Moon-Banished

Open Development, Werewolf: The Forsaken

I’m on the redlining charge now. That’s where I read through all the first drafts and mark up comments and corrections, everything from use of the passive voice to rules that don’t do what they claim to do, before passing back to the writers for second drafts. Of the book, I’m about halfway through — 109,000 words out of 215,000. I can normally redline 10 to 20 thousand words each day, but it’s in-depth work that involves keeping the whole contents of the book in my head and cross-referencing everything. That’s why I’m being even quieter than normal — I’m reading, but I need to focus on the redlines so don’t have time to respond just now. I am listening, though. Also? Sleep-deprived. That one’s nothing new, though.

Anyway: idigam won, 42 to 14. So let’s talk about the Moon-Banished.

The main source for the idigam up to now is Night Horrors: Wolfsbane. That’s a fantastic book, and I don’t just say that because it’s got my name on it. Matt McFarland did some stellar work defining the spirits of things that aren’t, and I didn’t want to go back and change that up for no good reason. I love the idigam as they are.

I don’t normaly do this, but I’m going to quote from the setting bible that I gave to all my writers, describing the idigam:

The idigam are creatures from before time, spirits of concepts that do not — can not — exist in the world as we know it. As the things they reflected slowly winked out of existence, never to be remembered, the idigam decided that they would not go gentle into that good night. They had to change to survive, and never stop changing. The idigam could mimic anything, physical or spiritual, for a while before they had to change again. Permanence is not part of their nature.

Able to take any form, Father Wolf could hunt the idigam but not kill them. Each time he tried, they took a form that defied his efforts. And so he banished them to the moon, a place without resonance or Essence. Luna locked them away in a formless prison, recognizing the changing spirits as kin-but-not-kin, for while she/he is ever changing he/she is still the spirit of the Moon and that anchors her existence.

After that, the stories get a bit muddled.

One version tells that a handful of idigam could remain in the world, taking skins and forms as necessary, to be the monsters that humans killed — a distraction from the real monsters in the dark. Humans slew fewer and fewer monsters. They faced far worse predators in war and sickness. When humans landed on the Moon, these idigam knew that no human would return to slay them. Surely soon Father Wolf’s get would come to imprison them? Seeing Luna distracted by the humans upon her body, they called to their kin, who escaped the Moon’s prison.

Another story tells that the idigam latched on to the spirits that the moon landings brought with them — spirits of technology, food, fuel, and light; of joy, fear, faith, and accomplishment. This influx of Essence awakened the idigam. Four of them escaped the Moon with the Eagle lunar lander; many more followed with the return of other moon landings. Whether the conceptual spirits of Apollo 13 were strong enough to provide anchors to bring the idigam — or stranger things — back with it, nobody knows.

Whatever the story of their origin, during their long imprisonment the idigam called to the stars and to spirits not of the earth, spirits that knew not of Father Wolf. Occasionally, the stars answered. Now, a meteor shower might bring a handful of alien spirits, one or two of which an idigam might find and nurture. While still spirits, these creatures embody nothing known on Earth, making them potent foes in their own right.

The greatest spirits of change, the idigam can warp and manipulate Essence itself. In order to remain in the world the formless must coalesce around some facet of the world, usually a slumbering spirit. Coalescing fixes the idigam’s form and ban — it’s more vulnerable to harm, and having a ban that doesn’t change from scene to scene is another weakness. On the other hand, they have full access to their Essence-shaping powers.

The idigam have a real hate-on for the Forsaken. Partly that’s because the Forsaken serve the idigam’s jailer, and partly it’s because Father Luna’s blessing gives the Forsaken a measure of protection against the Moon-Banished. Other werewolves are more likely to be victims or cat’s-paws of the idigam than capable of fighting against them.

So, that’s the background. What does that mean for the Idigam Chronicle? Well, no tribe has the idigam as their sacred prey. To the Uratha, the idigam are an out-of-context problem. The Moon-Banished are things that don’t match up to what the Forsaken and Pure have any experience of. As far as werewolves know, the idigam are a new thing, an emerging problem.

They’re also not elements of “cosmic horror.” That’s another term for “low-rent Lovecraftiana,” and our idigam are nothing like that. They are big, bad spirits that hate werewolves — Forsaken especially — and can warp the very substance of the Shadow. They aren’t unknowable, uncaring gods representative of the author’s fears of atheism or miscegnation.

Idigam are both rare and unique. Each one has to change, and finds its own way to coalesce and thus its own strengths and foibles. They don’t communicate, they don’t organize, if they even know that other creatures of their kind exist then one idigam may not recognize another, or may want it destroyed.

