There was an offer to the Nation to have any Cubs or Cliath who live at a Sept without a Den Parent to come and take classes on Thursdays.
The classes are held in the open, and any passing Garou can sit in, ostensibly to make sure the oral traditions are being passed along, or to look in on a favored/disfavored cub, but also to help on the OOC side to enforce the setting, and educate those who have not played for as long, or as deeply, without having to go through the suck ranks.
Week 1 (AKA The Introduction)
A howl goes out Saturday, around noon: "I am Literally Vicious, and I am the Den Mother." Messenger spirits are sent to every PC and NPC cub and cliath, with a time and a location to meet. ((If you play one of these ranks and do not attend, please let me know.)) At the meeting, she takes down everyone's rank, auspice, tribe (or cub's tribal preference/pure breed), basic skillset, pack info, and day to day schedule.
"First things first: introductions. I am known as Literally Vicious, Theurge, Black Fury, born of woman. In the human realm, I am known as Ylva Rhaab. When introducing yourself to other Garou, the first part is what is most important: for your deed name, rank, and tribe will give them a basic understanding of where you are in the Nation. Breed helps, less for the homids and more for preemptive explanation of any accidental gaffes of a lupus or metis. Please note, this will not save you if you go up to an Athro and insult them, then say "Well, I didn't know calling you a formori-licker was bad, I'm a lupus." It will help explain why you don't understand the mess that is the homid teenaged mating ritual.
"Stating your given name is polite, but not always required. Mostly helpful if the other person will be interacting with you as anything outside of duties as a Garou. Get used to answering to a bunch of different names, since most people will forget you have anything other than a deed name, and those tend to change as you go up in rank.
"Before we continue, gentlemen, I saw a couple of eye rolls at my tribe, and heard a sigh. I understand the perception that we are all a bunch of man-hating lesbians. Many of my tibemates worked hard to create and maintain that image. However, I have a husband, I have a young son. You will receive the same basic instruction I give to the ladies, same listening ear if you need it, same attitudes unless yours turn shitty, and ladies... I will throat you just as quickly if your attitudes suck.
"You are here to learn what your duties are, and why. I will be working up a schedule, as you are going to be spending some time under the offices of the Warder and Keeper of the Land. There will be time spent under the Ritesmaster, learning what to use, when you can and should, the Rite of Contrition, and other aspects of what a Theurge does. There will also be time spent with the Master of Challenges, where she will teach you how to properly challenge, when to go bare bones, and why you don't just go super old school and slap someone in the face with a glove. I even have Song of Thunder-rhya willing to shepherd you for an afternoon to learn about the position of Sept Alpha. He will show you the work that goes in behind the scenes for making the Sept work properly, and may even explain some of his decision making process. Even if you do not aspire to such a position, it is helpful information for future pack alphas to know. I will be speaking to the Truthcatcher and Sept Beta to confirm their willingness to give you perspective on their duties. I'll make sure that someone from each auspice is on the list - just because you're not of that auspice doesn't mean you shouldn't know how they do what they do, or why they exist.
"I do not plan to eat up all of your life with your Garouness. I know most of the homids with a low enough Rage maintain jobs in the Scab, because being one of Gaia's warriors doesn't come with free cars, clothes, and internet access. We do need people in place in the Scab, because at the moot last night, Song of Thunder-rhya spoke of healing the damage the Wyrm has done there. It is our fight at this time, and we will be participating. You're young, not useless.
"Lastly, before I release you to the rest of your afternoon: naming issues. You will have noticed that I called him Song of Thunder-rhya, even though he is not in attendance. The suffix -rhya is appropriate at *all* times unless you have special dispensation to not use it. It is *NEVER* to be used as the only way you address someone of higher station. If you do not know their name, apologize and request an introduction, *then* use it. The suffix -yuf is a little easier to drop, unless it is a formal occasion, if the person has a Sept position and you do not, or klaviskar. I will cause misery to anyone who uses the following disparagingly: feral, mule, ape. All of of Gaia. The litany speaks of those who are higher and those who are lower, but that is for next time. Keep an eye on the lodge, as that is where your schedule will be. Now, go change into something other than your breed form and explore the bawn with senses you're not normally used to using for the next hour."
Week 2 (AKA The Litany: Part 1)
Gathering the cubs and cliath around the firepit, Literally Vicious stands with her hands on the back of Song of Thunder's seat. This is where she starts all of the future teachings, unless otherwise stated. She gestures to the left at the Get of Fenris who arrived at the last moot.
"I would like to introduce Reforges the Fallen. He will be be assisting me, so if you have any questions, or would like a different slant on things, please ask him. If he tells you about a schedule change or the like, treat it as if it comes from me. He will be working under the Warder and Keeper of the Land, just like I am and you are.
"This time around, the Litany. We're not going to tackle the whole thing in one setting, cause that's a numb ass by the time you're done. However, we are going to cover the first couple of tenets: Garou Shall Not Mate with Garou, and Combat the Wyrm Wherever It Dwells and Whenever It Breeds. Philodox, the first one tends to come up sadly often for you to deal with.
"Garou Shall Not Mate with Garou. Seems simple, right? That's your sister or brother. We're family. Ew. Here's the hard part: you will have a deeper and sometimes more meaningful measure of a packmate's soul than a regular mate's. Your communication is so clear when you can share thoughts, emotions, and plans without clunky words in any tongue to explain yourself. Some packs grow so deeply entwined that members can all but use each other's senses to plot ambushes or make decisions. I have known of packs that share a home, just puppy pile to sleep, share food duties, bank accounts, everything. The strength of the wolf is in the pack.
"So why is it wrong? Metis are a faster pregnancy, immediately known to be warriors. No hoping someone shifts later in life. Problems: 1. A common fear is that in battle, you will be more inclined to protect that other Garou more than doing what your Alpha tells you to. 2. Bearing a metis child will often cause the mother to not be able to have any further children. 3. Metis are sterile, which means no children from them, either. 4. We are a dying breed, in general. We need children.
