Mc’Andrew was a scientist-vampire, a dabbler in the occult, and scattered theories and research projects around like rice at a wedding. Today it’s a segment from one of his personal notebooks – an examination of Garou Genetics, it’s relationship to Metis deformities, possible methods of correcting those deformities, and on how regeneration works in the World of Darkness.
Genetics is a complicated subject to cover in a few pages, but here goes.
What we know from the rulebooks goes something like this;
Garou are occasionally thrown up from among the population of normal humans and wolves, often many generations down the line from a Garou ancestor. This only occurs about one time out of every ten thousand births.
Only one in ten of the children fathered by, or borne by, a Garou turns out to be a Garou – unless the child is Garou on both sides – in which case the child is a deformed and sterile Metis due to “inbreeding”. (As a note, this isn’t inbreeding. Inbreeding occurs when closely-related individuals mate – and two Garou are not necessarily more closely related then two Salmon. Even if they were, “inbreeding” isn’t necessarily bad; it increases the chances of expressing bad latent genes – but it increases the chances for expressing good ones as well).
Garou can breed with both Humans and Wolves.
The Garou, like everyone else, get their genes from their parents.
Therefore, all the genes necessary to produce Garou are floating around in the Human genepool.
Grandchildren get their genes from the grandparents through their parents.
Therefore, all the genes necessary to produce Metis are floating around in the Human genepool.
Humans never produce Metis offspring – even if they mate with Garou.
If “being Garou” took only a single, dominant, gene then only a Garou parent could produce a Garou – and 50% of their kids would be Garou. This will not do.
If “Garou-ness” took only a single, recessive, gene then a Garou mated with a random human would produce a Garou only one time in a 100 (If Garou are born 1 time in 10,000 it’s because 1 in 4 children of two carriers will inherit 2 copies of a recessive gene – and the odds of two carriers mating are thus 1 in (10,000/4). If 1 in 50 carries the gene, then the chance of 2 mating is thus 1 in 2500, which is correct – but that means that even with a Garou parent, there is only a 1% chance of the other parent contributing the correct gene. This also will not do).
Incompletely Dominant genes are subject to the same logic as dominant genes.
Being a Garou therefore involves more then a single gene.
None of these genes show any distinguishable marker traits. The only common trait for relationship to the Garou is not being subject to Delirium – and that is not a marker trait for Garou genes, since it’s very common for the human parents of a Garou to be subject to the Delirium, when they necessarily have the genes to be related to the Garou.
Since there are no marker traits, the “Garou Genes” cannot be Dominant or Incompletely Dominant genes.
They also cannot be entirely latent, or every Garou would have to have them paired. If that was true, one or two generations of intermarrying Garou Kinfolk – as is routine with the Children of Gaia – would produce a great many Garou as the genes accumulate.
It hasn’t. Therefore they are not entirely latent. The only possibility left is a combination of several, semilatent, genes – genes which are only expressed if or when some critical number of them are present.
Children inherit one-half of their genes from each of their parents, at random. Each has a 50% chance of being passed along. The mating of two Garou would thus produce a tremendous variety of results : Human. Human Kinfolk. Garou. Metis (presumably if/when some of the recessive genes wind up paired), Wolf, and Wolf Kinfolk.
This does not happen. The children of two Garou are always Metis – and, as noted earlier, Humans carry all the Garou genes, but never give birth to Metis.
Since that eliminates all possible genetic scenarios, the problem is not genetic.
Environmental problems, including prenatal hormone exposure, will not work either, since the problem only appears with certain combinations of parents.
There isn’t much else in the way of natural effects to work with. Pretty much all you’ve got with an embryo is it’s genes and environment.
Spiritual heritage problems can be ruled out as well. Since (in the edition this was written for) reincarnation is a well-established fact for pretty much everyone, the scenarios available on the spiritual level are strictly limited. Any combination except two garou spiritual parents is fine – and – given reincarnation – the parents cannot be responsible for the spiritual traits of their offspring: those come along with the reincarnating spirit. Something weird and arcane might happen after the father contributes his sperm and before fertilization and a spirit arrives to take up incarnation due to the nature of the father – there might be a “spiritual imprint” or something – but the only apparent effect of such a thing would be to produce Metis. On checking, there didn’t seem to be any such mechanism, which would be expected since there’s no reason for one.
If it isn’t natural, it must be arcane – a “curse”.
A curse that affects an entire species. World wide. For millennia. That affects it’s target’s children only – and only if they belong completely to the Garou.
Such a curse can only be a part of static reality – maintained by the Sleepers. It’s rather doubtful that the Wyrm has the power, or the consistency – and if it did, why limit it? It wants to destroy. If it could do that to the Garou, the universe should be long gone.
Ergo, it’s the Humans. Nobody else has the power to shift static reality anyway.
That makes sense. Mages are reborn – and Mages are only Sleepers who awake to their power. Everybody gets reborn, and deep down there, Humans have a damned good reason to be angry with the Garou, to leave their kids by Humans (and, incidently, Wolves), alone, and to limit the number of Garou running around and breeding. There’s collaborating evidence among the Garou; The Litany was established at the same time the Impergium was ended – and it is the Litany that prohibits Garou mating with Garou.
