(( This is a combination of canon, typically held points-of-view in the WtA community, and Damiana's own point-of-view.))
What is a Pack?
A pack is a small group of werewolves (typically 3-7) united in a comon cause and with a patronage of a particular Incarna who manifests as a unique spirit avatar for them. Some packs choose their totem while other packs are chosen by their totem. Players can pre-create packs and bring them into game already established. However, every time a new packmate joins, the rite of the totem needs to be performed for the pack. Six characters is probably a good limit for a pack. Packs of 3-4 characters seem easiest to coordinate in online play.
Packs do NOT need one member of each auspice. Its considered a good omen (auspicious) in Garou culture for a pack to have exactly five members, one of each auspice. Most packs don't.
Garou packs are generally dedicated to a particular Incarna, to whom they relate as children to a parent. The Pack Totem is a symbol of a pack's ideals and aspiriations. Some Packs choose their Totem Spirit, while other Packs are chosen by their Totem. In either event, the pack must undergo the Rite of the Totem. It can be performed by someone in the pack or have it performed on their behalf.
Garou find themselves in constant against the Weaver and the Wyrm. From the Dawn Times, Garou have formed packs with one another and forged a special pact with a jaggling spirit to serve as their patron and companion. Trust is essential to a pack's survival and sept leaders rarely interfere matters of pack dynamics. Most Garou experience their first packs when sept leaders place all recently Changed Garou cubs together for the Rite of Passage. These young Garou often choose to continue functioning as a pack after bonding together over the course of the rite.
Traditionally, Garou formed packs exclusively along tribal lines. However, by the 19th century, most tribes were more freely associating with at least several others. Modern 21st century packs usually contain members of several different tribes. The membership and size of a pack often depends on the purpose for the pack's existence. Each pack has a started purpose, which can be as general as "fighting Pentex", "guarding the caern", "protecting the local kinfolk".
Some packs come together for a specific purpose and members go their ways afterward. Such packs don't have the same deep relationship with each other and a pack totem. A slightly different rite is performed for them at their foundation than that for packs (like crown packs or guardian packs) who's purpose will cause them to be "pack mates for life". Although Garou can join temporary packs without leaving their current ones, they consider their "true" pack dominant in all cases and they usually join other packs for no more than a month.
As part of the rite, the totem must be sought out and communicated with in howls, acts of chiminage, spirit speech, song, dance. The totem may ask the proto-pack to complete a quest or objective to prove themselves or the totem may simply accept them and bring them into a spiritual bond with each other. There is a marked and noticeable difference for the Garou themselves when the Rite has been accomplished. The flavor of this will vary character to character, pack to pack.
Packs generally have alphas. This is the wolf with the highest rank or some other quality that makes them the driving force that causes the others to rally behind them. Just because someone is the alpha, it doesn't mean everyone agrees with them all them. Pack alphas can be challenged by their pack mates (and often are). The Litany about "times of war" does cover these situations-- when a pack is on a mission and about to engage a cannibal spirit, what the pack alpha orders is supposed to be followed to the letter. If someone else however, "suggests" a better plan? Its only a loss of renown if the suggestions come in a form that causes the pack to lose initiative- or the battle itself. Ultimately, its up to the pack alpha themselves to decide what is or isn't "honorable challenges" unless a formal Time of War has been declared by the sept itself ((BSD attacking the bawn, the Wyrmfoe is leading a revel, etc.)
Not all Garou packs have omegas- though its common for the youngest Garou, newest pack member or Garou with least renown to treated as an omega most of the time by the others.
Garou trust, respect and defend their pack mates but that doesn't mean they never quarrel or challenge each other. Garou have too much rage to get along well with other Garou- even their own pack mates. Members of a pack can develop strong competitive streaks which can lead to disagreements, confrontation and bickering. Pack mates rarely allow their relationships with one another to deteriorate beyond "occasionally hostile" or "coldly professional." However, if a relationship between two Garou degenerates further then both individuals involved typically agree that they shouldn't work together. One of them — often the loser of a challenge or duel — leaves the pack. This isn't the only reason Garou leave packs. In all cases, Garou have to get permission from their pack totem and negotiate chiminage for the act of leaving if they don't want to earn the enmity of the pack totem involved which can reflect in the Garou's relationship with the Incarna itself.
Besides the Garou...
It is exceptionally rare for non-Garou to become "pack" and requires the pack's totem to acknowledge them and be willing to make a pact with them. Other Fera and kinfolk shamans are the most likely candidates for becoming auxiliary pack mates-- but this will be a process requiring a lot of great roleplay over a long time period. Its something that player characters can work towards without any promise it "is" or "isn't" going to happen.
The Pack Totem watches over the pack and cares for them in its own unique way. Some Pack Totems will teach pack members and allies new gifts or parley with spirits it has an affinity with on that member's behalf. The personality of the pack totem, its charms, powers have to be established on the pack totem's character sheet. One of the players in the pack will need to be responsible for creating the totem character sheet or ask Damiana to create it.
For Garou packs, their totems are almost always jagglings serving as avatars for specific Incarna (often the tribal totem or their powerful brood). Shamans and others who manage to acquire a personal totem might make a pact with an independent jaggling with less direct ties to a particular Incarna.
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