"Not saying go out and knock up everyone you meet, or attempt to spawn now. I would prefer that you are all at least Fostern before that kind of thing happens, as that is when you are considered an adult in the eyes of the Nation. I had already had my son before I shifted. Also, Kinfolk of either breed are better than normal humans or wolves for mates. Better chance of having more Garou. Now, if you prefer those of your same sex, and everyone involved is willing, there are a few Kin who can serve as the missing component for breeding.
"When you find someone who matters to you, who can be your partner, enjoy it. My mate, my husband, is dear to me. Without being able to just know what he's thinking, it's actually kind of intriguing. A good mate, one who does not Yoko Ono your pack, is valuable. If your Rage prevents you from going to the Scab comfortably, they'll take that on for you. They are our eyes, our ears, our hands reaching out. They raise our children and give us something to come home to, to fight for on a personal level. Protect them, and do not mistreat this resource.
"Loving another Garou is not a Romeo and Juliet situation. You are not star-crossed lovers. If you find yourself with tickles in the pants for another Garou, let me know. Something will be done before you find yourself hauled up for a violation of the Litany. If another Garou approaches you with a "How you doin'?" attitude, tell them no, and let me know. I'll handle it. *Probably* without the bloodshed of last moot's hunt, where my tribesmates shredded a metis-causing rapist while the rest of the sept dealt with his pack.
"Do not take out parental lapses on the metis you meet, they no more requested birth than you did. Just don't create your own.
"Combat the Wyrm Wherever It Dwells and Whenever It Breeds. This one really *is* simple. This is what we do, why we exist. Sometimes, there are valid circumstances for why you would walk away: You're on a scouting mission and need to to report. Maybe you are in a crowd of humans. Track, but do not engage. You may trip over something by accident that you aren't stout enough to handle alone. Call it in. You are still so wounded from the last battle that one strike will kill you. There really aren't many reasons that count as acceptable for not following this tenet.
"As for the Whenever It Breeds part: think about when you are most vulnerable. Chances are it will be when you are operating at your most basic animal functions: sex, shitting, sleeping, even eating. Good time to seriously screw up someone's day.
"Do not be a coward. Reasonable caution is one thing. No, most Ahroun don't have it, but the ones that do tend to be our better strategists in the long run. Regardless of auspice, regardless of rank, regardless of age: you are one of Gaia's warriors. The Wyrm does not care about those things, and in its corruption, it will kill you for what you are. Kill it, and its minions first.
"So, that's it for now. You have the rest of the afternoon free, but I do expect you to talk to each other about these tenets. Lupus, if you don't understand the Yoko Ono bit, stick around and I'll play you some Beatles."
Week 3 (AKA The Litany: Part 2)
Literally Vicious is in a good mood when she calls together the Cubs and Cliath at the firepit today.
"All right, crew, next couple of chunks of the Litany. Respect the Territory of Another, and Accept an Honorable Surrender. The first is easy to slip on, and the other is a slippery slope.
"Respect the Territory of Another. If a sept has firmly defined territory, like ours, then it isn't bad. We're not the most famous of septs, but we aren't an unknown bastion in the wilds of Northern Podunkia. If you are traveling through an area, it is polite to stop at the closest sept and say hi. This is where that howl of introduction you practiced will come in handiest. While the sept is not your destination, a lot of places get all itchy if you do not approach, fearing a Spiral is spying. Manners avoid incidents.
"If another sept is your destination, and you are not specifically expected, try hard to send a spirit ahead. If it's a Glasswalker or Bone Gnawer sept, see if you can get someone's phone number, as those are usually in the Scabs. Howling tends to be frowned on where humans will hear. Can't find a number, spirits pissed and not talking to you? Look for claw marks, but in graffiti. If you are expected, you will often be met at the borders and get sniffed over, but with far less fuss.
"If you are traveling, and do not know there is a sept around, or a pack like the Wendigo up in the hills has claimed uncertain lands, maybe a lone wolf in a city attempting to protect a small chunk, that's when this tenet is usually broken. It's also easy to accidentally break if there is claimed territory that is too much for that pack or wolf to handle. Maintenance marking is a bitch to do by yourself. If this happens and is truly not a deliberate violation, most will let you off with the rite of contrition and perhaps a bit of groveling. Do it, don't stand on your pride, learn from it. You broke the rules, and ignorance is rarely overlooked.
"Something that pisses me off to no end, but must be brought up: You will run across Garou who consider their mates and children to be their territory. While I do not consider another sentient property, you still keep your paws off someone else's Kin. No consent, no touch.
"Accept an Honorable Surrender. Here's the slippery slope of "What do you consider honorable?" Obviously, a training scenario or ritual challenge is by definition honorable. We simply don't have the numbers for you to rip the throat out of every Garou who wants your position and you beat down.
"The ugly part comes when you're in combat. Myself, I would never trust the word of any Wyrm-creature who claimed to surrender. Some do. Most Garou will still kill any Ratkin, as memories of the war haunt them. What about a human hunter? Some of them have learned their lessons to not go against us, I'm sure. More do not. If you do plan to accept their surrender, examine your mind and your heart to find out why. Death cannot be undone."
Stepping back from Song of Thunder's throne, she claps her hands and points to a nearby boulder, fairly flat on the top.
"This afternoon's fun will be Monarch of the Mountain. Everyone into hispo, and try to maintain ownership of that big ass rock. No permanent damage, and the the last one standing gets a prize."
Week 4 (AKA The Litany: Part 3)
When the Cubs and Cliath arrive at the firepit, it is in use, cooking elk steaks. Literally Vicious has a stack of plates sitting on the throne. During today's discussion, she points at each in what seems to be an arbitrary order, to come forward for their food from Reforges the Fallen as she speaks. The lupus are offered raw, if they prefer.
"Today, you get three items, and one of them even skips forward a bit in the Litany. They tie nicely together, though. Submission to Those of Higher Station, The First Share of the Kill for the Greatest of Station, and Respect for Those Beneath Ye - All Are of Gaia.
"Submission to Those of Higher Station. Rank is earned, not given. Sept and pack positions are earned, not granted. Like when we spoke of when to use the suffix -rhya, only slightly more complex. The part where a lot of people seem to get confused is the concept of liking someone to submit to them. Trust me, your life will be a lot easier if you mark down what I say: you "liking them" means shit-all to someone of a much higher rank who has busted their ass for the Nation.
