Worgen Physiology and Psychology

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Worgen Physiology and Psychology

Post by Feral / Blackfall on Wed Aug 15, 2012 8:57 pm

I. Introduction
II. Cursed Worgen vs Wild Wolf Behavior
III. Instincts and Drives
IV. More on Hierarchy
V. Body Language
VI. Notes on Dominance and Submission
VII. Worgen Senses and Physical Characteristics
VIII. The Worgen Curse and Reproduction
IX. How to Apply This Information
X. Lore Questions


I. Introduction

This is a guide, based on logic, a bit of lore, and science, aimed at enhancing the Worgen's Worgen-Form roleplay experience with real life (not strictly WoW) information.  I am not a lore-hound, so I've posted a couple lore-related questions at the end.  By no means is this information canon; you can take from it what you wish, but I will try to explain the logic behind my thoughts.  There is supporting information should you be looking to justify the same roleplay aspects, but take it as just that—information—and not as argument for or against any point.  

Basically I'm going to go over some things regarding the likely science around the Worgen curse and Worgen “reproduction,” as well as the behavioral science around wolves, including what, when and how one could apply wolf characteristics such as canine behavior and body language to a Worgen character.  

You might want to Roleplay a Worgen so you can strip a character down to its most basic instincts and get a glimpse into the hidden motivations of psychology.  Or you might just want a character who's instinctual and not politically-motivated.  Or maybe you want a complicated char whose alternate personality is an almost entirely feral “wolf.”

Whatever the case, this guide should help those who don't have a clue how a wolf would act, or whether their Worgen in a given situation should be a mindless, crazed monster, an overly-intelligent wolf, or a human with some animal tendencies—or something in between.  Again, this is just -my- take on it.  Disagree or roleplay differently if you like, obviously, but I was hoping that this might help some people who wish to roleplay their Worgen's Worgen side more thoroughly.

Two notes: I will often refer to the character as “he;” this isn't meant in a sexist manner, but rather to keep it simpler.  Also, I refer to “alphas” a few times, but take note that in many cases it can simply refer to a higher-ranking member or even human superior.  The word is, again, just used for simplicity's sake.


II. Cursed Worgen vs Wild Wolf Behavior

The Worgen Curse was originally not simply “you are a wolf.”  It was the most bestial, bloodthirsty aspects of a wolf in full rage-mode, granted through the Scythe of Elune by Goldrinn himself (the Wolf Ancient who waded through the Burning Legion with bared fangs and slashing claws!).  The afflicted druids were so taken over by the pure rage that they eventually lost control over the form.  Apparently, all subsequent Worgen are—before they are cured and granted control over their forms—equally rage-filled and mindless.  Later on, once they gain control, it's assumed that they simply have an enhanced physical form—although hints are made that the form has many wolflike characteristics and instincts.

A pre-cure Worgen will, then, be truly savage and mindless, a real killing machine, likely with memory blackouts.  The same can likely be said for post-cure Worgen that prefer to be savage and to remain in Worgen form for very long periods of time.

A post-cure Worgen could have a far more “natural” Worgen mind.  They can apply human thinking and reason, and if they don't spend much time in Worgen form at all, it may simply be an “enhanced” body for them.  If they spend quite a lot of time in Worgen form, it may be that they become more like a wild wolf—and those who frequently give into blood thirst may entirely return to the savage pre-cure state (this needs some lore support, if anyone has some!).  A post-cure Worgen who plays more like a feral creature might be more like a wild wolf than anything: shy, with natural behaviors and instincts, more practised wolf senses and the ability to instinctively use and understand wolf body language.  Some characters might still have trouble controlling the “mindless rage” of a Worgen form; some might find their Worgen form to be an animal side of their own personality.

Note that a Worgen who is injured, tormented or at a physical limit (i.e. starving), even if he or she is generally placid, might logically become enraged and bestial for however long the cause of stress remains, similar to the reaction of many wild animals.

Final note: the word “feral” does not usually mean crazed and savage in a real-life sense; the term refers to a domestic animal who has returned to a wild state of living, in the way of a free-born alley cat or an escaped sheep living in the hills.  It is only in World of Warcraft, and only in reference to Worgen, where it means bestial and savage.  I believe it's perfectly feasible to have a somewhat feral Worgen who isn't a mindless killing machine.

(A note on Moonleaf: we see in the comics, as well as during the worgen cure preparation quests, that the mere presence of the herb Moonleaf (which grows in the Blackwald, supposedly in small fields--and which is likely kept on-hand in Darnassus for the cure rituals for bitten Worgen) can calm a pre-cure worgen into a state where he can think more clearly and peacefully.  In RP I've seen it gathered and used to line a feral's cage to calm them while they were transported to Darnassus for their ritual.)


III.  Instincts and Drives

In wild wolves  (and logically, by extension, “wild” non-savage Worgen)--and indeed in all living creatures—a series of natural drives pushes the living through life.  The drive to procreate, flee from danger, hunt, eat, avoid pain, find shelter, establish territory, and gain a fixed rank in a hierarchy—all of these would affect a feral worgen, and to a lesser extent, a non-feral—and any other social being.  Humans in reality obey these very same instincts—and the stronger a drive becomes (through starvation, etc.), the more the person is controlled entirely by instinct.

