A Link and a Question

Werewolf: The Apocalypse

Apologies for it being so long between updates. Actually, there’s not much to show in development right now: Werewolf is moving from editing to layout, so it’s been quiet on my side. Right now I’m devoting most of my time to working on the Skinner SAS and waiting with dread for layout to move to the “pg. XX fixing/indexing” stage.

Have you seen this? Here are Eddy and Rich and Matt, much more articulate in person than I am, talking about the Open Development process at GenCon.

Also, as long as I’m talking about the SAS:

Yeah, there’s no secret I’m writing something about Sam Haight, or perhaps about his legacy, or maybe something of both. I’m really interested in the Valkenburg Foundation-era Haight, the serial killer he was a bit more than the crossover beast he became. I’m interested in the Skin Dancers, and perhaps what sort of spirit allies might seek them out. I’m certainly interested in their totem Minotaur, and just what might be implied by stumbling into his labyrinth rather than the Wyrm’s.

But on this as well, I wouldn’t mind seeing some feedback. What are your memories of the Skinner? Good, bad? What would make you interested in revisiting the days of flayed werewolf corpses and the rise to power at any price?

  54 comments for “A Link and a Question

  1. Eric Crabtree
    August 28, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    I always wondered about his family legacy. Did he have any family and how did he cope? How did he meet Minotaur and not the Ronin?

    • Daniel Weber
      August 30, 2012 at 5:53 pm

      If memory serves, Sam came from Kinfolk who knew of the Garou. He did not undergo the First Change, and being in the shadow of his more powerful kin drove him to find a way to balance the scales. He was introduced in First Edition, as a result werewolves were presented as much more mercurial and less in control of their rage, I always expected Sam’s upbringing around Garou to be borderline abusive if not fully abusive with a strong Darwinian code of ethics.

      I liked the idea of Sam to start, an abused and neglected human turning hunters into prey, but he came to represent all the worst headaches I had running the game when he finally bowed out in Chaos Factor. For those who do not remember, Chaos Factor had Sam as a skinchanger werewolf with ghoul powers, vampire disciplines, a stolen Mage avatar, and an artifact quality magical do-hickie that made him all but immune to Paradox in his mad quest to supplant a 3rd gen vampire under Mexico. I think he also fathered the werewolf/werecat that could freely shapeshift into either wolf or cat forms.

      • September 2, 2012 at 12:38 am

        Well Ronin are kind of an entire other thing from skindancers and they don’t really have much in the way of unique spiritual nature. For someone to become ronin and survive for any length of time is unusual.

  2. Draugrbane
    August 28, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    I was absolutly upset about how Haight was originally written of. I liked him as the badass skinner/serial killer. I would loved to have seen more about the Skin Dancers. I found it all really interesting.

  3. Ben Linzy
    August 28, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    I was always a fan of Haight, even when he became the uber-badass in the end. It was very interesting watching my players run across him in the various games. He was a great villain who tied the different game lines together.

  4. August 28, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    I always felt that the whole Skin Dancer thing should have been an Uktena Rite that Haight Stole. Because that’s that dark stuff the Uktena get into which other Tribes might see as Wyrm tainted. Like Basically have a kinfolk killing you be their Rite of Winter Wolf.

    I always liked the Skin Dancers for the whole deal with the devil stuff. Very compelling when it comes to showing character who might have started out as good people realizing being a Garou and fighting the wyrm isn’t all that easy, or even not fighting the wyrm and being worse then the Garou they hate. Kinfolk don’t have to deal with rage or the social negative Garou do and them getting these Traits with no natural defenses is interesting.

    I however did find most people who played Skin Dancers basically did it to be cool. Most of them where played like all sobby little guys who had such a hard life and they where abused and now they’re dark and edgy, and hey I’m a special snow flake.

    I definitely like the Skin Dancers as a concept and as villains especially if players decided to be abusive to kinfolk but I never liked what players did with these characters.

  5. PookaKnight
    August 28, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    I’m actually using a Skin Dancer as one of the big bads in the cWoD game I’m running currently. I can’t wait to see some more information on them!

  6. August 28, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    The Rough Lay-Out at Gen Con looked pretty hot. It was fantastic to get to see it in that form, even if I knew it was likely to have some editing, changes, or the likes (hopefully you’ve been keeping an eye over on the forums for the thread where I showed it off at http://forums.white-wolf.com/default.aspx?g=posts&t=65764 .)

    I had to hold back my questioning at the W20 panel because I knew neither you, nor Bill would be there to answer them, so while it left some of my questions unanswered, I really hope that you guys have been at least silently watching our comments across the interwebs regarding parts and pieces that you may have not been asking for direct input about.

