Learning to FightEdit
So I hear that you killed four Banes yesterday, and now you think that you embody what it means to be an Ahroun. Foolish children! The very fact that you are still euphoric with your joy and arrogance shows me how little you understand the meaning of being an Ahroun, or what is expected of you.
Listen, cub: this then is what it means to be an Ahroun.
It is coming slowly and jaggedly back to sapience as the killing fury fades, not looking down but silently praying to Gaia in sheer desperation that the wet red mess at your feet was a fomor, and not a Kinfolk. It is being hoisted upon the shoulders of your comrades as proud howls declare you a war hero for things done in the heat of instinct, actions that were all but involuntary to your nature. It is a quiet, terrifying struggle to keep the "righteous" in your righteous anger; it is learning to cope with being the mortal vessel for a violated Goddess' fury. And it never lets up, not for one second.
You think that sounds soft, cowardly? Overly influenced by homid values? The struggle is the same for the lupus, just seen from a different perspective. Wolves don't hate. They're true innocents, in that way. Oh, they stalk prey and protect the young and even challenge the alpha, but it's all instinct. Hate is beyond them - it is the abstract and absolute loathing of a concept, the need to destroy it not to promote your own survival but simply because it is anathema, because it needs to be destroyed. Hatred requires sapience, and unlike the forever-innocent wolves, the lupus Ahroun will learn to hate the Wyrm, and this unbending malice will forever set him apart from his lupine Kin.
Hatred is at the very essence of our auspice. The Children of Gaia love to dance around this, but in the end it's just a blunt truth that we absolutely must deal with. We usually give it a preface of some kind - "righteous" anger, "justified" hatred, "controlled" malice - and in many cases these adjectives are even accurate; the Wyrm is as close a thing as you are going to find in this world to the objective definition of evil. But they dilute the meaning - because our Rage is not about qualifiers, but passion. You must understand this right now, if you intend to survive as an Ahroun; your fury is absolute, immaculate and all-consuming. There are no words in this simple homid language that can accurately describe the intensity of cosmological hatred bound into a mortal form. The pattern of your life is set by the extent to which you can guide this anger, and the direction in which you choose to channel it.
This isn't the kind of brief rage that makes you swear or strikes out or constantly lose control, mind. Many Ahroun are dangerously close to frenzy on a regular basis, but many others are not. Remember this: rage is a tool, never an excuse. Many young Ahroun are shocked by the lack of sympathy they receive from sept elders when their frenzy does irrevocable damage. Luna's fury is not a free pass from moral accountability, though it certainly qualifies as a mitigating factor in some cases. But this isn't the point; your Rage is not only on the surface. It is deep within, a long-term guiding passion in your life. It is a driving urge within your soul, an abhorrence of all that is unclean. It will give you strength when you are weak and warm you when you are cold, if you aren't afraid to use its power. True fulfillment, for us, is found only in destroying those things in this world that truly need to be destroyed, in order for life, joy and justice to prosper. Our hatred is anything but petty, and Luna has been gracious enough to give us a great gift that many homids can only dream of: She has given our existence a set, clear purpose.
In this bleak age, I am sometimes led to believe that the great heroes left the world, or that they never were, and all that remains now is their shells, parody-abominations birthed of dogmatic fury, self-indulgent violence and surrender to hatred. It is your duty to prove me wrong! You must do not only what your tribe expects of you, what your pack hopes for you, what tradition drives you to: you must do what Luna bequeaths you to. You must fulfill your duty, no matter how terrible the cost may be.
Songs of Early DaysEdit
The first Ahroun were the first Garou - it's as simple as that. You all know the origin of our auspice, in a manner of speaking. Perhaps you have heard the tale of how Coyote tricked Gaia into giving him an extra form, and thus werecreatures were born. Surely, the Galliards have told you how Gaia entrusted to each of Her skin-changing races a sacred duty - the Corax being Her messengers, the Nuwisha Her laughter, the Mokole Her memory, and so forth. The Garou, however, were Her protectors - Her warriors. While most auspices have an oral history describing the first Garou to act under a specific moon or a legendary hero that set the mold for the auspice, such tales are very rare for the Ahroun. We were the first, you see - every other auspice defined themselves by how they were different from us.
Now, don't take that to mean that the other Garou are not fulfilling their role as Gaia's protectors - Theurges bring us to understand what it is we fight for. Philodox keep us true to our appointed ways, Ragabash and Galliards defend the emotional and spiritual qualities that Gaia values. But we fulfill the most direct and literal interpretation of our duty, and that makes us the norm from which the others branch off. We are the most ancient auspice, and tragically it is our actions that have defined our race in the eyes of the other Fera. There are a few tribal legends that claim the Ahroun in the earliest days persecuted those who wished to follow another moon-sign. Some legends describe the Uktena and Croatan as "Theurge-like" and "Philodox-like" offshoots of the Wendigo from the most ancient days, driven to form separate tribes when Winter's Children thought their less aggressive bent was heretical. Fortunately, these legends are a minority opinion, contradicted by everything up to and including the Wendigo's moniker as "Younger Brother." Still, cynic that I am, it would not surprise me if the earliest Ahroun believed their way was the only worthy one for all Garou to follow.
Fighters and WarriorsEdit
All Garou are fighters, son. No two ways about it: We are a violent race, and a vicious one at that. In these days where the Wyrm is everywhere, any Garou who is truly helpless in a combat situation is dead weight - and our Nation cannot abide dead weight, not now. Some Garou fight only when they have to, and some fight in highly unusual ways, but we all end up fighting sooner or later. And yes, son, I mean fighting physically - you can bet that every effete Glass Walker businessman, every Child of Gaia emotional healer, every wizened old Uktena shaman has had to tear apart a Bane with his bare hands at one time or another. No werewolf will ever be fully spared bloodshed, regardless of how tidy and metaphorical his preferred method of opposing the Wyrm is.
