Other therianthrope threads can be found here (wereworld)
and here (a simpler-to-use template)
. A alternate higher-powered template will be available for the wereworld.
Therianthropes are cool and interesting, as they combine the best (and worst) aspects of man and animal. However, the D&D weres are difficult to play as some of them seem really powerful compared to others, but have the same LA. This is rectified by adding the animal forms HD to the base creature, but animal HD are not on par with the PC classes. I will try making a Therianthrope template that takes the 'cool' of the were, mixes it with a little mystical power and strip away most of the class level/animal HD/level adjustment mumbo-jumbo. Also, I will cut much of the immediate combat power and instead make the therianthrope something that is a bitch (pun intended) to get rid of without the right know-how.
My inspiration comes partly from the werewolves of Terry Prattchetts books, D&D lycanthropes, Robin Hobbs ‘assassin’ trilogy, Peter is the Wolf webcomic (Warning: mature material) and my own vague sense of rightness. I usually make my homebrews by the seat of my pants, so it might need some adjusting.
Therianthropy is something akin to a disease or a curse. A faintly magical abnormality in an afflicted creatures metabolism produces a number of special enzymes (yes, magical enzymes!) which gives the creature the ability to radically change its physiology. These enzymes are present in all bodily fluids, but are short-lived and never last more than a second outside a protective medium. These enzymes can be spread from an afflicted creature to an unafflicted creature through injuries involving contaminated fluids (like being bitten by a therianthrope, introducing saliva into the victims’ bloodstream) or mating.
Of course, in the typical DnD setting most people will just know you should avoid a therianthropes bite and blood. The occasional were-child born might be considered a bad omen or be blamed on evil sorcerers.
There are three 'types' of therianthropes: Alpha, Omega and Unawere (pun intended).
Alpha types are born therianthropes and therefore have extraordinary control of their forms.
Omega types are afflicted with therianthropy later in life. They might have problems controlling their physical forms and mental urges, but become more stable as they get used to their affliction.
Unaweres are Omega types who do not yet know they are afflicted. They have no conscious control over their physical form and minimal mental control while transformed.
Therianthropes might be of any alignment, but Omegas may experience alignment shifts as they discover more and more about their subconscious drives (this is a roleplay-driven mechanic. A therianthrope is never forced to undergo an alignment change due to its affliction).
All humanoids possess two minds for the purpose of this template: Consciousness (higher reasoning, hereafter referred to as the ‘humanoid mind’) and Subconsciousness (instinct, hereafter referred to as the ‘animal mind’). Normal beings usually operate by humanoid mind and rarely rely on their animal mind, unless they are of a feral variety. Animals almost always rely on instinct (animal mind) since they do not have sufficiently developed mental faculties to be capable of humanoid thinking (the spell Awaken can create a humanoid mind in animals). I am aware that real animals don't operate entirely on subconscious thought, but I'm talking about human-type consciousness and for the purpose of this template I think the simplification works fine. Tell me if it does not.
However, therianthropes have one more Conscious form (their humanoid form) and one more Subconscious form (their animal form). Alpha types learn to meld these two mentalities at an early age maintaining a good balance between their humanoid and animal states of mind. Unawere types are ruled exclusively by their subconscious animal mind while transformed and rarely remembers anything upon returning to their humanoid form. After a time the Conscious and Subconscious minds of an Unaware becomes accustomed to being at similar levels of activity and starts to communicate between each other. When this happens the Unaware is aware of his condition and becomes an Omega type.
Awakening to Omega level therianthropy carries both benefits and drawbacks. The benefits are the ability to remember what happens during 'transformed time' retroactively (as far as the animal mind has remembered its escapades) and influence when and if the therianthrope should transform. The drawback is that the Subconscious gains the same ability. Omega types basically have two minds in one body, which not always agree on a specific course of action. The animal mind is always of neutral alignment and is primarily driven by basic needs and repressed emotions and memories (in that order). This might make for some interesting roleplaying opportunities.
Therianthropes have three forms: humanoid, animal and hybrid. The humanoid form looks like a normal representative of its kind (unless it has some kind of deviation not therianthropic in origin). The animal form also looks like a normal representative of its kind, but usually in better health than its wild counterparts. The hybrid form is rarely assumed since it is a dead giveaway that there is a therianthrope running about, which can make your life very difficult if you try to keep your affliction a secret. Both your minds are present in either form, but your animal mind gains slightly more influence the more animal you become, and vice versa.
