AD&D 2nd Edition The Ecology of the Winter Wolf (unpublished AD&D 2nd Edition version)


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  1. #1
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    The Ecology of the Winter Wolf (unpublished AD&D 2nd Edition version)

    THE ECOLOGY OF THE WINTER WOLF

    This is a standalone storyline, written back in 1995. I don't think it needs any further setup, so I'll leave it at that and provide some end notes afterwards.

    Enjoy!

    Johnathan
    Last edited by Richards; Wednesday, 28th September, 2005 at 02:36 AM.
    Check out some of my unpublished "Ecology" articles over on the Story Hour forum.
    Chuul | Destrachan | Elven Cat | Giant Beaver | Giant Water Spider | Grey Render | Grick | Gulguthydra | Kobold | Winter Wolf
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  • #2
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    It was a stupid idea, and I should've known better. But I didn't think about the consequences at the time, so now here I am, eh? Story of my bloody life. Never thinking things through, that's my problem.

    I never should've even signed up to go with the stupid wizard. But hell, he was paying mighty good coin, and I was more than a bit short on funds myself. So I went with him.

    'Course, it seemed like an easy enough job at the time. He wanted to follow some old map he had that hinted at some old wizard spellbooks hidden in a cave up north of the mountains, and wanted to hire on an extra sword to keep him from harm. He was a pretty powerful-looking fellow, and I figured, sure, why not? He's probably got all kinds of spells to keep us nice and safe, and I could handle the odd orc or gnoll that tried to give us any trouble, if it came to that.

    What I didn't figure on was just how far north he was planning on going. We crossed the mountains, sure enough, but we didn't stop there. No, we kept on going, passing into the coldlands, and I do mean cold. Bloody cold! 'Course, I got to give the wizard his due, he did outfit us right proper. Place called Bordertown, at the foot of the mountains, he found us a trapper's shop and bought us both the best of what was available. Fur cloaks and boots, even breeches made out of sealskin. Didn't spare no expense on us, but still, there's only so much you can bloody do. When it gets cold that far north, it don't mess around none, and there's only so much a fella can do 'bout it.

    We spent the night in Bordertown, and it was a right welcome change to have a roof over my head again, instead of a tent and a bedroll. The place wasn't big, but it had an inn of sorts, where a guy could get a drink, at least, and some warm food in his belly. There was a sorta cute maid there running the bar, too, but she spurned my attempts at friendly, uh, conversation. Slapped my hand offa her butt, too, the stuck-up little wench. Figures. Just my bloody luck, too. That far out from civilization, you woulda thought she might not be so picky. We left the next morning, and I for one wasn't too upset at leaving it behind. At the time, that is.

    Camping out in the tents the next few nights got real old real fast, though. I remember hearing the wolves howling at night. It happened every blasted night. Sent shivers up my spine, it did, hearing them howl like that. We even caught a glimpse of them once, running in a pack across the horizon. Looked like it was a caribou they was chasing, but it was hard to tell. One thing I could tell, though, was they were all white, every last one of them.[1]

    The wizard, he told me a bit about 'em. Called winter wolves, he said, and they could breathe a cloud of freezing-cold vapors out of their mouths in order to kill their prey.[2] I sure wish I hadn't listened to him, but hey, it's a bit late now, huh? He seemed to know a bit about 'em, and he said they were just about the perfect predator for this environment. I remember that phrase, exactly: "perfect predator." It stuck in my head, like things sometimes do.

    Anyway, a couple of days later, we were still heading north. I started to complain, even louder than normal, and I was beginning to wonder if it was all really worth it. I was wishing I'd escorted the wizard just past the mountains and taken half-pay or something, been on my way, you know? I was cold, I was tired, and to tell you the truth, I was getting just a little bit bored with the whole deal. I mean, hell, you can see enough snow to last a lifetime, and by that time I was thinking maybe I'd reached that point.

