Werewolf Fact – “The Werewolf of Bedburg,” Peter Stubbe

I love werewolves so much, you guys. I can’t even convey it to you. Really, I can’t. I’ve fallen into a feverish mood of just how much I love werewolves working on this post and how badly it rends my soul that they are portrayed so poorly across almost all media – and how the legends of them are all but forgotten and the ones everyone remembers are massively misinterpreted.

This really is my calling in life.

So let’s go. This is the longest werewolf fact to date, because this is a big deal to me and I want to get all these facts straight, so try not to get intimidated!

The Howling, the #1 movie that helped a generation think werewolves are similar to the legend of Peter Stubbe

I was preparing a poll for my patrons to decide the topic of the next werewolf fact, since my patrons have now decided that werewolf facts from here on (at least until the upcoming werewolf fact book, Werewolf Facts: A Guidebook to Folklore vs Pop Culture, is compiled and published!) will be deep-dives into specific werewolf legends.

However, while preparing this poll, I figured… why not google the most famous werewolf legends, to see what people would know the best and thus recognize and be interested in hearing more about?

As someone with two options in the poll already – those options being “Bisclavret” and “Peter Stubbe (and how his tale is not a werewolf legend)” – I was… very frustrated by the search results.

I ended up not running a poll this time, because it’s so important to me to knock out these lies about what is and isn’t a werewolf legend, like the nonexistent “wulver” and how the Beast of Gevaudan isn’t actually a werewolf legend, either.

Now, it’s important for me to note that I’ve already touched upon this once in a previous werewolf fact, because I personally find this to be a very big deal in terms of something werewolf studies has so horribly, tragically wrong, and people very seriously need to stop circulating this false concept and amateur misreading of a legend for which we have a very exact historical record. I have also referred to this in greater detail in my book, The Werewolf: Past and Future, because – again – it’s such a massive issue to me that this is considered such a “famous” werewolf legend.

However, I am going to detail it still further, because it’s so important to me that people realize just how much Peter Stubbe was never referred to as “The Werewolf of Bedburg” and was, in fact, never even referred to as a “werewolf” at all, not in the original accounts.

Now, in werewolf legends, not all “werewolves” are referred to as “werewolves.” This is something I’ve covered several times before. This is largely because, when you look at folklore and mythology, you don’t get clear guidelines as to which creature is what.

That being said, Peter Stubbe’s account comes from a time period when people were, in fact, actually using the term “werewolf” and categorized things in a fashion more in the spirit of today, as opposed to so many of the older legends we now refer to as “werewolf legends” because they formed the basis of so many werewolf concepts that we still use.

Peter Stubbe’s account occurred at a time when the Catholic Church was indeed using the terms “werewolf” and “sorcerer” and they referred to very different, very specific things. This is something that separates something like the later-period werewolf trials from much earlier legends that never made use of the word “werewolf,” like various Greek werewolf legends, etc. For more info on that, see my post on What Is a Werewolf?.

For now, let’s get back to all the reasons why Peter Stubbe’s legend – like the also sadly famous Beast of Gevaudan – is not a werewolf legend at all.

First, let’s talk about the account itself. In fact, let’s go over it in some detail. I am getting all quotes from The Werewolf in Lore and Legend by Montague Summers, pages 253-259 in the 2012 Martino Publishing edition (one of the slightly better editions).

Montague Summers opens by claiming Stubbe’s account to be “one of the most famous of all German werewolf trials” (253), despite it not being a werewolf trial at all but in fact the trial of a sorcerer. As Summers himself says, Stubbe goes by many names: “Peter Stump (or Stumpf, Stube, Stubbe, Stub, as the name is indifferently spelled–and there are other variants)” (253). In my case, I’m going to use Stubbe.

Peter Stubbe was executed in Bedburg, near Cologne, on the 31 of March in 1590. At the time, this was a big deal – or, in Summers’ words, it “caused an immense sensation” (253) – and has been referenced since in popular works. A pamphlet detailing the events of Stubbe’s actions and his execution after his capture is published in Summers’ work, and he says he has “reproduce[d] it in full” (253). This seems to be true, as he didn’t feel the need to insert any references to werewolfery into the account.

The pamphlet begins thus, on page 253 of Summers’ work:

A true Discourse.
Declaring the damnable life
and death of one Stubbe Peeter, a most
wicked Sorcerer, who in the likenes of a
Woolfe, committed many murders, continuing this
diuelish [devilish] practise 25. yeeres [years], killing and de-
uouring [devouring] Men, Woomen, and
Children.
Who for the same fact was ta-
ken and executed on the 31. of October
last past in the Towne of Bedbur
neer the Cittie of Collin
in Germany.

Notice he is referred to here as a “Sorcerer.” And again, on the following page, the discourse opens with “Stubbe, Peeter, being a most / wicked Sorcerer” (254).

Sorcerer and sorcery – where do they call him a “werewolf?” They never refer to Stubbe as a werewolf once, nor do they accuse him of “werewolfery,” a term seeing relatively frequent use in this time period.

The fact that Stubbe supposedly turned into a wolf has retroactively made scholars refer to him as a “werewolf,” but he was never even called that. Throughout the account, we only ever see him referred to as a sorcerer. For instance, “the great matters which the accursed practise of Sorcery” (254). He is, in one instance, referred to as a “hellhound” (254), but not as a werewolf. The writer describes Stubbe as having been a man possessed by a “Damnable desire of magick … and sorcery” (254) for his entire life, starting especially since he was twelve years old. He made a deal with the Devil later in life…

The Deuill [Devil/Satan] who hath a readye eare to listen to the lewde motions of cursed men, promised to give vnto him whatsoeuer his hart desired during his mortall life : wherupon this vilde wrtech neither desired riches nor promotion, nor was his fancy satisfied with any externall or outward pleasure, but hauing a tirannous hart, and a most cruell blody minde, he only requested that at his plesure he might woork his mallice on men, Women, and children, in the shape of some beast, wherby he might liue without dread or danger of life, and vnknowen to be the executor of any bloody enterprise, which he meant to commit (254)

So as you can see, Stubbe was a messed up guy. And he only asked for the shape of “some beast.” That doesn’t sound like “werewolf,” does it? Continuing…

[The Devil] gaue until him a girdle which being put about him, he was straight transfourmed into the likenes of a greedy deuouring Woolf, strong and mighty, with eyes great and large, which in the night sparkeled like vnto brandes of fire, a mouth great and wide, with most sharpe and cruell teeth, A huge body, and mightye pawes : And no sooner should he put off the same girdle, but presently he should appeere in his former shape, according to the proportion of a man, as if he had neuer beene changed (255)

Well, Stubbe liked that a lot, because he was a sicko and wanted to go do sick things. It didn’t matter what animal it was – but the Devil chose to let him turn into a wolf.

Now, a few elements of his story are similar to a few other werewolf trials – like Jean Grenier – of around the same time period, and we also have some older stories of things like skins and salves being used to turn someone into a wolf. So why do I separate this?

