Becoming a Werewolf

Copyright Cormac Doyle © 2005

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion

"The very nature of this disease is one that elicits fear and loathing"

Lycanthropy is a deadly and transformative disease which can infect virtually anyone that is exposed to it. The very nature of this disease is one that elicits fear and loathing, because often the bestial elemnts of the afflicted person triumph over their rationality and they perform terrible animalistic deeds before they can be stopped. However, not all those infected with the disease will become ravening beasts. If they can learn to control the transformation, the curse of Lycanthropy can be transmuted into a powerful gift.

Infection & Transmission

There are many stories which recount how someone was infected through the bite of a wolf or other lycanthrope - this is however untrue. Lycanthropy is a disease that is only transferred via bodily fluids - the chance of contracting it from saliva ... even if that saliva enters an open wound ... are one in ten thousand.

Game Mechanics ... Roll d100 OE - if you open-end 3 times in succession ... then the character must make a resistance roll. [HARP: with a target number of 140 ... RM: with a target number of 85].

However, other bodily fluids are more likely to cause infection ...

  • Blood
    Receiving a blood transfusion from a lycanthrope is guaranteed to cause infection (No Resistance Roll).
    Splashing/splattering of infected blood into an open would (such as during combat) has a 50% change of triggering a resistance roll (as above).
  • Intercourse
    Intercourse between an infected person and an uninfected person will trigger a Resistance Roll (as above) every time.
    The child of a union where the mother is a Lycanthrope has a 10% chance per month (non-cumulative) during Gestation to contract the disease. There is a 25% chance that an event during childbirth could also result in infection.
  • Kissing/Biting
    As noted above, the amount of infectious material in spittle is minimal - even if the saliva enters an open wound, the chances are less than one in ten thousand.
  • Touching/Casual Contact
    There is no infection risk from casual contact such as shaking hands, sitting on the same seat, etc.

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Shapeshifting as a Werewolf

A recently infected werewolf will not have full control over their transformation from one form to another, nor will they retain all of their humanity when they do so. The skill Shifting is used for controlling the transformation from one form to another - to determine how long it takes to transform, and how much humanity the character retains while in the transformed state. In this latter aspect, it is of critical importance to a Werewolf.

The mechanics of how this works are slightly different from those listed in either HARP (Monsters: A Field Guide) or Rolemaster (RMSS), and as such, the rules listed here are considered to supercede the rules listed elsewhere.

        Skill Name:     Shifting
        Skill Category: Concentration (HARP) / Self Control (RMSS)
        Stats:          SD/SD (HARP) / [SD] (RMSS)
        


A werewolf's transformation is not always triggered voluntarely ...

  • Pain or Injury
    If the werewolf suffers a Serious Injury (as per HARP pp74), or takes accumulated damage that - on aggregate - would be considered a Serious Injury, the Werewolf begin to Channel the Beast (adopt Beast form).
    Controlling this transformation is a Very Hard maneuver (Extremely Hard to resist the change).
  • Fear
    If a werewolf fails to resist a Fear attack, whether from a magical or natural source, they will Channel the Beast.
    Controlling this transformation is a Medium maneuver (Hard to resist the change).
  • Seeing a Friend or Loved One suffer
    If a werewolf sees a close friend or loved one receive a Serious Injury (as above), they will Channel the Beast.
    Controlling this transformation is a Hard maneuver (Very Hard to resist the change).
  • Celestial Events
    In some settings, Celestial Events such as a Full Moon or even the Setting of the Sun would also trigger a change such as this. If this holds true in your setting, the werewolf will begin to Channel the Beast.
    Controlling this transformation is a Hard maneuver (Very Hard to resist the change).
  • All of the manoeuvres above are modified by the time since the character last transformed fully from their human form to the Wolf form (-5 per day).
  • If a werewolf falls asleep or goes unconscious while in Lupine form, or while Channeling the Beast, they will gently transform into their Human form again. Of course, since their clothes are unlikely to be anywhere nearby ... this can be acutely embarassing.

If a werewolf Channels the Beast in an uncontrolled manner ... their mind is reduced to little more than that of an enraged animal. They will have no thoughts other than attacking the nearest available target (although they always start with the source of their anger/fear/pain); they cannot tell friend from foe; they cannot parry or use any combat skills or talents except melee weapons, natural attacks and brawling skills; No custom combat styles, dirty fighting, sniping, ambush, or martial arts may be used. Unlike frenzy, they do retain the Quickness component of their DB.

The enraged werewolf may attempt to seize control from the beast (which will force a complete transformation to Lupine form) by making an Extremely Hard maneuver.

