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The Packfolk are a basin-folk made up chiefly of the Lupata, Volpi, Gaspard and Yotes peoples, who view themselves as ancient, honourable in their own way, and as a rule put their people first and foremost. Packfolk families are not always large, but they can seem that way to outsiders; a community of Packfolk are often all interrelated (either by blood or cultural conjunction), and they practice a collectivist attitude that they feel makes them extremely hardy. That said, their sense of community does not often extend beyond their folk, and while they are seen from time to time in cities, they're often far more comfortable in their own insular communities. There is a strong distrust between Landfolk and Packfolk communities as the result of past conflicts, some of which stretch back even further than the settlement of the Basin. That said, Packfolk and Landfolk who can set aside their misgivings about each other also make powerful partners, and they are seen as expert survivalists, rangers, prospectors, and explorers; moreover are considered the pre-eminent ranchers in the Basin. Packfolk who leave their communities and join the more cosmopolitan parts of Basin society are often sought after as guards, police, and mercenaries, which are all roles they excel in, and even more peaceable Packfolk who join major cities tend to form insular neighborhoods and reform their packs together.

Lifestyles and Culture

Cultural Values

The Packfolk are the loosest of the "folk" backgrounds in Howl Basin, a stateless nation bound together by mutual respect more than common identity. None the less, the four cultures that make up the bulk of the Packfolk have a common understanding of three critical traditions which can collectively be called the Pack, Hunt, and Howl. These three cultural touchstones are often highly distinct amongst each of the subcultures in the packfolk, but have a common thread which runs between them and have lead to the understanding of the packfolk as a concept.

The Pack

If the central unit of the Landfolk is the extended family and the central unit of the Woodfolk is the tribe, then the same role in Packfolk society is the Pack, which is simultaneously both and neither. In the simplest terms, a Pack in packfolk understanding is any collection of Packfolk who identify as members of that pack. This might be several interrelated families occupying a neighbourhood in a major city like San Cucaracha, a half-dozen young adult packfolk who are all hired on as security at a logging camp, or a roving band of Traveller packfolk. The shared common identity of being in the Pack is more important than any family relationships shared (or not) by the members of the pack; at peace, these packs may indeed develop along similar lines to Woodfolk tribes and become multi-generational, whereas in other cases they may simply be functional groups.

Packs are therefore more mutable than other forms of "family" concepts seen in the other folks of the Howl Basin. It's not unheard of for packfolk to change membership among several packs as they progress through their lives, or conversely for packs established for one functional purpose to "settle down" and become longer-term communities. The most important concept is the sense of belonging to and with the pack, and the shared responsibility among all members of the pack for the pack's wellbeing.

The Hunt

Without exception, the four cultures that make up the Packfolk were all predatory species in the ancient past - even the comparatively small and seemingly harmless Gaspard. This does not necessarily mean that the Packfolk are inherently socially predatory or even inherently violent (at least, no more inherently violent than any other culture in the World), but it does mean that the four cultures share a mutual respect and understanding for the practice of hunting, and a tendency to view all trades as a modified form of the hunt.

Packfolk cultures tend to build up codes of honourable conduct around hunts that lead into their professional lives. As an example, all four of the cultures recognize the importance of a respect for what is lost in the hunt. Hunting, and the trades these cultures have extended the ethos from hunting overtop of, is viewed as a sort of grim reality. While trophies are kept, hunting purely for trophies is extremely discouraged. Where some profit is made, doing business purely for the sake of personal enrichment is similarly discouraged. No more should ever be taken - in any sense - than is needed.

Conversely, it is also seen as inappropriate to show undeserved mercy. While the hunter's quick kill is considered the pinnacle practice amongst the Packfolk for its merciful properties, refusal to hunt outright is seen as especially shameful; a dereliction of your responsibilities to the Pack, who must be provided for.

The Howl

Packfolk cultures share a concept of a Howl - often, a literal howling vocalization - which can be more broadly generalized as the cultural arts which communicate among and unify the culture even more broadly than membership in an individual pack. These practices have placed a broad emphasis on musical culture and communication among the four cultures that make up the Packfolk and have even evolved into the contemporary Howl Signals system which is thought to have (in part) given Howl Basin its name.