Because in this time period, werewolves and sorcerers were both believed in, and Stubbe was not referred to as a werewolf. His legend does not have crucial elements in common with even other werewolf legends of the time period, like a lack of self-control/insanity. Stubbe was fully aware of his actions and willfully doing these things and taking this form. His animal form could have just as easily been some kind of cat, unknown beast, or bear, or whatever, because he’s not a werewolf – he’s a sorcerer.

So Stubbe went around committing his atrocities “in the shape of a Woolfe” (255). He even would walk up and down the streets and “if he could spye either Maide, Wife, or childe, that his eyes liked or his hart lusted after, he would … in the feeles rauishe [ravish] them, and after in his Wooluishe [wolfish] likenes cruelly murder them” (255). Sound familiar? Yeah, that’s The Howling. It’s sad that this has infiltrated many levels of popular culture now. Werewolves were, before Stubbe became retroactively deemed a werewolf, never associated with sexual crimes.

It’s pointed out at this section of the account while detailing how disgusting and lecherous and murderous Stubbe was, going around eating people and babies and lambs and other animals, that he would eat them raw and bloody “as if he had beene a naturall Woolfe indeed, so that all men mistrusted nothing lesse than this his diuelish Sorcerie” (255). Again – sorcery. Not “lycanthropy” or “werewolfery” or “werewolf” or anything like that. And I’m not gonna lie, this guy’s legend is very messed up. It disturbs me to have anything like this associated with werewolves. It was never meant to be, and I am upset that scholars have decided it should be.

The account goes on to detail how Stubbe violated several women, including his own sister, and even begot children as a result. I won’t go into too many details about that, but it’s just more points toward this not being a werewolf legend, as it stands out starkly as the only “werewolf legend” that ever involved anything of the sort. But we once again get the reference to “likenes of a Woolfe” (256) – several more, in fact. We also get a “transformed man” (257), which again is not “werewolf,” as well as referring to him as “this light footed Woolfe” (257) and “this greedy & cruel Woolfe” (257).

Eventually, people did catch Stubbe, but only because they caught him returning to human shape after removing his demonic girdle that gave him a wolf form as long as he wore it. He was then taken and confessed to all his crimes, saying that “by Sorcery he procured of the Deuill a Girdle, which beeing put on, he forthwith became a Woolfe” (258).

Then they sure did mess him up. His execution was that he would “first to haue his body laide on a wheele, and with red hotte burning pincers in ten seueral places to haue the flesh puld off from the bones, after that, his legges and Armes to be broken with a wooddenn Axe or Hatchet, afterward to haue his head strook from his body, then to haue his carkasse burnde to Ashes” (259).

The account concludes…

Thus Gentle Reader haue I set down the true discourse of this wicked man Stub Peeter, which I desire to be a warning to all Sorcerers and Witches, which vnlawfully followe their owne diuelish imagination to the vtter ruine and destruction of their soules eternally, from which wicked and damnable practice, I beseech God keepe all good men, and from the crueltye of their wicked hartes. Amen. (259)

Sorcerers and witches. Not werewolves.

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of mentioning that this trial took place at a time period when other werewolf trials also occurred. Other werewolf trials around the same period referred to their accused as “werewolves.” However, Stubbe was – as mentioned – never once referred to as a werewolf. Careful care was taken to avoid this. He is “wolf-shaped” and “sorcerer.” Always “sorcerer,” never “werewolf.”

Around this same time period, there exist assorted examples of accusations of “werewolfery” and of “being a werewolf.” One such example is the parliament of Franche-Comte issuing a decree in December of 1573 (years before Stubbe’s trial), as detailed on page 146 of Matthew Beresford’s The White Devil,

those who are abiding or dwelling in said places … to assemble with pikes, halberds, arquebuses, and sticks, to chase and pursue the said were-wolf in every place where they may find or seize him

Again, however, Stubbe was never specified as practicing “werewolfery” or “being a werewolf,” but he was on multiple accounts accused of “taking a wolf shape,” “sorcery,” and being a “sorcerer.”

This is because there was a huge difference between the two. Maybe I’ll do a separate werewolf fact on it, but it’s already touched upon across multiple facts of mine, like this one and this one along with others I linked earlier in this post.

Now we reach the point of asking: so why does everyone call Peter Stubbe a “werewolf”? Is it just because he turned into a wolf, which is in itself very sad, because everyone is ignoring the details? That’s certainly part of it.

One of the – possibly the – earliest source to refer to Stubbe as a werewolf is Richard Verstegan in his Restitution of Decayed Intelligence in 1605, on pages 236-237.

Please note these are directly copied from a not super great transcription. The original can be found here. For the sake of clarity, I have not altered the language in any way from the digitized edition, but I will break it down some.

In his definition of “werewolf,” he says,

Were – wulf . This name remayneth Aill knowne in the Teutonic , and is as much to ſay , as mans wolfe ; the Greeke expreſſing the very like , in Lycanthropos .

Ortelius not knowing what Wwere ſignifiech , becaufe in the Netherlands , it is now cleame out of rfe , except thus compoſed with WWolfe , doch miſ – interpret it ac cording to his fancy .

So, in the beginning here, Verstegan says that werewolves are “man-wolves” and refers to the Greek term “lycanthropos.” That’s all well and good. Then he goes out of his way to say that most people “misinterpret” werewolves “according to [their] fancy.” That’s ironic, considering he misinterprets werewolves in his next paragraph…

[werewolves] are certayne Sorcerers , who ha uing annoynted their bodies , with an Oyntment which they make by the inſtinct of the Diuell : And putting on a cercayne Inchaunced Girdle , doe not onely voto the view of others , ſceine as Wolues , but to their owne thin king haue boch che Shape and Nature of Wolues , ſo long as they weare the fayd Girdle . And they doc diſpoſe them felues as very wolues , in wourrying and killing , and moft of Humane Cicatures .

Of ſuch , ſundry haue beene takon , and executed in ſun dry parts of Germany , and the Netherlands . One Peter Stump , for beeing a were , Wolfe , and hauing killed thirteene Children , two VVomen , and one Mao ; was as Beibur , not farre from Cullen , in the yeare 1589 put vnco a very cerrible Death . The Ach of diucrs partes of his bom dy was pulled out with hot iron tongs , his armes , thighes , and legges broken on a Wheele , and his body laſtly burnt . Hee dyed with very great remorſe , deſiring that his body might not be ſpared from any Torment , fo his Coule might be ſaued .

He runs werewolves and sorcerers together. This wholly muddies the hard and fast definition of werewolves that was set during this time period. Sorcerers and werewolves are two very different things. What he describes here, and what Stubbe is, is a sorcerer, not a werewolf. And he takes it upon himself to say that Stubbe is a werewolf and that werewolves are sorcerers. Thanks for screwing entire generations of scholarship, buddy; not that Montague Summers exactly tried to help fix it. All things being equal, though, I can say with confidence that this Verstegan fellow was a very broad scholar and didn’t seem too interested in diving deep into the differences between werewolves and sorcerers or anything about werewolves in particular. Why he even bothered making these assertions about Stubbe being a werewolf is a bit of a curiosity.

