There are many varieties of lycanthropy, but one of the most well known and common of what is a rare condition is the werewolf.
Werewolfism, like most kinds of lycanthropy, can be caused by magic, usually in the form of a curse or a spell gone wrong as it would otherwise simply be a transformation. But, it is more commonly the result of infection either from being bitten by a werewolf or having it passed down from a lycan parent to their children.
Given that it is a disease, although a magical one, you may wonder why more aren’t infected? The reasoning is simple. It’s rare for werewolves to reproduce with a human, and if they do there is a good chance the child will either be free of the disease or die from it during their first transformation. The same is true with those bitten.
Werewolves are not mindless beasts either, so while some may try to spread the disease far and wide, most do not. It simply isn’t worth the risks brought by all the attention, and lycan society has many rules and regulations regarding spreading the disease. Werewolves often like to form packs. Much like a tight-knit family group. Some choose to remain solitary, however.
Most of what we know about werewolves comes from the incredible work done by Rendor Gosz. Most notably his masterpiece Life of a Werewolf. However, it’s wise to keep in mind that as exceptional as his work is, it’s limited to a handful of examples. There is likely still much we don’t know.
Rendor did however dispel the long-standing theory that werewolves became slaves to their beasts and turned into ravenous killers devoid of any form of conscience. This can happen, but it seems to have more to do with the human side than the animal one.
I say human, but it’s wise to remember that most sentient races can contract the disease. Although, dwarves seem highly-resistant for some reason. They can still be turned, but it’s unlikely.
Rendor interviewed several werewolves and found many interesting things. First off, after the initial infection mood swings are horrendous which is why it is considered against the law in werewolf culture to infect someone and let them wander around without guidance.
Some neglect the laws just as we ignore our own, but apparently, there are a few large packs that keep order and who will come down exceptionally hard on a werewolf who breaks the rules.
The penalty for breaking most of their rules is death.
Werewolves are stronger, faster and have better senses than whatever they were before, even in their original form. This is further enhanced in their hybrid and wolf forms. Some believed the hybrid form to be a different species, but it has been found that it is achieved through a blend of their original and wolf forms.
Werewolves also consume far more food than ordinary folk, and are renowned for their incredible regeneration. Wounds that would kill an ordinary man heal on them in moments.
Silver disrupts this healing, however. Making it the favored choice by those who hunt these deadly creatures.
There is, of course, a lot of moral debate over the hunting of werewolves, and the laws regarding it vary from place to place. However, that’s beside the point.
It’s good to be aware of though as bringing silver anywhere near a werewolf is seen as an act of aggression. And, it’s generally wiser to avoid that. Unless of course they’re a rampaging killer in which case… bring as much silver as you can get and kill them before they kill you.
Werewolves themselves often have a silver weapon of their own hidden away somewhere in the event that they need to fight other werewolves. It was believed at one stage that werewolves couldn’t bear the touch of silver, but Rendor found that they merely found it uncomfortable and if it touched their skin it would disrupt the regenerative abilities.
Should a silver weapon pierce the skin, however… the result is far more painful and deadly. Silver is far from the only way to kill werewolves, however. Their regeneration, while impressive, does have limitations. Eventually, the damage they take is greater than they can recover from, and so they die. Decapitation is fairly effective although there have been accounts of their heads being reattached.
So, silver is still the best option to keep them from getting back up and tearing you to pieces. Extremely powerful wizards can likely deal with them without silver, but they’d still need time to cast their spells and like I said, werewolves are incredibly fast.
One of the permanent behavioral changes after infection is a tendency to be far more aggressive than they were before. As a result, fights between werewolves are a common occurrence. Sometimes these fights are to the death, but that is rarely the case. They happen often, and if each one was to the death… they’d go extinct very quickly.
Make no mistake though, even the friendliest of fights between werewolves is a savage affair. Between their supernatural strength, and the ability to recover from horrendous wounds there is little restraint in a fight between werewolves.
Sometimes, they fight over nothing at all but simply as a form of sport. After all, if you could rip each other to shreds and be just fine moments later… wouldn’t you do the same?
Werewolves shift with the full moon, but older ones are said to be able to control this and to keep themselves from changing and even shift at will.
Werewolves get along with other lycan races to varying degrees. Some get along very well… others will tear each other apart. It’s not fully known how this works exactly. If it’s to do with the nature of their disease, personal gripes, or some other factor. Like I said, despite the great work on Rendor’s part there are still gaps in our knowledge.
Another interesting fact is that werewolves are very long-lived. I can’t say they’re immortal as I have nothing to base that on, but they’re certainly known to reach hundreds of years of age and still look exactly as they did when they were first bitten. In the case of hereditary werewolves, they seem to stop aging at full maturity.
As I have more than a few grey hairs these days… I have to say I’m somewhat jealous.
Older werewolves have more control over their abilities, years of experience, and are far stronger. Much like vampires, age seems to increase power. But, to what degree I am unsure.
It isn’t as though I have a wealth of werewolves stopping by to have their strength measured.
Probably for the best though.
Should you encounter a werewolf, it’s hard to say what you should do. Silver is one of the deadliest weapons against them, but approaching one with it is certain to make the werewolf very unhappy with you.
Just use your own judgment. Don’t antagonize them if you can avoid it, but don’t be too quick to back down either as if they sense weakness things could get just as bad. If not worse.
Oh, and make sure you haven’t been around vampires. Why you’d voluntarily do so, I have no idea, but werewolves and vampires can’t stand each other so try not to smell of the other. Not exactly an easy task as both are so adept at hiding within our societies.
Your butcher, your seamstress, your maid, your aunt, your uncle, even your lover… any of them could be a werewolf or some other form of lycan. And you’d never even know.
- Nicholas Wolfram, Professor of Monsterology at Lestria University