    And then we got ambushed. It's like my ma always said, watch out for what you wish for, 'cause you just might get it. I mean, here I was, wishing for some excitement, and I got it all right. Out popped this bear, only it's not a regular bear like a polar bear, see? It had a beak, for one thing, and it was screeching up a bloody blue storm. I grabbed out my sword and made like to defend myself, only the bear-thing was fast for something that big, and with one swipe my sword went flying into the air and my arm just about went with it. I spun around and went flying, landing in a heap. I probably would've been done for right then, but the wizard, he distracted it with some spell attack, and the thing went after him instead.

    I got up, and I couldn't find my sword. I mean, it was probably right by me somewhere, but buried in the snow. I still had my dagger, but no way was I going after that thing with just a dagger. So really, for all practical purposes, I was out of the fight, and it was gonna be up to the wizard to kill the thing himself.

    And that's when I got my idea.

    The wizard, he had jumped across this fissure and was climbing up this ice cliff, but the monster was heading right up there after him. So I yelled up at the wizard, "Hey! Turn me into one of them winter wolves!" It's that stupid phrase, "perfect predator," you see. I figured, hell, a winter wolf's a bit smaller than this bear-thing, sure, but it's got that frosty breath-attack, while the bear seemed to just have its claws and beak. So no problem right?

    Well the wizard, he took in the situation, and I guess he saw me standing there with no weapon and figured, "good plan." 'Cause the next thing I knew there's this flash of light and I started changing.

    Suddenly, there I was, a winter wolf.

    NOTES

    1. Some winter wolves sport a silvery pelt, although this is something of a rarity.

    2. Once every 10 rounds, a winter wolf can expel a stream of frost from its lungs, causing 6d4 hp damage to all within 10 feet. Those that save vs. breath weapon take only half damage. Being intelligent, winter wolves in packs often take turns using their breath weapons to ensure there's a frost attack every round, or, if the threat is great enough, several of them will "gang up" with their breath weapons, targeting their most powerful enemy.
    Last edited by Richards; Wednesday, 28th September, 2005 at 02:15 AM.
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  • #3
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    I wasted no time, I charged up behind the bear-thing, and I gave it to him with my breath. Only nothing happened. I mean, no freeze-ray or nothing came out, just my own breath.[3]

    So I bit him. It seemed like the natural thing to do, you know? I figured I got the teeth, I got the powerful jaws, right? So I bit down on a leg and started chewing. The bear, he noticed all right, and he tried turning around to get at me, but I was too smart for him, see, I was behind him where he couldn't get me. Plus, the wizard was up above, where it's safe, blasting the thing with magic missiles or something. Anyway, the plan worked, and eventually we killed the thing. So maybe it wasn't a totally stupid idea.

    But it was stupid enough.

    The wizard, he started to climb back down, and I dunno exactly how it happened, but somehow he lost his footing and fell down to the bottom of the ice-cliff, bounced once, and kinda slid into the fissure. I went racing over to the fissure myself and peered down at him, but I could tell right away by the way he was lying there that he was a goner - his head was at a weird angle, and his arms and legs were splayed out all over, one of 'em bent funny as well. So there was really no doubt about it, he was dead. And even if he wasn't, there was no way I was gonna fit into the fissure to go get him.

    It took me about a minute to realize exactly what this might mean. I was turned into a winter wolf, and now who was gonna turn me back? I started panicking, but I surprised myself out of it by the whimpering noise coming out of my throat. It was like a dog whimpering, not me. Only it was me, of course. I tried to talk, and found out that I couldn't.

    Still, I decided not to panic. It was one lousy spell, how long could it last? All I had to do was wait for the stupid thing to wear off and I'd be all set. In the meantime, I'd go dig up my sword, so I'd be ready to go once I regained my human form.

    Two hours later, still in wolf form, I decided to panic after all.

