How to Play a Trickster Without Being a Douche

June 22, 2016 at 4:47 am (character design, Roleplaying Posts) (, , , , )

There are some character types that make players and GMs cringe because they have a reputation for causing havoc and disrupting the game. Most often, they’re tricksters (the others are the so-called “mad” character types, but I’ll address those in another post). They’re the Coraxes and Nuwisha in WoD. They’re the Kinder (or sometimes, for God’s sake, any freaking thief character) in D&D. They’re known for being spastic, loud, and silly.

But there’s more than one way to play a trickster. You don’t have to default to these stereotypes when you set out to play one. I’m about to offer you some alternative tropes that you can dive into instead. You may notice some overlap and you may not agree with where I placed all of my examples, but…such is life.

The Refined Trickster

This trickster is a master of etiquette and social graces. He or she may even know the cultural norms of multiple groups, and can use them to best advantage. He or she may be snarky, but it will always be a more clever, understated kind of snark. This trickster doesn’t have to have a lot of money, and he or she does not have to radiate sex appeal (but often does). You could do an earnest yet utterly charming young person who is just getting his or her start in life, too.

This person knows how to work a room, and may get a lot of his or her work done through rumors, manipulation, and a simple skill for talking people around to his or her point of view. Sometimes this trickster can accomplish things simply by predicting what people are likely to do, and then setting up the dominoes.

Of course, this kind of trickster isn’t limited to that sort of work, and can be surprisingly effective in other ways.

Examples: James Bond, Irene Adler (Sherlock), Raymond Redding (Black List)

Techno Trickster

This trickster may be your typical hacker, but one doesn’t have to take it in that direction. He or she may simply be good with gadgets, or have an awful lot of them. They may also be adept at improvising different solutions on the fly.

It’s easy to fall into the stereotype of playing the over-the-top bragger hacker, but there are a lot of different ways to play this. Taken from my examples…Charlie is often anxious and socially awkward until there’s a girl she wants to do. MacGuyver is charming and charismatic in the extreme, though those are never the tools he really uses to his advantage…the tech is. Phil is again incredibly charming, witty, and funny, but mostly he makes great use of the tools he’s been given. The unifying thread here, however, is intellect: all of these tricksters are usually wickedly intelligent.

Examples: Charlie Bradbury (Supernatural), MacGuyver, Phil Coulson (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)

The Social Engineer

This trickster is similar to the refined trickster, but he or she will take it in a slightly different direction. In this case, our social engineer is adept at making up new identities, fast-talking, and convincing people he or she is someone other than what they say they are. They may be outstanding at getting other people to open up and offer more information, too.

When they’re “off the job” they can be serious, focused, and earnest in the extreme, since they spend most of their time lying to their enemies. As it is, sometimes their friends have trouble trusting them, as they know just how easy it is for their friend to spin a big fat story.

Sometimes, this kind of trickster can make people believe a lie without speaking a word, simply by manipulating appearances or playing into other people’s expectations.

Examples: Michael Westen (Burn Notice), Sam Winchester (Supernatural), Black Widow (The Avengers).

The Covert Ops Trickster

This trickster is more about his or her skills than demeanor. This could include sneaking, sniping, and getting into places he or she is not meant to go. He or she may also have some of the other skills, like social engineering.

In truth, most thieves would fall into this category, but the thing about a covert ops person is they’re a professional. They’re not going to draw attention to themselves with over-the-top behavior. They’re not going to attract attention if they don’t have to attract attention. And if they have friends, for the love of god they’re going to protect their team at all costs, because that team may consist of the few people in the world this person can possibly trust. (Unless, of course, the people who appear to be their friends are not, in fact, their friends, but then they will usually at least appear loyal until it’s time to strike).

This trickster may focus primarily on taking targets down both quickly and quietly. This trickster may also focus on getting in and out without killing anybody at all, stealing information or sabotaging enemy assets with ease.

Examples: Thane Krios (Mass Effect),  Bobbi Morse (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Robin Hood (Once Upon a Time).

