The Short Edit
Research and Design Edit
Roll either their Mentor or Kinfolk Background against difficulty 8, or roll Allies or Contacts against Difficulty 9.
Every success reduces the target difficulty of the actual Rite of the Fetish by 1.
A botch indicates misleading research and the first success on the Rite of the Fetish roll is ignored.
The Vessel Edit
A Vessel must be Exceptional (and thus, Master Crafted).
Roll Wits + an Ability appropriate to the object being searched for (e.g. Melee for a sword, Marksmanship for a gun, Performance for a flute, etc).
Something you can find in an average mall would be 5, something you find in specialty shops would be a 7, and something truly exotic would be a 9. This reflects the difficulty of finding a good example of the object; the rarer the item, the more likely you'll have to settle for what you find. Finding a good quality item is essential — If the Wits roll gets less successes than the Level of the Fetish, then few spirits will ever bother negotiating to enter it.
Rolling Allies, Contacts and Kinfolk is the easiest way to do this, with a difficulty depending upon the size of the field. Of course, if the character knows someone in the field directly, success should be automatic. Every two successes on this roll reduces the difficulty of the acquisition roll by 1.
Making an object yourself is a straight Wits + Crafts roll, with a difficulty set by the Storyteller depending on the complexity of the object. See: Skill: Crafts.
The Spirit Edit
Storytellers may choose to give a bonus for particularly successful Cleansing Rites, reducing the difficulty on the Rite of the Fetish by 1 for every success rolled over the level of the fetish being created. Creative variations on this Rite should also be rewarded by dropping the difficulty on the Rite of Cleansing by 1.
- Rite: Summoning
- Spirit quest
- Negotiation: Charisma + Expression, Performance, Persuasion or Leadership (whichever is highest) with a difficulty of the spirit's Willpower. At least as many successes as the level of the fetish are needed. This can grant -1 difficulty on the Rite roll.
- Gnosis sacrifice: After sacrificing Gnosis (as per the Rite description), a check is made to see if the spiritual trauma induces Harano. Roll a number of dice equal to the amount of Gnosis sacrificed, against a difficulty of the new Gnosis rating. Success indicates the crafter slips into Harano.
- Taboos: Any taboo that has a negative gameplay quality should at least offer a -1 difficulty bonus. Clever or particularly limiting taboos can raise this bonus at GM discretion.
- Threats: GM discretion.
- Rite: Fetish
The Long Edit
Designing a Fetish Edit
How does anything ever get invented? On one hand, inventions require innovation and cleverness, no one who adheres solely to what has gone before can move ahead. On the other hand, even great minds like Newton declared proudly that they had only achieved such heights by standing on the shoulders of giants. Without comprehension of what has gone before, one cannot move ahead either. And every single fetish, even one that has been seen many times like a klaive, is a brand new invention. No two spirits are exactly the same (with the possible exception of Pattern Spiders) and each must be approached differently.
Careful Research Edit
The first way to approach creating a fetish or talen is by examining the fetishes that have been made already. The character should begin with a very firm idea of the kind of fetish she wants to make ("I want to create a flute that makes Banes and fomori shriek loudly in pain whenever I play it.") and then begin searching for the proper way to create such a device. The aid of a sept in this research is crucial. An elder Theurge who takes the time to instruct would-be fetish makers can be a godsend, providing a wealth of experience and knowledge in the best ways to approach the project: Which spirits would be best suited to do what you're attempting to do? How would you go about finding them? What tactics would work best toward convincing it to bond with the object?
Failing this, or in addition to this, the connections a Garou possesses become crucial in properly researching the design of a fetish. Mentors can work in a similar manner to a helpful elder, though the experience and nature of the mentor will determine much of his usefulness.
Allies and Contacts are mostly a crapshoot. Since they come mainly from human society, it's very rare that they can ever help. At best, they can deal with the physical side of the fetish. Ironically, the failures of other Garou can on a tiny number of occasions be the way Contacts (in particular) become helpful in the creation of fetishes. Reports of 'magical objects' or religious phenomena can very occasionally be pointers to breaches of the Veil, and in such rare cases these leads can turn up useful information regarding approaches to fetish design. Such efforts are rarely worth it, though. A more useful method of using Allies and Contacts is in procuring the materials necessary to design an object to house the spirit. Once the creator has a reasonable idea of what she's after, it's worth asking human friends about who could supply raw goods or craftsmanship.
But sometimes the most useful supplies of information about fetish design are, surprisingly, Kinfolk. Having the ties to both human society (in the case of human Kinfolk) and Garou society, a good Kin network can ask around to find out about similar successful fetishes both within and even outside the sept. They can be open and up front with the creator (not usually a luxury one gets with Allies and Contacts), and can both discuss what the creator is trying to do and make common sense suggestions about how one might go about it. Many Kin are also excellent crafters, and although spirits tend to prefer vessels created by the fetish-wielder's own hand, a singular level of craftsmanship will make up for that personal touch. Some Kin have even been entrusted with the secrets of forging klaives and other silver fetishes (a hazardous process for Garou), and these smiths might offer a perspective that many Theurges would miss.