    NOTES

    3. Unfortunately, the spell polymorph other does not grant the special abilities, such as breath weapons, of the new form adopted.
    Last edited by Richards; Wednesday, 28th September, 2005 at 02:17 AM.
    Check out some of my unpublished "Ecology" articles over on the Story Hour forum.
    Chuul | Destrachan | Elven Cat | Giant Beaver | Giant Water Spider | Grey Render | Grick | Gulguthydra | Kobold | Winter Wolf
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  • #4
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    So now I'm a winter wolf. Only not a real one, like. I already found out the hard way that I don't have a breath weapon, and I always heard that dogs and wolves had really good hearing and senses of smell, but I don't notice nothing different. From what I can tell, my senses got stuck human.

    But on the other hand, the cold sure don't seem to bother me no more. I got this nice shaggy pelt, sure, but it goes beyond that. I mean, it's like I'm aware of the cold, but I'm not cold, not the least bit. According to what the wizard said before, that's part of why winter wolves are so well adapted to the coldlands. Magic, I guess.[4]

    I'm hungry, and I can't get to any of our food. I was wearing my pack when I got changed so it changed with me, and the wizard's is down there in the fissure with him, way out of reach. No way am I gonna fit down there. My ma always said people always take too many things for granted. Guess she was right.

    Still, there's this dead bear-monster thing right here. I'm hungry, I'm not too proud - I tear into it. I thought I wouldn't be able to stomach it, raw flesh and all, but I guess I got the taste buds of a winter wolf now, too.[5]

    I guess I'm paying too much attention to filling my belly, because I don't even notice it when a bunch of creatures surround me as I eat. I just happen to look up, and there they are. They're winter wolves, just like me.

    NOTES

    4. Cold-based attacks do no damage to winter wolves, due to their innate resistance to cold. Fire, on the other hand, will cause an additional point per die of damage, and winter wolves remain leery of open flames for this reason.

    5. The winter wolf, like all wolves, is mostly carnivorous, with teeth that are positioned in such a way that food is pushed back into the animal's mouth as it chews. However, the shape of some of its teeth, primarily the flat-crowned molars, testify to the creature's ability to eat other types of food as well. While winter wolves prefer to hunt down small animals such as rabbits, lemmings, and mice, they will eat carrion if needs be, or even berries and fruit if other food is unavailable.

    In the winter, when food becomes scarce, they become much more aggressive, forming large packs in order to hunt down larger prey, like caribou or moose. After a successful hunt, they can consume up to a quarter of their own body weight in food, and then can go without food for days at a time.
    Last edited by Richards; Wednesday, 28th September, 2005 at 02:19 AM.
    Check out some of my unpublished "Ecology" articles over on the Story Hour forum.
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    The first thing I notice is their size. It's kind of hard to judge how big I am in this form, but if I look like them, hell, I'm probably about ten feet long or so,[6] and that's not even counting my tail (and lemme tell you, it's pretty weird itself having a tail!). There are six of them, and they approach me warily, making barking and yipping sounds. At first I can't figure out what's going on, but it suddenly strikes me that they're probably talking to me in wolf-talk![7] Don't ask me how I can tell exactly, but it seems to me like they're giving each other the wolf equivalent of puzzled glances. Probably wondering why I don't seem to understand them, or answer back.

    Finally, the biggest one approaches, real careful-like. He's got these pale blue eyes, and they're focused right on me. Again, it takes me a while to figure out what's going on. I mean, there's six of them and only one of me, so why are they acting like they're afraid? But then I look at it from their point of view. Here's this one wolf, okay, maybe he don't seem all that bright, but hey, he took care of a bear-monster all by himself! No wonder they're being so cautious!

    I figure, hell, I'm stuck in this form, might as well try to get a little extra protection, 'cause I know for a fact there ain't no way I could've killed a bear-monster like this one all by myself, and there's no telling just how many more of them there are around here. Like they say, safety in numbers, right? So I back off from the dead monster and let the others approach. They do, too, and start to eat. I go to join them, and the big one snarls at me, so I back off. I dunno what the deal is, but I figure it might take me awhile to figure out the winter wolf rules of behavior.[8] So I settle down and watch them eat. I'd gotten enough anyway, before they showed up.

