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Diário de um Caçador

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Diário de um Caçador

Mensagem por DM-Fi em Dom Abr 03, 2016 6:47 pm

Introduction

Tales of the lycanthrope - of the shapeshifter, the beast in man's form - are common to every society, human and demihuman alike. There is a certain universality to the concept, which is understandable. The symbolism is so potent, so immediate: A man becomes the  beast, and the beast masquerades as a man. Does this not perfectly encapsulate the duality of human nature? In many accounts, the metamorphosis is beyond the shapeshifter's control, signifying the bestial rage that can well up within the mildest of souls. And the fear  engendered by the presence of the shapeshifter - the suspicion that any stranger or even a friend may turn out to be the beast - is a reflection of the grim truth that no man may truly know what is in his fellow man's heart.

Yes, the shapeshifter is a powerful symbol. And when I was young, I felt certain that this creature was purely symbolic. One did not have  to believe in the existence of the shapeshifter to understand the innate truth of such wild tales, for that central truth had nothing to do with  monsters or bestial nightmares, but with the psychology of humanity (or so I believed).

How naive was I then. While tales of the shapeshifter may be symbolic, they also reflect a substantive reality. I know now that shapeshifters  do exist. Once, I discounted the werebeast as a superstitious folly, as something no more significant than an old wives' tale. But I had overlooked  the obvious: those so-called "old wives" frequently remember the ancient truths...

A Welcome Greetings, fellow scholar. I am Dr. Rudolph Van Richten - erstwhile healer, herbalist, chronicler, husband, father. It seems to me now that I have lived many lives, pursued many careers. How could all of my experiences, all I have learned, be encompassed by a single life span?

Yet that is definitely the case. I was born nearly threescore years ago in the land of Darkon. Although the tales and rumors may say otherwise, Darkon is not a place of unrelieved terror, death, and destruction. Certainly, those who live within its boundaries must make certain . . . adjustments. . . to their manner of life. There are particular regions where one travels
only at the greatest of need, where one invites only trusted friends across the threshold, and where the windows are always shuttered and barred after sunset.

Yet during the daylight hours, Darkon - or that region where I spent my childhood, at least - is a beautiful land. For me, few places can rival the allure of its rolling hills, deep primeval forests, grassy glades, and meadows ablaze with a profusion of.

Wildflowers.

Before the chill of night sets in, the breezes are gentle, carrying with them the whispers of the trees, and the perfumes of myriad flora. I find that now I can look back on those days of youth with pleasure, and can relish their richness. Such was not always the case. Once, the slightest reminder of the past would rack me with pain and grief. For I had been sundered
from those innocent, joyful times by a chasm that no living man could ever cross.

In what now seems a previous lifetime, I had a family I loved, a profession I cherished. I was a simple healer leading a simple existence. Then a wretched, blood-sucking horror took my wife and child. My simple existence died with them, and I came to follow a path very different from the one I had chosen for myself.

Today I am driven not by my own needs and whims, but by a central cause: to rid the world of the Accursed, those unnatural and supernatural predators who threaten the lives and happiness of all. I speak, of course, of those beings which some have imprecisely classed as "monsters:" the various forms of undead, the shapeshifters, and other fiendish beasts who feast on sorrow and pain.

Some who know of my cause believe me to be driven by vengeance. Not so. This once was true, of course. After the loss of my beloved wife and son, desire for vengeance burned brightly within me. It shames me to admit it, but I took great pleasure in sending the fell beast who had destroyed my family down into the blackness of true death. The realization that I had
enjoyed my act forced me to re-examine my motives, however, and to scrutinize the very shadows in my soul.

It was that intense personal scrutiny which redirected my efforts. From that moment forward, I no longer sought the destruction of such foul creatures for personal benefit or desire for vengeance. Today my central motivation is to spare others the torture and heartache that I myself have suffered. If I go to my grave knowing that I have saved only one person from the torment that I was forced to endure, I will count myself a lucky man and judge my life to have been of worth.

The House on the Hill

As I have stated, once I did not believe the legends of the shapeshifters, the werebeasts. It was in my thirty-ninth year that I discovered my mistake. By that time, I had traveled the length and breadth of Darkon in my quest to eliminate the unnatural predators which threatened the populace namely, the undead. I was near Varithne, a village too tiny to appear on most maps.

It lies in the north of Darkon, where the terrain is rugged and the populace sparse. As was (and still is) my habit, I stopped at the local tavern at day's end, seeking a glass of brandy and a bit of conversation. That night, Varithne's tavern was crowded. Nearly all who filled the room were talking of strange disappearances. Simply by listening, I discovered their plight.

