No moonlight shone down on the caern, and only the bright eyes of the assembled host glittered in the torchlight. Things had been fairly standard at the moot, with ceremony, songs and drink. Now came one of the best parts, at least to the minds of most Fianna: the tale telling. One of the lupus nudged her packmate with a cold nose
"Go ahead. You tell it"
The young Moon Dancer shrugged. "I don't know. Seems like it could use a few more details, and..."
"Tell it!" urged her companion, a tawny wolf with hazel eyes. "The time is right. The moon is new. Tell the tale."
"Well...okay." The Galliard stood then, and her septmates watched her expectantly.
"I have a tale to share," she began, "one about our wise leader when he was just a cub, fresh from the First Change, wet behind the ears." Chuckles circled among the crowd, but they stilled quickly to listen. "We have a strong tradition of teaching here in the Sept of Bridget's Blessing, and this is a story of learning and lessons. Many of you no doubt think that young Gleam in His Eye gathered his first wisdom at the foot of a Gibbous Moon, such as himself." She snuck a quick glance at her lupus packmate, who grinned, knowing what was coming. "I'm here to say that for her own reasons, his first sept leader gave him over to one of the New Moons, of the tribe of Bone Gnawers. I see the questions in your eyes. Why would a wise Half Moon do such a seemingly foolish thing? What could one who had fame as a questioner and rebel teach a cub whose destiny was to travel, sing and carry on our legends?"
The Moon Dancer sat, all eyes still upon her, "Listen, then, and I will weave the tale."
By Dark of the MoonEdit
Ian woke to the annoying stab of a sharp-toed cowboy boot in his ribs. Squinting against the sun coming in the window, he saw Andrea towering over him. Dammit, didn't she ever sleep? Last night, she'd told jokes around the fire until the wee hours, and this morning, she looked as if she'd never missed a wink. He groaned.
"Up and at 'em, pretty boy," she laughed, her Texas twang stinging his ears. "What a wimp. Come on, we got things to do, people to see, places to be."
"Unhhh. What time is it?" Ian mumbled.
"After noon, and you've had at least four hours sleep. Get up." The toe poked him again, much harder this time. "God, I'd heard the Fianna were a bunch of lazy boozers, but you take the cake, kid."
Ian felt a thread of anger strike him, then shoved it aside. "Okay, I'm up, I'm up." He rolled to his feet and rubbed the sleep from his face. "What's so damn important we have to get up this early, anyway?" The Ragabash cocked her head at his idea of "early."
"A ride into the city. Our illustrious leader has given you to me to tend this month, and it's time you started learning a thing or two about life."
The young man looked confused. "I don't get it. I thought I'd like start learning from another Galliard. No offense," he added quickly, "but you weren't born under the same moon. So, why are you teaching me?"
The Ragabash chuckled. "Maybe they're taking pity on you by saving the millions of songs, dances and chants for later. Or it could be they want to torture you a bit by letting you hang with me and my buds. Hell, I don't know. But when Blaze gives an order, I generally try to obey, unless it's damn clear she's not thinking straight. And I've never known that to happen." She tossed him a sweatshirt and jeans off the floor. "Not that you aren't cute and all, but it ain't Mardi Gras, and the Big Easy fuzz might have something to say about a naked teenager. I'll wait for you outside."
Ian shook his head and got dressed.
Ian hadn't imagined a werewolf would drive a car, but Andrea did, an ugly, pea-green Volkswagen. She parked it on Jackson Square, not even bothering to lock the doors. Small wonder, thought Ian; somebody would have to be nuts to steal that repulsive thing.
"I'm starving. Let's get a bite," said Andrea, and pretty soon, they were diving into big muffalettas and downing a couple of Dixie Blackened Voodoos, sitting on an isolated bench by the river.
"Well, let's see. I guess I need to start by talking about myself. I'm a New Moon, a Ragabash. That much you knew already. But I bet you don't realy have a clue about what it is we do for our people as a whole, do you?"
"Uh, I think you guys sort of keep things light and stop the fights and such, right? And you play pranks?" Ian tried frantically to remember things he'd learned before his Rite of Passage, but he was drawing a blank.
Andrea nodded. "Not bad. that's certainly part of what it means to be a New Moon. But it's a small fraction of the whole. Take your own auspice, for example. Are all Galliards musicians? Hell no. Likewise, not all of us are comedians.
"Here's a story for you, the birth of the first Ragabash. Long ago, when the world was new and all that, Gaia got bored. She'd made things as she wanted, but it was just too perfect. Who's that chick the Black Furies are always talking about...oh, yeah, Arachne. The point is when something is flawless, it's an affront to nature. So Gaia decided, along with her pal Luna, that werewolves born under the new moon would get to be symbols of how if people try too hard to be perfect, stuffy, over-impressed with themselves, they need a good swift kick in the butt."
"I thought the honor of imperfection went to the metis," Ian remarked dryly. Sounds like she got this story off a bathroom wall, he thought to himself.
