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Behind The Veil > BtV: Shifters > The Uktena


Title: The Uktena
Description: Mystery, Mysticism. Totem: Uktena


Gaia - June 26, 2008 08:14 PM (GMT)
History and The View from Outside of the Tribe
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A Snake Eating Its Own Tail

Uktena, in the stories of the people who first encountered it, was a monster. Younger Brother, the Wendigo, could not defeat it in battle. Middle Brother, Croatan, could not reason with it. It ate the prey the Garou and their kin needed to live, and when there was no more prey, it began to eat humans. Older Brother, soon to become the Uktena, rejected their brother's ways of war and negotiations, preferring instead to use cunning to track the monster. Older Brother hunted the beast to its den. It was so impressed by Older Brother's wisdom that it offered a pact instead of a glorious battle, and since that day the mighty serpent has been Older Brother's totem.

There are many tales of the early days of the Pure Lands, of Older Brother's adventures in the southern lands hunting and binding great Banes with Uktena's wisdom. As Middle Brother worked in harmony with the middle lands and Younger Brother spoke with the wind in the north, Older Brother learned the secrets of the Wyrm's minions and lured them to their doom. And then it happened. The Europeans arrived along the coast, bringing with them the Wyrm and its pestilence. Their arrival woke the Eater of Souls, and time was short to stop it. The Uktena wish they could have counselled Middle Brother more wisely, or found another way. Perhaps the world would be different if the Croatan had not sacrificed themselves to force the Eater of Souls out of the Realm. Instead, the Uktena tried to hold the few caerns of the Croatan they knew about, retreating to their southern holy sites when the Europeans, the Wyrmcomers, drew too close and became too numerous.

Since then, the Uktena have continued in their stewardship of both the monsters they keep secreted away from the world and the legacy of the Pure Lands. They have reached out to the other dispossessed people of the world, offering Garou of disparate mystical traditions a place among a tribe who seeks wisdom above all else. The other Garou whisper that they have been corrupted by their openmindedness towards the knowledge they seek, and that they are rapidly falling to the Wyrm. The Uktena ignore those allegations, offering proof only when necessary.

Gaia - July 2, 2008 11:21 PM (GMT)
Culture
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Dark Shamans for Dark Days

The Uktena's chosen kinfolk (that is, all of the non-caucasian disposessed people of the world) have heavily influenced the tribe's works in recent days. As the Wendigo do, they believe in the importance of The Ways, but their perspective is...extended somewhat. They believe in finding harmony with the land that is lived in, learning its rhythms and nature, and then making your way within. They are a tribe who focuses on the wisdom they can acquire, from whatever sources they can trust.

Though they can be capable warriors, particularily in the spirit world, their most important concern is that knowledge. The Uktena's understanding of the ways and means to stop the evils of the world is extensive. No matter if the subject is fae, Fera or an unleashed horror from the beginning of time, some Uktena somewhere probably knows how to capture and defeat it. If they don't, they will try their hardest to find that solution. They also have an extensive knowledge of curses and the cures for such, favoring the use of hexes in battle.

Uktena are also great explorers, their quests for knowledge leading them far and wide. On occasion, just such a thing is part of their rite of passage-finding a solution to some small problem troubling the Sept or kin, seeking out an obscure spirit and communicating with it to learn of forgotten knowledge. The Uktena's obsession with learning and discovery occasionally extends to their kin, leading some to become archaeologists and paleontologists in seek of those answers.

Gaia - July 3, 2008 06:32 PM (GMT)
Camps, Secret Societies and Tribal Miscellanea
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Camps are not a necessary part of any character. Characters may hold the same views as a camp without being part of it. Some camps are restricted, meaning that extra work will be required to justify the character's membership in that camp. If you are interested in playing a character who is a member of a restricted camp, please contact Gaia to discuss your concept.
  • Earth Guides
    The Earth Guides are seekers of the lore of the world around us. They seek the knowledge of the cultures of kinfolk, and their collection of this lore is vast. They are also great teachers, remembering rites and ceremonies from the distant past.
  • Skywalkers
    The Skywalkers are the opposite of the Earth Guides. They concern themselves entirely with the lore on the other side of the Gauntlet-the stories and lore of the spirit world. They strive farther than most Garou, seeking the outermost reaches of the Umbra.
  • Bane Tenders (Restricted)
    In the beginning of the Pure Lands, monsters roamed. The Uktena undertook the dangerous task of striking down these monsters and binding them deep below the earth. Now the Bane Tenders watch over and renew the bonds that hold those great Banes, and the rest of the tribe watches them closely.
  • Children of Wyld
    The Children of the Wyld focus their attention on learning the lore of the Wyld and how to control it. Some even seek to become one with the maddened member of the triat.
  • Web Walkers
    Like the Wyld Children, the Web Walkers focus on a member of the triat-the Weaver. They tend to stay near large cities, revelling in technology and learning about the lore of the Weaver's webs.
  • Ghost Dancers
    This camp is similar to the Wendigo's Ghost Dancers, and there are many connections between the two. The Uktena's Ghost Dancers concern themselves less with war, and more with healing the land and making it clean once again.
  • Scouts
    The Scouts are the messengers and wanderers of the Uktena, carrying word from Sept to Sept, from Theurge to spirit or from Bane Tender to Bane Tender.
  • Raiders
    An offshoot of the Scouts, the Raiders look for lost (and not so lost) fetishes and other items of power. They hoard them away from prying eyes, in secret caverns and hiding places.
  • Path Dancers (Restricted)
    The Path Dancers claim to have a deep connection to Great Uktena, far deeper than most of their brethren. Their initiations are strict, and the lore they wield is powerful indeed. Path Dancers who know sorcery are banned.
  • Society of the Bitter Frost (Banned)
    In the darkest days of the Uktena, this camp was formed. The Black Spiral Dancers approached the Uktena, offering them power, and while most destroyed the corrupted Garou, some listened. They became cannibals and worse, falling just short of Dancing the Spiral themselves. Undergoing the ritual was all that remained for most. They were declared outcasts, and are still hunted to this day.

