I'm not a skilled Werewolf: the Apocalypse player. One thing that has always surprised me is that Gnosis, Willpower and Rage are calculated from Breed, Tribe and Auspice. But I don't know how it is balanced.

Well, I know homids have less Gnosis than lupus and metis, but the lupus can chose less abilities and the metis have deformations. Ok, I see the balance.

But why some Tribes have more Willpower than others? How is it balanced? And auspices?

The only element that I can think of are the Gifts, but, are the Ragabash gifts so much better that the Ahroun's ones that they balance the fact that Ragabash has 1 Rage and Ahroun 5?

EDIT: I must clear something after reading the responses. I'm not talking about combat balance. WoD games are not balanced in combat since the moment you choose attributes priorities in physical, social and mental. I was looking for that kind of balance, or the kind of balance a Brujah, a Ventrue and a Malkavian can have. or the kind of balance of having a high Humanity versus having a high Willpower. That is, that your choice have advantages and disadvantages.


3 Answers 3


There are a few issues at work here:

  • It's not balanced, or at least not with the hair-trigger fineness that, say, D&D4 attempts to achieve. The characters are not meant to be equal, they're meant to be comparable. (Ultimately so much of what a Garou can do in a fight depends on their inherent Garou resilience, form changing, Gifts and aggravated-damage-claws that how the tribes and auspices balance is a detail on top.)

  • It's about area of specialty. This is the World of Darkness; fighting is important to werewolves, but in the long run it's the least important decision they make. Ahroun are combat monsters; if you're looking for combat balance between a Black Fury Ahroun and a Glass Walker Theurge, then sorry, it's not there and it's not meant to be. The Ahroun would wipe the floor with the Theurge... if the Theurge is so poor at his job that he lets the challenge get to a klaive duel instead of a ritual or riddle-game or having spirits warn him about the threat.

    (Compared to any non-Garou, of course, even a Bone Gnawer Ragabash is a lethally dangerous killing machine.)

  • Rage, in particular, is not all good. The balance between Rage 2 and Rage 6 is that a Rage 2 character only has 2 rage. He won't frenzy, he won't panic and run in fear at a Nexus Crawler, he won't get taunted into a berserk cannibalistic charge every time the moon is full. (Combat characters that run high-rage also need to spend plenty of freebie points and xp on Willpower, if they want to stay alive for long.)

  • You've left out any mention of skills, but WoD is a modern-world roleplay and skills are very important. All characters get the same number of skill points, yet High Primal-Urge, for example, is a major Lupus advantage... because wolves aren't spending all their skill points on Drive and Law and Language and all those other pointless things the homids all seem so worried about.

    With the exact same tribes, rage and willpower, I promise you that the fight between a Brawl 4, Melee 5, Dodge 4 Get of Fenris berserker and a Brawl 1, Melee 0 Dodge 2 Ragabash will be... one sided.

    (Which serves the Ragabash right for letting it come to a fight. The Ragabash has Stealth 4, Empathy 4, Law 3. So the warrior isn't going to like the mysterious disasters that happen to him over the next few weeks. Which might just drive him into a frenzy next full moon moot. Which will seriously jeopardize his position in the sept. Being a trickster is about not needing to hit things to make your point.)

  • Tribe / form Rage and Willpower are only meant to be starting points anyway; both are cheap to buy up with freebie points during character creation.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I didn't leave out the skills. What I said is I see how the disadvantages of the lupus picking the skills compensate the higher gnosis. \$\endgroup\$
    – Flamma
    Commented May 24, 2013 at 13:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, I didn't talk about being balanced in combat. Ventrue and Brujah are not balanced in combat, but they have their advantages and disadvantages. But I don't see why some tribes should have higher Willpower than others, for instance. \$\endgroup\$
    – Flamma
    Commented May 24, 2013 at 13:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Last, I don't see them as cheap. To have the same rage that an Ahroun a Ragabash must spend 4 freebie points, enough to buy 2 abilities or to become a millionaire. \$\endgroup\$
    – Flamma
    Commented May 24, 2013 at 14:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Flamma: You're right, I'd missed that you said "abilities". But yes, 1 per Rage is cheap. One extra attack in combat (for a Garou) is pretty much as big an in-game benefit as having two skills at 4 instead of 3, or being rich. The WoD cares about all of those things, and not more about any one. The tribes aren't precisely balanced, but they're such a small part of your power that it doesn't matter. It's no more unbalanced than anything else in character creation. (We're in danger of discussion here, so if you want to get into the details further I'll meet you in chat.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Tynam
    Commented May 24, 2013 at 18:57
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Your third point is one of the better reasons. Trust me, I once played in a pack with a Ahroun who always maxed his rage as a first priority. He was a near unstoppable killing machine- who at least once a story, wound up requiring the rest of the pack to hold him down while he tried to rip up civilians, informants, other members of the pack, the tribal elders or other such poor target. Rage tends to balance itself quite nicely. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 1, 2013 at 18:47

They're not.

