Werewolf /'wearwoolf/ n. (in old folk tales, etc.) A human being turned by supernatural forces into a wolf. Also, werwolf.
Of the creatures we face, the werewolf - or lycanthrope - is one of the most misunderstood. They are creatures like you and me, no different from your neighbour, your mother or your priest. After all, they are human, mostly. Of course, some may betray their nature, so even in their civilized form, you could identify their rough, often unkempt hair; powerful sense of hearing and smell or their beastly tendencies. However, since these traits are not exclusively lycanthropic, it's impossible to tell the subtle difference between a werewolf and some sorry bastard that got up on the wrong side of the bed. As such, it can be quite confronting to consider a creature so like us as a monster. Even the best of us can lose control sometimes, so there are many that see werewolves as kindred spirits.
But when you stand before the snarling jaws of a monstrous wolf with wicked claws and a taste for meat or flesh like yours - then you'll see for yourself what separates the Hunters from the Prey.
The most important thing you need to know about werewolves is that they are cursed. It's unclear the cause of this ancient curse, but its function is well known. Werewolves have the ability to transform into a wolf-like creature. So as to differentiate from other shapeshifting creatures, Hunters call this transformation the Turn.
Contrary to what most people believe, the turn is not caused by the moon, rather it is a mental process, caused by the werewolf's brain, meaning a werewolf can lose control of themselves and turn at any moment. There are a variety of stimuli that will turn a werewolf:
Seeing a full moon; hearing a wolf howl; smelling a female in heat; losing their temper or feeling threatened. However, as the Full Moon it is such an ancient symbol werewolf culture, even those few that can control their form are unsafe in the direct light of a Full Moon.
When a werewolf undergoes what we call the turn, first their bodies start to convulse, or in some cases spasm or shiver, this is believed to be caused by increased heart rate and a rush of adrenaline and hormones. Then, as the change takes hold a werewolf will experience the beginnings of rapid hair growth, the most obvious sign of the turn, which usually progresses throughout the entire process. Next, their muscles and bones rearrange, often making it difficult to stand up and causing anything from discomfort to pain and skin-tearing. After the skeletal structure and internal organs rearrange themselves, the werewolf goes through the final stage of the turn, wherein they grow a tail, claws, teeth & their skull changes shape, often elongating into a snout.
Because it is such a volatile process, there are a variety of different forms that become of this process, which is dependant upon the mental state of the
These processes are quite painful, making the werewolf incredibly agitated and defensive immediately after it turns.
One thing that I want to make perfectly clear, especially to those out there that sympathize with werewolves, is that Lycanthropy is not an infectious curse akin to vampirism, this is a widespread misconception that began in the 20th century.
If you are bitten or scratched by a werewolf, you're probably about to be killed, eaten or both. Those that have survived a werewolf attack after being bitten, will remain as human. The fact remains that lycanthropy is hereditary and spread through bloodline. A descendant of a werewolf will themselves be a werewolf, with little to no exceptions. It is because of this that werewolves are so often tribal, even if they live in urban areas. They congregate as families or packs in secluded areas and prefer their own company to that of humans.
This is what makes werewolves so dangerous. Not only do they prefer to hunt in family packs, making them more dangerous; but this also means that those solitary werewolves that try to live among humans are often exiles, likely to be disgraced, dangerous or criminal.
In the instance that you come across a werewolf there are some key tips to remember if you want to stay alive:
- Stand your Ground − Turned werewolves think in terms of kill or be killed. If you can seem like neither a target nor a threat, you might just walk away.
- Be Wary of Strangers − as lycanthropy is hereditary, any person with a secretive past or questionable family should be treated with suspicion.
- Don't Run Away − Running is noisy, presents your back as a target & a werewolf will outrun you every time. Only run short distances to get to safety.
- Save Your Legs − Werewolves stand on all fours, so your legs are an easy target; and if you fall down you're dead. Keep your legs in one piece.
- Hide don't Sneak − Werewolves have good smell & hearing, but their vision is mediocre at best. If you're silent (and don't smell) hiding can save your life.
- Fire is Your Friend − Fur is flammable and turned werewolves are covered in it. So most werewolves are wary of an exposed flame; just be fire-safe.
