5635 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Werewolf by Night (Early) (Marvel Comics)

Werewolf by Night

(Profile #1 - Early)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

Werewolf by Night appeared in 1972, as part of Marvel Comics’ wave of horror- and occult-themed louche characters. It had the Ghost Rider, Tigra, the Son of Satan, etc.

Though he’s not a major character by any means, he’s probably the major comic book werewolf character. And well, werewolves are a solid, working archetype.


Background

  • Real Name: Jacob Russoff, naturalized to Jack Russell
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Maria Russoff (grandmother, deceased), Baron Gregory Russoff (father, deceased), Laura Russell (mother, deceased), Philip Russell (step-father), Lissa Russell (sister)
  • Group Affiliation: None
  • Base Of Operations: Los Angeles area
  • Height: 5’10” Weight: 200 lbs
  • Eyes: Blue (Red as wolfman) Hair: Red (Brown as wolfman)


Powers and Abilities

Jack Russell is a young man in good physical condition. He’s an excellent climber and gymnast. He is also a competent driver, usually successful at performing basic vehicular stunts when the need arose.

Wolfman strength

The transformation to werewolf form increases Jack’s physical abilities. However, these enhancements do not reach the superhuman levels that they would later in his career. Indeed, in one of his first fights he was outmuscled and nearly killed by an ordinary human opponent, albeit one with the apparent might of a circus strongman.

Other fights likewise emphasized that his abilities were largely within the range of a normal person in excellent physical condition. The werewolf is also a very basic fighter, albeit an extremely acrobatic one.

The werewolf is often outmatched against strong men, trained martial artists, or even a handful of ordinary unarmed people. He only prevails in such circumstances by inadvertently exploiting the fear that almost invariably comes upon these foes when they realize his true nature. His claws and teeth sometimes help, though he seldom employs these natural weapons to full effectiveness.

In battle against the almost-superhumanly strong and durable brutes (STR & BOD 06) he frequently encounters during this period, it is often sheer luck that saved the wolf.

Sometimes these moments of good fortune are simple accidents such a missed shot striking his opponent instead of him. There have been more esoteric incidents such as a lightning bolt striking an upraised opponent’s metal weapon just before he could land the killing blow.

Wolfman durability

Jack’s werewolf form lacked most of the normal resistance to injury of werewolves in popular media. Despite numerous statements that a wolfman such as Jack could only be killed by silver weapons, he in fact demonstrated no more immunity to injury nor faster healing than any normal person in good health would.

The wolf was almost killed by mundane weapons and bare-handed attacks on several occasions. Their lingering effects were the same for both Jack and the wolf. A grazing bullet wound to the leg hindered both the wolf’s and Jack’s mobility for several days afterward. Conversely, silver bullets did no more noticeable damage than normal ones.

Our game stats assume that during this time the curse would have prevented Jack from dying if his injuries were fatal — unless the injuries were caused by silver — but otherwise conferred no healing benefits. This is consistent with observed events while still recognizing the werewolf’s resistance to fatal injuries as described in the mythology of the series.

As the series progressed, he became slightly more sensitive to silver weapons. They did not inflict more damage, but they had an extra “sting” to them that infuriated the werewolf even more than usual.

The wolf also tended to spend his increasing Hero Points  pool on Last Ditch Defense. He was injured and even stunned as easily as before, but even highly trained and well-armed fighters such as Marc Spector had to inflict an incredible beating for an extended period to finally knock the werewolf unconscious.

Other wolfman qualities

While in werewolf form, Jack benefits from enhanced senses. These include more acute hearing, extraordinary night vision, and the ability to track scents.

The wolf is also immune to the hypnotic powers of vampires. It is unclear if this is a general trait of werewolves in the Marvel Universe or if this trait is unique to werewolves of Jack’s lineage.

Jack was immune to possession by the demon Strogg, who blamed this failure on Jack already being host to “the spirit of the wolf.” This was likely a limitation of Strogg’s more than a general immunity on Jack’s part.

As a counter-example Jack’s sister Lyssa was corrupted by demonic possession while in werewolf form and Jack himself was subjected to various other types of mystic control on numerous occasions.

Like most werewolves of myth, Jack could pass on his curse by biting others. He would not learn of the people he had affected until much later in his life. During his first adventures, Moon Knight had increases in strength dependent on the level of moonlight that were believed to be the result of the werewolf’s bite.

Given subsequent retcons in Moon Knight’s origin, it is more likely that this was an early example of Khonshu’s influence over him. Supporting this is the fact that Moon Knight’s increased strength grew throughout the month as the moon became fuller. This is exactly how his later episodes of increased strength under Khonshu’s influence functioned.

If these surges were due to the werewolf’s curse, they would probably not have have triggered at all except during the nights of the full moon.

