On the Nature of Rites
On the Nature of Rites
The following is a brief summary of information from the Lore of the Forsaken book regarding the use and role play aspects of Rituals.
What is a Rite?
Rites represent werewolf ability to invokes distant spirit cousins, calling upon ancient bans and pacts that were struck when the world was new. They open the werewolf to the power of the Shadow Realm. Urataha are natural conduits between physical and spiritual and serve to connect the two.
Each rite calls upon the ancient deals struck between werewolves and spirits, sworn in oaths that the spirits cannot break and the Uratha are loathe to disobey. Each pact is inviolate and becomes another of the bans of that spirit’s choir or descant whether they like it or not.
Some rites exist only in the memories of spirits who may not want to reveal that fact or in stories passed down through tribe and ritemasters. A werewolf who needs such power must brave the spirit wilds to learn it and hope that he can convince the spirit to tell her the truth
New rites are not easy to create. They require striking a deal with a spirit of higher rank than a werewolf would commonly deal with and travel into dangerous regions of the Shadow Realm. Most spirits are unwilling to enter into such a deal without a lot of persuasion. Spirits may lie or have ulterior motives and a werewolf might end up with a much more dangerous (or costly) rite than hoped for originally
How are Rites Learned?
Rites are learned through other werewolves and sometimes via spirits. It is easier to learn from a Ritemaster than a spirit because of the mercurial nature of the spirits. Few low-ranking spirits are old enough to understand the ancient pacts and bans, so Uratha tend to have to seek out much more powerful spirits to learn.
Three things must be accomplished to learn a rite:
- Discover its existence either through talking to other Uratha or spirits
- Learn the rite from a teacher
- Practice the rite over and over nin order to get it right
Religion and Ritual
Rituals are a major part o the People’s way of life. Mystic rites extend their culture to include the spirits ranging from friendly to hostile. These rites have changed little from their original form and many exist as they did thousands of years ago before the fall of Father Wolf.
Some rites have been updated to make use of local materials, but the meaning behind the rite remains the same. This meaning, reinforced by ancient pacts and bans with spirits, give the rites power. A rite is both spiritual power and a means of holding to ancient culture. They reinforce what a werewolf knows to be true while calling a spirit (even a hostile one) to act upon the world.
When she performs the rite correctly, she calls upon ancient bans and pacts between held since time immemorial. The spirits will not deny or refuse so long as the rite is performed correctly, even if they wish they could.
Some think of rites as nothing more than “Ritual spirit magic” but each is a combination of specific actions and the right mindset that allows the ritualist to act as a conduit for the spirit’s power.
To many Forsaken, performing rites is as much religion as magic. They are spiritual things that evoke a power that neither werewolf nor spirit could create alone or fully explain. Not all werewolves think of rites in the same way.
There are blasphemous rites that require some taint to the spirit, some dark temptation, or chiminage that werewolves find abborhent. These offer more power, but at tremendous cost. Other rites are seen as heavenly, performed in holy fashion close to the werewolve’s heart. Most rites exist in a middle ground between distasteful and beautiful.
Rites are rote performances, rarely changed. However, some portions of a rite can be replaced with similar items. A skull for another object representing death, for example.
To create a new change to a rite takes roughly two days per dot to perfect and can cause penalties:
(-1) change makes the rite take significantly longer or shorter than original
(-1 to -3) changes are a matter of personal taste and not local requirements
Remember one thing: a rite is not a tool.
A ritemaster cannot just go through the motions of the rite saying the words and performing the actions without putting her soul into it. This is a betrayal of the pacts that allow the rite to exist. Trivializing the spirit magic is one of the worst mistakes you can make.
The force of a rite comes from the spirits. The werewolf must understand why each part of the rite is important and why he is calling upon the spirits to enact the power. The mental state needed is a careful balance between the physical and the spiritual focused on the desired outcome.
Every rite requires some minor chiminage
Rites have a structure that helps meditate, calm the werewolf and stop that primal urge from distracting. Strict ritual processes involved in performing a rite can stop potential Kuruth.
