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Treatise on the History of Lycanthropyby John Calvin from Threshold Magazine issue 13
A Treatise on the History of Lycanthropy in the Known World
By John Calvin
Forward by the Author
I originally wrote this article for that other Mystara Fanzine, the Tome of Mystara. It’s been many years since then, but I’ve always had a special place in my heart for this piece of work, and the time has come to update it. For those of you familiar with the original article, you will find some modifications below, as well as a few brand new additions. Overall my intent remains the same, to provide a varied and descriptive story about how lycanthropy fits into the world of Mystara. Before you begin, I have copied the original forward below:
One of a fantasy setting’s biggest advantages is its great diversity. If used properly this can greatly add to the flavor of any campaign. Unfortunately great diversity in a setting can also be a hindrance if little or no thought is put in as to why the setting is so diverse. Mystara has an abundance of diversity, sometimes well thought out, and sometimes not.
I have never felt comfortable with the curse of lycanthropy being blamed upon Alphatian mages. This course just seemed too easy. It is a cop out just to say that since lycanthropy is a magical disease, and since the Alphatians are magical people, that the Alphatians must have created lycanthropy. After reading some of James Mishler’s work on the Taymoran empire, I was inspired to add my own take to the events of those times, one of which was the creation of lycanthropy. Thanks go to James, and to all of the others who keep working on the land of Mystara.
In addition to James Mishler, I’d also like to thank Giampaolo Agosta and Francesco Defferrari, as well as all of the others who have been able to take some of these ideas and run with them in their own projects. That’s some of the best inspiration one can receive.
[To those that read on...beware, some spoilers may follow.]
History of Lycanthropy
Lycanthropy is a bane upon our world. Like a disease it spreads through families, villages, cities, and nations. The lucky ones are the ones who do not survive, for lycanthropy is a dreadful curse. It twists the body, and the mind, into fearful bestial forms. Often those who are infected will not remember the atrocities that they commit upon friends and loved ones. Brought upon by the tides of the moon, the transformation is unavoidable.
As with most things that people do not understand, most things magical, the curse of lycanthropy is blamed upon Alphatians and their infernal sorcery. 600 years ago a virtual plague swept across the Known World from that nation leaving death and despair in its wake. Some say that the Alphatians made a terrible mistake. Others believe that those wizards created lycanthropy with a purpose in mind, to subjugate the world.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Lycanthropy was not developed by Alphatian wizards 600 years ago1. It has been on Mystara for far longer than that. Neither has it always been as tame as it is now. Long ago it was by far a worse curse than it is now.
BC 2500 - Mythic Lycanthropy
Period: BC 2500 - BC 1100
Forms: Wolf, Bat
In the decades and centuries after the destruction of Blackmoor, merely staying alive was a constant struggle for people across Mystara. The aftermath of the Great Rain of Fire left the Wasting disease, a deadly illness which slowly rotted away flesh. Cultures across the globe attempted to combat this agonizing fate through different means. Some turned to the Immortals for help, others to technology. Many fled their homes, but few could find succor regardless of their actions. People living in the shadows of the Black Mountains on Brun turned to the powers of undeath. These were the Taymorans2.
Led by Tayma, the Original Nosferatu, they began to practice the Ceremony of Blood, a ritual sacrifice that channeled the life force of the populace through their noble rulers… all of whom were nosferatu and vampires, immune to the Wasting. Fleeing the destruction of their homeland, the Taymorans migrated to the shores of southern Brun and began to rebuild their civilization.
As the years progressed and the Wasting subsided it was no longer necessary for the Taymorans to perform the Ceremony of Blood, however by that time their entire society was entrenched in the institution of undeath. Originally ruled over by powerful Vampire Queens, daughters of Tayma and adherents of Nyx, Taymora became fractured as necromancers and other undead monstrosities seized power for themselves. Reluctant to give up their dominion the Vampire Queens continued seeking out the living, to use as fodder in their wars, as slaves for their industries, and as food for their appetites. Many in the populace hated and feared their rulers, and actively sought ways to overthrow them.