    By the time Sam got onto the RADAR of our group, he’d already begun to become pretty wrapped into the craziness. However, looking back on him, he struck me as a pretty reasonable adversary for the game. One of the more interesting parts of him was that… he wasn’t some 20-something guy, or even 30-something guy who had some inspiration. By the time he shows up in Vandenburg, he’s already in his mid-life, hulked out and a monster in more ways than one. He’s almost like Magneto when we meet him–he’s set in his goals, has his own followers, and is a bad-ass in his own rights. I’m really curious to find out more about his “version” of him with hind-sight and nostalgia built in. πŸ™‚
    I also hope that either the SAS includes a section for “everything you wanted to know to play a Skindancer” (like having its own Tribe write-up as if taken from the W20 book) or if the Skindancers will be in the W20 Book of the Wyrm instead.

    Also, will “Ronin” be in W20? Or will it be like the Caitiff and left for the “Companion” (Rage Across the World.)

    • Draugrbane
      August 29, 2012 at 12:03 am

      That layout looks soooo badass.

    • August 29, 2012 at 12:12 am

      My apologies on the incorrect name: “Valkenburg Foundation”

  7. Jared B
    August 29, 2012 at 12:06 am

    Checked out the rough sample at Gencon.
    When is the Kickstarter opening so I can give you all of my money?

    • August 29, 2012 at 12:18 am

      Rich is holding off to get some quotes for W20 Pledge level reward ideas he got from folks/fans at Gen Con. So, for the moment, it’s stuck at “soon”, last I heard. There will be a 24-hour notice on various sites (White Wolf forums, White Wolf Blogs, Onyx Path blogs, W20 Facebook, Onyx Path Facebook, and Twitter) when that announcement is made–if not by them, then re-broadcast by everyone else, I’m sure. πŸ™‚

      • Jared B
        August 29, 2012 at 12:23 am

        I will be eagerly awaiting the announcement and shall send out hawks to observe every single one of those sources.

  8. Belial
    August 29, 2012 at 12:40 am

    I really like Sam, and the skin-dancers in general, as a story about the Garou’s chickens coming home to roost. I see them as an outgrowth of the way some garou treat their kinfolk, as second class citizens of the garou nation at best, and as werewolf factories at worst. If the Garou are the only folk who get to matter, then what do you do if you’re a kinfolk who wants to be more?

    And when it comes time to address the threat, how many of your allies want him dead because he’s a murderer, and how many want him dead because he got “above himself”?

    As such, I liked him a lot better before he got ridiculous, when you could tell relatively human (if twisted) stories with him. .

  9. Islington
    August 29, 2012 at 12:46 am

    I imagine getting the chance to meet him before his brokenness would be like meeting Hitler before WW2. Would you kill him? Most are going to answer ‘Yes’, because it would save millions of lives and change the world completely.

    I’ve seen Samuel used once in game, and only once. It was in a LARP, and as cliath, we had no idea who this guy was. Hell, as players, we had no idea who the ST was describing. A few players on the sidelines knew exactly what was going on. We helped him out. He said he could heal an Elder if we could get a piece of his hair. So we went and found the caerns very old, sick Elder Child of Gaia and snipped a piece of his hair. Turns out said Child of Gaia was one of the ones he skinned…

    I loved the idea of the character of Samuel Haight. He appeared for me at a time when everyone was making “broken” characters, and allowed me to laugh at the fact that White Wolf had done it better.

    His entire concept is brilliant. I love that he is driven by his desire to have what he believes he deserves, and that he’s not afraid of what he needs to do to achieve it. If he wasn’t such a screw up, he’d make a perfect Shadow Lord.

    Alas, I’d still kill him. Samuel Haight must die.

  10. Al
    August 29, 2012 at 1:03 am

    I love the idea of skindancers; jealous Kinfolk, desperate for power, yet ignorant of what they’re getting into. I also like the idea, though, of the suggestions above of a possible Uktena Rite (assist five elders with their Rite of the Winter Wolf, and hey! Welcome to the tribe, specially selected Kinfolk) or even of hardcore military-style Kinfolk who take out BSD’s for their pelts. Obviously these would be the minority, as Skindancers make a much better antagonist, and they along with Samuel do a wonderful job of throwing the Garou’s treatment of Kinfolk back in their faces.

  11. Andres Montanez
    August 29, 2012 at 1:03 am

    I was talking to some friends a few days ago, after watching the GenCon videos and knowing that the Skinner was going to be linked to Sam Haight.
    My first thought was “a sequel to Valkenburg Foundation”… AWESOME!

    Valkenburg is my favorite story from Werewolf. And I actually used Sam Haight in a Mage story (Harvest Time from The Book of Chantries) and it was lots of fun.

    So my memories from the Skinner are very good. And I would love to revive the time before Chaos Factor, explore a little more his path of destruction among the garou nation, among the world itself πŸ™‚

    This post has been sponsored by Pentex.

  12. ana mizuki
    August 29, 2012 at 1:04 am

    I love the Skin-Dancers. They are often ignored, hushed about and feared. Yet, the kinfolk are a very real thing to the garou, and they can get abused or like Haight they might just seek the power that their relatives have.