Note that at all stages, the character is much better served if she has a stronger idea of the rationale for the fetish's powers. For example, take the flute that causes fomori and Banes to shriek in pain. If the character has decided that she wants the flute's music to be unpleasant to creatures of the Wyrm, that's a start. However, if she pictures the fetish as one that creates music that resonates with the "music of the Malfean spheres" in a highly discordant fashion, creating the equivalent of powerful spirit feedback in Banes (including those bound in physical form as fomori) — that's more specific, and more interesting. With a specific form of spirit music in mind, the character should find it easier to narrow her search — a reward for the player doing her part to liven up the fetish creation process.
- Doing research on a fetish makes later phases of fetish creation easier. Players must firmly present the specifics of the fetish they seek to design to the Storyteller — no one can do research if they don't know what they're researching. With the Storyteller's permission, players roll either their Mentor or Kinfolk Background against difficulty 8, or roll Allies or Contacts against Difficulty 9. Every success reduces the target difficulty of the actual Rite of the Fetish by 1. A botch indicates misleading research and the first success on the Rite of the Fetish roll is ignored.
- This also requires roleplaying and time, assume a week of research for each point of Background — Getting together information from a large family will take longer than just asking your siblings to see what they can dig up. If speed is required, players can elect to roll fewer dice and take less time with their research.
Wild Experimentation Edit
Alternatively, of course, there is always the option to grab the bull by the horns and ponder, "I wonder what would happen if I bound a fire spirit into a fine china plate?"
Naturally, there are... difficulties to this approach.
The first of these is that, for the most part, the creator is on his own. The determination to be original and experiment means that any research he does is going to be, at best, a basic guideline. He might discover a few "Don'ts" along the way — for example: "Never offer a fire spirit a bribe, for it is in their nature to destroy without reward." He might just discover something in tribal legends that is similar to what he's trying, but this is quite unlikely. Fetishes aren't common enough that everything has been tried. Far, far from it. Nor are tribal legends told to just anyone, especially if he's not even of that tribe. In short, there's no real way to know what to expect, and no real blueprint to help guide him.
But fine, that's what the character signed up for. Anyone who sets out to wildly experiment is going to relish the surprise he gets when it all shapes out, however it does. But this leads to problem number two: finding a spirit with the same adventurous spirit. It's hard enough trying to convince a spirit to bind itself into a tiny object, sacrificing its freedom to serve you. But convincing it to agree to an experiment in which it doesn't even know what it will be doing is even more difficult. This is one of the reasons there are a number of "routine fetishes," such as those listed in the Werewolf: The Apocalypse main rulebook and in chapter three of this book. Even these aren't necessarily easy or formulaic to make, but both the Garou and the spirit have a fair idea of what is happening. Trust can be more easily formed and disagreements dissolved when both parties understand exactly what is happening.
Purely wild experimentation has the difficulty of going against the grain of animistic philosophy. There are a number of unwritten rules that influence how the spirit world works, but the main thing to remember is that spirits prefer tasks, homes, territories and even methods of amusement that they would consider "appropriate." A fox-spirit isn't the most appropriate match for a pistol, but it might consider entering a bow that's painted in bright colors that match its coat. It isn't the best spirit to call on for accuracy, but it might help a weapon strike from unexpected directions, emulating the fox's ability to surprise prey with a quick pounce. And if the Garou doesn't suggest anything of this nature, but simply asks it to get in the pistol and see what happens — well, the fox-spirit isn't really going to be convinced that it's the right spirit for the job, or that it will be able to express its vulpine nature through the resulting fetish.
So, if it's all that much trouble, why bother? Because you never discover anything worth discovering without hardship. Without the willingness to set out on your own and create, then nothing new is ever created.
There is a reason that great fetish creators are so highly praised in Garou society; since so many Garou dabble at it, everyone has a fair idea of just how hard it is. Those who create a fetish are respected as wise. Those who can convince a spirit to bind itself to a brand new, original fetish are revered as wise, as well as charismatic and creative.
Roll Your Own Edit
Of course, players have this funny urge to be that wise, charismatic and creative Garou who innovates in the face of adversity. As they well should; it's their game and they're the stars, after all! But then, of course, the Storyteller ends up having to deal with these requests and work out the rules for them. As such, the Storyteller should keep a few things in mind.
First of all, hammer out exactly what the fetish is and does. Remember that only the most powerful of fetishes possess multiple powers, all others have one very specific purpose. A sword that bursts into sunlight upon contact with a vampire, doing double aggravated damage to it would be very powerful, but could conceivably still only be Level Four, especially if it acts as a regular sword to all other enemies. A sword that lights up with sunlight at any time, and does double aggravated damage to vampires when lit is definitely Level 5, because of its multiple powers. Add in the ability to do aggravated damage to creatures other than vampires and you're almost in the field of a legendary fetish.
Also consider the object itself and any care it might need. A razor-sharp leaf is a very cool concept for some games — it'd fit right into many hengeyokai games — but does the leaf maintain its hardness when it isn't activated? Does it need to be kept pressed to ensure that it isn't ripped? How should the owner care for the fetish during "downtime"?
Likewise, consider exactly what spirit is needed. Could a few different spirits conceivably do the job? Think in metaphorical terms and give the player as much rope as she can haul with her. Could a wave spirit work for a communication fetish? Quite possibly; other spirits might spring to mind at first, but waves are a perfectly good metaphor for sound or radio waves.
And does the fetish have any major drawbacks? Phoebe's Veil is amazingly useful, but it can't be used during the day. Were this limitation not placed upon the fetish, it would probably be Level Four or even Level Five. Fetishes with such drawbacks or extensive care needed are worth dropping the Level or the Gnosis of the fetish slightly.
