The Shadow is a strange, animistic landscape woven from taboos and bans. Spirits caper and clash in accordance with ancient pacts and laws. Werewolves are kindred to these otherworldly beings and can draw upon those same laws. They do so in the form of rites – supplications and demands that take the form of symbolic and ritual practices.
Symbolism lies at the core of every rite, invoking the desired pact and compelling a response. Most rites require some sort of ceremony or ritual performance but the exact details of that performance vary wildly between regions, factions and packs. When a ritemaster teaches a student one of these occult secrets, the rite changes; the student adds their own interpretations of its practice, their own understanding of its symbolism. Any ritualist who knows a rite may perform it as a ritemaster. Other characters who know the rite may aid her as a teamwork action. Spirit Rites can be performed by any group of ritualists who know the ritual; Pack Rites can only be performed with the aid of packmates who also know the rite. Likewise, Witch Rites can only be performed by others in the same tradition of witchcraft. Others may participate in the ritual (and thus benefit from it) but if they do not themselves know the ritual, they cannot contribute any teamwork bonus. The dice pool used to perform a rite depends on the "form" of the Rite known by the ritualist. Each Rite technically has the potential to be performed in dozens of ways, one for each combination of Attribute and Skill, though there are some that lend themselves readily to certain Rites - these tend to be the ones most often taught to others. Most rites are Extended actions and require the participants to meet a target number of successes during the performance. A ritemaster may roll as many times as her unmodified dice pool for the rote. If the performance of a rite is broken at any point – such as a participant being attacked and injured – a Dramatic Failure ensues.
A werewolf usually learns of a new rite through a teacher, such as another Uratha or a spirit. Sometimes rites are carefully recorded on cuneiform cylinders or charred, sigil-scratched bones. The teaching might be a carefully codified ritual practice, or it may simply be a torrent of vital symbols that the student must figure out how to use on their own.
Learning New Rites
A character who wishes to learn a Rite must find a source of knowledge to provide it; she then expends 1 Experience, but only if she knows more Rites of a lower level (otherwise, she must pay 1 Experience per dot of the Rite). Of course, finding such a source of knowledge can be difficult; she may need to chase down a wise spirit in a Sacred Hunt, or seek membership of a Tribe or Lodge to access its well-guarded Rites. While some common Rites are freely taught amongst the People, most werewolves carefully guard their hoarded lore and will only trade it for significant recompense. Very rarely, a character might discover the existence of a forgotten or previously unknown Rite. This may come about from careful, years-long observation of the laws and bans that shape the Shadow, revealing the underlying patterns of a rite’s existence. Sometimes, the emergence of new types of spirit can cause ‘new’ rites to emerge, such as the spirits that reflect mankind’s technological development. A werewolf cannot simply invent a new Rite, but they can pry such valuable knowledge free from the Shadow and its denizens.
Learning New Forms of Already-Known Rites
Far more frequently, ritualists learn about different forms of a Rite they already know - that is, a new way to perform a rite they have already mastered, one that uses a different dice pool. Once a given Rite is mastered, learning its alternate forms is relatively simple, taking one hour per rating of the Rite in question with a proper mentor or written source.
When a rite is first learned, it is with a specific dice pool. Once it has been mastered, however, the ritemaster may not only learn other forms of it easily, but may also seek to reinterpret that ritual's symbolism into a new expression. This requires an Intelligence + Occult test, at a penalty equal to the rating of the Rite. This is a single roll that takes up one day per dot of the Rite, and expends one Essence per dot of the Rite in that process.
- Dramatic Failure: The newly created Rite not only doesn't work as intended, but it has a vital spiritual flaw. Its execution inflicts some terrible supernatural Condition in some capacity: a Ban Condition, or perhaps one that reflects the ire of a powerful spirit angered by the inharmonious rite.
- Failure: The attempts are a failure. The ritemaster must gain a dot of Occult or the Rites Merit before trying again (though he may attempt to reinterpret the rite using a different new dice pool).
- Success: The new interpretation of the rite is a success, and that specific dice pool can be added to the ritemaster's repertoire.
- Exceptional Success: Not only is the experiment a success, but the ritemaster gains insight into performing the rite with two new dice pools. He also gains the Inspired Condition.
Types of Rites
- Spirit Rites: These Rites primarily interact with Shadow and its denizens. Their performance is reflective of anyone with any kind of interaction with the Hisil. Assistance: Assistants can be drawn from anyone.
- Pack Rites: These Rites draw on the spiritual bond between werewolves, their territory, and the Hunt. Assistance: Only Packmates can act as assistants or participants. A ritualist who is not part of a pack cannot have any aid or provide benefits to anyone save herself.
- Witch Rites: These Rites call upon the unique relationships of the myriad forms of humans interacting with Shadow, or "witchcraft." A ritualist must have knowledge of a given tradition of witchcraft to perform them (reflected in a Witchcraft Style Merit). Assistance: Only other practitioners of the same tradition may act as assistants, although anyone may be a beneficiary.