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PC Contracted Lycanthropy - Now What?


Advice

Cheliax Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

Last night, I ran a solo game in which the PC (a 10th level barbarian) managed to become infected with lycanthropy through an amazing series of bad rolls (including rolling a 1 on a Fortitude save, which was the only way he could've failed it). On top of that, the PC challenged the leader of the werewolf pack for leadership, defeated the werewolf, and ate his heart (which the werewolves generally acknowledge as the appropriate way to take leadership of the tribes).

I want to play by RAW as much as possible, but this has such interesting story potential that it would be awesome to see it play out. By RAW, lycanthropy is not that difficult for a 10th level character to fix (assuming he can find a 12th level cleric to cast heal/remove disease). Also by RAW, the PC should go into a murderous rage each full moon and should be an NPC. Clearly, if I want to enable the PC to continue as a werewolf, I'm going to need to bend/break RAW, and I was hoping to get the thoughts of you fine folks on the most interesting/least broken way of doing that.

My current thinking is to have lycanthropy start out as the by the book version (PC loses control on the night of a full moon), and then provide the PC with a path to gain control of it. Mechanically, my thought would be to treat the abilities he's gained in a similar way to level adjustments - he's effectively gained x ECL's from contracting lycanthropy. However, to gain control of it, he would need to spend xp to remove the ECL's (using an optional rule from the 3.5 PHBII).

Any thoughts/advice/suggestions would be much appreciated. (Arguments about how I'm doing it wrong and ruining the game for everyone else, not so much.)


OMG, ur letting a PC be a werewolf?! roflmao what an idiot...

...is not at all what I'm thinking. That bit about eating the leader's heart and whatnot was really cool sounding, but I wonder how well he can lead a pack if he isn't in control of himself.

What is the werewolf pack structure like? How big is the pack? Are they on control of their forms?


lycanthropy doesn't offer as much as it used to.

in the case of the werewolf, your barbarian gets DR 5/silver, a bite attack, and 2 additional points of wisdom at the cost of a charisma penalty. big deal.

the DR silver doesn't stack with barbarian DR and will eventually be overlapped. a bite attack can be gained via rage power.

are you going to charge him levels for 2 additional points of wisdom and a free rage power? the wisdom is effectively balanced out by the charisma loss.

the +2 strength and constitution from hybrid form are balanced by the fact it's a pain to enter hybrid form in the first place. an Action Tax.

if he is always in hybrid form, you could rule that he has penalties to specific social skills due to social stigma.

werewolf is probably the weakest of the weres.

Cheliax

I did this a few years ago, purposefully.

Here's my suggestion if you two both want the PC to remain a werewolf: Let the Player run his PC for the next in-game month. He'll learn about his curse and its ramifications, get some stuff consolidated, have some irons in the fire, etc.

Then, when the moon begins to go full, SKIP 3 or 4 days of gaming and have the Player awake, having NO IDEA what has happened over the last few days. Of course, you know how much s*%* has hit the fan or what has happened, and the PC has to figure out what all he did.

. . . .

In my game it worked very well for a short time and then started to get boring and unplayable. But for a few months it was great.

I let the PCs (5) get the occassional dream of images of what they had done in the missing days, fragmented and ephemeral.

When it was clear the game was beginning to stall I had the PCs stay conscious during their transformations and we had our BBEG fight and Campaign climax.

Osirion

Easy: While in werewolf form he's an NPC under DM control.

I would imagine it won't be long before a group of adventurers will be coming after him. Probably during the daytime. Killing them, even in self defense, is just going to confirm the idea that barbarian is now a monster that needs to be destroyed.

Quote:

Lycanthropy

A creature that catches lycanthropy becomes an afflicted lycanthrope, but shows no symptoms (and does not gain any of the template's adjustments or abilities) until the night of the next full moon, when the victim involuntarily assumes animal form and forgets his or her own identity. The character remains in animal form until the next dawn and remembers nothing about the entire episode (or subsequent episodes) unless he makes a DC 20 Will save, in which case he becomes aware of his condition

Osirion

Sebastian wrote:
On top of that, the PC challenged the leader of the werewolf pack for leadership, defeated the werewolf, and ate his heart (which the werewolves generally acknowledge as the appropriate way to take leadership of the tribes).

