Bibliography for GURPS Shapeshifters
The amount of material available on shapeshifters is vast – the books written about werewolves alone could fill an entire library! The following list is no more than a bare fraction of what is available to even the most casual browser in the topic.
Baring-Gould, Sabine. The Book of Were-wolves: Being an Account of a Terrible Superstition (Wildside, 2002). Written in the mid-19th century, this is perhaps the first significant analysis of the werewolf myth in terms of mental illness and behavioral aberration.
Burgess, Glyn S. and Busby, Keith, trans. The Lais of Marie de France (Penguin USA, 1999). These short stories in verse are not only the source of the werewolf knight Bisclavret, but of a number of other shapeshifters, including a hawk that turns into a gentle lover.
Douglas, Adam. The Beast Within: A History of the Werewolf (Chapmans, 1992). An excellent scholarly exploration of the were myth from prehistory onward, which still manages to be a clear and entertaining read.
Ginzburg, Carlo. The Night Battles: Witchcraft and Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992). Possibly the definitive historical work on the real-world version of the Benandanti.
Greene, Rosalyn. The Magic of Shapeshifting (Red Wheel/Weiser, 2000). A how-to guide for those pursuing shamanism and other alternate spiritualities, focusing on metaphoric and astral shifting rather than physical.
Noll, Richard, ed. Vampires, Werewolves, and Demons: Twentieth Century Reports in the Psychiatric Literature (Brunner-Routledge, 1992). A comprehensive examination of lycanthropy and related psychological disorders.
O'Donnell, Elliott. Werwolves (Brown, 1972). An exhaustively researched volume occasionally leavened with a very dry wit. Recent reprintings often modernize the spelling of the title.
Otten, Charlotte F., ed. Werewolves in Western Culture – A Lycanthropy Reader (Syracuse University Press, 1986). A survey of the important texts of werewolf lore, fascinating in its range and detail.
Ovid. Metamorphoses (Oxford University Press, 1998). The definitive book on shapechanging in ancient Greek myth, although most of the changes are one-way transformations.
Slater, Candace. Dance of the Dolphin: Transformation and Disenchantment in the Amazonian Imagination (University of Chicago Press, 1994). An academic analysis of the modern Brazilian folklore about were-dolphins in the Amazon.
Steiger, Brad and Ruehl, Franklin. The Werewolf Book: The Encyclopedia of Shape-Shifting Beings (Visible Ink, 1999). Fastidiously detailed and well organized, this book is a treasure trove of weres, but ranges far afield with a number of entries on creatures and topics that, strictly speaking, aren't related to shapeshifters at all.
Summers, Rev. Montague. The Werewolf (Universe, 1966). Relentlessly archaic and erudite but still fun, this volume – written in 1933 by a somewhat credulous Catholic priest constantly in trouble with the Church over his interest in the occult – is an invaluable source of period detail for late medieval and Renaissance European shapeshifters.
Thomson, David. The People of the Sea: A Journey in Search of the Seal Legend (Counterpoint, 2002). Originally published in the 1950s. BBC documentarist Thomson seeks out the selkie stories that have obsessed him since childhood, resulting in a volume that's part a collection of tales, and part personal exploration.
Armstrong, Kelley. Bitten (Viking, 2001). Interesting horror/thriller novel about a female werewolf trying to live as an ordinary human, only to be drawn back into the world of lycanthropic violence. A TV series and twelve sequels have followed, some continuing her story and others dealing with different supernatural beings.
Cadnum, Michael. Saint Peter's Wolf (Kensington, 1993). A very different werewolf paradigm, half genetic, half magic item, is at the core of this thriller.
Cox, Greg and Weisskopf, T.K.F., eds. Tomorrow Bites (Baen, 1995). SF authors put predatory werewolves in a gamut of settings.
David, Peter. Howling Mad (Ace, 1999). With characteristic humor, Peter David tells the story of a wolf who, after being bitten by a werewolf, turns into a man at the full moon.
De Lint, Charles. Wolf Moon (New American Library, 1988). Fast-paced medieval werewolf fantasy with both light and sinister moments.
Doherty, Berlie. Daughter of the Sea (Galaxy, 1998). Children's fantasy story of a sea-borne orphan adopted by a fisherman and his wife who turns out to be a selkie.
Durgin, Doranna. Dun Lady's Jess (Baen, 1994), Changespell (Baen, 1997), and Changespell Legacy (Baen, 2002). Trilogy centered about Jess, a horse transformed into a human woman, who eventually gains the ability to shift back and forth between both forms.
