old World of Darkness
line of games, but has moved to a more personal sort of horror, reflecting the "dark mystery" theme of the new World of Darkness
Players portray Uratha, werewolves whose duty is to maintain the balance between the spirit
realms and the physical world -- most often this will be an action against the spirit world, but it can go the other direction. Any human with Uratha heritage may undergo the First Change at some time in their life, becoming a werewolf
, though what triggers the change is unknown. Each character has an auspice
or role, and most join a tribe
, or become a tribeless Ghost Wolf. Unlike traditional fictional werewolves, Uratha may change at any time into various forms between man and wolf, though they do find this easier when the phase of the moon matches their auspice.
Technically, the Uratha are a specialized form of werewolves in the World of Darkness and belong to the so-called Changing Breeds (beings part human, part animal and part spirit). Among these beings, the Uratha are not the only werewolves but the breed with the deepest spiritual connection, aside from the Ursara (werebears). However in the World of Darkness, the Uratha don't have much contact with the other Changing Breeds.
Uratha are fierce territorial predators who feel the compulsion to hunt. Many have trouble containing their aggression, hindering their ability to live normal human lives. Like wolves, the Uratha form packs in order to hunt more efficiently and better guard their territory.
Uratha are also spiritual creatures, able to channel spirit energy, which they call Essence, to make use of supernatural powers called Gifts to aid them in their hunts. They also possess an instinctive (if rudimentary) understanding of the First Tongue, the language spoken by their ancestors and spirits (possibly also the original language of all humans). Many Uratha learn to speak the First Tongue fluently.
Each Uratha has an auspice, a traditional role in Uratha society, tied to one of five phases of the moon
. Luna decides each Uratha's auspice, based on their personality and abilities; accordingly, an Uratha will go through the First Change during the corresponding moon phase. The five auspices have the following names in the First Tongue.
Tribes are groups of Uratha who have chosen to follow the teachings of one of the Firstborn totems
, five powerful wolf spirits who were among the original children of Father Wolf. These Firstborn spirit children are not descended from Mother Luna. Each promotes a certain attitude to or agenda behind the hunt. The five tribes or Forsaken, with First Tongue names in parentheses, are:
- Blood Talons (Suthar Anzuth) - the tribe of Fenris Wolf, who promotes the warrior and wolf aspects of the Uratha. Their tribal ban is "Offer no surrender that you would not accept".
- Bone Shadows (Hirfathra Hissu) - occultists who seek to restore relations with the Spirit Courts with the guidance of their patron, Death Wolf. Their tribal ban is "Pay each spirit in kind".
- Hunters in Darkness (Meninna) - protectors of loci, the spiritual centres of the world. Black Wolf is their totem. Their tribal ban is "Let no sacred space in your territory be violated".
- Iron Masters (Farsil Luhal) - this tribe, following the teachings of Red Wolf, embrace change and new ideas. They are closer to humanity, keeping up with technology and taking cities for their territory. Their tribal ban is "Honor your territory in all things".
- Storm Lords (Iminir) - the tribe of Winter Wolf seeks to lead all Uratha through strength and noble example. Their tribal ban is "Allow no one to witness or to tend your weakness".
- Ghost Wolves (Thihirtha Numea) - not an actual tribe, rather a collective term for Uratha who eschew the tribes while not necessarily abandoning the Oath of the Moon. As they are not a tribe, they have no patron spirit or tribal ban.
Every Uratha may change at will into five distinct forms, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. The forms, named in the First Tongue, are:
- Hishu - human form. An Uratha appears to be a normal, if very fit and healthy, human. An unconscious or dead werewolf returns to this form.
- Dalu - near-human form. The Uratha is slightly bigger, hairier and stronger.
- Gauru - wolf-man or war form. Half-human, half-wolf, Gauru form Uratha are generally 8 to tall and much heavier and stronger than any human. In this form a werewolf's blood-lust rises to the surface and is much harder to control. Uratha can only channel the power of the Gauru form for a limited time, and generally only take this form to kill.
- Urshul - near-wolf form. An Uratha in this form is a huge wolf 3 to high at the shoulder.
- Urhan - wolf form. The Uratha is indistinguishable from a normal wolf, though different Uratha resemble different breeds or species of wolf.
Long ago the world was a paradise known as Pangaea, where the spirit and material worlds mingled freely. Balance was kept by Father Wolf, a spirit of great power who patrolled the borders between the worlds, called the Border Marches. Luna, spirit of the moon, was impressed by his strength and wisdom and, in her human form, took him as her lover. From their union nine children were born: part spirit and part flesh, part man and part wolf. These first werewolves, along with their father, became the First Pack, and they patrolled the Border Marches with their father helping him to keep dangerous spirits from terrorizing the material plane and physical creatures from wandering into parts of the spirit world they did not belong.
As the years went by, some of Father Wolf's children saw that he had become weak, and that both worlds were suffering due to his failure in his duties. So they rose against him and killed him, intending to take his place. The death of Father Wolf devastated the Border Marches and divorced the material world from the spiritual, largely making it impossible for any being to cross. Luna, stricken with grief, cursed all Uratha, though those who participated in Father Wolf's death later swore an oath to her to carry on Father Wolf's tasks, regaining some of her favor - but costing them the enmity of the spirit world. These Uratha became known as the Forsaken.
