Wednesday, July 24, 2019

OSR: Werewolf

Once there was a man who wanted to be a King, but couldn't, because he wasn't of royal blood.  Once there was a man who wanted to be remembered forever, but couldn't, as he was only a mortal.  Once there was a man who wanted to defy the Empire, but couldn't, as he was only one man.

                                                    from Tumblr

Meet King Ellan, Shaker of the World, Butcher of Kings, False Emperor and the Spark.

Ellan was just a cattle thief and a commander in the armies of an Imperial vassal King.  One day, a small, fratricidal war broke out between his King and another vassal King, which was something that wasn't supposed to happen, but often did.  So to prevent the Agents of His Imperium from coming in and demolishing them both, Ellan's King sent him to negotiate.  Ellan did and negotiated that he would switch sides and betray his King to the invading vassal King.  He then did this, not once, but three times, until the forces of both Kings were weak enough that Ellan was able to defeat both of them. 

Then, after that, Ellan crowned himself King.  This was his first and penultimate act of rebellion, as far the Empire was concerned.  An army was immediately dispatched to destroy him.  This army would have destroyed him, had Ellan not found unexpected allies.

Ellan was approached by a Druidess who saw Ellan's worth as a tool, and convinced him to return with her to her circle.  Despite the fact that this was comparable to a mouse crawling into a lion's mouth, Ellan did so, appaearing naked before the Druidess' Archdruid.  The Archdruid was so impressed by this act of nearly suicidal bravado that he said he would help the rebels, as long as they continued to fight the Imperials.  Then, to prove their commitment, the Druidess blessed Ellan with invunerability to any worked weapon, the strength of a bear, the speed of a fox and the form of a wolf.

The campaign against Ellan was a disaster.  The Druids provided a constant thorn in the Imperial side, along with an amazing amount of intelligence, mostly extracted from the brains of captured VIPs.  Ellan did most of the fighting though, breaking every army he came against, through a combination of clever tactics and immense blood-lust.  Imperial records tell that by the end of the campaign, Ellan was fighting naked and painting himself with Druidic symbols, yet despite the fact that he was only wearing a thin layer of paint and his cloak, he would return home each day covered in blood, yet with not a single scratch on him.  However, these Imperial records also say that he would viciously rape women and sleep with up to 20 female slaves in one day, so they can probably be discounted, as Ellan was only unfaithful once.

For most accounts agree that all this time, Ellan and the Druidess were lovers and that he was deeply and madly in love with her, and her him.  Yet Ellan had no shortage of admirers.  Despite this fact, he managed to spurn them all, all but one.  For you see, the Moon had fallen in love with Ellan.  The Moon was clever though, seeking a different path to Ellan.  First, she distracted the Druidess by tricking some poor fools into wandering into her circle's territory, forcing her to return to defend it.  Then the Moon disguised herself as the Druidess and crept into Ellan's home while he slept.  When she reached his bed-chamber, Ellan awoke and seeing that the "Druidess" was here, he took her in her arms and then took her to bed.

The Moon, still disguised as the Druidess, spent several days together.  However, by this point, Ellan was sure that this woman was not the Druidess.  He demanded she reveal her true form, and she refused, claiming that their child would be endangered if she did that.  This was Ellan's weakness, the Moon knew, for it had witnessed many arguments under the moonlight between the Druidess and Ellan.  They both wanted children, but the Druidess would not raise her children outside of the circle.  Ellan did appreciate the Druid's way of life and their aid, but he had no desire to become a Druid, nor for his children to become them.  So when the Moon offered him that, he took it.  He reasoned that he could simply take the Moon on as a second wife, which was not an uncommon practice for Kings.  And while he likely knew that the Druidess wouldn't take it well, he figured he could talk her into it.  Actions thus justified, he went back to work on ensuring the "Druidess" was pregnant. 

Meanwhile, the real Druidess returned just in time to catch them together.  The Druidess was so shocked and horrified by what she saw that she immediately exploded in a firestorm of rage.  She immediately cursed Ellan, stripping him of his invulnerability to worked weapons as well as most of his powers, before declaring that his children will be born beasts and killed like dogs in the street for his crimes against her.  Then she left, and the Druids withdrew their support shortly after. 

Ellan would be defeated on the battlefield several months later, deprived of his information network and Druidic servants.  He was captured and sent back to the Imperial Capital to be executed for treason and murder.  However, on the way there, on the night of the full moon, Ellan's powers were suddenly restored to him.  He transformed into a monster and tore his way out of the cage they had been transporting him in, killing a dozen of his guards, including 2 Stepson Brother-Captains, each one a Master of the 49 Empty Palms style, before escaping into the wild, never to be seen or heard from again.        