    Whatever their reason might be, the act of killing five garou and then wearing their skins (think about it, majority of the Nation are homids, so the skin dancer is either killing off metis or wearing human skins) to do a ritual that vile makes them very clearly the villains. Killing five garou of the same auspice at the exact phase of moon means they do multiple hunts, so these guys are all ready bad news even before they gain crinos forms.

    What they do afterwards,though, is a bit too unclear. It is clear from Players Guide to Garou that Haight succeeded in his plan to create a tribe for his followers, althought post-mortem. There are of course Skin-Dancers who do not want to get revenge, just the ability to shift. But the rest, who join Minotaur’s tribe, what do they do. Is the tribe trying to become a real one? Or is it just geared to kill all garou?

    More importantly, if the tribe is planning on becoming a real one, what of their kin? Will these new kin suffer the same fate that the Skin Dancers hoped to avoid? Will their breeding result metis or something else?

    In a way, Skin Dancers are the true werewolves of WtA. They steal skins of people to become wolves and then wreck havoc upon the world.

  13. Wolfen
    August 29, 2012 at 1:14 am

    I first read about the Skinner at Valkenburg Foundation and I just loved the concept. It was like Hunters Hunted for werewolves, only better! And it also showed what could happen if you mistreated your kinfolk. But then came the descent into crazy foolishness and it was a relief when he became an ΓΌber-powerful ashtray. I think it’d be great if we had the SAS with the old Sam Haight and the W20 BotW with the Skindancer Tribe write-up side by side with the Black Spiral Dancers.

  14. August 29, 2012 at 1:36 am

    I actually have to admit that I am familiar with neither Samuel Haight, nor the Skin Dancers. In which supplement were they introduced? I didn’t pick up WtA until the 2nd edition.

    • ana mizuki
      August 29, 2012 at 1:38 am

      All you need to know about Skin Dancers themselves can be found in Outcasts and Players Guide to Garou.

      Samuel Haight, well, his bibliography is quite a bit longer. Mr.Gone’s sheet for him has the books listed, though.

    • August 29, 2012 at 7:02 am

      Samuel Haight is introduced in a supplement called “Valkenburg Foundation” way back in 1st Edition Werewolf: the Apocalypse.
      He is a Kinfolk who felt he was robbed somehow by not being allowed to become a full Garou and wanted to become a Garou no matter the cost. Somehow he came upon a ritual that allowed him to become one… by killing, skinning, and wearing the pelts of werewolves while performing the ritual. By doing so, he became a werewolf and found other Kinfolk who wanted the same thing, and so he has created a small, but growing “Tribe” of these werewolves known as “Skindancers”.
      Part of his write-up was that he learned magics called thaumaturgy that enabled him to perform these rituals. “thaumaturgy” would later be better translated into the term “Hedge Magic”, but nonetheless, his background then had him learning magic from vampires. This began the path where Samuel Haight was liked by other game designers and incorporated into the other spheres…. So he was a Kinfolk who became a Garou… who was also a Ghoul with vampire blood magic and disciplines…. who learned Hedge Magic, who had Mage talismans, etc. etc. etc… he wound up being incorporated into a many different spheres of the WoD, becoming one of the potential bringers of the Apocalypse/Gehenna/etc. and thus, a book called “Chaos Factor” was made that, when ran, ensured that Samuel Haight was killed in the end.

      It is revealed in Wraith’s “The Book of Legions” Samuel Haight’s soul is taken to the Shadow Lands, and forged into an ashtray.


      What Ethan is doing (from what I can tell, and what I’ve heard) is taking Samual Haight back to his origins and tweaking him from there so that he’s more in line with what made him so bad-ass and cool to use as awesome baddie in the first place.

      • Matt
        August 30, 2012 at 12:54 pm

        Ahhh ok. Sounds like one of those cool ideas that just sort of spun out of control ala The True Black Hand.

  15. Tom D
    August 29, 2012 at 1:48 am

    Will there be anything on the changing breeds in this book, or will that end up a whole new supplementary book? I wouldn’t mind seeing a re-release of that too.

    • August 29, 2012 at 6:47 am

      “W20 Changing Breeds” is scheduled to come out in December. It is already being written as we speak. Check the 2012-2013 schedule: http://whitewolfblogs.com/blog/2012/07/24/the-ww-schedule-for-aug-2012-aug-2013/

      “W20 Core” will have very little on other Fera. The “W20 SAS” (the one with Sam Haight) will likely have nothing on them. I doubt “Rage Across the World” will have much, if anything unless they realize they missed something in W20CB, and “W20 Book of the Wyrm” might have some of the Wyrm-twisted Fera in it, but I haven’t heard one way or the other on that one.

      I hope that helps. πŸ™‚

      • Laughing Hyena
        September 16, 2012 at 9:03 pm

        I wanted to bring this up: Will we see anything of the like from NWOD’s Skinthieves in a CWOD perspective? That book was great, and I want to know if you could have Skin Dancers that are not strictly “Garou”? Such as, having Skin Dancers of the other Changing Breeds?

