The Ratkin War
In late 2001, after the world over had seen a rise in violent war-like activities, the creatures knows as the Ratkin started talking. A lot. “Why aren’t we doing this? Why do we let the Weaver grow?” they said, and perhaps more importantly, some of the Ratkin’s leaders asked, “Why do we let the Garou stop us?”
By early 2002, Ratkin, primarily those touched by the “blessing” of Freak Factor within the Rat Race, the Plague of North America, started putting together plans for an all-out assault on, well, everything. The Rat God’s will would be fulfilled, their Ranks screamed for blood in the tunnels below. However, as always, the Wyrm was watching. By slowing subverting the will of those touched by the Freakish nature of the Ratkin’s minds, the Beast of War, the Wyrm’s embodiment of anger and violence, was able to push them closer and closer to corruption. Led by the excessively Freakish, yet charismatic leadership of the Munchmausen, more and more Ratkin who embraced their Freak Factor fell into the ranks of the Wyrm tainted Warmongers. Most deadly, the Twitchers, were thrilled that their Brethren were letting them loose on the world to bring havoc and destruction. The Plague Lords begun putting together their most virulent and deadly strains to let loose on their enemies. The Engineers fashioned even more devious and corrupted tools to use against their enemies. The outlook quickly became grim for those in the Ratkin’s path of destruction.
A Prologue to War:
Swarms of Ratkin started popping up everywhere, granted, they were always there, but never this active. The first to meet their swarm was the denizens of the undercity. The Sewers became their undisputed stronghold as mundane and supernatural creatures both were slain or run off. Their first challengers, the Vampires of the undercity, were easily overrun by sheer numbers and the Ratkin’s mastery over quick Umbral travel. Vampires called Nosferatu and their allies stood strong for the first few months of the assault but were quickly outnumbered by the Swarm. Within 6 months most Urban sewers in the United States were completely dominated by the Ratkin. Bone Gnawers were the first Garou to notice the changes in Ratkin activity, though Urban Septs merely prepared for “typical Ratkin problems.” Most Septs had bigger fish to fry at the time and many appreciated the vampiric filth removed from the Undercity. Unfortunately for the Garou, they were woefully unprepared for what was to come. As the victories were sung through the sewers all over the country more and more Ratkin joined the war effort, even those that that lacked the corrupted Freak nature couldn’t overlook the victory for the Rat God. Word began to spread of the Warmonger’s leader, a Munchmausen know as the Bandit Lord Dreadfang. Little did his fellow Ratkin know the Beast of War himself acted through the corrupted Munchmausen’s word and deed.
The First Waves:
With the Undercity their undisputed territory and more and more of the Rats becoming corrupted by the Beast of War’s influence and joining the war effort, Dreadfang turned his forces to the streets above. Assaults on the mortal territories most subsumed with the Weaver’s influence began first in the winter of 2003. Only through the efforts of the Garou and other supernaturals that wished to keep a “Masquerade” did mortal media only find these attacks to be merely a drastic increase in gang activity and terrorism. Public shootings in urban areas were not uncommon. A number of buildings associated with Weaver or Garou influence burned to the ground in every city. Amidst the fear and confusion throughout Urban areas, direct assaults on strongholds of the Garou began in earnest. Glasswalkers and Bone Gnawers found themselves on the front line in the growing war they weren’t ready for, fighting not only to protect their own Territories and Caerns, but to protect the Veil and mortals. However, the work of the urban Septs, the Garou there, and their Kin could only keep up for so long. Members of the Glasswalker Camp Dies Ultimae, and their Leader Robert “Mister” Petkov, led forces of Glasswalkers, Bone Gnawers and other Garou of Urban Septs met the Ratkins forces all over the Nation first on the front lines. As the Glasswalkers arm of war, the initial stands against the Ratkin by Dies Ultimas went well, but as before, the numbers began to overwhelm the Glasswalkers and their allies. Elizabeth Genereader, leader of the Random Interrupts, and her camp helped ensure that a number of Caerns were saved from being completely overrun by their efforts and facilitation of instantaneous communication and travel. However, by the time the conflict broke into full scale war in many urban areas across the United States, the swarms were already flowing with more numbers than the Garou could handle.
