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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

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      18.05.2001 23:52
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      For those unfamiliar with the White Wolf 'Storyteller' series, I'll begin with a brief general part, then I'll explain a bit about Werewolf in particular. I'll do my best to explain things to newcomers, but the main part of this will be my opinion on the game, not an explanation of it, so I won't promise to make everything clear - feel free to leave comments or email me via my page for further elaboration! The White Wolf Storyteller system covers a range of RPGs (role-play games, like Dungeons and Dragons if you're unfamiliar with the concept). It all began with Vampire (which has now been successfully translated to PC format) but now includes other supernatural creatures - such as Mages (wizards), Wraiths (ghosts), Changelings (faeries), Mummies and, of course, Werewolves. The games are set in an alternate 'World of Darkness' not too dissimilar from our own, and given the secrecy of the supernaturals, it could almost be our own (it's up to individuals whether to play up the 'horror' aspects involved...) The brilliance of the system is it's immense playability. The White Wolf system is based around d10 (that's 10-sided dice) and a skill-based character system. All the aforementioned games use this system, and can be run compatibly. The system is quick, simple and realistic - probably the best role-play system I've come across in my experience. It's also very flexible, so it's up to you whether you concentrate on the story or the dice! When the World of Darkness was confined to Vampires, Werewolves were the bad guys - violent savages who hunted down and mercilessly slayed the kindred (as Vampires call themselves; Werewolves are garou). This game, however, can be used as a supplement fully detailing the garou. It gives their own, quite different, perspective too. The garou were created by the earth mother, Gaia, to protect her from the depredations of the Wyrm.
      The Wyrm is identified as 'evil', representing entropy in the spiritual trinity completed by the Wyld (dynamism, life) and Weaver (stasis, pattern). The game is subtitled 'the Apocalypse' because the garou know, in an age where Gaia is ravaged by pollution and multi-national companies (such as Pentex Inc.), they've failed. The game thus represents their last ditch efforts, doing all they can to protect Gaia and save the Earth. In particular, it's worth noting that Vampires, the walking dead, are abominations to the natural order, and should be destroyed whenever possible :) Werewolves come in various types: Breed (dependent on their birth), Auspice (caste, dependent on the moon-sign they were born under) and Tribe (lineage). The lycanthrope gene is recessive, most garou are born of seemingly human (or wolf) parent carriers, known as kinfolk, but there are fewer and fewer garou left to save Gaia. The principal characteristics of the types are outlined below: Breed: Homid - Born of two human parents. Useful knowledge of the human world, but unattuned to their 'spiritual' side. Now accounting for over 90% of garou. Lupus - Wolf born garou are especially rare now wolf packs are in decline. They may be ignorant of such basics as (human) language and technology, but are highly prized for their rarity. Metis - Deformed outcasts born of the forbidden union between two garou, but at least garou society is less alien to them. Auspice: Ragabash (new moon) - The trickster Theurge (crescent moon) - The seer Philodox (half moon) - The judge Galliard (gibbous moon) - The bard Ahroun (full moon) - The warrior Tribes: Black Furies – Almost exclusively female, but fierce like Valkyries or amazons. Bone Gnawers – Adapted to an urban lifestyle, tramps and scavengers. Children of Gaia – Pacifistic (for ga
      rou), as the name suggests, religious and advocates of toleration. Fianna – Principally Irish, mainly bards and poets but competent fighters when roused. Get of Fenris – Arguably the most war-like, principally from Scandinavia and Germany they resemble Viking warriors. Glass Walkers – Another urban tribe, but unlike the Bone Gnawers the Glass Walkers dabble in business, computers and the Mafia. Red Talons – An all lupus tribe (bar the odd metis) who strive to reduce/eradicate the human race! Shadow Lords – Corrupt and scheming Machiavellian politicians, seeking to become leaders of the garou. Silent Striders – Exiled from their native Egypt by the Vampire Set the Silent Striders are now nomadic Gypsies and messengers for the garou. Silver Fangs – Garou royalty, once embodying all that was noble, many are now in-bred or anachronistic. Stargazers – Wise eastern seers and philosophers, but also mystic warriors. Uktena – Native American shamen and mystics. Wendigo – The northern cousins of the Uktena, less spiritual and more warrior-like. Like Vampire etc the game has a rich background drawn from research into folklore, supplemented or ignored where the game designers deemed it necessary. In particular, all garou can assume at will (or sometimes by reflex!) any of five forms, from human-seeming Homid, through Glabro, to Crinos (the traditional half-man, half-wolf killing machine), Hispo and Lupus (‘wolf’, or, if you’re lucky, ‘dog’…). The garou also possess many other powers, notably regeneration and the ability to 'step sideways' into a parallel spirit world (the 'umbra'). Anyway, now I’ve outlined the background, stay with me for the opinion, and I’ll tell you why I think Werewolf is the best of the Storyteller series. Many d