What, then, distinguishes the Full Moons? We are warriors among fighters, officers among soldiers, the heroes of the battlefield. I make no claim to place us above the other auspices in this; rather, my point is that if fighting is a necessity for all Garou, it is a devotion for the Ahroun. We're career soldiers, and we're expected to do 200% of what every other Garou does on the battlefield because it's our place. Just as the Garou fight to defend Gaia, we fight to defend the Garou - covering their escapes, leading their charges, providing the muscle behind their strategies. It's not always a glorious job - sometimes we're little more than grunts pushing the gears of a more intelligent Philodox's scheme - but we must accept that and keep our place regardless, because nobody else can do what we do as well as we do it. Now more than any other auspice, we are needed, and we cannot waver in our duty. We have the simplest job description of all the auspices, but our duty still has many different facets.
What exactly does our auspice's most common label mean, anyway? What's the difference between a Spirit Warrior and a normal warrior? A Spirit Warrior fights for a higher cause on behalf of a spiritual liege. We are warriors in the name of Gaia, Luna, the Wyld and our pack, sept and tribal totems. In a greater sense, a Spirit Warrior is a warrior against corruption, one who fights for the purity of the spirit worlds. Now, the war for spiritual purity has many facets - Theurges address the metaphysical, Galliards the societal and interpersonal; Philodox nurture psychological strength while Ragabash bring renewal of ideas. But the role of the Spirit Warrior is physical, to destroy the enemies of purity utterly, and while there are many in this age who will tell you violence cannot be a part of lasting spiritual gains, they are quite simply lying. Someone has to excise the corrupt things from this world in order for the work of any of the other auspices to have an impact. We do that; we lead the war to drive back corruption by killing the corrupt, the degenerate and the evil. And all of the Velvate Shadow is cleaner for our acts.
An important offshoot of this is that when Gaian Garou turn their claws against other Gaian Garou, they are betraying the meaning of being a Spirit Warrior. They are no longer fighting under the banner of the spiritual cause, the purity and freedom of the spirit worlds. Rather, they are muddled by worldly things - greed, pride, wrath; choose your favorite Deadly Sin - and have shut themselves off from the spiritual part of their herritage. They're still warriors, of course, but it's not realy correct to call them Spirit Warriors when they're taking life in the name of worldly gains.
Not every Wyrm-slaying begins with a battle. Many Ahroun find themselves in situations where it is their sacred duty to kill beings that realy put up no fight at all. The Galliards rarely sing tales of the Ahroun who quite literally tore apart the fomor who begged for mercy before he died, but that is a situation most Full Moons will find themselves in at one point or another. It falls to our Philodox to judge matters where good and evil are not always clear, but whether it's a ceremonial execution of a Garou traitor at a sept or the simple butchery of human lice, the actual act of carrying out their judgements usually falls to Ahroun. It seems a lot easier to cope with killing something that fights back, and more honorable, but Gaia does not always allow us that luxury. Realy, how much of a struggle can the typical pampered executive put up against a pack of werewolves?
Some Ahroun specialize in taking the lives of those who have no ability to fight back. Hopefully, this isn't done out of malice or the desire for a sick ego-thrill - it's just what is most effective in the given situation, and as I find myself frequently reminding you, we are at war here. Black Fury Ahroun often hunt down those who abuse women, Glass Walkers' "hostile takeovers" of corrupt businesses can involve actual murder, and Uktena Ahroun sometimes swear to kill any outsider who intrudes on their sacred grounds as chiminage to their spirit patrons. In all these cases, the enemy is overcome with the Delirium, and "fight" is simply not an accurate word for what happens here. What can be said, except that we live with it, hopefully avoid enjoying it, and do our duty?
We aren't renowned as intellectuals, though there are more outright brilliant Ahroun than you might suspect at first glance. We can never, however, afford to be stupid - stupidity costs lives and loses wars, and that makes it a betrayal of our duty to Gaia, and as shameful a kind of weakness as any other. Yet tactics are difficult for a mind clouded by Rage, and that's a dilemma many Ahroun face. There are several simple solutions - first of all, it's a Full Moon's responsibility to be planning before a fight or other tactical action, because once the action starts it will be a lot harder to think tactically. Among the more warlike tribes, this often means avoiding the temptation to participate in the revelry that precedes a great battle - and strangely, this is a thorn many of Gaia's greatest warriors fall prey to. The Fenrir and Fianna are particularly infamous for their rough, fatalistic and out-of-control celebrations before battle - honestly, if you step back and look at these festivities objectively, they are comparable to a caricature of a fraternity party, filled with mindless aggression, machismo and quietly laced with glory-hunting and brinkmanship. The honorable Ahroun's place before a battle is listening quietly in the elders' ten, understanding the lay of the battlefield and contributing warrior's wisdom to the planning. Sadly, many of the most renowned Get I know, revered elders of the sept, fail at this simple duty.
We are not the only tacticians of the Garou Nation. Philodox also excel in this role, but in a very different manner from us. Fortunately, it's a case of synthesis, not antithesis. We have an instinct for war that cannot be matched, and are outstanding idea-men at the planning table. We know what compromises simply cannot be made, and being leaders-by-example we always see the forest for the trees. Philodox are more objective and introspective. They take apart a strategy piece by piece, reasoning out its impact on the battlefield and looking at every possible contingency. Specifically, they are much more adept at adjusting a battle plan to account for the impact of modern technology, and knowing when not to attack or for how long to delay an attack. For all our instincts, these are areas that we tend to be blind to, just as the Philodox lack our primal understanding of war. That's why any good Garou planning table has both of our auspices - any tactic devised by one moon sign alone is simply not going to cover all the bases.
Contrary to stereotype, most Ahroun do not have a death wish. Indeed, while killing the enemy is indeed a virtue among us, many subtler victories are won simply by staying standing in the face of pain, suffering and absolute torment. Did you know that of all the auspices, Ahroun are the least likely to enter Harano? It's true - not by a huge margin, mind, but it is true. Others might joke that we can be blind or stupid, but we are also the pillars that the rest of the Garou Nation lean upon. That's what is so gravely concerning to me about our youngest ones - in many septs, they are taught that the best that they can expect is to die with glory, fangs clenched around a Bane. Forgive me for sounding like an old-timer here, but in my day a glorious death didn't win you as much Renown as it does now, more's the shame.