        You can even have Garou be fooled by an Skin Dancer imposter of a Changing Breed. The Garou would be all like, “Hey! We found one of these guys! Let’s be friends!”, while the imposter mucks about, if he doesn’t get found out that is.

        Even worse, I remember that one of the NPCs in NWOD’s Skinthieves was a spirit that used human skins to be able to appear in the real world.

  16. shkspr1048
    August 29, 2012 at 2:19 am

    While having him be “the crossover-beast” was, to me, over the top, the idea that someone like Sam Haight, a man who’s killed numerous Garou (and is badass enough to live through it all), picking up the odd trick or two from the other supers of the cWoD (mainly from werewolf hunting/hating factions) makes perfect sense.

    For the Skin Dancers, I would think they could be developed in a number of ways, such as their relations with Fera who don’t trust the Garou Nation, further exploration of the ‘forbidden’ Gifts and Rituals they could learn, and an examination of how lupus kinfolk might fit in the tribe.

    Finally, for Skin Dancer spirit allies, the Minotaur can’t be the only one with a grudge against one of the Tribal Totems that hasn’t gone over to the Wyrm, or spirits of the modern age that haven’t been incorporated into a pre-existing Totem’s brood.

  17. August 29, 2012 at 2:27 am

    I love the Skindancers. I played a kinfolk for years in an old LARP chronicle, and if they’d given out those nifty titles for the Sept like they did in high school, Brianna would have been voted “Most likely to Skin Dance”.
    Not because she was jealous of the Garou, per se. She was just sick and tired of having her worth as an individual measured solely by the fact that she couldn’t shift. She didn’t want to be a Garou. She just wanted to be given a fair chance to prove she was intelligent, brave, fierce, and dedicated as she was, rather than just as a walking incubator for Garou-cubs.
    If you insult the person who is willing to lay down their life for your cause enough times, based on their inability to change forms… don’t be surprised if they set out to gain the ability to do so–by whatever means necessary.

  18. Mark Pittman
    August 29, 2012 at 3:01 am

    He is a werewolf that isn’t. Trained to hunt and kill. A very human reflection of their society. He is something to be feared because he is “just” kin. To do over, play up his disappointment at being kin. So a toxicity in the legends for the kin who do not change. Have him collect his skins but to replenish gnosis he has to keep killing wolves. 1/2 to him 1/2 to his spirit guide (not wyrm something else). More over I would look at him gaining a cult following with some of the kin-folk. They become a Valk cult in themselves. ((He has to be killed but killing him will winnow kin))

    Man turned wolf.. mating with another werewolf. I could see some crazy thought that he could breed the perfect metis and work his way into the legends.

  19. ShadowWolfZer0
    August 29, 2012 at 5:01 am

    I enjoyed Samuel Haight, even if he was considered overpowered. Mainly because he became that which the Garou feared the most. He was a Kinfolk, which some treat better than others and getting jealous or treated badly can make one seek revenge and want power at all costs. And that was interesting. Because his trail of revenge even made the hardy of Garou spooked when going to sleep at night. Why? If a normal human can kill your kind and do arcane rituals, you aren’t safe. And that’s something unique in a story, the enemy within. And the idea of Haight making everyone mad at him to the point where he eventually was killed, it’s not uncommon either since such commonalities happen in real life. Truth is stranger than fiction. Haight was a great character to have as an adversary. Glad to see him mentioned once more. As well as Valkenburg. That could be fleshed out with the horrors of how mental illness is still ignored as a big medical issues (that demonize the individual that have them) as opposed to physical diseases that tend to get more attention.

  20. August 29, 2012 at 5:25 am

    It’s not Werewolf:tA without Samual Haight. He’s the pure-rage werewolf reflection from a human source; plus his evolution through the systems to being an ashtray was beautiful.

  21. Phil
    August 29, 2012 at 10:36 am

    Werewolf is the one game that I basically played not at all, actually, so I’m not familiar with Sam Haight. What would one procure in order to learn more about this fascinating character?

    • August 30, 2012 at 6:42 pm

      Look above for more information. Especially the Wiki posts that contain the book links. πŸ™‚

  22. August 29, 2012 at 11:02 am

    I read the “rough layout” stuff online and there were some points that I didn’t like about them. I started a topic about that here: http://forums.white-wolf.com/default.aspx?g=posts&t=66113

    Well, as I found out, I the “Homid” paragraph was pretty much copy and paste from revised and the “no gnosis penalty for silver handling” mention was there even back in 2nd Edition. I had no clue about that for 13 years and there is no mention on this exception in the paragraph that details Gnosis penalties and silver in the first place. So I really hope that gets changed. Remove the “no Gnosis penalty” or mention it at both places, it’s both fine with me, but an exception to a rule that is several chapters away, without any reference, that is just badly written.

