Rites are the outward forms of the Garou’s rituals and celebrations. Rites form and reinforce the spiritual and social ties that bind the Garou to each other and to Gaia herself. The common bond formed by rites resonates in the souls of all Garou. Many werewolves maintain that without the continuous practice of such rites, the Garou would lose their ties to the Earth Mother. In so doing, Theurges warn, the Garou may become something less than their true selves, possibly reverting to simple wolves and humans instead of Gaia’s chosen.
The special ties werewolves have with the spirit world allow rites to function. The Garou invoke these bonds with Gaia’s spirits when performing rites. In the dawn of time, shapeshifters truck a great pact – the Pact – with the spirits of Gaia. In return for the shapeshifters’ fealty and service, the spirits would empower the werebeasts’ rites, flooding them with supernatural power. For this reason, nobody but a shapeshifter can perform rites and expect them to work. The spirits will not answer the call if they are not legally bound to do so. This relationship is unique to the Garou, and it makes the performance of these rites their sacred right and privilege, and theirs alone.
Through rites, Garou weave the social, emotional and religious fabric connecting werewolf to werewolf, pack to pack and sept to sept. Even the simple Rite of Contrition has prevented many meetings between werewolves of different septs and packs from erupting in argument and violence.
Rites also allow septs and packs the freedom to define themselves and to develop their unique roles in Gaia’s defense. Often septs, and many individual packs, have their own rites and their on versions of common rites.
Types of Rites
Rites have both religious and magical connotations, and they serve both social and mystical purposes. Most rites can be performed in either the Umbra or the physical world. When teaching rites to young pups, Garou may group them by the purpose each type of rite serves for the Garou and for Gaia. Rites of accord, cairn rites, rites of death, mystic rites, rites of punishment, rites of renown, seasonal rites and minor rites are the most common types of rites that Garou practice. The basic requirements for each of these types of rites must be fulfilled to perform any of these rites successfully.
Descriptions and requirements for each type are listed here, along with common rites from each category.
A werewolf has the potential to learn any rite. All she must do is find a teacher. A Garou’s auspice usually determines the rites she is expected to learn. Most elder Garou are more than willing to teach rites. In fact, the number of young werewolves who seem to discount rites as antiquated or cumbersome disturbs the elders. Many new packs fail to see the importance of rites, preferring to spend their time doing things that have more “immediate” impact.
Enacting a Rite
Ritemasters generally lead groups of Garou in the performance of rites. These rites are grand ceremonies usually held at cairns with much tradition and socializing going along with them. It is the nature of rites to be social affairs. Most rites require the presence of at least three Garou, although a lone werewolf may conduct certain minor rites and mystic rites. Many older septs frown on the practice of performing rites away from the group.
Rites require great concentration and skill on the part of the celebrant. A rite takes a minimum of 10 minutes per level to cast, while minor rites take from two to five minutes per level to enact. Rites almost always require some form of trinket or special material. The general requirements for particular categories of rites are detailed in the following lists.
It is the responsibility of the ritemaster to ensure that all the requirements are met and that all Garou present participate fully in the rite. For every five Garou beyond the base number required (again, usually three) who are present and helping perform the rite to the best of their ability (in addition to the ritemaster), the DC of the rite decreases by one step (to a minimum DC of 10).
Rites are considered to be a natural way of affecting the natural order. They are part of how things work. Werewolves believe that if a rite is performed properly, the effect will occur naturally, just as a scientist would follow cause and effect. If you drop a rock, it will fall; if you perform a rite as it was handed down to you by your ancestor’s ancestors, then the desired effect will occur.
Enacting rites requires the following (unless otherwise stated – some rites require no roll): The celebrant makes a Nature check against a DC determined by the Rite’s level. Level One = DC 15; Level Two = DC 17; Level Three = DC 19; Level Four = DC 21; Level Five = DC 23. Minor rites have a DC of 10.
Learning a Rite
The tribal elders who teach rites were themselves taught by their elders, who were taught by their elders, and so on back through the ages. In order to gain the knowledge (and tacit permission) to perform a rite, a young werewolf must approach an elder who possesses such knowledge. In the vast majority of cases, the elder will request payment from the young whelp in question, usually in the form of a favour. Such favours may range from providing the elder with fresh rabbit meat and caviar for three full moons to tracking down a minor enemy of the elder’s and tearing out his throat. In any event, the favour asked is normally proportionate to the power and importance of the rite the young wolf wishes to master.
Learning a rite is a downtime activity that only requires time (once a willing teacher is secured, of course). It takes at least one week per level of the rite she wishes to learn (three days for minor rites).
A character can attempt to enact a rite in which he has previously taken part, but which he does not know. Needless to say, he has little chance of success. The roll to enact the rite is made with disadvantage. In addition, elder Garou often see such an attempt as impertinent or even sacrilegious.