A Turn for the Worse:
Theurge’s all over the Nation were beginning to predict the Ratkin as the Heralds of the Apocalypse. Within a few years of the war beginning, rumors spread across the Nation of Urban Septs that had fallen or were on the brink of falling, Caerns that were violated, and increased Wyrm activity that had taken advantage of the chaos. Galliard regretfully sang songs of the dead Garou that fell before the waves of bullets and claws of the Ratkin and Wyrm alike. It was slowly becoming apparent to the Garou that these Ratkin were not like any they had ever seen before. Dreadfang’s leadership had brought them untold ferocity and aggression and it became clear to many seers that the Wyrm was at work within the Freakish minds of the Ratkin. However, the Garou weren’t the only victims of the Ratkin’s wave of destruction. Even other Fera who found themselves in the way of the coming storm were soon enveloped and destroyed. Representatives of many of the Fera in North America were sent to the Ratkin to find a way to stop the War or at least keep out of the way but these diplomats were met with the bloody rage of the Beast of War. It became clear to even the other Fera that no one was safe.
An Unexpected Savior:
Within a few years the Ratkin’s war was pushing the Garou Nation to the brink of what they believe to be the Apocalypse. King Jonas Albrecht called for a Grand Conciliation on the Summer Equinox of 2004 to discuss preparing for the worst and to put together a plan to hold off the Ratkin on top off all of the Wyrm activity that came with it. Fear and dread dominated the Elders of the Nation during the discussions. At the height of the discussion a Bolthole opened up near the Caern and a small group of figures called to the Warders. Declaring themselves a contingent of Ratkin opposed to the War, they were allowed to speak to the Elders gathered there. These Ratkin, led by the Ratkin Warrior called Shadow Blade, knew that their brethren had become corrupted by the Beast of War. They told King Albrecht and the Elders of the Nation of Bandit Lord Dreadfang who was leading the Ratkin into corruption. As they explained, if you weren’t with Dreadfang, you were against him, and they had no interest in falling to the madness of Dreadfang and his followers or falling to the Wyrm themselves. Shadow Blade and his faction of Ratkin desired to help the Garou so that their entire Race wasn’t lost to the Wyrm. They explained to the Conciliation the nature of the Wyrm Taint that had overrun their Freak Factor and that many Ratkin had escaped the grips of the Beast of War and now followed Shadow Blade. With their help, the Garou were able to put together a plan to stop the tide of the Ratkin and the Beast of War.
A Confederation of Allies:
The Garou fought back in force with many Ratkin at their side. Using their Ratkin allies knowledge of Umbral travel through boltholes as well as the knowledge of Ratkin tactics and capabilities, the Garou were able to fight back against Dreadfang’s forces. Numerous other Fera joined in the battles as well, as all Shifters saw the danger that the Ratkin’s war had on all of Gaia’s creation. For the first time outside of the Amazon in millennia Garou fought side by side with Ratkin, Bastet, and Gurahl. Corax ran communications between battle commanders while Nuwisha tricks harried the corrupted Rat’s forces. The war was hard fought and many met their bloody end in battle, but in the end the intelligence that was able to garnered by the allied Ratkin and the physical forces of Gaia’s allied warriors helped the Garou win the war. With the Wyrm Tainted Rats fought back, the Ratkin took over and finished their own on their own terms. The War slowly trickled to nothing and ended in the shadows of the undercities. As the war died off in the spring of 2006. Ratkin population was dramatically reduced, their numbers lost to battle, outright corruption, as well as…whatever the untainted Ratkin did to their own. Dreadfang himself was never killed and his forces that escaped with him are believed hiding deep in the Umbra. In the eyes of some Garou the Ratkin earned some respect, but to most others even more distrust. However, to everyone, it proved just how subtle the corruptive powers of even the Beast of War could be. In the end, the uncorrupted Ratkin that followed Shadow Blade, as well as other Fera, shook hands with the Garou and went back to their old ways. Despite the camaraderie they were able to find in the face of the destructive waves of Ratkin, the old grudges always came back to the surface. If anything, the War with the Ratkin brought the distrust between Fera and Garou back to the forefront of their minds. Trust was born of necessity during the War, but now trust must again be developed on its own.
Suggested Application for Game play:
- Did your PC fight in the Ratkin War? If so, you may have some Battlescars as a result, and are likely to have gained a significant amount of Rank and Renown from participation. This may be a good justification for buying combat skills for however your PC would have participated.
- Are you playing a Fera PC? It is also likely that your PC participated in the Ratkin War and may be a justification for why your PC is still in the local area or interacts with Garou. Remember, just because you fought together doesn’t mean you’re friends with the Garou now, nor are they with you!
- Storytellers, was your local VSS caught up in the Ratkin War? Likely a number of attacks on mortal society took place and potentially even terrorist activity. Urban Caerns may have fallen and been destroyed, Elders and Athros may have met their end, and it may have shaped the current state of your local venue.
