“Pack: A group of wild animals; especially wolves, living and hunting together.”
In New Gotham, a pack is one or more Alphas and at least two followers, and those followers can be related to either or both Alphas. If there is a werewolf family living in New Gotham, they are considered a pack. That does not mean that every pack in New Gotham shares the similar makeup of family and extended family. Some packs are created entirely from friends.
True Pack vs. Beast Pack
A pack’s member makeup, lifestyle, and everyday practices will determine whether or not they’re considered a “beast” pack or a true pack.
- A true pack consists solely of werewolves. They are considered the most loyal of all packs, and they tend to have very strict social hierarchies and breeding. These pacts are almost like a well-oiled machine, each piece designated for a specific purpose.
- A beast pack is a group comprised of several types of werewolf breeds and other monsters. Very rarely are the members of a beast pack related to one another in any other way. Beast packs tend to be very powerful as the mixture of abilities and strengths are a real advantage. However, many such packs tend to suffer from internal struggles.
The Four Pack Hierarchies
- Matriarchal Pack – Single hierarchy with werewolves ranked from strongest to weakest, all authority remains with the female alpha. In this type of pack, any member of the pack is considered property of the alpha. The alpha always decides when breeding will occur and what females will be breed and who will breed with them.
- Symmetrical Pack – Split hierarchy with werewolves ranked from strongest to weakest, all authority is shared between the two alphas.
- Nuclear Pack – Split hierarchy consisting of an adult male and female with one or more children (including those adopted.)
- Paterfamilias Pack – Single hierarchy with werewolves ranked from strongest to weakest, all authority remains with the male alpha. In this type of pack, any member of the pack is considered property of the alpha. The alpha always decides when breeding will occur and what females will be breed and who will breed with them.
A Guide to Pack Hierarchy Rank
Like any mundane wolf packs, werewolves have a pack hierarchy that helps them maintain order. Werewolves naturally feel an extreme loyalty to their pack and treat it like family. That being said, there are some werewolves that consider themselves loners.
Usually, there is a great deal of social mobility in the lower tiers of a pack, the top four typically stay the same for a long time. This is due in part because of werewolf culture. As a whole, werewolves seem to have a strict belief in “keeping what you kill,” and competition is an acceptable means of judging worthiness.
Below, I have outlined the major roles and functions of each member in the pack. The numbers in brackets beside each position indicate how many werewolves may occupy that position within a pack.
Keep in mind that some packs have hierarchies that are split between two branches, and there are some packs that are linear and rank their members in numerical order from alpha all the way down to omega, with one member occupying each role.
Alpha: (one – two) this is the pack leader and figure head; usually a very dominant, bold and charismatic personality. The alpha is responsible for maintaining order and protecting the pack.
Beta: (one-two) the Alpha’s second-in-command; this is usually their most trusted and loyal friend. The Beta takes the stance of leader in the event that the Alpha must leave the territory or is otherwise indisposed.
Gamma: (one-two) the pack’s head teacher. The Gamma is responsible for the mentoring program, pairing mentors with students so that every werewolf is given the opportunity to harness their potential, how to hunt, and physical combat.
Delta: (one-two) the pack’s head medic; they are also responsible for keeping in touch with each of the pack’s epsilons. The Delta is effectively the Alpha’s eyes, watching over the pack regardless of how large it is with the help of the epsilons.
Epsilon: (4-5; more epsilons are promoted as the pack population grows) These wolves are leaders of various sub-packs, each responsible for keeping an eye on the wolves within their sub-pack. Each sub-pack has a generic duty, such as scouting/patrolling borders, organizing hunting parties, and recruiting new werewolves.
Zeta: (unlimited number) pack members who have established themselves as loyal, reputable individuals. They may be paired with younger werewolves as a mentor.
Iota: (unlimited number) a pack member with seniority over Kappas due to experience or proven loyalty (automatic promotion after your character has 20 in-character posts).
Kappa: (unlimited number) a regular member of the pack.
Omega: the lowest ranking member; this individual must have done something to incur the pack’s disdain. They’re forced to eat last at meals, and many of the other werewolves will take out their frustrations on the omega.
Werewolf Marks and Bonds
Once two creatures are spiritually joined, there is an empathetic link that develops between the participants. All monsters are capable of this to some degree, but the degree of joining, its practical uses, and cultural impact differs according to species. For werewolves and shapeshifters, this bonding ritual and practice is usually called “marking.” For instance, if you are bonded to a werewolf, you have been “marked.”
