Garou Rites of Adoption, Strangulation and You!

This post is part of my ongoing and highly enjoyable effort at taking the Werewolf: the Apocalypse (with a dash of Mage: the Ascension) rules and bending their fingers backwards until they cry for mercy, without actually breaking or changing them. Or, in less idiomatic terms, using them in ways that are technically correct but which were almost certainly never intended.

Bear with me. This is a post in a couple parts. First, an examination of one particular Rite. Secondly, explanation of the implications of sweet combo action between this Rite and one other as pertaining to Mages. Third, a couple bits of speculation about the first Rite discussed.

Though Garou use the Rite of Renunciation to have a Garou or Kin formally leave their tribe, of course the Rite of Passage (the same rite that’s used on brand spanking new Garou) is then used to join a new tribe… with some exceptions. There’s an Uktena Rite of Accord (level 2, found in the Uktena Tribebook) called the Rite of Adoption that they use instead of a second Rite of Passage in these sorts of cases. The Children of Gaia have an equivalent rite also, as do a few other unspecified tribes. The Black Furies have a slightly different version called the Ritual of Acceptance.

An interesting trait of the Rite of Adoption is that it can be used on Kinfolk or even humans also, for them to become Uktena Kin. The implications have… potential. The Black Furies’ Ritual of Acceptance lacks the provision about it working on Kinfolk.

Oh, and here’s the actual text of the rite, borrowed from this site though its original source is, of course, the Uktena Tribebook:

 Rite of Adoption

  • Note: Several versions of this Rite exist, for varying tribes. However, the tribes that practice this Rite Most frequently are the Uktena and the Children of Gaia. Any other tribe member would need to have a firm reason why they’d be carrying a rite like this around.

A Garou candidate for the Rite of Adoption must first undergo a period of testing by a council of Uktena (or whatever tribe) elders from the sept she wishes to join. Similar in nature to the rigors of the Rite of Passage, these tests allow the council to assess the sincerity of her decision and her commitment to her new tribe. The actual rite consists of a ceremony in which the petitioner renounces her old tribe and casts aside any outward symbols of her previous membership, including tribe-specific fetishes and talens. In the presence of all participants in the Rite of Adoption, the candidate changes into Crinos form, symbolic of her First Change. The witnesses then proclaim her a “new Uktena”, choose a name for her and welcome her into the tribe as a cub.

This rite may also be used on Kin (or any other mortal the tribe wishes to adopt). The process is essentially the same, but the tests are tailored to the Kin in question. Instead of the First Change, however, the Kin appears before the Elders naked, and is marked with the appropriate glyphs for the tribe, symbolizing a new birth.

System

A Garou who undergoes this rite begins again as Rank One, with appropriate adjustments in Renown. Although she may retain any Gifts she has learned previous to changing tribes, she must refrain from using any Gifts specific to her old tribe until she has learned an equivalent number of Uktena Gifts. Until she attains Rank Two, her actions are carefully monitored by her new tribemates, and any lapses meet with swift and harsh punishment. Too many regressions to the ways of her old tribe may result in banishing her from the tribe, thus making her an outcast (or Ronin).

A Kin who undergoes this rite is divested of all their privileges from any previous tribes. As above, if she has any Gifts related to her previous tribe, they may not be used until an equivalent number of gifts are learned from her new tribe.

  • Note: Any character with Pure Breeding will take a penalty to their social dice equal to their rating in that background when making any such rolls involving Garou or Kin who disprove of the Adoption. (This penalty may last forever; only great acts of renown are like to convince their peers that this Adoption is not spitting in the eyes of the Ancestors and so on).

The emphasis above is my own, though the text is not. The passage is vague enough that it could be interpreted a couple of different ways and still make sense. I interpret it to mean that if this rite gets performed on a human, they are adopted into a tribe and become Kin (but see below). Based on this sentence, I’ve worked out a simple arithmetic formula. Rite of Adoption + Mages + Bonding Rite = Mages as packmates to Garou. Sure they’d be temporary packmates and couldn’t contribute to the pack’s rating in Totem, but they would have full access to Totem benefits and pack tactic maneuvers in coordination with the Garou as well as pack initiative, if the ST is using that particular optional rule. There’s a lot this could do to help the Mages benefit their Garou companions. Also, certain Garou gifts that specifically benefit packmates would work on the Mages too (say, the Gift: Pack Tactics). There are a few major limitations I see that can impede this odd yet potentially very effective strategy.