The process of transformation takes a varying amount of time, depending on the degree of control the character can exert, and the familiarity they have with the process. To transform from Human to Lupine form or from Lupine to Human form typically takes 2 minutes, during which time the werewolf is vulnerable to attack. They may also chose to voluntarily Embrace the Beast in a gradual process that takes roughly a minute. These gradual processes are uncomfortable and unsettling to a newly infected werewolf, but they are not actually painful, and once the werewolf becomes used to the process it is not feared. Of course, items such as clothing, armour, weapons, backpacks and other assorted paraphenalia are discarded during the transformation. In fact - to avoid painful or embarassing situations (such as a pair of knickers stuck on the wolf's rump), most werewolves will ensure that they are naked prior to commencing the transformation.

On the other hand, when the werewolf Channels the Beast involuntarily, the transformation takes a fraction of this time - just two rounds. Since the werewolf's muscle mass and bulk is increased considerably during the transformation, any clothing or similar will be torn/shredded during the transformation. Armour will also be destroyed, and metal armour will cause considerable pain. This process is far more violent and extreme, and aside from any external factors which might hurt the werewolf during the transformation, the werewolf will suffer a -20 to all activities for 1 minute due to the pain of the transformation.

A werewolf with fine control over their transformations may chose to shift part of their body - for example, while remaining in Human form, they may chose to shift one of their hands into a claw, or change their eyes into those of a wolf. This manipulation is exceedingly difficult to master (Sheer Folly), and a failed roll will trigger a more general change.

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Mechanics of being a Werewolf in Human Form

In this form, the character retain their natural form. They do not appear any different, but they do retain some marginal advantages - heightened senses, accelerated healing and an affinity for wolves that helps when trying to handle, control or communicate with them.

Statistic Bonuses

        HARP Statistics                         Rolemaster Statistics
        Endurance (Hit) Bonus:  +0      Concussion Hit Bonus:           +0
        Resistance: Stamina     +0              Resistance: Poison/Disease      +0
        Resistance: Will        +0              Resistance: Fear/Psionics       +0
        Resistance: Magic       +0              Resistance: All forms of Magic  +0

        St:     +1      SD:     +0                              St:     +1      Re:     +0
        Co:     +1      Re:     +0                              Co:     +1      Me:     +0
        Ag:     +0      In:     +0                              Ag:     +0      Em:     +0
        Qu:     +1      Pr:     +0                              Qu:     +5      In:     +0
                                                                SD:     +0      Pr:     +0
        


Talents

  • Accelerated Healing
    Rolemaster - Accelerated Mending.
  • Animal Empathy: Wolves
    HARP: This is a new talent (5 point cost to purchase) which gives a +25 to Animal Handling and Beastmastery attempts with one single category of animal - in this case, Wolves
    Rolemaster - Animal Empathy.
  • Enhanced Senses
    Rolemaster - no direct equivalent - treat as a +10 bonus to all Awareness categories (Talent would cost 7 points)

Limitations

None really - character is fully Human, can talk, cast spells, use tools, etc.

Notes

The Talents granted in each form do not vary, nor do they persist in the other forms - the Enhanced Senses from being a Wolf is the same Enhanced Senses from being a Were in Human form ... similarly were the character to already have one of the talents - such as Accelerated Healing - due to a racial or personal talent, it does not "stack" with the one from being a werewolf.

The Resistance, Statistic & Skill bonuses granted in each form do not stack with each other - they replace each other. The werewolf is only ever in one form at a time.

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Mechanics of being a Werewolf in Lupine (Wolf) Form

In this form, the character adopts the form of a large Wolf - with all of its obvious advantages and disadvantanges - the lack of opposible digits makes tool utilisation difficult and many civilised people object to Wolves wandering the streets of their town/village. Of course, the character also gains the Wolf's enhanced sense of Smell, Night Vision and such like ...

Statistic Bonuses

        HARP Statistics                         Rolemaster Statistics
        Endurance (Hit) Bonus:  +0      Concussion Hit Bonus:           +0
        Resistance: Stamina     +0              Resistance: Poison/Disease      +0
        Resistance: Will        +0              Resistance: Fear/Psionics       +0
        Resistance: Magic       +0              Resistance: All forms of Magic  +0

        St:     +0      SD:     +0                              St:     +0      Re:     -2
        Co:     +2      Re:     -2                              Co:     +2      Me:     +0
        Ag:     +2      In:     +0                              Ag:     +2      Em:     +0
        Qu:     +5      Pr:     +0                              Qu:     +5      In:     +0
                                                                SD:     +0      Pr:     +0

        Special Bonus - +10 to all natural attacks

        


Talents

  • Accelerated Healing
    Rolemaster - Accelerated Mending.
  • Enhanced Senses
    Rolemaster - no direct equivalent - treat as a +10 bonus to all Awareness categories (Talent would cost 7 points)
  • Enhanced Scent
    Rolemaster - Acute Smell
  • Natural Attack
    - Bite (HARP: Medium Puncture attack; RM: Medium Bite attack)
  • Night Vision
    Rolemaster - Nightvision
  • Survival Instinct
    Rolemaster - A modified version of Adrenal Defense: 1 rank/level; no other modifiers. Applied in all circumstances.
  • Tough Hide (minor)
    Rolemaster - Tough Skin: Wolf

Limitations

  • Limited Communication
    Character's vocal chords and mouth are no longer appropriately shaped for speech. Unless he can communicate telepathically, he is limited to Howls & body language.
  • No Spell Casting
    For the same reasons ...
  • No Tool Use
    Because the character has no way of manipulating tools.
  • I'm sure you get the picture ...

