Under the Same Moon
Werewolves are real. Their existence was confirmed in 1977, when researchers identified the virus that causes the condition: verto lupum. However, many mysteries remain about lycanthropy, as yet unanswered by science. How does the virus operate to change its host so dramatically? Why does it seem to be so connected to moon cycles? Why are hosts able to appear asymptomatic at will?
These questions matter little to the modern wolf. In fact, almost no one cares enough to ponder them now, nearly a century after the Werewolf Uprisings of 2002 left civilisation in shambles. Few believe werewolves exist at all, and the packs who cling together for dear life in a hostile world will do anything to keep it that way.
A werewolf is a human who has been infected with verto lupum. The virus changes many things about the host’s body, and most of the symptoms seem to be supernatural. The wolf form of a werewolf is taller, stronger, and faster than their human form, and bears lupine features: thick, coarse fur over the whole body; a wolf-like muzzle, jaws, and teeth; pointed, canine ears; claws on the fingers and toes; legs with hock joints instead of ankles, allowing quadrupedal running; and a tail. Additionally, this form grants heightened senses: sharper ears capable of hearing higher frequencies; a keen and powerful sense of smell; and enhanced night vision, though at the expense of being able to see bright colour. Most significant of all, this form can only be injured by silver or by the claws and teeth of other werewolves, though they can still feel pain from other sources.
By contrast, the human form of a werewolf is unchanged from their uninfected self, with one exception: they can still smell other werewolves, and be scented in turn. This is extremely helpful for werewolves who are trying to blend into human society, as it means they can identify each other even while appearing human.
Werewolves can transform at will between their wolf and human forms, with one exception (below). The process of transformation is an extreme exertion that leaves the werewolf fatigued for a bit immediately after changing. In combat situations, this fatigue is often offset by an adrenaline rush. The process usually takes a matter of seconds, but can stretch to close to a minute if fatigue, hunger, or environmental elements interfere.
However, when the moon is in the phase it was in when a wolf was initially infected, the werewolf spends that night (regardless of whether the moon is up at night) in wolf form, unable to change back, and overcome with an incredible, insatiable bloodlust that causes them to hunt whatever live prey is available – usually humans. It is during these “berserk” episodes that the werewolf is most likely to infect others. Because of this aspect of being a werewolf, wolves must be hyper-aware of moon phases.
Infection and Onset
Infection occurs when contaminated fluids come in contact with a person’s mucous membranes or bloodstream. In wolf form, the saliva and blood are contagious; in human form, only the blood is. Thus, the most common vector for transmission is being bitten by a transformed werewolf.
Once infected, the host will not show symptoms for exactly one lunar month. When the moon is in the same phase it was in during the initial infection, the host will transform for the first time that night and go berserk. After recovering from that berserk episode, the host will be able to transform at will.