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I'm not considering the case in which somebody uses suggestion to get a were-creature to inflict lycanthropy on somebody.

Instead, imagine a PC who doesn't understand the full ramifications of becoming a lycanthrope ends up capturing one of these shapechangers (say, a wereraven who would not want to give just anybody this curse), and while they are tied up/unconscious, they try to prick their finger.

Would they have the potential to contract lycanthropy in this case?

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Yes...but...

The bite attack that lycanthropes have says that creatures hit with the attack must make a saving throw, not that the lycanthrope can choose to have them make a saving throw. It is an effect of the bite.

This is particularly important for wererats, which are described as being particular about who they "bless" with lycanthropy, and that "Wererats that are accidentally cursed...are quickly hunted down an killed."

So, if it's possible for a wererat to accidentally curse someone, and if their bite is described the same as any other lycanthrope, that further supports the idea that they can't "turn off" the transmission of their curse.

Finally, it's pretty consistent with the folklore and pop culture around lycanthropes that the curse is rarely transmitted fully intentionally, and that it's at most collateral damage from an attack that was meant to kill a victim that somehow survived.

...probably not in your example

The curse is a collateral effect of the lycanthrope actively biting a victim, as they would in combat, which probably means more penetration than pricking yourself on a wereraven beak. That's probably up to the DM, especially if someone grabbed said unconscious wereraven beak and went at someone with the beak.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Depending on the GM and folklore, other vectors than bite could transmit the Lycantrophy too: Claws and blood are the more obvious ones over consumption of lycantrope flesh to contact or ingestion of any body fluid, including spit, cranial fluids and so on. Some pop culture sources class it as an STD even. But that's GM Fiat land and not covered by rules in the D&D5 SRD \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Aug 9, 2016 at 20:38
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No

This is a RAW answer and may not make sense outside that.

Lycanthropy is transmitted by the bite of a lycanthrope. "Bite" is an action a lycanthrope can take. An unconscious creature can't take actions. Therefore it cannot bite. Therefore it cannot pass on its curse. QED.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That's iffy at best, you can stick you hand in an unconscious animals mouth and push down on it. That's like saying a falling sword (or rock) can't hurt you b/c it didn't take an action. {though it's closer related to an unconscious animal with rabies, which I'm sure, if you stuck your finger in its mouth and it cut you that you have a chance to contract rabies} \$\endgroup\$ Aug 9, 2016 at 21:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ wanting to do something and doing something is iffy in a game where controlling somebodies mind is entirely possible. You might not want to take an action, you just do it anyway.against your will - wanting to do something is not needed to take an action. If you hand the friendly Weretiger a steak and he bites into it and the hand holding it by accident, he did not do a bite attack on you or your hand. Or you do the thing @JohnGrabanski suggested, in the end he had an accidental biting, still you got bitten. To me, this is GM fiat land. If he wants it, you get to roll. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Aug 9, 2016 at 21:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JohnGrabanski good point - not RAW though \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Aug 9, 2016 at 21:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Trish good point - not RAW though \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Aug 9, 2016 at 21:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DaleM No RAW-tag either. So giving hints and insight about the iffy edge cases where no rule is is allowed. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Aug 9, 2016 at 21:51

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