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How To Write An App That Doesn't Suck

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How hard is it to get a character on GarouMUSH?Edit

It's actually not very hard if you can do the following things:

  • Write English proficiently: spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
  • Come up with a believable and well-developed human character.
  • Read this guide to make a few adjustments to a human character in order to make it a pre-change Garou cub.
  • Submit the application to garou-reg@garoumush.org. (Please send the application as an e-mail, not as an attachment.)
  • Be willing to work with a wizard to tweak the character to conform to GarouMUSH's worldview.

That's all it takes.

If you've been on other MUSHes, this is probably a little (or a lot) more than they require of new players. But if GarouMUSH's basic requirements seem too hard and too time consuming, then GarouMUSH simply isn't the place for you.

Before you use this guideEdit

First, let me point out that writing an application, much like all writing, is not a step-by-step, formulaic process. (If your writing is still firmly rooted in the five paragraph theme taught in grade schools, you'll want to move along--there's nothing for you to see here.) This guide is not a "fill in the blanks and send it in" form. Instead, it is designed to help you think about how a variety of aspects may or may not affect your character. Hopefully, this will assist you in conforming to worldview, developing your character, and--most importantly--spending time thinking about your character and how he or she works on an internal, three-dimensional level that contains that indefinable "spark of life" that a character application must have.

Second, GarouMUSH requires that its players have good command of the English language, which includes good punctuation, spelling, and style. Your application is a direct reflection of how you will probably pose during the game. there four if u type ur app like ur n a aol chatroom then u will be rejected if u know what i meen

Finally, keep in mind that GarouMUSH tends to be a "low power" game (particularly for new players) with a strong emphasis on realism and believability--insofar as werewolves are real and believable! Just think "low key" when it comes to your application: the lower, the better. New players aren't expected or supposed to come onto the game with fully competent, ass-kicking characters. It's all about the learning process.

Applying for a characterEdit

How long does an application need to be?Edit

The answer is pretty simple: "As long as it needs to be." To quote one former GarouMUSH wizard: "An application should be like a woman's dress: long enough to be decent, but short enough to keep me interested." Wizards don't mind reading longer applications so long as they're interesting and engaging and good. Wizards don't particularly care to read rambling applications that seem to go on forever, but wizards will readily reject an application that is too short and doesn't develop the character enough.

Typical applications for a pre-change garou cub are about 2-4 pages long (full pages, single-spaced). Cliath garou take about double that and are given greater scrutiny. Obviously, if you're new to MUSHing or GarouMUSH, your best choice is a pre-change cub--and that's rather intentional on our part.

What kinds of characters can I play on GarouMUSH?Edit

New players--defined as anyone who has not played on GarouMUSH before--are restricted to playing either a Human or a Homid Garou cub or cliath for their first character.

New players that choose to play a Human should be aware that we do not allow Hunters or Sorcerers or cybernetics or similar things for new players--even though White Wolf published materials with this sort of thing in them. New players are limited to either a plain human or a plain kinfolk (without gnosis or rites or magical powers or whatnot as featured in the Kinfolk supplement book). Be aware however that it will be harder to obtain roleplay if you choose to play a human--the majority of PCs on the MUSH are, oddly enough, Garou.

New players that choose to play a Garou are encouraged to play a pre-changed cub (a garou that has not yet had his or her first change into a werewolf) in order to learn the ropes (from both an in-character and out-of-character perspective) as they go along as well as maximize their opportunities for getting RP.