The Vampire Queens, desperate to keep their minions subjugated, devised a magical disease which would impart bestial aspects onto its victims. The vampires correctly believed that if they could impart the traits of those animals which they could command onto their human subjects, that those subjects would be more able, and willing, to serve them. Mixing their own undead blood with that of wolves and bats, the Vampire Queens created a curse that would plague Mystarans for millennia to come3. Thus Mythic Lycanthropy was born.
Mythic Lycanthropy transforms its victim into a creature with traits of both beast and man. Roughly humanoid in shape, the cursed being acquires the claws, fangs, and appetite of its were type. Although it retains its former intelligence, the creature is strongly driven by animal instincts. The transformation is brought upon by the coming of nightfall. Some hardy individuals can prevent their transformation, but not forever. Each night painful surges wrack the victim’s body. Those that submit to the pain assume their were-form.
Once transformed into a beast man, the afflicted individual loses all of the memories and personality of their former self. The beast form is a completely new entity, most often cruel and violent. After months of succumbing to the disease 50% of those infected die. Of those that remain, a full three quarters are stuck in their beast man form forever. After a year’s time 90% of those remaining will die.
While in beast man form a person infected with Mythic Lycanthropy is susceptible to the call and compulsion of vampires. The vampiric nobility created strains of the disease with their own blood resulting in clans of were-creatures who were attuned to a specific vampire. As the disease developed, and several strains intermingled, it became difficult for any given vampire to retain control over an individual creature. Summoning and compelling the lycanthropes was not a problem, keeping another vampire from doing the same thing was.
Using lycanthropes as shock troops in battles was a favorite tactic of the Vampire Queens during the height of Taymoran civilization. Their control over the creatures gave them a distinct advantage over Necromancer and Lich Kings.
It was during the Taymoran civil war, when various factions of vampires were fighting amongst themselves, that a small cult of anti-vampire sentiment grew within the ranks of the lycanthropes. Those few who survived their terrible first year were becoming more populace, and began to dislike how their rulers used them. Gathering numbers in the heart of the vampire’s territory, they planned to attack their masters.
It was then that Taymora sank beneath the waves.
BC 1800 - Ancient Lycanthropy
Period: BC 1800 - BC 500
Forms: Wolf, Bat, Cat, Fox, Jackal, Hawk
Since the washing away of Mogreth in BC 2000, the blossoming Nithian nation quickly gained prominence in the Known World. Nithian and Taymoran forces had already clashed several times in the centuries since the pharaohs took power. Despite the fact that Taymora was a strong and long established nation, it was also fractured to the hilt. Though border wars were violent and bloody, Taymora did not have the strength to truly conquer Nithia, however the real threat came not from armies but from a curse, for Taymoran lycanthropy knew no boundaries.
Mythic Lycanthropy spread throughout the native population like wildfire, but the Nithians were not defenseless against the curse. Armed with knowledge from a group of Taymoran sympathizers, and already strong in the use of magic, they began to alter the disease, trying to lessen and remove its worst effects. Over several decades they were successful in this endeavor.
The first attempt that the Nithians made was designed to remove the curse entirely. They only partially succeeded. Those infected no longer transformed into a hideous beast man. Instead they took on the entire animal shape of their were-type. This made those suffering under the curse slightly less dangerous and more manageable, however the curse continued to spread, and thousands still died each year. Neither did problems with the Taymorans cease after the nation was plunged beneath the waves, for those few surviving vampire lords continued to harass border colonies by bending cursed lycanthropes to their will.
After their first attempt to eradicate lycanthropy failed, the Nithians attacked the problem from another angle. Instead of trying to lift the curse, they sought ways to make it easier to live with. Through arcane rituals and ancient secrets, the Nithians bound the curse with the forces emanating from the moon which reduced the transformations. Inflicted individuals would assume their were-form four times a month, once for each phase of the moon (new, waxing , full, waning). This ended many of the deaths that resulted from the strain of constant transformations, but was still unable to cure the curse itself.
