Thursday, April 3, 2014


We saved the most classic lycanthrope for last.  (Thank God there are no werezebu.)

Werewolves got their own adventure during the Carrion Crown Adventure Path.  They got their own chapter in Classic Horrors Revisited.  And that’s just Paizo—that doesn't even touch werewolves in the world’s oldest role-playing game (particularly in Ravenloft, Eberron, and the Forgotten Realms) or White Wolf, where they got their own entire freakin’ game (called, appropriately enough, Werewolf, and which comes in The Apocalypse and The Forsaken vintages).

So you don't need my help making your werewolves cool.  (Not that I ever assumed you did—I’m just sayin’ there’s plenty of material out there to work with.)

However, I will add this: Because of their low CR, werewolves might be the first truly savage creatures a party encounters.  Unlike, say, goblins, they're wise hunters and opponents.  Unlike low-level undead, they're not so distracted by their own compulsions and hungers that they can’t suss out your habits and weaknesses.  Unlike orcs or hobgoblins, they don’t take slaves who can be rescued later—a bite or two creates all the allies they need.  Unlike lawful evil kobolds, they don’t play by any rules—a kobold’s a devious little blighter, but he won’t steal your child from the nursery unless you come and crush his tribe’s eggs.  But a werewolf?  A werewolf will murder that child right in its crib and leave it for you to find.  If you come at it with ordinary weapons, a werewolf will let you think you killed it, play dead, and then go for your throat when you try to claim its pelt.  A werewolf will afflict your best friends with lycanthropy just to get to you.  And if it can’t beat you fair and square, a werewolf will bring a whole pack to hound you until you are tired, then disembowel you and start eating your intestines while you’re still alive. 

Also, werewolves give you a nice opportunity to make adventures in town really matter, and get players to really pay attention to folklore and folk remedies.  When a werewolf is on the loose, silver coins get taxed or confiscated and every weapon and armor purchase costs dearly.  Wolfsbane and other remedies become highly sought after, and locals might use other charms to keep the wolf-man from their door.  I say if a player works in some hedge wizard’s remedy from folklore (or even another game system), let it work as a reward for getting into the role-playing...unless you decide to let it fail in the most inopportune and amusing way possible…

High in the Icehowl Mountains a werewolf infects a party member with lycanthropy.  Wolfsbane offers a cure, but only if the adventurers can reach a fresh batch in time, and they are high above the tree line.  They will only make it back in time if they get creative, especially as the rest of the werewolf pack is closing in.  And then in a miner’s shed they find a sled, some skis, and several boxes of Lung rockets…

Most people have heard tell of Northern berserkers and sea raiders who turn into wolves.  Yet Southerners have their own, less-storied lycanthropic traditions.  The knights templar of the Order of the Claw wear iron cilices under their shirts to keep them always on the threshold of frenzy.  Many are even full-blooded werewolves…though how keenly they hold to their vows in hybrid form is an open question.

An archivist needs help destroying a cursed tome.  Unfortunately, the magical field generated by the foul codex is the only thing keeping his lycanthropy in check.  For every page burned in silver fire he gets closer and closer to his change.  The adventurers face the unenviable challenge of trying to remove one evil from the world without unleashing another…

Pathfinder Bestiary 198

As mentioned above, there’s more on werewolves in Classic Horrors Revisited, courtesy of Rob McCreary.  And Blood of the Moon features werewolf-kin known as witchwolves. 

I don't know why I’m so anti-werewolf.  Thriller was formative to my kindergarten years, and I’m indebted to the media teacher whose after-school movie class introduced me to Universal Pictures’ The Wolf Man.  Also, here’s to Wilford B. Wolf, who gave all us nerds hope (though for terrible reasons) and Warren Zevon.

Lots of reader comments: syringesin torments players…filbypott has questions about werehyenas…demiurge1138 dredged up one of pop culture’s grossest abominations… smilelikeyougotnothingtolose is playing some Werewolf…and titleknown really needs to tell us more about Oinkbane(?!?)…

Like a werewolf gnawing on a cavalier’s thighbone, dr-archeville has been diving deep into lycanthropes.  Check out his in-depth explorations of the werebat, the wereboar (with a nice Snatch reference), the werecrocodile, the wererat, the *ahem* “Jawsome” wereshark, and the weretiger.

And fortooate writes:

Today on The Daily Bestiary, we have Moon-Moses leading his people across a magically parted sea…and then the freed slaves begin to turn into weresharks!

I love this blog.

No, this blog loves you, fortooate.

Finally, Will Staples (don't tell anyone, but he is also filbypott) writes something I’ve gotta respond to:

A long time ago I saw a cartoon (maybe Scooby-Doo) with a monster that was a humanoid shark, described as some kind of Polynesian god.  Ever since I've associated weresharks with spirituality and the Pacific islands. (IIRC, Aquaman had an enemy called “King Shark” who had a similar origin, and White Wolf's Rokea also have a strong presence in the Pacific.) If Paizo ever does a fantasy Oceania (doubtful, but I can dream), I hope weresharks have a place of honor there.

It’s not fantasy Oceania, but I should at least mention that (assuming you don’t already have it) Pathfinder Adventure Path #56: Raiders of the Fever Sea has a big article on the oceans of Golarion and all the races therein.  But you of all my readers would probably get the most out of Razor Coast.  It definitely draws inspiration from Hawaiian Polynesian myths—heck, Pele is mentioned by name!

That said, it’s a jerk move of me to recommend a book that expensive (even the PDF is $40) that I haven’t even read all of yet.  Instead I propose this: Pick up Razor Coast: Heart of the Razor.  It’s composed of four adventures set along the Razor Coast, and it should give you a good a feel for the setting.  If you dig RC:HotR, you’ll know the full RC tome is for you.

While we’re on the subject, I am super psyched to say that after several frenzied bouts of reading—seriously, I set alarms to get up early and everything—that I have finally finished the Wrath of the Righteous Adventure Path issues!  That means I’m all caught up!  I start reading The Mummy’s Mask tonight!

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