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The Lycanthropic Races

Afflicted with a terrible disease, lycanthropes are powerful creatures that can change shape into a monstrous version of a particular animal. The moon is both the cause of their condition and the source of their power.

Physical Characteristics and Anatomy

 

Lycanthropes are always the combination of two different species. It was once believed that the two creatures needed to be within the same broad family (i.e. mammals, fish, etc), but this has proven to be false. The most drastic example are the elven lycanthropes, that combine elven DNA from the Realm of Lysia with animal DNA from IIo.

 

In their natural form, lycanthropes are powerful, charismatic examples of their base race. Their disease heightens their natural senses and abilities. Their other form, usually that of an animal, is generally head and shoulders bigger than other creatures of that type. Lycanthropes possess a third form, that of a hybrid between the other two. Lycanthropes carry their disease within their blood. It can be transmitted via any form of bodily fluid, and in any shape the lycanthrope may be in.

 

Lycanthropes fall into two broad categories: those that are born with lycanthropy, and those that become afflicted with the disease. The so-called natural lycanthropes inherited the affliction from their parents, and are typically far more powerful while being able to control lunar magicks. Known as the afflicted, those that acquire the disease from another are usually unable to control the alien magicks flooding their bodies, and become quite violent, even rabid.

 

A lycanthrope's power is proportional to the phase of the moon. As the moon waxes and wanes, lycanthropes feel their power come and go. During the full moon, even natural lycanthropes have difficultly controlling their magicks. Afflicted lycanthropes nearly always lose control of their transformations during the three nights of the full moon. These pitiful creatures are the source of much ill-will against the lycanthropic races.

 

The lycanthropic races have a terrible weakness with pure metals. Silver, mithril, cold iron, starsilver and the like will burn any lycanthrope by touch alone. Wounds from weapons coated with these metals (or made of them) take much longer to heal and are much more dangerous. In death, a lycanthrope reverts to its natural form, leaving no obvious sign of infection.

 

 

Behavior and Diet

 

Afflicted lycanthropes lead a hunted life. Their natural form may not remember the actions of the frequently rabid animal form that takes control every moonrise. They awake naked and bloodied from the night's exertions, and frequently lost in the wild. The successful ones become wild men, living off the land far away from civilization. Few, learn how to control the raging magicks within them, and fewer still find a home with the natural lycanthropes.

 

A lycanthrope's diet is a mixture of the natural diets of both its forms. It is not uncommon for a lycanthrope to be a vegetarian in one form, and a carnivore in the other. Lycanthropes that have predators as their animal form usually enjoy hunting even if they live within civilization.

 

Afflicted lycanthropes are nearly always solitary, but natural lycanthropes can be found in the same sort of groups as their animal forms. Hence, werewolves form packs, while were-dolphins form pods.

 

If an afflicted lycanthrope does not know that it carries the disease, it may seek out a mate. This typically has disastrous consequences, but if the intended mate lives through the experience, then it can develop lycanthropy and/or have the child of a lycanthrope. The child nearly always carries the disease, but has far greater control as being born with it.

 

Natural lycanthropes are usually far more discriminating in their choice of mate, and are aware of the fact that they can transmit their disease to any they choose. Usually, natural lycanthropes breed only amongst their own kind. Mating can take place in any of the forms of the lycanthrope, and lycanthropes have proven fertile with others of both their natural and animal forms. Natural lycanthropes that find a mate amongst other lycanthropes tend to prefer ones within their own subspecies (i.e. weretigers usually mate with other weretigers, not were-eagles). When cross-species mating occurs, the child may favor any two of the parents' combined four forms, but tends to favor the mother in both forms. Very rarely (approximately 1 in 50,000 couplings), a child may possess three forms, with hybrid forms between all.

 

Lycanthropes are commonly plagued by insanity and bouts of extreme emotion, but their disease affords some protection against common diseases (but not against magickal ones). Depending on a lycanthrope's lunar magicks, it can easily live ten times longer than others without the disease.

 

Language and Communication

 

Both afflicted and natural lycanthropes can speak the tongue of their animal form as easily as any learned language. If a lycanthrope's animal form possesses the ability to speak (such as a were-parrot), then that form can also speak humanoid tongues. Lycanthropes encountered on the moon typically speak the Lunar common language, as well as Lunar Lycanthropic, their own derived language.

