Sunday 23 August 2009

Werewolves redesigned

I've mentioned my D&D Campaign setting here a few times and regular readers may have noticed I like to change established rules and assumptions. This was particularly true for my approach to werewolves and the cure of Lycanthropy. This was partly dictated by the fact that one of my players was infected by this disease and I wanted to retain a little mystery by redesigning the accepted definition of a werewolf.

(Source: Wikipedia - German Woodcut 1722)

Pure Werewolves (those that have been infected in the normal way i.e. A bite) normally know what they are after their first turning. They have no control over the change, it happens at set times. Euda has no moons but there is none the less a mechanism that periodically causes the victim to change roughly every 28 days.

Half-breed Werewolves are the offspring of a werewolf (untransformed) and an uninfected human. Half Breeds may grow to adulthood unaware of their true nature. Most succumb to the 'infection' at puberty although the stronger willed may unconsciously resist the disease well into adulthood. Once they turn, like true werewolves, they have little control over the change. However they are not limited to a 28 day cycle and can change at any time, usually in times of stress or danger, or when the urge to feed overcomes them.

Hereditary Werewolves are the offspring of Half Breed Werewolves and carry the infection in their blood all their lives. Because the disease is 'diluted' some may never succumb to the contagion. Others will turn at puberty. Occasionally victims will spontaneously succumb to the infection in times of extreme stress or danger. But there are no hard a fast rules here. For those that do change however the result is similar to that found in Half-breeds. However most Hereditary Werewolves do not initially know that they are werewolves. Its almost as if the 'wolf' side of their personality will not consciously reveal its true nature to the 'human' side. For some Hereditary Werewolves this strange double life can go on for years or even decades.

For all werewolves the transformation is more than just a change of shape. Regardless of their human alignment all werewolves act like animals in relation to their prey. They do not differentiate between friend and foe and have no conscience or morality to stop them. For the Pure or Half-breed werewolf, aware of their true nature, this can prove a terrible burden that drives some to madness and others to suicide. But Hereditary werewolves may never know their true nature and in this they are fortunate in that they are usually unaware of the horror they have become.

Traditionally Lycanthropy is considered incurable. Death by a magical silver weapon is the best one can hope for. However some powerful clerics and Mages believe a cure may be possible for half-breed or hereditary werewolves. Indeed I made the search and attainment of the 'cure' central to the development of the Player Character involved in my campaign.

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