Ellison, Harlan, ed. The Ultimate Werewolf (Dell, 1991). One of the better werewolf anthologies, with some truly innovative and groundbreaking stories.
Endore, Guy. The Werewolf of Paris (Pocket, 1993). One of the definitive "divided nature" werewolf novels, it is based on a true story from 19th-century France.
Friedman, C.S. The Madness Season (DAW, 1991). Vampiric shapechanger fights Earth's alien conquerors; features morphing aliens and an examination of the changes that a shifter's mind undergoes.
Gaudiano, Andrea. Azteca: The Story of a Jaguar Warrior (Roberts Rinehart, 1992). This graphic novel uses Izcoatl, a jaguar warrior (of the real-world variety) to explore the history of the Aztec empire. Good source of detail on the actual "jaguar knights."
Holland, David. Murcheston: The Wolf's Tale (Tor, 2001). A young nobleman contracts lycanthropy, which spurs him on a journey of discovery that leads him into the very mind of a wolf. A remarkable psychological study.
Johnson, Kij. The Fox Woman (Tor, 2001). A man, a woman, and a kitsune face their intertwined destinies in Heian Japan.
Keesey, Pam, ed. Women Who Run With the Werewolves: Tales of Blood, Lust and Metamorphosis (Cleis, 1996). Dark, erotic anthology dedicated to female werewolves.
Klause, Annette Curtis. Blood and Chocolate (Laureleaf, 1999). Supposedly a "young adult" novel about a 16-year-old werewolf girl, this book draws uncomfortable parallels between the urges of the werewolf's inner beast and the surging hormones of the adolescent.
Mann, Jack. Grey Shapes: A Novel of Lycanthropy (1938). Considered an early classic of the werewolf genre.
Marryat, Frederick. The Phantom Ship (1839). While primarily a "Sargasso Sea" shipboard horror story, it includes the frequently excerpted "The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains," one of the first werewolf stories in modern fiction.
Murphy, Pat. Nadya: The Wolf Chronicles (Tor, 1997). European werewolves settle in the American West to escape persecution, but persecution follows them to the frontier as one, Nadya, undergoes an odyssey of personal growth and revelation.
Pratchett, Terry. Men At Arms (Harper, 1997), Feet of Clay (Harper Prism, 1997), Jingo (Harper Prism, 1999), The Fifth Elephant (Harper, 2001), and The Truth (Harper, 2001). All feature Angua, the werewolf watchwoman of Ankh-Morpork. Also, a major part of the action in The Fifth Elephant revolves around a family of werewolves and their favorite amusements.
Smith, Wayne. Thor: A Novel (St. Martin's, 1992). An uncle rejoins a suburban family, his newly acquired lycanthropy detected only by the family German Shepherd who sees him as a "Bad Thing" that threatens the dog's "pack."
Somtow, S.P. Moon Dance (Tor, 1991). A complicated, large-canvas horror novel spanning more than a century and centering around a war breaking out between European and Native American werewolves in South Dakota.
Tan, Cecilia, ed. The Beast Within: Erotic Tales of Werewolves (Circlet, 1994). An anthology of werewolf yarns with frankly sexual themes, it includes a story by the author of this book.
Williams, Sheila and Dozois, Gardner R., eds. Isaac Asimov's Werewolves (Ace, 1999). Anthology of werewolf stories that originally appeared in Asimov's magazine, interesting for a wide variety of settings and situations.
Williamson, Jack. Darker Than You Think (Tor, 1999). Originally published in 1940. A reporter investigating a series of grisly deaths finds himself drawn deeper than he ever wanted to be.
Wu Cheng'en. Journey to the West (Foreign Language, 2001). Originally written circa 1550, this classic Chinese novel includes as one of its major characters Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, a trickster capable of morphing. Many of the novel's antagonists frequently shapechange as well.
Zelazny, Roger. The Great Book of Amber: The Complete Amber Chronicles, 1-10 (Eos, 1999). The inhabitants of both Amber and the Courts of Chaos count many shapeshifters among their numbers. Not the least of these is Merlin, the protagonist of the second cycle of books, who frequently demonstrates how useful the Change Control skill is to a morph.
GURPS Aliens by Chris McCubbin. Contains the Xenomorphs, an innocuous, harmless race of morphs.
GURPS Bestiary, Third Edition by Steffan O'Sullivan. Although this volume has made its shapeshifting rules obsolete, Bestiary is still an invaluable guide for creating animal templates, and contains a rather remarkable shifter character named Ripper.
GURPS Bio-Tech by David Pulver. Metamorphosis, the Proteus nanovirus and multiform body mods make this book a good source for the high-tech shifter.
