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Therianthrope is a scientific(ish) term thrown around to serve as a general placeholder for the vast array of monsters who boil down to "people who can change into animal form". Like, you're familiar with the werewolf? Replace "wolf" with literally any other animal, and you've got the therianthrope in a nutshell. The term is also used to cover an array of animal shapeshifters who aren't "were(insert species here)", from D&D's "Beastweres"/"Antherions" (sapient animals who can take on humanoid forms, in other words reverse-werewolves) to mythical creatures like the Hengeyokai and Selkie.

D&D Therianthropes[edit]

Dungeons & Dragons has a truly massive array of the things, which Pathfinder has shamelessly followed up on. In D&D, they're actually called "Lycanthropes", but that's actually the greek name for werewolf. The Ravenloft gamebook Children of the Night: Werebeasts separates werebeasts into three types: hereditary werebeasts, who are born with therianthropy in their genes; pathologic werebeasts, who are suffering from a therianthropic disease; and maledictive werebeasts, those who were magically cursed with therianthropy. Though not considered werebeasts, the spell Polymorph and the Druid's Wildshape ability are two more ways that people can turn into animals in D&D.

The most iconic D&D therianthropes are Werebears, Wereboars, Wererats and Weretigers, but a list of other were-beasts that appeared in 2nd edition alone would include:

And because that wasn't enough, Ravenloft fans invented Werealligators, Werebaboons, Werecheetahs, Werecobras (in normal and spitting varieties), Weremustela (in ermine, mink, polecat, and weasel flavors), Werepossums, Wereraccoons, and Werewolverines!

The Forgotten Realms setting introduced a wide number of therianthropes, almost as many as Ravenloft, although a significant portion of these were benevolent werebeasts who thusly received little information beyond the fact that they exist. This list includes Wereapes, Werebison, Werecats, Weredogs, Weredolphins, Wereowls, Werepegasi, Werewyverns and Werecougars. Many of these creatures made their appearance in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition splatbook "Hall of Heroes".

Giant Therianthropes[edit]

Because D&D is a setting where giants exist alongside normal humanoids, inevitably, somebody began to wonder: can giants be affected by the different therianthropy strains? This got an official answer in the Dragon Bestiary article for Dragon Magazine #266, which provided the following giant species vs. therianthrope strain breakdown, and also provided stats for the two species of "true giant therianthrope"; the Polarwere (a Frost Giant Werebear) and the Shadkyn (Voadkyn Werebat). All giants not mentioned on this list are immune to all forms of therianthropy.

Third Edition allows any animal to have werecreatures if there's a humanoid or giant type within one size category of the animal.

Playing Werebeasts in D&D[edit]

BECMI Werebeast Classes[edit]

Most subsequent editions of Dungeons & Dragons would forbid PCs playing a therianthrope; the power differential is just too great to be balanced. BECMI was not afraid to get crazy. Thusly, the fourth and last of its Creature Crucible series, Night Howlers, focused on introducing an array of therianthrope race-classes, all of which shared the same following rules:

The following BECMI Werebeast Classes exist: Werebat, Wereboar, Werefox, Wererat, Wereseal, Wereshark, Weretiger, Werewolf, Wereswine.
Except for Werefoxes and Wereswine, who use Intelligence instead, all Werebeasts treat Strength as their prime requisite when in werebeast form.
Being a therianthrope is a form of multiclassing; XP earned in werebeast form is tracked separately to that earned in human form. Thusly, a therianthrope can reach 36th level in their chosen race-class, as well as in their original class, but they will need to adventure sufficiently in the form of a beast to do so.
Nothing is mentioned as to whether the Beast-Man Form affects this EXP gaining.
A therianthrope has access to their original class abilities in human form, and to beast abilities in beast form.
Assuming beast form applies a number of racial ability modifiers unique to a given werebeast strain. These modifiers only apply in beastform - and, for Charisma, apply only when interacting with animals or werebeasts of the same species.
All therianthropes have natural armor in their beast and beast-man forms, but they can commission special armor designed to fit either their humanoid forms (human and beast-man) or their beast forms (which somebody with hands will need to put on them). In this case, use the superior AC value.
In combat, a therianthrope that has reached a level higher than 8th counts as having +1HD per 2 levels over 8th (+1 at 10th, +2 at 12, etc) for combat purposes only.
Therianthropes have different hit points between their bestial and human forms, which are tracked separately. A therianthrope can only die if reduced to 0 hit points in the form with the larger hit point total; if reduced to 0 HP in the form with the smaller hit point total, it is forced into that other form.
In beast form, therianthropes save as Fighters at a level equal to their Hit Dice. Upon gaining maximum Hit Dice for their weretype, they may apply the higher of either their Hit Dice or their therianthrope experience level to the Fighter Saving Throws Table to determine their saves. Damage received in one form remains when the therianthrope changes to its second form.
All Therianthropes gain 9 special abilities shared in common across all the breeds, as well as a 10th ability unique to their breed, as they level up. Which abilities are gained at which level depends on the species. See the table below for the common special abilities.
At 9th level, all therianthropes gain access to their Beast-Man form. In this form, a therianthrope has access to all of their special abilities from both their beast form and their human form. In this form, they use their beast-form HP pool, and they use the better of their saves between their beast-form saves and their human-form saves. They can attack with weapons or their natural attacks, cast spells, and optionally may either gain the benefits of the beast form's ability score modifiers, and/or from 20th level may only apply positive ability score modifiers from their beast form when in hybrid form.
Therianthropes touched by Wolfsbane suffer the effects of a Cause Fear spell that lasts for 2 turns, requiring a Save vs. Poison to avoid fleeing. This applies in all forms, and even in human form, the therianthrope uses its beast-form saves, regardless of if these are worse.
Silver weapons always do normal damage to a therianthrope. Even in human form, touching silver for more than 1 turn requires a Save vs. Poison (beast-form saves) to avoid breaking out in a painful rash.
Werebeast Ability Number Werebeast Ability Description
I Must take beast form on the nights of, preceding and following the full moon. Can voluntarily transform at night if the moon is visible.
II Normal weapons do 1/2 damage (round up). Can voluntarily transform at night without needing the moon.
III Can speak with other therianthropes and creatures of own weretype while in beast form.
IV Can voluntarily transform whenever desired.
V Normal weapons do 1/4 damage (round up).
VI Immune to normal weapons when in beast or beast-man form.
VII Can summon 1d2 animals of own weretype, which will arrive in 1d4 rounds (if in immediate vicinity) or 1d4 turns (if in the general area). This increases to 1d4 at 2nd level, 1d6 at 4th level, 1d8 at 6th level, and 1d10 at 8th level. Every four levels thereafter, add +1d10 to the animals summoned.
VIII Can recover 1d4+1 hit points for every full 24 hours of rest spent in wereform, increasing by +1 for every 3 additional levels.
IX Can now summon therianthropes of own weretype when summoning animals; the total remains unchanged from Ability VII, with DM determining how many are normal and how many are werebeasts.
Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition Races
Basic Set: Dwarf - Elf - Hobbit - Human
Creature Crucible 1: Brownie - Centaur - Dryad - Faun - Hsiao
Leprechaun - Pixie - Pooka - Redcap - Sidhe
Sprite - Treant - Wood Imp - Wooddrake
Creature Crucible 2: Faenare - Gnome - Gremlin - Harpy
Nagpa - Pegataur - Sphinx - Tabi
Creature Crucible 3: Kna - Kopru - Merrow - Nixie
Sea Giant - Shark-kin - Triton
Dragon Magazine: Cayma - Gatorman - Lupin - N'djatwa
Phanaton - Rakasta - Shazak - Wallara
Hollow World: Beastman - Brute-Man - Hutaakan
Krugel Orc - Kubitt - Malpheggi Lizard Man
Known World: Bugbear - Goblin - Gnoll
Hobgoblin - Kobold - Ogre - Troll

AD&D Werebeasts[edit]

A draft attempt at making werebeasts into a playable race was seen in the Ravenloft Netbook titled "The Book of Sorrows", which took its inspiration from official rules first seen in the boxed set Requiem: The Grim Harvest, which allowed players to play various undead monsters.

Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition Races
Core: Dwarf - Elf - Gnome - Half-Elf - Half-Orc - Halfling - Human
Dark Sun: Aarakocra - Half-Giant - Mul - Pterran - Thri-kreen
Dragonlance: Draconian - Irda - Kender - Minotaur
Mystara: Aranea - Ee'ar - Enduk - Lizardfolk (Cayma - Gurrash - Shazak)
Lupin - Manscorpion - Phanaton - Rakasta - Tortle - Wallara
Oriental Adventures: Korobokuru - Hengeyokai - Spirit Folk
Planescape: Aasimar - Bariaur - Genasi - Githyanki - Githzerai - Modron - Tiefling
Spelljammer: Dracon - Giff - Grommam - Hadozee - Hurwaeti - Rastipede - Scro - Xixchil
Ravenloft: Broken One - Flesh Golem - Half-Vistani - Therianthrope
Book of X:
Alaghi - Beastman - Bugbear - Bullywug - Centaur - Duergar
Fremlin - Firbolg - Flind - Gnoll - Goblin - Half-Ogre - Hobgoblin
Kobold - Mongrelfolk - Ogre - Ogre Mage - Orc - Pixie
Satyr - Saurial - Svirfneblin - Swanmay - Voadkyn - Wemic
Dragon Magazine: Half-Dryad - Half-Satyr - Uldra - Xvart
The Therianthropes of Dungeons & Dragons
Laridian - Loup-garou - Loup du Noir - Lythari - Red Falcon - Seawolf - Selkie - Shifter - Swanmay - Thebestyn - Vodoni - Werebaboon - Werebadger - Werebat - Werebear - Wereboar - Werecat - Werecrocodile - Werefox - Werehyena - Werejackal - Werejaguar - Wereleopard - Werelion - Werepanther - Wererat - Wereraven - Wereray - Wereseal - Weresnake - Wereshark - Werespider - Wereswine - Weretiger - Werewolf
Antherions: Aranea - Song Dragon - Jackalwere - Wolfwere
Third Party: Werealligator - Wereanaconda - Werebunny - Werecheetah - Werecobra - Weremustela - Werepossum - Wereraccoon - Werestag - Werewolverine

Pathfinder Therianthropes[edit]

The 3e ability to apply the template to anything was kept in Pathfinder. Weresharks were canonically introduced in the Skull and Shackles Adventure Path.

The Pathfinder werebeast list consists of the following monsters:

  • Silverblood Werewolf - A variant werewolf with immunity to silver, but who weakens and often dies as the moon waxes.
  • Werebat
  • Werebear
  • Wereboar
  • Werecrocodile
  • Wereraptor - No, not a weredinosaur, a were-eagle or hawk.
  • Wererat
  • Wereshark
  • Weretiger
  • Werewolf

In its Bestiary 6, Pathfinder also introduced the Entothrope template, a variant of the standard Lycanthrope template that allows for the existence of werebugs. Three entothropes were statted; the Weremantis, Werespider, and Werewasp.

World of Darkness Therianthropes[edit]

In the World of Darkness, both Werewolf: The Apocalypse and Werewolf: The Forsaken have included therianthropic player's options ranging from Weresharks to Wereravens to Wereboars.... and so on.

Monster Hunter International Therianthropes[edit]

In Monster Hunter International werecreatures almost all become crazed killer beasts. The few exceptions put themselves through hell to control it, used an ancient artifact, or were high functioning crazed killers before the transformation and managed to coax the urges into a symbiotic relation. The one exception is weredolphins who are actually friendly, which is surprising given how sick and twisted normal, real world dolphins are... but then, they've got great publicity, which is why they tend to be portrayed as Good aligned in fantasy games and books.