"Doesn't mean you can't disagree. Doesn't mean blind obedience. Doesn't mean you don't have your pride. But if someone of higher rank or position comes to you and wants something done, it does mean you do it. Example: Say the Warder needs extra hands for whatever reason and grabs you away from your free afternoon. You go on patrol. Sucks you lose out on down time, but he's of higher station.
"We're lucky here. I visited a place where requesting to join that Sept meant crawling on your belly and rolling over so the Alpha, in Crinos, could put his mouth on your throat. I was horrified, as submission is different from abasement; but was informed that they had some really bad experiences. Needless to say, Song of Thunder-rhya wanting you to stand on your own feet and prove you're worth his while to keep around is *much* better.
"The First Share of the Kill for the Greatest of Station. You'll notice the first person waved forward was our Monarch of the Mountain from last week. Their prize was the first of the kill... well, after I took out some for Song of Thunder-rhya, myself, and Reforges. Then the rest of you according to rank, performance, and that ineffable gut feeling of where you stand compared to the rest of the group. The logic here is that you want your strongest to remain strong, to protect the pack.
"If you watch me on nights when the packs gather, food can be a complicated dance. Song of Thunder-rhya gets the first chunk of my meat. He is our pack's Alpha as well as Sept Alpha. Then Preceptor Cioroi-rhya. He has rank on the rest of the pack, has a Sept position, and is my teacher. Then comes a bite for me. Then some for Steals the Kill-yuf. She is of my tribe, she has a Sept position, and she is of my rank. Then another bite for me, then for Onyx-yuf. He is a different tribe, but has a Sept position, is of my rank. A bite for me, then a bite for Winter's Discontent-yuf. Different tribe, no Sept position, but same rank. Then more for me, then some for Houlihan. She's of my tribe, but a lower rank. I get another chunk, then I lastly give to Tabula Rasa. Not of my tribe, lower rank. At that point, I finally get to finish.
"Now, not saying you have to share everything with everyone in your pack. Me feeding my pack the way I do is something internal to *our* pack. If we had a more formal chain of command, I would follow that. However, shows where my prejudices come into play. When things change, the food order changes. Rarely will a pack remain static for years on end. We have a dangerous life.
"Some Alphas want more than a token that you are submitting to them as Alpha. They consider the "kill" in question to include everything, not just food. They will take a tithe from your paycheck, if you get one. They want first crack at your mate. Things like that. Most Garou consider that an abuse of this tenet. When that happens, either challenge them and take over to fix it, or if you can't, then find your closest Philodox with the rank to judge them. If you go that route, you had better have a damned good bunch of evidence.
"Respect for Those Beneath Ye - All Are of Gaia. Here's the corollary to submitting to those of higher station. They, in turn, will give you the respect you have earned. In my example, the Warder is most likely going to grab someone who's free, and not someone already doing a task, because he is giving that person the respect of honoring their other obligations. This is part of why I feed everyone in my pack, not just the Alpha and those above me.
"This tenet includes not just those below you in rank, but Kin, spirits, humans, prey. I know of a couple of Phildox who've been going rounds in a friendly squabble over if this includes Wyrm creatures. I think they were currently at the stage of considering killing the wretches to free them from their taint to be respectful, but... Not my auspice, not my argument. Here is where our tempers can cause problems with our families. This is why I would prefer for you to be Fostern before even trying to start breeding.
"These tenets are ones where the lupus and even the metis have a leg up on the homids. These all come into play on a daily basis with a wolf pack. The metis are raised in our society and can observe. Humans tend to suck at both knowing their place and sharing. They do get easier to remember, even if you have to spend a moment or two thinking about them at first.
"After having fed you, I want you to hunt. I'm splitting up packs and cliques, because while during a raid on Wyrm creatures, you may not be able to stick with your pack. Sometimes, this is to keep everyone coordinated through packlink, sometimes because an auspice role is needed. A pack of all Ragabash is a scary thing, but rare. I want you to be able to work with everyone else, not just the ones you're used to. So, bring me back something in size between two rabbits and a yearling deer."
Week 5 (AKA The Litany: Part 4)
Literally Vicious is leaning up against a tree, playing with the dappled sunlight and shadows on her arms. A light breeze floats around the area, bringing relief from the heat. She waits until everyone has gathered, then launches right into the lesson.
"Backing up a bit to cover what we skipped, we have Ye Shall Not Eat the Flesh of Humans. Then recovering order, The Veil Shall Not Be Lifted, and Do Not Suffer Thy People to Tend Thy Sickness
"Ye Shall Not Eat the Flesh of Humans. Long pig is bad meat. Think about the chemicals that humans eat. I mean, have you ever looked into what ingredients go into nominally healthy food? Yuck. We're not even talking about, like, Cheetos. I have the feeling this is an ooooooooold tenet, though. Regardless, there is never a reason for you to eat people.
"The Veil Shall Not Be Lifted. The Delirium is not absolute. We live in a society of viral videos, ubiquitous surveillance cameras in the Scabs, and even outlying ranches have high speed internet. Remember how when we talked about combating the Wyrm, and I said that sometimes you would have to just track instead because the nasties were in a crowd? Here's why.
"Kinfolk who have their fingers deeply in the pies of news sources, movie production, even the guy who's golfing buddies with the mayor... they are our best defense when someone can't hold their shit together. The less we have to cover up though, the better it works. If you break this tenet, it's kinda obvious. Someone cleans up for you doing so, you owe them. This is another reason why we don't want people go about breeding metis: they are a walking breach until they can control their shifting. Not all septs are outside of most prying eyes, and how do you stop a nosy neighbor who wants to see your baby? "What big claws you have" is not where you want them to go with their observation.
"Glabro tends to look too old school, like Neanderthal old, for most humans to accept. Hispo hits their ancient self defense mechanisms. Lupus isn't safe, because even if you manage to somehow talk someone into a dog collar, wolf rehabilitation is too much of a cause célèbre out here in the West for most to not know what we look like. Crinos is right out.
