Totems (A Question for the Staff)

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Totems (A Question for the Staff)

Post by Anselm Walker on Fri May 20, 2011 5:04 pm

How do the STs feel about (also interpret) the passage;

"If none of the following spirits with worked-out statistics suit the needs of a chronicle, Storytellers (particularly Spirit Keepers) can make new ones." (LotW p.242)

The question I have is, would the staff allow a custom totem for PCs? Especially if the players worked with the STs to make it fair and balanced, or even if they just said, "Hey... we want to be a Gnawer pack following Pigeon, can you make a totem for that?" (I actually found a home brew for pigeon on the webz if the STs want it for future use)

I'm not particularly interested in chasing a custom totem at this juncture (and I doubt I ever will be with Anselm), but I was rolling around concepts in my head for fun the other day and began wondering about this question.

I feel while there is a huge list of totems, there are some ideas for spirits that aren't covered. Obviously, I'm not meaning to vouch for anything that seems silly (No Glass Walkers following the Doctor from Dr. Who), but there are some great spirit ideas that I feel aren't covered for the rare pack or individual. (Ex: A investigative group following the spirit "Gumshoe" or "Sleuth" or something as such. You know, the spirit of the old P.I. Noir stuff)
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Re: Totems (A Question for the Staff)

Post by Opens The Cage on Fri May 20, 2011 5:23 pm

Anselm Walker wrote: I'm not meaning to vouch for anything that seems silly (No Glass Walkers following the Doctor from Dr.

Bone Gnawers can take the General Lee as a totem. If the car from Dukes of Hazzard is a legit option for a totem, it's hard to say something else isn't. The Doctor, Captain Kirk, Darth Vader, Chewbacca, etc. I don't think anyone would actually follow Lee, but someone thought it was a good enough idea to write up in a book, so...

I would also totally follow Problem Sleuth as a detective-style totem.
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Re: Totems (A Question for the Staff)

Post by Kate Stein on Fri May 20, 2011 5:41 pm

I want Darh Vader as a totem.
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Re: Totems (A Question for the Staff)

Post by Opens The Cage on Fri May 20, 2011 5:43 pm

He does grant some pretty sweet bonuses. The ban of physically shattering a planet in order to follow him is pretty tricky though.
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Re: Totems (A Question for the Staff)

Post by Anselm Walker on Fri May 20, 2011 6:10 pm

Opens The Cage wrote:
Anselm Walker wrote: I'm not meaning to vouch for anything that seems silly (No Glass Walkers following the Doctor from Dr.

Bone Gnawers can take the General Lee as a totem. If the car from Dukes of Hazzard is a legit option for a totem, it's hard to say something else isn't. The Doctor, Captain Kirk, Darth Vader, Chewbacca, etc. I don't think anyone would actually follow Lee, but someone thought it was a good enough idea to write up in a book, so...

I would also totally follow Problem Sleuth as a detective-style totem.

People do follow General Lee, but what you have to understand about spirits is this: just because it exists doesn't mean there is a spirit counter part.

Spirits usually come into existence because people believe enough, or dream enough or hope enough. The Gnawer totem "General Lee" isn't a totem dedicated to the Dukes of Hazzard, it is a totem about the quest for perfection and automotive excellence. The car isn't actually the same car from the Dukes of Hazzard and in the first paragraph it states "derives it's name from one of the most famous white trash vehicles" and "followers of this totem quest for the car of their dreams". The totem could have easily been called Christine. I urge you to reread the totem description.

I think it's pretty easy to say something isn't a legit spirit option. For instance: just because millions of people play Xbox doesn't meant that you get to follow "Call of Duty Black Ops". Harry Potter, Edward Cullen, Bill from True Blood... these are all not okay for totem options or even existing spirits for that matter.

This is why I put the disclaimer about the rare pack or character who wanted something other than what's offered in the books (the books are extensive), and gave the two examples that came to mind.



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Re: Totems (A Question for the Staff)

Post by Peace-no-more on Fri May 20, 2011 6:24 pm

So does that mean there's a spirit of "The Force"? Because plenty of people believe in that.
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Re: Totems (A Question for the Staff)

Post by Opens The Cage on Fri May 20, 2011 6:25 pm

I will most certainly want to talk though South's points, as there's probably some subtleties I'm missing. They will probably wait until I'm home and am not on the clock to think through and type up the mess of ideas I'll have.
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Re: Totems (A Question for the Staff)

Post by Peace-no-more on Fri May 20, 2011 6:39 pm

Or how about Hogwarts! plenty of people believe in that place! I'd totally follow that as a totem...gives ya mental traits and oocult...Not sure what the ban would be.
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Re: Totems (A Question for the Staff)

Post by Opens The Cage on Fri May 20, 2011 11:18 pm

Disclaimer: I'm not being antagonistic. Garou is not my strongest point in White Wolf Lore, so my reading of it is probably a lot different from people who've been running MET Garou games for years, and I'm trying to close the gap between.

Alright, re-read General Lee. It doesn't say a lot more about the spirit than you did. Proof enough that its not the General Lee, but then why did it take that name? Could a spirit of competition and training take the name 'Halo 3 CTF', if that's what most of the people it grew from used to bring out that dream/hope/belief from? Would Halo 3 CTF be a minor spirit of a greater entity representing competition? This would cover the emotions/ideas of those people more than the existence of a couple million plastic/aluminum discs, which would be pretty weak individually.

