During an era known as the Impergium, Garou hunted and culled the human population, creating a terror and panic that imprinted itself on humans’ primal memory. The ramifications of these werewolves’ actions have lasted over many thousands of years, always lurking in the ancient subconscious of mankind. The Garou call this intuitive awareness the Curse.
The Curse is the human and lupine recognition of the Garou’s supernaturally bestial nature and their capacity for rage. It is an affliction, enabling mortals to feel the monstrosity within Garou so strongly that it overwhelms any previous loyalties, causing them to react with hostility to shapeshifters.
A newly changed werewolf may not understand she can likely never go home. The First Change takes a Garou from her previous life, where she may have friends or supportive packs, and infuses her with supernatural elements that prevent her from returning to the comforts she previously knew. While she may try to maintain her relationships with human friends or a wolf pack, she chafes at the discovery that these ties, once solid and unconditional, now suffer under the consequences of her spiritual awakening. The Garou exist in between two worlds—wholly other, with an alien rage burning beneath their skin. Even the most committed mortal creature can sense this change, and will turn away from a werewolf out of fear and worry.
All humans are uneasy around Garou. Humans may interpret their stilted conversations and uncomfortable feelings as social anxiety at first, not understanding there is something different about the person next to them. Wolves whine, circling the interloper as they try to determine what’s wrong with the new wolf in their mix. These feelings eventually escalate into a full-blown panic and Delirium as the wolf or human resorts to either fleeing in fear or attacking brutally, unconcerned for their own welfare. Every Garou eventually learns that the longer she spends trying to interact with her human and lupine counterparts, the more opportunities arise for them to lash out, their fear an unpredictable element in every interaction.
The more time a Garou spends in the presence of a mortal, the stronger the effect of the Curse. As a result, most Garou attempt to get in and get out, always going into their interactions with a game plan that limits the amount of time the Curse has to take hold. Every additional minute runs the risk that a nervous interaction will explode into violence.
Effects of the Curse
The below effects occur if a shapeshifter has gained points of Rage on her Rage track within the past 24 hours. The following reactions are based on the amount of time a Garou interacts with a wolf or human. If the Garou is in any stage of frenzy or in Crinos form, all interactions elevate to the highest level of fear, causing full-blown Delirium.
• Introduction: When a human or wolf meets a Garou, they immediately feel anxious in her presence. Those who previously met or had close relationships with the Garou may wonder why they suddenly feel awkward, but will often to attempt to rationalize the feeling away.
• Five Minutes: The anxiety deepens, resulting in changes in speech patterns, such as stuttering or not being able to complete sentences. A human falls back on nervous behaviors, such as avoiding eye contact or pulling on her hair. Wolves raise their hackles, as they determine the new wolf smells different, and begin to circle her.
• 30 Minutes: After 30 minutes in a Garou’s presence, physical changes begin. Humans and wolves feel a crushing sensation in their chests and find it hard to catch their breath. Humans start to wheeze, while wolves begin to pant heavily. Humans frequently attribute this feeling to the beginning of a panic or heart attack. Both lupine and human pupils dilate, and they start to feel afraid of the Garou, moving away from them and creating as much distance as possible.
• 60 Minutes: When an hour has passed, humans and lupines know there is something wrong with the Garou. They become actively hostile in their social interactions and verbally antagonistic, especially if the Garou enters what they consider to be their personal space. Humans will threaten a Garou in order to create a circle of safety around themselves, pushing, shoving, or brandishing weaponry if they get too close. Wolves growl and snarl, nipping at a Garou if she comes within range, unafraid to draw blood. Both suffer pressing terror, their flight or fight response fully engaged as they look for a way to end the interaction.
• 90 Minutes: Humans undergo the symptoms of Delirium (see Delirium, page 122), as all of their senses become overwhelmed by intense fear. Humans and wolves may run away, screaming or howling, or they may attack the Garou, unsatisfied by anything but tearing them to shreds. The panic removes all ability to reason or resolve the situation — there is only instinctual fear and the desire to end it.
When interacting with humans, Glass Walkers and Bone Gnawers get twice the amount of time before their interactions degenerate. When interacting with wolves, Red Talons also receive this bonus. Merits and flaws may also grant or remove bonuses when dealing with the mortal population.