"Do Not Suffer Thy People to Tend Thy Sickness. Here's more controversy, and quite a bit of discretion is used. General rule of thumb: Will the wound heal with time or minimal assistance? Yes is no stress. No... then we start to talk about how bad it really is. We can heal nearly everything, but stuff like old age is beyond us.
"Also in that category is most mental issues. I can't just crack open your skull and pour a magical fix-it potion over your brain. Would be awesome, totally not doable. A pack is often your best defense against things like Harano. PTSD is common with our lifestyle, simply because of what we are. Learn the signs, watch out for yourselves and your pack."
At this point, she lifts her flowing skirt to show a knee covered in battle scars, unable to bend fully. It looks as though it was stepped on, or partially shattered and not put back together right before being healed.
"Just remember that a single limb being out of commission doesn't mean you're helpless. Look at some of the Get of Fenris as they get older. Fuckers almost relish battle scars, the nastier the better. Find your way to fight, to be capable, to howl and mean it. There is no retirement plan for us.
"If you are suffering to the point that you cannot carry on, if you somehow manage to get old, if you are missing enough body parts, ask to go out swinging. We will accommodate you with a battle or a challenge if needs be.
"We are going to spend part of the afternoon in meditation. I saw that face. While it is a bit boring at the beginning, this one will be guided. I want everyone in homid, three or so to a tree. Sit with your back to it and legs out, and hold hands. Close your eyes, and inhale deeply. Hold, 2, 3, and exhale, 2, 3. Inhale, and hold. Exhale, 2 and 3. Listen to your heartbeat, and feel the sunlight on your face. Inhale. Empty your mind, as you exhale. I'm going to take you down to a calm center. Inhale. Something to remember feeling when your Rage screams. Exhale, and feel your connection to those holding your hands. Inhale, knowing that there are those besides your pack who are with you. Exhale, knowing you always have support. Inhale..."
Week 6 (AKA The Last of the Litany)
Carrying small clipboards, Literally Vicious and Reforges the Fallen walk up to where the Cubs and Cliath have gathered at the firepit. LV tucks her pen into her bun and places her hands on her hips, meeting each student's eyes until they drop. With a satisfied nod, she starts in.
"Today, we wrap up the Litany learning portion. The final three tenets are The Leader May Be Challenged at Any Time During Peace, The Leader May Not Be Challenged During Wartime, and Ye Shall Take No Action That Causes a Caern to Be Violated.
"The Leader May Be Challenged at Any Time During Peace. Mostly, the Litany is a list of "Do nots." Recognizing this, those who codified the Litany realized the potential for the unscrupulous to be dicks. So, if there is no immediate threat or clear danger, challenge away. You win, awesome. Be prepared to back up your position. You lose, take it with a grain of salt, and don't be a poutyface.
"The Leader May Not Be Challenged During Wartime. Insubordination during battle is not acceptable. You may think the Alpha is crazy, sending you somewhere you don't want to be. Chances are they have info you don't. Remember how we were talking about why I split you up for the hunt? Or they may be one of those with a head for tactics, or maybe even have a simple height difference. This terrain, that totally happens. Doesn't matter why they change your orders, just go where you are sent.
"Violation of this tenet usually results in death. The Alpha is in charge. You follow their orders, period. If the Alpha falls, there will be someone who is next in line. The chain of command is not just the chain that you get beaten with to show you who's in command. It's there for a reason, and you had better follow it.
"If you think you somehow know better than eeeeveryone else, and you do something that manages to save lives, you *might* not die. However, you're generally not Renowned for it, either, as your life is your reward for breaking the rules in the service of the pack or sept. Don't count on mercy, though. If you do break this tenet and live, expect a visit from me.
"Ye Shall Take No Action That Causes a Caern to Be Violated. This is a holy place. I don't care if you follow a religion, or not. Put the Caern, any Caern above all else. Here is where the connection to Gaia is strongest, and we need these like we need Garou.
"So, no bringing Pentex shit on the bawn. No opening the metaphorical gate to Wyrm creatures. Support septs you can reasonably get to if they call for help, while not leaving yours stripped bare of warriors. Cover your tracks when you leave the Caern and as you return to it. We're not the only trackers out there. As with respecting the territory of another, ignorance is no excuse."
She pauses for a moment, making sure the Litany has sunk in.
"Now, I'm going to quiz you. I will be going around the circle and I want you to give me a tenet and the why behind it in your own words. The person to your right will act the part of the Fool from a moot, and argue. I want you to defend your tenet. No duplicates til we run out. We're going to start with... you." She pulls out her pen and starts on the notes.
Week 7 (AKA Auspices)
A new arrival of 5 stones, each about waist high to a Crinos, have recently been placed amongst the stumps around the firepit that serve as seating. On each is a single glyph, one per auspice. As the lesson progresses, Literally Vicious uses the appropriate rock as a podium.
"Alright, auspice roles. Going down the list, as the moon wanes, we have the Ahroun, the Galliards, the Philodox, the Theurges, and the Ragabash. Each has a role under Luna, Gaia's sister. Their duties remain distinct. Homids, here's where you find out the outside world told you a lie. You can't grow up to be anything you want. Your role was determined at your birth.
"Ahroun, the full moon, are our premier warriors. Yes, we are all warriors of Gaia, but as a Theurge, I will never be able to kick quite as much ass as my packmate, Steals the Kill-yuf. This is what she was born to do. They are usually our tacticians, our front line, our "Brute Squad." Sadly, they generally have the shortest life spans and least temper control.
"Galliards, the gibbous moon, are our lorekeepers, our songsmiths. They maintain our oral history and our traditions. They are the holders of tales, both ancient and new. Generally filled with passion for life. Make friends with them, for they are the ones who spread the stories that proclaim deed names... and a sucky name is hard to lose. If you ever have the chance to witness a full performance by a group of Galliards, do it.
"Philodox, the half moon, are our judges, keepers of the Litany. As their moon suggests, they are the balance for each of us. Counselors, negotiators, and mediators, the better ones are jacks of all trades. They may come across as aloof, their job sometimes has them judging a packmate. No one likes having decisions called into question, but even less someone who is supposed to be impartial.