Finally, it’s possible – but obscenely difficult – to create new rites. Such a task is no small matter, as it involves convincing a great portion of the spirit world that a new rite is necessary, and that they must empower it whenever called to do so.
Not all Garou have a natural affinity for leading the Great Rites. Many are content to know some minor rites and a smattering of rites most significant in their own eyes. In fact, Garou traditionally view werewolves born under certain auspices as the rightful ritemasters. In particular, Theurges and Philodox are groomed for such positions from the time that they first enter the sept as adolescent cubs. It is almost unheard of for a Garou of either auspice not to have at least some skill in the enactment of rites. In general, Theurges tend to learn mystic rites, seasonal rites and cairn rites, while Philodox traditionally learn rites of accord and rites of punishment.
This is not to say that Garou of all auspices do not learn rites, or even lead rites occasionally. Galliards are likely to lead rites of death and rites of renown. Ragabash and Ahroun may also learn to enact rites, although the sept is unlikely to encourage such behaviour unless a particular reason comes up for such a Garou to lead a rite. For example, an Ahroun might lead his war party in a Rite of Wounding after a cub’s first battle. It is wide to remember that individual packs are often (but not always) more flexible when interpreting such traditions, being more concerned with which packmate will best carry out a rite than with following every musty old tradition. Any Garou is allowed to learn a mystic rite, regardless of auspice.
Rites of Accord
Rites of accord restore a place or particular Garou to harmony and balance with Gaia. These rites purify and renew by bringing the object of the rite through a symbolic rebirth from Gaia’s womb.
System: Any Garou attempting to perform a rite of accord must possess a piece of Gaia never touched by minions of the Wyrm or by human hands (for example, a willow branch from a remote forest or a stone from a protected cairn).
Rite of Cleansing
This rite purifies a person, place or object, allowing it to be used without fear of Wyrm-taint. The most common form of this rite involves the ritemaster inscribing a circle on the earth, walking counterclockwise around the afflicted person(s) or object(s) whole holding a smoldering branch or torch. She must use a branch (preferably willow or birch) dipped in pure water or snow to sprinkle the object or person cleansed. As the ritemaster does so, all Garou present release an eerie, otherworldly howl in an attempt to “frighten away” and thus banish the corrupting influence. Ideally, this rite is performed at dawn, but it can be performed at any time.
System: This rite can be cast upon more than one person or object. If the character performs this rite at dawn, they may make their Nature roll with advantage. This rite works the same as the Greater Restoration spell.
Rite of Contrition
This rite is a form of apology used to prevent the enmity of spirits or Garou whom an individual has annoyed, or to prevent war between to packs or septs. The rite most often involves the enactor dropping to her belly and sliding forward. The ritemaster may also whine and lick his paws or hands. If performed well, however, a simple inclination of the head may suffice. To enact this rite successfully, the Garou must either give a small gift to the offended individual or, in the case of a spirit, possess some aspect of the spirit in question (for example, a clay falcon if the Garou is appealing to the totem spirit Falcon).
System: Successfully enacting this rite will make the target less pissed with you, if you did something to piss them off. This effect will persist until you do something else to piss them off.
Rite of Renunciation
In this rare rite, a werewolf rejects the auspice under which he was born and chooses a new auspice. The Garou must perform this rite during the phase of the moon he wishes to embrace. Most commonly, water from a silver basin exposed to Luna’s radiance is poured over the naked supplicant, washing him clean of all he once was, including all rank. He is now free to start anew as a member of his adopted auspice. Almost free, that is, for many werewolves view such a “Shifting Moon” with suspicion.
System: A character who changes auspices must start anew at Rank 1. Although he may keep any Gifts he has already learned, he may never learn new Gifts from his old auspice. However, gifts from his adopted auspice are now available to him. Sometimes this rite is performed for purposes other than shifting auspice, such as when a Garou wishes to give up his name and start over in Garou society.
These rites are of vital importance Gaia, for they aid in the opening, protection, and renewal of the sacred spaces dedicated to her. Without such rites, the mystical flow of Gaia’s spiritual nourishment might cease, and her children, the Garou, might no longer rest themselves within her protecting bosom. Without such renewal, even the most ferocious of werewolves would grow weary of battle.
System: These rites can be performed only within a cairn.
A moot cannot open until this rite is completed. The rite always includes a prolonged howl led by a Garou known as the Master of the Howl. The howl varies by pack and sept, but it always expresses the unique nature of the sept. All werewolves present must for ma circle within the cairn itself before they commence howling. Numerous variations on the basic requirements exist. However, the howl must always echo forth and the eternal circle must form.
System: The rite must be performed at least once per month to keep the cairn consecrated.
