In Collectanea Creaturae, we had a sidebar about allowing “Werebeasts as PCs” (CC 130). Since we wrote that, we’ve had some time to think over what we wrote, and, more importantly, have made and tried a couple of werebeast PCs! Based on that experience, we offer the following revised version:
Werebeasts as PCs
Hereditary werebeasts can make good player characters. Here are some guidelines for GMs who wish to allow them:
A hereditary werebeast is treated as human for race purposes, but uses their racial background trait to establish their werebeast nature. Examples of relevant backgrounds could be Of a Werebear Lineage, Momma Was a Wererat, and so forth.
In were-form, the player may apply a total of +4 and -4 (of course, the total pluses and minuses have to match!) to appropriate attribute scores and may change their primary attribute to that of their werebeast type or the matching beast type. These adjustments are selected when the character is created, and may differ between the hybrid form and the full beast form. The adjusted scores must still fall within the character’s allowable scores by race. When the character reaches Heroic scale, they may add two additional points of adjustment, which can move scores outside the normal limits; at each additional scale increase, another two points of adjustment can be added.
They may also use their werebeast background trait when it is appropriate. The GM may, of course, use the trait against them in appropriate ways, generating hero points for the player. The character also gains a vulnerability to silver as described above.
When taking the “followers” advancement, the player may choose to have their character’s followers be animals of their were-type. Lastly, the player may also choose to take the ability to communicate with animals of their were-type when in their beast form as an advancement.
Other effects should be handled by simple logic and sense – for example, a small werebeast can go through openings they couldn’t in their human form. A change to a small or large form should carry the appropriate AC and to-hit adjustments. And, of course, armour and clothing will not change with the character, so classes that wear light or no armour are recommended! (Note, though, that we recommend that werebeasts get their beast type’s natural armor and weapon values – usually, this will be equivalent to leather or none for armor, and a dagger (+1d4) or short sword (+1d6) for weapon values. The GM may limit this according to the types of weapons the character could normally carry, for purposes of game balance.) With this in mind, the GM may wish to carefully consider before allowing a player to make a werebeast PC whose animal form will be very small or large. It is not recommended that werebeast PCs be allowed to be of animal types that can fly.
As a werebeast levels up, they may take further advancements that aid their werebeast form(s). Some of these might be applicable in normal form as well – for example, taking Finesse Attacks to use Dexterity instead of Strength to attack could apply in both, or taking Naturally Ferocious to assist against intimidation attacks. Traits relating to senses might apply in both forms, or only in the werebeast forms, depending on how the GM and players imagine werebeasts in their world, and how much sense it makes. (For example, a were-bat most likely can’t echolocate in human form, but might still get some hearing improvement.)