Over the past fortnight, seven men had gone missing. The first two were shepherds. As it was the season for doing so, they had led their flocks into the hills to graze. Neither shepherds nor sheep ever returned. Scant days later, a pair of professional hunters joined the ranks of the missing. The people of Varithne had hired these two men to provide meat for the village.
Their hunting expedition was to last only a day or two, but like the shepherds they failed to return.

The latest to disappear were three travelers who claimed they hailed from a land called Sembia. These adventurous men took it upon themselves to locate the shepherds and hunters. Again, none returned. At first I paid little heed to the rumblings in the tavern that night. Certainly I understood the villagers' concern, but there are many natural predators in the hills of Darken, and I assumed that the seven unfortunates had fallen victim to such creatures.

Wolves, bears, or the like could easily have killed the seven men. I was not then, and am not now, a hunter of normal, living creatures.

I had emptied my brandy and was about to leave the tavern when I overheard something that changed my mind. Two villagers began to exchange tales of a strange howling they had heard. The sound had been carried on the night winds that blew down from the hills. I asked them to elaborate. This was not the howling of a wolf, the pair assured me, but something
quite different. My curiosity was piqued. Not long before, I had discovered and destroyed several unusual ghostly creatures, apparently examples of a hitherto unrecorded subtype of wailing spirit. Those hauntings had been characterized by a nocturnal howling very much like that described by the villagers. Assuming that the orchestrator of Varithne's torment might be one of these spirits, I decided that I would put to rest this accursed creature as well.

The next day I set forth into the hills, equipped with several vials of sanctified water, which had proved quite effective against the other wailing spirits. I was confident that I could recognize the sanctuary of my ectoplasmic quarry and then dispatch the creature with little ado. For one of the first times in my life, overconfidence possessed me, and truly led me
astray. Not simply in a symbolic sense, mind you. I admit it openly: I became lost. Although a bright morning sun had greeted me when I left the inn, by midmorning that sun was hidden behind slate-gray clouds and a thick mist clung to the hills. Visibility decreased to little more than a stone's throw. I fear I wandered in circles for hours, until the day - already twilight-dark under the clouds - began to darken still further.

As the damp chill of the mist leeched the warmth from my body, fear washed over me. It was not the darkness I feared, however. It was disorientation. In fact, there was still light enough for me to see, even though the sun had already sunk below the horizon. As in other regions of Darkon, the rise and fall of the hills was traced by a faintly shimmering, blue-green luminescence. Many call it "gravelight." This light might still have allowed me to return to the village safely - if only I had known in which direction the village lay.

It was then I heard the howling: a high-pitched, prolonged ululation. It hung upon the cold wind, fading and then renewing itself again and yet again. My ear perceived the sound, and my soul understood its meaning. It spoke of hunger, solitude, and ferocity. And, cliche though it seems, it spoke of inhuman glee. No mere wolf had ever uttered such a sound - that I knew at once. Nor did the hideous cry precisely match my memories of the wailing spirits. But, in the emotion of the moment, I discounted the difference.

I was lost, but I knew the direction from which the heart-numbing howl had come. If I could not find the village this night, at least I could complete the task to which I had set myself and hunt down the wretched spirit. I strode determinedly through the mist.

The wailing spirits I had previously destroyed always lurked within some human-constructed building: a deserted house, a desolate warehouse, or (by preference) an abandoned church. Thus, when I saw a small stone house set atop a nearby hill, I thought my trek was at an end. Surely this was the sanctuary of the unquiet spirit I believed I was hunting. Preparing my
holy water and other accoutrements, I advanced stealthily toward the building.

Great was my surprise and embarrassment when the front door swung open, silhouetting a burly figure against the light. No spirit this, but a red-faced, jolly-looking man around his fiftieth year. He was tall and broad, as muscular as a blacksmith, yet with the weather-tanned face of a farmer. When he set his eyes on me, upon a comparatively little man skulking toward
his home like a thief, he threw back his head and laughed. Of course, this only added to my humiliation.

"Come in, come in," he called boisterously. "No need to steal an invitation to shelter when it's freely given. Get yeself in out of the night."

I felt my face burning as I returned my vials of sanctified water to my pack and slid my silver-bladed knife back into its sheath. "My apologies," I began abashedly, but he cut me off with another booming laugh.

"Ne'er mind that now, friend," he said. and sup with me. Unless ye'd prefer to sleep in the gravelight, o'course."

I did not have to be invited twice. Though I was confused - for surely the wailing spirit must be somewhere nearby - I welcomed the invitation. This man was undeniably among the living, and no joy of life such as he displayed could coexist with a wailing spirit. Perhaps this burly fellow could direct me to the ectoplasmic horror's true sanctuary ... on the morrow, of course.
He gestured for me to enter and I stepped into the cozy little two-room structure. My host's face was wrinkled in a jolly smile, yet it was curious: I sensed some kind of undertone, some submerged emotion, beneath his jocularity. Was it tension?

