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Inspired by the plentiful legends and folklore concerning human-animal hybrids, and in particular certain stories related in Francesco Maria Guazzo’s “Compendium Maleficarum”, I present a new PC race: the Therianthrope. The list of legendary figures who were said to be descended from a beast (or a god or wizard transformed into one) includes Helen of Troy, Alexander the Great, King Merovech, and even (in some heretical traditions) Cain. Legendary tribes like the Ophiogenies (“Serpent-born”) of Greek mythology, as well as certain Norse, Mongol, and Native American tribes were said to have originated from the union of a beast and a person. The Minotaur of mythology was such a hybrid, albeit of a monstrous and deformed kind not suitable for use as a player character.

A hybrid of man and beast.

Legends tell of people born from the strange mingling of humans and beasts. Most offspring so made are little more than savage abominations, incapable of speech and monstrous in appearance. Sometimes, however, such a person is almost wholly human in form and intellect, inheriting from their animal parent only a vaguely bestial appearance, and certain talents indicative of their strange ancestry. Known as Therianthropes, such people are alternately objects of fear, disgust, pity, and wonder.

The process by which the qualities of man and beast can mix are debated by sages. Most maintain that such cross-borning is not naturally possible, and the agency of some mad wizard or evil power are necessary for fertilization to occur. Some theologians posit that Therianthropes are actually a species of Cambion, either begotten upon human women by Incubi while in animal form, or else formed from human semen placed within a bestial womb by such a Devil. In a similar manner, if a child is conceived while either of the parents is magically changed into an animal form, the offspring will be a Therianthrope. A small number of sages believe that, while unlikely to occur, it remains possible for beast and man to produce hybrid offspring without obvious supernatural aid. Lastly, there are those who claim that a Therianthrope can be produced even without any unnatural contact between human and animal. If a pregnant woman becomes obsessed by mental images of a particular beast, or is subject to a mental shock involving a beast (such as being physically attacked while pregnant, or witnessing a predatory animal feeding on a person), then the image of the beast may be impressed upon the developing fetus in her womb, producing a Therianthrope.

Because Therianthropes exist in many different varieties, it is common to refer to a particular type by a compound name consisting firstly of the species of the animal parent, followed by a hyphen and the word “born”. Thus, a Therianthrope who shares both human and ursine natures will be called a Bear-born. The term is both singular and plural. The name of a type of Therianthrope applies regardless of whether the birth mother is human or animal.

Physical Description:

A Therianthrope’s physical appearance, while wholly human, will nonetheless suggest that of their animal parent. A Therianthrope born of a she-wolf may possess oddly enlarged canine teeth, as well as fierce eyes and slightly pointed ears. The by-blow of a bull may be thickly built, with a wide face and large hands. On the other hand, the child of a panther may be preternaturally lithe and graceful. The daughters of swans are said to be particularly beautiful and charming. Consequentially, Therianthropes inherit certain physical and mental advantages and disabilities, based upon their animal parent.


One way in which Therianthropes tend to manifest their bestial natures in in their choice of diet. Those who owe their nature to a predatory animal will prefer raw flesh and spurn vegetables, while the products of cud-chewing beasts may well prefer to eat grass.

Therianthropes will often prefer to follow the typical activity of their non-human parent, whether nocturnal or diurnal. Therianthropes with nocturnal predilections can sometimes be confused with Lycanthropes.

If two Therianthropes of the same variety mate, then their children will be Therianthropes like themselves. Unconfirmed legends tell of entire tribes of Therianthropes engendered in that way. It is extraordinarily rare that two Therianthropes of the same kind actually meet, however. Generally, Therianthropes born with ordinary people. The children of such unions will be normal humans.

Psychology & Behavior:

The behavior of Thernathropes blends their human and bestial natures. They possess the full range of human emotions, but their behavior nonetheless tends towards the legendary characteristics of their animal parent. The Wolf-born tend to be bloodthirsty, while the Eagle-born will be chivalrous (but also arrogant). Many Therianthropes are somewhat dim-witted or impulsive when compared to ordinary humans, but certain kinds (notably the Serpent-born) actually tend to be smarter than average people.


Therianthropes who are born to human mothers are often despised by human society, but not always. Tales speak of royal lineages sired by a bear or wolf. In any event, Therianthropes will be most comfortable living in situations that their animal parent would have enjoyed. For example, an Eagle-born will want to live in a high, airy tower, or on a mountainside. Theranthopes will want to have the opportunity to roam freely in wild places. If she had been forced to grow up in an environment foreign to her nature, an adult Therianthrope might be very ill-adjusted, or even insane.

It is not unusual for a Therianthrope to be an orphan. Certain societies will execute any person or animal known to be involved in the production of a Therianthrope. The hybrid children may be left in the wilderness to die, or sometimes sent to be raised by a religious order in hope that their human soul may be saved.

Some Therianthropes actually thrive in human society. The Serpent-born, for instance, often insinuate themselves into positions as sages, or court magicians. Those with an avian parent are noted for their charisma and artistic gifts, leading to careers as poets, bards, or even courtesans.

Therianthropes are rare to the point that each one is the subject of stories and gossip. A Therianthrope may find that tales of his birth are well-known in villages he has never visited, even if his actual appearance is so human as to allow him to pass unrecognized.

