Tag Archives: werewolves

If werewolves could be badly wounded by firearms, but not killed and the only way to kill them for sure was to cut their heads off, what would be an appropriate choice of tools for such job? I’m thinking about something that could be quite easily concealed under a coat and not too heavy, yet still viable to be used as a weapon in a melee if need arises.

The simple answer is: carry more than one weapon.

Rather than trying to force a weapon to fulfill two separate needs (a ranged weapon like a gun that is also a melee weapon), take two. I mean, if it’s completely necessary and you can’t give up the idea of a ranged weapon that can also be used in melee then you can always take a bayonet. It’s not going to work for taking off the head unless you detach it from the rifle or shotgun but it is an option. A bayonet is essentially a long knife or a short sword depending on how you want to define it that attaches to the barrel and allows the gun to be used as an impromptu melee weapon. It’s not as good as an actual melee weapon (which is why soldiers also carry knives), but it serves it’s intended purpose.

However, when attached to the barrel, the rifle’s use as a melee weapon is limited in terms of motion. The gun isn’t designed for that kind of motion, it can basically slash diagonally and stab. So, if your character needs an actual melee weapon then they should carry a secondary or tertiary weapon to support them at close range. Whether that’s a tool like a machete that can be hidden easily under the coat and will work well for taking off the head or some other kind of silver sword.

I always liked the story in Hunter the Reckoning’s Storyteller’s Handbook about gang members trying to trade in their silver jewelry only to be told that they could actually buy silver bullets. Which is true, your monster hunter actually can purchase them. However, because they were so expensive and because you could never be totally sure, many of the setting’s gangbangers started putting silver bullets as the third round in rather than carrying a full cartridge. The logic was essentially that if the first two didn’t work then the third probably would. (Except it wouldn’t always as the setting had monsters with similar powers and different weaknesses such as the WereCrocs who were weak to gold rather than silver and mages with points in Life and willing to risk the backlash, Gangrel or Vampires with Protean, etc.)

While I get the appeal of a “signature weapon”, the truth is that most people simply carry more than one weapon as you’re bound to encounter different situations/scenarios and no single weapon will ever have an advantage in all of them. Try to limit yourself to about four, but in this case this character might carry as their loadout:

A rifle – for long to mid-range, especially when outdoors for picking off enemies at a distance.

A shotgun – for close range and because you can load it with a variety of different types of ammunition from buckshot, to needles, to turning it into an impromptu flamethrower. My personal opinion is that the versatility of the shotgun lends itself really well to monster hunting in particular because you can load it up with all sorts of stuff and it’s very damaging at close range.

A pistol – the pistol is just a good middle of the road weapon, it’s small enough to conceal on your person, and it’ll have more of an advantage indoors than the rifle and even the shotgun. If you’re in a situation with very cramped quarters, then the pistol is your friend as it’s unlikely to get caught on the environment in the way a longer weapon will. Depending on the type of pistol, you can load it up with different kinds of ammunition.

A short sword/knife/sword – this is the actual melee weapon. I’m more partial to the short sword for monster hunting due to it being easier to conceal than a long sword, it’s important to remember in accordance with werewolves that in general swords are not good for hunting animals. They’re meant for humans, not nine foot snarling death beasts. If you have the room then the traditional melee weapon for hunting animals of this kind is actually the spear. The spear’s length gives it substantially stopping power when it comes to the greater force of impact that an animal like a boar can generate when it charges or a wolf can when it lunges. The spear also allows you to keep the range advantage with a much larger enemy that you give up in choosing a shorter weapon. However, in a modern setting the spear will have a disadvantage indoors and give up a lot of maneuverability as an all-purpose weapon that your hunter may not be able to afford. Keep the knife or short sword as a means of taking off the head after the werewolf has been disabled and as a last ditch.

Use any variety of European longsword for the coolness factor or denotation of the One True Hero. The long sword itself is symbolic in Western Literature, so if you want your hero to be a Chosen One or a Noble Undercover then the sword is a great way to point to that without dropping a prophecy to accompany it. Just make sure to recognize the fantasy tropes and what they promise your audience because the use of tropes can mean making promises you’re unaware of and don’t intend to keep. The longsword more than any other medieval weapon has special/important cultural meaning in Western mythology/storytelling. If you’d like to avoid the standard fantasy tropes either subvert them or avoid the sword all together.

The katana is also highly symbolic if that’s your choice, however in the hands of anyone not Japanese it can easily become laden with Orientalism. So, be careful, or at least research the accompanying symbolism both for Western audiences in the recent decades and it’s meaning/importance to Japanese culture.

I hope that helps.

-Michi

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I’m writing a novel that includes fight scenes with werewolves. What would be some plausible weapons you might think of for a werewolf to use when fighting while human?

A shotgun.