As Ahroun, it is one of our highest duties to survive. Galliards say that particular assignment - to endure - once belonged to the weresharks, damn weird beasties that I've heard they were. Well, we killed them, or at least drove them deep enough into the sea that we won't be exchanging emissaries any time soon. So now it falls to us not to indulge in the decadent selfishness of escaping a painful life with a glorious death, but to survive, and to demonstrate to all the Garou around us that our race can endure one more day, one more year, one more century. We are supposed to be strong, after all, and the greatest strength is found in living, in going on and facing a terrible existence with composure and optimism. And that leads me to the next duty of the Ahroun, cub, which is...
Not fancy artistic shit - that's for the Galliards. I'm talking about inspiration through action. We must not only survive, we must drive others to survive as well. In this age, a deep kind of fatalism is settling in over the Garou Nation. Who can blame us? Europe is still burning, and countless millions lie dead. The atomic fires in Japan cut wounds into the spirit worlds that may never heal. Dresden is ashes; Nanking bleeds. The Leeches are everywhere, scavenger crows picking at the remnants of human suffering. Desperate human farmers hunt wolves more fiercely than ever. Across the ocean, the Kinfolk of the Indian tribes are rotting away in internment camps disguised as schools. Human nations have been sundered, and only now has the full depth of the Wyrm's victory through the Holocaust - through simple human evil - been revealed. Caerns have fallen by the dozens, and in some cities the Umbral sky cannot be seen, obscured by clouds of gibbering Banes. This is what we face, and it may not get much better in ten, twenty or fifty years.
Our duty comes in convincing the other Garou that victory is still a possibility. Truthfully, I'm not sure whether this falls under the realm of deception or revelation - I like to think the latter, but my own reserves of hope are not currently at their best. Still, for all that darkness shrouds the world, we Garou are still a torch casting light into the void. For all the things I am ashamed of my tribe for, I have still never known stronger, harder or more enduring people than my fellow Get. The other tribes, too, give me hope - unlike so many Garou, caught up in the myth of tribal supremacy, I know that each tribe in the Nation serves a purpose. As the Get are the Garou's Strength, so the Fangs are our Majesty, the Uktena our Insight, the Lords our Cunning, the Children our Unity, the Talons our Primal Connection. Too much long-term thinking is a vice, not a virtue. Forget about trying to gauge whether we can win the war - think about whether we can win this battle, right now, or whether we can simply go on living and fulfilling our duties to Gaia for one more day. The answer is a resounding yes. As Garou, we have the strength within us to be heroes; just going through the motions is not enough. It is our sacred duty to Gaia to remind our brothers of this through example, to challenge other Garou to live as well as we do.
Now, I've spoken poorly of glory-hounds, those who fight for their own ego rather than being true Spirit Warriors. But being glorious, winning the hearts and admiration of others, is a very important aspect - no, a duty - of our auspice, because as much as we may take praise, we give hope in return. So yes, bask in the light of your own battle prowess, be a flashy fighter, indulge your ego - do whatever it takes to make them believe they are fighting a war that can actually be won at the side of a legendary hero. If you're lucky, they might end up seeing themselves as heroes as well...
While the Philodox may seem most suited to the task of leadership, the simple truth is that the Garou are a warrior race and Ahroun frequently rise to the top of the pile. Certain tribes - Get of Fenris, Wendigo and Furies, in particular - traditionally place Ahroun in long-term leadership roles. In truth, our kind do not make the best overall leaders among the Garou, even if we often end up in that role. The strength of our Rage, the binding and inherent desire to fire corruption wherever it dwells and breeds, can blind us to the subtler aspects of a situation and grant a bias that makes us easy to manipulate. In truth, Ahroun can be honest and noble beings, but even the most careful and indirect of our number are still blunt weapons when compared to the social grace of a Galliard, the cunning of a Ragabash or devious insight of a Theurge.
But conditional leadership is certainly a part of our job nonetheless. It's ironic you see - our greatest recurring sin is to claim more authority than is our due, yet we have a sacred duty to ensure that every member of our pack will obey our orders without hesitation. The key, of course, is that we're only supposed to be giving orders in military situations. Think of us like the police - we have to maintain authority or enemies will prey on the weak, yet nobody wants a police state. It is, in this old warrior's opinion at least, specifically not the duty of the Full Moons to dictate long-term policy to the Garou Nation as a whole. Garou society is simpler than human society, though, and closer to its roots. While few human politicians could fight to defend their lives, usually anyone in werewolf circles that has political power is able to back up that power with physical power. More and more these days Masters of the Challenge rely on gamecraft and tale-spinning to resolve challenges rather than battle, but the simple truism has not yet been broken by any means, and among Garou I doubt it ever will be.
What the Full Moon should be doing is maintaining her pack from the military perspective, and that does take a degree of authority to accomplish. Every auspice is a tactical asset, even if only we tend to see Garou moon-signs in that light. It's our responsibility to ensure that every member of the pack is fulfilling her tactical, as well as mystical or social duty. A Ragabash must not only be a jester, but a scout, deceiver and agent of espionage. A Theurge must take time out from exploring the higher mysteries in order to make fetishes, bind spirits of war and ensure that the pack will have Umbral support come the time of battle. A Philodox must not only judge laws and conduct rituals, but also tend to the discipline and psychological combat fitness of her packmates. A Galliard dare not grow so involved in mythology that she is unable to use her social skill to help her pack move easily throughout human society in times of need. The Ahroun must coordinate all this, ensuring that the diverse skills of the auspices are well applied to the craft of war when the time comes. When a tactical judgment call needs to be made now, and lives are on the line, that is when an Ahroun is justified in stepping forward and claiming the mantle of the leader.
It's been said that faith is good, while blind faith is bad. I would say the same thing about obedience. Many Ahroun demand positions of leadership and power, seeing it as their privilege as warriors. However, the Garou Nation benefits the most, perhaps, from those who are willing to do what they are told, to provide the brute force necessary to complete some Philodox or Theurge's agenda. There is no dishonor in being a willing instrument of someone greater than yourself; and on many occasions it has been us, the Ahroun, who have brought about some great victory for the Garou, simply by doing what others decided was needed.
