“It all began thousands of years ago in the Garou world, when Mother Earth, aka ‘Gaia’, created three supernatural forces – the Weaver; a manifestation and symbol of order & pattern, like computers, science, mathematics etc. –The Wyrm; a manifestation and symbol of evil, entropy and decay in Garou belief, such as vampires, pollution etc. –The Wyld; a manifestation and symbol of pure change and unshaped potential.”
Willow eagerly raised her hand, so Xander stopped and let her speak.
“For what purpose were they made for?”
He smiled at his brainy bud as he answered her question.
“To maintain the Universe supposedly. The game doesn’t give an exact answer. Anyhow, it was Gaia that first taught the Garou to change their shape and at her command, foster the fledging human race.”
Xander paused for a few seconds before continuing.
“But as the Garou grew strong and broke off into tribes, they soon reveled in their dominance above all humans and other shapeshifters – and this eventually led to war as they sought to command all creatures.”
Buffy scrunched up her face as she spoke up.
“They sound evil now. Can I slay them?”
“Everyone gets a little power-hungry Buffy, look at all the past wars in history. What the Garou did was predictable enough, though they aren’t evil. No one can blame a nation for their old leader’s mistakes.”
Buffy sighed and nodded, “Yeah, yeah. I got it. No slaying for Buffy.”
“Can I continue?” Asked an amused Xander.
Buffy grinned cheekily at him, “Sure.”
He coughed and started again.
“Right. It was said that the violence was so terrible from that war, that humankind turned its back on the Garou. So to this day, humans have denied the Garou’s existence and any human that sees a Garou in wolfman form, will retreat in madness and forget what they have seen.”
Jenny added in.
“So the Garou live under a ‘Veil’ that conceals them from humans who are now considered dominant among Gaia’s offspring.”
“That’s the historic part of the Garou done. Now to add few basic facts about Garou, first they are spiritual creatures. They can enter ‘Umbra’ which is a spirit world; a shadow of the physical world. There they can travel and talk to spirits. They can enter it through any glass mirrors, which are sometimes called ‘Stepping Sideways’. Second, the full moon does not affect Garou, meaning it can change its form at its own will any time it wants. Lastly, the Garou believe that the Apocalypse means their final battle with the Wyrm, it is generally accepted that the present time is the beginning of the end of times.”
Giles cleaned his glasses and asked.
“As interesting as this is Xander, why did the Garou believe it was at that exact time that the Apocalypse would start?”
Xander nodded and responded, “All those cities around the world are growing and destroying anything in its way. The Garou saw this as the Wyrm’s corruption & couldn’t really attack directly as humans were the ones doing it.”
“Rigghtt.” Cordelia nodded boredly as she looked over her nails.
Xander rolled his eyes.
“Okay, more interesting part of Garou society. The Garou are a divided people, divided along the lines of breed, of auspice and tribe. Which made it hard for them to form packs with different members.”
Willow looked entranced as Xander continued on.
“A Homid is a Garou born that is raised by humans. A homid doesn’t make their First Change until they hit puberty or thereafter; prior to their change, many suffer from dreams and visions dealing with wolves and the wilderness. After their First Change, they are considered cubs that are usually accepted to a Sept; which is a group of packs banding together at a sacred place called a Caern, where Gaia’s natural energy can be felt by all Garou.”
Jenny butted in to help the others get a better idea of what Xander was talking about.
“Think of a camp in the middle of the woods; a resting point to meet others, live in, train with and meet potential pack members. Also, when the cubs finish training, they gain the right to have a Rite of Passage done, that would allow them to be adopted into one of the Garou Tribes.”
Seeing the group understand better, Xander went on.
“Metis are the deformed and sterile offspring of two Garou. Metis are born in their man-wolf form and are usually raised in a Garou society. Garou are not supposed to mate with other Garou as these Metis are the results of that kind of relationship. Garou are encouraged to mate with other Kinfolk; which is a Garou’s extended non-shape changing family, in hope that there would be a homid Garou birth.”
Buffy frowned, “That’s not really fair. What if two werewolves love each other?”
Xander shrugged, “Rules are rules Buff. ‘The Ways’ must be followed by all Garou.”
“Anyway, the last of the breeds are mine and Ms. Calendar’s character’s breed. A Lupus is a Garou who is born and raised as a wolf. Sadly, some Lupus bears a strong grudge towards humans for their tampering, like the tribe of Red Talons does.”
Jenny nodded and added in, smiling at Xander as she spoke.