I also checked Axis Mundi, a book I haven't really wanted or needed to read before. A quick skim makes it look really inconsistent. It implies on the first page of actual content that everything has a spirit, then later on sets up a hierarchy that would make 'Spirit of Bob's Old Toaster' or 'Spirit of That Talking Hippopotamus On My Couch That Keeps Showing Up In My Dreams' not fit in at all. But then, no one really 'believes' in Corn or 'dreams' of Basalt, they're concrete things that exist that still have spirits representing them.

It mentions that there are a few different 'groups' of spirits, but never really goes into details on what causes them to form or what distinguishes them besides power level, which makes that harder to work out. Some spirits just exist without any real need for believers, like Gaia and the more primordial spirits. Tribal totems are implied to be their own group, again without much direct creation except possibly because Gaia wanted them to. Then there are spirits that seem to only exist and gain power because of direct belief in an idea or concept.

Part of that could be solved if we expand the idea of belief past humans/Garou. Can animals, plants, rocks, the spirits themselves have beliefs and dreams that empower or create other spirits? Then again, on the pro-human-beliefs side, we have General Lee as a tribal totem and Great Green Cheese as a jaggling of Luna (Which explicitly says did not exist until human myths about the moon being made of cheese began).

I might be bringing in some American Gods into my interpretation of W:tA. It's an awesome book, and covers some interesting ideas that get touched on in a lot of places elsewhere. I'm not sure if reading that is helping or hurting my idea of umbral spirits here.
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Re: Totems (A Question for the Staff)

Post by Grip on Mon May 23, 2011 1:35 pm

Disclaimer: I'm not an ST. I don't even consider myself an authority on Garou genre. My opinions aren't really drawn from any books, but are (mostly) formed from experiences in game and tidbits of information I've heard from other players.

I think that there are two important elements that haven't been included in this conversation yet. One is in favor of custom-made totems, and the other is against it.

1.) The Rite of Awakening exists, and is very common. Because of this, just about anything can have a spiritual representation, be it Darth Vader, my slippers, greed, or the newspaper in my hands. What spirit actually manifests when the rite is performed isn't guaranteed, of course. Awakening a Darth Vader costume might bring forth a spirit of Cosplay, or George Lucas, or Lawful Evil. It kind of comes down to trial and error. However, as far as I know, any spirit can be made into a totem. It just needs to be willing to patron a pack, and needs a pack willing to follow it. As demonstrated by the rogue's gallery of spirits we have encountered in players, it's pretty clear that some spirits are better at being totems than others.

2.) The vast majority of "concept" spirits exist in the Astral Plane. The Penumbra (the part of the umbra most people see, the one they appear in when they sidestep on earth) is the spiritual reflection of our physical world. By this logic, the spirits that are found there are spiritual representations of physical things. Peyote, Granite, Coyote, Grandfather Thunder and whatnot all come from things you can touch and see here on Earth. The things we can't see -- those things that come from our imagine or are other such similar concepts -- exist in another part of the Umbra. Vampires call it the Astral Plane. For Werewolves, that plane of existence is very distanced from the Penumbra. In fact, spirits that call the Astral Plane (or Dreamscape, or pocket realm, or whatever you wish to call it) can't live in the Penumbra very easily, as they have no physical element to anchar themselves with. The exception (as is the case with the General Lee) are spirits that represent concepts closely tied with a wide/powerful range of objects. For the most part, however, spirits from the Astral plane don't make very good totems, as they can't stick around to patron a pack. This is typically why you don't see Dr. Who or Darth Vader as a totem -- you may see a more common spirit assume the guise of such a concept, but it's not actually the spirit of Darth Vader or whatnot. The best example that comes to mind is when I saw a City Father spirit make himself look like The Spirit (from the movie/comics). He wasn't really The Spirit, but the guise fit the concept. If he had actually been the spirit of The Spirit, he would not have lasted long in the Penumbra.

I hope this both clarifies things a little and is correct, useful info.

-Jason

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Re: Totems (A Question for the Staff)

Post by HST Justin on Mon May 23, 2011 1:58 pm

Jason, your post was post 10,000.

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Re: Totems (A Question for the Staff)

Post by Opens The Cage on Mon May 23, 2011 1:59 pm

Jason wins the forums.
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Re: Totems (A Question for the Staff)

Post by Misha on Mon May 23, 2011 2:00 pm

Laura and I have decided that this means that we all get 100,000,000 xp. Welcome to all the gifts we could ever want WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
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Re: Totems (A Question for the Staff)

Post by Essence on Mon May 23, 2011 2:01 pm

New character goal: Essence having the spirit of pacifism following him as a tiny Ghandi that, of course, Essence won't know is there.
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Re: Totems (A Question for the Staff)

Post by Elizabeth Defoe on Mon May 23, 2011 4:17 pm

Can Griffin's Angels follow a Cthulu totem next? XD. lol
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Re: Totems (A Question for the Staff)

Post by Griffin Defoe on Mon May 23, 2011 4:21 pm

Elizabeth Defoe wrote:Can Griffin's Angels follow a Cthulu totem next? XD. lol

No.

(Hastur. Hastur. Hastur.)
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Re: Totems (A Question for the Staff)

Post by Essence on Mon May 23, 2011 4:23 pm

Ia! Ia!
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Re: Totems (A Question for the Staff)

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