Ultimately, the idigam are the big bad that underlies a whole chronicle. They’re less “video game end boss,” more “Fenric.” I grew up with the Seventh Doctor, deal with it. The pack encounters spirits and werewolves poisoned by the idigam’s Essence, spirits of alien things, humans and Pure and shartha manipulated by the idigam, and in the end the pack can piece enough together to idenitfy the creature behind it. Then, they need to gather enough allies to have a chance of hunting the idigam successfully.

The book gives a broad toolkit for constructing not just the idigam themselves but their minions and catspaws and random thralls. It also includes a handful of idigam made using the new system, all of them new. The ones in Wolfsbane can fit right in as well.

If you think you’re getting away without Bowie’s Changes, you don’t know me. Next week, do you want to see the things werewolves hunt, or how we build their pack — Prey or Pack Creation?

  76 comments for “Moon-Banished

  1. May 23, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Cool stuff, Stew.

    Pack Creation, please.

    • WHH
      May 24, 2014 at 9:13 am

      can hardly wait for the book
      – and Pack Creation gets my vote!

  2. ThomasM
    May 23, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Very interesting! My interest in W:tF is growing each week. What is the definition of “miscegnation”? Dictionary.com was of no help on this one.

    My vote is for Prey.

    • Stupid Loserman
      May 23, 2014 at 2:36 pm

      Typo; miscegenation. Mixing of the races. H.P. Lovecraft’s racial biases show kind of nakedly in his stories sometimes, and this is a device he repeats.

      • ThomasM
        May 23, 2014 at 3:42 pm

        Thank you very much for both the definition and the explanation!

      • Manu
        May 23, 2014 at 6:44 pm

        Yeah. But he did not fear atheism; in fact, Lovecraft was a staunch atheist.

        • Stew
          May 30, 2014 at 8:48 am

          He was a staunch atheist, but he wasn’t at all comfortable with it — the idea of the uncaring universe being a source of horror rather than just the way it is shows his discomfort with the idea.

          But yeah. Frothing racist with no idea when to drop the thesaurus.

    • Eolirirn
      May 23, 2014 at 2:40 pm

      Inter-racial relationships or marriage

      Prey

  3. Yossarian
    May 23, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Awesome song. Creepy antagonist write up…! I actually didn’t know how the Idigam worked.

    Pack creation!

    “Bowie’s in spaaaaaace…”

    • NateD
      May 24, 2014 at 1:35 am

      That’s pretty freaky, man.

  4. Danny James
    May 23, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    I vote Prey

  5. Afro Luigi
    May 23, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Vote: Pack Creation

  6. Xion Grey
    May 23, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Pack Creation Please 🙂

  7. Bluegrass Geek
    May 23, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    Nice. I always liked the concept of the Idigam from Wolfsbane, so I’m glad they’re not being changed too much.

    I’d like to see more on Prey, now. That’s the meat & potatoes of any Werewolf game.

  8. Scarbringer
    May 23, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Pack creation.

  9. Furry
    May 23, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    Prey

  10. Tchokes
    May 23, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    Honestly, I would like to see more about Lodges.

    They are, to me, the weakest link to Forsaken in general, much more uninteresting than Bloodlines. They lack the proper social binds and rituals (not capital R rites and rituals, but customs and etc) to make you feel like you belong to select group of individuals.

    On a whole, Lodges were the worst in Werewolf, to me, and so bland and ‘More Powers Plz’ in a way that they kept me distanced from the game for a long period of time. Mots are an interesting concept, too, and I think they should be brought fourth as something more legit!

    • Stew
      May 30, 2014 at 8:48 am

      I appreciate that, but each week is a choice of two. Lodges will be back on the ballot soon.

  11. Tadanori Oyama
    May 23, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    I am pleased to see the Idigam aren’t being radically altered. Really liked them before and I think I will continue to do so.

    More about Prey please.

  12. Wildeyes
    May 23, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    Pack Creation please. Always loved the Idigame, looking forward to seeing how pack creation works, especially in regards to pack being bigger! Humans and animals being included in the pack is a really cool idea and stokes my curiosity into how packs work as a whole.

  13. HuckleberryNorwood
    May 23, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Thanks for sharing that background bit, Stew. I especially love the idea of interstellar spirits and how that could really throw even an experienced pack for a loop. The idigam are awesome, a great focusing lens for a werewolf chronicle.

    My vote is gonna have to go Pack Creation, I guess. I really want to vote for a double update, cause I can’t decide between the two, but you’re obviously busy enough as it is.

  14. Thorbes
    May 23, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Mmmmm, it seems Idigam didn’t change much from the concept we all knew and was fleshed out in Wolfsbane… strange for ever-changing spirits 😛

    On a more serious note, I did like the concept of the Idigam and I’m happy a forced change for the sake of it was avoided.