None of the Nithian’s magic could remedy the loss of memory and personality from victims of the curse. For decades they toiled over the problem to no avail. Many wizards forsook their arcane arts and turned towards the Immortals for guidance. After years of devout service, and a sincere concern for the fate of their charges, the Immortals granted those new Nithian clerics the solution to their troubles. With guidance from their Immortal patrons, those clerics, who would go on to become the first Nithian pharaohs, crafted holy relics designed to prevent the curse from stealing the memories of a transformed lycanthrope. By distributing those relics to the infected population, the spread of the disease was effectively contained.
Once lycanthropes were able to retain their memories, the controlling influences of the Taymoran Vampires were broken forever. This gave those who were infected by Ancient Lycanthropy a distinct advantage over those who were infected by the Mythic version. The Nithians acted quickly to remove the Taymoran threat from their lands once and for all, and by BC 1100 all traces of Mythic Lycanthropy were erased from their nation.
The Nithians weren’t satisfied with that result. Individuals were able to retain their own memories and personalities, as well as gain abilities that no other human had. With concentration and practice some lycanthropes were able to assume were-form at will. With the protection of their Immortals, lycanthropy seemed more like a blessing than a curse.
Combining their clerical and magical powers, the Nithians created new strains of the disease. Were-foxes, and jackals were created along with were-hawks and several forms of were-cats. The Nithians controlled the lycanthropic population with strict regulations. Only those who were deemed worthy enough were infected with the disease. Several martial and religious orders formed around the different clans of were-creatures, and members made it their honor and duty to uphold the laws and traditions of Nithia.
BC 6004 - Modern Lycanthropy
Period: BC 600 - Present
Forms: Wolf, Bat, Cat, Fox, Jackal, Hawk (extinct), Bear, Boar
In BC 1000 the Nithians invited the Alphatian people to make a new home on Mystara. The two nations had long histories of talent in the magical arts, and so their peoples had much in common. The Alphatians immediately adopted the Nithian custom of lycanthropic Orders. For them it was the latest fad. Not being shy about performing magical experiments, the Alphatians soon added their own distinct mark to lycanthropy.
By strengthening the curse’s bond with the tidal forces of the moon the Alphatians were able to accomplish several things. Firstly they reduced the number of involuntary transformations further to just once per month. The involuntary transformations only took place on the night of the full moon. A side effect of this was that concentrating the moon’s interaction with the disease allowed lycanthropes to assume their were-shape at will. Those lycanthropes who could assume a beast man form, found that now it was easier to do so. Many who could not do so before were now able to after the moon’s bond was strengthened.
The Nithians entered a new age of enlightenment with the help of their Alphatian allies. Such things however, never last. Dark Immortals grew furious that a thing of entropy could be turned into such a boon for society. Something that once tore communities apart was now one of the very things that held it together. Those Immortals conspired to bring about the downfall of Nithia and once again unleash a lycanthropic curse upon the world.
What the Taymoran nobility could not do through force of conquest, the Taymoran gods did through treachery and deceit. Poisoning the Nithian pharaohs, the dark Immortals were able to cause brother to make war against brother. Soon Nithia was locked in a devastating civil war, resulting in destruction nearly rivaling the catastrophe caused by Blackmoor.
The other Immortals had to intervene. Blackmoor’s demise was still too fresh in their memories, and they did not want to risk another Great Rain of Fire. Banding together the Immortals wiped Nithia from the face of Mystara.
That was not enough however. There were whispers amongst the Immortals that spoke of the possibility of further disasters still to come. The Alphatians were Nithia’s allies. They too were great in the use of magic. Could they not one day rival Nithian glory? With their intimate knowledge of Nithian magic could they not also cause a Great Rain of Fire? After all had they not fled to Mystara after destroying their own home world.