I mean, if they’re in human form, they’re going to have access to the same kinds of weapons anyone else would, so there’s no reason for them to abstain from a shotgun or fire axe. I suppose there’s an edge case of being harmed by something they’re supernaturally vulnerable to while still in human form. For example, packing mags of silver bullets could be unpleasant if your werewolves stay vulnerable to silver all the time.

If they’re fighting other werewolves, then they will need to tailor their arsenal to account for that. Again, just like anyone else. That’s going to depend on the rules (and technology) of your setting. So, it could be silver bullets, a tazer (hey, it’s got to have a nervous system, right? You should still be able to short that out), bone tipped bullets, gold arrowheads, enchanted weapons, whatever.

As with hunting normal animals, you’re not going to want to take a sword or other combat weapon against a werewolf, because that will put you far too close to nine feet of snarling deathbeast. You need hunting weapons. In a pre-modern setting, you’re talking about the bow, crossbow, and spears with heavy cross guards to prevent the werewolf from migrating up the spear and taking your head off. Of course, you’re also dealing with creatures that are smart enough to break your spears.

If you’re asking for weapons they could use in both forms, that’s a bit trickier. It would need to be something bulky enough to use while transformed, but still light enough to use in human form. Some kind of custom made heavy shaft polearm, axe or sword come to mind. Though, I’ll be honest, when you’re talking about a werewolf, they have natural weapons, which could be far more (supernaturally) lethal than anything they could carry into combat.

-Starke

Some quick recommendations would be to look at the old White Wolf RPGs, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, and Exalted.

Werewolf: The Apocalypse is an urban fantasy setting. It’s dripping in 90′s edginess, but there’s some excellent world building in there. It presents werewolves in conflict with the rapid technological development of the 20th century. This is about modern day werewolves in a setting where other things will hunt them down and kill them if they screw up, and the werewolves are facing extinction from the dwindling wolf populations in the world.

There was a second version of the game, Werewolf: The Forsaken. As I’ve said before, I’m not as big a fan of this one. The setting’s reboot ditched a lot of the uniqueness from the original. But, the end result is a lot more flexible and modular. If you just want to poke a setting for inspiration, this one is more diverse, and gives you the tools for producing more “mundane” flavors of werewolves.

There’s also a couple alternate spinoff settings, Werewolf: Wild West for your 19th century werewolf needs, and Dark Ages: Werewolf if your setting resembles Europe circa 1230.

If you’re running with a wild west setting, Deadlands is another potentially helpful resource. It brands itself as the “weird west” and it’s got some interesting takes on an 1870s America where supernatural forces have been unleashed and the civil war rages on. Werewolves are uncommon (as I recall), but the setting as a whole is interesting, and it does a good job of melding horror into a western.

Finally, if you’re going for pure fantasy, then Exalted: The Lunars may give you some good ideas. The Exalts themselves are ludicrously powerful, there’s a heavy anime influence mixed into the setting, but there’s also a lot of really smart worldbuilding. Including suggestions for what happens when the players start breaking things. If you’re completely unfamiliar with it, then the core book or liberal use of the wiki may be necessary reading. If the phrase “heavy anime influence” made you want to write this one off, don’t; it is worth looking at.

Hi, I am a non-native English speaker trying to write English fanfic and have a quick question you might know the answer to(somehow the internet was not helpful and I feel kinda betrayed by it): Where is the difference between pup und cub? Or is it interchangeable? I have just spend almost an hour staring at a word document trying to figure out if Derek would call a werewolf child pup or cub.

thewinterotter:

For wolves they’re both correct, actually… it’s largely a regional difference. I generally prefer “pup” (mostly because “cub” always makes me think bears), and it seems to be the preferred term at least around where I’ve lived. I understand “cub” is much more common in the UK, but I’ve never had cause to take a poll on that. 😀 Most of the scientific literature I’ve read also uses “pup,” but then again most of it was written by Americans so it could be the regional difference again.

(The one that fucks me up real bad is where scientific papers will be like “and here we have a cave painting of an elk from such and such cave” and I’m like uuuuhhhh that is clearly a moose? And it took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that what we call an “elk” here is not what is called an “elk” in Europe it’s a goddamned moose, and a “deer” in some places is actually what we’d consider an “elk” and like… why is ungulate terminology so confusing it’s like playing that game with the three shells and you have to keep your eye on where the goddamned ball is.)

As far as what Derek would call a kid, I think that’d come down to your personal preference. I think a lot of folks in this particular fandom at least feel the whole concept is overdone and hate it, but I think it’s cute as shit. That’s possibly because I’ve been calling human babies “pup” for ages, sort of like how my middle school geography teacher called everyone “Champ” because he hadn’t bothered to learn any of our names. I also kind of like that it’s gender-neutral. Maybe we should consider it the werewolf version of “hen”. 😀

I ran across this by accident while working on another werewolf post, so I hope you don’t mind me weighing in.