      ismiss it as just a combat game, like D&D. This is far from the truth, although the game can turn that way. This is normally the case with novices, and a pack who are all intent on being Get of Fenris Ahrouns. In that case, it’s not much of a problem – if they get what they expect they can have fun. This is a rather shallow interpretation, however, that may eventually lead to boredom. The deeper potential of Werewolf can be best explored by social interaction. Vampires are limited to their human or their own kindred politics. Garou can interact in either human or wolf community, as well as their own rich society and the world of spirits and other supernatural creatures. What’s more, the fact that all garou are incredibly hard in Crinos form means players can stress non-combat traits in their character, but still be strong enough to survive the almost inevitable fight. Plus the system is fully detailed to include other lycanthropes (bears, big cats, sharks, coyotes, giant spiders, etc) as well as the wide variety of what’s contained in the game. As already mentioned, Werewolf can be a stand-alone game, or used in conjunction with other titles from the series. Having played quite a bit of Vampire, Mage and Werewolf, and having looked at much more, I have no hesitation in saying this is my favourite. Plus you have the advantage of being a truly ‘good’ guy and the pleasure of wiping Vampire scum off the Earth they defile! There are, admittedly, some problems with the game. However, I feel these mainly concern the game system and apply to the others too. For example, the ‘secondary abilities’ problem and balancing the relative powers of the different supernaturals (I warn you, the inability of most Vampires to ‘soak’ or heal the aggravated damage caused by werewolf claws makes combat potentially one-sided and messy!). While these problems are endemic to the system, I feel they can e
      asily be overcome by an intelligent Storyteller and players, and don’t detract from the game in particular. Now, what are you waiting for? Gaia needs you!

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        04.01.2001 03:21
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        Blood, guts and hairiness abound in this second release from the White Wolf camp. Werewolf is a strange concept indeed, personally I'm thinking Werewolf, big, hairy, killing machine with a fixation on the moon. White wolfs take on Werewolf is a tribal culture serving Gaia the earth goddess. Now if you are familiar with the Storyteller system developed by White wolf you'll know that the emphasis on role-playing has shifted from the dice throwing days of old to a more sophisticated less rules orientated way of playing, in short, the story takes centre stage. If you aren't familiar with white wolf then read my other reviews?? The rules system is very simple based on statistics being used tested on dice rolls against numbers assigned by the Storyteller. It's all very streamline and doesn't get in the way of the action. Character generation is all allocated by the players no dice involved at all, a good thing in my opinion. The book itself is beautiful ranging from clever claw gouges in the front cover to a full colour comic at the front and back. The internal illustrations are of variable quality and quite frankly White Wolf have done much better, but in it's defence I'd say they are working on a limited subject. I personally bought Werewolf as a supplement to Vampire, and as that it stands up very well indeed. It pads out these furballs as truly awesome enemies for any World of Darkness game. However as a stand-alone game I think that's where it falls down. The characters are all combat orientated and a game session rarely goes by without a death defying combat of some kind. Granted its all very heroic but I want more than heroes slashing up bad guys in my games, if I wanted that I'd play Dungeons and Dragons. Now as with all the World of Darkness Werewolf is based on secret culture set in a contemporary world, so I think details should be revealed slowly. So I suggest new playe