Andrea shook her head. "Quit interrupting my tale here. You may be the Galliard, but I still get to hold my tail higher than yours. Where was I? Oh, the purpose of the New Moons. Right. In general, then, we're what's called 'the questioners of the way.' We get to bring some levity to the whole gig, too. Good God, we'd kill ourselves if we didn't have something to laugh about occasionally. You and I both know it's a serious job to be one of Gaia's warriors, but too much of this stern and lofty bullshit saps strength. We can make peace, or take it away. We can poke holes in the best-laid plans of the Ahroun and the Half-Moon, and save everyone's ass in the process."
Ian thought a minute. "So you sort of make sure the packs don't take themselves too seriously while also running interference and testing resolve."
Andrea beamed. "Exactly. You're a bright boy. Catch on pretty fast."
Well Known WitEdit
"Well, I guess I'd better fill you in on the well known New Moons, 'cause if you can't answer a bunch of questions about history and current events, I'll be the one who gets in trouble." Andrea polished off her beer and tossed the bottle into the garbage. "C'mon, we're gooing to go meet a buddy of mine. You'll like him, even if he is a geek."
Ian walked along beside her, soaking up the ambiance of the old city. It seemed longer than the six months he'd come here with his parents, only to find that there was more to his heritage than he'd ever though possible. And a lot more crap in the world than he'd been ready to take.
"Ever read The Phantom Tollbooth?" Andrea asked, interrupting his thoughts of the past.
"Uh, can't say that I have," said Ian.
"Too bad. I found a copy in some rich brat's bookbag on this very street. He sure hadn't been reading it, so I borrowed it. Good stuff, should be required reading for any New Moon. Anyway, you can think of this as your mytho-poetic journey. You're not going to meet any dogs named Tock, but I guarantee you'll find the people you do meet pretty interesting. Fodder for future stories." they rounded a couple more corners and turned into a back street alley. Andrea knocked on a metal door and waited. A minute later, it opened with a creak. Ian followed her inside to what looked like Nasa's mission control.
Computers took up most every square inch of space, and what hardware didn't cover, papers did, along with some dried substance that smelled like stale pizza. The computers weren't your average desktop models, either, but big servers with lots of blinking lights. Ian could find his way around the average PC, but not this stuff. The rectangular room was dim, walls concealed by newspaper clippings and magazine articles. Ian looked up as a guy scurried over from the far end of the office, if you could call it that. His mop of white hair and pink eyes marked him a metis, but his scant appraisal of his guests was piercing. He allowed Andrea to give him a quick kiss on the cheek.
"Ian, meet my long-time buddy Eduardo. Eddie, this is my newest charge, Ian. Eddie's a Glass Walker," she added. "A Ragabash like me."
"Have you held off on the best parts?" asked the Glass Walker. His voice was high pitched and squeaky. "Because if you've started on the details without me..."
"Nah, nothing major. Just some things about Luna. I saved the stories of the New Moon heroes and the tribal stuff so you could join in."
Eddie nodded. "Good, good. Well, go on and get started. I'll be sure to put in my two cents when I feel you're screwing up."
Andrea rolled her eyes. "Whatever. Okay, then, I want to tell you about a couple of names to know, some good, some bad. First on my mental list is a Bone Gnawer --"
"Figures," muttered Eddie.
"Who's talking now, huh? As I was saying, when so rudely interrupted, one of my tribe's best-known New Moons is a guy up in DC called Cracked Teeth. Some Ragabash, as you'll see, go for the political angle, and I reckon he's had lots of experience. Works with political action committees as well as your run-of-the-mill protesters. In a similar line of work is one of your own Fianna, fellow by the name of Stuart Brown, though werewolves call him Stalks-the-Truth. He's sort of a journalist who uncovers some pretty sensational stories and plots every now and then."
"And don't forget that Luna also taught us the tradition of playing the trickster, even if that's not the only way to get things done," piped up Eddie. "I've heard a lot about this Wendigo elder called Charging Bull. Apparently, he's got a grand reputation as not only a prankster, but also one who has impeccable timing. Some say he can slice up your ego, deservedly of course, so keenly that you don't realize it until hours later."
Andrea cleared off a table and sat, legs folded beneath her. "Pranks are all part of the game, as Julisha of the Thousand Masks could tell you. She's an African Black Fury who apparently never appears the same way twice. Makes her hell on wheels as a con artist. But don't forget a Ragabash can also be a kick-ass warrior. One I'd hate to scrap with is this Get of Fenris character named Stigghalf Bone-Breaker, or some tongue twister pretty close to that. For him, questioning how werewolves behave is picking a fight with whoever happens to come around."
"Spare me the Get and their ways," interrupted Eddie. "You also need to tell him about that other Norse creep, Wards-the-Dead. A New Moon, maybe, but he went loco, if you know what I mean, and fucked over the entire tribe."
Andrea cleared her throat. "Okay, I didn't say they were perfect. And before you bring it up, I know the poor Silent Striders had one of their go bonkers too. They called him Abnatha the Laughing One. But look, that's just two out of a whole list of heroic New Moons."
"Can you say that Red Talon Ragabash Crookpaw is sane, Andi?" Eddie retorted.
"No, but consider what all the Red Talons have had to endure. And Crookpaw's metis, to boot. So he's a little extreme. At least he's doing something, biting the asses of the wolves and getting them involved. I don't mind a little credit going to him for that." She huffed in anger. "Thanks a lot, I've completely lost my train of thought."
