Time to brainstorm.

I’m thinking about building a campaign around a lycanthropy outbreak, so I’m thinking through the various ways to approach it mechanically. Let’s assume some important NPCs will be infected, and it’s a real risk for the characters to catch it. In one scenario, everyone has it but not everyone expresses their infection the same: there are carriers, light cases (maybe they get just a little weird under the moon, maybe they’re just a little wolfy), and full-on murder monsters who come out under the full moon.

Here are some ideas I’ve been poking at.

  1. Make up a new Emo Attribute: Lunacy. Or Lycanthropy. Whateva. You get the EA when you get infected. Full moons grant automatic mid-level tests (ob4 or 5) for advancement, otherwise it’s on the players to advance their characters’ own condition through play: ob2 when deferring to an alpha, ob3 for marking your territory, ob4 when asserting dominance, ob5 for eating raw meat, ob6 for transforming, ob7 for partially transforming (sprouting a claw)… Well, I’m just spitballing here. Mechanically this appeals to me a lot.

  2. Treat the infection as a custom die trait which does two things: Adds a fourth mandatory Instinct upon infection, something to do with “if someone reveals weakness, assault them” or something. And of course you turn into a mindless killer on a full moon.

  3. Failed Steel tests under certain triggers – full moon, sight/smell of blood, command range of an alpha. Add a new and mandatory reaction: “Transform and leap at the throat of the nearest weakest opponent.”

Anyway, these are all just crazy off the cuff ideas. Honestly I can’t remember how lycanthropy is treated in BWG so obvs I’ll look there as well. :smiley:


You can probably crib from the satyr (?) in the Monster Burner.

My trait package would include:
Shapeshifter (Lupine Form, Crushing Jaws, Deep Fur, Lupine Intellect, Long-Legged, Wolf’s Eyes, Wolf’s Snout, Woodland Ear)

I’d probably also add a variant of Earth Blood that includes a vulnerability to silver and a variant of Blood Lust that turns the victim into a werewolf instead of a vampyr.

Silver! I forgot that one.

So you’d just make the whole race/condition a set of traits? Easy enough. Earth Blood is an interesting choice.

I’d like to get at the social aspects of the lycanthropy as well: pack membership, territory and alpha dominance stuff. Maybe that’s all more easily dealt with via beliefs or instincts…maybe an infected needs to express one of those things via an Instinct (always protect your territory, never challenge the alpha, etc.) as part of the infection process.

Doh! And Lunatic, of course!

Well, I’m coming more from the perspective of the legendary werewolf curse transferred by a bite or a deal with the devil. But maybe we should talk about where you’re coming from? What do you imagine werewolves to be like? Are they cursed? Are they wizards with magic wolf skins? Have they made a deal with the devil? Are they born?

Is their transformation influenced/controlled by the moon? Do they just turn into wolves or do they also assume the man-wolf hybrid? Are they solitary or do they run in packs? Etc.

Here’s the idea I’m gonna pitch: medieval werewolf apocalypse. Basically a cross between Stake Land and the Black Plague, with the plague being lycanthropy (so therefore the disease angle, but viewed through a more primitive lens) but the real problems being social collapse.

What attracts me to the pitch is that it’s really only apocalyptic one night each month, but everyone has to live with the consequences the rest of the time. I also think the lycanthropy fundamentally alters those its infected, both because they know they’re infected/cursed and because, even when it’s not a full moon, they’re still repelled by silver, they still get all territorial, they still identify with a pack and an alpha. Basically I’m envisioning small hamlets populated by weirdo hillbillies that turn out to all belong to a pack, who want to protect their secret. Maybe a few of them want to be rid of their curse. I’m also envisioning real problems and paranoia with letting travelers into keeps and towns. What if someone changes inside your walls?

The characters might be werewolf hunters, charged with whatever authority remains by whatever nobility might have held on to soldiers and a keep with strong walls. Or they might just be non-infected on the run through a blasted wasteland, trying to avoid the curse and find safety. Definitely a more modernistic perspective in that way, although I do dig that the whole situation as viewed through the eyes of strong Christians (or even secret pagans) would take on a very different cast.

No idea on what role magic or faith may have. Capital-f Faith probably makes good sense. Magic might not.

Haven’t gotten far into the pitch but that’s the stuff that’s interesting me right this hot minute.

Here’s what I would do:

  1. Take some version of the Corruption rules from the Monster Burner. Tweak the Advancement Obs a little more towards what you see fitting with the Curse (“Don’t bother to try to get away from loved ones when you know you’ll turn soon”, “Deliberately seek out your enemies when you turn”, “Deliberately seek out your loved ones when you turn…”)

  2. Alter the Corruption Traits chart to give Lycanthropy based ones - so you can have a Trait for “Carrier”, “Feral Under the Moon”, “Claws, Fangs, and Eyes”, “Wolf Form”, “Full Werewolf” etc.

  3. Everyone infected gets Lunacy and weakness to Silver.

  4. Have… fun? (Rawrr! Nom nom nom!)


Not bad either. An interesting and slightly different take on my original EA idea.

Since you’ve rendered these instincts, I assume that you’re not going with the whole “I blacked out and woke up with hair in my teeth and dirty feet” thing?

In the spirit of spitballing, what about rolling the emotional attribute against its own exponent, to resist transformation? That naturally gets harder as the exponent grows. That coupled with some situational tests (I like what you have so far) would mean some nice rapid advancement.

Huh…that’s interesting. Would the roll to resist transforming itself be a logged test for advancement? That’s interesting.

Or it’s a Steel test and the Ob is your current EA exponent. But that means, maybe, that the infecteds’ Steels will advance dramatically.

