Learning Gifts

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Learning Gifts in World of Darkness: Gotham is not as simple as just spending EXP and writing a blurb about how your character contacted this spirit or that spirit. The spiritual landscape of the city is extreme. It’s true that urban tribes have an easier time of navigating the penumbra and dealing with the spirits in the city, but even they find it somewhat tricky. Spirits of the city are a shrewd and precarious lot, just as any nature spirit out in the wilderness. They constantly test Garou in their own way and they love gestures of chiminage.

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Gifts and Spirits in the City

When it comes to learning Gifts, most nature spirits find it very difficult to navigate to the city and teach Garou. Many are simply not found in New York City. So it may be surprising to Garou what spirits confer certain Gifts. This is a huge issue for young and inexperienced Garou especially and certainly for rural Garou experienced and inexperienced alike.

As you can imagine, one of the major problems for rural Garou is figuring out what the hell these urban spirits want. For that you have to at least have an idea of what spirit you are going to come across when setting out to learn a new Gift. So it’s not surprising that rural Garou find themselves at a disadvantage when compared to their urban counterparts.

“Only spirits allied to the Garou teach Gifts willingly.” (Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Revised Ed. pg. 132) This premise put forth by White Wolf fits with how we imagine World of Darkness: Gotham to work. So given that little truth, another major problem for rural Garou is getting urban spirits to deal with them at all. There’s simply no basis for many of them to bestow anything upon a rural Garou.

Being as rude as to go into the unfamiliar territory of the urban penumbra, hunt down a spirit, and attempt to have the spirit teach a Gift (assuming it’s the right spirit) is just going to cause the Garou a host of problems. Getting into the urban penumbra is difficult enough, for rurals navigating it is even tougher. Manhandling a spirit is one sure way to get the urban Septs and packs after your character. Given these conditions, it’s not hard to see why rurals are such fish out of water in the city and though they hate to admit it, they are reliant on their urban counterparts to be their guides. 

Because of this extreme environment, both rural and even urban Garou really need to have a Theurge like Mamma B summon the right urban spirits and pave the way for a smooth introduction. Any Garou with the Rite of Summoning can call a spirit, but it’s really a Theurge who is predisposed to anticipating and understanding the spirit’s personality. It’s the Theurge who can anticipate which urban spirit teaches what and then go call it. Rural Theurges have no such advantage since they have no basis for understanding all the details and complexities of urban umbral denizens. They can call and summon the spirits they understand to teach the Gifts out in the wilderness, but that call is going to go unanswered when it’s coming from the middle of New York City.

What about other Garou of other Auspices with the Rite of Summoning? Well for the player characters, the NPCs of the urban tribes and the NPC rural urrah who have been in the city long enough to have learned a thing or two of the penumbra and its spiritual denizens are of value to them. They can still serve as spirit guides and mentors. They are not as valuable as learning from a NPC urban Theurge (they can guide a player character to any spirit and facilitate a proper introduction), but they can show a player character the way to an urban spirit that they had to deal with to learn a Gift themselves and give advice on the proper forms of chiminage.

Player characters who have learned Gifts in the city in game or are urban Garou can serve as guides to other player characters so long as they have the Rite of Summoning, know the urban spirit who teaches the Gift or gets Melting Pot's help, and have a way to communicate with the spirit in order to facilitate the introduction and let the spirit know why it was summoned. Then it’s all up to the Garou who is looking to learn the Gift to offer the right chiminage (Gnosis usually works) or do what the spirit asks. This should be RPed when possible, but it's often not realistic to do so.

Keep in mind that every bit of assistance a guide can give a young Garou of a rural tribe is indispensible because the +2 Difficulty on social dealings with urban spirits does apply even when learning Gifts for rural Garou. 

How the Learning Process Goes Down

Here is an example of how Garou typically learn Gifts in WoDG:

Say a player character was to approach Spitsfire (who is a Ragabash Glass Walker) and asked to learn the Gift Tongues. Assuming Spitsfire had the Gift or had the means to call on Melting Pot, he’d ask for some form of payment or send the poor young Garou on some sort of errand. He’d also prepare the Garou on just how to deal with the spirit. When the Garou was finished doing his errand and getting the stuff together in offering to the spirit, then Spitsfire would summon the spirit to the Caern or take the Garou to wherever the spirit prefers. Then he’d speak to the spirit and communicate the intentions of the summoning, introduce the young Garou to the spirit, and serve as an interpreter if the young Garou is not able to communicate with the spirit. Then it would be up to the young Garou to offer his chiminage and hope for the best as the dialog is opened and the spirit dictates terms.

This same process is followed when it involves two player characters – guiding the dealings with the spirit and the other learning.