The Tactician

The Tactician is more focused on coming up with a broad, overarching plan that will make use of the entire team’s talents. He or she is intimately acquainted with what every member of the team can do. This person will also poke a lot of holes in plans that have problems. The tactician may also be concerned with setting up advantages: he or she might lay traps, figure out how to use environmental factors such as higher ground, or otherwise do things to mess with the enemy while the tanks and bruisers of the party do their thing. They find the loopholes, and they exploit them ruthlessly.

The tactician is, above all, a big picture thinker and an amazing communicator. This person finds ways to inspire loyalty in “the troops,” whether that’s the rest of the PC group or an entire organization. They may be funny and get into antics (see Mat Cauthon, below) but only really when the rubber isn’t hitting the road.

Examples: Mat Cauthon (The Wheel of Time), Leliana the Nightengale (Dragon Age), John “Hannibal” Smith (The A-Team).

Notice how not one of these characters is played in the douchey, limelight grabbing fashion that players and GMs know so well when people start proposing trickster characters. 

In many cases, it’s quite the opposite. Trickster does not mean “plays pranks.” It doesn’t even have to mean funny, though almost all tricksters offer some good zingers every now and then. A trickster is anyone who can pull shit other people don’t see coming. A trickster uses deception to get his or her way. A trickster works from the shadows and sees what others don’t see.

In short, tricksters can be bloody amazing, and you should honor that when you design one.

What are your thoughts? Have you played a trickster in the past? Did they fall into any of these tropes? Did I miss an amazing trickster trope? Let me know in the comments!

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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. 🙂

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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How to Play a Successful Philodox

June 14, 2015 at 1:53 am (Uncategorized) (, )

The next one in the series about how to play a successful Werewolf in a WTA game. I believe Raven of Phoenix Rising wrote this one, as well.

Initial Character Build

To start off, the way you build your Philodox is going to depend heavily on how you want to use him, but in general, it’s a good idea to make your social attributes your primary category: Charisma, Manipulation, and Appearance. You won’t be performing like a Galliard does, but as a Philodox, your purview is law, mediation and leadership. You won’t be performing mysterious caern Rites like a Theurge, but you’ll confer with the spirits to perform Rites of your own. You are going to be a people- and spirit-person. And, quite frankly, the vast majority of those Punishment Rites you will learn and levy on the peons will call on your Charisma. Following that, consider what kind of Philo you want. Do you want one that is more war-like? If so, take physical stats as your secondary. Perhaps you want a Philodox who is a bit more perceptive, more of a brainiac and an investigator (if so, take mental stats as your secondary).

When it comes to the Abilities, your typical Philodox is going to want to favour his Leadership, his Law, and his Rituals. Just where you go from there really does depend on what you intend to do with the character. A Philodox will likely never have the brute, raw talent for combat that an Ahroun has, but he’s still a competent fighter, and there are several Gifts that support this (like Resist Pain or Fangs of Judgment). Brawl and Melee (with a dot or two in backup combat Abilities) are good choices to make. Then there are those who want to take their Philodoxes down another road – that of the investigator or the mediator. An investigator, obviously, will want a few dots in Investigation, Alertness, Streetwise or Survival. A mediator will want to take dots in Empathy, Expression, or even Intimidation.

Of all the auspices, the Philodox is the one most concerned with balance. He stands between the furious, brute force of the Ahroun and the laughing, sly cunning of the Ragabash. He knows the history of his people, and he is well-versed in the ways of spirits.

If you ever played Final Fantasy, you could call this guy the Red Mage of the Garou world. He’s a decent fighter, but not the best. He can be cunning, but he won’t be a trickster. He’s a historian, but that usually bends towards law. He’s a spiritualist, but he doesn’t go as deeply into the mysteries of the Umbra as the Theurge does.

So there is quite a lot of leeway in how you build your particular Philodox.