Blackout transformations: Yeah, I think that is how I want it to go down. Not True Blood style. So like…you could use this theoretical EA for modestly useful things – spring claws, gain great sense of smell or hearing, maybe get fast or strong. But that’d be different than a full transformation. And of course each time you try to tap the curse, it’s also giving you tests and you’re ultimately advancing your EA. At 10 you’re out, a full-on feral killing machine.

I’m thinking the only non-negotiable YOU WILL TRANFORM trigger is the full moon, and all the rest – the smell/sight of blood, extreme stress (failed Steel test basically) – are maybe-triggers. But in all cases, once you’ve flipped you’re an NPC monster with the Instinct, “always go after the nearest weakest target” or something.

I could also flip the whole thing over and make the assumption that you’re a feral killing machine, and you roll to take control. That’s novel.

Yes, absolutely!

Another thing that occurs to me is that you could have (and perhaps this isn’t very BW) mandatory instincts, and resisting is an optional roll with a failure consequence over and above the bad thing happening. (Perhaps that’s too much.)

Mandatory instincts and beliefs for feral mode sounds cool, since you human motives would be out the window. Instincts basted on reactions for predator/prey, mating, territoriality, eating, etc.

Have you seen “Wolf” with Jack Nicholson? No doubt the best werewolf movie made. In Wolf, there’s no coming back from a full transformation. Once you become wolf enough, you’re a monster and you head out into the hills to do monster stuff. After Jack is bitten, he gets increasingly beast-like. He’s stronger, with better senses. He pisses on his rival’s shoes in the Men’s bathroom. He bites a mugger’s fingers off. He starts waking up naked and covered in blood far from home. Eventually he meets a sagely character who tells him he has to resist becoming a wolf, wear a holy symbol close to his chest, etc.

How about a system where Lycanthropy is a supernatural disease of the soul and it can be resisted as long as a character refuses to give in to his animal side? You could use an Emotional Attribute with steps like the ones you wrote up in Post 1. You could add things like “hurt someone with your bare hands,” “intimidate someone with a physical threat,” and “spend a night alone in the wilderness.” The character could add his EA dice to any skill where being beast-like would help, like Perception, Brawl, Climbing, Health, Forte. Each time he uses the EA dice, that also counts as a test toward advancing his EA.

When the EA hits 6 or 7, he begins to take wolf-man form at the full moon and black out. If you want to follow “Wolf,” this transformation could be stifled (painfully) by wearing the holy symbol of some particular god against your skin. When the EA hits 10 he becomes basically a Great Wolf and is an unrecoverable monster roaming the woods and no little holy symbol will help.

Oh, and another carrot (besides the EA dice) for the player to roleplay a descent toward bestiality… give a character trait like “bestial” so that when he does things that advance his EA he gets Fate for it. I would give the EA the same “all tests count for advancement” thing that Dwarf Greed has, too.

I would call the Emotional Attribute “Rage”. When you reach 10, you became a real wolf, and can never back to be human again. (You become an NPC monster.)

I would add Possessed and Unrelenting Savagery to the trait list. (And you can use a Persona point to replace any attack test with Rage, and a Deed point to add Rage to any attack roll.)

See Possessed, BWG, page 341.

A fun, but slightly complicated way to do this:

  1. Werewolf forms have their own Beliefs and Instincts
  2. When in blackout mode, you hand the character to another player, who plays out THOSE Beliefs and Instincts.
  3. “I woke up. The city is on fire. The bloodied, half bitten Crown of the King on my floor. I have a Deeds point I don’t remember earning. This is bad. Real bad.”


Yeah I’ve been thinking of a hack of Possessed as well. It’s not the same downward-spiral vibe as an EA (which, yeah, I was thinking about Wolf when that popped into my head) but the constant struggle-against-the-monster-within vibe is an equally valid take on lycanthropy.

The big difference that comes to mind is that when you’re Possessed, the demon has his own agenda and the head game largely comes from sometimes allowing the demon to get his way. He doesn’t ask anything outrageous – the Possessed is usually faced with an escalating series of small sins. It also leads to characters with extremely high Will, which is one thing about Possessed I feel mixed about (the guy with the demon inside eventually becomes the guy who just “says no” to any and all efforts at social manipulation).

On the EA front, yes, totally, I’d do the “fate to gain help from the attribute, persona to use the attribute, deeds to add the attribute” thing. Easy and mechanically very effective.

Still think I’d like the choice to partially transform, or that partial transformations might just happen with the right stimulus. Some of that is that I liked the look/feel of the Lycans in Underworld: Awakening (most recently), also I’m a Werewolf: the Apocalypse goober from way back. But it’s not a deal-breaker if I can’t figure it out, or if it’s just an excuse to be superhuman. Tying it to an EA would, I think, help fix that. Sprout claws, sure, but that’s an Ob8 test.


“I have a deeds point I don’t remember earning.” HA!

On that note, though…I wonder if there’s something there, in the very general “all choices are bribes” sense that BW’s reward cycle works. You can choose to just totally flip the fuck out and that gives you a Deeds, but you are totally flipping the fuck out and NPCs are for-sure gonna die . Maybe a Persona for transforming when you’re “probably” safe and a Fate when you’re definitely safe (locked in a basement or whatever). Might be too meta. Dunno. It just popped into my head. :slight_smile:

You know, forcing a player to have a particular Belief or Instinct may not be very BW (though both Elves and Dwarves have skills that can do that, and it can be achieved via DoW stakes), but there’s precedent for a Trait that grants a slot that has to be used for an appropriate Belief or Instinct (Noblesse Oblige, Zealot, Loyal, Sixth Sense).

I like the idea of Will test vs EA exponent to resist transform, with appropriate let-it-ride length (one moon cycle?) to keep from Will inflation.