Were-Critters That Don't Require You Be Able to Add, Subtract, or Read in Order to Roleplay Them:
The concept of these shifty little buggers has been taken and then heinously bastardized from Laurel K. Hamilton's Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series. I say bastardized because the society in which the Hamilton books are set has an open critter policy. Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies, Voodoo Priestesses, and so on and so forth walk about in the open. Everyone knows they exist. In Pepperhill, such is not the case. Dark ghoulies that fall subject to the moon and the light of day are still considered mythical creatures by those who haven't been exposed to them. For this reason characteristics of functionality and political and social structures that exist in the books don't/can't wholly apply. So, for any of you Hamilton fans out there, if this sounds like a really misinformed run-down of some really familiar critters, this is why. I've taken the basic initial concept of their creation - a contagious virus -- and built around it with a lot of guessing and inventing and borrowing and creating.
1. These shifters have acquired the disease. Unlike WtA, lycanthropy is not a part of the genetic structure. It is a virus that can be contracted through the blood. One must be bitten or scratched or attacked by shifter in their animal form in order to acquire it. Just as in the majority viral cases, one does not know whether they have it until they test positive for it - in this situation, the shift on the first full moon after they are marked.
2. Whether, rat, wolf, leopard, tiger, etc - these critters have a tendency
to run in packs. Groups. Pards. The Rats have a King that is responsible
for them. Each pack of wolves has an Alpha. Leopards have…something. I
can't remember. But…Alpha will do until I can get my head on straight.
The animal kingdom is based on a power structure typically ruled by brute
strength, ideally ruled by brute strength and governing ability/intellect.
A group leader is there to protect his people, though, when power falls
into the wrong hands, abuse seems the most likely the outcome. Not just
anybody can be a pack leader - there's only one per pack, and there's only
one pack per area. Since Pepperhill is rural, chances are the pack is based
in NYC. So, unless otherwise indicated, Alphas and such are all already
Yes, there are lone rangers - because…well, without lone rangers, all you've got is lemmings
3. These guys always shift on the full moon. They have no choice. It's a big messy adventure, this shifting, involving lots of skin splitting and visible bone rearranging and splattering of clear goo (and of course, hair sprouting). Forced shifts into and out of animal form are possible as well - though both take a lot out of the critter that's doin' it. Accidental shifts occur as well - rage, anger, fear, defense, immense physical exertion, excitement, and so on and so forth are all factors that can lead to involuntary shifts. All are due to lack of control. The stronger the character is, the less likely it is to happen.
4. The longer a person is in animal form, the harder it is to get out of it. Literally. There are cases where shifters have stayed in animal form so long they could not change back - that would be a period of months, or even years, however. But one does begin to acquire animal characteristics in their human form if they stay animal too long (I'd say…a fortnight on). These would include - fangs, animal eyes, claws, etc. Typically the first thing to appear are the fangs.
5. Guess what! Silver? It's a bad thing. A really bad thing. They're allergic to it. Not to say a silver bullet will definitely kill them or anything, but it does slow down the healing process excessively. And, for the sado-masochist in your friendly neighborhood shifter, piercings and bondage toys with silver in them offer that extra little twinge of a burning pain for your pleasure.
6. Healing process! They have higher metabolisms than the humans, these shifters - they heal faster, scar less, get sick even less often. Drugs don't affect them like they do humans because their bodies metabolize them faster. Where a 400mg dose of barbiturates lasts 4-6 hours on a human, it may last 15-45 minutes on a shifter. Shifters are also immune to most other diseases as well because of the virus that makes them what they are.
7. These guys live longer than humans. It make sense, really -- they're stronger, faster, less susceptible to disease. Where a human might live eighty years, a shifter might live 120. This all said - humans aren't exposed to the violence of pack law and succession rites, as well as other superhuman conflict types things. So the natural life of a shifter is longer, but a far higher percentage meet unnatural deaths.
8. Lycanthropes. Half animal, half human. They've got aspects of both in both states. There's a person inside the animal. An animal inside the person. In human form, this comes out as touch - closeness, nuzzling, petting, etc. It's not unusual to see shifters share a bed for no reason other than to have someone there. They more animal they choose to be in the human form, the more tactile they will be. And though it really shouldn't be a visible issue in the room - sex is another aspect of the animal side. Moral structure of the human is in constant conflict with the press of the instinct driven animal (which, in shifters does have a markedly stronger influence), but again - we find another control issue. The more grown up you and your C are, they less they feel like they have to have sex just because. In the animal form, the human influence keeps them from killing with animal abandon, keeps them tame in the presence of humans - while they are in animal form, there is still a thinking person inside, even if they are, at times, overwhelmed by animal instinct.
9. Power. As with all creatures great and small - our were-critters have auras. Energy fields that surround them. But, being superhuman as they are, there's an added aspect to their aura. It reflects their strength. The supernatural glowie-goodness that backs their asses up. For example, some critters can be Alpha, but aren't. Other critters cannot be Alpha and never will be. There's a basic power inside them. Strength. The stronger ones can hold their aura back, making it difficult for others (vampires, necromancers, faeries, wizards, witches) to gauge their strength. But this can also be used as sort of an intimidation factor, a flashing of power that anybody can feel. But if you're a smart shiftie-wiftie, you only do that when absolutely positively necessary, and you practice not leaking even a little. At all. And you get real, real good at it.
Alright, kiddos, that's all I can think of for now. If you want to create
one, you should probably talk with Rebecca or me first, just to work out
the kinks and whatnot. That, and we're all supposed to be apping our C's
anyway. If there's problems, suggestions, questions, mistakes, etc - talk
to me and I'll see what I can do to make it right. Thanks. And yes, ladies
and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building - so whatever you do, don't
slather yourself in peanut butter and amphetamines. Long Live the King!