Since the transmission of the curse did not arise until later and was only featured in a few inadvertent cases, it may be simplest to handle this as a Power Complication Subplot.

Animalistic Mindset

The werewolf shared most of Jack’s memories but only at the most basic level. For example, he might remember that he liked or disliked someone and why, but only in the simplest terms. This person was good because she was family, that person was bad because he hurt someone Jack loved, etc.

Similarly, the werewolf might remember that it was important to go to a particular place to find someone even if he did not understand why that was so. The transformation to werewolf also impaired Jack’s ability for abstract reasoning. He still had the same intellect, but struggled to make complex logical deductions. He also lacked the capacity for trained skills such as operating a vehicle.

The werewolf could still put two and two together. For instance he quickly learned that Guns Are Bad and instinctively dodged them whenever someone aimed one at him.

The lack of abstract reasoning ability and inability to make human speech also limited the wolfman’s ability for Character Interaction. He was only capable of Intimidation attempts and was usually himself unresponsive to any Interaction attempts against him other than that.

Jack’s memories of his activities as a wolfman are similarly constrained. He usually only has a vague sense of what occurred, much like a dimly-remembered dream.

Aggressive Tendencies

One of the werewolf’s most driving instincts was his urge to attack pretty much any living thing that moved. In DC Heroes RPG terms, this is represented by his Irrational Hatred. In most cases, particularly with innocent bystanders or people Jack cared for, this was only a minor compulsion which Jack could usually ignore.

However, if the werewolf encountered someone or something that could be a potential rival, the Drawback became Serious as the werewolf sought to establish his territorial imperative. This latter case could be someone who was already attacking him, someone who was a danger to Jack or Jack’s loved ones, or even simply encountering another predatory animal such as a wolf or a shark.

A combination of the above, such as a rival predator (human or animal) threatening a member of Jack’s family, elevated the compulsion to a Catastrophic level, overriding all other considerations.


History

On the eve of his 18th birthday, Jack Russell dreamt that he prowled the streets of Los Angeles as a werewolf. He killed a mugger and then fled from a policeman who started shooting at him. When Jack awoke, he was startled to find a scratch on his arm where the policeman’s bullet had grazed him in the dream.

That night at his birthday party Jack realized to his horror that he had not been dreaming before. The transformation to his werewolf form began again. As he fled the house, he noted the oddity that their chauffeur Grant was working on the family car very late at night.

Say goodbye to conventional ways

The next morning Jack learned that his mother Laura had been in a car accident. Her brakes given out while she was searching for him. When Jack visited her in the hospital, Laura told him of his true father, Gregory Russoff. Laura had met and married Baron Gregory while studying abroad in Transylvania.

Their life on his castle estate was idyllic except for one disturbing fact. Once every month, Gregory would lock himself into an isolated tower of the castle for 3 consecutive nights without explanation. Two years into their marriage, after Jack was born and while Laura was pregnant with his sister Lissa, a lightning bolt struck the tower.

That night, a werewolf killed one of the local villagers.

The villagers sought the help of the baron, known for his education in occult matters, only to find the shattered chamber. They assumed the beast had taken the baron as well and began hunting the countryside armed with silver bullets. The next night, they gunned the werewolf down and discovered that it had in fact been Baron Russoff.

After her confession, Laura begged Jack to respect his step-father, whom she believed to be a good person. Just as Jack made this promise, night fell and he began to change again. In the last fading moments of rational thought, Jack made the connection between his mother’s accident and Grant’s unusually-timed work on her car.

The more you understand, seems the more like you do

Fleeing the hospital as the werewolf, Jack’s only thought was to take revenge by killing both Grant and Philip, whom he believed had plotted the accident with Grant. An intuition based on an overheard conversation by Jack led the werewolf to the warehouse that Grant was hiding in. There he killed the chauffeur after a difficult fight.

Philip arrived shortly thereafter with a pay-off for the people Grant represented.

Jack heard the hesitation in Philip’s voice as he called out for Grant and his dismay over Laura, who had died from her injuries. The werewolf sensed that Philip might have been as much of a victim of Grant’s associates as Laura had. This uncertainty and the memory of his mother’s plea were enough to dissuade the werewolf from attacking.

For the next two months Jack estranged himself from his family. Uncertain of Philip’s loyalties and desiring not to hurt anyone, Jack isolated himself at their beach house.

This interlude came to an abrupt end when Lissa came to visit Jack, followed by biker thugs looking for easy prey. Jack, in his werewolf form, fought off the 3 men long enough for the police to arrive.

The werewolf was forced to flee from the cops and suffered a leg wound in the process. The next morning, Jack was met by Nathan Timly, who understood Jack’s condition and offered to help him. Jack accepted only to be imprisoned at the Timly mansion by Nathan’s sorceress wife Andrea and their disfigured manservant Kraig.