New players may also play a cliath garou (if you don't know what a cliath is, you shouldn't play one), but these characters are harder to obtain, are scrutinized more closely in the registration process, and have applications that are about twice the length of a cub's application--both to detail the additional events and development the character underwent as a cub and to demonstrate to the -reg wizard that you probably know enough about Werewolf: the Apocalypse to pull off a character with a working knowledge of garou culture. Also, as Cliath garou are assumed to have a basic working knowledge of garou culture, mistakes that are made in-game can and will affect your cliath garou. Punishment rites, expulsion from the caern, bawn, woods, or city (and thus the game), and even being killed for committing a grievous faux pas are all possibilities if your cliath screws something up. As a cliath, you will also be given far less slack in your learning curve than a cub. If you intend to play a cliath garou, be sure to read and be familiar with EVERYTHING on the garoumush.org website as well as the basic role-playing core system. GarouMUSH is NOT identical to the sourcebooks or other WoD MUSHes--much like different LARPs and face-to-face games differ from each other--so expect a few discoveries, blunders, and revelations while treading cautiously.

Can I play a lupus or a metis?Edit

New players will not be given a Metis or Lupus character. Ever. (Yes. This means you, too.)

Can I play an (insert every other "race" other than Garou or human here)?Edit

As a new player, no.

What tribes can I play?Edit

If you're new to GarouMUSH, it's best to pick a tribe that has a decent number of active members in it. Obviously if you're playing a cub and pick a tribe that has only 1 cliath in it, and that cliath isn't active, you aren't likely to get much RP at all. Typically a wizard will flag your application if this is the case and push you towards another tribe, but wouldn't it be better to just log on to the MUSH, ask people in the OOC Lounge what tribes are active enough to support a newbie with a cub, and then find out what tribes are good choices prior to writing your character up.

As a new player, you can pick from 11 of the core 13 tribes.

Due to newbies not being allowed to play lupus (and metis), new players cannot choose to play a Red Talon (which is an all-lupus tribe).

Also, new players are not allowed to play Stargazers, as there is backstory on the MUSH as to why there are almost no Stargazers around any more.

Note that the above list does not include tribes like Croatan, Bunyip, White Howlers, Skin Dancers, and Black Spiral Dancers. That's very intentional.

Can I take merits and flaws?Edit

Nope. We don't use them.

If you're playing a human or kinfolkEdit

.... you should skim the rest of this page for ideas and then go to the Kinfolk page. Basically, you're already a human (one would suppose) and therefore know how to write up a human character that is well-rounded and interesting. You'll just want to familiarize yourself with some aspects of Humans/Kin on GarouMUSH and a few rules and guidelines governing their interactions with Garou.

If you're playing a GarouEdit

In the beginningEdit

A Garou's life begins before it is born. In order for a garou to exist, it must have parents. (You'll want at least two because they're pretty popular.) A Garou that produces offspring has a 1 in 10 chance of that offspring being Garou. Certain rites can raise those odds to 1 in 5. The other 9 in 10 (or 4 in 5) would be kinfolk. So if you're playing a Garou character that has siblings, your PC is probably the only Garou child in the family.

Kinfolk can produce Garou as well, though odds of this happening are about 1 in 100 as compared to a Garou's 1 in 10. Some kinfolk are never "clued in" to their heritage by their parents--be it from the Garou's wish to shelter them, the garou parent's death, or their Garou parent was just out going hog wild sowing his wild oats. So there is a greater possibility that a kinfolk that has a child might not know anything about werewolves or that Junior will grow up to be one.

Suppose that a Garou had a child with a human/kin, and that offspring (kin) mates with a human and produced a grandchild for the Garou. The odds are 1 in 100 that the grandchild is Garou, and the odds are 50/50 that the non-Garou offspring would even be kin. (One reason why family and kin and blood ties are so important to the Garou--particularly Silver Fangs.) The odds of a great-grandchild being Garou if the grandchild produced offspring with a human are extraordinarily remote (1 in 1,000 odds), and a great-great-grandchild being Garou would be more or less so improbable as to be utterly ridiculous (1 in 10,000).

