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LARPers, gamers, and World of Darkness fans - Help us create the ULTIMATE Mind's Eye Theatre: Werewolf The Apocalypse book!
Thank you to all our backers for helping us create this Mind's Eye Theatre: Werewolf The Apocalypse book!
Thank you to all our backers for helping us create this Mind's Eye Theatre: Werewolf The Apocalypse book!
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4 Days Left - Biting Into the Bitten

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With only 4 days left in our Mind's Eye Theatre: Werewolf The Apocalypse campaign, there's time enough for one more developer update, this time about the Bitten, a concept for MET: Werewolf that is both old and new.

Among our highest goals at By Night Studios is encouraging new players to join and enjoy the Mind’s Eye Theatre community. And by “new players” we mean both those completely unfamiliar to MET, and those who are familiar who haven’t experienced a particular game yet. That’s something we keep firmly in mind when making design decisions—and at the same time, we also focus on ensuring that we honor the strong story themes that make World of Darkness so appealing to its fans and players worldwide. We tell stories, and rules should support those stories by make them engaging for the player. 

So, when we hear MET players express concerns, we start thinking about how to address those concerns in ways that allow their characters to shine. One of the most frequent concerns that players shared with us was their feeling that new Werewolf players often felt that the game structure obliged them to play characters that were far above their personal level of play experience, and that they felt punished for that inexperience. They also told us that they felt that Kinfolk should be an easier entry point into the game for newer players, but that playing a Kinfolk could put newer players into roleplay situations that made them feel uncomfortable. There was no beginner concept, they felt—especially for players who were not in their late teens or early 20s—that allowed them to enjoy the game with a character appropriate to their level of experience, have some leeway to learn about the game, ask questions without feeling self-conscious, and make mistakes without suffering grave consequences. How to address that legitimate concern, while respecting the rich heritage of the game and also tying any potential changes to a strong, fun story element? 

We grounded our response in research followed by intensive discussions within our team and with players, fans, and playtesters. Even people who have never played Werewolf have heard of these creatures, and they’re usually familiar with the most common tropes from folklore—especially the accepted wisdom that the bite of a werewolf transforms a mortal into a werewolf, too. It’s often one of the first things people learn about the werewolf myth, and so it’s an element that a newer player can easily feel connects her to Werewolf as a game. 

We also learned that earlier editions of the game mention Lost Cubs as the great sorrow of the Garou Nation: a rare type of character that never changes to reach its full potential. We decided that the best way to tie the bite folklore and the Lost Cubs concept together was to connect them as part of a deeper story about the state of the Garou Nation. Gaia is today in a weakened state, imperiled by ever-increasing attacks from the Wyrm and other threats. And she’s in this situation partly because the threat of extinction has compelled the Garou to look to their own survival before honoring their calling as her defenders.

Lost Cubs were once rare, but Gaia needs warriors: desperation over the condition of their spiritual mother has forced the Garou’s hand. There are many different opinions about what happened and how, but the Garou have figured out that if they bite their Kinfolk or Lost Cubs and then infuse them with some of their own spiritual energy. If they are lucky, they can sometimes complete the interrupted process of becoming a Garou, increasing the ranks of Gaia’s defenders—and perhaps hold the line against the encroaching darkness a little longer.

The technique does not work with an ordinary mortal: only Lost Cubs and Kinfolk can become Garou in this way. And it’s risky for Kinfolk: the majority die in the process. There are few guarantees in the World of Darkness.

We think that this element supports the design goals we mentioned and addresses the concerns players related to us. Players new to Werewolf can opt to play Kinfolk or Lost Cubs until they feel comfortable with transitioning into the Cub role, while also feeling fully part of the big story of the darker elements seeping into the Garou Nation. Their characters are thrust immediately into an important situation— every Garou has his or her own theory on how the Bite works, and what it means to their dwindling numbers. Storytellers will have a number of options for incorporating story elements related to the Bitten into their game, customizing their setting according their players’ needs and their own preferences. 

The Kinfolk, Lost Cubs, and the Bitten all live in world where their existence is both celebrated and contested, immediately bringing new players into MET: Werewolf in ways that are both familiar and fresh, allowing them to be important players

Jeff Wilson, Aaron Gomez, and 10 more people like this update.