Andrea sought the Darkhold, a mystical tome owned by Baron Russoff. However, Jack knew nothing of it. He escaped, but not before the accidental deaths of Nathan and Kraig. Andrea subsequently perished when she attempted a ritual without the Darkhold’s help.

You never get away…

Soon afterward Jack was contacted by reporter Buck Cowan, who was researching a story on the Darkhold. He brought news that after Laura’s death Philip had sold Baron Russoff’s castle to a man named Miles Blackgar. Blackgar had then moved the castle to an island of the nearby Monterey Coast.

Jack went out to the island to investigate. He was captured by Blackgar, who was using the Darkhold for fiendish experiments on indigents. He was attempting to discover a cure for his daughter Marlene’s mutant power, which uncontrollably and permanently turned people to stone when she made eye contact with them.

The Blackgars’ plans were disrupted by the emergence of the wolf. Marlene stopped his rampage by turning the werewolf to stone, but his transformation back into Jack reversed the effect. Buck Cowan then spirited Jack off the island with the Darkhold in their possession.

The Blackgars’ subsequent attempt to retrieve the book ended abysmally when the werewolf ducked away from eye contact with Marlene only to leave her and her father looking at her in the mirror behind him. Both Blackgars were turned into living statues. Buck later sold those to an art gallery.

… everybody wants you

The next few months brought Jack into conflict with numerous people seeking to exploit his condition or drawn to him by his connection to the Darkhold.

  • Mark Cephalos was a genius seeking to drain the werewolf’s bio-energy to help ease his own medical condition.
  • The possessing spirit of Aelfric the Mad Monk arose from the Darkhold to threaten the entire world. It had in fact been Aelfric’s spirit that had triggered the emergence of the family curse in Gregory Russoff.
  • Legendary hunter Joshua Kane sought out the wolfman to stalk prey he had never chased before.
  • Kane’s brother Luther offered a cure to Jack in exchange for the werewolf’s services as an assassin.
  • The circus mystic Rihva put Jack under his hypnotic control to use the wolf as the “Wildman of Borneo” in a unique sideshow attraction.
  • The wolfman inadvertently released the demon Krogg from its imprisonment in a cave. He was then forced to fight off Krogg’s attempts to drain his life force.

Though outmatched in one way or another by all of these threats, the werewolf managed to emerge victorious through a combination of perseverance and large measures of luck.

The Werewolf by Night running in a street

During this same time Jack strengthened his friendship with Buck Cowan. Buck’s help in trying to contain the werewolf while Jack sought a way to undo the curse was greatly appreciated, as was the reporter’s ability to lighten the mood with his persistent optimism. His sister became aware of his curse and offered her support as Russell searched for a cure.

Everybody needs you

Jack then became directly entangled in the machinations of the Committee. This cabal of businessmen sought to duplicate the werewolf’s traits within themselves to gain improved physical health and vigor.

Not wishing to share this boon with others, the Committee instead told hirelings that they wished to create a state of fear analogous to wartime in order to spur consumer purchasing.

Their first such minion was Sarnak, Master of Sound. He could control others’ minds with a whistle that produced unique sonic frequencies. Sarnak was ostensibly to build a Legion of Fear out of the disfigured homeless people to produce the public terror that the Committee desired.

They also told Sarnak to capture Jack under the false pretense of making the lycanthrope the center piece of the his terrorist group.

The Legion of Fear kidnapped Jack and Sarnak used his control whistle to enslave the wolf. This plot was soon foiled when Russell managed to escape during the day and secure a sonic screen from one of Buck’s contacts. The screen neutralized the effects of Sarnak’s whistle on the wolf.

When he attacked Sarnak, the rest of the Legion of Fear was likewise freed from his control. The Legion killed Sarnak in retaliation for their enslavement.

Everybody leads you

Soon afterward the Committee themselves were manipulated by the sorcerer Taboo, who sought to capture Jack in order to acquire the Darkhold. Taboo had lost the mystic tome to Jack’s father when the Baron led his fellow townsman to attack the evil magician’s sanctuary.

Frustrated when Jack told him that the Darkhold had apparently been destroyed during the battle with Aelfric, Taboo attempted to murder him. He was blocked by his familiar, a young lady known as Topaz. Taboo later tried to kill them both only to die by accident during the ensuing melee.

That harrowing sequence of events compelled Philip Russell to explain the history of the Russell family and the truth behind recent events. Philip Russell was Baron Russoff’s brother. He had been romantically involved with Laura prior to her meeting and marrying Gregory.

Everybody bleeds you

Philip moved to America after Gregory and Laura were betrothed, naturalizing his last name to Russell. After Gregory’s death, Laura came to Philip. Their prior romance was rekindled and he married her, taking his brother’s children as his own.