Gnosis and Level Edit
Gnosis ratings range from 4 to 8, depending upon the usefulness and rarity of the fetish. There are a very rare few fetishes with lower Gnosis ratings than this, but they are few and far between and nearly always specific to a single tribal group. Storytellers ultimately have the right to choose the Gnosis rating more or less upon their own whim (although an idle whim isn't the best rationale for any ruling), but the following is a set of guidelines. Note that some exceptions are inevitable, but these should help a group get a general feel for what's appropriate.
- Gnosis 4 ratings only exist for talens with entirely instant (but relatively less powerful) effects, such as Bane Arrows. They are activated, perform a task that takes less than a second, and then destroy themselves and release the spirit within them. Talens that perform tasks that take longer than an instant are usually greater than Gnosis 4.
- Simple non-weapon fetishes that require the full attention of the Garou to be used tend to have Gnosis 5. Examples of this include the Harmony Flute and Spirit Tracer. If a fetish can simply be "left on," then it probably has a greater Gnosis score than this. Most talens also have Gnosis 5. Any fetish with an effect that takes longer than an instant and is not overly powerful will have a Gnosis of 5.
- Simple non-weapon fetishes that can operate independently after their owner activates them are most commonly Gnosis 6 to 7. Examples of these Fetishes include the Apeskin, Baneskin, Sanctuary Chimes, Monkey Puzzle and Phoebe's Veil. In addition, most weapon fetishes such as fang daggers and klaives also fit into this group. What differentiates the Gnosis 6 fetishes from the Gnosis 7 fetishes is their rarity and scope. Grand klaives are a rarer and more valuable fetish than "regular" klaives, and thus they are Gnosis 7. Similarly, Phoebe's Veil has a wider application than a Monkey Puzzle, which puts it higher in Gnosis cost. Talens with Gnosis 6 or 7 are similar to those with Gnosis 5 but with a varied effect rather than a constant one. (An example being Death Dust, which effectively allows a dead creature to answer a series of different questions.)
- Finally, Gnosis 8 fetishes and talens are those which are simply too powerful to be anything but. Anything that clearly possesses incredible power and offers tremendous advantages above and beyond the expected will possess Gnosis 8. (While most grand klaives are Gnosis 7, many are Gnosis 8. Other fetishes such as Spirit Whistles also possess the sort ot strong power a Gnosis 8 rating warrants.)
The Level of the fetish is not always important. If the character is creating the fetish in game, then no Background points need to be spent and thus the Level of the fetish is largely irrelevant. However, if the player wants to make a new fetish to start the game with, or if the Storyteller wants to keep the fetish for future games, it can be useful to know the fetish's Level. (In addition, the optional extended Rite of the Fetish rules below require it.) Again, the Storyteller ultimately decides the fetish's level, but the following guidelines may help:
- Level One fetishes are useful, though not incredibly powerful, within the specific field they have been designed for. They typically have very limited use and may not be useful at all to some Garou. (For example, Apeskins are useless for homid werewolves.) The creation of a Level One fetish is good "apprentice's work," useful practice in fetish-making with a handy (if not overly imposing) result.
- Fetishes that can act on their own as a solution to a problem in limited circumstances are at least Level Two. Level Two fetishes rarely get much use, but when they are needed can be an invaluable help. (For example, a Spirit Tracer is only of any aid when trying to deal with spirits, but it can hunt down a specific spirit very easily.) Fetish weapons of this level are as effective as a Garou's natural weaponry at best. Creating and bearing a fetish of this level will earn you raised eyebrows of respect.
- If a fetish has enough versatility to be of use in a variety of situations, then it's probably Level Three or above. Fetish weapons at this level begin to have useful effects that make them often preferable to claws and teeth (such as the Fang Dagger) while non-weapon fetishes have uses that are universal enough to see a lot of use. (The Baneskin is a good example here. Tracking down one specific spirit is sometimes useful, but Garou run into Banes enough to make a Baneskin highly attractive.) Creating and bearing a fetish of this level will earn you admirers seeking advice.
- Level Four fetishes go beyond this and produce unusual and potent effects over a sustained period, such as a Monkey Puzzle, or have devastating singular effects, like a Spirit Whistle. Fetish weapons at this level are extremely dangerous even to other Garou, and merely presenting one will bring any Garou with some sense to reconsider his actions. Fetishes at this level, particularly weapons, are part of the myth of the bearer and often become a suffix to their owner's name. ("Mourns-the-Dead, carrying the Edge of Dusk with her....")
- A fetish of Level Five stature is the greatest of the great. Much like Gnosis 8 fetishes, if it's flat out too powerful to consider in anything below, then this is where it goes. There shouldn't be any debate over what constitutes a Level Five fetish, since if there is it's likely not powerful enough to be worth Level Five. A nonweapon fetish of this caliber can work miracles, and producing such a weapon as this can bring a whole pack to reconsider their actions. Fetishes of this level may possess more than one power, and are sept treasures, and sometimes even tribal treasures! Such fetishes are legends in their own right, and can even overshadow the Garou who own them.
