Lycanthropy

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Lycanthropy

Post by flying_purple_monkfish on Thu Sep 15, 2016 7:46 am

Angesteckt – Diseased, infected, contaminated - The Imperium refer to the disease as this, or simply "the infection"

Lycanthropy is a disease, a virus transmitted through bodily fluids. The most common form of cross infection is through bite though there have been rare cases of it being sexually transmitted from those in the very early stages of the illness.

It is believed to have been created as a weapon to use against the shape changers the Imperium were at war with. Though being a magical disease, it's unlikely the Imperium created it themselves. They have no magical ability, so where they got it from is anyone's guess.

It would force the shifters into one form, lock them there unable to change, making them easier to root out and eradicate. It helped that it also triggered a sort of madness in the brains of the infected, driving them to acts of intense violence against their own kind.

Unfortunately, then the virus jumped the species barrier.  Nobody realised until it was too late. The disease ravaged entire communities and like the shifters before them, the civilians tore one another apart.
Whole villages were burned to the ground in an attempt to slow the progress of the disease, quarantines put in place to protect the uninfected and any suspected of being infected taken away for “processing”.

In the shifters, the disease itself was seldom fatal, their natural shifting ability protected them. It was the rage that killed them. The imperium however, had no such natural protection and the disease did not discriminate. In non shifters, it was fatal. Unfortunately, the illness was highly contagious well before obvious symptoms manifested.

While the Imperium have figured out a treatment, they haven't managed to cure it. They can only slow the inevitable death and manage the symptoms and accompanying madness as best they can. They have managed to come up with an effective blood test for it now, but only after decades of research. It's notoriously difficult to diagnose regardless.

The progression of the disease varies greatly from person to person but also depends highly on the lunar cycles. The moon's role in the way the disease works isn't well understood, particularly not by the non magical Imperium scientists. All they know is that the moon's pull seems to accelerate the virus and makes the symptoms worse.

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Inner colonies:

The inner colonies of the Reich are made up of 13 moons orbiting a near uninhabitable water planet. Satare' itself has violent tides so the majority of the population live on 10 of the 13 moons. These lunar colonies each have their own lunar cycles of course, depending on their orbit, but on average with 12 other moons in the sky above, there's a full moon approximately every 4 days.
As a result, the Infection within the inner colonies is particularly rapid to manifest.

The progression looks somewhat like this:

Day 1: Patient is bitten or otherwise infected, within 12 hours they themselves are contagious.
Day 2 – 3: Patient shows no outward signs, wound heals normally and they feel fine in themselves.
Day 4: Temperature begins to rise, quickly turning to fever. 40% die of the fever itself.
Day 5-6: Fever spikes, patient begins to feel better.
Day 7: Patient may be able to move about and go about daily tasks.

Day 8-10: Rage state, Patient loses all coherent thought as feral instinct takes hold. What begins as moodiness and irritability, quickly turns to outright violence. The patient may complain of intense thirst and hunger that cannot be sated, they will also complain of headaches and pain in their limbs. Insomnia and intense agitation drive the patient to vivid hallucinations and delusions, further fueling their outbursts. In around 15% of cases the violence is more subtle, a lack of inhibition and a loss of socially acceptable behavior. These Infected are cunning, vicious and extremely dangerous because their blood lust is present, but carefully concealed. These are the ones who often live the longest, and who present the most danger as their madness isn't discovered until it's too late.


Day 10 onwards: The patient’s body begins to distort and their behavior starts to deteriorate rapidly. As the days wear on, they become less and less human in both attitude and appearance.
Muscle spasms force the patient into unnatural positions and their bones begin to soften and bend. Their bloodstream is flooded with toxins and organs start to fail.

Photo-sensitivity begins to manifest, the Infected shy away from bright lights and seem to struggle to function in direct daylight.

Swelling and fluid accumulation on the brain has been observed in autopsy, along with an enlarged adrenal gland and damage to the spleen, liver and kidneys. The heart also shows signs of prolonged stress.

Day 28: It’s been estimated around 50% die in the first two weeks following the fever stage.
The rest will be dead within the month of massive multiple organ failure and exhaustion.


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Outer colonies

There has only been limited observation of the Infection in the outer colonies, but the longer lunar cycles do seem to slow the progression of the disease.

