Lycanthropy is described in the Monster Manual as a curse. Some members of our party contracted it from a pack of werewolves in a recent session, and we consulted the infobox in the Monster Manual to see what effects it has.

The infobox "Player Characters as Lycanthropes" on Monster Manual page 207 states:

A character who becomes a lycanthrope retains his or her statistics except as specified by lycanthrope type. The character gains the lycanthrope's speeds in nonhumanoid form, damage immunities, traits adn actions that don't involve equipment. ...

... If the character embraces the curse, his or her alignment becomes the one defined by the lycanthrope. The DM is free to decide that a change in alignment places the character under DM control until the curse of lycanthropy is removed.


Werewolf. The character gains a Strength of 15 if his or her score isn't already higher, and a +1 bonus to AC while in wolf or hybrid form (from natural armor). ...

To me, this sounds like a very positive curse to have. A player who chooses to resist the curse gains a passive buff to Strength (unless their Strength is already 15 or more) and some very potent damage immunities. The alignment change and the associated loss of PC control is conditional on the PC embracing the curse, and as such it's not really an issue. One can even remain in humanoid form to avoid socially awkward situations using the Shapechanger ability.

So, is there any mechanical reason to not contract lycanthropy, or a reason get rid of it after contracting it? What makes it a curse?

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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kyyshak I removed it. Comments are for requesting clarification or suggesting improvement, or minor moderation or meta matters. Comments aren't for partial/incomplete answers (see here) or for discussion. If you'd like to discuss stuff with your fellow members you're welcome to do so in Role-playing Games Chat. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jul 18 '18 at 11:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ You ask two different questions — "is there any mechanical reason" is not the same as "what makes it a curse". A curse might be a curse due to a non-mechanical reason as well. \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Jul 18 '18 at 11:38

The infobox makes it seem that loss of character control only happens if the PC embraces the curse and the DM chooses to take control of the character, and therefore simply not embracing the curse would suffice to keep the character as a lycanthrope complete with powerful boons like damage immunities but without any drawbacks. However, the lore earlier in the lycanthrope chapter suggests that the condition is impossible to resist during full moon:

A lycanthrope can either resist its curse or embrace it. By resisting the curse, a lycanthrope retains its normal alignment and personality while in humanoid form. It lives its life as it always has, burying deep the bestial urges raging inside it. However, when the full moon rises, the curse becomes too strong to resist, transforming the individual into its beast form --- or into a horrible hybrid form that combines animal and humanoid traits.

(from Monster Manual, page 206, under Curse of Lycanthropy)

Even a character that resists the curse is unable to control their bloodlust during full moon, as is traditional to werewolves in fiction. Ask your DM to keep track of the phase of the moon while you're infected so you know how fast you need to get a remedy or other countermeasures.

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    \$\begingroup\$ 'while you're infected' makes it sound like this is something you'd want to get rid of. Your answer makes it pretty clear the downsides are more or less completely negligible, yes? It seems like it would be more in keeping with the rest of the answer to say "... so you know when to take precautions against involuntary rampages" \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Jul 18 '18 at 10:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer The MM consistently describes lycanthropy as a curse, it's not exactly my input that it's supposedly a nasty condition. How serious issue the full moon thing is varies a lot from table to table, of course. \$\endgroup\$ – kviiri Jul 18 '18 at 10:44

Some of the time, someone else controls your character

If you choose to resist the curse then during the full moon your character transforms into a beast and someone else (usually the GM) controls their actions. After that time is finished you get control of the character back.

Worse than that...

During that time, they make your character do really bad things

While transformed, your character rampages - attacking, killing, and feeding. These are not the actions of a normal beast, however. A werewolf is a supernatural, evil creature. It kills for fun, not for food.

At the end of the transformation you get your character back but you then have to deal with the consequences of their actions.

In traditional monster movies, these consequences usually involve townsfolk with torches and pitchforks. :-)


The Grey Wolf Tribe of lycanthropy Barbarians that see to it that lycanthropy does not spread to those unworthy. I would think a DM that didn't support the use of a player's using the curse would send in groups of this tribe to make valiant efforts to destroy the player and his cohorts.

Being hunted by barbarians seems like a down-side.

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    \$\begingroup\$ While this is a good answer as far as the Forgotten Realms setting is concerned, this question is about D&D 5e. \$\endgroup\$ – mech Jul 19 '18 at 19:18

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