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Werewolf society?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Ireth, Mar 28, 2012.

  1. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I need help developing -- you guessed it -- a society of werewolves for a story. The setting is fifteenth-century England, specifically the city of Leeds. This being an adaptation of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, the werewolves in my adaptation are analogous to the gypsies in the original story, living in hiding because of the threat posed by the genocidal villain, and to an extent the church in general.

    One of the most important, if not THE most important thing the werewolves need is a way to keep themselves well confined on the night of the full moon so they don't all end up going out and massacring the town every four weeks. There are rogues and particularly bloodthirsty ones who occasionally do that, such as the one who turned the main female character into a werewolf, but for the most part they keep to themselves for safety's sake. I imagine they'll need plenty of blacksmiths, stonemasons and the like to make houses or cells that they can't just break out of in wolf-form.

    I'm still trying to decide whether or not I want the werewolves to behave socially like a real wolf pack or not. It could be interesting to have a sort of hierarchy, from the alpha couple down to omegas, but I don't want them to be completely lupine except when the moon is full. Might get people's hackles up at me (no pun intended) with implications of bestiality in the romance between the two lead characters. I personally have no issue with human/werewolf or human/other shapeshifter couples; they feature in a lot of my fantasy roleplaying. It's not like they make love or anything when the werewolf/shapeshifter is in animal form. But I digress.

    I've also considered having mages as a minority alongside the werewolves, and they could help each other out. Though it could be fun to make the male lead unique as the only mage in the city.

    Thoughts and suggestions are welcomed, as always. :)
     
  2. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

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    I dunno, I like the idea of werewolves having a social structure comparable to real wolf packs. If you want to avoid the bestiality charge, have the romantic stuff happen only when both the female werewolf and her male love interest are in human form.
     
  3. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    Eh.... Personally I think the whole wolf-pack thing for werewolves is overdone....

    In my story, werewolves are just powerful, beastly things, they don't look like wolves, but they are so powerful, so predatory, that they have nothing else to compare them to.

    If they take the place of gyspies, why not start by researching gypsy culture? Maybe create a combinaton of gypsy / wolfpack.

    For containing themselves, why not have them confining themselves to a secluded island off shore? Proabably an ocean one so they can't simply walk over the ice.

    Plus a group of foreigners secluding themselves to an island every month won't help their reputation any.
     
  4. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    Oh, definitely. My werewolves are forced to transform under the full moon, and both Vincent and Diana will make sure that Vincent doesn't go anywhere near her on that one night of the month. They do act rather canine in the week or so preceding the full moon, but they're still "human". I'm debating whether I want the werewolves to be able to transform at will during the rest of the month.

    Then again, no matter what I do someone's likely going to hate me for it. I can't believe I'm even making this comparison, but think about Twilight for a moment. Jacob and the rest of his tribe/pack change into wolves on a regular basis, but even though all of the romance with Bella occurred while Jake was human, that still got a lot of people worked up about the "necrophilia vs. bestiality" debate.

    EDIT to respond to Queshire:

    I was avoiding the gypsy thing mainly out of a desire not to add any racist connotations to the story. There may well be Roma among the werewolves, but it's not supposed to be a white/dark divide.

    Hm... I'm pretty sure Leeds is just about in the middle of Britain, so an island might be hard to get to and from easily, especially considering medieval travel conditions. I can't really see werewolves as getting along too well with horses and the like, so they'd have to walk to the seashore just to catch a boat or ferry.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2012
  5. Kit

    Kit Maester

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    You could also have them drug themselves insensate with something on the given night. Another idea, since you do have magic in your story- they could have some magical solution that they use to stop the change, or to paralyze themselves till the sun comes up, or something like that.
     
    Ireth likes this.
  6. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I like the drug idea -- makes me think of the wolfsbane potion Professor Lupin used to make himself harmless. I think having them be able to stop the change altogether, especially every time it happened, would kinda defeat the purpose of having them be werewolves at all. Something like that just begs to be made to backfire for the sake of drama.
     
  7. Mythos

    Mythos Troubadour

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    I like the idea of having the werewolves only able to change under the full moon. It adds interesting limitations you can explore. If you feel like that idea allows for too little time in wolf form, maybe they can change when they feel strong emotions.
     
  8. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    Ooooh, I like that, Mythos! An early story idea of mine (unrelated to this one but with the same two main characters) had Diana as not a lycanthrope, but under a curse to turn into a wolf whenever she got really angry. I could definitely play with that here; it would be fun to see Martin's reaction if he ever goaded Diana into being genuinely furious at him rather than beaten down and scared.
     
  9. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    bit off topic, but it's theroised that the stories of werewolves originated from accounts of people with rabies, so you might want to take a look at that for inspiration.
     
  10. Butterfly

    Butterfly Auror

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    Can your werewolves swim?

    If not, Leeds castle is built in the middle of a large man made lake... perhaps it can solve your problem to have something like that built on the city outskirts, sort of mirroring what is already there.

