Urban Umbra Systems

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This article deals with explanations on modifications for both urban and rural Garou dealing with the umbra and spirits around the Tri-State area.


The Price of Dwelling in the Concrete Jungle: Umbra Modifications for the Urban Chronicle

Urban environments are not the regular fare of most Garou. Cities are organisms that are just entirely bewildering to them. A place like New York City is so alien and disquieting a place to non-urban Garou that it can be compared to how alien it is for people to go walking on the moon or deep sea diving to the abyssal ocean floor.

It couldn’t be that extreme, could it?

Oh yes it could!

New York is an extreme urban environment. It’s a unique place among even American cities. Americans from other cities have issues getting acclimated. It doesn’t resemble anything this country has. If you go to Los Angeles, then to San Diego, then to Dallas, then to Seattle, then to Kansas City, then to Atlanta and so on you will definitely have an easier time getting up to speed than if you went from any of those places to New York City. If you’re just a regular human and from the sticks and moving to New York City, forgetaboutit! Believe us when we say it’s a jungle out there.

For Homids

After all that add in that you’re playing a character that isn’t even human and is trying to get along. So you’re all mostly playing homids. Awesome. Your character has spent up to his teens among humans so he’ll have an easier time than most. If he’s an urban Garou, no sweat – there are plenty of other more seasoned Garou of your character’s tribe to show him how to cope with it all and it’s in the genes.

If he’s rural, then it’s a pain in the ass. It’s because he’s got this Curse and people are always messing with him. Few among his people have successfully dealt with living in an urban environment. They can barely handle suburbs and the sprawl. Kids at school give him funny looks. He can swear that they are talking behind his back. They back away when all he wants to do is help! What the fuck is wrong with everyone?! Why can’t they understand?! No one understands! WHAT THE FUCK IS….RAWWWWRRRRRR!!!!

Get it? Got it? Good.

For Metis

Now let’s take a look at the poor metis. Urban tribes are kind to their metis compared to most. Plus they have the know-how to help your character out. Better still, your character’s Gnosis is particularly high to start and so he’s more connected to the spiritual pulse of his urban environment. Weaver loves your guy. Weaver spiders and rats crawl all over his legs trying to hump them. Metis born in New York City? Ooooh baby now you’re talkin’. Your guy gives City Father a hard-on (especially if he’s a Theurge to boot). So no, the metis of the Bone Gnawers or the Glass Walkers aren’t the issue.

It’s the poor bastard metis of other tribes that are the ones who are really screwed. Metis are mostly hidden away bundles of shame. Think of a combination of Chunk from The Goonies and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and there you have the plight of the metis. Their mutated-selves are stowed away in some dark dank cellar by a cruel hick family a la Deliverance and not allowed to play with the other reindeer. Do they get to learn what it’s like to be human? No! The last thing anyone wants a metis to do is go talking to people. That poor creature is sequestered and home schooled if he’s lucky in between beatings and getting kicked off to the side somewhere.

Ok ok. So the Children of Gaia aren’t like that you say. And *gasp* certainly not your character’s tribe! The Get of Fenris are just all a bunch of sweetie-pies! No they’re not!

Certainly tribes differ on how they treat metis. However, we hope the point regarding metis and human contact has been made. Metis aren’t just homids with a genetic defect! Ok? Cool.

Then with metis of rural tribes you have to consider the spiritual problem of cities. The poor metis does one thing better than those ape sept-mates that keep tormenting him because of his birth. He can connect with Gaia better. He can snuggle up with all her spirit minions and they will keep him company. They don’t care that he’s got a cleft palette and a third eye! They’re his pals! And he can go to their secret hideaway on the other side and there he can find some peace.

Then he goes to the city and all the spirits are totally freaky! None of them are anything like he has ever seen! Plus he can’t even step sideways the way he did back home! There’s all this goo everywhere! WTF?!

So the only thing that the metis had is gone. And he’s worse off than homids of the rural tribes because he doesn’t have a human childhood to reflect on. Even if the homids have traumatic human experiences before their First Change, at least they have had human experiences. This gives some brief glimmer of hope that homids won’t just freak out the first time they set foot on Manhattan. Metis have no such hope.

Now after all that, it should be no surprise that we’ve made some heavy modifications on how various systems operate for urban and rural tribes.

Urban Gauntlet - Stepping Sideways Within the Concrete Jungle

Glass Walkers and Bone Gnawers Step Sideways with the following rate of difficulty:

Urban Garou Stepping Sideways Table
Area Typical Gauntlet
The Greatest Caerns 2
Powerful Caern 3
Typically Active Caern 4
Science Lab 5
Inner City 6
Most Places 7
Rural Countryside  8
Deep Wilderness 9
Stepping Sideways for all other tribes is as per Werewolf: the Apocalypse Revised Ed.

Navigating the Penumbra of the Concrete Jungle

There are special complications for rural Garou navigating dense urban areas. Particularly spirits in an urban umbrascape do not have ties with rural Garou. Also, these urban spirits and their domiciles are extremely foreign to rural Garou. Therefore, navigating in the urban penumbra within the Tri-State Metropolitan area for rurals are as follows:

  • Inner City +3 difficulty. Inner city means all boroughs of New York City except for Staten Island. It includes all of North Jersey across the Hudson and skirting New York Harbor (including Newark, Elizabeth, Bayonne, Jersey City, Hoboken, etc.)
  • Suburbs +2 difficulty. Suburbs include Connecticut, Long Island, Westchester County, Central New Jersey, Northwestern New Jersey, and the Jersey Shore.
  • Social dealings with urban Spirits is at a +2 difficulty.

Note that dealing with spirits of all types in an urban area like New York is very tricky for rural Garou. NOTHING is like what they are accustomed to. So finding nature spirits or coaxing nature spirits into the area is difficult at best. This presents real issues when trying to find and summon spirits for learning Gifts, performing rites, or creating talens and fetishes.

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