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Background Traits are a collection of resources your character brings into play, measured in one to five Traits each. You choose Background Traits when you build your werewolf, and with a few exceptions they remain fixed in play. For situations in which you would raise Backgrounds, you must typically (again, with exceptions) justify the increase with the Storytellers before purchasing them with Experience Points.


Purchasing Backgrounds with Experience

Purchasing Backgrounds with Experience Points always requires an in-character reason submitted to and approved by the Storytellers. With approval it can be a group amount of downtimes for these backgrounds: Influence,  resources, Contacts and Allies Then you must expend a number of Major Downtime Actions, like so:


Level Being Purchased Downtime Actions Required 



Rules for Background Traits

These are the Background Traits used in our game, and how they work.



Allies represent specific human friends, colleagues, and partners who don't necessarily know about your supernatural secret life, but who will help you out in a pinch. Each dot in Allies represents one person with particular expertise, such as researchers, lawyers, craftsmen, and thugs. Each dot in Allies also represents the maximum number of Ability Traits each person can bring to bear on a problem.


Work with the Storytellers to define these Allies, and then mention them in your Downtimes to have them perform tasks for you. Each dot of Allies you expend in your Downtime brings one level of an ally's Ability to bear on a task.


For example, three dots of allies might represent Mary, Mark and Luke, who are a scientist, a spy and a smith, respectively. In your Downtimes you could spend three points of Allies to have Mark shadow a target with Stealth x3. Or you could have him shadow a target with Stealth x2, while Mary does research with Science x1.


  • Restrictions: Shadow Lord characters may not possess the Allies Background.



Many Garou have a spiritual connection to the heroes who came before them, the great ancestors of their Tribes. Often these are blood relatives, but sometimes they're just helpful spirits who have taken an interest in you. They don't materialize or talk to you, but they look out for you, and on occasion they will share their skills when you're in a tight spot.


To tap into this trove of ancestral knowledge, mark off a level of Ancestors and make a Rock-Paper-Scissors challenge with a Storyteller. If you lose, your ancestors cannot help you with the task at hand. If you win or tie, they share their wisdom, and you gain one Trait in an Ability your ancestor would have had. This Ability Trait remains for the rest of the scene or until you spend it on some other effect (such as, most commonly, a retest or a cancel).


If you fail the Ancestors test, make two more tests with the Storyteller. Fail them both and you will be possessed by your Ancestor for the scene.


  • Restrictions: Bone Gnawer, Glass Walker and Silent Strider characters may not possess the Ancestors Background.



You maintain a number of informal connections with people in many walks of life. You can work these connections to gain information about activities going on in the city. In your Downtimes, tell the Storytellers what information you want to dig up, and the number of Traits in Contacts you will use to dig. You'll get information as if you had that number of Traits in an Influence appropriate to your inquiry.


  • Restrictions: Get of Fenris and Wendigo characters may not possess the Contacts Background.



Your reputation precedes you. You are so well-known within your circles of influence that your name alone can often get things done, no matter where you happen to be.


Fame is an unusual background, mechanically. If you're a member of this chronicle playing this chronicle, Fame doesn't give any particular mechanical benefits. If you're a member of this chronicle playing another chronicle in TGN, you are subject to their rules for Fame -- which might be similar to these, or might not. It's when you are a visiting player from another chronicle playing here that these rules for Fame kick in: Each Trait of Fame you possess allows you to perform a single Influence action in the Twin Cities. On a side note, your level of fame determines how well you are recognized. This can benefit as well as be a hindrance.



Once upon a time, a Garou made a pact with a spirit, infusing its power into a sacred object in exchange for veneration and a chance to serve Gaia. You have received this sacred object, either as a gift or as an inheritance. It could be almost anything: a spirit of night in a blanket, with the power to keep away nightmares; an air-spirit in a war-trumpet, with the power to carry its warning to any ear; or a spirit of the Sun itself in a sword, with the power to set vampires ablaze. The number of Traits you place in this Background determines how potent the Fetish is.


The Storytellers must approve any specific Fetish before it enters play, and to start with the Fetish Background, the item must be appropriate to the character. They probably won't approve legendary flaming swords of fire for starting cubs or cliath characters.


  • Restrictions: Stargazer characters may not possess the Fetish Background.



If you have Influence, you have some sway within human society. You may be able to call in favors from the Police, exert pressure on Political leaders, push the board of a University to further your goals, and so on. Influence is measured in specific Traits describing the area over which you have influence. See the complete rules for Influence for more information.


