Were Kin
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She dropped the bar, she shot the bolt, she fed the fire anew
For she heard a whimper under the sill and a great grey paw came through.
The fresh flame comforted the hut and shone on the roof-beam,
And the Only Son lay down again and dreamed that he dreamed a dream.
The last ash fell from the withered log with the click of a falling spark,
And the Only Son woke up again, and called across the dark:—
"Now was I born of womankind and laid in a mother's breast?
For I have dreamed of a shaggy hide whereon I went to rest.
And was I born of womankind and laid on a father's arm?
For I have dreamed of clashing teeth that guarded me from harm.

And was I born an Only Son and did I play alone?
For I have dreamed of comrades twain that bit me to the bone.
And did I break the barley-cake and steep it in the tyre?
For I have dreamed of a youngling kid new-riven from the byre:
For I have dreamed of a midnight sky and a midnight call to blood
And red-mouthed shadows racing by, that thrust me from my food.
'Tis an hour yet and an hour yet to the rising of the moon,
But I can see the black roof-tree as plain as it were noon.
'Tis a league and a league to the Lena Falls where the trooping blackbuck go;
But I can hear the little fawn that bleats behind the doe.

'Tis a league and a league to the Lena Falls where the crop and the upland meet,
But I Can smell the wet dawn-wind that wakes the sprouting wheat.
Unbar the door. I may not bide, but I must out and see
If those are wolves that wait outside or my own kin to me!"
… . .
She loosed the bar, she slid the bolt, she opened the door anon,
And a grey bitch-wolf came out of the dark and fawned on the Only Son!

The Only Son Rudyard Kipling

Basic Information

Were-kin is a catch-all term for shape-shifting creatures such as werewolves. Were-kin usually refers to humans who willingly or unwillingly transform into an often savage and dangerous creature because of a curse or some form of black magic, but there are many varieties.
There are many creatures who can be classified as Were-kin, but they should not be confused with entities such as shape-shifting spirits/gods or strange creatures such as Kitsune, which can often be temperamental, but fill a different role in fiction.

Examples of commonly mentioned Were-kin include the following

There exists numerous creatures which are not typically classed as Were-Kin, but share many common characteristics with them. Here is a list of some of them for your convenience

For those millieux in which lycanthropy is heritable, the term Were-kin can also refer to those who carry shape shifter 'genes' but are not shapeshifters themselves - White Wolf's Werewolf games cite them specifically as 'kinfolk' whilst Delphine vonAngua in Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels has (at one point) three siblings, one a full blown werewolf like herself and two were-kin (called Yennorks in the books) - one permanently human looking, the other permanently lupine. Other characters in the Discworld (noteably Gavin the wolf) are suspected of being 'part werewolf'.

See Shape shifters- Fast and wise animals for a different type of shape-shifter


3. The Fifth Elephant Terry Pratchett

Game and Story Use

  • The non-shifting relatives type can make an excellent complication for were-hunters, possibly even as far as creating a race of enemy aliens within the larger human society who are very difficult to tell from normal people. Whole villages may end up being exterminated on suspicion (or by way of excuse).
  • Conversely, PCs who have just fought a wolf pack may have gained the enmity of a werewolf pack by killing their kin-wolves.
  • A village may hire the PCs to stop a serial killer who is preying on them … the only problem is that he's a were-hunter and they are werekin and/or true lycanthropes.
  • Generally, PCs may discover that the village they are using as a base is a nest of werekin and lycanthropes … this works better if you have a system in which lycanthropes are not Always Chaotic Evil and thus eligible for genocide by default. Also, it helps if the PCs have NPC friends and allies in the village.
  • Where heredity is not well understood, a community that produces a lot of werewolves (for example) may assume that they are under a curse.
  • A suitably recessive form of heredity might have werewolves popping up at random in all sorts of places with no obvious explanation.
  • Where (note spellinge!)1 hereditary zoanthropy of any kind is a thing, there may also be the question of what difference it makes in which form "heredity" takes place. The lowest stringency approach mostly disregards all shape shifting and delivers offspring at the demands of plot, the highest may see the mother morphologically locked after conception and producing offspring appropriate to the form in which they were conceived, probably to remain in that form until puberty. That is, if a female werewolf conceives whilst in wolf-form she must remain wolf shaped until she delivers a litter of cubs, which will then remain wolf-shaped until they reach adulthood. If she conceives in human form, she will have an apparently normal human pregnancy and deliver (probably one or two) babies that will again, appear human until puberty. Switching between the two might be possible, but very hard on her anatomy2.
    • Probably not as hard as explaining half a dozen tweenagers that appear more or less out nowhere with no grip on how to be human (not so much raised by wolves as raised as wolves) … or a mixed delivery of human children and wolf cubs…
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