- Don't Poke the Were − Some werewolves kill to keep their secret. If you suspect someone to be a werewolf, don't provoke them & don't let them know you know.
- Safety in Greater Numbers − If you face a pack of werewolves alone, you're dead; but if your party outnumbers the werewolves, they usually won't attack.
- Dog Eat Dog − If an attacking werewolf is merely hungry, presenting them with an easier meal will stop them or at least give you the chance to escape.
The most important thing to remember about werewolves is that they are still people like us. These aren't the Dark Ages anymore, we don't kill monsters for being monsters. If your discover a werewolf is merely massacring livestock, scaring people or defacing property then you have no right to murder them. However, in the instance, of a werewolf turning in a public place; killing or attacking another person or stalking human prey, then the Hunt is on.
When a werewolf commits a crime, they often leave evidence of themselves behind, like any other criminal. The trick is to know what to look for. It is a good idea to investigate the victim, as it teaches you a lot about your target:
A cannibalistic werewolf that kills to eat will often tear open the belly and hollow out the ribcage to eat the organs; a most werewolves killing in self-defence often leaves the victims with bitemarks and scratches on the limbs, killing via blunt force & when werewolves commit wrathful murder, they often maul the face, genitals or chest, digging deep to the bone. Identifying your werewolf's motive is the first step to finding them.
Second, it's good to investigate your location. Check for scent-marking or boundary markers, in case you're not within a werewolf pack's territory. If you've got a very keen nose or a trained sniffer dog, you could potentially follow a werewolf's scent trail. However, I find it easier to check the scene for signs of discarded clothing or torn clothing; secluded escape routes or blood trails. Also, werewolves like to find a safe, secluded place to turn during the Full Moon, if you can find such a place it could easily lead you to your werewolf (or your werewolf to you).
Finally, suspects. So often in these cases, just knowing who was where and when can solve your crime. More often than not, you can find a werewolf by discovering the survivors of the attack and finding the suspect without an alibi.
In every case, your goal is to capture a werewolf, not kill. Do not bring yourself down to their level if you can avoid it. Even so, you do not want to kill a werewolf, because after death a turned werewolf reverts to their human form; and a dead human body isn't something you can easily walk away from. To capture a werewolf, You will Need:
"Cage" - Some Hunters have a literal cage, but I prefer something more mobile, such as a van with a strong cargo barrier (preferably windowless); an enclosed box trailer or a modified utility vehicle.
"Collar" - To pacify a werewolf, tranquilizers or tasers work effectively; chains, ropes or even a strong net can hold them & if you've any arcane ability, silver can be used to revert werewolves to human form - but it's all hocus pocus to me.
"Cane" - Most Hunters use their weapon of choice to keep werewolves under control when they resist, but it's preferable to use a blunt or intimidating weapon to keep them at bay, such as a whip, a staff or an open flame.
Some other equipment you might want to consider carrying would be armour, preferably lightweight in your limbs; your weapon of choice, something lethal in case things take a turn for the worse; a torch, both to see at night, or to momentarily blind a werewolf, as they're often used to the dark & if you're after a wild or hungry werewolf using bait, such as meat or livestock is an effective way of luring the werewolf into your trap.
Using what equipment you see fit, subdue & capture the creature using whatever method keeps you alive and safe. Some werewolves come quietly, but in my experience, I've found that if you can capture a werewolf before they turn, it's best to bind them and transport them in the cage as a precaution - some werewolves turn themselves in just for the opportunity to kill a Hunter.
If a werewolf turns, do not bind them as they transform! - turning is a volatile process, meaning their body is in an unstable state, you cannot guarantee your bindings will hold their turned form & you risk strangling or crushing the creature under bonds that become too tight on parts of their body that have grown.
Once captured, werewolves should either be returned to their pack or taken to your nearest Hunting authority to be dealt with accordingly.
With practiced safety and skill, werewolves can be managed with little to no bloodshed. In my time I've found that it's important to remember that while we call them monsters, they are people, cursed though they may be. If you treat them like animals, they will act like animals; however, if you treat them with respect, you'll both have a greater chance of walking away unharmed.