Werewolves are either born with the right combination of genes, or they are a former human who was infected by a near-death mauling. After their first Phase-forced transformation, they may shift at will - however, they will always have to shift during their Phase. Their Phase also grants them with a supernatural Gift. For voluntary transformations, there are two forms: fully human and fully wolf. The third form, the anthropomorphic one, results when a werewolf becomes enraged, and is mostly involuntary.
Werewolves are pack creatures, and like true wolves, hierarchical in nature. They have heightened senses, inhuman strength and speed, and their body temperature is higher than humans. In addition, they have decelerated aging and are immune to the Lyssavirus. However, a werewolf's weaknesses are wolfsbane, silver, and decapitation. They also inherit a Calling from the wolf who infected/sired them.
DETAILED WEREWOLF DESCRIPTION
Werewolves are infected by the bite of another werewolf. A made werewolf will have been maimed to near-death. If they're strong enough, they'll survive and the werewolf 'virus' will infect their body. Lycanthropy is an extremely aggressive genetic mutation that can jump to the new host with the spread of genetic material. They will heal and transform either at their moon phase, or while experiencing a period of intense emotion. Female werewolves have a hard time producing children, but it is possible. The genetics have to be just right for a female werewolf to give birth. A born werewolf will usually transform for the first time following puberty, in a period of extreme stress or anger. For more information, see Lycanthropy Genetics.
Werewolves are forced to shift at their phase, but may shift at will any other day or night. The transformation follows what one might expect, with a change of fur growing or retracting into the body, and the musculo-skeletal structure shifting. It takes time, with new werewolves often taking up to an hour to change comfortably. The change is odd and for many it feels unnatural, and if forced speed it can even feel painful. Experienced werewolves or those with the will and endurance can speed the change up to about fifteen minutes and not be too stressed, and in situations of real stress can even bump the change to five, but it is extremely disconcerting and takes a large amount of effort and focus.
The Romans classified and gave names to the forms. First form, Primus Vultus, the human form, superior in will and mental capacity, as they are, after all, more man than beast. Secondus Vultus, the wolf form, which is also easily reached and almost as natural as human form. Tertius Vultus, the intermediary, used rarely by most. These names are not much in use anymore, although some may be familiar with them. Other common terms to be used, translated across many languages, are beast form, and demon, battle, or power form for Tertius.
Werewolves only have two voluntary forms: fully human and fully wolf. However, they don't look exactly like an average wolf. For one, they are larger and usually bulkier than their cousins. Second, many bear unique markings or colour patterns which look natural but are, in fact, a little out of the ordinary (none, for example, have a pink spot over their eye, but one may have a slash of white in their brown fur, or a reverse-coat that darkens near the legs rather than lightening).
As wolves they have more abilities than your typical wolf, able to retain their mental abilities, their Gifts, and in many cases, their ability to speak to each other. This is due to a combination of forcing lupine vocal cords to bend to their language, as well as a learned understanding of a hybrid body-language.
Their anthropomorphic, or 'hybrid' form, results when a werewolf has lost control of their emotions, often having gone into a blood-thirsty rage. The Romans called it the Tertius Vultus, the third form, or Vox Vultus, the power form. It is an intermediary form, halfway between man and wolf and yet more than both. Vox wolves stand taller than humans, but are capable of bipedal or quadrupedal movement.
TRAITS AND TEMPERAMENT
All werewolves posses heightened senses in all forms. Their eyesight is sharper, their hearing clearer, and their sense of smell is impeccable. They are also notably stronger and faster than an average human. After their first Change their aging speed decelerates dramatically, effectively halving the aging rate. Werewolves after the first Change are vicious and unpredictable. However, they can learn to control their temper, and some wolves have an easier time of it than others. A werewolf in a 'Fire Blooded' rage is called such because it has been said that it makes them feel as though their blood is burning.
All werewolves are hardy creatures with a high metabolism and body temperature Their wounds heal at approximately 25% faster rate than a normal human, though those gifted with regeneration heal at an even faster rate. They all develop a high intolerance for silver. Wounds caused by silver are far slower to heal, cause heavy inflammation and are also very prone to infection.
Werewolves vary in style of relationships, just like humans do. It seems to be something that they are born with, like sexual preference. Some individuals seem to prefer serial monogamy, whereas others are of a more free nature.
Pack is synonymous with 'family' for werewolves. Because werewolves are often forced to keep the secret of their identity from their family and friends, their pack become their family and friends. Werewolves are naturally loyal creatures. Treachery is one of the most despicable crimes to their kind. Hence it has the most severe punishment: exile and sometimes death.
Werewolf packs are hierarchical. They are roughly based on the structure that naturally occurs, but are tempered by a need for human society and order. See also: Pack Hierarchy
Packs range in numbers. Some have hundreds to thousands of werewolves while another pack will only have five. It depends upon the werewolf population in the area and how many other packs are vying for territory in that area.
Pack territories can be huge, taking up entire cities and, in some cases, provinces or states. When one pack encroaches on another's territory it can mean serious trouble. Multiple dominants in the same area will often result in conflict, especially when Alphas are in the same area. Sometimes they fight to the death and the Alpha who wins takes over. The wolves from the leaderless pack either merge with the newly dominant pack or they roam to find another. In a few rare cases, the Alphas manage to divide the territory and form a treaty.
Inner-pack rivalries for dominance are not unheard of either, and a subordinate werewolf may challenge a leader for their position.
Wolfsbane is the most effective method of killing a werewolf. The plant contains aconite, which is toxic, but werewolves are particularly sensitive to it. Even breathing the pollen or smoke of burned leaves can affect them, with the toxin attacking the nerves of the lungs and making breathing difficult. This makes it very difficult for werewolves to use wolfsbane against other werewolves. Ingestion results in paralysis and heart failure, leading to unquestionable death.
Silver can be fatal depending upon the dosage. Triggers a reaction similar to a severe allergic reaction. Often, in the case of wounds inflicted by silver, it is not the silver that kills the wolf. Silver causes a multitude of effects in werewolves, from thinning the blood to burning the skin. Silver bullets often thin the blood and cause severe irritation and inflammation and so a werewolf with untended wounds can die of blood loss. Silver isn't as deadly as wolfsbane, but werewolves still can't hold silver cutlery without breaking out in a rash. Certain werewolves are more allergic to silver than others.
Decapitation is a surefire way to kill a werewolf. It's just rather difficult to catch them, get them to hold still, and then systematically saw their heads off. If someone were to use this method, they'd better be quick and efficient.
Howling Cough is normally not much more than a nuisance, but bronchitis is a pain and a weakened werewolf is a vulnerable werewolf.
Some wolves bear a tattoo of the moon somewhere on their body (many choose the underside of the forearm). This tattoo is almost always of their Phase of the moon, and serves as a form of identification, and often a proud marking to those in the know.