Wolves in Wolf's Clothing
Human beings have long recognized the power of the moon to inspire them, to cause them to become contemplative… and to drive them mad. The Uratha benefit from a concentrated form of this power derived from their alleged spiritual mother, Luna. This power wraps around a werewolf like a cloak, infecting human observers with the same sort of insanity that causes them to become more violent under the full moon, to forget what the night led them to do. This madness — which humans vaguely recognize, as evidenced by their use of the words “lunatic” and “moonstruck” — is a weapon and a mask that Uratha use to conceal themselves.
Lunacy has the potential to affect any humans who witness a werewolf in any of the hybrid forms, Dalu, Gauru or Urshul. This isn’t a power that werewolves turn on and off — it is constantly active while werewolves are in those forms. Indeed, it may be a weakness that lies within humans rather than a power that werewolves actively project. Nobody can truly say. Those affected by Lunacy are possessed by irrational fears. Most are likely to block out the memories of events — presuming they survive.
When a human observer clearly sees a werewolf in Dalu, Gauru, or Urshul, he is affected by the Lunacy to a degree that depends on his Willpower dots. He might run in terror, curl up into a catatonic ball or even stand his ground. Lunacy is strongest when facing a werewolf in nightmarish Gauru form. Onlookers use the following chart to determine the effects, depending on their Willpower. An onlooker gains +2 to Willpower when observing an Uratha in Urshul form, and +4 to Willpower when he sees an Uratha in Dalu. The use of certain clearly supernatural Gifts, rites or fetishes, even when a character is in Hishu or Urhan form, might also trigger Lunacy (although onlookers are at +5 effective Willpower). This Willpower boost is only for the purposes of determining observers’ reaction to Lunacy, and cannot take effective Willpower higher than 10.
If multiple Uratha make supernatural displays before human witnesses, the most overt prevails over all. So, if one character is in Dalu form, another is in Urshul and a third is in Gauru, all onlookers are subject to the effects caused by the Gauru werewolf. If he weren’t present, the Urshul-form Uratha would make for the most daunting spectacle. All werewolves cause Lunacy, regardless of their fealty. Although the Pure reject Luna as a patron, a measure of her power and protection nonetheless seems to abide within them.
The results are as follows:
Willpower 1 – 2: Most humans at this level have suffered great trauma or are impaired in some way. They lack even the slightest protection against Lunacy. An onlooker has no control over his actions and could go catatonic, suffer a heart attack, revert to animalistic behavior (hiding in dark places and snarling, tearing at his clothes) or perform practically suicidal actions in an attempt to escape (such as throwing himself out of a tenth-story window). Any actions taken suffer a -5 penalty out of fear. Victims don’t remember the scene at all, and they refuse to believe any evidence that implies they were present at such a scene.
Willpower 3 – 4: This is the level of the average to slightly below average human in the World of Darkness. Lunacy affects them as fear affects herd animals. Onlookers are likely to flee in abject terror and have no real control over their actions. All actions that might be taken (attempting to drive a car, climb a fence) incur a -4 penalty. Onlookers don’t remember the event save in the most general sense, and they always rationalize it. (“Yeah, three years ago I saw this girl get attacked by some pit bull that had gotten loose. I’d rather not talk about it. It was pretty bad.”)
Willpower 5 – 7: Humans at this level have above-average strength of will, but still not enough to cope with the Uratha. A person is overcome with fear and attempts to flee in panic. She has some control over her actions, though. If she attempts to hide in a building, she has the presence of mind to lock the door. If the victim is cornered, she might fight, albeit in a berserk state. Any actions the person takes suffer a -3 penalty. She forgets the event unless she attempts to actively remember it (under questioning, for instance). Attempting to remember the event requires an Intelligence + Composure roll at a -3 penalty. Success on this roll allows the character to remember general circumstances, but not the true nature of the Uratha. An exceptional success allows her to remember with perfect clarity. A roll must be made each time she attempts to remember the scene, though. Her mind and soul want to forget.
Willpower 8 – 9: Humans at this level have exceptional self-control. A subject still feels great terror and an almost irresistible desire to flee, but a Willpower point may be spent to retain control for a turn. Any actions suffer a -1 penalty, save in a turn in which a Willpower point has been. The victim always retains a hazy, nightmarish half-memory of the event, but she must make a conscious effort to focus directly on it. Attempting to remember the event requires an Intelligence + Composure roll at a –2 penalty. Success on this roll allows the character to remember the event, but not the true nature of the Uratha. An exceptional success allows her to remember with perfect clarity. This roll must be made each time the subject attempts to remember the scene.