The original World of Darkness games were crafted based on an aesthetic sensibility rather than for in-game potential or mathematical rigor. The Ragabash has a 1 rage because as a trickster, they're expected to act in a manner that's clever or subtle, and have less of the punishing fury that drives the Ahroun. There's no compensation for it; either the idea of playing a Ragabash is sufficient reward or it's not.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not complaining about the Ragabash only having 1 rage, and I don't say it hasn't its reasons. I was thinking that it should have some trade. Ok, less rage, but something that helps him being the trickster (otherwise an ahroun could pick the rage and still be a better trickster). Or maybe it made sense than a Theurge started with more Gnosis than an Ahroun. Thinks like that. I'm not expecting a mathematically balanced trade off, but at least something to be more fair. \$\endgroup\$
    – Flamma
    Commented May 24, 2013 at 16:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Flamma: An Ahroun can't pick the rage and still be a better trickster. Most of the Ragabash's trickster skill comes from his Gifts... which an Ahroun buys at out-of-auspice costs. At the expense of his Ahroun gifts. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tynam
    Commented May 29, 2013 at 18:04

I'm not sure that I'm saying anything that hasn't already been said, but:

Choices of breed, auspice and tribe are supposed to be role-playing choices, rather than optimization choices. They certainly have optimization/character creation effects, but at base they are about what kind of character you're going to play and their role in society. (In fact, the first time I played WoA, I flat out said to my players "Okay, the Ahorun is a Fighter, the Ragabash is like a Thief, the Theurge is like a Mage and the Philodox is like a Cleric, etc.")

A Ragabash SHOULDN'T have the same Rage as a Ahroun, because that's not his role in Garou society. He's a Tricker/Sacred Clown, while the Ahroun is a straight-up Warrior. Saying that they should have the same Rage would be like saying that the Bard should have the same base attack bonus as the Fighter in D&D. You have the option to try take your character in that direction, but it's going to cost you.

As for Willpower, some tribes are more about keeping their animal sides in check than others. A Red Talon will give into it's Rage more often than a Silver Fang or Shadow Lord because that's the philosophy of the Red Talons. With as important as Willpower is to the system and to Garou in particular, this is probably the second most 'unbalanced' aspect, powerwise.

Gnosis represents the connection that the character has to the spirit world. Humans are just that more cut off from it then Lupus or even Metis breeds. It's not a balance thing, it's just a conceit of the world established by White Wolf.

If you consider the Gifts as well, you can see that they are about operating in that particular 'sphere of influence.' Homid Gifts are about using their connection with the human world for results; Theurge Gifts are about contacting the Spirit World; Bone Gnawer Gifts are about surviving in the Urban Wilderness. If you are looking at the system from a purely combat point of view, some Gifts are obviously 'better' than others. But the out-of-combat Gifts still have their uses.

TL;DR As stated above, the traits between Breeds, Auspices and Tribes are not 'balanced' as we would think of them. White Wolf justifies this by saying that each particular choice represents a role/function in Garou society and the trait differences are supposed to reflect those roles. Freebie points let you adjust the choices you've selected, but you are not going to be able to specialize in two separate roles.

If you want to try to 'balance characters' you could figure out an average of Gnosis, Rage and Willpower and then let the players decide on what they want. For example, you might find the average Gnosis between the three breeds is 3, the average Rage is 2 and the average Willpower is 3. (Numbers are off the top of my head.) Then you could say to player "Okay, you have 9 points to split between Gnosis, Rage and Willpower. Each one needs a dot." That would be one house rule option, but you'd lose out on some of the 'flavor' of the game.

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ It's also worth noting that with the renown system a character that is roleplayed away from the core of their breed, auspice and tribe (especially auspice) will suffer as a result. Werewolf society is structure to have certain expectations and they must be met for you to fit in. This means that unless you really do want to play the breed, auspice and tribe you pick then you're probably going to lose any benefit you get from min-maxing for traits. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gaxx
    Commented May 24, 2013 at 15:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Gaxx That's an excellent point as well. \$\endgroup\$
    – Discord
    Commented May 24, 2013 at 16:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Gaxx Doesn't make that two characters sharing tribe, breed and auspice too similar? \$\endgroup\$
    – Flamma
    Commented May 25, 2013 at 15:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ It can do if people really play up the stereotypes but there's a lot of wiggle room in there so long as you don't stray too far. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gaxx
    Commented May 25, 2013 at 17:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, two characters with exactly the same traits can still be interpreted/role-played differently. They'll just have some overlap in usefulness. \$\endgroup\$
    – Discord
    Commented May 26, 2013 at 0:02

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