The Shroud of the Perfect Metis
A number of prophecies and omens began striking the Garou Nation around the turn of the Millennium. The Ratkin can begun to stir with sinister Rage, the Eye of the Wyrm had appeared in the sky, and Stargazers had left the Garou Nation…and on one night, hidden away from the eyes of most, a female Metis Garou gave birth to a child conceived with another Metis.
Save the Cub, Save the World:
Little is known to most Garou about the details of the child’s conception and birth, only that some careful eyes were watching, and a number of groups interested in the child came for it. Believing the Cub to be a threat and outright affront to Gaia, the Protectors of Gaia came for it first. Led by members of the Shadow Lord Tribe, primarily of the Judges of Doom, these Garou sought out and killed Garou protecting the Cub. Strangely, were it not for the intervention of Black Spiral Dancers from the Hive of the Wyrm’s Eye, they likely would have succeeded. These Spiral Dancers believed the child to be destined to lead the Wyrm into the Apocalypse. As such, they intended to see the Cub into maturity. However, even amongst Black Spiral Dancers allies don’t come easily. Other Spirals thought quite the opposite, that the Cub would lead the Garou against them and desired to sacrifice the Cub to the Wyrm. With these Spirals from the Hive of the Broken Star fighting against their fellow Spirals, the Cub and its caretakers were again able to escape.
Respite in the Stars:
Eventually the Cub and its caretakers are brought in by Guliera Moonsister, leader of the Sept of Prophecy. This aged, motherly Black Fury and her Sept has been watching the events surrounding the Cub for some time and is able to offer them respite before their next journey. Guliera is able to put the Cubs caretakers in touch with Sirius Darkstar, an Elder Stargazer of the Sept of the Stars who takes the Cub and its caretakers in at the Sept in the Aetherial Realm. Through prophecies told by both Guliera Moonsister and Sirius Darkstar, the Cub has a great destiny in regards to the Garou Nation, the Red Star, and all of Gaia’s creations. Sirius Darkstar leads the Cub and its caretakers through the Aetherial Realm, collecting the wisdom and prophecy of the Celestines eventually returning to the Sept of the Stars. There they prepare to engage the Garou Nation about the truth of the Perfect Metis.
An Unwelcomed Return:
By the time the great journey of the Cub and its caretakers had concluded and they returned to the Garou Nation to tell the great tale, the Garou were enveloped in the worst of the Ratkin War. The cub now a small child and incredibly intelligent for its age saw the best and the worst of the Garou and its enemies in these years. The group traveled from Caern to Caern to tell their tale but received little attention. At worst, Sept’s shunned them completely, calling the Cub a travesty but more concerned with the Ratkin to deal with it at the time. At best, some Septs took them in and gave them what little respite they could during the War. Some listened to their tale, but few Septs acknowledged them.
Retreat from War:
As the Cub traveled from Sept to Sept and word spread of its presence, the Wyrm once again narrowed its eyes upon them. With the Garou tied up with the Ratkin, many Black Spiral Dancers came for the child killing anything in their way to get to it. The Ratkin too sought out the Cub to bring their destructive Rage to its doorstep. With little room to run and almost no where to hide with Black Spirals, Ratkin, and many other Garou at their necks, the Cub and its caretakers fled back to the Sept of the Stars and then deep into the Umbra where few alive knew how to find them.
Suggested Applications for Gameplay:
Are you playing a Shadow Lord that’s a hardliner for the Litany? If so, especially if you are a Judge of Doom or a just Philodox, then you likely oppose the existence of the Perfect Metis.
If your character was around during the Ratkin War, then it’s likely the Perfect Metis may have visited your Sept (if the Ratkin hadn’t destroyed it). This might be an interesting addition to your background to have met it, heard the Tale of their journey, and develop current opinions on the topic.
Storytellers, did the Perfect Metis visit your Sept? How were they received and treated while they were there? Few Septs accepted them openly, and most mistreated them or ignored them, but feel free to have your Sept react accordingly.
The Dousing of the Red Star
In 1999, the Red Star, the Eye of the Wyrm, Anthelios appeared in the sky of the Umbra. Its red light showered the Umbral landscape with a tint of corruption that stirred in the souls of all creatures touched by its presence. As was their place within the Nation, the Stargazers began to watch Anthelios and study its movement and its increasing intensity, however their move to the Emerald Courts left the Garou Nation without its wisest in regards to the Red Star. The Star’s red light seemed to be heralding a darker fate on the horizon for the Garou Nation.
From the Frying Pan to the Fire:
In 2006, in the aftermath of the Ratkin War, many Theurges and the Stargazers that remained within the Garou Nation again turned their eyes back to the Umbral skies. There remained Anthelios, brighter than ever, as if raging through the heavens hell bent on bringing its light to Earth itself, or worse, supplanting Helios in the Earth’s sky. Less of a priority as it was during the War, Garou across the Nation turned to Anthelios as the next priority in their protection of Gaia and stand against a coming Apocalypse.
