how to make a werewolf creepy

“The meat!” came a panted whisper. … He picked up the piece of meat and tossed it outside. It vanished immediately, and he heard the sounds of chewing. “That is all?” came the voice, after a time. “Half of my own ration, as I promised,” he whispered.

“I am very hungry. I fear I must eat you also. I am sorry.”

“I know that. And I, too, am sorry, but what I have left must feed me until I reach the Tower of Ice. Also, I must destroy you if you attempt to take me.”

“The Tower of Ice? You will die there and the food be wasted, your own body-meat be wasted.” …

The white beast panted for a time. Then: “I am so hungry,” it said again. “Soon I must try to take you. Some things are worse than death.”

–Roger Zelazny, Dilvish the Damned

I think that similar creatures in other books – often wolves, perhaps – apologize for their desire to eat the protagonist. Am I thinking of the Neverending Story? Something in Narnia?

Anyway, it’s not a bad trick for making a random encounter feel very creepy and personal, and a little sad as well. Play up the creature’s struggle as much as you want – maybe make it indebted to the PCs, to increase its guilt and anguish.

Ultimately, as much as a PC may feel sorry for such a creature, they’ll have to kill it, now or later; and it will be a mercy killing.

Like so many things in fantasy (and horror), including vampires, this creature’s relationship to the PCs seems like a symbol for some other, more disturbing human relationship. Fantasy handles these layers well. This is one of the reasons I’m not particularly interested in dealing with real-life disturbing issues in-game. Fantasy seems to me like a genre where these monsters are best transformed before they are fought.


One Response to “how to make a werewolf creepy”

  1. Baf says:

    In a strange way, this reminds me of the ghoul in the Legend Entertainment adventure game based on the Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon stories. (Based in the sense that it shared a premise and a setting; the actual stories were original.)

    This ghoul wanted to eat human flesh. He wanted it so much. But he was trying to fit into civilized society, and knew that attacking and eating people was not considered polite. But he kept hoping that someone would offer to let him eat part of them. It had never happened yet, but he lived in hope. And so any attempt at conversation with this ghoul tended to keep circling around to topics like people who had had bits of them eaten and were happy about it afterward.

    In other words, it was a similar sort of situation — polite conversation with something that sees you primarily as food — but with the power dynamic reversed, which allowed it to become funny rather than creepy. Also, like you say, it’s easy to see it as a symbol for another human relationship.

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