DND Lycanthropy [A Howling Good Guide for Players & DMs]

DND Lycanthropy is a fascinating curse that turns characters into werecreatures. It’s a game-changer for players and DMs alike.

Here is what you need to know about DND Lycanthropy:

DND Lycanthrope is a curse or blessing transforming characters into werecreatures with unique abilities. It involves transformation, heightened senses, and a struggle with the beast within. Cures include Remove Curse spell or quest-driven remedies.

In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about DND Lycanthropy.

What Is Lycanthropy in DND?

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Werewolf silhouette against giant full moon, embodying lycanthropy's power -- DND Lycanthropy
I made this image with AI — DND Lycanthropy

Lycanthropy in DND is more than just turning into a wolf under a full moon.

It’s a curse—or gift, depending on who you ask—that transforms adventurers into powerful werecreatures.

Each type of lycanthropy comes with its unique set of abilities, challenges, and roleplaying opportunities. Whether bitten by a werebeast or born under the lycanthropic curse, characters find their destinies forever altered.

Rooted in folklore and fantasy, lycanthropy in DND is not just a physical transformation but also a rich narrative device that introduces complex challenges and opportunities for character development.

Lycanthropy affects characters in several key ways:

  • Physical and Mental Transformation: Beyond the physical abilities and vulnerabilities, lycanthropy can alter a character’s mental state and emotional volatility.
  • Immunities and Weaknesses: Lycanthropes gain specific immunities vulnerabilities (more on this in a moment).
  • Control Over the Curse: The Dungeon Master’s Guide and Monster Manual discuss how characters might gain control over their transformations and instincts through role-playing and questing. This control, or lack thereof, can significantly impact a character’s journey and the narrative of the campaign.

Types of Lycanthropy

Before diving deeper, let’s quickly identify the werecreatures lurking in the DND universe.

Here’s a simple breakdown:

WerewolfClassic wolf-human hybrids.
WerebearMighty bear-human hybrids.
WereboarFierce boar-human hybrids.
WereratCunning rat-human hybrids.
WeretigerStealthy tiger-human hybrids.
WerebatMysterious bat-human hybrids.
WerecrocodilePowerful crocodile-human hybrids.
WereeagleMajestic eagle-human hybrids.
WereowlWise owl-human hybrids.
WeresharkTerrifying shark-human hybrids.
Chart: Types of DND Lycanthropy

Lycanthrope Traits

Becoming a lycanthrope isn’t just about changing shape.

Here are the key traits:

  • Immunity to nonmagical attacks not made with silvered weapons.
  • Shape-shifting abilities.
  • Alignment shifts, often towards the creature’s typical disposition.
  • Heightened senses and physical abilities.
  • Specific vulnerabilities, like a werewolf’s aversion to silver.

Understanding these traits is crucial for players and DMs to fully embrace the lycanthropy experience in their campaigns.

How Do Players Become Lycanthropes

The journey to becoming a lycanthrope often begins with a bite. But it’s more than just an exchange of saliva.

Here’s the breakdown:

  1. Encounter a werecreature. This usually involves combat or a story-driven meeting.
  2. Survive a bite or scratch. Not every encounter leads to lycanthropy, but the risk is there.
  3. Fail a Constitution saving throw. The DC varies, but failure means the curse takes hold.
  4. Experience the first transformation. Often during the next full moon, the player undergoes a painful and uncontrollable transformation.
  5. Learn to control the curse. Through roleplay and quests, players can learn to master their new abilities or seek a cure.

This process opens new avenues for storytelling and character development.

Benefits Players Get as Lycanthropes in DND

With great power comes great…well, more power.

DND Lycanthropy offers:

  • Enhanced strength, dexterity, or constitution.
  • Improved combat abilities, like natural weapons.
  • Special abilities, such as a werewolf’s keen senses or a werebear’s immense strength.
  • Resistance or immunity to certain types of damage.

These benefits can dramatically change how a player approaches challenges in the game.

Lycanthropy Limitations

But it’s not all perks. Lycanthropy comes with its share of limitations:

  • Vulnerability to silver.
  • Social stigma from NPCs aware of the curse.
  • The risk of losing control to the beast within.
  • Alignment changes that can conflict with character goals.

Navigating these limitations adds depth and complexity to the gameplay.

Creating Lycanthrope Characters

Creating a character with lycanthropy involves more than just adding supernatural abilities—it’s about crafting a compelling story.