The Travelers are the most populous of the subsets of the packfolk, making up about two-thirds of the overall packfolk population. Traveller packs live a nomadic lifestyle, ranging broadly within a relatively small geographic area, usually moving between seasonal camps which serve as waypoints along their perpetual journey. Such packs tend to be young, rotating in fresh members constantly, and with older persons either in a position of prominence among the pack or occasionally retiring to join packfolk "settler" communities.

Traveler packs usually serve a relatively fixed and focused purpose, to one extent or another. Among these, the three most common are herding, hunting, and prospecting for resources - the latter a relatively recent innovation. The Packfolk are famed throughout the Basin as some of the best ranchers in the region in part because of the success of their nomadic herding strategy when it comes to raising large livestock in perpetual drives.

Travelers should not be thought of as a rejection of the urban or settled mode of life as much as a maintainance of tradition. The practice is seen as much among Federalist packs as it is amongst Howler packs. Instead, it is a manifestation and embrace of the packfolk's instinctual drive to hunt, to explore their territory, and to reject what they feel is banality.


Some packfolk - as much as one in every three - are what are known as "settled" packfolk. These are packfolk who, for one reason or another, have settled in a fixed location, usually small towns run by packfolk for packfolk, but occasionally in other communities. The settler community is growing in proportion in the contemporary era due to the advent of industrialization; more and more packfolk find themselves attached to jobs that have rendered them settlers, however temporarily. Others are retirees, or even just working trades that are best served by being in fixed locations.

It's worth noting that the Traveler packfolk and Settler packfolk look upon each other with mutual respect, rather than disdane, and settler packs are just as much Packfolk as Traveler packs, and vice versa. It is very common whenever a Traveler pack is moving through a settler territory for some exchange to happen in terms of population - both in terms of reproduction and of some settlers joining the traveller pack while some travelers choose to settle.

Packfolk in the Cities

Urban packfolk are a relatively new phenomenon, because major cities are a relatively new phenomenon in the Howl Basin in the first place. As a result, City Packfolk often feel like they don't quite fit into either group. The cultural identity of city packfolk is poorly defined relative to the travelers and the settlers, and packfolk who live in cities, it's not uncommon to feel like they have a foot in both social roles.

Packfolk usually form their own boroughs in urban centers, and tend to form packs within those neighbourhoods, amongst members of their block or subdivision or what have you. Many come to cities temporarily for work and then find themselves feeling entangled into the lifestyle while wishing to resume their travels. Some others come to the cities fully intending to embrace urban life, and feel unsettled by the constantly-changing nature of cities.

Born in the Pack

To be born into the Packfolk way of life is, as the Gaspard saying goes, to be born with a rifle in one hand and your boots on your feet. Plenty of Packfolk are born into traveller life, and even those who aren't often spend their early years having joined a traveller pack - to complete one circuit with a traveller pack is more or less a ubiquitous experience and a rite of passage from childhood into adulthood amongst most of the packfolk settler packs.

Being born in a Pack means being born to the entire pack as your family, with bloodline as only secondary importance. While it's perfectly normal to grow up and leave the pack, until you do, you've been putting up with that pack for your entire life. The whole pack takes it in turns (as a matter of social responsibility) to do their part in the raising, education, protection of, and provision for, all the youths in the pack. Not just your littermates, but all of the children of the pack are your brothers and sisters, and for most Packfolk, their birth pack remains a special point of social attachment even after they take the decision to move on (which almost always happens, and is even encouraged).

Adopting the Pack Mentality

The packfolk's "found family" mentality knows no racial or heritage boundaries. While monocultral packs are the norm, this is more because of the way the different territories of the packfolk heritages has evolved over time than any form of prejudice. Packs mixed among the packfolk cultures are increasingly common, and it's even not unheardof for packfolk packs to adopt complete outsiders who do well with the pack way of life and share emotional bonds with the pack. While far from being the only path to this lifestyle, this borders on being a common occurance with Woodfolk Rangers, who often share enough in common with the packfolk way of life in the first place that their adoption into a pack is almost pro forma.

These adoptions are gradual processes and rarely stand on ceremony. If you spend enough time travelling with a packfolk pack or working alongside them, getting along the whole while, and miss the subtle social queues, you might even be surprised to find you were adopted to the pack when you announce your intention to leave. Packfolk view such newcomers as members of their pack without distinction, and will go so far as to spread the word to other packs as they encounter them.