Notes

The Talents granted in each form do not vary, nor do they persist in the other forms - the Enhanced Senses from being a Wolf is the same Enhanced Senses from being a Were in Human form ... similarly were the character to already have one of the talents - such as Accelerated Healing - due to a racial or personal talent, it does not "stack" with the one from being a werewolf.

The Resistance, Statistic & Skill bonuses granted in each form do not stack with each other - they replace each other. The werewolf is only ever in one form at a time.

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Mechanics of being a Werewolf in Bestial Form

In this form, the character adopts the form of a massive, bipedal beast that is somewhere between a Wolf and a human. There have been many terms applied to this form, but the one most werewolves use to describe it is Channeling the Beast.

In some ways, this state is similar to that of Frenzy (see Martial Law). As such, a Werewolf Channeling the Beast cannot Frenzy or use Chi powers.

If a werewolf Channels the Beast in an uncontrolled manner ... their mind is reduced to little more than that of an enraged animal. They will have no thoughts other than attacking the nearest available target (although they always start with the source of their anger/fear/pain), they cannot tell friend from foe, they cannot parry or use any combat skills or talents except melee weapons, natural attacks and brawling skills. No custom combat styles, dirty fighting, sniping, ambush, or martial arts may be used. Unlike frenzy, they do retain their Quickness component of their DB.

The enraged werewolf may attempt to seize control from the beast (which will force a complete transformation to Lupine form) by making an Extremely Hard maneuver.

Statistic Bonuses

        HARP Statistics                         Rolemaster Statistics
        Endurance (Hit) Bonus:  +20     Concussion Hit Bonus:           +20
        Resistance: Stamina     +20             Resistance: Poison/Disease      +20
        Resistance: Will        +5              Resistance: Fear/Psionics       +5
        Resistance: Magic       +10             Resistance: All forms of Magic  +10

        St:     +3      SD:     +0                              St:     +3      Re:     -2
        Co:     +2      Re:     -2                              Co:     +2      Me:     +0
        Ag:     +1      In:     +0                              Ag:     +1      Em:     +0
        Qu:     +6      Pr:     +0                              Qu:     +6      In:     +0
                                                                SD:     +0      Pr:     +0

        Special Bonus - +10 to all melee attacks
        Special Bonus - +15 to all natural attacks (cumulative with above)

        


Talents

  • Aura of Fear (minor)
    This is a new talent which is applicable only to certain monstrous beings.
    Acts as a continuous "Fear" effect (target number 100, cascading RR as per Harpers Bazaar 1-2 pp9). Until someone either flees or completely resists, they may make a new fear roll every round. [Major has a target number of 120; Greater has a target number of 150]
  • Enhanced Senses
    Rolemaster - no direct equivalent - treat as a +10 bonus to all Awareness categories (Talent would cost 7 points)
  • Enhanced Scent
    Rolemaster - Acute Smell
  • Natural Attack
    - Bite (HARP: Large Puncture attack; RM: Large Bite attack)
  • Natural Attack
    - Claw (HARP: Medium Slash attack; RM: Medium Claw attack)
  • Night Vision
    Rolemaster - Nightvision
  • Regeneration (minor)
    Rolemaster - Regeneration (minor) [RMFRP]. Regeneration (lesser) [RMSS] except 1/minute, not 1/round.
  • Survival Instinct
    Rolemaster - A modified version of Adrenal Defense: 1 rank/level; no other modifiers. Applied in all circumstances.
  • Tough Hide (minor)
    Rolemaster - Tough Skin: Wolf

Limitations

  • No Chi/Adrenal Powers
    Chi Powers rely upon the character establishing a preternatural level of control over their body and mind - something entirely alient to someone who is Channeling the Beast. Rolemaster names for these powers are Adrenal Xxx rather than Chi Xxx, but the same restriction applies.
  • No Frenzy
    The character is already in an altered state.
  • No Spell Casting
    Spell casting requires a deft manipulation of the magical flux around us all. A werewolf Channeling the Beast cannot centre themselves sufficiently to manipulate a Spell Weave.
  • Limited Social Interaction
    The sight of a Werewolf Channeling the Beast is something that instills terror in all but the hardiest of souls. This makes regular social interactions rather difficult.

Notes

The Talents granted in each form do not vary, nor do they persist in the other forms - the Enhanced Senses from being a Wolf is the same Enhanced Senses from being a Were in Human form ... similarly were the character to already have one of the talents - such as Accelerated Healing - due to a racial or personal talent, it does not "stack" with the one from being a werewolf.

The Resistance, Statistic & Skill bonuses granted in each form do not stack with each other - they replace each other. The werewolf is only ever in one form at a time.

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