Eddie grinned. "Then let me chime in a bit. If we didn't mention Celeste Walks-the-Spiral-Backward, our friend Zophia would be hurt. Celeste is supposedly this Silver Fang who seriously kicks ass. She's famous around the world, and some people say she destroyed a Wyrm-infested caern all by herself. I'd love to meet her, in any case. Anyway, we've probably left out a few famous New Moons, but there's a few to get you started, should you feel the urge to burst into song or something. What I want you to remember is that even though we're few in number, we're just as important as any Ahroun."
Playing the PartEdit
"Do you like movies, kid? ever see the original Star Wars? It's an old flick now, so even some of the elders may have heard of it; they don't go for things like that often, you see, because it's pretty hard for most of us to go out and about after the First Change. There's no doubt in my mind that Han Solo would've been a Ragabash. Ahhh, what a guy! He had guts, wits and looks to boot. Well, like him, many of us New Moons are quirky. We enjoy wit and never letting people guess what we're going to do next. It keeps everybody on their toes. And what I'll be Andi didn't tell you is that we help serve as a sort of pressure valve on the volatile nature of our society. What do I mean by that? It's this simple: When a werewolf gets all fired up, sometimes levity is needed to let off steam, lest all that anger be released on some poor Kin or innocent bystander. A Ragabash can help lighten the mood and keep heads cool. Don't think that doesn't take some nerves of steel. Ever stood between two Ahroun who were ready to tear each other's heads off for no reason? I have, and while not exactly fun for me, it sure beat certain other pssibilities. Look, we're a dwindling race. No need for us to make mistakes and off each other, not now."
"Also, let's not forget the human part of our natures," he continued. "I hesitate to call some of the human heroes and deities tricksters, per se. Some of them were just inordinately clever. Maybe thinking of them as a force of change, an element of chaos in an otherwise static culture is a better analogy. Some of these characters are from legend, and probably had a basis in fact. Others were perhaps an invention of the human mind as a means of explaining the unexplainable. Who am I talking about? Well, there are your typical folks we'll discuss later such as Loki of the Norse sagas, Odysseus of Greek myth and Coyote of the American Indians. But have you ever heard of Mt. Spider? He's right out of western Africa, and the descendents of those folks have spread his name to the West Indies and South America. Mr. Spider has a lot of names, like Anansi or Annency. He plays tricks, sure enough, but what he's best known for is his wisdom and creativity. There's a quote, 'The wisdom of the spider is greater than that of all the world put together'. That's right out of tales about Mr. Spider himself."
"One of my personal favorites is Hanuman, the Monkey God," said Andrea. "He's the ultimate scout and has an important place in the east, in lands as diverse as China, India and Japan. Hanuman's greatest skills are his courage and willingness to try any feat, no matter how wild or dangerous, to help his friends. That's a pretty good example for us to follow."
Eddie tapped his pen on his teeth as he sat in a broken chair. "Okay, back to our spiritual selves. I should also mention the whole idea behind the waxing and waning moon. The true new moon isn't either - there's one night of waning, one night of "true" new moon, and then one night of waxing as Luna begins to grow again. And of course it's impossible to tell what the new moon is doing by sight; you have to know the schedule. But the Theurges can usually tell, and they're quick to talk about what the moon's doing when one of us is born. Those born under a new moon neither waxing nor waning are the 'purest' Ragabash, or so Theurges like to say - no tendencies for acting any one way. If you're like Andi over there, a waxing Ragabash, you get this rep for being kind of happy-go-lucky, a maintain-an-even keel type, which can be a detriment if you're trying to seriously question the elders. Me, I was birthed under the waning moon, and quite unfairly, I'll add, we're considered to have a sort of dry, gloomy outlook on things, kind of like Edward Gorey. As on New Moon put it so eloquently, a waxing moon might warn a sept leader of impending doom with gallows humor, but a waning moon would take lots of time to describe every awful possibility before adding that things aren't as bad as they may seem. Not realy true, but that's the story you'll hear."
The Heart of the SeptEdit
Andrea saw her chance and jumped into the conversation. "Well, Eddie does have a way with words. Okay, let me tell you a bit about what the Ragabash do in the sept. You've been to a couple of moots now, participated in some rites. You know how important these things are to us. But you probably also saw how much of what happens in our ceremonies is guided by the Theurges, Galliards and Half-Moons."
"Yeah, I was wondering about that," said Ian. "Can a Ragabash hold an office in the sept?"
"Of course! To be perfectly accurate, they can hold damn near any office, but it's a little rarer to see them as Grand Elders, Masters of the Rite, Masters of the Howl, Callers of the Wyld, Truthcatchers or Talesingers. All those offices are better suited to Garou born to uphold certain traditions, not to bend them."
"Uh, then what does that leave?" asked Ian.
"Plenty. Usually a New Moon of rank sits on the Council of Elders. A Ragabash is a great asset in getting a council to see all sides of an issue. Also, a Ragabash can realy aid an Ahroun who's serving as Warder by acting as a Guardian; he can be the Full Moon's eyes and ears while on patrol. Likewise, New Moons make fine Wyrm Foes or Keepers of the Land."