As I mentioned earlier, the bond is an empathic link, and it allows the bonded werewolves to have general sense of their partner(s) well-being. This does not allow them to supernaturally track them, and it does not ensure telepathic communication. However, should a mate die — the surviving werewolf will absolutely know.
Empathetic sensitivity (i.e. what emotions and at what range) differs between individual werewolves. There are some werewolves that are simply more attuned to psychic influences, while there are others that lack even the faintest ability. There is virtually no limit to how many bonds a werewolf is able to form. However, it’s not a commitment to be taken lightly as it’s notoriously difficult to undo.
Upon bonding, a marking (usually a totem of the initiate’s spirit) will erupt in a scar tattoo somewhere on their partner’s body. No one understands how these totems are selected, but there are those who believe the totems are part of an evolutionary trait designed to help werewolves distinguish friend from foe. And these markings are kept even through transformation from animal, half-shifted, and man. And the markings cannot be removed without a great deal of magical help.
Example of marks:
Most werewolves living in a pack will bear the marketing of their alpha(s). Should the alpha(s) die, the marking(s) will not fade or disappear. The next alpha(s) marking will appear alongside the old one. Elder werewolves who have lived through several reigns will often have a collection of markings on their bodies, proudly showing the lineages they’ve supported over the years.
The ritual for initiating a bond remains the same throughout most werewolf culture. The candidate presents their partner with a gift (usually a recently kill) and that gesture is reciprocated with a bite on the neck. Werewolves are like snakes in that their canines have the ability to secrete a potent mixture of hormones that initiate the metaphysical bond.
This ritual is usually a platonic endeavor, but can be made into a sexual experience depending on cultural practices and individual preferences. According to Granny Sole, the physical sensation of the bond is similar to a sexual invasion of a body, mind, and spirit — apparently, the level of control a werewolf is able to maintain while receiving or giving the “mark” is a show of its mental, emotional, and sexual maturity.
Children aren’t marked until they reach an age of sexual maturity, and the lack of connection between parents and offspring leads some werewolf parents to be a little overprotective of their pups. And no, there is no such thing as “imprinting” in werewolf culture. Children are not marked for arranged marriage purposes.
Mating Marks and Bonds
Most modern werewolves consider the idea of “mating” for life antiquated and impractical. Usually, the only werewolves you’ll see living as a mated pair are the alphas and the elderly. A pack mate mark and a mating mark mean different things in werewolf society, but they are essentially the same ritual, with the addition of one or both participants showing their hunting prowess by lending chase to one another. This chase usually ends with copulation and the exchange of bites, which cements the spiritual bond.
When the mating bond is initiated there are some werewolves that experience a temporary physic mind-meld that is called “The Journey.” This experience is rare and there is very little information available in our library records. According to Granny Sole, one member of the bond is allowed to “walk alongside” their mate through several turning points during their mate’s life. We believe there is little evolutionary reason or mythological reason for this and it is treated a random mutation.
Dissolving Werewolf Marks and Bonds
Most werewolves do not mate for life, despite that a bond between partners is permanent. As with humans, werewolves are individuals with a unique range of issues, flaws, and belief systems. When it is clear that one or both partners wants to dissolve the bond, they can seek the help of a skilled magic user or hypnotist, who can essentially pinch the connection between parties, or they can pretend it doesn’t exist.
Whether a werewolf can abandon their pack depends largely on the alpha(s). There are some alphas that let deserters leave in peace, and there are some that hunt them down.
Home Life, Etiquette, and Taboos
Werewolves swear on their totems. To break ones oath is considered the most dishonorable taboo a werewolf can commit.
Werewolves will NOT attack another creature mid-transformation. Again, it is considered dishonorable.
No one is allowed to eat until the alpha says so. And there are some packs where other members have to wait until the alpha divvies up the portions.
It is okay to pass through someone else’s territory. It is not okay to spill blood in someone else’s territory. Better to chase them out of the area’s boundaries than to deal with a pissed off alpha.
No one is allowed to hunt without the alpha’s permission, with the exception of the beta. The beta is usually in charge of scouting hunting grounds, so they are not limited by “hunt law.” The beta is also left in charge of the entire hunt while the Alpha spends time hunting solely for to feed pups and a breeding female.
