From WoD Gotham
Not Your Momma's Triat
It’s really hard to sympathize with Garou at times. Oh sure we all have our pet tribes, but when it comes down to it and we’re being very honest with ourselves, they really are quite unsympathetic and very tragic. Look at them. For the most part they all pine for the days when they were the dominant species on the planet much like an old racist southerner would pine for the days of segregation or the Old South. They are totally arrogant and claim that they are the Chosen Ones – a claim that has gotten them into trouble over the course of their history.
What’s really annoying is the tendency for players to see these anti-heroes and their metaphysics in black and white terms. It’s really not surprising, nor is it entirely the fault of the readers either. White Wolf has been hell bent on treating the whole venue in a roughshod fashion and there are plenty of instances where they are contradictory.
Take for instance how the beginning chapters of Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Revised Ed. drone on and on about how werewolves are totally not at home in the city and have huge issues with staying in them for long. How they need kinfolk to deal with humans mostly because well there’s this curse and they just can’t maintain long enough and oh by the way it’s just like us being comfortable out in the middle of virgin wilderness – just like we can’t survive in the Arctic Circle, the Garou can’t handle the city. Then those same writers present Tribe Books loaded with templates of character concepts that belong in cities or at least sprawling suburbs. It's a safe bet that 90% of those templates involve character concepts that are totally urrah except for the ones in the Red Talon Tribe Book! Hell most of them have camps which are just fine with city living. Some of them even go so far to say that these camps somehow are influential enough to stand toe to toe with other supernatural puppet masters - so much for not handling city life and humanity well.
That’s just one example of many, but anyhow back on topic…
So it’s really all those contradictions that lead to this black and white arrogant and unsympathetic view of Garou. The thing is, it’s always the other guy or the NPCs that are assholes. Players have a real hard time with creating asshole characters and hell why shouldn’t they? They relate to their characters and they get real passionate about these my way or the highway viewpoints. They can sympathize with them.
Still this unyielding and crazily unsatisfying view persists through many a Werewolf: The Apocalypse campaign, message forum, fan community, etc. When it comes to metaphysics, we have got to put our foot down.
It’s not as simple as:
- Gaia = Creator
- Wyld = Good = nature
- Weaver = Not so good and probably bad = man and machine
- Wyrm = Bad = destruction and corruption
In fact we’d say that’s all wrong. The books harp and harp about nature and Gaia and this and Gaia and Wyld places that. Then they will toss in a little aside here and there that make you stop and think. Usually those asides are overlooked. Garou overlook them too when you read over the tribes, camps, septs, and the different goals and agendas they’ve had throughout history up to the present.
Take nature as a supposed representation of the Wyld. There’s not a more Weaverish and codified thing as the Laws of Nature. The cause and effect relationships are so predictable and obvious that Man has been measuring them easily since he first walked upright. Hell he timed his plantings and harvests by the predictable motions of Nature’s heavens. Before that, he timed his migrations by them. They are as Weaverish as a set of functions that form the basis for a programming language!
Take man and machine as the representation of the Weaver. There are few places with as much raw potential in the creativity of man and his use of machines. Look at every time man makes an unprecedented advance and marvel at it. The pyramids at Giza, the Parthenon, the printing press, the internet, mass communications, space flight! It goes on. So it can be unhealthy and “bad”. That’s the Triat. These cosmic forces are neither good nor bad. Get over the black and white.
Take destruction and corruption as the representation of the Wyrm. All that corruption is is change when you get down to it. It’s the altering of the Wyld’s potential that was given form and woven by the Weaver into another form. Garou see that altering as only bad things that can happen. However without the big bad Wyrm, nothing would ever change. That might be fine for some of the most conservative tribes, but it’s not NATURAL. Nature is just as Wyrmish as any toxic dumpsite when you get down to it. She spews out lava and recycles the earth in an endless cycle of birth, change, death, rebirth. Evolution is changing the initial creations of Wyld and Weaver. Hell supernova and hypernova explosions that give birth to stuff from out in the cosmos are the most destructive forces in the universe known thus far and yet those are completely natural.
Now we come to Gaia. How do Garou know there is such a thing as Gaia? Ok this borders on WtA heresy, we get that. However, the question is still worth asking. Have any of them spoken to Gaia? Have they seen her? Oh right. Every Garou is part spirit. Because of that they FEEL her. How do they know that they are feeling her and not heartburn from the big dinner that they just had? How do they know that they don’t just need to take a good spiritual shit? Maybe get a bit more fiber in their spiritual diet? Oh right the spirits say so. Ok they don’t just have their own enigmatic purposes do they?
When it comes to Gaia, no Garou really knows. They don’t know whether she is the creator or if the Triat created her. They debate and debate. And when it comes right down to brass tacks, it’s all a matter of faith. Yes that’s right, we busted out the F word.
Garou are as faithful and as devoted as any extremely devout and religious human - especially those of the monotheistic religions. Each is steadfastly convinced of their own interpretation of the cosmos. Each has gone to war in the name of their interpretations. Each has committed atrocities in the name of their higher being. Each thinks that they are Chosen in the eyes of their higher being - favored among all those other creations in the cosmos. Each struggles with those interpretations and has that faith tested from time to time.
Here in World of Darkness: Gotham we plan to do a lot of testing and exploring of those ideas.
But something has got to be right you say! They can’t be all wrong for all those thousands of years! You might say, “who the fuck are you people anyhow, sage almighty of the World of Darkness?” No. Chill. The World of Darkness is all fucked up and something has got to be wrong, no? Sure. We concede that but let’s examine a bit more.
- Consider the Wyld not as nature but as unbridled potential – raw and chaotic.
- Consider the Weaver as order and form – unyielding and unchanging.
- Consider the Wyrm as change and destruction – a force of recycling and renewing.
- Gaia? She can be the chicken and the egg or the egg and the chicken. Or she could just not be any of them.
None of those forces are good or bad. They just are. What is good or bad is when they get all out of whack. But are they out of whack?
Well how can it not be out of whack? Look at the World of Darkness! It’s terrifying. Look at the decay! Look at Pentex! What about BSD? What about Banes?! Look at all the wars, genocide, famine, disease, crimes, death, and destruction! Something had to have happened that got it that way, right? Sure. However, just what happened is anyone's guess. So the Garou try to figure out where the world went wrong just like anyone else! For them it's the Triat and Gaia and the insanity story.
Add to that that the Garou are dying and getting squeezed out of their territory by humanity and progress. It’s no wonder that they are so xenophobic, hostile, conservative, arrogant, and just plain nasty. They are terrified. Deep down the Garou know that they are next on the extinction list and the rest is all subject to interpretation. They cling to tradition and faith and their stubborn beliefs and interpretations like Christian fundamentalists awaiting Rapture. They are like dogs chasing their tails and going insane in the process. Never changing, never adapting. They don't know how and are too scared to even consider the prospect. And according to the Laws of Nature, the very same nature that they so treasure as part of the “good” Wyld, those organisms that do not adapt and change – go extinct. Therein lays the irony and the tragedy of Werewolf: The Apocalypse of WoDG.
So we submit to you this. Do not assume that anything is hard and fast one way or the other in WoDG. Form your character’s views and develop them. Let him try to figure it out as you play. He may be as unyielding as a right-right wing evangelical fanatic, but understand OOC that nothing about the Triat is certain.
That is what we will challenge every Garou player with over the course of the Chronicle every chance we get.