Watership Down for Shapeshifters

Wolfhome is one of the thirteen near realms in the Umbra. Unlike most of the other Near Realms, whose purpose is almost direct. Erebus is for cleansing, the CyberRealm is for the Weaver and the Scar came out of the Industrial Revolution. Wolfhome is much stranger. Here a shape shifters mightiest gifts are stripped from them, and they are forced to live as a hunted animal does. What's more, until they come to terms with their beast nature, they will not be permitted to leave the realm.

Upon entering the realm all shapeshifters are forced to their most basic of animal forms. Garou are forced to lupis, Mokolé become crocodilians, Ananasi to crawlering from, Corax to corvid, etc. And while here you'd better be comfortable with your animal form, because you can't shift out of it. As to add the difficulty, shapeshifters not only take on their animal forms physically, but also mentally. This doesn't mean that you're stupid, just more ignorant. Abstract concepts pass over a shapeshifters mind here. Why are the humans gouging holes in the ground or erecting giant stone caves that stink of strange odors, or spewing forth tracks of hot tar that congeal into rock black trails along which clanking armored beasts speed?

While shapeshifters in Wolfhome are just as intelligent as they ever were, many of the human faculties that we commonly take for granted are just not there anymore. Unlike the realm's spirit animals, you can still understand human language; however, understanding concepts like "zoo," "laboratory," or "key to the cage door" could be difficult to grasp. The animal spirits here can communicate with each other and any visiting shapeshifters, and they tend to display many of the personalities one would expect from them (rats are cunning and devious, dogs are loyal and bouncy, ferrets are hyperactive and like shiny objects, etc.). And only a few animals are in service (mostly the dogs) to the spirit humans that live in this realm.

What the hostile humans in this realm do is a mystery to the animals that live here. All they know is that the humans are dangerous and best kept at a safe distance. Some flying in whirly-monsters, picking off wolves with their firesticks. Other humans will take animals that they captured to cold terrible smelling cages were they are shocked, tortured, or injected with chemicals that make them sick. The realm itself is a mix of farms and suburbs, with laboratories and camps springing up behind electrified fences, off limits to visitors. Animals taken here find themselves subjected to all forms of systematic abuses. Even deeper in the countryside, scientific outposts and ranger stations ensure that the humans' iron grip is everywhere.

Every shapeshifter here faces different dangers. Corax, Ananasi, Ratkin, and maybe Nagah can remain safe for a while. However there are plenty of bored kids with BB guns, exterminators, and evil old grannies who abhor such vile pests. Werewolves might be able to pass themselves off as German shepherds or other large dogs, as the humans here aren't bright. But of course, if they are identified as strays, they are likely to be rounded up and taken to a shelter. Otherwise, wolves are hunted mercilessly. Gurahl, Mokolé, and Rokea are screwed unless they can find a proper habitat. Most likely they will be shot, poached, or taken to a zoo unless they can find some cover.

Lay of the Land

The Town

The general area of Wolfhome is known as The Town. The majority of humans live The Town. The place reeks, and any animals forced to live here are a desolate lot, living out of the garbage cans. Some are captured by humans and poked at prodded by their children in small metal cages. Other town dwellers include stray dogs and wolves in the poorer neighborhoods. From time to time they are rounded up to be either sent to shelters or just outright killed.

There are a few humans in the Town — particularly families with children — who are kinder than the rest and a werewolf might find shelter among them by passing themselves off as dogs. However being adopted as a "pet" has its humiliation, and its risks; found out by "humane" society employees, they will attempt to take the "dog" to a shelter. And even among kind humans like this, a Garou's primal instincts can get the better of them, coming out when a baby pulls its tail…

The Sewers

The Sewers can be a habitat for many a creature. Bone Gnawers, Ratkin and Mokolé, for example, might make a go of living in these smelly dark places. It could happen, there is plenty of food washed down from above, problem is many of the area's permanent residents — packs of dogs and rats, as well as some big gators — take a liking to feast on something a bit more .. fresh.


Shelters are places were animals are taken care of, loved, or nursed back to health before they can be returned to the wilds. Not so in Wolfhome. In this realm, these are nightmarish places were animals are thrown into smelly, dimly lit, cramped cages, most of the time with other feral animals. Mangy rabid dogs and cats along with other critters not known for their politeness. At shelters, one might be injected with all sorts of strange drugs, even neutered. (Yes they will regenerate, such an event can cost one a great deal of willpower.) If one stays here too long, there is the risk of being "put to sleep."