Drive priority is debatable—food is probably the top, and sex near the bottom.  However, the level of the drive deficit has a huge effect on its priority at any given time—for example, a starving animal is much more likely than a sated one to fight to the death over a scrap of food.  An overpowering drive in any form (starvation etc.) can cause a being to operate entirely on instinct, with no reason.  Here's four main survival drives to be aware of when roleplaying a Worgen:

Food Drive: the drive to acquire and consume food.  Obviously linked with prey drive.  The difference is, this drive—when heavy in deficit—will often topple the rest of a creature's drives entirely; hunger can make a creature attempt the impossible or ignore other drives.  For example, a starving wolf may approach normally “frightening” humans for food handouts.

Prey Drive: the drive to chase down prey, the thrill of the hunt; bloodlust.  This is separate from hunger, although interlinked with it in many ways.  A predator will usually chase down a small, limping, squealing creature even if the predator isn't hungry: the drive is triggered by the prey directly, whether by sound, sight, or scent, etc.  The smell of blood, squealing sounds, or fleeing or writhing potential prey may all set off a canine: a dog might happily lay beside a pet rabbit for hours, but when the rabbit gets injured and runs squealing, the same dog can be instinctively triggered into killing it.

Procreation: the drive to mate.  Theoretically it's the drive to bear young, but practically, instincts are more simple.  For natural wolves, the breeding season is winter.  Fun fact: wolf testicles can swell to double or more size during this season, with alpha males becoming particularly aggressive with the flood of testosterone.  Wolves, however, only come into season once per year--so a Worgen may well be entirely celibate the majority of the time!  In deficit, this drive can cause an animal to ignore anything—even food—for sex.  In a WoW context this drive can be safely ignored, but if your character is a sexist womaniser, for example, you may wish to take note.  A little touch such as your character being more pushy and touchy in winter can add a lot of subtle flavor to your RP experience.

Hierarchy: Social creatures generally feel a strong drive to belong to a pack, or family unit.  In reality, for humans, this can translate to a workforce, a team, a military squadron, a family, a religion—any gathering of likeminded individuals banding together for a purpose.  The sense of unity and group strength gained from accomplishing goals together can be quite strong and fulfilling, as is the sense of accomplishment from performing a set role in the group for the benefit of all.  


IV.  More on Hierarchy

For a Worgen, joining a group (guild) in World of Warcraft, finding his niche and performing well should play a huge factor in his mental health.  Drama or conflict within the group could upset and stress him.  Disappointing a superior could conceivably greatly shame or even depress the Worgen, depending on how feral he is.  A very submissive Worgen could potentially be greatly emotionally manipulated in this way by unsavory types, becoming enormously emotionally dependant upon a simple word of praise and falling to pieces upon being scolded.  Theoretically, a Worgen might be more likely than a human to base his sense of self (including his emotional state) on the state and stability of his group and his security in his position within it.  

Note that I say security of position, and not the position itself.  The -position- of a Worgen within a social order has nothing to do with his happiness, as long as it's correct for his personality.  A Worgen who enjoys doing things for others and craves the praise of his superiors, regardless of how strong in will he is (the two are unrelated), who trusts his superiors and loves his pack, will be perfectly happy securely at the bottom of the hierarchy.  In fact, he would be extremely uncomfortable at the top, in many cases, feeling the need for guidance and structure.  On the other hand, a natural dominant with the drive to lead and micromanage would make a strong leader, and would likely be unhappy being “bossed around” at the bottom.  In either case, however, a Worgen who is happy with his rank—be it leader or rank-and-file—will stay happy there as long as his position is secure.

Disclaimer:  The obvious point is that this is in reference to an average Worgen, and taken as a cross between normal human behavior and that of the wolf.  However, there are certain to be variations: just as with humans, there may be Worgen that are simply happier on their own, whether due to a personality type or past problems, and there may be those who could care less about their group's mechanics and state.

Pack “Ranks:”

The pack hierarchy in a wolf pack, and indeed in some human societies, has completely separate and equal rungs for the male and female counterparts.  There is an alpha male, who is dominant over all of the other males, and an alpha female, who is dominant over the other females—and both alphas are dominant over all of the other wolves—but the two alphas, and any two equally-ranked pack members of opposite gender, are generally equal or near equal to one another.  This means that in a wolf pack, the alpha could be male -or- female, or the mated pair co-lead (in the case of a single leader, it's more often the male).  What this means for your Worgen character is that a more feral Worgen will see things more sharply through this lense, whereas a human might not even recognize the hierarchy's existence.  It might mean that they're less likely to question orders, or more likely to discipline rather than scold a lower-ranking group member—that's up to you.

Alpha Male/Female:
The leading pair, or in humans, leader.  In wolves, only the alpha pair mate, and they lead the rest of the pack, who support them.  In humans, there is generally one figurehead rather than a pair.  The alpha is firm, dominant, and might range from tyrannical to militaristic no-nonsense to a benevolent but still strong and respected head-of-the-family grandfather.  A leader is known by confidence, by their taking charge of most situations, and in a good leader, a clear and level head in any situation.  People or wolves who don't have the ability to keep a clear head and not panic are generally not good leaders, in WoW and in reality.  In wolves, human tribes and, for example, mercenary or pirate groups, the alphas' responsibilities include keeping the pack safe and fed, holding a territory and solving disputes within the pack, as well as leading hunts.  You can translate this in similar human groups: perhaps a leader finding jobs for a mercenary guild and settling squabbles within a group, etc.

Beta Male/Female:
The seconds-in-command, and similar to the alphas.  These people, or wolves, are generally trustworthy and loyal, and willing to take charge when needed or micromanage for the alphas when required, but can also take back seat and follow orders.  Even a low-ranking henchman can make a good beta if he is confident, loyal and has some common-sense.  Betas are generally leader-personalities who are comfortable taking a back seat.

