Bale Hounds [Shunned by the Moon]

Werewolf: The Forsaken

Hi all, it’s Matthew Dawkins here with some content from Shunned by the Moon, the upcoming Night Horrors book for Werewolf: The Forsaken. What I particularly love about this book is how it can act as an excellent bestiary for all the Chronicles of Darkness lines, though the Bale Hounds are a strong competitor for biggest thorn in the Forsakens’ sides in this book. Here’s some extracts for you relating to these infernal bastards.

The Corrupted

Corrupted are Bale Hounds fully inducted into the Maeljin’s service. These true Bale Hounds have sworn their oaths to Soulless Wolf. When a Corrupted swears her oath she marks two Renown categories she will use to injure the world. The first comes from her Maeljin, as each one despises some element of the world, and the second she chooses herself, to demonstrate her own path to corruption and misery. For the rest of her existence, she can empower herself, weaken others, and subvert abilities through these Renown.

As they grow in experience and power, many Corrupted develop strange and unique powers from their master’s domain. In addition to these, all Corrupted Bale Hounds gain the following powers:

Channel Darkness: The Bale Hound may flavor her powers with her master’s domain. When using a Gift or other power that uses her chosen Renown, the Asah Gadar may double the Essence cost and channel the Maeljin. The player and Storyteller decide how this manifests. An attacking power may become more gruesomely effective through the influence of Igsh’ma, or weak-minded may blurt out embarrassing secrets when confronted by Bhal’ma’s influence. At minimum, using any power this way infests the area surrounding the Bale Hound with Resonance pleasing to the Maeljin for the remainder of the scene.

Dark Power: The Bale Hound can’t use Dark Power on herself but can offer it to others. The character need not reveal herself as the Maeljin whispers its temptation to the victim. Recipients must accept the offer of their own free will but need not understand its ultimate source.

Subvert Power: Bale Hounds make Uratha question their pack and their ideals. They can even cause a werewolf to question his own abilities. When a power associated with the Bale Hound’s chosen Renown is used within (Primal Urge x 10) yards of the character, or the Bale Hound is the direct target of a power regardless of what Renown it uses, she may spend the same amount of Essence as the Uratha used and generate a Clash of Wills (Werewolf: The Forsaken, p. 115) to subvert its use. Thy Master’s Pleasure (below) can apply to this roll, especially if the challenged power is of the Maeljin’s chosen Renown. If the Hound wins this clash, she may alter it in one of the following ways:

  • Cancel the power so it doesn’t manifest any effect. Any Essence used by both sides is lost.
  • Change the target of the power to anyone within the Bale Hound’s sight, including herself or the originator of the power. This even works on Gifts that normally only target the Uratha himself. If applicable, the new target may resist as per the power’s description.
  • Channel the Maeljin’s domain though the power. Similar to Channel Darkness, but the Maeljin need only spend an additional Essence to have the Maeljin infect another Uratha’s power. The Storyteller describes how this manifests, but anyone who can identify the source of the putrid effect and Resonance will be led to the Uratha who originated the subverted power.

Thy Master’s Pleasure: Corrupted Bale Hounds are empowered in places that resonate with their master’s domain. When in the presence of activities compatible with their Maeljin, or areas subject to an appropriate Resonance, the character doubles her chosen Renown when building dice pools.

Soulless Wolf

Viruhk-Ur, the Eyes of the Maeljin, radiates power and authority. It appears as a wolf-shaped hole in the world, absent of detail except the shark-like eyes. It possesses a stillness and disdain for its surroundings. It doesn’t watch the world around it, or indeed appear to have any awareness that the wider world exists. Its eyes remain fixed on the werewolf, following any move she makes.

Soulless Wolf will speak with those who would speak with it, answering questions in a soundless voice that drives dead silence through the listener’s ears and resolves into words. It claims to be Firstborn, forgotten sibling to the tribal totems but a true heir to Father Wolf. It claims it always stood apart from its siblings, so unnoticed they forgot it existed. It claims the other Firstborn were so awed and afraid they swore unbreakable oaths to never speak its name or breathe of its existence again. It claims to have found the Maeljin in the darkness and followed them to victory over the world. It claims to have birthed the Maeljin in the silence of its existence, giving rise to aspects of itself that would spread and reveal the world’s true reflection. It claims to be a servant to the Maeljin, forever a slave to their darkness. It claims to be the master of the Maeljin, greater than even their darkness could ever hope to be. Soulless Wolf claims many things, most of them contradictory.

Regardless of truth, all Bale Hounds learn that Viruhk-Ur conveys their messages to the Maeljin. No Asah Gadar speaks directly with the Maeljin; if such a thing is even possible. They feel their master’s presence within their soul and can try and divine purpose from it, but they must speak with Soulless Wolf to carry their questions or seek direction. When Soulless Wolf returns with answers, the Bale Hound’s brands burn with the clarity of her Maeljin master’s words.

Soulless Wolf is central to the Bale Hounds. Viruhk-Ur cannot leave the Shadow’s Wounds, but it can spread shadow wolves where the Asah Gadar hunt, to serve as scouts and alert the Bale Hounds of opportunities. The shadow wolves watch for those who may be open to the Maeljin’s message, almost invisible and unnoticed, and offer temptation where needed. The presence of shadow wolves is a certain sign of Bale Hounds in an area. Very few non- Bale Hounds know this, and the Asah Gadar are motivated to destroy anyone with such knowledge.