The importance of kinfetchesEdit

Garou, regardless of their tribe, tend to have one thing in common: they generally don't have very long lives and their Rage often makes it difficult for them to be present for their offspring and families--particularly if their mate is human and not kin. (In fact, if their mate is not kin, the relationship is more or less doomed from the beginning.). Thus, when Garou have offspring that they know about, they almost always have the Rite of Baptism By Fire performed on the newly born child. This rite, which is performed at birth or before one full cycle of the moon (about 28 days) has passed, will determine if the newborn is garou or kin. If the child is kinfolk, the rite ends. If the child is garou, the rite continues and a small tribal-affiliated spirit is bound to the child. This spirit is called a kinfetch and is, for all intents and purposes, invisible and utterly useless until the cub nears its first change at about 12-16 years of age.

Sometimes the Rite of Baptism by Fire does not get performed--or fails to work for some reason. Generally this occurs when a deceased Garou's offspring have kids, not knowing that their parent was Garou or not knowing how to get in touch with and Garou to perform the rite in time or even because they are "running" from their past/heritage and hoping beyond hope that their own children will not turn out to be monsters. Sometimes a male Garou dies before realizing a mate was pregnant. There are other possibilities as well.

A cub that does not have a kinfetch (or a means of otherwise determining their Garou ancestry/lineage) is a Lost Cub, tribeless, and can be claimed by any tribe at all--regardless of whether it's the cub's "true" tribe or not. And regardless of whether the character, or the character's player, really wanted the character to be a Child of Gaia instead of a Shadow Lord.

"Realism" and characters on GarouMUSHEdit

GarouMUSH is based on a "realistic but ever-so-slightly-darker" version of the real world.

That's important, so go back and read that sentence again.

Okay, let's continue.

Even though the game is set in the World of Darkness, bad things are not all-invasive and should not be used as a crutch for developing your character. If your application has your character being constantly beaten by an abusive alcoholic father while his drug-using mother/prostitute sits sedated in the corner, has your character being teased and ostracized mercilessly every day at school by classmates and teachers, then gang raped by a pack of wild dogs with AIDS while experiencing the only happy moment in his life ever, you're being a bit heavy-handed with the angst. A little angst/trauma is fine, but avoid making the application one big long boring and trite sob story. Trauma or angst should help to develop a character, not define it.

This "realism" also applies to character abilities. Sure, there are child prodigy violinists, but what are the odds that your character is one of them? Odds are that your character is pretty average in most things, but maybe shows some talent or promise in a few areas--and weaknesses in others. If your character is an all-A student, football quarterback, lead singer in a popular local band, budding supermodel, 733t h@x0r (computer hacker), captain of the debate team, full of street-smarts, runs with a gang, and is a master of Tae-Kwon-Whupass--and you think that's realistic--you really need to get out more often and cut waaaay back on the bad anime.

To sum things up, your character should be realistic, believable, developed using life-events (but not completely defined by them), and have ample room to grow and mature over years (and decades) rather than, Athena-like, wading onto the shores of the MUSH full grown and ready to be an ultimate badass.

Now that we've loosely framed worldview, we can get to work on developing the character.

Adding flesh to the bare bonesEdit

There's a whole lot of growing up and character development that occurs between being born and suddenly changing into a werewolf for the first time about 12-16 years later. This provides an opportunity for this little thing called "character development." Skip it and your application will be rejected.

One of the most pivotal influences in a child's development is their home life. What's that like? Is it a single parent home or one of the increasingly rarer two-original-parents households? Maybe both parents are dead? Was the character put in a state orphanage or did a relative or friend of the family adopt them? Did the parents put them up for adoption? Was the character abducted or kidnapped from its birth parents? (And, if one of the parents was Garou, why aren't the kidnappers dead?) If one of the parents was Garou, did his or her pack/tribe/sept know about the offspring? Garou generally don't keep that stuff secret unless there's a really good reason. Why didn't the pack/tribe/sept take steps to see that the kid was adopted by kin or placed somewhere where it could be watched? Pre-change Garou cubs are valuable commodities.