“Correct. Young Garou are also trained to transform into any of their five forms. Homid is their normal human form. Glabro is 75% human, 25% wolf. Crinos is a Garou’s battle form, 50% wolf & 50% human. Hispo is a wolf as large as a bear and stronger too. Lupus is a normal wolf form.”
Oz nodded slowly, “Cool.”
Xander smiled tiredly and sat down next to Jenny.
“The Auspices are spiritual life-paths that a Garou is born with and that are tied to the phases of the moon. These are considered gifts from Gaia’s sister, Luna, the Moon, that is their guide. The auspice system is one of the pillars of Garou society as it helps to describe social caste, predispositions and calling.”
Jenny took over.
“Ragabash, Xander’s Auspice, are known as tricksters. They challenge the Garou’s traditional ways in order to help discard traditions that are outdated. Their tricks and pranks teach wisdom and humility to those who would listen. The resourceful Ragabash always bring smiles to the Sept, especially when spirits are low. Those who are born on the day of the new moon are considered Ragabash.”
Willow beamed at Xander. “It really suits you Xander!”
He grinned back proudly. “Yep!”
“Theurge is my character’s Auspice. Those who are born during the crescent moon are considered seers and shamans for the Garou Nation. Though it is true that all Garou can talk to spirits, the Theurges have a better aptitude for it. They are often associated with healing as well.”
“Oooh, I want to be a Theurge too!” Willow begged, pouting at Xander.
He smiled. “Okay but let Jenny finish speaking first.”
Willow blushed and apologized but Jenny waved her hand, smiling.
“It’s okay Willow. Now, next are the Philodox that are born under the half moon. They are known to dispense justice and are often leaders in Garou society. They are charged with keeping the traditions of the Garou. However, they also strive for balance and harmony amidst the hot tempers of Garou.”
Xander joined back in, this time glancing at Oz as he spoke.
“Those born beneath the Gibbous moon are known as the Galliard. They are warrior-bards of legend, taking time out from their art to fight and from their fighting to sing rousing tales. They are known to be joyous and make good company usually.”
Jenny took her turn.
“Last but not least, the Ahroun are those born beneath the full moon. These are known as the natural warriors of the Garou. No Garou is incompetent at fighting but the Ahrouns excel at it. They often lead Garou during times of war or when there were no Philodox in the pack.”
Buffy looked nervous. “Guess I’m an Ahroun huh?”
Giles looked over at her in question. “Where you born during the full moon Buffy?”
She nodded uneasily. “Uh huh.”
Xander smiled at her. “You don’t have to be an Ahroun if you don’t want to be, Buff.”
Buffy shook her head, looking serious. “Nah, it’s just a game. I’ll stick to the rules.”
Xander shrugged. “Alright. There are twelve tribes of the Garou Nation; The Black Furies, the Bone Gnawers, Children of Gaia, Fianna, Get of Fenris, Glass Walkers, Red Talons, Shadow Lords, Silent Striders, Silver Fangs, Uktena and Wendigo.”
Jenny spoke, “The Black Furies is a tribe exclusively of women, the Furies act as defenders of the Goddess. They originated in Ancient Greece, the tribe has since inspired great legends of female heroes. They rage against slights done to them by male society, both real and imagined. For their entire battle prowess, the Furies are a deeply mystical tribe and their rituals are mysterious and hauntingly beautiful.”
Xander grinned as he spoke of his favorite tribe.
“The Bone Gnawers are mangy dog-like Garou who live in the poorest, burnt out parts of the cities. The other Garou consider them mange ridden dogs and have not respect for their urban skills. However, the Gnawers are supremely informed about anything and everything that goes on within their cities. They are known for taking excellent care of their families, both human and Garou and in times past were considered to be the most loyal friend one could have."
Jenny took over.
“The Children of Gaia are gentle mediators, as the Children strive for harmony between all the tribes. Many consider them as useless tree-huggers who talk too much and do too little. However, when the Children do strike in battle they do so with deep conviction that they are truly Gaia’s chosen and fight with the madness of religious zealots.”
Xander spoke next.
“Fianna are exclusively of Celtic descent. They are known for their wild passions and artistic insight. They are often seen as drunken fools, but they take their fighting just as seriously as their parting. They are famous for their skilled bards, great warriors and mystical ties to the Fae.”
Jenny grinned at Giles, “Sounds like the Tribe for you, Rupert.”
Giles rolled his eyes at her but smiled as he thought more about it.
Xander ignored them and went on.
