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View Full Version : Lycanthropy as a campaign idea...your thoughts?



Demonshiru
2015-09-25, 05:04 PM
Hi there all! I have been a long time browser of the forums, although I rarely post. I am going to start my first campaign (a blend of 3.5 and pathfinder) and had an idea for a campaign story. I want the characters to contract lycanthropy, willingly but without actually knowing what it is they are getting into. It will happen at the beginning of the campaign, and some of my ideas have been helping someone who offers them dinner (tainted by different lycanthrope...stuff...be it saliva, ect ) or a barker who is selling potions gauranteed to make you feel stronger, or your money back...ect. Now, I have players r that would jump at the chance to try said potion....but others who wouldnt, even if paid. I want to find something unique that will get them all to jump on board, without exposing them to what is really going on. For instance; being obviously bit by a rat man or werewolf would kinda ruin the cliche but fun "You wake up next to the corpse of a deer/person/carebear that has been partially consumed. You are covered in blood". I want them to seek out whoever or whatever is responsible for their change, and let them choose if they wish to stay a lycanthrope or not. If it is a mixed bag, that's fine, I have ideas that will balance out the mixed party. Thank you all for your time, and I look forward to the ideas!!


TL:DR Players made into were-whatevers, can't know right away. Ideas?

Seto
2015-09-25, 05:16 PM
Remember they're entitled to a Fortitude save against the effect. They might pass it.

I'm not sure it's a swell idea (some players consider slapping a Template on their characters without asking them an intrusion in their creative liberty. I would number among them). But if I HAD to do it, I'd probably just start the campaign with them already being Lycanthropes (unknowingly).

Demonshiru
2015-09-25, 06:57 PM
That is a great idea, actually. Have them do a "special roll" at creation to determine what type, and go with it from there. I agree with you, it shouldn't be forced, however I figured it would be an interesting twist to the beginning of the tale, and as i said, they would have the option to get rid of it afterwords. My first real campaign...I wanna have it memorable! Thank you for the post!!

Solaris
2015-09-25, 08:09 PM
I don't think making the type of lycanthrope be arbitrary is an entirely wise decision. While I get that you want them to find out the hard way, why not hold off on the decision of what sort of beast they are until they find out and then let them pick it (perhaps from a pre-selected list)?

SkipSandwich
2015-09-26, 10:05 AM
Maybe include a short questionaire along with your chargen instructions to your players including the question, "what is your character's favorite animal?"

Red Fel
2015-09-26, 10:58 AM
I agree with Seto, Solaris and Skip. Ask them in advance something along the lines of, "If your character were an animal, what kind of animal would s/he be?" Then inform the players that they will all have the lycanthrope template added to their PCs free of charge, and to plan their characters accordingly. You can hash out the details in-game (whether it's "You knew you shouldn't have purchased a potion from the shady merchant" or "You wake up next to corpses covered in blood" is up to you).

The important thing is that (1) they have some say in what they become (there's a big difference between, say, a werebear and a wererat, for instance), and (2) they know in advance that it will happen.

Honest Tiefling
2015-09-26, 12:17 PM
Might wreck the tone, but I'd have the players decide then and there. They get predatory urges, and then pause the game to ask each player which critter suits their PC best. Give them a few minutes to mull it over, maybe.

I suggest making the scenario such that SOME players can actually avoid it. Perhaps they get invited to a nice meal to discuss a reward by the Local Friendly and Totally Legit Druid Circle. The hint of a reward might lure more reluctant players. But even then, just aim to get SOME people infected. This gives you an out if someone really objects to the lycanthropy, and players might feel like less of a rail road if they have a chance to save and actually avoid it.

But even if only a few people have it, it'll influence the game. It'll also give some breathing room to the party to have uninfected members to deal with infected ones on the night of the full moon. Perhaps add in a way for others to get infected with it, should the proverbial manure hit the fan and the extra boost is needed to survive.

Aetol
2015-09-26, 05:09 PM
Do you want it to come as a surprise for the players ? Because the best solution would be to tell them right as chargen. That way they can plan their build accordingly and avoid regrets over not having made class/race choices more suitable for a lycanthrope character.

Keltest
2015-09-26, 05:12 PM
I don't think making the type of lycanthrope be arbitrary is an entirely wise decision. While I get that you want them to find out the hard way, why not hold off on the decision of what sort of beast they are until they find out and then let them pick it (perhaps from a pre-selected list)?

I agree with this. have the campaign pick up after whatever event happened that would contract them with the disease, but dont just pick what animal they transform into at random, or pick it for them. Give them a degree of control over what is going on.

noob
2015-09-27, 02:07 PM
Never forget Lycantropy is supposed to be something like a curse because else if it only gives advantages all the humanity would have only Lycantropes.