To give you an even better idea of just how muddied the entire perception of Stubbe the sorcerer is, we see people today call him the “Werewolf of Bedburg,” but another scholar – Adam Douglas on page 162 of his book The Beast Within: A History of the Werewolf – calls him “the werewolf of Cologne” (Bedburg being very near Cologne; but which is he, the werewolf of Bedburg or the werewolf of Cologne? It’s almost like no one ever called him either one), and yet he himself also acknowledges indirectly through the use of quotes that Stubbe himself was – again – never once referred to as a “werewolf” during his own time period. He was always called a “sorcerer” and took a “wolf shape.” Never was he a “werewolf.”

Matthew Beresford is also guilty of spreading the concept of Stubbe as a werewolf in his own book, The White Devil, where he – on pages 146 and 147 – says Stubbe was “convicted of being a werewolf.” He was never convicted of being a werewolf. He was convicted of being a sorcerer. And again, of course, Beresford’s quotations from all primary sources make no mention of “werewolf.”

Even Montague Summers himself, who published the direct account of Stubbe in his book The Werewolf in Lore and Legend or just The Werewolf, claims that “[o]ne of the most famous of all German werewolf trials was that of Peter [Stubbe]” (Summers 253). But even looking at this account, and even elsewhere in his very own book laying out plainly the differences between werewolves and sorcerers and stressing the importance therein, Summers refers to Stubbe as a “werewolf.”

Granted, Summers is not necessarily known for his consistency, or even always his accuracy; regardless, his work to preserve the original accounts of legends is beyond commendable, and without him we may not still have the direct account of Stubbe’s trial with which to fully understand that Stubbe was never once referred to in his own time period as anything to do with a “werewolf.” We also wouldn’t have a lot of other things. I’ve used Summers’ work throughout my life, but his writing is still to be approached with a critical mindset instead of viewed as flawless.

Long – very long – story short…

tl;dr: Peter Stubbe was never, not even once, referred to as a “werewolf” or any other words associated with them in his own time period. The full and detailed account of his actions published the year of his execution never makes mention of anything to do with werewolves or the oft-used “werewolfery” during the time period. He is always referred to as a “sorcerer” and reference is made to his “likeness of a wolf,” but he’s never called a “werewolf.”

A werewolf and a sorcerer are not the same thing. It’s by no means 1:1. Saying that they are the same thing damages the study of werewolf legends and even the portrayals of werewolves in popular culture to an almost irreparable degree. It’s a misconception and a misreading of legend, folklore, and even historic accounts of periods during which such things were truly believed to exist. These misconceptions were popularized by academia and academia’s obsession with “new arguments” and the like. It isn’t a “new argument” to say Stubbe was a werewolf. It’s simply incorrect.

It is so important to note that there was an important distinction during this very time period between “werewolf” and “sorcerer.” This isn’t some kind of academic nitpickery about “well technically no one was a ‘werewolf’ in ancient Greece because the word didn’t exist yet!” or “’dragon’ really just means ‘serpent’“ or whatever. This is a simple, straightforward situation in which in the time period in question there was, in fact, a difference, and that difference is important to note hereafter because otherwise we should just throw all study of specific legends and myths and details of the time period and language and everything right out the window.

Peter Stubbe’s legendary account is one of a sorcerer, not a werewolf. It is not a werewolf legend. It’s a legend about sorcery and demonic magic.

Are there other instances in which we can blur the lines between between werewolf and sorcerer, potentially? Yes, perhaps. And someday I’ll get into those, in a different post. There are potential similarities between Stubbe’s account and some other werewolf accounts, but it’s endlessly important to note whether or not the word “werewolf” or “werewolfery” was used in accounts of this time period, since the word was in fact in use by this point in history.

And in Stubbe’s, those words were never used.

I cannot stress enough the importance of not entangling the account of Stubbe’s sorcery with werewolf legends. To draw one of my previous werewolf facts with a few additions – Peter Stubbe, by and large, just got mixed up in the obsession with “werewolf trials” (court trials), like the trial of Jean Grenier, who was accused of various crimes like cannibalism and “werewolfery” and “sorcery” (notice they are two different things). Grenier, however, was taken pity upon and deemed not responsible for his actions, and was sent to live the rest of his years in a monastery, where he lived peacefully for a time (but remained insane, as werewolves were associated with insanity during the late medieval and early modern period following the rise of scientific rationalism).

Whatever the case, for better or for worse, Peter Stubbe the sorcerer mistakenly remains the most immediate source for our modern horror movie werewolves that rather simplistically go romping about in search of flesh (in every sense of the word) to sate their hunger (also in every sense of the word).

And that’s a shame, because his legend isn’t a werewolf legend by any stretch. He could’ve turned into any animal, but just because his sorcerer animal form was a wolf, scholars have retroactively decided he was a “werewolf” instead of what he was called during his own time: a sorcerer.

(If you like my werewolf blog, be sure to check out my other stuff and please consider supporting me on Patreon! Every little bit helps so much.

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A quick update – Left AO3 (for now), next werewolf fact

Hi, all. Hope you’re doing well!

I just wanted to post a quick little update about a few things…

First of all, I have deleted my AO3 account. I know several people followed me there and read my work. I apologize profusely for having to delete it, but I did so for personal reasons. The site brought back a lot of very bad memories whenever I looked at it, so I won’t be using it any more. If I do use it again, I’ll do so under an alt that certain people won’t know about and thus won’t bother me there, and it’ll mostly be used to host “weird”/alternative things of my own writing, like Wulfgard and Nova Refuge. We’ll see if I decide to do that in the future. I thank you if you followed me there and enjoyed my work, whatever it was you may have enjoyed! Keep an eye on my social media for updates and news on an alt, if I decide to make one. I wouldn’t mind having a place to host some of my weirder stories other than on my Patreon, where I post them early, before I publish them publicly.

That said, either way, I’m still going to be rehosting some of the stories that were on my AO3 on my personal website, and I’m going to continue writing that sort of thing, as well. Expect an update about that soon. I will not be rehosting all of them, however, as some included someone else’s characters. I’m going to continue writing the sorts of things I posted on AO3, though (even though I am very slow ever posting any of that, because I’m always so busy working on my books instead).

And now, turning to werewolf facts

I need your help. I want to write a werewolf fact for this month, but to be perfectly frank, werewolf facts were always meant to be fairly short and sweet and address commonly-asked questions about werewolves and elements of them. I’ve all but run out of topics like that.

I am, as I previously announced, planning to compile, expand, cite, and publish all the existing werewolf facts as a book. But I’d like to continue posting new werewolf facts, too.

Patrons can go here and vote in a poll about what the future of werewolf facts should look like, but I’m open to thoughts from all followers!