Comments

    1. Amanda "Hyena" Johnson on February 29, 2016

      @David Merriam:
      Sorry if it came across that way. It wasn't really directed at you, but there were some complaints (And ones outside of the KS too) about how similar it was to Forsaken and somehow that was a really bad thing or something because "Forsaken".
      Without the consideration that it might be similar idea, but it might be approached way differently than Forsaken did.

      The whole thing with Apocalypse and Forsaken reminds me too much about Rage vs. Rage Across Las Vegas that happened with Rage fans back in 1998. Or how some Yu-gi-oh fans disdain Yu-gi-oh GX without giving it a fair shake at all, but give Yu-gi-oh 5D's a free pass for some reason.

      At least we are on the same page that there are issues that need to be looked into.

      @BNS: Thanks for looking into the feedback! And yeah, I had a feeling I was hinting at stuff you guys don't want to show just yet.

    2. Missing avatar

      Michael Lone on February 28, 2016

      I feel that I have to come back and apologize. After talking it over with our players and thinking about what has been said, the "Bite" is more tolerable. After playing something for 20 years, I am set in my ways and resistant to change. The changes that this new book offers will help fix long standing issues. I will have to learn to accept some new meta changes as well.

    3. David Mercer on February 28, 2016

      This idea finally convinced me to be a backer. It is like you guys read my mind and realized how intimidated I've always been by W:tA and all the intricate social mores, rites, and rituals, and made a good way for me to learn them ICly without having to also pretend to be barely a teenager. Keep up the good work!

    4. David Merriam on February 28, 2016

      @Amanda - I wasn't trying to bash forsaken, and maybe it was sick brain that made it come out that way. I was using forsaken to emphasize my argument that a lot of WtA loyal players aren't interested in WtA because it's werewolf, but because it's the game it is. They went into Forsaken hoping for a game similar to WtA and got...well...something different.

      While WtA does try to borrow from myths and folklore, that's not the major draw for many. Personally the emergence of a "bite" doesn't actually bother me. The format suggested here is what bugs me, like it seems to bug you, and I've submitted my feedback to BNS about it. I'd much prefer it be a thing sans mechanics, and full of mystery. Leave it to "only kin", sure, but the whole potential death of kin feels very, very wrong to me. I'd honestly much more prefer it if the bites *were* random. Biting by choice bugs me, too.

    5. By Night Studios 2-time creator on February 28, 2016

      @Amanda - Thank you for all the insightful and helpful comments! The Bite is still in development, and the team is looking forward to discussing all this feedback, both negative and positive. (Every single opinion is read and considered; we may respectfully disagree with somebody's point of view and make a decision they wouldn't have made, but we never simply ignore those opinions without considering them first.) We aren't certain where the notion has come from that our intent is to suggest that Garou would run around randomly attacking humans in the hopes of finding a Kinfolk or Lost Cub, or indeed that there's anything at all random about the Bite; maybe it's because we're sharing only slices of the book in its development stages rather than the whole thing, or because of the connection we've drawn between the Bite and the werewolves of folklore (in which bites were more or less random)? Regardless, this and the Black Spiral Dancer concerns will be addressed in the finished design. And, without giving away story elements prematurely, you're totally correct in thinking that there are deeper story forces at work in this and other aspects of the game design.

    6. Amanda "Hyena" Johnson on February 28, 2016

      @David:
      Forsaken actually had the same troubles Apocalypse did with Werewolf movie fans outside of Tabletop scene who adopt the "No True Werewolf" fallacy (This is a variant of the "No True Scotsman" fallacy that I coined.).
      Forsaken itself also doesn't purely draw from Werewolf Mythos/Media either. Those who thought Forsaken was going to be just like Werewolf movies they loved became pretty disappointed with it.

      Also as a long time fan of W:tA since 1995 (Thanks Rage CCG), I'm kinda tried of seeing the same old Forsaken bashing again and again. I used to be in the same mindset back when it first came out. However, since getting and reading the books, I can say my mind has changed a lot on it. And I like both Apocalypse and Forsaken for completely different reasons.

      But I was using the Mythos/Media as an example. Why is one thing easily accepted that really is not part of the folklore and the other one that fits in the same category not? Why is harm from silver okay? Why is being "bitten" not? Why is one treated as blasphemy to the setting and the other isn't? When both fit the same exact shoe?
      Is it because one was in the setting from the start, that people accept it without question? And simply because the other was slightly used in Forsaken, they turn their nose at it?

