My DM (and fellow player, for that matter) and I are in a conundrum surrounding whether or not lycanthropy can be transmitted to demi-folk (elves, dwarves, gnomes, halflings)...and humanoids for that matter (though only as a secondary question).
We primarily use 2e rules (hence why it is in this Forum), with some 1e influences. Although we initially thought that lycanthropy can only be transmitted to humans alone, research from a variety of sources contradicts itself, even within the same edition!
1e Monster Manual states (page 63) that "lycanthropes are humans with the ability to assume animal form" and "any humanoid creature bitten by a lycanthrope equal to or greater than 50% of its total potential, but not actually killed (and eaten), is infected by lycanthropy." It this source it states it as a disease (I treat it as a curse as later sources do as well).
1e DMG states (page 22) that "humans are the only beings able to contract lycanthropy." It makes no mention if demi-folk actually DIE if they 'contract it,' even though I thought I read somewhere they DO.
2e DMG states (page 131) that it is, in fact a curse (for those afflicted), but makes NO particular mention that only humans are affected. Thusly, I concur that even demi-humans (and perhaps humanoids) are 'fair game.'
The Monstrous Compendium, under the section of Lycanthropes (pages 230-231), say that they are "humans who can transform themselves to resemble normal animals or monsters." It also mentions that only true lycanthropes can pass on the curse (a side note). Under the "Contracting Lycanthropy" section it mentions that "any humanoid creature injured by a lycanthrope but not actually killed has a chance to contract lycanthropy." However, all descriptions of the many types of lycanthropes typically describe them as human in their non-beast form.
Finally (sigh!), I have access to Van Richten's Guide to Werebeasts, which I realize primarily pertains to a Ravenloft setting, but I decided to peruse it anyhow (and I use it as a supplement). This book notes that demi-folk, and even some humanoids, ARE affected by this curse. But maybe that is just the nature of the Demi-Plane of Dread instead of Oerth.
So...as you can see...I am quite befuddled and annoyed with the conflicting information. Yes, I realize that ultimately it is the DM call, but wondering what light you all can shed on this quandary. Please cite your own references, if you can.
If the answer is YES, the follow-up question is...do they retain ANY of their racial abilities so long as they are in were-beast form? Ex: dwarven resistance to magic, etc.
OK, your turn! Please offer your thoughts, suggestions, and ideas.
I have no definitive rules argument for you, Lanthorn, but I will state that from a purely 'fun' perspective, I would certainly allow demi-humans and humanoids to become lycanthropes. I also like the idea of them retaining most, if not all, of their racial bonuses and penalties. It allows for more interesting opponents and scenarios for PCs.
The 1st edition DMG seems to be the only source you mentioned that says "humans only". The 2nd edition MM entry looks to me like it just defaulted to "humans", but then later in the description switches, allowing any humanoid to contract lycanthropy.
I think one of the FR books had a halfling wererat. At least, that seems to stand out in my mind, but it would be something I read long ago. Sp, with that and the several sources you mentioned, it looks like the majority of published work say yes, demihumans and humanoids can develop lycanthropy. I guess the question is just how "close enough" is the given humanoid species to human. I could see this getting ridiculous if interpreted too loosely. How would a merman/werebear even work?
As far as racial abilities, my suggestion is go with what makes sense. Why not let the dwarven werewolf (or whatever) have the added poison resistance? The elven werebear's resistance to charm spells could be quite a surprise for the druid trying to use that Charm Person or Mammal spell.
As far as the question you came up with later, There probably should be a place to draw the line, but I'm not sure where. I seem to recall the halfling wererat being described as smaller than the other (were)rats in his pack, so, I imagine an ogre/were(whatever) would be notably larger, and maybe have a few more hit dice, or HP. Like I said above, it could get ridiculous, with something like cloud giant weretigers or something like that. But...it's the DM's call what will be allowed.
I think one of the FR books had a halfling wererat. At least, that seems to stand out in my mind, but it would be something I read long ago.
As far as the question you came up with later, There probably should be a place to draw the line, but I'm not sure where. I seem to recall the halfling wererat being described as smaller than the other (were)rats in his pack,
You are referring to the halfling thief, Dondon, in one of RA Salvatore's early Drizzt novels (yes, yes, I read them... ). I think it was either the second or third book of The Crystal Shard series.
Yeah, I was thinking that only human-sized mammalian humanoids should be able to contract lycanthropy (so no lizard men, bullywugs, or troglodytes) UNLESS there are reptilian lycanthropes, too, OR, only those humanoids that can be affected by a Charm Person spell (again, no reptilian or amphibian types).
Van Richten's Guide, however, DOES permit certain huge humanoids to contract specific types of lycanthropy.
You have forgotten to take into consideration that Gary is not the first author to call his hero "Ted" in chapter one, only to refer to him as "Bill" in chapter seven. Authors tend to be a little bit "lite" on their editing.
Lycanthropy is both, a curse and a disease. In real world mythology, at any rate.
It originated as a curse, but the original Lycanthrope passed it on as one would a disease . . . by infecting another person. Since when can a mortal "curse" another mortal without casting a wizardly spell?
The fact that it originated as a curse is the reason there is no cure for it. Ridding yourself of lycanthropy is always a Quest adventure.
I believe the difference between the 1e Monster Manual and the 1e DMG is simply poor editing on Gary's part; he forgot what he had already written elsewhere.
That's why Zeb Cook & company attempted to clarify it in 2e. On page 282 it says -- in part -- this:
"True lycanthropy is neither a curse nor a contagion, but the ability, possessed by a limited number of species, to change into an animal shape at will. As such, true lycanthropes are not affected by the phases of the moon, darkness, or any other limitations on their changing abilities indicated in the folklore of werewolves. Neither can a PC be afflicted with true lycanthropy—it is an ability limited to those species born with the power.
"However, one of the characteristics of the true lycanthrope is his ability to transmit a lycanthropic contagion to his victims. This is the dreaded lycanthropy of folklore.
"Lycanthropy is not the only type of weird and magical affliction that can strike a character."
Throughout it makes reference to the Players character, and makes no distinction between the races. You will also note that it refers to lycanthropy as a contagion; a.k.a. a disease. All races can catch a disease.
2e doesn't contradict anything; it only used humans as a descriptive example. I would allow anything of humanoid-ish to contract lycanthropy, and not have it be animal type specific either. Humans can be weresharks for instance, so why not have lizardmen able to become werewolves? A cross animal type transformation may be seen to be even more horrific to members of the cursed individual's race. A merman turning into a weresquid is one thing, but a merman turning into an *air-breathing, land roaming* wereboar is quite another. Also, Sahuagin who are weresharks might be looked upon as being blessed rather than cursed; a kuo-toan werelobster...not so much.
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