View Full Version : How Do I Reveal To The Players That They Are Werebeasts?

2008-03-21, 12:45 PM
Well...Look at the title.

As some of you will know by now, I have always wanted to do a non-evil afflicted lycanthrope game.

Of course, some of the corollary to that is that they spend some time before becoming werebeasts, so they spend some time being on the "other side of the fence", as it were, before they find themselves being the misunderstood monsters; it makes it all the more thematic if they were the ones doing the misunderstanding before then.

OOC, the PCs already know they're characters are going to become infected, and later, transform, but IC, they don't. Of course, Mr. Thematically Minded Leliel can't leave it at that, so I wanted to put in a couple (hundred) IC hints that they are going to have to invent excuses for their mysterious absence on the nights of the full moon in a little bit. It'll also explain why they want to hide themselves away from civilization for a few days (If they have any prior knowledge before adventuring, they know that everything happing to them is a sign that something nasty's going to happen to them-Although if you take out the "social pariah if the villagers find out" angle, it doesn't seem so bad).

So, how do I go about this? What are some good signs of being an awakening lycanthrope?

And before you ask:

1) If I said it once it bares repeating: Lycanthropy does not affect your alignment in this game. It does, however, make your personality more similar to the species of your animal form, along with making it more "feral", but as 90% percent of all badass good guys can attest, that isn't a sign of your alignment.

2) The infection of the players is caused by a wound from the BBEG's intelligent sword, which causes people to develop the lycanthropy of the strain of your "totem animal" (Think Native American mythology). For example, a cunning and voluptuous rouge might become a werefox, while a wise and fatherly wizard might become a wereraven (This is only the stereotypical parings: The BBEG himself is a (somewhat) kind and (sightly) wise mage, but he became a werefox after subjecting himself to a similar procedure, due to his clever, witty, and tricky side). The players will decide what they want to become.

2008-03-21, 12:49 PM
Silver starts to feel uncomfortable to the touch? That'd be a pretty obvious sign for anyone who can put two and two together.

2008-03-21, 01:46 PM
Stab them with flatware. Start a pool to see how long it takes them to figure it out.

2008-03-21, 01:48 PM
Drop them in the middle of a belladonna field on their next adventure and see how long they last.

2008-03-21, 01:51 PM
I suppose it depends on their "totem animal". I imagine a werewolf would start to have hair growing faster than it could be cut. Maybe the elf of the group suddenly finds him/herself having a craving for meat--the "rarer", the better.

Strange reactions from animals is always a good one. If one of the party has as their totem animal a creature that's usually not very docile towards humans (wolf, tiger, lion, etc), and then one animal of that species suddenly takes a shine to them, that might be a tip that something weird is going on. :smallamused:

2008-03-21, 01:51 PM
The get more rowdy during full moons.
They feel more comfortable at night than at day.
They perfer their steaks rare and with a side of steak (instead of vegetables).
Animals of their totem begin showing up more frequently sniffing around.
The Monster Squad shows up, kicking the PC in the "nards".

2008-03-21, 01:57 PM
they might notice a change in their taste of food
they could lose fur/feathers to be found in their bed next morning
hummm.... where did I get this scratch?

Kol Korran
2008-03-21, 02:42 PM
sounds like an interesting idea. i also like to add all kind of outside influences into the PCs lives, though i prefer not to notify them in advance (unless it has a chance of realy messing up soem long term plans). anyway- it sounds cool.
before getting to suggestions, just one thought/ idea: have you thought running this in Eberron, at the time of the Lycanthropic purge? i imagine that could be quite a setting- due to some increase in Werepeoples population, a religion dedicated to good and right dedicates a crusade against them (including some specific measures taken, such "detect shapeshifter" spells, and bane weapons). the characters can begin actually working for the church, before having the transformation affect themsleves... throw in shifters, mixed communities, and different philosophies based on animal totems, and you got a very interesting roleplay setting... (i'll drop some notes about this setting if you're using it at the end).

ok, to the suggestions:
1) restless dreams, waking up sweating. the dreams themselves consist of running through forests, fishing for fish in the river, and such. the dreams feel realer then normal ones- far more focused, all the senses sharpened, especially smell...

2) you can add a positive or negative modifier to some skills, based on the physical attributes connected to that totem. (someone related to a wolf will get a +1/+2 for dex skills for example, someone related to the bear might get +4 str/ -2 dex). don't actually tell the players the modifier, or it's exact reson, just that "you feel more focuesed, it comes more easely to you" ot "ha... this was harder than you expected. must be tired). for undomesticated animals, youcould add some general negative modifiers when they are in a bust street or cramped space (sort of claustrophobic). if so i'd suggest you give them some advantage in natural surroundings.

