D&D 3e (3.0/3.5) Rules
When the gods of magic gathered together to create the Orders of High Sorcery, they were concerned with the eventuality of those mortal mages who would attempt to break their rules. They consulted with the other gods as to what would be a proper punishment for those first renegades. Chemosh of course suggested instant death and rebirth as slave undead. Majere, on the other side of the coin, suggested the guilty parties spent half their lives in thoughtful meditation far away from any civilization. Similar ideas were expressed by the other gods but they didn't quite fit properly when dealing with magic users, who gather their powers from the gods through study and self determination.
Then Chislev, the neutral goddess of nature, presented her idea. This idea was that the condemned would be turned temporarily into animals. The process would strip the arrogant mages of their higher intelligent functions and reduce them into instinct-driven beasts. The Gods of the Moons rejoiced and accepted the idea wholeheartedly, and planned to put it into action.
As the Gods of Magic waited, Hiddukel appeared before them and also endorsed the idea. However, he wanted to change it a little. He suggested that the curse should not be magical, but something that affects the renegades physically, and that the change should take place when the moon that represents the offended god is full, making the afflicted being painfully aware the next time he or she shall change. Hiddukel then claimed that due to the heavy workload of the gods of magic, teaching magic and watching their crops of mages grow, Hiddukel would personally oversee the curse and fashion it for them. This suggestion was also accepted but as the curse was laid on the first renegades, the gods of magic became suddenly aware that they were tricked by Hiddukel.
The afflicted renegades did in fact change by the next full moon, but because the curse was not fully magical, it could be spread physically. The bestial side of the cursed became more rabid and chaotic than the typical specimens that they represented. They attacked people, and when they took a bite or swiped with claws, the affliction passed through the bloodstream and into the victim. It became a plague initially, and the gods of magic realized the true scope of what they got themselves into with Hiddukel.
Hiddukel was actually in league with Morgion and Chemosh in his plan, and as he had the gods of magic sign the contract, he essentially handed the creation of the curse over to the dark gods. First, Morgion touched the curse with his plague-ridden fingers, making it able to be spread like a disease, causing more chaos and pain to not only the mages but those they crossed paths with. Chemosh added his own signature to the curse by making the afflicted victim very difficult to kill. Chemosh bestowed immunity to normal weapons, leaving a small ray of hope for those whom have magically derived weapons and those made from or tipped with pure silver. Hiddukel's own contribution was extending the curse from its original duration of one month, or one full lunar cycle for the particular moon that the mage offended, to his or her lifetime. He also made sure that the physical cure of this disease would be so obscure that few mortals would know its formula. This gives himself and his dark allies cover from the gods of good and magic for they would proclaim that there is a cure, but the mortals must find it.
The original cursed mages were of the three alignments and each god cursed his follower based on those ethics. Solinari cursed his mages turning them into werebears and wereravens, Lunitari cursed her mages turning them into wereboars and weretigers. The evil Nuitari made sure his transformed mages experienced the most pain; those were forced to change into wererats and the dreaded werewolves. However, since the lycanthrope's driving power was disease and not pure magic, it spread and mutated over the millennia. Today, lycanthropes can be virtually any animal species that is large enough and is predatory. The disease itself can strike anyone at any station in life.
Lycanthrope types and stats are in the various Monster Manuals and assorted books.
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