Where three statistics separated by slashes are listed above, the first refers to the weremustela in its primary (human) aspect, the second to its secondary (animal) aspect, and the third to its tertiary (hybrid) aspect.
he savage weremustela comprise a group of closely related werebeast phenotypes: wereermines, wereminks, werepolecats, and wereweasels. All weremustela share a common society that glorifies brutality and sedition.
The four phenotypes of weremustela are very similar in appearance, but a trained observer can tell them apart in their secondary or tertiary aspects. In their primary aspects, of course, all weremustela appear to be normal humans (or, rarely, gnomes or halflings), though they often exhibit subtle features that hint at their natures, such as lithe bodies, small ears, and toothy grins. In secondary aspect, they resemble normal animals appropriate to their pheonotype: ermines, minks, polecats, and weasels. In tertiary aspect, weremustela present a bizarre, frightening image indeed. Their bodies become longer and suppler, covered with a coat of soft fur. Their arms and legs shorten, and end in paws equipped with wicked little nails. A weremustela’s hands retain full manipulation capabilities in tertiary aspect. A short, furry tail emerges from the base of the spine. The weremustela’s snaky neck becomes nearly continuous with its torso and wedge-shaped head. The head resembles the creature’s phenotype, complete with beady eyes, small ears, and a mouth filled with sharp teeth.
Wereermines stand about five and a half feet tall in tertiary aspect. They are deep chocolate brown on their back, flanks, and outer limbs, with white on the underside and a black-tipped tail. During the winter months, their entire coat becomes snowy white, except for the tail. Wereminks stand around six feet tall in tertiary aspect. Their fur—which tends to be shorter than in other weremustela—is reddish brown to dark cinnamon, with ocassional white markings on the chin, chest, or throat. Werepolecats are about six feet tall in tertiary aspect, though they tend to be on the taller side of the wereminks. They are brown to black in color, with pale yellow underfur and silvery markings behind the eyes. Wereweasels are the smallest weremustela, standing only four and a half feet tall in tertiary aspect. They are generally colored the same as wereermines, and likewise change color in the winter, though they are shorter and slimmer.
Weremustela normally speak whatever human tongues are spoken in the region where they dwell. They also have their own bizarre language filled with hisses, shrieks, and squeals, which is common to all four phenotypes. Like most werebeasts, weremustela can communicate with the normal animals of their phenotype.
Combat: Weremustela should not be underestimated in combat. They are extraordinarily agile creatures, capable of quick, darting attacks that leave an opponent battered and dazed. In primary aspect, weremustela attack with weapons as normal, preferring daggers, swords, and—where cultural level permits—smokepowder weapons. They may also utilize weapons in tertiary form, or they may elect to bite with their vicious fangs. Wereweasels in tertiary form bite for 1d4 damage, wereermines for 1d6 damage, wereminks for 1d8 damage, and werepolecats for 1d8+1 damage. Because of the almost serpentine speed of a weremustela’s bite attacks, opponents rarely see them coming in time to dodge. Opponents always use their “Surprised” AC against bite attacks by a weremustela in tertiary aspect; in other words, AC adjustments to Dexterity are negated. The secondary aspect of a weremustela is mainly useful for spying and escape, as it can only inflict a single point of damage with its bite.
A weremustela that has successfully hit an opponent with its bite attack in tertiary aspect can continue to hold on, doing automatic damage in each following round. In addition, the weremustela can violently shake its seized opponent by whipping its head back and forth with powerful neck and torso muscles. Each round that a weremustela shakes him, a victim must make a Dexterity check for each item held in his hands (including weapons and shields) or drop them. A victim being shaken attacks the weremustela that has seized him with a +2 bonus, but attacks all other opponents with a -4 penalty. A victim being shaken cannot cast spells requiring somatic or material components. Once a weremustela has released a shaken victim, that opponent suffers a -2 penalty to all attack rolls for the next 1d3 rounds, due to disorientation. A weremustela’s jaws cannot be pried off a seized victim, but the creature will release the victim once it has taken half its original hit points in damage.
Weremustela are quite at home in a wilderness environment. In their tertiary aspect, they can climb walls, hide in shadows, and move silently with an 80% chance of success while in natural surroundings. A wereermine or wereweasel with a winter coat and hiding against a snowy backdrop is effectively invisible to observers at any distance greater than sixty feet.
Weremustela can only be struck by weapons of at least +1 enchantment or those made from the wood of a fir tree. A blessed trapper’s knife that has been used to skin a weremustela’s phenotype animal can also harm them. Mistletoe is lethal to a weremustela. If even a slight amount of the herb is injested, the weremustela must save vs. poison or die; the creature has a 75% chance of detecting the poison in its food before it eats, however. Transformation heals a weremustela of 1d6x10% of the damage taken since its last transformation. Victims bitten by a weremustela have a 2% chance of contracting lycanthropy per hit point of damage inflicted.
Habitat/Society: Weremustela dwell in a variety of temperate climates throughout the Demiplane of Dread, generally preferring forested areas. The different phenotypes are normally (80%) found in the company of one another, with at least two of the phenotypes present in any given mixed band. Wereermines prefer the colder temperate regions of the Core, but have also been sighted in Vorostokov. They are normally found in dense forests. Wereminks are widespread throughout the Core, and have even been reported in lands as distant as Souragne. They are always found near freshwater, preferring heavily wooded rivers and lakes. Werepolecats are also ubiquitous in the Core, but prefer open woodlands or even plains to forests. Wereweasels are perhaps the most common and widespread of the weremustela, being found throughout the Core and beyond, but seem to prefer the thick, dark forests also favored by the wereermines.
Weremustela society is savage but hierarchical, with each of the four phenotypes vying mercilessly for dominance over the other three. None of the phenotypes has a particular role in weremustela society, but the wereminks are usually the victors of most power struggles, if only due to their size and ruthlessness. Only the werepolecats can stand against them, but they lack the numbers of the wereminks. Within a phenotype there is similar jockeying, with each creature attempting to claw its way up a linear rank system.
Weremustela revere lying as a fine art, the double-cross as a way of life, and an utter lack of scruples as a virtue. Their society advocates stooping to any underhanded trick or method to achieve power, at whatever cost. Despite all the backstabbing, there remains a kind of odd kinship between the four phenotypes. If more than one phenotype has the same territory, they usually share a wilderness lair, frequently a subterranean complex filled with food stores and feast halls. Young weremustela grow up around the other phenotypes, and there is free socialization (although extra-phenotypic matings are punished with death). After a night of bloodthirsty human hunting, followed by death challenges and political assassinations, it’s not unusual for a group of weremustela to gather for a drunken sing-along until the wee hours of the night.
Ecology: Weremustela are carnivores, like their mundane animal kin. All four phenotypes subsist on a diet of rodents, birds, eggs, and insects. Wereminks alone prefer aquatic creatures as prey, such as fish, mullosks, and crustaceans. Of course, human flesh is the favorite food of all weremustela, and they frequently conduct brutal raids against rural villages to obtain it. They disdain living within the settlements of mankind, however, preferring their wilderness lairs. Weremustela hate other werecreatures with a passion—they will even kill and eat wererats when possible! Occasionally they make alliances with other evil creatures, such as powerful undead, in exchange for wealth or favors. Unfortunately for more ignorant allies, weremustela are infamous for their mercuruial loyalty and perchance for bloody betrayal.