Requesting a Gift

To request a Gift, you’ll do your EXP as normal, but you will also supply a reference to a Downtime Ticket in which you placed learning the Gift as one of the tasks. The ST will then opt to require a scene, ask the player to make a series of rolls, or use a combination of the two. Regardless of method, the steps are similar to the following: 

Steps for Learning A Gift

  1. Knowledge Step. The PC must know which spirit to summon for the Gift in question. The PC must therefore ask a NPC (ST choice to have the player roll Cha+Etiquette or to handle this via downtime RP in ticket as the ST may use the opportunity as a story hook), find out from another PC, or roll their Mentor rating vs Diff 6 (+2 Diff if the Gift is out of the PC's Tribe, Breed, or Auspice). Gifts that are shared by multiple groups, only confer a +1 Diff to the knowledge step because they are more common. For example, Luna's Armor is shared by three tribes and therefore is not such an exclusive or uncommon Gift. The limit to gain an out of auspice, tribe or breed Gift is rank 3. Rank 4 and 5 can be learned only by special circumstances like for a reward at the end of a storyline. It's considered a faux pas to learn an out of tribe, auspice, or breed Gift at such high levels similarly if one was to act outside of their auspice. Camp Gifts are only for members of the camp in question unless the camp is stated as having a history of teaching the Gift outside the camp. Keep in mind rural Mentors will only know rural spirits and are not helpful in this step within the NYC Metro area and its suburbs.
  1. Summoning Step. The Rite of Summoning is rolled. The PC must pierce the Gauntlet and then roll Gnosis to summon the spirit. Rural Garou are at +2 difficulty in the city.  The number of successes determines how quickly the spirit answers and how cooperative it will be. Characters with urban Mentors can bypass this as the Mentor can summon the spirit and lay the foundation for the conversation. Going to a NPC will also bypass this step.
  2. Contest Step. With the spirit summoned, the Garou is tested by the spirit or is required to offer some sort of chiminage like a point of Gnosis. If the Garou passes, the spirit imparts its Gift upon the Garou and teaches the PC. The ST will require a roll based on the type of Gift and spirit teaching the Gift. Most often this is Charisma+Etiquette Diff 3+1 Per Gift Rank. However, some spirits may test a character's Wits, talent for problem solving (Enigmas), ability to Intimidate, etc. Appropriate Attribute+Appropriate Ability vs Difficulty of Gift Level+5. The amount of successes required is equal to the Gift Rank. Difficulties will be adjusted further by the ST based on a number of factors such as:
    • Urban vs. Rural - the Garou is dealing with an alien spirit + 2 Difficulty.
    • Chiminage - Proper or improper chiminage + or - 2 Difficulty.

These steps assume that this is a Garou learning in an urban environment. If for some reason a story takes Garou outside of the city and an urban Garou attempts to learn a Gift from rural spirits, the situation is reversed and they suffer the same difficulty adjustments and complications as rural Garou suffer in the cities.

Mentors and the Contest

During the Contest Step, Mentors provide some additional benefits: 

  • Each dot in Mentor above the Gift rank being learned adds an auto success provided that the Mentor is urban teaching in an urban setting. Thus a Mentor Rating of 2 will be able to add 1 auto success to teach a Rank 1 Gift, but no successes for Rank 2 Gifts and above.
  • Each dot in Mentor adds an additional die to the contest roll provided that the Mentor is urban teaching in an urban setting.

Ancestors, Willpower, and Other Means During the Contest

The point of the contest is for the Garou to prove to the spirit that he or she is worthy of the Gift they are seeking to learn. Therefore, trying to gain an edge over the spirit is most often times expected of the Garou. Spending WP, using up an Ancestors roll or doing anything else you as a player can come up with to give your character an edge in the difficulty adjustment or in dice pool is part of the process and encouraged. Shove your idea in your ticket so that the ST can see if it's valid or not. It may not be, but it's worth a shot to pitch the idea in any case.

Rank 5 Gifts

Rank 5 Gifts are going to be rare in WoDG and special. Let's face it, if you manage to have a Garou character survive to Rank 5 his or her deeds are going to be long and so learning a Gift of the magnitude of Rank 5 should entail a long listing of the Garou's accomplishments to the spirit in question and a quest of some kind. STs will likely save the bulk of these requests for RP, given the chance.

Out of Tribe, Auspice, Breed Gifts

The Rank limit for out of Tribe, Auspice, or Breed Gifts on a character is Rank 3 regardless if Melting Pot paves the way or another NPC summons the appropriate spirit. Higher ranked Gifts are given only as part of ST rewards from SL participation.

Camp Gifts

Camp Gifts are just for their intended camp. You may not take any camp Gifts from another camp even if that camp is in your character’s tribe.

Membership Has Its Privileges

Naturally when examining how Gifts are passed down, it’s easy to see why being counted among the members of the Sept is extremely beneficial to Garou. It’s in the best interest for Sept-mates to help each other find their way. If you’re not a help to the Sept, then there’s little reason for any NPC or PC to help your character. Having access to the Caern means having easier access to spirits. Having access to the Garou of the Sept of the Green means having access to guides who know which spirits to call and what they want.  So consider the very real dependence the Garou in New York City have on each other and just how important it is to be in good standing with the Sept.

Rulings on Specific Gifts

For mechanical and systems rulings on specific Gifts please go to Specific Rulings on Gifts section in the Resisting Gifts article.

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