Philip then revealed that Laura’s death was a result of the Committee’s plots. They had blackmailed her with the threatened revelation of the family curse. Philip had paid them at first, wanting to spare Laura any further pain. When he refused to make further payments the Committee had their man Grant kill her in retaliation.

Having laid his secrets out before Jack, Philip was able to reconcile with him and Lissa. The family agreed to work together in resisting the Committee’s future schemes.

Get around town…

This new understanding of his family history motivated Jack to finally make the long-contemplated trip to his ancestral grounds in Transylvania. He was accompanied by Topaz as the two had become lovers. Topaz was also a positive influence on the wolf, who was soothed by her mystic abilities and thus less likely to commit needless violence.

While researching the Russoff family heritage, Jack and Topaz came into conflict with Dracula. Intrigued by Topaz’s ability to mystically deter him from assaulting her, Dracula kidnapped Topaz to learn her secrets.

She could not help him, being unaware herself of the source of her powers. The wolfman then arrived at Castle Dracula and attacked the count. He was greatly overmatched by Dracula’s might. Yet he did distract the vampire long enough for Topaz to use her powers to compel the count’s retreat.

The next day, Jack and Topaz explored the small Russoff manor that had been the family home before the now-transported castle. Therein they found the diary of Jack’s great, great, great grandfather, which explained how the Russoff family had first acquired the curse.

The ancestral Baron Russoff had managed to temporarily kill Dracula, staking him in his coffin, and then freed a young woman from a month of captivity in Dracula’s castle. Unknown even to herself, the woman was a lycanthrope. She transformed for the first time that night as the baron escorted her home. He was bitten and became cursed as a werewolf himself.

… spend your time on the run

That night Dracula attacked Jack and Topaz again. He sought both Topaz as well as the diary of Baron Russoff, the latter containing knowledge that could be used to kill the vampire count. Though Topaz and the wolfman were not powerful enough to defeat the count, they did delay him long enough for two vampire hunters to retrieve the book and flee with it.

Fortunately for Jack and Topaz, Dracula abandoned the fight to pursue the vampire hunters instead.

The Werewolf by Night transforming under the Moon

When Russell and Topaz returned to America, Topaz left to pursue her own origins and hopefully revive her weakening powers. She asked Jack to stay behind to avoid the potential disasters that could occur if he changed while they travelled.

You see ’em comin’ at you every night

Concurrently, Baron Thunder of the Committee sent a series of minions to capture Jack. The first was the golem-like Behemoth, whose artificial flesh turned out to be vulnerable to sharp weapons such as the wolfman’s claws and teeth.

The second was Ma Mayhem, a skilled fighter armed with numerous silver weapons. She might well have killed Jack if their fight had not burst through into the apartment of his neighbor Raymond Coker. Coker was also a werewolf and the interruption ruined a difficult ritual that would have cured him. The two werewolves battled until sunrise while Ma Mayhem fled, kidnapping Lissa Russell as she left.

Jack tried to figure out how to rescue his sister from the Committee while continuing to pursue recent leads regarding a cure for his curse. The latter investigation resulted in a fight with two vampires whom he defeated with the help of Coker, who retained his intelligence and ability to speak in werewolf form.

Afterward, the two found a spell book that revealed a cure — one werewolf could be cured by killing another during a full moon.

Neither man chose to pursue this option. Jack would not deliberately kill even to end his curse and Coker had herbs that would control his transformation until he could prepare his curative ritual once again.

You always make it, you’re on top of the scene

Fortunately, an unexpected boon provided a temporary solution for Jack’s problems. It was a magic ring passed down from hunter Joshua Kane’s estate. The ring allowed Jack to physically change to the wolf at any time while retaining his human mind.

The artifact gave Jack the advantage he needed to rescue his sister from Baron Thunder and Ma Mayhem. Though the wolfman’s abilities had notably increased since his first emergence, he still could not directly beat the formidably-trained Thunder.

Fortunately for Jack, the Baron fell victim to the collateral damage of their conflict. Jack and Lissa escaped the resulting conflagration but Jack lost his ring in doing so. This encounter also provided Jack with clues to the larger plan beyond the Committee’s previously-stated economic interests.

A second ring from Joshua Kane’s estate had been inherited by Lieutenant Hackett of the LAPD. Hackett had been a hunting buddy of Kane’s and was aware of the late Joshua’s plans to hunt a werewolf. Likewise intrigued, Hackett had uncovered Coker and Russell as werewolves and used his ring to assume a wolfman’s form himself for the hunt.

Even as a werewolf the policeman was no match for the two ferocious wolves. He attempted to flee before they overcame him. The fight ended when Coker killed Hackett. Cured by his slaying of another werewolf, Coker and Russell’s association apparently ended with the loss of their mutual interest.

