UPDATE: You can get the updated version of this via DM’s Guild! Zoanthropes – A Collection of Werebeasts is available now! Please, support the blog by grabbing a copy!
“I saw them as they left the citadel, they were covered in blood and they cackled about some noble family they had slain. I figured they were mad assassins… that was, until they emerged in the full moon’s light. In an instant, they contorted and morphed into all sorts of vermin! They raised their heads in dark tribute to some sinister master before finishing their transfiguration into the accursed things. I’ve heard tales of witches and warlocks making dark pacts to gain animalistic power… sometimes spreading the curse to the most innocent of souls. Fortunately, they didn’t notice me observing from a ramshackle shack nearby or they simply didn’t care…”
– A farmer’s account of unspecified werebeasts emerging from a murder.
Long have we come to fear nature, it is pervasive and will reclaim all that we abandon. It cares not for our petty morality. It exists outside of our constantly changing and growing societies. If we are lost within it, there is a good chance we’ll never be seen again. But, while those fears are relevant, the fear of nature speaks to something within us… something primal. The fear of the inner beast is exemplified no better than the shapeshifting horror, the lycanthrope.
While the name is a big misnomer, the lycanthrope is a sinister beast that masquerades as a normal person during the day. As the night falls, they begin to hunt down the very people they interacted with before by shifting into one of many beasts. No one is completely sure why they do this. Perhaps dark spirits of nature beckon and control victims into attacking civilization. Maybe they are corrupted worshipers of the old ways who desire to tear down boundaries between society and the wild. Maybe they’re just shape changers who went completely mad. No is sure for certain, for those who have survived an attack eventually become one of the monsters themselves. One thing is certain is that entire cults have been built up around werebeasts, revering dark gods such as Malar the Beastlord; a deity originally hailing from Abeir-Toril’s universe.
Scholars have pondered what type of changing beasts exist in the world. Beyond a list of common creatures, there are rarer and newer beings emerging from the untamed darkness. These creatures are based on an assortment of other animal stock, sparsely mentioned or researched by archivists and monster hunters. Recently, brave souls and madmen alike have unnerved new types of werebeasts based on various stocks. Some of these animal stocks seem to affect different races disproportionately. For example, wereweasels have a strange habit of once being halflings, while werebadgers had once been dwarves.
Author’s Note: Halloween season has returned to Daemons & Deathrays a little early this year! I figured I’d start by converting some of the stranger therianthropic nasties across other editions and various settings. Not to mention, create some new NPCs based on existing types. With the Wereraven officially released in Curse of Strahd, that’s one less creature I need to stat up myself. On another note, Werewolf the Apocalypse may have had something to do with this. Whether it’s nostalgia or my unashamed love of Classic World of Darkness, but I just can’t hate that game… even if it’s filled with stupid (and borderline tasteless) nonsense. With that, have some more werebeasties!
IMAGE CREDIT: Night Howlers – TSR Inc.