3) when players argue or discuss a decision/ course of action, pass some notes to players, to reflect the mood/ thought pattern of the totem associated with them (for example: when deciding wether to venture into a lair, hire guards or something, you can pass a note to the Crocodile player "in your heart, you feel smugly secure that you should just lay quiet and wait, in ambush. the prey will come..." or for rat "you know that going in just the few of you will be suicide! maybe one or two to spy, then youmust gather as many merceneries as possible, and only then attack! yess! overwhelming numbers!") this works only if your players are mature enough, and take these as challanges and suggestions, these mustn't be compulsory of course...

4) you can drop all kinds of hints concering routine behaviour. this could refer to sleeping habits, eating habits, sanitation, guarding, treasure looting/ buying, interacting with society. do a bit of research on the totems. some examples:
- bear: keep him hungry, though it shouldn't be all compelling. just aconstant awareness for food.
- rat: starts to stink, doesn't care much for his/ her sanitoation. when looting try to grabs quickly, all appeals to him/her, especially the shiny stuff.
- Hyena: very aware of the hierarchy, greater respect for females then males. (well, that is actualyl closer to the true nature, not the totem. i don't know of their totem, but you get the idea).
- cat: only sleep at very secure locations. makes his/ her sleeping bed very very comfy. usually a very light sleeper.
- crow: very intelligent, mocking misfortune, will eat anything, poke anything, fears nothing.
- wolf: protective of his "pack" to the extreme, very close to it. shunning outsiders, suspicious of the outside world.
(note: there are many interpertations for each totem. i just mentioned things i knew existed in at least on interpertation).

5) if the campaign has that time, you could do slight physical changes to the characters: Bear grows wider, and his walking resembles lumbering a bit more. fox's ears might be able to move/ shift towards sources of noise (more than most humans, but still in the norm) and his/ her hair might grow more. snake might become bolder, and his/ her voice more hoarse. the tounge may sometime dart out unconciously. predetors might move a bit more hunched when alert, their body tense, ready to spring. owl's eyes might become realy wide, anad s/he might blink less. his/her neck might be more flexible as well.
i'd suggest that these would be integrated last, since many of theme are quite revealing (though you could make them more gradual, and thus more vague). it's best when the players are allready begining to realise what happened to them, including the general type of totem they are related to. if you can, encourage them to add other aspects.

6) reactions of animals (and perhaps other creatures, depending on the totem) to the PCs: make some sort of DC that the an animal needs to beat by sense motive or a wisdom check or whatever (perhaps DC 15/ 20, the animal gets a bonus if it's an animal that poses danger to her, and the DC might be reduced the longer the PCs had the afflicitoon. disguise, as well as animal empathy and animal handling might reduce the anima'ls chances). if the animal beats the DC, she realise what the character is, and might cower, freak, come on guard and so on. (depending on the type of animal and PC totem, and perhaps on how well it beat the DC). for observant people, this should certainly alarm that "something" is wrong. (time for bluff and diplomacy? or the good old running boots...)
if you're incorporating an organization that actively opposes the lycanthropes, they might be using some specially trained animals for this purpose. (suddenly a measly dog is a serious problem).

7) youcan add all kind of "odd" descriptions to uses of class features, depicting a more animalitic nature- Barabrian rage ("your scream as you enter your rare sounds more like the roar of a wounded animal"), survival checks ("not ure where your enemy went, you suddenly have an intituitive idea- you coruch near the ground and sniff, and suddenly you know"), animal empathy, bardic music ("what? i thought the hoots and hisses added a new flavour to the song, don't yopu think?"), sneak attack ("as you strike you feel an urgent need to kill it, bring it down now!") and more...

those are my ideas for now. as to some other general suggestions if you're using Eberron (some of these might be good for any sort of campaign world):
- the lycanthropes are not united, but the can organize. will it be by totem? philosophy? background before they were lycanthropes?
- the church of the silver flame could be easely replaced for some other organization in another campaign setting. one of the things i like about this story, as that the church is a good organization, who actually thougt it was ridding the world of evil, and had quite a solid ideology behind it. (most of them realy. some did it for political reasons). this creats at leas one adversery, which is not simply "evil". on the other side the lycanthropes were spread and hard to catch, and quite powerfull if not prepared for. they themselves organized into serious fighting groups, and were not just the "random monsters".
- and to throw in the middle, there are the shifter- descendents of werepeople and humans. some sided with the Lycanthropes, some with the church (to show they aren't "bad"), some just defended themselves, some ran. in any case- adding them might be a very interesting third party.
- if you wish to make the transitional gradual, you could probably use the shifter feats and traits (Eberron Campaign Setting and Races of Eberron). the Weretouched master PrC in the ECS could easely be adapted and altered, if you want to create a gradual transition...
- if you are playing in Eberron, just remember: 12 moons... most afflicted werepeople spend about 2/3-3/4 of their time in animal shape. but you can easely change that for your campaign.
- one last thing: in Eberron, the church's crusade succeeded, and nearly all lycanthropes died. those who didn't either hide, live in remote communities, or have escaped through magical portals towards the Twillight Forest plane (the nature plane of Eberron). this... "inevitability" (i don't like to make thing inevitable, but you can make them realy hard), might add sflavour to the campaign- halfway/ two thirds to the campaign the PCs understand that their hopes of defeating the church/ persuade them to stop are void (even if they kill the head of it, new ones appear, even more zealous, for example), they then turn their efforts to another course of action, perhaps one they disregarded before- to save what remains of the fast eradicated population...

hope this helped, would love to hear how things went. i think i might adopt this idea for some future campaign of my own, if you don't mind. good luck!

