Monday, June 6, 2016

Neoclassical Geek Revival: Lycanthropy and the dangers of Wharwilfs

Back to monsters and content.   So,  how would a Lycanthrope work in NGR?

Well, that really depends on what a werewolf means to you.   Is it a curse from the devil and/or the gods?  Is it a witch's enchantment for a slight?  A magical experiment gone wrong? A species of being from some ancient and noble zzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

Option 1:  Its a curse from the gods

This is pretty simple actually,  when wondering how any powers or abilities function: A god did it.

It is a curse,  while the default curse miracle is a -1 universal penalty to all rolls,  it does specifically mention you can throw in other curses.

In this case the individual is cursed to turn into a bloodthirsty great wolf upon the full moon that hunts for the flesh of mankind, preferring those with the strongest emotional connection to the cursed individual,  This wolf, beyond the physical prowess of a massive wolf,   can only be slain with silver to the heart.   This doesn't mean repeatedly hacking it with a silver hatchet.  It has to be the heart.

Mechanically this follows rules for ignoring partial damage, similar to vampires with wooden stakes.  If you don't do enough damage to kill the wolf in a single hit, you didn't hit the heart and it ignores all the damage.   While alive, the wolf heals an amount of damage each round equal to the faith of the curse (more later on that). Note that no matter how much damage the werewolf (in either form) takes, it will heal without silver to the heart.  Even if burned to a fine ash which someone then does lines of off a broken mirror in a bus stop restroom.  The wolf will crawl out of the negatives eventually and reform in some abandoned forest clearing. The werewolf is also immune to diseases (but not poisons, though they cannot kill it).  Anyone bitten by the wolf who does not die before the next full moon will become a werewolf, The  curse will have spread  (at one point of faith less).

What is this business about faith?  well, the way to break a curse in NGR is to have the one who cursed you lift the curse, or to have someone bless you with a more powerful bless than the curse.  So assuming the first werewolf is a curse from the gods, assume a "faith" for that curse of 30,  really beyond the power of any mortal priest to bless.  The first werewolf would be a powerful named creature that needs to be destroyed.   But chain down a few generations and the werewolves adventurers meet in a wood outside of a crossroads inn might be something that can be cured by a blessing from the local bishop.

There would of course be other protections.  Wolfsbane might do something, and of course a priest in a state of grace  (similar to a paladin in old D&D) is permanently blessed so could not contract lycanthropy of this type (or would be cured of it if they already had it upon entering a state of grace).

You could also have Lycanthropy replace the standard curse for priests of certain dark forest gods (I'd wager at a higher piety cost than the standard curse).

Option 2:  Its witchery most foul!

This one is somewhat straightforward.   A polymorph spell (into a wolf)  made permanent with a trigger spell that specifies "under the light of a full moon", two to toggle,  and maybe a regeneration spell that heals damage from non-silver and non-magical weapons mixed in with the initial casting.  You can bundle these and maybe a few others into a concoction of spells a witch may have that would lead to a bad day for who ever trampled her newly planted marigolds.  The solution would require a sage to figure out what spells are impacting you and someone with the ability to dispell magic to begin removing the spells in the right order (which may require getting the witches spell book).

Option 3: A magical experiment gone wrong

 In this case a werewolf is a mutant creature,  immune to mundane weapons (other than silver) and is a disease that turns its host into a shambling wolfman full of murderous rage.  This creature would have mutated to have rippling muscles and superior reflexes (20 strength and agility) and vicious slashing claws and a devastating bite.   When it bites and deals damage, it spreads lycanthropy as a magical enchantment. The victim takes 1d6 points of mutation a round until they transform permanently into a werewolf.   The window between to bite to transformation is the only time a cure can be applied (by dispelling the lycanthropy).    The act of biting does count as "Casting" the spell,  so if there is a ward specifically crafted against lycanthropy worn by the victim it may break the spread of the contagion (count the natural magic as having an occult score of 20).  The spell also breaks when the werewolf dies (it reverts).  The werewolf can only be harmed by silver and magical weapons.

A werewolf count be dissected (if kept alive) to learn the polymorph spell that turns someone into a werewolf  (when the wizard bites them)  and an armouring spell that is easy to cast and makes the caster immune to non-silver and non-magical damage,  while also taking stress each round as they are driven into a mad rage.   A dispel cast upon a living werewolf to void their immunity to silver would be easier to kill (and also could in theory be brought back to their normal mind with magical healing of stress).

Option 4: The one I find boring but I am sure someone not me could make interesting.

Just treat it in many ways like an elf with a natural shapeshifting spell that is vulnerable to silver instead of iron.

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