Gaia - July 4, 2008 07:27 PM (GMT)
Tribal Gifts and Rites

These Gifts and Rites are restricted to this tribe only. They may not be taught to non-members.

Strut (Level One) This Gift, taught by a crane- or turkey-spirit, allows a Garou to appear physically grander and more impressive than he truly is.

Implacable Grip (Level One) As the Silver Fang Gift: Falcon's Grasp

Blending (Level Two) Intruder legends tell of the uncanny ability of native peoples to hide in plain sight, even only yards away. This Gift allows the user to blend into the landscape simply by crouching and keeping still. It isn't invisibility; rather, the Garou draws the landscape into himself to appear to the unwary as a natural part of the terrain. This Gift is especially common among caern guardians. Any stealthy spirit, such as chameleon, teaches this Gift.

Overlook (Level Two) It can be quite useful to be ignored at times. You can overhear what was not meant for your ears, or see armed guards look right past you. As long as the Uktena keeps a low profile, a supervisor will assume he's just another tech, or the cowboys will see only "some tame Injun asleep by the hitchin' post". Some Ragabash call this the "Tonto goes to town" Gift: members of the Scouts also favor it. A cuckoo-spirit teaches this Gift.

Another's Moccasins (Level Two) the human cultures of Uktena kinfolk are too-frequently ignored or derided by the mainstream; their wolf-kin are persecuted as a matter of course. This Gift opens the eyes of the ignorant to life on the other side, showing them a new and (for a while at least) fascinating perspective. By speaking briefly with the subject about the culture or species in question, the Garou can instill curiousity or appreciation for the culture - or if particularly successful, an obsession with learning about and aiding the kinfolk's people. The Earth Guides in particular use this gift to nudge adversaries (usually in government or the media) into the role of allies. An ancestor-spirit teaches this Gift.

Reveal the Hidden (Level Two) This gift allows an Uktena to find non-supernatural items that may be eluding his search. This is a perfect tool to locate hidden passageways, concealed tomes of lore or a normal foe that may be successfully hiding from the werewolves. A Crow spirit teaches the Gift. Scouts (and their darker campmates, Raiders) consider this gift practically a prerequisite.

Coils of the Serpent (Level Two) Using this Gift, an Uktena can call forth dark tentacles of mist or fog that wrap around enemies and hold them in a viselike grip. Each coil is four feet long and possesses the same physical characteristics as the werewolf who summons the coils. Any snake-spirit can teach this Gift.

Indian Giver (Level Two) Sometimes, one must give information to get information. Perhaps an explanation is necessary to get the curious to go away. However, Uktena are notoriously tightfisted with secrets. With this Gift, the Uktena can share a bit of knowledge that later vanishes from the subject's memory. An ancestor-spirit teaches this Gift. Both Raiders and Pathdancers commonly learn this Gift, though it can be found throughout the tribe.

Uktena's Freezing Stare (Level Two) The Uktena can use this Gift to mesmerize an opponent by making direct eye contact. If the Gift is successful, the target freezes dead in his tracks. A spirit of Uktena teaches this Gift.

Death Trance (Level Three) Sometimes, death is the only way out. But that doesn't mean you want to stay that way. With this Gift, the Uktena may appear dead, following the expected progression (lividity, rigor, etc.) well enough to fool a forensics team. While 'dead' the Uktena is in a muted state, unable to move; his senses are still active, but dulled and dreamlike. The danger is reviving, as the effort required to return to the living increases with time, and eventually the character is no longer feigning. An opossum-spirit teaches this gift.

Sing Down the Rain (Level Three) This Gift is used to bring rain from the heavens, either to nourish crops and cleanse the land, or to cause damage through mudslides and flooding. This Gift is common among Ghost Dancers. A frog-spirit teaches this Gift.

Wisdom of the Ancient Ways (Level Three) As the Philodox Gift.