Rank-and-file:
The mid-ranking members of the pack.  A hierarchy will generally exist throughout the rank-and-file, where squabbles might occur and need to be settled by the alphas.  Members may rise to beta or fall to omega from rank-and-file, or mini-groups might be used (for example, a corporation might have separate hierarchies in Accounting, Public Relations, etc., and a large criminal group might have assassins, scouts and so forth all answering to different leaders, who then all answer to the main alpha, etc.).

Omegas:
The bottom rank: the “clowns,” the barmaids and janitors; the youngsters and the newcomers: those who have nobody to give orders to, and must answer to everyone, and yet are still necessary and often respected for their own work, if done right.  A very submissive Worgen might be perfectly happy as an omega, or a Worgen might have been pressed unhappily into the role.

Now, all of this isn't to say that a Worgen will run around calling people Alphas and Omegas.  What it is more likely to mean is that a Worgen will see a social structure within a group with a different eye than a human.  For example, take a military squadron: a human sees a leader, perhaps someone to be admired and followed into hell and back—or a tyrannical jerk—and men beneath him.  A Worgen could see that leader in the same light but as an alpha, with his betas, and the rank-and-file, with the omega as that idiot who shot that other guy in the foot last week.  He will likely see it as the natural and proper state of things, where a human might see it as tedious, enforced and restrictive or even degrading.


V. Body Language

Interestingly, the basics of body language are shared across many social mammals.  Humans and wolves actually have strikingly similar body language—bar the tails, of course, which happily for Worgen, don't even come into play (be thankful for that, at least; they're complicated in wolves!).  A Worgen in touch with his or her animal side should be very aware of body language, and should use it without thinking about it—behavior and interpretation should be instinctual.  It can be hard to -read- body language in WoW, simply because it isn't visible, and is generally too esoteric and difficult to emote.  People may say /e looks angry, but they generally won't describe how.  -Using- the body language effectively (if sparingly) in an emote, however, can be realistic, immersive and impressive.

One side-note: aggression and dominance are two entirely different things, although often combined.  A leader issuing orders is dominant; a threatening person with a knife out is aggressive.  In a fight for dominance, both parties will show both aggression and dominance, but they are not necessarily linked.  Likewise, fear and submission are two different things: a person nodding obedience to a leader is not necessarily afraid, and even a dominant can show fear, without it being submissive.

Eyes: eye-contact and the direction of one's gaze may be the single most important factor in deciphering body language.  Direct, open-eyed stares are threats or challenges, in almost all cases. A similar stare but with less intensity (i.e. the eyelids somewhat more relaxed) can indicate simply dominance; a leader speaking to a subordinate will generally keep strong eye contact without looking threatening.  It can also indicate love or infatuation, especially with an entirely relaxed brow.  A casual person, unstressed, will keep relaxed eye contact and occasionally glance around, taking in the surroundings.  If they begin to glance around too much while you talk, it may mean that they are itching to leave.  Eyes down can indicate sadness, or the indication of “no threat meant”--for example, if you laugh at someone but look down, “ashamed,” you are indicating you don't mean the laughter as an insult, that you're laughing with or for them rather than at them.  Eyes averted fixedly to one side, especially averted and down, can indicate fear, shame or submission.  Eyes extremely wide and fixed on someone can mean extreme fear, or shock/horror.  Wide eyes that flick around a lot generally mean that a person is nervous or on edge.  Flicking eyes that aren't so wide can just mean a state of “high alert.”

Ears: ear position and movement in a wolf is very particular.  Often a wolf will use one ear for body language even when listening to surrounding noise.  Ears pricked forward indicate interest, although coupled with a direct stare and if stiffly enough held forward can also indicate confident aggression or threat.  Ears pinned backwards and down usually indicate fear or extreme submission, while ears pinned back and up are both a dominant and aggressive sign, for example an alpha mid-fight.  Ears out a bit to either side can indicate pleasure or happiness; ears held back in a more relaxed fashion can indicate the same, often coupled with submission (ex. when you pet a happy dog, his ears might go back loosely).  Using one ear to swivel, listening to surroundings, indicates a relaxed but alert state; using both usually indicates either nervousness or high alertness.  Lastly, ears that have fanned out, open and wide, can indicate overheating as the creature tries to lose heat through its ears.

Mouth: exposed teeth can be either fear or a threat.  If the front part of the muzzle is wrinkled upwards in a snarl, it's generally an aggressive or dominant threat; if the lips are pulled back, in an exaggerated grimace, it's usually a threat stemming from fear (imagine someone wincing at the sight of something awful, and plaster that on a Worgen face).  An open mouth in either case indicates an escalation of the threat—the snarl might start off silent and closed-mouthed, and escalate into a roaring, open-mouthed growl just before an attack.  Licking of lips shows nervousness in both canines and humans, generally, unless of course while eating.  Panting or a closed mouth is generally relaxed, although I've yet to see anyone RPing a panting worgen.  Extreme panting, however, with the lips pulled far back in a very wide grimace and the tongue lolling, can indicate extreme physical stress—usually in the form of heat stroke or shock from injury or stress.

Overall Posture:  Aside from the face, the overall body of a wolf or human, and by extension a Worgen, gives many clues as to intent and mood.  A creature facing someone square-on, but with loose shoulders and a mild facial expression, might simply be expressing strong and polite interest.  A creature facing someone square on and stiffly, perhaps slowly advancing, is indicating threat or dominance, or both, depending on the facial expression and the overall body tenseness.

