- Changing Breed
This Article details the Fera, as presented in the role-playing game Werewolf: The Apocalypse.
Though the most widespread, Garou are not the only shapeshifters in the World of Darkness. The Fera (also called the Changing Breeds) is a term used by Garou to refer to other shapechangers. The affiliation of these other beings is not necessarily to Gaia but this is largely the case.
In several parts of the world, the Fera gather in groups not unlike the Garou Nation. These regional groups band together in their battles against the Wyrm.
In Asia, the Beast Courts band together to defend the Emerald Mother from the Great Centipede. While they do not always get along, the Hengeyoukai know that their cooperation with one another will one day save their homeland from the devastation of the coming Sixth Age.
In Africa the newer Ahadi has risen to defend the Dark Continent from the forces of the Wyrm. Originally a loose alliance of Fera dedicated to the destruction of the tyrant Simba King Black Tooth and his Pride, the Endless Storm, the Ahadi has grown to become a confederation of Changing Breeds.
Bad relations still remain from the War of Rage that the Garou waged upon ALL other Fera. Many Fera had their numbers decimated during the War of Rage, several even being exterminated. All Fera are wary around Garou and any werewolves have their work cut out for them in gaining the trust of a group of Fera.
A long time ago, Gaia saw that no wolves decided to live in Africa, so she created the Ajaba to be the warriors of the earth. These "were-hyenas" could do the same job as the Garou, but were more cat-like so that they could work with the Bastet. However, it did not work out. The Garou, upon discovering the Ajaba (as well as other Fera), slaughtered the other shapechangers quite liberally. In the mid-1980s, the Simba attempted to completely exterminate the hyenas. The widely misunderstood Ajaba are often considered extinct or nearing extinction because of these wars, but the hyena people are very much alive and kicking. These social Fera live in large clans; their society is strictly matriarchal, so Ajaba women are typically more aggressive and outgoing than Ajaba men. Their five forms are similar to the other mammalian shapechangers: homid (human), anthros (near-human), crinos (were-hyena), crocas (dire hyena), and hyaenid (hyena).
The Ananasi are "were-spiders." Their name is drawn from the West African trickster/god Anansi. Grandchildren to the Weaver and the children of Ananasa, this race of shapeshifters was corrupted and coerced (through the imprisonment of their Queen, Ananasa) by the Wyrm into service for a considerable time. Though Ananasa was eventually freed and many Ananasi renounced the Wyrm, the Weaver did not forgive their lapse in loyalty. The Ananasi differ from the other Changing Breeds in that they do not have Rage, but instead use blood to fuel many of their gifts. The Ananasi are capable of acquiring a number of spider-like abilities such as multiple eyes, multiple limbs, venom, webs, as well as certain psychic abilities. Furthermore, they are the only Changing Breed whose animal form is not a single animal; Ananasi instead have "Crawlerling" form, which is a swarm of spiders. Their other two forms are Lilian and Pithus, a man-spider and a giant spider, respectively.
The last known Apis was the Minotaur of Knossos. They were so called after the Apis of Egyptian mythology. The Apis' totem was the aurochs, or the wild ox, which were similar to today's cattle only as wolves are similar to dogs. They were daytime Fera and were in charge of cultivation and agriculture. They were also known as "The Matchmakers of Gaia" whose job included teaching humans to respect nature. The extinction of the aurochs had nothing to do with the Apis extinction. They were driven to extinction by the Garou during the Wars of Rage, long before the aurochs itself began to decline.
The Bastet (named for the Egyptian deity Bast) are "were-cats". Servants of Gaia, their society is divided into tribes, but these divisions exist solely along lines of heritage and are not influenced by auspice. Loners by nature, as a rule they don't form packs. On the rare, and dire, occasions when two or more work together, each member’s individuality is respected within the group. Being very secretive many Bastet are not proud fighters, but mere protectors of their territory. The Nine Tribes of the Bastet now number only eight, with one of their tribes apparently extinct. They are:
- Bagheera: Leopards, this tribe is wise and even-tempered, protecting India and Africa.
- Balam: Jaguars, this tribe is savagely violent, protecting Central and South America.
- Bubasti: Sacred Cats of Ancient Egypt, this tribe is the most secretive and most magically powerful. Their animal kin, a species of cats called "kyphur," are apparently extinct. How they survive without their animal kin is a closely guarded secret.
- Ceilican: White Lions of the Fae, this tribe is generally thought to be extinct, however, among the Bastet, some believe they are rumored to still exist.
- Khan: Tigers, this tribe is the most physically powerful and protects India and Eastern Asia. Many Bastet prefer to think of the Khan as their leaders, rather than the Simba.
- Khara: Saber-toothed cats, this tribe has been extinct since ages long gone—if indeed it ever existed in the first place. According to Bastet lore, the Khara was the originators of the Entire Bastet line, but this is not a certain truth.
- Pumonca: Cougars, this tribe is highly adaptable and protects South America and the southern and western United States.
- Qualmi: Lynx, this tribe has a strong grasp on practical magic and riddle games, and protects the northern United States and Canada.
- Simba: Lions, this tribe considers itself the royalty of the Nine Tribes, and protects western and southern Africa. (Most Bastet would rather die than acknowledge the Simba as their kings.) Unlike other Bastet, they habitually work together in prides.
- Swara: Cheetahs, this tribe is the most spiritually inclined of the Bastet, and mainly lives in central Africa. They're in frequent battle with the Simba.
Very little is known about the Camazotz, being one of the Changing Breeds that have been wiped out throughout the history of Gaia's shapeshifters. Called the "Voice of Luna," they were "were-bats" who functioned as messengers, spies, and umbral travellers. In the Revised Shadow Lords Tribebook, it is revealed that there is a clandestine group of Shadow Lords operating out of Mexico and the American Southwest, who have adopted the once-shamed Bat as their pack totem. It was also rumored that they would have something to do with the return of the Camazotz before the Apocalypse.