Pups are short for puppy, which can refer to any juvenile canine. That includes young wolves. Though, it might only apply to domesticated wolves, I’m not sure.

Cubs refer to large juvenile predatory mammals. So, large cats, bears, wolves, and so on. So, a wolf cub is also a wolf puppy. It just depends on the word you want to use.

Incidentally, juvenile large cats can be referred to as either kittens or cubs, for the same reasons.

Which to use for a werewolf? That’s going to depend. Either one could be valid, but if the person using the term is wanting to imply the child isn’t feral enough, or is too submissive, they might use pup as an insult.

Cub might be used to suggest that this is someone who will be a fully fledged member of the pack one day.

Or, they could just use one word habitually, with no thought behind it. As Thewinterotter pointed out, this is a dialect question. Your character might refer to all juvenile werewolves as pups or as cubs because that’s just the “right” word so, because that’s the word they learned to use for their children.

For what it’s worth, there isn’t a wrong choice here. This is a characterization choice. You can pick the term that you feel fits your characters best. You can’t really pick the wrong one, because they’re both appropriate.

I hope that helps.

-Starke

I have a character who is a were-creature. Just some backstory, He is really vain and obsessed with his image. The people he is traveling with don’t know he transforms. When he finally transforms in front of his friend they’re in the woods and it’s dark. He doesn’t want his friends to know he can transform. What happens to his clothes when he transforms? How can I explain that without having the other characters finding out the monster was him?

Okay, so, this is going to sound mean for about a second,  but, you understand that Werewolves (and other lycanthropic critters) aren’t real, right?

I mean, they’re real in the context of persistent, subconscious myth. The same way ghosts, vampires, and other anxieties given monstrous form are an acceptable suspension of disbelief. But, as with vampires, no one can really come along and hammer you on the knuckles with a ruler for breaking “the rules.”

They’re a useful metaphor. Especially if you want to talk about the awkwardness of being a teenager. Their body changing in unexpected ways, new, strange hungers and urges, growing a tail hair all over the place… you know, normal.

They’re also a good metaphor for civilization vs. the wild, domestication vs. feralness, or any number of other appropriate analogies.

You’ll notice none of this tells either of us what the hell happens to his pants. That’s because, for the most part, you’re setting the rules of your story. Does he absorb his clothes when he transforms? Does he get those back when he reverts? Does he tear them to shreds if he can’t get them off in time? Can he control his transformation, meaning he can strip naked, then shift? (Which might actually work against the above themes, but, it’s possible.) Is his transformation into something that wouldn’t actually tear his clothes? (Mercifully “Ananasi Crawlerling” returns no relevant hits on Google Image Search, unless you already know what you’re looking for, you can thank them later.)

Also… and, I’m actually serious here, don’t Google “Ananasi” if spiders make you uncomfortable.

Anyway, moving on to what he’ll tell them? That’s also going to be up to you. I don’t know what your character is likely to think is a good way to say, “no, really guys, I’m normal,” especially if he’s having go cough that up in the heat of the moment.

I don’t think Hallmark makes a card for, “I’m sorry I turned into a giant bloodthirsty abomination in front of you.” So, whatever he comes up with is probably going to be more than a little awkward unless he’s had a lot of practice.

Sorry, this all kind of boils down to, I don’t know your story, who your character is, or what you’re aiming for with your story. Those will all answer your questions, but it’s just information I don’t have.

-Starke

do you have any tips on writing a non cliche werewolf?

fuckyeahcharacterdevelopment:

I shall do my best to advise. 

First and foremost, know your cliches. 
In this case, that means watching and reading all the werewolf stories that you can get your hands on. Grab some popcorn, take a break, it’s research! Patterns will probably start to appear pretty quickly. 

In a similar vein, I recommend that you look into all the mythology about werewolves that you can find. What’s become the current popular canon for werewolf mythology is actually a kind of distilled and selected version of some of the older myths. For example, in The Graveyard Book, I thought that Neil Gaiman did a lovely job pulling from the old stories of ‘Hounds of God’ to create a werewolf character that wasn’t a bit cliche. 

Finally, I’d say to top it off with some real world research- werewolves are mythical creatures that are grounded in real world stuff- clinical lycanthropy, serial killers, wolf-dog hybrids, hallucinations, actual wolves. Read up about it! Figure out what parts interest you. In particular, I find that a lot of stories about werewolves lack an understanding of how actual wolves work (I’m looking you dead in the face, Twilight series), which, I mean, if you want your werewolves to be humanized or a different beast from wolves entirely, that’s cool, but at least know what’s what so that you don’t flop misinformation/misunderstanding around.   