A slumped posture, particularly when facing slightly away from the target, indicates hopelessness, submission, fear or even humor or relaxation, depending on the face and the situation.  A posture facing slightly away from the target, but still fairly upright, can mean that the person's attention is split—for example, busying oneself with work while talking, or expressing polite interest in what someone says without wanting to commit to the conversation completely.

A very stiff, forward-facing posture—particularly with sudden but rare movement—is usually indicative of hunting behavior, i.e. stalking.  Wolves will stalk prey in much the same way as a cat—head low, eyes wide, ears pricked fully forwards.  Wolves DO NOT display aggressive behavior while stalking or chasing, although they sometimes will when grappling with prey which fights back.  Instead, a hunting, chasing and killing wolf is silent and expression-neutral, appearing intent and excited—no snarling, no vocalization of any kind (the “hunting howl” is meant to rally a pack -before- a hunt, not to bay along behind the prey in the manner of hounds).  Remember, there's no need for the wolf to threaten a deer, and doing so will only alert the deer to the wolf's presence, so don't make your hungry, post-cure, hunting Worgen into a rampaging monster; it doesn't make sense.

A cowering posture indicates fear, extreme submission or a combination.  A wolf or even a terrified human may also drop onto the floor, curling up or turning belly-up in supplication.  If pinned, especially near the throat, a submissive wolf—or person, in many cases—will often go limp and entirely submissive, assuring the alpha of their own dominance and strengthening the pack hierarchy.  


VI. Notes On Dominance and Submission

In humans, outside of certain circles, the previous is often considered abusive—but among wolves, and likely Worgen, it's simply standard, and no shame or even negative emotions are associated with it.  In fact, a submissive wolf—or human, for that matter—whose switch has been flicked over into submissive mode and then reassured somehow (by non-hostile physical contact, for example) will often feel better than before the incident, due to neurochemical reactions triggered by the scenario. This “rush” could also be abused by a sadistic or particularly controlling leader attempting to emotionally manipulate a loyal lower-ranking Worgen, although it's likely not thought out so clearly!

By the way, a good alpha (or higher-ranking wolf, in general), at the point of full submission, will -not- press an attack!  The correct response is to slowly back off, reassuring the submissive, or gently reaffirming the dominance through the physical hold and nothing else.  If the alpha continues the fight with violence, the submissive can very easily become enraged, going into survival mode (as, if a submission is disregarded, the lower-ranking wolf is now fighting for its life) and attempting to flee or to kill the alpha.

A side-note regarding this dominance/submission mechanic: a submissive wolf, or person, is not necessarily mentally weak.  Instead of viewing a submissive creature, or lower-ranking person, as simple and weak, view it as the outer layer of their being.  They may be very strong and aggressive inside, but because they are satisfied “serving,” or are loyal to their leader and/or are happy with the contributions they make, they stay at a lower rank.  When pushed past their limits by an alpha who threatens their survival, some submissive wolves can and do kill.  So again, complicated hierarchal rank =/= strength.

In any case, exchanges like these can and do, in addition to the standard contribution of one's role into a group, strengthen the bonds and the social structure of a group.  Where human pride might interfere, for a wolf (and perhaps a feral worgen) these incidents can be good things, even deliberately provoked by a lower-ranking animal feeling uncertain or afraid and needing reassurance: it can say “I can take care of you” just as much as “I can beat you up,” and the often-euphoric chemical rush can also put them at ease.


VII. Worgen Senses and Physical Characteristics

It goes without saying that a Worgen is more powerful, faster and more agile than a human being.  It's likely that physical build will have much to do with an individual Worgen, with some being slower and stronger and others being quicker and lighter.  A Worgen's reflexes will probably be far quicker than a human's, as well, although perhaps less so with those who don't often use the form.

Wolves don't sweat.  They lose heat through their pawpads, and through their tongues and noses.  Their ears can also fan out to lose heat through the thin, wide membranes; these are heavily-furred in wolves, but in Worgens, appear to be more doglike, making them more likely to both suffer in cold and be helpful in heat.  You could choose to RP this out like a canine, or simply say that your Worgen sweats through his skin, like a human, which would probably require frequent bathing.  A Worgen who sweats like a dog or a wolf would not; dogs and wolves have odors of varying intensity from very faint to very strong, and from “doggy” to “gamey,” but in general a bath is only needed—if at all—once every week or two.  In fact, more frequent bathing dries out the natural oils in a canine's skin, making their coat dull and skin flakey.  ...The more you know.

Wolves have decent eyesight, excellent hearing and positively astonishing senses of smell.  A wolf or dog's sense of smell is thousands of times more powerful than that of a human—more on that in a moment.  The hearing range is wider, so higher-pitched sounds that a human cannot hear are audible to canines, for example the squeaking of some bats or very high-pitched whistling.

Worgen should not be affected by cold unless it is -extreme- (sled dogs in the North, which are furred much like wolves, actually cannot race in temperatures above freezing—not only will the trails be fouled, but it is simply considered too hot).  Wolves and sled dogs sleep in arctic conditions by digging holes in the snow and using the snow as insulation.  Heat, however, should affect them quickly, sending them into heat stroke in the desert without cover.  A Worgen with black fur or armor could be affected by heat worse than a pale one.  A Worgen also has to wear clothes in human society, making heat even harder on the creatures.  It is possible that a Worgen might be more sensitive to temperature extremes at both ends of the scale if he doesn't spend as much time outside his human form.

