Pack Totems

The binding force that holds a pack of werewolves together is their association with a totem spirit. Although a pack of werewolves chooses the totem that they feel best represents them, a quest to find a totem also gives the spirit a chance to decide whether it really wants to adopt the Garou. It’s for this reason that totems often refer to their packs as their “children.”

Learn more about the Totem Background here.

Totem Spirits

Totem spirits are almost universally Incarnae. While many are animal spirits, a number of packs hold to mythological beings, elemental forces, and even stranger spirits as totems. When a spirit chooses the pack, it sends a totem avatar — a Jaggling —to attend to the pack. The devotion of the Garou gives the totem and its representative power, and their actions further the totems’ goals. In return, the totem empowers them to carry out its goals in a direct fashion.

Totem spirits can also teach Gifts relating to their affiliation and powers. Some totems allow their children to use a particular Gift without teaching it to them, channeling the spirit’s power directly.

A totem does not just grant power to a pack; it also has restrictions that the werewolves must follow. These constraints on the pack’s behavior form part of the totem’s Ban. If the pack members don’t follow the Ban, their totem will cut off assistance. In this case, the werewolves lose all of the benefits of their totem, including access to extra Willpower, Gifts, and Traits, until they undertake a Rite of Contrition to appease their totem.

Totem Traits

Totems can give members of a pack a wide range of Traits. These Traits come in two forms: Individual Traits and Pack Traits.

Individual Traits: Every member of the pack gains all of a totem’s Individual Traits as soon as they gain the totem’s favor, and retain these Traits while they remain allied with the totem. The most common Individual Traits include temporary Renown, but some totems offer Attribute dots and even Gifts as Individual Traits.

Pack Traits: Any member of a pack can draw upon a Pack Trait, but only one at a time. If a totem grants dots in a Skill, or a Gift, the first werewolf to draw upon the bonus in a given scene holds on to that specific Trait until the end of the scene, or until they relinquish it. In combat, relinquishing or claiming a Pack Trait is a reflexive action. A pack member can’t “pass on” a Pack Trait to another member of the pack, it instead goes back to the totem spirit, who gives it to the next packmate who requests it. A pack can’t divide a Trait between members. Pack Traits that include pools of points, such as the Willpower pool granted by Falcon, are available to any member of a pack to draw on. If the totem’s pool has any points remaining, any member can choose to spend a point from the pool rather than his own pool. Such pools of points refresh at the end of each story.

Totem Spirit Broods

It’s rare for an Incarna to be truly independent. The vast majority have a range of lesser spirits allied to them, known as that Incarna’s brood. Members of a brood are respectful of and subservient to the brood master. Each member is related in some way to the themes and nature of the totem. Thunder-spirits and Stormcrows are both members of Grandfather Thunder’s brood, while Cockroach’s brood includes spirits related to modern urban life, such as technology-spirits, money-spirits, and spirits of modern warfare.

If a pack is in good standing with its totem, they may expect easier dealings with spirits of their totem’s brood. A Garou who insults a spirit can raise the ire of the Incarna to whose brood the spirit belongs.

Totem Examples

The totems that follow are among the most common patrons to Garou packs. Several of these totems act as tribal totems, but members of that tribe don’t gain the benefits of that totem. Only individual packs who ally with an avatar of those totems gain the benefits. Most cubs learn their first tribal Gifts through the spirits that they meet during their Rite of Passage.

HOUSE RULE: Totems marked with a ‘+’ sign are considered particularly appropriate for the urban setting of Los Angeles or thematically representative of the most pervasive local spirit broods. All packs dedicating themselves to one of these totems will likely receive additional narrative opportunities and plot insights. Conversely, those totem spirits marked as ‘Restricted’ are considered unsuitable for the setting. However, they have been left as an example to serve as inspiration when devising custom totems.

Totems of Respect

As spirits representative of virtue and honor, werewolves look to these grand spirits for advice on leadership and diplomacy. Some of the greatest Garou leaders have followed totems of respect.

Falcon

Background Cost: 5
Falcon is one of the noblest spirits, befitting of the Silver Fangs’ tribal totem. His piercing eyes see deep into the hearts of his children, inspiring the valorous and rewarding the honorable. Falcon is known as a bringer of unity to the Silver Fangs and to the Garou as a whole, and he remains above rumors of in-breeding among his chosen tribe.
Individual Traits: Followers of Falcon pay one less experience point per dot when raising Honor Renown.
Pack Traits: Packs that follow Falcon gain three dots of Leadership, as well as four Willpower points per story.
Ban: Dishonor is worse than death to Falcon: none of Falcon’s children can ever lose permanent Honor Renown. If they do, they must either put right the wrong immediately, or perform a Rite of Contrition and further atone for their dishonor by hurling themselves at a powerful minion of the Wyrm. On the one hand, it’s likely to be a suicide run. On the other, their blood will wash away the stain on their names — as would their victory.