    Well, it takes bloody long, but finally they finish their meal and start licking themselves clean. The big leader-type, he eats like a bleedin' pig! Easily half again more than any of the others, and he ain't that much bigger than they are. While we're waiting for him to finish up, one of the others looks down the fissure and sees the wizard lying down there dead. He has the others check it out, and they all end up staring at me. Maybe with respect? Could be, if they think I managed to kill him off as well as the bear-monster, which I guess is the way it would look to them. Anyway, finally, with a jerk of his head, the leader motions for us to get going. Everyone follows after him, single file. I end up taking the rear. I take a last look at the fissure where I know the dead wizard's lying, and I don't know who I feel sorrier for, him or me.

    NOTES

    6. The average size of a full-grown winter wolf is from 7' to 12' long, but exceptional individuals have known to be even bigger. The largest reported winter wolf reached a full 16' from nose to rump.

    7. Winter wolves have their own language, consisting primarily of barks, growls, and yips. In addition, they are able to speak the much more primitive wolven language of the worgs. Occasionally, in areas where the two wolf species overlap, worgs may be found as part of a winter wolf pack. In such cases, the worgs always occupy a much lower rank in the social hierarchy, and the winter wolves will often use the worgs as disposable "cannon fodder" when attacking large groups of powerful creatures (like adventurers).

    Due to their lack of a stylized language, normal wolves and dire wolves are disdained by the winter wolves, who are by far the more intelligent. It is extremely uncommon to find either type associated with a winter wolf family or pack.

    8. Wolves have a definite social structure. They live in a family group, led by the "alpha male." The alpha male is the leader of the group and his mate, the alpha female, is the only member of the group that will mate and bear young, although others in the pack will assist in raising the cubs.

    Among the males, there is a hierarchy which defines each wolf's place in the family. The structure of the hierarchy is determined by one-on-one battles between the various males, with the winner being dominant over the submissive male. The fights are very seldom lethal, for once a wolf begins to see that victory is hopeless, he assumes a posture of submission, one very similar to that of a cub begging for food from its parents. This indicates that the wolf accepts its role as being lower in status than its opponent. Once a hierarchy is established, there is usually no further fighting between the wolves, who now know and accept their station in the pack. Those highest on the social ladder get first pick of food, have more of a say in decisions affecting the group, and so on.

    By backing off when the leader approached, the narrator assumed a submissive posture and gave up any claims he had to the dead arctic owlbear. The winter wolves, by not allowing him to feed on "their" meal, are in effect each placing him below themselves in their family hierarchy without a formal battle.
    Last edited by Richards; Wednesday, 28th September, 2005 at 02:22 AM.
    Check out some of my unpublished "Ecology" articles over on the Story Hour forum.
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  • #6
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    We take off in a kind of wolf-trot, covering mile after mile in what seems like no time at all.[9] To me, everything looks pretty much the same, snow covered everywhere, but these wolves seem to know where they're going. And sure enough, before too long, we're "home."

    Home is a pretty good-sized cave in the side of an ice cliff. I've heard that sometimes regular wolves make their dens in a hollow tree trunk, but somehow I kinda doubt that that would apply to winter wolves. I mean, it'd have to be a bloody big tree, wouldn't it?

    Waiting inside is another wolf, a she-wolf. She's lying on her side, and the leader walks up to her, no kidding, and barfs on the floor of the cave right in front of her. I'm thinking, oh that was nice, but then I get a bigger shock when the she-wolf starts lapping it up.[10] I'm just about ready to heave up my own meal watching that particular display, but somehow I manage to keep it down. Must be nice, I think, having the wolf equivalent of breakfast in bed, but then I see why she wasn't out hunting with the others - she had to stay home with the kids. There's three little cubs lying by her,[11] and it looks like they fell asleep while she was nursing them. Cute little things. Kinda remind me of a puppy I had when I was a kid. He was a real cutie, too - 'til I broke his neck after he nipped at me. Damn pup.