Many Immortals were hesitant about removing a nation which had as yet, done no harm. Others did not want to take a chance that these Alphatians could use Nithian magic to destroy this world. A compromise was proposed. All memory of the Nithians must be removed from Mystara for all time. This way the Alphatians could not use Nithian magic to wreak havoc. The Immortals were in agreement, and so together they cast the Spell of Oblivion, which erased all memories of Nithia forever.
Unfortunately, the knowledge for turning lycanthropy from a curse to a blessing was so intertwined with Nithia, that it too was erased from the memories of mortals. The dark Immortals congratulated themselves. Not only did they succeed in destroying Nithia, but they also manipulated the other Immortals into once again unleashing the curse of lycanthropy into the world.
Without memories of Nithia, or of how to control lycanthropy, Alphatia was beset with a horrible crisis. A terrible disease was infecting some of their most respected and influential citizens. The Alphatians attempted to keep the disease contained, but it quickly spread throughout their lands and spilled over into other nations.
Of course the Alphatians had no way of knowing that the Nithians had already spread lycanthropy throughout most of Mystara. The rest of the world had no way of knowing this either, so when a rash of lycanthropy exploded in AC 400 everybody blamed the magic wielding Alphatians for the disease.
There are several other strains of lycanthropy in the world. They are presented here briefly as it is beyond the scope of this treatise to cover them in detail.
BC 2000 - Herathean Lycanthropy
Period: BC 2000 - Present
During Taymora’s rise to power, several refugees fled to the west, and ended up in what is now present day Herath, these included some victims of Mythic Lycanthropy. The aranea5 who lived there at the time were starting to feel persecuted by the other races around them. Sensing their own demise they mutated the Mythic strain for their own purposes. By purposefully infecting themselves with the disease, Heratheans had devised the perfect cover. They showed only their were-form to the outside world, in their case a humanoid form. Unfortunately they could not escape all of the side effects of Mythic Lycanthropy, and many of them suffered from either temporary, or permanent loss of memory and personality.
BC 1750 – Undersea Lycanthropy
Period: BC 1750 - Present
Forms: Shark, Seal, Dolphin
The sinking of Taymora caused as much havoc below the waves as it did above. Several tritons and merrow exploring the ruins became infected with a nasty strain of Mythic Lycanthropy. It is unclear exactly how this happened. Some believe that it was merely inevitable that the disease would spread in such an environment, while others suspect that some vampire lord6 survived the sinking and was trying to rebuild his empire from below the depths. The chaotic nature of those transformed, along with the changing temperature of the seas at that time, may have both been contributing factors to the disappearance of kopru from the Sunlit Sea.
BC 1700 – Radiant Lycanthropy
Period: BC 1750 - Present
Forms: Spider, Lizard
This violent strain of lycanthropy was created from mixtures of both Mythic and Ancient strains, when an elven population on Brun discovered an ancient Blackmoorian device and triggered an explosion. Radiant Lycanthropy affects only elves and half elves, and will kill most humans and other humanoids who contract it. Involuntary transformation is brought upon by exposure to the radiance in one form or another. The transformation actually consumes all traces of the radiance in the victim’s body. Once enough radiance builds up again, the victim will undergo another involuntary transformation. Radiant Lycanthropes who avoid contact with the radiance slowly die of a strange rotting disease. Shadow elven “soul crystals” do produce enough radiance for populations of these lycanthropes to survive amongst Shadow Elf communities in the Shadowdeep.
BC 1496 – Viper’s Lycanthropy
Period: BC 1469 - Present
Taymora, along with its population of Mythic Lycanthropes, was sent to the Hollow World just after it sunk beneath the wave. In 1496 Atzanteotl guided a small number of those lycanthropes through the forest to the city of Chitlacan. Once there, the lycanthropes spread their disease to nearly three quarters of the population. Two thirds of the population died as a result. The others fled into the forest and became what are presently referred to as were-jaguars. These poor souls must assume their form to eat. If their hunger is not satisfied in this way, they may transform involuntarily.