- Level Six fetishes, however, are greater than the greatest of the great. Garou do not make these fetishes of their own accord — that implies that they had control over their creation. Instead, sometimes one may somehow be involved in its creation. Often these fetishes are created by Incarnae from one of their most trusted servants, or from a part of itself, or even giving itself over to the fetish entirely of its own volition. They are legends that pass down through the centuries, can never be replicated, hardly even understood. They wreck the lives of those seeking them, and make the lives of those finding them. Needless to say, helping to create one of these fetishes would be the goal of an entire chronicle rather than a part of one, and such creation is better adjudicated by story and drama rather than rules.
Assembling the Materials Edit
Once the creator has a fairly solid idea in her head of what exactly she's trying to create, the next stage is to go about finding and preparing the parts of the fetish, both physically and spiritually. Depending upon the fetish, either side of this search can be frustratingly difficult and prone to unexpected complications.
The Material Side Edit
The difficulty in appropriating the physical objects needed to make a fetish lays, oddly enough, mostly with the spiritual side of the equation. The less impressive and more ordinary or ugly the object offered to a spirit, the more likely the spirit will reject the offer out of hand. As a result, trying to find just the right object for the job can be a long and difficult task. There are three basic ways to approach gaining the material components: find it pre-made, get someone to make it for you, or make it yourself.
All of these have strengths and weaknesses. Buying an object pre-made can save time, if you know where to look. In First World nations, even the rarest and most esoteric contraptions can be bought over the counter, or at the very least in warehouses. Need to make a fetish sitar? You can probably get one within a twenty-minute drive, provided you live in a major city. The weaknesses, however, are two-fold. For one, you've got very little control over the object. Once you buy it, you can try to decorate it, but for the most part it has a preformed shape and if it's not ideal, then you either go back and look for another one or deal with it. Also, once you delve into the world of human commerce, you're risking running into entities like Pentex subsidiaries. Banes and other nasty spirits can hide in all sorts of objects, ready to ambush any Rite of the Fetish performed by the careless.
Commissioning someone to make the object for you can be a very nice compromise. You can talk to the person making it, you have a lot of input into the way it turns out and you don't need to have an exhaustive knowledge of the type of object involved to do it. Nor is the danger of exposure so great; materials that aren't mass-produced have a much smaller chance of running into the embedded curses and Bane fragments that Pentex's subsidiaries are so talented at attracting. And if the crafter is a proper professional, they won't pry into what you want the object for. Unless, of course, you get another Garou to make it for you, in which case the risks are virtually nil. And better yet, you can be entirely up-front with him about what you need. A strong relationship with a member of another Changing Breed can be riskier, but even better in some cases; if you're looking for a relic that will impress a sun-spirit, it's hard to go wrong with Mokole craftsmanship. If you can get it, that is.
The problem with commission work is that it will generally cost quite a lot. If you're dealing with humans, expect to pay hundreds of dollars, if not thousands, for many objects, depending on the object and how well you want it made. The reason things in retail outlets cost so little is that they're factory made — getting just one is expensive. And while Garou or Fera may not demand money, it's almost certain there will be some sort of quid pro quo involved. You might get something of a cost break if you're commissioning your work from someone related to you via a Background (particularly Kinfolk, Allies or Mentor). As a way of guiding their charges, some Mentors help out by making the physical object for a fetish, just as their mentors may have done so for them in the past — others may insist that their young charges do the work themselves, but they'll at least try to arrange for proper instruction. This doesn't mean that the Mentor won't ask for something in return, but since half the point is the character's education, it will be a much cheaper price.
And finally, you can go it alone and make it yourself. This has a whole host of advantages. Spirits tend to prefer a fetish made by the owner-to-be, because the creator has invested more in it and is likely to treat it better. You don't need to decorate a fetish by adding on ornaments after the fact, you can incorporate the decoration right from the beginning and craft a beautiful object as is. There's no risk of discovery from ugly influences, and you don't risk an artist forcing his own unwelcome interpretation on the object. There's only one drawback, even if it's a fairly large one — you need to know how to make it. A lot of good solid Craft ability is a must for going down this road, but the rewards for such effort mean that many would-be fetish creators work hard to improve their ability here. Some even begin to think it's part of the job description: You're not a fetish creator unless you create the fetish, every last bit.
- Finding an appropriate object is mostly a matter of shopping around and having an appraiser's eye. Roll Wits + an Ability appropriate to the object being searched for. As an example, looking for a good sword would come under the Melee ability, while a good flute would fall to Performance. The difficulty of the roll depends on the rarity of the object: Something you can find in an average mall would be 5, something you find in specialty shops would be a 7, and something truly exotic would be a 9. These do not reflect so much the difficulty in finding any such object, all that requires is a lot of hard work and research. Rather, this reflects the difficulty of finding a good example of the object; the rarer the item, the more likely you'll have to settle for what you find. Finding a good quality item is essential — If the Wits roll gets less successes than the Level of the Fetish, then few spirits will ever bother negotiating to enter it.
- Finding someone to make an item for you is more a matter of knowing those in the field rather than the field itself. Rolling Allies, Contacts and Kinfolk is the easiest way to do this, with a difficulty depending upon the size of the field. Of course, if the character knows someone in the field directly, success should be automatic. Some Storytellers may also allow players trying to find pre-made fetishes to also make one of these Background rolls to enlist the help of those they know. ("Dear Suzy, how's my favorite little sister? Hey, you wouldn't be able to check out some music shops in Portland and search for a...") Every two successes on this roll reduces the difficulty of the other roll by 1.
