Just because W:tF is White Wolf’s ‘physical’ game doesn’t mean you can’t run Werewolf games with a heavy element of social interaction, investigation and political intrigue. Here are some ideas on the matter:
Alternative pack set-ups Edit
A pack doesn’t have to keep patrolling their territory like a bunch of vigilantes or a street gang. Here are some ideas for non-standard packs:
- a detective agency (with Wolf-Blooded relatives running the administrative side of the business) keeping an eye out for odd things
- a group of investigators/enforcers for the local ruling vampires
- a complex family in the 'American Gothic' sense, with plenty of dark secrets
- a group running a ranch or a wilderness tour group
- a cult of some description – perhaps a bunch of hippie dropouts in the wilderness trying to make a better community, or a Doomsday cult hiding out on a secret bunker
Pack logistics Edit
Also, try think about the logistics of maintaining a pack, starting with finance. This could have interesting social repercussions. Even your outlaw biker gang of werewolves will have to get finance from somewhere to maintain those bikes. Maybe this gang runs drugs or does protection rackets, or they're funded by a mysterious benefactor who one day will call on the bikers to perform a few favours they can’t refuse.
Do the characters work crappy jobs packing shelves just to make ends meet? How do they interact with their co-workers after coming late?
Or has your pack renounced human society and they live and maintain a territory in the wilderness.
Have all of them adjusted well to the natural lifestyle or do some among the pack hate wiping themselves with leaves?
Develop the characters’ supporting NPCs Edit
One way to emphasise the social aspect of games is to develop the characters’ supporting NPCs. Do they come from a Wolf-Blooded family that knows about the ‘family curse’? Are they trying to keep their werewolf identity a secret?
The insular nature of Uratha society can mean that some Uratha never meet other packs socially except during territorial challenges. We’ll call this a flat social structure. The isolated nature of this structure is good for combat-based games and stresses survival and self-reliance, but it might be hard to pull off a game if you want more interaction between packs. You could change the society from a flat structure and have certain areas dominated by a powerful pack, that makes its neighbouring packs agree to a rough alliance. This makes a more hierarchical social structure. And within this hierarchy, packs could be jostling for dominance. A number of these allied packs could exist within the region, creating a relatively stable political structure. A set-up like this:
- means that your pack can socially interact with other packs without instantly fighting them, because they’re united by a common alliance.
- means that because there’s an alliance that gives everyone everything, a lot of work has to be done to maintain the alliance.
- makes the threat of Bale Hound infiltration more significant – what if the PC pack learns that an important and highly respected elder in the alliance is a Bale Hound? And what if this information has just been spread by malicious parties to weaken the alliance? There could be a lot of suspicion around, and it could just be a play by another pack to weaken the dominant pack in order to gain their territory. Think of the Cylon infiltration threat in the current Battlestar Galactica series.
Work out the dominant packs in the region Edit
There might be a conflict between packs that support a literal interpretation of the Oath rather than those that have a more liberal view. One pack may be allowing ‘friendly’ duguthim to settle in their territory, while a neighbouring pack might be against any spirit-ridden being allowed to exist at all in the physical world.
Developing occasions for gatherings Edit
Uratha come together for gatherings, so what does this mean? Which pack hosts the gatherings? How many packs attend? Do all the Uratha who attend the gathering leave their territory empty? How will the host of the gathering persuade the insular Uratha packs to leave the territory?
What sort of rites and rituals are performed at the gatherings? Some ideas include:
- an ‘opening ceremony’ to venerate Luna
- separate tribal gatherings to venerate their particular totem
- a spirit hunt, where a spirit is ceremonially captured and released. (What if something goes wrong and the last of the spirit’s essence is accidentally devoured by a werewolf? This could be a disastrous omen for the future).
- discussion of recent events on pack territories. What overall picture of the region is emerging as this information is being exchanged? Are there increasing incursions of Pure Tribe assaults? What’s the shape taking place in the Shadow Realm?
- recitation of deeds and stories
- any formal challenges that are to be witnessed in front of gathered Uratha
- any legal disputes – has anyone violated the Oath? (e.g. A tabloid newspaper could displaying stories about ‘wolfmen’ or ‘Sasquatch’ legends downtown. More aggressive packs who use explosives and assault rifles to blow up their quarry could be drawing police attention as terrorists).
- discussion of any disputes or issues that may have arisen since the last gathering.
Tribal society Edit
Tribe members may came together to hold special rituals or celebrations to honour their totems. They might tell stories from the Father Wolf legend cycle about their totem and its virtues, If the character is from a multi-tribal pack, what if the tribe elders wants something that puts the character at odds with their pack?
Spirit politics Edit
You can use spirit politics to spice up your game. Divide the area between several ruling spirit courts. Each court is trying to become the dominant one in the region. Give each spirit court a number of good points and bad points about it, making it hard to see which ones are clearly ‘bad’ or ‘good’. And put something that each spirit court wants into the hands of the another court. Create a tricky minefield that will require lots of bargaining and uncovering of spirit secrets for your PCs to explore.
But don't neglect the core things... Edit
Ultimately, Werewolf is about holding and protecting your territory. If the characters are getting too complacent with all of these social/political liaisons, a threat from one of the core adversaries can ground your PCs in 'reality' for a bit
But even here you can even spin the 'standard' threats around to give them more of a social edge to your game. A Fire-Touched might try to convert the pack, if they're young and show signs of wanting to listen. Make the Fire-Touched's truth harsh, and yet with an odd ring of truth to it that pokes holes in the traditional Father Wolf legend. Work out what the 'real' truth of the matter is, so you've got something consistent behind all of the layers of stories and legends you'll be spinning for your players.
Ultimately, Werewolf has a nicely solid foundation, giving you plenty of scope to tell the kinds of stories that work out best for you and your group.