A well-concealed effort or strain? I quickly forgot this little mystery, however, as he maintained a continuous flow of words. At first, I tried to follow my host's rambling conversation, but before long I realized that he was talking for the sake of speaking rather than to communicate anything of value. His must be a lonely life, I decided. My visit represented a rare
opportunity for conversation, for which the man was both eager and out of practice.

Still, I did not mind the man's chatter. There was a fire in the hearth and a kettle of stew hanging over it. The transition from a bone-chilling cold to such cheery warmth seemed to numb my mind like a strong herbal sedative. When he bade me sit near the hearth, I did so with a will. It was only moments before I felt my head start to nod with the onset of sleep, and I
began to fade away. Then the man said something that drew me out of my reverie.

"Welcome I said, and welcome I meant, Dr. Van Richten." He was standing behind me, near the front door. His tone was still friendly, but the words that came next were not. "Your name is known to me, for your fame has spread far. So fine it'll be to feast on a man as famous as yourself..."

With that I turned, disbelieving. I simply could not have heard him say what I thought I heard. The scene that unfolded shocked me into stupefaction. The man had stripped off his shirt and he was changing, undergoing what I now call the transfiguration. As I watched in dumb horror, I saw his bones shift, bend, and lengthen. His skull warped as though made of clay. His mouth and nose become a bestial snout, and his forehead sloped sharply back above his eyes - eyes that were suddenly bloodshot and glaring. His muscles, too, shifted beneath his skin. The sight would have been enough to nauseate me even without the accompanying sound: a wet, grisly squashing and crunching reminiscent of the noise made by tearing apart raw chicken. His hair, previously shoulder-length, had shortened and become more like a mane or a dog's hackles, traveling along the path of his spine. And a gray pelt had sprung into being, covering his exposed skin.

The transition was over in only a heartbeat or two, yet to my fevered mind it seemed much longer. Then the beast stood before me: half man, half animal, with a predator's smile. Saliva dripped from its lips. Now, almost too late, I realized what had invited me to dine. Then it repeated its blood-chilling howl and pounced!

I was fortunate. As I have now come to learn, it was but a weak example of its kind. Had it been one whit stronger, it would have devoured my flesh and sucked the marrow from my bones. As it was, I narrowly managed to defeat the creature. Its claws and teeth scored me a dozen times, but my silver ceremonial dagger proved an efficacious weapon. Eventually,
the thing lay dead, pierced to the heart with my nine-inch blade. As I withdrew the weapon from the corpse, the creature underwent a reverse metamorphosis, returning to its human form.

Once more I gazed at the broad, jolly face of the farmer. This time, however, it was truly at peace, without the hint of tension I had sensed earlier.

A werewolf! I thought I searched the rest of the building, both in fear that it had a fellow and in grim suspicion that I would find the final resting places of the missing villagers. was right in my guess. There is no need to go into a description of what I discovered; some things are best left undescribed. Suffice it to say that I was not the only one who had been invited to dine with this fellow and then found himself on the menu. For obvious reasons, I was unable to remain in that house that night. I set out across the hills once more, and by sheer luck [ stumbled across a road that led me back to Varithne.

The creature's death did little to ease my terror. I remained in mortal fear for weeks - not for my life, as such, but for my humanity. I had heard many of the legends describing werewolves, although I had paid little enough attention to the details.

I feared that the wounds inflicted by the creature would ensure that I would suffer the same dire curse - that I would, upon the next full moon, become a ravening monster myself.
Yet no such grievous fate overtook me. To this day, more than a decade later, I have suffered no ill effects. Perhaps the wounds that the monster inflicted were not serious enough to convey the contagion. Or perhaps my natural resistance to disease provided some protection. Perhaps the fact that I used cold silver to slay the beast was the reason for my good
health. Or perhaps I was simply fortunate.

From that day forth, the insidiousness of the werebeast's threat has not been far from the forefront of my mind. From that day forth, I have numbered the werebeast among the nemeses of mankind.

The blood of me parents runs through my veins... with all that this kinship implies. Is this blood that we share cursed, tainted? Or is it blessed, somehow sanctified by a power greater than that of humanity? My father would have me believe the latter - that our kinship marks us as far above the bustling hordes of humanity as they are above the cattle they slaughter for food.

Yet in these latter days, I have trouble believing that. I hear their screams as fall upon them and I have to believe they are not so unlike us. We, too, are kin in some sense - humanity, and that wgich my blood tells me I am. They consider my kind monsters, and sometimes I wonder whether they are right. But when I feel the fierce elation of the metamorphosis come upon me, then how can I not consider myself blessed, as one small step below the gods?