Your Role, as Seen by the Sept

Judge, Lawgiver, Mediator, Leader. All of these things describe the Philodox in the eyes of most Septs. To them fall Gifts of judgement and assessing the truth, and to them falls the task of keeping a Sept prosperous and well-functioning when it is not in a state of war. They don’t have as much Rage as an Ahroun, so they are expected to have clearer heads and clearer vision. They are not as spiritually inclined as a Theurge, and so they are expected to have more focus on the Garou rather than the Umbra. They stand balanced between man and wolf, man and spirit, and man and Garou.

For this reason, there are several positions that many Septs will have filled by a Philodox.

A Truthcatcher in most traditional Septs is one of the most important positions. This Garou serves as judge and jury, overseeing many disputes, and calling upon knowledge of the Litany and its many interpretations in order to give a judgement that is theoretically just and sound. The Truthcatcher also oversees the Cracking of the Bone during monthly moots, hearing out any grievances that the Garou have accrued over the past month and demand to have settled. Such a person is often considered an Elder in the Sept, and such a person needs to be highly intelligent, charismatic and knowledgeable about politics, diplomacy, the Litany, and a variety of Punishment Rites.

The Master of Challenges is another position that is frequently held by a Philodox, and this Garou – as the name suggests – is a master of a variety of challenges. He or she needs to be competent with gamecraft, the staredown, and physical challenges. Often, this includes klaivaskar, especially in highly traditional Septs where many challenges will call for ritualised duelling. A Master of Challenges who does not know the rules of klaivaskar in such a Sept is likely to find himself being challenged in turn for his position.

Even if a Philodox is not holding an Elder’s position, it is likely that he or she will be called upon by various Garou to help judge or mediate a minor dispute between Sept members. He is expected to act as an impartial or objective judge, using the clarity of vision that is his by Luna’s divine appointment to his auspice, to keep peace among a highly war-like and Rage-filled society of vicious, bloodthirsty wolves.

For obvious reasons, this is not an easy auspice to play.

Character Contributions

When it comes to contributing to missions and PRPs, one might find it a little challenging to do it as a Philodox. After all, the Philodox is a leader, but he is most often a leader during times of peace. It is the Ahroun who is called upon to lead during battle. So what does this mean for you and your character when the heat’s on?

  • Philodoxes are not combat push-overs. Their Rage is in the middling range between the holycrap! extreme of the Ahroun and the piddling laughability of a Ragabash. The occasional splurge for an extra attack is possible, and although the Philodox has a few combat-worthy Gifts in his arsenal he will also do well if he focuses on using a fetish weapon.
  • Your auspice is good at ferreting out truth from lies. Philodoxes are people persons. While the Ragabash makes a great scout and could shmooze information out of people, Philodoxes are also more than capable of this, especially when using Truth of Gaia or Persuasion when talking to humans or other Garou. Need to interrogate someone? Call on your Philodox. They can do it either with charm or with intimidation.
  • During a battle, you may be handing over leadership to an Ahroun, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give the Ahroun a word of advice. It also means that if there’s no Ahroun around, you might well be the next best choice for leader. Don’t get complacent – pay attention to what’s going on around you and help keep your pack in line. Be the safety net or the balancing force that helps keep your pack from falling to any harmful extremes.
  • Sometimes, a mission can be solved with mediation or diplomacy. Don’t be afraid to suggest it, especially if violence might well get your pack overwhelmed and end in death and disaster.
  • Be proactive. Investigate rumours. The Philodox is the auspice most likely to expose truth from lies, and that also means you have every justification to go out and hunt down evil-doers that your pack can help you destroy.

RP Ideas

  • Stir up a debate with other Philodoxes or any other Garou in general on their interpretations of the Litany. The two Septs on the game are both multi-tribal, so sit down with a few Garou of other tribes and get their points of view. Debate with them.
  • Find ways to serve as a mediator for members around your Sept or your pack. Garou have a lot of Rage to deal with, and that means that squabbles and disagreements are common. It often falls to the Philodox to help resolve those peacefully.
  • Seek out the Theurges to discuss spiritual matters with them. Philodoxes are the other auspice among the Garou that deal the most with spirits, even if their focus is slightly different. Philodoxes lean more towards duty, service to the Garou through law, and keeping peaceable relations. There are spirits they rely upon to help them with this, and a Theurge may be necessary to help you talk with the spriits (not all Philodoxes learn Spirit Speech, after all).
  • Philodoxes traditionally learn Rites of Punishment and Rites of Accord. Find an elder Phildox to teach you some, or take the time to teach another Garou some of the Rites you know. Rite of Cleansing, for example, is a Rite of Accord, and it’s a Rite that all Garou should know, no matter their auspice.

