"Even a man who is pure of heart, and says his prayers by night. . ."
Night Howlers is the fourth book in the Creature Crucible series, which explores new character types for the D&D game. Whether the referee wants to add one or two were-creatures to the party line-up, base a whole series of adventures around the were-creatures' struggle for survival, or add some very special encounters for the players, this book will provide hours of unique playing experience.
Night Howlers includes:
- Ten different types of lycanthropes, including werewolves, wererats, werefoxes, werebears, and others.
- Two separate booklets, one with player information and one with campaign details.
- A fully detailed land of werewolves, the Valley of the Wolves, located I the Known World campaign setting.
- New magical items specially tailored to the needs of lycanthropes
- Information about important non-player characters, a large, full-color map; and three exciting adventures.
- Fully adaptable to the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition Game.
PC4: "Night Howlers" (1992), by Ann Dupuis, is the fourth and final "PC" Player Creature / Creature Crucible supplement. It was published in July 1992.
Origins (I): The Last of the Creatures. The Creature Crucibles are a somewhat forgotten, but rich and interesting part of Known World lore. Like its predecessors, "Night Howlers" includes background and crunch for a variety of non-human Basic D&D classes and integrates that all into the Known World.
Since "Night Howlers" was released toward the end of the Basic D&D run, it also is marked as being part of the "Challenger" series — noting it as one of the more complex supplements released during Basic D&D's last days, when it once more flirted with the idea of being an introductory D&D game.
Origins (II): Return to Amber. "Night Howlers" also seems to have one foot in a much older Basic D&D supplement, X2: "Castle Amber (Chateau d' Amberville)" (1981). Not only does it revisit the lupin from that adventure, but it also reuses a few notable NPCs — though they all appear via GAZ3: "The Principalities of Glantri" (1987), the Gazetteer that better integrated them into the Known World. This sequence of supplements, all building upon one another, shows how rich the Known World had become … in what were unfortunately its waning days.
However, "Night Howlers" wasn't shy in making use of whatever source material came to it. It also incorporates the greater wererat, a monster introduced in "The Wererats of Relfren" for Dungeon #14 (November/December 1988).
Origins (III): The Year of the Werewolf. When TSR started publishing the Creature Crucibles in 1989, the idea of playing monsters in roleplaying games was still relatively unknown among the big name games. But between then and 1992, something had happened: the World of Darkness appeared, beginning with Vampire: The Masquerade (1991), a mass-market, monster-focused RPG. Even more notably, White Wolf released their second World of Darkness RPG at Gen Con / Origins '92 (1992), right around the same time that "Night Howlers" appeared. It was Werewolf: The Apocalypse (1992).
The contrast between the two was notable, because Werewolf was dark and gritty — more realistic within the bounds of its urban fantasy world. In contrast, "Night Howlers" had the possibility for epic fantasy, but also for the light humor that was sometimes seen in the Basic D&D line. In his Dragon magazine review, Rick Swan summed up the difference between a whole line focused on gritty lycanthropy and a single supplement in a light-hearted line: "After the cast-of-thousands, Dolby-enhanced, wide-screen production of WEREWOLF, Night Howlers seems like a home movie."
Expanding D&D. "Night Howlers" contains plenty of new rules for how lycanthropes and lycanthropy work. It also reveals the numerous new racially-based classes that you'd expect of the Creature Crucible line, including: devil swine, werebats, werebears, wereboars, werefoxes, wereseals, weresharks, weretigers, and (of course) werewolves. As with many of the more powerful monster classes, these ones use negative experience for balance.
Exploring the Known World "Night Howlers" introduces the Valley of the Wolves, which is located in Glantri. It's very nicely integrated into the setting described in GAZ3: "The Principalities of Glantri", expanding the previous book's information on areas like the Barony of Morlay and the Viscounty of Malinbois. If you combine the extensive details on the City of Glantri found in the Gazetteer and the 1 hex = 1 mile map (and description) of the Valley of the Wolves found here, you get a major city and a possible adventure area, several days away.
Monsters of Note. "Night Howlers" of course includes numerous lycanthropes, most of which were D&D favorites. A few of them even originated in Basic D&D: the werebat and the wereseal first appeared in the Master Rules (1985), while the werefox made its debut in B4: "The Lost City" (1982) — and had already made its way over to the AD&D game. However, the devil swine is probably the wackiest and most Basic D&D-oriented of the lycanthropes in this supplement. It first appeared in the original Expert Rules (1981) and then gained even more promincence in Wrath of the Immortals (1992), which claimed that Orcus was once of their number!
NPCs of Note. "Night Howlers" reuses characters like Sire Malachie du Malais, Dame Diane de Moriamis, and Dame Genevieve de Sephora from X2: "Castle Amber", further integrating that early Basic D&D adventure into the Known World.
It also introduces numerous lycanthrope immortals, such as Kaladan, Koryis, Mrikitat
Ruaidhri Hawkbane, Leo Variantia, and Zirchev, though they haven't been seen since.
About the Creators. Today, Dupuis is best-known for her own Grey Ghost Press, and its work on the Fudge RPG (1994+). However, she got her start freelancing for Steve Jackson, and had now moved on to TSR. She'd contribute to a few more Basic D&D books in the next few years.
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.