Rite of the Opened Cairn
Cairns are highly spiritual places that are sacred to those who create them. Each cairn has a specific power associated with it, generally of a beneficial nature. Thus, there are cairns of Rage, cairns of Strength, Constitution, and so on. If a character is knowledgeable enough, she may tap into the cairn’s power and use it herself. Doing so is commonly called “opening” a cairn. Opening a cairn should not be attempted lightly. Cairns do not give up their energies easily, and failure to harness such power properly can result in serious damage to the Garou. Each cairn has its own requirements of the ritemaster. The ritemaster must prove herself worthy of the cairn’s energies. In order to open a cairn of Rage, the Garou might transform into Crinos and chat the litany of his ancestors who have fallen to the Wyrm. The key is forging a connection to the particular spirit of the cairn.
System: Successfully enacting this Rite grants advantage when performing actions appropriate to that cairn’s focus. Failing to enact this rite grants disadvantage. The effect lasts until the Garou leaves the vicinity of the cairn.
The Badger’s Burrow
The guardians of the cairns become so connected to their bawn that they can sense all that goes on within its boundaries. The ritemaster enacting this rite gazes intently into a bowl of water, pool of ink, mirror, or some such. At the same time, the Garou pours a small amount of witch hazel or other strongly scented astringent (such as urine) on the ground in front of her. Any other Garou watching or participating encircle the ritemaster and growl softly in the backs of their throats. Some of the younger Garou enhance the ritual through the use of mild psychotropic drugs, although many Garou frown upon this practice.
System: Success allows the ritemaster to ask questions about the goings on within the boundaries of the cairn’s bawn. The margin of success indicates the number of questions to be answered.
Rite of the Opened Bridge
This rite creates a moon bridge, a shimmering portal serving as a mystical means of transportation between two cairns. Such moon bridges are vital links between the sacred spaces of Gaia. Once per year, a cairn must renew its connection with other cairns to which it wishes to maintain moon bridges. This rite is always held during a moot, and it must be enacted simultaneously by both participating cairns.
The primary requirement to open a moon bridge is a moongem, or pathstone as it is most often called. Pathstones are found in the Umbra, and they are often the objects of quests. These extraordinarily rare stones resemble flat pearls with the imprint of a wolf’s paw on one side. It is possible to steal a pathstone from a cairn, but such a theft is considered blasphemous, and it may well result in war between two Garou septs.
The rite establishes (or reestablishes) a spiritual connection between the pathstones of two second cairns by way of the cairns’ totem spirits. At the rite’s culmination, a moon bridge opens between the two participating cairns. During this time, Garou from both septs can travel between the cairns to join a wild revel. Moon bridges allow Garou to traverse distances in 1/1000th the normal time required. This rite must be renewed once every 13 moons (a year).
System: If her pack totem is the same as the totem of the cairn, the ritemaster gains advantage on the roll. If the rite was unsuccessful previously, the roll is made with disadvantage. If the rite succeeds, the moon bridge opens immediately, and the spirit-bond between the two pathstones is established. Moon bridges may now be opened at any time between the two cairns. The bridges may be opened with the Rite of the Opened Cairn.
Rite of the Shrouded Glen
This rite causes an area within the Umbra to become invisible, so that it cannot be seen from any other part of the spirit world. At least five people must participate in this ritual, and they must fast for at least three days to purify themselves.
System: Successfully enacting this rite enshrouds a 60 foot diameter area of the Umbra for 24 hours. Performing this rite again, on the 24th hour, extends this time to one month. Performing this rite a third time, at the end of the month, makes the effect permanent.
Rite of Cairn Building
This powerful rite actually creates a permanent cairn by drawing the spirit world and the physical world closer together. Simply reciting the rite draws the attention of the Wyrm’s servitors, and actually performing the rite has been known to prove fatal. Only the most powerful and wise mystics dare lead such an undertaking.
A powerful Theurge is almost always selected to perform this most sacred of rites. Many Garou must channel their energy through a powerful leader to have even a hope of success. Whole packs have been known to die in agony of failed attempts.
Once the physical focus for the heart of the cairn is chosen, the area must be cleansed of all taint in preparation for its transformation. All Garou participating in the rite must undergo a Rite of Cleansing. The ritemaster performs a series of minor rituals, meditation and other physical preliminaries to prepare for her awesome task.
The sept must post sentries, for servants of the Wyrm almost invariably attempt to disrupt such a great rite. Only the mightiest warriors are chosen for such an assignment, and their protection is critical to the success of the rite. The leader of the rite is helpless while he chants a long litany of verses designed to draw a great spirit into the prepared cairn. Although it is possible to create a specific type of cairn, most leaders leave this choice to Gaia and accept whatever cairn she grants the sept.
