Carrion Crown: Kyle's
Look up in the sky at the moon, full and swollen like a gravid
bitch. Can you feel its pull? Can you feel the blood pounding
in your veins, full of life, full of power? It won’t be long now.
Don’t fight it. You can’t win. You are the beast now. Take a
deep breath. Taste the wind. Smell that? It’s the scent of fresh
meat, the sweet reek of fear. Fear of you. There’s only two
kinds of creature in this world for you now, boy, predator
and prey. You’re the predator, everything else is prey. Soon,
you’ll feel their hot lifeblood gushing between your teeth, their
flesh ripping beneath your claws. Go, now. Hunt. Revel in the
savagery. Slake the blood-thirst for tonight. And tomorrow
night, you’ll do it all over again.”
—Brogai Navratil, Arthfell werewolf, to one of his new “pups”
Men who can turn into beasts, werewolves prowl the dark fringes of civilization, culling the weak and unwary from the larger human herd. These ravenous creatures are victims of the curse of lycanthropy, consumed by a rage not unlike that of some barbarian warriors, but with a malef icent twist. The bestial desires of a rabid wolf course through their veins, driving them to acts of barbaric cruelty and animalistic fury. Most of these individuals embrace their savage hungers, becoming evil monsters that stalk the night. An unfortunate few vainly struggle to f ight the curse, but these are inevitably consumed by the beast within, giving in to the thirst for blood and slaughter.
Werewolves come in two varieties, natural lycanthropes (those born with the condition) and aff licted lycanthropes (those who contract lycanthropy as a curse or disease from another werewolf ). Natural werewolves have complete knowledge of their state and perfect control over their abilities. Afflicted werewolves, on the other hand, often change form involuntarily, an event usually triggered by the full moon. While in animal form, they frequently lose their identities and retain no memories of their actions.
All werewolves can change into three different shapes: a normal humanoid, a wolf form, and a terrifying hybrid humanoid-wolf shape. A werewolf in humanoid form blends easily into civilized society, and the simple peasants of frontier villages know that any stranger’s face could hide the predator in their midst. In wolf or hybrid form, a werewolf becomes highly resistant to damage—only magic and weapons crafted of silver can harm them with any degree of success—but its humanoid shape possesses no such immunity. Regardless of its current shape, a werewolf reverts to its human form when slain. In contrast to other lycanthropes, werewolves take a much more direct interest in their victims. A wereboar might keep to its forest, attacking trespassers out of aggression rather than maliciousness, or a wererat may lurk in the sewers, only occasionally murdering an innocent when the opportunity presents itself, but werewolves stalk their prey with the chilling patience of a careful, intelligent hunter. They delight in terrorizing their victims, prowling around their villages and homes, or even better, hounding them to the point of exhaustion, howling dreadfully to the moon to instill debilitating horror before closing in for the kill.
For all their prowess at hunting, however, werewolves are also savagery and violence personified. When their urges overtake them, the quiet hunter becomes a mindless beast, reveling in wanton destruction. Like a rabid wolf who preys upon a f lock of sheep, slaughtering far more than it can eat for the sheer pleasure of it, a werewolf doesn’t need an external reason for its rampage—the hunt is the reason, and anything unable to defend itself from the werewolf ’s depredations is prey. A rough woodsman, a simple peasant girl, or an innocent child are all fair game for the werewolf ’s bloody sport.
In their humanoid form, werewolves are indistinguishable from any other members of their race, although natural werewolves and those who have been aff licted for a long time may have or acquire wolfish features. According to folklore, natural werewolves tend to look somewhat feral, with a full head of shaggy hair and a wild look in their eyes. Other traits include eyebrows that meet together, index fingers longer than the middle fingers, curved fingernails, odd birthmarks on the palms, or a loping, lupine gait. Some superstitions even claim that a werewolf in its human form can be recognized by bristles of hair under its tongue, a vestigial tail, or cutting its skin to reveal fur in the wound.