Some turn their backs on rites. They might distrust them. Rites do not always succeed and sometimes fail for no clear reason. Some prefer the absence of set structure of a rite. No matter the reason, this rejection does create a loss of power for a werewolf.
It is a good idea to work out your character’s attitudes towards rites and why she feels the way she does about them. A rite is one of the times a werewolf can work with a spirit without waiting for it to stab her in the back and they are often seen as sacred.
Performing a rite means doing something bigger than yourself. They are old. Older than mortal language. Older than history. Connection to something so primeval can be inspiring or even frightening.
Every ritual is a symbol of the Ritemaster’s spirituality and beliefs. Auspice can play a part in how you think of rites and which ones you choose. Human thought before your First Change can affect how you interact with a Rite. If you were of an orthodox religion beforehand, you might take comfort in the structure of a rite. Some believe that shamans can only come from one group or gender. Sometimes the requirements of a rite might be abhorrent for you.
Rites add ritual stability to the werewolves who practice them.
Mechanics of Rites
Teamwork is possible during an extended rite, but only if the assistants also know the rite being performed. Teamwork isn’t possible on a rite that only takes an Instant action. Harmony is rolled for assistants, with all relevant modifiers, and successes gained are added to (or penalties caused by them for dramatic failure) to the dice pools rolled for a primary ritemaster.
+2 Ritemaster meditates successfully prior to the ritual. Need 4 or more successes on meditation Attribute task on p51 of WoD core book
+2 In the vicinity of a powerful locus; rated 4+
+1 In the vicinity of a locus; rated 1 to 3
+1 Ritualist has the goodwill of local spirits
+1 Ritemaster is in Dalu form
+1 Ritemaster’s auspice moon is in the sky
-1 to -3 Normal wound penalties
- Special Each point of damage suffered in a turn during the performance of a rite is a penalty to the next roll.
-1 Local spirits are hostile to ritualist
-1 City suburb or town (only if rite is performed in the physical world)
-1 Distracting environment (powerful odors, noisy, conflict)
-2 Packmates are involved in battle
-2 Dense urban area (only if rite is performed in physical world)
-2 Ritemaster is struck during rite but takes no damage
-3 Rite performed in a Barren
Reference the following for more detail on Rites
- Werewolf: The Forsaken pp 64-65; and 147-165
- Lore of the Forsaken pp 105-115; new Rites pp 121-25. This chapter specifically has a lot of good information on how to role play both Rites and Gifts. I highly suggest giving it a read.
All of the following books contain Rites. If anyone sees something missing, let me know and I will add it to this list:
Werewolf: The Forsaken pp 147-165
Lore of the Forsaken pp 121-25
- Valkyrja Mot p103
- Rites of the Bale Hounds pp140-44
Blood of the Wolf
- Rites of the Wild pp98-99
- Bar to Birth (2 dot) p28
Lodges – The Faithful
- Lodge of Arms Rites p31-32
- Lodge of Harmony p61
- Lodge of Salvation p86
- Lodge of Scrolls p89
- Lodge of Voices pp104-05
- Lodge of Wendigo p108
- Lodge of Winter p112
Lodges – The Splintered
- The Brotherhood of Eshu’s Cap Rites pp21-22
- Lodge of the Firestick pp61-62
- Lodge of the Hungry Ghost pp67-68
- Lodge of the Lost pp93-94
- Lodge of the Modernist p99
- Lodge of the Thin Shadow pp129-32
Territories pp 50-51
The Pure pp 121-29
- Hunt Rites pp 129-31
- Seasonal Rites pp 131-35
- Protectorate/Territory Rites pp 178-81
- Rite of the Dizzying Wind (2 dot) p 195
Tribes of the Moon
- Blood Talons pp 39-43
- Bone Shadows pp 71-75
- Hunters in Darkness pp 106-10
- Iron Masters pp 142-46
- Storm Lords pp 178-81
War Against the Pure
- Rites of War pp 51-53
- Rite of Recollection pp81-82
- Lunar Crusade Rites pp 143-44
Signs of the Moon
- Rites of the Stalker pp 32-33
- Ithaeur Rites pp 69-72
- Elodoth Rites pp 105-06