The rite must be performed between the hours of sunset and sunrise during the waxing of the moon.
System: At least 13 participants, including the ritemaster, are required to attempt this rite. Each participant makes a roll, and each must succeed. If the minimum 13 successes are rolled, the cairn is ranked Level One. Each additional success raises the level of cairn by one.
Each participant that rolls a failure receives 6d6 damage that cannot be reduced in any way. A critical failure on the roll instantly kills the participant that rolled it. If a participant dies during the rite, their death counts as two successes towards goal.
Successfully performing this rite results in tremendous renown for all involved.
Rites of Death
Garou perform rites of death both to honour the departed and to reaffirm their connection to the cycle of life, death and rebirth. In facing and acknowledging death as a necessary part of the dance of life, the pack and sept release themselves from the debilitating poisons of grief and fear.
Gathering for the Departed
This rite is enacted in honour of the newly dead. A Galliard or a packmate of the departed werewolf usually performs the rite. The ritemaster and all of the fallen one’s packmates stand on the highest peak available, tails to the wind, and howl out their pride and grief to speed their companion onward to her next life.
System: The ritemaster leads the release of the Garou’s combined emotions into the spirit world. No roll is necessary.
Rite of the Winter Wolf
Once a Garou becomes too wounded or aged to fight with his sept, he performs this solemn and bleak rite. Upon announcing that he will undergo this rite, the werewolf sits at the center of a gating of his pack- and septmates. This meeting is an onerous, solemn affair during which the Moon Dancers sing hymns of the celebrant’s life and deeds and invoke the spirits for glory in the next world or life. The celebrant then slowly and proudly walks through the closed ranks of those in attendance. As he passes his people, they begin howling a dirge similar to that sung during the Gathering for the Departed. Some Garou beat heavy rums or play mournful pipes as the celebrant drags himself to a secluded site where he ends his life, usually with a silver dagger. Rarely, two werewolves, usually packmates, will perform this rite together, sometimes killing each other simultaneously, although Ahroun may give each other a last fight to finish, with the victor ending his life beside his fallen opponent. Immediately after the suicide, the sept performs the Gathering for the Departed.
System: This rite is always performed at night, and it requires at least three other Garou to be present to acknowledge the solemn event. The weapon used by the Garou must be silver. No roll is required.
Mystic rites bring the Garou into direct contact with the Umbra and/or spirit beings. Unlike most other rites, a Garou usually performs these rites alone.
Baptism of Fire
Most septs attempt to track down all children born to their Kinfolk within one month of the children’s birth to see if they “share the blood.” Those who are Garou are “baptized” in the light of their auspice moon, beside a ritual fire. Such a baptism most commonly involves mingling ashes with a few drops of Garou blood. The mixture is then touched to the child’s ears, nose eyelids and tongue.
In the presence of a lesser spirit known as the Kin-Fetch, the babe is then held up to the moonlight while the baptizing Garou howls Gaia’s greeting to the newborn. The ritemaster then has the Kin-Fetch kiss the infant. The spirit’s fiery kiss inscribes a spiritual brand upon the babe. This mark is not visible from the newborn’s body; the only mark left is spiritual. It is impossible to remove this spiritual brand. Such a mark can be traced and recognized by all Garou.
The participating Kin-Fetch spirit is assigned to watch over the young Garou as she grows to maturity, so that the sept may always know the child’s location and whether she is endangered. When the child is about to undergo the First Change and is ready for the Rite of Passage, the spirit alerts the sept. Unfortunately, such spirits are notoriously weak-willed and easily distracted. All too often, a Kin-Fetch loses track of its charge or becomes lost itself, leaving the young cub on her own.
System: This rite is performed at night under the moon in which the child was born. Although this rite is normally performed within a month of birth, the brand can be inscribed at any time before the cub reaches adolescence and undergoes her First Change. The band fades out of existence after the cub’s Rite of Passage.
Rite of Binding
This rite binds a spirit to a Garou, making it his servant. The more powerful the spirit is, the more difficult the process is. Although any encountered spirit is subject to binding, the Garou generally feel that spirits should be bound only when needed. They do not feel good about binding spirits for great lengths of time.
System: The Garou triggers a contested roll of Nature vs the spirit’s Wisdom save. On a success, the spirit is bound. The margin of success indicates the number of weeks that the spirit may be pressed into service.
Rite of the Questing Stone
This rite allows the werewolf to find a person or object. He must know the name of the object or individual. The difficulty of the rite is reduced if the Garou has some piece of the object or person. He must dangle a stone or needle from a thread while concentrating on the item or person sought.
System: If the Garou has a piece of the item or individual, the roll is made with advantage. This rite gives the Garou a sense of only the object’s general location, not its exact position.
