Copyright 2010 Wizards of the Coast.

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I believe jackalweres are another monster from the AD&D days, but this time around they get a new backstory.

The Lore

The middle world was a ver dangerous place back during the Dawn War. Its lands were constantly ravaged by splash damage and near-misses from the cosmic struggle between gods and primordials. It was not unusual for ancient mortals to go to war with each other and with the wildlife to secure shelter and food.

One of these wars was between an ancient human people and a nation of primal jackals - sapient magical beasts that looked like mundane animals. The jackals lost badly and were almost driven to extinction. The few survivors howled their rage and grief to the skies, and to their surprise something answered. The primal spirit known as the Dark Sister hear their cries and gave them her gifts, turning them into the first jackalweres. These gifts give jackalweres the ability to assume human form. Not a single specific human form, like a lycanthrope, but any human form, like a doppelganger.

Present-day jackalweres organize themselves into small nomadic packs. Some roam and hunt like their distant ancestors did, staying mostly in their natural animal form. Many of them, however, still carry those ancestors’ grudges against humanity and treat them as prey. They use their shapechanging powers to spy on human communities at the edge of the wilderness and to disable their defenses before launching a devastating raid with the goal of killing everyone. And once someone comes in to investigate the carnage it’s not uncommon for them to find a party of “adventurers” doing the same. These adventurers are, of course, the jackalweres who were responsible for the raid and who stuck around to kill the responders.

The Numbers

Jackalweres are Medium Natural Humanoids with the Shapechanger keyword. Their signature ability is Change Shape, which allows them to take the form of a Medium jackal or that of a human. Their clothing, armor, and possessions do not change, which means they must either have stashes of gear to don after taking human form, or they must take someone’s place. They can disguise themselves as any individual they’ve seen before, and the DC for seeing through this is 26 - very high for their level.

Jackalweres have Speed 6, the same as a human.

Jackalwere Bravo

Bravos are the younger members of a pack. They’re eager to prove themselves in battle, but their elders have them acting as servants and menial laborers most of the time. When they’re given orders to fight, they do so with enthusiasm and release all of their pent-up anger.

Bravos are Level 3 Brutes with 56 HP. The Bravo’s Fury trait gives them 1d6 bonus damage against dazed, helpless, or prone creatures. In human form, they fight with Falchions, which are High-Crit weapons. In jackal form, they bite, which does a bit less damage but knocks prone on a hit. Their Howling Frenzy attack allows them to bite twice. If both bites hit the same target, that target is dazed for a turn. This recharges once they’re first bloodied.

When the PCs fight a pack of bravos, it’s interesting to mix up their forms. They can knock PCs prone or daze them while in jackal form, and their human-form buddies can benefit from this while using the stronger falchion attack.

Jackalwere Harriers

Harriers are Level 3 Minion Soldiers with no patience for subtlety. Maybe they’re even younger and more eager members of the pack, or maybe they’re previously wounded warriors forced to fight. Whatever the case, they’ll try to knock their enemies down so their stronger buddies can finish the job.

Harriers fight with daggers in human form and with bites in jackal form. The bite is a normal minion attack, and the dagger does a bit less damage and makes the target grant combat advantage for a turn. In either form, if the harrier hits someone who’s granting combat advantage, they knock the target prone.

Jackalwere Deceiver

This is an experience pack leader that has developed some minor magical powers. They often run some sort of operation that allows them to kill human victims discreetly. Deceivers are Level 4 Controllers wtih 54 HP.

They fight with bites or short swords depending on their form, and as usual the bite knocks prone. In jackal form they can also use a Vicious Howl that attacks a Close Blast 3, does thunder damage, and knocks prone on a hit. In either form they can use a Gaze of Sleep (recharge 5+) that does no damage and causes the target to fall unconscious (save ends). If the unconscious target takes damage, they get an additional save against the effect.

Deceivers usually lead a band of bravos and harriers, which means they have an incentive to lean on Vicious Howl and Gaze of Sleep to allow their hench-jackals to deal bonus damage against the PCs.

Final Impressions

These monsters are not technically lycanthropes despite their shapechanging ability, and this is something I only really got after reading their stat blocks.

According to the book, the typical jackalwere pack consists of a mated pair of deceivers leading a mixed band of bravos and harriers. If the pack is currently in disguise, they’ll hire mercenaries to provide additional protection and firepower. They prefer to hire half-orcs, goliaths and warforged for these jobs since they dislike the flesh of these species. This implies they find everyone else tasty.