  • Choose Your Werecreature: Start by selecting the type of lycanthrope your character will be. Each type (werewolf, werebear, wererat, etc.) comes with its own set of abilities, challenges, and lore. Consider how this choice will affect your character’s interactions with the world and other party members.
  • Integrate Lycanthropy into Your Backstory: Lycanthropy can be a curse laid upon your character or a heritage they come to terms with. Perhaps it was inflicted by an enemy, inherited from a parent, or sought out as a gift. How does your character feel about their lycanthropy? Is it a secret shame, a source of pride, or a tool for revenge?
  • Role-playing Tips: Portraying the duality of nature requires balancing human intellect with animal instincts. Use physical cues to show the struggle or acceptance of your beastly side. Let the moon phases play into your character’s mood and actions, and consider how DND lycanthropy affects your relationships with NPCs and other players.

Keep reading for even more roleplaying tips.

How to Roleplay Lycanthropy as a Player

Roleplaying a lycanthrope offers a unique opportunity to explore complex emotions and situations.

Here are 10 tips that have worked well for me:

Embrace the Duality

Balancing your character’s human and beastly sides is central to lycanthropy.

Imagine your character grappling with their primal instincts while trying to maintain their humanity.

During roleplay, express moments of conflict when faced with decisions—perhaps the beast within urges violence in a situation where diplomacy is the wiser path.

For instance, if your character, a werewolf, is provoked, they might feel the urge to snarl or leave the room to avoid lashing out, showcasing the struggle between their two natures.

Use Your Senses

Lycanthropes possess heightened senses, offering a unique perspective on the world.

When describing your character’s actions or perceptions, highlight their acute senses.

Say your werebear character enters a bustling market.

Describe how they can isolate the scent of fresh honey from the overwhelming mix of smells or hear the faintest whisper from across the crowded space.

This also showcases the animalistic traits influencing your character’s human form.

Struggle with Control

The internal battle with one’s beastly nature is a hallmark of DND Lycanthropy.

Show this struggle through your character’s actions and decisions.

Perhaps in moments of high stress, your character’s eyes momentarily flash a feral glow, or their hands twitch, barely resisting the urge to transform.

This ongoing battle can be a source of tension within the party and lead to compelling storytelling.

As your character might seek solitude during moments of weakness to prevent harming those they care about.

Alter Your Voice and Posture

Changing how you speak and carry yourself can significantly impact your portrayal of a lycanthrope.

When the beast’s influence grows stronger, perhaps lower your voice, let it rumble with a growl-like quality, or adopt a more hunched, guarded posture.

Conversely, when in control, your character might stand tall and speak clearly, their human side shining through.

This physical manifestation of the struggle adds depth to your roleplaying.

Which makes the duality of your character more apparent to others.

Seek a Cure or Mastery

Let your character’s quest for a cure or mastery over their curse drive their narrative.

This journey can involve seeking ancient texts, rare ingredients, or sages and healers.

The quest itself can be fraught with moral dilemmas and challenges.

If the cure requires a rare herb known to be guarded by a peaceful tribe, your character must wrestle with the ethics of their actions.

This quest provides personal stakes and integrates your character’s struggle with the broader campaign.

Fear the Moon

Fear or anticipation of the transformation can define your character’s relationship with their curse.

The approach of the full moon might bring anxiety, leading your character to take precautions such as chaining themselves up or isolating from the party to prevent harm.

Alternatively, they might yearn for the freedom and power the transformation brings.

Expressing this complex relationship with the lunar cycle adds a layer of realism and depth to your character’s experience.

Leave Clues

Dropping hints about your curse to fellow players creates intrigue and dynamic interactions in the party.

Maybe your character inexplicably disappears during full moons.

Or has a collection of chains with no apparent use.

These mysterious behaviors can lead to an engaging reveal, allowing for rich character development and party dynamics as your secret comes to light.

Explore the Beast’s Desires

Understanding and expressing what your inner beast wants adds complexity to your roleplay.

Perhaps the weretiger within yearns to roam freely in the wild, leading your character to feel trapped within city walls.

These desires can conflict with your character’s goals or alignments.

You can create rich narrative conflict and character growth as they negotiate between their human and beastly desires.

Protect Your Secret

How far your character goes to keep their curse hidden can drive much of their interaction with the world.

They might wear concealing clothing, avoid situations that could expose them.

Or lie to protect their secret.

This secrecy can lead to tension and drama within the party, especially if the truth risks alienating or endangering fellow adventurers.

Use Your Powers for Good (or Bad)

Deciding how your curse influences your actions offers a moral compass for your character.

They might use their enhanced abilities to protect the innocent, leveraging their strength and senses for heroic deeds.

