Out With the Old, In With the New!

For years my copy of Werewolf the Apocalypse has sat gathering dust on my shelves while its younger brother, Werewolf the Forsaken, has dominated my gaming table. I was given both games as a present at the same time and so had to make a choice of which one to play and the newer, more streamlined creature snatched the limelight and hasn’t given it up since.

 I love Werewolf the Forsaken! It was the first game to show me there were RPGs other than Palladium and Rifts out there and was the first game I manage to run for any length of time without it getting away from me. I love the mythology, the ambiguous back-story that leaves mysteries for the player to uncover in-game, the freedom it gives you as a story-teller to create engaging adventures for your players. In comparison, the heavy meta-plot of Apocalypse seemed restrictive, stifling and sometimes, downright silly!


Four years on and several WtF games under my belt, my opinions on the matter have begun to change somewhat. While it is true you CAN create engaging, mystery-filled adventures in the world of the Forsaken, you can also create overly-complicated, self-indulgent crap that will bore and confuse your players. Not through a fault in the game, you understand, but a fault in the Storyteller (i.e. me!). Coming up with an intriguing mystery for the players to sink their teeth into is not easy and quite often an idea that might look great on paper just doesn’t translate into a good gaming experience. For this reason I am starting to see the value in a good, in-depth meta-plot.

And so with this in mind, and my new copy of W20 arriving in the post, I thought it was high time I let the White Wolf staff do some (more) of the work for me.

Werewolf: The Apocalypse 20th anniversary
Over the years, despite not actually getting round to running a game, I have read several WtA books, websites and wiki’s and have become somewhat familiar with the meta-plot, but am still a long way off being an expert. Thankfully, the 20th anniversary edition gives the best summary of the world’s history I have encountered to date, even including details of all the lost tribes of the Garou, something lacking from my old dusty copy. There is, of course, more to the meta-plot than is contained within W20’s pages; with three editions worth of sourcebooks and novels fleshing things out to the nth degree, describing and dissecting every important event and individual from the time of Pangea to the coming of the Apocalypse. But is all that necessary?

I’m gonna say no, not for now anyway.

What I felt was lacking from WtF was not details of specific characters and events, but the broad strokes of what is going on, a framework to hang my own creative ideas on. What I wanted was a statement of “This is what happened, YOU decide HOW it happened”, and that’s what you get from WtA 20th Anniversary edition.

Now the big question is what the first game I am gonna run will be? My group are now all veteran Forsaken players, and so this game has to be uniquely Apocalypse flavoured to stand out from
what’s come before. So what tribes will it include, what time period will it be set and where will it take place are all very important factors, but for me there was one choice that stood out above all others, and that is the White Howlers. A game based around this lost tribe of Scottish werewolves ticks just about every box on my list. Apart from anything else, we have for the past few years camping in the White Howlers home territory, the Highlands of Scotland. For those of you not fortunate enough to have shared this experience, check out some of our pictures in the Real Life section for inspiration. Also, growing up near Hadrian’s Wall in the north of England means that the Roman invasion of Britain (the point in history when the White Howlers mysteriously disappeared) has a strange nostalgic quality for me and I have been looking for an excuse to run a game set in that time period for quite a while.

Stob Ghabhar Adventure!

Not only that, but from a meta-plot point of view, the White Howlers make an excellent starting point for a group new to WtA for a couple of reasons. Firstly, running a game set before the dark ages (the first historically setting for WtA) will give the players an appreciation for how things have changed in the modern day setting. It’s one thing to TELL the players that “long ago, the Wyld held sway over the land and the Wyrm and the Weaver were just bedtime stories to scare young pups” but for them to have actually experienced it is another thing all together. To know first-hand that Septs used to boast a hundred or more members, to experience the wilderness unspoilt and to live life as the lords of the spirit world will let them know just how        @!*$ed up the world has become in the modern nights.

Another reason why this tribe seems good for newbies (and I should mention that this might be a bit of a spoiler for some people!) is that playing through the fall of the White Howlers will lend weight to one of the games main antagonists, the Black Spiral Dancers. These are the werewolves who serve the Wyrm, the Garou’s evil cousins if you will. Past experience of bringing the Pure (the Forsaken’s evil cousins) into my WtF games has taught me that it is very easy for the “evil werewolf” antagonist to become a bit generic and obvious, “They are just like you, only they want to kill you!”. By having the players experience the tribe’s corruption first hand will (hopefully) add a depth to these villains and maybe even invoke a bit of sympathy for the devil.

So for the first time since I was given the books, I am getting ready to forsake the Forsaken and face the Apocalypse head on! Have I made the right choice? Only time, and plenty of D10, will tell…