Here’s the deal with the Bunyip. As an extinct tribe, they don’t have a tribebook to their own. This will just be a done in one entry for completeness’ sake, focusing on their W20 entry.
Of course he has a boomerang.
The Bunyip were the werewolves of Australia. Of course, there aren’t any wolves native to the continent. Instead, the tribe interbred with thylacines, more popularly known as Tasmanian tigers. The werewolves that joined the initial Australian continent recognized they needed to immerse themselves in the landscape, so they enlisted the aid of the Mokolé to truly become a part of the land. When dingoes were first bred in Australia, they kept to their thylacine forms to stay closer to their homeland. They were known as great Umbral explorers. They maintained their caerns so well they were able to travel throughout the continent, spreading the radius of their septs far and wide.
The War of Shame occurred as the rest of the Garou Nation found their way to Australia. The Bunyip’s thylacine form already made the incoming Garou suspicious, since at this point they had hostile relations with most other werecreatures. Still, unlike in the Pure Lands, the two parties managed to maintain a truce. The Garou would keep to the colonies while the Bunyip would hold most of their caerns. In reality, this was a cold war, constantly in danger of heating up.
The trigger for the Bunyip genocide was when the Garou found a desecrated Red Talon corpse in near their encampment. Enraged, the Red Talons swore revenge against the Bunyip. Fighting broke out between the Talons and the Bunyip. Still, the Silver Fang in charge of the Australian Garou was willing to see reason. He called a moot of all the tribes residing in Australia, including the Bunyip. The Bunyip never made it, and so the Garou declared war against the Bunyip. Every tribe participated, even the Uktena and Wendigo, somehow. Only when the last Bunyip died did the Black Spiral Dancers behind the corpse reveal themselves. The Bunyip had sent an emissary party, but they were waylaid by the Dancers.
Not only did the Garou kill all the Bunyip, they also drove the thylacine into extinction. Thus, there is no way for any Bunyip to exist in the present day. None. Don’t try it! Seriously, don’t. Here are some stats anyway.
Appearance : They’re thylacines, so they’re small and lanky. Those Bunyip with higher Pure Breed tend to be bigger, a throwback to their origins as wolves.
Kinfolk & Territory : They interbred with the Aborigine of Australia and Tasmania and traditionally only associate with Australian locals, whether human or animal.
A bunyip, not of the Bunyip but a bunyip, like the Great Bunyip. Confusing?
Tribal Totem : Bunyip (Great Bunyip, specifically) is the totem of the Bunyip. He’s a water monster, half mammal half reptile. Ngalyod, the Rainbow Serpent is also a big deal to the Bunyip. He’s the mythical creator of the Dreamtime, important in Aboriginal faith. Other patrons included I’wai the Crocodile, Boobook the Owl, Bougoodoogahdah the Lyrebird, and Tulu the Kookaburra. These are the best totems.
Gifts! The Bunyip don’t have a full Gift list per se. Most of the Bunyip’s Gifts are recycled from other tribes, but they do have a few unique ones.
Bunyip’s Spell is a paralyzing gaze that only works on mortals. It’s part of the mythical Bunyip’s repertoire, and so is taught by the Great Bunyip. Crocodile’s Cunning allows a Bunyip to hold his breath for an hour. Lonesome Voice of the Bunyip was one of the last Gifts of the Bunyip, derived from their death cries. It saps willpower points from anyone who hears it. Dance of the Lightning Snakes calls thunderbolts to hit an opponent, but only in the Umbra. Billabong Bridge allows a Bunyip to teleport between two bodies of freshwater personally known to the Bunyip. Other Gifts allow the Bunyip to control the weather, heal, or alter the environment, particularly in the Umbra.
Another Bunyip, not a bunyip Bunyip or a bunyip bunyip, but a Bunyip.
Why then, are the Bunyip important? There’s no major setting of Werewolf in which the Bunyip are playable. There’s no way the Bunyip could reach the Dark Ages setting, and it would be exceedingly difficult for a Bunyip to show up in the Wild West. There are a couple of reasons other than actual playability that the Bunyip’s story is included. First, it provides a historical setting in the form of the War of Shame. Second, it makes Australia a dangerous and therefore compelling setting. The ghosts of the Bunyip still haunt Australia and their Umbral allies don’t take kindly to werewolves.
The last reason is the most important. The War of Shame is integral to Werewolf’s main theme of RAGE. The tagline “When Will You Rage?” wasn’t played up for nothing. Everything about Werewolf is defined by the wolves’ relation to RAGE. Mechanically, it’s their power stat, and whether it’s high or low can have serious consequences. If a werewolf spends all of his RAGE, he’s in danger of losing the ability to shift, while if it’s too high he can frenzy. RAGE is the equivalent to vampire’s need to feed. If a vampire doesn’t need to drink blood, he’s basically not a vampire anymore. Anything else is just icing on the cake. Anger is integral to what this vision of werewolves is.
But it’s not limited to that. To me, Werewolf is an examination of the necessity of RAGE. The Apocalypse is coming, and the only thing you can really do about it is be angry. To do otherwise would be to accept the death of you and everything you hold dear, and that’s unacceptable. So the werewolves RAGE and fight, because that’s the only thing they can do. Just because their RAGE is necessary doesn’t mean it’s healthy, though, and that’s where the War of Shame comes in. The anger of the Garou has screwed them over, even leading them to wipe out an entire tribe. To some extent, uncontrolled RAGE has lead the werewolves to losing the Apocalypse war.
Every tribe has to deal with RAGE in some way or another. The Black Furies are angry that patriarchal society sucks so hard and that women are dying and that nobody understands the Wyld anymore. The Bone Gnawers are angry that they don’t get any respect and no matter what they do they can’t change society for the better. Next time, we’ll see how the Children of Gaia deal with Werewolf’s core themes. Spoiler: They don’t.