In the World of Darkness, lycanthropy is not a disease but a heritable trait. As dual beings (being both wolves and men), Garou can (and do) interbreed with both species. A Garou's extended non-shapechanging family is called its Kinfolk. Most often, Garou are born to one human and one Garou parent but in families (both wolf and human) where Garou blood is especially strong, Homid or Lupus Garou sometimes are born from non-shapeshifting parents. A werewolf's breed determines (to some extent) their Gnosis, or spiritual awareness (Lupus Garou being more in tune with the primal spirit world than Homids, and Metis Garou being in between). The circumstances of their parentage determines their breed.

While there are more than three forms that a Garou can shift into, only the Homid, Lupus, and Metis forms are forms that their children are born into.

These Garou were usually raised as humans, although they may be taught the lore of the Garou as well. Since a homid child will not First Change until his teenage years if ever, he is typically taught to live in the normal world. His true nature may even be kept from him until the elders have seen whether or not he will be Garou or just a Kinfolk. However a homid child is raised, he may still feel echoes of Rage and the connection of Gnosis. He may have dreams of running through the woods on four legs, and have moments of completely losing his temper which are almost like black-outs.

The homids are the most numerous of the breeds, but they are no longer the overwhelming majority. Homid Garou are strongly encouraged to breed with wolves as well as humans at some point in their lives, to ensure that the thinning of the bloodlines experienced over the past few centuries does not occur again.

Initial Gnosis: 1.
Beginning Gifts: Master of Fire, Persuasion, Smell of Man.

The children of two Garou, Metis are the freaks of the Bete world. The lives of Metis are cursed: Their parents broke the Litany, their birth may prove deadly to their mothers, and they are always marked by some kind of flaw which indicates Gaia's displeasure. In recent years, Metis have been accepted somewhat as individuals, but as a group they are still pointed to as mistakes and people who should not exist. Crinos is their natural form, and so Metis have to be raised among other Garou, usually within Caerns. They are intimately familiar with the rituals and ways of the Garou, but often have difficulty adapting to human or wolf societies.

During the past generation, the numbers of Metis have dropped. At least part of this trend is the widespread use of modern birth control, stopping such accidents from occurring. It's been rumored that some elders have taken to "culling" the Metis children, but there has been no proof of this practice.

Initial Gnosis: 3.
Beginning Gifts: Create Element, Primal Anger, Sense Wyrm.
Deformities: Every metis has some form of deformity. The bad should ALWAYS outweight the good when it comes to choosing your deformity. If you are not sure, please ask a storyteller.

The cubs of wolves, raised among wolf packs. The lupus are intimately familiar with the primal instincts of their kinds, and are often stronger, faster, more clever, and more suited to leadership than the rest of their packs. Wolves usually First Change within the first three or four years of their life, but they may already be the alphas of their own packs by that time. They often show an odd interest in humans, and may even have brief dreams of walking on two legs.

After their First Change, lupus often show a disregard for human customs. They are used to a society which has little to do with philosophy, shame, guilt or other human traits. There is a concerted effort to help lupus Garou adapt to their new society, but such efforts have varying degrees of success.

Conservation efforts and the precipitous drop in the human population during the Hammer War have been a boon to wolves, who have swollen to numbers not seen since the 19th century. There are more lupus Garou being whelped all the time, and some elders believe that in the next 20 years there will be as many lupus as homid.

Initial Gnosis: 5
Beginning Gifts: Hare's Leap, Heightened Senses, Sense Prey.
Restricted Abilities: Beginning lupus characters do not have the benefit of years of school and training in human society. There are several Abilities they may not have at character creation, although they may learn these with experience points during play. These Abilities are: Academics, Business, Computers, Crafts, Drive, Engineering, Firearms, Linguistics, Science, Socialize.

Shifting Forms

A Garou can naturally shift between homid and lupus forms, and three in-between forms including the fearsome Crinos war-form. The Garou can only shift into another form if he currently has points of Rage. When a Garou shapeshifts, he must pass from his current form through every intermediate form into his desired shape. This process is instant if he spends a point of Rage or if he is returning to his breed form. Otherwise, it takes 1 action. He must roll Stamina + Endurance to shift into each form, difficulty based on the form he wishes to attain. 1 success equals one form he may shift into. So if a Garou in homid form wished to become Glabro, he needs 1 success, but if he wished to be lupus he must roll 4 successes.