"For a Ragabash with a certain amount of charm and wit, there's always the role of Gatekeeper," added Eddie. "Sometimes, they're going to find it easier to meet and greet other septs and werewolves because they're down to earth and easy to talk with. Now, some packs may give us the hairy eyeball due to our overblown rep for pulling pranks, but we've got better sense than to do that while acting as liaisons to other septs."
The Soul of the PackEdit
"As far as within the pack," continued Andrea, "the Ragabash often has to act as referee. Even the best packmates fight and quarrel, and a certain amount of that is healthy. But it can go overboard real quick. We can yank apart the scrappers and then let the pack leader or Philodox sort out the details. Also, keeping the spirits of the pack members high is an important duty. No doubt it's the Gibbous Moon's job to sing and make everybody merry with stories and such, but if everyone's gloomy, we can perk things up almost as well."
"A sadder duty that New Moons have is helping remember the good times of the fallen after a battle," Eddie sighed. "It's natural and right we should grieve, but not to the point we waste away or forget why we're still living. Sometimes it's we Ragabash who have to bite the asses of our brokenhearted packmates to get them up and moving. It's damn hard to do that when you too want to lie down and have a good cry. But life goes on. If we can remind people about the happy moments, it helps get through the hurt and the sorrow." He smiled at Ian. "Hope it's a long time before you ever have to worry about that, though."
"Well, let's get on with talking about the tribes. I think he knows the names and such, but I want him to know something about the New Moons specifically," said Andrea. "Go ahead, Eddie, this is what you wanted to do. Start with the Furies, why don't you." Eddie gave her a crooked smile.
"Fury New Moons more often than not seem to be a rather depressive lot. Some feel that by being born without Luna's light, they need to find out what they've done to displease her, so they spend much of their time trying to fix anything that goes wrong. A Fury also seems more bent on change than most New Moons. Perhaps from their perspective as protectors of all females, there's more to change. I haven't spent much time with any Furies to be honest - I'm always stepping on their last nerve - but I hear tell they can be even more vicious than their tribemates. Where an Ahroun may simply tear apart a rapist, a Ragabash's vengeance will likely be drawn out, more painful, and less traceable to werewolves. They drive their prey mad before killing them, if the luckless victims don't take their own lives first."
"Now, let me tell you a bit about my tribe's Ragabash traditions," Andrea interrupted. "We've got your infamous fun-loving New Moons, along with the burglars and pickpockets, rascals and rogues. But although you don't see them much, for obvious reasons, a Bone Gnawer Ragabash is often an artist at subterfuge and stealth. We're great at sneaking into enemy hideouts and doing the recon work. It's all part of making the job of the Full and Half-Moons easier. They're the best muscle and the finest planners, respectively. No argument there. But without the intelligence reports, the best-laid plans go to hell in a handbasket."
"Don't forget the activists, too, Andi," said Eddie. "You guys can rival us on that score. I know most werewolves steer clear of human affairs, but the Gnawers and Walkers are two exceptions. Think of any big revolution, and you can bet a Bone Gnawer was watching closely at the very least. It's something that the Silver Fangs don't like to think about, you know?"
Children of GaiaEdit
"Now, I don't mean to be unfair or unkind," began Eddie, as Andrea winced, "but a Child of Gaia New Moon will often make you want to go running for the insulin, they're so lofty and idealistic in the goals they set. Luna help me, but you can't help but like and admire them. They have high-minded and noble intentions. their tribe gives them a fair bit of respect too, because as many Children of Gaia are reform-minded, the Ragabash is central to proposing new ideas and practices."
"What Eddie didn't mention," frowned Andrea, "is a whole lot of New Moon Children are devoted to peacemaking. they take it a few steps further and have unfailingly waded hip deep in shit that'd make your hair stand on end, just to make a truce hold or mollify some overblown egos. I may not feel exactly the same way but they got lots of guts. Not too much sense maybe, but give 'em credit for their gumption.
Of course, on the other side, you have the ones who question tradition - and in the case of the Children of Gaia, they question the idea that peace or negotiation is necessarily the answer for whatever situation is at hand. Ever seen a Child of Gaia argue for war? I have; it's something else to see how sharp Unicorn's hooves can get. And with a good Ragabash making the case, it's downright frightening to see the other Children going along with his arguments."
"Have you actually met a Ragabash from your own tribe, Ian?" Eddie asked. The young Fianna shook his head.
"Too bad. They've got a fairly interesting job, although it's not one I'd relish. A term has come down to us from Brittish history, and that's 'kingmaker'. Fianna New Moons have as one of their duties to watch their elders and sort of keep them on their toes. The most renowned ones, or so it's said, have been able to make or break the great leaders just by questioning and being nosy. A few well-placed jabs can raise doubt, and well, a leader should be above reproach. Not that those who've fallen haven't deserved it, of course."
"You're also likely to meet one of your tribe's Ragabash during a time of war," chimed in Andrea. "When you get around to learning those millions of tales I was warning you about, I'm sure a huge portion of em will be about all the clever things Fianna New Moons have done through the ages."