By the way, Ellan's most well known title is omitted from the earlier list.  The one he's really known for is 'The First Werewolf'.

                                                 by @artofmicahmate on Instagram

You are a descendent of Ellan, through either the Moon or one of his mortal concubines.  To see who you are related to, roll on the table below.

1d6
1- The Magical Staniza.  You are related to Ellan through a Handsome Woman who liked her lovers hairy.  Pick a spell from any spell list.  You may cast that spell 1/Day as a level 1 spell.
2- The Martial Nissa.  You are related to Ellan through the famous swordswoman, Nissa.  You start with a sword and the ability to counter damage with it as a reaction.  You may only do this once per round.
3- The Dutiful Jani.  You are related to Ellan through a peasant girl named Jani.  You start with the ability to make disguises out of sticks, leaves and mud.  If you have time to prepare someone or yourself, you can give them +1d6 to any stealth roll. 
4- The Beautiful Wexa.  You are related to Ellan through a princess with shining eyes and a vagina that could melt iron pokers.  You start with the ability to reduce fire damage taken by half, rounding up 1/Day.
5- The Druidess.  She bore his child and nursed him on spite.  You start with the ability to intimidate creatures related to the Moon, including other Werewolves.  If you take an action to try and scare them, they must save or be filled with terror at your presence.
6- The Moon.  You are of the line of the Firstborn, historically the highest branch of Ellan's family tree.  You start with the ability that when in direct moonlight, you can change your appearance to look like anyone. 

Along with your pseudo-royal blood, you have also inherited a weaker version of his abilities, but you are still mighty compared to most men.  However, this power you have does not come without dangers.  For starters, you are scorned and hated by most of society.  Werewolves are notorious for rampaging, stealing, kidnapping and murdering people who get in their way. Pointing out that many Werewolves are driven to these crimes because they have no other options is not a good way to impress people, despite how true it is.  Pointing out that many Werewolves are only so hateful and vile because of the abuse they received because of society's attitudes toward their kind is equally unpopular, despite being just as true.  The fact remains, when people see a Werewolf, they call the authorities or start rounding up an angry mob.

Yet while society rejects the Werewolf, in an ironic twist, so do the Druids.  Ordinarily the Druids are at least de facto allies of anyone rejected by society, but not in this case.  This is because the Druids see the Werewolf as a fusion of civilization and nature, a marriage of wild instinct and symbolic thought.  For this reason, to the Druids, Werewolves are abominations, anathema to everything good and just, and must be destroyed.

So Werewolves struggle on between these two great forces, living in small, isolated communities or dwelling in the midst of foes, pretending to be normal.  That does not mean that Werewolves have no allies, though. 

Who is your ally?

1d4
1- An older Werewolf.  He may belong to your pack, or he may not.  Either way, he helps you with your problems, gives you advice, and tries to steer you away from the mistakes he made.  Has some kind of dark backstory that his never talks about, but guides his actions to this day.
2- A sympathetic Imperial Agent.  He doesn't think it's fiar that Werewolves are treated the way they are.  As such, he covers for you, warns you when Softfoots or Interrogator-Lords are nearby and provides you with inside information.  He won't risk his life for you though.
3- A rich patron.  Maybe you're stringing him along with promises of eternal life once you turn him.  Maybe he owes you a debt.  Maybe he just feels bad for you.  Regardless, he can offer you a place to hide and some work, if you need it.  Something suiting your unique talents, perhaps. 
4- Another outcast.  Not a Werewolf, but someone different.  Perhaps a foreigner or a Mutant, or a Wizard from a legal, but despised order.  What they can provide varies, but whatever it is, it is small and heart-felt, a sign of friendship.

                     from Pinterest, a drawing of Gary Hampton from The Astounding Wolf-Man
              
Werewolf
Starting HP: 1/3 of Con
FS: +2 per Werewolf level up to Will 
Starting Equipment: Totem or charm, family sigil, traveling cloak, quarterstaff or bow, dagger, loose clothing

Abilities:

1:

Transformation: As a full action, you can transform into a Wolf.  While in Wolf form you have FS and HP, while in human form you only have the latter.  You also receive a +4 bonus to any roll based on sensing or detecting something, a +2 bonus to sneaking or hiding and a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls.  You also gain a Bite attack that does 1d6+STR damage.  While in Wolf-form, you keep your mental stats, but you cannot use any of your abilities that require a human body.  You cannot cast spells, speak, use tools or anything else requiring thumbs.  When in doubt, ask the Referee, as it falls under his or her discretion.  

Solar Hatred: You may not transform during the day.  The Selenic magicks that fuel your abilities are paltry compared to the Sun's dominion.

