Werewolf-type creature transformations - what could trigger them?

In my current book, I've created my own version of a werewolf. They transform into decidedly different types of creatures, and I've invented my own abilities and limitations for them; so they're werewolves except that everything is changed a little, if that makes sense.

The one change I can't figure out, though, is when to make them transform. I need them to transform at regular intervals, but the full moon is already taken, obviously - so, is there anything else you can think of that happens (or could happen, in a fantasy world) on a regular basis, which could trigger my monsters' transformations? I originally thought I'd use a set number of days (everything in this world is based around the number five, so I chose every twenty-five days because that seemed reasonable), but I don't like it. I like the sort of concrete, cosmic cause that the full moon provides, and I wish that I could think of something more like that - a set event of some sort. Any ideas?
Nothing wrong with just rolling with the full moon. Unless your world happens to have more then one moon, then it could certainly twist the lycan's up a bit. Werewolves and lycanthropy has a long history and a lot of possible set offs to go into wolf mode. Perhaps the easiest way is to simply have them be able to go to wolf at will. It's as regular as they make it and could also have the unwilling beast mode that comes from too much stress, lot's of blood in the are and damn, they are huuuungry, they need to solve a mystery and the nose knows or they're just bored and want to chase some sheep.

Could also have an activating phrase for it. In which you end up with Power Ranger wolves. Or one yelling 'Transform and run out!'


Fiery Keeper of the Hat
If you're looking for regular intervals to keep the same kind of feel as the moon, that would suggest another celestial body, if not the moon than perhaps the nearness of Mars and Venus. But that probably feels like a bad ripoff, and you're going to have trouble finding a term of about that length which doesn't.

Depending on how much you're willing to open it up, another thing that cycles in patterns is wildlife movements. The trigger could be an animal that comes in and out of the region, perhaps a magical flock of birds that flies through every three weeks on its route for food. Or even better, a type of insect could spread a certain rare pollen or mildew in the air during its mating season - a substance you could play with in your plotlines.


Myth Weaver
Riffing off Devor a bit more...
A comet/asteroid, made of a particular crystal which when it is at the right point of its orbit re-emits the sun's light at the frequency to trigger the lycanthropy? Fragments of this crystal could harm or aid Lycanthropes in their everyday life?


I much prefer the "able to transform at will, but gets forcibly transformed under certain conditions and has a lower control over their beastly instincts during this time", but that still involves conditions. I'd say, if you don't want to use the moon, then make something else in your world happen regularly and release something that triggers the (forced) transformation. Maybe have a plant that releases pheromones every 5 weeks(you did say that the number 5 is pretty important in your world), or maybe some kind of mini, world-wide tremor that happens on a regular basis.


Maybe just the appearance of a particular star, staying with the celestial bodies idea? Maybe a seasonally change, or type of weather?

I like Devor's reference about pollen, maybe even the pollen count of a particular day could trigger things, though that would make it very difficult for anyone to know when the change was likely.
Thanks for the suggestions! And sorry, I guess I should have provided a little more information! These lycans, I suppose you could call them, are somewhat unique in that their beast side slowly takes over their minds so that, after a while, even in human form they are completely evil. They end up siding with the arch villain of the story who frees them from the prison where these creatures are usually kept for safety. One reason I'm being careful about how often they can transform is because I can't overpower the villain *too* much! But also, and more importantly, I need it to be a set time because one of my main characters develops this condition when he is very young; but unlike all the others, he manages to keep the beast side from taking over his mind (except when he actually transforms). The king discovers him and, because he needs at least one of these creatures on his side if at all possible, and because he can see that this unusual boy is still good at heart, he decides to nurture him and raise him lovingly so that he'll end up being on the king's side. Part of this includes providing a magical object that makes the little boy appear human, and allowing him to attend the royal academy, make friends, be a normal person, etc.

So, in order to do that, that means that there's got to be some way that the king can know for sure when this kid is going to explode into a rage monster, so that he can be sent somewhere safe where he won't hurt anyone, until he returns to normal.