BC 1000 – Draconic Lycanthropy
Period: BC 1000 - Present
Unfortunately this strain of lycanthropy proved to be fatal to 99 percent of the population it infected. Fortunately for humans, the disease infected only lizardmen and a few other reptilian species. When the Nithians7 unknowingly brought this disease with them to their colony lands, most of the resident population of lizardmen was killed. Unlike most strains of lycanthropy the draconic version is not passed directly from one host to another, but instead spreads through an intermediary. Small parasitic ticks serve this function. Those lizardmen that survived the infection did so only in the most figurative respect. They were transformed into a quasi-undead, desiccated, mummy like state.
BC 500 – Red Lycanthropy
Period: BC 500 - Present
Forms: Wolf, Bat, Cat, Fox, Jackal, Alligator
The creation of the Red Curse also affected lycanthropes in the general area, changing their affliction into something new. Most lycanthropes on the Savage Coast were Nithian, and so were infected with Ancient Lycanthropy. Their transformation occurs four times per month, just as it does for other Ancient Lycanthropes. However, Red Lycanthropes will also undergo an involuntary change at other times, if Cinnabryl is not worn. It takes two days for a Cinnabryl dependent transformation to take place. This process can be reversed at any time by wearing the red metal. A transformation on one of the four nights corresponding to the phases of the moon will deplete any Cinnabryl currently being worn. A red lycanthrope always resumes its natural form after one of these four involuntary transformations, however if Cinnabryl is not worn, it once again begins its two day change back into were-form. Red Lycanthropes cannot acquire Legacies, and if they possessed them before infection, those Legacies are lost.
AC 411 - Rodemus Lycanthropy
Period: AC 411 - Present
Forms: Human, Rat
Unlike most stains of lycanthropy, this strain infected giant rats rather than humanoids. It is likely that Rodemus Lycanthropy is an offshoot of Herathian Lycanthropy, and could have been introduced to the Thyatis region by travelling Herathian merchants of the time. Thus despite its relatively recent appearance, Rodemus Lycanthropy may be a very ancient strain of the disease. The first known recipients of this curse were giant rats known as “lesser” were-rats, who gained heightened intelligence and the ability to transform into humans. Unlike Herathian Lycanthropy, Rodemus Lycanthropy can also be transmitted to humans. These “greater” were-rats often gain control of were-rat communities, and help in spreading the plague to other civilized areas. The name of this strain is somewhat of a misnomer, having been taken from one of the more famous examples of individuals infected with this curse, the Rodemus family. Their fame (some would say infamy) in Thyatis and Karameikos led to the popularization of this name, despite the fact that Rodemus Lycanthropy existed for over 400 years before the Rodemus family was infected.
AC 623 - Devil Lycanthropy
Period: AC 623 - Present
Forms: Boar, Swine
It is believed that circa AC 600 in the region of Traladara, a wretched and wholly despicable individual by the name of Orcus, stumbled upon an ancient Taymoran treasure cache. From secrets discovered there he was able to piece together a ritual allowing him to infuse his own blood with the raw vitality and power of a feral beast. Thus Orcus became the first devil swine. Since then he and his ilk have terrorized the Known World, slowly spreading their influence throughout the rest of Mystara. It is possible that new strains of Devil Lycanthropy could be created, should others be able to piece together the dark rituals that Orcus performed.
AC 730 – Dwarvish Lycanthropy
Period: AC 730 - Present
Elves settling Glantri, some of which were descendants of those elves who discovered a Blackmoorian artifact in BC 1700, unknowingly brought Radiant Lycanthropy into close proximity of the Nucleus of the Spheres. Just as the absence of radiance will cause Radiant Lycanthropes to rot and die, so too will an overabundance of it. The strain mutated violently during this brief period of time and jumped into an unknown secondary carrier population - dwarves8. This strain, like its predecessor, is still fatal to humans, and many die as a result of a parasitic carrier (possibly a tick like creature as was the case for Draconic Lycanthropy). Fortunately for the dwarves their strong magical immunities prevent them from being infected by the disease, unfortunately for them they are blamed as the cause of infection.