- Finally, making an object yourself is a straight Wits + Crafts roll, with a difficulty set by the Storyteller depending on the complexity of the object. Storytellers may also give bonuses based upon other associated Abilities. For example, a Garou with Melee 5 is going to have an easier time crafting a good sword than an untrained klutz — he knows precisely the length and balance that suits his hand, and can work accordingly.
Preparing Oneself Edit
In similar fashion, most fetish creators spend time preparing themselves for the process of creating a fetish. The logic is that they will be interacting with a spirit in a very difficult negotiation — they are asking a spirit to give up a long time in its life in order to assist them with one very specific task. Any edge that can be gained is worthwhile, so purifying and preparing oneself makes just as much sense as purify ing and preparing the object.
How specific this cleansing is depends highly upon the sept and tribe of the creator, and the traditions within which he exists. For some, it is a fairly generic Rite of Cleansing, performed with a smoldering willow branch dipped in pure water. For others, the rite is connected to the fetish, this being seen to help with creating the fetish.
An excellent example of this exists among the Silver Fangs. When making a klaive, the creator kneels with two large tribemates standing behind him, one to either side. Another stands in front of him, holding the silver blade that will become a klaive and begins to howl. As the howl begins, the two Silver Fangs standing behind the creator begin howling as they grab firm hold of the creator's shoulders. At this point, the other tribe mate presses the flat of the blade against the maker's chest, inevitably causing him to howl in pain. This lasts as long as possible, and as the creator falls backwards with pain, the others throw pure water over him to cool his burned chest. The pain is purifying, and connects the creator with the soon-to-be klaive.
At the other extreme, the Wendigo purify themselves in total solitude and thought. At sunset, a Wendigo ties the prospective fetish to a branch on a tall tree with a long rope, then ties one of her hands at the other end. (Many make this easier by having someone else tie one end of the rope to their hand in advance.) When the sun fully sets, they slowly lower themselves and hang from this branch by the wrist, allowing the strain upon their body to focus their mind. As the sun rises, all pain washes from their body, and they cut the rope above the fetish and let themselves fall. In this rite, the goal is the purification of the mind, not the body.
- This phase of creating a fetish can be handled entirely within the rules for the Rite of Cleansing. Storytellers may choose to give a bonus for particularly successful Cleansing Rites, reducing the difficulty on the Rite of the Fetish by 1 for every success rolled over the level of the fetish being created. Creative variations on this Rite should also be rewarded by dropping the difficulty on the Rite of Cleansing by 1. Whoever performs this rite (and it need not be the fetish creator in most cases) must know the Rite of Cleansing, this part is not contained within the Rite of the Fetish.
Last Checks Edit
It's at this point, after having readied both their own body and the object for the fetish, that the creator must fully commit to the creation of the fetish. Once the spirit for an object has been contacted, after all, it is difficult to suddenly decide to try and shoehorn in one more element in the equation. Spirits don't take too well to "Can we reschedule?"
As such, smart creators take this chance to doublecheck everything. Is there a single imperfection or scratch on the object that they somehow missed before? (This occurs rarely, as the perfection of the object is something most fetish creators become neurotic over ensuring. Considering how much work goes into making a fetish, this is unsurprising.) Have they forgotten any element their elders told them to observe? Do they know what sort of chiminage they may be called upon to offer, and what sorts are they prepared to offer? One crucial question many unwise creators forget to ask themselves at this point is: At what point is the fetish no longer worth the trouble, and when should I walk away?
Many creators also use this time to buy a little insurance for themselves by acquiring an aspect of the spirit they're trying to contact, in case a very hurried Rite of Contrition is needed. (And a Rite of Contrition can work, since they can be performed in a hurry provided the ritualist is ready to perform one.)
Any last doubts, worries or insecurities must be dealt with at this point. After this, there's no turning back.
Contacting the Spirit Edit
Once so committed, the creator moves toward finding the sort of spirit that they need to complete the fetish. There are two ways to go about this: the Rite of Summoning, or a spirit quest.
The advantages of a Rite of Summoning are that it is both quick and efficient. The ritualist merely needs to name which spirit he wants to bind into the fetish, perform the rite, and wait until the spirit finds them. In nearly all cases, this is the preferred method for finding the spirit needed for a fetish. Though some Garou argue that a spirit quest is preferable since it ensures you won't anger the spirit by summoning it, this tends to be an argument favored more by amateurs than elders. The spirits used in fetishes are Gafflings, ever so rarely Jagglings, and these spirits are easy to summon without offense. Furthermore, the length of time taken just to reach this point in making a fetish means that there's no point in rushing the Rite of Summoning, and so it's trivially easy to make sure it's done right. (In game terms, the Rite of Summoning in this case rarely has a difficulty of more than 5 to begin with, and there's almost never a reason it can't be brought down to 3 by spending two additional hours on it.)
The arguments for making a spirit quest is mostly if the fetish creator doesn't know the Rite of Summoning, and many Garou are of the opinion that frankly, the correct procedure in this event is not to begin a spirit quest but rather to learn the Rite of Summoning. Some prefer to forge ahead on a spirit quest anyway, some from impatience, some from necessity (there are certainly times when a fetish needs to be completed as quickly as possible) and a very few from machismo. These last feel that just summoning a spirit is cheating; a proper fetish should have the spirit searched for and found in the exact same way the object itself is. The one other reason why a spirit quest is sometimes seen as a useful choice is when a very specific spirit is required for a fetish, such as the spirit of a single, particular tree in Brazil. Needless to say, this is such a rare situation that spirit quests are common only when the fetish in question is meant to be a powerful one empowered by a powerful spirit.
