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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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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.