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Lycanthropy is a supernatural condition that causes a person to periodically transform into a were-creature: an unnatural crossing between beast and man/mer. Originally created by the Daedric Prince Hircine, it has been called a disease, a curse, and a blessing. Lycanthropy is contagious, and not selective about who it afflicts; most mortal races are susceptible to it.
There are several known strains of this condition, most of which are specific to certain regions of Tamriel. However, the most common strain - which causes the afflicted to turn into werewolves - is known to occur across the whole of the continent. Strictly speaking, the word "lycanthrope" originally referred only to this strain, but it has long been used to refer to anyone who undergoes a similar beast transformation.
 Contracting Lycanthropy
Lycanthropy was originally created by Hircine, bestows it as a "blessing" upon devotees and great hunters. Followers of Hircine can also ritually bestow this blessing upon others, and can even replace vampirism with lycanthropy.
However, lycanthropy is also a contagious condition. Close contact with a were-creature can transmit a special disease, which progresses to full-blown lycanthropy within a few days (if untreated). For instance, Sanies Lupinus can be contracted from werewolves, and over time will convert the afflicted into a werewolf.
Drinking a were-creature's blood is a much more potent means of transmission; it immediately converts the drinker into a lycanthrope. The first transformation occurs within moments, and is unusually intense.
Finally, there are a few rare families in which lycanthropy is a hereditary condition. It can remain dormant for generations, only to spontaneously reassert itself in later descendants.
The most important and obvious effect of lycanthropy is the beast transformation itself. While in beast form, the lycanthrope has increased strength, speed, resilience, and stamina, as well as enchanted claws that can harm creatures that are immune to conventional weaponry. Were-creatures are affected mentally as well, experiencing intense bloodlust and, in extreme cases, amnesia.
Were-creatures are commonly believed to have an aversion to specific herbs. Canis root is believed to ward off werebears, while wolfsbane and belladonna are both known to be poisonous to werewolves, and are used as components of remedies for the disease.
The circumstances of the transformation seem to vary wildly between individuals (or perhaps between strains of lycanthropy). Some lycanthropes transform monthly, or even nightly. Others seem able to choose the times of their transformations, even able to give up transformation entirely. The strength of the bloodlust also varies, with some individuals experiencing an uncontrollable desire to kill, and others able to endure transformations without completely losing control.
The werewolf members of The Circle seem to have a high degree of control over both the timing of their transformations and their behavior while in beast form (excepting the first, strongest transformation).
A few effects of lycanthropy are present outside of transformation. Lycanthropes are immune to all diseases and experience fitful sleep. They also may retain subtle physical traits outside of beast form, such as smells, or small patches of fur.
 Curing the Condition
It is well known that lycanthropy can be prevented by curing the disease that causes it, which must be done before the subject's first transformation. After this point, it becomes extremely difficult to procure a cure.
The witches of the Glenmoril Wyrd are the only beings known to have possessed cures of a conventional nature, potions and scrolls that are relatively free of side effects. Unfortunately, they seem to guard their secrets closely, and do not openly offer these cures.
Other cures require the lycanthrope to find a way to exorcise their inner beast. These methods include:
- Transmitting the condition to someone who already has dormant, hereditary lycanthropy. Infecting such a person will cause the condition to be completely transferred, curing the original lycanthrope.
- Undergoing a ritual performed by the Glenmoril witches. The witches sacrifice an innocent, infect the victim's flesh with the client's lycanthropy, and resurrect the sacrifice. The original lycanthrope must then kill the victim a second time, which will also permanently destroy their inner beast.
- Using the magic from the head of a Glenmoril witch to summon one's inner beast as a spirit, then destroying that spirit.
Finally, lycanthropy can be supplanted by vampirism. Under normal circumstances, this is impossible, because lycanthropes are immune to disease. However, a pure-blooded vampire can convert a lycanthrope into a vampire lord, instantly replacing Hircine's gift with that of Molag Bal.
 Types of Werecreatures
|Werebear||Skyrim, northern Cyrodiil, northern High Rock, northern Morrowind, Solstheim|
|Wereboar||Hammerfell and High Rock|
|Werecrocodile||Black Marsh and southern Morrowind||Known to lurk in isolated swamps.|
|Weredaedroth||Only one was ever created by Hircine, for a battle with Sheogorath. See 16 Accords of Madness, v. VI.|
|Werelion||Elsweyr, Black Marsh, and Cyrodiil|
|Wereshark||Unknown, probably seas||No primary source sightings are reputable; possibly created by folklore or myth.|
|Werewolf||All areas of Tamriel||The most common form of lycanthrope.|
 Related Artifacts
Hircine's Ring can give those afflicted with the disease more control over their powers. In some incarnations, it has the ability to prevent a monthly transformation, and allows the lycanthrope to transform as often as they'd like. It has also been used to transform people who aren't infected with lycanthropy into werewolves. Hircine once cursed this artifact to have the opposite effect; the wearer would transform at random and unpredictable times, until the curse was lifted.
The Totems of Hircine are said to date from prehistoric times, before even speech was invented. Each one grants a special power to any lycanthrope who possesses and reveres the item.
There are three known totems:
- A carved wolf skull, which enhances the lycanthrope's power to inspire terror.
- The carved thigh bone of an unknown animal, which enhances the lycanthrope's senses.
- A simple drum, which gives the lycanthrope the ability to call allies.
 The Hunting Grounds
Upon death, lycanthropes go to Hircine's Hunting Ground to hunt with him for all eternity. The Hunting Grounds are considered by some lycanthropes to be an ideal afterlife, but others feel that this denies them a true paradise. The realm is made up mostly of dense woodland and vast grasslands and plains, as well as blood-red tributaries. Mortals entering these realms are typically hunted down by the inhabitants. During the day, werebears hunt the inhabitants and at night, Hircine announces himself with a pack of werewolves.