Very cool!

Quote:
I want to play by RAW as much as possible, but this has such interesting story potential that it would be awesome to see it play out. By RAW, lycanthropy is not that difficult for a 10th level character to fix (assuming he can find a 12th level cleric to cast heal/remove disease). Also by RAW, the PC should go into a murderous rage each full moon and should be an NPC. Clearly, if I want to enable the PC to continue as a werewolf, I'm going to need to bend/break RAW, and I was hoping to get the thoughts of you fine folks on the most interesting/least broken way of doing that.

The rules for lycanthropy in 3.X/PF have always been a bit of a mess. +X ECL for a set of abilities that you can't use, unless in a form you can't control? Yeah...

I'd say, take the stuff you want, and throw the rest to the wolves (pun intended). Perhaps the type of werewolf the PC has become is uncontrolled unless they discover the ancient secret of the 'true lycanthropes,' and go on a spirit journey and fight bare-handed the wolf within themself (represented by some fiendish worg-demon thing), and if they manage to beat it down, they can purge the fiendish taint from their 'wolf-soul' and become a different sort of non-chaotic-evil werewolf.

The vast majority of other werewolves would know nothing but maybe scraps of rumors about such a process, and the PC, if successful, might take the opportunity to bring the knowledge of this process to other members of their 'pack,' in an attempt to teach them to wrestle the demon out of their 'wolf-soul' and become creatures of the natural world, fully in control of their time in wolf-form, instead of 'always CE' ravening beasts.

Some would likely have long since embraced their savage and bloodthirsty 'wild side' and be un-redeemable though this means, and others might utterly fail their challenge against the 'beast within,' and become fully submerged in this animalistic state, but a few would succeed the challenge (and, perhaps, in teaching them this rite, the PC could enter the dream-state with them, and at least provide some moral support). It would make sense for the demon-wolf fight to be CR appropriate, no matter the CR of the werewolf attempting it (their 'demon-wolf' being a shadow reflection of the darkness in their soul, and equal, so as to prevent it from being an unwinnable fight for a 1st level commoner werewolf and a cakewalk for a 10th level barbarian werewolf).

Quote:
My current thinking is to have lycanthropy start out as the by the book version (PC loses control on the night of a full moon), and then provide the PC with a path to gain control of it. Mechanically, my thought would be to treat the abilities he's gained in a similar way to level adjustments - he's effectively gained x ECL's from contracting lycanthropy. However, to gain control of it, he would need to spend xp to remove the ECL's (using an optional rule from the 3.5 PHBII).

That seems the best way to handle it, mechanically. Let the PC 'pay it off' and be done with it.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules Subscriber

Seems like every time this comes up, I post this recommendation...

Curse of the Moon

Sean K. Reynolds wrote this. It's good stuff. Basically it contains a bunch of rules you can use to easily adjust lycanthropy into something not unreasonable to let a player have.

Also, common culture is rife with "exception myths". The idea of the were who isn't inclined to eat people isn't uncommon. I'd stick the player with mechanics that might impose involuntary shape changes but not make him lose his mind. If you have to, let him buy a amulet of calm emotions or something to justify him staying rational.

But look at Sean's book.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Let me preface this by saying that while I try to use RAW I often ignore them in the interests of story, sounds like I'm with Sebastian here.

Its an interesting idea to spend XP to reduce the effect of the increased ECL.

I had a similar incident in my Shackled City game where a wizard PC failed a save from the wererat White eye. I wrote some basic rules but essentially it came down to working up the character in the three forms as per the rules and requiring a save vs DC25 on control shape to avaoid changing involuntarily.

I would allow the PC to take control shape as a class skill next level (which was due anyway) and he could spend points in it to be able to make the save.