Regarding Tracking

There are two types of scent that a tracking dog, or hunting wolf, can pick up.  I would like to note that this takes -training- and/or practice, and so a person unfamiliar with scent tracking shouldn't be able to simply use their Worgen form to track a two-day-old scent through the desert.

The first type of scent is ground scent, the second, air scent.  Air scent is the fresh smell of something wafting through, well, the air.  If a person is standing a hundred yards upwind, a Worgen will smell them.  The scents of leather or metal armor interacting with human sweat, the scents of hormones, sex, sweat, blood, urine etc, are all very obvious to a canine nose.  Air scents are affected by wind, so take speed and direction into account (roll for these factors in party if you like).  Air scent will settle on bushes, trees, the ground and so forth.  The myth of “taking to water” to hide scent is generally broken by this fact; the scent of a person crossing water, unless it's a large lake, will simply drift to the shore—and in any case, a canine can search the shores for the exit point.  A person could theoretically simply “ride a river” to escape, assuming they go far enough that the Worgen cannot find their exit point.  -Fresh- air scent usually dissipates quickly after the source is gone, from several minutes to a couple hours depending on the wind.  

Ground scent can be both air scent that has settled and scents that have been imprinted directly into the ground—i.e. drops of blood or the sweat of feet, or the leather smell of shoes.  Ground scents can remain trackable for -days-, although only a dog, wolf or Worgen who has had much practice can follow these with decent accuracy.  Ground scent left in a high-traffic area will be much harder to follow, whereas ground scent in the wilderness should be easy even a couple days after the fact.

A good tracker will use both scents when available: the air scent to help him move more quickly directly toward the source, and the ground scent to more carefully follow an older or more tricky trail.  In a situation where someone has backtracked or overlapped to obscure the ground trail, but where they are still close by, air scent can be used to simply go directly to them.  An example of this is if someone ran some figure eights and then scrambled up a tree; following the ground scent could be confusing, whereas air scenting would bring the tracker right to the tree.

Dry ground is poorer for tracking than damp ground; likewise heat and/or strong sun can both evaporate scent and dehydrate the canine tracker's nose.  Very heavy rains can dissipate a scent entirely, and a heavy snow can cover it to some extent.  Very loose or shifting sand can cover a trail completely, so traipsing across a shifting sand dune could be an effective way to lose a Worgen pursuer.

Non-Scent Tracking includes sign that a human can pick up, and thus an intelligent Worgen can combine a hunter's wilderness survival with a dog's sense of smell.  The appearance of footprints, scat (that's poop!), blood, bent twigs, broken grass, bits of fur, cloth or loose hairs caught on a bush—all of these things can help point a tracker in the right direction, or give hints to the events that occurred on the path.  A good Worgen tracker should be all but impossible to elude.  The only way to escape might be to move more quickly than the Worgen, perhaps on horseback or at a dead Worgen run, until either the scent is too far ahead (3+ days) to follow—or to use alternate transportation, for example a gryphon or boat.

A canine can also compare scents on objects and people.  For example, a dog can pick one object out of a group if his master has touched that one object, and can sniff out other objects in furniture, underground, traps in the dirt and so forth (ex. tracking dogs are used to detect gas leaks along pipelines and to sniff out buried landmines, or even to find missing housekeys in a sofa!).

I want to note that the entire Scent-Tracking concept should be taken rather seriously and treated carefully if you delve into it.  For one thing, it can be considered too overpowered.  You should realistically examine your Worgen's capabilities: a civilized nobleman who rarely enters Worgen form would likely be unable to do anything at all with his nose.  A Worgen who smokes or drinks alcohol would likely have a greatly diminished sense of smell, as would a Worgen with an injured muzzle or with a lot of blood or other strong-smelling substance smeared on his face.

A completely feral Worgen who lives in the wilderness, or one who regularly uses his nose for his work, could theoretically do all of the things listed.  And other Worgen will fall somewhere in the middle.  In addition, in order to 'scent track,' one must meta-game to some extent.  You have to know where the person is for the tracking to work; you have to ask them the path they took.  If someone runs from a feral Worgen, don't let them tell you you “aren't allowed” to smell them out.  But for serious and planned RP, make sure they're okay with tracking in advance; if they're not, find an IC reason why tracking would not work.  Some examples can include fresh snowfall or very heavy rains, alchemical intervention, magic, the leaving of a sense-of-smell-damaging trap on the trail (think an ammonia squirter) or whatever; but if you need to find, for example, a lost guildmate—and need a good IC reason to be able to—a tracking Worgen is an excellent and quite feasible plot device.


VIII.  The Worgen Curse and Reproduction

The Worgen Curse originated with Night Elven druids who remained too long in "Pack Form," and after using the Scythe of Elune to try and control it, found it transforming them instead into Worgens.  After that, it was spread via saliva-blood contact in the same was as the disease rabies—by being bitten by a Worgen, or by drinking Worgen blood.

Update: it's now been confirmed that WorgenxWorgen children will NOT be automatically infected with the curse.

CDev Response: The worgen curse is exactly that: a curse. Its origins are rooted in the druidic "pack form" that was later altered by the Scythe of Elune. The end result is the worgen we see today, beings that can transmit their affliction to others via a single bite.

In theory, if two worgen were to mate and produce an offspring, that offspring would not be a worgen. The child would merely possess the genetic material of his or her parents, like any other child sans the curse.


Source here!