Discworld Roleplaying Game by Phil Masters and Terry Pratchett. The Disc has its own variety of werewolves, which may be of interest to a GM.
GURPS Grimoire by Daniel U. Thibault and S. John Ross. Contains an expanded selection of shapeshifting spells for the standard GURPS magic system.
GURPS Japan, Second Edition by Lee Gold and Hunter Johnson. Hengeyokai, sarusaru, and other elements of medieval Japanese myth can provide an Eastern alternative to the predominance of European shifters in many games.
GURPS Mecha by David Pulver. Includes in its robot design section rules for building transforming mecha.
GURPS Monsters by Hunter Johnson. Includes shapeshifter Hughes de Camp-d'Avesnes and a different doppelgänger from the one that appears here.
GURPS Robots by David Pulver. Rules for nanomorphs and other shapeshifting robots.
GURPS Werewolf: The Apocalypse by Robert M. Schroeck. GURPS adaptation of White Wolf's doom-soaked campaign world.
Roleplaying Games and Supplements
Brooks, Deirdre, Bush, Zach and Melchor, Alejandro. Terra Verde (White Wolf ArtHaus, 2001). This electronically published supplement for Trinity includes expanded rules for the biokinesis power, which grants its possessor psionic shapeshifting.
Cerny, L. Lee and McDevitt, Bradley K. Nightlife, Third Edition (Stellar Games, 1992). A modern "hidden monsters" horror setting that predates White Wolf's World of Darkness by several years; it has a variety of shapeshifters and some interesting ideas and approaches for a campaign.
Catalyst Game Labs. Shadowrun 20th Anniversary Edition (Catalyst Game Labs, 2009). This post-Manaclysm cyberpunk world has its share of lycanthropes, all of whom appear to be hengeyokai.
Findley, Nigel. Van Richten's Guide to Werebeasts (Wizards of the Coast, 1993). Supplement for the AD&D Second Edition campaign setting Ravenloft, outlining all manner of lycanthropes for that dark world.
Rein-Hagen, Mark et al. Werewolf: The Apocalypse (White Wolf, 2000). Two editions, innumerable supplements, and a short story collection (When Will You Rage?, edited by Stewart Wieck) make for a considerable resource and detail a range of were-creatures that might be unmatched in the field.
Stoltz, Greg and Tynes, John. Unknown Armies, Second Edition (Atlas Games, 2002). Very bizarre version of lycanthropes in this relentlessly humanocentric game.
Wujcik, Erick. Amber Diceless Role-Playing (Phage Press, 1991). Features a large section on shapechanging powers, their capabilities in the setting, and possible complications to throw at players in a campaign.
Altered States (Ken Russell, 1980). Psychologist mixes drugs and sensory deprivation and ends up periodically regressing to a primitive humanoid.
An American Werewolf in London (John Landis, 1981). American student contracts lycanthropy on the English moors. Resurrected the Hollywood werewolf movie, and also includes the first four-footed werewolf in cinema since the end of the silent-film era. One of the best horror/comedy films ever made, but avoid the sequel, An American Werewolf in Paris.
Cat People (Jacques Tourneur, 1942). Classic film featuring Simone Simon as a were-panther. Followed by The Curse of the Cat People in 1944 (included on the same DVD).
Cat People (Paul Schrader, 1982). This erotically charged remake is surprisingly good without recreating the original scene-by-scene.
The Company of Wolves (Neil Jordan, 1984). Bizarrely Freudian, symbol-laden werewolf tale laced thoroughly with "Little Red Riding Hood." A must-see.
The Curse of the Werewolf (Terence Fisher, 1961). An interesting story operating on several levels saves this film – set, oddly enough, in Spain – from slavish repetition of its predecessors.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Rouben Mamoulian, 1931). The classic Frederick March version, although the 1941 version featuring Spencer Tracy (included on the same DVD) is also a fine film, it emphasizes the anguish and torture Jekyll undergoes as he realizes the depths to which he has sunk. Find the restored 97-minute version if at all possible.
Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde (David Price, 1995). Uneven horror/comedy about the great-grandson of Dr. Jekyll, whose own experiments saddle him with a "bad girl" alter ego.
Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (Roy Ward Baker, 1971). Hammer Horror film using the same gender-bender twist on the Jekyll and Hyde story, somehow roping in the Jack the Ripper murders and Burke and Hare, the famous Victorian grave robbers. Better than it has any right to be.
Ele, o Boto (The Dolphin) (Walter Lima, Jr., 1987). Haunting Brazilian film about a dolphin-turned-man looking for a mate among the women of a fishing village.