An Ancient Rite:
As the light of Anthelios began to truly burn the Umbral landscape, causing problems for spirits and the Garou both and corrupting all that its light fell upon. Theurges the world over began researching and delving into the darkest corners of the Umbra in search of anything that might halt the Red Star’s power. As little could be discovered for years, Walks the Seven Circles, Legend Theurge of the Silent Striders, uncovered lore buried deep in the lands of the dead that revealed a great Ritual that was used millennia ago to banish a great creature of fire and light from the Umbral skies. It was uncertain who created the Rite, or who had performed it, but it was all the Garou Nation had as the Apocalypse yet again reared its terrible head.
War in the Stars:
To perform a ritual of this great a scale, Garou from all over the Nation gathered in the barren landscape of Alaska in the Winter of 2010. Far from the eyes of the humanity, behind the spiritual barriers and weather controlled climate of the Wendigo Tribe, the Nation hoped to work their Ritual without the Veil being in danger. Leading the Rite with more than 100 Theurges at his side, along with most of the Bitter Hex camp and a potent pack of the elite of the Wayfarers, Walks the Seven Circles pulled the physical world for miles across into the Aetherial Realm. As Garou began to step through the portal to the Aetherial Realm created by the Theurges they found themselves on the grounds of Pluto, the Realm of Meros the Wanderer. The ritual, which combined the power of the Theurges, and the channeled energy of Earth, of Eshtarra herself, brought them through to the farthest depths of the Aetherial Realm with more Gnostic energy gathered than the Nation had ever seen. However, even wielding such a weapon, with the support of Celestines, the Garou paled under the sight of Anthelios in her full glory.
Before the Garou’s eyes the the Red Star breached the outer veil of the Aetherial Realm and raged towards Meros’s Domain, a trail of red fire leading away into the depths of the darkest reaches of the Aetherial. This close, the Garou laid eyes on the form of the Red Star, that of a colossal fiery Dragon, easily larger than Pluto, if not greater planets. However, Meros stood against the creature of pure Wyrm energy, and with him did the Garou Nation, with him the power of Gaia. The Garou could do little to Anthelios, but with her came the lesser creatures that made up the fire of her mane, they themselves the strength of Incarna and armies of Jagglings with them. A great battle scoured the already blasted lands of Meros’s Realm, all the while the energy of Eshtarra and the gathered Theurges channeled through Walks the Seven Circles to Meros to combat the Red Star.
The battle was epic, perhaps greater than any the race of Garou had ever found themselves fighting for. To them, this was the Apocalypse, this was the end they have fought for, but there was still hope for victory. However, there was little to mark the difference, it was surely a losing battle. Few Garou present were lesser than Adren, and many Elders and Legends within the Nation found themselves falling before the blazing fires of the Red Star. When the battle was turning to its bleakest, a light streaked across the Aetherial sky like a comet falling to Meros’s Domain. When the light subsided there stood a child, a child in the Crinos form, but a child none the less. The Perfect Metis. He reached out towards Meros and nodded, turning to Anthelios and speaking softly, though his voice was clear in every Garou’s mind. “No. Not here. Not now.” Eshtarra and Meros met each others gaze and she shed a single tear. Meros but nodded, and his form began to dissipate as he channeled his own essence into the Rite. Linking himself to the chain of Theurges with Walks the Seven Circles, the Perfect Metis helped channel the essence of the Celestine into the Rite. The energy of the Ritual struck true the essence of the fiery Star. As if dousing the Red Star with the complete darkness that was the Realm of Pluto, the fires began to fade. Anthelios’s roars shook the Realm and echoed through the entire Aetherial Realm. As the Rite concluded, Anthelios’s essence and form were blasted from the Realm like a comet along the same fiery path it entered upon.
As the final tremors began to settle, Walks the Seven Circles laid shattered on the ground of the Realm, even his Legendary body unable to control the energies that flowed through him. The Perfect Metis was simply gone. The single tear, shed by Eshtarra for the Celestine Meros found itself falling to the Legend’s forehead. The remaining essence of Meros, though small, lived on in the Silent Strider, and he rose, filled with the power of the Celestine, and felt the mantle of Pluto’s Realm rest upon his shoulder.
