Werewolves are a race of supernatural shapeshifters. There are a variety of different shapeshifters, collectively known as 'werecreatures' inhabiting the Pandemonium Universe. Werecreatures are born in a specific form, apparently of that race, be it human, wolf, bear, jackal, etc., and after puberty they experience an awakening into their transformative abilities. In this article we will be dealing primarily with werewolves as they are the most common race of werecreatures. In general, the biology of the different werecreature races operate in the same manner, so werewolves are as good an example as any.
Traditionally werewolves mate within their own species, but because of some quirk of biology they are also able to interbreed with humans and wolves.
Werewolves are born into the same form as their mother. If their mother is human, they are born in human form. If their mother is wolf, they are born in wolf form. If their mother is a werewolf who was born in human form, they will also be born in human form. If their mother is a werewolf who was born in wolf form, they will also be born in wolf form. It is usual for a female werewolf to revert to her birth form while giving birth. It is thusly that certain strains of werewolves, those successively born in wolf or human form, develop through the female line.
The terms for werewolves born in the different forms are "born of the wolf" and "born of man".
It is thought that in ancient times all werewolves were born into wolf form, and that it was not until some depraved individuals began mating with humans that werewolves began being born in human form. It was reasoned that wolf form was the werewolf's "true" form and that the human form was merely a survival strategy assumed in order to more easily bring down human prey. These views are now somewhat outdated, although they simmer just below the surface when issues of cooperation with the humans come up in conclave. Today, the majority of tribes active in society at large consist mostly of those werewolves who are born of man. Although some werewolf purists still cling to that ancient bias, most modern werewolves accept those born of the wolf and those born of man on equal footing.
Those werewolves that are born from both parents who are werewolves are the mainstay of werewolf society, the pure-bloods. Most Elders of tribes and those who perform the unglamorous tasks of making the tribe function are pure-bloods.
Due to the tendency to interbreed with compatible races, werewolves are not always born into werewolf communities. In cases where a werewolf breeds with a wolf or human, a half-blood may result. Half-bloods are physically weaker than pure-bloods, giving credence to the claims by purists that breeding with non-weres weakens the race. Although their detractors are swift to point out that half-bloods create children indistinguishable from pure-bloods. Half-bloods are often raised at the fringes of werewolf society. Some grow up with their non-werewolf parent not knowing what they are until the change comes. Others are raised in full knowledge of what they will eventually become. The half-bloods, at least those born of man, are the strongest link between the werewolves and the humans. Being of both worlds, they tend towards being able to understand the wants and needs of both cultures. Many half-bloods end up acting as mediators and facilitators for their tribes, smoothing the relationship between weres and humans.
In some cases, the union of werewolf and non-werewolf will produce a wolf or human child who is not a were, but carries the trait in their genes. In future generations a werewolf may be born of wolf or human parents, if one of those parents has some werewolf blood. These are the recessives. Recessives are nearly twice as physically powerful as even the strongest pure-bloods. Invariably the change takes recessives entirely unawares, making for extremely confused and often dysfunctional individuals. In cases where recessives are tamed, enlightened and integrated into werewolf society they make strong, aggressive and uncompromising leaders.
Immediately or somewhat past puberty the young werewolf will go through a second biological transformation where their ability to shapeshift will manifest. The time of awakening is always chaotic for the young were. Mental, emotional and biological changes engulf their world, much like puberty in that they often have little understanding of what is going on, but unlike puberty the process culminates in a single explosive moment when transformation first occurs.
Once a werewolf has awakened there are three forms they may transform to and from. That which is their birth form, either wolf or human; a transitional bipedal, wolf-like form; and the opposite of their birth form, either human or wolf. The assumption of the transitional form holds many religious connotations for much of werewolf society, and the assumption of that form is usually reserved for sacred events, such as; ritual, mating or combat. Many, although not all, werewolves also may assume an additional wolf form, that of an exceptionally large (300-600lbs) dire wolf. (Normal wolves rarely reach 200lbs.)
Werewolf biology for both females and males is greatly influenced by the moon and her phases. Each werewolf is bound to the phase of the moon under which they first transformed. During that phase they are especially drawn to assuming the transitional form. Werewolves with insufficient, and some may say unnatural, willpower are irresistibly compelled to assume the transitional form during the height of their moon phase. There are also other, behavioral changes that occur preceding one's moontime. A werewolf approaching their moontime will become increasing irritable, emotional and aggressive, much like a female entering her menses. It is common practice for werewolves to go on religious retreats during their moontimes.
As with humans and the zodiac, werewolves assume a psychological affinity with their particular moon phase, called their moon aspect.
Family - The Pack
Werewolf society is based on the pack. The pack is a family, biological or adoptive, of werewolves who live and function together as a unit. The emotional ties of the pack are very strong and are the central focus of werewolf existence.
Much like wolf packs, werewolf packs are led by one strong leader, often male, but sometimes female. Newly adult members must "prove" themselves in order to earn a place within the pack hierarchy. All members of the pack are loved. All members of the pack who have proven themselves as valuable members of the pack are respected. Only one may rule, and that one must prove themself to be the strongest and most capable member of the pack. Packleaders are self-elected and must prove themselves before their rule is fully accepted.
In addition to packleader, another mainstay of the werewolf pack is the packmother. Almost always a female, the packmother is the primary caretaker of the pack. The packmother is also the spiritual leader of the pack; providing guidance, perspective and a stable ever-loving presence. Aged packmothers will pass on their responsibilities of every-day pack maintenance to younger women and recede in to the background as Grandmothers, the mystics and oracles of the werewolf race.
Society - The Tribe
Much of werewolf society is organized into tribal groupings. A tribe will consist of a bunch of packs affiliated by blood or alliance. Tribes do not usually live together, but do gather periodically to reaffirm bonds and discuss and rule on important issues. Each tribe, in one form or another, is nominally ruled over by council of elders made up of the most powerful packleaders and packmothers within the tribe.
Werewolves, by and large, do not like vampires. There exists a historical emnity between the two races. Werewolves see vampires as unnatural parasites on the health and vitality of the other, living, races. Vampires see werewolves as dangerous vermin. Unfortunately, vampires are a presence in the supernatural community which cannot be easily done away with. The way in which werewolves deal with vampires differs greatly from tribe to tribe. Some practice separation and noninterference. Others utilize the diplomatic skills of their half-bloods to arrange co-operative, or at least civil, relationships with the soul-less parasites. Still others train their youngsters in the skills of vampire hunting and send them out to collect necklaces of fangs.
Immature werewolves mature at the same rate as the creature of their birth form. Once a werewolf reaches maturity at awakening, their aging slows to a pace slightly slower than human. Also, werewolves remain in their prime physically for much longer than their human counterparts. A 60 or 70 year old werewolf will be in as good, if not better physical condition than a 30 or 40 year old werewolf. Male werewolves live to around age 130, when their health and prowess declines rapidly preceding death. Female werewolves experience the same decline in physical prowess at 130, but often remain in fair health for another 20 to 50 years.
For one reason or another werewolves sometimes find it desireable or necessary to extend their lifespan. A common method is hunting and slaying vampires for the life extending qualities of their blood, although this practice is frowned upon by most upright tribes.
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