Alternatively, the power could corrupt, leading them down darker paths.

This choice not only defines your character but also influences how they are perceived by the world and their party.

Running Lycanthropy: DM Rules and Homebrew Guide

For Dungeon Masters, incorporating lycanthropy into your game requires a balance of mechanics and storytelling.

Here’s how to do it effectively:

  • Set clear rules – Decide how lycanthropy works in your world. Is it a curse, a disease, or a blessing?
  • Use it as a plot device – Let lycanthropy drive your story, creating quests for cures, control, or understanding.
  • Manage the power balance – Ensure lycanthropic players don’t overshadow others. Adjust challenges accordingly.
  • Encourage roleplay – Reward players for creative roleplaying of their condition.
  • Create custom transformations – Tailor the experience to fit your campaign’s theme and tone.
  • Offer unique challenges – Design encounters that test the player’s control over their DND lycanthropy.
  • Develop a cure – Introduce quests for ingredients, ancient rituals, or powerful healers.

Let’s look at two example sets of rules to (hopefully) inspire you:

Example Set 1: The Curse of the Wild Moon

In this set of rules, lycanthropy is a curse that deepens over time, offering both power and peril.

It’s designed to emphasize the struggle between the character’s humanity and their animalistic nature.

  1. Infection: Characters become infected with lycanthropy after being wounded by a lycanthrope. They must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or become cursed. The first transformation occurs on the next full moon.
  2. Stages of the Curse: The curse progresses in stages, from the New Moon to the Full Moon phase, representing the character’s struggle against the beast within. Each stage introduces stronger abilities but also greater risks of losing control.
    • New Moon (Controlled): The character gains minor physical enhancements but retains full control.
    • First Quarter (Struggling): The character gains enhanced senses and strength, but must make a DC 10 Wisdom saving throw to maintain control during stress.
    • Full Moon (Beastial): The character fully transforms, gaining significant power. Control is lost, and they act on instinct alone unless they succeed on a DC 20 Wisdom saving throw.
  3. Cure and Mastery: Discovering a cure involves a quest for ancient rituals or powerful magic. Alternatively, characters can seek to master their curse, requiring a series of Wisdom saving throws over successive full moons, reflecting their inner battle.

Example Set 2: The Pact of the Moonlit Path

This set of rules treats lycanthropy as a pact with a primal entity, blending the condition with elements of warlock pacts.

It’s suitable for campaigns where lycanthropy is integrated into the character’s development and story.

  1. The Pact: Characters willingly enter into a pact with a primal entity associated with lycanthropy, choosing their werecreature form as part of the agreement. This pact grants them control over their transformations and unique abilities but at a cost.
  2. Pact Abilities and Obligations:
    • Abilities: Characters gain the ability to transform at will, gaining enhanced combat abilities, and special skills based on their werecreature type. They also gain a unique ability related to their pact entity, such as communing with nature or influencing animals.
    • Obligations: In exchange, characters must fulfill tasks for their entity, which could range from protecting the wilderness to spreading the curse. Failure to meet these obligations results in penalties, such as weakened powers or painful transformations.
  3. Breaking the Pact: Characters can seek to break their pact, which involves a high-stakes quest into the entity’s domain or finding a ritual to sever the connection. Success frees the character but may leave residual effects or enemies.

Check out this video with even more ideas for how to run DND Lycanthropy in your campaigns:

YouTube Video by Jay Martin – Play Your Role: DND Lycanthropy

50 Lycanthropy Ideas for DMs

Integrating DND lycanthropy into your campaign or one-shot can be thrilling.

Here are 50 ideas to inspire you:

