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There's a rules change from the Werewolf: The Apocalypse sourcebook Hengeyokai to the 20th anniversary edition of Werewolf (reference d as W20) that was presented in the supplement Changing Breeds (referenced as W20 CB) that confuses me.

Edition History of the issue

Back in (2nd Edition) Hengeyokai, Kitsune had a clear benefit that they were allowed to learn gifts for \$ Rank \times 4 \$ XP instead of the usual \$ Rank \times 5 \$ XP, as seen in the Experience table for Kitsune and the following excerpt:

For the most part, Kitsune gain and spend experience like any other shapeshifter. The primary difference comes when learning the Gifts of those outside their own breed or Path — here the Kitsune truly shine. Of course, the guidelines for cross-Gift learning given in the Werewolf Players Guide (pg. 189) should be followed fairly closely; but the Gifts that Foxes can learn, they learn quickly. Hengeyokai p.174

I can't find the referenced rules (for a lack of the 2nd Edition Werewolf Players Guide), but a fellow player told me it says that it's pretty much up to the GM's discretion what can be learned across Breed/Path/Fera borders.

The Revised Players Guide to Changing Breeds (referenced as PGtCB) brought us the following statement:

Kitsune rely heavily upon their magical strength and versatility. Not only are they able to learn potent Gifts of their own, but can easily learn the Gifts of other Changing Breeds as well.PGtCB p.100

Sadly it omits what this means, and does not give an altered XP table.

W20 CB Version

Changing Breeds for W20 changed this to the following:

Kitsune rely heavily upon their magical strength and versatility. Not only are they able to learn potent Gifts of their own, but can easily learn the Gifts of other Changing Breeds as well, as long as they have a teacher for the Gift. The experience cost is the same as for a non-breed/auspice/tribal Gift. W20 CB p.126

Question

How is the newest, W20 CB sentence to be interpreted? To me the following answers seem plausible somehow:

  1. Kitsune can learn any Gift they find a teacher for, paying \$ Rank \times 5 \$ XP (What is the limiter for other Fera then? GM Fiat?)
  2. Kitsune can learn a larger list of Gifts compared to other Fera for \$ Rank \times 5 \$ XP (using GM discretion as limiter for either list?)
  3. Kitsune are no different from other Fera and rely on the standard rules, that just specify that it is possible to learn gifts from lists you don't usually have access to, but provide little guidelines for itW20 p.151 & 244 but relying entirely on GM discretion.

It might however mean something entirely different... but then what does it mean?

I would prefer an argumentation that gets to a conclusion over simply referencing that this would be a Golden RuleW20 p.231 issiue, as the Golden Rule/Rule 0 is simply "The GM is always right, if the Rules say otherwise, the GM is in the right to break and change them".


Appendix

W20 just provides this little piece on learning gifts and cross list learnign gifts:

As a character gains more experience, she may purchase more Gifts. However, the character must be of a rank equal to or higher than the level of the Gift desired, or she cannot possess it —the blessings of the spirits won’t settle on the shoulders of the unworthy. During play, a werewolf may learn the Gifts of other breeds, auspices or tribes, provided she can find a spirit (or other Garou) to teach her. However, these Gifts cost more than those normally associated with her own tribe, auspice and breed (see the Experience Point chart, p. 244).W20 p.151

To me, the may learn strongly hints that allowability is GM fiat (as is the availability of a fitting teacher).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you guys for adding the edition history! I was actually contemplating a suggested cleanup of that myself. The question reads more clearly now :) \$\endgroup\$ – BanjoFox Jul 21 '17 at 12:18
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Actual benefit of Kitsune

The paragraph you quoted from W20 Changing Breeds says that:

  1. Kitsune can "learn potent Gifts of their own", without a teacher.
  2. Kitsune can "learn the Gifts of other Changing Breeds" (any of them), provided that they find a teacher.

The experience cost is specified as "the same as for a non-breed/auspice/tribal Gift", and we don't know if it applies to both points and Kitsune have to pay increased cost if they learn a "potent Gift" on their own.

I do not know if “potent” is just a fluff word here or a game term; as it is not capitalized, I would assume the former.

Let us compare it to the “standard situation of W20” — to the Garou.

Garou, according to the Learning Gifts paragraph on pages 151-152 of W20 Core, always need a mentor to learn a Gift. If it is a Spirit, the process goes fast, if it is another Garou, not so fast, but still possible. Breed, Auspice and Tribe Gifts cost 3*level XP, others cost 5*level XP.

