Lycanthropes are humans who can transform themselves to resemble normal
animals or monsters. The term "lycanthrope" is actually a misnomer, coming from the
roots lycos (wolf), and anthropos (man). A more correct term is "therianthrope," from therios (animal) and anthropos. However, since werewolves are the most common therianthropes, the term
lycanthrope has gained much more popularity, and more common usage.
To further confuse the issue, there are creatures like the wolfwere and
jackalwere, animals which can assume human form. These creatures ("antherions" for
lack of a better term) pass on their condition genetically (that is, by having
offspring), not by biting and infecting other creatures. Other differences
between the two classes of creature include their vulnerabilities: antherions can be
struck by cold iron, lycanthropes by silver. Antherions hate lycanthropes, and
always attack their counterparts (wolfweres attack werewolves, etc.). Likewise,
most lycanthropes feel enmity for antherions, and attack on sight as well.
In addition, there are many subspecies of some lycanthropes, beyond the
differences in animal type. For instance, there are three distinct subspecies of
werewolf, differing in their secondary form: one has fangs, a furred body, a tail,
wolf-like legs, and lupine features (but without the snout); another has a very
wolf-like face and body, with human hands, and is easily mistaken for a wolf
when down on all fours; and the third secondary form is that of a huge wolf, as
big as a bear.
The condition of being a lycanthrope, often referred to as a curse, is called
lycanthropy. A distinction must be made between true lycanthropes and infected
lycanthropes. True lycanthropes are those to whom lycanthropy is a genetic
trait; they breed with other lycanthropes and produce baby lycanthropes. Only true
lycanthropes can infect others with lycanthropy. Infected lycanthropes are
those whose lycanthropy results from being wounded by a true lycanthrope.
There are also creatures known by some as "induced lycanthropes," whose shape
changes are effected by magical items; these creatures cannot infect others
with lycanthropy, though the magical items can be transferred to new owners. Some
of the items are cursed, so that once they are worn, they cannot be removed
without the application of a remove curse spell. Induced lycanthropes include swanmays and anyone using a cloak of the manta ray.
Finally, there are "cursed lycanthropes" created by a certain spell, curse of lycanthropy (see boxed text).
True lycanthropes and induced lycanthropes seldom hate their "curse." They see
themselves as being like any other creature, with the same right to survival.
Those bitten and infected, or those affected by the curse of lycanthropy spell, are generally unhappy with their fate. These unfortunates seek cures
and occasionally try to hunt down the lycanthrope who infected them (or the
wizard who cursed them).
Description: Most lycanthropes have three forms; some have only two. See the individual
descriptions for more details. The first form is always the natural humanoid form,
which over time becomes more and more reminiscent of the lycanthrope's animal
form. The second form is a hybrid, combining both animal and humanoid features;
the size of this hybrid tends to lie between the humanoid size and the size of
the creature replicated. The third form of the lycanthrope is externally
identical to that of a normal creature of the replicated species; the only visual
clue is that the eyes may glow in the dark. A slain lycanthrope always reverts to
its natural humanoid form within one round of being killed.
Curse of Lycanthropy (Necromancy, Alteration)
6th-level Wizard spell
||V, S, M
||Area of Effect:
This spell causes a temporary case of lycanthropy in the victim touched by the
caster. A normal attack roll is required for the wizard to touch the victim,
who must then roll a saving throw vs. spell. Failure indicates that the victim
is affected by lycanthropy. Every month, the victim's condition manifests with
the full moon; after each attack, the victim can make another saving throw vs.
spell to see if the spell's effects wear off.
Almost any type of standard lycanthropy can be induced with this spell. By
using the blood of a normal animal as a spell component, the wizard can cause the
victim to assume that were- form.
Lycanthropy manifests the night of the full moon, as well as the night
immediately before, and the night immediately after, the full moon. During those
nights, the character gains no benefits from sleep or normal healing, and loses all
memory of events which happen while in animal form. In all respects, the
character gains the abilities, immunities, defenses, and bloodlust of an infected
lycanthrope; it cannot transmit lycanthropy. When the three-night attack is over,
the victim can make another saving throw, with a -3 penalty, to throw off the
A remove curse
allows the character to roll a saving throw vs. polymorph; success means the
curse is broken. A wish
also dispels the curse. No other spells can remove the curse.
Although the forms of attack vary with each species, all true lycanthropes can
transmit their dreadful affliction. Any humanoid creature injured by a
lycanthrope but not actually killed (and presumably eaten) has a chance to contract
lycanthropy. This chance equals 1% per point of damage caused by the lycanthrope.
Some lycanthropes transmit their affliction only through their bite, others
through any natural attack, and some even through the weapons they use. For ease
of bookkeeping, if a character suffers 24 points of damage (from all attacks)
from a true werewolf, the character has a 24% chance to become an infected
If the character eats belladonna within an hour of the attack, there is a 25%
chance this will cure the affliction; it definitely incapacitates the character
for 1d4 days. Note that only a sprig of belladonna need be eaten, and it must
be reasonably fresh (picked within the last week). If too much is eaten, the
character may still be cured, but is incapacitated for 2d4 days.
The only other way to lift the affliction is to cast a remove curse
on the character, on the night of a full moon, or the night immediately
preceding or following the full moon. After remove curse
is cast, if the character makes a successful saving throw vs. polymorph, the
curse is broken. Otherwise the changes take place and the spell has no effect. Cure disease
and other healing spells and abilities have no effect against lycanthropy.