And if there’s a specific werewolf fact you’d like to see me cover that I haven’t yet, or an existing one you’d like to see me expand upon, chime in in the replies or send me an ask (whether you’re a patron or not)! I’d love to address anything you want to see. More details in the patron-only poll, but please don’t hesitate to shoot me a reply or message here on Tumblr, too.

In other news, I’ve been absolutely writing up a STORM lately. I’m an unstoppable monster of words. I haven’t written like this in years. I’m feeling optimistic about my capability to see several books published this year. More on that in the coming weeks.

That’s all for now. Until next time!

UPCOMING BOOK – Werewolf Facts: A Guidebook to Folklore vs Pop Culture

You’ve seen the blog series, now it’s time for the book!

That’s right, Werewolf Facts is getting published!

It’s been years since I started my Werewolf Facts series, which has essentially become my branding, and it’s become so popular beyond my wildest dreams that it’s high time I announced my plans to publish a cohesive guidebook to all the facts you need on werewolves.

This book will be essentially what werewolf facts are now: a cohesive section-by-section look at elements of werewolves, comparing historical folklore and mythology from all around the world to those elements in popular culture, how werewolves have changed, and what is and isn’t folkloric about the werewolves we see in things today. I touched upon this some in my thesis book that I published last year, because it’s a very big life mission for me and always has been, but I created Werewolf Facts as a more accessible means of talking about similar topics and issues with a more casual and less academic air and more easily-accessible and categorized information, as opposed to a lot of argument.

The working title of the book is Werewolf Facts: A Guidebook to Folklore vs Popular Culture.

It will be a long time (one or more years) before this book is compiled and completed, but I wanted to announce this because I’m very excited to see it become a reality. I hope you’ll join me for the journey as I compile, expand, and provide the professional citations for all of my existing werewolf facts – plus a whole lot more info – and turn them into a real book you can crack open in your friends’ faces when they doubt the power of your werewolf knowledge.

As of yet, I do not have an approximate release date, but I know very well it will be over a year before this is finalized and published. 2022 is a year of fiction for me (I will be publishing several fiction books, so keep an eye out for those as well), but after that, I’m going to go back to non-fiction and really get to work on putting my werewolf facts out there.

Give me a follow and stay tuned for more updates!

Ask Response – Werewolves in Medieval Germany

This was an ask response on my Tumblr where I do most of my folklore blogging, but it was popular enough there that I figured I should post it here, too!

okeketochi1 asked:

Usually  when referring to werewolves people tackle them in a pretty broad  scope. Referring to Le Lobizon, the loup-garou, King lycaon, etc…but  what is the mythology surrounding the werwulf or werewolf specifically?  Like the German middle age definition of a werewolf?

That’s a very complicated question – but it’s also not. If that makes any sense at all. Let me elaborate…

What  we call “werewolves” has almost become retroactive. We can’t really say  that “werewolf” is a uniquely German term, despite being Germanic in  nature, because our first recorded use of a variant of “werewolf” wasn’t  even recorded in Germany. “Werewolf” never appeared very much in  medieval writings, despite originating during the medieval period (more  on that in a minute). Yes, you can find people using the term  “werewolf” (and its assorted variations), but sadly, it often becomes a  matter of asking: is this a real source, or is this something someone is  falsifying?

This  is a woodcut from 1722 in Germany of a werewolf. It’s one of the few  instances we do have that is directly referred to as a “werewolf,” so we  can be sure their werewolf legends in the 1700s, at least, weren’t too  far off the mark from the kind of thing we have today.

You can  find lots of “werewolf legends” in Germany from the 1800s and around  that general time period that supposedly throw around the term  “werewolf” (again, and its variations), but having read many of  these myself and researched their sources and origins, I can tell you  that the overwhelming majority of these things are just… nonsense.  They weren’t legends. They were basically short stories, fake local  tales, and generally untrue “folklore,” for whatever reason people had  to be producing it. (What’s one way you can spot these? Several of them mention silver) There is a glut of utterly fake “German werewolf folklore” out there from the 1800s especially.

At any rate, as for the Middle Ages in Germany and what they considered to be werewolves,  we have to look at Germanic folklore and mythology for that. In the  pre-Middle Ages, early Middle Ages, and even into the mid Middle Ages,  much of the Germanic regions of Europe were dominated by the old  Germanic concepts – namely berserkers (which, again, were not bear warriors) and related legends.

It  wasn’t really until after the Middle Ages that the word “werewolf”  became used often across multiple regions. Much of what we call  “werewolves” today is a retroactive label or translation.

What may have been the first use of the word “werewolf” appeared in the early 1000s. To quote my book,  The Werewolf: Past and Future

Much  like what happened with the Vikings, as the medieval world  converted  to Christianity, werewolves were cast in a steadily more  negative  light. The king of England from 1016-1035, King Cnut, issued  the Ecclesiastical Ordinances XXVI,  in which he specifically  mentions the werewolf in relation to the  Devil, saying, “[be watchful,  that] the madly audacious were-wolf do  not too widely devastate, nor  bite too many of the spiritual flock.”[1]  This passage marks one of the  earliest instances in which the term  “werewolf” is virtually equated to  the Devil or demons in general in  Christianity, which becomes common in  later medieval writings – and it  also marks the first recorded use of  the word “werewolf.” Instead of  the wolf being a brother and wolf  transformations being desirable, or  at least not worthy of condemnation,  Christianity altered the view of  werewolves, turning them into demonic  creatures associated with evil  and witchcraft, who romp across the  countryside leaving death and  destruction in their wake. As stated by  Beresford, “[T]he use of the  werewolf as a religious scapegoat by the  Church throughout the Middle  Ages is intrinsic to the development of the  myth of the modern beast.  What was once … a highly revered and  worshipped beast, emerges in the  medieval period as a savage creature,  poisonous, destructive and wholly  evil; a beast to be feared and not  imitated.”[2]

[1]Beresford 80, quoting Ecclesiastical Ordinances XXVI by King Cnut of England [2]Beresford   88. However, in this passage, he does not seem to wholly take into   account just how many medieval werewolf legends existed, and how some of   them were not necessarily demonic – these were, however, more often   than not, unrelated to the Church (except for a few cases, which   Beresford himself also cites in his book), so his point largely still   stands.

Another direct use of the word “werewolf” appears in assorted medieval lays about werewolf knights, such as Marie de France’s Bisclavret,   Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, written in 1470, etc. So, in  many ways, you could even say the proper medieval concept of a werewolf  was a noble knight, as they were actually directly called “werewolves!”

It’s  all but impossible, in folklore and myth, to nail down certain legends  about certain creatures. This is because folklore and myth are very  indirect, as compared to the kind of things people create today in pop  culture. A true “werewolf legend” spans tons of legends – and  simultaneously almost none at all. Scholars have often dictated what is  and isn’t a werewolf legend, and their decisions about it frequently  don’t even make any sense (especially if you ask me). This applies to so  many creatures, including both werewolves and vampires, and that’s why  when someone asks me “what were dragons like in folklore?” I can’t give a  direct answer. I have to almost write a book on it, because all  monsters and creatures in folklore have very complicated backgrounds,  many different names, often didn’t go by the names we put on them today  at all, etc.

