The Werewolf Incident
By Z the Bard
The story you are about to hear is true. The names have not been changed because no one was innocent.
This is a story from my time DMing at the local comic store in my hometown, and is a follow-up to my previous story “How My Party Burned Down a Man’s House to Kill the Creepy Doll.” I was running a game set in a town called Pumpkin Hills, located in the southernmost region of a country called Hucroinia. My group had gained two new members, so the trio of Dren, a male half orc barbarian, Greethen, a male blue dragonborn sorcerer, and a rogue whose name I can’t recall (because he was just that good) had grown into a quintet with the addition of Luciana, a female human kensei monk, and Rook, a half elf paladin who had sworn the Oath of Devotion.
The party had gained some renown and experience alongside its new members. From their humble origins in their little hamlet, they had gone on to get entangled in political intrigues in Tradewinds, City of Merchants, had been patronized by a powerful archmage named Sevra Willowshade, and had saved a tribe of wood elves who were being besieged by an army of orcs. They had gone from some nobodies who’d gotten their start in a tiny farming town to well-known adventurers who had rubbed elbows with the high and mighty. Whenever they returned to Pumpkin Hills they were treated like heroes by the locals – who, needless to say, had not discovered that the party had burned down Dudley Nightshade’s house and released the Creepy Doll into the world. The party would regale them with tales of their journeys and mighty deeds, and had made friends and allies with most of the important people in town, including the council of elders. These lowly sellswords had made quite a reputation for themselves.
However, to paraphrase Warren Buffett, a reputation takes a long time to build but just minutes to destroy. This is the story of how, in the course of a single night, the party destroyed their reputation and were cast out of Pumpkin Hills, branded as mavericks and dangerous magic users.
Our story begins not on that fateful night where everything went to hell, but weeks before. The party was frolicking through the green hills of Hucroinia, on some quest or another, and decided to camp out for the night in the wilderness. A random encountered was rolled and without warning, during Dren the barbarian’s watch, a ferocious wolf, foaming at the mouth, leapt from the darkness and bit into the half orc’s shoulder, surprising him and waking up the party. The party was able to drive the wolf off and, though they were surprised by the beast’s durability, as it was able to escape without dying, they thought little of it. A healing spell was cast on Dren and they returned to their slumber, as I rolled a constitution saving throw for Dren behind my screen and struggled to hide my smirk.
Weeks went by, both in-game and out, and my party went on their merry way, adventuring throughout the area, the wolf incident forgotten. I, in the meantime, was keeping very careful track of the phases of the moon, biding my time. And eventually, one night, as the party sets up camp about a day’s travel away from Pumpkin Hills, I finally get to describe the sight of the moon rising above them, full and yellow. I then turn to D, Dren’s player.
Me: Say, uh, D?
Me: You remember that wolf that bit you a few weeks ago?
D: …Oh no.
Me: Oh yes!
I describe, to the party’s surprise and horror, as Dren’s body begins to convulse and his mouth begins frothing. His eyes go yellow, dark grey hair spurts from his skin, claws grow from his fingertips, and a lupine snout, full of teeth, grows from his face and howls. The wolf that had bitten him had been a werewolf, and now Dren was one as well.
Dren immediately attacked the party, forcing them to fight back, but with very little success. Only Dren amongst them had a magic weapon, and none of them had thought to bring a silvered weapon, so those who lacked a means of actually hurting Dren could do nothing but try to restrain him, which was no easy feat. In the end, they were able to down him by attacking with spells and smites, as well as setting him on fire with a flask of oil.
Once Dren had been knocked out, the party tied him to a tree and waited for the sun to rise. The threat was over for the moment, but the next night would be a full moon as well, so they knew they had to do something to keep Dren from turning again, especially since they were so close to Pumpkin Hills. The logical move would be to camp out in the wilderness, far from civilization, and tie Dren to a tree again when the moon rose. Then, after the full moon was gone, they could go back to Sevra Willowshade and get her to remove the curse. It would take them longer to get back to Pumpkin Hills, of course, but it was a small price to pay to keep the locals safe.
Unfortunately, it seemed that small price to pay was still too steep for the party. They had business to attend to in Pumpkin Hills and didn’t want to risk getting jumped in the wilderness again. So, they untied Dren, filled him in on his curse, and made their way to Pumpkin Hills, arriving on the outskirts in the twilight hours of the day. Rather than tie Dren to a tree outside of town for when he transformed, the party decided that they would book a room at the local inn and just keep a really close eye on him. If he transformed, they figured they could just knock him out again. Why they thought this was a good plan is beyond me, but they went ahead with it anyways.
Things went about as poorly as you’d expect, if not worse. The party had decided to tie Dren to his bed to keep him from seeing the moon, but his lycanthrope instincts drove him to escape so he could transform. He struggled to escape, thrashing about in his bindings whilst foaming at the mouth and growling in a loud voice. His great strength allowed him to actually shake the bed around the room, making a tremendous racket that woke the innkeeper and the other guests up. The party struggled to contain Dren or at least keep him quiet, but it was clearly a hopeless cause without knocking him unconscious again.
That’s when they heard it. A tapping noise at the window, faint yet strangely audible in the chaos. They could not see who was because they had put the curtains over the window to keep the moonlight from getting into their room. In yet another amazing display of madness, one of the party members drew back the curtains to see who it was.
Staring up at them with glassy eyes and a vacant smile, was the Creepy Doll. It quickly darted out of sight, as though yanked away by an invisible hand, as moonlight filled the room, bathing Dren in its radiance. The half orc howled as he transformed again into a werewolf, his horrifying metamorphosis tearing through the ropes that held him there. The party was forced to attack him again and were fortunately able to knock him unconscious. Unfortunately for them, that was when the innkeeper showed up, demanding to know what happened.
Rook the paladin, having sworn to be honest and true, told the innkeeper that they were having a slight werewolf problem. His reassurances that the situation was under control died in his lips as the innkeeper, whose face was white with fear, turned around and ran away, screaming at the top of his lungs. Rook tackled the guy to the ground in an attempt to keep him from waking everyone up but it was too late for that, as people were already in the hallway and wondering why Rook was pinning the poor innkeeper. When the innkeeper shouted that there was a werewolf in the inn, the other guests all freaked out and fled for their lives, screaming at the top of their lungs, and eventually alerting the local sheriff of the monster. Rook, finally realizing that it was a little late for subtlety, let the innkeeper go and hurried downstairs in an attempt to placate the mob that was gathering in the streets while the rest of the party finally knocked Dren out.
Needless to say, the entire party were placed under arrest for bringing a werewolf into Pumpkin Hills as well as for assaulting the innkeeper. They spent the rest of the night in a cell and in the morning, they were brought before the town council to stand trial for their actions. It was an awkward affair, as the party really didn’t have a good excuse for why they did something so dangerous. Their actions had put the entire town at risk and the council couldn’t look past that, no matter what they thought of the party. In the end, the party was banished from Pumpkin Hills, and their cheeks were branded with a sigil that marked them as dangerous magic users. Dren’s lycanthropy was cured, but that proved to be of little consolation.
The party’s reputation had been ruined and the marks on their cheeks would haunt them long after they left Pumpkin Hills, as would the Creepy Doll, who followed them all across Hucroinia. The party was upset about the brands, but they were more upset about being banished from what was essentially their hometown. Their foolish mistake had put a community of people who cared for them at risk, and now they had lost it forever.
If there’s a moral to this story, it is this: DON’T BRING A WEREWOLF INTO TOWN, YA DINGUS!