Kinfolk

Bonds of blood, ties of ancestry and oaths of loyalty - these are the links between the werewolves and their Kinfolk. Kinfolk are an essential part of the world of the Garou. But they aren’t supernatural creatures, certainly not on the level of the werewolves; they can’t turn into nine-foot, seething balls of canid terror and prance through a rain of bullets without a scratch. They’re the werewolves’ human or wolf relatives, undeniably a valuable part of werewolf society but never quite equals within it. In short, they’re family, with all the headaches, sorrows and joys that implies. Kinfolk occupy a range of positions in Garou culture, from beloved mates and siblings to little more than breeding stock or grunt soldiers in the war against the Wyrm. Sometimes, the chains that bind Kinfolk to Garou are loving and freely accepted; other times, they sink Kinfolk in a mire of forced obligations.

Kinfolk outnumber werewolves roughly ten to one - and considering the decreasing numbers of the Garou, Kin themselves are rare enough in their own right. Human Kinfolk usually live in their own homes or communities, while wolf Kin often dwell in a tribe’s protectorates. Many Kinfolk know something of their heritage, but few know everything. The Impergium, for instance, isn’t usually a dinner topic in a Garou household! As with lost werewolf cubs, these days, more and more Kinfolk are born to families who have no idea of their Garou connections. Unlike werewolves, Kinfolk go through no Rite of Passage; many grow old and die without ever knowing about their mystical inheritance. These lost Kinfolk represent an ebb in the tide of Garou fortunes. Whether the werewolves realize the truth or not, Kinfolk are links to the future for Garou. Without Kinfolk, the werewolves lose a vital link to the worlds of humans and wolves. With fewer and fewer of Gaia’s soldiers being born, their human and wolf relatives must take on heavier duties in the Dying Times. Perhaps the day is drawing nigh when the Garou must answer for relegating Kin to a second-class role.

What Makes Somebody Kin


Kinfolk wear a lot of hats. They might be allies, relatives, vicious enemies, friends, breeders, caretakers or even unwitting pawns. Their treatment varies widely according to tribe and even sept. Save for rare exceptions, though, even the most loving and fair-minded werewolf won’t quite see his Kin as equal partners. He may be willing to sacrifice himself for the lives of his Kinfolk family, but it’s the reverse that is more often true. Kinfolk are precious assets, but the life of one of Gaia’s warriors tends to take precedence over that of a mere wolf or human. The attitude of many werewolves toward their Kin is one of condescension, which leads to both overprotection and belittlement. Some Kin accept such treatment as Gaia’s fate; others strike back.

The most important deciding factor in whether someone is Kin or not is her response to the Delirium. Upon seeing a werewolf in Crinos, what’s her reaction (other than normal fear)? Can she bear to watch without fainting or running away? Does she rationalize and explain away what she’s seen, or can she accept the truth? A bona fide Kinfolk might be afraid, but no Veil shadows her memory of witnessing werewolves in their true forms. Quite rarely, though, a normal human who isn’t Kinfolk might have an “immunity” to the Delirium. In this unlikely event, a few other determining factors come into play (see below). Certain Awakened beings, such as vampires, wraiths, mages and changelings, also are immune to the Delirium.

Wolves didn’t suffer the Impergium; therefore, they don’t experience Delirium, as humans do. But most wolves flee from a Garou in Crinos, simply out of sheer survival instinct.

The second vital component in determining whether a wolf or human is Kin involves genetics. Is he descended from a line of werewolves? Do other members of his pack bear Gaia’s favor? Has he sired Garou pups? If so, he’s almost assuredly Kinfolk. Genetics isn’t an exact science, but the mating of werewolves and Kinfolk produces roughly 90 percent Kinfolk and 10 percent Garou offspring. The mating of two Kinfolk changes the numbers to 50 percent Kinfolk and 1 percent Garou, with the remainder of children being plain folks. Kin who mate with normal mortals usually bear non-Kin children, though certain factions among the Children of Gaia have a highly secretive rite that can alter this outcome. The Background Pure Breed on the part of either Kinfolk or Garou improves all these statistics somewhat.

The more nebulous determinants of Kinfolk status are mindset, spirituality and acculturation. Does the Kinfolk believe in his duty to Gaia? Did his family raise him to respect the Garou way? Or has he turned his back on his heritage? Perhaps he refuses to accept his responsibility, and thus, does not teach his own offspring about Gaia’s path. Or maybe he has no idea of his true heritage. A wolf or human might be immune to the Delirium and genetically Kinfolk, yet separate from that culture because of disbelief or a lack of faith in Gaia. She knows Her own and, if necessary, won’t accept one who scorns Her.

Mood and Theme


The Kinfolk have privileged knowledge of Gaia and Her children, the Garou. Yet, except for their peripheral roles as wives, lovers, children and friends, they remain forever apart. They’re family, but to most werewolves they’re somehow less. The mood of their lives is thus bittersweet. The werewolves are rage and aggression made flesh, but they also possess enthralling beauty and live spiritually between the world of humankind and the world of the wolf. For many Kinfolk, loyalty is costly. Faithful Kinfolk must accept heavy, often fatal burdens because of their reaction to the werewolves, while they simultaneously realize they’ll never know the joys of hunting on four legs. The difficulties Kinfolk face in coping with this conflict set the tone for many stories.

Themes for Kinfolk characters revolve around choices of duty and obligation accorded by family bonds. Kinfolk face difficult decisions merely because of their Garou relatives. Do they aid the werewolves as honorable companions? Do they spurn their Garou relations out of fear? Or do the Kinfolk reject their status as second-class citizens in Garou society? A lesser theme is paranoia, due in large part to the legacy of Samuel Haight. Haight was a Child of Gaia Kinfolk, but he coveted the power of his Garou family and turned to a path of darkness. In his thirst to become a werewolf, he created the Skin Dancer tribe. Many werewolves no longer trust their Kinfolk because of Haight’s jealousy and corruption: certainly, these Garou don’t tell their relatives about the Skinner’s exploits. Some Kinfolk fear losing even their second-class standing in Garou society because of Haight… while others think of the Impergium and worry about more severe repercussions.

Lexicon


Fellowship: A group of Kinfolk who form an alliance. Most Fellowships unify for a certain goal, such as communication or genealogy.

Nanna: A Kinfolk who cares for Garou children or pups.

Stud: A male Kinfolk who serves no purpose other than breeding stock; a derogatory term.

Mare: A female Kinfolk who serves no purpose other than breeding stock; also derogatory.

See also: Delirium

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