Yes. Say it. Roll it around on your tongue and think about what it means to you, beyond comic books and war bond posters. Most people think of heroes as being solely in the domain of fiction, not things one finds in our sorry world. But we are expected to be heroes nevertheless, to embody nobility and fight for what we believe is right. We are supposed to be an example to the Garou around us, to lead by example, to do the right thing. "Right," in this case, is often judged by a ruthlessly pragmatic standard, our war being as desperate as it is, but there is still - or at least should be - the essence of selfless sacrifice somewhere in there.
At our best, we remind those around us that "warrior" is not a dirty word, that sometimes brute force can make the world a better place - or more likely at least slow it's descent into the pit of corruption somewhat. Not so many people in this grim age believe in the existence of real heroes, but it's important that we do. I've seen real, genuine heroism - the lives of innocent people (and by that I mean both humans and wolves) preserved and made better by our auspice's valor. We must believe in the possibility of true heroism - belief makes reality, and that kind of faith (not solipsism, mind - just open-eyed faith) in ourselves separates a person prone to spasm of nihilistic violence from a Spirit Warrior.
Instincts and MindsetEdit
There are two great, comforting lies about Rage that circulate and poison Garou society: that it is uncontrollable and that it is mindless. The instincts of the Ahroun are simple and straightforward: respond to aggression in kind. You feel this in your heart, even though you do not fully understand it. We are inclined to respond to insult or corruption with anger and fury, and we often rely on our companions to temper our rasher impulses. Never underestimate the intensity of your aggressive instincts, child; part of your duty as an Ahroun is learning to control them so that those around you are safe. Rage is a tool, not a master; what you do with it is your responsibility.
Many many Full Moons secretly like to believe Rage is beyond their ability to master. After all, many of us have at one time or another given way to frenzy and hurt or killed something that we had no right to harm. It becomes so much easier to live with these memories if we believe we had no choice in the matter. "It was not Fangs-Of-Might who tore apart that Kin girl who called him a coward," I've heard it said, "it was his Rage. He couldn't help himself." Like Rage is some kind of external agency that acts on us from without, making us do things we'd never realy want to do. So he bears no responsibility for his actions by virtue of frenzy - how very convenient. Of course, there are a great many Garou who do manage to control their actions regardless, which shows this way of thinking for the pscyhological crutch that it is.
To be fair to the individuals, Garou society does not castigate Ahroun the way it sometimes should. There might be a moderate Renown loss at most for an Ahroun who kills a human (or wolf) ally in a fit of fury, while a fellow human would face a lifetime in jail. Other Garou assume that violence is our legacy, and that we should not be held responsible for frenzy and acts of passion. In this manner, Rage stops being a burden and becomes an excuse, a justification for moral and psychological weakness. This cannot be tolerated, and the sooner the Nation's powers that be realize that murder is murder, the better off we will all be. Enough about this; on to the second lie - this one believe more commonly by those outside Garou society than within, but still a grave misunderstanding.
Our Rage is hardly mindless - it is a directed anger; it has a purpose. We do, shamefully, Rage upon our allies and upon the innocent on occasion, but anyone who has felt the Wyrm knows that is not the reason that Rage is given to us. Wyrm corruption evokes a skin-crawling kind of loathing in us that is very difficult to articulate in words, and that very quickly leads us to an antediluvian urge, a primal fury that burned hot when the world was still young. It is almost as if we become a vessel, a sapient shell inhabited by Gaia or Luna as these mighty goddesses strike against their hated enemies. I have no better words than these to describe what the source of our aggression feels like then these, but I would ask you to think on this: the humans have no Rage.
They lie with evil easily, compromising their ethics whenever it is necessary for their survival or prosperity. Often, this ability they have to make compromises even lets them avoid bloodshed, suffering and needless loss - I'm not insulting the humans here. But it has always horrified me, that so many of them have lost the capacity to feel true anger when they witness that which they know is wrong, is sick and evil - only acceptance and a numb kind of apathy. And so the Wyrm moves silently throughout their society, winning more converts every day. I believe the world has a desperate need of creatures who still have the ability to be moved into a killing fury by injustice and corruption, who hate the darkness in the abstract rather than just opposing it when practicality demands. All of Gaia's creatures adapt specific traits in order to fulfill the niche in which Her Natural Order places them. Our niche is the hunter, the slayer, and Gaia has given us Rage for a reason.
Now, you have to understand this. Others in Garou society are often going to view you as a brute or a warmonger, simply because of your moon-sign. In many ways, they are right. Our highest virtue is also our greatest weakness: we do not, can not, compromise with evil. Ever. The Wyrm must be fought wherever it dwells and wherever it breeds - no other auspice holds up this tenet of the Litany as tenasciously as ours does. But our relentless aggression also makes us easy target for manipulation: you can be as much a scholar, a peace-maker or a thinking man as you want, and these things might even make you a better warrior - but every Garou knows that under that facade lurks the Rage of an Ahroun, and it doesn't take much taunting to bring that Rage to the surface. This simple truth gives others power over you, and that power often leads to condescension or disregard. As soon as you get involved in sept politics, your rivals will automatically know what button to push, and that can hurt you tremendously.
Some Ahroun try to compensate for this by embracing the ideal of civilization whole-heartedly, trying to push aside their instincts to make themselves into icily controlled master socialites and manipulators. Woe unto them I say: Gaia has made you a simple being, and there is just one thing that you do very well indeed. When an Ahroun tries to remake himself as a complicated person, a being in truth more suited to human society than Garou, he loses something of the simplicity of purpose that Gaia granted him, the power of his aggressive instincts. The same anger that makes you some obnoxious Ragabash's bitch with a little casual button-pressing will also give you the power to tear our a Bane's throat while that Ragabash is cowering in a corner somewhere. If we are brutes, then so be it: we are what Gaia has ordained us to be, and I will not allow myself to be made to believe that anything more "complex" or "nuanced" is needed for us to be worthy creatures.