Willpower 10: The rarest of the rare, humans with this level of Willpower are practically made of iron. The subject is completely unaffected by the Lunacy. She has control over her actions and remembers the event as clearly as she remembers any other significant event in her life.
Even photographic records of the Uratha benefit from the protection of Lunacy to a limited degree. Although a snapshot taken of a werewolf in Gauru doesn’t frighten anyone who looks at it, most humans (Willpower 8 or lower) simply refuse to believe that the picture could be more than a hoax.
No pack of Uratha should ever rely on Lunacy as their only method of avoiding detection. A human with high enough Willpower dots can shrug off the effects for a short time, and if such a person flees the scene, he might remember what happened and look for explanations. Revealing the Uratha’s presence to humanity is a sin against Harmony.
All the tribes, and even the Ghost Wolves, are concerned by what might happen if humans were to discover the Uratha. Some werewolves believe that humanity would rise up, and the Forsaken would be forced to slaughter people by the thousands or be destroyed in protecting themselves. Others speculate that Luna, too, would turn her back on the People. Stories circulate of Uratha in olden times who revealed their true nature to their families or villages and found themselves cursed with permanent Lunacy, driven only to rend, kill and feast until nothing was left. Other tales speak of werewolves who gave confession and, like the Wolf of Gubbio who asked forgiveness of Saint Francis of Assisi, were deprived of their Rage, becoming docile as sheep for the rest of their miserable lives. More modern warnings postulate that as the human population has grown, the stakes have become correspondingly higher. Humanity knows little or nothing of the Shadow, but if humans became aware of the werewolves among them, how long would it take them to discover concrete proof of the it? How long after that, some Uratha ask, would it take humanity to bring its slash-and-burn mentality to the Hisil? Better, at least for now, to remain hidden.
If a werewolf induces Lunacy in a crowd, the effect runs the risk of backfiring. A crowd stricken with fear might become an angry mob or a panicked stampede. The Storyteller should make a Resolve + Composure roll for the human with the highest Willpower in the crowd. Success indicates that the person may direct the crowd to some degree. If he simply wants to save himself, the entire crowd follows his lead, but if he is driven violent with fear, the mob might turn against the werewolf. Members of the crowd probably still have problems understanding or remembering exactly what’s happening, but they could be incited to riot or swarm a subject.
This phenomenon is one of the reasons werewolves are unwilling to reveal their presence to humanity. They’ve seen the danger of mob rule. Yet crowds don’t always turn violent. Every human knows that he doesn’t have to be faster or stronger than a predator, just faster than his fellow prey.
Lunacy And Wolf Blood
Humans with the Wolf-Blooded Merit are treated as having two more points of Willpower (to a maximum of 10) for purposes of being affected by Lunacy. Most are still likely to go temporarily mad and forget the experience of seeing a werewolf in Gauru, but the stronger-willed ones resist to a greater degree. The Rite of the Moon’s Love can temporarily increase their ability to resist Lunacy as well. Strong-willed humans who are cared for by a werewolf might be fully aware of the true nature of their parent, child, sibling or lover and even faintly aware of the plight of the Uratha in general. Yet this knowledge brings little comfort in the frightening world of the Forsaken.
Lunacy And The Supernatural
The Uratha share the night with other supernatural beings, including vampires and human sorcerers. Young werewolves facing such foes in battle soon discover that one of their most potent weapons, the Lunacy, does them no good. Luna loses her hold on the mortal mind once it awakens to the greater truth of the world. The vampiric Embrace and the Awakening that mages undergo both free the mind sufficiently that these beings are no longer subject to Lunacy. This by no means indicates that such beings can’t be frightened of werewolves, only that such a reaction isn’t compulsory. In game terms, any character with a supernatural template is immune to the Lunacy, including mortal servants of supernatural beings (such as ghouls and acolytes).
The Human Side
What does Lunacy feel like to the humans who experience it? Few are in a state to articulate their fear, but it takes various flavors, depending on the form a werewolf is in. If a person is subject to Lunacy due to a werewolf in Dalu form, the fear is akin to that felt regarding dangerous people, of becoming prey to another person’s appetites. If an Urshul-form werewolf triggers Lunacy, it awakens memories of nights when predators actually stalked humans for food. But Gauru triggers a surreal, nightmarish fear that is beyond simple. The onlooker knows that the beast is coming to eat him, but he’s never seen such a creature before or imagined that it could possibly exist. The werewolf is that inescapable beast that haunts dreams — unreal, yet present in the flesh.
Those who are affected by the Lunacy by watching a werewolf in human or wolf form use an obviously supernatural power (such as a Gift or rite) have almost no frame of reference. They suffer similarly to those who see a Gauru-form werewolf.