Keld Denar
2008-03-21, 03:09 PM
Have a little cut scene after they sleep of a naked man and an ominous voice that announces "You dream of the moon, and of a man that is more than a man"

Mad CRAZY props to anyone who can pin this obscure reference. MAD CRAZY props....

2008-03-21, 03:17 PM

consider including Entomanothropes as well, lots of potential there as well. Were-dragonfly for example would be pretty cool.

Tokiko Mima
2008-03-21, 03:50 PM
Have a little cut scene after they sleep of a naked man and an ominous voice that announces "You dream of the moon, and of a man that is more than a man"

Mad CRAZY props to anyone who can pin this obscure reference. MAD CRAZY props....

Daggerfall? But I thought it went 'a man who is less than a man.'

2008-03-21, 03:56 PM
have one of the priests/healers tell them next time they stop at a church. make sure to run them out of town afterwards.

2008-03-21, 04:01 PM
I agree with Kol in general. I'd play up the animal senses a bit. Most see in black and white, so colors would fade. Sense of smell is better for most werekind, so you notice that more and perhaps odd odors now seem more informative than offensive. You might start disliking vegetables and wanting more meat. If they're nocturnal, they oversleep and the day is just too bright.

and so forth.

2008-03-21, 04:38 PM
You don't HAVE to give them control over it when it first manifests. The first full moon after their affliction, make them wake up without memory of the previous night, and covered in blood which isn't theirs. An atonement/gain-control-of-the-curse type quest is perfect for that sort of game.

2008-03-21, 05:18 PM
If you want good inspiration, for werewolves at least, Angua from the Discworld series offers amusing insights into being a werewolf. Notably, unless you start planning for it, you're going to be ruining a lot of clothes (unless they're magic clothes, in which case they probably just meld into your form).

Keld Denar
2008-03-21, 06:31 PM
Daggerfall? But I thought it went 'a man who is less than a man.'

Yup, it was Daggerfall....what a strange game. You are probably right. Its been years since I last played it....way too buggy. I don't even know if I still have my copy lying around. Getting lycanthropy was so much fun though, since you had to rampage regularly or suffer massive hp penalties, but when the guards came to stop your rampage, their steel weapons didn't do anything to you because lycs needed silver or above to hurt. Man, I had so much fun writing stuff on the ground with the bodies of dead guards just for grins and giggles.

Back on topic, what just about everyone has said. Subtle things like dreams, feelings, cravings, and aversions to bright light and silverware.

2008-03-21, 07:26 PM
If they are carnivorous, have them find dead and maimed chickens, rabbits, or even cattle near the place they are sleeping. A little blood on the clothes, or ripped clothes, along with a little displacement after waking helps a little. If anyone is a Wolf or Dog, have them scratch, or maybe develop fleas.

Another possibility is by appearance. A character looking in the water or mirror would see ears one second, and nothing the next. Maybe in an inter-party discussion, the more feral creatures would flip out on everyone, or stare at a weaker party member hungrily.

Citizen Joe
2008-03-21, 07:50 PM
Drop them in the middle of a belladonna field on their next adventure and see how long they last.

You realize that belladona is poisonous to non-lycanthropes too. That's like stabbing people in the heart with a wooden stake... if they die then they were obviously a vampire.

Have one of them wake up with a horse's head next to them in bed. Or the classic wake up naked in a field.

Over in the Tears of Blood campaign setting I've been pushing the idea that lycanthropy isn't so much a disease as a possession by an animal spirit. Some races have an affinity to spirits and revere them (almost worship). Those people walk around with spirit companions. Others wanted the power of the animal spirits but didn't revere them. For those people the power came with a price as the spirit of the animal would possess them. Eventually, they would come to terms with the spirit and at that point they could control the change, but before that point, while they still struggled for possession of their own body they often reverted to the more animalistic nature.

2008-03-22, 02:18 PM
The Monster Squad shows up, kicking the PC in the "nards".


I...don't kow who they are.

2008-03-22, 02:54 PM

I...don't kow who they are.

80s movie. Bunch of kids fighting dracula and the wolfman.


"Kick him in the nards, kick him in the nards!"
"Wolfman doesn't have nards!"
"Just DO IT!"


"Wolfman has nards!"