Following is a timeline of major events in the Known World related to the genesis and spread of lycanthropy throughout Mystara.
Map - Extent of Lycanthropy
BC 2500: First experiments to create lycanthropes by Vampire Queens. These experiments generate unique bestial monsters, however the curse is not yet passed on through physical contact.
BC 2300: The Vampire Queens perfect their experiments resulting in the first stable strains of Mythic Lycanthropy.
BC 2000: Taymora comes into conflict with the burgeoning Nithian empire. Conflicts between these two nations will intensify up until the sundering of Taymora in BC 1750.
BC 1800: Nithian clerics perform the ritual that binds Mythic Lycanthropy transformations to the phases of the moon. Ancient Lycanthropy is born.
BC 1790: Lycan Rebellion. Were-wolf footsoldiers of the Taymoran Queens rise up against their masters.
BC 1750: Landmasses split, most of Taymora is in shambles. First occurrence9 of Undersea Lycanthropy.
BC 1720: Taymora sinks beneath the sea, Minrothad and Ierendi islands are formed.
BC 1700: Blackmoorian device explodes in the Broken Lands.
BC 1500: Ancient Lycanthropy strains predominate, and Nithian lycanthropic orders become popular amongst the nobility.
BC 1100: Nithians finally eradicate the last traces of Mythic Lycanthropy from the world.
BC 1000: Alphatians bring natural strains of wolf and tiger lycanthropy. These strains of Alphatian lycanthropy may have been instrumental in the development of Modern Lycanthropy 400 years hence.
BC 600: Alphatian magic strengthens the bond of lycanthropy to the moon, creating the first strains of Modern Lycanthropy.
BC 500: Nithians vanish, and the last of the Malpheggi lizardmen disappear from Ierendi islands. All knowledge of controlling lycanthropy disappears with the Nithians, paving the way for a new wave of the curse to spread across the lands.
AC 803: Glantrian plague carried by dwarven population.
AC 395: Flaems bring natural strains of bear and boar lycanthropy.
AC 400: Alphatian lycanthropy outbreak.
AC 411: Mrikitat, the first wererat is created. It is possible that Mrikitat comes into existence through the power of one of the lost Blood Stones (see Magic Items below).
AC 415: Wereshark plague spreads undersea10 throughout the Sunlit Sea area, decimating entire populations. Triton nations band together to eradicate the disease.
AC 419: Normal seals carry lycanthropy to the polar regions.
AC 443-445: The Silver Purge in Minrothad. Lycanthropes are persecuted in the Ierendi and Minrothad islands.
AC 451: Mrikitat establishes kingdom of wererats under Thyatis city
AC 593: Ruaidhri kills the last of the werehawks.
AC 623: Devil swine first appear in Alphatia. It is possible that Orcus and his ilk come into existence through the power of one of the lost Blood Stones (see Magic Items below).
AC 802: Dwarves and plague come to Glantri.
AC 828: Dwarves are expelled from Glantri.
AC 979: New epidemic of lycanthropy breaks out in Glantri.
AC 980: Lycanthropes are again discovered in Minrothad, devil swine and wererats are most numerous. Weresharks reappear in the Sunlit Sea.
The following artifacts are all related to lycanthropy, and have been used throughout the eras both by were creatures and their creators, as well as those that oppose them.
The Blood Stone (Mythic Era)
(Tanit’s Heart, Blood of Taymora)
A large red radiant cut gem the size of a human fist, the Blood Stone pulses when held, as if a heart beats inside it. Opaque and the color of blood when not held, the gem becomes warm to the touch once grasped, its blood red exterior melting away to reveal a swirling slurry of crimson and black fluids writhing within it.
Originally crafted in a set of five, the Blood Stone is the sole surviving gem in the modern era. Created sometime circa BC 2300 in a dark ritual that required the blood of no less than three Daughters of Tayma, and infused the souls of thousands of sacrificed sentients, the Blood Stones were the key component in creating Mythic Lycanthropy.