Rite of Talisman Dedication
This rite allows a werewolf to bind objects to her body, allowing these objects to fit her various forms (pants will grow to accommodate the size increase of the Crinos form, for instance) and accompany the Garou into the Umbra. Such talismans are most commonly mundane items, for spiritual items such as fetishes remain with the werewolf in all forms automatically. A werewolf must often perform this rite during the phase of the moon under which he was born. Each auspice has its own peculiar ritual.
System: Success dedicates one object. Some large objects may require more than one success to dedicate. An entire set of clothes counts as one object, and a container and its contents also generally only count as one object.
Rite of Spirit Awakening
This rite is used to awaken a sleeping (inactive) spirit. To perform this rite, a Garou must play a rhythm on some form of instrument (drums being the most common). While the Garou plays, any other participating Garou pace around the ritemaster howling and growling in counterpoint to the beat.
When performed on a mundane item, this rite enlivens the object’s spirit, causing it to awaken and appear in the Umbra.
System: The ritemaster must play a musical instrument or sing a song. Awakening a spirit does not allow any control over it. Commanding an awakened spirit requires either a Rite of Binding or a Gift. This rite doesn’t work on sentient beings such as humans.
Rite of Summoning
Garou mystics are adept at calling spirits, be they minor Gafflings, totem spirits or even Incarna. Summoning spirits involves complex rituals, long periods of meditation and mantra chanting. Within the Umbra, this process is far easier. This rite compels spirits to seek those who call them. Furthermore, the spirit cannot escape its caller once the summoning is completed successfully, and it must attend the mystic. Many spirits, particularly minor ones, are too weak to resist a powerful summoning. Powerful ones come out of curiosity.
System: The DC of the check is different from the standard, and is instead equal to 10 + the spirit’s CR.
Rite of the Fetish
This rite allows a werewolf to create a fetish (an object wit ha spirit bound into it). To do so, the Garou must first cleanse the potential fetish by placing it in running water, burying it in pure earth, exposing the object to constant breezes or suspending it above flame for three consecutive nights. The Garou must then force or persuade a spirit to enter the prepared object.
System: If the spirit is willing, or is convinced, then the standard roll is made. If the spirit is unwilling, then the roll becomes a contested one of Nature vs Wisdom save.
Rite of the Totem
This rite binds a totem to a group of Garou, joining them together as a pack. During the rite, all werewolves who wish to bind their destinies to a particular totem spirit must coat their eyes with an infusion of saliva and mugwort, tobacco or a similar substance holy to Gaia and step sideways into the Umbra. In the spirit world, the ritemaster leads the Garou in a hunt for the spiritual spoor left by a totem spirit. Such evidence varies with the spirit, but Garou worthy of the totem’s attention can always find it. Even tracking down the spirit does not guarantee success, for the totem must decide whether the Garou are worthy to become its fosterlings. An undecided totem may require a quest of the supplicants, although one is almost never required if the pack has just completed a Rite of Passage successfully.
System: Standard roll. May involve additional work on a failed roll.
Punishment rites levy the sanction of the sept against a transgressing werewolf. Such rites strengthen the Garou by establishing clear limits of acceptable behaviour. By joining in the punishment, each Garou strengthens her commitment to the pack over the individual.
System: Punishment rites are performed only for major transgressions or after less structured punishments fail to cause a werewolf to mend her ways. A failed rite is considered a sign from Gaia that the offending Garou’s crimes are not considered significant enough to warrant such a punishment. Punishment rites may fail automatically if the target is truly innocent.
Rite of Ostracism
This rite is a fairly common punishment for lesser crimes, yet its effects can be devastating during wartime. This rite estranges the punished Garou from her sept, and sometimes even her pack. The sept will thereafter treat the individual as a nonentity. She is ignored as much as possible and forced to fend for herself for even basic needs, although no hostile actions are taken against the non-wolf. In a life-or-death situation, others may aid the offender, but even then only grudgingly. Garou present at this rite form a circle around the chastised werewolf (if present), and each participant calls out once to Gaia, then to her brethren the name of the offender, followed by the words: “Of all Gaia’s children, I have no such brother/sister.” The speaker then turns to face away from the circle. Once all present have spoken, they drift away into the night.
System: This punishment normally lasts from one phase of the moon to the next. It can, however, last as long as the sept leaders desire. For serious crimes, the punishment may even be decreed permanent, essentially exiling the offender from her sept.