IX.  How to Apply This Information

Obviously, I'm not suggesting that you need to RP out every ear-twitch or explain the why behind your Worgen backing away from his alpha and staring at the floor in fear.  However, it may help to know that your Worgen would react that way in the first place, and to be able to RP that out accurately and with confidence.

In short, for your Worgen's Worgen form, you can take any elements of this guide—the senses, the attitude toward dominance/submission, etc.--and apply it to any degree that you wish, based on your character's persona.  Your Worgen might be a mainly-human who sometimes loses control and has no actual concept of canine behavior, or he might be a nearly-feral Worgen who acts more canine than human; play it how you like.  My hope, however, is that the guide will help RPers who want better insight into their Worgen's potential psychology and physiology.  Personally I find it a lot more fulfilling, complex and fun incorporating the more canine aspects into my Worgen!


X. Lore Questions

If anyone has answers to the following questions, I'd greatly appreciate it. I did search the lore, but can't find much on the topics, or can find only conflicting sources—so if you do have a reply, please include an official source!  Answered questions are noted with credit Smile

* Can Night Elves become Worgen through blood-drinking or being bitten, or are Night Elf Worgens limited to the original druids?
""The Curse of the Worgen" comic states that Night elves can be cursed through bite." - Longknife

* Do post-cure Worgens with control over their forms, who remain in their forms for too long, change behavior?  If so, does the behavior become more wild, or more bloodthirsty/mad?

* Likewise, do post-cure Worgens who prefer to remain in Worgen form, -and- who prefer to act with rage, eventually lose control once more over the change and themselves?

* Are there any references to Worgen children, or the ability of Worgens to procreate without the Curse being involved? - Answered! Check the Reproduction section; devs have commented! Worgen x Worgen children are not Worgen automatically.

In addition, if anyone notices any mistakes I've made, or has a suggestion for improving the guide, please let me know.


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Re: Worgen Physiology and Psychology

Post by Aadaria-Ioanna on Wed Aug 15, 2012 10:02 pm

I love it^_^ Very informative!

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Re: Worgen Physiology and Psychology

Post by Tuomas/Decurius on Thu Aug 16, 2012 3:21 am

As a worgen rper since my arrive in DB, I found this guide interesting and useful.

Some answers and corrections:
the alphas' responsibilities include [...]leading hunts.
As far as I know, Alphas don't lead hunts, though they're usually made by females and they could(but doesn't happen very often) be lead by the female Alphha. As a tendence, hunters of the pack are females.

* Can Night Elves become Worgen through blood-drinking or being bitten, or are Night Elf Worgens limited to the original druids?
"The Curse of the Worgen" comic states that Night elves can be cursed through bite. It happened during the War of the Satyr, when Alpha Prime and his druids began to infect the elves fighting alongside them. By extension, I'd say then that blood-drinking would make the same, but that's speculation.

* Do post-cure Worgens with control over their forms, who remain in their forms for too long, change behavior? If so, does the behavior become more wild, or more bloodthirsty/mad?
There's no much lore-source about it, though in Wolfheart it's somehow left to the reader that there is some kind of pack behaviour among Gilneans in the refugee camp in Darnassus, especially among those, like Eadrik, who spend most of their time in worgen form.

* Likewise, do post-cure Worgens who prefer to remain in Worgen form, -and- who prefer to act with rage, eventually lose control once more over the change and themselves?
Idem as said: no much lore-source. Tendentially, worgen who had been cured don't lose control of themselves anymore, though it's not clear if all kind of cures are the same:as far as I know, there are two feasible cures, the Scythe of Elune ritual and the cure found in Duskwood by Oliver Harris,though it's unclear if the worgen drank it or was another reason he took back control of himself.

* Are there any references to Worgen children, or the ability of Worgens to procreate without the Curse being involved?
Sadly, not. No reference in the lore at all. We can only assume there, and because we don't know the true way the Curse is spread(it works like a virus, but it's very hard to tell how), any idea if it's involved or not with procreation is pure speculation(though -if- it works like a virus is likely to be given to the child).

Panting or a closed mouth is generally relaxed, although I've yet to see anyone RPing a panting worgen.
You missed me! Very Happy

As for myself, I tend to use a bit of these things, especially about eyes and sometimes ears. Being my worgen usually much self-controlled(one must have learnt some lessons, after all), he tends to avoid the more wolfish behaviour, though could slip in situations when he's much stressed or simply having strong emotions. Remains that he's far from the feral stereotype, more human with worgen/wolf back in his mind.


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Re: Worgen Physiology and Psychology

Post by siegmund on Thu Aug 16, 2012 3:22 am

Good guide, i agree on the points that were made.

* Do post-cure Worgens with control over their forms, who remain in their forms for too long, change behavior? If so, does the behavior become more wild, or more bloodthirsty/mad?

Well i personaly did start off my rogue as more worgen form usage, but then later converted it into use worgen form when needed.

I do rp out that he's a bit more wolf like in his form, or even if he is in his human, he'd like just want to howl at the moon, or when more upset he'd prefet to be in worgen form, or sometimes just change to feel more "Natural".

I guess if you stay in worgen form and do not rely too much on rage and bloodlust you should be fine. If it is the opposite and you are in it 24/7 you probably will act more like a wolf, but that doesn't mean loosing control.

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Re: Worgen Physiology and Psychology

Post by erwtenpeller on Thu Aug 16, 2012 4:00 am

Fantastic guide. The idea of using the specific characteristics of having a wolf head and how to use that to express you character has always appealed to me. Now, if I ever do roll a worgen, this will be my guide.