    The female gets up and gives me the once-over, and not just by looking, neither - I get the sniff treatment, too. Kinda makes me feel uncomfortable, but it seems to be pretty normal for around here, so I stay still and try to ignore it. The leader, he starts to talk to her in wolf-talk while she finishes her meal, and the way they keep looking over at me, I figure they're talking about me. 'Course, I can't understand a word of it, but I figure it's something like, "Hey, this new guy, he don't say much, but he's one hell of a fighter. Killed a bear-monster all by himself, he did, before we even got to it." Least, I hope it's something like that. My luck, it's probably something like "Let's wait 'til he falls asleep, and then we'll get him. I don't trust him."

    I don't sleep too well that night.

    NOTES

    9. Winter wolves have extensive hunting territories, often reaching well over 100 miles. With their large and powerful bodies, it is a simple matter for them to cover a distance of up to 50 miles in a single night.

    10. This is the normal method for keeping a new mother fed, until the newborn cubs are old enough to accompany the rest of the pack. Upon occasional, however, the cubs are left in the care of other she-wolves from the pack, allowing the mother to join in the hunt.

    11. The cubs of a winter wolf litter are born in late spring/early summer after a two-month gestation period. There are usually 4-6 cubs per litter, although on rare occasions the number can be as little as three or as high as nine. The cubs don't open their eyes for the first two weeks, and are suckled for about two months. At the end of the first month, their diet is supplemented with half-digested flesh that the mother disgorges. At six weeks, the mother accompanies them on their first hunt. By six months, they are able to hunt on their own, and at this time they abandon the pack and go off to start their own families. The wolves are fully grown at two years of age.

    If, somehow, a winter wolf cub is separated from its mother while still young (before it opens its eyes for the first time), it can be tamed and raised, much like a dog. Once tamed, the winter wolf will treat its master much like it would the alpha male of its pack. Eventually, though, once it reaches full size and is at the peak of its powers, it will attack and try to become master of its own fate. Those wishing for a faithful winter wolf companion are advised to stock up on the appropriate charm spells and never leave their backs unguarded.
    Last edited by Richards; Wednesday, 28th September, 2005 at 02:25 AM.
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  • #7
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    Couple days later, and I've started settling in with the rest of the wolves. I've even seemed to gain some respect, because one of 'em tried pushing me around, and I let him have it. I mean, hell, I don't have to put up with that kind of bloody nonsense! I really tore into him, too, bloodied him up a bit, and he backed off all right. Flopped over on his back and tucked his tail between his legs. I've raised dogs before, I know that means like, "Okay, I surrender already." Now he kind of gives me deferential treatment. Sounds good to me.

    I'm even starting to get the hang of the winter wolf language. It's a lot harder than I woulda thought. I mean, you figure, what's an animal got to talk about? But I'm surprised, and actually, even a little impressed. These wolf types ain't really all that bad.

    And I learned my name. My wolf-name, I mean. Since I wasn't able to talk when they first met up with me, they took it upon themselves to give me a name. "Brute," they call me. Brute, 'cause I sure must be a mean brute to be able to take on a bear-monster like that all by myself. Brute. Gotta admit, I kinda like it. Sure as hell bloody well beats "Ernest." Just what was my ma thinking of, anyway?

    I can say a few words myself now, too. Not a lot, but it's a start. The rest of the pack thinks I was damaged somehow in my fight with the dead wizard, that he cast a spell on me that robbed me of my wits, but that I'm slowly getting better. If only they knew. Still, I'll never tell 'em.

    I've even heard the she-wolves talking amongst themselves about me, and what I'll be like once I'm fully recovered. Never had the ladies looking me over like that before, not even when I was human. Gotta say, I kinda like it.

