Several questions about lycanthropes:

  1. When a character becomes a lycanthrope, they gain animal hit dice, including the skill ranks of the animal. However, these will be hit dice with far fewer skill ranks than the character would normally gain if the character has a high intelligence. Would the character (assuming I allow the player to remain the character while afflicted) choose the remaining skill ranks, or are they lost?
  2. What about skill retraining (from PHB II)? Can the animal skill ranks be retrained over time?
  3. If the character is a spellcaster with a familiar, does the link extend the curse to the familiar?
  4. If the familiar is not cursed, how would it act while the character was cursed? If it was in the clothing (such as a pocket) when the change began, would it be shunted out and take damage?
  5. Are there any sources which list possible alternate familiars for lycanthropes (particularly if the lycanthrope chooses an improved familiar)?
  6. Does spellcasting that requires verbal and/or somatic components function while in hybrid form (perhaps if the spellcaster learns Control Shape)? Would it be a Control Shape check? Or would the spellcaster need the Natural Spell feat?
  7. Wild Shape functions off of Alternate Form, which is exactly how the Lycanthrope shapechange ability works. However, Lycanthropes do not technically have Wild Shape. Could they still be interpreted to qualify for the Natural Spell feat?
  • \$\begingroup\$ And don't forget about item familiars! \$\endgroup\$
    – J. Mini
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 14:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ This question seems overly broad as-is, and should probably be split into a few separate posts (with most of them edited out of this post). Questions 1 and 2 seem to be closely related enough to fit as one post; 3-5 could be asked as a separate question about lycanthropic spellcasters with familiars; 6 should likely be its own question about spell components in hybrid form; and 7 should be its own separate question as well. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 6:19

1 Answer 1


Where there are rules available, they’re found in the lycanthropes as characters section. A few of the questions simply don’t have answers in the rules, though.

  1. You’ve misunderstood how lycanthrope skills work; a lycanthrope does not just get the animal’s ranks directly added to their own skills. Instead, they gain animal RHD, and they should get the skill points entitled to them for having those RHD, including their Intelligence score.

    Racial Skills: A lycanthrope adds skill points for its animal Hit Dice much as if it had multiclassed into the animal type. It gains skill points equal to (2 + Int modifier, minimum 1) per Hit Die of the animal form. Any skills that appear in the animal’s description are treated as class skills for the lycanthrope’s animal levels. The lycanthrope’s maximum skill ranks are equal to its animal form Hit Dice + its racial Hit Dice (if any) + its class levels + 3. Any racial skill adjustments of the lycanthrope’s base race and its animal form (but not conditional adjustments) are added to its skill modifiers in any form.

    So for example, if a wizard with Intelligence 18 became a werewolf, they gain two animal-type hit dice, which each come with 2+Int skill points, so 12 total for this wizard, and treats Control Shape, Handle Animal, Hide, Listen, Move Silently, Spot, and Survival as class skills for those two levels (any lycanthrope also gets Control Shape as a class skill regardless of class, and that applies to these two levels as well). The wizard may assign those skill points to skills as they like, per the usual rules for assigning skill points.

  2. Retraining works on the skill ranks that the wizard assigned their lycanthrope HDs’ skill points to the same as for any other level’s skill ranks.

  3. No, nothing about being a familiar shares the curse of lycanthropy, nor does anything about lycanthropy do anything to familiars.

  4. The familiar would, as always, be loyal to the wizard. What that means for the familiar in question may vary depending on the familiar’s own thoughts and opinions.

    If the familiar is in a pocket that melds into the lycanthrope wizard, I see no particular reason the familiar should take damage; I would just rule that the familiar winds up on the floor under the lycanthrope, or in the air above them, depending on the type of familiar. I don’t believe the rules explicitly handle this case, however.

  5. I am not aware of any such list, and find it pretty unlikely that one exists.

  6. A lycanthrope spellcaster cannot cast spells with verbal, somatic, or material components while in animal form, or spells with verbal components while in hybrid form.

    So some spells, yes, but not most of them. Control Shape doesn’t come into play. Natural Spell only applies to wild shape, and not to other sources of alternate form abilities, though as DM I might be inclined to offer it to a lycanthrope wizard; they’ll probably need it.

  7. Rules as written, no. Wild shape is a type of alternate form, and lycanthropy offers another type of alternate form, but Natural Spell requires the specific type of alternate form offered by wild shape, not just any alternate form ability. As I said, I’d probably consider it for a houserule considering all the problems that a lycanthrope wizard is likely to take.

Which, to conclude, let me just state that lycanthropy is really bad for a wizard. An afflicted lycanthrope loses four levels’ worth of wizard spellcasting progression, and a natural lycanthrope loses five. That’s a colossal blow to the wizard’s spellcasting, something that basically nothing in the game can actually justify, and lycanthrope offers almost nothing of value to a wizard. Even if allowed to take Natural Spell, that’s another feat on top of the four or five levels of lost opportunity just to be able to use alternate forms that don’t benefit you very much. And if not allowed to take Natural Spell, you get very nearly nothing for your trouble.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I did read the lycanthrope entry and still had additional questions/clarifications. I have played with other DMs that believed lycanthropes had changed in one of the updates. In the 3.5 Monster Manual, for example, the lycanthrope can choose any new feats they want. In the SRD, it shows the lycanthrope just gains the the feats of the base animal, nothing more. My previous DM believed it was an update to simplify the process of gaining the lycanthropy template and claimed that it was easier to just gain the skill ranks of the base animal. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 15:05
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @InterstellarProbe I don’t have every publication of Monster Manual ever, but my 3.5e Monster Manual certainly says exactly the same as the SRD. Perhaps that DM was getting confused by the “creating a lycanthrope” guidance for DMs (just give the character the feats the animal has) versus the “lycanthrope as characters” rules for players (you get more HD, which may mean you gain more feats, which you can choose as normal). Anyway, I guess it’s just the spellcasting bit that’s purely “straight out of the book.” \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 15:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, that is probably what happened. Thanks for the clarification. That definitely helps. I do want to offer a variant list of familiars (because, as you say, a spellcaster/lycanthrope is losing a ton of long-term ability for very little gain). The party will eventually have the opportunity to remove the curse, but in the meantime, I wanted to offer up a little something to help the player have some fun with it). Would you have any suggestions for alternate familiars for a wereboar? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 15:14
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @InterstellarProbe I'll just go ahead and say it: a meerkat familiar. ^^ (but don't ask me to sing the song, 'cause I won't.) \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 21:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Re: the second half of question 4 — alternate form specifies that clothes and equipment either change size or fall unharmed to the ground. So, you’re exactly right, but it doesn’t need a ruling. \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Commented Oct 18, 2019 at 1:37

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