Última edição por DM-Fi em Dom Abr 03, 2016 6:49 pm, editado 1 vez(es)
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Re: Diário de um Caçador

Mensagem por DM-Fi em Dom Abr 03, 2016 6:47 pm

Since my encounter with the werebeast in the hills near Varithne almost two decades ago, I have endeavored to learn all that I could about its foul kind. This has proved to be difficult, although not for the same reasons that my research into the nature of other supernatural beasts was so challenging. No, the degree of variability between two werebeasts sharing the same animalistic form is far less than the variability shown by vampires, for example.

The difficulty of the research stems more from the fact that the werebeast is such an emotionally evocative symbol. So many descriptions, tales, and legends that refer to werebeasts
incorporate purely symbolic material. It seems, in fact, difficult verging on impossible to find any discussion of werebeasts that sticks entirely to the unembellished truth.

While understandable, as a researcher I find this highly irritating. Nevertheless, I have been able to separate - to some degree, at least - the truth of the matter from the symbolic
elaborations.

There are, of course, many phenotypes of lycanthropes: werewolves, wererats, werejaguars, even werebadgers, to name but four I have encountered personally. (The word "phenotype" was introduced to me by a sage from a mysterious and distant land. I find it more descriptive than "species.") I shall outline the characteristics of each phenotype in a subsequent chapter. In this section, however, I shall concentrate on the two basic classifications of werebeasts: true lycanthropes, who inherit their condition, and infected lycanthropes, who acquire their affliction through a werebeast's attack. Because the latter condition more closely resembles a disease and can be cured (albeit through extraordinary means), I have dubbed it pathologic lycanthropy. There is a third classification as well, which is curse-induced, or maledictive, lycanthropy. However, examples of this class are so rare, and their characteristics so diverse, that I shall only touch briefly upon the subject.

Finally, at the end of this chapter I shall share with you my theory on how lycanthropy arose.

Heritable Lycanthropy

This is the archetypal form of the scourge that is lycanthropy. Often called true lycanthropy, it is an inherent, self-sustaining condition that can neither be cured nor contracted by others. If one is not born a true lycanthrope, then one can never become one. If one is so born, then it is impossible to alter or cure the condition, much as it would be impossible to cure an
elf of the condition of being an elf.
True lycanthropes have their own society as well as their own rules of conduct. Although they may move through normal human society, they are not of that society. This is discussed in considerably more detail in Chapter Three. For the moment, suffice it to say that when it comes time to choose a mate, most true lycanthropes select another of their kind. The offspring
of such a union will always prove to be heritable lycanthropes themselves. Sometimes, for whatever reason, a true lycanthrope will breed with someone who does not suffer the scourge. If it is the male who is the true lycanthrope and the female who is free of the contagion. I estimate a simple 50 percent chance that any offspring of the union will be a true lycanthrope. If the offspring does not inherit true lycanthropy, it should be completely free of the taint (although the father may well come back at some later time to transmit the contagion through an attack, thereby infecting his own child).

If it is the mother who bears the scourge of true lycanthropy, however, the offspring cannot be so lucky as to escape the taint. There is still a 50 percent chance that any offspring will be a true lycanthrope, inheriting the full form of the condition. If this does not come to pass, however, the child is not completely spared: instead of becoming a true lycanthrope, it
becomes an infected, one. Thus, every offspring of a lycanthropic mother will suffer one form or the other of the scourge.

Transfiguration

Transfiguration is the term I apply to a werebeast's ability to change forms, or aspects. With few exceptions, a true lycanthrope has three aspects, any of which it can adopt at wilt. In contrast, an infected lycanthrope normally displays but two forms (to the best of my knowledge). Furthermore, the true tycanthrope is generally unaffected by the triggers that initiate transfiguration in infected lycanthropes. Thus, a true werewolf need never fear that the full moon will trigger an unwanted transfiguration.

It is important to stress that the actual process of transfiguration is not typically a rending, burning agony for true lycanthropes, but it is often so for the pathologic variety. In fact, many of the true lycanthropes with which I have spoken (before destroying them) have claimed that the experience is one of transcendent ecstacy. Furthermore, true lycanthropes retain all of their mental faculties while in any of their forms. At no point do they forget what occurs when not in human aspect, nor do they lose control of their actions. In addition, they always retain their
immunities and most of their abilities.

Primary Aspect

The first aspect of a true lycanthrope is human (or demihuman, of course), and the human aspect is characteristic of the individual. In other words, when in human form, it will always look the same. A werebeast cannot use the transfiguration to alter its human appearance or create disguises. To an astute observer, certain characteristics of the true werebeast's human form can provide hints of the individual's inhuman nature. Almost invariably the human form shows one or more bestial features: slightly pronounced canine teeth, unusually bushy brows which meet above the nose, slightly pointed ears, abnormally pronounced body hair, hair on the inside of the wrist and on the palm, or perhaps exaggerated finger- or toe- nails, for example. Furthermore, many true lycanthropes have overly long forefingers, equal in length to the second finger of each hand. Of course, it should be pointed out that none of these physical traits is sufficient to incontrovertibly label a subject as a werebeast. I have personally met folk who have never so much as seen a lycanthrope, yet they themselves exhibited one or several of these telltale signs. In truth, I feel somewhat uncomfortable over having listed these apparent signs at all, since they can be (and have been) misused to accuse innocents of being werebeasts.