"Theurges, the crescent moon, are the intercessors with the spirits. Thing is, a spirit doesn't think like one of us. The more successful Theurges start to think like them, because it makes our job easier to not have to mentally stand on our heads. If you piss off a spirit, we're the ones you would come to for assistance in fixing it. We also do the non-daily rites that most of you will never need to deal with.
"Ragabash, the new moon, are our tricksters and scouts. They play the roles of questioner and fool, of devil's advocate and contrary. If you don't get their sense of humor, don't worry - you are so not alone. Honestly, the hardest auspice to put into words, and in some areas, get the least respect. I've got three of 'em in my pack, so I know better.
Ending her path at Song of Thunder's throne, she leans against it. "We are going to go through the members of the Sept, making sure you know who fills which roles. Starting from the top, Song of Thunder-rhya is a Galliard. His deed name kinda helps that one out. Next is our Beta, Bearer of Secrets-rhya. He is a...?" And she points at one of the cubs, ready for the answer. The rest of the Sept is covered in such a fashion, officers first, then by rank.
Week 8 (AKA Tribes)
"Here's something that concerns us all, in time. Tribe. While the Cliath have already chosen theirs, you cubs have some time. Now, I will admit up front that you're going to get a slightly Black Fury slant. It's what I am, but I will be as fair as possible.
"Black Furies. We are starting with my tribe, because we're going alphabetical. We are all female, with a few male metis. We focus on the protection of the Wild, and of women. Traditionally, we are archers. Obviously, I like us.
"Bone Gnawers. One of two city-based tribes, they look after the downtrodden, the poor, the nominally invisible. Generally considered kinda dirty. Because their tribal totem is Rat, you're going to see some people give them a hairy eyeball.
"Children of Gaia. The opinions I've heard come down to one of two things: Pacifistic drug-addled hippies, or conscientious bleeding hearts. We don't have too many around here. They are most likely to take in any Metis that is bred.
"Fianna. You're going to hear me use one pronunciation, and most people use a different. I picked up mine from a traveling redhead who grew up in Ireland. I have seen some serious emotional ferris wheels coming out of them, flying from tears to laughter to snarls in moments.
"Get of Fenris. Traditionally considered the masculine match to my feminine tribe. Most will tell you that we historically don't get along, and they'd be right. But here's a secret: My father was of their Kin, so I don't hate them. Hardasses, yes. Nazi bastards, no. If you manage to get one of them on your side, you are set, as long as you never betray them. They help define the stereotype that everyone's an Ahroun at heart. For a second opinion, ask Reforges the Fallen-yuf, or Bearer of Secrets-rhya.
"Glass Walkers. The other of the two city-based tribes, by far more focused on what the rich and powerful can do than those the Bone Gnawers look after. They tend to love their technology. They've changed their name at least once, so I wouldn't bet on them keeping this one forever.
"Red Talons. This is an all-lupus tribe. They tend to be very angry over what humans have done to their lands. Kinda can't argue with that, but I would prefer they weren't so bitter.
"Shadow Lords. Most of my packmates are Shadow Lords. They get things done, but I wouldn't ask about their methods. They aren't evil, despite what some will tell you. If they were, they wouldn't be in the Nation.They're just a little tightlipped with outsiders.
"Silent Striders. Lots of itchy feet here. Hate vamps with a blinding, seething passion of a thousand firey suns. They watch. They are also awesome in the Umbra, better than most non-Theurges ever get.
"Silver Fangs. We don't have too many of these around, in general. They have been seen as... unsteady lately. Traditional rulers of the Nation, but with that, it still takes a fiver to get you a cup of coffee.
"Uktena. One of two "Pure" tribes, they trace their ancestry to before the North American continent hosted non-Native Americans. However, they decided to accept anyone who had been oppressed, per rumour. They love secrets, but don't taunt with one.
"Wendigo. The other "Pure" tribe. Generally angrier than the Uktena. Pretty much impossible to get into without being born in. Heard someone call them the human Red Talons.
"Stargazers. They're last, because of their other alliances. While they are Garou, they bailed on us to join the Beast Courts with a bunch of Fera. Few people in the Nation are fans.
"Fera: This includes all of the other shifters. You're most likely to run into coyotes, bears, ravens, and various breeds of cats. The list is long and ugly, so if you want details about any one type, ask directly. I'm not covering the whole list.
"Some of you will have been told that you have something of your ancestors about you. Like you conform to some tribal eugenics or breeding program. Well, sorta. The tribes were originally mostly ethnic groups. It's why the Fianna are almost completely Irishy, and the Striders are traditionally from desert dwellers. You do not have to join any particular tribe, just because you may have a Garou or Kinfolk parent of that tribe. Join the tribe that speaks to your heart. But remember, you still need to pass that tribe's Rite of Initiation, to make sure *they* want *you.* For the rest of the afternoon, shoo. It's too damned hot out here for activity."
Week 9 (AKA Rank and Renown)
Literally Vicious looks around at the gathered class, her eyes lingering on certain people as she speaks. This is not one of the talks where she spends a lot of time smiling.
"Rank comes from renown. Renown comes from deeds. And like Spiderman says, with great power comes great responsibility. Let's cover both duties and how to become known for doing yours.
"Cub. Most of you. Your primary job is to learn. Learn who you are. Don't be shocked if you are treated by some as children. In the eyes of the Nation, you are. It's not meant to offend. Most people spend as little time here as possible, and getting out requires admittance to a tribe.
"Cliath. The rest of you. Your job is both to learn, and to grow. Learn who you are not. You're kinda like a teenager, but sometimes without the acne. Stalling out here means you're either lazy or useless. Neither of those is acceptable.
"Fostern. A large chunk of the Nation. Technically adults, but kinda like college age adults. Here comes the first taste of freedom for those raised on the Septs. Used to be, back before the Amazon, that this rank filled a lot of the minor positions.
"Adren. For those who hit this rank, you truly are adults. Responsibility starts hitting really hard at this point. This is the level where a lot of people stall out. You are effective, capable, and flexible. This *was* the point where you started to get hit with the serious Sept positions. Now... Now it makes me sigh.
"Athro. The rank name means "Teacher." Some, like Preceptor Cioroi-rhya, take this to heart. Only the Council of Elders may judge them, unlike the rest of us. Hard to hit this high, but apparently well worth it.