- As with the Rite of Cleansing, this can be handled using the rules for the Rite of Summoning. Storytellers should probably not offer bonuses for this Rite; it's very easy to get 4 or 5 successes. They will, however, probably want to impose a penalty for a poor success. Should only 1 or 2 successes be rolled, the difficulty of the Rite of the Fetish goes up by one. (In effect, this leaves the difficulty at 10, but any bonuses that bring the difficulty down need to get past this penalty first.)
The Rite of the Fetish Edit
After all that goes before, the Rite of the Fetish itself is almost an anti-climax, but the emphasis is on the word "almost." For the creator, this is a moment of anxiety, almost terror. They have devoted weeks, months, even perhaps years in some cases, toward this moment, and there is every chance that it will all be wasted in an instant.
The Rite begins with a ritualized greeting. In many cases, this is done not only verbally but also physically, via dance, song and howling. There is a strong element of theater to this; the idea is to impress the spirit. Since the type of spirit varies, the ritualist must likewise vary her manner to meet it. An airspirit, flighty and wild, may be impressed by agile, nimble dance and a beautiful voice. By contrast, a boar-spirit is likely to be impressed by little but strength or stoicism, and any dance would be almost like gymnastics, designed highlight control of the body and physical might. And a spirit of Honor might be best approached with nothing but a respectful distance, no flamboyant show, and a calmly spoken formal introduction. Like many Garou rites, the Rite of the Fetish is not rigid, but malleable and creative.
Once this greeting has been made, the spirit responds, often with a light-and-mirrors show of its own. (Rites of the Fetish involving fire-spirits can be utterly spectacular.) Much like the creator, the spirit involved also wants to be impressive, but to a very different though not directly opposed purpose. While the creator's goal is primarily to convince the spirit to enter the fetish, the spirit's goal is not to remain outside the fetish. (After all, if it doesn't want to enter the fetish, then it has a much simpler way of ensuring this: It can leave.) Rather, its goal is to exact as many conditions as can be managed upon how the fetish will be used, how it will be treated, and all in all how comfortable its existence will be as a fetish. As one Glass Walker put it, "A Rite of the Fetish isn't a political compromise, where two nations who want to kill each other come together and try to find a happy medium. It's a business negotiation. The buyer wants to buy, the seller wants to sell. The only sticking point is the price...."
Once the greetings have been made, the next part of the rite involves the presentation of the object. The ritualist holds forth the object for the fetish to the spirit, along with the first formal request to the spirit to enter the object. Usually, this request is made with a lot of flattery attached. Rarely is the spirit named without a "Mighty," "Majestic," "Graceful" or some other adjective inserted before; these may seem excessive when aimed at a Gaffling not deemed worth a spirit quest, but the formality is much appreciated. Sometimes, just sometimes, this alone is enough to end the Rite and the spirit graciously accepts, before entering the fetish. (In game terms, this happens when the player successfully rolls without spending Gnosis, agreeing to taboos, or any other method to lower the roll's difficulty.)
But most of the time, this doesn't work. Instead, the spirit disdains the object and declares it unworthy. It hardly matters what the object is: A stunningly beautiful golden goblet encrusted with rubies is as quickly rejected as a grubby cup decorated with a few plastic beads. This doesn't mean, though, that the quality of the object is irrelevant to the success of the rite. Remember that the rejection is a pretense, part of the act. If the spirit accepts the object as worthy immediately, it loses the ability to ask for taboos and other bonuses that it might want out of this exchange. So even if the object is deeply, truly impressive and worthy, it is declared worthless almost every time.
This is what begins the majority of the Rite of the Fetish. The spirit denounces the object, and in response, the creator attempts to prove the object's worthiness by words alone ("I sent this mighty blade hurtling from the heights of a great waterfall, and it has endured without a mark upon it! You are wrong, great spirit, this is worthy of your attention!") or by adding sweeteners to the deal. ("I still think you are wrong, but would you perhaps agree were I to ensure this warhammer was held by none but Ahroun like myself? You know that true warriors will treat you with proper respect.") The spirit can also initiate negotiations and suggest ideas, ("It's a pathetic whistle. Besides which, I've still got business in destroying the cluster of Banes eating away at the Glade Children over to the east, and I couldn't do that if I was trapped in that whistle. Perhaps if someone else agreed to do it....")
The tussle continues back and forth with the ritualist praising the spirit and commending the object to it, and the spirit in turn denouncing it and insulting the ritualist. (Often very personally — some types of spirits, particularly wolverine-spirits, can be impressively scathing and/or crude!) This continues until finally, something occurs to break the cycle.
The first, most desirable outcome is that the spirit suddenly capitulates for no apparent reason. There is rarely a slow progression toward acceptance, instead the spirit continually insults and rejects until suddenly it turns around and agrees to enter the fetish. At this point, the ritualist internally breathes a deep sigh of relief and begins working on the final stage of the ritual.
The second outcome is perhaps the most depressing. As the spirit continues to demand more sweeteners and suggests more and more chiminage, the price simply rises too high. At this point, the ritualist breaks the cycle by either turning around and insulting the spirit back before attacking it. (At which point it flees) or by simply suddenly ceasing their praise and walking away. No matter what, this ends the rite. The object is now worthless for a fetish.