    Same is true for the mention of the “Rite of Renunciation” in the paragraph where actually tribes are introduced. There are statements given like “Gifts are lost”, that should only be with the Rite description and not mentioned at a place far away from that. Those words were better used to give a page reference to the Rite.

    Also there is mention of a geographical area where bone gnawer have originated. I would like to read it as “might have” originated, leaving the assumption from TB intact, that Bone Gnawers might have just developed from all the scummy werewolves other tribes cast out, being from no region in particular.

    Same problem I have with the Children of Gaia write-up. It mentions for a fact that the tribe formed from all those who opposed the Impergium. That should be presented more as a (possibly common modern day) believe, leaving the legend of the resurrected cubs, that is presented in both TBs intact.

    I liked most other parts of the preview. Especially the subtle changes/additions to the Black Furies. It’s nice to have the Get’s afterlife believes mentioned, sadly the other tribes have not.

    As for Sammy. Well, I liked Valkenburg Foundation, although a secret drug that turns werewolf into humans/wolves seems a little over the top. I also liked Sammy in the “When will you rage”-Story, where he goes to steal back the kidnapped garou kid his former college girlfriend has had.
    I’m really curious how he will be presented in that SAS.

    • Erinys
      August 29, 2012 at 6:53 pm

      Where is this preview you read? Do you mean the blog posts or something else?

      • August 30, 2012 at 6:52 pm

        There’s a link to the Chapter 2 rough-layout that was at Gen Con. I scanned it and PDFd it. The link takes you to the Google Doc, but I suggest downloading it if you want to see it looking prettier than how Google Docs presents it. πŸ™‚

  23. DantePD
    August 29, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Haight had a lot of potential. His early appearances were interesting and you could actually build good stories with him (I still have him pop up every so often.)
    While I don’t want to see him being a crossover beast in W20…well….a little nod to the fiasco of the past might be nice.
    Or, there are some potential crossover uses for him. Have him con a group of the Imbued into helping him gather his skins, have him quietly tip off a Technocracy cabal to the location of a local caren, etc. Let him be a behind the scenes player before he begins the hardcore insanity.

  24. August 29, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Sam Haight starts his run in the 1st ed Werewolf book Valkenberg Foundation. In pre-history he finds and kills a tremere and uses the blood and the library to learn to do some hinky thaumaturgy like things (later retcon’ed to hedge magic). He collects the pelts of the slightly crazy residents of the foundation until he has enough to make himself into a full garou skindancer.

    Phase 2 he shows up in Rage across the Amazon to raid a pocket realm where a splinter group of Amazonian Black Furies are guarding the sleeping body of a dreamspeaker archmage who is guarding the last vestages of some south american culture, along with the sword of Cortez. The sword is a powerful wonder that allows you to steal powers from people you kill, a bit like thieving talons of the magpie but with murder. He uses the sword, kills the dreamspeaker and walks away from the collapsing umbral realm with gifts and the beginings of some heavy arete/spheres but without the knowledge to use them.

    Jump ahead: Sam is hurting, paradox is not his friend and the sword doesn’t come with instructions. Book of Chantries has an adventure in the back where sam shows up at a Farm/Chantry that has turned their node into a kind of tree of life where if you plant the fruit it grows a new node. Sam asks for help in learning how to use his new kit and then either betrays or gets betrayed depending on the party and cuts out the heart of the Node and walks away with a portable Node with a massive store of quintessence.

    All of this culminates when Sam finally figures out that he still doesn’t have enough power to become immortal and decides to take the embrace. Only he wants to steal it (like everything else) from an Antidiluvian and get the most bang for his supernatural buck. In Chaos Factor he almost ends the world down in mexico city by stiring the pot with a methusela and the backlash of useing the staff to stave off paradox causes it to explode and kill him.

    As a post script the Wraith book of legions has him going ashtry from soulforging and then Bruce Baugh did a cameo of an ashtray as part of the stuff flying around in the Mage Time of Judgement book.

  25. August 29, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    On Spirits: I’ve personally always had the idea that skindancers were only done very shallowly. Two brief mentions aren’t enough to flesh out what essentially is an entirely new option in the world of darkness but their rarity coupled with the difficulty in making them in the first place explains a lot.

    One of the things that skindancers as a whole would generally focus on would be making more skindancers which breaks them down into castes like “recruiter, hunter, skinner, priest”.

    Spiritually the garou are kind of a backwater group, it gets pointed out whenever they get around anyone with any kind of spiritual depth. Worship of the Triat puts the garou into a very limited pool of spirits and their pacts mean that it’s easy to talk to them but also means they don’t experiment.

    Skindancers aren’t bound in that same design, lacking the pacts or the experience they can follow any spiritual path that appeals to them. Certianly the wyrm is going to capitalize on their natural corruption but they are supernaturally free agents and could make deals with anyone.

    That leads to possible ideas where skindancers follow angels, demons, wraiths, or anyone else who can get them some kind of instruction or power. Whole untapped branches of the spiritual universe unaligned with the normal garou cosmology.

