Blood and Silver
Creature Type: Changing Breed
Location: Spread throughout the world.
Known Abilities: Traditional Changing Breed strength, regeneration and Gifts.
The Bastet are werecats, one of the many Changing Breeds. They have many different tribes, like the Garou, though each claims a different species of wild cat. They are obsessed with secret knowledge and are always pursuing and hoarding it. Many are great magicians, others are great warriors, but they are rarely pack animals and generally work alone. Some of their tribes suffered greatly during the War of Rage.
The Bastet, like the Kitsune, were created by Luna (whom they call Seline). Rather than given a specific purpose, each tribe attempts to fill a gap where others didn’t quite catch on. Garou (and some others) refer to them as the Eyes of Gaia, since much contact comes in Egypt where the Silent Striders once allied with the Sorcerous Bubasti against the Vampire Set, and in North America where the Wendigo and Uktena have regular dealing with the enigmatic Qualmi.
Despite the wide geographical range of their animal Kin and divisions within the Tribes, the Bastet have a fairly consolidated system to track renown and share many spiritual aspects. All Bastet speak a common language of chirps, meows, howls, cries, snarls, and rumbles, as well as a more elaborate system of sniffs, licks, stares, whisker twitches, and postures. This ancestral tongue, while limited, crosses all cultures, breeds, and forms, enabling a Nigerian Simba in Crinos form to speak to a British Khan in Homid. It’s hard to express abstract or complicated thoughts in this language (Kheuar, pronounced “kew-arr”), but simple warnings or messages aren’t difficulty. More complex conversations demand a shift to Homid or Feline forms for clarity. Bastet lore claims Kheuar came from the original conversations of the First Pride, and its subtleties are passed to new kittens by their Kuasha. Thus, a Bastet who hasn’t been taught the ways of the Folk won’t be aware of the subtleties of the group language, although communications like “Get out of my way” are always clear enough.
Unlike Garou who learn most of their Gifts from spirits, Bastet most often learn from other werecats, or by “stealing” them from other shapeshifters. They have a much easier time instructing one another in Gift-use than do the Garou; it generally only takes a single night of instruction for one werecat to impart a Gift to another. In addition to the usual heightened senses, Bastet possess padaa, a sense that combines smell and taste from a distance. To use it, a Bastet opens his mouth, flares his nostrils, and inhales. The air passes across his tongue and an organ in the roof of his mouth, allowing him to perceive multi-sensory details about the world around him.
All werecats have a Yava, a three-folded tribal weakness that is a highly guarded secret of the tribe in question. Abuse of a Yava could result in the annihilation of the tribe.
Werecats have no Auspices, instead relying on a Pryio (also known as “Moon-Favor”) to determine their place and how the cat approaches life and handles the challenges thrown their way. While it is often determined by the time of day in which the Bastet achieved her First Change, Pryio can shift if the Bastet undergoes a severe life change.
Daylight: Open and direct, they tend to be diplomats, warriors, lawgivers, and protectors.
Twilight: Questioners and seekers, they tend to be detectives, lawyers, spies, or mystics
Night: Often withdrawn and reclusive, they tend to be assassins, scholars, scientists, and practitioners of dark magics.
With the exception of the Simba, Bastet are solitary hunters, with little motivation to form a cohesive, interactive society of their own. Werecats generally judge another of the Folk on his or her individual merits. They neither seek (nor offer) subservience to one another, save for the rightful esteem given to a teacher, mentor, or one who has earned the personal respect of an individual Bastet. Such deference is rarely given, and because of that, it means far more to the Folk than it would to a race that constantly scrambles over its pecking order. Bastet hold honor dear, but it is honor to one’s self, one’s word, one’s Kin and kind, to the earth, and to one’s secrets — not to a system of rank or prestige.
Bastet can and do gather into temporary prides, where a rough hierarchy is quickly established and frequently contested. Spirit allies, called Jamak, assist werecats who perform some great kindness for their mortal cousins. Vampires and wizards often join werecat quests, and even the hated Garou serve a common purpose at times. Only werecats, however, can join a taklah, a pride where everyone has put their differences aside to accomplish a common goal, such as kicking Pentex out of the rain forests. Taklah members usually pick their leaders through mutual respect and consensus; really powerful Bastet occasionally seize control of such prides, but unless their “subjects” are Simba (who accept leadership more gracefully than other werecats do), such dictators are likely to find themselves alone when the hammer falls. Such groups are also always temporary, as werecats are no real team-players.
Bastet nonetheless recognize a hierarchy. It does not denote absolute authority as it would among the Garou, but rather polite deferment and acknowledgement of experience. Bastet titles always have a social meaning outside of their rank.
Rank 1: Tekhmet: “Little One.” A term of address (usually condescending) from elder cat to a youngster.
Rank 2: Akaa: “Truthchaser.” An honorific between Bastet of equal rank.
Rank 3: Tilau: “Accomplished Friend.” A respectful title of address denoting experience and accomplishment.
Rank 4: Ilani: “Wonder Favored.” A title used when flattering another Bastet.
Rank 5 & 6: Bon Bhat: A respectful term for an elder, also used to greet the host when attending a Taghairm in a foreign land for the first time.
When Bastet meet, it is Taghairm, a neutral meeting ground sanctified by rituals and protected by the spirits. Taghairm is a way to settle disputes, share information, and brag.
The Tribes of Bastet include:
Bagheera – Werepanthers/Wereleopards of Africa and Asia
Balam – Werejaguars of South America
Bubasti – Werekyphur of Egypt
Khan – Weretigers of Asia
Pumonca – Werecougars of North America
Qualmi – Werelynx of North America
Simba – Werelions of Africa and Gir in India,
Swara – Werecheetahs of Africa.
There are also the Ceilican, Fae-tied werecats of Europe, but most died out hundreds of years ago.
One last “Tribe” may get a mention: the Khara were the Sabretooths of North America. They may have been the first Tribe, or may not. Since they were killed by an Ice Age, that may never be known.
There is a code of conduct among the Bastet known as ‘the Karoush’, and it’s basic principles are as follow:
Honor Your Word
Honor Your Kin and Kind
Honor Your Earth
Honor Your Silence