Werewolves are just as ubiquitous in modern fantasy/horror as mages and vampires, so again I knew I would need to deal with them eventually. This set of notes is how I plan to handle them if/when I get around to actually using htem in a story. As Lawrence is a character already extant in my short stories (even if I haven’t gotten to those stories yet in the editing process), these folks are more likely to show up than Vampires, but it still might be a while…
Note: More than any other, the Werewolves show my wife’s influence. Werewolves in the No Books setting are as much the result of our nitpicking how they’re usually portrayed as they’re influenced by those same portrayals. Mucho gratitude to you, sweetie!
- Werewolves are unique amongst the shapeshifters of this world in that their shapeshifting nature is virulent
- The “Curse” is transferred through a bite and only through a bite. Salivary transfer through other methods have proven fruitless in recreating the Curse.
- Not all who are bitten by a Werewolf, becomes one. Though the exact conditions which determine when the bitten is Cursed are unknown to both scholars who study the condition and those afflicted by it.
- Certain genetic markers have been connected to the Curse and who is affected by it, simultaneousy certain markers have been connected to those resistant to its effects. In both cases however, exceptions have proven that this is only a factor and not a guarantee.
- Some argue certain psychologies are more predisposed to the curse, as well as those of certain spiritual/religious beliefs, but the proof for both of these claims are even more unreliable than the genetic component.
- Regardless of its cause, those afflicted by the Curse are changed in three ways:
- Mind – The weakest of the Curse’s effects is that which it has on the mind. The afflicted are almost universally shorter tempered and “clannish” than they were before the Curse. Additionally, they have an almost instinctive understanding of how to change form and utilize their heightened senses. Otherwise they remain largely the same as before the Curse. Personalities, memories, and sapience all remain largely intact and unaltered beyond minor variances.
- Body – Those afflicted with the Curse show a marked alteration in their physical form. Both sexes grow taller, broader in the shoulder, and show a marked increase in body hair. While none of these alterations make a notable difference in overall “attractiveness,” the change is noticeable to those who know the victim well. Additionally, unless great care is taken by the individual regarding personal hygiene, a notable musky and animalistic smell is common. While the smell isn’t altogether unpleasent (indeed some mortals find it attractive), it is almost as often off-putting as it is alluring.
- Soul – The most profound, and yet, least obvious change is in the Soul. Werewolves retain their souls, unlike Vampires, and it serves the same (mostly unknown) purposes. The soul which remains however is something altogether different than a human soul. While it retains certain human characteristics that can be recognized by the aware and trained aural readers, it also bears obvious characteristics of other things. The most notable variance is similar Essence to that of an undefinable canine species which, while related, is distinct from the Soul of a wolf. Additionally, there is a third aspect to the Soul of a Werewolf which utterly defies classification, much to the chagrin of researchers.
- Typically, a Werewolf in human form is indistinguishable from human beings. In term of ability, most human-form Werewolves have not particular advantage beyond a heightened sense of hearing and/or smell.
- Werwolves possess two forms other than their base human form, which they can transform back and forth to with varying levels of ease.
- Wolf: The first form that a Werewolf acquires is always the wolf. Resembling no living species of canid, most resemble most closely the Dire Wolves of antiquity. Initially, transformations tend to follow the cultural beliefs of the individual (i.e. most change first under the full moon), but this is purely psychosomatic. Additionally, most young Werewolves find the instincts of this form overwhelming and cannot initially control themselves while transformed. Changing back to human form intentionally often proves more difficult, but occurs instinctively when unconscious.
- Therianthrope: The Therian form is one that generally takes years of training to achieve, but its considerable utility and power is well worth the effort. Standing slightly taller than the already above-average height of most Werewolves’ human forms, the Therian form is tremendously musculur. Roughly equal parts man and beast, the Therian form has the strength and survival instincts of the wolf form combined with the manual dexterity and natural cunning of humanity.
- Werewolves tend to gather in loose, regional “Packs” and smaller “sub-Packs”
While the size of an individual Pack’s territory varies, these ranges are typically very large.
- The size of an individual pack can vary wildly. Some small packs may only contain 2-3 members and claim only a few city blocks. Others may be over a hundred strong and claim vast territories. Most are average sized at 1-3 dozen members and between 50-200 miles.
- Example: The Columbiana Pack lays claim to a roughly 100 mile territory loosely centered on the Columbiana Valley and claims roughly two dozen members.
- Example: The Cascades Pack claims a roughly 250 mile radius stretching from Southern WA to Northern CA and encompassing much of Oregon. A particularly large pack, the Cascades Pack boasts nearly fifty members.
- Most Werewolves aren’t particularly territorial and only get defensive about intruders in certain circumstances.
- Almost no sane Werewolf gets territorial about human beings entering, living, or traveling through their territory. Exceptions exist, but are quite rare. This includes Magi in most cases and often other humanoid supernaturals as well.
- Most Werewolves are utterly indifferent to Vampires living in their territory, and indeed rarely even notice a few nests appearing in the cities ostenibly within their territorial range. As most Werewolves prefer the outskirts of town or rural areas, they may never have reason to interact with the mostly urban Vampires, but even if they do it tends to be as neutral equals. The exception most often seen is when Vampires threaten the ives of Werewolves, their friends/relatives, or the overall viability of a city at large. In those rare circumstances (especially rare as it would be unwise for said Vampires for many reasons before even considering Werewolves), retribution is swift and merciless.
- Werewolves tend to be indifferent to others of their kind passing through their territories so long as certain protocols and customs are respected. While the exact details of these practices vary from Pack to Pack, they generally consisted of three parts: Announcement, Duration, Departure/Adoption.
- Announcement is exactly what it sounds like, a simple and obvious statement of purpose. While this can be anything from the wolf-like markings on trees to a quick phone call to a local Pack member, the point is the same: announcing “I’m here. I know this isn’t my territory, but it is yours. I am just passing through/tending to business/etc. I will move along with no ill-will when I am done.” Assuming there aren’t extenuating circumstances (such as old animosity or resource scarcity) the Pack will likely allow the visitor passage with no conditions.
- Duration: While specific timeframes vary from pack to pack and circumstance to circumstance, the core priciple remains the same: Don’t overstay your welcome. A visit in the territory of another is commonplace and accepted. However, the hosting pack has only so much patience and a guest who overstays his/her welcome is likely to start getting not-so-subtle hints to move along.
- Departure/Adoption: In most cases a member of a non-resident Pack has no interest in joining the local Pack and only wishes to go about his/her business. Thus, when their business is done, they pass along the message “I’m done in your territory, thank you for the hospitality, I am leaving” in the same manner they introduced themselves. In some cases, most often with the young and packless, their stay becomes more longterm and they begin going through whatever iniation the pack requires for membership. When these trials are complete, they are no longer a stranger and thus no longer intruding.