Lunar Curse: Whenever you transform into a Wolf during a high-intensity situation, such as combat, the soft tug of your lupine instincts become stronger, forcing you to struggle against the beast.  For each round you are in a high-intensity situation and remain in Wolf form, you receive 1d6 Stress Points.  If these Stress Points ever equal or exceed your Will, you lose control and behave as your instincts demand for 1d4 hours, or until snapped out of it.  You can only be snapped out of it if you are calm and in a low-stress situation.

Generally, your lupine instincts will tell you to hunt weak prey around you, to fight those who threaten you and to flee from those stronger than you.

During the full moon, you automatically transform into a Wolf and lose control of yourself, acting as a raging beast until Moonset.

<Referee's Note>

1, Will is my replacement for INT.  I never liked Intelligence as a stat.  So I have replaced it with Will or WIL, which is connected to force of will, your ability to resist magic and etc.  Your magical immune system, essentially.

2, Stress is a new thing I am trying out.  I used to just use Ability score damage that would 'go away' if it didn't exceed the ability score, but this seems like a better idea.  I'll explain my Stress Point rules in a later post.

</Referee's Note>  

2:

Natural Toughness: Whenever you change form, your HP is always restored to full, but your FS remains as it was.

3:

Alternate Form: Lycanthrope: When you transform, you may instead choose to transform into a Lycanthrope, instead of a Wolf.  The Lycanthrope form do not gain the bonus to senses or stealth that a Wolf does, nor the bite attack that Wolves gain.  But it allows you to access your FS and gives you your damage bonus, as per normal.

Additionally, the Lycanthrope looks almost perfectly human, resembling a slightly more hairy man.  However, there are some things that are still inhuman, such as your muscles, which will be bulging and varicose; or your eyes, which will be bright, lupine yellow.

4:

Enhanced Natural Weapons: Your natural attacks become more dangerous.  When in Wolf form, your Bite attack now does 1d8+STR damage and on a successful attack, if you so choose, you may automatically grapple any creature you damage, able to do 1d6 damage to them each round you are grappling them.  However, if you take an action to do anything else, the creature you are grappling is automatically free.

5:

Alternate Form: Wolf-Man: When you transform, you may instead choose to transform into a Wolf-Man, instead of a Wolf.  The Wolf-Man does not gain the bonus to stealth that a Wolf does, but it does gain all the other bonuses.  The Wolf-Man also keeps his hands and gains the ability that instead of making a single weapon or bite attack, he may make two bare-handed attacks, doing 1d6+STR damage on each, with his choice of sharp (claws) or blunt (knuckles) damage.

6:

Superhuman Senses: Your senses when transformed become even stronger.  You now receive a +8 bonus to any roll based on detecting or sensing something.  It is almost impossible for you to be snuck up on.

Alpha: You are now strong enough that lesser Werewolves and common wolves will seek you out, to curry favor with you and ask you for assistance.  You gain a pack of 1d6 Werewolves and 1d10 common wolves who will serve you.  However, your pack will also need to be taken care of and protected, as they are not strong enough to go it alone.  Other Werewolves of similar or greater stature will also come to you, to challenge you and see if you are worthy of the power you possess.  Depending on the Werewolf, what is 'worthy' may vary.  If you do prove yourself to be strong and capable and your pack is pleased with your actions and care of them, they will reward you with loyalty and service, and you will attract more followers.  If you cannot do this or your pack is not pleased with you, for some reason, you will not, and you may even lose the meager pack you have now.  

7:

Alternate Form: Loup-Garou: When you transform, you may instead choose to transform into a Loup-Garou, instead of a Wolf.  Loup-Garous do not gain the stealth bonus or the bonus that a Wolf does.  However, Loup-Garous do gain the ability to make two attacks per turn, the ability to regenerate 1d6 HP a turn and a damage increase, with their natural attacks increasing by 1 die size: from 1d6 to 1d8 and 1d8 to 1d10 and etc.

However, while in Loup-Garou form and in a stressful situation, you receive 1d8 Stress points per round, as per Lunar Curse. If you lose control as a Loup-Garou, fear for the safety of your friends. 

8:

Selenic Storage: You gain the ability to store moonlight and remain in transformed form, even during the sunlight.  For each hour you spend under moonlight, you gain the ability to remain in transformed form for 10 minutes, even while exposed to sunlight.  However, as soon as this time is up, you immediately revert back to your normal, human form.

9:

Lunar Royal: You may also use the moonlight your body stores for another purpose.  As a free action at the beginning of your turn, you may spend 1 hour's worth of moonlight, expending it automatically, but making yourself immune to all all non-silver, non-magical damage for 1 round, until your next turn.

                                                        by aurru

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