Garou do not get the opportunity to learn the Gifts of other Changing Breeds (other Fera). At least I was not able to find something that allows them to do it, though neither was something directly forbidding it found. The sentence "a werewolf may learn the Gifts of other breeds, auspices or tribes" implies not being able to learn Kitsune Gifts, but rather Gifts of Homid if you are Lupus, for example.

So, in W20 the benefit of Kitsune is not “quantity of Gifts” (the ability to learn more Gifts from their list with the same amount of XP), but rather “quality of Gifts” (the ability to learn more types of Gifts and easy access to Kitsune Gifts). This is further supported by the phrase "Kitsune rely heavily upon their magical strength and versatility."

White Wolf books are flawed

The books printed by White Wolf inherit a lot of text from each other, and when rules (or lore) change from edition to edition, some now unrelated or obsolete text may occasionally stay.

For example, V20 Core, p. 107:

If you don’t have any dots in a Knowledge, you cannot even attempt a roll involving it unless the Storyteller gives explicit permission (such as where common trivia is concerned). If you don’t know Spanish, you can’t try holding a conversation en español on your Wits alone.

But Linguistics is no longer a Knowledge in V20, languages are 1-dot Merits, and you either know it or don't know. This probably still explains how do Knowledge checks work, but the example check is irrelevant. If they changed it to, for example, a Computers check, it would be a lot more relevant, and in addition it would explain what does it mean to have 0 dots in Computers: not being able to use computers at all, or only to hack into the systems?

Or, regarding W20, see the question "How does Calm Heart work?": a Merit from VtM series was directly reprinted without fixing the issue with vampire and werewolf Frenzy functioning differently. You would not be able to use this Merit out of the box, you would have to home-rule some other way to make resisting Frenzy easier or find another book to use.

And the most iconic example being Page XX.

This makes understanding WW books... hard. Sometimes. At least do not expect it to always be easy.

GM fiat is what really limits you ever

You asked about the GM fiat -- here is my answer.

Having to find a teacher to learn a "foreign" Gift effectively means that GM can deprive you of any Gift. He/she may also deprive you of any other option you want to take, just because "Rule 0" gets reprinted in WW books over and over and remains essential, allowing to rule however your ST wants to rule. This is especially important regarding the ability not to look for a teacher when learning a native Kitsune Gift, my inner oWoD player senses tell not to expect every ST to actually allow learning any Native Gift that way.

Whatever is written in the book, all of the GMs that I met had something work very differently compared to RAW, sometimes intentionally (they did not like how it is done by WW), sometimes just because they didn't bother to learn all of the rules. And I also noticed that the more people call some Storyteller I know good, the more are the rules of that Storyteller different from RAW. That is a thing to consider.

Just because it is (un)fortunately not Pathfinder, even if it is possible to do something in oWoD according to RAW, one should be totally ready hear a "no, just no" from the Storyteller.

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Without having immediate access to my Revised edition W:tA PG I cannot speak to the W:ta Revised edition rule.

Gifts that Kitsune can pick from:

Based on the Revised (PGtCB) Rules I would say this.

[Kitsune] can easily learn the Gifts of other Changing Breeds, as long as they have a teacher for the Gift.

To me that means that any Kitsune that can learn from any other fera that are willing to teach them. I would also expect the XP formula to be Rank x 5 per the standard convention (presuming there are no other RAW to contradict this).

Regarding GM Discretion:

White Wolf, especially World of Darkness, has always had the Golden Rule as far as I recall. As far as I can tell, having reviewed my copy of W20 CB that there is no clear (RAW) benefit. This means that such benefits are left to GM discretion. I seem to remember that there are other examples of things that once existed in previous (Revised) editions which did not copy over to W20. However I am currently at a loss for specific examples.


Reference: W20 p. 231

The Golden Rule

It’s been twenty years, and some things never change. The Golden Rule remains the most important rule in the game: The rules are what you make of them. Whether you’re running a long-running chronicle of tense negotiations and furious action in the Amazon, or a near-diceless political negotiation between the Changing Breeds of Africa with each player as a representative from an affected Breed, if the rules get in the way of your game, change the rules. Nothing in this book is more important than the story that’s happening around your table. The Storyteller and players should determine between them what works best for the game they’re playing, and you’re free to use, alter, abuse, or ignore these rules at your leisure to achieve that goal. If you know something doesn’t work for you but you don’t know where to start changing it, a number of fan communities are just an internet search away, where you’ll find people who delight in tinkering with the rules to get the outcomes they want.

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