Ahroun across the TribesEdit
Diversity is among the greatest strengths of the Garou Nation, and as any Fenrir knows we need every shred of strength we have in this age. All Gaia's warriors fight in different ways, but everyone still fights under Her banner.
The enmity between the Black Furies and my own tribe is legendary, but I hope you'll trust me when I say I bear the tribe as a whole no ill will. Still, speaking as an Ahroun myself, their Full Moons terrify me. We Get have the unique ignominy of having morally stumbled very, very badly with regard to the Jewish peoples; I fear that I see many of the same danger signs in Fury Rage. They bear the terrible mix of righteous ideology, isolation from their "enemy" (I've never met a Fury that I realy thing understood men, beyond stereotypes and accusations) and a growing hatred and frusteration - this cannot end well. Pray to Gaia for their souls, child. Sexism is a disease, and a disease cannot be fought with hatred alone. It might be comforting for many to believe there are powerful "protectors" out there ready to turn rapists and wife-beaters into pastrami, but our world is rarely that black and white, and many offend women who do not deserve to be killed. Blood, terror and death do little to offset complex social maladies like poverty or misogyny, but they are the only things we have to fight with. I suspec Furies with less Rage have done more to better the ways of women in the world than their Ahroun have.
The Bone Gnawers give me hope on the poverty front, though. Their Full Moons make incredibly devious fighters, mixing the creativity and stealth that is usually characteristic of Ragabash with the ability to stand toe to toe and trade blows of an Ahroun. They also respect their Theurges and Philodox, and they know their place in the tribe rather than trying to run the whole show. More importantly, they bear the mantle of Rage well - the uniquely self-depreciating humor their tribe is famous for erodes ego madness before it becomes a danger. Despite their social standing, though, Gnawer Ahroun are still primal and vicious creatures, and they more than any others embody the Ahroun as the ultimate survivor. Not all are shining paragons, of course - Rage leads many of them to get involved in brutal gang violence, or to hate those who have greater financial prosperity than they. Still, they deserve a lot more admiration than they get. For a tribe that supposedly exalts strength and endurance, we Fenrir can be pretty blind when it comes to perceiving the presence of these qualities in Gnawer Ahroun, and other Garou aren't much better.
Child of GaiaEdit
The Child of Gaia Ahroun is not nearly as much a paradox as many think. Unity brings strength to all Garou, and inter-tribal warfare is effectively a willing surrender to the Wyrm. Do not mistake peace for weakness cub; these are warriors who are willing to defend the cause of peace unto their last breath. The real tragedy, though, is the lack of respect they receive from their fellows. I've argued against Ahroun being at the top by default, but for all we sacrifice and all we suffer in Gaia's name, we certainly don't belong at the bottom either! Warrior Children who have performed acts any other tribe would dub heroism often find their fellows distinctly cool toward them for months on end, simply because they don't have the stomach to accept that some people need to die. A shameful situation.
Fianna Ahroun shine like the sun - often gifted with great beauty and charisma, they seem like legendary heroes reborn, modern knights of a metaphorical round table. Like Lancelot, though, hubris is as often as not their undoing. Like many Fianna, they have a slightly romantic outlook on the world, but for a vessel of inhuman fury romanticism - or any distortion of realism - is a tragedy waiting to happen. Killers cannot afford the luxury of rose-tinted glasses, and far too many Fianna "heroes" seem to believe they are living in a storybook. Ego runs deeper in the Fianna than in any other tribe, and mixed with Rage it can become like a moist, ancient greenhouse - a domain ripe with rot and psychological mildew. Passions are not just entertaining playthings; they are all-consuming, moving, frequently destructive and always mercurial. The Fianna embody passion, and their Ahround mix with that passion the physical ability to rend asunder any lesser being. That is all I will deign to say about them.
Get of FenrisEdit
And of my own tribe, the Get of Fenris? We have fallen, oh, how gravely, but Fenris' children are strong. We have, I hope, excised Hitler's poison from all but the fringes of our tribe, and I believe that as a tribe we will never make the mistake of surrendering to hatred that way again. We still suffer the illnesses of ego madness, blind aggression and Ahroun leadership, but we have great strength as well, and now I believe we are learning the ability to temper and guide our anger. Perhaps. I pray at least.
I am terrified, in truth; no other tribe has recently been as blinded by Rage-madness as my own. Yet we are great, as well, and though tarnished our strength is still potent. Let this be a lesson about strength, cub: weakness is not always apparent, and not all kinds of strength show themselves on the field of battle. I would hope the Fenrir are strong not only in our battle prowess, but in our ability to endure painful truths and salvage our tattered honor. Only time will tell if we may yet make atonement for our brief but unspeakable surrender to weakness, however.
Glass Walker Ahroun apply violence like a scalpel, using it as a tool in social engineering. They often serve as enforcers to the rest of their tribe, protecting criminal holdings and ensuring that the Wyrm's servants must face the Walkers on the financial terrain they prefer rather than being able to attack directly. They often end up acting as grunts and bodyguards, and my impression is that while some are happy to serve honorably others grow dissatisfied with their role in the tribe and desire a greater place in the sun. Many more individualistic Walker Ahroun shun packs and claim a particular area of their city as a protectorate, working to keep it free of Wyrm taint and protect the people who dwell therein. Noble though this intent may be, I cannot help but believe the Walkers who follow the path their elders set out for them end up doing more good for the tribe than their free-spirited cousins.
An interesting observation: when they get over their prejudices of each other as "Wyrmbringers" and "primitives" the Glass Walker and Uktena Ahroun rank up among the most effective complementary pairings the Garou Nation has to offer. Both tribes specialize in the thoughful approach to war: hitting the enemy where it hurts, planning ahead and choosing their violent acts for long term social and spiritual impact. The combination of worldly ways and mystical insight makes for an exceptionally adept and well-rounded team, and these two tribes' Spirit Warriors work together more than most auspices would tend to expect, going by stereotypes.