    Or if you look at a map of the city you'll see the river bending through it, perhaps with enough man power its route could be diverted to create an islet or an ait, as they would call it, and a prison / castle / dungeon built upon it.
     
  11. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    There's a castle in Leeds? *didn't know that at all*

    That might work... though if there are people already living there when the werewolves decide to use it, and those people are driven out, there would probably be stories spreading around about the werewolves, which is really bad if they want to keep their location a secret. They could just kill the people who lived there and take over, but that also would be risky. Just forcibly turning the people into werewolves and keeping them locked up so they can't spread tales might be the easiest option, if not the nicest.

    Having the werewolves' hideout be underground, like the Court of Miracles in the Disney movie, might be a better choice. Then they could make a home for themselves in secret and not have to fear anyone blabbing their location to people like the villain.
     
  12. shangrila

    shangrila Inkling

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    I like the idea of masons and blacksmiths playing a prominent part, so why not have them as a pseudo-FreeMasons society? They could build mansions as part of a secret society devoted entirely to keeping themselves contained during the full moon, and you could even go further. Perhaps a sewer system or just general tunnels where they can run and stretch their legs without having to worry about hurting anyone?

    The Masons also have a fairly detailed heirarchy, so you could use that if you didn't want to go down the wolf pack route.
     
  13. Butterfly

    Butterfly Auror

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    Ireth - I have just done a bit of research on Leeds Castle. Apparently it's not in Leeds, it's in Kent which is miles from where you want to be. Sorry about that, it's a wild goose chase. However, I did come across Kirkstall Abbey perhaps you could use this as a setting instead.
     
  14. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    @shangrila: It's definitely a possibility, though I can see any huge mansions and the like as being objects of suspicion to any non-werewolves. I can't see the werewolves as wanting to draw attention to themselves, since that would be a HUGE safety issue, and having all of them living in huge mansions would do just that. They aren't meant to be altogether upper-class people; I imagine they'd live more on a level with the lower class to stay under the radar, so to speak, and they'd have their own society and hierarchy beyond those of non-werewolves.

    @Butterfly: Thanks for clearing that up. :) I'll look up that abbey and see if it could work.
     
  15. Rullenzar

    Rullenzar Troubadour

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    One idea that comes to mind is you say only once a month they can change. So, why not make a lair underground (sewer systems) far enough in that you wouldn't have random people strolling down there and built to secure the werewolves inside once they change. That way you could make this some sort of secret society that meets once every month and lives day to day with the rest of the world without them knowing their true nature. Could also open up potential revolts and accidents when one doesn't make it to their shelter in time for various reasons.

    You could also have them set up shop in the sewers and some of them who accepted it before want out now for various reasons.

    Another possibility is say a church or abandoned building. They could hide in plain sight in a church.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2012
  16. shangrila

    shangrila Inkling

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    Ah, I see. How about warehouses then? Perhaps by the docks or some other busy area where they could set up low key businesses to disguise it?
     
  17. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    The underground/sewer idea is what I was aiming for, yes. As for the church, I'm not sure; I already have one that plays an important role in the plot. An abandoned building or warehouse of some sort could work, though. :) Kinda reminds me of the Shrieking Shack in Harry Potter.
     
  18. cliche

    cliche Minstrel

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    Maybe the werwolves dont have to be 'wild-beasts-that-tear-out-your-throat' they could perhaps have some other sort of limitations and its just that they have been rejected from society for being different. I am sure that there would be traditionalists in leeds around that time who could believe that werewolves were 'hell-spawn' or 'servants of satan'.

    The werewolves could be more beast-like in the sense of generally being afraid of other humans when in that form and only attacking when that is there only way out. Their human emotions could be buried deeply and though they generally remember the difference between right and wrong there could be times where they become excitable and accidently kill someone (which is why they decide to lock themselves up in order to avoid killing anyone.


    There may also be the problem about how they are going to get out after they have been locked up for the full moon. If they have any recall of being human what-so-ever it would be easy for them to remember how something like a key works. If so then this would mean that tey would have to get somebody that they trust to hold onto the key for the duration of the transformation.
     
  19. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    That was pretty much my idea all along. :) The werewolves lose all human reasoning under the full moon, but they look and act just like normal people on every other day and night. That's why having mages around would be a good idea; they could be the keepers of the keys, and they wouldn't turn into werewolves if they were bitten, because they already have magic in their bodies. But then I'd have to work out how the werewolves and mages interact, and that could be complicated. I kind of want to have the male lead be unique as the only mage in the story. I might make another thread asking for advice on that, we'll see.
     
  20. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    There is an interesting story by Vernor Vinge called A Fire Upon the Deep. In it, there are a race of wolf-like creatures whose intelligence is dependent upon proximity in a pack-like relationship. So one creature alone is no more intelligent than an animal. Two of them traveling together achieve a higher intelligence. Four or five of them together form a pack mind that is as intelligent as a human, and so on.

    I always thought that would be a cool idea to apply to werewolves.
     
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