Shapeshifting will probably destroy clothes and various pieces of equipment strapped to his body, unless these items are enchanted with Prime magics, are Fetishes or Talens, or have been dedicated to him with the Rite of Talisman Dedication or Rite of Adaptation. These objects are not available in other forms unless that is part of their specific enchantment or they were made to fit a specific form (for example, a piece of armor made to fit a Crinos Garou, which may blend into his homid or lupus forms). The Storyteller is the final arbiter of whether an item will be available in certain forms. In general, soft items (such as clothes or which are made to expand and contract) will shift one form from its default size. Hard items (such as armor or metal weapons) will either meld into the Garou's body, be destroyed, or simply be unusable.

Homid: The natural form for homid breed, this looks like an ordinary human.

Statistic Adjustments: None.

Glabro: The glabro form is large and bulky but could still pass for a human. It has long nails and teeth but not true fangs or claws. The glabro form has from 100% to 200% more mass (all muscle and bone) and about six more inches in height. Body hair grows thick and coarse, and the character is naturally menacing. His eyes are somewhat like a wolf's and his ears can be pointed. Their voices are deep and guttural.

Statistic Adjustments: Strength +2, Stamina +2, Manipulation -2, Appearance -1.

Crinos: A fearsome form, a massive blending of human and wolf characteristics into a nine-foot-tall engine of destruction. The crinos form is meant to kill, and it's hard to do anything else while in this shape. The crinos has anywhere from 200% to 400% the mass of a homid, and is usually 150% of his original height. The crinos form is covered in thick fur, has an extended muzzle filled with supernaturally-sharp fangs, and his hands have thick claws which can rip through steel. Bite and claw attacks in this form cause aggravated damage. The crinos form has a thick tail to help with balance, and can walk on two legs or run on four. He may speak Garou but has trouble articulating human words, usually limiting his speech to short monosyllabic sentences. This form causes delirium in normal humans, but any intelligent paranormal will be frightened of it as well.

Statistic Adjustments: Strength +4, Dexterity +1, Stamina +3, Manipulation 0, Appearance 0.

Hispo: The hispo resembles a prehistoric dire wolf. The head and jaws are even larger than they would be in crinos form, and a hispo's bite adds +1 die of damage. Bite and claw attacks cause aggravated damage. The hispo form weighs almost as much as a crinos (200% to 350% homid body mass) and stands about 80% of his homid height at the shoulder. It can stand on hind legs for short periods but is designed to be on all fours. The hispo form is faster than it is on two legs, and its senses are almost, but not quite, as sharp as they would be in lupus form, giving Perception rolls a -1 difficulty modifier. The hispo form cannot hold objects in its forepaws. The hispo form can speak Garou but can only manage a syllable or two in human speech.

Statistic Adjustments: Strength +3, Dexterity +2, Stamina +3, Manipulation 0.

Lupus: A wolf in almost every respect. Lupus Garou tend to be large and well-built specimens, but are otherwise not visibly distinct from other wolves. The lupus is often feral and driven by instinct. A homid or metis Garou in lupus form still causes aggravated damage with bites but not claws, and a lupus in its breed form only causes lethal damage. The lupus form has about 75% the body mass of its homid form and is just under 50% of its homid height at the shoulder. It is faster than the other forms and has keen senses, giving the Garou -2 difficulty to all Perception rolls.

Statistic Adjustments: Strength +1, Dexterity +2, Stamina +2, Manipulation 0.

A Garou born from two Garou parents is called a Metis and is invariably deformed as a result of this inbreeding, as well as completely sterile; however, Metis have Gifts, advantages, and disadvantages exclusive to their breed, including the ability to regenerate in all their various forms. Once pariahs in Garou society, trying times have led to the partial reintegration of the Metis breed into the ranks of the Garou.

In general, while most Garou leave their native societies to live among their shapechanging kin (engaging in a modern primitive lifestyle), they retain healthy contact with their Kinfolk to ensure their protection as family and the overall health and vitality of the Garou line.

See Also: Garou Information, Tribes, Auspice

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