In Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft, werewolves (and co.) get to revel in horror glory. Now they are more dangerous thanks to a subtle change.
If you’ve looked at any D&D book released over the last two years, you’ll notice a few subtle changes that won’t necessarily make their way into your copy of the Player’s Handbook, but that reflect the way the game is moving. Take alignment, for instance. Alignment has slowly been fading from the game, not that it ever really did anything for 5th Edition. But it used to appear in monster stat blocks–that all changed in Tasha’s Guide to Everything and Candlekeep Mysteries which include new monster stat blocks that are missing any reference to alignment.
We’ve talked about that before. And with Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything the rules for creating your character changed, which were then codified in some of the Unearthed Arcana and now, in Van Richten’s Guide. Little by little with each release the core conceits of the game are changing, and likely as not will be collected in a future update.
And it’s not just with player races or statblocks–even drow are changing in a big way right now, as we saw just yesterday. But sometimes the change is less sweeping, but just as impactful. Like the change we’ve noticed to different werecreatures in Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft.
Werewolves have always been a part of D&D, and one of the big things in fighting them is that you need a silver weapon. Except you actually don’t. Let’s take a look at the stat block for werewolves as they are in the most current printing of the Monster Manual.
The key part here is under Damage Immunities where you can see that they’re immune to physical damage from nonmagical attacks not made with silvered weapons. Not bad, as it encourages you to take a silver weapon… as long as you’re low level. Which doesn’t really mean you need a silver weapon to kill a werewolf, any magic weapon will do, even a humble +1 sword is a bane against the curse of lycanthropy. It’s one of the big problems of D&D monsters–many have resistances or outright immunities that should make them a threat, but that are easily overcome with even the most basic magic item. All things fall before the humble +1 sword. Except… take a look at the Wereraven included in Van Richten’s Guide.
Note the lack of immunity to nonmagical damage. Instead, they have regeneration that can only be stopped if it takes damage from a silvered weapon. Or a spell. Which isn’t perfect–any wizard can still just outright kill a wereraven, but even the mighty new superwerewolf, the Loup Garou moves away from the “immune but not really” mode, and opts for protection via regeneration.
Which means that adventurers might be caught unaware when they kill the werewolf only to realize that it was, for all intents and purposes, only playing dead and waited to get up from its regenerated state while the party went on to do whatever it is that parties do when they’re not in a fight. Probably look for trouble to get into.
Which ticks many of the boxes in the “oh no, how do we deal with this” column, which is what horror is built on. The rules you know are changed… and that’s scary. It feels like Lycanthropes will adopt this new method going forward, so bewerewolves out there, they just got a lot more dangerous.