Not RAW I'm sure but it sounded cool. Unfortunately the PC wanted to pour points into qualifying to be an arch mage so got cured.

Keen to see how it turns out for you.

Elcian

PS just re read your post. I would agree start out of control then allow them to gain control perhaps using the control shape idea. This way they invest in that aspect of the character and other PC's wont be too agrieved as thier are downsides as well as positives.


Sebastian wrote:


On top of that, the PC challenged the leader of the werewolf pack for leadership, defeated the werewolf, and ate his heart (which the werewolves generally acknowledge as the appropriate way to take leadership of the tribes).

I may be wrong here, but there are two versions of Lycanthropy -- those infected, and those born. The born lycanthropes are in total control, and the infected are slaves to the lunar cycle.

As this character has commited a surprising and symbolic act by killing a natural (i assume) lycanthrope and consuming his heart, were it my game, i think this should convert his lycanthropy, giving him the effective upgrade to a full lycanthrope.

This will give your character some fun new options to play with, and prevent you from having to deal with the inconveniences of lunar changing.


and i had an idea for an Adult Human Male Natural Fiendish Werewolf Chef who doubles as an Alchemist. he would specialize in questionable drugs and love his syringes. most of his drugs would be oriented towards healing, or performance enhancement (Buffing) and i may make him a high strength Mr. Hyde Vivsectionist Going Master Chymist. he makes amazing pasta as well. just don't ask what meat he uses.


Is there a possible witch's ritual or some event that may give the player the option of converting the affliction to a natural form via a ritual/quest/potion or other?
Adds some story, possibly costing him/her xp, gold, and time to deal with the quest and the out of the way hedge witch in question.


Lycanthropes are significantly more powerful than other PCs because of their hybrid form (especially on a barbarian!). Besides, he's now the leader of the werewolves, right? That seems to me to be a perfect place to retire him, maybe as an important NPC who keeps showing back up. Or how is the barbarian planning on ruling his pack while wandering around adventuring?

Also, afflicted werewolves automatically become CE. I don't know the rest of your party or their alignments, but if they're the standard good/neutral mix, they might have issues adventuring with a CE barbarian werewolf who goes on rampages every month and murders anything close (including them, if they stay close).

I would not let him become effectively a natural lycanthrope unless I gave everyone else in my party something hugely beneficial as well. They're level 10, so a Rod of Quicken (the 1-6 kind) for spellcasters or a +5 weapon for physical-damage-types or +5 adamantine full plate for tanks or something really impactful. That's the sort of impact being a lycanthrope will have on this barbarian. Obviously it should not just be "here I hand out loot have fun" but it's not hard to insert gear.

If you and your group don't really care that the barbarian got a huge power increase, then the suggestions of buying it off with XP/quest/gold make sense. It can become a really interesting side-quest for him or the party as a whole.

Cheliax Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

Thanks everyone! These posts have been helpful.

I agree on the symbolic value of eating the heart - I feel like that provides a toehold justification in-game for him eventually learning to control his abilities. I'm definitely leaning towards having him start out unable to control the transformation, but learn how to harness it over time.

The werewolf tribe particulars are from Broken Moon, and I will put those in spoilers for those who may be playing in the Carrion Crown AP:

Broken Moon:

There are five different werewolf tribes in the area, each numbering 20-50 members IIRC. The leader of the 5 tribes was slain and (most?) his heart was taken by a necromancer for a rituation. The werewolf that the PC killed was in league with the necromancer, but was having trouble consolidating his power base. Now that the PC ate his heart, he controls that tribe, but will likely need to find the original heart or eat the hearts of the other tribe leaders to assume full control.


Sebastian wrote:


Last night, I ran a solo game in which the PC (a 10th level barbarian) managed to become infected with lycanthropy through an amazing series of bad rolls (including rolling a 1 on a Fortitude save, which was the only way he could've failed it). On top of that, the PC challenged the leader of the werewolf pack for leadership, defeated the werewolf, and ate his heart (which the werewolves generally acknowledge as the appropriate way to take leadership of the tribes).