Pitfalls

Hands down, Philodox can be one of the most difficult auspices to play and play well. As a judge with command over Punishment Rites, you have the Luna-ordained authority and the power, in some cases, to give another PC a very bad day. All too often, players of Philodoxes will fall into the trap of being a harsh punisher, one who’s ready to lay down a Doom Hammer for the slightest misdemeanour. Some would say it’s thematic, and that players should be aware of it, because… hey. Garou are buttmunch wolves, right? Wolves cuff and bite each other all the time, right?

Sort of.

It may be thematic, and it may be hunky dory when you’re sitting around at a tabletop game with a handful of other people you’ve known and played with for a few years, but on a MUSH, the dynamic is incredibly different. Players can get pretty attached to their characters, and they can get pretty deep into their heads. They may have only been RPing with you for a week, so they don’t know who you are or trust you not to go full-tilt on destroying them. Garou society, being as rigid and complicated as it is (remember, this game has been around for twenty years, so there is A LOT to learn and remember, even for a seasoned veteran), has a lot of pitfalls for new players. So when you play a Philodox, when you look at both sides of an issue, don’t forget to take the OOC angle into consideration. Did someone make an OOC mistake because they didn’t understand the society as well as their character would have understood it? ICA may equal ICC, but don’t forget that consent is still playing a big part in the MUSH experience on Phoenix Rising.

So you may have the authority and the right to lay down a punishment rite or denounce a lower-ranking Garou or a whole host of other things, and you may have done the right thing by Garou society so you’ll walk off smelling like roses ICly, but if you haven’t taken the time to forge some OOC camaraderie and be considerate of everyone’s feelings OOCly, you’re quickly going to find yourself alienated from RP. People will avoid you, because they’ll have gotten it into their heads that you’re on a power trip.

The best way to avoid that is to communicate, communicate, communicate OOCly. Make sure everyone’s having fun. Make sure that if you do lay down a Punishment Rite, the Garou you’re targetting is going to get some character developmental RP and some enjoyment out of it.

Combat Tips

Ahhhh. Combat.

  • You have a few points of Rage, so spend them for extra actions!
  • Enact some Gifts! If combat is really important to you, look through the Gifts list and buy them. Resist Pain is highly recommended to save you from having to take wound penalties.
  • Consider yourself a mid-range type of fighter. You’re not a barbarian, you’re not a rogue. You’re more like a ranger. You can be competent, but you’re not the best of the best of the best, sir, with honours, sir! Stick with your packmates and team up, use tactics. Fighting with your head as well as with your claws is your best path to success when the dice get rolling.

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How to Play a Successful Ahroun

June 14, 2015 at 1:35 am (character design) (, )

This is the first of a series of guides that was written for a Werewolf: The Apocalypse game. I thought they were pretty good guides, so I wanted to preserve them here. This one, I believe, was written by Raven of Phoenix Rising MUSH, not by me personally. I think I shoved it off on him because he was playing an Ahroun at the time.

Initial Character Build

Ahrouns: in a society full of death-dealing werewolves, these guys are the heavy-hitters. Some might argue that Ahrouns are the easiest auspice to play for a newbie, and in a lot of respects, this is absolutely true. The main focus of an Ahroun is dealing out as much destruction and death to the enemy as absolutely possible. They are the front-line tanks, the ones to whom the rest of the Garou Nation turn when they need leadership in battle. There’re no complicated rituals to learn, no subtle nuances of judgement to make, no artsy-fartsy crap to go through or complicated schemes to cook up. You don’t need to be as experienced with all of the more nit-picky details of the Apocalyptic world simply because the other auspices are already handling the bulk of it, leaving you free to do what you do best. Kill kill kill. And rack up Glory. FOR GAIA.