These are a few examples of Subconscious emotions/memories and how they may affect an Unawere. Remember, these are not your faint vices magnified, rather they are powerful repressed emotions hidden away for one reason or another, or something you really feel like doing but can’t due to social restrictions. Also note that your animal mind does not come directly from the animal which form you take, and it is just as intelligent and insightful as you are. In practice, you have the same mental ability scores regardless of what form you take, but different mentalities.
You have been the target of burglars time and again. You have developed a fear of others stealing what you hold dear. --- You hide your things in a safe place, maybe the cellar or a hole in the ground, depending on your species. Of course, waking up finding your things gone might deepen this fear until you go Omega, at which point you will 'remember' where all your stuff got to.
For a long time you have been secretly in love with a local woman. However, for some reason you have decided that it is not to be (she might be of the wrong rank or family, or you might have another woman already). --- You pad around her house, enjoying the presence of her scent and trying to catch sight of her. You might also try getting close to her if it is not coupled with some kind of danger. You’re an animal, not stupid.
One of your colleagues is sabotaging your work so that he will be promoted instead of you. However, he’s got blackmail material on you so you can't retaliate. --- You sneak into your rival’s office and savage the place. In the morning you hear that an animal destroyed your rivals work. You think its good karma. At least until you go Omega.
You once lost a child to the river. You think you have gotten over it. --- You hang out by the river, scaring away any children who get too close.
Your town has long been plagued by organized crime, one band keeping shopkeepers under their thumbs and bribing the city watch. Their reign makes everyone uncomfortable, but it's impossible to do anything about it without risking retribution. --- Recently a vigilante serial killer is on the loose, brutally killing key mob members. Since they all look like animal attacks, everyone suspects vengeful druids have moved into the nearby forests.
Know thyself: the Omega and you. When you have awakened to your therianthropic mind, you might be impressed, appalled, scared, curious or have almost any other emotional response to your animal mind. Fact is, from now on you just have to live with it. Also being brought face-to-face with most of your repressed memories and emotions can be pretty traumatic, and some go mad or try to kill themselves (or at least try to get cured as fast as humanoidly possible). Others get over it soon enough and learn to never keep anything secret from themselves, because your 'animal mind' will know and remind you. Basically, you can never run from your memories again. This might make you a better person or haunt you 'till the end of your days.
Omega types who fully accept their animal mind sometimes change their attitude towards life, slightly increasing the priority of food and sleep (ah, the pleasures of life) and might gain an edge by using their abilities in daily life, even if they choose not to transform all that often.
Therianthropes are tougher than normal creatures, and are in fact almost impossible to kill off permanently without the right knowledge and equipment. However they have a weakness to silver, fire and other therianthropes.
I will use the following formats:
Creating a Pseudo-Pratchettian lycanthrope / Therianthrope
"Therianthrope" is a template that can be added to any humanoid or giant (referred to hereafter as the base creature). The therianthropes template can be inherited (for natural therianthropes) or acquired (for afflicted therianthropes). A therianthrope that later becomes an undead creature loses all benefits of the template until destroyed and returned to life.
Size and Type
The base creature’s type does not change, but the creature gains the shapechanger subtype. If the base animal has got the aquatic subtype, the therianthrope gains this subtype while in animal form. The therianthrope takes on the characteristics of some type of carnivorous or omnivorous creature of the animal type (referred to hereafter as the base animal). There are also unverified accounts of herbivorous therianthropes, but most scholars dismiss them as dumb superstition.
This animal can be any predator, scavenger, or omnivore whose size is within one size category of the base creature’s size (Small, Medium, or Large for a Medium base creature). The animal can also be an herbivore in rare cases and with the DMs permission. Therianthropes can also adopt a hybrid shape that combines features of the base creature and the base animal. A therianthrope's hybrid form is the same size as the base animal or the base creature, whichever is larger.
I have included herbivores for the simple reason that I find the idea of a were-camel to be hilarious. Also, being spat in the face by a were-camel is probably reason enough for a fortitude save. Also, were-sharks should be able to breath underwater, shouldn’t they?
