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RR7 Van Richten's Guide to Werebeasts (2e)
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RR7 Van Richten's Guide to Werebeasts (2e)

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I know now the shape of madness, of ravening insanity, and it is me! I dread the waxing of the moon, yet how can I flee from time itself? The hour of transformation is at hand, and my heart surges in bloodlust!  —The Cry of a Werewolf

Werebeasts: men and women who assume the shape of animals. In this volume, Dr. Rudolph Van Richten—Ravenloft's eminent expert on the horrific—exposes the truth about their ravenous kind. For years, Van Richten has doggedly pursued these creatures. More than once, the hunter became the hunted, yet lived to tell the tale. Now Van Richten reveals the secrets of his survival.

Discover the werebeast's many forms, from the common to the bizarre. Read how they live, lust, and multiply, spreading their affliction among the innocent. Learn to see through their beastly spoor. Finally, discover what it really takes to cure lycanthropy in Ravenloft. For upon Demiplane of Dread, few adventures can avoid the werebeast's fang forever.

Product History

RR7: "Van Richten's Guide to Werebeasts" (1993), by Nigel Findley, is the seventh Ravenloft Resource. It was published in July 1993.

Continuing the Ravenloft Resources. The sixth Ravenloft Resource was oddly enough called RS1: "Van Richten's Guide to the Lich" (1993), but after that TSR jumped right back to RR7: "Van Richten's Guide to Werebeasts" (1996) — and never officially used the "RR6" module code. Such was the craziness of TSR's module numbering in the early '90s.

"Van Richten's Guide to Werebeasts" was the fourth Ravenloft monster splatbook, following vampires (1991), ghosts (1992), and the lich (1993). It was also a return to form, detailing a classic gothic horror like the first two supplements had.

Well, it sort of details a gothic horror. The werewolf certainly dates back to classic horror stories, but as the name suggests "Werebeasts" covers a wide variety of lyncanthropic beasts — from the werebat to the weretiger. Each of these species is made somewhat unique through specific vulnerabilities and racial links. "Werebeasts" also provides information on many sources of lyncanthropy including diseases, curses, and heredity. Though "Werebeasts" doesn't allow GMs to create as individual of creatures as "Vampires" and "Ghosts" did, it still offers a lot of variety within the lycanthrope category.

A History of D&D Werebeasts. Werebeasts originated with the OD&D (1974) boxed set which contains four of them: the werebear, the wereboar, the weretiger, and the werewolf. The werebear is usually assumed to be a reference to Beorn from Lord of the Rings (1954-1955), especially given its lawful nature, while a werewolf appears in Poul Anderson's Three Hears and Three Lions (1961) — one of the inspirational readings for D&D. However, the wereboar and the weretiger are somewhat more mysterious.

The lycanthropic crowd grew by one with the publication of Supplement I: Greyhawk (1975), which features the popular wererat. Its origin is usually attributed to Fritz Leiber's The Swords of Lankhmar (1968), which featured intelligent rats beneath the city, though they're not actually shapechangers. All of the lycanthropes then got some additional love in Supplement II: Blackmoor (1975), which features rules for contracting the disease … and that was the totality of their presence in OD&D.

When AD&D came along, all five werebeasts reappeared in the Monster Manual (1977), but they were joined by a curious variant: the jackalwere, who is a jackal that can turn into a human! Its kin, the wolfwere then appeared in S4: "The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth" (1982). The last few AD&D 1e were-creatures made their appearance in Monster Manual II (1983), which featured the foxwoman, the seawolf, and the wereshark (!) as well as a reprint of the wolfwere. All of the were-critters except for the wereshark quickly reappeared in AD&D 2e (1989), split between Monstrous Compendium Volume One (1989) and Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (1989). Stranger werecreatures would appear in the Al-Qadim and Forgotten Realms lines.

Over in Basic D&D, the werecreatures were following a similar evolution. By the early '90s, their listing included the devil swine, the werebat, the werebear, the wereboar, the werefox, the werejaguar, the wererat, the greater wererat, the wereseal, the wereshark, the weretiger, and the werewolf. However, Basic D&D is more notable for its debut of an official D&D lycanthropic splatbook: "Night Howlers" (1992), which includes rules for PC lycanthropes.

Finally, the world of Ravenloft was full of werecreatures, including no less than five lycanthropic lords: Nathan Timothy, werewolf of Arkandale; Jack Karn, jackalwere of Farelle; Harkon Lukas, wolfwere of Kartakass; Jacqueline Renier, wererat of Richemulot; and Alfred Timothy, werewolf of Verbrek. It also already included one were-heavy adventure, RA1: "Feast of Goblyns", which takes place in Kartakass and which introduced the greater wolfwere.

Monsters of Note. "Werebeasts" introduces one totally new lycanthrope, the werebadger.

Future History. Ravenloft would continue to focus on were-creatures.
"Dark of the Moon" (1993), a lycanthrope adventure, appeared just a few months later. Then, toward the end of the line, "Children of the Night: Werebeasts" (1998) complemented this guide with a set of lycanthropic NPCs.

"Van Richten's Guide to Werebeasts" was later reprinted as part of Van Richten's Monster Hunter's Compendium Volume One (1999).

About the Creators. Findley wrote "Werebeasts" toward the middle of his freelance RPG-writing career. He was simultaneously working with FASA, Mayfair, Steve Jackson Games, White Wolf, and even a young Wizards of the Coast. He was also simultaneously working on Spelljammer novels for TSR themselves.

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

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File Last Updated:
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This title was added to our catalog on December 03, 2013.