Werebeasts

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Werebeasts (or Weres for short) are a large part of the worlds populace. This doesn't include SaganCity , however, where they are the third largest part of the city's population. They are individuals cursed to take the shape of a murderous beast, usually under the light of the full moon and sometimes other circumstances. Most werebeasts are extremely good at hiding their 'condition', but all werebeasts have a few signs and features that give them away to monster-hunting experts. Unlike mutants, werebeasts have slightly less negative social stigma.

It should be noted that they are never called 'Lycanthropes' or 'Lycans' because that word is exclusive only to wolf-type werebeasts. The most common species of werebeasts are cats, foxes, wolves, bears, various types of birds and snakes.

Origins

Zeus turning Lycaon into a wolf; engraving by Hendrik Goltzius

There are many different places of origin for werebeasts, but nobody is quite sure which is true and which ones are exactly real due to how old the stories are. The actual history of werebeasts and their actual origins are a mystery to of them. However, most werebeasts tribute their origins to the Greek myth of Lycaon. Lycaon, an Arcadian king, challenged Zeus' omniscience by serving him a meal made of a dismembered child. Lycaon then attempted to murder Zeus in his sleep. In return for these acts, Zeus destoryed Lycaon's sons and transformed him into a rampaging wolf.

Other popular myth-related origins include the skinwalkers of Navajo stories, and the were-cats or tigers of India, Africa, and Asia. It's likely that most of these myths are partially true due to all the various types of werebeasts in the world.

The 'curse' itself

The werebeast 'curse' is passed on from werebeast to human through bites. Though, werebeasts can have children if their beast forms are of compatible species (ie. a werewolf cannot have a child with a wereeagle, but can have a child with a weredog).

The curse seems to be partially magic, and partially a genetic anomaly. When a werebeast bites a human, something in the saliva of the werebeast will re-write the genetic code of the human and give them the physical ability to shape shift. If the species of werebeast doesn't have sharp teeth, they will often improvise (IE a werelk will stab a human with their antlers and then slather their saliva into the wound). In other cases, a werebeast will have sex with a human woman. The woman will not be changed into a werebeast, but the child she gives birth to will.

Rarely, a human will not survive the change and die. Most high and moderately leveled mutants will not survive the curse. Interestingly, low-degree mutants seem to adjust to being a werebeast better than a standard human.

All werebeasts shift under full moons, whether exposed to the moons light or not (IE if it's behind the clouds or the werebeast is indoors, they'll still change). No one werebeast can adequately explain why they shift under the full moon, it just appears to be a magic-related quirk. They also cannot explain their weaknesses to particular objects such as silver.

Shifting takes about five minutes for the fledgling werebeast, and ten seconds for older werebeasts. This process is painful, but quick. A werebeast caught off guard will destroy their clothes in shifting. Most werebeasts can adequately prepare for a full moon and remove obstructive clothing before shifting.

Older werebeasts can shift at will with a lot of practice.

Abilities and Weaknesses

  • Human form: Werebeasts in their human forms have much sharper senses than an actual human. This is debatable due to species. For example, almost all werebats have terrible vision, but very good hearing or sense of smell. Some physical traits of their werebeast form are very visible in their human form.

Most werebeasts in human form have light-coloured, yellow, or light-reflective eyes that are a dead giveaway to monster-hunters. Their canine teeth are slightly longer and sharper than a humans (but much shorter than a vampire). They are also very hairy, even the women. Other physical quirks, again vary with the type of werebeast, ie most werefoxes have large noses, weregorillas will have broad shoulders, ect.

  • Beast form: Beast form is made for killing humans and fighting other werebeasts. They are usually well-muscled, lithe, and athletic, despite what body-type the human form has. They also can get quite tall, most werebeasts will stand a full head above their human form while in beast form. It is unusual to become larger, but some werebeasts barely get any height through shifting.

Their senses are all heightened considerably in beast form, and again, abilities and physical traits vary with what type of werebeast form. Some werebeasts can fly, some can swim, and some are totally aquatic.

  • In both forms: Werebeasts have heightened healing abilities, although it is not as quick as say, a high-level mutant or a vampires natural healing. It is much faster than a humans however. A broken arm on a werebeast would heal in about three days, and werebeasts are impervious to poison. Werebeasts also have an incredibly long lifespan and age slowly, with the oldest werebeasts topping about 500 years old. Most do not live pst 200, and are usually killed by other werebeasts or monster hunters.

Weaknesses apply to werebeasts in both forms, though it's easier to administer damage to the werebeast while he or she is in human form. These weaknesses are:

  • Silver: Silver stops the regenerative properties of werebeasts and burns skin and flesh on contact. The smell of silver also drives werebeasts away. The most effective way to kill a werebeast with silver is to either shoot it in the head or the heart with a silver bullet, stab it with a silver knife, or beat it in the head with something silver.
  • Fire: This is simply tied into the more animal instincts of a were. Fire is very hard for a werebeast to recover from fully, and of couse, fur is incredibly flammable. Usually infections from burns are too bad for a weres healing properties to save it, especially if the burn is third degree and rather large.
  • Other werebeasts: Some packs or clans of weres have been battling for centuries, and most weres know how to kill other weres rather well. Some are just rampant murderers, and some are special assassins who are sent to kill werebeasts who have broken the laws of their pack or clan.

Weres can also be killed by other means such as decapitation, falling from great heights, and drowning.

Society

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