In wolf form, a werewolf looks like a normal wolf, albeit a large and powerful specimen. A close look at the creature’s eyes, however, may reveal its true nature, as they often glow red or yellow with an inner fire and display a spark of unnatural and cruel intelligence. In its hybrid shape, a werewolf resembles a human-sized wolf walking upright on two legs (but occasionally running on all fours). While a werewolf in hybrid form has the bite of a wolf and sharp claws, it is also able to wield weapons in its clawed hands. Lycanthropy itself is an aff liction somewhere between a curse and a disease. To a natural werewolf, of course, it is simply a trait inherited at birth, but to an aff licted werewolf, it’s an unnatural malady. The curse of lycanthropy is transmitted through a werewolf ’s bite. Only a true, natural werewolf can pass along this curse; the bite of an aff licted werewolf is no worse than that of a normal wolf.
Once contracted, the disease shows no symptoms until the next full moon, when the beast within first overcomes the afflicted person and she changes into her animal form. The stress of combat can also trigger these changes. Most afflicted werewolves remember nothing of these episodes and wake up far from home the next morning, perhaps covered in the blood of those they slaughtered and with a profound feeling of melancholy or depression. Those few who do remember their actions and embrace their newfound power soon find themselves consumed by the evil and fury their new form incites. Once an afflicted werewolf truly accepts the curse, the beast has won.
Magic provides the best cure for lycanthropy. A remove disease or heal spell from a powerful cleric has the best chance of success, but such remedies must be sought within 3 days of infection. Remove curse and break enchantment magics can also be used, but they are only effective during the time of the full moon, when the werewolf is at its strongest. A dose of wolfsbane (Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook 560), also known as monkshood, can also cure the aff liction, giving the target another saving throw against the affliction. Fresh wolfs bane works best, but the plant is poisonous and has a chance of killing the recipient rather than curing him. Of course, natural werewolves cannot be cured of their condition.
Habitat & Society
While werewolves may live anywhere, from towns and cities to sparsely inhabited forests, natural and afflicted lycanthropes frequently lead very different lives. Afflicted werewolves, fighting a terrible disease that turns them into ravenous beasts, tend to be solitary individuals, living in selfimposed isolation either to avoid discovery or in an attempt to protect family and friends from their own bestial urges. Alone on the frontier, many turn to banditry to support themselves. Natural werewolves in human form live just as humans do, while those who prefer their beast shapes might live in a cozy wolf den, although the comforts of civilization, such as soft beds and warm fires, usually draw them back to human society.
A rare few aff licted werewolves manage to keep the beast at bay, retaining their own personalities and morals while
struggling with the bestial urges that threaten to consume them 3 nights a month. Pariahs within werewolf society, these good-natured werewolves frequently lead lives just as secretive and hidden as their evil brethren, as few towns suffer the continued existence of a known werewolf in their midst. To their misfortune, most such werewolves find that people react with alarm and prejudice regardless of the werewolf ’s true intentions.
Natural werewolves have long since grown accustomed to the hatred and fear their presence engenders, and those who dwell in civilized lands often lead normal lives within human society, attempting to blend in as much as possible. Such quiet, peaceful existences are often short-lived, however, as the beast within cannot be denied for long, and these werewolves’ idyllic lifestyles usually end in blood-drenched frenzies. In the hinterlands, natural werewolves habitually gather into packs, either of other werewolves in areas where lycanthropy is widespread, or as leaders of packs of normal wolves. Whether in human, hybrid, or wolf form, natural werewolves can communicate with wolves and dire wolves, allowing them limited control over these beasts. Afflicted werewolves only have this ability in their hybrid and wolf shapes; in their human forms, they possess no special empathy with wolves. Stories persist of werewolves who can also talk to dogs and other canines, and legends speak of particularly powerful werewolves who are able to speak with more unusual lupines such as shadow mastiffs, winter wolves, and worgs.
Werewolves who have embraced their bestial nature sometimes worship the demon lord Jezelda, Mistress of the Hungry Moon. Especially prevalent among the werewolves of Andoran’s Darkmoon Vale and Lozeri in northern Ustalav, Jezelda’s faithful hate non-werewolf lycanthropes in particular, and go to great lengths to hunt and slay those heretical abominations. Less-devout werewolves may venerate other gods—Lamashtu, Rovagug, and even Urgathoa, in her aspect as goddess of gluttony. Even rarer than aff licted werewolves who maintain their good alignment, a few legendary natural werewolves known as the Hounds of Good are said to exist. While not an organized order or society, these paragons of righteousness nevertheless dedicate themselves to the fight against evil. Most people dismiss them as myths, but ancient texts refer to the Hounds of Good as creations of the slain beast-god Curchanus, charged with hunting down and destroying demons, devils, and other