  • Restrictions: Characters may not begin play with higher than level 2 in any influence (as of November 1, 2010)



Kinfolk are your family -- humans or wolves whom Luna may never have blessed with the potential to Change into Garou, but who continue to care for and support your part in the war. Human kinfolk, unlike most other humans, are immune to the Delirium, being able to bear the sight of you in your war-forms without instinctive fear. Kinfolk are prime reproductive partners; children you have by Kinfolk have a chance to become Garou, whereas children you have by non-Kinfolk only have a chance to be Kinfolk themselves.


  • You can ask your Kinfolk to keep an eye on a particular location for you, often your home. They'll be able to alert you if anything unusual is going on.
  • You can ask your Kinfolk to manage day-to-day affairs for you, gaining you an extra downtime action. The level of your kinfolk determines how much you can do with this downtime action.



You have an advisor in the Garou Nation, an older werewolf, who offers you teaching and aid in exchange for an occasional favor. Your rating in Mentor represents how knowledgeable that Garou is: a one-Trait Mentor is a big-brother or big-sister figure, knowing only a little more than you, while a five-Trait mentor would be a sage of great renown. Be sure to work with the Storytellers on who your Mentor is when you take this Background.


In play, you can use a Rock-Paper-Scissors test with a Storyteller to call on your Mentor's aid. Win, and your Mentor will help you, no questions asked. Tie, and your Mentor will help, but she will want a favor in return. Fail, and your Mentor will help you after you deliver that favor.


Between games, your Mentor may be able to instruct you in secret knowledge. A Mentor can teach a few specialized Lores up to your level in the Background. They can also teach appropriate Rites: basic rites for Mentor x1, intermediate rites for Mentor x3, and advanced rites for Mentor x5. Unlike learning Rites from other players for free, however, Rites learned in this way cost Experience Points.


  • Restrictions: Glass Walker and Shadow Lord characters may not possess the Mentor Background.




Numen is a companion spirit that is bonded to a garou. Full rules are listed on the Numen page.


  • Restrictions: This Background is available only by Storyteller approval. Numen is typically Restricted to ST approval during Character Creation. The STaff is open to hear requests for a Numen to be acquired after character creation on a case-by-case basis.


Pack Tactics

Your life experience includes special training working as one mind with a pack. You can anticipate your packmates, acting in deadly concert. When a packmate fails a challenge, you may spend one dot of Pack Tactics, forfeit your next action, and describe a plausible way you can assist your packmate. If you do, your packmate gets a retest on the action they failed. This retest may even follow "final" retests like Might. You may not do this again for anyone until the scene has moved past the point of the action you forfeited.


For example, say your packmate has just failed a challenge to dodge a bolt of Balefire. You can mark off a dot of Pack Tactics, forfeit your next action, and describe how you shoulder her out of the way. She gets another retest to attempt the dodge. The next action you gave up could be a Rage action (if you have Rage to spend, and haven't used Gnosis) or it can be your Normal action next round -- but until the scene moves past that point, you can't act again.


  • Unrestricted: The Pack Tactics Background may be increased in play without special Storyteller approval by simply spending experience. Your expertise grows as you spend time drilling in tactics alongside your fellow pack members.


Pure Breed

Pure Breed is your pedigree, a measure of your noble lineage. In your appearance and demeanor you bear a resemblance to your tribe's ancestral heroes: Silver Fangs have a regal bearing and a silver pelt, Shadow Lords have jet-black fur and a subtle intensity, Silent Striders appear as lithe-limbed Egyptian royalty, etc. Other Garou sense your good breeding instinctively and cannot help but concede a measure of deference to it. Each level of Pure Breed you possess provides a bonus to your Social Traits in Social Challenges with Garou.


Garou of high Purebreed are expected to live up to the standards put forth by their tribe and the Garou Nation.  A truly well bred Garou who failed to live up to the standards of Glory, Honor, and Wisdom are seen as having not only brought a failure upon their own heads, but dishonored the legacy they represent.  A Garou of high Purebreed who is stripped of renown loses additional renown from that category based on the amount of Purebreed they posses.  This loss is adding in additional to any other punishments (e.g. If a Child of Gaia with 3 Purebreed is stripped of 2 Honor, they will lose 1 additional renown).  If renown from multiple categories are lost, the player may choose which category the additional loss comes from (e.g. If a Get of Fenris with 3 Purebreed is stripped of 1 Honor and 1 Wisdom, they may choose whether their additional loss comes from Honor or Wisdom, but still only lose 1 additional renown).


Garou with 1-2 dots of Purebreed do not strongly resemble their tribes mythical heroes, and as such do not lose additional renown when they are punished.  Garou with 3-4 dots of Purebreed strongly resemble their ancestors, and their failures cause them to lose 1 additional point of renown when they are punished.  Garou with 5 dots of Purebreed are the spitting image of the most legendary members of their tribe, and their failures cause them to lose 2 additional points of renown when they are punished.