Nights of confusion…

A short time later, while vacationing in San Francisco, Jack Russell had a brief encounter with Spider-Man. Peter Parker was visiting the city on a field assignment for the Daily Bugle. The magician Moondark detected him while he was web-swinging throught the city as Spider-Man and feared the superhero would interfere with his plans.

Having captured and mystically controlled Jack just a short time before, Moondark transformed him into the wolfman. He then sent him after the wall-crawler. Spider-Man easily outmaneuvered the werewolf during their fights. Once Jack returned to normal he helped Spider-Man find and stop Moondark.

After this, the werewolf had a string of encounters with other monsters. He was instrumental in saving Frankenstein’s Monster from a satanic cult intent on bringing Satan to Earth using the Monster’s body as a vessel. Jack then had to save his friend Buck from Atlas, a mutilated actor seeking revenge on former associates in a twist on the Phantom of the Opera story.

Dr. Winston Reddich’s research into separating good and evil in people transformed him into a modern-day Hyde named Deprayve. Deprayve found himself opposed by the wolf. The psychotic vigilante Hangman, whom Jack had fought before, also returned to plague the werewolf once again at the same time.

The three-way fight between them ended with the Hangman’s ignominious arrest. Reddich returned to human form, vowing never again to use the formula that created Deprayve.

… and impossible dreams

Then Topaz entered Jack’s life again, summoning him to his family house in Transylvania through his dreams. Topaz had been captured by a Gypsy necromancer who channeled the young woman’s powers into creating zombies. These revenants were being sent to attack the village near Jack’s ancestral lands.

As the wolf, Jack freed Topaz with the help of Buck and Lissa. The ensuing fight with the undead ended when necromancer sacrificed herself to save Jack from a zombie armed with a silver knife, breaking the spell.

Afterward, Topaz revealed that the necromancer was his grandmother Maria, who had recognized him at the last second. Maria had been cast out by the villagers after Baron Russoff’s curse became public knowledge and she had been taken in by a local group of Romani nomads.

After 15 happy years with her new adoptive family, some of the villagers had killed the Romani, considering them nothing but vermin.

Maria had been away gathering firewood and when she returned she vowed vengeance on the villagers who had twice destroyed her family. Maria had come across Topaz in the Russoff house. Topaz had regained her powers and had returned to Transylvania seeking some means to help Jack. Capturing Topaz, Maria had used her minor mystical knowledge to siphon Topaz’s magic energies for her own use.

Having overheard some of Topaz’s story, the villagers agreed to give Maria a proper burial, though this was little comfort to Jack. Nevertheless, he was happy to be reunited with Topaz, who returned to America with him.

Days at the mirror…

This brought him into an inadvertant conflict with Dr. Glitternight, an evil sorceror. His specialty was creating demonic entities using corrupted portions of others’ souls.

Glitternight had already done so with both Topaz and her father Taboo. But the werewolf’s coincidental discovery of Glitternight’s grotto lair interrupted the former. Defeating Glitternight led to a chaotic battle at the relocated Russoff Castle off the California shore.

Lissa, who had reached her 18th birthday, was further twisted by Glitternight’s magics from a mere werewolf to a weredemon. She was then subsequently cured of both curses by the willing sacrifice of Taboo’s spirit.

Seeing his plans fall apart, Glitternight attempted to flee. But the wolf slashed the amulet that held Glitternight’s power and apparently destroyed him.

Jack’s encounters with other monstrous parties continued. A chance encounter led to a fight with Morbius the Living Vampire. Soon afterward, Jack accepted a job working as a stuntman for a film using one of Buck’s scripts. This turned out to be a trap created by a cult who planned to use the film crew as a sacrifice to a Great Old One .

The wolf was an unexpected obstacle. After he interrupted their ritual the outraged brobdignagian menace destroyed the entire cult by collapsing the cavern in which it and its “children” lived. Seeking out occultist Joaquin Zairre for a possible cure, Jack was instead taken prisoner by Zairre as an intended sacrifice to Satan.

Just as Buck attacked Zairre to stop the ritual, the wolf improbably found himself transported to the mystical land of Biphasia to help a warrior named Paingloss save his queen Delandra. After doing so, Paingloss returned him to Earth just a moment after he left.

… patchin’ up around the seams

An old foe returned when the Committee once again attempted to capture Russell. This time, they hired the mercenary Moon Knight, who captured the wolf after a fierce battle in downtown Los Angeles.

Disgusted by the Committee’s ways and inspired by the wolf’s fighting attitude, Moon Knight freed the werewolf and helped him slaughter the hapless businessmen before fleeing with his payment.

(This was later retconned  into a plot by Marc Spector to destroy the Committee from within. Initially, he was simply a mercenary whose Moon Knight identity was created by the Committee for the sole purpose of capturing Jack Russell.)