Lay of the Land (Level Four) As the Bone Gnawer Gift: Attunement, except that it works in rural or wilderness areas instead of urban areas.

Spirit's Horse (Level Four) A potent Gift, Spirit's Horse allows an Uktena to turn his body into a temporary home for an ancestor-spirit or other important creature from the time of legends. This Gift provides more than the memories and abilities associated with channelling the Ancestors normally because for a brief time, the Uktena actually becomes the spirit who inhabits his body. The intent of the gift is to honor an ancestor by allowing her to physically take part in a ceremony or moot, meet her descendants and share in the joys of the physical world. The Rite of Invitation to the Ancestors is often used in conjunction with this Gift, and these events almost never take place outside a tribal moot or council. An ancestor-spirit teaches this Gift.

Guardian's Fortitude (Level Four) In desperate times the Uktena must call upon their endurance reserves to be vigilant, whether it is a theurge locked in a multi-day rite, a Bane-Tender waiting vainly for reinforcements or a lone warrior holding a mountain pass with no hope of retreat. This Gift gives them the strength to stave off the needs of the body in order to focus on the daunting task at hand. Those needs are not erased but merely deferred, however, so this ancestor-spirit-taught Gift is used only at great need. Many Bane-Tenders learn this Gift.

Uktena's Glare (Level Five) Just as the anger within Great Uktena burns those who dare to face him, so can the follower of Uktena sear foes with his own Rage. To one who is worthy, Uktena may teach this Gift.

Rites

Rite of Accord

Rite of Balance
Level Three
The Triat is in everyone, but sometimes one aspect touches a person more strongly than another. This imbalance manifests in many ways, from a Wyld-fed madness to Wyrm-spawned depression or the joyless routines of the Weaver. Packs delving into Cyber-realms for extended periods of time or conducting raids on Black Spiral Dancer Hives come back changed, Tainted. This rite seeks to bring them back into balance, to restore the Garou's harmony with Gaia.

Mystic Rites

Rite of the Sacred Fire
Level One
The sacred fire is the focal point of spiritual life in many Septs, for like the heart of the caern it connects the physical and spirit realms - the flame burns in both. Sacred fires are tended with reverence in medicine lodges or caves, or more rarely outside - spirits are attracted to them like the proverbial moths to a flame, so such a fire would make a site pretty crowded even for an Uktena caern. Building a sacred fire in turn increases the effectiveness of other mystic endeavors.
A sacred fire is to be treated with respect. While an individual may remake sacred fires at need, it is considered more honorable to maintain one. Many Septs maintain the fire for a year at a stretch, while others have kept theirs burning for years or even generations.

Prayer of the Seeking
Level One
This is actually a modified (and much more complex) Prayer for the Prey, which is only taught to Uktena's children. Before a hunt for a specific item of lore or magic (such as a lost fetish or tome), the Garou prays while holding an attuned object (usually a water snake skin or, for the fortunate, an uktena scale). If successful, the Uktena finds the search much easier. If the attuned focus is lost, a new one must be found and attuned in order for the rite to work; attuned foci are personal and cannot be transferred. Smart Garou usually give some token of their gratitude for particularly successful uses of this rite.

Rite of the Spirit Cage
Level Three
The Uktena believe that killing a spirit, even a Bane, is not always the best thing to do - particularly when time is needed to question, bargain with or even bind said entity. This rite allows the Uktena to trap a spirit in a cage of energy.

Rite of Invitation to the Ancestors
Level Four
Most often used in conjuction with the Spirit's Horse Gift, this rite readies a moot or council of Uktena to welcome an ancestor spirit into its midst. Usually the werewolves sing and dance to honor the tribal ancestors. Special foods are eaten and invocations of sacred words may be made to the sun, moon or other natural elements, depending on the cultural backgrounds of the Uktena involves. Some werewolves use this rite without the Gift of Spirits' Horse, to honor their ancestors and fallen heroes.

Rite of Bane Binding
Level Five
One of the Uktena's most important self-appointed tasks is the capture and binding of powerful banes that, for whatever reason, cannot be destroyed. The Uktena performing this rite consider it one of the most sacred and dangerous of all of their mystical duties; they know the chances are great that many will die in completing the ritual, so it is never undertaken without serious forethought.

Mockery Curing Way
Level Five
From time out of mind, one of the worst nightmares for a Garou was for one of her kinfolk to be possessed by a Bane. Taint could be Cleansed, but the Wyrm-spirit joined body and soul too thoroughly to extricate without destroying the host; even with a powerful healer at the ready, an exorcism frequently left the host shattered in mind and spirit. Worse still, the Bane often escaped into the Umbra to possess again another day. More often than not, the Garou saw killing the victim as an agonizing but necessary task.
Recently, an Uktena pack returned from a decade-long quest with a ritual that offers a (slightly) better chance to both destroy the spirit and preserve the patient. Rather than ripping the Bane from the body, the rite drains its energy until it shrivels and pulls away like a withered creeper vine.




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