gladiusdei
 member, 594 posts
Sat 2 Dec 2017
at 20:45
OWOD and COD Werewolf question: How do you pick an Alpha?
I have a question for groups and people running and playing any version of werewolf on Rpol; How do you pick an alpha for your pack?  It seems like it could be very problematic for a group of players that don't know one another well and can't interact face to face.  I know you could vote, or the storyteller could simply pick one, but I feel like there is always a chance that would anger people or hurt feelings.  The storyteller could also make an NPC alpha, but that seems like a temporary fix, that could also really hurt a game if left in place too long.

So how have you all done this, and made it work?
Big Brother
 member, 413 posts
 Who controls the past...
 ... Controls the future.
Sat 2 Dec 2017
at 22:49
OWOD and COD Werewolf question: How do you pick an Alpha?
There are all sorts of reasons for GM fiat, hurt feelings or not: Garou are organized by packs, yes, but they're also a society and, like any society, they're not always fair. Maybe Ahroun gets chosen because he's an elder's son. Maybe the Ragabash is chosen because of behind-the-scenes politics. Maybe the Half-Moon is chosen because they're (supposedly) more even-tempered than any of the other pack members. Maybe the Talesinger is chosen because, let's face it, being able to lead is often a matter of how well a leader speaks. Or maybe the Theurge is 'chosen' (wink wink?) by the spirits. Alternatively maybe the predominant tribe picks a member of their tribe to lead the pack.

The best feature of GM fiat is that the players then get to deal with it IC.
AscendedMaster
 member, 183 posts
Sun 3 Dec 2017
at 02:00
OWOD and COD Werewolf question: How do you pick an Alpha?
The alpha of a typical real-life wolf pack is the father of the majority of the members of the pack excepting his beta mate (and by extension, the beta is the mother of most of the pack). Unrelated wolves are often adopted if they are young, assuming an "unclaimed wolf" survived long enough without a pack to encounter another one.

In areas with abundant prey, these "family packs" will sometimes link up and form a "meta-pack" of two or three "families." The alpha of the "meta-pack" is determined by combat, as is the case in many animal hierarchies.

Therefore, I would argue that a typical werewolf pack would be led by the member who initiated the majority of the other members into werewolf existence and society. The one guided their First Change, for example.

If the pack is very large, then the alpha should be decided by ritual combat.
gladiusdei
 member, 595 posts
Sun 3 Dec 2017
at 02:07
OWOD and COD Werewolf question: How do you pick an Alpha?
That doesn't really work with the normal multi-cultural multi tribe packs you get when players make characters.  To do that, I'd need to pick a player ahead of time to make then the older packmate.  Which is frankly what I am trying to avoid.

I suppose putting an in game reason to pick a pack alpha makes sense, but then it still boils down to me picking an alpha, which may not work out well.

And I don't like the ritual combat idea because it begins the game with conflict that may lead to problems since I usually don't know all the players in game well.
nauthiz
 member, 549 posts
Sun 3 Dec 2017
at 05:00
OWOD and COD Werewolf question: How do you pick an Alpha?
The last werewolf game I was in here ended up with two packs.  In each pack someone IC just claimed it.  One pack went through the ritual combat route and settled it that way, the other didn't, I believe the other characters just went along with it if memory serves.

It was not a trouble free way of doing things and one of the packs did fall apart, at least it seemed in some part, due to conflict over that aspect of the IC situation amongst other things.

I would honestly get your players to talk it over before anyone commits to anything.  Maybe some don't want the responsibility of the position, maybe others do, but without a conversation no one will know what each other are comfortable with.  You're right that it's more difficult because the players are likely total strangers, but getting people communicating is the only way to change that.
Knight_Vassal
 member, 390 posts
Wed 6 Dec 2017
at 06:46
OWOD and COD Werewolf question: How do you pick an Alpha?
In reply to nauthiz (msg # 5):

I've done it round robin style before. Each member either gets a turn when it would be most appropriate or they just rotate. Say on Tuesdays Ahroun is in charge. Wednesday see Ragabash and thursday is theurge.
Big Brother
 member, 414 posts
 Who controls the past...
 ... Controls the future.
Wed 6 Dec 2017
at 14:07
Re: OWOD and COD Werewolf question: How do you pick an Alpha?
Knight_Vassal:
I've done it round robin style before. Each member either gets a turn when it would be most appropriate or they just rotate. Say on Tuesdays Ahroun is in charge. Wednesday see Ragabash and thursday is theurge.

While that may seem "fair" (and I use the term loosely), there's no meaningful way that can work. If you have a group that posts extremely frequently, perhaps, but otherwise you're talking each werewolf gets to be leader for a single post, or maybe a group of post-and-responses - maybe. There's no way that would work at a table either (assuming you're not playing daily - it could work if you dedicate that kind of time to your game, I guess, but see below).

I suppose it could work if you made each player pack leader for a month, or maybe for a mission. That all said, neither I nor Garou are big fans of the modern notion of everyone is equal in the eyes of law. All people are not created equal, and it's most certainly true that not all Garou are equally good at things. Ahrouns were created - quite literally - to be battle masters, while Theurges were created - again, literally - to deal with the umbra. And so on and so forth. (Yes, that's a very simplistic take on things, but it's suitable to make my point.)