Red Talon Spirit Warriors...oh, Gaia, they have my pity and my compassion always. Homids so often assume that for all their hatred the Talons carry on an idyllic friendship with their lupine cousins. Fools - don't they understand that the Curse cuts even deeper on the lupus side than it does for homids? Talon Ahroun are filled with hatred, and coming from a lupine upbringing to which hatred is alien, they have little ability to understand, moderate or control it. They are responsible for much of their tribe's negative reputation as warmongers, psychopaths and human-killers, in truth - the Talon auspices with less Rage are more like their true wolf cousins in temperament. I'm certainly not trying to justify the murder of humans, here - all I'm saying is that the typical Garou gains so much from his homid side, and without that the Talon warrior is entirely at the mercy of the terrible and alien instincts of Rage. No one who is not a Talon, I think, realy understands how terrifying, entrapping and alien the world seems from their eyes. Can we blame them for snapping on occasion?
The Shadow Lords' warriors are as brutal and ruthless as the stories make them out to be, but in this age I could argue that as a virtue rather than a flaw. they also seem to possess a kind of genuine honesty the rest of the tribe lack - not that they aren't Machiavellian; I'm talking about a deeper sort of honesty here. There is a genuine ideology behind their actions, a devout belief that the weak must submit to the strong, and evil originates when the reverse occurs. They make some good points too - so much corruption festers in homid society because good men have no ambition, bowing to weak and decadent leaders who are but a sad echo of their subjects' strength. While I'm certainly not privy to the internal affairs of the Shadow Lords, I might speculate that their warriors are often exploited by Ragabash, Theurges and other Lord auspices more likely to value duplicity over strength. Regardless, they're the Lords most likely to view those weaker than them as subjects rather than pawns, and when they do find a truly strong and competent leader, they'll defend his regency unto death. That counts for something with me, personally.
The Silent Striders are often seen as a peaceful tribe, but their ancient (and tenaciously fought!) war with the Egyptian Leeches should put that myth to rest. The Strider Ahroun's deeds are not often sung of, and they are the antithesis of the ostentatious Fianna or regal Silver Fang. Yet anonymous heroism is still heroism, and I suspect the Strider Ahroun' most glorious acts are witnessed only by the sand, and by their tribal spirits of Renown. They certainly don't brag about them at moots like every other sane Garou! I would include a word also about the truly unique and creative methods the Striders have developed for combat over the centuries. They use their movement Gifts to their best advantage, tending to be highly tactical fighters, and they choose their battles well. As messengers, suppliers, scouts and assassins these Ahroun have been facilitators to hundred of great victories against the Wyrm, even if they publicly claim credit for very few.
William had a lot of rather acerbic comments about the Silver Fangs in his original diatribe, including some disturbingly prophetic thoughts about Jacob Morningkill. I've cut them out because they are the one part of his spiel that is so clearly dated; William died before King Albrecht was ever born. I think a mention of the Ahroun of Ahroun is very appropriate here, because it provides a very effective counterpoint to the strange heresy William keeps putting forth that Ahroun make poor leaders. I can understand how bleak the world must have looked to him then, looking back at the Holocaust with a heart filled with inborn hatred. But Albrecht has gone forth and proven what William seems so desperate to believe: you can be filled with Rage and still be a good man at the core. I think that if William were still alive today, he would be very proud of Albrecht, and that he would also experience a kind of indescribable elation, a sense of spiritual reassurance, through his mere existence.
About the Silver Fang Spirit Warriors in the modern milieu: Albrecht has succeeded in his 'inspiration' aspect of his auspice's duties beyond his wildest aspirations. Many young Fang warriors model themselves in his image, seeing a chance to escape the crushing stasis of their elders. These Ahroun strive to be trendsetters, not followers, and often draw the ire of their elders in their desire to rebuild the image of the tribe. They're all over themselves, in truth, and the tribe as a whole is more than a little chaotic as the old is blown away to make room for the new. Must of this means coming down out of their ivory towers and interacting with the world - Albrecht's "street level" adventures inspired many other Ahroun to leave their manses and glens in search of real life and honest war-craft. Still, they're striving desperately to live up to the image of the modern hero, and in that I cannot fault them.
The Stargazers embody the power of fury under discipline. By honing their will, they are able to channel their passion into tremendous martial feats. They control Rage perhaps better than any other Garou tribe, on average, but this does not mean that they are against its use. Just the opposite, in fact; their spiritual focus gives them a tremendous, if slow-burning, fury against that which they consider debased. Stargazers also have a tremendous respect for duty in general, due in part to their cultural ideas about Dharma, and as such this lends their Ahroun a greater degree of humility than those of other tribes: like Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, it is their duty to fight on behalf of the gods and spirits; they merely recognize their destiny and obey. Stargazers make thinking warriors, Ahroun who focus more upon honing their skills then questing or glory, striving to embody some of the blood, thunder and elemental power found in Indian and Chinese epics.
Uktena make precise and effective warriors. Their tribe is led quite thoroughly by their Theurges, and so their warriors don't get the same kind of press that, say, Fenrir Ahroun do. But I've had the honor to work with Uktena Spirit Warriors, and I can attest to their courage and their competence. The two words that most come to mind regarding them are "surgical strike" they know exactly where to hit an enemy to hurt him most, and their tribe has the best military intelligence of any I've seen. Unlike most Ahroun, Uktena take little pleasure in casual violence; Get Rage burns hot, while Uktena Rage is cold and calculated. They excel at military planning and whenever they fight, there is an objective in their minds - often seizing a mystical item or learning a potent secret.
I'm not going to speak ill of the many great Fenrir heroes I have known that waded headlong into ferocious battle, but sometimes a more directed strike at a subtler enemy is needed. Uktena and Walker Ahroun specialize in that - finding the most horrible kind of enemy, the kind that hides behind walls of bureaucracy, misdirection and hoary secrets and forcing them out of their shells to be gutted in the harsh light of day.
Their methods of training Full Moons put influence on honor, discipline and reverence of the spirits above glory-hounding, which in my eyes means they tend to produce a better breed of Ahroun than most. Fetishes are highly valued as a sign of glory by Uktena, so you can expect their blooded warriors to carry a nice bag of extra magic tricks to augment their already flexible Gifts as well. One final note about Uktena warriors; I've noticed that a lot of them seem to have an incredible faculty for memorization; I'm not sure why, but it might have something to do with being able to read documents at a hostile site and then put them back undisturbed. But that's just speculation...