Two of the stones were consumed shortly after being created, used in the genesis of werewolves and werebats. The remaining three stones were lost to history, most likely exchanging hands amongst the lords and ladies of Taymoran nobility during their incessant civil wars. Of those remaining it is commonly believed that two have been found and used, the first by Mrikitat in AC 415 in generating the wererats, and the second by Orcus in AC 623 in spawning the devil swine.
The final Blood Stone has yet to be used.
The Blood Stone may be consumed in a dark ritual to generate a new breed of lycanthrope. Details of the ritual are left to DM fiat, but undertaking such an action should be considered an evil and chaotic act. In addition to its ultimate use, the Blood Stone can impart the following powers to its wielder:
Holding the Blood Stone and concentrating will reveal the presence of any lycanthropes in the immediate area.
Once per day the Blood Stone can be used to command lycanthropes. Any lycanthropes in the area can be given a single simple command and will obey it to the best of their abilities.
Once per week the Blood Stone can be used to dominate a lycanthrope. The individual behaves as if a geas is placed upon them. The effect lasts until the individual completes their mission or if this power is used again by the owner of the Blood Stone.
The Chalice of the Moon (Ancient Era)
(Matera’s Cup, The Cratered Goblet)
The Chalice of the Moon is a large, and somewhat macabre, artifact. The base of the chalice is a circle a foot and a half in diameter and made entirely of silver. Wispy silver tendrils emerge from the center of the base to entwine the chalice’s stem and cup. The stem is composed of two humanoid arms joined at the elbows and the wrists, with the palms facing each other and the hands extending outward in order to grasp the large crystal cup that is held between them. One of the arms is that of a slender woman. Its skin is a pallid gray and its fingertips are black as if scorched by a fire. The other arm is well muscled and covered in stringy brown fur. Its fingernails resemble those of a wild animal, perhaps a wolf. The chalice held between the two hands is said to have been cut from Matera itself. It has a diameter of 6 inches at the base and 13 inches at the top opening. It is a semi translucent crystal, a dull purple in color. Its surface is scarred and pock marked with many small gouges and craters.
The Chalice was created centuries ago by the Nithians to combat the curse of Mythic Lycanthropy. The stem is created from the left arm of a Taymoran Vampire, and the right arm of a Mythic lycanthrope, and it represents the bond that existed between those two creatures. The cup of the Chalice represents the new bond with the moon Matera, that would be placed upon all lycanthropes by the artifact’s use.
The true power of the Chalice is that it binds the cycle of lycanthropic changes to the phases of the moon. This has made the artifact the target of Entropic plots throughout the centuries, for should the Chalice ever be destroyed, the bond with Matera would be broken and were creatures would once again undergo chaotic and unpredictable transformations.
The Chalice radiates a magical aura with a 60 foot radius. All lycanthropes within that radius automatically revert to their normal (original) form.
Any individual suffering from a magical compulsion (suggestion, domination, geas, or similar magic) has that compulsion broken once they enter the Chalice’s magical aura. The magical compulsion is dismissed, and is not re-established once the individual leaves the area of the aura.
A lycanthrope who drinks from the Chalice can prevent uncontrolled transformations for one month.
Makalbu’s Maw (Modern Era)
(Fangs of the Bitch Queen, Ruaidhri’s Folly)
Cracked and yellowed with age, Makalbu’s Maw is the near fossilized maxilla and lower jaw of the Savage Queen of Urgab, a 17th century BC werewolf queen of the Nithian borderlands. The skull above the teeth, including the nasal passages and eye sockets, is smashed and long ago forgotten, leaving only a narrow band of bone near the gum line to hold the teeth in place. The lower jaw remains fully intact.
If worn as a mask, Makalbu’s Maw fuses to the face of the wearer, merging with their own mouth and teeth to form a vicious array of bony dentures. Once fused in this manner the only way to remove the Maw is through the death of the owner.