      And W:tA does actually borrow a lot from myths, folklore, and media or at least tries to put it's own spin on it. Seeing as W:tA came out in 1992, it doesn't surprise me that W:tA lifted the concept of the Bunyip right out from Howling III (1987) or at least was 'inspired' by it.

      The "Bite" and the Ratkin Plague also do differ from each other. And I'll say that the "Bite" is more closer in concept to the one in Forsaken 1st ed. than being an exact copy of what the Ratkin do.
      Also, does it really need to be a unique concept to the Ratkin only?
      What about the Camazotz suddenly copying the way that the Corax reproduced in W20th? Because that happened.

      My issues with the "Bite" have to be the following:
      * This opens up tons of abuse from the Black Spiral Dancers.
      Do something to either limit or to stop that from happening. Nip it in the bud. Yes, the Garou may have to question their motives now when it comes to handling humans who may or may not be potential kinfolk, but the BSDs do not have to deal with these morals at all. Put in something to stop this abuse from happening. Easy ways would be: The Garou who learned about it don't give up their secrets easily. They are willing to die than to give this secret to the BSDs. Or a spirit who teaches about it doesn't teach it to BSDs.
      * Kinfolk/Human Survival rate of an encounter is very, very low, like rock bottom low.
      Garou in frenzy is a terrifying thing to witness, you need to have the luck of the gods just to even survive that. A normal attack is even hard to live through too. It would be wasting Kinfolk just in the hopes of making more Garou. There need to be changes made here to avoid that.
      I have no problems if one is to take something from Forsaken, which is this: Garou already know ahead of time. And have been observing the potential kinfolk for a long time. The whole "Bite" is part of a rite where Garou chase and harass a kinfolk, hoping to trigger the change. If the change doesn't happen, then the rite cannot be performed on the kinfolk ever again. The last shot for the kinfolk is either the Rebirth Rite (If they don't get caught doing it) or hoping for a very late change.
      * The Skin Dancers response to the "Bite" needs to be addressed.
      They are not happy and will easily go after "Bitten" Garou to skin moreso than regular Garou now. Can they even use the skins is a question I'll like to see talked about as well.
      * "Bitten" Garou shouldn't be able to make more Garou themselves.
      Only "born" Garou can. If "Bitten" Garou try to attempt this, there should be punishments involved.

      And I'm sure there might be more issues not even covered yet. As well as solutions to make things make sense or go over more smoothly.
      I'll also like to see a Golden Rule disclaimer that White Wolf always had on this as well.

    7. David Merriam on February 28, 2016

      @ Amanda (I'm sick so apologies if the logic is a bit scattered):

      If WtA were purely drawing from Werewolf Mythos/Media, it would be an entirely different game. Some players may play werewolf because they like werewolves, but a large number (myself included) don't really have a strong feeling about mythological werewolves as much as we like Werewolf: The Apocalypse. This is one of the reasons why Forsaken had so many troubles getting adopted by WtA fans, and while even still Apoc tends to have a larger draw than Forsaken.

      So when we say "it steps on the Ratkin's thing," we're not talking about Ratkin of mythology. We're talking about Ratkin of the WtA world, who have a ritual-driven mechanic for creating more of their breed.

      As for Curse of the Wolf as described, this is a different thing - it doesn't make the human a werewolf. It instills a small aspect of what it means to be garou as a form of punishment against a human who has done...whatever justified the punishment rite. Honestly, I just don't see the correlation between the rite you mention from DA and this bite.

    8. Amanda "Hyena" Johnson on February 28, 2016

      @Steven Jones:
      The concept of the "Bite" does come from Werewolf Mythos/Media.
      From actual folklore, though:
      Wearing a wolf skin (Skin Dancers in W:tA), being born as cursed from the start (Seventh Son, being born on Christmas day, W:tA's Garou, etc.), a spiritual pact, doing a rite/ritual where one becomes a wolf for seven years, drinking water from a wolf's pawprint in the mud, mass etc.

      The thing that has nothing to do with Werewolf folklore as well? Being hurt by silver. That was invented for the Wolf Man movie that came out in 1941 and quickly became part of Werewolf mythos/media which no one can get rid of. I know people cite the Beast of Gévaudan as being killed by a silver bullet. But that was only one case vs. the hundreds of other cases where people who were claimed to be werewolves killed by normal means.
      And yet, Garou can be hurt by silver in W:tA.