"Elders. Not always older. Few make it to this rank, because it takes a ton of work to reach it. At this point, you are to be the epitome of your auspice, your tribe. You are to be a good example to everyone you meet. They have served the Nation well, and are to be given all deference.
"Please note: to go up a rank, you will go through the Rite of Passage to move from Cub to Cliath, or the Rite of Accomplishment after you succeed in your rank challenge to move up from there. Both of these rites are overseen by the Ritesmaster, unless they have given permission to someone else to use these rites. Regardless, when you challenge, you *must* speak to the Mistress of Challenge first.
"Honor. The measure of how you prove the value of your word, your principles, your understanding of duty, justice, sacrifice, and doing the right thing at all costs. This is when we fall back on parts of the litany like accepting an honorable surrender. Philodox, fair mediation is often considered honorable. If something feels like it sucks to do, chances are it's on the honor track.
"Glory. The measure of how you cope with the dangerous stuff. This is where your leadership skills during battle come into play, your personal courage, your tactics, and your simple ability to beat ass. Also for how you handle humiliation. Ahroun and Galliards tend to excel here, although no one is exempt. The tenet of the Litany most consider closely tied is "Combat the Wyrm where it dwells and when it breeds."
"Wisdom. The measure of how you implement your knowledge, your experiences, your insight, and sometimes the sheer sneakiness of your solutions. This is what will generally keep you alive, and keep you involved in Garou society, as things like rites and fetish creation fall under this aspect. Most linked to Theurges and Ragabash, for very different reasons.
"You can totally lose renown. Your tales may be forgotten, usually because you committed a crime against the Nation. You may have been a coward, or neglectful of your duties, or utterly incompetent, or killed a Kin. Violating the Litany usually is why you'll get slapped. Doesn't mean you can't recover by learning your lesson. As I've heard around, "Don't be sorry, be better."
"Sometimes, you're going to feel like no one is paying attention to what you do, perhaps because of your rank. Don't worry, they are. During a moot, it is often the flashy shit that gets retold. However, I rarely remember the details, just the skill of the storyteller. When I was in high school, during a creative writing block, my teacher read off a story entitled "Those who make the coffee." It was starkly evocative, about a woman in AA who never got up to speak, but was at every meeting for that group, showing up early to make the coffee and staying late to clean up the mess. Steadiness of purpose, reliability, and willingness to do the ugly things aren't glamorous, but they are what makes the world go. So, before our water balloon fight, I want you each to come up with someone in your daily life who exemplifies this."
Week 10 (AKA Glyphs)
Set up slightly away from the firepit, a patch of dirt has been swept clear. Enough spaces for each of the students has been set up with a box drawn around them, and there is a piece of slate hanging from a sturdy branch. Literally Vicious has a round paintbrush tucked behind her ear and a cup of water on a stool nearby. After a minute or two, any glyph she draws on the slate disappears slowly.
"Go into Glabro, and pick a spot to camp out. Today, we draw in dirt. Why Glabro? Gives you enough of a claw to get the more complicated shapes right, without a paw that will drag in the dirt and screw up what you have done. In rock, in bark, you want Crinos.
"Here are the most common glyphs used for communication: tribe, auspice, breed. Sound familiar? So, let's get to drawing. Clawing them into permanent locations is mostly fine in the wilderness, but remember what I said when we were talking about territory violation in the Scabs: keep your eyes peeled for graffiti. If you want something transitory, but only have natural resources, I have a list of what you can use to get colors. Orange is usually poisonous-ish.
"So, let's start with you putting down your howl of introduction info, and we'll be coming around to make sure you're able to do that bit. Once that's done, we'll start discussing color recipes and how to make them stick."
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
OOC: Sites for reference. The first does have custom glyphs listed, so please watch out for the little stars. The Silverfang houses are not brought up IC. The second has some fonts, but they're in zip files, so... Then a basic Google search for more images. List of materials taken from The Onyx Path's forum.
White = Crushed Bone/Ivory/Burnt shells, kaolin clay, powdered gypsum, or powdered calcium carbonate
Yellow = Limonite, curly dock root, sumac root, Cattle urine
Red = Hematite or baked Limonite, puccoon roots, Insects from the prickly pear cactus, blood
Orange = Realgar, Turmeric powder, saffron, crocoite, crocus flower, heating lead oxide
Brown = Walnut/Pecan hulls, decayed flesh/skin (Known as Mummy Brown), powdered lignite
Blue = Woad (A legume plant), indigo plant, blueberries, crushed azurite/lapis, dried duck manure
Green = Grass plants, crushed leaves, pond algae, powered malachite
Purple/Violet = Hematite, manganese, Murex Sea Snail, Sea Urchin, Purpura Snail, Lichen (archil or dyer's moss) combined with urine, blackberries/mulberries, logwood tree
Black = Charcoal, soot/ashes, manganese oxide
Paint Binders = Human spit, hide glue, bone marrow fat, bear grease, prickly pear cactus juice, yucca roots/leaves, soaproot, egg whites, milkweed sap/plant saps, urine
Glue = Boiled Animal Hides
Week 11 (AKA Dominance)
Literally Vicious stands in the Superman pose, waiting til everyone attending this week's class is in seated. She picks the person sitting closest to Song of Thunder's throne, and looms over them until there is a reaction, then winks and moves on.
"This week, it's all about dominance. When to exert it, when to keep your mouth shut, and how to pick your battles. Before we get started: RHIP, and one of those privileges is not having to listen to the sass of those who are far below you. Anyway, lupus have a better instinct for this than us homids. Metis who were paying attention also have a leg up.
"First and foremost: if you do not want to challenge someone deliberately, if you are lower in rank, then you drop your eyes if they start a staredown and zip your lips other than a yes or no style answer. To tell you a secret, I think Song of Thunder-rhya is going to throat the next person who doesn't do things right.
"In general: the more dominant someone is, the larger their personal bubble is. They tend to take up a lot of space, whether it is standing like this, or taking up more than their "fair share" of room at a table, or by sheer volume when speaking. They are more likely to allow vulnerable body locations to be on display, kind of an "I dare you" response.