 

Rarely, natural lycanthropes encountered on IIo speak a language similar to Lunar Lycanthropic, and these few creatures are typically nobles amongst their kind.

 

Habitat and Environment

 

A member of the lycanthropic races can readily make its home in any environment suited to either form, as they find both forms grant them the hardiness to make due in severe conditions. Lycanthropes aware of the source of their magicks prefer locales with an unobstructed view of the night sky.

 

The largest number of lycanthropes live on the moon floating in the sky above IIo.

 

Civilizations and Organizations

 

The glorious civilization of the lycanthropes has existed in some form or another for over 65 million years on the surface of the moon. Secret societies across IIo have descended from this civilization offering precious help to new lycanthropes while furthering their own agendas. Since the Seal of the Archmagi, travel between IIo and the moon has been cut off, and precious few have any knowledge of the great civilization on the moon other than in legends and fables.

 

Technology

 

Natural lycanthropes use whatever technology their natural forms would be comfortable with, and are especially fond of devices their animal form can utilize as well (big, paw-sized buttons, or anything that does not require opposable thumbs). Lycanthropes on the moon are usually much more advanced than those on the surface of the planet, and many wear armor that changes with them (or that they change into).

 


Magicks and Abilities

 

Lycanthropes utilize a rare form of magick that is powered by the moon. They are also able to use any magicks of either of their two races. Lycanthropes are most powerful the second night of the full moon, and least powerful during the day of a new moon.

 

All lycanthropes are able to assume an animal form (or a humanoid form if they were born an animal), and a hybrid between the two forms. This ability does take energy, and is the most common reaction to high levels of lunar magick (full moon).

 

The disease of lycanthropy grants protection against common diseases, as well as increased strength, agility, and reflexes. A lycanthrope carries its disease in its saliva, blood and other bodily fluids. Nearly any race can become a lycanthrope, but dragons, Saurians and lizardfolk are more resistant than most.

 

Known and Unknown History

 

Lycanthropes are an unhappy legacy of the great Comet that destroyed the ancient Saurian races and ripped open the barrier between the Realms of IIo and of Lysia. The Comet was formed of all of the malevolence and fear of the ancient dragons and struck the planet with the fury of a vengeful god. The Comet was intended to rip and tear at the fabric of existence itself, but its backlash made itself known immediately.

 

Primordial humes and other creatures bearing no resemblance to the Saurians were thrown together in a cosmic blender of hatred. What emerged bore practically no resemblance to the lycanthropes of today. Driven mad by two minds inhabiting the same bodies, these beast-men tore across the planet ravaging the Lessened dragons, the newly-arrived elves, and the last vestiges of the Saurians.

 

When the dragons and other creatures of the planet forced the Comet off the surface of the planet, it was made sure that these bestial beings accompanied their creator. Entire continents erupted from the planet in the Comet's wake, but the dragons breathed a sigh of relief and it was believed the Comet would trouble the denizens of IIo no more. The universe had other things in mind however.

 

The inherent magicks of the continents set adrift in space merged with the magicks of IIo's primordial moon to enwrap the magicks of the Comet. The three great landmasses gravitated towards one another and formed the moon as we know it today, hanging forever in the night sky like a baleful eye cast on the arrogant dragons. From then on, the moon would forever be remembered for the terrible madness that seemed to grip the entire planet back then, but it would especially be remembered for the lycanthropes.

 

On the surface of the moon, the original lycanthropes were able to find some measure of peace. Their offspring did not suffer from the lunacy that gripped them, and were able to take the first haltering steps towards civilization. Lunar dragons, regretting the actions of their planetary brethren, took pity on the children of the original lycanthropes, and helped shape the world around them. The other creatures of the primordial moon that survived the great unification emerged from hiding to greet the new race as brothers.

 

Still, the lycanthropes continued to battle against their inherent natures, and when creatures born of the Comet rose to battle against the citizens of the moon, their great civilization was torn apart by civil war. Eventually, after the rise and fall of many heroes on both sides, a tenuous peace was brokered between the two great forces.

 

After the Seal of the Archmagi, nearly all inhabitable regions of the moon were locked in the subRealms--pocket dimensions created in places where magick was necessary for survival. Here, without the direct light of the sun to activate the curse of the Comet, the lycanthropes were able to find peace as they had never known it before. It is said of those days that even the first lycanthropes came forth to unite with their people and lead them in their time of darkness.