Secondary Aspect

The second form that any true lycanthrope can assume is that of the beast. In this aspect, the individual appears as an animal. Again, the type of animal and the specific details of its appearance are characteristic of the individual. Details such as eye color, pelt markings, and other distinguishing features do not change, which makes it possible for an astute observer to
distinguish between individuals, just as an owner of hounds can tell the difference between two members of the same breed. A true lycanthrope's animal aspect is usually larger than average, when compared to normal animals of the same type. Remember, however, that there is a wide variability in sizes among natural animal populations. While it is true that lycanthropes in animal aspect are larger than the average for that species, it is not always true that werebeasts are larger than all other specimens. If a werewolf is leading a pack of timber wolves, the lycanthrope need not automatically be the largest creature in the pack. (Wererats pose a special case: their secondary aspect resembles a giant rat, not a normal rodent. With that caveat, my remarks above still hold, with wererats frequently appearing as larger-than-average giant rats.) Many tales and legends claim that lycanthropes in their secondary form can be distinguished from natural animals by their sense of intelligence, unnatural wisdom, and anomalous watchfulness. This can be true in some cases, but only when the werebeast wants the observer to discern its true nature. True lycanthropes in their animal aspect retain their full intelligence, which makes them much more intelligent and aware than natural animals that may surround them. Yet the monsters are also in touch with their animalistic nature - the beast within - in the form of natural senses and instincts. They can, if they so wish, allow these senses and instincts to overshadow their human intelligence and thus behave identically to a natural animal. This knack for subterfuge makes it exceedingly difficult to distinguish a werebeast from a normal animal.
It is important to point out the fallacies in some legends and tales. While it is true that lycanthropes in animal aspect can still understand the languages of mankind, it is not true that they can speak them. The anatomy and physiology of animals precludes this. For example, the throat and mouth of a rat is incapable of human speech; thus, so is a wererat in animal aspect. (The wererat would be able to both speak and understand the limited communication of natural rats, however.)
Similarly, while in animal aspect most werebeasts have neither hands nor fingers, and thus cannot easily manipulate their environment. Accordingly, those tales which describe werewolves in wolf form opening intricate locks or latches are most obviously fantastical. It seems obvious that natural animals can distinguish a werebeast in animal aspect from one of their own kind. Natural animals' responses to werebeasts vary quite widely, however. Pack-oriented or herd-oriented creatures will usually cede dominance of the group to the werebeast. Thus, wolves will almost always signal their submission to a werewolf in their midst and allow the lycanthrope to lead the pack. Trained animals such as domesticated dogs will be more likely to react with unease or even distress if a werebeast is in the area. Naturally solitary animals will usually respond by avoiding werebeasts in animal aspect.

As an aside, there are many tales in which faithful house pets detect the inhuman nature of true lycanthropes in human aspect, and react by growling, whining, or even attacking. I can neither support nor deny these contentions. I have seen no evidence on either side of the issue. It was a travesty of justice, of course. While I can well understand the townsfolk's fear over the wereboar's predations, I could never sanction their response to that fear. That response was hysteria, pure and simple. They needed someone on which to vent their rage and their terror. They selected the hermit who Uued on the outskirts of the uillage. nicknamed the "terrible old man," he was actually a harmless soul, cursed by diminishing mental faculties. Encroaching senility made him something of a curmudgeon. and he had earned the enmity of many of the villagers. His appearance was unkempt: his hair was wild, his clothing ragged, his teeth discolored and crooked. All in all, his appearance could well be described as feral, and that was all the villagers needed. Their response was brutal in its immediacy. To this day I blame myself for not acting fast enough to stop it. But before I even knew what was happening, the old man was writhing in terminal anguish, impaled on the sharpened stake the villagers had set up in the square. It did not take the villagers long to realize their mistake. The night after the old man's grisly end, the wereboar was on the hunt again...
- From the personal journal of Dr. Van Richten

Tertiary Aspect

The true werebeast's third aspect - half man, half beast - is indeed the most dreadful. This is the form most commonly associated with true lycanthropes in tale and legend. The man-beast has the features of both human and animal forms, creating a horrifying, unnatural blend. The actual details of the man-beast aspect vary from phenotype to phenotype, and even from individual to individual within a single phenotype. Any given individual will always look the same in his or her tertiary aspect, however. In general, the body's overall form is humanoid, although there may be noticeable differences in musculature, The head closely resembles that of the animal, but with some disturbingly human features. The eyes are typically human in appearance, albeit frequently bloodshot and glaring - malignant intelligence seems to gleam within them. The entire body is usually covered in fur, which is similar in color and texture to that of the natural animal. The pelt is typically thicker around the head and shoulders, especially at the back of the neck. Hands and feet usually sport elongated nails - not quite claws, but definitely reminiscent of them, and capable of inflicting gruesome wounds.