Hit Dice and Hit Points
Same as the base creature plus a number of animal HD determined by the base animal (+½ animals HD, rounded up, minimum 1). To calculate total hit points, apply Constitution modifiers according to the score the therianthrope has in each form. If the base animal normally would have less than one full HD, the therianthropic character does not acquire any animal HD. Alpha type therianthropes have one additional animal HD in addition to those gained due to the base animals HD.*
*Example: An alpha type were-wolf would have 2 animal HD while an omega type would have 1 animal HD.
*Example: An alpha type were-cat would have 1 animal HD while an omega type would have 0 animal HD.
Now this might take some explaining. The fact that I did this with animal HD is that I want to get rid of LAs and intend to use animal HD to do so. An animal HD is basically an empty level and doesn’t serve any class all that well. I’m trying to make this balanced by reducing the immediate combat power of the therianthrope and the fact that you cant become a therianthrope with a specific base animal until you are of the appropriate level, at which point the ‘empty’ HD will act as a level adjustment that scales with the chosen base animal. Alpha types never have to make a Contest of Wills and I think that is worth an additional empty HD. I’ve also taken a look at the giant type and have concluded that this mechanic works for them as well as it does for humanoids.
Same as the base creature or base animal, depending on which form the therianthrope is using. A therianthrope in animal form has all movement modes of the base animal. Hybrids have all movement modes of both the base creature and the base animal. The speed of each movement mode in hybrid form is equal to (the speed of the movement mode of the base creature (count as speed 0ft if lacking the relevant movement mode))+( the speed of that movement mode of the base animal (count as speed 0ft if lacking the relevant movement mode))/2, rounded down to nearest 5ft increment.*
*Example: A Halfling were-bat have speed 20 in Halfling form and speed 5 and fly 40 (good) in bat form. In hybrid form it would have speed 20+5/2=12,5->10 and fly 0+40/2=20 (good).
* Example: A human dire were-bat have speed 30 in Human form and speed 20 and fly 40 (good) in bat form. In hybrid form it would have speed 30+20/2=25 and fly 0+40/2=20 (good).
* Example: A human were-viper have speed 30 in Human form and speed 20, climb 20 and swim 20 in viper form. In hybrid form it would have speed 30+20/2=25, climb 0+20/2=10 and swim 0+20/2=10.
Seroiusly, a were-octopus should have a swim speed, don’t you agree?
In hybrid form, the therianthrope’s natural armor bonus is equal to the sum of the natural armor bonus of the base animal and the base creature divided by 2. Natural armor in humanoid form and in animal form is unchanged.
I took away the +2 natural armor bonus because I think it’s not necessary. At all. I also reworked the hybrids natural armor to be in line with the rest of the stat calculating mojo
Use the base creatures Base Attack in all forms. Due to the extra animal HD gained, the base creatures Base Attack might increase as normal for multiclassing. The therianthrope’s grapple bonus uses its attack bonus and modifiers for Strength and size depending on the therianthrope’s form.
Same as the base creature or base animal, depending on which form the therianthrope is using. A therianthrope in hybrid form gains the attacks of the base animal. If the base animal does not have any attacks, the therianthrope gains a secondary bite attack in hybrid form.
The attacks of the hybrid form deal damage based on the hybrid form’s size. A hybrid may attack with a weapon and a secondary natural weapon (if applicable), or may use the attack routine of its animal form.
Yah, basically unchanged. But I did think it odd for a were-octopus to have two claws, shouldn’t they have tentacle attacks? Also, were-camels with claws? I am aware that some animals don’t have a bite attack, so I gave the hybrid the ability to choose a natural weapon appropriate for its type.
Same as the base creature or base animal, depending on which form the therianthrope is using. Medium-sized hybrids deal 1d4 damage with a claw, slam, tentacle or similar attack and 1d6 damage with a bite, gore or similar attack. Refer to the table in the D&D SRD (under lycanthropes) for damage dealt by therianthropes of other sizes. For attacks not mentioned here, refer to the entry for the therianthropes animal form for guidelines.
A wererats diseased bite does not cause filth fever. However, it does infect its victim with whatever disease the wererat is currently carrying or infected with.
Any natural attack that has more than 2 attacks in its entry (notably the tentacle attacks of the giant varieties of octopus and squid) does damage as if the hybrids size was one size category smaller.