Kinfolk characters who possess Pure Breed are very highly desired as breeding stock. Note that Garou respond to a Kinfolk's Pure Breed, but Kinfolk do not have the same instinct to respond to a Garou's Pure Breed.


If you have Pure Breed from a different tribe than your own -- if, say, you were a well-bred child of the Black Furies, given to the Children of Gaia for being male -- your Pure Breed provides no bonus or penalty. The spiritual incongruity between your tribe and your lineage confuses the Garou instinct to defer.


  • Restrictions: Bone Gnawer and Glass Walker characters may not possess the Pure Breed Background. Silver Fang characters must possess at least three levels of it. Pure Breed at levels higher than three is restricted by the Storytellers.



You've got a source of cash income. You might hold down a job, receive money from a trust fund, or deal in illegal commodities on the side. At the beginning of a game session or during a Downtime, you may talk to a Storyteller to spend the standard income you earn. By permanently spending a level of Resources, you can spend ten times the standard amount -- effectively by liquidating some of your assets and holdings.



Income per Game

(2 Weeks)

Poverty -- you have roommates and a bus pass.
One Trait
You have an apartment and cheap transportation.
Two Traits
You have a townhome or condo, plus a motorcycle or an economy car.
Three Traits
You have a decent savings; you own your house and a good car.
Four Traits
You have a significant savings, a spacious house, two vehicles and expensive toys.
Five Traits
You're downright wealthy: you have land and an estate or multiple properties across the city, more vehicles than you can use, and frivolous luxuries.


  • Restrictions: Bone Gnawer, Silent Strider, and Wendigo characters may not possess the Resources Background.
  • Totem additional resources: Any totem that gives additional resources will increase the petty cash you have access to by 3 per additional dot. 



You begin with knowledge of a number of Rites, sacred ceremonies empowered by the spirits. You begin play with two Basic Rites for each Trait you take in this Background. Two Minor Rites may also take the place of one Basic Rite.


Spirit Heritage

Similar to Pure Breed in a sense, Spirit Heritage is a measure of your spirit's noble lineage. It represents your passages through the cycle, and the things your spirit has done before.  When you select this background, choose one type of spirit. Examples of possible groups are animal spirits, plant spirits, elementals, urban spirits, and even Banes. When dealing with spirits of this type, the player may add his Spirit Heritage rating to any Social rolls, or rolls involved in challenges. Spirits whom you are attuned to view you, to some degree, as one of their own -- a daunting prospect for those attuned to Banes, when other Garou discover their heritage. Spirits recognize this power innately, and cannot help but be impressed by it. Each level of Spirit Heritage you possess provides a bonus to your Social Traits in Social Challenges with Spirits who favor your lineage. Visible only in the Umbra.


Spirits whom you are attuned to will see you as more than just another Garou, they will also view you as one of their own. If you act against such spirits or ignore their plights, you may be seen as betraying them.


  • Restrictions: This Background is available only by Storyteller approval.


Spirit Network

This Background is the spiritual equivalent of Contacts. You maintain good relationships with small spirits in the region, who gladly feed you information about goings-on in the local Penumbra. Sometimes they notice things that physical observers on Earth just wouldn't catch. This Background contributes to the generally creepy reputation of the Theurge Auspice, giving them access to information they would have no real way of knowing.


This background is most often employed in Downtimes or by role-playing with a Storyteller. The level of the Background corresponds to the extent of knowledge the Spirit Network can discover.


  • Restrictions: Only Theurge characters may take the Spirit Network Background.



The Totem background measures your devotion to one or more spirit patrons. You maintain a respectful relationship with your Totems, giving regular homage at their shrines, obeying their Bans, and living out their precepts.


Totem connects you to a particular spirit, recorded as "Totem: Stag" or "Totem: Coyote". You can move your levels in Totem around from one spirit to another, or leave them completely unassigned. You may possess as many levels in the Totem background as you like.


By taking this Background and undergoing a special rite, you can form a Pack with other Garou following the same Totem. At the rank of Cliath you can also devote yourself to another spirit as your own Personal Totem.  These practices earn you particular bonuses. Taking this Background with respect to any spirits other than your Pack and Personal Totems will not earn you any special benefits beyond good favor with the spirits in question. The type of totems you can follow are Personal, pack, or tribal.


  • Unrestricted: The Totem Background may be increased in play without special Storyteller approval by simply spending experience.
  • Focused: You devote each Trait of Totem to a particular Totem Spirit. If you are unaffiliated with any spirit, the Traits are "Unassigned." These Traits may be shifted around as you please, which will affect your Totem Benefits.
  • Unlimited: Unlike other Backgrounds, you may exceed five Traits in Totem.


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