Packfolk Justice

Above and beyond the Federalist justice system imposed in the annexed portions of the basin, the Packfolk have their own sense of justice and ways of meting out reprisal for criminality. For the most part, these crimes are of relatively serious natures; theft from amongst your own pack, assaulting one another, murder, and the like. Packfolk do not truck with the idea of "petty" criminality, and even in federalist areas will laugh at concepts like criminalizing protest or vagrancy.

In most cases, the pack themselves gather with the accused and the victim and hash out a path to restitution. For abject criminality, repeat offenses, or very serious violations, these gatherings sometimes turn violent. Often, the intent is to simply run the offender off. It is however not unheard of for murderers, kidnappers, and enslavers in particular to meet a violent end in such cases.

Gameplay Rules

In the Howl Basin campaign setting, folks serve two roles. If your character was raised within the cultural context of the a Folk, they take that folk as their Background. On the other hand, circumstances occasionally lead to a character becoming a member of a folk retroactively. This happens at their discretion as long as they have and maintain a Connections score above 60% with that folk. At the player's discretion, such a character becomes an "adoptee" member of that Folk. Facilitators are encouraged to roleplay out this adoption as much as fits the taste of the party. Each folk's "lifestyles and culture" section includes a section on any additional requirements to join that faction permanently.

As A Background

When taking Packfolk as your starting background, you develop your starting skillpoints and acquire a character trait as a result of your upbringing. For the purposes of determining your starting skillpoints, there are three subtypes of this background: Homesteader Packfolk, Roving Packfolk, and City Packfolk. You must pick from one of the three types when creating your Packfolk character, but please note you may still have had a mixed history, having lived the lives of any or all of the three subtypes prior to becoming an adventuring character.

Starting Skill Points

All Packfolk start the game with Willpower * 2 + Intuition * 3 skill points which they may distribute among any skills they so choose. These represent the skills you acquired during your youth as a rounded member of the Packfolk society.

In addition, Packfolk characters add the following skills as Occupation Skills depending on their subtype:

If one of these bonus Occupation Skills is already a feature of your chosen occupation, the Facilitator should work with you to come up with a substitute skill. If no substitute skill can be found, take 5 extra Occupation Skill Points in lieu of the substitute.

Packfolk Trait: I Run With the Pack

Regardless of subtype, Packfolk characters start with the Background Trait I Run With The Pack. This is a Passive Effect. Whenever a character with the I Run With The Pack Trait attacks another character (including creatures), that creature becomes Marked until the start of its next turn. A creature Marked by I Run With The Pack has one bane added to their bane/boon pool for Dodge rolls made against attacks by members of the pack of the Packfolk character who so marked them. For the purposes of player characters, fellow player characters who are part of their adventuring party are pack members for the purposes of this effect. This effect has no effect on other packfolk characters.

Starting Connections

All Packfolk characters begin with the following connections at a score of (Intuition + Presence + Strength):

  • Packfolk
  • The Character's Birth Pack
  • The Character's Current Pack, if different from their birth pack.

This base score is chosen because Packfolk communities by and large value observant and capable "hunters" with the confidence to match their skills.

As a Connection

Adoptees who meet the faction alignment requirement and exemplify the traits of the Packfolk to the point of becoming cultural adoptees to the faction retain their original backgrounds and do not retrain skills, for obvious reasons: the past is fundamentally immutable and moving your house doesn't change your capabilities. That being said, they do acquire a new trait.

Packfolk Adoptee Trait: Pack Tactics

This is an Passive Effect. Whenever a character with this trait attacks a character who has been Marked by the effect of I Run With The Pack, this character gains one boon to their to-hit pool for the attack. In addition, if the attack is successful, this characters' Connection: Packfolk score increases by the amount of damage dealt, up to a maximum of 75%. If the attack misses in spite of the benefit of this attack, this character rolls the normal damage for their attack anyway. Damage rolled in this way is not dealt to the target character but instead is subtracted from this character's Connection: Packfolk score. Characters may not use Pack Tactics if they have a Connection: Packfolk score lower than 50%, meaning they neither gain connection score nor the boon-to-hit from this trait.