Changed a bit to accommodate the changes under Attacks, above, and also to address the increase in damage normally seen on the tentacles of wereseafood. Also, I don’t think wererats go around snarfing rotting garbage on their free time. Except the one who do.
A therianthrope retains the special attacks of the base creature or base animal, depending on which form it is using. A therianthrope in hybrid form gains any special attacks of the base animal and the base creature. It also gains the special attack described below.
A therianthrope spellcaster cannot cast spells with verbal, somatic, or material components while in animal form, or spells with verbal components while in hybrid form. The feat Nonverbal spell
allows a therianthrope in animal or hybrid form to cast spells with a verbal component.
A therianthropes special attacks gained from animal form may be unusable during some circumstances. For example a were-tiger in hybrid form cannot rake if it is wearing boots. However a werewolf or were-hyena that hits with its bite may trip the opponent by simply wrenching it to the side, causing it to lose balance.
Curse of Therianthropy (Su)
Any humanoid or giant hit by a therianthropes bite attack in animal or hybrid form must succeed on a DC 15 Fortitude save (DC 5 for Omega and unawere types) or contract therianthropy. Certain adult relations can also pass on the affliction. The host needs a certain level of strength for the therianthropic affliction to successfully take hold. If the victim have less HD than the animal form transmitted by the affliction, the affliction falls into hibernation and activates only when the host is strong enough to support it.* Also, if the victim’s size is not within one size category of the base animal the victims metabolism is incompatible with the therianthropic enzymes, which will slowly break down and become harmless. The amount of therianthropic enzymes in a recently exposed incompatible host is never enough to further infect other targets.
This also applies to natural (ie alpha type) therianthropes, meaning a therianthrope by birth might not manifest its abilities until later in life (or never, in a low-level world). Hibernating alphas do have their animal mind from birth and have no problem adjusting when their heritage takes hold. Hibernating alphas can still have therianthrope kids even if they aren’t yet full therianthropes themselves, meaning that certain noble houses or savage tribes with powerful animal forms can pass them on, but only the most powerful members (like the heads of house or the chief, war leader and tribe shaman) are able to change shape. Likewise, everyone in a troupe of were-cats or were-servals have fully developed shapeshifting abilities no matter their level.
*A creature is deemed strong enough to support an affliction if it has a number of HD equal to or greater than the animal forms HD. When the therianthropy takes hold, the additional animal HD are immediately added to the creatures normal HD.**
**Example: a 1st level commoner is bitten by a werebadger. The badger has 1 HD, so the commoner will transform into an unawere werebadger if he fails his save.
**Example: a 2nd level adventurer is bitten by a weretiger, he fails his save against therianthropy. However the tiger have 6 HD, 4 HD too much, so his therianthropic affliction goes into hibernation. When he reaches level 6 he is strong enough to support his affliction, which immediately starts to take hold. This also adds 3 animal HD to his HD total, bringing him up to character level 9.
The nonverbal spell feat is in planar handbook, it allows you to use whatever noises you can utter in place of actual verbal components and have no prerequisites. The affliction is changed to accomplish two things: 1) the hibernation is to prevent low-level were-tigers and other such nonsense, and is based on the idea that the kind of power that comes with therianthropy lessens the higher level you are (same idea as LA buyoff). This means that when you reach the level where you can make use of your affliction, it’s no longer completely broken. And with the extra animal HD your friends will catch up to you sooner rather than later. That last bit about alphas was added to prevent 1st level barbarian were-tigers in a 5th level party. Because that would be just… well… no.
Also, I have allowed for hybrids to retain all special attacks from the base animal too, I figure hybrid were-boars should be just as ferocious as in their animal forms. As DracoDei pointed out, why shouldn’t a hybrid were-skunk be able to spray?
A therianthrope retains all the special qualities of the base creature (when in humanoid form) and the base animal (when in animal form), and also gains those described below. Therianthropes in hybrid form gains the special qualities of both the base creature and the base animal.
Alternate Form (Su)
A therianthrope can assume the form of a specific animal (as indicated in its entry).
Changing to or from animal or hybrid form is a standard action.
A therianthrope in animal or hybrid form does not revert to its humanoid form when slain. Separated body parts retain the form they were in when severed.