Wendigo Ahroun remind me of my own people in many ways - wild, angry, violent, macho, bloody and reveling in every minute of it. Yet, there is a greater pain there, a deep and cutting shame. I wonder how the Get would cope with losing as much as they have, our Kin herded into reservations, laden with foreign diseases, addicted to drink supplied by Wyrm agents and forcefully converted to false religions in a terrifying cultural impergium. Yes, I understand why the Wendigo are angry, why they hate my tribe, and they have my compassion for all that they have lost. I also recognize the tremendous strength they demonstrate, both in fighting the literal manifestations of the Wyrm and in enduring beneath the weight of the lot to which their human Kin have been subjected. They excel at fulfilling the inspirational duty of the Ahroun, and in wiping away that shame with pride, fortitude and traditional virtue.
But there is also a grimmer side to these cunning heroes. More so than any other tribe, they have surrendered to hatred, and in their Rage-madness some of them are killing everything their tribe is sworn to protect. How much better off might their Indian Kinfolk be if their tribe was as levelheaded as the Uktena or Shadow Lords? their weakness is not so unlike our weakness was in our darkest hour: I remember Mother Germany as she was under the Treaty of Versailles, our children growing up in squalor so that British and French nobles could gild their houses with fine architecture. I remember what that shame felt like, how deeply the anger burned. And I will never be able to forget the mistake that anger led the Get to make. It's a cause for hope, then, when I see how many young Wendigo warriors turn away from the prejudices of their elders and work to make the tribe a relevant and powerful part of the Garou Nation, putting aside old grievances and working toward common goals with the European Garou. It doesn't seem that, as winter gives way to spring, each new generation of Garou, however much smaller, brings a new perspective to their tribe. Nowhere are these youthfull spirits mode needed than among the Wendigo.
Black Spiral DancersEdit
And of course, the Black Spiral Ahroun rightfully terrify us - there is no noble spirit of competition here, no sportsmanlike love of the conflict. There is only the absolute necessity that they must be made dead, now, by any means possible. Truthfully, they strike a disturbing chord with us, just as I imagine their Ragabash do with Gaian Ragabash, their Theurges to our Theurges and so forth. Nobody wants to fight themselves, symbolically or not. When a young Garou first meets the Spirals, they seem so alien, so horrific in their mad violence. But then later in life, she will eventually see a Gaian Ahroun plastered with the blood of the innocent and puffed full with the joy of killing, and the crazed Spiral warriors will no longer seem so alien. That, in truth, is exactly what the Spiral Ahroun are: our darkest destiny, what we become when we surrender our duty and embrace hubris utterly. A Dancer Theurge might truly love the Wyrm - I don't know - but their Ahroun love only themselves. Without duty, without selfless devotion, all they have left is ego, and violence, and a hungry kind of hatred that will never be sated, no matter how much it is fed.
I wonder how like the modern Get the White Howlers were, all those years ago...are you shocked that I might say that about my own tribe, cub? Be shocked.
Role in the PackEdit
Many auspices have a complex and nuanced role to play in pack missions, but ours is dead simple: It is your duty to take the front line, to lead the charge and to shield your packmates from any physical harm. This does not mean that a packmate of a different auspice should be allowed to grow weak or infirm, but they will often be addressing other issues - banishing a hostile spirit, trying to break into a guarded complex, seeking out a fetish with mystical sight - and it's your responsibility to ensure they have the safety and the time they need to do that. When a packmate fails in battle, you as the Ahroun share her dishonor, because it is your responsibility to provide the military support and guidance she needs to ensure she does not fail.
End of Story.
As filled with Rage as we are, many Ahroun begin their existance as werewolves with a First Change that is even more violent than normal. You hear a lot of stories about how a nascent Garou discovered her heritage tearing apart would-be muggers, rapists or SS types terrorizing her neighbors. These are the First Change stories sung at moots, because as visceral and bloody as they are, they are still the comforting type. Many Garou have it far, far worse in that department. The Change is brought on by intense stress, terror or feelings of aggression and human nature being what it is, that means that it is often a condescending teacher, annoying younger brother, or accusing parent that bears the full brunt of the newly-fledged werewolf's Rage. Ironically, woman seem more prone to this particular kind of tragedy than men - males learn very early on how much harm they can cause by lashing out physically, but human women don't have as much training in that area. Regardless, many Ahroun of both genders carry the secret of the true circumstances surrounding their First Change to their grave with them. Certainly, some Ahroun have happier beginnings than these, but blood and death are not uncommon in the opening chapter of an Ahroun's existence.
The Rite of Passage for an Ahroun varies little across the tribes - it's one tradition no one will dare to change. Ahroun come of age in a life-fire test, a visceral combat against a live Wyrm creature. The weaker tribes make sure that the Rite is "safe" - there are elders nearby to bail out the cub if he loses the fight. Other tribes are not so nurturing - my own Get, the Fianna and the Wendigo all have many stories of Rites of Passage ending in a fatality. But a lone, tiny Bane or fomor is still not a match for even an untrained Garou, and once Ahroun instincts take over, victory is the common outcome.
Stop and think about how that must feel, though; you're a typical teenager, maybe a little emotional and a bit of a loner due to the Curse, and you have just gutted another probably sapient being with your bare hands. Your face and fur are plastered with blood and other discharges, and every ounce of prior socialization you've ever had is telling you that what you just did is an atrocity - remember, you're a cub; you probably don't realy understand the Wyrm. And then around you, everyone is cheering - they're busy telling you you're a hero, a paragon, a great warrior in the making. For the first time in your short life, you find real acceptance. Think about the impact of that. It explains a lot about our auspice, realy.
