OverviewEditThe Rokea claim to be the first of the Changing Breeds, as Sea existed before solid land appeared on Gaia and sharks predate all land-born predators. Rokea are effectively immortal. They can not die naturally; once they reach adulthood, their aging process stops. The only way a wereshark can die is through an unnatural death.
They tend to gather into small groups called Slews, similar in purpose and behaviour to garou packs. Much like garou have caerns, Rokea have undersea sacred places, referred to as Grottoes. Members of this species within the Beast Courts are referred to as Same-Bito.
Weresharks communicate by means of electric signals called the Sending. They can receive these signals in all forms, but cannot send messages in Glabrus or Homid forms. They also cannot step sideways into the Umbra without use of Gifts, and have large amounts of Rage bottled up in their systems - and, unlike most Changers, are incapable of falling into a fox frenzy. Their word for frenzy is Kunmind.
These shapeshifters also regenerate as garou do, and have furthermore the ability to regenerate in their breed form when swimming in salt water. Like garou, however, they cannot soak silver damage except while in their breed form.
They are constantly compelled to move, and have trouble standing still even on dry land. Most Rokea are notoriously xenophobic, and very few leave the water. Their relations with the other Changing Breeds are tense at best, with one exception: they have allied themselves with the Mokolé, whom they consider closest to them between all the shapeshifters.
- Homid - Homid-born Rokean are incredibly rare. Most Rokea despise humans and would never consider breeding with them. Furthermore, for a Homid Rokea to be conceived, a true Rokea has to mate with a Kadugo, a human Rokea kinfolk. Even then, the child may just be a normal human or another Kadugo. There are a few Homid Rokea among the Same-Bito of the Beast Courts. The Rokea breedbook introduced a possible non-Same-Bito Homid Rokea, Matteo, whose fate is left in storyteller hands. Most Rokea consider the idea of human-born Rokea to be an abomination and would likely kill all they come across.
- Squamus - Almost all Rokea are born of sharks. A mating between a Rokea and a normal shark will always produce Rokea offspring. Of the many species of shark in the world, the Rokea breed with about 20%, choosing the largest and deadliest species as their mates. Rokea are usually born of makos, great whites, tiger sharks, hammerheads, blue sharks, tresher sharks, blacktip sharks and bull sharks.
There are no Rokea Metis. Rokea feel no urge to mate with one another and as such never produce them.
- Homid: Also called "Long Fins" by the Rokea. The homid shapes of most Rokea, in particular the shark-born ones, are usually not aesthetically pleasing. Many are hunchbacked; their faces are often lopsided and feature crooked noses, misshapen jaws, walleyes, harelips and bulging foreheads.
- Glabrus (Glabro): Also known as "Round Back", this shape is usually known only to land-dwelling Rokea - ocean-dwelling weresharks have little use for it. The Rokea loses all body hair and grows even uglier than her homid form. He or she doubles her muscle mass, and the back broadens as the dorsal fin begins to form.
- Gladius (Crinos): Called "Standing Jaws" by the weresharks, the Gladius is a ten-foot bipedal shark creature. Standing Jaws combines the power of a shark with the versatility of a human form. This form incites partial Delirium in humans.
- Chasmus (Hispo): The form the Rokea call "Fighting Jaws" is a prehistoric nightmare that incites full Delirium in humans. The Rokea turns into a giant version of her breed form, growing half again as long as her Squamus shape. Rokea do their underwater fighting in this shape.
- Squamus (Lupus): Also referred to as "Swimming Jaws", this form is indistinguishable from a normal shark of the Rokea's species.
Rokea determine auspices by the time when a wereshark was born.
- Brightwater: Rokea born during bright days or full moons. Brightwaters are similar to Garou Ahroun; they are warriors and heroes. However, they often desire to be the near the surface of the sea.
- Dimwater: Dimwaters are born during clouded days or at night under any moon phase except full or new. Most Rokea fall under this auspice. They are the judges and leaders of the Rokea race and create what few fetishes the Rokea use.
- Darkwater: Called the "mad ones" by their peers, Darkwaters are born under eclipses or the New Moon. They are curious, innovative, bright and daring. They enjoy diving into the frigid depths of the sea or walking on land to uncover new secrets.
Awakening from shark to Rokea is a slow and relatively painless process that occurs when they reach maturity, between the age of two and three years old. The shark’s mind gradually expands and they become simultaneously conscious and instinctively able to understand and use the Sending.
After they awaken as intelligent beings, young Rokea perform a journey known as the Long Swim, where they begin exploring the ocean, talking to any spirits, weresharks, or other entities they encounter, and eventually finding a grotto where a Rokea or spirit teaches them gifts and instructs them on how to change form. From this moment onwards, the young wereshark ceases to age, and can only die by violence, disease, poison, or other non-age-related harms.