Thank you for writing it!

siegmund wrote:If it is the opposite and you are in it 24/7 you probably will act more like a wolf, but that doesn't mean loosing control.
Yes!

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Re: Worgen Physiology and Psychology

Post by Humphry on Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:50 am

Longknife/Decurius wrote:
* Are there any references to Worgen children, or the ability of Worgens to procreate without the Curse being involved?
Sadly, not. No reference in the lore at all. We can only assume there, and because we don't know the true way the Curse is spread(it works like a virus, but it's very hard to tell how), any idea if it's involved or not with procreation is pure speculation(though -if- it works like a virus is likely to be given to the child).

This I feel is pretty much the safe assumption here. The "curse" works like a virus passing through blood, so it is only logical that any offspring would have it. I look at it the same way as Aids or HIV, if the male has it and the female doesn't, there is a strong chance it will be passed to the child but not guaranteed. While if the female has it, it's pretty much certain though there will remain a very small chance it isn't passed on. Now if they both have it, there is almost no way the child won't suffer from it also.

So in short:

Male Worgen X Female Human = 30% - 40% chance of it being passed on

Male Human X Female Worgen = 80% - 90% chance of it being passed on

Male Worgen X Female Worgen = 99.9% chance of it being passed on

So while there are no lore sources to to confirm or deny anything about Worgen children, with the way the curse works in the blood (Magical Virus) it is only logical to believe it will be passed along to the children depending upon the pairing. Also since there are no records of tiny little fuzzy wuzzy puppy Worgen, I would personally assume that it uses the common mythology that it is something that presents itself during early puberty.

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Re: Worgen Physiology and Psychology

Post by erwtenpeller on Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:56 am

Screw the science, just go with whatever works for your story line. Very Happy

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Re: Worgen Physiology and Psychology

Post by Humphry on Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:59 am

erwtenpeller wrote:Screw the science, just go with whatever works for your story line. Very Happy

That's fine for those that want to, after all we are in a fantasy world filled with dragons and magic. I personally prefer to have logic and realism play a large part of my RP even if it takes a little looking into and doesn't always work out the way I'd have liked. So that's more for those sorts of people out there, I mean there has to be more than just me right? Smile

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Re: Worgen Physiology and Psychology

Post by siegmund on Thu Aug 16, 2012 6:32 am

I say this, which would make most sense:

I would personally assume that it uses the common mythology that it is something that presents itself during early puberty.

But also ya there might be a chance it might not be passed on if not both are worgen.

Since it would make the most logical sense.

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Re: Worgen Physiology and Psychology

Post by Skarain on Thu Aug 16, 2012 8:26 am

Great work, Feral. Though my Worgen is in a very good control of her beastial insticts i'd still like to use body language while in form, so thanks for providing the information.

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Re: Worgen Physiology and Psychology

Post by Lexgrad on Thu Aug 16, 2012 8:34 am

Humphry wrote:
Longknife/Decurius wrote:
* Are there any references to Worgen children, or the ability of Worgens to procreate without the Curse being involved?
Sadly, not. No reference in the lore at all. We can only assume there, and because we don't know the true way the Curse is spread(it works like a virus, but it's very hard to tell how), any idea if it's involved or not with procreation is pure speculation(though -if- it works like a virus is likely to be given to the child).

This I feel is pretty much the safe assumption here. The "curse" works like a virus passing through blood, so it is only logical that any offspring would have it. I look at it the same way as Aids or HIV, if the male has it and the female doesn't, there is a strong chance it will be passed to the child but not guaranteed. While if the female has it, it's pretty much certain though there will remain a very small chance it isn't passed on. Now if they both have it, there is almost no way the child won't suffer from it also.

So in short:

Male Worgen X Female Human = 30% - 40% chance of it being passed on

Male Human X Female Worgen = 80% - 90% chance of it being passed on

Male Worgen X Female Worgen = 99.9% chance of it being passed on

So while there are no lore sources to to confirm or deny anything about Worgen children, with the way the curse works in the blood (Magical Virus) it is only logical to believe it will be passed along to the children depending upon the pairing. Also since there are no records of tiny little fuzzy wuzzy puppy Worgen, I would personally assume that it uses the common mythology that it is something that presents itself during early puberty.

It is magical so we dont really know. If it affects genes then you need to work out the whole resessive and dominant gene thing (could be more interesting as you could then have a carrier and not a worg :p) Or it might be a blood thing in which case the guy really doesnt come into it and if the mother carries the baby it will get her blood. We dont know really other than it is a magical curse which is where I would suggest we examine rather than a virus or some other biological factor.

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Re: Worgen Physiology and Psychology

Post by Humphry on Thu Aug 16, 2012 8:41 am

Lexgrad wrote: We dont know really other than it is a magical curse which is where I would suggest we examine rather than a virus or some other biological factor.

We -do- know it's a curse that is passed through the blood like a magical virus, hence drinking or being injected with Worgen blood infects people with the curse. So if for instance someone was to put some Worgen blood into Jarric's wine glass and he drank it, he would become infected with the Worgen curse and become Worgen himself, much like what would happen if someone was to do so with blood infected by a virus such as aid or HIV.

So if behaves like a traditional virus in these ways, it is only logical that we take it as working much the same way in other aspects. It's pretty much a magical virus that's been given the term curse, if you look at how it works/is passed along to the next person.

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Re: Worgen Physiology and Psychology

Post by Feral / Blackfall on Thu Aug 16, 2012 8:48 am

Thanks for the replies, guys!

