Were Creatures

Following is my contribution to Santicore 2012.

THE SANTICORE REQUEST:

A really playable write-up for a Were-man race that includes stats, rules on how and under what circumstances a player shifts to and from were-form with subsequent table if the Santicore deems it appropriate.


Image from here

There are those that walk among us, cursed by the moon. Some are demons incarnate, some consider their curse a gift, and some are worshipped as fickle gods. These were-creatures are infused with the savage essence of an animal (or perhaps that essence is there in all people, and is only awakened by the curse). Weres will always be a manifestation of the most feared local animal, whether this is a wolf, bear, tiger, crocodile, or something else. Sometimes they will be hunted like monsters.

The essence of a were-creature is savage power chained to loss of control. As weres grow more experienced their bestial strength becomes more powerful and they gain more control over when and how the beast will manifest.

In addition to class level, a were character should maintain a separate “were level” stat. For characters born with the curse, “were level” is identical to class level, though it tops out at six. Were level represents the degree of control over the beast inside, and also the power of the lunar curse. Characters that are cursed later in their career begin at were level 1 and gain a were level whenever they gain a class level. For example, if a character is cursed at level 3, that character will be were level 4 when they are class level 6. For the rest of this document, W should be read as were level. Tables of potential backgrounds and animal abilities are included below for inspirational purposes.

TABLE I: WERE-CREATURE BACKGROUND

  1. Punishment for engaging in the sin of wrath
  2. Drank from a pool reflecting moonlight polluted with the blood of three innocents
  3. Sired by a parent that committed a great savagery
  4. Possessed by an animal spirit
  5. Created as a servitor to a now dead sorcerer
  6. God of a savage tribe that was wiped out by something
  7. Beast of the dark wood, awakened by love now lost
  8. Birthed by the nightmare of a mad psychoactive child
  9. Once a beast hunter, but was defeated by a demon and woke up cursed
  10. Magical mishap: an apprentice magic-user tried to create a potion of bestial strength but the procedure backfired

TABLE II: WERE-ANIMALS

  1. crocodile (+1 extra AC, viselike bite)
  2. wolf (+1 to checks that benefit from smell)
  3. bear (strength)
  4. owl (flying, +1 to operating in darkness by low-light vision)
  5. leopard (powerful leaps)
  6. spider (save or take d6 extra poison damage)
  7. hawk (flying, +1 to checks that benefit from sight)
  8. lion (fearsome roar forces morale check)
  9. bat (flying, +1 to operating in darkness by echolocation)
  10. cheetah (+1 speed category)

Image from Wikipedia

Flying creature weres gain the ability to glide short distances at were-level 3 and fly awkwardly (half the speed of an unencumbered man) at were-level 6. If your totem animal is not on the above list, invent a special ability that makes sense.

Weres have the following abilities and drawbacks:

  1. Savage transformation
  2. The call of the moon
  3. Preternatural defenses
  4. Claws and teeth
  5. Fighting for survival
  6. Pure animality
  7. Bestial empathy
  8. Loss of control

Savage transformation. Weres may attempt to shift into beast form at will. This has a W in 6 chance of success (so a character of were level 2 has a 2 in 6 chance of successfully transforming). The beast form is a hybrid creature, which ranges from almost completely human at W = 1 to almost completely bestial at W = 6. When in beast form, the character may not retreat from combat. Once finished, the were may not transform again until the next moon rise. Clothing and equipment do not transform along with the were. Clothing or armor has a W in 6 chance of being destroyed by the transformation unless it is very loose. This does no damage to the were character, however.

The call of the moon. Every night with a full moon, the character will turn into beast form. If desired, this transformation can be resisted, with a W in 6 chace. They will hunt prey overnight in whatever way is most direct; this may include hunting innocent people (though not companions). Roll on TABLE III: COMPLICATIONS below for the outcome.

Preternatural defenses. When in beast form, the were gains an AC bonus equal to W and damage reduction against mundane weapons equal to W. Silver weapons bypass this defense (and do damage as normal).

Claws and teeth. In beast form, the were grows claws, fangs, or other natural weapons. A successful attack does d6 + W damage. On either a damage roll of 6 or a natural 20 attack roll, the attack is especially brutal and messy. Use critical hits as appropriate to your campaign, or if more abstraction is preferred, inflict a -2 penalty ongoing to all victim rolls until the victim recovers.

Fighting for survival. The beast does not give in easily. If reduced to 0 HP in human form, roll d6. On a roll of W or less, the character will automatically shift to beast form and gain W temporary HP.

Pure animality. At were level 6, the beast form may be a perfect simulacrum of the natural animal if desired, though it will be larger.

Bestial empathy. Reaction rolls with animals of the were type gain a bonus of +W. Reaction rolls with animals that are natural prey of the were type have a penalty of -W. This modifier applies in human form as well. For example, sheep will always likely be skittish around a were-wolf.

Loss of control. Any mind effect (charm, fear, etc) forces an immediate involuntary transformation. This may be resisted with a W in 6 chance.

For 6 in 6 chances, roll two dice. If both dice come up 6, the check is a failure.

TABLE III: COMPLICATIONS

  1. Killed a person of importance, and there were witnesses
  2. Killed a person of importance, no witnesses
  3. 1d6 * 50 GP worth of livestock slain and/or devoured, with witnesses
  4. 1d6 * 50 GP worth of livestock slain and/or devoured, no witnesses
  5. Injured somehow, covered in blood, 1/2 move rate for following adventure
  6. Imprisoned by mundane authorities, the victim lived
  7. Trapped by a wizard, released under a geas
  8. Transformation witnessed by a powerful or influential NPC
  9. Transformation witnessed by an NPC of average import
  10. Killed someone and is now haunted by the shade of the victim

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