Werewolf: The Apocalypse
The second of White Wolf Game Studio's World of Darkness games and a member of the Big Three, Werewolf: The Apocalypse is a role-playing game about werewolves, beasts who transform into various states between man and wolf, set in a Gothic-Punk world as dark as it is wild, concentrating on the wildernesses between the cities seen in Vampire: The Masquerade. Unlike standard horror movie werewolves who uncontrollably shift form, especially during a full moon, the werewolves of this game shift between their forms at will, making their state intentionally more of a blessing than a curse. The title comes from "The Apocalypse," a prophesied end of the world, as civilization and corruption overrun it.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse combines the trend of desperate horror seen in the World of Darkness setting with the focus on combat that has historically been prevalent among tabletop roleplaying games. The subtitle of this series is "A Storytelling Game of Savage Horror," reflecting the merger of darkness and action that lends itself to some of the most gory storytelling of any World of Darkness game line. While the original editions focused on the idea that werewolves are not entirely dissimilar to comic book and movie action heroes, over time the themes leaned into the Apocalypse portion of the title, insinuating that the plight of the werewolves is ultimately doomed, and the world will come to an end around them.
The Garou (from the French 'loup garou'), a word the werewolves of Apocalypse use to describe themselves, are considered the warriors of Gaia, the spirit of the earth itself. They are charged with protecting the things of the Wyld, the pure, generative forces of the universe, while preventing the Weaver, the organizer who spurs humanity to invent and build cities, and the Wyrm, a destructive and corruptive force from overstepping their boundaries.
Published in 1992, the First Edition expanded the Classic World of Darkness into a fuller and richer universe, as it not only gave players a second option beyond vampires, it made concrete the reasons for antagonism between the two. As with all of the Big Three's First Editions, it was quickly followed by a Second Edition that was more of an updated core rulebook than any sort of metaplot reset.
In 1994, the Second Edition of Werewolf: The Apocalypse was most notable for revising the rules on Renown; in First Edition, it involved a complicated system that easily spanned up into the thousands, which this edition resolved into a simpler continuum from 1 to 10. Many concepts seen within the game such as packs, Caerns, and Rites were fleshed out and given more mechanical distinction. This Edition also began the trend of using comics within Werewolf supplements as a way of easily conveying story information to players.
As with every game line's Revised Edition, the Apocalypse became something that not only would happen inevitably, but would do so fairly soon. The Garou no longer were able to believe that it was possible to stall it through their war efforts, causing vast shockwaves throughout their political groups. The Stargazers retired from the Garou Nation completely, choosing to concentrate on the efforts of the Hengeyokai in the East rather than continue to fight a doomed battle. The Children of Gaia came to believe that their separation into Camps was harming the tribe as a whole, and all were disbanded. This edition was discontinued in 2004, as the Apocalypse was stated to have happened in that year; its successor, Werewolf: The Forsaken was released a year later. As of 2011, books from this edition are back in print, in the form of a new print-on-demand service offered by White Wolf Publishing and Crowd Control Productions.
20th Anniversary Edition
Announced at GenCon 2011, little has been definitively confirmed about W20, other than a tentative release date of October 2012. Much like Vampire's 20th Anniversary Edition, the themes that defined Second and earlier Editions will probably return to the forefront, and the release will most likely include more comprehensive lists of Gifts and other features of the game than any previous single text.
List of Books
The most basic aspects of werewolf biology are their Breed, which state they were in at birth prior to becoming a werewolf (or if they were born somewhere in between to begin with), and Form, the various shapes which Garou are empowered to become.
- Homid is synonymous with human, and describes both werewolves who were born human and changed into wolf forms later, and a werewolf who is currently in the human form. Homids form a link between human and Garou society, operating effectively in both worlds, though tend to be spiritually underdeveloped as a result of the material distractions of human life.
- Glabro is the near-human form, blessed with great physical strength, but human enough to be mistaken for one under the right conditions. No werewolf is ever born into the Glabro form.