Omega therianthropes find this ability difficult to control (see Therianthropy as an Affliction, below), but alpha therianthropes have full control over this power.
Therianthropic Toughness (Ex)
A therianthrope has regeneration 0 in any form. Fire, silver or the natural weapons of another therianthrope deals lethal damage to a therianthrope. Wounds dealt remain visible until they heal naturally, regardless of source. Therianthropes are still subject to death by massive damage, regardless of source. Therianthropic toughness does not allow the character to reattach or regenerate lost body parts. Therianthropic toughness does not render the character immune to a Coup de Grace.
Therianthropic Empathy (Ex)
In any form, therianthropes can communicate and empathize with normal or dire animals of their animal form. This gives them a +4 racial bonus on checks when influencing the animal’s attitude and allows the communication of simple concepts and (if the animal is friendly) commands, such as "friend," "foe," "flee," and "attack."
Low-Light Vision (Ex)
A therianthrope has low-light vision in any form if their animal form would normally have it.
A therianthrope has the scent ability in any form if their animal form would normally have it.
Silver vulnerability (Ex)
To a therianthrope, silver objects seem hot to the touch, and holding such an object will cause the skin to redden as if sunburnt. Therianthropes receive a -4 penalty to hit when using silvered weapons (where the silver is worked into the hilt) and a -2 penalty to AC and reflex saves if wearing anything made out of silver in direct contact with the skin.
Silvered weapons deal an additional +1 damage to therianthropes.
Therianthropic Mind (Ex)
A therianthrope receives Therianthropic Mind due to the special connection between its consciousness and subconsciousness.
Therianthropic mind works like the Rouge ability Slippery Mind, with the following changes. If an afflicted character fails a saving throw against an enchantment spell or effect, the character can attempt it again 1 round later at the same DC. If the second save succeeds, the character is subject to an involuntary change with no Contest of Wills allowed. This represents the animal mind (or the humanoid mind if in animal form at the time) taking the reins from the currently debilitated humanoid mind to maintain free will.
The therianthrope gets only this one extra chance to succeed on the saving throw. If the character gains the Slippery Mind ability from any source the therianthrope can choose whether to change or not should it succeed on the second saving throw.
Now this is a long one. First off the alternate form doesn’t change back when killed, because I always thought it really cheesy when that happened in movies. It also removes the ‘well at least now we
know its dead’ thing, which meshes well with therianthropic toughness. And while we are discussing the TT, say hello to the replacement of DR/silver. This thing comes from pratchetts ‘guards guards’ where constaple Angua (werewolf) is shot and apparently killed by a sniper rifle. However, her boyfriend takes her body home and watches over it, and when she later wakes up he says “Well, I
thought werewolves could only be killed by silver”. Also, a similar thing happened in Peter is the Wolf, where Sarah was on a rampage and the sheriff shot her in the heart with his pistol. When she later wakes up he explains only silver can kill a werewolf. Also, in Pratchetts ‘the fifth elephant’ a werewolf aristocrat was killed by exploding him with fireworks. Peter is the Wolf also explicitly mentions other werewolves teeth and claws to be capable of dealing lethal injuries. Regeneration 0 means you heal nonlethal damage at the normal rate (1 point per level per hour) which means a therianthrope may be seemingly killed in battle but later rise again a few hours later. This is also why you should burn a therianthropes body, like the ‘assassin books’ (hang over water and burn!). The changes to low-light vision and scent is based on my own reasoning, why should a were-eagle have scent? Silver vulnerability is adapted from Pratchetts books. I also want to note that the silver-related penalties apply
if and only if there is silver in direct contact with the skin of the wielder/wearer. Wrapping the hilt, knob and guard of a sword negates these penalties. It has also been pointed out that Iron Will (which used to be in the feats section) wasn't all that interesting. So I replaced it with something a little more in line with my original idea.
Base Save Bonuses
Base save bonuses are increased by the extra animal HD as normal for multiclassing, but with one exception: A good base save is ½HD+2, and a poor save is 1/3HD. If the therianthrope have already gained that +2 bonus on a save from class levels or racial HD, he may not gain the additional +2 bonus to that save from the good saves of his animal HD.*
*Example: a 2nd level human were-shark fighter has good fortitude save and poor reflex and will saves. The 2 animal HD gained from the medium shark have good fortitude and reflex saves, but a poor will save. The 2 animal HD adds +1 to his base fortitude save, +3 to his base reflex save and +0 to his base will save.
