In this post, we cover the alternative rules for werewolf lycanthropy in 5e that we created for the Land of Vampires duet campaign. There are some elements that are specific to the land of Steymhorod, but we think a lot of it could be adapted to other settings if you so desired.
We wanted to add higher stakes to a character acquiring lycanthropy because, after the first few levels in 5e, curses become a lot less threatening as they can be easily cured by higher-level parties and allies. But on a cursed plane, especially, we’d like for the curses to retain more . . . bite.
If you’ve been following along with our Land of Vampires posts, great! We hope you’ll find a cool place to bring in these mechanics, like at the end of The Seed of Corruption before entering the Green Vale.
And, if you’re new to Land of Vampires, you might be interested in checking out the first adventure in the series, Out of the Witchwood!
In what follows, we first cover the background behind the changes to the curse of lycanthropy in Steymhorod. Then, we get into the specific mechanics and some story ideas for incorporating this enhanced version of lycanthropy in your games.
Werewolf Lycanthropy in Steymhorod
When Lord Drogo destroyed the Four Sisters and Steymhorod fell into the Shadowlands, the tribe of lycan who walked under the light of Selene’s moon found their hybrid condition utterly changed. What had formerly been a sign of the blessing of Fenrir and of Diannan, the Forest Sister, became a curse. No longer could they control their transformations. Their ability to pass the blessing through the bloodline disappeared. Instead, during their transformations under the light of the full moon, their curse passed from one generation to the next through a vicious bite.
Over time as the curse took hold, pack alphas learned two conflicting methods for controlling their transformations. The first and most prominent involved the desire to take their wolf or hybrid forms more often and increase the size of their pack. These alphas began transforming more often, and they and their followers could transform at will, save on the night of the full moon, when they had no choice.
The second method developed in concert with the green witches and took centuries to perfect. While an afflicted creature could not avert their transformation, they could retain control over their desire to spread the infection. The green witches and high priestesses of the lycanthropes retain and closely guard the knowledge of how to create the Moonsglow Tincture which provides this temporary cure.
Regardless of which of the two paths the cursed lycanthropes followed, the magic that had once been a mark of honor among their people dwindled. Its barest remnant only graces those who remain loyal to the Wolf Mother, the surviving aspect of Diannan. Their people’s ancestral magic and any hope of lasting power over their condition can only be recovered with the redemption of the Forest Fane.
Being Infected with Werewolf Lycanthropy
In Steymhorod, when a werewolf in wolf or hybrid form bites a non-canid creature who has not been infected with werewolf lycanthropy, that creature must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw. Success on the save grants the target immunity from that werewolf’s bite for 24-hours. Failure on the save results in the creature being infected with werewolf lycanthropy.
The symptoms of the curse of werewolf lycanthropy are:
- On the night of the full moon, the afflicted creature transforms into a werewolf.
- The werewolf transformation, especially the first, is incredibly taxing. After their first transformation, the PC takes 1d4 levels of exhaustion unless they are able to procure the moonsglow flowers that grow at the base of Wolf’s Head Peak in northern Steymhorod.
- Each level of exhaustion takes one day to recover from without the use of a greater restoration or similar spell.
- If the afflicted creature befriends a member of the werewolf pack or speaks with one of Steymhorod’s green witches, they learn about the moonsglow tincture and how to make it.
Making Moonsglow Tincture
Moonsglow flowers resemble a delicate variety of lilies in Azuria, though their pattern for opening their blossoms relies upon the moon rather than traditional seasons. Beginning at twilight on nights of the full moon, moonsglow flowers open to bathe in the pale light of the ethereal body.
Twenty-four hours before the twilight of the full moon, those wishing to make the moonsglow tincture must begin boiling the bark of the white birch with mashed rowan berries, a sprig of hawthorn, and three acorns.
After the moonsglow flowers have opened, the afflicted creature who wants to offset the exhaustion of the werewolf curse and maintain a sense of their former self should pluck one of the moonsglow flowers, pour a mouthful of the previously boiled mixture, now cooled, onto a petal, and tip it into their mouth. They will have only a short while to imbibe this temporary cure as it becomes ineffectual after twilight disappears into full dusk.
Lifting the Curse
There are only a few ways the curse can be lifted after infection while the creature remains in Steymhorod:
- A carefully worded wish spell (though not one cast by Lord Drogo or Cadogan)
- Returning the Heart of the Forest to the Forest Fane and restoring Diannan’s rule over the forests of Steymhorod
If you’re using these mechanics outside of Steymhorod, you might choose a different quest narrative for returning a sense of balance to the land or appeasing Fenrir in some way, but having the roots of a story to ground it in the narrative, we’ve found, can really help to increase the stakes when fighting werewolves and make being afflicted with a curse more meaningful!
Incorporating Lord Drogo into a Lycanthropy Cure Narrative
Depending on the relationship that develops between the PC and Lord Drogo in your campaign, the vampire lord may be moved to intervene, at least somewhat, in the PC’s plight (or that of a very close friend of theirs).
If you like what you’re reading, please consider supporting the blog by purchasing our adventures and supplements in our shop or on DMsGuild or sponsoring us on Patreon. We’d also love for you to follow us on Twitter and Instagram. We appreciate you so much! Thank you for reading. – Beth and Jonathan