But at the same time, while you could be playing a dunderhead killing machine, that really would be doing a disservice to the Ahroun auspice. They can be the angry jocks and the meatheads, simply thanks to the high amounts of Rage they’re given, but there’s potential to be so much more. That, and, really, trying to play a brute who’s on a constant ass period can alienate you from a lot of character developmental RP. So while your character is most certainly going to focus on combat as his primary objective and duty in life, you should consider… What does he do when he’s not in the midst of a GM’ed battle? What else is important to him or her? How does he handle all that Rage when he’s not slaughtering things? Is he interested in training the other auspices to be better combatants, or does he try to round himself out a bit more by studying the Litany, studying rituals, or trying to serve his Sept?

For now, however, let’s focus on the starting stats. No doubt about it, an Ahroun will want to put his physical attributes as his primary selection: Strength, Stamina, and Dexterity. Build them up. You will need them. And as an Ahroun, in the normal course of events in your Garou-ish upbringing, you would have been taught the basics of combat, especially Brawl, since many of an Ahroun’s Gifts rely upon teeth and claws. Melee is often a secondary choice, especially if you have a fetish weapon of some sort, and finally, Throwing or Firearms. Having a long-range weapon to fall back on when you have the opportunity to use it is always smart, and yes, Ahrouns CAN and DO fight intelligently. The Ragabash don’t have to have the monopoly on that.

After you’ve got your combat Abilities arranged the way you like them, you might wish to put a point or two into Leadership. An Ahroun is not often chosen as a leader during peace time – high Rage gives you a TERRIBLE temper for dealing with mundane idiocy – but he is most certainly a leader during battle, and it is not uncommon for a pack alpha to turn over leadership temporarily to the Ahroun in a fight. Alertness is useful on your +init roll, Athletics will help you to dodge. Intimidation also walks hand in hand with an Ahroun. In short, you are likely to want to make Talents your primary Ability category for your Ahroun.

Your Role, as Seen by the Sept

In short, a young Ahroun is a shock troop and a more experienced Ahroun is a general. Garou society is often compared to a military, so these guys are often the rising stars who rack up the most kills and gain the most attention and glory. It’s an easy path to high rank, but the trade-off is that most Ahrouns die very young before they ever see that high rank. Getting up in the front lines and getting in the Wyrm’s face is very, very likely going to get you eaten. And Garou society hopes you’ve sired or mothered a few cubs by then to replace you after you’ve gone.

That said, there aren’t a lot of Sept roles that are given to Ahrouns. Their high Rage and their usefulness in battle means that the Nation often wants to send most of them out on missions rather than keep them at the homefront, but in a traditional, wilderness Sept, the Caern Warder is often an Ahroun, due to the fact that this position is all about the defence of the Sept and preparing against the possibility of an attack against the Sept. Urban caerns are another kettle of fish entirely, who often put a Theurge into this position. The Wyrmfoe is another position given to Ahrouns. During a moot, it’s a ritual position that honours the Ahroun auspice. The chosen Wyrmfoe stirs the passions of the Garou into a near-frenzy through a ritual hunt, wild dancing, or some other form of expression so that they may release their Gnosis and give the caern its monthly recharging. In traditional wilderness Septs that have a permanent Wyrmfoe position, an Ahroun is still frequently called upon to fill it, because this is a position that involves organising offensive strikes against the Wyrm’s forces.

Everything else? Better leave it to the other auspices.

Character Contributions

So, remember how it was mentioned that Ahrouns are good for kill, kill, killing? Well, that’s still true.