Makalbu was destroyed in the 17th century BC, by a band of Nithian adventurers questing to free their people from her despotic and brutal rule. As a trophy they claimed her severed head, displaying it as a warning to any of her remaining minions. Throughout the centuries the skull of Makalbu passed hands countless times, from leaders to adventurers and explorers. Eventually the warrior hero Minroth set out with the skull to what are now the Minrothad Islands. There it stayed until after the fall of Nithia.
When Nithia finally did fall, and all of its knowledge was lost to mortal minds, the significance of the skull became twisted. When Nithia was at its height, having overcome the bonds of Mogreth, the depredations of Taymora, and even the curse of lycanthropy, the skull represented Nithia’s mastery over the shapechangers. With Nithia collapsed and fallen, it became a banner for all manner of depraved lycanthropes infesting the island chains.
Circa AC 400 a cabal of sorcerous werewolves acquired the artifact, and infused it with dark powers. Using the Maw they attempted to overrun the islands, but ultimately failed, culminating in the Silver Purge in AC 445. It is rumored that Ruaidhri Hawksbane himself tracked down and slew the beast wearing the Maw. After that its whereabouts have remained unknown.
Should the wearer of the Maw consume the flesh of a lycanthrope, they gain all of the abilities and characteristics of that lycanthrope. A non-cursed individual who does so also immediately receives the curse of lycanthropy. The real power of the Maw is that this effect is cumulative, meaning that if multiple types of lycanthropes are consumed, the wearer of the Maw would gain each of their forms, along with the ability to choose amongst them at will.
In addition, Makalbu’s Maw also bestows the following powers on its wearer:
The wearer of the Maw gains a bite attack.
Once per day the Maw can transmit the curse of lycanthropy to anyone bitten by it. The wearer of the Maw may choose the type of lycanthropy that is transmitted from any that the Maw’s powers currently posses.
Lycanthropes infected with the curse from the Maw’s bite, must return to the wearer of the Maw after their first uncontrolled transformation.
1PC4 - Night Howlers attributes the creation of lycanthropy to Alphatian experiments on natural shapeshifters that went awry circa AC 400. While this article does not invalidate those events, it does propose an even earlier origin for the lycanthropic curse.
2My own version of the Taymorans is inspired by the version developed by James Mishler, although I have gone in a somewhat different direction than he has. My vision of Taymora has also developed considerably since the original writing of this article.
3See Threshold #12, Vampire Queens of Taymora for more information on some of the architects of this disease.
4The original article has this period starting in BC 500, however I wanted the Alphatian experiments to have occurred before the memory of Nithia was wiped away. Therefore I pushed the date back by 100 years.
5In module X1 (1981), X2, and AC09 aranea were magic wielding spiders that did not have the natural ability to shapechange. In the Voyage of the Princess Ark: Part 30 (1992) by Bruce Heard, aranea were given the additional ability to shapeshift. Herathian lycanthropy was my attempt to reconcile these two different versions of the aranea.
6This could very well be attributed to Hadric of Colhador from X7 War Rafts of Kron.
7See this issue of Threshold The Undead of Elegy Island, and the entry for Jaime “Honey-Creeper” Ahua for a possible explanation about how this strain of lycanthropy was created.
8Although Gaz3 never specifies the actual cause of the plague in AC 802, this work assumes that the disease is associated with lycanthropy. It is therefore possible that populations of dwarves may still carry the disease, and that if they ever came into contact with the radiance again, a new plague could spread.
9PC4 lists the first appearance of weresharks in undersea as AC 415. Based on the earlier genesis of lycanthropy postulated by this article, that date is too late. Instead I have theorized that undersea lycanthropy first appeared much earlier, and the AC 415 date becomes an epidemic level event.
10PC4 lists this date as the first appearance of weresharks in undersea, however this article postulates and earlier date (circa BC 1750). The AC 415 event has therefore been converted into a resurgence of the disease.