"Someone lower on the totem pole will have a smaller bubble, down to not having one at all. They are more likely to hunch, to pull in their elbows, to be quiet, to apologize. They will be less likely to initiate touch between people, and more likely to be the recipients of such.
"When sitting, greater dominance is indicated by stretching out your arms along the back of the seats next to you. You may also end up appropriating part of any adjoining chairs. It is shown by spreading your legs out, both knees wide and feet extended. This is the human version of peeing on the chair to mark it as yours. Often they will place a barrier between you.
"When in motion, the dominant is the one who wins the game of chicken. While it may be argued that the person who swerves (car or walking) may simply be thinking of damage... they still moved. If you are walking with them, they will be the ones who set the pace, making you move faster or slower than you had planned. The dominant's gestures will be sharp and generally exact. Alternately, they may appear to be utterly relaxed in the face of shit hitting the fan.
"The face is very important when it comes to establishing dominance. Sorry, lupus, homids are wired visually, and our bare faces show a lot. We are sensitive to the frowns of those who are above us, and know the immediate power of a bored face. A smile is more than social lubricant, it is also a sign of being submissive, kind of a "Don't hurt me" thing. You may find yourself caught in a staredown, or find that they don't look at you at all. If you are in a staredown, and don't want to offend, drop your eyes and fast. That got repeated on purpose.
"A dominant's voice is to be respected and listened to. It is the sound of their authority, with the appropriate inflections. Primarily, that means not having upwards-inflected phrased ending on a non-question. They tend to greater verbosity. Ever notice that I talk a lot? Yeah, like that. They are more likely to interrupt, and less likely to tolerate interruptions.
"Socially, a dominant personality breaks rules. Besides invading another's personal space, they will control the time they spend with you. Being ignored isn't always a good thing. If there is a questionable statement made, they are looked to for the first or "right" reaction. Think of the movies where the villain tells their yes-men to laugh. Often when they are speaking, the listeners will lean towards them. They will give orders they expect to be obeyed.
"As we are not human, but Garou, the lupine instincts will kick in. Especially true when you are in a four legged form. There is no shame in throating someone who needs it, regardless of how you were born. Learn to watch the ears, of others. While the exact positioning is highly individualized, knowing who lays theirs back versus who rotates them forward is invaluable. Also, if someone's hackles are up, or they are leaning forward, acknowledge that you are below them.
"Finallly, an alpha or dominant person isn't always the most aggressive. They aren't always the loudest, the strongest, the biggest, or the smartest. They are rarely the most liked,but usually the most respected. This is also where I advise you to be careful in expectations due to socialized roles based in physical sex. Just because women are taught to be soft and quiet and demure and all of the other things that makes my tribe frenzy, doesn't mean we're not capable or willing to be dominant. Remember how I told you about how I feed my pack? That's a dominance thing, too.
"Split into pairs. I want you to experience both sides of the equation, both as dominant to someone and as submissive to them. Do it in homid-homid, lupus-lupus, and homid-lupus forms. I don't want any wounds that won't heal by the morning, and you must take on both roles. After you have done this, switch and repeat at least 3 times. After you're done, I have stew cooking to combat the chill."
Week 12 (AKA Moots)
Literally Vicious is lounging against one of the auspice rocks, tapping the end of her pen on her clipboard before marking something off the list. As people roll up, she smiles, looking a little tired. Tucking the pen into her bun and placing the clipboard on top of the Theurge rock, she gets started.
"I do hope everyone enjoyed their spontaneous free afternoon last week. Little secret that they don't warn you about as you start to get known: you lose access to your own time. You will have duties to your pack, your Sept, your Tribe, the Nation, your family if you have one, your duties to individuals, and if you are very very lucky, to your own development as a person and a Garou. Prioritization becomes huge. I try to put you guys high on the list, and right now I'm missing out on Tribal stuff to be here, but that won't always be the case. Expect guests about once a month from now on.
"Anyway, Song of Thunder-rhya mentioned that there is a moot coming up. For those who have never attended, a moot is a mix of business and pleasure, spiritual and practical. I'll be running you through the format as well as the rules of behavior. At the place you're at rank-wise, better to be seen and not heard, unless you have an issue to bring forward.
"Basic rundown on a Sept-wide moot is this: Opening howl, appropriate rites, Cracking the Bone, storytime, revel/hunt. Basic positions are Master of the Howl, Caller of the Wyld, Truthcatcher, Talesinger, Wyrmfoe, and sometimes Fool. Notice how it lines up with auspice, both for parts and for roles? Almost like someone planned it like that.
"So, opening howl. What happens is that the Master of the Howl kicks things off with a howl. I know, imagine that. This is the tone setter, usually echoing what's been happening lately. In some places, the Howl of Mourning is next. This is not for the loss of any Garou in particular, it is for the low numbers of lupus among us. Depending on where you are, this may be just one lupus, or all of them in the Sept, may be joined in by those with lupus packmates, or everyone. If you aren't at home, keep your mouth shut til everyone else joins in, just in case. Then, the Litany, tenet by tenet. If there was a Fool appointed, here is where they challenge every bit of the Litany. Don't help, even though I made you all take on this role during the test on the Litany.
"Then the spiritual part. Fancy name for it is The Inner Sky. Here is where the Caller of the Wyld steps up and summons the Winds. Again, varies by Sept. Where I was raised, was always the directionals and then within. I've heard of places that do other things, but that's a whole big can of mess I don't want to get into during this. After the Winds, then any important spirits are welcomed.
"Business time: the Cracking of the Bone. Tied to the phrase "I have a bone to pick with you." Here's where you will settle things if you can't get it done to everyone's satisfaction privately. Please note, this is the opposite of private. Everyone gets to know everything, and the Truthcatcher's decisions are final. So if it gets here, make sure it's appropriate. Saying "Literally Vicious is a meaniehead because she made us meditate" isn't appropriate, where "Literally Vicious has choked out every male in class for blinking funny and we can't go to Song of Thunder-rhya because they're packmates" would be something valid. If you plan to bring something up, have your facts and your proof ready. Others with knowledge of the situation may chime in. Around here, we have a talking stick to use as reminder of who gets to speak besides the Truthcatcher.
