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18 June 2008 @ 01:18 am
4E Lycanthropes and the Purge  
As time permits, I'm going to address the frequently askeed questions from earlier in the week. As always, bear in mind that these answers are not canon and that their may be more depth to the story than I can reveal just yet.

Q: Keith, do you have plans on how to deal with the changes to lycanthropes? They no longer spread the lycanthropic disease, it seems, according to the 4E MM. Lycanthropy is now strictly hereditary. While that doesn't change the origin of Shifters in Eberron, it does screw up the story behind the Church of the Silver Flame's Purge.

Actually, it really doesn't. The critical thing you need to remember is that even in 3.5, modern lycanthropy was quite different from the curse that the church fought during the Purge. If you look to the Dragonshard on the subject (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/ebds/20050404a), you get this critical paragraph:

While no one knows how lycanthropy began, most know of the purge that almost brought it to an end. Around 800 YK, the power of the curse began to grow. The scholars of Aundair sought an answer in planar conjunctions or the influence of unknown fiends, while deep in the Eldeen Reaches shifter moonspeakers bemoaned the growing power of the unseen moon. Evil lycanthropes -- always the most numerous of the shapeshifters -- became even more vicious, and many good and neutral lycanthropes were corrupted and drawn down to the darkness. Afflicted lycanthropes gained the ability to pass the curse to their own victims, allowing lycanthropy to spread with terrifying speed. By the early years of the ninth century, packs of werewolves were roaming across western Khorvaire and wererats had established warrens beneath the greatest cities of the age. Farmers lived in fear of wolves that walked in human form. What was once a superstition used to frighten children was now horrifying reality.

The point is that at the time of the Purge, the nature of lycanthropy changed. Good 'thropes found murderous impulses surfacing, and the evil became even more so. Under 3.5, afflicted lycanthropes gained the ability to infect others, something that can't normally do under 3.5 rules. So what triggered the Purge was the fact that the rules of lycanthropy CHANGED - triggering a wave of aggression and a plague that could have swept across Khorvaire if it wasn't opposed.

Under 4E rules, the mechanics of the situation are different; but looking simply to history, the situation remains the same; regardless of how their abilities work in the present day, at the time of the purge, they worked in a different adn far more dangerous manner. Powers such as moon frenzy are a faint shadow of the terror seen in the past.

In the present day, the church continues to deal with lycanthropes for two reasons. The first is that while it doesn't turn you into a WEREWOLF, moon frenzy still turns innocent people into homicidal maniacs... still not the sort of thing you want to have hanging around. Second is the fear that the power behind the Purge could return - and that if it did, the 'thrope population could rapidly spread, carried on a tide of innocent blood.

So yes, the mechanics have changed, but the reasons behind the Purge have not; in both systems, the Purge occured because lycanthropy took on an aspect not seen in the present day.
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( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
I swear, some mans just!xplosivo on June 18th, 2008 10:12 am (UTC)
Man, I can't wait for 4E Eberron to drop. Next year is way too long. :/

I had a little question about the way you do things. While I've been enjoying the crap out of 4E, as it is an incredibly fun and solid system, it seems like it has a LOT of rounded edges. By that I mean things like "lycanthropy is hereditary only." I can understand not wanting to have things that turn PCs into NPCs hard coded into a system, but being too "nice" at the cost of flavor isn't good either. Where do you strike the balance? Do you houserule in "old flavor" stuff from 3.5 or a previous edition? Or do you just run with what we got for 4E so far in hopes that it all gets padded out a bit more in the long run?
Keith Bakergloomforge on June 18th, 2008 11:14 am (UTC)
Re: Lycanthropes
Where do you strike the balance? Do you houserule in "old flavor" stuff from 3.5 or a previous edition?

To me, it is important that lycanthropy was ONCE contagious (and could be again) because that was the driving force behind the Purge. However, I'm fine with it being in a non-contagious stage at this point in time... with the various diseases inflcted by lycanthropes reflecting a weakened version of it. Thus CURRENTLY lycanthropes are hereditary only - but some of these hereditary-only modern-day thropes are descended from people afflicted in the past.

What I might add is a ritual that a lycanthrope can perform on someone afflicted by the bite of another of its kind, which has the chance of transforming the victem physically and mentally into a lycanthrope of that type. So it's possible for, say, a wererat street gang to induct new members - but it's not something that happens casually, and the psychological consequences are severe.

