The Uratha of London

In Britain, as a rule, the Forsaken own the cities. The Pure lay claim to the wilderness areas, especially the untamed north of Scotland. The Forsaken believe that they've been in London as long as there's been a London, right back to the Roman era when the native British tribes, and their Uratha kin, became "Romanized" into the Romano-British.

In stark contrast to that of the mages and Kindred, Uratha society in London has remained essentially stable since at least as far back as the Tudor period. In most ways, it follows the traditional Uratha pattern, with individual packs holding sway over defined areas of territory. But the Uratha of London show a far higher level of information-sharing, social integration, and mutual interdependence than many of their American counterparts. In America, Gatherings are held infrequently, usually in response to a specific crisis, and attended by the majority of Uratha in the territory. In London, there's a Gathering at each new Moon, and the packs usually send only a single representative (and not the same one each time), rather than attending en masse.

It's a question of practicality. Even during the middle ages, London was half a millenium or more older than the very oldest American city today, and the crushing weight of all that history shows in its Shadow - more complex, more layered, more twisted, and more damned dangerous than most American Uratha are used to facing. Then there's the Kindred and the mages to consider, who, for all their feuding and bickering, do maintain cohesive societies capable of collective action. The Uratha understand the need to face all that as a (somewhat) united front rather than as individual packs.

Gathering are held, and have been for more than a century, in the Bone Shadow maintained tur, Highgate Cemetary. These days, they take place by night. (Back in the middle ages, when the vampires of the Lancea Sanctum held sway over London, they happened by day, in the graveyard around St. Paul's Cathedral. The werewolves would use the mortal populace milling around the place as cover for their private business).

Very little tends to be decided at Gatherings; that's not the point. The idea is to socialise and share information; to make sure that problems that affect the city's Uratha as a whole don't get swept under the carpet. Gatherings are also the place where new Uratha get introduced to the society of their own kind.

The Blood Talons

The Blood Talons are the second-smallest of the Tribes, but they command a respect which outweighs their numbers. While the Storm Lords are tainted by politics, the Blood Talons retain a reputation as honest and honourable warriors. In actuality, the Blood Talons are not so much warriors as soldiers - often literally. Many of their members join the Army (though not, curiously, the Navy or Air Force), and many have a proud family tradition of military service going back to Victorian times and before. The passionate, instinctual nature of the Uratha means that few make it into the senior ranks, but as NCOs and grunts, they excel.

That suits the Storm Lords, who see themselves as the natural "officer class" of the Uratha. Given the choice, most Uratha would probably prefer to follow a Blood Talon, but there just aren't enough of them.

London's Blood Talons typically come from blue-collar backgrounds. Their dress and manner is quite reserved in comparison to their American counterparts - discipline and practicality are key. They wear their hair short and their clothing snug so their enemies don't have anything to grab in a fight. They stay inconspicuous because ostentation paints a target on your back. If a Blood Talon is wearing a bone necklace, the odds are that it's a fetish, not a trophy. Trophies, the Blood Talons think, are for glory hounds, and glory hounds interfere with the cohesion and effectiveness of any military unit. It says a lot about the Blood Talons' mentality that they tend to think of an Uratha pack in terms of a military unit.

As wolves, they tend to be classic hell-hounds - abnormally large, and either pure white or coal-black, with impresive musculature.

The Bone Shadows

The Bone Shadows are the "spiritual" leaders of the Tribes, the shamans who guide Uratha society as a whole. They have the hardest task of all the Tribes, and the other Tribes all acknowledge that to some degree. Between the Kindred, the mages, and the dizzying complexity of the spirit world, the Bone Shadows have to keep track of dozens of different potential threats and uncertain allies simultaneously, and tell the former from the latter. The Tribe recruits for great intelligence and superb memories as much as spiritual ability. All Uratha have an innate connection to the spirit world, at least to some degree. Actually understanding the spirit world is a lot harder. They aren't a numerous Tribe, but only because their criteria for entry are so demanding.