The tertiary form always has characteristics symbolic of the phenotypical animal. Thus, if the natural animal type is powerful, then the man-beast form based on it will also be powerful, as in the case of werebears for example. If the animal type is exceptionally agile, then the man-beast form will reflect this, too, and thus wererats are slender, fast- moving things. It is interesting to point out that this characteristic is based more on symbolism than anything else. If the animal type is symbolic of some attribute, whether it actually possesses it, then the man-beast form will incorporate that attribute into its appearance.

True lycanthropes in man-beast aspect retain the ability to use language. Their voices are usually harsh and growling, however. The creatures also retain their full dexterity in man-beast form, and thus can manipulate their environment easily. The chance of a character contracting lycanthropy in the Domains of Dread is 2% per hit point of damage suffered from a werebeast's attack. (On other planes, the chance is only 1% per hit point.) The damage must be inflicted by the "natural weapons" of the werebeast: teeth, claws, or (in human or demihuman aspect) unarmed attacks. If the werebeast uses a weapon, damage inflicted by that weapon is not taken into account when determining whether the victim is infected or not.
To minimize bookkeeping, DMs may decide to include damage inflicted by weapons in the total, on the rationale that such wounds decrease the victim's systemic resistance to infection. Note that infection is possible, under this rule, only if the lycanthrope's natural weapons have inflicted at least one point of damage.

Further, other types of "close contact" may pass the infection on. if a werebeast's blood or other fluids were to enter a living human's eyes, mouth, or open wound, there's a small chance (2% to 8%, for example) that the lycanthropic infection will be passed on. A kiss, for instance, is unlikely to pass on the infection, but more intimate contact could do just that.

Pathologic Lycanthropy

This is the dreaded disease described in hundreds of folktales, the cursed affliction that turns an innocent victim into a ravening beast. No race or sex is immune; it is a plight to which every man, woman, and child is susceptible. Unlike true werebeasts, infected lycanthropes are not born with their affliction. Their condition more closely resembles a disease, in that it can be contracted and passed on. If the victim is very fortunate, it can even be cured, though not as any ordinary disease might be (see Chapter Four: The Pathologic Scourge for a more in- depth discussion of cures). This form of lycanthropy can be acquired through contact with the saliva, blood, or other secretion of either a true werebeast or another infected werebeast (and perhaps even that of a maledictive one).

Compilers' Note: It seems that, once again, Dr. Van Richten's theories have proved to be the truth. My sister and I have found, evidence that supports the Doctor's position that maledictive werebeasts can indeed infect hapless innocents.
- GWF

Simply touching a werebeast or its bfood will not transmit the contagion, however. Conventional wisdom - which I have found little evidence to discount - is that the infective agent must be insinuated into the bloodstream of a victim through some wound. (A handful of legends suggest that more intimate contact may convey the affliction, but this is beyond the range of my expertise.) The chance of a victim succumbing to the scourge seems to be proportional to the severity of the wounds inflicted.

As described in a subsequent chapter, infected lycanthropes are (initially at least) unaware of their affliction. When in nonhuman aspect, they have the mentality of an animal, a ravening beast. Thus, infected lycanthropes cannot have the same kind of distinct society enjoyed by true lycanthropes. The offspring of a father who is an infected werebeast does not automatically suffer the same affliction. Remember, there is no genetic or heritable component to this form of the scourge. However, a child born to a mother who is infected with lycanthropy will be similarly blighted. This is because the intimate, nourishing bond between the mother and her unborn child. The offspring does not, strictly speaking, inherit the affliction; rather, he is infected before birth. This distinction makes little difference to the innocent child, except that a cure is still possible. If the infected mother is cured of her
lycanthropy before the child comes to term, the poor offspring is still susceptible to the affliction. In my estimation, such a child must undergo its own cure if it would be rid of the scourge.

Transfiguration

While most true lycanthropes have three forms, an infected lycanthrope has only two: human or demihuman, and either animal or hybrid. Further, unlike the true lycanthrope, an infected werebeast has no control over its transfiguration. Each infected individual has a characteristic "trigger" - an event, circumstance, or set of circumstances that initiates the transfiguration. The archetypal trigger for werewolves is, of course, the full moon, but there are many more possibilities. Sometimes extreme emotion triggers the change - usually anger or fear, but sometimes (tragically) even love. In other individuals, the trigger is physical pain or proximity to violence. And for some particularly unfortunate victims, every sunset or sunrise may bring about the metamorphosis.