At least, that's my extremely non-canon casual thoughts on the matter. ;-)
horatio09horatio09 on June 18th, 2008 04:58 pm (UTC)
Re: Lycanthropes
Man, rituals...they really are the answer to everything in the new edition, aren't they? :-)
Raide_raide on June 18th, 2008 10:14 am (UTC)
Lycanthropes
3e Lycanthrope: Humanoid who may assume animal or hybrid form, may be hereditary (true) or afflicted. The afflicted may be cured. When shapechanged, they are assumed to take allignment according to their beast form, and control handled by DM until the player consciously know and able to control it.
4e Lycanthrope: Bestial shapechanger who may assume humanoid form to infiltrate civilized humanoid settlements. Humanoid form are only to disguise themselves. True form: hybrid? Only hereditary, may not afflicted.

Eberron's Lycanthrope: I assume it applies as a template, as in the time after Last War, it is known that:
1. Lycanthropy aren't bound to allignment (as all Eberron elements are)
2. Afflicted Lycanthropes suffer a dramatic change in personality, permanent mental transformation, and able to shapechange like true Lycanthropes albeit at weaker control
3. Beginning 800YK, Lycanthropes may be afflicted and spread at terrifying speed

Eberron's template applied to 4e Lycanthropes:
1. Lycanthrope disease/affliction stats might be needed, so let's look for D&DI
2. The fluff aren't available at 4e MM, so should we refer to 3e MM for a while?
3. How about those templars that are corrupted with Lycantrophies? Do you mean they're actually just in Moon Frenzy or what?

I guess these three points needs clearance if we want to introduce Lycanthrope in 4e Eberron games, at least for now.
horatio09horatio09 on June 18th, 2008 05:02 pm (UTC)
Re: Lycanthropes
The Templars who were infected did become true Werewolves...because the nature of lycanthropy was different during the time of the Purge than it is during the modern day as described by the Monster Manual. That's the big thing to remember--the fluff in the Monster Manual doesn't directly apply to the Purge, because the Purge changes the fluff for a specific and limited time period. You have to look at the fluff for the Purge to see how it worked (check that Dragonshard article Mr. Baker linked in his initial post here for that).
horatio09horatio09 on June 18th, 2008 05:08 pm (UTC)
Re: Lycanthropes
I hate not being able to edit my replies...

It just hit me that you might be asking how to run the Purge itself, and are looking for mechanical elements to use for that? In that case, look at the diseases in the DMG and introduce one that has a final condition of "becomes a lycanthrope of the type that inflicted the disease". Choose Endurance DCs as per page 42 of the DMG, depending on the level you want the disease to be (I'd recommend about 4-5, if you want "becoming a werewolf" to be a threat in the same adventuring range that it was in 3ed, or you might scale the virulence of the disease to the level of the lycanthrope that inflicts it). This would cover your 2nd and 3rd points for Eberron, since the fluff would be consistent with 3ed using this disease, plus Templars really could become werewolves using this disease. Hope that helps.
Raide_raide on June 18th, 2008 05:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Lycanthropes
Got it. In other words, I assume lycanthropic affliction will be there in 4e Eberron games, however there are yet official 4e crunch for this, therefore it's up to the DM to homebrew this one according to templates and example at DMG page 45.

Well that should cover most stuffs. Thanks for the replies. 8)
horatio09horatio09 on June 18th, 2008 05:21 pm (UTC)
Re: Lycanthropes
I get the impression that the DM is supposed to homebrew a lot of things for his campaign. The 4e DMG strikes me more as a toolbox with which to create your own rules and effects than a list of hard and fast rules that are meant to apply to every campaign. So, you may never get official rules on transmittable lycanthropy in a sourcebook, but an adventure that deals with it might have the disease in the adventure pack, or they will give you the tools to create such a condition on your own (basically, use page 42 and 49 of the DMG to create the disease you want). The tools are meant to be balanced so that you and a different DM might come up with very different solutions to the problem (perhaps the other guy would use a ritual), but both solutions will be balanced with the game and thus perfectly valid and above all fun. It's a different design philosophy than 3ed, but it's very flexible and powerful, IMHO. Welcome to the new edition!
Keith Bakergloomforge on June 18th, 2008 08:23 pm (UTC)
Re: Lycanthropes
The Templars who were infected did become true Werewolves...because the nature of lycanthropy was different during the time of the Purge than it is during the modern day as described by the Monster Manual.

