Shape change Edit
Lycanthropes can assume at least two forms - human and animal. Many can also assume a "hybrid" form that is bipedal with animal characteristics or even transform a small part of their body at will (for example, "growing" fingers into claws).
Changing between forms takes a great deal of energy; most lycanthropes must feed immediately after changing to animal form and collapse into a comatose state for several hours after returning to human form. Stronger lycanthropes do not need to feed immediately or collapse, but are extremely tired. The lycanthropes Anita encounters most frequently can change shape almost at will.
Lycanthropes who spend too much time in animal form may not be able to shift back completely. As a result, some of the lycanthropes Anita meets have fangs or voices or eyes resembling their animal form, even when in human shape.
Other shapeshifters may have different forms available, and may experience different effects. For example, Kaspar is able to shift back and forth to his swan form without unconsciousness, and it is not clear if he has an intermediate "swanman" form.
Lycanthropes' bodily fluids are contagious, but only when the lycanthrope is in an animal or hybrid state. Lycanthropy can be also be passed along by getting a bad batch of lycanthrope vaccine, as Richard did. To date, all lycanthropes introduced in the series were infected with lycanthropy well before first meeting Anita Blake; as yet, no established human characters (save perhaps Anita herself) have contracted lycanthropy, and thus the stages through which someone gradually moves from conventional human society to a lycanthrope hierarchy have not been depicted.
Powers & Abilities Edit
Lycanthropes have many supernatural powers, which are on par with those of vampires.
- Super Speed: All lycanthropes are extremely fast and can run faster than the human eye can see. They can equal or even outrun vampires in their speed, depending on their age. Like vampires, they grow more powerful with age.
- Super Strength: Lycanthropes' strength appears to depend somewhat on their actual size and somewhat on their level of supernatural power. Their strength is on par with vampires and they are fully able to fight off and even overpower them. Their strength is lesser in their human form, though they are still far stronger than humans.
- Super Endurance: Lycanthropes can recover from almost any wound other than that caused by silver weapons. They can even regrow lost limbs and critical bodly parts, Rashida was able to regenerate his entire arm, and Richard Zeeman is able to recover from having his throat literally torn out.
- SuperSenses: Lycanthropes have extremely acute senses, even in human form. Richard could "smell" emotions or lies. Sometimes humans being anxious changes the smell of a person and perhaps that is what the lycanthropes smell. Nathaniel could hear a person's heart beat or the blood moving in the body, even in human form.
Lycanthropes are effectively allergic to silver and feel physical pain from even skin contact, although some seem to enjoy silver jewelry.
Command of animals Edit
Lycanthropes appear able to command animals of their species. (For example, wererats can command rats).
Reaction to vampire's call Edit
Lycanthropes can be "called" and commanded by a vampire with the ability to call their species of animal. Sufficiently powerful lycanthropes can resist a vampire's call, or even interfere with the call, preventing the vampire from calling other lycanthropes or animals. For example, Rafael, as the Rat King, was able to prevent Nikolaos from calling actual rats and from calling wererats against their will.
Similarly, sufficiently powerful shapeshifters, such as Richard, are able to look vampires in the eyes without being affected by their mental powers.
Alpha weres Edit
Some shapeshifters reach "alpha" or "master" status, a power level similar to that of a master vampire. Alpha shapeshifters may display some of the following traits:
- Resist transforming
- Partially shapeshifting. The ability of shapeshifting hands into claws, or even "cosmetic" shapeshifting - shifting bones or flesh simply to alter appearance.
- Force Transformation. The ability to force other shapeshifters to change form, or to prevent them from doing so.
- Share Power. Some shapeshifters, such as Richard can share their power with others by allowing them to feed on the shapeshifter's blood.
- Heal Others. The power to heal others, by a variety of means. (For example, Raina was able to heal through physical contact, usually ending in sex, but the healing happened before intercourse).
Transformation and becoming a Were Edit
Three things have become clear, first the body temperature spikes before the transformation occurs. The second is that process is not smooth and peaceful, quite the contrary, the transformational process is somewhat violent and graphic. The bones shift under the skin and after that step a clear and hot fluid comes out of the body and the person is transformed. The body of the person is always dry and clean afterwards, however objects and other people will not be if they are in close proximity. And if not an alpha then s/he will be tired afterward.
The steps of becoming a were-animal are not exact, but this is known at least. Senses increase beyond human as does speed, however this process is somewhat unconscious and can surprise the "victim" or " Beneficiary " depending on the person's willingness and whether or not the person gains something like Cherry. Another side effect is memory impairment which results from the "beast" starting to take control. The first few nights the person will not remember, however after a while the person can and will remember. The trouble will come when the person tries to remember the nights they forgot.