- Crinos is the "war form," and by far the most powerful, due to being a perfect mix of both human and wolf traits. The Crinos form is, however, very unnatural, and humans seeing them will suffer from Delirium, a by-product of bending natural law. Metis, the progeny of two werewolves, take this as their natural form, meaning they can shift forms even from birth; however, since all Metis are irreparably deformed and seen as abominations by Garou society, this is not always a benefit.
- Hispo is the near-wolf form, sometimes called the "flight form"; it is the fastest and most agile of the forms, and is usually used for a quick escape, as other forms usually outclass it in direct combat. No werewolf is ever born into the Hispo form.
- Lupus is the name of the wolf, and describes the pure wolf form and the wolves who learned to shift into humans. The Lupus breed have the deepest connections with the spiritual world, though their upbringing often makes it difficult for them to socialize among humanity without drawing attention to themselves.
Tribes and Camps
Thousands of years ago, before the dawn of human civilization, the Garou split themselves into Tribes, each fulfilling a certain purpose within their society. Tribal loyalty is taken very seriously, and those who are without Tribe, the Ronin, are barely members of Garou society at all. Many Tribes, such as the Silver Fangs and the Get of Fenris believe that Tribe membership should be based on lineage, whereas others, like the Bone Gnawers and the Children of Gaia, commonly take in those with no Tribal heritage.
Old World Tribes
|Black Furies||Bone Gnawers||Children of Gaia||Fianna||Get of Fenris|
|Glass Walkers||Red Talons||Shadow Lords||Silent Striders||Silver Fangs|
Destroyed or Disgraced Tribes
|Black Spiral Dancers||Bunyip||Croatan||Stargazers||White Howlers|
Every Tribe, except for the Children of Gaia who find them divisive, possess a number of Camps; the Camps are groups within a Tribe who are committed to a certain task or goal, and have developed unique Gifts or Rites to help complete that goal. Not all Garou are members of Camps, though Camps can be a way to help further define a character's goals and history within their Tribe.
When a man or wolf who will become a werewolf is born, he is inexorably tied to whichever face Luna was showing at the time it occurred. These five phases, known as Auspices, are much like castes, determining what role the Garou will play in his future pack.
- Ragabash: Auspice of the new moon, the Trickster, the Questioner of the Ways. Ragabash have a duty to question Garou society and, by so doing to show what needs to be changed and what doesn't.
- Theurge: Auspice of the crescent moon, the Shaman, the Searcher of the Ways. The Theurge serve as intercessors between their Garou brethren and the spirits.
- Philodox: Auspice of the half moon, the Judge, the Keeper of the Ways. The Philodox are tasked with knowing the Litany, the laws of the Garou, by heart, thus discerning right and wrong as well as settling disagreements.
- Galliard: Auspice of the gibbous moon, the Bard, the Lover of the Ways. The Galliard remind the other Garou of their heritage and history, as well as spreading the tales of Garou who accomplish great works.
- Ahroun: Auspice of the full moon, the Warrior, the Protector of the Ways. While all Garou are warriors, the Ahroun excel at the arts of war, even if their Rage makes them unstable. Their task is to enforce the ways with skill, tactics and, if necessary, with brute strength.
Gaia's Other Children
The werewolves are by no means the only group of shapeshifters in the World of Darkness. Commonly known as the Changing Breeds, or by the Garou word for them, Fera, most of these other shifters serve Gaia in some capacity, fulfilling roles to her other than those of the warrior. Though they are an important part of the world of Werewolf, many Garou remain ignorant as to the truth behind, and even the existence of some of the Changing Breeds.
Every participant in a Werewolf: The Apocalypse game must create a character to play. Your character is your alter ego whom you control and through whom you vicariously experience the World of Darkness.
- Merits and Flaws
This section covers aspects of the game outside your character, including some of the people your character can meet. NPCs are Non-Player Characters, characters played and controlled by the Storyteller, which can include other Werewolves, mortals, kinfolk (those whose werewolf blood lies dormant), antagonists (enemies), etc. The section also covers the political landscape of the Werewolf: The Apocalypse and the World of Darkness, including the Pack to which your character belongs and some of the other Factions which may influence, empower or endanger your character.