Get of FenrisEdit
"I'll be the first to admit that I find the Get of Fenris a little, ah, extremist," explained Andrea, ignoring Eddie's snort. "But they are what they are: totally dedicated to destroying their enemies, any way they can. That's why they don't realy consider the sneaky Ragabash such a bad thing. Despite what Eddie here might say, my folks've got a fair bit in common with them when it comes to pulling recon duty. They're fine tacticians who don't always get the respect they deserve from their tribemates; after all, they use cunning and trickery to bring down the foe. But the elders make sure they're at least tolerated by the younger Garou, for they know that all who use their full strength against the Wyrm are worthy of respect - and smarts magnify strength. I've met Ragabash that make an art of turning foemen against each other, weakening the enemy considerably before the Full Moons finally strike."
"It's probably not an accident that some Get Ragabash honor Loki," added Eddie. "I don't know how much you know about him, but the important thing about him was that he wasn't only someone who played mean jokes. If it weren't for him, Odin wouldn't have Sleipnir, his eight-legged steed. Actually, in a way, he helped bring about a new age of the world, one where everything would be green and idyllic. Food for thought, anyway."
"Moving right along," Eddie chimed in, "you've probably figured out that my gig is hacking. That's such a simple way of putting it because there are times I feel that working with my computers is almost, well, holy in a way. Like an out of body experience, I suppose. It's a common practice among Glass Walker New Moons, but it's just the tip of the iceberg. In a broarder sense, what we do is find the weakness in our enemies and expose it for our packs to see. That fatal flaw could be anything, from dirty dealings in the mortal world to Wyrm, corruption. In any case, knowing an enemy's Achilles heel can help bring them down quick and efficiently. Sometimes we've got to point out our own peoples' weaknesses as well - test security measures, that sort of thing. We've also got a rep as decent activists, like we mentioned before, and also innovators. Give us a chance, and we'll come up with a new way to tackle a problem. Sort of like lateral thinking puzzles, if you've ever worked through one of those."
Eddie shifted his eyes back to Andrea. "Want to tell him a bit about the Talons?"
Andrea sighed. "Ian's already heard how they're hard-pressed these days, what with the overdevelopment of land and such. So I try to be a little forgiving. Kind of like the Get, though, the Red Talons are a bit, um, fanatical. And in that same vein, the Ragabash is almost never a leader. What she does, though, is take the steps necessary to keep the Alpha on his toes. That means she'll poke fun at him and even mock his authority...with the whole purpose of showing her throat."
"You mean she wants him to attack her?" asked Ian, puzzled.
"Not realy. What she's doing is reinforcing the alpha's dominance by giving him the chance to put her down. I know, it's a bit strange, but don't forget that even in human form, we have body language and such to show who's the boss. The Red Talons, if nothing helse, help us understand the same concept in our four-legged forms".
Eddie nodded. "Well put. Okay, moving right along, let's talk about the Shadow Lords. Er, he does know about these folks, right?" he asked.
Andrea winked. "Oh sure, he even met old Greymantle out at the sept. They got along just fine."
"Right." Eddie shuddered. "Anyway, the Shadow Lord New Moons have a fairly interesting take on their job, and that's serving the tribal leaders as rivals and adversaries. Now, most of them never have any doubt that they'll rise to high and lofty positions; that isn't realy the goal anyway. Or at least, that's what they say. Well, let's just take them on surface level for a moment. Consider all the great leaders of history. Most have had a talented second or even a friendly competitor to keep them pushing the envelope to get better at whatever it is they do. That's what the Shadow Lord Ragabash is all about - making certain his leaders are the best. I think that's a pretty thankless role."
"You make it sound delightful," snorted Andrea. "Moving right along...."
"All right, all right," Eddie conceded. "Let's discuss the Silent Striders. I don't think you'll find many hanging around septs, but I bet you'll meet one sooner than later. As you know, they like to wander. As such, they hear all kinds of interesting stuff. Maybe their Galliards have some of the stranger and least-heard tales of all, but it's the New Moons who have the best gossip and news. It's like they collect all these tidbits and store them away for future use."
"Some of the New Moons sort of see themselves as traveling problem solvers, too," said Andrea. "They're willing to pitch in and help do whatever needs doin', wherever they happen to be. All in all, a pretty decent bunch of folks to have as friends. In battle, though, it's a different story. They're damn scary. Like a spirit of vengeance, they appear almost out of nowhere, deal out cold, remorseless death, and are gone like the night wind. Once someone's angered the Strider New Moon, they'd best look over their shoulders the rest of their days, for eventually they'll see their doom, loping behind."
"We're going to meet a Silver Fang Ragabash later today," continued Andrea, "but just so you're warned ahead of time, they're a little different. Eccentric, I guess you'd say. Some of 'em have rather interesting personality quirks, weird mannerisms. But for a rather haughty bunch overall, the Fang's New Moons are fairly approachable. Again, they're sort of between a rock and a hard place in that they're a tribe that treasures its past and traditions above everything else...and here's the Ragabash whose job it is to question those ways and bring about new ideas and beliefs. Change comes kinda slow to the Silver Fangs, but what innovations have occured are no doubt due to the cunning of the New Moons."
"Wonder if Zophia knows anything about the Silver Fang crowd and whether their hot-shot leader has a Ragabash tickling his elbow?" asked Eddie.
Andrea shrugged. "Don't know, but if he's all-fire smart as everyone says, he'd better."
