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Design Diary: Tales of the Changing Breeds

Posted on April 3, 2021 by Billzilla

Available from Storytellers Vault on Drive Thru RPG

    When I was first approached about writing a story for an anthology covering the Changing Breeds, I was intrigued by the possibilities. Changing Breeds refers to White Wolf’s Werewolf: the Apocalypse game: more specifically, Changing Breeds are all the other were-creatures besides wolves: tigers, foxes, panthers, crows, bears, and many more. Werewolves are by far the most numerous of the werecreatures in White Wolf’s World of Darkness, but the others still exist, and most are still fighting the good fight against the Wyrm’s agents.

    The anthology was pitched to me as “Changing Breeds in the Wild West of the United States.” I found the concept teeming with possibilities, and so I got to work on my story. In the previous year I had contributed a similar story to Darkened Streets, another anthology project involving the World of Darkness. In that case, each author took one of the settings or sub-settings, and wrote a story that involved being on the road in some way. By the time I got invited, all the main settings – Vampire, Werewolf, Mage – had already been claimed, so I had to work a bit harder. I’ve always had a fondness for the Wild West as a setting: having been born just barely after the Baby Boom, I grew up on a steady diet of westerns in my early youth, before they were largely replaced by science fiction. With that in mind, I chose Werewolf: the Wild West as my setting. My story concerned a lone wolf who moved out west after the Civil War to get away from it all, but he ends up encountering Wyrm-sponsored activity, and meets up with a pack of werewolves intent on stopping it.

    For Changing Breeds: Wild West Tales, I decided to use some of the same characters, but add new protagonists who were of the Changing Breeds: a mountain lion and a crow. They end up meeting my pack of werewolves, and neither group trusts the other. In the long-distant past, werewolves decided that the Changing Breeds weren’t pursuing the Wyrm and stamping it out its corruption with sufficient vigor. In many cases the wolves decided that the “others” were perhaps already tainted by the Wyrm, and must be wiped out, just in case. Several groups were all but exterminated during this time,including the wereboars, werebats, and a few others.

    The original team had a list of folks they invited to contribute, but sadly, all but two of them – myself being one – were busy or not interested. After talking with the team, I went through my contacts and started dropping notes to people I knew who were familiar with the World of Darkness setting and also wrote fiction. I managed to recruit eight more writers; with ten in hand we had a decent number of stories for an anthology, and even had wiggle room if one or two had to drop out. It’s bragging a bit, but besides myself, the author list is an impressive group: Angel Leigh McCoy; Joyce Chng; Aaron Rosenberg; Sarah Hans; Christine Morgan; Stephen R. Lickman; Megan Mackie; Rick Heinz; and Crystal Mazur.

    The initial stories began appearing in April of 2020; we had everything in hand that summer, and after a round or two of edits the book was ready. We were able to have the anthology up and for sale in early October or 2020 – my original goal, since the themes coincided nicely with Halloween. The pandemic did have an affect on production, but we were able to find ways to work around those issues.

    I have to admit I’m immensely proud of the anthology we put together. The cover looks fantastic, the stories are all high-quality, and the authors worked well with the setting, providing a good variety of Changing Breeds without much overlap or much coaching from any of the editorial staff. I hope you will pick up a copy and have the chance to read and enjoy the stories we’ve created; it was a labor of love for all of us.

    – Bill Bodden

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