It tells in the Monster Manual how a PC can become a Lycanthrope and what mechanical differences it makes, but as far as I can see it doesn't say anything about what level the character should be at or how it would effect Combat Encounter Calculations.

Some of the abilities a PC would get become redundant at high levels, but would be completely broken at lower levels (most notable its damage immunities). Is there a Rule of Thumb or maybe something written in one of the supplement books that would determine what effects lycanthropy would have at different levels?

Some of the things I've calculated are:

  • A PC character can gain access to the Polymorph spell at 7th level. Since a lycanthrope has a limited polymorph as one of its abilities, combining that with the other advantages it gets would indicate that level 7 would be the best level for a Were-PC.
  • Monks and Circle of the Moon Druids gain access to their respective "your attacks count as magical for the purposes of overcoming resistances" features, meaning they'll start facing creatures with similar damage immunities to the lycanthrope. Combining that with the other advantages it gets would indicate that Level 7 would be the best level for a Were-PC.
  • According to some brief CR calculations (using the DMG), the higher-CR lycanthropes seem like even fights with a 7th- or 8th-level party, while lower CRs look good for a 4th- or 5th-level party. So depending on the lycanthropy, a Were-PC would be fine anyway between 4th and 9th level.

Based off the calculations above, I assume that creating a Were-PC at level 10 or higher is fine (if the player wants it), but below level 5 is too powerful. Between levels 5 and 10, a player's level should match or surpass the CR of the lycanthrope + 5 in order to have it; otherwise, it might be too powerful.

This is all assuming the PC "embraces the curse" and the DM allows the player to use it freely. Assuming the opposite, you could subtract 5 from the character's level when using the calculations above.

As for calculating combat encounters, a PC should be considered 1 level higher than their character level when working out combat encounters - until they become level 11 or higher, in which case treat them like a normal PC.

Does all that make sense? Is it a good system, or is there some fact that I'm missing? Does this adequately answer What level should a Lycanthrope PC be? Would any of this be different if you were creating a character at a different level?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I always thought lycanthropy was overpowered. After having 2 lycanthrope players in my game i changed my mind. While the damage immunities can look strong at first, it's the easiest thing to counter. My lycan players realized they are not immortal after one of them dying from having his face shoved in a campfire by a very strong(and angry) orc chieftain. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 8, 2019 at 13:32

1 Answer 1


Lycanthropy is not balanced for player characters of any level

All forms of lycanthropy grant immunity to slashing, bludgeoning, and piercing attacks not made with silvered weapons.

I'm not aware of any monsters, at all, that have silvered weapons. Very few monsters have any source of damage that isn't slashing, bludgeoning, or piercing.

If a player character gets lycanthropy, they become immune to a very large percentage of monsters they might face. This is not balanced at any level.

If a player character gets lycanthropy and chooses to embrace the curse, the DM should make that character into an NPC.

If you knew that the party were going to face a specific kind of foe -- for example if you're playing a campaign where the group is fighting the Mages' Guild, and all of their opponents will have magical attacks -- then you wouldn't need to worry so much about the damage immunity. In that case, the things to worry about are the multiattack and the stat bonuses. Player characters definitely shouldn't get this before fifth level (when they would get multiattack anyway), and the werebear probably shouldn't happen before eighth level.

If you're allowing players to create lycanthrope characters, be aware that they're going to try to abuse the stat bonuses. For example, werebear characters get a guaranteed STR 19. Your players will try to create STR-based fighters with a STR of 7, put all their stat points into off-stats, and then let the werebear increase their STR to 19. You probably should require them to buy the stat up to at least the target number.


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