Yup. The Dark Pack of Droaam certainly includes people transformed during the Purge. it's just that things were different back then, and if you play by the straight RAW, it's not an active threat right now. Infectious lycanthropy is currently in remission.
(Deleted comment)
Keith Bakergloomforge on June 18th, 2008 08:19 pm (UTC)
Any ideas for quick and dirty rules to apply lycanthropy to a pc?

I don't think it's terribly hard; it's fairly easy to see the core wererat abilities (regeneration 5, change shape, bite and climb speed). The problem is that having a character with constant regeneration is going to play absolute havoc with your game balance... and unless you're dealing with the psychological aspects of the change (something I personally take very seriously), what's the drawback?

One option would be to make the "afflicted wererat" as a RACE, and have the PC convert his character to that race instead of as a member of his original race. Like the other race conversions, you could scale back the powers on the basis that the "affliction" isn't as strong as the full curse. As such, I'd see something like:

Afflicted Wererat
Ability Scores: +2 Cha, +2 Dex
Size: As base creature
Speed: 6 squares
Vision: Low-light
Languages: Common
Skill Bonuses: +2 Bluff, +2 Stealth

Rat's Blood: You are immune to Filth Fever. You gain a +3 racial bonus to Endurance checks to resist any other form of disease.
Wererat Shifting: You possess the Wererat Shifting encounter power.

Wererat shifting
Encounter; Healing
Free action; Personal
Trigger: You are bloodied.
Special: You have no choice as to whether to use this power; it activates automatically whenever you are bloodied (though only once per encounter, as it can be lost if you are rendered unconscious).
Effect: Until the end of the encounter or until rendered unconscious, you assume a ratlike hybrid form. While in this form you gain a climb speed of 4. In addition, at any time that you are bloodied while in this form, you gain Regeneration 3 (6 at 11th, 9 at 21st); this does not function on the turn after you are hit with a silver weapon.

This plays to the idea that you have limited control over your wererat abilities; you are AFFLICTED, and it happens when it happens... and may cause quite an uproar when it does (if you really wanted to be cruel, you could have the chance of the PC losing some level of control over his actions in this form, which is after all what the curse is all about). The regeneration is obviously superior to the Longtooth Shifter ability (since how many folks carry silver), but you have the drawback of there being more negative backlash against wererats than shifters. If you want to go by the stats on page 180, you might go Con/Dex instead of Cha/Dex, but I see wererats as sly.

Beyond this, you could create a feat for something like the bite attack (unarmed attack, +3 proficiency, 1d4 damage, +2 ongoing damage/save ends, looks like it can be used as a light blade for rogue powers since they get extra damage with combat advantage when using it)... I wouldn't attach filth fever, just as in 3.5 an afflicted lycanthrope can't pass on the curse.

Anyhow, that's all off the top of my head, but if I had to deal with an afflicted wererat, that's probably what I'd do. But like I said, I'd also play to the psychological impact of the curse, because for me, that's the reason that EVERYONE doesn't go out and become a lycanthrope - after the curse takes hold, you're not you any more. Even if it's a good aligned strain, it's still a serious shift to your personality.

But that's me.
Keith Bakergloomforge on June 18th, 2008 08:21 pm (UTC)
If "by fixing soon", you mean "It IS a psychological problem and you want to have it cured, but it's going to take time to do so - what do we do until then?" - I'd just give him that Wererat Shifting ability on top of whatever else, but then I would say there's a chance of him turning on his allies when he shifts, or shifting at night and sneaking off in search of other wererats, etc - so he makes the character normally and gets the free ability, but with clear and serious consequences, and a reason why you'd want to try to help him find a cure.
thestormwalkerthestormwalker on June 20th, 2008 08:13 pm (UTC)
Thanks
Thanks for answering my question, Keith. That helps a lot. I'll be sure to re-read that Dragonshard. :)
(Anonymous) on June 21st, 2008 02:52 am (UTC)
Thanks Keith
Just wanted to say thanks for your continued updates and thoughts on 4e. Though I don't always go with your suggestions, the fact that you take the time of offer them makes me feel even more positive about Eberron in general. I know your real busy, with the new ECS, but I was wondering if there was any word on that new 4e Eberron party you mentioned before? Can't wait to see your take on some of the classes. :)
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