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (Roy William Neill, 1943). Classic Universal monster film, with Lon Chaney as a pitiful Lawrence Talbot seeking an end to his unexpected lycanthropic immortality.
Ginger Snaps (John Fawcett, 2001). Innovative teen horror film, gory and daring. One of a pair of gothy sisters is bitten by a werewolf, and begins changing in more ways than just the traditional monthly one.
House of Dracula (Erle C. Kenton, 1945). Hokey genre film, in which Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolf Man fight it out after visiting a doctor. As usual, Lawrence Talbot just wants to end it all, but can never seem to accomplish it.
The Howling (Joe Dante, 1980). TV newswoman attacked by a serial killer goes to a spa to recuperate, only to find it might well be the worst decision she's ever made. Considered one of the best horror films of the 1980s, it unfortunately spawned a nigh-endless stream of unrelated and forgettable sequels.
Ladyhawke (Richard Donner, 1985). Moody, stylish, and visually breathtaking tale of a pair of lovers bound together – and eternally separated – by the linked lycanthropic curses inflicted upon them by a vengeful bishop.
The Leopard Man (Jacques Tourneur, 1943). Another were-feline classic by Tourneur, although this film is nowhere nearly as well known as Cat People (aee above).
Mary Reilly (Stephen Frears, 1996). The story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from the viewpoint of the doctor's young housemaid, who finds herself attracted to both men.
The Secret of Roan Inish (John Sayles, 1994). A young Irish girl whose family is said to have a selkie in its ancestry searches for her baby brother – lost to the sea years before – on an abandoned island near her grandparents' home. A beautiful and touching film.
The Shaggy Dog (Charles Barton, 1959). This early live-action comedy from Disney is a bit of an acquired taste. After an unfortunate encounter with the spell inscribed on a magic ring, Tommy Kirk turns into a talking sheepdog, and the only cure is an act of bravery.
Silver Bullet (Daniel Attias, 1985). Wheelchair-bound Corey Haim is the only one who knows a series of murders in his small town is the work of a full-blown cinematic-monster werewolf. As might be expected with a Stephen King movie, this film inspires a wide range of opinions.
Teen Wolf (Rod Daniel, 1985). Michael J. Fox discovers that his family is all werewolves who get the ability to change at puberty. Unwilling to hide, he parleys his "ethnicity" into popularity and becomes a sports hero. A fun, feel-good movie which makes no effort to hide its metaphor of lycanthropy for adolescence. Avoid the sequel and the cartoon series.
The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982). The Carpenter version is far more faithful to the original John W. Campbell story "Who Goes There?" than the 1950s "vampire carrot" movie of the same name. A cunning, dangerous creature capable of assuming any shape threatens the staff of an Antarctic outpost.
WereWolf of London (Stuart Walker, 1935). Attacked by a beast while in Tibet, Dr. Wilfred Glendon now becomes one himself. Classic "wolf man" movie which also introduced marifasa lumina lupina – the flower that suppresses the change for one night.
The Werewolf (Henry MacRae, 1913). The first werewolf movie ever filmed. A Native American woman who believes herself to be abandoned by her husband becomes a witch and teaches her daughter to hate all white men; the daughter becomes a werewolf to seek revenge. Especially noteworthy for the use of a real wolf in the transformation scene.
The Werewolf (Fred F. Sears, 1956). Predictable Fifties schlock about an amnesiac accident victim turned into a werewolf via a serum administered by unscrupulous researchers.
Wolf (Mike Nichols, 1994). Jack Nicholson is an aging executive who finds his life and his work energized after he is bitten by a wolf; what neither he nor the new love in his life realize is that he is slowly changing into something not at all human.
Wolfen (Michael Wadleigh, 1981). A New York City cop investigating a series of animal attacks discovers a species of supernatural wolves that lives along side of and preys upon humanity. Gory – the wolfen are not sympathetic tortured souls, they are predators, pure and simple. Like The Howling (see above), this film has spawned numerous sequels that are best ignored.
Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Vampires in the shared world of these two series are very low-level shapeshifters, with a human form and a "monster-face" vampire form. Episodes have also portrayed Jekyll-Hyde ethomorphs, full morphs, and weres of several kinds; a werewolf was a regular character for several seasons. Season five's "boss villain" was Glorificus, who timeshared a shifting body with a mortal.
Dark Shadows (1966-1971). The supernatural soap opera that featured a conflicted vampire as its main character also had its werewolves, not the least of which was Quentin Collins.
The Incredible Hulk (1978-1982). The super as were. David Bruce Banner transforms into the immensely strong but bestial Hulk whenever he is angered or in pain.
