Werewolf: American Carnage

Shooting, the Moon
Part Four

The New Guys

Late April – Crescent Moon

Zack takes some finesse and finagling to keep from bolting, and Azhar and Amina spend much of their time attending his grouchiness. Meanwhile, the others take advantage of the reprieve to explore a bit more freely. Ky scouts for hidey-holes in case things go south. JT goes for a jog, and narrowly escapes a conversation with one of the local militiamen and his spaniel Checkers. Isaac decides he'd like to drop a live rabbit down into the wendigo prison. While not the blood cataclysm the audience might have expected, Isaac still took the opportunity to expand his senses past their normal limits.

The next morning, visitors came. The wily werewolves snuck out the back door to stalk the intruders, while leaving a sleepy Azhar and a helpless-to-wake-her Amina behind in the cabin. The two men who approached turned out to be more Uratha, who had come at Azhar's request to help initiate the nusuzul into the People. Simon Theriault, a Iron Master Theurge and captain of the Strait Arrow, and Teddy Hunsaker, a Hunter In Darkness Irraka and Theriault's first mate, had come from the port in Traverse City. They took the pack to breakfast a local diner outside Banques, and laid out the Hisil, the spirits, and the Hosts, as some of the most dangerous obstacles to be reckoned with.

That night, Simon and Teddy took the pack on a field trip, and the newly-changed got their first close look at the Shadow. Simon offered a small red baseball cap to Setting Quiet, who opened the locus to the werewolves. The pack then swam out to the gate, down through it, and broke the surface again in a twisted reflection of the material world. After a moment to consider their environs, the group headed up toward the high ground. On their way, Simon decided to investigate the loud noises emanating from nearby. Guessing it was the reflection of the military camp, Teddy chose to sit out the side-trip, put off by the assumption that the loud repetitive cracks were made by weapon spirits. The rest went to see the spirits up close, and found the spiritual equivalent of a shooting range, where three gunmetal humanoids were performing a ritual not unlike a Maori haka or a Sumo shiko. Curious, Isaac approached the spirits, and uttered a greeting the spirits took as either a threat or an insult, souring the encounter.

The group continued up the hill, until they reached a clearing among the trees where stood pillars of moonlight. Simon began to howl for a long time. After a few minutes, a Lune appeared, a woman dressed in a long pale robe, and her face seemingly having been scooped out of her skull. At the elder werewolves request, she bestowed Luna's blessings. First, she turned to Isaac, extending her impossibly long fingers toward him, only to tear out strips of flesh from his shoulder. Silver fluid bubbled up in the wound, leaving a scar of swooping curves. She then turned to Ky and JT, and the light fled from her skin, and her head appeared to disappear entirely. She again gouged the flesh from her victims, though these wounds filled with inky blackness in tight curls. Having met her obligations to the assembled Uratha, she faded out of view, and the pack returned to the Flesh world.

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Splashdown
Part Three

Down At The Lake

Late April 2017 – Crescent Moon

Lodge of the Wendigo – The wolves are coming out. Azhar breaks down Uratha culture into nice digestible bits. Werewolves are a thing. They're big bad killing machines, in case anyone was new to the legend, but they have a purpose to go along with it. The Sacred Hunt. The Oath of the Moon. The Forsaken and the Pure, their Tribes, and their spirit allies. Oh yeah, spirits! The Storm Lord gathers up her charges, and herds them down towards the lake.

The cove lurks out of view of the lake, where the water is dark and stagnant. The trees stoop low, and their roots twist up out of the mud and the water. With hushed tones, Azhar speaks a strange tongue, and despite its alien sounds, the meaning can be felt. Silently and without disturbing the water, three childlike figures rise out of the water. They look like waterlogged corpses, and when they speak, lake water spills from their mouths. Azhar greets the spirit, called Setting Quiet, and in honor of old bargains, offers it an article of clothing, in trade for use of the locus it sits on. Quiet accepts, and welcomes the strangers. It then begins to retreat beneath the murk. A curious Isaac escapes Azhar's notice, and creeps up to the water's edge.

As soon as his toe touches the water, three tiny hands seize his ankle and pull him into the water. As Isaac fights to keep his breath in the struggle, the face of one of Quiet's avatars emerges from the gloom in front of his own. "Change." The word breaks the last tether on the Wolf inside Isaac, and it tears through his skin and clothes, and bursts out of the lake, surprising the rest of the pack.