That's not to say that round robin isn't a good idea, merely to suggest that "fairness" is not a sufficiently good reason. If you want to be fair, I'd suggest using a round robin approach to the type of missions, which could then have the follow-on effect of changing the pack leader. However, that solution no longer deals directly with the question in the OP.
Knight_Vassal
 member, 391 posts
Wed 6 Dec 2017
at 14:41
Re: OWOD and COD Werewolf question: How do you pick an Alpha?
In reply to Big Brother (msg # 7):

 I never said fair just what has worked.
pnvq12
 member, 51 posts
Wed 6 Dec 2017
at 16:34
Re: OWOD and COD Werewolf question: How do you pick an Alpha?
I like the idea of the ritual combat. Open it up to the players once they are selected and simply ask "Who wants to be Alpha?". Those that respond will duke it out in the introduction arc and then they will be Alpha. If nobody wants to be Alpha then you just make an NPC Alpha and have them be a tell them what to do more than a lead them. If a PC decides they don't want someone who simply tells them what to do but doesn't contribute then they can step up and you can GM fiat the ritual combat so they win.

Anything else just doesn't make sense in my opinion. Alpha isn't really something you should decide arbitrarily.
Syrris
 member, 432 posts
Wed 6 Dec 2017
at 21:11
Re: OWOD and COD Werewolf question: How do you pick an Alpha?
  There's no single right answer to this: it's going to depend heavily on what the players want and to some degree on which characters have the personality and/or skills for the job.

  Bear in mind as well that no matter which of them is the day-to-day alpha, the role is liable to be handed off (formally or otherwise) when the pack is dealing with something that falls under a specific individual's area of expertise.
icosahedron152
 member, 820 posts
Thu 7 Dec 2017
at 04:16
Re: OWOD and COD Werewolf question: How do you pick an Alpha?
I’ve never played a werewolf game, so I can’t help with specifics, but I’ve encountered this sort of leadership problem in other areas, such as military or mercenary games where somebody has to play the officer/NCO in charge.

Usually it is a recipe for disaster, and a rule set that insists on it IMO is ripe for houseruling.

If the lead player is as fair-minded, game-knowledgeable and skilled as the GM, it can work, but all too often the ‘alpha’ position falls to (or is chosen by) a player unsuited to the role. They are either domineering, choose favourites, have no clue who said/did what and when in the story, or simply come up with ideas that nobody wants to follow, and the game takes a nose dive.

Unfortunately, if the lead role is held by an NPC, the game often deteriorates into the GM playing with himself while the rest of the players do little more than lurk. They want the lead NPC to wipe their apples for them and to make every little decision for them (see the ‘decision making’ thread hereabouts).

The only way I’ve found it to work, is either to choose a player you know and trust as the alpha - in much the same way that you would choose a Co-GM (which is effectively what they may become in terms of game direction), or to hold off on the decision (have a redshirt alpha who always makes the wrong decision, perhaps) and see which of your players steps up and takes the role of 'beta’. At that point, you can have some misfortune befall the NPC alpha and the natural beta takes the lead.

Hope that helps. :)
Big Brother
 member, 416 posts
 Who controls the past...
 ... Controls the future.
Thu 7 Dec 2017
at 15:32
Re: OWOD and COD Werewolf question: How do you pick an Alpha?
icosahedron152:
If the lead player is as fair-minded, game-knowledgeable and skilled as the GM, it can work, but all too often the ‘alpha’ position falls to (or is chosen by) a player unsuited to the role. They are either domineering, choose favourites, have no clue who said/did what and when in the story, or simply come up with ideas that nobody wants to follow, and the game takes a nose dive.

This brings up the issues of in character vs. out of character issues. If the problems are the player is being a jerk, that's an out of character problem you need to solve. But if it's a matter of the character being a jerk - it's not like there are any fewer jerks in games than there are IRL, so... *shrugs*

Of course, the game can take a 'nose dive' due to either reason, but you need to be aware of the actual cause of the problem to fix it. No point blaming the player if it's just his character being the jerk he's always wanted to be.
icosahedron152
 member, 821 posts
Thu 7 Dec 2017
at 18:05
Re: OWOD and COD Werewolf question: How do you pick an Alpha?
There comes a point where a jerk character and a jerk player are the same thing.

The idea is to play a game, along with other people, and to make that game fun for everyone.

If a player narcissistically chooses to play a jerk whose narcissism is going to bring the game down, who is the jerk, the player or the character?
Ramidel
 member, 1351 posts
 Err on the side
 of awesome.
Thu 7 Dec 2017
at 18:20
Re: OWOD and COD Werewolf question: How do you pick an Alpha?
Well, the advantage in Werewolf is that the alpha isn't fixed - it's not like the military where your boss' position is protected by the hierarchy. So if a player alpha is a jerk, the rest of the pack can either challenge him or simply remove him. So a bad alpha is either a self-correcting problem, or he's there because the players allow him to hold his position.