Grandfather Thunder

Background Cost: 7
Grandfather Thunder is feared rather than respected by many Garou, and that suits his Shadow Lords just fine. Thunder is a patient and subtle patron, whose influence builds over time to an almighty crescendo. Most of his totem avatars are Stormcrows, who act as go-betweens for the Incarna and his chosen.
Individual Traits: Followers of Grandfather Thunder may call upon the Level Two Shadow Lord Gift ‘Clap of Thunder’ once per scene. They also find it slightly easier to gain Honor Renown.
Pack Traits: Packs that follow Grandfather Thunder gain three dots of Etiquette, as well as five points of Willpower per story. Shadow Lords follow their activities with interest.
Ban: Thunder’s children must not accord their peers and their rivals more respect than those werewolves have earned through their actions. Sycophancy goes against Thunder’s nature.

Pegasus +

Background Cost: 4
Pegasus is a protector of sacred places, much like the Black Furies it supports. Appearing as a winged horse with fire in its eyes, Pegasus can teach Gifts of travel and air to those it chooses. The Get of Fenris have long troubled Pegasus, possibly due to their rivalry with the Black Furies. As such, Pegasus has not yet accepted any pack that counts one of the Get as a member.
Individual Traits: Followers of Pegasus pay one less experience point per dot when raising Honor Renown.
Pack Traits: Pegasus’ packs can call on three dots of Animal Ken and three points of Willpower per story. Black Furies are well disposed towards the pack.
Ban: Children of Pegasus cannot refuse offer help to females of any species, especially young females.

Stag

Background Cost: 6
Stag is an ancient spirit of respect, far older than the Fianna who claim him as their totem. An embodiment of masculinity and the unrestrained power of nature, Stag has both light and dark sides. He gives the Garou their affinity with nature, and he teaches responsibility towards humans. He is also the master of the Wild Hunt, running wild until much blood is spilled in his name.
Individual Traits: Stag’s chosen gain one dot of Athletics (even over five dots), and an additional point of Stamina usable only for long-distance running.
Pack Traits: Stag’s packs can access three dots of Survival and three points of Willpower per story. Fianna are well-disposed towards the pack, and faeries, spirits, and changelings may also honor them.
Ban: Children of Stag can’t refuse to aid fae creatures and spirits when asked. They must also respect their prey at all times, including performing a Prayer for the Prey after every successful hunt.

Totems of War

These totems spur Garou to greater heights of violence and Rage. Predatory animals and ancestral warriors are the most common totems of war. While packs focused on fighting the Wyrm are the chief followers of these spirits, scouts, healers, and other packs who expect to see a lot of combat will ally themselves with these spirits.

Bear

Background Cost: 5
Bear is wise in peace and fierce in war. He is a master of healing and mysticism, but the Garou mistrust him, for Bear’s true children are the Gurahl — werebears with no fondness for the Garou.
Individual Traits: Bear’s children gain a dot of Strength, can use the Gift: Mother’s Touch once per day, and can hibernate for up to three months at a time without need for food or water. Garou pay one extra XP per dot when raising Honor Renown.
Pack Traits: Bear’s packs can use three dots of Medicine, and are well-regarded by werebears.
Ban: Bear asks no specific behavior of his Garou. Petitioning for his favor has already cost them a great deal of standing among their own people

Boar

Background Cost: 5
Hunters fear the boar, and for good reason: he is too angry to pass up a challenge, to fierce to ever give ground, and to ornery to die before doing massive damage. Combative young packs see theses as virtues — especially Garou among the Fianna and Get of Fenris — and choose Boar as their totem.
Individual Traits: Boar’s children gain a dot of Stamina.
Pack Traits: Boar’s packs can use two dots of Brawl.
Ban: Children of Boar must never hunt or eat wild boars.

Fenris

Background Cost: 5
Norse legends speak of the ravening God-Wolf Fenris, the beast that will eat the sun at the end of days. Fenris is powerful, bloodthirsty, and never gives nor expects quarter. The patron spirit of the Get of Fenris is a warrior’s totem, interested only in packs of Garou that spill their foes’ blood frequently.
Individual Traits: Each werewolf increases one of their Physical Attributes by 1 (choose which when accepted by the totem).
Pack Traits: The Get of Fenris respect any pack who follows Great Fenris, and will test their worthiness to the totem by inviting them to Wild Hunts and battles against powerful enemies.
Ban: Fenris’ children must never pass up an opportunity for a worthy fight.