Stone of Scorn
The Stone of Scorn is a rock imbued with malicious spirit personifications of shame, sorrow and the like. Some septs have a permanent Stone of Scorn to which an offender is dragged, although most merely imbue a small stone with mocking energies. Starting with the ritemaster, this stone passes to each Garou present at the rite. The scorned werewolf is forced by his septmates to sit and watch. As each Garou receives the stone, he carves or paints a symbol of derision or shame onto it while telling a mocking or embarrassing tale about the offending behaviour and other flaws of the scorned Garou. Moon Dancers are particularly creative in their verbal portrayals of the miscreant. This rite often lasts all night, with successive stories becoming more and more outrageous and derogatory. Once the night ends, so does the punishment, although the best stories are often whispered behind the offender’s back for some time to come.
System: Standard roll.
Voice of the Jackal
When a werewolf’s behaviour has shamed not just herself, but her entire sept, then this rite may be called. When the ritemaster performs this rite, he blows a handful of dust or ashes onto the offender and speaks the following: “Because thy (cowardice/gluttony/selfishness/etc.) has proved thee to be of jackal blood, let thy voice proclaim thy true breed!” As the dust and words envelop the punished Garou, her voice changes. Thereafter, she will speak in an annoyingly shrill and piercing nasal whine until the ritemaster repeals the punishment.
System: Jackal-hounds, as such punished Garou are known, have disadvantage on all social rolls. The ritemaster can repeal this punishment at any time, although it may be made permanent for particularly serious crimes. Certain jackal-hounds have reclaimed their true voices by completing a quest of great benefit to Gaia.
The Hunt is called against a werewolf who has committed a capital crime such as unwarranted murder, yet who still retains a vestige of honour. All Garou participating in a Hunt streak their bodies with ancient symbols in paint or clay. These symbols mark the werewolves as part of a Hunting Pack, and all other Garou will make their way for Hunters so marked. It is an honour to be chosen for inclusion in a Hunt. the Ritemaster, or Master of the Hunt, leads the pack. The Hunt is just that; the criminal is hunted down and killed by the pack. There is no quarter given, although (for what its worth) death exculpates the condemned Garou.
System: Standard roll. Failure means that the condemned fought well and is accorded much posthumous glory, while a critical failure means that he eluded his Hunters and can live out his life as a Ronin.
A more serious version of the Stone of Scorn, a Satire Rite is a special song, dance and/or drama crafted by the Half Moons and Moon Dancers for the sole purpose of ridiculing the offender. This rite is always performed at a moot while the offender sits in full view of the sept. Because the Garou keep oral histories, the Satire will be remembered and passed down through the ages. Any werewolf so “honoured” loses much renown. Cubs snicker as they sing lewd verses from the rite, and adults will forever use some of the wittier quotes and embarrassing moments from the rite when referring to the offender.
System: The offenders Rank is added to the DC of the roll necessary for this rite.
The Rending of the Veil
This rite is used to punish a human who offends the Garou greatly. The offense does not have to be against the Garou per se, but it may be any act against Gaia or Her children. This rite drops the Veil, forcing a human to see and remember the Garou for the duration of an all-night hunt. The ritemaster leaves a small bag of burning dung and herbs near the sleeping victim. When the victim awakens, the Veil has been burned away from his mind. The following hunt may or may not end in the human’s death. Those humans left alive are often rendered insane, their unprepared minds unable to accept the truth revealed by the rite. Some few, however, overcome their fear and heal. This rite is not considered a breach of the Litany.
System: The ritemaster must place the specially prepared bag of dung and herbs within 10 feet of where the victim sleeps. The bag smolders when the ritemaster performs the rite. The ritemaster does not need to be near the bag to enact the rite. Failure leaves the Veil intact.
Gaia’s Vengeful Teeth
As one of the greatest punishments among the Garou, this rite is reserved for traitors, those who consort with the Wyrm or cowards whose actions (or lack thereof) cause the deaths of many others. At least five werewolves drag the traitor to a sport of hard, cracked earth and stones. The ritemaster then stabs a sharpened twig or stone into her own hand as she recites the traitor’s sin against Gaia. Smearing her blood over the traitor’s eyes, ears and forehead, the ritemaster cries in grief and rage. As the blood and tears drip to the hard ground, the rite takes effect. From that moment on, whatever of Gaia touches the traitor transforms into razor-sharp silver so long as it touches his flesh. Crinos hunters then chase the traitor like a dog. The ground beneath the traitor chews into his feet, and his death becomes an agonizing ordeal. The offender’s name is then stricken from all histories, and it will be spoken only as a curse from that moment forward.
System: As long as the ritemaster’s blood touches the traitor’s body, the traitor cannot step sideways into the Umbra. No one survives this rite.
Rites of Renown
These rites celebrate both the specific accomplishments of an individual Garou and his achievement of a new station in the pack or sept. Garou long to receive such rites as much as they fear facing a rite of punishment.