  1. The Silvered Moon Festival – A town unknowingly celebrates a holiday that coincides with a surge in lycanthropic transformations.
  2. The Cursed Bloodline – A noble family hides a secret of DND lycanthropy, with each generation fearing the full moon.
  3. The Howling Woods – A forest rumored to be haunted is actually the territory of a powerful werewolf pack.
  4. Moonlit Bounty – A bounty hunter guild specializes in tracking down lycanthropes, offering quests to players.
  5. The Lost Cub – A werecreature’s child, unable to control their transformation, is lost and feared in a small village.
  6. The Beast Within – A temple offers a quest to find a cure for a member’s lycanthropy, leading to ancient ruins and forgotten magics.
  7. Moonstone Heist – A precious gem capable of controlling DND lycanthropy is the target of a heist, pitting players against a werecreature gang.
  8. The Night Market – A secret market caters to werecreatures, offering rare items and information, but at a cost.
  9. The Lunar Eclipse Ritual – A cult plans to use a lunar eclipse to unleash a wave of lycanthropy, seeking to transform an entire city.
  10. The Shifting Maze – A labyrinth changes under the full moon, created by an ancient lycanthrope to protect a powerful artifact.
  11. The Silvered Blade – A legendary weapon capable of curing lycanthropy is sought after by many, leading to a race against dark forces.
  12. Moonlit Duel – A tournament held under the full moon where participants must fight or ally with lycanthropes.
  13. The Wolf’s Bane Potion – Players must gather rare ingredients to create a potion that offers temporary immunity to lycanthropy.
  14. The Beast’s Curse – A cursed item transforms its bearer into a lycanthrope under certain conditions, creating a double-edged sword for the wielder.
  15. The Pack’s Oath – A werewolf pack offers assistance in exchange for a morally ambiguous task, testing players’ ethics.
  16. The Moonlit Path – A secretive society of lycanthropes guards ancient knowledge, offering quests that challenge players’ perceptions of the curse.
  17. The Forsaken Child – A child cursed with lycanthropy is shunned, leading to a quest for acceptance or cure.
  18. The Hunter’s Moon – A powerful werewolf hunter becomes the hunted, offering a twist on the predator-prey dynamic.
  19. The Silver Mines – Mines rich with silver become a battleground between humans and werecreatures vying for control.
  20. The Moon’s Reflection – A mirror with the power to reveal a person’s true nature becomes the center of a mystery involving lycanthropes.
  21. The Midnight Court – A court of werecreatures governs their kind with strict laws, offering players a glimpse into lycanthropic society.
  22. The Beast’s Gambit – A chess-like game where players maneuver between human and lycanthrope pieces, revealing secrets and alliances.
  23. The Lunar Library – A library containing knowledge on DND lycanthropy is guarded by werecreatures, requiring clever negotiation or stealth to access.
  24. The Blood Moon Ritual – A ritual to strengthen or weaken lycanthropes depending on the lunar phase offers a timed quest.
  25. The Shifter’s Guild – A guild for lycanthropes provides jobs, but also a political intrigue subplot involving the different types.
  26. The Wandering Werewolf – A lycanthrope unable to remember their human life seeks help to uncover their past.
  27. The Moonlit Siege – A town prepares defenses against a predicted lycanthrope siege, seeking adventurers to aid in their protection.
  28. The Silvered Heart – A love story between a human and a lycanthrope, challenging societal norms and offering complex roleplay opportunities.
  29. The Beast’s Bounty – Players are tasked with capturing a particularly elusive and dangerous lycanthrope, only to discover a tragic backstory.
  30. The Werewolf’s Den – Discovering and exploring a werewolf den offers insights into their culture and potential allies or enemies.
  31. The Moonlit Blade – A sword that grants lycanthropic powers to its wielder, but at a great personal cost.
  32. The Shadow Pack – A group of lycanthropes operates from the shadows, manipulating events in the realm for their own nefarious purposes.
  33. The Lycan’s Lament – A lycanthrope seeks to end their curse, leading players on a quest filled with moral dilemmas and the possibility of heartbreaking decisions.
  34. The Beastly Trials – A series of challenges designed by ancient lycanthropes to test the worthiness of those seeking their power or wisdom. Success could grant players rare abilities or cursed items.
  35. The Howl of the Ancients – Uncover an ancient ritual to summon a long-forgotten lycanthrope deity, offering players the chance to gain unique blessings or curses.
  36. The Moon’s Curse – A town cursed to turn into lycanthropes during the full moon seeks a permanent cure, involving players in a race against time to save its inhabitants.
  37. The Werebeast’s Glade – A magical glade where lycanthropes live in peace away from the world. Players can seek refuge, learn new skills, or face challenges to earn the community’s trust.
  38. The Predator’s Guild – A guild that embraces lycanthropy, offering quests that require transformation, testing players’ control over their beastly form.
  39. The Silver Fang Conspiracy – A plot to eradicate lycanthropes using a powerful artifact, leading players into a web of politics, betrayal, and the fight for survival.
  40. The Night’s Children – A group of children afflicted with a mild form of DND lycanthropy, leading to quests to protect them from a fearful society or cure their condition.
  41. The Beast’s Embrace – A ritual that allows a player to willingly embrace lycanthropy, offering powerful abilities at the risk of losing themselves to the beast within.
  42. The Lunar Trials – A trial by moonlight that tests a lycanthrope’s control over their transformation, offering rewards for mastery and consequences for failure.
  43. The Scent of Silver – A mystery involving a series of thefts targeting silver items, leading players to a lycanthrope trying to protect their pack from hunters.
  44. The Moonlit Alliance – An alliance between different types of lycanthropes facing a common threat, offering players the chance to mediate and unite warring factions.
  45. The Silvered Veil – A magical veil that hides a person’s lycanthropy, leading to a quest to obtain it for protection or to expose someone hiding behind it.
  46. The Beast’s Burden – A lycanthrope burdened with a powerful artifact must decide between destroying it to protect others or embracing its power, with players guiding their choice.
  47. The Lycan’s Legacy – Unravel the history of lycanthropy in the world, discovering ancient origins and the potential for a future where lycanthropes and humans live in harmony.
  48. The Moon’s Madness – A phenomenon causes all lycanthropes to lose control, leading players to find the source and stop it before chaos consumes the land.
  49. The Were-Relics – A quest for artifacts connected to the original lycanthropes, each offering unique powers and challenges to those who seek to wield them.
  50. The Eclipse’s Shadow – During a rare lunar eclipse, a shadowy figure seeks to harness its power to either cure all DND lycanthropy or transform all under its shadow, forcing players into a desperate race against time.