I want to play by RAW as much as possible, but this has such interesting story potential that it would be awesome to see it play out. By RAW, lycanthropy is not that difficult for a 10th level character to fix (assuming he can find a 12th level cleric to cast heal/remove disease). Also by RAW, the PC should go into a murderous rage each full moon and should be an NPC. Clearly, if I want to enable the PC to continue as a werewolf, I'm going to need to bend/break RAW, and I was hoping to get the thoughts of you fine folks on the most interesting/least broken way of doing that.

My current thinking is to have lycanthropy start out as the by the book version (PC loses control on the night of a full moon), and then provide the PC with a path to gain control of it. Mechanically, my thought would be to treat the abilities he's gained in a similar way to level adjustments - he's effectively gained x ECL's from contracting lycanthropy. However, to gain control of it, he would need to spend xp to remove the ECL's (using an optional rule from the 3.5 PHBII).

Any thoughts/advice/suggestions would be much appreciated. (Arguments about how I'm doing it wrong and ruining the game for everyone else, not so much.)

The character can get another chance to break the curse. He just needs more wolfbane.

My question is why would the other PC's continue to travel with a werewolf?

To answer the question:I would reduce his XP by enough to set him back two levels while allowing his character to not really gain two levels. When he reaches level 9 by XP he gains some measure of control over the disease. When he reaches level 10 XP wise he can control it.

I know Lycanthropy is not as strong as it was in 3.5 so you might be able to get away with only one level.

Qadira

wraithstrike wrote:
...My question is why would the other PC's continue to travel with a werewolf?

There aren't any: he said it was a 'solo' game. The foremost reason not to run a lycanthrope ("It causes PvP") isn't here - and neither is the second most well-known ("What if they all agree to get bitten by him so they all get the super-powers?")

Without those two objections I think there's the potential for a fairly interesting campaign, as long as the player understands that he's not going to know what happened to him three nights out of the month. Although I agree than efforts to "tame the wolf" are worthy story material, bear in mind that later campaigns in your world might have to deal with the consequences of lycanthropes learning this secret (possibly even to the point of civil wars, with enter nations under the Banner of the Full Moon seizing and 'converting' humans until untainted humans are extinct or at least endangered. Not a bad campaign notion - but it strays pretty far from the usual for Pathfinder.


if it is a solo campaign, there should be no problem. don't bother Taxing him. he is alone anyway. i would treat him as a natural were for all intents and purposes. he is a hero. and you don't really have other players complaining. because there are none.


I've always been fond of the old 'solo' wolf stories. Cursed with Lycanthopy... trying to find a cure.

LOVE it!!

If that is the kind of game you want to play... I would by all means take control on the nights of the full moon. As he was making the saves in the first place, I can only assume the character wanted control of the pack... but did not WANT to be werewolf...

So make it a curse and have him fight it...

On the other hand... if he WANTS to keep it... I think I would work with the player. MOST of the cool things that Werewolves can do, are actually Barbarian powers ANYWAY... so I would probably say that anything that he takes as a rage power... is something he's learned to control. Bite, Claws, etc...

What is he doing with the pack? As natural werewolves (I assume... I haven't played this yet... but intend to, so No spoilers please...) I would be VERY surprised if any of them accept his leadership.

YES, he was the greater warrior. YES, he defeated the old chief...

But once he loses control of his new powers... once he shows weakness and inablity to lead... the NEXT Alpha-wannabe should be stepping up take HIS place..

Either he leaves the pack, or he is forced to defend his title CONSTANTY...


If the heart was from the wolf that bit him, I'd say that would be enough for the upgrade to natural werewolf.


Does he have anyone that might be willing to help save him from this curse?


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

When I was a kobold sorcerer that contracted Lycanthropy (ware bear style) The GM was having me learn a special skill tree, and also had me learning from a ranger or druid, on how to control myself.

Sadly we didnt get to see how it would turn out due to an in game event curing Issikar (the kobold sorcerer), but it was pretty fun to play while I had it!

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