  • Ahrouns have a lot of Rage, and they can regain it pretty easily. So be sure to channel that Rage in battle to give you extra actions against the Wyrm. Kill things faster, live longer.
  • Consider getting the Falling Touch Gift. With one touch, your Ahroun can send a tough enemy sprawling to the ground, making it easier for your pack mates and other assorted allies to tear it apart. They’ll thank you for it.
  • Consider getting Gifts that will inspire and assist your pack mates in battle (Inspiration and Pack Tactics are good). The Ahroun is powerful, but he’s still not a one-man show here. If you have a chance to bolster your team in battle, then a good Ahroun is going to do so. You’re likely the biggest guy on the block. Take it as your duty to help and defend your brothers and sisters. Help them to achieve some glory too.
  • As the Ahroun, it’s up to you to figure out a good battle plan and enact it. Now, the ranks of other characters might complicate that situation a bit, but only an idiot wouldn’t at least LISTEN to an Ahroun and take her words into consideration when she’s got some advice to give.

RP Ideas

  • When you aren’t in battle, you’re likely going to need to take time to train. Battling the Wyrm is great and all, but you still can’t skip Torso Day, not if you want to keep yourself buff. That’s a good opportunity for you to spar with other people around the Sept and give them some training.
  • Go hunting. Go on a patrol. Wilderness Septs like fresh meat straight from the source, and there is always a need for someone to keep the borders of a bawn safe.
  • Find some secondary hobby to enjoy when you’re not fighting, lifting, or training. You can’t be fighting and training for twenty-four hours a day, after all, and a character who doesn’t try to branch out a little bit is just a cardboard cut-out stereotype.
  • Take a moot role. You’re the perfect choice to be the Wyrmfoe, so arrange for a ritual hunt, wild party or some rough sparring with the Sept mates. Help recharge Gaia! Get some honour for it.

Pitfalls

The worst pitfall to playing an Ahroun would be playing a one-note character. It’s all too easy to play the Ahroun and then think: there’s nothing USEFUL for me to do outside of combat. Nowhere to go, nothing else to do but fight, fight, fight. While some people might enjoy that, a newbie who took an Ahroun while learning the ropes of Garou society might start to feel constrained by the extreme physical nature of an Ahroun and might be craving something a bit more complicated, socially or mentally-speaking. A lot of Sept roles are denied to the Ahroun, and human interaction is all but impossible thanks to the high amounts of Rage, often making it seem like there’s no other avenue the Ahroun can develop.

However, with some creativity, there are some places you can explore. Your Ahroun might not be able to handle human society so well, but you might turn towards developing stronger ties to his tribe’s society and to Kinfolk, who are a bit more resilient against that Rage. Boost up that Willpower to help counteract that Rage, and ask your pack’s Theurge (or another Theurge, if there’s none in your pack) to assist you on spirit quests to help you get a better handle on it. Ahrouns don’t have to be spiritually dead. In fact, that’d be a terrible idea. There are a few Rites that they can learn that would be appropriate, such as the Rite of Wounding, Rite of Cleansing, or some tribal Rites that have a martial slant to them. You might learn more of the Litany so that you can offer an opinion or some advice to your local Philodox, or you might learn a trick or two in investigating and scouting. You don’t need to go full-tilt on being a Philodox or Ragabash-wannabe, but it doesn’t hurt to give them some support the way they will support you in battle.

Also, really focus on finding a secondary hobby. Craftsmanship is one suggestion for the really crankier (or not so cranky) Ahrouns, but the more sociable types might go for team sports or more scholarly pursuits.

Combat Tips

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Really. Use your Rage. As an Ahroun, you start with five points of it, and it’s pretty easy to regain. Use them to enact Gifts (just remember you can’t use Gnosis in the same turn as using Rage), and use them for extra attacks during a turn of battle. It really helps.

Focus on a primary method of attack and buy Gifts to support it. For instance, if you are the claws and teeth kind of Ahroun, focus on using Gifts to enhance your claw attacks, like Razor Claws. If you get a chance, throw an enemy down with Falling Touch so that your packmates can gang up on it and finish it off. Ahrouns often have enough brute strength to finish off a whole group of enemies by themselves, but when fresh out of the gates, they sometimes don’t. In those cases, fight smarter, not hope to Gaia that your dice are going to favour you that night.

 

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