Traditionally, the Bone Shadows don't have much of a "political" role. Their job is to gather the evidence, evaluate it, and report anything significant to the other Tribes. In practice, a Bone Shadow saying "this spirit is a major threat" rather than "go kill this spirit" is a distinction without a difference. But its a distinction that the Storm Lords, in particular, still prefer to make.

The Hunters in Darkness

The Hunters in Darkness are the smallest of the Tribes in London, and the least suited to life in the city. London's parklands, while extensive, are hardly true wilderness environments, and its Shadow feels alien to the Tribe most comfortable with the natural world. The Hunters are like the berserkers of Viking legend - their ferocity in battle can't be denied, but they suffer from the stereotype of being borderline psychopaths who are constanly on the edge of snapping.

The Iron Masters

The Iron Masters are the longest-established of London's Tribes, or so they claim. More likely, they're simply the Tribe with the greatest interest in keeping records, and hence the most detailed knowledge of its own history.

In many medieval cities, the Kindred (particularly more forward-thinking factions of the Invictus), wormed their way into the emergent merchant class. London was an exception to this rule. The Lancea Sanctum concerned itself primarily with the Church and secondarily with the nobility (although so many upper-ranking medieval churchmen were drawn from the ranks of the nobility that the distinction is somewhat moot). They considered London's merchant Commune to be a bunch of jumped-up peasants, beneath their notice.

That left the field clear for the Iron Masters. Tribal lore boasts that Henry Fitz-Ailwin, the very first Mayor of London, was wolf-blooded. While the truth of that claim is impossible to verify - and a great many Uratha snort derisively at the suggestion - quite a few members of London's Guilds did have at least a little wolf blood by the time of the Renaissance. The Iron Masters continue their mercantile and business traditions to this day, and a lot of them are very rich as a result. The Iron Masters are the Uratha's "infrastructure" Tribe. When another Uratha needs something - money, guns, forged papers, a safe place to hide out - it's the Iron Masters who provide it... but they expect you to remember the favor. If the Storm Lords see themselves as Princes, the Iron Masters are the Viziers, who do the paperwork and know where the bodies are buried. Or unburied, in the case of the undead - the Iron Masters are the mainstay of the Temple's Uratha membership.

The Storm Lords

The Storm Lords are the "political" leaders of London's Uratha - while the Bone Shadows pronounce on what the Uratha need to do, it's the Storm Lords who decide how they're going to do it.

"Political" doesn't mean "aristocratic", however. The Storm Lords leave the crap about bloodline purity to the Ivory Claws, and culturally, the Forsaken of Britain have never thought of themselves as aristocrats. Their legends speak of the Pure tribes as the first-born of Father Wolf, who wanted him dead so that they could claim his power, but lacked the courage to do the deed themselves. So they tricked the Forsaken into doing the deed for them. The Pure, as Father Wolf's first-born and favoured children, and the "Highborn". The Forsaken are the "Commoners". That attitude gave the Forsaken an edge in establishing themselves in the city - they didn't consider it beneath them to dirty their hands with such "commoner" pursuits as trade, and they didn't weaken themselves through inbreeding with a limited selection of aristocratic mortal families.

No, the Storm Lords believe in working for power, as advisors to politicians, members of think tanks, journalists, street activists, and, if all else fails, rioters. They competed with the Iron Masters for influence over London's Guilds during the middle ages, but these days, they largely leave the money-making side of things to their former rivals, instead focussing on more direct forms of power.

Amongst the Uratha, they're the ones most likely to press for collective action by London's werewolf community as a whole. They're the demogogues, the ones who speak out at Gatherings to rally support from other (even rival) packs. And when collective action really is required, they're also organizers par excellence. Finally, although their reputation as warriors isn't quite as high as that of the Blood Talons, they don't lead from behind. They push themselves to the forefront, snarling for blood.