The curse of lycanthropy is a relic from an ancient ritual of the berserker: borrowing the strength and visage of an animal in battle by wearing its hide. At present, the curse has become something of a secret pariah on humanity. While the curse of the wolf is the most common by far, the berserker’s ancient rituals harnessed many other beasts.
Spreading the Were Curse
The curse is blood-borne and often passed down through via family lines naturally. In cases of family bloodlines, the curse's strength may depend on the ‘pureness’ of the blood in question.
The curse is also unnaturally spread through attacks on unsuspecting victims. Werebeast bites carry a somewhat varying degree of infection. Passing on the curse is dependent on how much blood is infected, and if care is given by doctors versed in purifying arcane arts.
Ingesting wolfsbane or quick-silver directly after an attack is rumored to greatly lower the risk of infection, but as both the plant and metal are extremely poisonous, such a practice may simply result in death.
The transformation cycle of a beast is commonly tied to the lunar cycle, as most animals are quite sensitive to the changes of the sky. As the moon gains in presence, a sense of restlessness and lack of focus, sleep deprivation, itchiness and increased appetite is common symptoms in most people with the curse of the beast as the animal inside is making preparations to burst forth.
Some are able to break the lunar pattern if particularly in tune with their animal side in that they may be able to summon forth the beast in times of stress and trauma, though such is risky business as the duration of such a transformation is entirely uncontrollable. The ability to do such is often taught in werebeast clans, as the blood tends to be purer and allows for greater control of the beast.
The transformation itself is an extremely painful and loud event; bones and muscles will shift and snap in and out of place, essentially breaking down the physique of the human and rebuild their form to that of a beast. The duration may vary, depending on the physical constitution of the human, and the exact nature of the animal, but most are timed to vary between half an hour to two hours’ time of agony.
Due to the spasms and mental instability during the change, were-beasts are often at their weakest during and directly after a transformation, rendering them susceptible to devastating attacks or paralyzing blows. It is advised that beasts are either watched over by an ally or find safe spaces to transform in peace.
The Beast Inside
Humans afflicted with the curse of the beast will find themselves host to a spirit of the animal of their particular curse: as such, the body becomes a vessel occupied by two minds, often at odds. The beast inside is at their quietest during the low of the lunar cycle, and become particularly ‘noisy’ at the height of the cycle.
Quite often, a werebeast will find themselves with urges and instincts pertaining to their animal, the intensity of which rely upon a row of factors: the willfulness and mental health of the human, the nature of the animal itself, the lunar cycle, as mentioned, the nature of the surroundings and sensations of which the werebeast lives.
It is often a relationship wrought with ‘arguments’ between the human and the animal, as both vie for control and influence, although it is not unheard of that werebeasts can become particularly in tune with their inner animal, appeasing it and utilizing its abilities for one’s own gain.
The Nose Knows
Due to enhanced senses (most commonly smell), werebeasts are almost always able to ‘tell’ other werebeasts apart from their normal human companions. This can make for compromising or advantageous situations, depending on the morality of your average kin. The ability to ‘tell’ varies on how in tune one is with the animal inside.
Werebeasts start, after a while, to take on slight details alike to their inner animal. Increased musk, hair growth and the odd eye colouration isn’t unheard of, though most can be concealed with careful grooming and personal hygiene. As the cycle progresses, these physical manifestations grow in intensity, often resulting in a peculiar increase in purchases of razors, shavers and scissors.
The appearance of a werebeast while transformed is that of a merge between a humanoid form and the curse’s chosen animal; often leaving the human completely unrecognizable as the animalistic features dominate. Increased muscle mass, height and weight isn’t unlikely, the nature of which is chalked up to ‘weird old nature magic’.
Packs and Lone Wolves
Humans and wolves are pack animals, and this tendency is a tenfold pronounced in a werebeast. Their need to feel at home with other individuals is a strong and real need, that, if ignored, often results in a failing mental health. Packs of werebeasts often live or travel together for this reason, supporting each other and forming strong, loyal bonds. Socialisation becomes an important aspect of a werebeast’s life.
If a werebeast is isolated, for whatever reason, they will often find their humanity rapidly waning. As the beast inside grows stronger and more willful, certain skills, such as speech and reading, will deteriorate, until the werebeast finally spirals into madness, torn asunder by conflicting instincts.
- Heightened Senses: Even without transforming, a were will find themself with heightened senses, most commonly smell and hearing. This offers potential insights into matters normal humans would not be privy to, and means werebeasts are far less likely to fall for deceptions like altering one’s appearance.
- Physical Power: Werebeasts who hold a positive and gainful relationship with their inner animal can develop increased strength, vigor, and constitution.
- Species Strength: The particular details of a were's abilities are often determined by the transformed beast's specific strengths: endurance and dexterity for werewolves; strength and constitution for werebears; the possibility of flight…
- Regeneration: Due to the nature of the old berserker rituals, werebeasts are gifted the ability of regeneration; their bodies heal and patch up injuries and wounds significantly faster than any human. While normal bullets and weapons will harm a werewolf, regeneration will often prevent fatalities.
- Animal Instincts: Untransformed, a werebeast may still fall victim to ‘odd habits’ influenced by the beast. This can range from mild faux pas like sniffing another's butt, to outright peeing to mark territory.
- Feral Transformation: While transformed, the beast is completely in charge with no input from the human mind. The were will think and behave as it's wild animal counterparts do, hunting, attacking, defending their territory, or hiding from predators as the animal chooses.
- Post Transformation Weakness: Due to the toll the transformation takes on their body, werebeasts often find themselves run ragged after the event, and requiring extra rest and provisions to recover.
- Vampiric Control: Werebeasts and vampires have an odd relation; due to the strange commanding voices of these particular undead, werebeasts often find themselves swayed to obey…
- ... however, a werebeast's blood is tainted by the animal, and will be particularly disgusting and much less nourishing to a vampire.
- Wolfsbane (Aconitum) & Silver: Both are poisonous to a werewolf, the mere touch of either is painful, and wounds inflicted with each substance are agonizing. Silver and wolfsbane are the only known substances to completely bypass a were's regenerative abilities enough to allow for a killing blow.