How to Play a Successful Theurge

June 14, 2015 at 2:06 am (Uncategorized) (, )

Fifth in my WTA series. I absolutely did write this one. šŸ™‚

Initial Character Build

Theurges generally will either have mental stats or social stats as their primary. Physical stats almost always come dead last. A theurge is typically a support character, with combat acumen showing up primarily at the higher ranks. You can, of course, maximize your abilities by being as strategic as possible. Perception can be important for the Sense Wyrm Gift; Intelligence for Mother’s Touch if you plan to use it. Charisma, Manipulation, and Wits are all rolled for various Rites.

As far as abilities go, Rituals is absolutely vital for theurges, and you’ll want to put at least a 3 in it, if not more. The level of Rites that you learn is capped by your Rituals score. Empathy is important for Mother’s Touch, since W20 uses Empathy now, and not Medicine.

Occult and Enigmas are also pretty vital for your average theurge. Some STs might require Etiquette rolls to deal with spirits as well. From there, you can play around with your concept a bit. A theurge who specializes in working with animal spirits might have a high Animal Ken; a theurge who likes to nurture and awaken various plants might have a high Survival with an Herbalism speciality, and a theurge who works with spirits of war and pain might well have a pretty decent Brawl score.

You’ll want to spend freebies either on extra Gifts or extra Rites. The power of the theurge lines up in both of these items. Rites are a social expectation, and can be very powerful even though they take longer. Theurges are usually the only healer in the pack, so you tend to play with fire if you don’t take Mother’s Touch. Spirit Speech is pretty vital, and theurges without the Rite of Cleansing, Rite of Summoning, and Rite of Binding, at the very least, are pretty much functionally unable to perform in their auspice role. There’s no auspice bonus to Gnosis, so homid theurges will want to take it up right away. A lupus theurge has a clear edge with a starting Gnosis of 5, which is almost the bare minimum for theurge effectiveness.

A theurge might well be older than his or her fellows at any rank, even if he changed at sixteen or seventeen like the average Garou. That is because Wisdom is a slow path to power, and a theurge might well be held back from his Rite of Passage until he’s able to deal with spirits to his mentor’s satisfaction. This is a great auspice to play if you want to play a Cliath who has progressed past his teens or early twenties without looking incompetent by doing so, or without falling back to the (very rare) “late changer” trope.

Your Role, as Seen by the Sept

You are basically a religious leader or a cleric in a theocracy. The Gaian religion is a religion, and you are one of its priests or priestesses. As a Cliath, you are expected simply to know how to deal with any spirits your pack might encounter, to have a few Rites to help out with and usually to act as a healer. In general, you will probably be expected to create talens for your pack and for the sept, as well. By the time you are a Fostern you will be expected to do all of this and more: you might be called upon to bind spirits to your service so that you can fling them at your enemies. You might also be expected to play the role of spiritual advisor. That means you might be interpreting other people’s dreams or omens or visions (or your own). It also means that you might be told things in confidence, or that people might come to you for advice, just like they would to a priest, preacher, minister, imam, or whatever in the real world. After all, going to a Ragabash is likely to make them the victim of a bad joke, going to a Philodox could open them up to judgment, going to a Galliard could mean becoming the subject of a song, and the ragey Ahroun is hardly who you want to talk to about personal problems. Theurges are expected to be wise and to see clearly, after all. At higher ranks, you may even be making fetishes for yourself, your Septmates/packmates, or for the Sept stores.

If there is a spiritual imbalance or curse upon the Sept the theurges will generally be called upon to discover the source of the problem, and to deal with it. Theurges also make sure that the local spirits are happy, even if they aren’t officially Keepers themselves. At the very least, a theurge who discovers a problem with the spirits should report it, if he or she feels uncomfortable trying to soothe the spirit himself. Theurges would take many actions based upon how they feel the spirits would react to those actions.

Theurges are also expected to know their way around the Umbra, which is an ever-shifting, dangerous place. It is the theurge who should know how to get into and out of various Realms, as well as how laws and rules change once he or she is there.

Note that you don’t have to be equally good at all aspects of these expectations. Some theurges are phenomenal fetish makers but are not very wonderful confidants. Some theurges are creepy spirit summoners and binders while others specialice in exorcisms. There is room for a lot of flavor. As a religious leader, you could play the hardass castigating CONFESS NOW MY SON priest, or a freaky spirit-spying chiminage-examining sorcerer, or the battle-spirit ecstatic, or the love-and-peace Gaian-way proseletyzer, and the way you choose to specialize, spend your points, and RP your character will all changed based on the direction you wish to go.

Of course, as a Cliath or a Cub theurge there is definitely plenty of room to learn, which can lead to a great deal of RP opportunities.

Character Contributions

So you’re not a fighter, but you want to contribute to missions and PRPs without feeling useless. For a theurge, advance preparation is often the name of the game, but there is a lot you can do on the spot, too.

