Werewolf: The Apocalypse is a role-playing game from the Classic World of Darkness line by White Wolf Publishing. Other related products include the Collectible card games named Rage and several novels (including one series). In the game, players take the role of werewolves known as "Garou" (from the French loup garou). These werewolves are locked in a two-front war against both the spiritual desolation of urban civilization and supernatural forces of corruption that seek to bring about the Apocalypse. Game supplements detail other shapeshifters.
Along with the other titles in the World of Darkness, Werewolf was discontinued in 2004. Its successor title within the Chronicles of Darkness line, Werewolf: The Forsaken, was released on March 14, 2005. A fifth edition is planned to be developed by Hunters Entertainment and published in 2021.
The books have been reprinted since 2011 as part of the "Classic World of Darkness" line.
The basic premise of the game is that the player characters are Garou. Specifically player characters usually are supposed to have undergone some training as Garou and succeeded in an initiation rite known as the Rite of Passage. After this, they are considered of Cliath rank. Usually the player characters form a pack and work together to gain renown among the other Garou, so that they can advance in rank.
The game takes place in a fictional version of our Earth, a secret world, where werewolves, vampires, and other legendary creatures secretly live beside humans. However, it's a dark reflection of our world filled with corruption, apathy, violence, and hopelessness. The setting is also described as "Gothic-Punk."
The Garou battle to maintain this world before all the negativity leads to a total collapse, the titular Apocalypse. They do so hidden from the public eye and live in secret from humanity in general. In their war, the Garou often hunt down and kill humans and supernatural creatures that either actively pursue the Apocalypse or unwittingly contribute to it, due to their parasitic nature. This includes fallen Garou, vampires, evil spirits, mages/sorcerers, and humans (and other creatures) possessed by demons. In doing so, the Garou regard themselves as the immune system of the planet, after a fashion.
Other themes of the game include the inability of the Garou to live as/among humans, although they were born in human form due to The Curse, interaction with spirits that today are separated from the physical world in a realm the Garou can enter.
According to Garou oral history, it has always been their duty to maintain the balance of nature on behalf of Gaia. They have done so by culling overgrown populations, hunting overly powerful predators that would otherwise rampage unchecked, and fending off otherworldly spirits who have overstepped their boundaries. In addition, they believe in the existence of the Triat, a trio of deities that define how the world works: the Weaver is the deity of order and scientific advancement, the Wyld is the deity of creation and chaos, while the Wyrm is the deity of entropy and charged with keeping the balance between order and chaos. At some point, the Weaver went mad by trying to bring the entirety of the Wyld's chaos into order and in doing so, trapped the Wyrm in her Pattern Web, injuring it while also driving it to madness and making it seek out the destruction of the world of Gaia's creation.
The formation of nations and cities was the first radical change wrought on the Garou by humanity. The Garou prevented it by declaring a limited war upon humanity, a period known as the Impergium. During this time, Garou are credited with destroying large human cities, slowing the technological and scientific progress of the human race, and even imposing population caps upon the humans of any given area, killing and sometimes eating humans when they grew too numerous. Though the Impergium dates back to the Mythic Age before recorded history (occurring over a period of approximately 3,000 years between 13,000 and 10,000 years ago), humanity has retained an inborn fear of the Garou. Humans seeing Garou in their hybrid form (Crinos) are usually struck with a condition known as Delirium, a state of panic and denial that has been largely responsible for modern humanity's disbelief of the existence of the Garou. Most humans who have suffered from Delirium either have very little memory of the incident that caused it or they rationalize it and remember an animal attack or the work of a psychopathic human. Subconsciously, however, the human may experience an aversion to wolves and other canids in general or to the particular Garou they witnessed. The memory loss or rationalization of events, as well as the fact that the general public is unaware of werewolf existence, is called The Veil (not to be confused with the mystical barrier between the material and spiritual worlds called The Gauntlet).
Following the end of the Impergium, the Garou maintained an active but subtle role in the direction of humanity through the Industrial Revolution and to the present. During these times, the Garou waged war with the other Fera, dramatically reducing the numbers of the other shifters as well as completely destroying at least 2 Fera breeds (the Apis were-bulls and Grondr were-boars); this time is known as the War of Rage. The War of Rage lasted approximately another 3,000 years after the end of the Impergium, and the Garou claim that it had started when the Gurahl were-bears refused their duty to teach the Garou a powerful rite.
During the period of the "taming of the West" in America in the 1700-1800s, the Garou engaged in a second War of Rage against not just the Fera of the New World, but against their own brethren, the Native American tribes of Garou (who call themselves the Pure Ones); in this war, the Garou exterminated the Camazotz were-bats and drove their totem, Bat, to madness and the service of the Wyrm. The careless progress of the European Garou (called Wyrmcomers by the Pure Ones) also severed the mystical bonds restraining a powerful bane (a spirit servitor of the Wyrm). This bane captured and devoured a powerful servant of the Weaver, combining their essences and becoming the Storm-Eater. The Storm-Eater whipped the Umbra (the spirit world) of the West into a terrible frenzy resembling an earthly storm, gaining it the nickname "Storm Umbra", and further threatened to bring on an early Apocalypse. The Storm-Eater was eventually re-bound by the sacrifice of 13 Elder Garou and the execution of the Rite of Still Skies (discovered by the Two-Moons pack, led by the Silver Fang Theurge Isaiah Morningkill of House Wyrmfoe).
The overwhelming societal transformation of the Industrial Revolution weakened Gaia and pushed the Umbra away from terrestrial reality, giving it less influence over the world. This period was marked by the withdrawal and extinction of many spirit varieties, but also heralded the birth of new "urban" spirits (such as glass and electricity elementals). These changes were visible in the Umbral landscape, as sites associated with Gaia became fewer and weaker, while the Pattern Web of the Weaver and the corrupt influence of the Wyrm became more prominent.
As the defense of Gaia becomes more difficult, the Garou have found their tasks increasingly harder to perform. Once able to act as silent warriors and guides, many have been reduced to guerrilla tactics and monkeywrenching. These ill omens have led to a general consensus that an Apocalypse is nigh, in which a final desperate battle will be waged by all sides. In addition to discrete threats such as the Wyrm and its minions, Garou find themselves opposed to the faceless foe of general disinterest in Gaia. Environmental disasters and modern warfare have done considerable damage to Gaia in recent decades. This callousness is sometimes spread by the Wyrm itself (as best exemplified by the Pentex corporation, a global conglomerate dedicated to spreading the Wyrm's influence). The Garou themselves are a self-acknowledged dying race; the largest Gaian tribes number 2000 Garou worldwide, with the smaller tribes numbering less than 500. The Wyrm-serving Black Spiral Dancers comprise fully one-tenth of the total Garou population and are the largest single tribe.