"Storytime! This is where the majority of renown stories are heard. If you are chosen by the Talesinger to be allowed to speak, know what you're going to say and how. If you're boring, we won't want to hear from you again, no matter how important you become. Please remember, you don't have to be a Galliard to be heard here; Fallow Fields made me cry last moot. Doesn't have to be a song or a story; I've seen skits, good poetry, and even one interpretive dance get good reviews. Poor form to brag about yourself. This is often where introductions of new packs or Garou are done.
"And the Revel. The Wyrmfoe is rarely chosen in advance. Usually it's whoever can meet the staredown done by the Master of the Howl. Sometimes, this part is a hunt, sometimes it's all of the dominance and positional challenges happening in the background while the staredown continues. This is where you get to move after sitting on your butt for ages, and tends to be a little wild. It is the culmination of the Moot, and refreshes the Caern. Either way, lupus tends to be the name of the game, formwise.
"About the Fool. I mentioned that this position may not be filled. Some Septs, either they don't have the numbers to support it, haven't changed their population in so long they don't need things questioned, or can't handle the loyal opposition. Most places, the Fool steps back after the Litany is questioned. Again, if you don't know the local procedure, look to the Sept's Alpha.
"The only positions that are usually invoked between moots are the Truthcatcher and the Wyrmfoe. Sorry, Philodox, your auspice doesn't get much of a down time. This is one position that you don't want to piss off. Remember, I said their judgement was final. There is no court of appeals. The Wyrmfoe is kinda what it says on the box. Usually organizes the smaller raids.
"Other than Sept moots, you'll also likely see Tribal moots, either for the locals or for the whole damned Tribe, and Convocations where everyone in range comes to play. I can't tell you what goes on at another Tribe's moot, but I can take an educated guess. Dollars to doughnuts, Glasswalkers have Call of Duty tournaments or hacking competitions, Get of Fenris have fights, and anyone who can walk away from a Fianna moot is shunned as a teetotaller. I won't tell you what happens at mine, but I do promise no lesbian orgy."
At this point, she has Reforges hand out a cheat sheet with sample scripting for each part. Any lupus are offered to be paired up with a homid to read to them.
"Since moot positions can take a while to achieve, come and run through it with this scripting in mind. You may improvise if you feel comfortable. We are not doing the full Rite, but if you are ever called forward, I want you to be ready. And while the positions tend to be auspice-specific, about the only one I have ever seen to only go to one group is the Truthcatcher. So get comfortable, and get creative. You, you're our current Master of the Howl. Go."
Week 13 (AKA the Umbra)
The note tacked to the board at the lodge states to take a late afternoon nap, then return at midnight. That night, a low fire burns in the firepit to greet the class. A bag of small compact mirrors sits on the throne, and as each student arrives, Reforges the Fallen hands the mirrors out. Laughing at those who start immediate preening, Literally Vicious gestures for everyone to stand up.
"The Umbra. By technical definition, the part of a shadow that is complete. For us, it is the spirit world, a shadow of our own. Today, we are going over. The mirror I gave you will help to step sideways. I could get into the metaphysics of why and how it's helpful to have one of these babies with you at all times, and so forth, but that stuff's kinda boring if you're not interested already. If you want to know, see me later.
"So, before we go, if you do not have something dedicated to you, essentially bound to your soul, it stays. Clothes, weapons, stuff you're carrying... all of it stays behind. Any takers on us fixing that before we all go over? Line up, we'll take care of you. It's field trip time, ladies and gentlemen, even if you have already been there.
"Other things that help: being near a Caern heart, which is part of why we protect them. It's easier to step across while in the wilderness than it is in the city. Reflective surfaces help, as does having a packmate go first and break the ice. Having experimented, it does have to be a packmate, not just a friend who is with you.
"What we are crossing is called the Gauntlet. It's what keeps the Umbra and the mundane world apart. Some people have trouble coping with it, other people slide through like it's no big deal. It is possible to take several minutes to cross, it is possible to do immediately. It is also possible to get stuck, but don't panic. If this happens, think hard about and yearn to return home. You can peek across, but if you do, your mind kinda forgets that your body exists until you start hurting. By the way, Uktena do this part best.
"While we are in the Umbra, we will encounter spirits. Here on our lands, these should be nominally less angry/malicious ones. Don't ever think that a spirit is "nice" because it talked to you. Also, certain ones may be camped out, but it is not wise to approach just for fun... I offer my own pack totem as an example. Grandfather Thunder takes no shits and gives no fucks. Don't do anything I will make you pay chiminage for. Chiminage is how you pay a spirit, either as thanks, a bribe, or an apology. Full disclosure on how to cope with them is coming in a few weeks.
"We are going into the Umbra on the half moon for a reason. During a new moon, things can get dangerous, as the paths have disappeared.. During a full moon, the paths are the safest and easiest to follow. At the half, things are only iffy. Do not confuse a moon bridge with moon paths. One links Caerns, the other gives you somewhere mostly safe to walk. Just like in fairy tales, going off the path is a bad idea. We're going in at night because Luna is so pretty and bright.
"You will want to go into the Umbra at least once a month. Once a week is better. You are a creature of both flesh and spirit, and you must keep in touch with both sides. If you grow up to become an Umbral explorer, remember this.
"We will be avoiding the Realms. You may have heard of some of them: Atrocity, Scar, the Battlegrounds, Wolfhome. By the way, the last is totally not awesome the way you might think by the title. The only one I can pretty much promise to be a balm for the soul is Summer Country, but good luck getting there. We also will avoid searching out Tribal homelands.
"I said avoid, because in the Umbra, intent is as important as action. Not quite as bad as marshmallow men for the Ghostbusters, but that's on the path. So, it looks like everyone is all dedicated for items. I want you to take a few deep breaths like we did for the meditation, and then it's time to cross. Reforges, if you will go first?"
Week 14 (AKA)
Week 15 (AKA)
Week 16 (AKA)
Week 17 (AKA)
Week 18 (AKA)
Week 19 (AKA)
Week 20 (AKA)
(Topics to be covered still: Mythos, Behaviors, The Umbra, Expanded Auspice roles...)