Wednesday, December 13, 2017

I've Been Doing Werewolves Wrong

Well, not completely wrong, I mean they're creatures that change between the forms of man and wolf, struck only by silver or magical weapons; and yes, one of the characters that semi-recently faced off against werewolves ended up needing a cure disease spell to prevent his becoming a werewolf himself (that was Kord during Expedition 12, just for the record).

But wrong for my game. I actually have a backstory as to what these werewolves are and how they came to be werewolves, and both times parties have encountered them in the Howling Tower, I've completely forgotten that backstory and just described super basic werewolves. "... And he transforms into a wolf-creature and attacks you ... Your silver arrow strikes him in the heart and he falls down, slain, and the wolf-form sloughs away as he returns to his man form." That kind of thing; and technically, that is the description in the B/X books.

But my werewolves were supposed to be slightly more elaborate!

So hopefully by writing this out, I'll force myself to remember the difference the next time my players run into werewolves in the Greyhame Mountain Dungeons.


It is well known in Brakeridge, as well as the other remnant realms of the old Kingdom of the Brondings, that there is a great stone in the forest of the Dwimmerholt, called Anduril Rock, around which gathers the annual Thing of the Wolves. During high summer, under a full moon, the packs of the Dwimmerholt congregate there, howling their ancient paeans to the moon and the night, passing gossip and information from pack to pack, and trading members from one group to another. Hunters do not pass near Anduril Rock during the summer, for fear of attracting the attentions of the wolves, or perhaps ending up as a ritual feast on the rock itself.

Not only do the wolves use Anduril Rock as the landmark for their Thing, but it is storied (and sometimes corroborated by tales from unwise hunters or adventurers who stray too near) that the goblins of the Dwimmerholt meet in its shadow under the darkness of the new moon to plot against their masters, the Elves. Free goblins often join their enslaved brethren there to offer aid; and it is well known, too, that the wolves and goblins are ancient friends, and that the wolves will be there to scheme as well.

Now, during the reign of Durand-King, last of the Brondings, Durand was corrupted by his love for a serpent, and made war against his staunchest knights, those of the Galad-tribe and others, and had many men put to death and crucified for high treason, or even mere alleged "conspiracy" against him. Dozens were impaled and crucified on the slopes of the Greyhame Mountain itself to intimidate the remnants of the Galads, whose holdings included that mountain.

This might have ended with mere rebellion and death, but that the rise of Chaos in the realms included the coming of one of the Wolves of Drand, terrible spirits anciently bound to the world which possess the bodies of wolves and knowledge of dread magic. This Wolf came to his lesser brethren in the Dwimmerholt, and taught them to take down the crucified bodies men and to take their skins, and with terrible rituals and sorcery, to don the skins of dead men and to live in them among men as wolves in sheep's clothing. And this is the origin of the werewolves in the Howling Tower and the Dwimmerholt.

No one remembers why the huge stone is called Anduril Rock--it's probably a name passed on by the tribes of the Getae who ruled the land and the Dwimmerholt before the coming of the Brondings. (I can say though, that despite my clearly cribbing "Anduril" from Tolkien, the accent I place on it is different, so "AN-du-ril Rock", rather than the canonical sword "an-DU-ril" that Aragorn wields.)


Clearly, this doesn't have any huge ramification for game rules, but is more of a cosmetic change. The main thing I keep forgetting is that these werewolves are wolves wearing the skins of men, and so when transforming, they should literally be ripping these skins away (as often portrayed in movies for a body horror effect), but also when slain, they should remain as wolves (transform into wolves if in man-form).

The Wolf of Drand (or Greater Werewolf) of course has completely different stats, but I'll be keeping them closer to my chest until my players encounter it, of course. (and just like I cribbed "Anduril", I took the name "Drand" for a kingdom of Chaos from some blog many years ago, and I've forgotten whose blog ... if anyone knows whence it comes, I would be glad to credit the author)

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