In a crowd of folks that dearly loves their secrets, the Uktena New Moons are the best secret-keepers of the lot," said Andrea with an admiring grin. "I won't go so far as to call them interrogators, but if you've ever talked with a Ragabash of this tribe, you come away not quite sure of where your head is. They play the usual mindgames and such, but what they realy love doing is venturing out into the world and collecting all kinds of information, then bringing it back home for, hmmm, let's call it protection."
Eddie let out a hollow laugh. "What my lovely friend here is trying to say diplomatically is that they'll double-talk you, find out what you know, then take it back to their elders, who'll mull it over and file it away for future use. They've probably got all kinds of secrets hidden away at their caerns. A little scary, if you ask me."
"Well, then, let's wrap up things here with the Wendigo," said Eddie. Like the Uktena, they consider themselves Pure Ones, you know, folks no of European origin who came over and took their land. Maybe it's true they have some sort of special connection with Mother Earth; I wouldn't know about their particular perspective. What I do know is that they generally hold the New Moons in pretty high esteem within the tribe. Forget the stereotypes of Native Americans as dour and humorless; it's pretty much bullshit. In fact, the job of the Wendigo Ragabash is to bring laughter when needed, to break the rules and generally keep life interesting and out of the ordinary."
Ian nodded, hoping he'd digested this huge pile of information. "Hey, can I ask a question?"
The two New Moons looked at him in surprise. "Sure," said Eddie. "Heck, we didn't give you much of a chance to talk in there, did we?"
"That's okay. I guess my question is this: If the tribes pretty much stay apart, how is it you guys know so much about the others?"
Andrea smiled broadly. "Not a bad observation. Okay, since you asked, I'll tell you. Unlike some of the other auspices, we Ragabash talk to one another. We're fairly open with each other. We figure if one of our jobs is to know how to keep our folks from killing in a moment of madness, we'd better have some info at hand. That answer your question?"
"I think so," said the young Galliard. "What else do you want me to know?"
"Why don't you tell us what you'd like to hear next?" replied Andrea.
School's in SessionEdit
Ian thought a minute. "What about your young New Moons? Do you let them hang out with other auspices, or do you keep them with you all the time, or what?"
Eddie foraged a minute under his desk and pulled out a pizza box. "Ummm, this one's pretty fresh." He opened it up and sure enough a steaming pepperoni pie rested inside. "I think most elders, and by that I mean anybody with some rank under his belt, is going to realize that we have to share in the education of our youngsters. You know that old African saying about it takes a village to raise a child and all. So, we encourage our cubs to get out, frolic, live it up, learn a thing or two,"
Andrea fetched cold beers from the dilapidated fridge in the corner. "Well, let's back up just a second and talk about birth and all that."
Kids and KinEdit
"Okay, any Theurge worth spit will be able to tell you whether a newborn's going to be Garou or Kin. And with some minor calculations, or just mere observation, she'll know the auspice, too. The announcement of a New Moon's birth is always greeted with some chuckles of anticipation and a few raised brows. I guess I have to admit that in this day and age, Ahroun births seem to be what everyone wants." She popped the top off her bottle. "Too damn bad. We can't all be Full Moons."
"You mentioned something before about there not being so many New Moons anymore," said Ian. "Why is that?"
"Nobody knows," sighed Eddie. "I mean, it's not just because there's fewer new moon nights in a month. From all the histories, they say that there's always been an equal chance for any of Luna's five faces to appear in her chosen warriors, on account of her will, but it just isn't so."
"I heard here and there it's yet another impending sign of the End Times," Andrea replied. "Then again, what isn't? I sometimes think an elder gets an ingrown toenail, and that's a portent of doom."
"What about Kin?" asked Ian. "Do our Kinfolk have auspices, too?"
"Nah, not realy. I mean they may have a few tendencies, but I'd say they lean more towards the attitudes of their werewolf brothers and sisters than having any particular inclinations themselves. I have a fair number of Kin back in Texas, and I'd say we're more alike than different. Similar appreciation of humor, change and all that. You're sister probably has some skills at singing or storytelling, right? Possibly because you're a Galliard, but there's no saying for certain."
"If I had to pick a word to describe how a Ragabash reacts to the First Change, It'd be curiosity," said Eddie. "Sure, it's a physical and mental shock in the worst way, but it's sort of exhilarating, too. New and different, stirring to the senses, all that stuff. Some other auspices are going to get pretty spooked by it, but the New Moon soaks it all up and rolls with the punches. She'll goof around for a while, trying out the new forms, testing her senses. The whole point is that she'll learn to adapt fairly quickly."
"Still," cautioned Andrea, "the local werewolves should try to find the new changer as soon as possible. I've heard rumors of young New Moons getting a little too exuberant, and then you see all kinds of crazy stories in the supermarket tabloids that make you wonder."
"Or worse, on shows like America's Most Wanted. Nobody wants that happening, right?" said Eddie.
"Never," grinned Andrea.
The Rite of PassageEdit
"Remember your Rite of Passage?" Andrea continued. "You can probably guess the various tasks other auspices receive: An Ahroun gets to fight a Wyrm critter, a Theurge has to negotiate with a spirit, and so on. Well, for my Rite, I had to do three things: Make a crying child laugh, convince an elder I was telling the truth and make two warriors show throat. Not easy. Took me a couple weeks, but I managed to pull it off."