I hope this helped! Sorry I couldn’t give a more direct answer. Some other useful werewolf facts for this topic:

Vampire Fact #8 – Intelligence

I present to you this month’s folklore fact – a vampire fact this time (werewolves will come around again next month, don’t worry)! The winner of this month’s poll is a fact on vampire intelligence, so let’s get right to it.

How smart are vampires in folklore? Are they the super smart suave immortal beings we’re generally used to from most popular culture?

Well, as it turns out, that’s a complicated answer. Why? It pretty simply boils down to the fact that most people assume it’s way too easy to define what is and isn’t a “vampire” (or what is and isn’t a “werewolf” or a “dragon” or literally every other single folkloric creature) based on legends.

There are a lot of things out there scholars have retroactively classified as “vampires” (again: this applies to all folkloric creatures, very much including werewolves, as I’ve covered before). This is primarily because that’s what scholars do, especially to get things like “new” “research” published and theses written, but also because we basically don’t really know where “vampire” comes from in the first place and thus everyone is scrambling around trying to put together assorted origins and similar legends.

Anyway! Regardless, I will go by some of the more commonly-accepted “vampire” legends. Please note there are way too many vampire legends to fully encompass here, so I’m looking at a general overview. I’ll get into more specific, unique legends later in more in-depth posts!

So, broad spectrum, most vampires in legend don’t really have what you might think of as “varying intelligence levels.” Again, I am referring here to vampires and/or vampiric creatures, because as I’ve gone into before, defining what is and isn’t a “vampire” by modern standards in folklore is extremely difficult, as it is with almost all mythical creatures.

Now, there’s a prevailing theory among modern scholars that many vampires in legend are what one might call “base born,” or of low birth; i.e., commoners, not noblemen, not upper-class. It’s important to note that this isn’t always true. However, it often is, so we’ll go with that. Regardless, though, this does not affect their intelligence, only their education levels and lifestyle, no matter what any rich person ever claimed about them.

Vampires are, generally speaking, just as intelligent (or just as unintelligent) as any ordinary humanincluding those vampires that are actually demons, which, in folklore, is quite a few.

That being said, however, many vampires do have odd weaknesses, some of which relate not to intelligence but to specific quirks that some games and settings spin as a dip in their intelligence. Chief among these are things like the obsession with counting, where one can spill a bag of beans and the vampire absolutely must compulsively stop and count every single bean. Thus, you have distracted the vampire.

Of course, most modern things don’t really do that sort of stuff.

At any rate, most vampires were portrayed at least as smart as the average person. Did they have great self-control? No, obviously not, between the occasional compulsive counting and the whole requirement to feed off blood (even if vampires in folklore didn’t have fangs), along with what was often a compulsion not only to drink blood but also to kill people, often certain kinds of people, like women or even children.

Still, none of this is intelligence so much as morals and self-control.

So, there you have it! Like werewolves, vampires are just as intelligent as their human counterparts.

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Werewolf Review – Dire (Fortnite)

It’s a new series – it’s werewolf reviews!

I’m going to start reviewing various werewolves across many forms of media. Movies, TV shows, video games… and I’m always looking for werewolves in video games, namely ones that don’t suck.

I never really found time to do this or motivation to write these kinds of posts/reviews, given I am – on average – not a fan of most people’s werewolves, and I try not to be some kind of horrible negative energy here on this blog, but… it seemed a popular choice and many of my followers and patrons wanted to see me write something like this.

So let’s talk about the werewolf I actually cannot believe I missed: Dire, from Fortnite.

I absolutely love this guy and his questline, and I really want to talk about all the reasons why.

So I started playing Fortnite off and on a few months ago, when they announced a skin pack that includes Chris Redfield from Resident Evil (RE5, specifically, too!). I immediately downloaded the game, bought the pack, and started to play it. I had a blast for a while and I still pick it up now and then sometimes, but it’s not really my kind of game.

I don’t really do battle royales (I play Apex now and then in the past, but they aren’t my thing; I’m a deathmatch person, I guess I’m old or something), especially because my internet connection sucks and cannot handle them whatsoever. So I’ve been playing the co-op world mode, Save the World, because I prefer co-oping with my brother anyway. I’m having a whole lot of fun, and Chris looks so incredible. You really have to see him in-game to appreciate the ridiculous attention to detail and just how truly great he is.

I found out, though, that when I first started playing, there was a werewolf questline going on in Save the World mode! Now, at first, this filled me with dread. Why? Because I basically detest 90% of werewolf media, and Fortnite being a very silly game, I figured the werewolf would be handled horribly and just be a big goofy walking dog joke that sounds like Scooby Doo and is never taken remotely seriously at all.

I was so pleasantly wrong!

“Wolfy Business” Questline

Now, don’t get me wrong, the questline is obviously silly. It’s a silly game, after all, and that is absolutely fine. I, however, expected the story to be a travesty toward werewolves like every other comical werewolf thing wherein the werewolves are bork bork boof floofy fluffbeast goodboi doggo waffs uwu scooby snacc, pissing on fire hydrants, chasing mailmen, etc. I’ve seen… so much of that…

And sure, there were a few dog jokes about walkies and whatever, mostly from one character who is incredibly obnoxious anyway, but overall the story was the most fun one I’ve played in the game so far. I absolutely loved Dire. He never actually talked, which was to his benefit, he just growled and made wolfish noises (wolfish noises, not barking! I was so pleasantly surprised). The “business wolf” was an obvious jab at Wolf of Wall Street and was fairly amusing at times. Vastly preferable to the same old tired dog-oriented jokes, for sure! My only question is… why can’t I get his business wolf skin? He was pretty awesome.

So while overall silly as I fully expected, the little questline was really fun, and I enjoyed it. It didn’t piss me off even once, really. Everything in it was either tolerable or straight-up fun. I enjoyed the werewolves being characters and something people feared, instead of either total jokes or throwaway dumb-as-rocks villains.

Dire – Character

Dire is great. Not only does he not talk, as mentioned, but he doesn’t ever seem to bark, either. He does howl. HE ACTUALLY HOWLS. Werewolves in video games basically never howl anymore, for some absurd reason. But Dire howls whenever night falls in Save the World mode, and there’s an emote you can buy (for a separate fee, of course) that is a howl animation with a sound, which is specifically built for him. It fills me with joy that he actually, legitimately howls, and it isn’t played for laughs.

What makes him even more fun is that everyone in Homebase – the main characters of Fortnite – are clearly scared of him. He isn’t allowed in the base because he would eat everyone. I just love that. The werewolves are never really portrayed as jokes – they are dangerous and can and will eat everyone. Dire included. Dire, though, isn’t a bad guy. He’s nice and he helps the heroes!… He just still wants to eat everyone. He doesn’t really mean it in a bad way, though. Whoops.

