Werewolves (Homo sapiens lupus), also known as lycanthropes: the watchful servants of the vampires and shapeshifters of mythology. It is currently believed that the virus which originally struck the Greek populace in the wild hills of Mount Lycaeus evolved independently of that which created vampires, posing no familial relationship between the two species.
After Lycaon, the first documented werewolf, was stricken with lycanthropy soon after the sacrifice of his son, he reputedly attacked the priests also in the attending party, biting and inflicting the disease upon them, and from there it spread further.
Werewolves do not, as a rule, vary in appearance from normal humans when not Changed. Most tend towards being scruffy, as a result of the Pack lifestyle, though others would have no distinguishing factors to tip a human off to the fact that the person before them was less than human.
Lycanthropes, upon Changing, assume the form of a large wolf, instead of something more hominid in appearance. Though the size of the wolf-form depends on the individual, most are usually double the size of a standard Gray Wolf and increase in both weight and mass when Changed. Fur color ranges across the natural canine spectrum.
A secondary were-form also exists, but can only be utilized by older lycans or those in complete control of their transformation. Between the human and the wolf lies a were-beast that stands on two legs rather than four. Again, the size of the were-form depends on the individual, but both height, weight, and muscle mass increase.
After Changing, the auditory and olfactory senses, just as in vampires, are enhanced. Though the difference is not as great when not in the wolf form, werewolves still do retain some improvement over the human senses when in human form.
All werewolves are strongly allergic to silver, and will die if exposed to a high enough dosage.
Children born of two werewolves are born lycanthropes, and change just as their parents do on the night of the full moon into coordinating wolf ages. They also tend to mature faster than their normal humanoid kin, aging rapidly during their first two years before the process slows. In cases of lycanthrope-human matings, the gene is normally not transmitted to the child; a recessive gene.
Female lycanthropes can conceive at any time and in either form, though fertility is increased during estrus. Pregnancies are notoriously difficult due to the forced Change the mother must endure once a month while with child. Shifting to were-form increases the risk of miscarriage.
The virus containing lycanthropy is passed along through saliva. When a human is bitten by a lycanthrope in either human or wolf form, if saliva is transmitted to the wound, that person will become a carrier—and a werewolf. About twenty percent of those bitten by werewolves die before their first Change, either as a result of wounds from the wolves or from adverse reactions to the lycanthropy gene.
Werewolf bites can prove fatal to young vampires, as the virus in their weak body is incapable to ward off the attacking lycanthrope strain.
Once a full moon rises for a newly-turned lycanthrope, they will Change from their human form to their lycanthrope form, a process speeded by direct exposure to moonlight. Older werewolves will be able to control this for a time.
The amount of time taken for a full shift into alternate form varies, but usually takes no longer than ten to twenty seconds. Lunar shifting takes place at moonrise and is completely involuntary, though stronger lycans are able to hold off the Change for a short while. Voluntary shifting outside of the Lunar cycle requires full concentration and control, though may also happen during emotional outbursts–especially anger. Shifting to wolf form, rather than to were-beast form, is always faster and less painful as it is the most natural and comfortable form for lycans.
The wolf possesses an inner desire to hunt live prey—preferably, in society, animal life as opposed to hunting humans in the streets—and to roam. A lycan in were-beast form is far more likely to attack and bite an innocent human.
While in wolf form, lycans are able to communicate telepathically with any other lycan in the immediate area. Long-range communication is usually done through standard wolfish vocalizations, which any werewolf can exhibit and interpret. Lycans also use physical body language, like that of an ordinary wolf, to convey emotion.
Lycans that assume were-beast form are not able to communicate telepathically and tend to lose hold of any human emotion or reasoning. Experienced werewolves that assume this form usually do so on the rarest of occasions and never for any extended length of time, for fear of losing themselves completely to the Change.
. Led by an Alpha male and his Alpha female mate, Pack dominance is established through physical (and in recent times, occasionally mental) prowess.
Other known Pack ranks are the Beta and the Omega position. The Beta male or female gains and holds his position through physical challenges with the Pack and is usually the most likely to challenge the Alpha for Pack leadership. By contrast, the Omega wolf is the lowest and weakest wolf within the pack, and is treated as such with sometimes harsh and cruel physical abuse. The Omega may also rise in rank by challenging and defeating a more powerful lycan.
Most vampire Masters are on tenuous terms with resident Packs in their city, usually tolerating the canines and giving them ground, though others have sworn off all contact with werewolves. However, the Council has decreed that all Packs must be at least under the supervision of a city Master, though rogue packs do exists. Registered Packs are known to reside in the following cities:
Werewolves can function as humans, and many try to. Most simply have to find work that won't be affected by a three-night absence, or the resulting hangover the morning after.
It is also against werewolf tradition to bite or infect humans, though accidents do occur and are usually not punished. Most packs prefer to remain undiscovered and autonomous to escape vampric influence and control and take as many precautions as possible to avoid detection.
Rogue werewolves that purposefully assume were-beast or wolf forms with the sole intention of infecting humans are not tolerated.