This article originally appeared in Pyramid #10
Werewolf: The Apocalypse, 2nd Ed.
Published by White Wolf
Written by Mark Rein·Hagen, Bill Bridges and Robert Hatch
Ever since buying my copy of Werewolf: The Apocalypse a couple of years ago, I have longed for a second edition -- the layout and editing of the book was enough to provoke a howl of lamentation from any Storyteller trying to use it. My own copy was very nearly hurled across the room on a couple of occasions.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse 2nd Edition changes all of that. From the moment I picked up this hardbound tome and flipped through it, I knew that the folks at White Wolf Studios had put out a superior product. The interior art is a significant improvement over that of the first edition, and the dark pieces by Ron Spencer and Brian LeBlanc are especially eye catching. It even contains a full color comic that serves as a great introduction to the game world for those not familiar with it.
The premise of the game remains the same: players take on the role of the Garou, Gaia's chosen warriors. Players create unique characters by creating a werewolf of any one of thirteen tribes. Once you choose a tribe, you determine what phase of the moon you were born under. This will determine your role in Garou society; shaman, warrior, trickster, etc. You and your packmates -- the other PCs -- then enter into the fight to protect Gaia from the Wyrm, a powerful spiritual entity corrupting the human race, the Garou, and the various spirits that inhabit the World of Darkness. Along the way you can gain renown among the Garou, increasing in rank and perhaps becoming a hero the Galliards will sing about until the day of the Apocalypse, when the Wyrm will finally triumph.
Previous Werewolf players will be glad to discover that the layout of this book is much improved. The new index is quite lengthy and makes looking things up an automatic success. The entire book is much easier to read through and the rules were explained clearly.
So enough about how the product looks. What new material does this book contain? The combat system was replaced by the system found in the Werewolf Players Guide and is therefore fully compatible with second edition Vampire. This system works better than the original (and was used by most of us anyway). It's nice to have it in the basic rulebook, along with the weapons and armor from the Players Guide.
The Gifts and Rituals sections saw a few changes, each Gift and Ritual is explained in detail. First, the general effects are explained as well as what spirits or beings usually teach this ability. The game mechanics follow in a separate paragraph. I really like this new emphasis on learning your gifts from various spirits. The Garou are a very spiritual culture, and this mechanic will help bring that into play for many game groups.
Similarly, the Spirit world gets more coverage. Material from both the Werewolf Players Guide and Umbra: The Velvet Shadow is included. For example, travel through the Umbra -- the Werewolf spiritworld -- is now explained. Caern types, the Penumbra and the thirteen known Umbral realms are all briefly discussed. The Spiritworld can play an important part in any Werewolf story and it's good to see some of the confusion about the Umbra cleared up.
The new Renown system was the most significant change to the game. Renown is very important to characters because it represents what other Garou think of them and affects what rites and gifts they are allowed to learn. In the new system, characters have both permanent and temporary Renown. The temporary points fluctuate continually as a result of your actions. Once you have gained 10 temporary points, you can attempt to gain an additional permanent point. These permanent points of Renown are used for various Renown rolls and determine your rank within Garou society. A three-page Renown table is included to help the Storyteller determine how character actions will affect their Renown. This system is much preferable over the last one.
The new character sheet is also worth mentioning. It has room for all of a character's form bonuses! This alone would have been nice enough, but there is also a condensed brawling maneuvers table, room for four Fetishes (items which have spirits bound into them), space to write in up to 16 skills not printed on the sheet, and plenty of room to make note of all the rites your Garou has learned.
Overall, Werewolf: The Apocalypse 2nd Edition is much better than the first book. Bill Bridges and the pack are to be congratulated for putting out an outstanding product; I heartily recommend it to those out there already playing the first edition. For those of you who have not tried playing Werewolf yet, I suggest picking this game up and giving it a try. Go rage!
-- Dustin Wright
Article publication date: December 1, 1994
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