Now that you are an expert on the werewolf mythology that your work will be in the context of, decide:

– What you like about the existing stories. (Your creation doesn’t have to be 100% different from other werewolves to be fresh and not a cliche!) Do you think that a weakness to silver is nifty? If so, keep it! Nobody’s gonna stop you. Just be careful to only pick the parts that you REALLY like and find interesting. Don’t toss it in there just because it’s status quo. And maybe try adding your own spin on it, based on what seems logical to you (does the silver act more like an allergy, or lead poisoning?)

– What you think the current stories are lacking. Did you notice that most of the werewolves seem to be male (or are presented very differently than females)? Do you think that that’s lame? Make some lady werewolves! Do something different, or correct something that you don’t like about the stories that exist already. 

– Finally, and I cannot stress this enough- figure out your unique take and angle. What do werewolves mean to you, personally? What could they represent in the context of the story that’s a new way of looking at things? What parts of your research stuck out as being interesting and unique to you? Build up your own ideas, and create something that really comes from you. 

-Evvy

I recommend The Complete Book of Werewolves by Leonard R.N. Ashley as a good reference point to get you started. It covers historical lore, fictional werewolves, European, American, and world legends, and werewolves on the silver screen. This one is just a compiling of legends, historical lore, and modern fiction. It’s more akin to an encyclopedia, but if you want an in depth look at the history of werewolves this book is an excellent starting place. It’s got everything from Scooby Doo episodes to the werewolf legends surrounding the British Royal family.

There’s also Monsters: An Investigator’s Guide to Magical Beings by John Michael Greer. Unlike Ashley, this one is written by a self-proclaimed monster hunter, so take some of what he says with a grain of salt. However, it does provide some interesting suggestions on how it could potentially be possible and different shapeshifter legends, including the concept of astral projection and modifying the body’s electrical field to create the appearance of a wolf. If you want to develop a story about werewolves and monster hunters, this might provide you with some interesting insights.

If you’re looking to do wolves in a modern setting or play in the Fantasy Kitchen Sink, I suggest looking at White Wolf’s Werewolf: the Apocalypse roleplaying game, especially for the way it discusses and coaches integrating these characters into (or out of) society. If you’re looking for a Princess Mononoke style approach of Nature versus Man, I suggest going through this setting. The concept of the Delirium is especially worth looking at if you’re thinking Urban Fantasy because it works around the concept of a mystic magical field that hides supernatural beings from human sight. (Yes, it has a Tropes page.)

I’ll give two honorable mentions to my favorite sourcebooks:

Kinfolk, Unsung Heroes: which discusses roleplaying as and creating characters who exist in the shadows and backdrop of their special relatives. It discusses the important roles the mortal werewolf kin both human and wolf play in World of Darkness werewolf society.  What is it like to stand close to greatness and glimpse a spectacular world that could have been yours if only your genetics hadn’t rolled wrong? This is a great toolkit for creating supporting characters, antagonists, or protagonists and fleshing out the possible friends and family of the characters in your setting.

Ways of the Wolf: Do you want to write a story about a man (or woman) who is sometimes a wolf or a wolf who is sometimes a man (or woman)? If it’s the latter, then this Werewolf: The Apocalypse sourcebook has got you covered. In Werewolf, lycanthropy can occur in both humans and wolves. These wolf born werewolves are an interesting concept that rolls against some of the common werewolf mythology. The book covers wolf and pack behavior from the perspective of writing a wolf who has become more than a wolf, but is still a wolf at heart. It talks about how they interact with their wolf brethren and the human born Garou. Which makes it an interesting read while trying to get around some werewolf cliches.

I also recommend Wolves at Our Door which is a phenomenal documentary by Jim Dutcher about life with the Sawtooth Wolf Pack, whom they raised from pups to develop a better understanding of pack life and wolf family structure in a way that cannot be done with these shy animals in the wild. It’s a treasure trove of information and more importantly may lend some nice visual inspiration. For someone working with werewolves, watching wolf and man live together in harmony might be a great jumping off point.

Wikipedia and TV Tropes are (well, might be) great starting sources but as they are crowd sourced and anyone from anywhere can edit them, you’ll have to do a lot more research (and watch/read the suggested media yourself) to get anything really useful out of them.

-Michi

I’m going to toss two of my favorite Werewolf: The Apocalypse source books on here because they can give you some more ideas on getting away from werewolf clichés.

First is Player’s Guide to the Changing Breeds: this covers all the non-wolf based were-creatures in the setting. It includes wearbears, weresharks, werehyenas, weresnakes, and a bunch of other possible creatures. There are separate guides for each specific group, and if you find one that appeals, then their sourcebook will be more useful, but Guide to the Changing Breeds gives an overview for all of them.

The second is Project: Twilight. This isn’t actually about werewolves, it’s about federal agents who hunt the supernatural, and how to run them. If you want to write urban fantasy, I’d almost say this is a must read. If only to get you thinking about how law enforcement would deal with your characters’ actions and behavior.

-Starke