*Example: If the human above was instead a ranger, he would gain +1 to his base fortitude and reflex saves and +0 to his will save from his 2 animal HD.
*Example: If the above human was instead a wizard, he would gain +3 to his base fortitude and reflex saves and +0 to his will save from his 2 animal HD.
This is simply because I think insane saves from multiple multiclassing is stupid and slightly lessening the template power. Ignore it if you think I’m just being an ass.
Ability scores in humanoid form are unchanged.
When in animal form, a therianthropes physical ability scores are normal for an animal of its kind, and it retains the mental ability scores of its humanoid form.
When in hybrid form, a therianthropes physical ability scores are an amalgam between those of the humanoid form and the animal form, and it retains the mental ability scores of its humanoid form. To calculate the physical ability scores of the hybrid form, add each score of your humanoid form to the respective score of your animal form and divide them by 2, rounding down.*
*Example: a warrior werewolf has a strength score of 15 in his normal form, and 13 in his wolf form. 15+13/2=14. The warrior has 14 strength in hybrid form.
*Example: the same warrior has a dexterity score of 10 and constitution 14 in humanoid form, and dexterity and constitution 15 in animal form. He has 10+15/2=12,5->12 dexterity and 14+15/2=14,5->14 constitution in hybrid form.
In addition, a therianthrope may also gain an additional ability score increase by virtue of its extra animal Hit Dice. Additional ability score increases gained every four levels affect the ability score it is applied to for the animal form as well as the humanoid form.*
*Example: A Halfling wererat with 15 dexterity gains his 4th character level and applies his ability score increase to his dexterity score. He now has 16 dexterity in humanoid form and 16 dexterity in animal form. This also means he has 16 dexterity in hybrid form.
For the purpose of a Contest of Wills (see below) and general reasoning, the humanoid mind and the animal mind have the same mental ability scores.
Now this is a novel bit of mechanics. These are basically meant to reduce the otherwise insane power level of the hybrid form, which can use magic items as well. This was one of the things that made the original D&D lycanthrope borken. However, also note that ability score increases from levels apply to
all forms equally.
A therianthrope gains skill points equal to (2 + Int modifier, minimum 1) per extra animal Hit Die, as if it had multiclassed into the animal type. Any skill given in the animal’s description is a class skill for the therianthropes animal levels. In any form, a therianthrope also has any racial skill bonuses of the base creature and of the base animal, although conditional skill bonuses only apply in the associated form.
Exception: in humanoid form, racial skill bonuses from the base animal are reduced by half.
As a therianthrope, you are always part animal regardless of what form you take. In humanoid form you may not be physically able to perform all the stunts of your animal form, but you still have a few tricks up your sleeve.
Add the base animal’s bonus feats to the base creature’s feats known. If this result in a therianthrope having the same feat twice, the therianthrope gains no additional benefit unless the feat normally can be taken more than once, in which case the duplicated feat works as noted in the feat description. The extra animal HD may allow you to pick an additional feat, just as if you had levelled up normally.
I never got why you should have the animal arbitrarily assigned HD-gained feats. But bonus feats, on the other hand, are integral to the animals survival in the wild, so you get the bonus feats but not the other ones. Also, a natural property of bonus feats is you don’t need to meet their prerequisites to use them in any form. They’re all just weapon finesse anyway. Also, you still can’t switch out your duplicate feats simply because you might need them if you get yourself cured somewhere along the road, and being a melee rouge suddenly without weapon finesse is just dumb.
Same as either the base creature and/or base animal.
Solitary or pair, sometimes family (3-4), pack (6-10), or troupe (family plus related animals)
By class level or base creature.
I always hated that bigoted alignment thing anyway. Noble bears? HA! Papa bears eat bear cubs and mama bears are homicidal ursaphobics for that very reason.
By character class or base creature advancement.
Same as the base creature. A therianthrope’s character level is increased by a number of animal HD dependent on the base animal.
An animal HD is almost like ½ a level adjustment, and I try to come up with methods of taking away LA entirely. I have also weakened the therianthropes combat abilities to make this balanced. I hope it’s enough.