Only infected lycanthropes can be cured. To a true lycanthrope, lycanthropy is
as natural as breathing, and the condition cannot be altered. True
lycanthropes have complete control over their physical states; they are not affected by
darkness, phases of the moon, or any of the other situations which traditionally
affect infected lycanthropes.
In human form, the lycanthrope uses weapons to attack. They tend to use
natural attack abilities in other forms.
In lycanthrope form, the monster can be struck only by silver or magical
weapons. Wounds from any other weapon heal too quickly to cause actual damage.
Damage from spells, acid, fire, and other special effects apply normally. Because of
their vulnerability to silver, some lycanthropes have a psychological aversion
to the metal and refuse to handle it; in some cases, the psychosomatic effect
is so great that touching silver actually burns the lycanthrope.
True lycanthropes can change shape at will, regardless of the time of day or
phase of the moon. Infected lycanthropes are usually humanoid during the day.
When darkness falls on the night of a full moon, or on the night immediately
preceding or immediately following a full moon, the infected lycanthrope
unwillingly changes shape and is overcome by bloodlust. During this time, an infected PC
is beyond the player's control; the DM takes over the character.
The character's Strength increases temporarily to 19. Armor Class, number of
attacks, movement rate, and immunities, become identical to those of the type of
lycanthrope that bit the character. The transformed character wants only to
hunt and kill, and usually selects either personal friends or enemies as victims.
The werecreature makes no distinction between friends and enemies; all that
matters is the Strength of the emotion binding them.
When the character returns to normal form, 10% to 60% (1d6>010) of any wounds
suffered while in animal form heal instantly. The character also has hazy,
haunting memories of performing terrible acts.
Each type of lycanthrope has its own language as well as its humanoid
language; some may be able to speak the languages used by the animals they imitate.
True lycanthropes tend to avoid human society unless attacking or on an
errand. Lycanthropes travel alone or in packs. The packs are usually of similar
lycanthropes, but may also include normal animals or monsters whom the lycanthropes
resemble. Some lycanthropes have the ability to summon such creatures.
Lycanthropes fit a variety of roles, depending on the type of creatures they
become, scavengers act as scavengers, predators as predators. See individual
descriptions for more details.
Designing New Types of Lycanthrope
Described here is a process for creating variant lycanthropes, either as true
lycanthropes, one-shot opponents, or for the results of a curse of lycanthropy.
Virtually any predator between the size of a small dog and a large bear can be
the basis for a type of lycanthrope. Most (but not all) true lycanthropes are
mammals; most (but not all) are carnivores. An animal type used by the DM to
create a race of true lycanthropes should be a carnivorous mammal with animal
Intelligence (1), or rarely, a reptile, bird, or even fish with animal
Intelligence. There has never been a reliable report of a were-amphibian of any type.
Induced lycanthropes, by spell or item, can be created using a wide variety of
animal types, and even monstrous creatures.
In humanoid form, the lycanthrope has subtle indications of the curse, ranging
from hair color like that of the animal, to general facial type, to voice and
actions. In animal form, the lycanthrope resembles a large version of the
normal animal (but not so large as to be immediately noticeable). On close
inspection, the animal form's eyes show a faint spark of unnatural intelligence, and
often glow red in the dark.
The lycanthrope may also have a third form, part human and part animal. This
form is usually humanoid in general shape, and the body has the same covering as
the animal (usually fur, sometimes scales or feathers). Facial features and
body shape change somewhat, gaining more characteristics of the animal (fangs,
whiskers, claws, animal leg structure, etc.).
Statistics and Attributes:
To determine the new lycanthrope's statistics, extrapolate from those of the
base animal and from existing lycanthrope types. If the base animal is more
powerful than a wolf, the new lycanthrope should have more Hit Dice than a
werewolf; if the base animal is similar to a giant rat, the new werecreature should
have about the same Hit Dice as a wererat. In almost every case, the new
lycanthrope should have at least 1-2 Hit Dice more than the base animal.
The lycanthrope gets the same attack forms as the base animal type, such as
claws, bite, tail slap, head butt, or whatever. The damage should be very similar
to that caused by the base animal. Many lycanthropes associate with animals of
their base type, and the werebeast should be able to dominate such a group.
Armor Class depends on the base animal's natural toughness, speed, and
dexterity. The lycanthrope should have a slightly better AC than the base animal,
perhaps by 1 or 2 places.
Movement rate should be the same as that of the base animal, as should diet
and habitat. Morale should be about one category better than that of the base
The creature's alignment tends to be an extrapolated version of the base
animal's alignment. Since most base animals are neutral, the DM must look at the
animal's tendencies. If the animal is a vicious predator and a strong fighter, the
lycanthropic version is probably evil; it tries to stay out of the way of
other creatures, it may be good or neutral. If the animal is very independent, the
lycanthrope should be chaotic; if the animal is very methodical and has regular
habits, the lycanthrope is probably lawful.
True lycanthropes share a vulnerability to silver weapons, possibly because of
the metal's mystical relationship with the moon, or the inherent qualities or
powers of the metal itself. Extremely rare variants might have no such
vulnerability, but instead may have developed a weakness for another precious metal
(gold and copper being the most likely), or perhaps for bronze, obsidian, or even
In addition to their abilities of shapeshifting, calling normal animals to
their aid, and so forth, some lycanthropes have other special powers. These should
not be rolled randomly for a new lycanthrope type, but chosen to fit with the
attitude and style of the base animal. A few samples are listed below.
Thief skills, level 1-6
by gaze or voice
Regeneration (except for damage from silver weapons)
Wizard spells, casting level 1-6
Psionicist abilities, level 1-6
once per day