JT and Ky instinctively shield Amina, while Azhar scrambles to her feet, trying to stay ahead of the mad beast's teeth and claws. Still, she's no novice, and before long she has the nusuzul out of his rage. The pack returns to the cabin, for a few more lessons on what it means to be a werewolf.

(SOMEWHERE IN THE CHAIN OF EVENTS)

Amina shares her story. A year ago or so, Amina was a promising high school student, getting good marks and staying out trouble as best as anyone could expect. Then, she witnessed what she now understands to be werewolf violence. Her life began to spiral after that. She couldn't concentrate in school, she fought with her family, and she fell in with a bad crowd. That crowd turned out to be the fringe members of a pack of the Pure, and they took her in. When her pack discovered her nose for the soon-to-change, they conscripted her to hunt for new recruits.

Whatever misgivings she had buried when she first joined up were unearthed when she witnessed what it meant to become Pure. She saw the cubs beaten and tortured, some of them having their skin flayed off repeatedly. When she was forced to hunt among the wreckage of the Marche Du Nain Rouge, she finally decided she had to get away.

She played along until she saw an opening, and made for territory believed to be held by a pack of Forsaken. She found a lone Wolf-Blooded member, named Jefferson, who told her where to find his pack, which had joined another in hunting some powerful prey. On her way out of Detroit, she felt the weight of her responsibility to warn the unsuspecting nusuzul she had alerted her former packmates to, and turned back. Three of the four she had discovered were with her now, but there was a fourth who distrusted her.

(OH BOY ANOTHER NARRATIVE JUMP)

Fresh off of breaking in three new werewolves, the pack decided to track down the missing Wolf-Blooded. Azhar bound the others in a ritual, with a battered Teddy Ruxpin and an oath to hunt the lost cub. The pack members could feel their blood quickening, and everything took on a strange aspect as their senses searched for their prey. Azhar mounted her motorcycle, and the rest got in JT's truck, and they five of them rode back to Detroit.

Cub Reporter

March and April

The Marche is always a good time to catch Detroit's civic luminaries among the rabble, and Zach was making the most of it to squeeze whomever he could get on record. The spectacle of the parade made for a good distraction, as his subjects would let their guard down whenever a new float came into view. The quotes he scribbled down were rambling, true, but a confirmation here, or a lead there was worth their incoherence. Hearing a commotion, Zach looked up from his notebook—

A week later and Zach's nursing a hangover. He's no longer sure what's killing him: missing work, or the nightmares. He's hiding from both in a bar, and if his wife doesn't find him, so much the better. A young girl slips in unnoticed while the bartender is occupied, and slips him a phone number, before dashing out. He follows her out, and she asks him cryptic question about how he's feeling, and tells him to watch out. His phone rings, but he's no longer sure whether his editor's name in the caller ID is a mercy or his doom.

A good reporter doesn't make himself a part of the story, but he also gets the story. Zach's account of the Marche attack was disjointed and unusable, which displeased his editor Vic to no end. When Zach appeared in cellphone footage at the event, with a near-severed arm and what could only be described as monsters in pursuit, he didn't have much choice but to put Zach on the career suicide track. He gave the reporter a week to prove the video was tampered with, or to come up with an angle that kept the newspaper's name in good standing.

The video was blasted out to all local media, but other outlets had dismissed it as a hoax. Zach ran it by video analysts and computer geeks, and none of them could find clear evidence of manipulation. Zach tracked down the source of the video, a youTuber named Kevin McLeod who records a weekly conspiracy show called They're Real. Kevin's a true believer, but he's also and eager sort of skeevy, and manages to out his own source, a personal friend named Pedro.

His personal life is falling apart, and his wife Ellen goads him into a dinner date. Zach is on his way when he realizes he's being watched. It first manifests as a creepy sensation like a nearby construction pit was watching him, but then he notices a man following him at a distance. A confrontation occurs, but the other man deescalates it, and disappears into the night. Zach joins his wife at the restaurant, and the two argue over their marriage, the tape, and Zach's deteriorating state of mind. Ellen tells him she's going to stay with a friend for a little while, until he gets his issues sorted. He's more relieved than he will admit to her.

Through good old research, Zack locates Pedro, and the worst possible answer is confirmed: the video is authentic and unaltered. Pedro was at the Marche, he saw the whole thing, and he taped what he could until he had to flee. Defeated, he turns to drink, and returns to the bar, where a strange kid approaches him, with less guile than the girl before. He looks around and sees how packed the place is with strangers, and excuses himself in a hurry.