    Personally i’m curious about minotaur as well, wouldn’t he have some more traditional ties with the Apis? And the Apis were the matchmakers of the supernatural world. Is he insane like Bat? Has his corruption manifested in other ways?

  26. Chris Wilson
    August 30, 2012 at 12:17 am

    I’ve always heard of Haight in the second hand and mostly in the negative. His infamy is legendary and has become the symbol of cheese monkeys every where.

    That said, the original concept of a bitter, hate filled kinfolk who wants to be more than human seems interesting. To what depths would a mortal sink to be better than human. I’d love to see this expanded on and made into more than a one dimensional villain.

    In fact it has me wondering. Does minotaur serve the triat. A maze seems very similar to a spiral. Is he really an avatar of the Wyrm? Did Sam and his tribe create the ritual to become a werewolf whole cloth or are there smaller steps and rituals that eventually led to the discovery of the final rite? Perhaps one of those steps allows a skin thief to steal the skin of mortals and wear it as their own. Do they still have access to Thaum. (Used as rituals and still requiring a blood price this would be a very gruesome path of Hedge magic and fitting with the concept behind Sam Haight’s tribe.) Having access to spirit gifts do they still have Hedge magic?

    My interest is piqued. Sam Haight as originally written seems plausible (in the context of the world of darkness) and interesting. I need to know more. Now I have to read the Valkenburg Foundation and discover first hand what originally made Sam Haight cool rather than the symbol of munchkinism he became.

  27. The Soul Detective
    August 30, 2012 at 5:33 am

    The following is a diatribe. I’ve a lot to say, but the subjects are crashing into each other, and I feel a bit bad about the tl;drness of it.

    My memories of the skinner? I’m afraid I have none. By the time I were involved with Werewolf: the Apocalypse, Haight was a short time ago created memory after an unfortunate smash head first into a bundle of misc. circumstances and powersets that ultimately made him a joke and an ash tray in Stygia.

    What I want out of revisiting Haight, though? I want Haight as a Prometheus figure. A Che Guevera. A radical idiot who throws a temper tantrum in the middle of a phony aristocratic party and coldcocks butlers and rich men. A mentally challenged boy in a supermarket, after a mean kid takes his stretch armstrong and prompts him to react violently.

    Haight represents millenia of aggression, jealousy, abuse, disenfranchisement and the feeling of helplessness and unrequited love the Kinfolk feel to their Changing Breed family members. Just aware enough to see all the horrible things in the world, just powerless enough to be eaten or raped once those things knock on the door, looking for their more magically endowed kin. Haight represents taking the lemons life gave you and burning down life’s house out of spite. Haight is an example that the Garou have, yet again, fucked up beyond all comprehension.

    I want the Skin Dancers to be what the Seventh Generation should have been. I want the Garou to see the horrible cultist activities of the Skin Dancers, the way culture converts to magic converts to meat, and back again, and I want them to ask, “is what we do really so different? What are we, really? Does my spirit make me Garou, or my culture?” I want Kinfolk fleshed out as player characters and support, and I want the Skin Dancers to be their dark side.

    I want the Skin Dancers to be terrifying not just because they are Gnosis using sorcerers and hedge mages, but because one of the reasons they are so provocative and powerful because they have no such taboos or conventions against mortal men learning and exercising their connection to the spirit world. I want the Skin Dancers to be the uncomfortable truth that ANY Kinfolk, if only the Garou or any Changing Breed earnestly cared enough about their Kin, weren’t afraid of losing power over mortals, weren’t afraid of going against tradition, could learn the love of Gaia nearly as good as any Garou. And the reason this resource remains unexploited, purely because of fear, tradition, and the grindstone of inertia. And the damage not adapting is causing. The angst of culture being an empowering box to be stuck in.

    I want Haight and his budding culture to horrify the Garou at the terrible possibility that all tribes could have come from a few less-than-divine trendsetters, who gained popularity as camps, then as bloodlines, then as bonafide tribes with the proper support of a patron totem. I want the proudest Silver Fang to see Haight’s potential as a patriarch and wonder if, so long ago, their ancestor weren’t just as mortal, the details of how they came to power lost to the entropy of time and the retroactive continuity of the mythology-blooded Changing Breeds.

    Haight touches on everything. Soul crushing repetitious tradition done just to empower culture, to keep fueling the people. The dilution of that power when tradition is changed. Systemic abuse. Aristocratic theocracy where only those born endowed have the right to rule over their peasant cousins. The relationship between Totem and Garou. The relationship between Garou and Homid.

    I want humans that aren’t necessarily thralls of the Wyrm but are still intimately connected to the Changing Breeds, able to be as big a threat to a pack or a caern as the largest Thunderwyrm. I want contemporary social politics to be a thing with the modern tribes and Garou Nation, on the subject of proper relations with their human kin. Haight is proof positive that how the Garou are doing it is WRONG and needs to change, exploring the hows and maybes, and it would also go a long way to dispelling some of the negative sentiments some players had about the sexual politics of Werewolf, given how much humans were reduced to breeding stock.

