Monday, October 25, 2010

Creature Feature: Werewolves

Villagers across the world tremble at the thought that a werewolf might be in their midst.  They walk unseen during the day appearing as a normal man, but at night they skulk in the woods awaiting a slow passerby to devour.  They are among the most cunning of the demons' servants.  They are both monster and man.  Their sinister pact with creatures of the Pit has afforded them their terrible ability to transform into a half-human beast.

But perhaps it is not their fault.  Many have speculated that perhaps lycanthropy is a disease, and not a gift of the Devil.  Many farmers have screamed their innocence and refused to deny the crimes they so obviously committed until the stake that was to be their funeral pyre was tied to their backs.  Clearly these deluded souls are unaware they have given in to such turpitudes due to some moon caused madness.  This lunacy makes them forget their real nature and fervently deny that they are a monster.  The community has found them guilty of these crimes, and what other explanation could there be?

The Church says these souls are not to be pitied, however.  If they were truly righteous men God would not have stricken them with such a terrible illness.  If it is indeed a disease, then it is one God visits upon those who already have wicked hearts in order that they might reveal their true nature.  More likely though, they or their ancestors made some hideous pact with the Adversaries.  In exchange for a promise to help unmake man and his works, the demons offered the werewolf terrible powers.  Their acceptance of this bargain damns them to Hell, even if they cannot remember their crimes.

If loggers are to be believed, the Witchwood is swarming with these creatures.  They pick off lone hunters and lumberjacks at night when they are their most vulnerable.  As such, woodsmen are loathe to leave their camps after dusk, and never do so without a cross and sprig of Wolf's Bane.  The woodsmen who stay behind often speak of how they doubt the efficacy of such items, but none would deny them before they had to venture out into the dark alone.  

According to their campfire tales, werewolves are so thick in the Witchwood that they have formed whole villages.  Here they live in a mockery of mortal life.  They have houses where they sleep during the day before hunting at night.  They have shops where they sell not but tools made from hunter's bones.  They have anti-churches where they preform devilish orgies in half-animal states.  Some say they live in these villages alongside orcs and goblins.  Others say that orcs are simply werewolves who transformed to long and got stuck that way.  These people are usually looked at oddly, then dismissed.  It is common to tell such tales when a new logger arrives, especially if he has some reason to go out into the woods at night.

For some reason, werewolves are associated with the moon.  No one knows why particularly, they just are.  According to poems often recited by wandering troubadours, werewolves only hunt in autumn, and only if the moon is bright enough for a man to read by.  Those whose loved ones have gone missing in the winter or under the new moon have obvious reason to dispute this "fact."  Some say that their bloodlust waxes and wains with the moon, though their seems to be little evidence of this.  Still, the werewolf's association with the moon persists.

There are accounts of men who can turn into other beasts.  Western men and settlers claim that there are certain pagan warriors who can turn into a bear.  There is a legend in Lichgate of a thief so bold that he stole the bones of St. Gax right from the high altar.  To punish him, God turned him into a half-rat creature.  He and his gang of rat-thieves still live in the sewers of that city, or so inn keepers tell patrons.  Wereboars have been reported lairing alone in the woods to the West.  Supposedly they grow to enormous size, and only return to human form when slain.  However, these creatures are not nearly as well attested as Werewolves.


I hope to do more creature features this week, instead of just my usual Monday morning one.  Expect them, like this one, to be vaguely Halloween themed.  It is my favorite holiday after all.

1 comment:

  1. I like how you always include the folklore and saying of different groups of people. It makes you campaign world feel more real to me.