This is the only origin presented in Werewolf: the Forsaken, and it is the most widely held belief of most Uratha. The exact truth is not known mostly because the ancient, powerful spirits that "know" aren't speaking (e.g., there are no stories of Luna granting any audience with an Uratha). Due to the spirits' silence and the rampant Uratha speculation, many other stories exist (all with the common element of a paradise destroyed by the ancestors of the Forsaken). White Wolf has released a supplement, Blasphemies, that contains possible alternate origin stories, werewolf factions that hold them, and tips on writing one's own origin mythos.
- Spirits - Spirits are the most common adversary of the Forsaken. Spirits gain sustenance by feeding on the concepts they represent. Some spirits possess humans in order to create more sustenance for themselves by manipulating their victims, others travel to the material world for the alien experiences offered by possessing a human. For example, a pain spirit might possess a child in order to inflict pain on other children in order to feed itself. The Forsaken's primary duty is to hunt down these wayward spirits and return them to the spirit world by any means necessary, defending humanity from their depredations. Most spirits hate the Forsaken for denying them the pleasures of the material world, which makes travel to the spirit world dangerous for them.
- The Pure - Werewolves descended from those who chose not to rise up and slay Father Wolf. They blame their Forsaken cousins for the loss of Pangaea and view the extermination of the Forsaken as a holy crusade. They are superior in number to the Forsaken, and their culture of hate and battle prowess has made them the Forsakens' most implacable enemies. The Pure have only contempt for humanity and feel no duty to defend them from spirits, which makes spirits far friendlier to them than to the Forsaken. Their only disadvantage is that Luna has not granted them her favor, which means they have no auspices and are more susceptible to silver than the Forsaken.
- The Hosts - Bizarre creatures who, like the Forsaken, are a hybrid of spirit and flesh, man and animal. They are descended from powerful Pangaean spirits hunted by Father Wolf for their attacks on humanity. They escaped total destruction by splitting themselves into thousands of spirit shards, each of which inhabited an animal. These shards became the Hosts. When a host becomes strong enough, it will consume a human and become a man-animal hybrid similar to the Werewolf's Gauru form. The Hosts are driven to weaken or strengthen the separation between the spiritual and material world, which can wreak havok in the area they inhabit. They also use to harm humans, either by spreading disease or by eating them. This of course causes the Forsaken to hunt them down whenever possible.
- The Idigam - The rarest of the Forsaken's enemies, these cthonic entities are the spirits that represent concepts that existed before the world was fully formed. The term "Idigam" means "moon banished," used to denote that these powerful spirits were exiled beyond the spirit world possibly by Father Wolf himself. As such, they have no place in reality and exhibit powers and motives beyond comprehension. The most infamous Idigam, Gurdilag, was able to forcibly meld spirits with humans, and even Werewolves, to create unnatural hybrids that were under its control. Idigam are vast and unknowable, which makes them almost impossible to confront physically. They may be another alias of the Acamoth known by mages.
- Other Supernaturals - The Forsaken occasionally come into conflict with other supernatural denizens of the World of Darkness, like vampires and mages. Usually, this conflict occurs, because the other supernaturals encroach on the werewolves' territory, either by breaching the Gauntlet and entering the spirit world or by attempting to make use of a locus that a werewolf pack has claimed as its own. However, unlike in Werewolf: the Apocalypse, there is no racial enmity between the Uratha and any other group of supernaturals; any given werewolf pack may become allied with or make sworn enemies of any given vampire coterie or mage cabal on a case-by-case basis. This is a marked difference, as being friends or allies with a vampire was considered a source of public shame among werewolves, and could even be taken as a character flaw in the creation of a character in Apocalypse.
Controversy & Comparisons with the Previous Game
Werewolf: The Forsaken
, while thematically similar to the prior game, Werewolf: The Apocalypse
, is different in both mechanics and setting details. As with the other old World of Darkness
settings, Werewolf: The Apocalypse
continues to have many fans.
There are, naturally, strong similarities between the two games and their settings beyond the thematic ones. Werewolves in both games struggle to interact with humanity while maintaining their spiritual and animalistic sides and defending their turf. Conflict with other Werewolves of different ideologies was present in Apocalypse
. The Pure in Forsaken
are far more prevalent, numerous and morally ambiguous than the diabolical Black Spiral Dancers
of the prior game, and more roughly parallel the cultural divide between the Native American Tribes (Wendigo, Uktena and the extinct Croatan) and the "European" Tribes (all the others).
Other design changes have been made with regard to the spirit world; Werewolves now have a much more hostile relationship with spirits than they did in the prior game.
- Werewolf: The Forsaken (March 2005)
- Hunting Ground: The Rockies (April 2005)
- Predators (June 2005)
- Lore of the Forsaken (August 2005)
- Blood of the Wolf (October 2005)
- Lodges: The Faithful (November 2005)
- Blasphemies (January 2006)
- Territories (April 2006)
- Lodges: The Splintered (September 2006)
- The Pure (November 2006)
- The Rage: Forsaken Player's Guide (February 2007)
- The War Against the Pure (March 2007)
- Parlor Games (PDF Only) (January, 2008)
- Tribes of the Moon (April 2008)