For an infected werebeast, the experience of transfiguration is usually one of tearing, rending agony. Such is the nature of the affliction, however, that the victim almost always suppresses all memories of this agonizing pain.

Primary Aspect

This is, of course, the natural and original form of the infected victim. According to many folktales, the same signs by which a true lycanthrope can be identified - the long forefinger, slightly bestial features, etc., - also mark the victim of infection. My own studies neither support nor contradict this contention; in truth, I have found little evidence on one side of the issue
or the other. Certainly, a few of the infected lycanthropes I have encountered have shown progressive development of bestial features. Yet I am not convinced that this progression was actually a result of the lycanthropy itself. Outside my study of lycanthropes, I have seen the appearance of an individual begin to change as his or her heart darkened through crime or sin.
Perhaps that person's actions or desires attracted the attentions of some malign agency, which in turn caused the physical alteration. Or perhaps one's body can truly become a mirror of one's soul.

At any rate, if such physical changes can occur among those who are not lycanthropes, it seems quite possible that it could hold true for an infected lycanthrope as well. For this reason, I cannot embrace the widely held belief that infected lycanthropes will always, in time, display some physical manifestation of their curse. More likely, such a notion is no more than a feeble attempt at self-reassurance. And the disturbing truth is that one cannot directly detect the taint of lycanthropy until the transfiguration is actually triggered.

Fortunately for those who hunt the lycanthrope, other clues sometimes exist, pointing at the fearful truth. Most notably, infected lycanthropes often return to their primary aspect bearing wounds, bruises, or abrasions... which they cannot remember sustaining.

Secondary Aspect

The secondary aspect of an infected lycanthrope can be either a normal animal or a man-beast similar to the true lycanthrope's tertiary form. Each infected individual has a characteristic secondary aspect and always assumes this form when the trigger condition occurs. There seems no way of predicting beforehand (that is, before the lycanthropy is acquired)
what one's secondary aspect will be.
Compilers' Note: Further "researches" on our part have shown that, in about two of three cases, the infected lycanthrope will gain the secondary aspect ofthe werebeast that infected it. Also, in at least 4 of 5 cases, this secondary aspect is the animal form.
- LWF

If the secondary aspect is an animal, it largely shares the features discussed for a true lycanthrope's animal form. Thus, it is larger than average for the animal type and frequently becomes the leader of a pack of tike creatures. A man-beast secondary aspect also largely conforms to the description provided earlier. The important difference between infected and true lycanthropes is that the former do not retain their normal mentality when in their secondary aspect. Instead, they take on the personality - if that is the correct word - of a ravening, predatory animal.

The beast within comes to the fore, taking control and suppressing all elements of the human character. The new personality incorporates elements of the phenotype's behavior. Thus, wereboars tend to be blindly aggressive, while wererats show more low cunning. In any event, the major elements of the secondary aspect's persona are aggression and hatred. The werebeast will kill anyone or anything it encounters, initially to feed, although it may still attack even if its appetite is totally sated. It has frequently been stated and seems to be true that the preferred victims of an infected lycanthrope in secondary aspect are those individuals closest and most important to the werebeast when he is in human form. In other words, loved ones are the most likely to be harmed by the beast. This tragedy seems to confirm the old saw that love and hate are closely related emotions.

When he returns to his natural form, the werebeast rarely remembers any details of his actions while in his secondary aspect. If he does recall anything at all, it will have a hazy, indistinct, cast to it, much as a nightmare is vaguely recalled upon waking. In fact, many infected lycanthropes believe at least initially that such memories are nightmares. Only when they
find that reality matches elements from their dreams might they realize what is happening, and not alt individuals understand (or admit that they understand) even then. Humans have an almost infinite capacity for self-delusion.

Maledictive Lycanthropy

Maledictive is the term that I have coined to describe those unfortunate victims who suffer from lycanthropy as the result of a curse. While powerful magics such as a wish might also induce lycanthropy, such maleficent enchantments are fortunately very rare. On the other hand, a curse that somehow summons the beast within is not so uncommon that it can be ignored.

In the lands with which I am familiar, maledictive lycanthropy is a very real risk of which all residents and visitors must be aware. While I have heard travelers speak of distant lands where curses generally are not strong enough to cause this affliction, I myself have never visited a place. Three general forms of curse exist, each of which may result in lycanthropy. These can cause a condition that is indistinguishable from the pathologic form of lycanthropy with one exception: the victim of such a curse may or may not be able to infect others with his contagion.

