Garou History

The werewolves have walked among humans for as long as humans have existed on the Earth. However, their history is blurred by time and pride. Garou beliefs, law and history are all passed down by word of mouth, and over time some stories have been slightly altered or forgotten, either by accident or on purpose. Even despite many wars and battles that the Garou themselves have started, they still see themselves as heroes, while others see them as monsters.

The world was not always so bleak. Storytellers speak of a gentler time, when the Earth was governed by simpler laws. In the springtime of the world, the veil that separated the worlds of flesh and spirit was gossamer-thin. While the sun shone, the natural world came alive with a brilliance and beauty our modern world just cannot equal. Quite simply, magic was alive, and its power was evident everywhere. Once upon a time, long before the dawn of human history, werewolves were the dominant species on the planet.

According to myth, they first learned the art of shapeshifting from the Earth Mother. Werewolves still speak with reverence of their goddess, Gaia, who gave them the power of the changing ways. Because they showed such great promise for the mystic arts, they were taught how to walk among the tribes of men and within the deep wilderness with equal impunity. This legacy was to be passed from parent to child, inherited with each passing generation. In return, the werewolves were to watch over Gaia's creation, protecting both their human and lupine cousins. To pass on this gift, some werewolves mated with humans, walking among them to choose the strongest. Others preferred to run with the wolves, raising litters of cubs.

The natural world was beautiful by day, but monsters prowled the Earth at night. The werewolves claimed that they watched over their human herds to protect them from these evils, but in truth, they also treated humans as herds of breeding stock. Great warriors would often war over the most esteemed human tribes, leading them on journeys far from their rivals. The result was the Impergium, three thousand years of dominance over the human race.

Humans were herded like sheep and gathered into primitive flocks, a few of which began to develop the agricultural communes that were the precursors to our modern cities. The separation between civilization and the wilderness began, and the schism widened greatly. Every village had stories of what would happen to the foolish traveler who ventured into the woods alone at night.

The War of Rage
Of the many tribes of werewolves in the world, each has its own interpretation of why the mythical age of the Impergium came to an end. However, they are not the only shapechangers in existence. Others are aware of the occult world, telling their own myths and legends. The werewolves know that Gaia blessed many other races of shapeshifters as well, giving each of them a sacred duty to perform. In the Western world, these fabulous creature were known as the Fera.

In a thousand different forms, the Fera stalked the night. Wise in the ways of magic, secretive werecats hoarded mysteries and mystical knowledge. Strong in the power of healing, steadfast werebears guarded many of the world's most sacred places. Relying on cunning and guile, wererats kept down the population of humans when they became too numerous. The Fera were cousins to ravens, spiders, lizards, coyotes and more. Among the dozens of species of shapeshifters, each of the Fera attended to its sacred tasks.

Yet, according to their own legends, the werewolves were the greatest of these children, and they called themselves the Garou. They held their pledge to protect humanity as the most sacred duty of all. With their power came great pride. First, the most powerful Garou attempted to dominate all other tribes of werewolves, insisting on the formation of a great society throughout the world. When this goal met with even partial success, the most esteemed werewolves then demanded that they should rule over all of the other shapechangers as well.

In the legends of most shapechangers, the Fera refused, and a vicious era of genocidal warfare followed. Since the other shapechangers would not bow before Gaia's greatest children, the werewolves began to destroy them. Asserting their dominance, the Garou claimed that the others were a threat to the safety of humanity, and they set out to eradicate entire species of shapeshifters. As blood flowed freely, the werewolves demonstrated that they would reign unopposed as Gaia's favored children and the dominant lifeform on Earth, from then on.

The Concord
Little did the werewolves suspect that they, in turn, would be challenged for dominance...this time, by the very humans they claimed to protect. Horrified by the violence that surrounded them, humans no longer trusted their supernatural guardians. They decided to defend themselves from what seemed to be the most dangerous creature of all: the Garou. The werewolves were thrown into disarray. Some argued to discipline rebellious villages, punishing them for their disobedience. Others pledged peace, claiming that Gaia had entrusted them with keeping humans from harm. Some especially feral werewolves -- lupine Garou who preferred the primal wilderness and the wolves that ran there -- argued for the immediate extermination of the human race, considering their obligation fulfilled.

The werewolves argued and fought among themselves until they reached a compromise known as the Concord. Both wolves and men would have to live together in the same world, but clearly humanity no longer wanted to be dominated by the Garou. The werewolves agreed to maintain their own society separate from the world of men. The result was the Western Concordiat, a civilization thriving deep within the wilderness. The age of the Impergium came to an end, and human history began. The werewolves faded into the shadows, becoming mere legends.

Since the end of the Impergium, werewolves have never regained their primal dominance. They have remained a myth, a reminder of a distant past mankind dares not remember...and with good reason. Under the right circumstances, the very sight of a Garou is enough to conjure primal memories of fear and bloodshed. Thus, the werewolves have stayed hidden throughout human history. The demarcation between cities and the wilderness remains, separating two very different worlds. Because legends of werewolves remain, men see them as through a glass darkly, never realizing what they truly are, but instead fearing what they once were. The Garou still see themselves as heroes, but to the humans, they will always be monsters. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere between.

Werewolf the Apocalypse Sourcebook © 2000 White Wolf Publishing, Inc. page 28

The Lost and the Fallen
Once there were 16 tribes in the world, but only 12 remain in the Western Concordiat. One of the original 16, the Stargazers, has begun isolating its septs from the rest of the tribes. Three other tribes have fallen before the talons of the Wyrm. Each of their stories is a source of despair, grief and shame. Although many young cubs learn about their ancestor's mistakes, most elders are loath to speak too openly on those taboo subjects. After all, the fates of the Fallen reveal some of the deepest and most tragic flaws of the werewolf race.