  • In advance of the event, +app to bind a spirit to your service. Expect to be given a chimenage to pay or to RP out, but a spirit can often fight when you cannot. All the same, your character is given credit when you summon the wind elementals to flatten your enemies.
  • In advance of the event, create talens that you think might be useful. We have a great talen system (+help talen) to help you do this. Use +app for the initial talen application.
  • During the event, spend combat rounds running around healing your packmates. This is a touch Gift, of course, but it can mean the difference between life or death for everyone in the room.
  • Talk to local spirits in order to get info.
  • Using Sense Wyrm or other Sensory Gifts.
  • Many theurge gifts change conditions to the advantage of the pack. For example, in the Umbra the Battle Mandala steadily weakens spirit attackers while the combat progresses, and Spirit Snare holds them fast. Purchase tribe and breed gifts with an eye towards either doing the same thing (adjusting conditions in your favor) or keeping you alive as you play healer. You could also buy Gifts with an eye towards improving the “spiritual investigator aspect” of your character…any sensory gift is helpful here.
  • Think of helpful Rites. Rite of the Questing Stone is a great Rite for many adventures, as the Rite of Awakening. Some of the minor Rites are VERY helpful at giving you an edge…you just have to remember your character has them and has been doing them.

RP Ideas

You can also contribute outside of “combat” PRPs, or run PRPs that revolve around your role as a theurge. Note that you will have to offer to do a lot of this stuff–most of it won’t come to you. For example:

  • If you’re creating a fetish (see Items) you’ll have to run or have a series of scenes run to make that happen. Think about how you can draw other people into these scenes.
  • If you want to play up the “spiritual leader” aspect, try to find ways to serve as a quiet confidante for those who are upset. You might even do a bit of footwork to study how life coaches, counselors, and others actually do this. There are plenty of resources out there!
  • Use Rites to run your own PRPs. Seasonal Rites and Caern Rites make great PRPs that our players really seem to enjoy.
  • Volunteer to hold a moot role. For a theurge, this is most commonly the Caller of the Wyld, which is a great time and place to show off your creativity. If you can get enough people together, you might actually work together to get multiple people involved as dancers.
  • Teach or learn Rites.
  • Volunteer to summon spirits for the learning of new gifts on screen.
  • RP chimenage. Nobody has to set this for you. Theurges do weird stuff all the time. You can start a lot of scenes by hanging upside down from a tree branch, shirtless, in winter, with glyphs painted all over you. Ask Uni how she knows this. Chimenage can form new PRPs too…some spirits want you to run all over town drawing strange graffiti, some spirits want you to feed the homeless or kidnap abused kids to new homes. The possibilities are literally endless, and they give you an opportunity to show a vital part of the Garou experience that isn’t always covered.

Pitfalls

There are quite a few pitfalls when you’re playing a theurge. The first is falling prey to the idea that “doing damage” is the only thing that matters. As you can see, there are lots and lots of ways that your character can contribute to society, even at the lower ranks, and there are a ton of opportunities for RP. You’ll be very unhappy playing a theurge, however, if you expect your mystic to be super powerful right away. Eventually, if you play long enough, he or she will probably develop an “oh holy shit” array of gifts and Rites. Quite a few may even be pulled out when everyone least expects it. You’ll also be able to bind more and more powerful spirits. But right at first, especially, you’re not going to be the bad-ass of the group. And that’s okay. Play a theurge if you love the deeper, spiritual side of the Garou and the culturally rich rituals. You are on the path of the healer, the seer, the counselor, and the mystic. Try to cultivate that as much as possible, and enjoy the rich RP that it can bring.

Combat Tips

Okay, okay, I know, you really, really still want to be able to do some damage. Here’s Constantin‘s best advice:

“Until you have a great fetish like a bone dagger or some other equalizer, go to Hispo whenever and wherever possible, and use the bite attack unless it’s ill advised to do so (they’re poison things and you don’t have Resist Toxin? Ok, do something else). Bite is a difficulty of 5, and in Hispo you get +1 damage. It’s still all aggravated, and you can still regenerate lethal and bashing. Bottom line? The dire wolf form is your best asset…and you can go press yourself against your packmate’s legs for a heal without getting in their way, too. In homid, you want to carry a knife, and later, a fetish knife. After all, you can’t fight in Hispo in the heart of the city…but you sure can take advantage of a difficulty of 4 on the attack roll. Since you get bonus dice on damage for bonus successes, this is important. Use Willpower on Damage rolls, since it’s allowed here…that one extra damage could make all the difference. Your packmates may not ever stop teasing you about being cute and fluffy, but they’ll still respect you. And…break off the attack when they start getting hurt. They’ll thank you far more for healing them then they will for trying to pull some sort of Theurge’s Last Stand after they’ve all been taken out.”

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