If one of the parents is Garou, then there's likely going to be some stress from two things: Rage and The Curse. The latter is really only a problem if the Garou parent is shacking with non-kin. These garou-kin relationships are universally doomed from a long-term perspective. Thus, kinfolk are often preferred mates/spouses for Garou. A Garou's rage, particularly during a full moon and with a high-rage auspice like an ahroun or galliard, can cause some serious tension within a family--regardless of whether the garou's mate/family is kin or not. Imagine living with someone who, at certain times during the month, is just as likely to bite your head off as say "how was your day?"

After determining what the parental/guardian situation is and how that affects the character's home life, think about how that influences the character as it grows up. Is it a loving, nurturing home? (It happens, even in the World of Darkness.) Does the kid grow up as a latchkey kid? Did the character sit at home after school and vegetate in front of the TV, play on the computer/Nintendo, read books? Does s/he have a nanny? A neighbor that babysits? Someone that has some outside-the-family influence in his or her life, growth, and development? What was learned, admired, or despised from this person? Did the character move around in life? Where to? What happened and why did they have to move?

How about school? Public, private, or home schooling? What things was the character good at and--equally important--not good at. How did s/he get along with the other children? With some of the other children? What about friends?

Nearing the first change (at 13-17 years of age)Edit

Pre-change Garou don't have to worry about their not-yet-evident Rage, so they can actually interact well with other people and lead a normal social life prior to a month or three before their first change occurs. There's absolutely no reason for a pre-change Garou cub to be shunned or ostracized by other kids--unless that's part of their nature. Likewise, there's no reason for a pre-change Garou to feel or act any differently than a normal human, unless there's something wrong with them. If that's the case, you should definitely examine and explain why that's happening to your character.

As the first change draws nearer, the character's Rage (even if they've only got a rage of 1) begins to slowly creep closer to the surface. The cub's long-time friends begin to become scarce, argumentative/defensive, or avoid the character completely. The average Garou with a Rage of 3 can expect to lose about 2/3rds of his or her friends as the change draws near, and 2/3rds of people who might have potentially become friends under normal circumstances push themselves away from the pre-change cub--they subconsciously, instinctively, inexplicably can sense the beast inside the character, underneath the skin, clawing steadily to get out. And who wants to be around that? (Not me!)

Garou typically undergo their first change during puberty--in the 13-17 years of age ballpark. The 11-13 and 17-19 range is possible, but not very likely. Beyond 18 or before 11 is extremely unlikely and will need some really extensive justification--and probably bribes--to get the app approved. It's just not likely to happen in the game world and therefore not likely to get approved in the application process. (Go figure!) The age that a character shifts is generally determined by three factors: Rage, Willpower, and Lifestyle. The higher the rage, the sooner the Garou will shift. The lower the willpower, the sooner the Garou will shift. The more violent, emotional, or stressful the lifestyle, the sooner the Garou will shift. Individuals vary widely for reasons that aren't easily catalogued, as well. There is no set age at which any particular character will undergo his first change.

What triggers a first change?Edit

If you are applying for a pre-change cub, you don't have to worry about adding this section to your application. You can have someone run your first change for you once you get onto the game. However, the triggers for a first change are wide and varied and you should be aware of them.

A character's first change is triggered by anything that would potentially require a frenzy check in a Garou. These things are listed below:

  • Embarrassment (you tripped and fell)
  • Humiliation (your date just dumped you publicly)
  • Any strong emotion--including lust, passion, and envy (having sex, seeing your date talking with a comely stranger, etc.)
  • Extreme hunger
  • Confinement or a feeling of helplessness/entrapment
  • Taunting by an adversary
  • Feeling as if you've been wronged--not necessarily even being wronged, just feeling so.
  • Silver is visible in the vicinity (for Garou who know what silver actually does to them, it is a dire threat)
  • Being injured or even struck
  • Being surprised
  • Screwing something up royally (totally bombing the math test)

My character just changed into a werewolf. Now what?Edit

When a character undergoes its first change, it immediately shifts to the crinos (war) form--and then falls over.