"Yeah, mine was more or less the same kind of thing; you know, proving that I was wily," added Eddie. "Only I had to come up with a way to get into one of the elder's strongholds without getting caught. Security cameras everywhere, not to mention all the guards armed with silver bullets. Sheesh."
"The Rite of Passage in general for the Ragabash is going to try to pull out her essence to the surface," explained Andrea. "The whole point is to use our strengths to prove our worth. It's not easy, but it's necessary, as it shows to all werewolves present that you're a credit to the sept and ready to take on adult responsibilities."
"Okay, back to your original question," she continued. "How do we teach our Ragabash? It's surprisingly easy. We just throw 'em into the pond and let 'em soak it all up."
"What she's trying to say, with her typical eloquence," interrupted Eddie, "is that the best way to teach a Ragabash is from life itself. No scrolls, no books, no lectures. Sure, we talk to them, but usually in the context of doing something else. We take our young New Moons with us when we travel, fight or perform our regular duties at the sept. They watch, and they learn. Little by little, their tasks increase as their skills improve. It'd be great if we had all the time in the world, but sad to say, the apprenticeship, if you will, is terribly short. There are too many responsibilities that need tending for our young to realy enjoy themselves before they're tossed into the fray
Fun and GamesEdit
Neverwise the New Moon padded through the meadow in the moments before dawn, her grin stretched wider than usual, though her mouth was full. Her Moon Dancer packmate knew her way around a tale, and she was tenacious at digging up the dirt...once she knew there was something to find, and where to look. Erin knew better than ask where Neverwise got her information, but had learned to follow the hints she dropped. A favor collected in New Orleans, a visit at the Bayou Endormi sept, some judicious eavesdropping ... and now an old wound could heal, the sept would have a new name to inspire it and a spirit could rest a little bit easier. Finding a suitable spot, the New Moon lupus dug into the cool, stony soil. At the moment the sunrise caught the clouds above on fire, she dropped the ripped, stained cowboy boot into the hole and quickly refilled the opening, packing it with a circling dance. She howled once, then cocked her head. In the distance, she was certain she heard a dim answering howl that broke apart and tumbled into heartfelt laughter. Grinning even wider, the No-Moon trotted back to her packmates, warmed by the notion that some teachers just don't take death for an answer.
Welcome to the somewhat mad and illogical world of the Ragabash, a place where good players and inventive Storytellers can bring some grins to the usually grim world of werewolves, as well as provoke some thought. Playing a New Moon as a unique set of challenges and rewards. Here are some guidelines for Storytellers in bringing out the best in the Ragabash for all players.
Resisting the Goofball SyndromeEdit
The biggest pitfall that players and Storytellers can fall into is treating the Ragabash like some sort of comic relief goofball. Yes, it's certainly true that this auspice has a duty and obligation to bring in humor and relieve tension, but that's just not the same as intentionally acting stupid all the time. In fact, its realy more of a secondary duty at best. Lighthearted and prankish isn't synonymouse with playing dumb; in fact, a lot of actors say that doing comedy is much harder and requires a lot more on-the-feet thinking than drama. So how do you balance the levity with the lessons the Ragabash is driven to impart? Think of some situations where you can try out using humor in the ways a Ragabash should, as a means of bringing in a new way of thinking, keeping peace or making tempers cool down.
The traditional role of the Ragabash is serving as a "questioner of the ways". Stealth and trickery have an important place in their lives, but the Ragabash's key responsibility is to challenge assumptions and bring in new ideas. One good literary example is Odysseus (called Ulysses by the Romans). He wasn't a comedian -- he was sort of a revolutionary thinker. Sure, it was trickery to hide a bunch of Greeks in a Trojan Horse, but there was more wisdom there than humor.
Perhaps more than the other auspices, the Ragabash conveys a typecast image, that of a joker, a trickster and comedian. In reality, she's far more complex than that. Here's some exploration of both that typical image plus the other shoes the New Moon might wear.
The Domestic Opposition LeaderEdit
The Domestic Opposition Leader (DOL) takes her role as a "questioner of the ways" most seriously. She's not realy bucking to become top wolf, but to an outsider, it certainly looks that way. Every time the leader makes a proposal or plan, this Ragabash is right there at his elbow to poke holes in it. She plays out various scenarios again and again to envision all the possibilities -- and then she describes them repeatedly in detail. Note that the DOL isn't realy disrespectful, but she's certainly not afraid to stand up and make her views known.
What the DOL needs is a bit more tact. Her ideas are generally excellent, and her heart is definitely in the right place; thanks to her insights, no doubt many of her pack and sept have survived potentially deadly situations. But she'd find that more of the elders would welcome her if she weren't so pushy and one-sided; often, she's so busy pointing out the flaws of a strategy she forgets to comment on the good parts.
The DOL of the "waning" moon is a pessimist. She's still got a sense of fun and a sharp wit, but it's of the gallows humor variety. She's more the type to be a little smug and say "I told you so". By contrast the "waxing" moon DOL is sort of an eager beaver; she sometimes thinks three steps ahead and expects everyone to keep up. It's hard to get angry at one so cheerful, even when she's pointing out problems and errors.