      So the whole, "But it steps onto the Ratkin's whole thing!", is a bit much to me. When the concept of the Werewolf "Bite" itself is older than the concept of shapeshifting rats outside of W:tA.
      Or the "W:tA/WW has never done anything like this before!", *points to the Curse of the Wolf Rite from Werewolf: the Dark Ages*.
      And I do remind you that Curse of Wolf affects actual humans who have no bloodline connection to the Garou at all. Yeah, it has serious side effects, but that's because it was a Punishment Rite in the first place.

      But yeah, I agree that randomly attacking humans in the hopes that one is kinfolk is a bit silly. Because that probably isn't going to make any new Garou at all.
      A Rite works much better for this. One that also has a chance of failure as well, but doesn't instantly kill the Kinfolk involved.
      A Rite could probably stop the BSDs from easily gaining new members in the process if they cannot do or learn about the Rite (The Spirit involved refuses to give it out to them).

    9. Steven Jones on February 27, 2016

      Problems with this idea,

      Lost Cubs are already full Garou, they are are just Garou that was cut off from Garou society so have/had not one to train them. So while they might not have been trained ton going into the Umbra and on Rites they already shape shift and have all the other abilities of the Garou.

      Thematically they steps all over the Ratkin

      What the hell is stopping BSD from doing this to all the normal Garou Kinfolk.

      Killing a dozen Kinfolk in hopes of getting a new Garou is like cutting off you nose to spit you face.

      This flies directly in the face of the setting and make zero sense in a setting that includes the Skinwalker Tribe

      FROM the WTA core book "A werewolf is born, not infected. Some are born to human parents, others to wolves; a few are born to werewolf parents, though such concentration of Garou blood is debilitating. Most werewolves never know what they are until they undergo the First Change, and then the others come to reveal everything."

      PLEASE consider not including this in the finished book!

    10. Steven Jones on February 27, 2016

      Looks like more crap fluff to ignore in the new larp rules. There was no reason to alter the setting as Lost Cubs already existed and this new Bite BS is counter to every edition of the TT game.

    11. Amanda "Hyena" Johnson on February 27, 2016

      Also, check out Werewolf: the Dark Ages (softcover).
      There used to be a punishment rite called "Curse of the Wolf" (pg. 114). This was a level 5 rite that punished humans into taking the Crinos form during the Full Moon only with no control over their anger. These cursed humans would attack and kill others. And would fall into despair or madness from it.
      Children of Gaia hated the rite and Red Talons loved it. However, BSDs would take full advantage from the Gaian Garou using it: With the BSDs using the cursed human into attacking a Garou Sept. The rite became outlawed after the Dark Ages because of how it drew the attention of the Wyrm all the time.

      The rite is done by gathering some of the subject's blood and clothing, which is then presented to a Totem spirit, saying the subject's offenses to said spirit, and then letting the spirit seek out the subject by the full moon to punish them. There's no bite involved.

      However, I wouldn't be surprised if some unknown or known force/group found a way to bring the rite back, but found ways to get around certain parts. Thus changing it from a "Punishment" rite into something brand new.

    12. Amanda "Hyena" Johnson on February 27, 2016

      I do think this does open up some story-line potentials:
      For certain Garou tribes to condemn other tribes or Fera (Like the Ratkin). In this case, the Red Talons would be outright blamed for randomly killing human (unknown) kinfolk that could have been affected by this "Bite".
      Despite all the protest from the RT camp, Whelp's Compromise, and from other Red Talons investigating what's really going on: They are not really listened to as anger rules over with the Garou on this issue.
      Insult to injury: The humans that the Red Talons have killed or attacked could and never be affected by the "bite" of a Red Talon at all. Some certain spirit has a major grudge against the Red Talons and is using the events of the "Bite" to it's advantage.
      It's up to a group of RT players to find what is behind this all and to show the other tribes' proof of it.

      It also opens up for the Garou to heavily question their responses/actions when defending the Veil. You know, the response that is: Kill any human that sees us in Crinos nilly-willy.

      I also agree with Arthur "Torakhan" Dreese over on the Onyx Path forums that this should be made into a Rite that carries gnosis cost/sacrifice for a Garou making another Garou with the bite. That "bitten" Garou cannot create another Garou through the bite as well and that the bite carries a spiritual scar that all can see.

