Curses! That fool Brookshaw left the microphone live. Now, I must spill all my secrets. I’ll get him next time, Gadget, next time!
I have it rather easier than him, of course — you’ve all had the opportunity to play and/or read through Werewolf: The Forsaken Second Edition. Stay alert. You know what’s coming. Eyes open. That won’t save you.
First question: What is The Pack? It follows in the grand tradition of Werewolf: The Forsaken books with really obvious titles. Apart from a couple of edge cases, what was in a Werewolf book has always been pretty clear from the title. Info on the tribes? Tribes of the Moon. Auspices? Signs of the Moon. Threats and enemies? Wolfsbane.
The Pack is, then, about the pack. Chris Allen, Peter Schaefer, and Leath Sheales are joined by Sam Young to produce a book about werewolf packs. It shares the overarching theme of the Forsaken 2e line: The Wolf Must Hunt. Packs became more detailed (and arguably more important) in the new edition, and a book offers even more options to deal with that.
Theme: Playing the Pack
The Pack focuses on the pack as a whole, the admixture of human, werewolf, Wolf-Blooded, and everything else. While it’s perfectly valid to have the players taking the role of werewolves and the Storyteller using the rest of the pack as supporting characters, here we bring all of the pack members into focus. We presenting the adjunct members as characters on a level with werewolves in the overall story — not on the Siskur-Dah necessarily, but in the fabric of the werewolves’ lives. It’s okay — hell, I’d encourage — two players playing their werewolf characters while another plays a Wolf-Blooded and a fourth plays both the totem and a couple of human characters who have useful expertise in the scene.
Mood: Us Against the World
It’s a common Werewolf mood, and this book is no different. If you’re part of the pack, you’re one of us and we will look after you and defend you and maybe kick the shit out of you when you fuck up, but you are ours. If you’re not part of the pack you’re one of them, and the least member of the pack is worth ten of you.
One thing I do have to say: this is not “Everything I wanted to include in Werewolf 2e but couldn’t.” As with previous Werewolf books, The Pack has a strong premise and things that don’t match with that premise have to wait for future books, so we can do packs the justice they deserve. It’s a bugger to have to say that; I’d like to have the extra 100K I wanted for the core book so we could update everything and not have these concerns. Que sera, sera.
With that in mind, here’s a grab-bag of stuff you’ll find on cracking open the covers.
Chapter One: Us and Them
What the pack is, how it works as a whole, and how it interacts with the outside world. Here, we elide the internal divisions. They’re for the future. For now, you’re one of us, so you get to know about:
- How packs present to the outside world — not just biker gangs but office workers, software houses, fire crews, to cults.
- How packs recruit, both inducting new werewolves and those members who do not have a psycopathology requiring pack living.
- How packs organize, whether they go for the “tiered” method of Werewolf/Wolf-Blooded/Human, direct democracy, or other things.
- An alternate system for creating pack members during play.
- Options for troupe play, familiar to players of Ars Magica, the Civil War event for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, and a little thing caled W20: Shattered Dreams
- Some Merits that apply to the pack as a whole.
Chapter Two: Moving Parts
Here, we drill down to individual kinds of pack members. We talk about how they interact with the pack as individuals, rather than assuming anything about a pack’s structure. Chapter One is the flesh, Chapter Two is the bone. When you crack open the marrow, you might find:
- How pack members might act when the pack as a whole is at rest, on task, on the hunt, and at the breaking point.
- Specific factors for each kind of pack member — what instincts come into play for werewolves who aren’t in charge, and what it’s like to be in a pack of only werewolves.
- A much bigger discussion on the pack’s totem and its place in the pack, the sometimes-neglected fourth kind of “usual” pack member.
- Packmates who aren’t part of the “typical pack”, including spirits, mundane wolves, and the supernatural protagonists of the other Chronicles of Darkness games.
- Systems for pack tactics, and expanded totem mechanics.
Chapter Three: The Wider World
Following the flesh and bone metaphor, the previous two chapters discuss the pack as an animal. This chapter looks at packs of packs, the psychology of the pack extended beyond the immediate. This shows up in two primary forms: Protectorates, which are kinda like packs-of-packs, and Lodges, weird spirit-pledged mystery cults. Dig deeper and you might find:
- Details on Protectorates, including how they organize, why they form, how they structure themselves, and why they fail.
- An overview of Lodges, mystery-cults pledged to totems other than the firstborn.
- Tribal pillars — Lodges that exemplify each tribe
- Five full Lodge write-ups, including the Lodge of Garm, the Thousand Steel Teeth, the Lodge of the Screaming Moon, the Temple of Apollo, and the Eaters of the Dead.
Chapter Four: Hunting Grounds
As they were so useful in Werewolf 2e, we’ve included a further three Hunting Grounds that highlight the themes and ideas present in this book. They include:
- Dubai, the City of Chains
- Malta, the Crossroads of Worlds
- Bangkok, the Golden Throne.
That’s your lot for now, cheese weasels. Next time, if you’re good, I might spoil a Lodge for you. Would you like that?
Imma change this around from when I was doing the previous Werewolf development posts. Long-term readers may remember that every one of my open development posts for Forsaken 2e included one track from my development playlist, which Travis Stout was good enough to compile on Spotify.
This time, I’m asking you for songs (this has nothing to do with the third volume of Phonogram being out in trade, honest). The difference between the Werewolf lines I develop is easy to encapsulate in music:
- Apocalypse is Metallica’s Of Wolf And Man and RATM’s Killing in the Name.
- Forsaken is Florence and the Machine’s Howl and Duran Duran’s Hungry Like the Wolf.
With that division in mind, what’s your suggestion for the song that should be on my Forsaken playlist but isn’t?