This also explains the Veil – and the fact that the everyone isn’t Kinfolk. There are more Garou then ever before – and fewer Kin. Kinfolk are those humans who are willing to forgive the Garou – or who hate them enough not to turn away in disgust.
As demonstrated, Metis deformities and sterility aren’t genetic. They’re supernatural. This means that the possibilities for a “cure” are limited.
There’s always magic. Mages can defy static reality quite readily. They do it all the time. Unfortunately, this does not fall within McAndrew’s field, although it does have the support of at least one case – wherein a Garou with a mage for a father mated with another “lost” Garou, and wound up with perfectly healthy Garou kids. They just didn’t know any better – and his father made it work.
Corrective surgery and treatment is possible for some Metis deformities. Sadly, there are difficulties with using corrective surgery on a regenerating being. The process will tend to undo all your work.
On the other hand, it is possible for Garou to scar and take permanent damage. Therefore there is some way to change the pattern the regeneration acts on. This usually (as per the “Battle Scars” table, and associated rules) seems to occur when a Garou takes enough damage to overload his/her regenerative abilities. Apparently natural (or artifical) healing applied while a Garou’s regeneration isn’t working can establish a new pattern – to which the Garou’s body will revert thereafter.
Unfortunately, you can’t perform corrective surgery on a patient who starts out in critical condition from other injuries. It would kill them.
On the other hand – Garou don’t regenerate in Human form. If the corrective surgery is performed while in Human form – and they refrain from shapeshifting until healed – this ought to set a new pattern.
It’s not surprising that this hasn’t been tried. As a rule, Garou don’t go in for medicine very much, corrective surgery for deformities is a relatively recent development in any case, it is ordinarily performed on infants (and Metis, with a natural Crinos form, cannot be exposed to human surgeons until they learn to shift their shape), it’s expensive – and repairing deformities may well require supernormal techniques in any case.
Perhaps the most bizarre possible technique is just to get the humans to forgive you. Become a hero. Find a way to rescue a horde of kids or something like that. If you can manage that, and get the humans around you to perceive you as “normal”, perhaps you’ll become that way.
A primary problem with corrective surgery is simply that the “curse” may cause it to revert anyway. If it does, the process will probably take quite a while, as static reality doesn’t usually go in for sudden shifts in things. It just isn’t in it’s nature. On the other hand, given a Garou’s lifestyle, five or six years may be almost as good as forever anyway – especially if it gets combined with getting the humans to forgive them. Simply being seen as normal by some human beings would probably extend the reversion time indefinitely.
As for the sterility – a solution to that depends on whether it’s a straightforward supernatural effect, a correctable physical defect produced by supernatural means, or a supernaturally produced defect which turns out to be uncorrectable by medical means. If that case applies (if, say, the mechanism of the curse is to produce rampant genetic defects), then only magical interventions will be fully effective – although there is always the possibility that the normal selection of treatments for infertility may be applicable.
Of course, that assumes that the Garou would accept such treatment. Given the difficulty that McAndrew has been having with a simple sperm bank, he has doubts.
On Regenerative Mechanisms:
“Regeneration” is apparently accomplished by one or more mechanisms that return scattered molecules of the user’s body to their original locations. Whatever the nature of that mechanism, it seems to take much longer to restore injuries that have resulted in a disruption down on the molecular level. Hence most regeneratives are subject to injury through fire, hard radiation – and anything which disrupts that repair mechanism and/or the pattern it follows. Such injuries are “aggravated” – and require considerable energy and time to repair.
The nature of the pattern can be considered in some detail. It maintains itself for some time in spite of physical injury, but gradually adapts to the structure of the physical body as natural healing occurs. It is a part of the normal human body, since vampires have a pattern as well (as demonstrated by the possibility of vampires having permanent disabilities acquired before the embrace), is preserved changelessly in a vamphyric existence, and can be “scarred” by supernatural means, such as “Taste Of Death”.
There is only one such field in a normal body. The so-called Kirlian Aura. One of the few things Humans, Garou, Vampires, Mummies, and Wraiths, have in common.
Vampires, lacking the ordinary life processes which stabalize most creatures molecular structure, are very vulnerable to anything that “disrupts” whatever field- effect they use to do so. Apparently ultraviolet light in certain frequencies has that effect.
Garou apparently do not suffer from that effect (It may be some mystical vulneribility to that disruption) – but they do suffer from contact with Silver, a metal that apparently disrupts their Aura. Once a disruption in their aura occurs, their own regenerative abilities become the problem – automatically “healing” their own flesh to match the auric disruption. Once that occurs, the tissues will no longer provide a pattern for their aura to revert to, so the damage becomes “aggravated”, and will not heal until the aura does. Of course, this means that if their regenerative effect is not active, silver is harmless to Garou. Their regeneration is not active in human form – and they can handle silver. Q.E.D.