The werewolf then put Buck into a coma during one of his rampages. To help Buck, Jack and his associates braved a journey in the haunted Marcosa House. There, the group was put through a grueling ordeal by Belaric Marcosa, whose disembodied spirit continued to plague not only the living but also the unfortunate trapped spirits of those who had died in his house.

Jack was eventually able to defeat Marcosa and free the souls he had imprisoned, one of whom sacrificed himself to revive Buck.

Never miss a play, though you make quite a few

After this, a series of visions from an extradimensional trio called the Three Who Are All directed Jack, Topaz and Brother Voodoo to assist Raymond Coker. Coker had been captured by Dr. Glitternight, who had surprisingly survived the werewolf’s final attack during their previous battle.

The Three had once been the Five Who Are All before Glitternight had turned on them and separated another member from the group in the process. After a harrowing battle with his demonic minions, Glitternight was finally defeated when the fifth entity, Fire-Eyes, was freed to destroy him.

Jack himself underwent a considerable change during this conflict. When Russell first met Brother Voodoo, the heroic occultist used his brother’s astral form to help Jack control his transformation. Voodoo noted that most of the effort had actually come from Jack himself.

When Brother Voodoo was forced to withdraw his brother’s soul during a later fight, Jack had learned enough from the experience to maintain significant control over the wolf on his own.

Subsequent exposure to the mystic energies unleashed by the mutual destruction of Glitternight and Fire-Eyes further empowered Jack. He could now take the form of the werewolf at will and maintained his human intellect while doing so.

(History continues in the Werewolf By Night (Classic) profile.)


Description

Russell is a blandly handsome white male, lean but with well-defined muscle tone and a strong jaw. His thick medium length hair generally flows straight except for wavy flock-of-seagulls  bangs and his large sideburns stop just short of being muttonchops. His usual attire is polo shirts and slacks with light shoes or sneakers.

As the werewolf, Jack becomes completely covered in shaggy hair, his nails and teeth are enlarged and sharpened, his ears become stretched and pointed, and his lower face protrudes into a short muzzle. The overall effect is more apish than lupine, except for the pointed ears and canines.

The transformation usually ruins his shirt and shoes but he manages to retain his pants, though the hems of the pants legs are usually shredded in the course of the wolf’s travels.


Personality

Jack is sometimes affectionately chided for seeming a little sensitive. However he is actually quite resilient when viewing his issues in the full context of his dysfunctional family history and his mystical curse.

He was certainly dismayed by the troubles he faced when he first became a werewolf. Yet he quickly worked to address the practical issues of his monthly transformations by isolating himself in the short-term when necessary while seeking a permanent cure.

This also provided the emotional space Jack needed to sort out his feelings about his family, though this process was not completed until his reconciliation with his step-father.

Of wolf and man

Though Russell initially refered to the werewolf as a separate personality, the wolfman was essentially Jack with his higher mental faculties curtailed and an overriding set of instinctual urges. Jack himself would come to acknowledge this as he adjusted to his curse.

As the wolf, Jack’s primary motivations are to return to the forest and run free, enjoying the wilderness and defeating any other predators that infringe on his territory.

Nevertheless, the werewolf will ignore these drives if there were other more serious concerns on Jack’s mind. Examples include protecting Jack’s loved ones or fighting his enemies even if he cannot entirely remember or understand why he feels the need to do so.

Jack makes a variety of efforts to note the nights of the full moon and to make preparations for them. Yet, it often slips his mind when those nights have arrived until the change begins. He is thus often caught off-guard when he transforms, sometimes even in the middle of the three-night cycle.

Given:

  1. Jack’s natural intelligence and caution
  2. his great concerns regarding the potential collateral damage that can be inflicted by the werewolf’s rampages
  3. the aforementioned efforts to keep those dates in mind

it seems extremely out of character that he would simply forget that the full moon is due to rise on a certain date. These memory lapses may thus be part of the curse.


Quotes

Jack Russell

Thug: “Freeze, punk. The Committee sent us to get you.”
Jack: “I don’t care if President Nixon sent you — I’m not going with anyone who waves a gun at me. Besides, I don’t like being called punk, punks.”

Lissa: “Thank God you’re all right !”
Jack: “Of course I’m all right. You don’t think a little thing like a werewolf could put a crimp in my style, did you ?”

Werewolf by Night

(Quotes are taken from the werewolf’s thoughts — he could only vocalize in growls)

“I will not be caged ! I must be free…free to run through the forest !”

“I must find the forest — to hunt — to stalk — to KILL !”

(While fleeing a werewolf hunter) “Man hunts — tries to kill with knife — with fire weapon ! Man must die — But how ? How can I kill man ?”


DC Universe History

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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

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Design Notes

Unlike the standard approach, I have placed Jack’s normal stats first and then his progressive werewolf stats. This is intended to provide a clear view of his development.

