A lycanthrope is a person who has the ability to change back and forth between the form of a human and the form of some kind of animal. The name comes from lykos, meaning "wolf", and anthropos, meaning "man". However, while werewolves are the most common lycanthropes and the source of the name, scholars now apply the term to any person who can transition completely between human and animal form and has some means of passing on its shapeshifting ability, either to its offspring or by infecting other humans.1
The legends surrounding these creatures are as varied as their forms. From the oft-spoken of werewolf to the lesser-known wererodent, these creatures come in many shapes and forms. In fact, were-creatures may be a whole group of creatures, not just a single one. Tales tell of them as demonic, or completely animalistic, or as normal in mind as you or any person.
There is a lot of variation in this curse, if it even is a curse. Some have complete control over the degree of their form, much as an animorph Metamorian does. Others are governed by cycles of nature; usually tied to the movement of the sun or the moon. Some have a "morphic" or intermediate form, others do not.
Few lycanthropes have been encountered near Metamor, though one is known to inhabit the Keep itself. Another was encountered during the recent Winter Assault.
Known forms of lycanthropy
Werewolf: The most common lycanthrope in western Galendor. Born werewolves usually travel in close-knit packs. Unfortunately, this is also one of the variants that is most often bestowed as a magical curse, usually by priestesses of Lilith.
Werelion: This variant of the lycanthropy curse was reportedly placed on a powerful noble family in the Midlands in circa -1000 CR. Lions are extinct in northern Galendor, but scholars say they once lived there before being driven extinct centuries ago, so this is not implausible. There are reports of werelions in Kkarrt Empire and that at least one dynasty consisted solely of werelions.
Wereorca: This variant reportedly is found among the Maeril, who harbor a deep fear and distrust for anyone who manifests this curse. Given the number of Maeril every year who are attacked and killed by orcas, this is somewhat understandable.
Wererodent: Not exactly imposing, weremice and wererats have lived in the shadow of human civilization for much of its history. They are usually harmless, though wererats have sometimes been blamed for running thieves' guilds and other unsavory operations in large cities.
Weretiger: Sometimes seen in Rukilia and the jungles of Sonngefilde. Powerful, seductive, charismatic and deadly. They are usually decadent creatures that care about little beyond satisfying their own desires, which are usually both intense and fickle. Those who have taken a weretiger as a lover report that it is a singularly intense experience … assuming that they survive the eventual break-up.
Werespider: Native to western Irombi. Charming, manipulative tricksters, the werespiders are known for catching humans in webs of deceit and misdirection. Fortunately, their pranks are rarely deadly. They are one of the few lycanthropes that do not have a mammal as their alternate form, and because of this some scholars think they are a completely different species that is unrelated to other types of lycanthropy.
Werefox: sometimes called a Kitsune. Native to the far east. Natural born shapshifters and known for the intelligence and honor. It is unclear if they are lycanthropes or a separate species.
Werehyena: As strong and powerful as normal hyenas. These live out in the warm southern areas where they often form packs of some size.
Others: There are countless legends of many different species of lycanthropes including Owls, cougars, leopards, badgers and wolverines but are considered rare if they exist at all. Some legends even speak of a were-dire wolf among the lutins.
Many forms of lycanthropy were created by Lilith, the Daedra Lord of Nature, who has been engaged in a quest for the ultimate predator for at least the last 12,000 years. But some species are known to have been created separately. Usually as a result of a curse but some legends speak of a human being blessed by some nature spirit or god.
Worship of Lilith is the common among most types of lycanthropes, particularly those that choose to embrace their bestial side. Werespiders, interestingly enough, pay their greatest homage to a male trickster-god they call Anansi; the identity of this god is unknown to scholars in Galendor, but most believe him to be either a child of Lilith and Klepnos or Klepnos himself in an alternate guise.