Lycanthropes, or werewolves as they are colloquially known as, are afflicted by a contagious infection spread by the saliva and under the claws of said beasts and are tortured souls cursed by the Darker aspects of the Moon Goddess.
A bite or a scratch that breaks the skin is often enough for the affliction to spread to a new carrier, and as such Lyncanthropes are hated, feared and rightly so. For the transformation from man to beast destroys their sanity and turns them into a ravenously hungry monster barely able to control its violent impulses.
While Lynacnthropes almost always kill and eat their victims, anyone who is unlucky enough to have been injured by one will almost certainly develop the first signs of the infection, which is a fever and nightmares of the moon, running wild through the woods, and eventually, dreams of cannibalism and murder and are easily identified as infected as they immediately develop a severe allergic reaction to silver, which causes their skin to burn and inflicts terrible pain upon them.
At the first night of the full moon since their infection, the transformation to Lycnathrope becomes irreversible – and they will develop superhuman strength and are driven by a primal overriding desire to view the moon, whereupon they will howl like a rabid wolf with earsplitting intensity, and transform within seconds to a tall, muscular hybrid of man and wolf and begin a killing rampage that will only end at dawn, where they will shuffle away, transform back into human form, and begin a new and tortured existence.
If an individual can somehow be restrained for a the full three nights of the first full moon, then they may be cured of this curse – but at a great cost, for the throes to free themselves are such that many will bite off their tongues, break their bones and severely injure themselves to break free of any bonds holding them back.
But once transformed, there are very few options to ever return to their previous life. A new Lycnathrope once back in human form, recalls with horror the deeds they committed as nightmares, and are often confused and deeply disturbed, not fully aware of what is happening to them and few are able to maintain their sanity, living in the woods as naked mad men or wandering in tattered rags, muttering to themselves as vagrants.
Over time, they lose all but the dimmest memories of their former lives, and eventually embrace the savageness of their new terrible existence and are able to transform to beast for at will – whereupon all wounds are healed, and nothing but magical or silver weapons can cause them an injury from which they do not regenerate from within seconds, making them fearless and highly aggressive.
While their animal form is primarily a hybrid between man and oversized wolf, when chasing down their prey they will morph into a true animal form for greater speed and can shape shift at will – bowling their hapless opponents over with a charge and then strangling them, claws puncturing the neck and biting the face with a truly horrific fury. And on nights of the full moon, they are unable to switch to human form – howling frequently and seeking out as many victims as they are able.
Lycanthropes are hunted mercilessly by the authorities of all civilized lands, and while rare, outbreaks of Lynacnthropy can see sudden increases in their population. The only exception is the Moon Woods of Stormwater, which are infested with Werewolves from an unknown settlement that started there just before the War in Heaven, and is believed to be the origin of Lycnathropy. It is only by the power of the Sword Hafvilsverd that Stormwater is not overrun by them, for they greatly fear this weapon, and but a touch upon their hides is enough to instantly cure them, but the fear of it being lost in those woods has prevented anything but defensive measures should they become on occasion emboldened.