Monday, October 23, 2023

Monstrous Mondays: D&DGII Hautveränderer

The Romans, Norse, and ancient Germanic peoples all had many monsters that haunted their fears and tales. But they all at least one monster in common, and that was the werewolf.

The first recorded werewolves in a recognizable form in myth and legend go back to the Greeks and Romans. One could argue that the go back even further, but Greek and roman are fine for this project. Indeed we get the word "Lycanthrope" from the Romans. In particular from Ovid in his Metamorphoses and his tale of King Lycaon.  The Norse and Germanic people gave us the berserker, or berserkr, meaning "Bear Shirt." These were a class of warriors that could turn into bears or had the ferocity of bears in battle.

Tales of humans turning into animals are as old as humans and animals. Many shamanistic practices are based on this. For today's monster then I am looking for less of a syncretism and more of a synthesis.

In Norse and Germanic myths, the Werewolf is known as the "werwolf" not much difference there. But in Roman myth such creatures were known as "skin changers" or "skin turners."  Translate that back to German and we have today's monster, the Hautveränderer.

MOVE: 24" 
HIT DICE: 7+1 (32 hp)
% IN LAIR: 10%
NO. OF ATTACKS: 2 Claws, 1 bite
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1d4/1d4/1d6
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Bloodlust, Rend (2d8)
SPECIAL DEFENSES: +1 or better weapon to hit
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Evil
SIZE: M (6')

Hautveränderer are human fighters, most often Berserkers (qv Monster Manual, p.67), who can assume the form of a large wolf or bear. They do this by using a special skin of the animal they wish to transform into. The hautveränderer's skin must be of an animal they killed and then prepared by a shaman. They don the skin, which must be touching their flesh to transform. 

They attack with two claws and a bite. Any natural 20 roll on their claw attacks will result in a rending attack, 2d8 instead of 1d4. If successful, they can make two rend attacks per round. 

Hautveränderer live for battle and are subject to bloodlust once they have made a successful attack. They must make a saving throw vs. Paralysis, if they succeed, then they continue as before. If they fail, then they succumb to the blood lust and attack everything, friend or foe, until none are alive. They are allowed a new save at the start of their next attack. Success means their lust has ended. While in blood lust, they attack at +2 to hit.

Their magical hide also offers some magical protection, so only +1 or better weapons can pierce it.

If killed, there is a 10% chance that their hide survived the attack enough to be reused. Any character seeking to reuse the hide must seek out a shaman to bind it to its new owner. While killing a hautveränderer is typically a good enough reason to have this skin, some shamans might not look favorably on the one who did the killing if they were from the same clan.

They are not true lycanthropes, so they cannot pass on their curse, nor are they affected by the moon's phases.



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1 comment:

PT Dilloway said...

I think the "bear shirt" berserkers were what Michael Crichton used in "Eaters of the Dead" which became the movie "The 13th Warrior." Though of course not people who turned into bears, just dressed in bear pelts.