  1. Successfully carrying out the Rite of Adoption (and/or convincing somebody from [insert tribe of choice] to perform it, assuming [tribe of choice] has a working version of this rite and somebody on hand to perform it) on a Kinfolk or a Mage. Garou septs or tribes have a looong history of strained relations (or worse) with Mages in general, even though Mages are probably the oWoD group outside of Werewolf with whom they have the best relationship. Best, of course, being defined loosely as “may or may not kill on sight.” Talking your Sept into allowing you to initiate a Mage as Kinfolk is not going to be easy, even if you’re crazy enough to try. “Stealing” Kin from a different tribe can be a diplomatic incident, but comparatively speaking isn’t likely to be as big of a deal.
  2. For the Bonding Rite to work, you can only have up to twice as many Kinfolk joining the pack as there are Garou members present. One Garou plus five Mage Kin doth not a pack make.
  3. The Rite of Adoption is an Uktena/Child of Gaia Rite, and the Bonding Rite belongs to one specific yet up-and-coming camp of Glass Walkers: the Dies Ultimae. Soldiers (as the camp’s members are known) are noted for their radical views on the role of Kinfolk, saying they should be near-equals and full members of Garou packs, and provided training and equipment to help them pull their own weight. This is hardly an insurmountable obstacle, but it can be problematic. The Soldiers are likely to be more receptive to this arrangement than the Uktena are, I would imagine. They’re on an expansion kick anyhow.
  4. According to my understanding and what I’ve read, most tribes have no concept that a regular human can actually become kinfolk. The Children of Gaia have had some success in that area. It is specified that it needs to be somebody that’s spiritually inclined and receptive to Gaia and the Garou, and whom the tribe feels is worthy of being let in on the joke. I would surmise that there are two ways to make this happen: the CoG version of the Rite of Adoption, since the rules state, however obliquely and parenthetically, that the Uktena version is capable of such an effect… or a different and more powerful Child of Gaia Rite called the Rite of the Parted Veil, which confers immunity to the Delirium and turns a human into Kin. I interpret this to mean that, though the Rite of Adoption will render somebody technical Kin and thus part of a tribe as well as more likely to produce Garou offspring, it cannot confer immunity to the Delirium upon them. For Mages or other awakened creatures that already ignore the Delirium, this serious limitation of the Rite of Adoption is irrelevant.

Um… yeah.

Now, for section three, which might be thought of as a lengthy postscript exploring a couple aspects of the above more fully.

The Rite of Adoption is at least somewhat known outside of the Uktena tribe. As has already been noted, at least some Children of Gaia know and employ this Rite. The Black Furies have a rough equivalent Rite that excludes Kin from its effects. Who else might have variations? I’ll list all of the tribes in three groups below, according to how likely I think they are to have a version.

  1. Definitely Have: Uktena (obviously), Children of Gaia, Black Furies (the Ritual of Acceptance – No Kin)
  2. Probably Have: Glass Walkers, Bone Gnawers, Silent Striders, Silver Fangs*, Stargazers. Other than the Silver Fangs (see below), these tribes are pretty inclusive in one way or another, or possibly more relaxed in their entry requirements.
  3. Probably Don’t Have: Get of Fenris, Fianna, Shadow Lords. They’re  hard nosed enough that they’re unlikely to accept Garou that couldn’t hack it as members of their own tribes eagerly enough to bother having a special Rite for it. As for Kin-theft… in the old days they’d have simply carried rival tribes’ Kin off and not bothered with a special Rite.
  4. Definitely Do Not Have: Red Talons, Wendigo, Black Spiral Dancers. The Wendigo and Red Talons generally hate the rest of the tribes enough that I don’t see them using this sort of Rite. Modern Wendigo aren’t very likely to want to steal other tribes’ Kin either, though they might have done it as a matter of plunder during the Wild West era. They wouldn’t use a custom ritual to acknowledge them as Wendigo, however. The Black Spiral Dancers use the Rite of Transmogrification, which is also their distinct version of the Rite of Passage. Their Kin-stealing efforts are often temporary or at least secretive and tend to involve the Rite of the Survivor.

* Note on the Silver Fangs: There’s no way they have a version that works on Garou. However, I anticipate that the Fangs have to have a version that only works on Kinfolk. I’d think that the Silver Fang version is probably a level 3-4 Rite, however, and would preserve whatever rating in Pure Breed the Kin had before they were adopted into Falcon’s tribe. The existence of such a rite is how I would reconcile some of the inconsistencies in that tribe’s history: their practice of forcibly swiping the best, brightest and most high-born of other tribes’ Kin for themselves as they spread across the world rather than sticking only to their own original Russian bloodlines… yet somehow being by far the most Pure Bred tribe of all. According to a number of WoD sources, Pure Breed is specific to an individual tribe, and so changing tribes or breeding outside of the tribe’s actual pure bred line would normally nullify Pure Breed (in the case of changing tribes) or at least dilute it (in the case of breeding outside the tribe). Stealing other tribes’ Pure Bred Kin would lead to children that either lack Pure Breed themselves or have a lower rating, making it very difficult indeed to justify Fangs’ minimum rating of 3 for Garou and I think 2 for their Kin. Maybe I’ll write this rite up for a later post.