“The Get of Fenris came from the harsh lands of Northern Europe. The Fenris have developed a savage, bloodthirsty and fatalistic view of life. A few have embraced the Nazi white supremacy ideal and have given all the rest a bad name. They value battle prowess above all but also put great store in personal honor and cleverness.”
Jenny let Xander take another breather as she spoke.
“The Glass Walkers, for thousands of years, hid in human cities, living as wolves among sheep. The lords of the cities, the Walkers are always on the cutting edge of technology. They love the toys of the Weaver and are often associated with computers and guns. Other Garou typically mistrust them, not only for their proficiency with high technology, but for their love of human cities and culture.”
Buffy slumped into her seat more while Willow and Oz listened closely.
“My character’s tribe is the Red Talons. They are entirely composed of lupus Garou. The tribe is well known for its fierce hatred of humans as they believe humans are the reason for the upcoming Apocalypse. The Talons are sadly dying out as they have no human kindred to produce offspring. Talons thrive whenever they can commune with the mysteries of the wild.”
Xander spoke up this time.
“The Shadow Lords are ruthless, devious and ambitious – the Lords value political power over all else, and they are fascinated by the politics of Garou society. The Lords consider themselves to be the only tribe fit to lead the Garou in these dark times. They are seen as backstabbing and manipulative, which is very often the case. However, they have great tribal unity. The Lords are not often respected but are almost always feared.”
Cordelia yawned loudly.
Buffy smirked and whispered to Willow.
“Finally somewhere Cordelia can feel like home…”
Willow giggled quietly.
Xander held back a smirk as he heard to them
“The Silent Striders once dwelt in the fabled lands of Khem in Ancient Egypt but were cast out their ancestral homeland by the vampire Set long ago. Now they roam the Earth, following an insatiable wanderlust. They are the messengers of the Garou and are always on the move. The Striders very rarely share their secrets yet conversely are also known for their skill at prophesy. They hate vampires with a passion.”
Jenny spoke up.
“The Silver Fangs were the ancestral leaders of the Garou Nation. The Fangs descended from some of the greatest Garou in history. Lineage and ancestry is critical to them. By breeding with only the noblest of humans, they bred despair and madness into their house. Many have mental disorders of some sort. The rest of the Garou consider the Fangs doddering kings who should be overthrown. The Fangs will not let such a thing happen. Younger Fangs have been trying to fix what’s wrong with the tribe and bring in fresh new blood, though they haven’t had much success as of yet.”
Oz would have appeared dead to them all if they hadn’t seen him breathe and blink now and then as he listened silently.
“The Uktena have originated from Native America. Ethnically diverse and intensely curious, they hoard knowledge of magic from all over the world
As well as a deep understanding of the occult that they dare not share with outsiders. These dark mystics are often feared by other Garou who think they walk too close to the Wyrm.”
Xander finished with the last tribe.
“The Wendigo are descended from Native American Garou. All Wendigo are of Native American stock. They are more powerful in physical prowess than the Uktena are, but their ability to speak to the spirits is nothing to scoff at. They consider the Uktena their somewhat misguided brothers and tolerate the Striders, but dislike most of the other tribes.”
Xander sighed contently after finishing that last piece of information.
Willow looked excited as she asked, “Do they have any form of Alphas like normal wolves do?”
Jenny nodded and replied.
“Yes, it goes from newly cubs, to young full-fledged members of the Garou Nation, called a Cliath. A Fostern is an older and experienced Garou that can hold Sept Leader positions at Caerns. Adren is a student learning of the politics of Garou, the rank between Fostern and Anthro. An Anthro is a teacher to Adrens, a rank between Adren and Elder. Elders are in charge of all their respective communities as it is the highest rank in Garou society.”
“Is it over?” Moaned Cordelia.
Xander rolled his eyes and stood up.
“Yeah. What do you guys think?”
Buffy shrugged, “I think I got a headache but I get what you’re trying to say though.”
Willow nodded eagerly, “I thought it was great! All those tribes and stuff, I mean.”
Oz nodded, looking like he was finally coming back to life.
“It was good.”
“Whatever,” muttered Cordelia as she stood up. “Can we shop now?”
Buffy looked up, interested. “Sounds good.” She turned to the others. “You guys coming?”
While everyone but Giles nodded, he replied saying.
“I’m afraid not, I still got some work to do.”
Jenny looked slyly at him.
“No problem Rupert, I’ll just go with the kids and pick up something we can both wear tonight.”
Giles’s eyes widened as the group laughed and walked out the library.
Author's Note: God, this took so long to write as I really wanted to explain the game correctly. Please review! ^_^