Manimal (1983). Canonically bad TV show whose title character was something midway between a were and a morph – he could turn into any kind of animal at will. [Region 2 DVD.]
She-Wolf of London (1990-1991). Randi Wallace, an American student in London, is bitten by a werewolf and becomes one herself. As a way of dealing with the curse and looking for a cure, she joins an English professor in hunting down supernatural menaces.
Star Trek. Shapeshifters abound in the universe of the United Federation of Planets. Most of them are morphs, from Odo and the Founders, who have no limitations on size, mass, or composition, to various races who are limited to organic forms.
Werewolf (1987-1988). Eric Cord has been bitten by a werewolf, and to save himself he must hunt down and kill the source of the lycanthropic "bloodline" – Janos Skorzeny, played by Chuck Connors.
Wolf Lake (2001-2002). Short-lived CBS (later UPN) series about a town in Washington state occupied mostly by werewolves. Bizarre and confusing, it evoked a kind of "Buffy meets Twin Peaks" aesthetic.
X-Files (1993-2002). A number of the creatures encountered by FBI agents Mulder and Scully were shapeshifters, most notably an alien bounty hunter.
Bubblegum Crisis (1987). Four women in powered armor defend their city against rogue boomers – sophisticated biomechanical humanoids built as workers and soldiers. Some models of boomer demonstrate "fusion" capability, allowing them to reshape their bodies and incorporate external materials into them.
Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040 (1998). In this remake/reimagining of the original Bubblegum Crisis, boomers, the robot workers built by GENOM are actually artificial lifeforms with no fixed shape of their own.
Guyver: Bio-Booster Armor (1989), and its spin-offs and sequels. Humans turn out to be a genetic project created eons ago by godlike aliens, who encoded into mankind's genes the ability to shapeshift into a monstrous form called a zoanoid. An evil corporation has learned the secret of activating those genes and is using it for world domination.
Ranma ½ (1989). This martial-arts sex farce is defined by the vast number and variety of were-type curses possessed by members of its cast: gender-changing, human-to-animal, animal-to-human, and human-to-monster – and all are triggered by hot and cold water.
Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki (1992). This is the original Tenchi OVA, which has inspired at least three different "parallel universes" so far. In all of them can be found Ryo-Ohki, a cat-sized creature of uncertain origins who can transform into a starship – or, in one series, a mecha. Also in the original series is Tsunami – a sentient tree with an astral were-form in the shape of a humanoid woman.
Tetsuo (1988). Bizarre story about a Japanese salaryman whose body starts turning into metal after he accidentally hits a strange "metal fetishist" with his car. He struggles with both the transformation and the apparent survival of the fetishist as an independent entity inside his own mind. Followed by Tetsuo II: Body Hammer (1992).
Tetsuwan Birdy (1996). Also known as Birdy The Mighty. While trying to capture a criminal, an alien police officer accidentally kills a Japanese teen. To punish her and restore the boy to life, the cop's superiors force her to share her body with him.
Transformers (1984-1987), and its sequels and spin-offs. Mechanical intelligences, which can shapeshift between humanoid robots and all manner of vehicles and devices, continue their eons-long war on Earth. Pretty much created (and perpetuated) the "transforming robot" trope.
Futaba-Kun Change (1995). All the members of the Shimeru family have the same biological peculiarity – they change gender when they are sexually excited or excessively emotional.
Gold Digger (1991 to present, in various incarnations). Long-running and complex series featuring a large variety of were-creatures, not the least of whom is Britanny Diggers, the last living werecheetah.
The Incredible Hulk (1962 to present, in various titles). The original super-were comic book, with overtones of Jekyll and Hyde. As first presented, Bruce Banner turned into the Hulk at sundown, and back at sun-up – clearly a cyclic change.
Miracleman (1985 to 1991, in various titles), a.k.a. Marvelman (original name, United Kingdom). This is Alan Moore's re-invention of a 1950s-vintage blatant rip-off of Fawcett's Captain Marvel; Neil Gaiman became the writer toward the end of its run. Mike Moran changes into the godlike Miracleman with the utterance of a magic word – or is it? Apparent magic is really an ill-understood science, and almost everything Moran thought was true may be a lie . . . even the limits of his powers.
Ranma ½ (1987 to 1996). The original manga version of the martial-arts sex farce. See the anime entry of the same name.
Shazam! (1940 to 1953 in various titles under the Fawcett imprint; 1972 to present under DC imprint). Captain Marvel and the other members of the Marvel Family were among the first superheroes who had to undergo "power-up" transformations in order to leap into action. Not to be confused with the Captain Marvel characters (beginning with Mar-Vell) from Marvel Comics.