The last outcome is that the spirit, grown tired or even insulted by the offers of the ritualist, breaks the cycle by attacking the ritualist, or turning around and leaving. In either case, this ends the rite and again, the object is wasted. Somehow, the rite marks the object and no spirit will ever accept it from this point on. (Some suggest the spirits talk among themselves, and why would one accept the castoffs of another?)
But assuming neither of these latter outcomes result, the Rite of the Fetish is a success. The Ritualist takes the object and hurls it into the air, and the spirit rushes into it before it hits the ground. Once it is picked up again, the object is now a fetish, and one very relieved and joyous ritualist has earned themselves a lot of Wisdom.
- As described in Werewolf: The Apocalypse (pg. 161-2) the Rite of the Fetish is performed with a Wits + Rituals roll at difficulty 10, which may be reduced by a number of means. The following may reduce the difficulty of this roll, but is certainly not an exhaustive list. (Nothing could be!) Reward players who think outside the box and create imaginative ways to convince, coerce or connive ways of making a spirit enter the fetish.
- The Gift: Call to Duty (Level Two Philodox Gift, Werewolf, pg. 140) may be used as a supernatural edge within the Rite. A successful use of this Gift drops the difficulty of the Rite by one. However, unless the ritualist spends two Gnosis, they must know the name of the spirit they intend to use in the fetish. This Gift does not allow the Philodox to simply say "Get in the fetish;" that sort of thuggery tends to earn a well deserved ass-kicking from the spirit.
- Clever persuasion can work to convince the spirit to enter a fetish, but then, that's exactly what the Rite of the Fetish is. Not a few spirits just ignore anything the ritualist says — Gnosis talks, and bullshit walks. Nonetheless, a well delivered speech or song can reduce the difficulty of the roll by one. The roll is Charisma + Expression, Performance or Leadership (whichever is highest) with a difficulty of the spirit's Willpower. At least as many successes as the level of the fetish are needed.
- Gnosis is a costly, though reliable, way of bribing a spirit into agreeing to form a fetish. By giving the spirit a permanent point of Gnosis, the difficulty is reduced by two. Some physical method of transference is needed; bleeding over the spirit is very common, Giving up Gnosis is, however, something every Garou, and indeed every shapeshifter, is horribly loath to do. Remember that Gnosis is more than a number on a page, and more than simply the fuel that powers certain Gifts. It is a connection to the world, each and every part, Garou of high Gnosis see every scurrying insect, every fluttering bird, every swaying plant. Werewolves look at the world and immediately empathize with it, respect it, desire to protect it. Now imagine feeling that, and then the next time you see the same bird, not giving a damn about it. This creature, which you have given your life to defending (along with the rest of the world) suddenly means nothing. Sacrificing Gnosis even for a good cause has this effect, which can shake the hardest warrior. Some Storytellers may wish to try and emphasize this by asking players who sacrifice Gnosis to roll as many dice as they sacrificed, with a difficulty of their current Gnosis. A success means that they fall immediately into Harano.
- Taboos can be offered either by spirits, or by the ritualist. As noted before, many spirits are very fond of simply demanding a taboo and then not stating what it should be, forcing the ritualist to think on her feet. Storytellers can pull the same trick on their players too, suddenly demanding a taboo before the roll begins. (And, if they like, suddenly springing a condition on the taboo such as "... and I want it to be something to do with water." Or, automatically disregarding the first taboo they come up with and asking for a second.) If the player comes up with a clever and interesting taboo, the Storyteller should reward this with a goodly sized difficulty bonus, -2 or even -3. Any taboo, however, that has a negative gameplay quality should at least offer a -1 bonus.
- Direct threats are a difficult thing to pull off. Nothing in the Rite of the Fetish actually compels a spirit to remain; it's a negotiation with a spirit toward creating a binding agreement compelling it to stay in the first place. So when a Garou flexes his muscles and asks if the spirit would enjoy a few unusually placed piercings, most spirits simply bolt for cover, breaking the Rite. There are ways to succeed in this sort of endeavor, however. One way is to get your packmates to help, surrounding the spirit and cutting off an escape before it begins. This is a dirty ploy, however, and it has an unfortunate side effect: It proves to the spirit that you couldn't hurt it alone. This tactic produces cursed fetishes with stunning regularity and it's generally unpopular.
- A more well-considered ploy involves trying to make the spirit flee early on in the Rite and then, because the ritualist was ready for this, hunting it down swiftly and capturing it. This can put the very fear of god into a spirit and convince it not only that it's worth agreeing to enter a fetish, but that it's worth behaving once it's inside. Bane Arrows are commonly employed for this if the spirit summoned is a Bane (for example, in order to create a Baneskin). The rolls for these threats depend on how the threat is performed, and the Storyteller should ultimately judge based on exactly what happened. The bonus to the difficulty could be as much as -3 or -4, but a failure will immediately end the Rite.
- Indirect threats are sneakier, but often more effective than direct ones. A direct threat has a very limited timespan on it. Once a spirit is bound into the fetish, after all, what worse can be done to it? Many spirits often think they would have been smarter to accept death rather than an eternity of forced servitude, and begin cursing the fetish as soon as possible. But making a threat against something that the spirit values doesn't go away. Even if they're trapped inside a sword, what they value remains safe. Are they prepared to endanger that? Few are.