Although peacekeeping is generally the perogative of the Half-Moons, this Ragabash takes it on himself to bear the burden of everyone's troubles, and thus keep the harmony of the pack or sept intact. He's both pitiable and amusing in that he's always apologizing for everyone else's mistakes. The Peacekeeper is also a bit of a "sufferer for a cause" in that he's sometimes willing to take blame for other's transgression to maintain an even keep in the sept or pack -- the classic omega wolf.
Generally, the rest of the werewolves don't hold anything against the Peacekeeper. But they'd doubtless respect him more if he had more of a backbone and stood up and defended his beliefs and point of view rather than just trying to smooth ruffled feathers. To be more successful, then, the Peacekeeper needs to develop a spine and also the wisdom to know when to be humble and when to stick up for what he thinks is right and fair. Instead of always asking forgiveness on behalf of others, he needs to be more active in getting those who disagree to work it out among themselves, with the Peacekeeper serving as a good-natured mediator who keeps things lighthearted.
The Peacekeeper of the waxing moon strikes some werewolves as falsely cheerful. She's always putting a happy face on even the worst situations, and ever willing to bear angry backslaps when others get frusterated with her ever-jolly spirits. The Peacekeeper born under the waning moon is more gloom and doom. She blames herself for things that go wrong and is a willing scapegoat. While her attitude can deflate tensions, her septmates definately tire of her dejection and glumness.
The Trendsetter is the ultimate "avant garde" among werewolves. His idea of keeping things lively is being a bit of a radical, in everything from social practices to downtime at the sept. Of course he's not out to break any truly sacred traditions, but he's all for finding new ways to do things. For example, he might propose that all the offices of the sept be taken over by the New Moons for a month, to see if any new innovations are born, or that the Ahroun who comes to him for a Rite of Accomplishment go on a particularly touchy-feely spirit quest.
Generally, the Trendsetter has great ideas, but his reputation as a Ragabash and a bit of an oddball work against him. Werewolves steeped in tradition, and many are reluctant to consider new ways of thinking. To gain trust and respect, the Trendsetter needs not only to come up with innovative schemes, he also has to serve as an example and show that they can work and serve a useful purpose.
The Trendsetter birthed under the waning moon finds it much easier to break the rules than one born under the waxing moon. He'll not necessarily defy the Litany, but neither is he afraid to question it openly and suggest that it was created in another time for a different type of werewolf. The waxing moon Trendsetter focuses on less sacred issues, such as the treatment of Kin or dealings between tribes.
The Sneaky ScoutEdit
The secondary roles of the Ragabash have long been those of an expert tracker and infiltrator; as the Garou's situation becomes more desperate in these dark years, many New Moons spend more time scouting behind enemy lines than questioning elders at the caern. The Ragabash runs ahead of the pack, watchful for obstacles and opportunities alike; he slips in and out of guarded installations, bringing back intelligence and stolen trinkets and gear for his packmates to use against their enemies.
Sometimes, the Sneaky Scout gets so caught up in the role of serving as spy, she forgets the big picture and task at hand. When packmates are anxiously waiting for surveillance info, she might be off gathering way more than is actually needed. To be the most help to her pack, the Sneaky Scout needs a little more focus and self-discipline.
When a waxing moon serves as a scout, she realy gets into the role, right down to spouting some cliched one liners and, depending on the tribe, using various high-tech equipment and gizmos. The waning moon seems to enjoy inflicting collateral damage more than most, and more often than not, her scouting missions end with a fair bit of bloodshed, usually on the enemy's side. Some waning moon Ragabash have trademark "calling cards" that are sort of their signature that they've made a stop and wreaked some havoc.
The Stereotypical TricksterEdit
To deny that the Ragabash's reputation as a trickster and comedian is deserved discredits Luna's designated role for the auspice. Myth and legend abound with examples of tricksters who, by their antics, share great wisdom. From the Norse, there's Loki; from various Native Americans come Fox, Coyote and Raven. The Stereotypical Trickster werewolf inherits this long tradition. From his pranks, he shows the pack new ways of tackling a problem. His laughter can lighten the burden of sorrow, and his willingness to serve as a scapegoat alleviates simmering tensions.
Of course, all those jokes tend to make others wary of the Ragabash. Sept members often can't tell when he's actually trying to be serious or sincere, so they fall back on the stereotype to know how to react. When meeting a Ragabash for the first time, others often make assumptions about his behavior, and there're liekly a few shreds of distrust lurking beneath the surface. The stereotypical Trickster's task is to remain true to himself and his function in Garou society while also convincing others that he can and will be stern and earnest when such a mood is truly needed.
If a Stereotypical Trickster is born close to the waxing of a new moon, he's more happy-go-lucky and lighthearted. His pranks and jokes are good-natured and usually don't involve anything terribly underhanded or devious. The Trickster of the waning moon has a more sinister sense of humor. His tricks may border on the tasteless and crude, and instead of gently teaching a lesson or imparting wisdom, he's not above some bullying and tail biting to get his point across.
This category has only the following subcategory.
- [+] Ragabash (1 C)