Weremustela

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Weremustela are a species of related therianthrope strains native to the Demiplane of Dread, which were invented by fans of the Ravenloft setting and presented online on the fansite "The Lonesome Road". As their name suggests, they are werebeasts based on the mustelid family, specifically encompassing four species; Ermine, Mink, Polecat, and Weasel. A fifth branch of the family, the Werewolverine, appeared in The Book of Shadows, whilst the Werebadger is an official weremustelid in Dungeons & Dragons.

Appearance[edit]

The four phenotypes of weremustela are very similar in appearance, but a trained observer can tell them apart in their secondary or tertiary aspects. In their primary aspects, of course, all weremustela appear to be normal humans (or, rarely, gnomes or halflings), though they often exhibit subtle features that hint at their natures, such as lithe bodies, small ears, and toothy grins. In secondary aspect, they resemble normal animals appropriate to their pheonotype: ermines, minks, polecats, and weasels. In tertiary aspect, weremustela present a bizarre, frightening image indeed. Their bodies become longer and suppler, covered with a coat of soft fur. Their arms and legs shorten, and end in paws equipped with wicked little nails. A weremustela’s hands retain full manipulation capabilities in tertiary aspect. A short, furry tail emerges from the base of the spine. The weremustela’s snaky neck becomes nearly continuous with its torso and wedge-shaped head. The head resembles the creature’s phenotype, complete with beady eyes, small ears, and a mouth filled with sharp teeth.

Wereermines stand about five and a half feet tall in tertiary aspect. They are deep chocolate brown on their back, flanks, and outer limbs, with white on the underside and a black-tipped tail. During the winter months, their entire coat becomes snowy white, except for the tail. Wereminks stand around six feet tall in tertiary aspect. Their fur—which tends to be shorter than in other weremustela—is reddish brown to dark cinnamon, with ocassional white markings on the chin, chest, or throat. Werepolecats are about six feet tall in tertiary aspect, though they tend to be on the taller side of the wereminks. They are brown to black in color, with pale yellow underfur and silvery markings behind the eyes. Wereweasels are the smallest weremustela, standing only four and a half feet tall in tertiary aspect. They are generally colored the same as wereermines, and likewise change color in the winter, though they are shorter and slimmer.

Weremustela normally speak whatever human tongues are spoken in the region where they dwell. They also have their own bizarre language filled with hisses, shrieks, and squeals, which is common to all four phenotypes. Like most werebeasts, weremustela can communicate with the normal animals of their phenotype.

Ecology/Society[edit]

All weremustela share a common society that glorifies brutality and sedition.

Weremustela dwell in a variety of temperate climates throughout the Demiplane of Dread, generally preferring forested areas. The different phenotypes are normally (80%) found in the company of one another, with at least two of the phenotypes present in any given mixed band. Wereermines prefer the colder temperate regions of the Core, but have also been sighted in Vorostokov. They are normally found in dense forests. Wereminks are widespread throughout the Core, and have even been reported in lands as distant as Souragne. They are always found near freshwater, preferring heavily wooded rivers and lakes. Werepolecats are also ubiquitous in the Core, but prefer open woodlands or even plains to forests. Wereweasels are perhaps the most common and widespread of the weremustela, being found throughout the Core and beyond, but seem to prefer the thick, dark forests also favored by the wereermines.

Weremustela society is savage but hierarchical, with each of the four phenotypes vying mercilessly for dominance over the other three. None of the phenotypes has a particular role in weremustela society, but the wereminks are usually the victors of most power struggles, if only due to their size and ruthlessness. Only the werepolecats can stand against them, but they lack the numbers of the wereminks. Within a phenotype there is similar jockeying, with each creature attempting to claw its way up a linear rank system.

Weremustela revere lying as a fine art, the double-cross as a way of life, and an utter lack of scruples as a virtue. Their society advocates stooping to any underhanded trick or method to achieve power, at whatever cost. Despite all the backstabbing, there remains a kind of odd kinship between the four phenotypes. If more than one phenotype has the same territory, they usually share a wilderness lair, frequently a subterranean complex filled with food stores and feast halls. Young weremustela grow up around the other phenotypes, and there is free socialization (although extra-phenotypic matings are punished with death). After a night of bloodthirsty human hunting, followed by death challenges and political assassinations, it’s not unusual for a group of weremustela to gather for a drunken sing-along until the wee hours of the night.

Weremustela are carnivores, like their mundane animal kin. All four phenotypes subsist on a diet of rodents, birds, eggs, and insects. Wereminks alone prefer aquatic creatures as prey, such as fish, mollusks, and crustaceans. Of course, human flesh is the favorite food of all weremustela, and they frequently conduct brutal raids against rural villages to obtain it. They disdain living within the settlements of mankind, however, preferring their wilderness lairs. Weremustela hate other werecreatures with a passion—they will even kill and eat wererats when possible! Occasionally they make alliances with other evil creatures, such as powerful undead, in exchange for wealth or favors. Unfortunately for more ignorant allies, weremustela are infamous for their mercurial loyalty and perchance for bloody betrayal.

Combat[edit]

Weremustela should not be underestimated in combat. They are extraordinarily agile creatures, capable of quick, darting attacks that leave an opponent battered and dazed; they favor weapons that take advantage of their natural speed and coordination, such as daggers, thin swords, and smokepowder weapons, but can also launch deadly bites. The speed of their strikes cannot be underemphasized, and like their phenotype animals, a weremustela that gets ahold of something with her teeth will viciously thrash and shake, disorientating her foe, and it takes extreme damage to make these therianthropes release their gripped jaws involuntarily. Making matters worse is that they are incredibly stealthy foes, and extremely hard to detect in the wilderness environments they favor - which, combined with their speed, is a lethal one-two punch.

Fortunately, they can be hurt. Like all therianthropes, weremustela are vulnerable to enchanted weapons (+1 or greater), but they can also be harmed by a weapon made from the wood of a fir tree or a blessed trapper's knife that was used to skin their phenotype animal. Additionally, mistletoe is a deadly allergen to them; if consumed, it will probably kill them, although their sharp senses give them an average of a 75% chance to detect such poison in their foods.