The Corax are "were-ravens," and are among the least physically powerful of the Changing breeds. Despite this, they make up for their lack of brute strength with experience, secrets, cunning, and trickery. Unlike many denizens of the World of Darkness, the Corax have shown remarkable resistance to the corruptions of the Wyrm, the machinations of the Weaver and the madness of the Wyld, and reliably work to protect Gaia. They have neither tribes nor auspices, though they do form loose groups tied by a common purpose. In Asia lives a group of Corax called Tengu.
The Grondr were "wereboars." Among the changing breeds, they were appointed to be Gaia’s groomers. Their task was to root out the impurities from the land before they became huge problems. They were completely exterminated in the War of Rage, and their loss is a significant reason why the Wyrm is thriving so abundantly.
The Gurahl are "were-bears," whose duty is as healers, both of tainted or damaged land and of injured creatures, both body and spirit. They are tied to Gaia to an extent experienced by none of the other Changing Breeds. Their refusal to teach the Garou their secret Gift, one that allowed them to bring the dead back to life, was one of the excuses used to justify the War of Rage.
The Kitsune are "were-foxes," individualistic beings driven by insatiable curiosity. While the Bastet hoard ancient secrets and the Corax gather secrets of a more modern nature, the Kitsune are especially curious about magic in all its various forms. Their society is divided into four Paths, or schools, of thought aligned along elemental lines and correspond roughly to the auspices of other Changing Breeds in their functions. Unlike most elemental distinctions, Kitsune paths relate not to the four classic elements, but their combinations. They are:
- Doshi: The path of Lightning (Air + Fire), these Kitsune focus most heavily on magic and the spirit world.
- Eji: The path of Lava (Earth + Fire), these Kitsune are warriors and cavaliers.
- Gukutsushi: The path of Fog (Air + Water), these Kitsune are masters of illusion, the mind and dreams.
- Kataribe: The path of Clay (Earth + Water), these Kitsune are storytellers and lorekeepers.
The Mokolé are, in principle, "were-alligators, crocodiles and monitor lizards" though the broader classification of "were-lizards" may be more appropriate. They are the second oldest of the Changing Breeds, and are driven by an intense racial memory of their ancestors, the Dinosaur Kings. Through the practice of Mnesis, the Mokolé are able to tap into this ancestral memory directly, remembering events ranging from the recent past to millions of years ago. Their ancestral memory is also the source of an intense coming-of-age dream-quest that determines their "true shape". Metis children are not found within the Mokolé, for they die before they are born, and become malevolent ghosts known as Innocents. The only Mokolé Stream that does not have a problem with the Ghost Children are the Gumagan. The reason that they do not have a problem with Innocents, is because the mother cooks and eats the dead child, thus reabsorbing its spirit back into herself.
The Nagah are "were-Snakes" that originated in India. Most of the other changing breeds believe them to be extinct, however the Mokolé and the Hengeyokai are aware of their existence. The Nagah serve as the Judges of Gaia, filling the roles of silent and hidden judges and executioners for the Changing Breeds. They judge the other Changing Breeds by the codes the other Breeds establish for themselves. When in need to use force, they strike from the darkness using their supernaturally potent neurotoxic venom (available in all forms but Balaram, and in Balaram form with the right Gift.) The Nagah never hunt alone, for according to their lore, they were the ones that were responsible for the War of Rage, when Vinata was corrupted by the Wyrm.
Of all the Changing Breeds, it is the Nuwisha, or "were-coyotes," who have the strongest tie to the Umbra. They are tricksters, troublemakers, and jesters. Though once loyal to the moon in the same way as the Garou, they apparently perpetuated some prank against Luna so reprehensible that she turned her back on them entirely. As such, Nuwisha all represent the epitome of the Ragabash auspice, having no Rage at all. Nuwisha have no metis, though it is unknown if this is due to genetics or the fact that the wandering nature of Nuwisha makes it unlikely that two would every be together long enough to make a metis. Their trickster nature is perhaps best exemplified by the part of their "Litany" that is most often quoted by players: "Always PRANK the Wyrm."
The Ratkin (or "were-rats") were once charged with shepherding humanity's urban masses, culling them quietly by eating their grain and spreading disease. Their role was supplanted during the Impergium and Wars of Rage, a blow from which they never fully recovered. With the onset of urban sprawl's explosive growth, however, Ratkin are once again in ascendance. The most brutal and ruthless of Gaia's children, Ratkin are pragmatists (a side effect of living almost entirely within and beneath cities), though they have made peace with the Garou, they still largely distrust them and by-and-large work in isolation from other shapechangers.
The Rokea or "were-sharks" are the unquestioned rulers under the waves. They have only a few Kinfolk among humans, and exist mostly among their bestial relations (a reverse of the Hakken situation). Homid Rokea (those born by a Kudago (kinfolk) and a Rokea) are rare and found mostly among the Same Bito, the Rokea of the Hengeyokai. Those who decide to "Swim the Unsea" are hunted without mercy by their kind, which has become a rite of passage among the shark-born Rokea. As a result, theirs is the simplest and most brutal of societies among the Changing Breeds. Rokea see everything in relation to Sea, their Gaia equivalent, who commands them only to survive, and have had little to no contact with Unsea (i.e. dry land) until very recently. Rokea are ageless, they stop aging once they undergo their first change. Rokea have three auspices (though only Homids use the term), based on their complex interpretation of the sun and lunar cycle in Oversea (the sky). They had little invovlement in the War of Rage, but they are highly distrustful of everything related to the Unsea and so have poor relations with the Garou and most other Fera (except for some Mokole).
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