Relations With Other Races:

Known Therianthropes will often be shunned and despised as abominations by most civilized races, with the exception of Elves and Half-Orcs. Elves will judge Therianthropes on a case-by-case basis, and may well be attracted to certain Therianthropes because of their nature. Half-Orcs will sympathize and identify with Therianthropes, particularly those descended form savage or predatory animals. Humans have been known to make exceptions to their general feeling about Therianthropes, however, particularly in cases where the result is more beautiful than an ordinary person (as often happens with the Swan-born). In certain rare situations, Humans may even come to worship as particular Therianthrope as a divine figure.

Therianthropes have differing relationships with actual Lycanthropes, depending upon how they view themselves. A Therianthrope who consider herself to be a human with an animal nature will probably shun Lycanthropes, like any other normal person. A Therianthrope who considers himself to be a beast in human form, however, will probably embrace Lycanthropes. Lycanthropy is a disease, but Theranthropy is a condition of birth. Therianthropes are subject to infection with Lycanthropy, with truly fearsome results.

Special Abilities:

Dual Type: For purposes of spells and other effects, Therianthropes posses both the Humanoid and Animal types. They can benefit from any magic that intended for either humans or animals, including such spells as Animal Growth.

Duskvision: Under full moonlight, Therianthropes can see as if it was still dusk. They retain the ability to determine color and detail while outdoors in moonlight and starlight, but have no special ability to see underground, or in conditions of total darkness.

Special Weaknesses:

Subject to Animal Magic: A Therianthrope can be targeted by spells and magical effects that normally affect only animals and beasts, such as Invisibility to Animals. For such purposes, the Therianthrope is treated as if they were fully an animal. An Animal Friendship spell affects a Therianthrope in a manner identical to Charm Person.

Other Abilities By Parentage:

Ape-born ( also Monkey-born, and Humanazee )
Preferred Class: Rogue
Attribute Adjustment: +2 Strength, +2 Dexterity, -4 Wisdom
Rogue Modifier: +1 on Climb
Size: Medium
Movement: 30 feet
Starting Languages: Common. An Ape-born can also instinctively understand and speak the language of apes and monkeys.
Ape-born tend to be of Chaotic Alignment.

Preferred Class: Barbarian, Ranger
Attribute Adjustment: +2 Strength, +2 Constitution, -2 Wisdom, -2 Charisma
Barbarian Modifier: +1 bonus on all Primal Fury benefits
Ranger Modifier: +1 hp damage inflicted via Combat Marauder
Size: Medium
Movement: 30 feet
Starting Languages: Common. A Bear-born can also instinctively understand and speak the language of bears.

Preferred Class: Fighter, Barbarian
Attribute Adjustment: +2 Strength, +2 Constitution, -2 Intelligence, -2 Dexterity
Fighter Modifier: +1 natural AC
Barbarian Modifier: +1 bonus on all Primal Fury benefits
Size: Medium
Movement: 30 feet
Starting Languages: Common. A Bull-born can also instinctively understand and speak the language of cattle.

Lion-born ( also Leopard-born, Panther-born, etc. )
Preferred Classes: Knight, Fighter, Ranger, Rogue
Attribute Adjustment: +1 Strength, +2 Dexterity, +1 Charisma, -4 Wisdom
Knight Modifier: Benefits of Embolden increased by +1, penalties inflicted on enemies by Demoralize increased by 1
Fighter Modifier: +1 natural AC bonus
Ranger Modifier: +1 on Scale, +1 Move Silently
Rogue Modifier: +1 on Climb, +1 on Move Silently
Size: Medium
Movement: 30 feet
Starting Languages: Common. A Lion-born can also instinctively understand and speak the language of cats.

Preferred Class: Wizard, Illusionist, Assassin, Cleric
Attribute Adjustment: +1 Intelligence, +1 Wisdom, -2 Constitution.
Wizard/Illusionist Modifier: Charm spells cast as if 1 level higher for effects and saving throws.
Assassin Modifier: +1 on Poisons (including the making of antitoxins)
Size: Medium
Movement: 30 feet
Starting Languages: Common. A Serpent-born can also instinctively understand and speak the language of snakes.
Serpent-born tend to be of Evil Alignment.

Swan-born ( also Eagle-born, Hawk-born, etc. )
Preferred Class: Bard, Knight
Attribute Adjustment: +2 Charisma, -2 Wisdom
Bard Modifier: +1 on Exalt
Knight Modifier: +50% bonus on numbers affected by Inspire
Size: Medium
Movement: 30 feet
Starting Languages: Common. A Swan-born can also instinctively understand and speak the language of birds.

Wolf-born ( also Dog-born )
Preferred Classes: Fighter, Ranger
Attribute Adjustment: +2 Strength, -1 Wisdom, -1 Charisma
Ranger Modifier: +4 on Track
Size: Medium
Movement: 30 feet
Starting Languages: Common. A Wolf-born can also instinctively understand and speak the language of wolves and dogs.
Wolf-born tend to be of Lawful alignment.

Speaking the language of an animal does not automatically confer friendship. Naturally, only very basic information can be communicated by most animals.