    Not just human kin. I’d like if some atavistic relationship were reached that allowed animal kin to become just as sorcerous, just as dangerous. Imagine Skin Dancers of human and wolf breed. Wolves, touched by the spirits and capable of higher reasoning, who could act as their Primal Urge. Wolves, who know almost instictively, these Skin Dancing kin could weave them a skin to make them human. And weave themselves skin to make themselves wolves. Garou not only have to deal with the jealousy of humans, but wolves just spirit enough to buck their nature our of jealousy and pursue power on their own.

    Something like this. The Skin Dancers in my headcanon are already compelling antagonists. I never thought I’d get the chance to share my exact thoughts and maybe affect the recipe of a game I enjoy, but I hope these thoughts help.

    • ethan
      August 30, 2012 at 8:37 pm

      This is a very compelling argument, even if it’s not something I can wholeheartedly adopt.

      On the one hand, yes, Haight represents retribution for abuse on some level. We don’t want to say that abuse of Kinfolk is cool and acceptable because Garou do it. There’s a nasty critique embedded in the Skin Dancer origins, and it shouldn’t be taken out.

      On the other hand, I’m hesitant to make blanket statements like “The Garou are WRONG.” There are always plenty of exceptions, and in fact it varies from table to table and LARP to LARP just how much of Garou society is romanticized and how much is portrayed as starkly incorrect. There are plenty of games where a sept’s Kin are treated well, and for every player who wants to use the Get as vicious bastards who step on their Kin’s necks, there’s another one who thinks that they should have strong family bonds, even if they don’t care about anyone outside those bonds. It’s a problematic place to be as a writer to say things like “The Garou don’t care about their Kin, they abuse them and treat them solely as breeding stock” without a host of qualifiers because many readers will immediately take exception to a writer mischaracterizing how they actually play the game.

      I think the actual implementation will have to respect both sides of things. It should be clear that a lot of what goes on is clearly wrong and should not be tolerated, but it should also be clear that we aren’t, as creators, damning the fans for enjoying playing Garou who are protagonists, or even frequently heroic. Nor are we telling them that they’re doing it wrong. I think it’s more of an acknowledgement that these issues exist, but I would rather not define just how specifically widespread, institutionalized or atavistic these practices are overall. That’s a slider bar that most groups out there have already set for themselves, I believe.

      • August 30, 2012 at 9:12 pm

        I think where the job of the writer begins is to showcase the garou culture’s departure from the human society.

        Admittedly there are departures from garou culture within that culture, the glasswalkers are going to vary considerably from the Red talons for instance.

        We all understand that people are going to vary over the sepctrum of experience. But where most people aren’t willing to treat their less fortunate relatives as breeding stock the garou do, to one extent or another. Knowing that this is a possible extreme of the culture allows the player to place him/herself in that spectrum with more authority and clarity.

        If we didn’t know what depths garou are capable of we cannot know to what heights we can climb.
        Don’t feel you need to be apologetic as the chronicler of those depravities. All you are doing is pointing the spotlight on the more extreme elements of a culture only you and a few others can fully understand, because you are the ones creating it.

        We don’t need stereotypes to make this work we create characters who open and close the doors of their society at their discretion and we all work within those bounds.

        Show us the Monsters and we’ll work out the paragons on our own.

        • ana mizuki
          August 30, 2012 at 9:34 pm

          The danger of that is that some might misunderstand it as the way -all- garou act. Which was the worry of Ethan’s post.

        • ethan
          August 30, 2012 at 11:53 pm

          It would be nice to assume it would work out that way. Unfortunately, I’m not talking from theory, but from experience. Ever run into people who didn’t give Werewolf a fair shake because they thought the Garou were stupidly violent, viciously racist or the like? Ever thought to yourself “What? They’re not all like that. Why would you assume that?” Or similarly, I’ve seen the backlash from people who do work out the paragons on their own, but assume that because writers don’t provide enough support (if, say, we take the protagonists into a fairly dark place) that we disapprove of the way they play.

          This isn’t about writers creating something that only a few of us can understand. It’s about creating something that everyone who’s ever been interested in Werewolf can look at and say “Ah, there’s something in there for me.” If we go relentlessly negative, we give the impression that there is nothing in there for the players who like the Garou to be heroes — flawed heroes, but still heroes and not villains who just happen to be also protagonists. Again: this has happened. I’d rather not repeat that.

          • September 2, 2012 at 4:58 am

            The Kinfolk (mostly the Human kin) are the backbone, the support, the reason that the Garou can spend their time and energy on the Great Fight… but in a caste system.

            Of course, many of the kin feel used, supporting these folks who don’t have “real jobs” and not only support the Garou and their lands and agendas, but their own families and lives. That alone, without the personal spiritual connections that makes the situation make sense, makes it hard for most kin to truly understand how important their sacrifice to the cause truly is.