Keltest
2015-09-27, 03:18 PM
Never forget Lycantropy is supposed to be something like a curse because else if it only gives advantages all the humanity would have only Lycantropes.

Lycanthropes (at least the malicious breeds) are typically attacked and killed out of hand by any sort of non-criminal organization, no? It generally takes special circumstances to avoid that fate once youre outed. That seems enough of a curse to me.

Khedrac
2015-09-27, 03:31 PM
See if you can find a copy of PC4 Night Howlers for BECM D&D. Although conversion to 3E is a lot more complex than to AD&D it contained the rules for playing a lycanthrope campaign in Mystara.

Yes, it is very setting specific (one small part of a magocracy where clerics are outlawed), and the systems are very different, but a lot of the ideas may be useful.

Also useful may be the AD&D2 RR7 Van Richten's Guide to Werebeats which was a Ravenloft campaign accessory but I never read it so I don't know how much it covers players are lycanthropes.

veti
2015-09-27, 06:46 PM
If you actually roleplay the process/point at which they catch the disease, then you have to cater for the possibility that - for whatever reason - they won't. Maybe one of them is a vegetarian, one goes to bed early, one just makes her saving throw... whatever. If they must catch the disease, and you play it out, then you're going to be railroading them from the start.

The acceptable way to do this is pre-game, in the party setup. Tell them all about the night before as part of the first session intro, not part of the game itself.

Seto
2015-09-28, 03:41 AM
Lycanthropes (at least the malicious breeds) are typically attacked and killed out of hand by any sort of non-criminal organization, no? It generally takes special circumstances to avoid that fate once youre outed. That seems enough of a curse to me.

Well, if you're a righteous person, feeling a beast take you over and your own will bend to its bloodthirst is probably the worst part of the curse.

Lvl 2 Expert
2015-09-28, 05:05 AM
Disguise it as a different kind of plot hook?

The characters are told that some local rich guy wants to offer them a job. They meet each other at the guys house, enjoy his hospitality during a dinner party, go with hi to the cellar to discus what it is they'll be doing, drink some of his whiskey or wine. There could be several tainted substances, whichever they take first or most of or whatever determines what they'll become. The job itself is rather simple, it turns out the real plans of this guy are much more convoluted and sinister.

The characters are walking through the street as a nurse runs up to them and begs them to help recapture some escaped mental patients. These bite characters, spit in their faces, have put a bucket of pee on top of their room door before escaping, anything that might expose the players.

The characters meet each other in the gutter the night after a party none of them remember too well anymore. Odds are nobody will start complaining about how their character never drinks too much etc. just because of how funny it is to start an adventure like that. The party seemingly has little influence on the plot, but soon stuff from that night will come back to haunt them. And if anyone of them inspects their own body for scars that might say something they see several small round wounds in their lower back. Strangely they don't hurt at all, but they look a little infected.

Segev
2015-09-28, 02:40 PM
Give as the hook when you pitch the game that you all woke up in jail together, stripped of weapons and armor and covered in blood. When the jailor comes by, you're informed that you're scheduled to be hung for the crime of killing the sheriff's family. He caught you red-handed and K.O.'d you while you were drunk on their blood. He was seriously injured in the fight and may not survive to see another nightfall.


Who's framing your PCs and why? You don't remember killing anybody.

Leave it up to the players to explain what the last thing they remember before passing out was, and to come up with an explanation, if any, for why they think they did pass out. Or how they were knocked out.

Mark Hall
2015-09-28, 03:35 PM
I would go with a curse, rather than traditional transmission.

Since you seem to want to tell a story about learning one has lycanthropy, you might go with a quest to locate a specific item, given to them by a mysterious man. Turns out, he's a cursed lycanthrope, too, and wants to use that item to undo the curse. Downside? Getting the item and spending a couple days in its presence is going to give the party lycanthropy.

It avoids a lot of the cliches about how one acquires lycanthropy, but gets the story moving with an otherwise ho-hum opening ("I am mysterious man in the corner, probably of a bar somewhere in Generic Low Level Town! I want to pay you BIG MONIES to find a mysterious object in another place!")

Dire Moose
2015-09-28, 03:41 PM
Maybe include a short questionaire along with your chargen instructions to your players including the question, "what is your character's favorite animal?"

That might get a little strange depending on your group. For example, if I were playing in your campaign and you asked me that, my completely honest answer would be "Allosaurus."

Now, I suppose you could come up with a template for a were-allosaur, but I would suspect it would be at least a little overpowered.