The werewolf’s Invulnerability was not directly demonstrated but is inferred from various statements — see Powers and Abilities for details.


Jack Russell

Dex: 04 Str: 03 Bod: 03 Motivation: Unwanted Power
Int: 04 Wil: 03 Min: 04 Occupation: Trust fund beneficiary
Inf: 03 Aur: 04 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 005
Init: 011 HP: 030

Skills:
Acrobatics (Athletics)*: 04, Vehicles (Land, Sea)*: 04

Advantages:
Rich Family

Connections:
Buck Cowan, freelance reporter w/ Omni-Connection (High); by the time of the wolf form had reached the post-Transylvania level Jack had also acquired Connections to Topaz (High) and Raymond Coker (Low)

Drawbacks:
Alter Ego (Uncontrollable, triggered by moon rise on the 3 nights of the full moon each month and reversed at sunrise), SIA (Forgetting when the 3 nights of the full moon have begun)

Note:
HPs are shared with the Alter-Ego


Werewolf by Night (early lupine form)

Dex: 04 Str: 04 Bod: 04 Motivation: Run Free
Int: 03 Wil: 03 Min: 04 Occupation: Predator
Inf: 04 Aur: 04 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: N/A
Init: 013 HP: 030

Powers:
Analytic Smell/Tracking Scent: 04, Claws: 05, Extended Hearing: 02, Invulnerability: 08, Iron Will: 08, Jumping: 01, Ultra Vision: 05

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Claws represents the Werewolf’s teeth as well as his claws (+0 FC)
  • Invulnerability only activates at full negative BODY (-04 Current BODY or lower) and can only raise Current Body to a maximum of 0 (-2FC)
  • Invulnerability cannot remove damage inflicted by silver weapons or objects (-1FC)
  • Iron Will can only be used to resist the hypnotic abilities of vampires (-2FC)
  • Ultra Vision only offsets low-light penalties ; it does not allow sight in total darkness or the ability to see invisible objects (-2FC)

Skills:
Acrobatics (Athletics, Dodging): 05, Thief (Stealth)*: 04

Advantages:
Iron Nerves, Lightning Reflexes, Luck

Role-Playing Note:
The werewolf usually applied his Luck bonus to various uses of the Dupe Maneuver, representing coincidental events at critical moments. The most frequent form of this was an enemy taking a bullet or a thrown knife meant for the wolf. The common alternative was an attacking opponent tripping over the werewolf or a conveniently placed obstacle and thus accidentally hitting someone else or hurting themselves by colliding with a hard object.

Connections:
None

Drawbacks:
IA (Not using Claws in combat — see “Never Bring Claws…” below), IH (See “Aggressive Tendencies” below), MIA (Returning to the wilderness), Miscellaneous (Animalistic Mindset — see below for details), SPR (Incapable of speech, though he can still growl and howl), Strange Appearance (See “That Ain’t a Mask” below),


Werewolf by Night (later stats)

After Jack’s journey to Transylvania — these improved stats are not the result of a specific incident but rather of normal character advancement.

Dex: 05 Str: 05 Bod: 05 Motivation: Run Free
Int: 03 Wil: 03 Min: 04 Occupation: Predator
Inf: 04 Aur: 04 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: N/A
Init: 014 HP: 040
(later, 050)

Powers:
Analytic Smell/Tracking Scent: 08, Claws: 06, Extended Hearing: 02, Invulnerability: 10, Iron Will: 10, Jumping: 01, Ultra Vision: 07

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Claws includes his teeth, which he can use to make a normal attack while Grappling an opponent (+2FC)
  • Invulnerability only activates at full negative BODY (-04 Current BODY or lower) and can only raise Current Body to a maximum of 0 (-2FC)
  • Invulnerability cannot remove damage inflicted by silver weapons or objects (-1FC)
  • Iron Will can only be used to resist the hypnotic abilities of vampires (-2FC)
  • Ultra Vision only offsets low-light penalties; it does not allow sight in total darkness or the ability to see invisible objects (-2FC)

Skills:
Acrobatics (Athletics, Dodging)*: 05, Thief (Stealth)*: 05

Advantages:
Iron Nerves, Lightning Reflexes, Luck (which continued to be used as noted above)

Connections:
Topaz (High), Raymond Coker (High when Coker was also in werewolf form and subject to their mutual territorial imperatives)

Drawbacks:
IA (Not using Claws in combat — see “Never Bring Claws…” below), IH (See “Aggressive Tendencies” below), MIA (Returning to the wilderness), Miscellaneous (Animalistic Mindset — see below for details), SPR (Incapable of speech, though he can still growl and howl), Strange Appearance (See “That Ain’t a Mask” below),

Equipment:
Mystic Ring [BODY: 04, SPIRIT: 04, Miscellaneous Advantages (Changes the werewolf Alter Ego to Controllable, allows Jack to retain his human Mental/Mystical Attributes and his Skills while in werewolf form, and eliminates all of the werewolf form’s Drawbacks except the Claws IA, the SPR, and Strange Appearance), Miscellaneous Drawback (Jack’s werewolf form does not have Lightning Reflexes while using the ring)]

This oversized ring allowed Jack to become the wolfman at will while retaining his human intelligence. However, his fighting style was slightly hindered by the lack of the wolfman’s aggressiveness (hence the lack of Lightning Reflexes). Jack only had the ring for a brief time before losing it in a fire.