            Unfortunately for them, most Garou are stuck in some very traditional ways of rulers subjugating their kin instead of a more contemporary concept of respect for your underlings because they can tear you down from below… at the risk of their lives. The Glass Walkers and CoG obviously are more apt to have changed to a more gentler/less oppressive relationship. But werewolves are not known for their cooler heads, and aggressive, dominating, war-like tactics are natural to the Garou psyche.

            Of course, each tribe, native culture, family and individual may commit acts that are different from others, flavoring the views of the participants in their own eyes, and often leads to angry and frustrating issues… leading to Kin who feel abused and used and wanting to be given that special gift that makes them Garou, or upset that they were somehow jilted. Leading us to folks like Sam.

            Obviously, you can’t say “Garou treat their kin THIS way” because there is no “One Way”. But since it is the “world of DARKNESS”, the default should probably be on the darker side.

          • September 2, 2012 at 8:14 am

            … at least, that’s my take on it. ^.^

      • ana mizuki
        August 30, 2012 at 9:20 pm

        Easiest way to implement both sides, at least in my opinion, is simply admit that garou are induviduals. And they don’t always agree on things or act right.

        Especially in the treatment of kinfolk, for every Children of Gaia who is for free love and equality, there are those who brainwash their kinfolk to spout slogans. For every Shadow Lord who treats his mate like shit, there are many who hold up their mates as equals and business partners.

      • The Soul Detective
        August 31, 2012 at 4:20 am

        I respect your position and understand. I apologize if I gave the impression I wanted them depicted as totally wrong. I recognize and enjoy that there’s a certain flexibility in what is canon and what is legitimate fluff, so games can include or ignore aspects of the setting.

        But, on the other hand, recognizing that the sliders exist and vary depending on tribe from the least extreme (Children of Gaia) to the Red Talons would help illustrate the divide between Changing Breeds and their otherwise mortal kin. And make it possible for the player characters to not just be physical crusaders, but culture warriors. How do the player’s characters feel about the relations with their kin? Another aspect of their local culture to have a perspective of.

        Also speaking from experience, yes, I’ve run into people who disregarded W:tA as racist or sexist given some of the tribes and subjects. And I do understand your concern about what’s written giving that misperception. But, I think the brand and its writers have matured enough to dispel those uncomfortable accusations. The Revised Tribebooks did a nice job of further fleshing out the tribes from just ‘the feminist tribe’ or ‘the misanthropic throwbacks from the boonies.’
        I do love the idea that the modern Garou rethinking the way they handle their Kinfolk for 20th anniversary would be a nice compliment, though. And I know a lot of people who’d love to play Kin, if given the choice. πŸ™‚

        But, I guess I can still request you give the Skin Dancers some sweet, sweet revisitation and maybe rethink the way Werewolf spirit-stuff works for mortals. I adored the level 0 Gifts in Unsung Heroes as good ideas. Giving Sorcery a more Werewolf twist for mortal Kinfolk occultists would just be wonderful. So.. at least give that some thought!

  28. Wolfen
    August 30, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    I think the Samuel Haight on the SAS should smoke. πŸ˜‰

  29. Pholtus
    September 4, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Sam Haight and the Skinners have long been a recurring part of my personal spin on the WW mythos. I love the character since I first encountered him as a player and the 4 times I have run VF since then. He is Iconic and when I first learned of W20 I turned to my partner and said that Sam HAD to be in the SAS that they do. I have expanded the Haight family and added some minor twists to the Skinwalkers lore. I am greatly looking forward to seeing what you do with this version of him.

  30. Blue Fox
    September 6, 2012 at 9:26 am

    My first expression of the skinner at Valkenburg foundation was “hey that’s actually pretty cool enemy” too bad that the rest of VF wasn’t quite as well thought out.

    I hopre VF/Skinner SAS fixes the most obvious flaws so that experienced groups don’t just steam roll the whole story in an afternoon’s session.

  31. Rashneesh "Big Stevie" Zimmerman
    September 23, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    I hunted down and bought every book containing an appearance of Sam Haight. I own his card from the Rage card game. He’s a five on a scale of one to five Powergloves.

    If the authors had done something halfway serious and evocative of the actual setting with him, instead of just deliberately drumming up a lot of hate against crossover games, he would have been great. [/conspiracy theory]

    Minotaur is good. Lion might also be looking for a new tribe these days. Sam himself would be a pretty scary and horrific villain, who could yet point out a few of the screwy things going on in Garou society (like poor treatment of Kinfolk, and how you might not know what he’s up to until it’s too late if he’s not picking on a single tribe because WE NEVER TALK ANYMORE LIKE WE USED TO.)

  32. July 31, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Many designers, like CaseCrown, Palmer Cash, and The Public Zoo, offer a wide variety of interesting cases to choose from.

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