Fans of White Wolf’s Werewolf: the Forsaken have been waning gibbous lately, anxiously awaiting a new release for their favorite lycanthropic RPG. With Signs of the Moon, their Urathas’ lives are going to get a lot more complicated. And yes, I know “waning gibbous” makes zero sense in that sentence.
In Werewolf: the Forsaken, the werewolves (called Uratha in their own “First Tongue”) are inextricably connected to the spirit world and serve as arbiters, gatekeepers and protectors of the border between our world and the spirit world. Their lives are tied to two spirits, Father Wolf and Mother Luna. Signs of the Moon is devoted to Luna and the influence she can have on a Uratha’s life.
A werewolf character is partly defined by her Auspice, which, although I hate to oversimplify it, is roughly akin to classes in other RPGs. Auspice is defined by the phase of the moon when the werewolf undergoes her first change, and is sort of like Luna saying, “This is your nature. Deal with it.” Signs of the Moon offers a bunch of new options for the various Auspices.
There are many new lodges for characters to join. Rahu (Warrior) Auspice wolves, for example, might join the Lodge of the Second Moonrise, which encourages them to repent and renounce their shapeshifting ways. Meanwhile, the Lodge of the Starless Sky is a group of wolves that encourages members to live in cities and blend in with humans. Each lodge gives players interesting roleplaying opportunities and story hooks. There’s a huge amount of in-world fluff material, like newspaper articles, IM exchanges between lodge members, business letters and historical documents. They really flesh out the goals and motivations of each Auspice, and could easily be used as handouts and clues.
Each Auspice also has several new Aspects available. Aspects are similar in nature to Paragon Paths or prestige classes (I know that White Wolf devotees are going to cringe at the reference — sorry). Aspects can be taken at any time, but offer benefits and penalties at different Primal Urge levels. Milestone gifts are another boon that can be offered by Mother Luna to Uratha with exceptionally high Harmony. While these are powerful gifts, failure to maintain the necessary Harmony could cause your character to go mad, at least temporarily.
There are dozens of new Gifts in this book; in fact, this might be the most crunch I’ve ever seen in a single White Wolf book. This is good — while the World of Darkness is largely built on character, plot and mystery, a cool new power can often be an inspiration for interesting new directions in storytelling. There are plenty of rites, fetishes and other player-oriented goodies in here. The last section is the one intended for Storytellers, with advice on how to use Auspices to build a deep and involving campaign.
The quality of the writing is the usual White Wolf standard — highly literate, clear in the rules sections and evocative of the appropriate moods in the other sections. Interior art is black and white and also quite nice. There’s probably not as much in this that would be useful to non-Werewolf gamers, however. It relies heavily on the Forsaken mythology, so few of the concepts would translate to general horror RPGs. But of course, any Werewolf: the Forsaken group is going to find a lot in Signs of the Moon to flesh out characters and campaigns. It’s been a long wait, but this is a nice payoff.