Self-Inducted Curses

This is an incidence of a dark desire, where an individual lusts for some power or boon, and that lust is acted on in a transport of terrible evil. In effect, this situation is a kind of cry for help, which some mysterious and malign agencies wilt sometimes grant, but always in a way that causes suffering and despair in the long run for the recipient. Both the divine curse and ancient curse spells can be found through tne World. I know the details of only one curse of this kind (which is not to say that other cases do not exist, of course). The curse's recipient was a man named Talbot, the servitor of a petty noble in Darkon. Talbot was a soft- spoken, sensitive man who seemed cowed by every circumstance, and particularly by the reactions of others. He appeared incapable of standing up for his own rights; an impotent sort who could not defend himself against the anger of others. If blamed for an act he had not committed, he typically hunched his shoulders, turning in on himself. In other words, he acted as though he were crippled with guilt for acts he had never performed.
In contrast, his master Lord Meritu was a verbal and emotional bully. Meritu verbally abused Talbot at every opportunity, and while virtually any other person would eventually have responded with anger, Talbot simply endured the torment. The servitor seemed incapable of expressing the natural anger (and even hatred) that Meritu would certainly engender in another man.

Eventually, a tremendous internal conflict arose between Talbot's self-effacing mien and his unquenched rage, which ultimately led to a tragic conclusion. Rather than facing the author of his misfortune, Meritu himself. Talbot vented his fury upon Meritu's young children. In short, Talbot poisoned these innocents and then ran off to the countryside. Although Talbot never expressed it, his actions were the result of a desire to express his indignant wrath. Apparently some dark agency responded to this unspoken cry for help by turning Talbot into an infected lycanthrope. He became a wererat, in fact, with sunset as the trigger of his transfiguration. Now, every evening when the sun goes down, Talbot is finally able to express the rage within him. Unfortunately, however, he has no control over who becomes the victim on this rage...

Curses of Vengeance

The fact that infected lycanthropes frequently turn on those they love makes this affliction the logical result of a curse of vengeance. Although I have yet to personally encounter such a case, I have heard of almost a dozen Incidents, all of which follow similar lines. An individual kills or seriously harms the loved ones of another, and in a transport of hatred this other
cries out for a curse to fall upon the killer. The killer, in a form of divine justice perhaps, is then blighted with lycanthropy. In all of those cases, among the first victims of the new werebeast were his or her loved ones. However, in three rather unusual episodes, the person who brought down the curse eventually fell victim to the werebeast as well: such is the ironic justice of curses.

Mystical Curses

Magics such as a wish spell or the more specific divine curse and ancient curse spells also can inflict lycanthropy. As many spellcasters know, the intent of a wish is frequently perverted in some dire manner. Thus, when a wish causes lycanthropy, it is quite likely that this outcome was not what the caster intended. Neither the divine curse nor the ancient curse spell suffers the same risk of perversion of intent. However, for the curse to take effect, the casting priest's deity must approve it. Only the most malignant deities would countenance the infliction of
lycanthropy on anyone.

Removing a Curses

Most curses of vengeance and magical curses include some kind of escape clause. If the action in this clause is performed, the victim is freed of the taint of lycanthropy. This is not necessarily the case for others who have contracted the dreaded affliction from the original curse victim. The fate of these secondary victims depends in large part upon the details of the
original curse. Their own affliction may end the moment the curse is lifted from the original victim. If the original curse is particularly powerful, however, this may not happen. Once the original victim is free of the curse, all secondary victims can potentially be cured, Just as if the original source of the affection had been slain.

Other Characterictics

Most maledictive lycanthropes resemble infected lycanthropes in all particulars. Otherwise, no set of characteristics is typical of the maledictive class; each curse can be unique. For that reason, and because maledictive lycanthropes are comparatively rare, I shall confine my discussions in subsequent chapters to heritable and pathologic lycanthropy.

Shapechangers and Lycanthropes

Lycanthropes are men and women who assume the shape of animals. They are not to be confused with other shapechangers such as wolfweres and jackalweres, which are animals that can masquerade as men and women. Despite their superficial likenesses, both types of creatures are profoundly different. All of the discussions in this volume concern lycanthropes.
Animalistic shapechangers do enjoy some magical benefits similar to those shown by lycanthropes. For example, jackalweres are harmed only by enchanted weapons or by those forged from cold iron. They also have the ability to change at will between three (or, in some rare cases, only two) aspects. Surely, some sages argue, this makes them kin to werebeasts. Not so, I suspect. The major distinction is that shapechangers pass on no contagion to victims of their attacks. It is impossible to contract lycanthropy from a jackalwere, and that is the vital difference between the creatures.

I believe that there might, once, have been some kinship between lycanthropes and other shapechangers. Many centuries ago, it may be that a union between a lycanthrope in animal aspect and a normal animal gave rise to these beastweres.

Unfortunately, there are few means to test and validate my hypothesis.
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