The Zoo

Gurahl, Rokea, and even Mokolé tend to be taken here. Along with Garou for the wolf display. Here in these small concrete cages, behind metal bars, foul-smelling humans gape and jeer at those who have been captured. Boredom is maddening, and whiles some of the zookeepers are humane, others are ignorant, or just plain sadistic. Here the animals have a general pecking order and any new faces are placed right at the bottom until they prove otherwise. Like any prison, there's usually an alpha male of the appropriate species, surrounded by a gang of thugs and bullies. Most of the time submission to the alpha's dominance is the best idea, though fighting is an option too. However that most of the time brings the wrath of the zookeeper on the newcomer's head.

The Camps

Camp isn't what you think at first. The term "camp" is used to describe any of the generic laboratories and medical centers that dot Wolfhome. Different camps supposedly serve different purposes. But the animals of Wolfhome don't care. All they know is that these places are synonymous with a slow plainful death. In camps, animals are injected with strange chemicals that make them sick, subjected to experimentation. Put in mazes and forced to find their ways out, starved and otherwise ill-treated. If one acts a little too smart, it might spark a curious researcher. This can be good, or (and most often) very, very bad.

The Countryside

The deepest parts of the country side are the best place any larger shapeshifters have of making it in this realm. However there is always danger afoot. Major predators have their territories well established — wolves, bears, and the like. Trespassing on an other creature's hunting grounds is cause for a brutal fight. And with the ever expanding city encroaching on wilderness territory, there is only so much hunting ground to go around. On the positive side, a Garou who defeats the alpha of a pack of wolves may assume leadership of that pack. Even here humans are a decided threat. Hunters in small groups roam the area, shooting animals for sport. Some hunt their prey from the air, firing from helicopters. Research teams attempt to capture wild animals, either to experiment or study them.

Getting In and Out

Few enter Wolfhome, willingly that is. Most who have been sent here are those who have "gotten too big for their britches" and have neglected their duties to Gaia, or their animal halves. Few moon bridges consciously lead to Wolfhome, though shapeshifters have been known to occasionally enter this place from the Dream Zone.

Getting out of Wolfhome is no easy matter. One can't simply physically leave the realm. To exit Wolfhome, one must get in touch with one's animal self, to truly understand what it means to be a beast. And that can mean different things to different people… er, animals. Perhaps it means chewing one's leg off to escape a trap while hunters are pursing you. Perhaps it means fighting for dominance in your habitat. Whatever it is, it is a personal, introspective into one's own beast within.

Rules (and Optional Rules) of the Realm

  • A shapeshifter trapped in Wolfhome is stuck in their normal animal form and can't shift. Even partial transformations are impossible.
  • The "animal mind" limits one's ability to understand Humans. comprehending written human language is impossible. And whiles one can understand spoken language, some of the more abstract concepts may take some time to figure out.
  • Humans in Wolfhome tend to fear and dislike most animals. Ananasi and Corax are not in as much danger, but they may get shot at by hunters, farmers, or bored children or stepped on by disgusted soccer moms.
  • In order to use a Gift in Wolfhome, a shapeshifter must expend Gnosis and attempt to bolster their willpower. The higher the gift the harder it will be to do. Even then the effects of the gift are under a limited time frame.
  • No rites of any sort work in Wolfhome.
  • Ironically some tasks may require one to "think like a human" in order to survive in Wolfhome. This however is counter productive if done too often in getting ''out'' of Wolfhome.
  • None of the denizens of Wolfhome are aware they are spirits.
  • All spirits not native to Wolfhome must be bound to a Garou or dedicated talisman before entering the realm; otherwise, they automatically enter dormancy for as long as they are in the realm.
  • The only way out of Wolfhome is to come to a true understanding of one's animal side.
  • Shapeshifters may not breed with the spirit-creatures of Wolfhome.
  • Gaining Animal Ken, primal-urge or survival abilities after the first visit to Wolfhome should be easier.
  • In general, assume that all knowledges except one's ability do deduce Enigmas have been stripped from one who has entered Wolfhome.
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