Rite of Accomplishment
This rite is used to honour a werewolf and recognize the trials he has endured to attain his current standing. An elder will call the honoured Garou forward, much as the Garou might be called forward should the elders want to punish or criticize her. As the Garou advances, the elder begins listing all of the things the Garou did to gain the acclaim. The Rite of Accomplishment then takes place, and anyone who wishes to speak on behalf of the Garou being honoured may do so. In conclusion, the elder says something along the lines of, “She is made greater in her sept and among her People everywhere. Let this be known.”
System: A failure is considered indicative of a failing in the applicant. The ritemaster often receives a portent from Gaia showing the unworthiness of the applicant.
Rite of Passage
After a cub undergoes his First Change and becomes aware that he is a werewolf, he must undergo his Rite of Passage. Werewolves are not accorded adulthood or respect until they pass this deminal rite; they are mere cubs until that time. They are not even considered true Garou.
During a Rite of Passage, the cubs must complete a dangerous quest meant to prove that they have courage, honour and wisdom befitting a werewolf. However, few cubs undergo this rite alone. They are often joined by their pack-to-be, other cubs who are also coming of age. The ritemaster commands the would-be pack to go out into the world with a definite goal to achieve, and he forbids it to return until it has tried its best to accomplish this goal.
If the cubs succeed in their quest, a ritemaster performs this rite upon him, marking them with a pictogram that brands them as full-fledged Garou.
If the cubs fail, however, they are considered second-class citizens until they are granted another opportunity to prove themselves.
System: Before the Rite of Passage, Garou are not yet Rank 1. Their teachers do not teach them any Gifts until the Rite of Passage is complete.
Rite of Wounding
This rite celebrates a Garou’s first battle wound, which is honoured as a sign of courage. Many septs rub ash into at least part of the wound to form a scar of remembrance.
System: Only the wounded character and the ritemaster must be present for this rite, although the werewolf’s pack and sept are normally present. No roll is required.
Seasonal rites vary from place to place. Some septs celebrate only the major rites of the solstices and equinoxes; others perform a rite at least once per moon. The rites below are the most popular. They are fundamental rites celebrating Gaia’s constant cycle of life-in-death-in-life.
These rites renew the Garou’s connection to Gaia as the Earth Mother. Some Garou even believe that were such rites to cease entirely, dire repercussions would result. A few of the more mystic Garou insist that if such rites weren’t performed, Gaia herself might find no point in continuing the cycle, and the would enter a perpetual winter… or worse.
System: Seasonal rites must, obviously, occur at the exact time of year the particular rite celebrates, and at least five Garou must attend.
Rite of the Winter Winds
On the longest night of the year, Garou enact this rite as a salute to the Sun and an encouragement for him to begin lengthening the days again. Some werewolves believe that if this rite is not performed, the nights will continue to lengthen until Gaia has fallen into a terrible twilight state of perpetual pain. Most modern werewolves consider this mere superstition, but even such skeptics participate enthusiastically in the rite.
The Rite of the Winter Winds is rarely the same from sept to sept. European Garou practice a common version that begins with the ritemaster gathering the Garou in a circle around a small bonfire. She then leads the group in an extended howl that begins as a low, rumbling growl and eventually rises to an ululating crescendo. When the ritemaster feels that the tension is at its height, she leaps forward, snatches up a burning branch and runs into the woods. The other Garou follow her, grabbing branches as they go. Running as swiftly as they can, the Garou make as many frightening and strange noises as possible. This rite is performed both to encourage Gaia’s labor in giving birth to the sun, and to frighten off any minions of the Wyrm that might be lurking about, ready to snatch the newborn sun or harm Gaia as she turns her attention away from the surface world.
The ritemaster finally leads the howling pack back to the bonfire, where they hurl their branches into the conflagration. Once the fire is raging, the Garou celebrate with a revel that lasts until dawn, at which time they greet the newborn sun with one last, triumphant howl.
Rite of Reawakening
This rite celebrates the vernal equinox, the time of rebirth. The ritemaster begins the rite at sundown by leading the gathered Garou on a quest into the Umbra. The quest always involves seven trials. These trials represent the seven gates that bar the way to the Underworld. Such trials vary dramatically from sept to sept, but there are always a variety of challenges presented to the members. Each test requires the participants to relinquish something of themselves, be it a cherished personal fetish, an old grudge or false pride. If the Garou can win their way past these challenge gates, they can renew the Earth, banishing the winter-spirits and paving the way for the green, growing season.
At the end of the rite the werewolves return to their bodies. At this time many septs seek out Garou Kinfolk, or other humans and wolves, and reacquaint themselves with the joys of the flesh, celebrating the incredibly beauty f life and the necessity of its continuation in future generations. Not surprisingly, this is the night when a large percentage of metis cubs are conceived. Although such couplings are always taboo, the intense drama of the rite sometimes overrides such concerns.