As far as updating the Lore Questions, I'll leave most of them blank unless an actual lore source crops up. Not that the logic isn't great behind many answers, mind, but they are there as a sort of "LF LORE" rather than... stuff.

Yeah, stuff. *nod*

As far as fantasy vs reality: for me personally, I feel the closer I can get to a believable background, backed by science/logic, the more immersive the fantasy aspect is. Sometimes, though, you just have to make it up! Razz

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Re: Worgen Physiology and Psychology

Post by Lexgrad on Thu Aug 16, 2012 10:23 am

Humphry wrote:
Lexgrad wrote: We dont know really other than it is a magical curse which is where I would suggest we examine rather than a virus or some other biological factor.

We -do- know it's a curse that is passed through the blood like a magical virus, hence drinking or being injected with Worgen blood infects people with the curse. So if for instance someone was to put some Worgen blood into Jarric's wine glass and he drank it, he would become infected with the Worgen curse and become Worgen himself, much like what would happen if someone was to do so with blood infected by a virus such as aid or HIV.

So if behaves like a traditional virus in these ways, it is only logical that we take it as working much the same way in other aspects. It's pretty much a magical virus that's been given the term curse, if you look at how it works/is passed along to the next person.

Yeah just cos it is in the blood doesnt make it a virus. A virus would need to adapt or be beaten by an imune system, as far as we know the worg curse has not changed at all. It is magic not a virus. Smile

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Re: Worgen Physiology and Psychology

Post by Humphry on Thu Aug 16, 2012 12:57 pm

Lexgrad wrote:
Humphry wrote:
Lexgrad wrote: We dont know really other than it is a magical curse which is where I would suggest we examine rather than a virus or some other biological factor.

We -do- know it's a curse that is passed through the blood like a magical virus, hence drinking or being injected with Worgen blood infects people with the curse. So if for instance someone was to put some Worgen blood into Jarric's wine glass and he drank it, he would become infected with the Worgen curse and become Worgen himself, much like what would happen if someone was to do so with blood infected by a virus such as aid or HIV.

So if behaves like a traditional virus in these ways, it is only logical that we take it as working much the same way in other aspects. It's pretty much a magical virus that's been given the term curse, if you look at how it works/is passed along to the next person.

Yeah just cos it is in the blood doesnt make it a virus. A virus would need to adapt or be beaten by an imune system, as far as we know the worg curse has not changed at all. It is magic not a virus. Smile

I know it's magical, hence me referring to it as a "magical virus" because it is clearly magical but infects like a virus Razz

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Re: Worgen Physiology and Psychology

Post by siegmund on Thu Aug 16, 2012 2:13 pm

Don't we use the word "Curse" for magical virus?

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Re: Worgen Physiology and Psychology

Post by Humphry on Thu Aug 16, 2012 2:33 pm

Pretty much where Worgen are concerned.

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Re: Worgen Physiology and Psychology

Post by Sullee Swiftspeech on Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:11 pm

Such a shame this guide was only made now, and not earlier. My prejudices about worgen might've been different if it had.
Still, top guide feral. And to be clear, you're perhaps the best worgenRPer I've seen around. Unlike many of your fury kinsmen, sadly.

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Re: Worgen Physiology and Psychology

Post by Guest on Thu Aug 16, 2012 6:44 pm

* Do post-cure Worgens with control over their forms, who remain in their forms for too long, change behavior? If so, does the behavior become more wild, or more bloodthirsty/mad?

"Deep down you may still be that same great kid you used to be. But it's not who you are underneath, it's what you do that defines you."

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Re: Worgen Physiology and Psychology

Post by Skarain on Sat Dec 22, 2012 11:11 pm

Help to get this sticky on Official Forums, Thank you.

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Re: Worgen Physiology and Psychology

Post by erwtenpeller on Sun Dec 23, 2012 4:51 am

This was a cool read.

I'm going to use the shadow part of my worgen priest as an excuse to give him slightly supernatural abilities that I've often seen associated with wolves. Things like a psychic scream howl, a slightly supernatural "empathy" for his "pack" (which in this case is his platoon) like being able to sense where they are, or what they're up to. (to a certain point).

That might be fun.

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Re: Worgen Physiology and Psychology

Post by Guest on Sun Dec 23, 2012 4:58 am

You should also source and cite where you get your evidence from for statements.

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Re: Worgen Physiology and Psychology

Post by Feral / Blackfall on Sun Dec 23, 2012 12:32 pm

Vangrel Lansire wrote:You should also source and cite where you get your evidence from for statements.

Maybe some day I will go back and source it all, but not today Razz

The lore info is almost all taken from the comics.

The actual wolf into is just fairly well-known, common-knowledge sort of stuff among biologists/behaviorists.

Glad you liked it, Erwtenpeller!

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Re: Worgen Physiology and Psychology

Post by Feral / Blackfall on Fri Apr 04, 2014 6:30 pm

Update: It's been confirmed that Worgen x Worgen children will NOT be automatically infected with the curse. OP updated accordingly!

CDev Response: The worgen curse is exactly that: a curse. Its origins are rooted in the druidic "pack form" that was later altered by the Scythe of Elune. The end result is the worgen we see today, beings that can transmit their affliction to others via a single bite.

In theory, if two worgen were to mate and produce an offspring, that offspring would not be a worgen. The child would merely possess the genetic material of his or her parents, like any other child sans the curse.


Source here!

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Re: Worgen Physiology and Psychology

Post by Anivitas on Fri Apr 04, 2014 6:42 pm

/approve

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Re: Worgen Physiology and Psychology

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