I seriously adore this guy.

Dire – Appearance

So many werewolves, especially in video games, fall into two distinct traps: they either almost never transform, and if they do it’s only for like 10 seconds – or they never actually turn into a human at all and are just wolf-people. I’d much rather have the former than the latter, overall, but that’s personal preference. Some games manage to avoid these issues at least to some degree, and they aren’t always the best solutions. It seems so difficult for games to really embrace what werewolves are all about, the way Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind – Bloodmoon did (best werewolves in video games, by the way).

When it comes to Dire, you could argue he is more of a wolf-person variant, since he doesn’t ever turn in-game – and they could fix that so easily by giving him one of these new “transformable” skins… I really wish they would. I’d shell out for that, and I don’t even really play the game basically ever right now. But – still.

Anyway, I was very happy to learn he does have a human form, and we get to see it, and we can even play as it if we want:

It’s always nice to know werewolves aren’t just designated eternally-transformed wolf-people, since the transformation is the core of what makes them werewolves.

But what’s even better to me – yes, truly fantastic – is that he also has an in-between skin. He has a wolf-man skin, too! And it’s GREAT. I adore it. Seriously. This miiight be my favorite skin in the whole game (except Chris, obviously, because of massive personal biases).

Look at this guy! He’s great! How often do we get to see, much less play as, in-between stages of transformation? Awesome.

And then, to make things even better, we get multiple variants of his fully transformed, wolfish form, to top things off…

Don’t mind the banner telling me I need to grind like mad in order to evolve him enough to unlock his transformed werewolf skins. You know how modern gaming is.

BONUS: his upper and lower canines are in the correct position! People often get that wrong. I don’t know why it’s so hard to look up predator – specifically wolf – skulls… looking at you yet again, Blizzard. Actually I’m not, because I will probably never play World of Warcraft again, you jerks, but that’s a discussion for a different time and place. Right now, we’re enjoying Dire.

His ears are, of course, kind of long/flat, instead of pointing up like wolf ears. But you know what? I don’t care. He still looks great. Despite common belief, I am not that freaking picky about werewolf designs, as long as they look cool, are reasonably wolfish, and are executed well in the story/setting. Dire certainly hits those marks. I love his claws. I love his abs, too. Too bad his wolf-man form doesn’t have visible abs… Anyway.

Again, so many props for his design. Wolfish while still being cool and unique. I love the way his fur looks and that he actually has fur, and I love his general look and build. I especially love his teeth and his awesome spiky mohawk-style hair. Seriously, his entire design is right up my alley, even specifically up the alley of my favorite character design in so many other details (like his gloves, his vest– everything!).

All he needs is a tail… really missing that tail. It works without a tail, I get what they were doing, but I still think the design would look better with a tail, since it has such a wolfish head and the wolf legs (both of which are great).

Dire – Abilities

One of the best things about Dire is his abilities – one in particular. He’s a Ninja class, so he moves fast and can double-jump, which is already fun (and makes him what I believe is the most fun class in the game), and he gives lots of speed boosts in general. But he has this fantastic passive…

When night falls, he gets a big speed boost and – this is the best part – he howls. He actually howls. I know I mentioned that before, but can you believe it? A werewolf that actually howls like a wolf? I know, I had a hard time believing it, too. It’s so refreshing. It’s so inspiring. I love it. And I love that it comes with such a big speed boost and is tied to nightfall and that he will howl regardless of what you’re doing in-game. This isn’t something you activate. Plus, your whole team can hear it.

Gah, I just love that so much.

Conclusion

The takeaway from all this? Dire is actually a great werewolf. Being perfectly blunt, he’s one of the best werewolves I’ve seen in video games for a long time or possibly ever. He’s unapologetically fun and wolfish and he actually howls, while also getting several fun skin variants, an entertaining quest, and very cool passive abilities. He isn’t a horror werewolf, but it isn’t a horror game, and even so, they still made him treated as being very scary in the context of the universe, and I generally just love the way he was handled over Halloween. This proves you do not have to have some super gruesome horror story to have a cool, fun, and scary werewolf that is treated as interesting and unique: it’s all about how other characters react to them.

It’s a solid 10/10 for Dire, even if his fully transformed state could really use a tail. Great work to Fortnite for accomplishing what shouldn’t be so difficult but is apparently really hard for most people: making an awesome werewolf!

BIG NEWS – Future of my werewolf/folklore blog

Hello, everyone! There’s a new year not far around the corner! It’s the busiest time of year for me – and probably everyone else – and I have finally decided how to arrange the future of my werewolf/folklore blog, in particular what I run on Tumblr (and crosspost here and elsewhere).

image

I have been trying to work on my art skills, so you might see things like this howling werewolf Tom [one of my characters] pop up on the blog now and then

I’ve been quiet for a while, quieter than I would like to be, but this is out of necessity.

One thing I must clarify: Before you read any further, know that I am not putting my folklore/werewolf posts behind a paywall! I would never do that. You can interact with me and my posts and vote on the next ones through my Patreon, but I will never hide my posts themselves behind some kind of + paywall or subscription or whatever.

With that out of the way, I have several announcements to make…

1. Folklore posts may be once a month

It is with a heavy heart that I announce some sad news: I will not be returning to a regular schedule of folklore posts. If I do, they will be once a month, at most. I will, however, still be posting folklore posts as specials and every now and then, when I have the time! I’m not shutting the blog down, but things will be a bit different. There will still be a few posts, especially on Wednesdays, for werewolves. Things just aren’t going to be as frequent or quite as scheduled around here.

I started posting on a regular schedule when my life was at a point where I could easily do so – now, it is not. I simply do not have the time anymore to make as many regular, lengthy posts as I was doing before. I hope you’ll stick with me for the posts I can make now and then and to follow my fiction and nonfiction as I continue to publish books. Here is a longer version, as well:

As much as I hate to say it, because I have gotten so much positive reception here and I do not want to let the negative side of it drag me down for all of you who truly do enjoy my posts – I have been getting far too much hate-mail and flaming across the board that it’s reached the point of starting to affect my books and how they are reviewed. I do not want my blog to be affecting my books and the reception thereof, especially since that’s so immensely silly. My books are extremely important to me, moreso than anything else, and I want people to take them at face value as books instead of dragging my writing down on official channels just because they disagree with some opinion they read on my blog or because I didn’t specifically mention their favorite movie/game/whatever somewhere. I have essentially been told my entire life it is unwise to have opinions openly, especially if you’re a woman, and that does seem to be true, if you want to find success. I like to challenge that, but I do not want my challenging about something as unimportant as which werewolf movies I like to start killing the potential success of my books before they even get started. It’s just not important enough to me; my characters and stories and research are more important.

I WILL be continuing Vampire Facts next year (and I will be posting werewolf content and other folklore things), but they won’t be every other week. We’ll see how a schedule works out, if I can figure one; at most, it might be once a month, but we’ll see.

