Thursday, 6 March 2014

White Whales (Part Two)

Monster games don't usually appeal to me. The various editions of VAMPIRE have always left me cold, and CHANGELING is fascinating, full of cool ideas, and ultimately baffling to me in terms of gameplay. (I like the portrayal of the Faerie Courts in the Dresden Files books a lot more than the White Wolf incarnation.)

I guess ultimately I prefer games that are about characters who are the good guys, and I'm not much interested in telling stories about characters who aren't motivated by the better parts of human character. In the end, those guys can always walk away from any trouble that's too inconvenient, while a good guy -- a hero -- always has to make a stand. Characters who care about things (and people) are just better foundations to build a story on.

Something about WEREWOLF: THE FORSAKEN keeps drawing me in, however.

Maybe it's the epic mythology that frames the game, where modern werewolves can trace their lineage to an Edenic prehistory where the world of flesh and the world of spirit were one. The werewolves -- the shape-changing progeny of the mighty spirits Father Wolf and Luna, thus the children of both the physical world and the spiritual, able to change their forms at will -- are forever condemned for a terrible crime committed by their mythological forebears. When Father Wolf grew old and weak, unable to fulfill his duties, he was killed by his werewolf children -- because in all things, the tribe must come first. This caused a great sundering, breaking the connection between the two worlds. Now the descendents of those primal wolves carry on the duty of policing the borderlands between, keeping spiritual predators in the physical plane from preying on the weak. But the spirits have never forgotten the werewolves' original act of patricide, and they are forsaken by the spirit world and the human world alike -- born of two worlds, but belonging in neither. 

Maybe it's the theme of rage and violence underlying the Uratha (the name werewolves call themselves) that makes this a spicy treat. Their intentions may be duty and honour, but Uratha tend to solve their problems with tooth and claw, and they're always struggling to rein in their savage nature. It's good to have a hero with Size 13 feet of clay. 

Maybe it's the thought of all the things I could do with the spirit realm that the Uratha can travel into, a shadowy reflection of our world where ordinary things and places take on eerie significance. The Host, creatures that are half-mortal and half-spirit, like the werewolves, provide a creepy nemesis -- half-human rat and spider-things lurking in the dark places of the city looking for prey. 

Or maybe it's just the lure of being an awesome werewolf. Racing under the full moon as a wolf, following the scent of your prey through two worlds, and tearing into your enemies with wild abandon. 

It would be a game with both a contemporary urban edge and tribal mysticism, equally at home in a world of seedy honky-tonks, urban wastelands, dense primal forests, soaring mountainsides and the dazzling dreamspace of the spirit realm. 

Maybe I'm just howling at the moon...?


  1. I've a run a couple one-shots and two short campaigns; everyone loved the game. As GM, I had some problems behind the scenes, though, especially with creating the Spirit World ecology and bringing it to life. There is so little actual advice on how to do that, I just kinda had to handwave it. I would've appreciated a more thorough, procedural treatment in the book.

  2. I only have the core book, the Denver setting book, and the Territories book. It's possible they go into it in more detail in one of the splats. I was pretty much assuming I'd handwave it myself.