The shadow wolves also report on the Bale Hounds to Soulless Wolf. The great spirit watches for signs of Asah Gadar compromise and reacts swiftly to minimize exposure. It may alert other Hounds to eliminate the threat, dispatch shadow wolves to destroy the offenders, or summon ignorant fools to its presence where it can delight in consuming their bodies and souls for itself.

Viruhk-Ur‘s most important role is taking a prospective Bale Hound’s oath to whichever Maeljin she chooses to serve. The spirit describes the different masters as asked, giving names, focus and purpose, and ask questions to guide the Uratha. It makes no decision for her but displays a false patience of timelessness and inevitability. Many reluctant werewolves discovered too late that Soulless Wolf does have a deadline. If the Uratha has not sworn her oath by the time the sun next sets or rises, Viruhk-Ur will tear her asunder and devour her Essence. Soulless Wolf does not advertise this, but it will disclose the fact without hesitation if the Uratha thinks to ask.

The Uratha makes her choice and swears her oath. The exact wording is unimportant, what matters is intent and free will. While many Bale Hounds are coerced by fear of discovery, they still make the choice to flee rather than face justice. The oath feels much like swearing the oath to a Firstborn tribal patron or pack totem, and settles into a similar place as the totem bond, worming its way alongside and beneath any bonds she already has. The Maeljin enforce the spirit of the oath much like a tribal or lodge ban, expecting the Bale Hound to carry out her master’s will, identify opportunities to spread the Maeljin’s influence, and to always work towards bringing the world closer to darkness.

Once the Uratha swears her oath, Soulless Wolf departs to convey the words to her new master. When Viruhk-Ur returns it reveals if the servant is acceptable to the Maeljin. Most are, if the Uratha has given the oath freely and of her own will, but occasionally the Maeljin take offense and give leave to Soulless Wolf to make their displeasure known. Such ministrations may be so fast that the werewolf never knows she wasn’t accepted, or agonizingly slow as the spirit tortures her to death, feeding her agony to the Wound. The choice depends on which Maeljin is unhappy, and whether the Uratha has also irritated Soulless Wolf with her conduct.

If accepted, Soulless Wolf teaches the new Asah Gadar the Rite of the Shroud (p. XX). This hides the Bale Hound’s presence from detection by her false Firstborn, pack totem, and other spirits within her territory. As she performs this rite for the first time, the tarnish lifts from her spiritual brands, making her appear pristine again.

  9 comments for “Bale Hounds [Shunned by the Moon]

  1. YOLF
    January 1, 2019 at 11:50 am

    Bale Hounds! I’ve been waiting for this.

    From this short bit, they really do have a very infernally twisted feeling to them. Subvert Power is a scarily flexible trick, but all of these basic powers of the fully sworn Bale Hounds build up on each other effectively, and they seem to reflect their corruption well.

    The Soulless Wolf bit is particularly interesting. There’s a fittingly eerie note to details like the utterly lethal danger when a Bale Hound must swear their oath that goes unspoken when asked, or the contrast between his stories and the other stories of the Uratha (whatever tale they speak, “this story is true”, but Soulless Wolf only /claims/ truth).

  2. Atavist
    January 1, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    I really like this, but I am a little worried. Dark Power is said to be done to others, but doesn’t have a mechanical effect. Is it elsewhere in the book?

    Also, with Corrupted Renown, is the Bale Hound still able to improve those Renowns, and if so, is it a lune who does it or a wounded spirit or what?

    • Chris Allen
      January 1, 2019 at 1:31 pm

      For Dark power specifically – it’s referring to an earlier section on the same power for Bale Hounds who have not yet reached the Corrupted tier in power. In other words, Dark Power’s effects are established earlier in the chapter – then this rules segment informs the alterations to Dark Power caused by being Corrupted.

  3. Pfft
    January 1, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    Hey, great, something to confuse the servants of Hikaon-Ur with (Shadow Wolves). Marvelous.

  4. Atavist
    January 1, 2019 at 5:49 pm

    Hunters in Darkness, you mean?

    Bale Hounds have been around since 1e it shouldn’t be that hard to adapt.

  5. Mosli
    January 3, 2019 at 4:19 am

    I am just so incredibly happy to see another book for the Forsaken gameline. Strangely enough it has become perhaps my favourite gameline. Even though I have played Vampire for 25 years. With the 2nd Edition of Forsaken it just leaped forward to one of the very best worlds. And this books promises to be very useful indeed. Can’t wait to read more on the Pure and the Bale Hounds. And please keep more books coming for Forsaken!

    • January 4, 2019 at 11:13 am

      Me too, and it’s been a pleasure to develop it. This book will act as a bestiary to more than just Werewolf, too!

  6. peter
    January 3, 2019 at 10:29 am

    Any idea when this will be available?

    • January 4, 2019 at 11:14 am

      We don’t normally give out release date, but I can confirm the book has been edited and now just requires art and layout.

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