Werewolves, geists and ghouls… oh my!

An alpha werewolf. Off the card "Howlpack Alpha"

An alpha werewolf. Off the card “Howlpack Alpha”. Image downloaded from the Wizards Wallpaper of the Week archive.

Last week I wrote about how I definitely wouldn’t want to be a human living on Innistrad. It just seems like there are a lot of things out to get them. There are all sorts horrific creatures living on the plane: werewolves, vampires, skaab creatures, zombies, geists and vampires. Each of them have a region of Innistrad that they mostly stick to, but humans live among them in every place.


The werewolf is a creature of duality, forever dragged between two worlds: it is both monster and man, nature and civilization, rational thought and raw savagery. — Planeswalker’s guide to Innistrad: Kessig and Werewolves

Werewolves on Innistrad are so abundant in the Kessig region that they’ve almost eradicated other supernatural beings from the area. There are geists in Kessig as well, but werewolves are the biggest threat to humans. Some werewolves roam together in ‘howlpacks’, the biggest of which is the Krallenhoard. It’s ranged from 50 werewolves to 200 at different points, and when the people of Innistrad think of howlpacks, they usually picture the Krallenhoard. There are two other notable howlpacks: the Mondronen and the Leeraug. The Mondronen werewolves practice dark, bloody and carnal magic, and as the power of Avacyn wanes, their dark magic has spread. The Leeraug howlpack is the smallest, but the most brutal. They hunt under the new moon, not the full moon and mostly go after children.

Werewolves are humans afflicted with the curse of lycanthropy, which can overtake them in one night. There is a ritualistic first hunt during which the human is lured into the wilderness by howls of other werewolves. Throughout the night, the human’s will is overtaken by the desires of his newfound werewolf side. He becomes more and more like a werewolf, and “as he sinks his teeth into bloody flesh, the curse perceptibly takes hold, and he transforms fully into canid form for the first time”. From that point on when the werewolf is in human form he (or she) must be very diligent in prayer and self-control if they don’t want to transform. Innistrad werewolves can’t stop the transformation on full moons, but transformations can also occur with strong emotions or traumatic experiences.

There is much more detail about the transformations and werewolf life in the guide, but I have to move on  if I’m ever going to tell you about the other scary creatures on Innistrad!

The Undead

The geists, zombies and ghouls were explained in conjuction with Nephalia, the seaport region of Innistrad. There is a large population of humans in Nephalia, which means the undead are also more numerous. The tide and ocean also bring in spirits and ghost to the area. The undead are separated into a few different groups: the unhallowed (zombies), skaabs and geists.

The unhallowed are corpses raised from the dead by necromancers, or ghoulcallers. These “black-mana mages” raise the dead from graveyards, or grafs. There are different kinds of grafs, which changes what type of unhallowed the ghoulcallers will raise. There are fengrafs, where cobblers, smiths and other common folk were buried; seagrafs, where fisherman were buried; and diregrafs, the site of gruesome battles. The unhallowed, though pretty much mindless, often revert to their skills from their past to help them kill people.

Blacksmiths attempt to “reforge” their opponents, fallen warriors emit rasping pseudo-cries, and undead murderers reawaken their taste for killing. Occasionally, fallen mages even show a limited ability to weave spells, but this often results in some aberration of the spell’s original purpose. — A Planeswalkers guide to Innistrad: Nephalia and the Undead

The skaab are creatures created by skabaren, or practicers of necro-alchemy. Necro-alchemy is the art of creating life out of death. They the following steps (taken also from the guide) to create the skaab.

  • Corpus Creare, also known as “corpse cobbling,” is the collecting of various anatomical parts from corpses from which the skaab will be constructed. This is usually performed by paid grave robbers or homunculi under the skaberen’s charge. In some cases, even the limbs of beasts are used for the construct; if a human arm is not available, a horse’s leg can suffice.
  • Patin Ligitus, or rune-bonds, are the “binding plates” used to join various anatomical features together. These are plates of copper and/or brass, with silver-inlaid runes scribed on them. They provide an arcane bridge of sorts between disparate parts gathered by corpse-cobbling.
  • Viscus Vitae, or vital fluid, is the key to the skaberen’s art. Viscus vitae is created by mixing a large quantity of lamp oil with the slightest pinch of the dried blood of an angel. Once a perfect mixture of viscus vitae is created, any blood remaining in the corpse is replaced with vital oil, via transfusion. As a result, skaab are often highly flammable.
  • Vox Quietus, translated as “the silent word,” is the final step in creating a skaab. The skaberen whispers a fairly lengthy incantation over the corpse which awakens the creature, but in a much calmer manner that that which is used by ghoulcallers. Once awakened, the skaab is in a calm, “tabula rasa” state, which allows the alchemist to begin the long task of re-educating the creature. In the eyes of a skaberen, the technique used by ghoulcallers is crude, heretical, and provides unacceptable results.

I want to know who would WANT to become a skaberan. They sound very creepy and messed up. And the skaab sound terrifying!

Onto geists. Some geists are malevolent and some are benevolent, but it seems that since Avacyn disappeared they have become more malevolent. And before Avacyn, they were all malevolent, but she was able to create a balance through being a psychopomp for the dead. There are geists aligned with every color of mana. White geists tend to be more benevolent and protectors of their family, but not all of them. Some have guilt remaining from their life, or are out to avenge their deaths. Blue-aligned geists tend to attack the minds of people, causing obsessive behavior or, in some cases, schizophrenia, epilepsy or other mental illnesses. Black geists hunger for power and are almost always malevolent. They can be appeased with offerings, but when they’re not satisfied, they’re responsible for disease and disaster. Red-aligned geists attach themselves to emotions, desires and revenge and can appear in a variety of forms including “blood mist” that “engulf a hapless victim and inflict cuts and welts that are slow to heal.” Green geists want to be connected to nature so they entwine themselves with animals and plants. This can lead to disastrous results though… “If the spirits that inhabit landforms are not appeased, it can often result in blight, crop failure, and famine”.

So basically, no matter what type of geist it is, a geist can wreak havoc if it chooses to. Awesome.

I was planning on talking about vampires today, too, but I’ve run out of time. Plus, I’m sufficiently creeped out after reading about all of the other creatures, so I’ll leave the vamps to next week, along with the demons.

Until next time, Innistrad…

What do you think about Wizard’s versions of these creatures? 


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