Roleplayer #27, February 1992

The Wolfmaster

A Feral Fiend from French Folklore

by Andrea Sfiligoi

A Wolfmaster is a human being with the ability to call wolves and mind-control them. He usually lives in a rural area or small village, under a fairly normal identity – usually someone who works at night, like a baker. He is the one and only wolfmaster in his area, and won't tolerate any intrusion by other wolfmasters, or by werewolves. He is likely to have a family, who may know about his secret identity; upon his death, his son will take on his role as a Wolfmaster.

His true nature is a well-guarded secret, since wolfmasters are universally considered evil creatures who can only be killed in their human form. In the Middle Ages, a person suspected of being one was often cast out of the village or sentenced to death. They are powerful, but the rumors about their invulnerability are false – they can be killed, albeit with difficulty.

The wolfmaster's powers come from a small bottle of unknown (demonic?) origin. The bottle produces a potion that the wolfmaster drinks every night – the liquid is magically formed every morning. It will work for anyone; if a person finds the bottle and drinks the potion even once, he becomes a wolfmaster. (A Remove Curse would dispel the ability, with its attendant drawbacks, but it would be harder or impossible to remove the curse from one who had deliberately become a wolfmaster, or who had drunk the potion repeatedly.) If the potion is taken out of the bottle and stored, it becomes clear water with no powers. The bottle can be detected as magic, but any attempt to identify it is at -2.

If the wolfmaster fails to drink his potion for a week, he will lose his powers, but will regain them as soon as he takes another drink. If he fails to drink his potion for a year, he will soon be attacked and killed by wolves. Of course, he's not likely to forget for a year . . . but if his magic bottle is lost or stolen, the result is the same.

From sundown to dawn, a Wolfmaster is able to summon all the wolves living in the area, generally numbering from six to 36. He usually leads the wolves around a big bonfire located somewhere in a forest, and they all "dance" in a circle around the fire, awaiting their master's orders. Wolves under his command are somehow more intelligent than normal ones – the telepathic link with their master enhances their IQ to 8. They are absolutely loyal to him. If he is killed, they will try to avenge his death.

Once per month, a Wolfmaster can attempt to summon "special" wolves with demonic powers. To do so, he must roll vs. IQ; he gets one special wolf for each point by which the roll is made. These may be treated as Shadow Wolves (see Fantasy Bestiary, p. 65) with IQ 8 and no venom, but invulnerable to all damage except to magic spells, enchanted weapons and silver blades. They are able to cast Breathe Fire (skill 15, no energy cost, 1d+1 fire damage hitting on a DX-2 roll). They vanish at dawn.

Wolfmasters have normal human statistics, but often have high IQ and Magery. They all have the Night Vision and Doesn't Sleep advantages. They cannot directly attack anyone with "holy" status, but have been known to kidnap and kill innocent children. They are sometimes shapeshifters as well, with the ability to become a large wolf, but only after midnight; in some cases, their transformation is uncontrollable. They all revert to human form if their blood (even a few drops of it) is drawn.

They usually force those unfortunate enough to meet them, to "feed the wolves." An unlucky traveler who stumbles upon a wolfmaster must run home without stumbling; if he falls to the ground the wolves will be on him. If he reaches home, the traveler must feed the wolves that have followed him. He must also give them a gift for their master – perhaps a basket full of French bread, or a small sum of money. If he fails to do so, he will be killed by a wolf pack attack within one year.

The French word for wolfmaster is "meneur des loups," and the legend is still believed in some rural parts of France – making the wolfmaster a perfect addition to a present-day Horror campaign, as well as to a fantasy game.

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