A similar ring granted LAPD Lieutenant Lou Hackett the ability to transform himself into a werewolf while retaining his own human intellect. Unfortunately for Hackett, his werewolf form only had abilities equivalent to those that Jack had during his early transformations and was thus not a match for the Russell werewolf at this stage.


Never Bring Claws to a Fist Fight

While the werewolf possessed lethally sharp teeth and claws (both represented with the Claws Power), he seldom used them in fights. His typical fighting style was wild punches and backhands and he had a Serious Irrational Attraction to not using his claws for slashing attacks.

The werewolf would typically Grapple particularly tough opponents and this was when he was more likely to use his claws or (more often) teeth. While Grappling an enemy the werewolf’s IA to not using his claws or teeth was only Minor. The wolf had to roll against his IA each time he wanted to use Claws, not just once per fight.


“That Ain’t a Mask !”

During the werewolf’s first appearances, most people who were not familiar with the supernatural initially assumed that Jack’s werewolf form was someone wearing a fright mask. Because of this assumption most people were thus not affected by the werewolf’s Strange Appearance at first sight.

It was only after a moment or two of being in close proximity that they realized that they were dealing with an actual creature of myth. This often served to unnerve them regardless of how well the fight had been going up to that point.

To reflect this, people who might not expect to encounter a genuine werewolf will automatically assume Jack is simply wearing a disguise. They thus will not have to check versus Intimidation as is usual for Strange Appearance. Instead, each phase they are looking at the werewolf, they make an automatic Perception Check versus an OV/RV of 04/04 if they are looking from a short distance and 02/02 if they are face-to-face with Jack.

This check does not cost the person an Action. If they get full RAPs on the check, they immediately realize that they are encountering an actual werewolf and at that point check against Strange Appearance’s Intimidation effect as normal.

This delayed reaction served to save the wolfman from superior human opponents on several occasions. When his Intimidated enemy tried to retreat, the wolf would exploit this opportunity for a Blindside attack, usually in conjunction with a Critical Blow and often using his claws as well.

As his adventures became more directly integrated into the larger Marvel Universe, his Strange Appearance was subject to this modified approach with diminishing frequency.

By the end of the time period covered by this writeup, most of the people Jack encounters are more used to the fantastic and either take the werewolf at face value or assume he is some other kind of superhuman (and thus Strange Appearance operated normally).


Lunacy

As noted above, the werewolf’s transformations are governed by the rise of the full moon. Jack did not have to be exposed directly to moonlight for the transformation to occur. However, if the light of the full moon was blocked at the source by some means, such as a lunar eclipse, Jack would return to human form until that phenomenon had ended.

Once every 32 months, the calendar marks a full moon period of 4 nights instead of 3. This is a calendar convention to match the lunar month to the siderial one, similar in concept to a Leap Day. Despite its abstract nature, Jack would still transform into a werewolf on the fourth night of these occasions.

Moreover, he demonstrated an unusually high resistance to injury during this night. The werewolf felt pain when injured by conventional weapons but healed instantly. Even a barrage from a submachine gun did nothing more than make him stumble for a few seconds. The wounds of silver weapons were not affected by this improved healing factor and thus did normal damage.

Thus, during that night the wolf gains Regeneration: 15 and the following Bonuses & Limitations:

  • Invulnerability cannot remove damage inflicted by silver weapons or objects — this replaces the more stringent Limitations the Wolf’s Invulnerability usually has. (-1FC)
  • Regeneration only reduces the time between Killing Damage Recovery Checks and RAPs from that check only apply to removing Killing Damage RAPs (-2FC)
  • Regeneration-based Recovery Checks cannot remove RAPs inflicted by silver weapons or objects (-1FC)

Once the fourth night is over, these benefits disappear and Jack’s wolf form regains his normal stats.

(The issue in which the above events occurred were written by a guest writer and thus probably represent a different interpretation of the character’s durability rather than an intended power boost during “fourth nights.” The above is advanced simply as an in-universe, No-Prize  explanation for the discrepancy. The entire incident can be ignored as an outlier if the GM so chooses.)

By Roy Cowan

Source of Character: Marvel Essentials Werewolf by Night vol. 1 & 2

Helper(s): Vincent Bartilucci, Frank Murdoch, Quintanads

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