Hey, I’m not putting Paul Weller as this week’s music but I have to get the reference in somewhere. Yeah, Shapeshifting won out, 55 to 10.
Shapeshifting is one of those integral parts of Werewolf and the five forms we use cover the gamut of werewolf legends and cinema. One of the important things to remember about the Uratha’s shapeshifting abilities is that they’re made to service the hunt, not the fight.
Many hunts never end in a fight. If the pack’s performed their role in the Siskur-Dah, the prey just needs a werewolf to put him out of the pack’s misery. That’s possible with some Gifts and maybe a sharp stick. So why do our characters need to change shape? Well, because the above only holds true when the pack’s prey is the equal of them. More often, the Uratha hunt things more powerful than they are. Entire packs of other werewolves, who know the secrets of the Hunt just as well as the pack on the hunt. Spirits who draw power from institutions and places that stretch back hundreds of years. Hosts and Claimed that can tear a werewolf pack apart in a fair fight.
Father Wolf and Mother Luna gave the Uratha the ability to change shape so they could hunt things far greater than an individual werewolf or an individual pack. Now that Father Wolf is dead and his role falls to the Forsaken, they must hunt things more powerful again. That’s how shapeshifting serves the hunt.
Shapeshifting also helps out in fights, of course. It’s not an Uratha’s job to get into a scrap – no goddess-blessed warriors these – but that doesn’t mean that other creatures don’t pick on them. Humans who worry what’s happened to their friends and family who joined the pack. Foolish young vampires who think they can own a pack of their very own, rather than coexisting with another kind of apex predator. Other packs and spirits and prey that want to destroy the werewolves before the pack hunts them down. Minions of the Idigam trying to bring the area under its dominion. When in doubt and when you won’t leave any witnesses, it’s tempting to pop claws and shed blood. To step off that line where you’re holding control and just give in. It’s like an alcoholic with his five-year chip thinking one beer can’t hurt, or the ten-year-quit smoker who picks up a pack after a bad day at work.
Shed blood. Tear flesh. Crack bone. Give in.
Then work out what you’re going to do with the bodies and how you’re going to clean up the mess.
Mechanically, forms have many of the same benefits as they do in the Forsaken core. Most importantly, they keep the same Attribute modifiers. We have made changes elsewhere to demonstrate why each form is as important as it is in the hunt. These are situational modifiers that depend on the form.
I’m interested in hearing specific feedback on the forms here. I know some people will be disappointed that we’re not adding more to the Attribute modifiers, but I want to try to convey the spirit of each form without just adding dots, and I hope that comes across.
The following rules apply to all three intermediary forms (Dalu/Gauru/Urshul)
- Apply full Defense against firearms attacks.
- Inflict Lunacy appropriate for the form.
- Never affected by Beaten Down.
- Bite & claw attacks count as weapons, and thus deal lethal damage. They also count as supernatural attacks (e.g. dealing lethal damage to vampires).
Each form also has the following abilities, in addition to the form’s Trait modifiers.
- Used to walk unseen in the world of humans, even on the hunt.
- Applies Primal Urge as a penalty to any rolls to pick him out of the crowd.
- Used to isolate and chase foes among humans, where Urhan and Urshul would invite too much attention.
- +2 Perception bonus.
- Roll Primal Urge vs. prey’s Composuire to force a crowd to part and give up your prey, or to make a single person human back down.
- Claws deal +0, bites +1 but require a grapple.
- Used to kill prey as quickly and efficiently as possible.
- +3 Perception bonus (normally used to sniff out closest prey).
- Must attack nearest opponent (either bite/claw or throwing things) or move towards nearest opponent if you can’t attack. Doing otherwise risks Kuruth.
- Taking Gauru outside of combat always leads to Kuruth.
- Limited duration of [Stamina + Primal Urge + Auspice Renown] turns.
- Always use down & dirty combat against lesser foes (most humans, equal rank or weaker spirits, etc.)
- Opponents who aren’t victims of Down & Dirty Combat cannot spend Willpower to attack the werewolf.
- Regenerate all bashing and lethal damage each turn.
- Claws deal +1, bite deals +2 without grappling.
- Used to weaken and harry the prey near the end of the hunt.
- +3 Perception bonus.
- On a damaging hit, the Defense reduction lasts for the rest of the scene – this doesn’t stack if the same character damages twice, but does from different werewolves.
- Claws deal +0 and increase Initiative by 1, bite deals +1 without grappling.
- Used to chase down prey over long distances, or to harry where Urshul would be noticed.
- No claws, can bite for +0 damage without grappling. This doesn’t count as a supernatural attack.
- +4 Perception bonus.
- Spend 1 Essence to pre-empt another character’s action in combat with your own.
- In a foot chase, use Speed in place of Strength + Athletics.
While they do plug in to some systems (especially Harmony for shapeshifting and Kuruth), I’d still encourage you to try out these systems in play. They’re not dramatic departures from how the forms work at present, but they help give each form a reason to be.
This week, I want you all to watch the video for Shakira’s She-Wolf. Don’t just listen to the music or the lyrics, look at how she moves. That’s the kind of physical expression that happens every time a werewolf takes a new form.
Finally for this week, would you like Idigam or Kuruth?