I am thinking that the evil beasts will discover how to transform at will in the future (with the villain's help), but for now, no one can know that's possible, or I feel like the king just couldn't risk exposing all these kids to this little boy because he would be putting their lives in constant danger.
Yes, exactly! I know it sounds funny when you put it like that; but imagine that this is a medical condition - a biological response. The way I've got them worked out, transforming at will would be something akin to a person with epilepsy having a seizure at will. They may eventually figure out how to trigger one - perhaps the oldest of them harbors this secret knowledge but has hidden it from the humans, and will reveal it after the villain frees them, or maybe they will simply discover it. It has never been studied, and those affected have always ended up captured and magically contained, if not killed (there's an elite force of the military dedicated to doing so), and thus living isolated from any other beasts. They haven't had much chance to learn about themselves.

To be clear, my sort-of lycanthropy in this world is more of a sickness that turns people into powerful but evil monsters, rather than a superpower that gives people the ability to be awesome.
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Miles Lacey

Have you considered making the werewolf transformations seasonal? Just as many animals, birds etc have breeding seasons I don't see why werewolf transformations can't be seasonal.

Yurinii Gallon

New Member
Therianthropes are considered to transform only when they meet certain conditions. Lycans transform when the moon is full. But, I think therians' transformation are triggered when their animal instincts become too much for them to handle. But, animal instincts often reduce when a wild animal is tamed and domisticated, and then trained to overule this instinctual side. So, I think your MC gets his wild side tamed by from an event. And then tries to activate his beast form through training how to trigger a beastial instinct. I think you can make territorial instinct as a trigger, also hunger for prey, and the drive to protect a person close to him. Well the trigger would depend on what type of animal the therian is affiliated to. In the case of wolves, they are territorial, they hunt in packs, and follows the will of the alpha.


So most werewolves or werebeasts in this case have one of three methods that causes a transformation.

Unwilling-Classic full moon type werebeasts trasform on the full moon whether they want to or not an often have no control or depending on the story aybe they do.

Willing- The werebeast shifts at will a great example is 'grimm' which has humans that turn into animals when they want to or are under some sort of enviromental stressor. This is becoming an increasingly common type although should not be consitered a 'werebeast' as much as a changeling or a shifter as the very nature of werebeasts is that they can not control their animal half.

Urge-Now this is one I went with and that I do not see too much. This is the idea that the animal half of the werebeast function on it's animalistic instinct and can overpower the human half under the correct conditions, very simalar to 'venom' or 'tokyo ghoul'. For example, that whole werewolf full moon mess stems from the fact deer and other prey are infact active at dawn, dusk, and night time hours and the brighter the moon the more likely they are to be out. As such, wolves hunt more on full mons cause more prey is out and they have better night sight than deer. in older times people knew this so the believe was the wolf half of a werewolf comes out to hunt as well on a full moon. However they could have all sorts of species specific triggers a werecat for example maybe if someone or thing is running away or running near the human form as cats have a very strong chase instinct. This type may also be enticed into shifting if it is in the wild and the human half is dying of hunger and dehydration or being attacked by another animal as the animal half often understands it needs to protect the human half or both of them die. It is up to you whether these two halves can communicate with each other at all and how intelligent their animal half is.
In the middle ages, werewolves were a thing, but they didn't come out at the full moon. They actually came out when the wolfsbane flower bloomed.
How often do you want your were creatures to transform?

A variation of the full moon timing could be having them transform whenever there's an eclipse. If this is set on our Earth, there's a pair of eclipses every six and a small fraction months: a solar one at new moon and a lunar one at full moon. They're not visible everywhere, and they're not always total, but they're happening. That would have your creatures transform twice, at two week intervals, twice a year. Unless the eclipse has to be visible where the creature is for it to transform, in which case the transformations would be even less frequent.

If your setting is another planet, eclipses could be a more frequent occurrence.

If you want more frequent transformations, but not as frequent as once a month, and the setting is our Earth, they could transform every time Mercury goes retrograde. That happens once every four months, and lasts three weeks at a time.

If you want the timing to remain monthly, the only celestial event that reliably happens on a monthly basis is the lunar cycle. That would require tying the transformation to a phase of the moon.


but the full moon is already taken,

Why is this a problem? It's already taken because that is kind of in the definition of lycanthrope. Kind of like saying I want vampires, but I dont want them to have sharp teeth. Certainly free to make up other means by which this happens, but I dont think I would feel I lacked too much originality for using the full moon.