Of all the afflictions that can strike a character, one of the most feared is lycanthropy. While often considered a disease, lycanthropy can more properly be described as a natural condition, in some cases, or a curse, in others. In either case, it is immune to the effects of cure disease spells and powers. Freeing a character from the torments of lycanthropy is a more involved and complicated matter than just casting a single spell.

True lycanthropy is neither a curse nor a contagion, but the ability, possessed by a limited number of species, to change into an animal shape at will. As such, true lycanthropes are not affected by the phases of the moon, darkness, or any other limitations on their changing abilities indicated in the folklore of werewolves. Neither can a PC be afflicted with true lycanthropy--it is an ability limited to those species born with the power.

However, one of the characteristics of the true lycanthrope is his ability to transmit a lycanthropic contagion to his victims. This is the dreaded lycanthropy of folklore. Once stricken, the victim falls under the sway of the moon, unable to resist the powerful change into a bloodthirsty beast.

Whenever a character is wounded by a true lycanthrope, there is 1% chance per hit point of damage suffered that the character is stricken with lycanthropy. The DM makes this check secretly, since characters never learn of their fate until it is too late (although prudent characters may take immediate steps as if they had been affected). If stricken, the character suffers from this curse.

Cursed characters suffer uncontrollable change on the night of a full moon and the nights immediately preceding and following it. The change begins when the moon rises and ends when it sets. During this time the character is controlled by the DM, not the player. Often, the character discovers that he has done terrible things while changed and under the DM's control.

During the change, the character's Strength increases temporarily to 19, allowing him to break bonds, bend bars, and otherwise escape confinement. The changed character has the Armor Class, attacks, movement, and immunities identical to the type of lycanthrope that wounded him.

However, the intelligence and alignment of the character are overwhelmed by an uncontrollable bloodlust. The player character must hunt and kill and generally chooses as his victims people he knows in his daily life. The stronger the emotion toward the person (either love or hate), the greater the likelihood the character will attempt to stalk and slay that person.

Remember that during the period of the change the player has no control over his character. Neither will he be identifiable to his friends and companions unless they are familiar with his curse or can recognize him by some personal effect.

At the end of each change, the character returns to his normal form (perhaps to his embarrassment). At the same time, he heals 10% to 60% (1d6x10) of any wounds he has suffered. While the character may know or suspect that he has done something terrible, he does not have clear memories of the preceding night. Good characters will be tormented at the thought of what they may have done, and paladins will find they have, at least temporarily, fallen from grace.

Freeing a character from the grip of lycanthropy is not the simple task of casting a spell. A cure disease has no effect on the character. A remove curse allows the character to make a saving throw to free himself from the lycanthropy, but this must be cast on one of the nights when the actual change occurs. If the character makes his saving throw vs. polymorph, the lycanthropy is broken and will not affect the character again (unless, of course he is infected by a lycanthrope once again).

(See also
Lycanthrope, Monstrous Manual)

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