Griffin (Restricted)

Background Cost: 4
Griffin remembers those species lost to extinction, and he mourns each and every one of them. This has kindled a terrible rage against humans — the slayers of entire species—that he shares with his chosen Red Talons. Always hunting, always hungry, Griffin embodies the swift hunter.
Individual Traits: Griffin’s children can communicate with birds of prey without the use of a Gift, and pay one less XP per dot when raising Glory Renown.
Pack Traits: Griffin’s packs gain three dots of Alertness, and Red Talons show their respect for the pack.
Ban: Followers of Griffin cannot associate with humans. Griffin has not yet accepted a pack containing a homid Garou.

Rat +

Background Cost: 5
Rat is the swift, silent master of hit-and-run warfare — the original totem of guerrilla fighters. While Rat fights to weaken, cripple, then overwhelm, he can be as vicious as any other totem when cornered.
Individual Traits: Rat’s children subtract one from the difficulty of all bite rolls, and from the difficulties of rolls involving stealth or quiet.
Pack Traits: Rat’s packs can call on a pool of five Willpower points per story. Bone Gnawers will aid the pack, and even Ratkin will be somewhat tolerant of the pack’s existence.
Ban: Rat’s children must not kill vermin of any kind.

Wendigo (Restricted)

Background Cost: 7
Appearing as a cannibal-spirit cloaked in ice, the Wendigo stalks the frozen wastes, eating the hearts of his foes. He teaches the Garou to be as relentless as the storm, leashing the cold bitterness that lurks within and turning it into a lethal rage. Individual Traits: Wendigo’s children start each story with five extra Rage points, regardless of their rating. Wendigo’s followers find it easier to be recognized for their Glory in battle.
Pack Traits: Members of the Wendigo tribe respect those packs who take their patron as a totem, though they do not fully trust them.
Ban: Wendigo’s children must offer aid to animistic peoples in need.

Totems of Wisdom

Keepers of mystical secrets, these totems ally with Garou to discover hidden truths, and in return can teach rare Gifts. While many Garou are reluctant to trust those werewolves who hunt secrets and answers rather than more tangible prey, a few recognize the crucial part that they play in Gaia’s defense.

Chimera

Background Cost: 7
The patron of the Stargazers, Chimera is the personification of Enigma. She of Many Faces invites her packs to find the wisdom that each werewolf holds inside himself, beneath layers of puzzles and self-delusion.
Individual Traits: Chimera’s Garou subtract two from the difficulty of all rolls involving riddles, dream interpretation, or enigmas. They can also disguise themselves as something else when in the Umbra with a Gnosis roll (difficulty 7).
Pack Traits: Chimera’s packs gain three dots of Enigmas and one of Perception.
Ban: While Chimera requires the pack to seek enlightenment, she does not place any restrictions on how they do so.

Cockroach +

Background Cost: 6
Cockroach is quick, hardy, and persistent. He’s also everywhere in the modern world, watching and waiting. If one listens to his chosen tribe, he’s one of the totem spirits of the modern age.
Individual Traits: Chosen of Cockroach subtract two from all difficulties involving computers, electricity, and applied science. They can also perceive the contents of data streams in the Umbra, watching along with a YouTube video or listening in on a cellphone call with a successful Gnosis roll (difficulty 6).
Pack Traits: Cockroach’s packs gain three dice that apply to any roll to activate a Gift that affects technology.
Ban: The pack members must never kill a cockroach.

Owl

Background Cost: 5
Owl watches silently in the darkness, learning all that he can. Like the Silent Striders who claim him as their totem, Owl holds hidden wisdom, especially about death and the mysteries of the Dark Umbra.
Individual Traits: Owl’s children gain wings when in the Umbra, allowing them to fly from place to place. They also subtract two from difficulties involving stealth or silence.
Pack Traits: Owl’s packs often receive premonitions and prophetic dreams that draw them to mystic places long forgotten. The pack gains three dice that apply to any Gift that involves air, travel, movement, or darkness. Silent Striders may appear to aid the pack when it is in danger, but packs that follow Rat (and Ratkin) are not well disposed towards Owl’s Garou.
Ban: Owl’s children must leave small rodents tied and helpless in the woods for him and his kind.