The Aftermath of Victory:
Battered and broken the Garou Nation retrieved its many dead and returned to the snow covered wasteland deep within Alaska. Victorious, they found it hard to celebrate even now, for how long had the Red Star been banished this time? Within a few days as the energies of the Ritual faded, it was clear a great Caern remained at the site of the Ritual. Many Garou that took places in the Ritual and were lucky enough to survive found great Renown in their deeds, and took up the mantle of positions at the new Sept that, unsurprisingly, came to know a great snowy Owl as its totem. A Gathering for the Departed, greater than had ever been seen saw the momentous occasion of the first Opened Caern here, the Sept of the Banished Star. The Apocalypse again, halted, the Garou Nation rested.
Suggested Applications for Gamplay:
Storytellers, it is unlikely that any PC below Adren was present for the Ritual and survived, however, NPC Athro and Elder at your local Sept can have been present and can link your local game to the Event. Though still uncommon, Adren Rank Theurges may have participated in the Ritual and not directly come into conflict during the battle.
While no PC is likely to have been present, the NPC Garou parents or siblings may have been. Here they either met a glorious death in the greatest battle ever the Garou have ever known, or reaped the Renown of having survived.
Galliards are often asked to the tell the tale of their Tribe at the battle, or of specific Garou, often at Moots, so Galliard players should familiarize themselves with the Event and have creative liberty to add minor events that took place during the great battle to make a great story.
Following the dousing of the Red Star, the Wyrm seized the confusion and loss as an opportunity to strike at the Garou where it would hurt them most. Targeting the remaining or surviving Athros and Elders of the Garou Nation, many Pentex First Teams and strike packs of Black Spiral Dancers attacked and slaughtered as many of the higher ranked Garou as they could find. Their hope of course, to leave the younger Garou bereft of the teaching and knowledge that the higher ranks could give them, as well as depriving them of as many experienced fighters as they could. As if things couldn’t get worse for the Garou Nation, the Wyrm succeeded with sickening efficiency.
Following these events, the Garou have reorganized and adapted to their current situations. Younger Garou have had to step up in many ways to continue their way of life and leadership. Adren and Fostern hold positions formerly only known to Athros and Elders, while struggling to earn the recognition in the eyes of the spirits to once more fill the role of Teachers.
The Nation as a Whole:
Alliances both political and survival oriented have developed. The Tribes after suffering such a difficult loss, have had to make hard choices to keep their way of life together and continue their ongoing war against the Wyrm.
The Silverfangs, Fianna, and Get of Fenris:
The Strongest current political alliance, these three “High Tribes” have banded together in order to keep tradition whole and to defend against the other political groups crying for change in light of the events.
The Shadowlords, Glasswalkers, and Bonegnawers:
In a radical shift of perspective, the Shadowlords have sought out the Urban tribes, and banded them together in order to cry for change in leadership. They often cite the horrible aftermath of the Anthelios victory as proof that the Silverfangs no longer rule, no matter what the Silver Crown may say.
Children of Gaia, Stargazers, and Silent Striders:
These three tribes struggle together to keep the peace between the alliances while they all attempt to rebuild and stop the vicious decline that seems to be afflicting the Garou in their struggles against the Wyrm.
Red Talons, Uktena, and Wendigo:
The Purelanders have formed a tenuous bond with the Red Talons. These three all have various reasons for wishing the Silverfangs and the others out of power, and as such generally act as a thorn in the sides of all the major political alliances. If they were to ever unite behind a faction or another, it could swing the political balance within the Nation. Luckily for the others, the Purelanders still despise the Wyrmcomers for their problems, so the likelihood of any alliances with them seems nothing but smoke for now.
These women stand on the outside, still deciding which if any of the groups they will support. Knowing their ability to swing things in a significant direction with their support, they are currently happy to stand waiting to see which will best support their wishes and desires, and ensuring that those agreements are iron clad before they move forward.
Suggested Application for Gameplay:
Storytellers, this material can be used to set-up your local Sept if you wish less NPC Athro and Elders and more involved players. In the aftermath of the other Setting events these NPCs could have met there end after assassination by the Wyrm, opening up the way for Player Characters to take charge.
Storytellers, if you have NPCs in place at the beginning of the chronicle and want an easy way to remove them from play during the course of the game, this is an easy way that will fit in with the current Setting.
Players, if you need an NPC dead in your back-story and dying in battle isn’t the way to do it, here you go!
Players and Storytellers alike, these suggested alliances are not set in stone and not required locally. On the National, if not Global scale, this is how the Tribes tend to be acting. This does not mean that Glasswalker cannot be allies with the Silver Fang and a Fianna because the Shadow Lords told you not too. There might be some bias either way, but take these alliances and use them to bolster your RP, not hinder it. They are not all set in stone either and we intend for them to change during the course of play as a result of National and Regional plot as well as PC action.