    For next week I’ll like to see… packs!

  15. P
    May 23, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    Pack creation, please.

  16. Eric Christian Berg
    May 23, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    I’d like to see pack creation, although it is a tough call. The idigam write-up is very helpful. I’m already planning a Detroit campaign and needed this to figure out where/if to feature an idigam.

  17. Zooroos
    May 23, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Prey please!!

  18. Sikla Alkis
    May 23, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Pack creation please!

  19. The Kings Raven
    May 23, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    Pack Creation

  20. JohnD
    May 23, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    Prey

  21. The Lone Gunman
    May 23, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Good stuff! I do love the Idigam, and I’m looking forward to see what new tricks they might get, while still keeping all that grand alien goodness they had in Wolfsbane!

    My vote is for Pack Creation.

  22. shkspr1048
    May 23, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Pack creation, and if possible, an explanation of how wolf-blooded and humans can be included in a pack.

    Also, might we get a description of the “non-terrestrial” spirits you that you mentioned the Idigam nurtured. Are they separate from earthly spirits only in what they represent, or are there other differences?

    • Stew
      May 30, 2014 at 8:49 am

      I’ll see what I can do in a future update — I’m still redlining and haven’t seen what my writers have done with that idea yet. 🙂

  23. wyrdhamster
    May 23, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    You highlight Idigams as nothing like Lovecraftian, but they base operation method is totally in ways of Great Old ones – human cults, using lesser servitor races to finally end the world as we knowing. If it isn’t Lovecraftian, I don’t know what it is – but I like it, finally “spirits” enemy that break a rules. I like basic concept of Shadow as Silent Hill-like reflection of Material Realm. But finally we have force that break those rules, nicely. 🙂

    I vote for the Pack Creation – would love to see if I had a good instinct on that with my current Mortal/Werewolf game. 😉

    • Leliel
      May 23, 2014 at 8:52 pm

      I think it’s a lot more personal than cosmic horror when dealing with idigam – they have a mind you can comprehend enough to know it hates you, personally. It’s not the grinding of an indifferent, callous universe, it’s the enmity of an old monster who remembers how your ancestor defeated it and wants revenge by proxy. More Hydra revived with Hercules’ rebirth, and less Mother Hydra (har har).

      I also vote for Pack Creation.

    • Stew
      May 30, 2014 at 8:53 am

      It isn’t Lovecraftian — Lovecraft’s powers didn’t have any ill intent towards people. They didn’t want to end the world. A few people in his stories believed otherwise, but they were wrong. Lovecraft’s idea of horror is “These things are like gods but they don’t care about us!”

      Also, the idigam don’t really use cults or use servitors. These things come about because of the idigam twisting Essence flows to infect anything connected to the Shadow and corrupting the Resonance of an area. They’re a direct result of the idigam’s presence and direct action.

  24. Brian Goubeaux
    May 23, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    Seeing this makes me wonder two things:

    1. Does this mean that the Gentry of Arcadia, which are basically concepts of stories are related somewhat to the Idigram?

    and

    2. I wonder how the Spirit masters of the Thyrsus Path will react to the influx of these new and alien spirit beings?

    • Stew
      May 30, 2014 at 8:54 am

      We’re deliberately not touching on either of those. We have enough work to do fitting Werewolf into this book to consider the details of other lines.

  25. Satchel
    May 23, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Voting for Pack Creation.

  26. scvn2812
    May 23, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    Love the Ian Banks “Culture” reference. The idea of the out of context problem is one of his best additions to the Geek lingo.

    Pack creation for my vote

  27. Arcane
    May 23, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    Like the Strix before them, these guys are a lot cooler than I thought they’d be. Like werewolves in the essence of change and celestial support, but so starkly, violently opposed to them. Truly the Other, but still a sign of what werewolves could become if they just gave in. And surprisingly personal!

    I’m excited for what the Uratha hunt, but Pack Creation man-I have always been about the wolves themselves first. So that gets my vote.

  28. Atavist
    May 23, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    I like it. A lot.

    Since we’re using Wolfsbane, does that mean the su’ur still exist?

    Also I vote for prey.

  29. Caio Geroto
    May 23, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Pack creation.

  30. Ephsy
    May 23, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    So, yeah, nothing that I didn’t got from Wolfbane. See? we should have gone with Lodges.

    Pack.

  31. ChrisF
    May 23, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    Prey!

  32. Manu
    May 23, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    Pack Creation.

  33. Charlaquin
    May 23, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    For once I don’t really have much to say. Sounds pretty cool. I’m going to vote for prey.

  34. reseru
    May 23, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    Prey, please

  35. bwgustaf
    May 23, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    prey.