On Mage-To-Kin Wackiness: Okay, we’re pretty far off the deep end here folks. Garou tend to have enough trust issues with their Kin that Awaken to become Mages. I don’t see them being real excited at the prospect of turning preexisting Mages into Kin, the discussion of Spirals using captured Cultists of Ecstasy as pliable breeding stock in the opening fiction of Book of the Wyrm 2nd Edition notwithstanding. That said… what if?

I can picture certain tribes having a much easier time with adopting them than others, certain tribes would have an easier time accepting certain traditions, and of course certain Traditions would be more inclined than others to go through with it. Naturally, asking three Mages their opinion on anything will yield seven different mutually exclusive opinions, so take all of the below with a very large grain of salt.

As if it needed to be said, Technocrats are right out. Likewise Marauders. Certain Malfean Nephandi would certainly be willing to bump uglies with Spirals for either ritual or recreational purposes, but they wouldn’t be interested in becoming Kin. Which leaves the Nine Traditions and some of the Crafts. Let’s hit each.

  • Dreamspeakers: The Dreamspeakers may not be allied to the Garou at large, but they’re easily the Tradition that has the most in common with them, and probably has the best odds of acceptance or at least toleration. Probable tribes include Children of Gaia, Uktena, Silent Striders, Glass Walkers or Bone Gnawers (for a more urban sort of Dreamspeaker).
  • Verbena: After the Dreamspeakers, the Verbena are probably your best bet. They’re old-timey willworkers that revere life, the world and nature, so there’s at least some common ground. Fianna would be the stereotypical tribe for a Verbena Mage, though probably only if the Mage was born into the tribe. Fenrir would be the second choice, but with the same stipulation. For adoption, they’d probably be best suited to the Children of Gaia.
  • Sons of Ether: I really don’t find this one likely, even for the Glass Walkers. However, I’ve got a really amusing mental image of an Etherite cryptozoologist trying to be Jane Goodall and seeking to integrate with a Garou Tribe for well meaning but highly dangerous research and endangered species preservation purposes. Here’s the Scientist talking into her portable recorder: “…These magnificent creatures are performing some sort of beautiful ritual. They appear to have accepted me as one of their own…”
  • Virtual Adepts: Given their highly computer-dependent Paradigm and tendency to not use noticeable effects outside of the Digital Web, most Garou might never even find out he was a Mage. Apart from that, I only see the Glass Walkers having any interest. They’re too Weaver-tainted for anybody else.
  • The Akashic Brotherhood: I suppose an Akashic and a Stargazer could have a blast alternately sparring and contemplating their navels together. Hakken (Japanese Shadowlords) or Boli Zouhisze (Chinese Glass Walkers) might be another option.
  • The Cult of Ecstasy: These guys could have a seriously crazy party with the Children of Gaia. Peace and free love, man.
  • Hollow Ones/Orphans: What’s to even say? Orphans are so individual that there’s no point in really going over this one. The Hollow One subset, however, might work out as Uktena, Bone Gnawer or Child of Gaia Kin.
  • The Order of Hermes: Ave Hermes! Ave Pymander! Yeah, I don’t think so either. An especially well-bred and wealthy Hermetic might suit the Silver Fangs or Shadow Lords, and specifically a Verditian could be a handy Klaive-maker for either. A Tytalan might fit right in with the ‘Lords’ attitude but his ambition wouldn’t suit Kinfolk status very well, although in the aftermath of Blood Treachery I could see one desperately needing allies. The Children of Gaia could certainly find a use for Solificati alchemy… not to mention how much fun a member of House Xaos could have playing in the Digital Web with Glasswalkers.
  • Euthanatos: I don’t see them mixing well with most Garou. Maybe Uktena, Silent Striders or Stargazers could hang with them though.
  • The Celestial Chorus: I picture Choristers being a hard sell for Garou. The Glasswalkers’ Wise Guys faction with its Catholic overtones and, once again, the Children of Gaia are probably the closest you’re going to get. A Monist Chorister would work pretty well among the Children, as would a member of the Order of St. Michael or the Song of the Ancients. Black Furies (The Patriarch! Kill it!!), Wendigo (Die Wasichu!) and Uktena (Oppressors! Die!), in particular, would find Choristers to be anathema. Well, the Black Furies’ Order of Our Merciful Mother camp could be more receptive… but then again, the other Furies don’t like the Order very much anyway.
  • Crafts: Once again, these are all over the map. Taftani might be a crazy awesome addition to a Silent Strider’s family, though there’s Veil-related friction ahead if that happens. An Ahl-i-Batin might be a more suitable and less volatile choice for the Striders. A Ngoma could work out as an Uktena Kin.

Edit: When I first wrote this post, I forgot about the Rite of the Parted Veil. I’ve now edited the post to take that powerful Rite into account.

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