8
\$\begingroup\$

I have not played W:TA before (but have been playing other systems since ~2009, mostly DnD variants and DSA 5). I will not have access to source books before session 1, where the group will create characters together. I want to have a mostly-complete character concept ready at that time.

The Ajaba is a were-hyena shapechanger with five distinct forms, as per the usual W:TA rules. Unlike most other Fera in the setting, Ajaba Metis are not expected to have deformities but they are expected to be "hermaphroditic".

... What does that mean?

Here is a taxonomy of possible interpretations I can come up with:

  • Sequential Hermaphrodite
    • 'change sexual morphism over time' vs. 'pick sexual morphism on trigger' (e.g. shape change)
    • 'all forms have the same morphisms' vs. 'any form may be in a different state of transition'
  • Simultaneous Hermaphrodite
    • "dual-purpose plumbing" vs. "double plumbing" vs. "why stop at two"
      • only real vs. real and pseudo-scrotum on the three hyena forms
    • 'sterile like Werewolf Metis' vs. 'fertile like Kitsune or Nagah Metis'
      • 'Autogamy possible' vs. 'Autogamy impossible' vs. 'Autogamy possible but non-viable'
        (Hello, nightmare fuel - but it's a horror setting, after all.)
  • Aristotle was right: It's all nonsense stemming from Spotted Hyenas looking funny. No hermaphroditism to see here.
    (Listing this one for completeness, I do not think this is an option given that Metis can only grow up within existing shapechanger communities - hyenas may be hard to tell apart to humans, but hyenas would know.)
  • It's shapechangers, stupid: Everyone works differently.
    (Listing this one for completeness, I do not think this is an option given the pre-defined, common five forms - Fera are apparently not "freestyle" shapechangers like Star Trek Changelings but rather switch between "presets" like the Pathfinder Kitsune.)

(This is not meant as a "build your own answer" toolkit, but rather to demonstrate "my own research" on how the term might sensibly be interpreted. It is likely incomplete and the correct answer may well be disjoint from this taxonomy, I have no way of knowing that yet.)

From experience with other RPG systems I expect no such detail to have an impact upon the rules, but I'd consider them quite impactful on the self-image of any character living with them, and rather wildly differently so, as well.

\$\endgroup\$

1 Answer 1

9
+50
\$\begingroup\$

Ajaba Metis are always infertile, not always hermaphrodites, and always deformed.

Whenever Metis are fertile, it is explicitly mentioned. That is only the case for Kitsune and Nagah. In fact, W20 calls them out as infertile, and ponts out explicitly, that hermaphroditism is considered a metis disfigurement for the purpose of choosing one:

• Metis: [...] Now more than ever, metis Ajaba tend to be fully accepted as members of the tribe. While they are sterile (and thus cannot help increase the Ajaba’s population on their own), [...] While observers mistakenly thought all natural hyenas to be hermaphrodites, metis Ajaba do exhibit a higher-than-average rate of hermaphroditism as their metis disfigurement.1

There's also a box about Hermaphrodites and Hyaenids2, which explains that female hyaenas have a pseudo-penis. The W20 Core book does not list "hermaphroditism" with the other metis deformities, but that list is explicitly not complete and is just a list of suggestions.

Deformities: Every metis character has at least one deformity, chosen during character creation. While some deformities may have minor benefits, the bad always outweighs the good. Storytellers should encourage players to choose defects that complement their character concept. Some possibilities for metis deformities include: [...]3

Edition history

That they are infertile and have deformities is not new though: Ajaba were originally treated as a Bastet breed, and appeared in the Bastet Breed Book as little more than a variant.4 And already there, it was called out, but also explained how they are hermaphrodites:

Tribal metis have an interesting mutation: they either change genders, or are hermaphrodites. The race has never shared the usual Changing Breed view of metis, and the current crisis only makes them more accepted. Even so, they cannot reproduce. Their bodies are sterile, and this drives them crazy with shame. To make up for the children they cannot have, Ajaba metis adopt a bodyguard role for the fertile members of the pack. No one gets to the others without going through the metis first.5

That quote settles a part of your inquiry so far incompleted by implying multiple possible outcomes for their sexual organ setup, but clearly stating that they are all infertile. The best interpretations I can figure out from the line are:

  • Ajaba Metis have both [partial] sets of male and female primary, and possibly secondary, reproductive organs as simultaneous Hermaphrodites.
    • Ask the Storyteller what they allow, there's a dizzying array of combinations here, including the 'all the traits' combination of "Adam's Apple, Breasts, Penis, Scrotum, Clitoris & Vagina".
  • They change genders
    • So they might have a different phenotypical gender at different times of their life as sequential hermaphrodites
    • or they might have different phenotypical genders in different forms.

The revised edition didn't say different either, even though they had special rules for rage/gnosis there, as they were no longer treated as just another Bastet-variant:

Metis: Most Ajaba metis are hermaphroditic, and even those that aren't might as well be spiritually. They lack the gender-based benefits to Gnosis or Rage enjoyed by males and females respectively, hovering in the middle of the scale for each trait. [...] Beginning Gnosis: 36

Otherwise they are just treated normally but for the rage stats, which depend on the Aspect (directly corresponding with Bastet Pryio). There is no call out that they would be fertile (unlike the Nagah and Kitsune entries), so they default to the basic book rules here, which in turn ruled that all metis are infertile.


1 - Werewolf the Apocalypse - 20th Anniversary Edition: Changing Breeds, (2013), p.49.
2 - Werewolf the Apocalypse - 20th Anniversary Edition: Changing Breeds, (2013), p.48.
3 - Werewolf the Apocalypse - 20th Anniversary Edition, (2012), p.74.
4 - Changing Breed Book I: Bastet, Clarkston (1998), p.145-147.
5 - Changing Breed Book I: Bastet, Clarkston (1998), p.146.
6 - Players Guide to the Changing Breeds, Stone Mountain (2003), p.39.

\$\endgroup\$
1
  • \$\begingroup\$ That looks a lot more sensible than what is on the wiki. Huh. It is of course perfectly normal that wikis for licensed work are written rather terse - and for obvious reasons - but I did not expect it to be quite so... aggressively misleading. Why, thank you very much and enjoy your bounty. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zsar
    Oct 29, 2023 at 9:24

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .