Were-Beasts

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Were-Beasts

Post  VladeŢepeş on Tue Apr 26, 2011 9:09 am

Basic Information About Were-beasts
If I say werewolf, what is the first thing that comes to mind? The full moon? Monster movies? Lycan vs. Vampire role plays? Other kinds of were-beasts, like were-bears, perhaps?

The werewolf is a cultural symbol throughout the Multiverse, and it has a lot of standard features, no matter where you find them. Typically, the first time a person learns about werewolves, they are usually taught that werewolves are people that change into ravening monsters whenever the full moon shines on them. This is the standard, Hollywood monster were-beast, and only one of a variety, both in species and ability, but I’ll get into that later. The full moon’s effect on weres is never really touched on in the classic tellings, but it may stem from the medieval theory that the full moon drives some people insane, hence the term lunatic. It could be that the moon exerts a minor gravitational pull on a person’s inner energy, much as it does on the ocean to create tides. When the moon is full, its pull on a were’s energy causes the beast within to awaken and emerge.

Lycanthropy, or werewolfism, has commonly been referred to as a curse that can be transferred by bite, much like vampirism. As much as I approve of magical explanations for phenomena, I still prefer a more modern, scientific take. I figure that lycanthropy, and vampirism, is a retrovirus, or a virus that attaches itself to the DNA of the host. It is transferred into the blood through the were’s saliva when it bites someone. The virus usually takes a month, or less, to settle into enough of the victim’s cells and change them into a were-beast. The effects usually aren’t seen until the next full moon.

Were-beasts tend to have four basic forms they can take: human, anthro, therian, and beast. The human and beast forms should be obvious, but the other two require some explanation. The anthro form indicates that very few changes have taken place; they are essentially very hairy humans with fangs, claws, and the eyes and ears of their beast form. The therian form is one of Hollywood’s favorites, and thus the form that usually comes to mind when you think “werewolf.” Therians are somewhere around the exact midpoint between human and beast: bipedal humanoid wolves (or whatever) with opposable thumbs in essence.

In my experience, I’ve determined that there are three broad classes of were-beasts, which I define based upon how they acquired their lycanthropy: Beast-by-Infection, Beast-by-Birth, and Beast-by-Magic.
Beast-by-Infection: These are the by far the best known were-beasts, thanks to their depiction in movies and on television. They become weres by being bitten by another, or through some other way of getting the Lycanthrope virus into their blood, hence Beast-by-Infection rather than Beat-by-Bite. B.I.s usually only change during the full moon, assume either beast or therian form, and go berserk, attacking people and animals at random. The transformations seem to be extremely painful, which may account for the beast taking over for the human and going crazy.
On rare occasions, and with much help from a fellow were-beast, B.I.s can actually overcome their beast to some extent and retain some semblance of humanity when they transform. It is nearly impossible for them to learn to control their transformation however. Equally rare those who, when bitten, naturally retain control of their minds in beast form and gain complete transformation control as well.
Beast-by-Birth: These are second generation or later were-beasts; they have at least one parent with the lycanthropy gene-virus. Since they are born with the power, B.B.s can develop their control over it as the beast develops inside of them. The result is a were-beast with full control over their transformed forms and the ability to change, painlessly, whenever they want, although they may find it slightly easier to accomplish under the full moon. These kinds of weres are very common in modern book depictions, especially if they are cast in a sympathetic or heroic light, and are the only weres you’ll likely see in vampire vs. lycanthrope stories and role-plays.
Sometimes, a B.B. will not develop their abilities as they grow up, usually because their were-beast parent is not a part of their life due to death or divorce, or they somehow picked up the gene from two non-were parents (extremely unlikely if the gene is dominant). In this case, the were-beast remains dormant in them through most of their life, and possibly all of it if it is not activated. Extreme stress, such as getting cornered in a life-threatening situation or losing a loved one can wake the beast up, resulting in a sudden, painful transformation and berserker episode similar to that of a typical B.I. If a fellow were-beast, particularly a peer, or a loved one of the B.B. is near, they can hopefully snap the poor creature out of their rage and help them come to grips with their new reality. If not, they’ll likely suffer a nervous breakdown, unable to comprehend what is happening to them.
Beast-by-Magic: Also called Beast-by-Curse, this group contains individuals that tend to fill the various niches between the extremes of B.I.s and B.B.s There are three sub-groups here that I’m aware of: Medieval Villain, Medieval Victim, and Shaman Skin-walker.
The Villain group comprises most well-known werewolf legends from Europe. These guys are the witches, mass murderers, pedophiles, and other psychopaths who assume the form of a wolf during the night to engage in their crimes. Normally, they take on the wolf shape through the use of some magical piece of clothing, like a belt made from a wolf skin, a hat or mask made from a wolf’s head, or even the whole wolf pelt. This last could also very well be just a disguise, rather than a magic shape-changing charm, but it depends on the user and how they got it. Behavior-wise, these guys can control themselves like a Beast-by-Birth, but act like a Beast-by-Infection by choice.
The Victim group is also common in the old stories, and tends to blur the line between Beast-by-Magics and Beast-by-Infections. Some poor sap gets cursed by a witch or something to assume wolf form and B.I. behavior on a regular basis, but not necessarily in regards to the lunar cycle. If, commonly through divine help, the victim can at least get control of their minds in wolf form, they can usually gain a small reputation as a Good Samaritan, helping lost children and travelers, or something else to make the best of what they see as a bad situation. This group also includes the reverse or anti-werewolf: those forced to take wolf form at all times except during the full moon. If enough of these folks can get together, they tend to form wolf packs that are run in a very human fashion.
The Skin-walker of shamanistic cultures, such as certain Native American tribes, is without a doubt the best Beast-by-Magic to encounter, since they’re typically friendly the entire time. They are also one of the oldest recorded groups, including such people as the Norse Berzerkers, who wore bear hides to gain the powers of a bear. Most skin-walkers are portrayed as hereos or people of great honor, although some Native American tribes put them in the same catagory as evil witches.

Vampires and werewolves have a bit of history together, so those Lycan vs. Vampire role plays and stories you may encounter aren’t just a random pairing, like Ninjas vs. Pirates. Old stories say that slain werewolves will rise again as vampires if not properly interred, most likely including a few wooden stakes to keep the corpse in the coffin. Today, however, the two races are seen as mortal foes, each capable of slaying the other though otherwise mundane means. This could be due to the two races being deathly allergic to each other’s retroviruses; vampirism kills werewolves and lycanthropy kills vampires. Of course, rumors fly occasionally of there being a creature that is both vampire and lycan…



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