Newly changed Garou have to learn how to use their legs, walk, run, and fight. Newly changed Garou are not harmless, though. They're big, heavy, and have teeth and clawed arms that can do horrific damage to a human unfortunate enough to be nearby. A garou that undergoes his first change because he or she was attacked by a gang may kill one or maybe even two of the gang members that happened to be right there when the change occurred, but the rest of the gang is going to probably escape, running away as the Delirium kicks in. A Garou that undergoes his first change when attacked by a vampire or black spiral dancer is either going to die or be captured, hauled off, and used for a not-very-fun purpose. Game over. Write up a new application, please.

Keep in mind that someone, somewhere, has to clean up any mess your character makes in order to preserve the Veil. And that if a cliath (or even experienced cub) shows up and wants to detain your just-changed character, they'll have a relatively trouble-free time doing so--thanks to their vastly greater experience, skill, training, and knowledge.

Is that a Kinfetch or are you just happy to see me?Edit

Remember the discussion about kinfetches earlier? Kinfetches come into play just prior to or during a Garou's first change. If the first change was provoked suddenly and without warning, then the kinfetch zooms off as the change happens. If the first change is gradual, the kinfetch zooms off BEFORE the change happens (possibly even a month in advance), giving any nearby Garou an early warning that the change is drawing near and that there's a cub that needs kidnapping nearby and giving the Garou the opportunity to minimize collateral damage, deaths, and potential Veil problems.

Kinfetches will seek out Garou of the same tribe first and foremost. If there doesn't appear to be any in the area, the kinfetch settles for any Garou that's handy, relaying the location of the cub, the cub's tribe, and the cub's auspice.

Gifts, Rage, Rites, the Umbra, and recently changed Garou cubsEdit

On GarouMUSH, cubs do not know how to use Gifts until they achieve Rank 1. Even though they're on your character's +sheet, your character can't use them yet.

Just-changed Garou tend to be frenzied and thus have little control over their initial actions. Therefore they really can't choose how or when to spend rage. They just spend it as fast as possible.

Rituals must be taught to cubs. As cubs are assumed to be learning the basics of garou lore, tribal lore, customs, and how to move and fight in all five forms.... Rites do not tend to get taught to Garou until after they are no longer cubs.

Garou must be taught how to access the umbra. They cannot enter the umbra during their first change or generally anytime soon afterwards.

Limited Backgrounds for cubs: Rites and FetishEdit

Cubs cannot take the Rites background in character generation. Cubs may take the Fetish background, but the fetish must belong to a garou relative that later, for some reason, gives the fetish to the character after its rite of passage. Fetishes are very rare and not given out like a cheap used car at a high school graduation. All fetishes must be pre-approved during the application process by your -reg wizard.

Anything else?Edit

If you're applying for a pre-change cub, you've got all the basics covered at this point.

Whew!

You'll need to try and make your application flow/read well, check your grammar and spelling and punctuation, and tighten up the writing. (A bored -reg wizard is a cranky -reg wizard.) And if there's additional things you'd like to bring out about your character, feel free to do so.

Parting adviceEdit

Two pieces of highly useful advice for new players:

  • Listen to any advice that is given to you in an OOC capacity by other players, act upon it, and adjust your RP accordingly. If you're doing something wrong and someone tells you you're doing something wrong, listen to them so the wizards are not called in to tell you that, yes, you are wrong. The players that have been on the game longer are attempting to help you fit in to the existing MUSH worldview, so don't take constructive criticism as outright criticism or that you've made some horrible and irreconcilable error.
  • Don't sit like a lump on a log expecting everyone else to entertain you. Actively pursue RP with others by paging other players to ask about getting RP and going to public locations IC where other characters might happen to "drop in" if they see someone else IC.

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