- The problem is that there aren't many situations where these threats can work. You can't indirectly threaten a Bane; they knew that the Garou can't protect anything of the Wyrm. Their own tribal law forbids it. On the other side, an animal or nature spirit will feel betrayed by this sort of threat, and why should they then believe anything the ritualist says? But, in the few cases where the ritualist has the leverage needed to do so, it can be startlingly effective. Most often, it's a Charisma or Manipulation + Intimidation roll, difficulty of the spirit's Willpower. Each success above the level of the Fetish reduces the difficulty by 1.
Extended Rite of the Fetish Edit
The rules for the Rite of the Fetish in the Werewolf core book are very quick and to the point, designed for the most efficiency possible. You can make the fetish, the story isn't interrupted, and the game goes on. They are fantastic for when a fetish is an important stop in the story.
But what if you want to make the creation of the fetish itself the story? The system is probably a little cut and dried for this sort of thing. While you can pad the creation out a little bit, roleplay through the creation ritual and bargain on the difficulty of the roll, it does come down to that one roll. These rules are designed to stretch out the Rite of the Fetish a little so that it can become the climax of a story.
These optional rules simulate the Rite of the Fetish with a Resisted and Extended test between the ritualist and the spirit. The ritualist rolls Wits + Rituals, but this time with a difficulty of the spirit's Willpower. (Any modifiers based upon the quality of the object or any other preparation are counted for this extended roll.) In return, the spirit rolls Gnosis with a difficulty of the ritualist's Charisma + the level of the fetish. (It's much harder for a spirit to turn down a chance to be in a grand, incredible fetish than in a standard run-of-the-mill one.)
The ritualist needs to gain a number of successes more than the spirit equal to the Level of the fetish being made. (So a Level 4 fetish will require the ritualist to roll four more successes than the spirit.) The spirit needs to get a number of successes more than the ritualist equal to the ritualist's Charisma. (At which point, the spirit presumably gets bored with the proceedings.)
What makes this more complicated is that every roll beyond the first in the extended test must be earned by the ritualist by trying another tactic in the negotiation. Any of the tactics discussed above (such as Gnosis bribes, taboos, threats, and so forth) are legitimate, as are any clever tricks the player might think of.
Finally, the ritualist can choose to 'double up' on tactics in order to reduce the difficulty. Instead of just employing a taboo, they could offer two taboos. The first taboo earns the ritualist another roll, the second one drops the difficulty of that and all future rolls.
This continues until either the ritualist gains the needed advantage of successes (whereupon the fetish is created) the spirit does the same (in which case the spirit becomes bored and leaves) or the negotiations stall, with the ritualist unable to think of a way to continue. (In which case, again, the spirit leaves.)
Desota Mourns-the-Dead is a Galliard with Charisma, Wits, and Rituals all at 3, and Expression 4. She is attempting to make a Shadow's Echo, a wooden flute that eases the souls of the recently deceased and stops them becoming ghosts. To do this, she is attempting to bind a water-spirit into the flute. This spirit has Gnosis and Willpower 7.
The Shadow's Echo is a Level 3 fetish, with Gnosis 7, and the water-spirit seems relatively curious about the very finely crafted flute she's produced, which was properly purified. This drops the difficulty for Desota - 1, from the spirit's 7 Willpower down to a 6. Meanwhile, Desota's Charisma 3 plus the fetish's Level 3 give the spirit a difficulty 6 to beat.
This worries Desota immediately. She sums up her chances and doesn't like them. Before her first roll, which she gets for free, she immediately offers a taboo: No one but her shall use the Echo, until the day she dies. The spirit likes this, and her difficulty drops down another point to 5. She's convinced she has the edge now, and both make their rolls.
Desota is pleased with her roll, her six dice produce a nice five successes, but she winces as the spirit does her one better, rolling six successes on its seven dice. The spirit mocks the fetish and makes remarks about her private life. Keeping calm, Desota pleads with the spirit, praising its wondrous grace and imploring it to see how right it would be within the flute. The Storyteller, agreeing to this, asks her to roll Charisma + Expression, difficulty of the spirit's Willpower (7). She gains three successes, and again Desota and the spirit roll. Both roll four successes, a stalemate.
Sensing it slipping away from her, Desota offers a second taboo: that it will not be used to calm the rest of those who murdered innocents. The spirit likes this, but asks instead for those who tortured or abused innocents. Desota agrees, and again they both roll. Desota gains three successes, the spirit two. The balance becomes even once again.
Running out of room, Desota begins to wish she hadn't given away that first taboo, she's not rolled a 5 yet. Not willing to give up Gnosis, she takes a darker tone, informing the spirit of just how close the Apocalypse is, and asks if it would like to be responsible for Gaia's death. This is another oratory and strictly by the rules she shouldn't be allowed to use this tactic again, but the Storyteller likes the very different tone and agrees to allow another roll if she can roll more successes on Charisma + Expression than she did last time. Desota rolls four successes, and the Rite continues.
Suddenly, something goes wrong. Maybe the guilt trip went too far, or maybe just time grew too long, but either way, disaster strikes. Desota only rolls two successes, while the spirit rolls six. With four more successes than Desota, the spirit suddenly turns and deserts the area, and Desota, already feeling tears well in her eyes, acknowledges the Rite has failed.