Outside, he sees the girl he met at the start of it all. She tells him he's a werewolf, that the strangers who followed him out of the bar are werewolves, and that worse werewolves are after him. The pack browbeats him into coming with them back to the Lodge of the Wendigo, and under grudging grudgey assent, he follows them.

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The Harbinger
Part Two: Cheat Day

Bait and Switch

Late April 2017 – New Moon

Banques - "Hey man, nice truck!" The youngest of the local yokels walks on up to the pack, trying to strike up a convo with the visitors. Michiganders are friendly people, after all. No one's feeling particularly talkative, except for the boys hanging back, who heckle their more gregarious companion. Conversation's just not happening, and the local turns back to his friends.

But something is up. JT feels like he's been sprayed with poison oak, his skin itches and burns. Everyone feels a bit off. Amina hears something out in the deepening darkness. Ky's ears and jaws are buzzing. Isaac feels something he can't name. And then Amina catches sight of the rising new moon, a barely visible disc in the evening sky, and she turns to look at JT…

JT's irritation gives way to snapping and breaking of his bones. Isaac watches in rapt fascination as his friend's shoulders and neck twist and pop as muscles swell and flex out of nowhere, pulling JT into a new and imposing shape. Amina shouts "run" to the others, and she and Ky dash for the shop. A fury overwhelms JT, and in futility he tries to rip the door off his truck, then turns to raking newly grown claws through his seat cushions.

The commotion renews the attention of the three good old boys, and two of them cautiously advance on the beastly JT. "Are you OK?" The only answer is with snarls and gnashing teeth as the nusuzul lashes out at them. A claw rakes across the friendly one's chest, and in a fit of rising Lunacy, both men fire rounds into JT's now-massive chest, as his packmates watch from inside  the shop. 

JT staggers back for second, and loses the last sliver of his composure as the Death Rage breaks free. His already brutish form lurches and snaps, and a coat of fur sprouts from his rippling flesh. Two pathetic lead slugs fall from closing wounds in the monster's chest to the concrete. Without so much as a growl, the beast that was once JT leaps onto the more social of his prey, and scatters the mortal herd. The two remaining rednecks leap in their truck and peel out, and with no enemies to tempt his rage, the monster drags the broken corpse into the cornfield to savor its meal.

Inside, as the immediate danger seems to have passed, the remaining pack tries to figure out a plan. Khwaga, the cashier, admits although she has a connection to the People, her practical knowledge is minor. She erases the security video, and grabs some cleaner and a bucket from the mop closet. When a wolf pokes its bloody muzzle out of the cornfield, Khwaga tells the shaken JT to go in and clean up, and the get out and find the cabin. She promises to call her "Auntie" to come help the newly changed werewolf before he becomes an even greater danger.

The cabin is a musty, primitive shack hidden down an overgrown road. Signs dot its boundaries, declaring it a state-owned toxic hazard. Unsure, the pack inspects the immediate grounds, and find an outhouse, and a rack for drying meat, and a ravine filled with blackberry bushes. Ky picks the lock to gain entrance to the cabin, and finds a room barely furnished a futon and a pot-bellied iron stove. Picking the lock of an interior door, a room filled with books and scrolls, and a variety of odd bone fetishes adds to the creepy atmosphere. The pack sets a watch, but they survive the night without an incident.

THe next day, they explore the environs. Isaac and Amina make a trip to the lake, to get water for boiling, and find a cove where the water is murky and the trees are twisted. Judging this to be the toxic threat tainting the property, they move up the shore to fresher waters. Ky checks out the cabin's lot, finding little to interest her. JT jogs up the road, in hopes of finding a shop to stock the cabin's larder. He finds first the guarded gate of the Michigan Militia's local camp, gets eyeballed, and carries on, only to repeat the process on the way back from his successful hunt.

The next day, company arrives. A woman on a motorcycle appears, introduces herself as Azhar, and proceeds to lay it out on the line for the pack. Werewolves are a thing, yadda yadda yadda, and she's here to run the pups through orientation. Feeling themself, Ky does their best Steven Universe, and manages to unleash the wolf inside with perhaps the least destructive First Change ever witnessed, thanks to the presence of a fresh Half-Moon.

Scene.