- Survive: The race must survive, no matter what. The Rokea believe that there is only foolishness, not honour, in fighting a battle they can't win. No Rokea will accuse another of cowardice if they swim away from a fight that is hopeless. The only exception is sacrifice in the name of a Grotto, which is expected to be defended to the last breath.
- Hunt: Rokea have duties as both shapechangers and sharks. They were designed to be predators of the highest order, and their actions affect the sea around them. This tenet reminds Rokea that they are warriors and predators above everything else.
- Spawn: Rokea breed slowly but deliberately. Each wereshark is expected to breed at least once during their lives. This part of the code also obliges weresharks to teach and mentor young weresharks in the ways of the Rokea.
- Swim: The weresharks consider it a duty to continue to swim, explore, and move. They need to watch for dangers threatening the Sea, and the best way to do this is to move around and keep their eyes open.
For the vast majority of their existence most Rokea obeyed Kun’s law and simply survived. They didn’t fight against Qyrl — and for most, this inactivity remains the status quo. Their ancient ones counsel the weresharks to wait, promising that soon humanity will destroy itself. Then, the Rokea will remain and can rebuild their numbers.
Cosmology and BeliefsEdit
Rokea protect the Sea and everything in Her and are familiar with an undersea variation of the Triat: Kun (the Wyld), who is responsible for fish and marine mammals; C'et (the Weaver), queen of all shelled ocean-dwellers, and Qyrl (the Wyrm), creator of squid, octopi, cuttlefish, slugs, snails, and other boneless sea creatures. Rokea consider themselves to be children of Kun.
According to Rokean stories, Qyrl was responsible for the creation of the sun and the stars. She wished to visit the sky, Unsea, but did so against the wishes of her mother, Sea. Afraid of her mother's wrath, Qyrl sank her jaws and tentacles into Oversea to hold on. Where she bit and punctured Oversea's skin, wounds formed. As Oversea bleeds bright, blazing blood (light), the small wounds bled in small drops, forming the stars (called Small Wounds), but the largest formed the sun, which the Rokea call the Great Wound.
Rokea slews follow totems much like Garou packs do. Favourites include Angler, Crab, Dolphin, Hurricane, Manta Ray, Moray, and, of course, Shark himself. A small number of Rokea also serve Qyrl, however, such a bond to the goddess of corruption is considered an abomination by most Rokea, and those who follow her are hunted down with little mercy.
Rokea are a simple, honest race; they rarely lie or manipulate and find it difficult to pick up on the manipulations of others.
Sea and Kun are the main arbiters of a Rokea’s Renown. Rokea seeking Harmony or Innovation Renown send tales of their deeds to Sea and Kun via servant spirits, and they bestow Renown upon the wereshark as they see fit. Valor Renown, on the other fin, must be recognized by Rokea who are not a part of the Rokea’s own slew.
Rokea accept three forms of Renown: Valor, referring to a wereshark's fighting prowess and courage in defense of a Grotto; Harmony, meaning the ability of a wereshark to accept his place in the world and act in accordance with it, and Innovation, which is awarded to weresharks who, through new ideas, help the race defend the Sea and fight off Qyrl's brood.
Relationships with OthersEdit
The Rokea rarely leave the sea and when they do, relationships with the other Changing Breeds are shaky at best. Rokea distrust the Garou and Ratkin in particular, but seem to have called a truce with the Mokole.
- main article: Betweener
Betweener is a term used by the Rokea to describe one of their kind who chooses to live on land, returning to Sea to regain Gnosis and to retain her shapeshifting powers. Those who are labeled as betweeners are hunted by their own kind, for many who could not understand the betweeners’ ventures into Unsea accused them of having abandoned their duty, turned their back on Sea, and of being servants of Qyrl one and all.
Hunting down and killing betweeners is often part of the Rite of Passage for newly changed Rokea. Most watch for betweeners coming to or leaving Sea, but a few daring young Rokea head to Unsea to hunt down betweeners directly. Unfortunately, Sea-dwelling Rokea have virtually no understanding of the human world and often have great trouble performing simple actions — like crossing a busy street or understanding directions.
Those Rokea who stick to the rules of their kind avoid Unsea entirely, except to hunt betweeners and their Kinfolk. Sharks are chaotic creatures, however, and not inclined to obey rules, and so some remain on Unsea after engaging in a betweener-hunt, and despite good intentions, may even become betweeners themselves.
- Changing Breeds (book), p. 193-205