  36. amaterasu
    May 23, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    Nice, good stuff.

    Vote: Pack Creation

  37. S1N
    May 23, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    Pack creation please!

  38. atamajakki
    May 23, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    Pack Creation, if you please! I’m very excited for that.

  39. hoodedclaw
    May 23, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    Prey.

  40. Durnak
    May 23, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    Pack creation!

  41. Allan53
    May 23, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Pack creation

  42. Dessembrae
    May 23, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    First of all, I am glad the fundamental concept of the Idigam are not changing. YAHOO!

    That, and I vote for Prey

  43. Raymer
    May 24, 2014 at 12:04 am

    Pack Creation, Please.

  44. Ravenmancer
    May 24, 2014 at 1:15 am

    Pack Creation

  45. Mr. Paint
    May 24, 2014 at 1:56 am

    Pack Creation

  46. Nyx
    May 24, 2014 at 2:39 am

    Pack creation please.

  47. Peter
    May 24, 2014 at 2:42 am

    Prey

  48. stsword
    May 24, 2014 at 3:47 am

    I vote for prey

  49. Thief
    May 24, 2014 at 4:58 am

    Prey seems interesting to me.

  50. Zanity
    May 24, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Pack Creation

  51. Nicias
    May 24, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Pack creation please.

    With that first explanation for why the idigam came back – is that saying that the ones who stayed behind were, in long-forgotten ages, set up as ‘decoys’ by the First Pack or somesuch?

    • Stew
      May 30, 2014 at 8:55 am

      The best way to remind people that monsters exist is to leave them (neutered) monsters to kill. Think of them as a kind of cultural vaccination.

  52. baboonking
    May 24, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    This sounds really cool! The thing about coalescing sounds very interesting, can’t wait to see the write up of that in its full glory.

    Hm, I think I wanna know about Pack Creation next!

  53. Nick W
    May 25, 2014 at 1:45 am

    Pack Creation please 🙂

  54. DarkSpiral
    May 25, 2014 at 6:02 am

    I see this vote is a heck of a lot less one-sided than the last. I vote for Prey.

    The idigam are shaping up to be creepy adversaries. Lovely! 🙂

  55. David M.
    May 25, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Pack creation for me, please.

    I cannot wait to see this excellent book to see the light!! Keep on doing so well!!

  56. Kelly Clark
    May 25, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    Pack creation, please!

    …and thanks for getting Bowie stuck in my head at the start of my workday.

  57. Ephraim
    May 26, 2014 at 5:11 am

    I’m a bit of two minds on the Idigam as explained.

    1: I like how they were portrayed in NightHorrors: Wolfsbane (OP: make more Night Horrors books! they are awesome inspiration!).

    2: I think it would be interesting with a new spin on them, and I think it is partially done with your description Stew, but I still think this is close to how they have been portrayed.

    I dont dislike it, I was hoping for something different.
    But one cannot please everyone 🙂

    The explanation of Idigam as a big shifting spirit (a spirit of change itself?) make me think of Nexus Crawlers and to some degree Wyld spirits in Werewolf The Apocalypse.

    Once again, excellent stuff! Keep it coming!

    Oh, and I vote Pack creation (and/or merits)

  58. christian a
    May 26, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Prey, please.

  59. Kirby Jerusalem
    May 26, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Pack Creation.

    I like what I’ve seen so far. Having been prepping for a Hunter game, I’ve also had Tactics on the brain, so I’ve been hoping that Pack Tactics – or something like it that helps the pack be stronger than the sum of it’s parts – becomes a core thing this time around.

  60. J-Frog
    May 27, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    Nice stuff, although I would have to disagree with some of your thoughts on cosmic horror and Lovecraft… except the miscegnation. I really appreciate his work, but the dude was racist as hell.

    I’d vote for pack creation next please.

  61. B
    May 28, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Funnily enough, if you go by the Virgin Books Doctor Who novel All-Consuming Fire from 1994, Fenric *is* Hastur the Unspeakable. I’ve always liked the Seventh Doctor’s last two seasons a lot.

    • Stew
      May 30, 2014 at 9:00 am

      I’m not much of one for the books, but the audio dramas? Hell yes. If you’ve not, track down the stories involving Elizabeth Klein: start with Colditz, then A Thousand Tiny Wings, Klein’s Story, Survival of the Fittest, and end with Architects of History — it builds into a masterpiece of the Seventh Doctor’s “planning style”.

  62. Patrick Regan
    May 28, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    Pack Creation — I love the fact that there’s even a chance to spoil this, since I think help creating a coherent group is an oft-overlooked element of RPG books. Too frequently it’s “have everyone make a character and try to shoehorn them together”. Which in my experience, often leads to tears.

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