        rs should not read the following. Werewolves and indeed other lycanthropes are servants of Gaia, Mother Earth. Gaia has been corrupted by the Wyrm, the Werewolves could almost be viewed as Gaias immune system trying to purge the infection of the Wyrm. If the Wyrm wins its battle it triggers the end of days, the Apocalypse. This of course doesn't mean the Werewolves live in harmony with the other shapeshifters or indeed each other, there is fierce competition amongst Gaia's children to prove themselves the most worthy. There are many tribes amongst the Garou (the name they call themselves) and they all squabble for dominance, as you'd expect from a pack animal. The way the Garou breed is strictly controlled, no Garou may ever breed with one of it's kind, it is outlawed as produces the sterile and deformed Metis, outcast from both wolf packs and human clans. The Homid form is produced from a Garou breeding with human stock and the Lupus from wolf stock. The stock from which the Garou is produced influences who it is most likely to run with and what forms it is most comfortable in. The forms are a progression from one end of the scale, a human, to the other, a wolf. The Homid form is fully human, those from Lupus stock find this the hardest to maintain, some are incapable of human speech after all. The Glabro is the near man form, slope faced and hirsute, this form becomes extremely muscled, chances are this form makes your average human a bit jumpy. They are still capable of speech but at lesser levels. Crinos, the wolf-man. This is your classic Werewolf, Nine feet tall and full of rippling muscle and claw. There is a minimal level of speech in this form, basically stuff along the lines of 'Die now!!' Hispo, the near wolf form. This is a hulking wolf, monstrous but no longer humanoid. Lupus is the true wolf form, this is indistinguishable from a normal wol
        f in the same way a Homid is from a man. The Lupus is driven by instinct and with all the senses of the wolf. As I have mentioned the Garou are sub divided into various tribes, these have both geographical and historical boundaries. The Black Furies are an almost exclusively female tribe whose origins lie in ancient Greece. They are fierce and honourable and savagely protect their domains, they also view themselves as protectors of women. The Bonegnawers are seen as the dregs of the Garou, they inhabit the back allies of the cities. Absolute survivalists, they often appear to be tramps and vagrants, whom they see as their protectorate. The Children Of Gaia are the peacemaker of the Garou, optimistic and forward looking they try to still the waters that rage in the soul of every Garou and are respected for it. The Fianna are a Celtic Tribe of Garou known for its Loremasters and Bards. Traditionally from Ireland they are well versed with all aspects of the Fey. The Get of Fenris are a violent and remorseless tribe descended from the ancient Norsemen. They are viewed as the most ferocious of all the tribes and rarely back down from a fight, even rarer is the Get who shows mercy. The Glass Walkers are a rarity amongst the Garou in that they are exclusively city dwellers, originally from Mesopotamia. They are the most technically adept of the tribes and use this to effect in working powerful magics. The Red Talons are exclusively composed of Lupus Garou, they see themselves as the only way to cleanse the cancer that is the human population. The Shadow Lords see themselves as the pack leaders of all the tribes, arrogant, courageous and cunning they are sought after as agents for the Wyrm, in their lofty position they have a long way to fall. The Silent Striders come from the Saharan wastes and as far as the rest of the Garou are concerned that?s where they can stay, they are di
        strusted as bringers of ill omen. They converse with and travel through spirit realms, driven by curiosity and fate. The Silver Fangs see themselves as direct descendants from the first wolf, and as such the rightful rulers of the tribes. Unfortunately their claim to sovereignty is also their weakness the blood that makes them kings also makes them mad. The Stargazers are the spiritualists of the tribes, ever searching for enlightenment but ever vigilant for the Wyrm. The Uktena are amongst the most untrusted of the Garou, wielding magic with extraordinary capability. The Uktena come from Amerindian stock, dispossessed of old and shunned now. The Wendigo come from Amerindian stock but didn't fall to the European Wyrmcomers in the way the Uktena did and are still determined to drive them from their shores. The Garou tribes use the gifts and power of Gaia to defeat the Wyrm in its various guises. The gifts range from simple things like the ability to cook really good food to the ability to fire the wolf claws as lethal missiles. The main focus of their conflict is in protecting the Cairns, locations of Gaias power, whole Garou communities are built around these mystical sites. The focus of stories tends to be around Cairns, tribal conflicts and defeating the Wyrm. To my experience that is pretty much it, maybe I haven't found the right storyteller, or the right players but it is a terribly limiting story concept, all the Garou simply don't seem different enough to give the game variety. In Werewolf's defence I will say some of the combat can be very exciting, but a little too technical to fit in with the low-tech approach of the storyteller system as a whole. Also as an addition to your existing world of darkness Werewolf really does pad out the bad guys, gives them motives etc. As an overall product Werewolf is the weakest series White Wolf have produced, this however doesn
        't make it a bad product when compared to other entries in the gaming world.

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