Lycanthropy is notoriously difficult to diagnose in the early stages unless a bite is clearly present. The fever can be attributed to many different conditions. Because not all bites are obvious, some may look like little more than a small nick or cut, and because there have been cases of infection when no obvious physical injury has occurred, doctors are left with a difficult decision to make. While euthanasia during the fever stage would seem prudent, the risk of misdiagnoses is too high. Many physicians are reluctant to make that call till the Rage State presents.
On worlds with a longer lunar cycle, the obvious symptoms of Infection take weeks to manifest, delaying any accurate prognosis and increasing the risk of infection being spread to others.

The progression for a 28 day cycle looks somewhat like this:

Day 1: Infection. Patient may or may not show signs of an obvious "bite" or wound. The patient is infectious within 12-24 hours themselves.

Day 7-10: Fever starts. The approximate estimate of 40% fatality at this point remains.
The fever will last 5-7 days.

Day 15-17: The fever spikes and the patient shows all outward signs of being well again. The fever can be attributed to just that, a simple fever. Hypertension has been observed, as has swelling on the brain. This may happen at this point with infected in the inner colonies as well, but the progression of their illness is so much more rapid that such tests simply are not done in time.

Day 22-24: The rage state starts. Like with the inner colonies, it begins are irritability and moodiness and just gets worse as the days progress. The patient reports problems sleeping, hallucinations and delusions. Some describe it as being like in a waking nightmare state. 20% exhibit signs and symptoms of psychopathy, slightly more than in the inner colonies. Patients also complain of headaches and sharp shooting pains in their extremities. The pain only gets worse as the days go on.

Day 30: A few days after the mood swings start physical changes can be observed. A softening and distorting of bones, excessive hair growth, muscle spasms and yellowing of the skin as the liver begins to shut down.
Kidneys and spleen start to fail, the heart begins to struggle and palpitations and chest pains are common. The patient will experience cramping pains in their limbs, hallucinations, shortness of breath and intense exhaustion. The change takes time, but most patients don't live more than 4 months after it begins. If their heart doesn't give out, their liver and kidneys do.
The patients are in crippling pain caused by their spasms and the internal bleeding. They are prone to bone fractures and displaysia, the headache becomes intolerable and they will suffer bouts of intense nausea.
Between cycles they may get weeks of feeling slightly better, though extremely ill they may be able to engage with family members, set affairs in order and come to terms with their death. But each full moon brings with it violent hallucinations and intense madness that become more and more difficult to recover from. After around 3 cycles of this, the majority of minds simply shatter or shut down.


58 day cycles have been observed rarely, but the progression seems fairly close to the 28 days. Death just takes a little longer and sanity is retained for more time.
The general life expectancy is a little over 6 months.

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Weaknesses:

The most common method of destroying a werewolf is a bullet to the head. Often, as a precaution, the body is then cremated.
The bounty on Werewolves is such that many bodies are brought to specially appointed collection agencies who will pay a nominal fee for each corpse.
Few care too much what these places actually do with the bodies.

The effects of silver and wolf’s bane are still being investigated, some hunters swear by silver bullets while others claim it’s simply superstition and normal lead works just as well. There is some evidence to support the silver allergy theory, though just how severe this allergy is and the exact mechanism behind it is still uncertain.

Appearance:

Accounts vary and survivors of attacks are rare. Most often the Infected are described as looking “Feral” and “Beastial”.
Some claim these creatures look like some kind of distorted wild dog, while others insist they look like deformed humanoids hunched over on all fours.

Corpses of presumed Infected have so far, all been humanoid.
The body is distorted, bones twisted unnaturally with the spine displaying shortening between the vertebrae and a constricting of the muscles and ligaments around the base. This would account for the hunched description given by many survivors.

The bones of the body in general seem softened, with most bodies showing signs of bowing and healing fractures. The long bones are often bent and deformed.

Fingers and toes appear gnarled, the joints swollen with fingers drawn toward the palm. Nails are long and hard, discolored and mottled.

Muscle tone in the face appears to have contorted, pulling the lips back and exposing the teeth, which appear human but badly decayed.  

Hair growth has accelerated, becoming thicker and coarser all over the body. In males this is more pronounced, though both genders display symptoms of Hypertrichosis with increased hair growth particularly around the face, back and limbs.

All corpses show signs of internal bleeding and organ failure. Heart shows signs of prolonged stress, the adrenal gland is enlarged and inflamed, liver, kidneys and spleen show damage and have begun to swell. The brain has also swollen and fluid has begun to gather.
Blood tests reveal increased levels of adrenaline and androgens.
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