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Werewolf by Night (Early) (Marvel Comics) in an alley

Werewolf by Night

(part #2 - Early)


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

Context

This profile is part of a chronological sequence, which should be read in order. Said sequence goes :

  1. – start here.
  2. Werewolf by Night (Jack Russell) – Early.
  3. .

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History – continued

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.

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.


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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.

Werewolf by Night (Marvel Comics) vs. Spider-Man

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 through 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 Romani 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.

Werewolf by Night (Early) (Marvel Comics) crosses the road

Why did the werewolf cross the road ?

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 by Night transforming under the Moon

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.

Werewolf by Night (Early) (Marvel Comics) lunatic air

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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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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