2. I will continue other, irregular post series

Before I started getting so much negative reception again, I was planning a new series called Werewolf Reviews; I may still do those occasionally, along with other posts, but if nothing else, I’ll be doing less opinionated pieces. So I’ll still be doing various posts on werewolves and things related to them, since they have been and forever shall be my “thing,” but they may not be very frequent. I’ll also do posts on other folklore, as mentioned, and occasionally post on writing and worldbuilding advice, as I have been doing for a while, with a focus on werewolves and occasionally other folklore/mythology creatures.

3. Werewolf Facts: The Book is on the way!

I do have some good news – I am planning to publish all of my Werewolf Facts in book form, expanded and with citations included! I don’t know exactly when this will happen, but keep an eye out for it in the coming year or two.

This will be the perfect book to reference for some quick info on werewolves in general as opposed to including full and specific legends (I will be publishing my own anthology of werewolf legends in the later future, as well). It will be useful for reference for academic work as well as worldbuilding and simply general info. It will be divided into sections detailing various aspects of werewolves, as do the werewolf facts here on the blog, but it will be much more organized and in-depth (again, with citations, as well, as I never had time to organize those on the werewolf fact posts themselves – I have all this info permanently branded into my head! But the book will definitely have the citations, the same way my current book, The Werewolf: Past and Future, does).

The book’s working title is Werewolf Facts: A Guidebook to Folklore versus Popular Culture. Stay tuned for updates!

4. I will publish at least 1 book a year

I’ve had this goal for the past two years (and even managed to meet it so far!), but I’ve never really formally announced it: I plan to publish at least one book every year from now on, barring extreme circumstances. I have a schedule plotted out that includes a mixture of fiction and nonfiction (the latter is pretty much entirely focused on werewolf legends for the time being), and I cannot wait to get these books out there.

5. Sharing focus with my fiction

This goes hand in hand with those aforementioned books – I write both fiction and nonfiction, but fiction is still my focus and always will be. I have only rarely let my fiction leak over onto this blog, mostly for fear of boring or running off my many followers who are clearly uninterested, but… you’re gonna have to hear about it now! Sorry. I promise it won’t be but now and then, and seriously, I think you’ll love it if you ended up on this blog in the first place.

So you an expect to see more about my fiction here in the future, as well, especially my fantasy universe of Wulfgard (very werewolf-centric) and the sci-fi universe of Nova Refuge (which also has wolfish creatures).

I am eternally driven by my fiction, my characters and stories (especially characters), and I always have been. It’ll be great to be more open about sharing that passion here, as well as my passion for werewolves – which is, of course, directly related to my fiction. I cannot emphasize how important it is to me to tell my stories and share these characters with you. I hope you’ll come along with me for the ride and say hi to my casts, like Tom Drake, Caiden Voros, Gwen Vergil, Kye Vakurseth, John Atlas, Henry Darrow, and more.

6. If you want to help me keep the blog running and regular, please support me on Patreon!

As I said, I will never put this blog itself behind a paywall, but that doesn’t mean you can’t support me if you want to help keep the blog running!

Part of the reason I am unable to dedicate as much time to this blog is, obviously, that I do all of this out of passion and in my free time. Free time is getting less available and more costly, unfortunately. Every single little bit on my Patreon helps me make more time to work on this blog!

Click here to check out my Patreon – you get lots of goodies, and you’ll help me keep the blog and all my writing (and hopes and dreams) going!

If you prefer one-off payments, I also have a Ko-fi! I’m grateful, from the bottom of my heart, for all donations. If you send me something on ko-fi and want a shoutout or to send me a question or anything, please shoot me a message here on tumblr! I’ll try to do something nice for you to show my appreciation!

I deeply appreciate any and all contributions, and I always try to keep my Patreon active and fun.

That’s all for now! I hope you’ll continue to stick with me for what lies ahead. I want to extend and extra special thank you for all my most loyal followers on tumblr. I know who you are and I love you so much. Your support has always meant the world and it always will.

See you soon – and stay tuned for more special posts and updates over the holidays (including, of course, folklore – and werewolves)!

On Werewolf Antagonists/Evil Werewolves

It’s that time of year when the things I love the most get noticed and celebrated at least a little by everybody else (even though corporations still hate creating typical Halloween products that actually include werewolves; seriously go check your local department store, it’s been this way since I was a tiny tiny child)…

Happy Howl-o-ween! Time for a special Halloween post!

First off – welcome (again), new followers! I had a big ol’ followers flux, in part because my werewolf masterlist made the rounds and in part because of Overly Sarcastic Productions’ new video on werewolves! I communicated a lot with Red about research for it; be sure to check it out. You’ll recognize pretty much everything in there, if you’ve spent a lot of time on this blog (and if you’ve read my latest book, too)!

For a while now, I’ve been getting lots of messages and asks about werewolf stories and character concepts (and I always enjoy those!), but a lot of them have a something in common… an antagonistic or generally evil werewolf/werewolves or discussions thereof – or asking how to make a werewolf who isn’t an antagonist.

While villain werewolves are great and can be totally awesome, they are generally terrible, and on average, we do not like those or support or encourage them here on this blog. My goal with werewolf (and wolf) education is to encourage the creation of sympathetic and not evil werewolves and wolf-related characters. This doesn’t mean they have to be “cuddly” by any means (I’m not a fan of that, either), but it would be great to see werewolf characters that aren’t one-note villains.

Using them as villains is great, but I would so much rather see werewolf and wolf villains be done sparingly instead of the overwhelmingly “almost always” that you see today and have always seen throughout the history of entertainment.

Historically, werewolves (and wolves in general) are always cast in a bad light and as villains, often being pure evil and menaces that must be stopped (read: killed), and that needs to stop for so many reasons. If you want to hear more about that, though, you should read my book on how werewolves in folklore are not what they are in pop culture, how werewolves are nothing but misconceptions today, and why that isn’t a good thing.

All that being said, let’s move on to the meat of this post…

How do you make werewolves not evil?

There are many characters in stories. Not all of them have to be protagonists or antagonists. They do not have to be good or evil. Werewolves fit perfectly into shades of grey, whether they are directly cast as heroes or villains or not.

I want to emphasize something here: Werewolves are characters first and werewolves second. Essentially, werewolves are people, too.

It’s like any other character creation. If you create a character specifically to be “a female character” or “the love interest” or whatever, they are inherently going to suffer from that. If you make “the werewolf character” instead of making a character and then making that character happen to be a werewolf (or whatever other template you are applying), your character will never be as good as that character who was created as a character first and then the other element second. Do not let “being a werewolf” (or whatever other element is at play) dictate the character.

Almost all werewolf characters in media are werewolves first and characters second. They suffer for that. They aren’t really people – they’re just plot elements.

Werewolves are so much deeper than throwaway villains. At their core, werewolves are sill human, and they have problems and motivations and hopes and dreams like everyone else. Their lycanthropy affects that, not destroys it.