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Into The Woods
Part One: Trails Converging

Marche du Nain Rouge

March 26th, 2017 – Waning Crescent

Cass Park, Detroit – Taunt the Red Dwarf, and chase him away for a year. That's what draws people to the park every year. It's a young tradition, meant to defeat an old foe. Families come for the spectacle, businesses come for the money, and the city's elites come to watch someone else take the blame for another year of Detroit's malaise. For a single day the fallen fortunes of the Motor City can be blamed on an evil spirit.

The crowds are thick, with people circulating around the park, the parade route, and every path into the festivities. No one pays any special attention to the jogger who decides to take his cooldown walking through the mobs. Nor do they see the street kid stealing an unguarded paper tray served from one of the food trucks. Either might as well be the guy stalking though the tents, looking at all the "weird Detroit" memorabilia. So many people, so many faces to forget.

They pass each other, unaware of how their fates will intersect. The jogger takes in the view, looking over a thousand heads and dozen balloons at Old Detroit's buildings. The urchin draws a pinch of their loot into their mouth, more concerned with the loitering security than with the colorful floats puttering down the closed streets. The med student, the one trying to figure out the voices in the back of his head, looks at the capering Red Dwarf, the Nain Rouge, and wonders exactly who is talking to him. Suddenly—

The Morning After

May 18th, 2017 – Waxing Crescent

A man names Isaac wakes up muddied and bedraggled. As he starts piecing together the circumstances that brought him here, two voices ring out from beyond the trees. He recognizes them as two of his packmates, Ky and JT. Packmates is a strange name for it, and the ramifications of what that means is not yet clear, but what is clear is that pack means something.

Ky and JT find Isaac easily. The tracks he left were not hard to follow. Both parties relate the events that led to this early morning jaunt. Excusing himself from a celebration, Isaac went outside for a breath of fresh air. Alone he was unprepared for the vision he saw of a terrible creature, shadowy and indistinct, except for the spines that covered its body. It did something, something twisted and unnatural enough to break Isaac's grip on his rage, sending him into kuruth, the Death Rage. Through some miracle, the rampaging beast that had been the newly minted ithaeur met nothing it could kill, but left a visible trail. His packmates would follow in due time, sent by the elders who had come to welcome the fledgling werewolves into the fold.

Bait

Late April 2017 – New Moon

It's getting late. JT is driving his truck down a back road. Isaac is riding shotgun, while the kids Ky and Amina are in the back. It's been hours of driving, but the trip is nearing its end. Finally JT sees the sign he's been waiting for: Welcome to Banques. 

Banques is a far cry from Detroit. It's tiny, isolated, and not much more than a few shops that may be little more than repurposed outbuildings. The only signs of life are a few good old boys swigging Schlitz in the gas station parking lot, and the lights inside the convenience store. Close to their destination, the travelers get out to stretch their legs and get their bearings.

Isaac fuels up the truck as JT and Isaac go inside to grab a few snacks and a map, as requested by Amina, the only one who has any clue to where they're going. Ky and the clerk strike up a conversation. The clerk is a young woman wearing a head covering, unexpected here in northern Michigan's farms and game preserves. She casually talks about how the "thing in Detroit" has made things a bit harder out here, indicating her hijab, although she seems to believe in the safety of her Lucite booth. With a hint of conspiracy, she lowers her voice and asks if Ky and company are "Grrrr!", while feigning an angry snarl and curling her fingers like claws. 

Outside JT rejoins Isaac while he finishes refueling. Amina is awake and limbering up, wearing her sunglasses even as the sky is darkening…

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Gathering the Pack

Hello! Here's some housekeeping while we nail down the start date. Reply here with anything that isn't sensitive, and introduce yourself when you are ready.

Central Casting and Showtimes

I'm still trying to wrangle you all into one means of communication. Let me know what works best. I prefer the use of email for out-of-character stuff, so maybe PM me with the email you want to use. I'll probably get myself set up with an Ascendant account, so we can have forums and the like, but I'm waiting until I can see this is a sustainable campaign.

For the meantime, reply here with your preferred times and dates. I'd like to try to get started the second weekend in June (10th or 11th), probably from noon to 4, noon to 6. We can discuss July here too. We might see something of a hiatus after September, so I'd like to see about scheduling an extra session somewhere before then, if it works for everyone.