 

But the lycanthropes grew lazy with their peace; when the Seal of the Archmagi was sundered, they were unprepared for the overwhelming power and madness that gripped them as the light of the sun illuminated the moon beneath their paws. Once more, war broke out across the surface of the moon, but it was tempered by the presence of the Galateans--machines once created by humes that had acquired sentience and turned on their creators in an attempt to save the universe.

 

The Galateans recognized the disease of lycanthropy for what it was, but even their fledgling nanogalts were unable to combat the unfamiliar magicks of lycanthropy. It was a dark time for the moon, but with time, the lycanthropes regained their sanity and their ancient alliances with their fellow citizens of the moon as well as new ones with the Galateans and technologically advanced humes.

 

With the advent of magick, radio transmission to IIo was no longer possible, and any who traveled to the surface of the planet did not return. The citizens of the moon found themselves cut off once more.

 

This is the history of those creatures that made their life on the surface of the moon, but lycanthropes existed on IIo as well. It turns out, that the original lycanthropes were not the only bearers of lycanthropy. In those days, the disease was passed in the billions of particles of dust the planet was bathed in. When a creature consumed enough of the moondust, their system became overloaded. When the sun illuminated the moon, the dark magicks of the Comet intensified, and energized any of its particles that fell in its unholy light. Creatures bearing the particles could not bear the pain or the magicks raging through their body and so the infected creature sought out the closest being genetically different enough to help bear the burden of the dust. The two became doomed to share the same body until death.

 

These were the first lycanthropes that would live to pass down their legacy to the races that would follow. After the Seal of the Archmagi, the sun and the Comet still possessed the power to change those whose blood was contaminated by the dust of the moon. Eventually, as both the Aegis and the Seal strengthened and the dust was so diluted as to not matter, lycanthropy all but died out on IIo. Except for secret societies that carefully prevented diluting their own blood, and even sent missions to the moon to mine for more pieces of the Comet.

 

When the Seal was sundered, those pitiful creatures that possessed microscopic amounts of moondust passed on for generations without transformation once more fell under the curse of lycanthropy; those creatures careful enough to preserve the dust within their blood gained untold power, but many fell under the same pitfalls as their brethren on the moon--madness and lunacy.

 

Beliefs, Legends, and Religion

 

Most of the lycanthropic races on the surface of the moon follow a path of unity with nature that includes revering the first lycanthropes (believed to still be alive in the wilds of the moon), along with following morals and guidelines laid out by lunar dragons.

 

Very few follow dark cults that believe in heralding a "second coming" of the Comet. These (frequently insane) individuals believe they will be granted untold power and mastery over the universe with the next coming of the Comet. They frequently mine the depths of the moon to seek out fragments of the original Comet and regularly prey on other lycanthropes to absorb the dust in their blood.

 

Lycanthropes aware of their heritage on the surface of the planet of IIo have many legends concerning the moon and the origin of their race, but most are blissfully unaware of the dark legacy that spawned them.

 

Relations, Alliances, and Vendettas

 

Lycanthropic races on the surface of the moon are considered one of the greatest civilizations there, and most races are thankful to count them as friends; with the obvious exception of the aforementioned cults seeking to cause the apocalypse.

 

On the main planet of the Realm of IIo, lycanthropes are despised by most, and may consider themselves lucky to wind up as an experiment of some evil warlock. The dwarven lunebanes fight a tireless war against any "spawn of Seluna," and they consider the extermination of all lycanthropes to be one of their chief priorities.

 

Some monasteries and hospitals and other organizations do exist that try to help lycanthropes on IIo, but usually these end up serving as jails more often than not. Cures for the disease are more legend than fact, but they do exist. Interestingly, dialysis does not usually work, as the dust is present in all tissue of the infected, not just the blood. Any Magickian aware of the true nature of lycanthropy (being caused by moondust) can remove the dust through the application of magick; unfortunately, most creatures are unaware of the true cause. Cures for the original lycanthropes also must involve separating the two bodies/minds, and this was never found to be possible without death. Modern-day lycanthropes are but one mind in the same body however--the dust carries the genetic memory of those it infected before to cause the transformation.

 

Subraces/Relatives

The original or First lycanthropes

Other creatures born from the Comet bear some similarities to lycanthropes

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