If you do not want the werewolf to be a primary hero or working with the primary hero, they do not necessarily have to be the villain, either. Werewolf characters can come and go like any other characters. Their motivations can be a mystery – they themselves can be part of that mystery. They do not necessarily have to be good or evil, but characters with their own motivations.

Being a werewolf does not have to impact them being good or evil at all. They could help the hero(es) directly or indirectly or only now and then, or they can be a looming threat the heroes hope they never have to face. They can be something that only helps the hero in their greatest moment of need due to the potential risks of doing so.

Werewolves can be a mysterious hermit, the wandering loner, the person who never lets anyone get close. They can drift in and out of a story and help the protagonists in only minor ways. They can be the Gandalf.

They can be literally anything in any story, if only horizons would be expanded. Werewolves are not a villain or antagonist, throwaway or not, by nature. They are characters, like everyone else. They just happen to also be werewolves, which only adds yet another very interesting layer to their characters – a layer that offers endless possibility and exploration, with so much character growth and development.

Werewolves are generally assumed to be villains. The natural line of thought is to make them such. That is exactly what I want to change.

The uncontrollable werewolves do not necessarily have to be the type to come charging out of nowhere, wanting to kill the protagonist and their friends for no reason at all. Give their animal side more depth, too. Why would it behave in such a way? What motivates it? Do you really want your readers to se your protagonist thinking that anything animalistic is an evil plague that must be destroyed, instead of just a part of nature that is trying to keep to itself? Or what if that werewolf was a hero, whether a hero or an anti-hero, instead of a villain – like all those other werewolves?

There are so many things one can do with werewolves. They can be enigmatic heroes, they can be the shades of grey. They could be a force of nature, they can be guardians, healers, sages, seers, shamans – they can be the thing that goes bump in the night, the thing you never see but know is there. They can be knights in shining armor with a dark side (my favorite and also my primary werewolf protagonist), they can be the absolute perfect anti-heroes – the possibilities are endless!

Werewolves do not inherently represent a force of evil or something to oppose the protagonists. They can take up any role in a story. Turn to folklore for ideas and inspiration! Read about them as great warriors, as heroes, healers, as simple wandering travelers – and as that friend you never expected could turn into a wolf and bring you a deer to eat when you got too hungry on the road.

Werewolves are not something that always has to be “fought” in a story. They can simply be a part of the world and part of the environment, a character someone sees in passing. They don’t have to be at the forefront as heroes and villains. They don’t have to be “faced” and “dealt with” in some way every time they are encountered. The fact that so many people write stories in which the werewolf must be immediately dealt with and is “evil” only highlights further the fact that werewolves have been put in this evil light because humanity feels it must destroy and restrain the forces of nature instead of letting the wild be free.

And if you want to have a werewolf who isn’t a hero (not all stories need werewolf heroes, either, after all), a great role for a werewolf is a red herring, since everyone does naturally assume a werewolf will be evil – but maybe that werewolf just wants to be left alone instead.

Werewolves are often at their best when they are only under suspicion – when the characters are wondering and worrying about it. Wonder if that thing behind them is the werewolf. Is the werewolf evil? Is it going to kill me? Are they even a werewolf? Like any horrific creature, werewolves are at their strongest when they are not front and center and tearing up everything, but when they are mysterious and a source of fear – when they are more characterized and less a monster encounter action scene that comes and goes in a hurry. When they are too powerful to be fought directly and are best just avoided.

This is why werewolves make for such great horror and mystery – and that can also help characterize them.

Maybe the protagonists cannot be sure if the person is a werewolf or not – and if that person is on their side or not. Maybe the werewolf doesn’t specifically help or fight them. And maybe ,at some crucial moment, the werewolf will appear and offer aid. Werewolves make for great enigmatic characters, especially when they are trying to hide their nature.

Most folklore werewolves are not necessarily heroes or villains (though they often came in a more heroic variety before the Renaissance, of course). Werewolves can take so many different roles, depending on what story you want to tell.

My favorite werewolves will always be those that have a dark side, not those that are sweet and cuddly. To me, if a werewolf is not in some way dark, it isn’t actually a werewolf (especially if they are just dog-people, which isn’t werewolves at all, but you’ve all heard me rant about that before). But that absolutely does not make them inherently villains – it makes them extremely interesting characters with endless depths to explore. Giving a character lycanthropy only gives them that much more substance. It should never take substance away – which is what tends to happen with a lot of werewolves in media, especially those one-note villain ones or the simplistic ones that are just a plot point in a mystery (and then are generally killed anyway).

So do not fall into that trap of making werewolves the villain(s) in your story/setting/etc. Think of them as you would both individuals and a force of nature – the most dangerous wild animal of them all… but not in any way inherently “evil.”

I hope this provides food for thought about making a character first and putting the werewolf element second – having that character you created react to being a werewolf the way a real person would, instead of existing solely as a plot element and/or a villain.

Expect more in-depth writing advice posts on this topic in the future!

And in conclusion… Happy Halloween!

LAST FOUR DAYS – Patreon deal to get signed copy of The Werewolf: Past and Future!

It’s the last four days of my months-long deal on Patreon!

If you back me at the Nightlord tier or higher on my Patreon, you will receive a signed copy of The Werewolf: Past and Future – Lycanthropy’s Lost History and Modern Devolution!

For more info on the book, please click here.

This deal ends November 2, so grab it while it’s still available!

(note: you do not have to remain a patron at that tier for longer than 1 month to receive the autographed book. You only have to subscribe to the tier once and your book will be shipped immediately, as the Patreon will have you pay the first month upon subscribing)

Click here and check the Patreon Tiers for more info!

Join the new official Wulfgard RPing server in Neverwinter Nights!

I’m finally doing something I’ve always wanted to do – I now have my own fully in-character roleplaying server in the video game Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition!

What does that mean? It means there’s now a big privately hosted public server you can hop into and start roleplaying immediately! Go check out NWN EE on Steam or GoG to learn more about the game.

This is a game where you can be anything or anyone you want to be – the sky’s the limit! And you’ll not only mingle with fellow players, you’ll also find DMs ready to tell exciting stories.

Features so far:

  • Working inn system (individualized rooms)
  • A town with some secrets (starting town is PvP disabled)
  • Various shops
  • Some wilderness zones (some are PvP enabled)
  • Emote system
  • Support for player housing
  • Scripted Vampire subrace
  • And more!

And it’s going to keep expanding! We’re starting small, but it’ll definitely grow.

To join the Wulfgard discord and discuss the server/learn more, click here!

So – are you tired of big impersonal MMORPGs? Tired of trying to find RP guilds and groups? Tired of D&D always in some super awkward little browser program or something?

Come and join us!

Just start up NWN EE (available on Steam and GoG), install these mods (simple installation), go to Multiplayer, Join Internet Game, and find Wulfgard – Roleplaying in the server list!

Please be sure to read the server rules, and remember, this server is in-character. It’s a RP server, not something else.

Come and join us and have some fun!