    I've been getting the hang of the hunting business, too. I still don't have the breath weapon that the others do, but I more than make up for it with my teeth and claws. Besides, I've learned that the winter wolves don't usually use their breath weapons unless they're up against something pretty powerful. Like an adventurer, especially a wizard. They hate wizards, and priests too. Like they say, you never know when some wizard's gonna throw some fire spell at you. As for hunting normal animals, it's more fun to take them down with tooth and claw, although the frost breath is useful if it looks like the prey is going to get away. I seen the leader use his on a snow rabbit that was getting outta range, and it just froze up solid, like a statue. He ate it that way, too. Sounded like somebody chewing on chunks of ice, but it didn't seem to bother him none. I guess the winter wolf immunity to cold works on the inside, too.

    About every week or so, we form a large pack with a coupla other winter wolf families, and we go after the big game. Like caribou, or moose. Winter wolves are big enough, and powerful enough, they could probably take down a moose single-handed, but they like the terror they cause in the animal herds when they first see the winter wolves approach in such great numbers. Causes a stampede, every time. The wolves just love it, dragging down the slower of the herd and ripping them to shreds. In fact, sometimes they go overboard, killing more than they need to, but I think the need to kill is as strong in them as the need to eat. And then, after the kill, and after the feast, there's the singing. The sound of the howls of victory can probably be heard for miles. Funny, when I was still human, the sounds used to send shivers racing down my spine. Now, I'm one of the ones doing the howling, and the only shivers down my spine are caused by the anticipation of the next big hunt.

    I been sleeping okay at night, but every morning I get up all kinda fuzzy-like in my head, and it takes me awhile to remember just what I am and how I got this way. Damn that wizard anyway! If he was here now, I'd rip his throat out myself for what he done to me, and I'd...

    I'd...

    Oh man. Oh, man. I gotta get outta here, get outta this mess I'm in!
    Last edited by Richards; Friday, 16th June, 2006 at 01:07 AM.
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    I been thinking. Really thinking. It's just a shame that I waited this long to take a good, hard look at my situation. I'm stuck, and stuck good. This far north, there ain't a whole lotta wizards hanging around that'd be able to turn me back to human form. That is, if I could even get the idea across to them that I wasn't just another winter wolf. Odds are, if I want changed back, I'm gonna have to go back the way I came, back to civilization. I figure I could make the trip okay, now that I got used to this body and all, and picked up the hunting and fighting skills I need to survive. And daily, I've noticed my senses are getting more wolf-like. The smells I can pick up now, and such detail! I never woulda believed it.

    But then what? I make it back, and what happens? I get attacked as a killer wolf, that's what. I can't talk like a human no more, and I never did learn to write. Never really seemed important, you know? So how do I get my story across without getting killed first? I bloody well don't, that's how.

    I might as well face it. I'm a winter wolf now, like it or not.

    But that ain't really so bad, is it? For one thing, I'm at the top of the food chain here. As a winter wolf, there's nothing I can't hunt down if I put my mind to it, and far as I know, nothing preys on winter wolves. 'Cept maybe people, I guess. These pelts of ours are worth quite a lot on the open market, I've heard.[12] But I'd just like to see somebody try and get mine, or any of my pack-mates'. Apparently it's been tried before, 'cause there's a warrior's helmet and a busted-up bow back in the ice cave, the remains of some stupid hunter out to get rich on winter wolf pelts. The cubs use them as toys.

    Far as I can see, every day I'm becoming less and less human and more and more wolf. Out with the Ernest, in with the Brute. Well, fine by me. Only things is gonna hafta be a little different 'round here. Starting with the leader.

    I been watching him. He's a big one, and powerful. But I think even he's a little afraid of me. After all, I'm a legend, ain't I? - the one that single-handedly killed a bear-monster. And that just might be the edge I need....

    I climb to the top of the ice cliff and howl my determination to the arctic moon.

