Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Skinwalkers and Lycanthropes: The Moon-Cursed

Ach.  The original Skinwalkers article I posted for Crux I re-read, and didn't like.  It doesn't carry the
Art copyright: Me.  
weight it should.  Skinwalkers and Lycanthropes deserve better.  This is a rewrite, possibly changing my canon a bit.  Lets get into it...

Cursefolk of the Beast-Blood:
Lycanthropy, the curse of the moon.  In Crux itself, Lycanthropes have been banned from the city limits since the city's founding.  Wolf-Mother Worshippers claim Lycanthropes were cursed as a punishment for their crimes against nature.  The Church of the Twins has long claimed  demons caused Lycanthropy, corrupting the innocent and emboldening those who oppose law and community.  Others, like the Church of the Machine, have no opinions other than curiosity.

Lycanthropes born with the disease have been around for as long as civilization on Orphos.  If Ursyklon records are to be believed, it even existed on other worlds.  But they have no answers for how or why their curse exists.  It just does.

Most lycanthropes in Ainesia and northern Necruxa hide their condition.  They still are often hunted for their affliction, despite what they do to mitigate it.  As such, north of Maliph, lycanthropes and skinwalkers live in secret societies.  Each underground community has traditions of callsigns, codes and ways of showing familiarity without revealing their true natures.  Most communities have Moonhunters, skinwalkers assigned the task of maintaining that secrecy.  Lycanthropes unable to control their natures or criminals among their own number are hunted by the Moonhunters and slain.

Skinwalkers are blessed to Lycanthropes.  When a lycanthrope has children, there is always a chance the child will be born lycanthrope like their parents.  Skinwalkers are born without the curse, yet retain some of the abilities of their ancestry.  They can shift their form, becoming more beast-like to gain advantage.  The law in most places that ban Lycanthropes does not see a difference between those without the Curse and those with it.  To take the shape of beast by moonlight often is all that is needed to call for a skinwalker's head.

Worse, Skinwalkers sometimes also have Lycanthrope children.  Some are born with the Curse.  Despite this, skinwalkers love their families and communities.  They protect them.  Their insular nature sometimes makes internal conflicts dangerous, as some clans of weretiger or werewolf might clash over territory.

The Curse's Symptoms
The Curse for Lycanthropes is dangerous to those around them.  Only Skinwalkers are immune to its effects.  If scratched, biten or having ingested the blood of a lycanthrope, the affliction is carried to the new subject.  There are many folk remedies, but most cannot cure Lycanthropy.  The Archdruid herself knows some of the secrets to curing it, but even then it is known that to cure it, one must have it treated within three days of contracting it, or else you bear it for the rest of your days.

Once every full moon, Lycanthropes shift form and shape.  The Beast takes away self-control.  But not only those three days can unleash the Beast within.  Lycanthropes discover losing control over their emotions at anytime can cause the Beast take over.  The Beast is the only term they apply to it, as most tend to forget what happens when the Beast is in control.  It is a literal Beast: it attacks, eats and acts like a crazed animal.

All Lycanthropes have an allergy of silver.  It cause their flesh to burn, and often is held as the best way to deal with them.  Even skinwalkers have a bit of an allergy to silver, their skin is sensitive to it.

The Curse also scares animals, especially domesticated animals.  They notice the scent of it.  It startles them, although some wild or feral animals are attracted by the presence of the Curse.  Fey also are attracted to those who bear the Curse, often able to control them too.  In a bit of mad whimsy, fey lords and ladies like to keep were-beasts for pets.  Or so the tales claim.

Faiths
Despite the persecution by some faiths, Lycanthropes and Skinwalkers are just diverse as others in their religion.  Some worship the Summer Rose, finding control in her teachings on protecting others.  Maliphi worshippers of the Summer Rose invite lycanthropes and skinwalkers openly.  Others are welcomed by the Singer of the Song, whose followers oppose the idea of treating afflicted lycanthropes as personas non grata on principle.  The Church of the Lupa The Wolf-Mother perhaps has the biggest appeal to skinwalkers in particular, sometimes harboring skinwalkers or even recruiting them despite local legal entanglements.

Cruxite Lycanthropes
What follows are some of the groups of Lycanthropes in Crux.  Crux's own laws on lycanthropes are murky.  The Prince's famous decree of "Thou Shalt Not Suffer a Lycan to Live" not withstanding, skinwalkers are exempt in Crux where in other places they would be included.  Some skinwalkers are members of the Prince's own enterprises.  But even then, Skinwalkers in Crux are never open about who or what they are.  Fear of being targeted or even accused of Lycanthropy alone keeps their communities somewhat isolated.

These are not all of those in Crux, just the groups of Skinwalkers and Lycanthropes of interesting note.  Because of their secrecy and the nature of such things, they might fade away or splinter into rivals.

The Rats of Poorfellows
Don't repeat this.  This is a serious warning.  You don't talk out loud about the rats in Poorfellows.  Ever... they are very protective.  So protective that if you do talk, your body is liable to go missing.  No one knows who are wererats either.  Filth and squalor help them hide.  They steal things from the Tinkerer, they take the dead, they even try to incite fights between the gangs... The rats aren't the power in Poorfellows, but no one knows where they nest.  Even then, do you know how many rats are down there?
Aspect: Too Many Rats Below

The Summer Wolves
The Crusaders of Othebea came in many different stripes.  One sect of Crusaders worshipped the Summer Rose, but all were werewolves.  Aye, the Summer Wolves.  They still work within the Church, albeit never being very open about their true natures.  I've seen them though, at night.  They've long fought with the Medama in the Rose Quarter.  Surprised to hear that, eh?  Rooftops in the Rose Quarter are protected at night, and the Summer Wolves are responsible for that.  They are also members of the Eternal Order of Eagles and Crows, or at least the Eagles protect them when others ask questions about them.
Aspect: Wolves of Rose and Rooftop

The Bloodbats
We were first brought 'ere by the Inculti.  Promised us a place, and the colony settled in the Blood Quarter.  Yeah, some of us are Dhampr.  More 'n that.  Down 'ere, no one touches us.  We are the muscle the Vamps ask for.  So we enjoy the gig.  Some in the colony try to start new branches, eager little shits.  You hear about them, between the Eagles hunting them or the Demon's Orphans flaying them alive.  We enjoy our little hole.  You never see us, but we know you're here.  The Blood Quarter falls under our juristriction, not the Metro, not the Prince's watch.  When you are the muscle, you also are the law.
Aspect: Law of the Blood Quarter

The Lost Children
Yes its a secret.  The Archdruid doesn't like word getting out that Ursyklon can contract lycanthropy.  She does her best to contain it.  But even she can't stop some of our people from having it.  The Lost Children were founded long ago, and we'll be around long into the future.  No, we don't do that sort of thing.  Any lycanthrope is welcome to join us, and we welcome to the family.  We're more of an monastic order- we teach control.  We find homes, provide excuses and help.  Anything about the Archdruid using Lost Children for other activities... that isn't true.  Now.  How can we help you and yours?
Aspect: Home of the Lost

The Portspawn
Werecrocodiles.  That's why the port authority stays clear of the Spice Khan's barge.  Not only that, true.  But the port is crawling with them.  The Portspawn, some call them.  They protect the Spice Khan's smugglers, but not just that.  They are the big guns she hides from the rest of the city.  I've seen Patrizo or Demon's Orphans try to steal one of ships.  A trio of Portspawn ate them.  Ugh.
Aspect: Munch-Munch-Munch