The Shadow Lords are one of the tribes found in Werewolf: The Apocalypse. The politicians and manipulators of the Garou, the Shadow Lords work through their strict hierarchies and secretive ways to wrest as much power as they can.
The Shadow Lords have originated in the steppes of Eurasia, where they controlled human tribes by assuming an indispensable position within their societies that would exert no direct power, but whose word was heeded. Acting as the Betas of the Garou Nation, they supported the rule of the Silver Fangs in a similar manner, positioning themselves as their viziers and their secret henchmen, doing those deeds that would harm their reputation. The Fangs used the Shadow Lords as scapegoats for their own dark deeds, and the Shadow Lords accepted this, seeing that it would benefit the Nation if the name of the Silver Fangs would remain pure. Many Shadow Lords felt the Concord that ended the Impergium didn't address many things that were the catalyst for the Impergium to begin with, planting the first seeds of discontent within the tribe. During this time, the Shadow Lords followed their herds into Eastern Europe, where they became involved in an intense war with a local brood of Leeches calling themselves Tzimisce.
The Shadow Lords had very little involvement with the human civilizations of Antiquity, instead dwelling among the barbarians who eventually sacked Rome. Some that had traveled there as ambassadors to the Fangs found a suitable role amidst the senators. These Shadow Lords taught their brethren many of the tactics used by the Romans when the gross of their tribe arrived with the Slavs during the Great Migration and spread over Europe.
The Shadow Lords found an extreme distaste in the workings of Christianity among the humans. The institutionalism of the Church alienated people from their tribal roots, making it more difficult for the Shadow Lords to exert their influence over them, as they were used to coerce certain people to do their bidding, not whole institutions. Also, the influence of vampires rose during this age and the Shadow Lords found themselves besieged in their homelands by hordes of wyrmspawn. Otherwise, the Dark Ages were a wonderful time to be a Shadow Lord. Focusing on Byzantium (one of its emperors, Justinian, is claimed by the tribe to be kin) and the Balkans, the Shadow Lords consolidated their hold over humanity by dividing them and keeping them confined within their rural villages.
Many Shadow Lords were impressed by the early advances of Islam and inserted themselves into its ranks, despite the loss of Kinfolk suffered at the hands of the Saracens. While they never adopted the religion for themselves, they came to admire its internal workings and chose some of the Moorish population as kin. The same held true for the Mongols, which produced some of the early Hakken.
During the time between 1456–1462, the Lords had a new enemy, born from their own homelands, the Impaler Prince, Vlad Tepes, Dracula. While he enjoyed the support of the Tribe early in his reign for his advances against the Turks, he later consorted with the Tzimisce and was turnd into a creature of the Wyrm himself. The Lords continued to support him, torn between protecting their Kin from the Turks and fighting the Wyrmspawn war leaders. In the end, they arranged for Tepes' imprisonment by the hands of Matthias Corvinus, king of Hungary. The Shadow Lords claim to have killed Tepes' in 1475, however, it seems that Dracula, as he calls himself in the Final Nights, survived.
The Shadow Lords arranged themselves with the Turkish domination of their domains. The illusion of control over humanity, however, was finally broken and the Lords saw that the Garou had failed in their mandate to control the mortal herd.
The discovery of the New World by the Spaniards marked one of the darkest chapters of the Shadow Lords and one of the few things that inspire remorse for the entire tribe. That event was the extinction of the Camazotz. Their failure to keep Dracula in check made the tribe hasty in judgement and when they were faced with shapeshifting man-bats that practiced blood sacrifice (similar to their vampiric enemies in Europe) amidst the Wyrm taint of the Mesoamerican civilizations, they snapped. Other Fera, like the Balam and Mokolé, also faced their Rage but managed to keep themselves alive. Dark-Claw-of-Vengeance was the Shadow Lord that slaughtered the last Camazotz and its death scream echoed throughout the entire tribe, forcing even those who resided in Europe on their knees with grief, even when they did not understand the reason until much later.
The Shadow Lords also claim that the so-called Pure Lands were overrun with corruption, most visible in the Aztec Empire that was ruled in secret by a horrible abomination. The scream of the last Camazotz also reawakened an ancient Wyrm monstrosity known as the Storm-Eater that wreacked havoc in the American West. It was a Shadow Lord, Darkness Rising, who convinced the European Tribes to participate in the Rite to bind the Bane again.
Back in Europe, the Silver Fangs earned the ire of the Shadow Lords when they messed with the powerstructure of the Balkan states by following their Russian Kin. Infighting in the Silver Fangs, especially between House Austere Howl and House Crescent Moon, destroyed the precarious status quo the Shadow Lords had insinuated. While the Fangs managed to free the Sept of the Night Sky from Tzimisce hands, the event sparked even greater Leech influence, as many Elders turned their eyes to vengeance against the werewolves and began to work against them.
The Great War sparked the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia that ousted the Silver Fangs from position of mortal authority. In the eyes of many Shadow Lords, it proved that the Fangs had lost the right to rule and many began to think about taking the mantle of Alpha of the Nation for themselves.