The Great Hunt
This rite falls on the eve of the summer solstice, or Midsummer. The short hours of darkness offer the creature of the Wyrm little place to hide, and the werewolves respond by holding a sacred hunt.
Exactly at midnight, just as Midsummer begins, the ritemaster calls upon Gaia to bring to the attention of the sept a creature or creatures worthy of the Great Hunt. In preparation, the Garou chant, howl and tell tales of bravery. Also common is a ritual bloodletting, wherein each Garou cuts himself and sheds some of her blood into a large bowl. The mingled blood is then painted in for form of pictograms on the forehead or breastbone of each of the hunters. At dawn, Gaia sends the waiting sept a sign proclaiming the target of the Great Hunt. This sign may come in any form. Although the person or creature chosen by Gaia is almost always associated with the Wyrm, Gaia demands on rare occasions that one of her own be sacrificed in the Great Hunt. Only the greatest warriors are ever chosen as the targets of a Great Hunt, and Gaia demands such a sacrifice from her children only in times of great need, for the freed spirit of such a warrior is said to transform immediately into an avenging angel for Gaia.
The Garou have only until midnight to complete the Great Hunt. If successful, the blood of the fallen creature is spilled onto Gaia’s soil as a sacrifice to Gaia. If the hunters fail to slay their quarry, it is considered a terrible omen for the coming year.
The Long Vigil
This rite marks the autumnal equinox, when the season of long days gives way to the season of long nights. Although summer is the traditional season of war among many human cultures, the Garou know that their shadow war will be all the more difficult during the lengthening hours of darkness. To prepare themselves, they hold the Long Vigil, a rite designed to sharpen their appetite for the battles ahead.
The Long Vigil begins at sundown, around a raging bonfire (save in some urban cairns). The sept spends the day before the Vigil bedecking the cairn with trophies of war collected during the previous year. From bent rifles and shredded armour to strings of teeth and smeared blood mixed with the dust of vampires, all manner of mementos adorn the heart of the cairn. At sunset, the ritemaster begins to chant praise for the Sun, thanking him for his blessings during the summer, and praying for his safety in the coming winter. The ritemaster then praises Luna and beseeches her aid in the long nights to come.
To aid in the ritemaster’s plea for aid, the Galliards of the sept come forward and begin to recite tales of the most glorious battles of the last year and the deeds done in Her name. They point to each trophy in turn to tell the story of how it was won from its owner. Particularly eloquent members of the sept begin to recount their own versions of the great deeds of the previous year. The tale-telling lasts all night; as dawn approaches, the ritemaster invokes Luna one final time. He dedicates all the deeds of the previous year to Luna, her brother Helios (the Sun) and her sister Gaia, and he promises that the year to come will be just as glorious with Luna’s blessing. As the rite concludes, the Garou hurl as many trophies as possible into the bonfire, destroying their hard-earned mementos as a sign of faith that they will take many more in the year to come.
Minor rites are the rituals that the Garou incorporate into daily living. Almost all Garou know and use at least a few such minor rites.
An almost infinite variety of minor rights are available to the Garou. The following rites are but a small sampling. Many Garou develop their own unique minor rites to help them reaffirm their connection to Gaia, their totem spirit or each other.
Breath of Gaia
During this rite the werewolf breathes deeply of Gaia’s breath – that is, clean air – 13 times. While so breathing, she clears her mind of all things save her love of Gaia.
System: The character must perform this rite at least once per day for one full cycle of the moon. So doing enables the Garou to reroll health regeneration dice. Continuing to perform this rite daily basis will maintain the effect.
Greet the Moon
This rite is an exuberant paean to Luna. During this rite, the Garou howls an elaborate greeting to the moon. This greeting varies with the phase of the moon.
System: Performing this rite each night at moonrise for a full phase of the moon will grant the character advantage on all rolls involving social interactions with Garou. Continuing to perform this rite on a nightly basis will maintain the effect.
Greet the Sun
Similar to Greet the Moon, but is performed at sunrise.
System: The Garou must sing the Sun’s praises for nine consecutive days. If the Garou does so, he gains advantage when attempting to sense Wyrm creatures of Wyrm-taint. Continuing to perform this rite on a daily basis will maintain the effect.
This common rite takes many forms, but it always involves pausing before the start of a hunt to praise Gaia and all her creatures. In addition, the Garou chooses some item to hold her prayers. This item can range from an old belt to a tooth, but the werewolf must have it with her when she hunts. If she loses the item, she must choose a new item and start her prayers anew.
System: If a Garou performs this rite before every hunt for three turnings of the moon, she gains advantage on all rolls made to track prey. This effect can be maintained indefinitely, so long as she continues to perform this rite prior to each hunt.