January 11, 2014
A Look At The Crunch Of Werewolf: The Forsaken
Much like how Vampire: The Requiem is the new World of Darkness version of Vampire: The Masquerade, Werewolf: The Forsaken is the new World of Darkness version of Werewolf: The Apocalypse. Now, whereas with Vampire I was torn between the superior story of Masquerade with the better mechanics of Requiem, with Werewolf my thoughts on which is superior overall is pretty straightforward. Do not misunderstand me, I really do enjoy Werewolf the Apocalypse. It was the game that first really got me into the World of Darkness games and horror-themed games in general, but there is no comparison to Werewolf: The Forsaken. Overall, I find Werewolf: The Forsaken to be a greatly superior game in most regards.
In Forsaken, you create your character by selecting your tribe and your auspice. Gone is your breed, from Apocalypse, as all characters are now born human. Being a werewolf is not an inflection or curse as vampirism is in Requiem/Masquerade, but something you are born with that simply does not manifest until your late-teens to mid-twenties. The myth of the wolf-bite comes from a rite that werewolves perform in order to tell how close these “cubs” are to turning, in which they must taste their blood, which is typically done in their wolf-form. The auspices are much the same, albeit with new names. The full-moon born are the warriors, the three-quarters moon are the keepers of tales, the half-moon are the judges, the one-quarter moon born are the mystics, and the new moon born are scouts. Now, there are optional rules for those born under an eclipse, but I will not go into those. The tribes have also had a complete overhaul, mostly in that there are now only five main tribes and each one of them is far more in depth than those found in Apocalypse.
Like in Apocalypse, a werewolf (or Uratha, as they call themselves) is able to take five different forms. They have their natural human form, a near-human bestial form, a wolf form, a giant, battle-wolf form, and finally they have their war-form, which is the half-man/half-beast form we all expect from werewolves. Now, something I really like about Werewolf the Forsaken, is that the war-form is used only for one thing. War. That form is so powerful that it is both hard to control and limited in its use. Uratha can only sustain that form for a short period of time and while in that form they are under the Rage, a state in which they must fight, destroy, and feed – possibly even on their own kin. Taking the war-form can be very dangerous and it plays very well to the theme of savage horror, blending story with mechanics to make it incredibly dynamic.
Most of all, werewolves are no longer entirely superior to all other World of Darkness denizens. With the more unified storyteller system of the new World of Darkness, werewolves are much closer to scale, in terms of being a powerful character, with things like vampires, mages, and others. They remain the dominant in terms of physical power, sure, but that is to be expected. They are werewolves, but gone are the days when it would take an entire coterie of vampires to take down a single werewolf, which was often very problematic considering that werewolves like to travel in packs. You know, like wolves.
I adore this game. Mechanically, I think they have done just about everything right in terms of creating a werewolf game. If you and your troupe are looking for an exciting, dark game that explores the conflicts of a bestial nature mixed with human ethics and sensibilities or a game of primal horror, mysticism, and savagery look no further. Werewolf: The Forsaken is the game for you.
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