    NOTES

    12. In good condition, a winter wolf pelt can be sold for as much as 5,000 gold pieces. In addition, their teeth and claws are often sought by northern barbarians for wear as jewelry and ornamentation. Many of the tribes even use them as talismans, believing them to transfer the bravery and winter survival abilities of the winter wolf to the wearer.
    Last edited by Richards; Wednesday, 28th September, 2005 at 02:30 AM.
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    I stand over the dead body of the leader, and my mind is filled with a clarity the likes of which I have never known before. Images form in my head, and the world of the wolf is laid open to me like a great book, one that I am able to read. Suddenly, I know.

    "He is dead!" I cry to the others. "Will any challenge my right to lead? Do any seek to follow the old leader in death?"

    As I expected, no one replies. I have proven my ability, and they will follow me.

    I look to the old leader's mate - my mate now, by winter wolf law. "Can the cubs travel?" I ask her.

    She looks up at me, her silver eyes shining in the arctic daylight. "Yes, Brute," she replies.

    "Then prepare yourselves for travel. We will be leaving this place for a time."

    "Where do we go?" asks Longclaw, second in rank to the old leader, second now only to me. I'll have to watch this one, and closely.

    "South," I reply to the band of wolves, to my family. "South for a day or two, until we reach the mountains, and a human village called Bordertown. A small settlement, with enough people to make the excursion well worth our while, but not enough to cause us any real threat."

    "Humans," says Longclaw, licking his chops, and glancing over at the cubs' helmet play-toy. "We haven't had a good human in a long while."

    "Well, all of that's going to change," I reply, a feral grin spreading over my muzzle. I'm thinking of that uppity maid at the inn, imagining the look on her face when we burst into town.

    Perfect predator, indeed.
    Last edited by Richards; Wednesday, 28th September, 2005 at 02:32 AM.
    Check out some of my unpublished "Ecology" articles over on the Story Hour forum.
    Chuul | Destrachan | Elven Cat | Giant Beaver | Giant Water Spider | Grey Render | Grick | Gulguthydra | Kobold | Winter Wolf
    Death KissNew Monster Hunters story!

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    And there we have another one. This was one of the first dozen Ecologies I had ever written, and I submitted it to Dragon on 22 July 1995. It was rejected, for reasons I don't honestly recall; I think all I got was a "this doesn't meet our current needs" rejection letter. Which was fine, as I had amassed quite a few of them over the years, and was learning to take them in stride. (Fortunately, I was also getting a lot of contracts for other articles that they liked, so the rejected works were somewhat easier to take.)

    However, several years later, after the release of 3E, Mongoose Publishing started a "Slayer's Guide" line of books focusing on a single D&D monster. After approaching them at Gen Con, I was asked if I could come up with an appropriate Monster Manual creature that could fill a half-sized Slayer's Guide PDF. They specifically wanted something "on the fringe," that probably wouldn't fill up a full 32-page Slayer's Guide. I dusted off my notes from "The Ecology of the Winter Wolf," did some further research, and added some interesting new angles (primarily dealing with the runts of the litters and how winter wolves get around that annoying lack of opposable thumbs), and "The Slayer's Guide to Winter Wolves" was born, my first standalone d20 product. (I was really proud of that sucker, too, until the initial reviews started coming in. This would end up being my least-popular product, ever.) When it came time to whip up a short lair adventure for the PDF, I named the alpha male of the pack "Brute" in honor of poor Ernest from this rejected Ecology.

    And that's pretty much it. As always, thanks for taking the time to read this, and I hope you liked it.

    Johnathan
    Last edited by Richards; Wednesday, 28th September, 2005 at 02:34 AM.
    Check out some of my unpublished "Ecology" articles over on the Story Hour forum.
    Chuul | Destrachan | Elven Cat | Giant Beaver | Giant Water Spider | Grey Render | Grick | Gulguthydra | Kobold | Winter Wolf
    Death KissNew Monster Hunters story!

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