Have a COW (Creature of the Week) #16: Werewolves

Recently, in our “weird western” campaign using the same system as Aliens & Asteroids, I had the opportunity to create what is essentially a supernatural creature. And I began to wonder how it might translate to A&A in a slightly different form.

Design Thoughts

Not everything can be explained through science. At least, not yet. And I suspect that in the far future of A&A’s universe, we will only have scratched the surface…

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio

There have long been monsters in the human experience. Some are wild creatures such as Bigfoot and the Yeti and others are shape-shifting terrors that play upon our darkest desires like vampires and werewolves. Though Bigfoot may simply be a tan- or brown-haired species of ape that has been terrorizing campers for generations, I wanted to take another look at the monsters of desire.

My take on the werewolf, as an example, is a little twist on the original myth. Sure, there’s a wolf out there running around and corrupting unlucky victims with the curse of lycanthropy. I feel bad for those folks who contract the curse. Most perish before they have to live too long with it, I suspect. The others somehow become more in touch with their wild side as they transform into these wild wolf-like beasts. It’s about the hunt and the kill, right? Or maybe it’s just about the desire to cut loose and let passions run wild.

Think about it. If a werewolf is running through the forest after some prey (hopefully some poor deer or rabbit vs. a terrified camper), it’s about the chase. Speed releases endorphins. The hunt releases endorphins. The kill releases even more. And the beast revels in all of it, like a junkie seeking his next high. And when it’s done, there’s a crash and reality sets in. They shift from beast to human and suddenly have to deal with the aftermath — they killed someone or something. They gorged on fresh meat.

Werewolves are drug addicts seeking their next highs and trying to survive the lows.

Before you ask, no I didn’t include a werewolf in my western campaign — it was something much worse (a Wendigo!). But I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the implications of such creatures roaming the shared universe of all the Inverse20-driven games. So I figured I’d just write something up here!

Lycanthropy – the Disease

There are a few aspects of the werewolf to deal with: the curse or contagion causing the changes, the changes themselves, and what they’re like when they’re not all “wolfed” out. In game terms, we could treat it as a disease first…

  • Lycanthropy (Disease Stage): Transferred by bite of another infected creature. Victim must make hourly saves vs. Toughness at a Disadvantage. On a failure, take 1d6 HP damage. On a success, stop taking damage but victim is now afflicted with the disease as a carrier. Only transferred to further victims through direct saliva contact with major wounds. Drooling on a paper cut isn’t going to do the trick.
  • Lycanthropy (Affliction Stage): During times of stress or a full moon, the afflicted victim must make a Save vs. Morale. On a failure, the victim takes 1d6 HP damage and transforms into a roughly man-sized version of the same type of creature which caused the affliction initially. This transformation is hideously painful as the victim’s body is broken and reformed through a supernatural (or potentially nano-scale cybernetic) virus.

This opens things up to other lycanthropic types of characters, such as bears, wolves, or rats, which are popular in different styles of fiction. But I suspect that a Dread version of a werecreature could be even more disturbing!

The disease itself would take its toll on a victim, whether in its regular form or its changed one. The idea that such a bisected creature wouldn’t be affected psychologically by its behavior in an animal state would be impossible. But some may learn to control it over time, gaining some power over the transformation and control over their animal half when it emerged. Intense therapy, meditation, and other forms of introspection would be needed to achieve such a balance, but it might happen.

Note: A GM might rule that lycanthropic change comes in phases, like the moon. The urge to change would be greatest during the waxing and waning gibbous phases and much less prevalent during the crescent and new moon phases. This might come into play granting an Advantage to the Save vs. Morale during easier phases and a Disadvantage during the harder ones.

Creature – Werewolf

Werewolves are victims of a supernatural, genetic, or cybernetic virus that is used to transform a single individual into something much more able in battle. Wolves have great endurance and savage speed when it counts, making them a perfect form to hybrid a human being with. Though such research has been outlawed in civilized society, there have always been rumors of lycanthropic warriors in every great war from Ancient Rome to the Second Civil War in America. Though public records have been hard to come by, some of the less reputable news outlets always have stories that may or may not be true out in Dominion space.

  • Werewolf (Varied level based on normal state of character): Attribute Varies, HP doubled; Traits: Tough Hide (AR2), Tough Bastard (doubles HP), Claws (d6), Bite (d6 + Lycanthropy chance on a 5 or 6), Regenerating Health (heals HP at 1 per turn)

These creatures are usually solitary, but may be found in packs of 4-10 members.

Possible Enhancements

The possibilities are endless:

  • Ripper trait – doubles Claw damage to 2d6
  • Improved Regenerating Health (doubled to 2)
  • Howl – See Sonic Ray trait
  • Tactics – Grants pack members additional actions like the normal trait
  • And many, many others.

One of these on a planet with the Dread might do some serious damage, wouldn’t you think? As they level up and gain more traits… Wow.

Looking for more creatures for your Aliens & Asteroids campaign? Check out the rest of the Creature of the Week series!

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