Solaris
2015-09-28, 03:48 PM
That might get a little strange depending on your group. For example, if I were playing in your campaign and you asked me that, my completely honest answer would be "Allosaurus."

Now, I suppose you could come up with a template for a were-allosaur, but I would suspect it would be awesome.

Fixed it for you.

Dire Moose
2015-09-28, 09:27 PM
It's less specifically that than the possibility of something ridiculous happening in general.

For example, what if the party turned out to be a were-squid, a a were-moose, a were-platypus, and a were-penguin?

goto124
2015-09-28, 11:16 PM
PENGUINS!!!

Oh, sorry. I really like penguins. (http://amybronwenzemser.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/how-big-were-dinosaurs-penguins.jpg)

Anyway, I think the lycanthropy should not be hidden from the players, especially when it changes the PCs so much.

Demonshiru
2015-09-29, 08:46 AM
Wow, absolutely fantastic. You all have been amazingly helpful. I ended up speaking with one of the players, who is normally the DM. He agreed with the vast majority of you, that there needs to be a choice, as well as a "get out" option. I will craft up a cure (as a home brew option) that any player who doesn't want to keep the template will be able to work towards. Because of how much response and interest there has been into this topic, I figured I would share my "opening scene" with you all. Now, I am doing an original area, but using materials from 3.5/pathfinder to flesh out the religions and such. This is purely for entertainment, and I am more concerned about people having fun, and the settings inhabitants are more...fluid in alignment, as you will see. Enjoy!

Greetings, Madam Inquisitor.

I am notifying of a most glorious victory for the Flame. Whilst on a standard patrol through the Marrifel Wood, my templars and I, Wilheim Ferris, stumbled upon not one, but FIVE of the monstrous abominations we have worked so hard to exterminate. Due to the...varied nature of the group, we decided not to outright slaughter the beasts, but to capture and contain them for...interrogation. I thought of you, your Holiness, for this task, and beg you to try and gather what information these tainted souls may offer. We have not seen activity in this region for close to twenty years, and the last instance was a lone wereboar, which hardly put up a fight. It seemed it WANTED to be taken by the Flame. Yet, now, five lycanthropes! Maybe they have traveled together from a hidden compound? We must find out, by the Light!

My deepest regards,
Wilheim Ferris,
Templar Commandant of the Marrifel Garrison
************************************************** **********************

Wilheim threw down his quill, and dusted a small amount of sand onto the finished letter to aid in the drying of the ink.

Aren, his attendant asks,"Sir, shall I retrieve the messenger hawk?"

"No, Aren, there is no need. I shall do so myself after looking in on the...beasts...I shall need the guard doubled immediately, we don't know what sort of depraved, vicious thugs these creatures may be. Do not let their guises fool you, every one of those tainted souls is a vicious killer. Just because they are quiet now..."

"Yes, sir. I shall tend to it immediately! May the Flame forever keep your soul in it's embrace!"

Aren left, and the Commandant sighed.

"This brown nosing is getting annoying...I shall have to assign him to the feeding duties of those damned beasts. With any luck..."

The Commandant's musing was interrupted by a knock on the door post.

"Sir, we have the lycanthropes appropriately caged. Silver laced bars, the works. We needed to separate one of them, the huge bastard, with the red beard. The others were still unconscious, but that one...He damn near took the head off of the novice that was leading him. The boy is in critical condition, no idea if he will make it. I have never seen such a savage attack. The beast has been bound in silver, and thrown in a smaller cage. What shall we do with it?"

Templar Commandant Wilhelm smiles. He just had a great idea to take care of two issues with one blow.

"Please advise Templar Aren he will be in charge of the feeding of the single soulless beast. Otherwise, keep everyone away from it. If we cannot garner information on the whereabouts of any other cursed ones, we will dispatch it. Notify me when the others awake. We shall try to play nice to get any info, and go from there. Dismissed."

As the templar left, Wilheim chuckled. "Very good....very good indeed..."


Let me know what you think!

Lvl 2 Expert
2015-09-30, 04:50 AM
It's less specifically that than the possibility of something ridiculous happening in general.

For example, what if the party turned out to be a were-squid, a a were-moose, a were-platypus, and a were-penguin?

Send them off on a swamp adventure of course. It'll be awesome. A story in a city would work too. The penguin or platypus acts as a distraction, the other two swimmers go in through the sewers and signal the moose when they got the villain to stand in front of the door. So many strange but kind of cool possibilities. Nobody would go for a cure, especially because the alignment of a were-platypus is probably chaotic good or neutral anyway.

goto124
2015-09-30, 09:00 AM
If I became a penguin, I would not look for a cure, and just stare at my cute chubby self in a mirror all day long.