Monster of the Week: Lycan

The lucky ones freeze to death.

Films Synopsis: When two journalists embark on an investigation into cattle mutilations happening along the French-Swiss border, things take a dark turn when the scientific team they were supposed to meet turn up missing from their campsite. A surprisingly entertaining found-footage flick, Cold Ground (2018) is a French film by first-time director Fabien Delage. Set in a bone-chilling wilderness, the movie follows the journalists along with their guides as they embark on their fateful investigation, uncovering the gruesome truth – (spoiler) werewolves in the woods.

Tense, decently acted and set against a believable 1970’s backdrop, Cold Ground may not bring anything particularly new to the genre or the style, but it firmly puts you in the icy shoes of its ill-fated protagonists. While it may show too much of its horrific monsters, credit this fact to the low budget (partially aided by an Indiegogo campaign) and the shaky camera-work a la found footage, it does present some truly bestial silver-screen werewolves that are devoid of any humanity. Bereft of a back-story, on-screen or off, I couldn’t help doing a D&D mock-up for this enjoyable if problematic film as the wintry months unfold – so let’s get to it!

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Brutal, fast and predatory, lycans are nocturnal hunters, stalking their prey over many nights. They often make cursory advances to investigate the nature and defenses of a group in their territory if they feel they are outnumbered or facing an overwhelming number of foes. Once they feel confident, they dash surround their prey, darting in and picking off weak and vulnerable quarry one at a time. Occasionally, lycans will leave scraps of remains close to would-be prey, serving to mark them as the next victims.

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Lycans make excellent predators in wilderness campaigns. Unlike regular lycanthropes, lycans can be easily dropped into remote areas with little backstory or hidden motives. Conversely, just like in the film, lycans can be placed nearer to distant villages, the culprits behind mutilated livestock.

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Weaker than regular werewolves, the base creature for lycans seemed like a good fit with dire wolves but with the werewolves multiattack and slightly higher intelligence. Aside from a size modification, the lycans are run-of-the-mill werewolves really, lacking resistances.

But what do you think, is a smaller, less deadly werewolf an interesting outdoor challenge? Or will your players fall victim to the claw and fangs of a lycan? Download my rendition of Cold Ground’s lycans in pdf format for your campaign and set a pack of wild animals on you’re player’s heels.

And, if you want to get this and all the creatures to date in a single, indexed PDF as well as a handy-dandy Fantasy Ground version of these creatures, consider heading over to my Patreon and becoming a Patron!

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