The tragic truth is that most young Ahroun are taught to grow up as glory-hounds - more willing to die for Gaia then to live well in Her name. There tends to be a very high turnover rate among us, both naturally as we are the front line shock troops of the Garou Nation, and unnaturally due to the haze of fatalism and despair that has crept over the Garou Nation since the Great War. As with most Garou auspices and human professions alike, youth is a time of little forethought and little introspection, but our kind sometimes exaggerates this to almost a caricature. Rashness is forgiven, particularly if it led to a victory this time. Many things that would get another Garou taken to task by the elders are ignored in an Ahroun, particularly in a purebred one who shows great prowess in his early battles. A number of quick and brutal battles with Wyrm-beasts often leads an Ahroun into middle-age before his natural time - we pass through the early Ranks with less chronological age than the other auspices; unlike Honor and especially Wisdom, Glory does not take ages of study and training to accumulate. It just takes luck, victory and a good reputation.
There comes a time in every Ahroun's life when a choice must be made, even though the vast majority never even realize it is put before them. The choice is between ego and duty, between selfish solipsim and honorable service to a higher spiritual power. The greatest temptation an Ahroun will ever face is to believe the things that make life easy to live. You've heard them all before: As an Ahroun, the greatest share of the glory, the first kill, the best fetishes are mind by right, and it's my duty to claim them. The Bastet/Glass Walkers/Shadow Lords/Namebreakers/Jews/Metis are as much the enemy as the Wyrm is, and it's my duty to kill them. I am clearly the best leader my pack/sept/tribe could have, and thus it's my duty to claim power. The war can never possibly be won anyway, so it's my duty to die a glorious death. Clearly, duty becomes somewhat less of a burden when you get to choose what it is. This is what differentiates being a hero from being a caricature of a hero.
Fewer Ahroun survive to be elders than any other auspice, at least among the more violent tribes. Those that do are canny and powerful veterans of a thousand battles, and suffer the additonal responsibility of living without most normal checks and balances - usually, no other being in the nearby area can challenge the might of an Ahroun elder. That gives them a dangerous freedom from the consequences of their own actions, at least for the amount of time it takes to do great damage to the Nation. Those who have surrendered to ego become the tyrants of the sept, hoary old beasts living in echoes of the glory of their past deeds and using brute force to crush any who offend them. This kind of Ahroun elder isn't always obvious - sometimes he makes an excellent tactical leader, bringing his sept to victory after victory, and so they are popular and respected in the Nation overall. But once a sept has embraced the kind of dictatorship of glory this Ahroun elder offers, it grows subtly diseased, and like an Aztec temple it constantly needs new blood spilt to sutain itself. It can then only be a matter of time until all the obvious manifestations of the Wyrm nearby are destroyed, and the Ahroun begins seeing his neighboring septs less as equals and allies and more as juicy potential conquests. Soon, Garou will turn claw and fang against Garou, and Luna will weep for the one who has betrayed his duty so gravely...
Role in the SeptEdit
The Ahroun's first and foremost role in any sept is military. Young Ahroun act as the sept's shock troops, participating in raids, tactical strikes and other offensive actions on the elders' behalf. Most Full Moons have few aualms with being used in this manner, as it's the most rapid path to glory and advancement for an Ahroun. Elder Ahroun still fight on behalf of the sept, but their positions are more often defensive - right or wrong. Garou society still places more emphasis on protecting caerns than on taking the fight to the Wyrm. This is sold tactics in a conflict of poor odds, actually; gambits and risks don't tend to pay off the way they do in the movies. Glory-mad Ahroun sometimes insist on leading raiding parties even when they belong in the caern; this can be particularly tragic, as no Warder should ever be off leading an attack and leaving her sept exposed to danger.
The two sept positions most often justly held by Ahroun are Wyrm Foe and Warder - both of these require a potent warrior and mix glory with duty, making them highly desireable to Full Moons. The post of Wyrm Foe is open to lower-ranked Ahroun and does not mean being tied to the sept, making it singularly the most coveted title among young Ahroun, and the cause of far more challenges, bitterness and politicking than it should rightly be. The Warder is a more stable position, and one worthy of a great deal of respect; a Warder is not only one of the most powerful Garou warriors in existence, he is one who has decided to put his devotion to duty above the privilege and glory of leading offensives. A Warder often leads a very slow existence, but it's a righteous one none the less.
Ahroun rarely claim the highly ritualistic sept positions such as Ritemaster, Master of the Howl or Caller of the Wyrld. There are a few cases where you might see an Ahroun in an unusual position, however. Firstly, some septs so idolize war and militarism that all the significant sept titles are awarded to Full Moons by default, as no other auspice is considered worthy. Obviously, such a sept is deeply imbalanced, inept in the ways of spiritualism and tradition - but often they just don't care. There are brighter reasons to find an Ahroun in an unconventional position, however. Sometimes an Ahroun of high Rank is as deeply devoted to Honor as Glory, and finds himself in a position where he must remain in the bounds of a reasonably safe sept every hour of every day, just in order to fulfill his duty as Warder or Guardian. These Full Moons often take on additional ritual tasks (including even the role of ritemaster) both to express their supreme devotion to the spirits and to keep themselves busy in times of peace. Other Ahroun simply have unusual aptitudes their elders deem it fit to take advantage of. Regardless, what a sept with Ahroun in ritualistic posts lacks in formality and tradition, it frequently makes up for in the sheer sincerity of its devotions; few beings understand sacrifice and duty in the name of Gaia as an Ahroun does, and that loyalty comes across in any rites or howls they lead.
How much the Council of Elders is dominated by Full Moons depends on the sept and the tribe. I've heard that among Children of Gaia and Stargazer septs we have little council voice at all. In the more warlike tribes, the Council is often dominated completely by Ahroun. The healthiest mix is surely somewhere in the middle, with Ahroun Councilors offering the military perspective. Theurges offering the spiritual, Ragabash challenging preconceptions and Philodox balancing it all to reach the final decision. Sadly, with modern Garou numbers that's almost never a reality. In septs where an Ahroun has wormed his way up to being sept leader, you rarely see a powerful Council of Elders moderating his power. Full Moons do not share authority well, and have a tragic tendency to crush those who stand in their way.
This category has only the following subcategory.
- [+] Ahroun (1 C)