      Because the idea of a human actually surviving a random attack by the Garou is a little bit silly. An attack by a Garou, especially one in frenzy, should be imminent death for any unlucky human that decides to get in the way (Just like stepping onto train tracks with a train coming by in a few seconds would.).
      But a rite that is performed with knowing participants involved makes a bit more sense.
      The Garou find out about it not from surviving humans, but either from spirits giving out the specifics for the rite or from questionable Garou (or Kinfolk) who have found an alternative to the Skin Dancers' Ritual of Sacred Rebirth.

      Also, "Bitten" characters gain the outright enmity from the Skin Dancers. After all, the Skin Dancers went through a lot of work to become Garou, while these upstart kinfolk gain it the "easy" way. "Bitten" characters would be wary not only of BSD coming after them to join through the Black Spiral, but of very angry and jealous Skin Dancers ready to attack them at any moment.

      And it certainly would be another go for Tick (Totem) to get the Tribe she's looking to be a Tribal patron for (Skinner SAS) by manipulating the "Bitten" characters into her service.

    13. Missing avatar

      Aaron Hanten on February 26, 2016

      Ok, this is superfluous at best and inane at worst. There is already mechanics in the system to allow for late stage Garou in lost cub, and late stage transformation flaws. Why do they need a new mechanic? If they want more late stage transformations then just make those flaws more prevalent.

      In regards to the bite itself, nowhere in Garou lore have they had bites be like this. It smells to me like a cop out. I agree with others who've posted that the bite feels a lot like the Ratkin plague.

    14. Brian Murphy on February 26, 2016

      Just have it be the bite and a mystery. Actively burning kinfolk for this is really problematic and more Ratkin birthing plague that something most tribes would ever support, even in the face of extinction.

      The rule is fine. Just keep it simple, less with the pointless mass murder of the PCs families.

    15. Mark Brunsdon on February 26, 2016

      I think a spirit infused bite or a ritual would be a perfectly acceptable way to explain a late change.

    16. Paul Baxter on February 26, 2016

      @ Torakhan: I'm glad to see that you 1) think this is a good idea, but more 2) explain WHY you think it is so. Yeah, I can understand seeing a change or addition as being a bad thing, and it's easy to say, "This is so wrong!" Easy as it is, it is not helpful...

      If anyone can tell me exactly why this change "misses the mark" or is "too Werewolf the Forsaken" or otherwise bad, I'd really like to know. That is, I'd really like to know without needing to wade through the melee of the general comments threads. :\

    17. Tommie Boatwright on February 26, 2016

      I for one like they are trying to find ways to justify older players not having to play teenagers or young 20s but can play a character much older in life. Sure it is different but this is more inclusive of players of all ages.

    18. Missing avatar

      Adam on February 26, 2016

      Noooo....

      There are cubs. That's the "beginner concept". I can't help but feel like you guys are missing the mark in a pretty extreme way with this one.

    19. Arthur "Torakhan" Dreese on February 26, 2016

      The choices of changes in the setting and mechanics are being made to fit into the needs of LARPs. I think that including a werewolf's bite into the creation of some Garou is just fine and was something I often thought was missing from the original game since it plays so much into Western contemporary mythos. Yes, there were stories in W:tA of few who went through their first-change at later in adulthood and gave the possibility for it to happen to PCs, but they were very rare in the setting, but seemed to happen an awful lot in LARP groups. In LARPs, most of us are deep into adulthood and playing young teens would be the "norm" in the Nation. Adding a means that makes it far more likely that a cub could be in their late 20s, 30s, or 40s suits me just fine.
      I also like that the bite isn't guaranteed, nor is it a simple bite that can be done to any kinfolk/lost cub without penalty as many who are bitten die in the process, thus leaving the Nation with fewer Kin. This sort of darker decision-making fits quite well into the WoD setting for me.
      I also like the "every Garou has his or her own theory on how the Bite works". This sort of wording clears up my personal concerns over the use of the words "DNA" in the Gamma. As the Garou DNA idea was proved a red herring in the supplements after Valkenberg Foundation, I like the idea that it is metaphysical and doesn't require a physical identifier.

    20. Missing avatar

      Michael Lone on February 25, 2016

      Trying to decide if I want to continue backing this as this is no longer Werewolf: the Apocalypse. If I wanted to play Werewolf: the Forsaken, I would play that piece of garbage. Great mechanics and crap for background/story.

    21. Steven Jones on February 25, 2016

      Dislike this so much