Wolves at the Door

The chronicle begins shortly after the characters have been inducted into their chosen tribe (if any), and they are created normally, but if you wish to keep some Merit dots fluid for a session or two, that's fine. Their shared history doesn't extend much further than their First Change, but should include the following tidbits:

  • Marche Du Nain Rouge: The character was present at this recent Detroit tradition, which takes place at the end of March every year. The Nain Rouge, or "Red Dwarf", is a local legend tied to the founding of Detroit and a harbinger of historic catastrophes. The Marche is a parade where the Nain Rouge is mocked, ridiculed, and defeated in ceremony. 
  • A Very Bad Month: For a month or two before your character's First Change, life became excruciating. Something was very much off for them, whether it was emotional, physical, spiritual, or more nebulous. Their lives were inundated with dread, or anxiety, or hedonism, and they acted out in whatever way they thought would ease these impulses.
  • Amina Powell: During the Very Bad Month, a teenager calling herself Amina encountered the character, and was able to give them some clarity. She could somehow sense the character's state of distress, and tried to sell you some tale of werewolf gangs hunting for people like you. Maybe it made sense, maybe your character chased her off, but for whatever reason, she finally convinced them to come with her to a safe place in Northern Michigan. She explained that she was a fugitive from "the Pure", that they were involved in "some Satanic shit", and when she had the opportunity to bolt, she took it. She had knowledge of some other "tribes of the Moon", and figured they might be the safest haven. By following her, your character was eventually inducted into the Forsaken.

Whether or not any of this means your character is tied to Detroit is up to you, and much of what I have planned simply occurs in the city's orbit. If and when the pack establishes a territory, where will be up to them.

You'll also pick a Tell from the Wolf-Blooded section. This is lost at the First Change, but it's important to your character's story. 

The other monster lines of the Chronicles of Darkness may or may not exist as described, so you'll probably want to steer clear of them as part of backstory.

Kith and Kin 

The rulebook suggests a larger pack creation process, with troupe-style play where players create and play multiple characters. If you guys want to incorporate that, we will, but auxiliary characters will probably be introduced after the first one or two chapters.

Houserules

If there's anything you'd like to discuss about the Chronicles of Darkness rules, werewolf mechanics, or character creation, now's a great time to bring up the topic. I like to look for places I can simplify things on my end of things, but not at the cost of some dimension you might enjoy as a player. If you build your character with a focus in a subsystem (Investigation, Chase, Social Maneuvering, etc), be sure to let me know explicitly, so I know to include those without being too opaque.

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Werewolf: The Forsaken
A Primer

Status among the Forsaken revolves around two axes. The first, Auspice, is a gift from the Warden Moon, bestowed upon the night of the First Change. There are five Auspices, and each brings blessings and responsibilities.

  • Irraka, the New Moon: The stalker of the pack who moves unseen.
  • Ithaeur, the Crescent Moon: The mystic who maintains the pack's rituals and spirit ties.
  • Elodoth, the Half Moon: The counselor who keeps the peace, or breaks it.
  • Cahalith, the Gibbous Moon: The lorekeeper who inspires and terrifies.
  • Rahu, the Full Moon: The warrior who brings the hunt to its bloody end.

The second axis is Tribe. The Tribes are more faith than family, more creed than clan, and must always come second to one's pack. Each follows one of the Firstborn, the first of Wolf's children, and members must uphold their vows to these terrible patrons to hunt the Tribe's sacred prey.

  • Blood Talons: Warriors among warriors, the Blood Talons follow Fenris-Ur, and hunt the most dangerous prey: other werewolves.
  • Bone Shadows: Spirits are hungry, alien beings, and the Bone Shadows follow Kamduis-Ur's command to bring to each what they deserve.
  • Hunters In Darkness: The Hunters zealously guard their territory, and savagely attack any that would despoil it.
  • Iron Masters: The Iron Masters seek to uncover the next evolution, and hunt among the teeming masses of humanity.
  • Storm Lords: The Storm Lords seek to test themselves and prove themselves worthy of the Winter Wolf, even if it means dying.
  • Ghost Wolves: A few reject the Firstborn, preferring to hunt on their own terms, while a few others survive undiscovered by the Tribes of the Moon.

Whatever the Tribe or Auspice of a werewolf, the blessings and responsibilities they offer serve the pack. A pack may be only a handful of true Uratha, but it more likely also includes a few of the wolf-blooded, and occasionally mundane humans as well. These weaker packmates tend the territory and tie their bestial kin to the human world, while the stronger werewolves protect them and hunt threats.

And The Wolf Must Hunt. Werewolves inherited the duties of the fallen Urfarah, when the first of their kind slew the ancient god. The Great Wolf hunted those beasts and spirits who dared too far in the wrong direction, and the same undeniable urge to run down prey takes every werewolf, no matter how docile and serene they may seem.

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