The social habits of werewolves are probably the most fully described in the series, both because of Anita and Jean-Claude's association with the wolves and because werewolves appear to be the most prevalent type of shapeshifter, particularly in the St. Louis area.
St. Louis's wereleopards are substantially less numerous than its werewolf and wererat counterparts. A likely reason for this phenomenon is the low contagion characteristic of cat-based lycanthropy.
The social rituals of the leopard pard is more difficult to discern in comparison to the wolf pack. There could be many reasons for this difficulty. It is possible their smaller numbers or Gabriel's decision to reshape the pard members into submissive prostitutes warped their social structures beyond recognition. Another possibility is their introduction as a group occurred later in the series (Burnt Offerings) as opposed to the wolves and they have not been featured in as much detail as the wolf pack.
The principle social characteristic of the pard members is a need for physical contact as a source of emotional reassurance. Pard members frequently rub against one another and against Anita as if they were cats.
An interesting and notable characteristic in wereleopard terminology is the existence of three different titles for their leaders: Nimir-Raj/Nimir-Ra, leoparde lionne, leopard passant. The titles do not affect the functional, internal authority of the leader, but they do describe the type of leader currently in power.
The wererats of St. Louis refer to their community as the Rodere. They are led by Rafael, their Rat King. Rafael's rats include a disproportionately high number of soldiers and mercenaries, and are more likely to use guns than most other lycanthropes. They make up the majority of Jean-Claude's security at the Circus of the Damned.
Rafael has allied his Rodere with Richard and Anita and, through them, to the Thronos Rokke clan and Blooddrinkers clan. The name of Rafael's clan is the Dark Crown Clan, and Rafael has a crown branded into his arm to show he is the king.
The werehyenas are one of the major power groups in the St. Louis shapeshifter community, together with the werewolves and wererats. Their leader, Narcissus has recruited only men as werehyenas, because hyenas in nature are matrilineal, and since Narcissus is a Hermaphrodite s/he won't have to fear including a female alpha into their group as s/he will not take another female werehyena into the group.
Wereswans are shapeshifters but not lycanthropes. Being a wereswan is most often a result of a curse or of heredity. They are also the only non-predator form of lycanthropy yet seen in the Anita-verse, and therefore often risk being victimized as prey by the other species.
Female wereswans are referred to as swanmanes. (See also swan maiden). The wereswans of St. Louis (and of the whole USA) are currently led by Donovan Reece, their Swan King. Reece states that he is the first Swan King in a century, and that he has been destined from birth to that position, since he has a birthmark in the shape of a swan, he has mentioned that he is not entirely happy with being King. Usually a swan queen is born in the same generation, so they rule together. Although in Donovan's case there was no baby born with the birthmark or the power to help him. Kaspar Gunderson, the former leader of the wereswans of St. Louis, was a Swan Prince. The swans have the ability to shift backward and forward between forms without becoming tired.
Werelions are one of the cat lycanthropy strains. They are few prides in the United States.
Throughout the series, the only weresnakes Anita has encountered are werecobras and (perhaps more indirectly) wereanacondas.
Of the werecobras, the leaders are called Kadra (female) and Kashyapa (male). They have the ability to have offspring like mammals or like reptiles.
The queen of this group is called an Ursa, which might imply there are more than a handful of members but Anita only meets a few.
One of the rarest forms of lycanthropes. There are only four clans of tigers within the United States. They all keep to themselves. Their culture is also divided about purebloods, inherited lycanthropes, and attacked. Being given tiger lycanthropy is seen as a reward for a job well done. They think it is a sin to give it to someone not worthy. Tiger lycanthropy is one of the harder-to-catch strains. It is also one of the few that can be inherited, as well as caught. Tigers tend not to announce they are infected and entire families may stay in "the closet." Tigers have forced their clan members to marry other clan members, sometimes to keep the strain amongst themselves. Most have arranged marriages, they have been known to abduct known tigers, if an arranged marriage cannot be done. They are also a matriarchal (led by a woman/queen) society, unlike most of the other lycanthrope societies which are patriarchal (Led by a male/king).
The only weredogs mentioned are Janet Talbot and her son. Janet says that her shapeshifting ability is inherited and is not tied to the moon; they are able to resist changing during the full moon if they choose to. This enables them to carry offspring without risk of miscarriage.
There is only one werefox mentioned, Gilbert (also called "Gil"), who is exceptionally timid.
- Also note: That the majority of werefoxes are hidden in China and remain the only weres in the country after the government had local wizards search and drive out the other were groups and witches.
Primarily located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, there hasn't been any mention of them in St. Louis. They are ruled by the Vampire and self-proclaimed Aztec goddess Itzpapalotl (Obsidian Butterfly)