A werewolf that shifts (without warning or in direct offense to predetermined rules) mid-fight is considered disqualified from the match.
In general, breeding occurs between the months of February and April. By the bloom of May flowers, the mating season is over. The gestation period for a werewolf is much longer than the average nine months for a human. This is due (in part) because the average size of a werewolf liter is 2 -3. After birth, the children are inspected for any mental handicaps or physical deformities by the Pack Elder/Shaman.
Usually, the alpha(s) will decide when members are ready for breeding. According to many werewolf cultures, a werewolf female is suitable for breeding after she experiences her third breeding cycle. Her first breeding cycle signals young adulthood. Her second breeding cycle is used to introduce her to the particulars of werewolf sexuality. By the third cycle, she is considered ready to be bred.
Male sexual maturity is usually gauged by the length of time he can withhold his seed (practice makes perfect!) and his hunting prowess. This is due to the direct role a male has in providing food for a female and a genetic material for the success of the species.
Whether either male or female will actually be bred remains up to the alpha(s). In the instances that there are two alphas in a pack (one male and one female), the male alpha determines sexual maturity for the males, and the females determine sexual maturity for females. Mating within a pack is incredibly regulated and controlled, which is quite surprising considering how much time werewolves seem to spend fucking.
(Pardon my French. I’d say “making love,” but the term doesn’t do it justice.) Depending on the hierarchy and the type of pack, mating rituals vary. Some are very simple, like Aphrodite’s Hunt, where a male werewolf is tasked with hunting the female. The ritual ends with copulation and a mating bond.
There are also some complex mating rituals, like the one practiced by most matriarchal packs. The mating takes place as a group activity. One female and four males will copulate. When the child is born, all four men take a role in the child’s life. It’s a way of ensuring the village raises the child, rather than the responsibility falling solely on the biological parents.
Pack Life and Homosexuality
Alphas of a primarily homosexual packs exercise the same amount of total control over breeding and mating. However, there is a certain sexual liberty in a primarily homosexual pack, partly because none of their activities can lead to pregnancy. Therefore, most Alphas don’t recognize homosexuality as a threat to their rule.
Most cubs and pups are born deaf and blind. They also can’t regulate their own body heat. For the first year of their life, they will remain with their mother. She will be the only one allowed to touch or feed her child. Other werewolves (including the alpha(s) and/or father) will not be allowed to enter the den.
This is due to lingering instincts that no longer prevail over the majority of werewolves. After the “den period,” the father/and or the alpha(s) are invited to greet the child. The new family is given a month of private time, aided by gifts of food left by other pack members at the mouth of their den.
After the conclusion of that month, the parents are expected to rejoin the pack and perform their duties. While parents are preforming duties or working, elderly gamma pack members take on the role of rearing children from the ages of toddler to school age and beyond.
Parents maintain an active role in the child’s life, but the “village” takes on an even more active role in the rearing of the child. Also, school means a different thing for different packs of werewolves. Not every pack submits their children to public schools, but most of them do. In traditional packs, all of the children are expected to learn how to hunt.
Death and Funeral Practices
Werewolves ritualistically cannibalize their fallen pack members, lovers, and young for a variety of cultural and spiritual reasons. According to Granny Sole, the widespread belief held between werewolves of several spanning breeds is that a creature’s spirit is attached to their body. To consume a loved one’s body is seen as a privilege.
The spirit consumed is said to merge with the diner’s soul and provide strength and power equal to the amount of flesh eaten. There are several different rituals concerning how the corpse is prepared for the Last Meal.
In addition, Granny Sole mentions that during a fight for pack leadership — if the fight is to the death (very rare) — the fallen werewolf is devoured by the new alpha as a way of cementing total control.
Those are the “good” reasons why a werewolf might cannibalize its loved ones. There are negative reasons as well. Not every werewolf consumes another werewolf because it means well. This is especially taken into consideration when considering why a male werewolf might attempt to consume a liter of pups he sired.
Likewise, there is also a severe practice that does seem to prevail over a majority of the cultures — and that is the consumption of offspring deemed “contaminated” or “unfit.” Certain breeds of feral wolves that will also consume their young if they believe it has been “turned” by outside influences.
According to Granny Sole, there is also a widespread of practice of having children inspected by the pack’s shaman for deformities. Those suspected of being mentally handicap or physically deformed are declared sacrifices and served to the parents as a ritual-adjacent dish. And frankly, that’s all I’m going to say about that.