Famous Lycanthropes in DND Lore

Dungeons & Dragons lore is rich with characters who have become legends, and among them are lycanthropes whose stories have left indelible marks on the game’s universe.

  • Malar: Known as the Beastlord, Malar is a deity in the Forgotten Realms setting who revels in the hunt and bestial strength. He is not a lycanthrope himself but is worshiped by many, including werewolves and other werecreatures, who see in him the epitome of predatory prowess. Followers often embrace lycanthropy as a blessing from Malar, embodying his savage ideals.
  • Van Richten: While not a lycanthrope, Rudolph Van Richten, a famed vampire hunter from the Ravenloft setting, has a deeply personal story involving lycanthropes, particularly werewolves. His tragic encounter with a pack of werewolves, which led to the death of his son, underscores the fraught relationship between humans and lycanthropes in D&D lore.
  • Zarovan: A lesser-known figure, Zarovan is a weretiger from the Mystara setting, notable for his role in the preservation of his kind and efforts to balance the beast within. His story offers insights into the struggle of maintaining one’s humanity while embracing the power of DND lycanthropy.

FAQs about Lycanthropy

Let’s clear up some common questions about DND lycanthropy.

Is there a cure for lycanthropy in 5e?

Yes, Dungeons & Dragons offers a few avenues for curing lycanthropy.

The most straightforward method is through the spell Remove Curse, which must be cast by a spellcaster of sufficient level.

This spell can immediately end the affliction, returning the character to their normal state.

Alternatively, DMs might introduce unique story-driven cures, such as quests for ancient relics, rare herbs, or blessings from powerful beings.

Players could possibly use a Wish spell or seek help from a deity, for example.

These cures allow for more narrative depth and character development.

Can your entire player group get lycanthropy?

It’s possible for an entire player group to become lycanthropes.

Although, this scenario requires careful management by the Dungeon Master to maintain balance and ensure everyone enjoys the game.

This could lead to a unique campaign theme.

For example, where the party navigates the challenges and advantages of their condition together.

However, it’s important for the DM to consider the implications on gameplay, such as handling the increased power levels and the potential for intra-party conflict over the curse’s moral and physical implications.

What happens when lycanthropes die?

When lycanthropes die in D&D, they typically revert to their original humanoid form.

This transformation back can serve as a poignant moment for players and NPCs who may not have been aware of the lycanthrope’s true nature, revealing their secret only in death.

This reversion also means that evidence of the lycanthropy curse dies with them unless specific lore or magic in the campaign dictates otherwise.

It offers a clean narrative closure to the character’s struggle with lycanthropy.

But also opens up opportunities for posthumous revelations and story developments.

Does lycanthropy start immediately?

The onset of lycanthropy varies in D&D.

Typically, the curse’s effects do not manifest immediately.

A bitten individual might not experience their first transformation until the coming of the next full moon, providing a grace period during which they might seek a cure or prepare for their new reality.

This delay allows for dramatic tension to build as the character—and their companions—anticipate the changes to come.

It also provides time for roleplaying the psychological impact of the impending transformation.

The cursed individual grapples with fear, denial, or acceptance of their fate.

Final Thoughts: DND Lycanthropy

As we close the book on this hairy chapter, remember that lycanthropy in DND isn’t just about the beast within — it’s about the stories we weave and the characters we shape through our trials.

Whether you’re hunting the beast or becoming it, the adventure is always in your hands.

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