The Second World War was a time period when the Shadow Lords were in their most distress. Banes swarmed the death-camps, humans killed each other with the Weaver's tools and the only one who prospered from the bloodshed was the Wyrm. During the Cold War, many Shadow Lords adopted the paranoid atmosphere, beginning to work as information brokers and tried to protect their Kinfolk from the purges initiated by Stalin in the occupied Balkan states. They appreciated the order the Soviets forced upon them in order to act in secrecy and found themselves a little bit off-set when the Iron Curtain crumbled.
The Balkan region still aches under the influence of Banes and other wyrmspawn that feed from the misery of the Kosovo War and the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the Lords work hard to keep them in check. Their American brethren are involved in the Amazon War, but found themselves distrusted by the native Fera for their involvement in the death of the were-bats.
But the fortune of the Lords seems to be on the rise. A descendant of Dark Claw of Vengeance, Miguel Gutierrez, underwent a quest to Malfeas and the Black Spiral Labyrinth itself, where he approached Bat, the fallen patron of the Camazotz, to make amends for the crime of his ancestor. It worked and a small part of Bat's psyche has been freed from the Wyrms influence, showing that the Shadow Lords are willing and capable of addressing their past mistakes. In Europe, a German Shadow Lord named Yuri Konietzko has risen to the position of Margrave and has begun a campaign to unite the Tribes under his rule, much to the chagrin of the Silver Fangs. As Konietzko has himself proven as more capable than any leader the Fangs have produced in the last hundred years (although Jonas Albrecht might challenge that claim), power within the Garou Nation seems to vex to the Shadow Lords, allowing them to become the Alpha of the Garou.
The leaders of the Shadow Lords are known as Alphas, referring to the "alpha" wolf that rules over wolf packs in the wild. Most, if not all Alphas, are extremely controlling, lording over their underlings with unquestioned authority. However, many Alphas take the time to engender their followers with feelings of pride and affection, for their leader, realizing that willing followers are easier to control than slaves. Alphas, however, are also not opposed to ruthlessly dispensing with a follower who asks one too many questions.
The Hakken are a Tribe of Hengeyokai that closely resemble Japanese Shadow Lords. Although they are as often distrusted as the Shadow Lords, they are not of the same Tribe. Unlike their western cousins, the Hakken have managed to balance the manipulations of the Shadow Lords with the honor of bushido. Perhaps it is because of their willingness to protect Japan, even as their numbers shrink at an alarming rate, that the Hakken are one of the only tribes of Garou to hold any influence in the Beast Courts of Asia.
- Lords of the Summit - perhaps the largest camp, the Lords of the Summit tend to be the stereotypical Shadow Lords - power-hungry, manipulative, ambitious, and arrogant. This by no means makes them less dangerous foes.
- Bringers of Light - if there is one group of Shadow Lords that receives something close to general respect, it is the Bringers of Light. These Shadow Lords are the ones who interact with evil powers, such as Black Spiral Dancers or vampires, and attempt to bring them down from within.
- Children of Crow - taking Crow as their totem, these Garou act as advisors and "fixers" to leaders within the Garou Nation, supporting the strong and the wise while plotting the downfall of the unworthy.
- Judges of Doom - Philodoxes all, the Judges of Doom seek out and punish those who break the Litany.
- Children of Bat - one of the newest camps, these Shadow Lords follow the recently-redeemed totem of Bat and use his powers on Gaia's behalf.
- Lazarite Movement - a pan-tribal movement dedicated to equal rights (or any rights, in some cases) for metis.
In a group that emphazises brains over brawn, the Shadow Lords are one of the less physical tribes, placing high emphasis on cunning and manipulation. That is not to say that they do not have their fair share of adept warriors. Power is most important of all of these, and there is no room in the Shadow Lords for showing weakness or mercy to an opponent, be it a battle of wits or of blades.
In considering their standings among the other tribes, the Lords have a particular hatred for the Silver Fangs, seeing the Garou nobility as an outdated dinosaur holding the rest back from achieving their full potential. The Shadow Lords would love to supplant the Fangs as the unquestioned leaders of the Garou, and will rarely pass up an opportunity to take their plans one step further.
- Brooding Sky Sept, Ukraine, near Romanian border.
- Sept of the Night Sky
- Thunderstrike Sept, western foothills of the southern Ural Mountains, Russia
No other tribe knows the nature of politics like the Shadow Lords. Both within the clan and among the Garou as a whole, the Shadow Lords are constantly behind the scenes of any group or faction they have been able to get their claws into, manipulating others like puppets and pawns to get what the tribe wants and needs. While most Shadow Lords believe their works are for the greater good, particularly regarding their interpretations of the Litany, many other Garou see them as deceitful dogs who need to be kept in clear view.
The Shadow Lords are among the few tribes that are not only willing to sacrifice themselves for Gaia ( such is expected from every Garou), but also others in order to further their greater goal. Sacrifice plays an important role within the Tribe, and a Shadow Lord is expected to be willing to sacrifice anything in the cause of a given cause, himself and all of his allies included. This gives them their grim reputation among the Nation.
Shadow Lords have a reverence of lightning storms, viewing them as expressions of ther Totem. To the Shadow Lords, Gifts are spiritual birthrights, not an end in themselves. Lords who want to learn Gifts have to prove themselves worthy and considerate enough to use their Gifts in a manner befitting the Tribe.
Individual Shadow LordsEdit
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