The White Howlers
Once they were guardians of the frozen north, heroes who sent their cubs into the deepest pits of hell to prove their prowess. Descended from the ancient Picts, the Howlers not only dominated the harsh wilds of Scotland, but also attempted to master the stygian depths of the Underworld. With each passing generation, their heroes descended into the Labyrinth of the Black Spiral, a horrifying Realm of the spirit world.

Yet as they journeyed deeper and deeper into the Abyss, they were eventually overcome by the very evil they taunted. In retribution, dark forces rose from the earth to devour the Howler's caerns and drag their greatest heroes back into hell. Torture, torment and mystic revelations shattered their minds. A few survivors emerged, but they had become twisted, mutated horrors by then. Thus arose the Wyrm-spawned tribe of Black Spiral Dancers.

The Spirals are still alive today. They still capture their werewolf rivals, often turning them to the service of the Wyrm. The White Howlers, on the other hand, are extinct. Many werewolves prefer to forget their memory, refusing to contemplate that any Garou can be corrupted so thoroughly by the Wyrm.

The Croatan
As one of the tribes of "Pure Ones," this Native American tribe originally guarded the shores of North America. Once they believed that they could live side-by-side with the early European settlers, but with these incursions came evils the tribe had never encountered before. The Eater-of-Souls, one of the three major aspects of the Wyrm, exploited starvation and despair, gaining enough strength to manifest in the physical world. Because of their ancestors' pledge to the Goddess, the Croatan decided to fight this evil to the bitter end.

Outside the famed Roanoke colony off the Carolina coast, the Croatan sacrificed themselves one by one to drive this evil from the world. Countless heroes faced the Wyrm's titanic beast, some braving ultimate evil by rushing straight into its hideous, gaping maw. The legend remains, but both the tribe and the colonists are gone, memorialized by a few carvings on gnarled trees. Many modern heroes still believe that it is worth the ultimate sacrifice to drive the Wyrm from the world; few of them dare gainsay the lesson of the Croatan.

The Bunyip
The saga of the Bunyip is not one of glory, but shame. In many ways, it is the most tragic of the three tales. The tribe was not slain by the talons of the Wyrm, but by its own brethren. During the Impergium, the Bunyip tribe was strongest in Australia. European Garou and their settler Kinfolk, eager for a new home far from the Wyrm, invaded the Bunyip's tribal homelands and fought with them for dominance. In some caerns, Black Spirals set the Garou against each other. Overcome with despair at their brothers' pettiness, Bunyip in other caerns stalked off into the spirit world of the Dreamtime, never to return.

Over the course of centuries, the Bunyip and their strange Kinfolk, the Tasmanian wolves, were driven to extinction. Tribe continues to war with tribe, and since few would dare admit that they are capable of destroying each other completely, storytellers whisper the tale of the Bunyip only when they are most ashamed.

The Stargazers
Although they are still quite active and alive, the Stargazers have also become a source of great sadness for the Garou. The Stargazers are an Eastern tribe known for their command of mysticism, their contemplative natures and their enigmatic philosophies. Their history is decidedly different from that of the other tribes. In the West, the War of Rage brought about the deaths of thousands of shapechangers of all species. In the East, more species survived and continued to hide from the werewolves. In fact, many Eastern Garou rejected the harsh philosophies of their Western brethren, remaining estranged from the Western Concordiat. The Stargazers were once an exception. No more.

The Stargazers have worked with their Western brethren for centuries, yet it has hardly been an equitable arrangement. Over the last 200 years, the tribe's homelands have fallen to the Wyrm. While the Stargazers have sided with Western Garou continually to fight on other continents, Asian sacred sites have repeatedly been captured and corrupted. With each successive generation, more Stargazers have undertaken journeys to the East to contemplate their history...often dying in the process.

Now the Stargazers have abandoned the Concord and found new allies. Their tribe has always been fascinated by enigmas, and the other shapechangers of the world are certainly enigmatic. The Stargazers have found a common ground with the mysterious hengeyokai, the shapechangers of the East. Part of the tribe's compromise involved turning away from the Western Concordiat and joining the hengeyokai's Beast Courts. Stargazers have always favored peace and reason over pointless warfare, therefore, they have formally abandoned the ways of the West. They are returning to their old traditions, reclaiming what's left of their culture, heritage, sacred sites and Kinfolk.

The decisions made by tribal elders now weigh heavily on the hearts of younger Stargazers. Many are reluctant to leave packs that they have run with for countless years, and some do not want to abandon sacred places they have pledged to defend. Yet throughout the tribe, more and more are becoming fascinated with their past, sometimes receiving visions and dreams in the depths of their meditations. Two unusual philosophies have seized them. First, like the hengeyokai, more Stargazers are accepting the idea that the Apocalypse need not be the end of creation, but is perhaps the dawn of a new age. It is as though a great wheel is turning, and while the Wyrm may gnaw at its axle, there is a chance that the cycle of creation and destruction may renew itself.

A few have integrated a far more heretical idea. In the East, the Wyrm is not regarded with the same revulsion as it is in the West, since many still see it as a force of balance. It is a desperate force spiraling out of control, to be certain, but it is still one that must ultimately pare back the madness of the Weaver and begin the new age.As a result, other Garou have answered the Stargazers' decision with resentment and suspicion. The Stargazers who remain in the West are met with increasing contempt, continually torn between the decisions of their tribal elders and loyalty to their former septs and packmates.

Werewolf the Apocalypse Sourcebook © 2000 White Wolf Publishing, Inc. page 35