Raven

Background Cost: 5
Raven is the cleverest bird, though not clever enough to keep that fact to himself. He feeds without hunting, following wolves or bringing them to dead animals so they can feed. He teaches wisdom by taunting cubs into trying to catch the uncatchable bird. Raven watches the world, ever hungry for new secrets. His knowledge makes him a totem of wealth — if werewolves trust in him, Raven will provide.
Individual Traits: Pack members pay 1 less XP per dot when raising Wisdom Renown.
Pack Traits: Raven’s packs have three dots of Survival, one of Subterfuge, and one of Enigmas. Wereravens are well-disposed towards the totem’s followers.
Ban: Raven’s children can’t carry wealth, trusting their totem to provide for them.

Uktena +

Background Cost: 7
The Uktena is an ancient water spirit that blends the features of cougar, serpent, and deer. He is the spirit of riverbeds and dark places, and he knows secrets that even other totems of wisdom have not discovered.
Individual Traits: Followers of Uktena add three dice to all soak rolls when in the Umbra and pay one less experience point when improving Enigmas, Occult, Esoterica, Rituals or Cosmology. They may additionally purchase specialties for those Abilities at half cost. Unfortunately, Uktena’s children also add one to the difficulties of social rolls when interacting with werewolves of tribes other than Uktena or Wendigo.
Pack Traits: Garou of the Uktena tribe treat the pack like brothers.
Ban: Uktena asks that its Children recover mystical lore, objects, places and animals from the minions of the Wyrm.

Unicorn +

Background Cost: 7
Unicorn is a totem of peace, purity, healing, and harmony. As such, she is the tribal totem of the Children of Gaia. She embodies the blissful and encompassing love of Gaia.
Individual Traits: Unicorn’s children move at twice their normal speed in the Umbra, and subtract two from all difficulties involving healing and empathy.
Pack Traits: Unicorn’s packs gain three dice when using Gifts of healing, strength, and protection. Children of Gaia will aid the pack, and will usually side with them in disputes.
Ban: Unicorn’s children must protect and aid the weak and exploited, as long as they do not aid the Wyrm in doing so.

Totems of Cunning

While most Garou don’t look kindly on trickery and stealth, some understand the benefits and seek out totems of cunning. As more and more young Garou try new ideas and new ways of thinking to fight the Wyrm, these totems are becoming more common, though more traditional Garou find little to trust about them.

Coyote +

Background Cost: 7
The ultimate trickster, more Ragabash than Ragabash, Coyote is an avatar of chaos. Utterly unpredictable, often foolish, but undoubtedly brilliant, Coyote is both a master of deception and a very clever warrior.
Individual Traits: Each pack pays one extra experience point per dot when raising their Wisdom Renown.
Pack Traits: Coyote’s packs gain three dots of Stealth, three dots of Streetwise, one dot of Subterfuge, and one dot of Survival. Coyote’s avatars can always find their packs — the pack does not need to spend Totem points on that ability.
Ban: The very idea that he would limit his packs runs against Coyote’s nature.

Cuckoo

Background Cost: 6
The cuckoo is nature’s master infiltrator, laying her eggs in the nests of other birds, then having those birds raise her young. Likewise, Garou who dedicate themselves to Cuckoo are master spies and manipulators, able to bluff their way into any situation without being challenged — from the best quarters in the sept to the center of a Black Spiral Dancer Hive.
Individual Traits: Cuckoo’s children pay one extra experience point per dot when raising their Honor Renown.
Pack Traits: Cuckoo’s packs gain a dot of Manipulation and two dots of Subterfuge. One pack member at a time can use the ability to be overlooked: roll Manipulation Subterfuge (difficulty 6, or higher if the Garou doesn’t look like he should be there). Anyone who notices her must make a Perception + Alertness roll and score more successes than the Garou to realize that the werewolf isn’t supposed to be there. Guards assume that the werewolf has clearance, and ranking officers don’t think twice about the tech in the corner. If the character does anything to draw attention to himself, the player rolls again with a +2 difficulty penalty or loses the benefits of this effect.
Ban: Cuckoo’s children must never pass up an opportunity to improve their pack’s situation at the expense of others.

Fox

Background Cost: 7
Fox is used to being both predator and prey and outthinking everything that he faces. Whether he creeps up on a rabbit without his prey being aware, or leads a pack of hounds into a hornet’s nest, he loves to trick and trap his opponents. He loves it even more if that trap also teaches a lesson.
Individual Traits: Each pack member gains a dot of Manipulation, but also pays one extra experience point per dot when raising Honor Renown.
Pack Traits: Fox’s packs can call on two dots of Stealth, two dots of Streetwise, and three dots of Subterfuge.
Ban: Children of Fox can never participate in a fox hunt, and must sabotage any hunts they encounter